Saturday, February 22, 2014

Out With The Old: Replacing Kitchen Necessities

Apologies if this seems incomplete. This was posted a week ago and for some reason reverted itself to a draft and erased everything I finished! 

This week, I was able to replace 3 items in my kitchen that have been on the chopping block for a while; the garbage bin, the dish dryer, and the kettle. In a previous post, I had mentioned wanting to replace the kettle and dish dryer, so I wanted to provide a mini-review on all of these items and maybe a few points to think of when replacing items you're likely to be using every day.

Garbage Bin

Garbage bins are not really something I find myself that passionate about, in fact I only wanted to replace it because I had been using the same $20 white Rubbermaid one since 2007. Even that was only ever supposed to be a temporary replacement for the tiny push-pedal bin my roommate currently had in our kitchen.
I realize I didn't take a "before" shot of the kitchen from the right angle to show the garbage can, but this is what was there:
I don't really understand people with little garbage cans in the kitchen; I've always seen the kitchen as just a giant garbage generator and it's only doubled when your city doesn't recycle plastic bags. As a guilty confession, we also don't compost. We were given a small compost bin on move-in day so that it could be taken out to the green bin on a regular basis, but between the lack of space and what might happen if we didn't take it out frequently enough, I opted out. I really should start though, because my fridge crisper spends most of its time as a composter anyway...

A surprising amount of thought goes into a garbage bin replacement. Factors to consider:

  • Style (click to see what I mean, as I am not a connoisseur of wastebaskets) - open-top, step-cans, swing-top, in-cabinet, stacking, touch-top, sensors, visor, or your good old fashioned garbage can
  • Material - plastic, metal, wood, wicker. I imagine there are poor decisions too, like hemp or fabric.
  • Finish/Colour - if it's metal, is it brushed or painted; if it's plastic, is it metallic, what colour, etc.
  • Shape & Capacity - this could really be expressed as a ratio if you know exactly what you want, but you need to be able to fit it in the space you have, while making sure it's big enough to serve its purpose. Tall and skinny could fit the same amount of short and fat, so see what's practical for your space.

I wanted swing-top, brushed metal, tall and skinny. I can't even show you a Google image of what that looks like, so obviously I didn't get it. Anything that would look like that would be well over $100 anyway, so it was time to compromise. The only thing I could find in my price range was an Umbra can that was plastic made to look like metal, and even that was $50. Hell no. All metal seemed to be $80 up and I just can't justify that amount of money for something that holds garbage.

So, how did exactly I pay $3.25 for a brush aluminium garbage bin? It helps when your workplace holds a contest for best Olympic outfit and you have a 2010 hockey jersey which earns you the prize of a $25 Homesense gift card. Homesense is great for items that are a little bit different, but it hasn't actually occurred to me to explore it in this little transformation. Until my last trip, I was considering this, despite my distaste for foot pedals.
However when I went to actually buy it, I walked in and saw a touch-top aluminium one waiting at the front door. Price: $70 marked down to $25. I was - and still am - a bit hesitant with touch-tops just because it's a little plastic part that makes the whole device function. That being said, this was a 50L can as opposed to the 30L, and for $10 cheaper. In the end, I was paying the tax on $25 so what do I care if this $3.25 garbage can ends up falling apart in a month?
... I care. I do. Please don't die.
My final deciding factor: when I went to compare these two side-by-side, the bottom of the step-pedal popped off. We have a winner!
This also happens to fit much better because it's round  and means the cupboard beside it (where our recycling is kept) can be opened a little wider than before. So far my favourite replacement.


And in second place, the little kettle that could. This past weekend I performed the purge and included the electric kettle in the Goodwill bags, since I had just gotten the parcel slip notifying me that my new one was waiting for me at the post office (the kettle that I expressed adoration for here).

I've never been good with measurements. Joke all you want, but I thought a 6-inch-wide kettle would be the size of a normal kettle, so when I was handed a box no larger than a bag of sugar, I was a bit miffed. A kettle emerged, looking a bit different from what I thought I saw in the photos.
Cute as a button though, right? It doesn't show in photos but it's actually quite dirty near the handle and spout. As you can see, the inside of the handle is chipped away in a straight line (which did not look this noticeable in the photos), and there's also a solid black mark near the bottom on the other side. It looks like someone used this for camping, but a good clean would have been appreciated before sending it out.
On the stove, for scale. It's the exact size of a small element and I'm guessing just barely fills my tea pot. In the end, it's all I actually need, and it's a nice little piece that serves its function. It also means it not only takes up zero counter space, but won't even be a problem if the stove gets a bit crowded (which it tends to do). But as a tip for those of you who like to shop online, make sure you understand how large an inch is before ordering.

Dish Dryer
If you recall, I ordered this from Amazon to replace the plastic cesspool I was using before. It folds and takes up essentially no room, while also never developing a greasy red ecosystem for you to wonder about in a couple years. However, I wish it was just an inch wider. I didn't pay attention to the "Junior" part of the listing and it seems that it's only meant for small dishes; it can hold my large plates, but I don't have much faith that a firm nudge would knock them all down. On the spikes meant to hold cups and glasses, it only holds shallow glasses that need the lower sense of gravity for its own support. Taller glasses just slip right off. However, I'm keeping it as motivation to not let the dishes pile up, as it still fits a good amount for its size.
Something else I didn't consider: nowhere to put cutlery. I will have to investigate options for this that don't include just throwing forks wherever.
Since there's no draining tray, I invested in two microfibre drying mats from Kitchen Stuff Plus; one fits perfectly under the rack with some room to spare, while the other will go elsewhere to accommodate large pots and bowls (which really never fit in the old rack anyway).

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