Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 9: Carry On

by Michael on March 30, 2010 · 0 comments

Or just knock out the walls and get a chuckwagon. (Photo by langleyo)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

Today is mostly a day for continuing what we’ve started. The kitchen might be the most difficult room to clean for most men, and we started another couple of projects yesterday. I don’t want to throw too much more at you until we’re at least done with the kitchen.

Your Home: Carry On in the Kitchen

What the heading says. You want everything in your kitchen to sparkle. Light fixtures, walls, everything. Don’t forget to look at the ceiling, either. I’ve seen some greasy stuff overhead.

If by chance you’ve finished up your thorough cleaning here, I’ve got an optional task for you: put together a spice rack. I don’t mean build one—just pull together a collection of spices to help make your meals flavorful and appealing. Here’s a short list to start you off:

  • Salt: Sea salt or Kosher salt. Much more flavorful than old-fashioned “table” salt.
  • Pepper: Get a grinder and whole black peppercorns. Again, the flavor!
  • Garlic powder: For those times when you’re in a pinch and can’t use fresh garlic. Plus other times.
  • Basil: For Italian dishes. Also goes well with pepper on salmon and chicken, and you can shake a pinch up in a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Rosemary: A tough little herb, for chicken and fish.
  • Thyme: Good in a number of dishes. Especially good for making sure your vegetables and salads aren’t bland.
  • Oregano: For beef, chicken and Italian dishes.
  • Bay leaves: For soups and stews. If you have a crock pot, you should have some bay leaves on hand.
  • Red pepper flakes: Most guys will want to make chili one day. When that day comes, you’ll need to blend this with…
  • Cayenne pepper: …this, and…
  • Cumin: …this. Cumin is also a basic spice for many Mexican and Southwestern dishes.
  • Cinnamon: If you’ll be doing any baking. Also great for adding to desserts, and for flavoring tea without sugar. Buy cinnamon sticks and grind them or use them as tea stirrers.
  • Cajun seasoning blend: This has saved my buns at many a meal time. For chicken, fish, and anything you can “blacken.”

There are a lot of other spices you may want, depending on the types of food you want to prepare. Curry spices including turmeric if you like Southeast Asian cuisine, dill weed if you prepare lots of fish, and onion powder instead of salt if you’re worried about that. Look at the recipes that make your mouth water and see which spices they incorporate.

To save money and get the most flavorful spices possible, you should consider growing an herb garden. Once you’ve tasted fresh herbs, you’ll have a hard time eating the dried version. Here’s a starter reference on what it takes to create an herb garden.

Your World: Carry On Finding Your Way

On Day 2, you started mapping what you want from your life, and yesterday you thought about where you want to be in your career. If you haven’t drilled down to some first action steps yet, take a little time to work on one or both of these projects.

If you’ve got some ballpark thoughts, take a half-hour and break them down into some steps. You don’t have to know every single thing it will take to get from here to success—often some details will only become clear after you begin—but you should have a starting point. Think about how much time it will take to complete the first step and put it in your calendar as a to-do.

If you’re still at the 10,000-foot level, keep at it. There’s no time limit here. Just remember, this is not a “bucket list.” This is about the bucket itself.

Yourself: Carry On With Your Art

You started an art project yesterday, and you should at least have picked a medium by now. Roll up your sleeves and dig in. Sketch it out or work on an outline–or just start typing or painting.

Most importantly, have fun with it. No one needs to see the result unless you want them to.

Carry on, and I’ll see you tomorrow. But first, a video:

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