The Living Kitchen


I used to keep a lot of decorative things in my kitchen. I find more and more these days that I will put those things away (or give them away) in favor of things that are more functional. Or maybe it’s that I look for things that are both functional and decorative.

I love canisters of flours and sugars.

I love jars of dried beans.

Those candles? They aren’t for nothing! Those tapers are power outage candles, at the ready.

I like pretty bottles and pitchers for flowers from the garden or the roadside.

I like a basket of fresh-washed eggs and my dried herbs.

I like pretty crocheted dishcloths, aprons, and old cookbooks.

I’ve been spring-cleaning (or fall cleaning) my kitchen. If you are visiting my home next week, I’d appreciate it if you noticed that my salt shakers are sparkly.

By the way, did you know that if you live in a humid area, if you add a few bits of rice to your jars, the salt won’t clump?

We’re having a big party here in a week, so I need to clean up for that reason alone, but lately, any time I clean anything, I take the time as I go to sort through and dismiss what doesn’t fit in a functional, minimal home. (I have a long way to go. Have you seen my kitchen drawers? They need work.) But bit by bit, I move from one room to another, tackling a piece at a time, getting rid of stuff. I want my home to function, and the kitchen is the heart of any home.

There is a purpose to some decorative things. There are some things that need to exist in a kitchen to bring a smile or a memory, or just for the joy of its beauty. But I make myself think hard about each of those things that I leave. Why is it there? What memory is attached to it? Do I really love it?

My mother always kept these hand-painted Italian rooster plaques in her kitchen. (My mother had so much class, even her kitsch was hand-painted and Italian.)

They make me think of my mother in the kitchen when I was growing up. I will find them a place in my kitchen.

When everything in the kitchen is both beautiful and useful, it brings a kitchen alive with activities and possibilities. I want a living kitchen. You?


  1. Julie says:

    I love your living kitchen ~ so much warmth. Very living country!! Your mother’s rooster plaques are wonderful.

  2. Kathy in KY says:

    I just went thru my kitchen and sold off a bunch of dishes, etc, that I never use – now I’m down to my Bybee Pottery dishes, cups, plates, etc, and am very glad about that. I have been purging a lot during this move I’m making, and it feels good. A lot of stuff I’ve had from my college days – lotsa paperwork that mean nothing to me anymore, and I must have 10 or more boxes of junk to be thrown into the dumpster here at my apt complex – it’s nice to purge and get rid of stuff. I totally agree with you, things you need/use should be in the kitchen and elsewhere, but I am getting to the point where I hate clutter. You Go Girlie in your cleaning. Take care, from KY.

  3. Rita says:

    i like your sparkly polished kitchen. So nice to walk in and have what you need to begin making almost anything you normally like to make. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. glenda says:

    I like everything you are keeping… those matching jar lids.

    Your kitchen is my kind of kitchen….a working kitchen.

    Good luck with all the cleaning for the party.

  5. B. Ruth says:

    I love the Shawnee salt and pepper cats….and I’ve mentioned before the Blenko green bottle…LOL

    Do you ever put live plants in your greenhouse window….I always wanted one of those windows….even on the shady side it would be beautiful full of grannies violets…

  6. Ilene says:

    Oh, I hear ya! Still getting settled into my kitchen, but working on it! I use jars as canisters, too. Gallon jars that used to hold pickles now hold flour and sugar. Half-gallon jars that used to hold peanut butter or cherries now hold corn meal, rice, coffee, tea bags. I love old cast-iron implements. I have grinders and sausage stuffers and shellers and peelers. I don’t use them but they bring me joy and a feeling of a connection to my ancestors, who DID have to use tools like these. It’s harder for me to let go of things, but I am getting better about not bringing so many of them home from garage sales…..

