What I Learned From Staying in Someone Else’s House 2016

We’re back from beautiful southern Utah, tanned and tired from 30 miles of hiking. Utah has some amazing places and even after 35 29 years of living here, I haven’t seen half of it. If you never have, check out Zions National Park. It’s the most amazing chunk of earth I’ve ever seen.

We rented a cabin an hour away from both Bryce and Zions from Home Away. Traveling with a large family means vacation houses actually save us money over hotels and I don’t have to worry about cougars and bears running off with one of my children in a campground. Plus we can bathe. Staying in a stranger’s house, though, is sometimes strange and often uncomfortable. It feels like a violation of their space and privacy and I can’t imagine being on the other side of that deal. Some owners are more comfortable with the situation than others and attend to every possible need ahead of time, making it feel like a Bed and Breakfast without the staff. Last year I learned how to tame the laundry monster. This trip I often wondered, If this were my house, would guests feel at ease, or would they feel frustrated and unwelcome? This year I learned that the art of hospitality starts with organization. I’m specifically talking about kitchen organization. The two principles of kitchen organization are:

  1. Everything needs a place and everything needs to be in its place.
  2. There actually is a right place for everything.

The second of the two is the most important. Kitchen organization begins by breaking it down into zones: prepping, cooking, cleaning, serving, and storing. Even the smallest kitchens can benefit from zones because they streamline the cooking and cleaning processes, saving you time and energy for more important things.

It’s not just having zones that matter either. Where you put your zones matters too.

  • The prepping zone: Place between the fridge and stove. This is where you’ll put your knives, cutting boards, mixing bowls, most small appliances, etc.
  • The cooking zone: Place as close to the stove as possible – within arms reach is best. This is where your pots, pans, baking dishes, spatulas, cooking spoons, hot pads, etc.
  • The cleaning zone: Place near (or under for most people) the sink. Keep drying racks, rags, sponges, trash bags, paper towels, and any cleaners here. Remember childproof locks if you have dogs or little ones under foot, especially in lower cabinets.
  • The serving zone: This area should be convenient for both serving and storing afterward. It includes dishes and flatware, cups and glasses, pitchers, serving trays and spoons, and place mats, napkins, and tablecloths and might include a coffee pot or electric tea kettle and tea, coffee, sugar, etc.
  • The storing zone: Place either by the fridge or the stove (depending on where you pack up leftovers and lunches) and is where you put things like Tupperware, foil, lunch boxes, etc.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a strong urge to rearrange my kitchen cabinets and declutter a whole bunch of excess cups and useless knives.

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