  7. Carol says:

    With only myself to can and cook for, I am also in the middle of purging and downsizing. Fortunately, my son and his wife have just starting preserving food, so I will give them dozens of my canning jars, among other things. I am also trying to remove clutter, especially objects that are not useful. I’m with you, Suzanne. Jars of dried beans, etc. are beautiful and give a sense of security and accomplishment when it comes to laying up food stores. I wonder…when did the pioneers begin to crowd their basic kitchens with decorative clutter?

  8. Anke says:

    I’m with you on the ‘living’ kitchen. I want the things in our kitchen to be pretty, but also useful. No “frilly” stuff on the counters and the drawers are pretty organized. I’m still getting rid of things here and there, but overall it is definitely a working kitchen. I love your jars of beans and herbs you have sitting out!

  9. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Love it! I have a very small kitchen, but I spend much time there. It has to be functional and pretty. My brother is a VP of a commercial spice operation, so I have purchased many, many spices in bulk and have them in matching jars on the shelves. This sight along brings much happiness, not to mention the flavor to home-cooked meals.

    Love your blog!


  10. hershiesgirl says:

    I’m with you! I like the coziness. I don’t keep much out on the counters though, because I hate working in clutter. When we bought this house, I thought the kitchen was huge….after working in it, I have decided its not anywhere as big as I thought! Most of my jars of beans, rice, staples are tucked away in the pantry, but in the *next* kitchen, they will be on open shelves so I can enjoy them every day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. herbandolive says:

    You and I like all the same stuff, except your kitchen is far more attractive than mine! Sure wish I could make to one of your parties someday.

  12. CindyP says:

    Never knew the word, but living kitchen suits it. Even if it’s decorative, it needs a purpose or there’s no room for it ๐Ÿ™‚ I use a lot of decorative storage. Probably if I purged I would have more room in cupboards and drawers, but I have a lot of gadgetry that always seems to come in handy when I least expect it.

  13. Karen Patrick says:

    What a lovely kitchen. I really enjoy your blog. Don’t you just love a sparkly clean kitchen?

  14. FarmYard Gal says:

    Love, love, love your kitchen!!

  15. Shirley Corwin says:

    OK, I’m going to take another hard look at my kitchen. I have put things in canisters but then I put them in my cupboards which take up space and way up in the un-useful high cupboards where they are a pain to even get to. I went and bought rice the other day because I completely overlooked the big jar of it way up there!

  16. Nancy says:

    As I get older I find I need simplicity as well. Clutter is very unsettling to me. I have a question…on your dried beans there’s what appears to be a stuffed chicken with embroidery on it, what does it say? :heart:

  17. Miss Judy says:

    Couldn’t say it any better! I have been having big arguments..with myself, about what to keep.I need to release some of my “things”.

  18. Leona Booth says:

    So homey and warm with thought, I treasure the simple things also, they serve us well. I will share this post and lead others too the wisdom you share so freely… Take Care!

  19. Langela says:

    Do you keep your eggs out on the counter? I thought they needed to be refrigerated.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Langela, no, I don’t keep them out all the time! After I bring the eggs inside, I wash them and set them in the wire basket until they are thoroughly dry before I put them in cartons and put them in the fridge. Those eggs had just been washed and were drying.

  20. Kristen says:

    Your kitchen looks beautiful Suzanne! I like to decorate with food stuff as well ๐Ÿ™‚ It does make me hungry more though :hungry:

  21. bonita says:

    ::Why look, look at this lovely kitchen. Even the salt shakers are sparkly!::

  22. Barbee' says:

    Everything you do is delightful! You have inspired me lately so I have been clearing out “stuff”. But, I don’t know, Suzanne, maybe you should just wait about the cleaning until the crowd leaves, and then clean.

  23. cricketjett says:

    Suzanne, you have a beautiful kitchen. You have also inspired me as I have been trying numerous receipes from your blob. I purchased canisters for my flour and etc., to place on my counter. I wish I had thought of jars, prior to buying my canisters. But I definitely will change them out. I have several large wide-mouth half gallon jars and several unusal jars that would be perfect for decorative and useful purposes. I love it! Everytime I go in my kitchen it makes me want to bake, thanks to you. I have always hated clutter and I do not keep anything that is not useful or has really special meaning to me. My mother and father were always pack rats and it drove me crazy. For years I would take a week’s vacation, just to clean out the house and buildings. I think I drove them just as crazy. I have two sisters who are also pack rats, but I am slowly converting my baby sister. It is hopeless for the other one.

  24. Miss Becky says:

    “My mother had so much class, even her kitsch was hand-painted and Italian.”
    I know I would have loved your mother. And you know Suzanne, speaking of class, the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree… :yes:

  25. Kim says:

    Your very useful kitchen looks inviting. And isn’t that what a kitchen should be – useful & inviting? Very nice.

  26. Canner Joann says:


    I’ve always believed the kitchen is the heart of the home. Yours is a fine example of a kitchen I’d be truly at home in. I knew a woman who couldn’t stand for anything to be in sight. Nothing graced her kitchen except perfectly clean, empty counters. She cooked out of boxes, bags and cans and I don’t think she used anything but her microwave. It wasn’t a pleasant house to be in, and I don’t think she’s a happy person.

    You are blessed, and can’t wait to see everyone at the party next week, where I’ll be sure to comment on the salt & pepper shakers!

  27. Shelly says:

    Your kitchen looks like mine, I have my aprons hanging on my bakers rack too. I have gotten into beading lately so my kitchen table is full of jars of beads. Love the rooster plaques. Your party should be fun.

  28. Flatlander says:

    Love your jars with beans, I have a whole stack load of jars myself, I pick them up at a care home in the nearest town.
    They are pickle jars, but after a good wash in the dishwasher you don’t smell that anymore.
    Beans, cereal, sugar, rice, chocolate chips etc, all stored in nice to look at.

  29. NorthCountryGirl says:

    I want a living kitchen, too. I too have my aprons hanging on a rack. Two huge chrome racks filled with food stuffs and other items reside in my kitchen. I have big canisters of flour, sugars, and grains. I so want to organize it as it seems to have gotten out of hand. I bought white plastic baskets in several sizes and have the smaller items in these. Jars of oatmeal, boxes of rice, all kinds of supplies that need to be put back in order. Maybe I will include that on my “TO DO” list soon. Your kitchen looks so nice and sparkly! Good job!

  30. Pat says:

    Thank You so much for your site! I came here thru a search for homemade hamburger helper and then a link someone had posted with your site info. I could stay for hours…LOL! Love your style…we live in a 1850 farmhouse so this is right up my alley. I chose this post as my precious MOM went to her heavenly home this summer, she love collecting chickens and roosters. The end of this post was most appropriate. :chicken: ….off to start that hamburger helper… :chef:

  31. Liz in Wis says:

    This post has inspired me, to make some changes in my kitchen.

  32. JOJO says:

    Suzanne, may I ask where you found your white lids for the mason jars? I have several dozen of the blue jars and am currently using the old zinc lids, but would like something a bit more air tight.
    Thank you.

  33. JOJO says:

    Thank you so much, I will be going there tomorrow,

  34. Patricia says:

    I can’t believe you have Allen County Sorghum on your shelf! I once drove the old man who “still makes it the old way” to see a chiropractor 150 miles away from Scottsville, Ky where we all lived. He brought cases of that to offer for sale in different roadside stands and shops along the back roads we drove. I now live once again around the Amish in Northern Indiana, but I tell you, the Old Order Mennonites I met in the Allen County area of Kentucky taught me more. They really knew how to live! Very simply. Once when I went to pick up a couple of glass jars of milk from one couple we stood out in the dark talking, (they do not even use propane), and out of the windows the sound of all the kids(eight of them) in the kitchen singing hymns while washing up the dinner dishes came to us. We stood still and listened for a few moments. With the warm milk fresh from the cow in our arms and the song on the night air, I felt for sure I had traveled back in time and was as much of a part of the early 20th century as my great grandmother had been. Sweet!

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