Yes, this really is how neat Brent makes me keep our city pantry.

As many of you know, Brent’s famous for making lists for me. I thought I’d share with you a few of the things he wants me to accomplish at the farm this month. The combination of getting so many lists along with being genetically lazy has made me a sort of expert at chore shortcuts. So I thought I’d share some of those too.

Here’s my latest list:

1. Take down outdoor Christmas Decorations. There are only so many times I can use the “I’m waiting for a January thaw” excuse. Mostly because there is no January thaw in Sharon Springs. We have several wreaths on the outside of the house (yes, they’re artificial…we inherited them) and I’ve found one of the best ways to store them is in large, clean, round garbage pails. They stack nicely and don’t get crushed. And they have handles so they’re easy to carry up and down from the attic. (Be sure to measure the bottom diameter for correct size since the bottom is often narrower than the top.) Also, save the tubes from Christmas wrapping paper, or mailing tubes. If you have Christmas table runners or tablecloths, roll them onto the tubes rather than folding them. It saves ironing time next year. Wrap in saran wrap to keep clean, or if you have several sizes of tubes, roll the linens on a smaller tube then slip into a larger one for protection.

2. Clean out the attic. Putting away holiday decorations is also a great excuse for straightening up the attic overall. Here’s our rule: for every box that goes into the attic, one must come out. And every box must be clearly marked with its contents. You think you’ll remember next year that you put your spring sweaters in that Amazon box in the corner, but you won’t. Trust me. Tip: Tie a Sharpie marker to a long string and hang from a rafter. That way you’ll never be tempted to leave a box unmarked because you don’t want to go downstairs to get a marker.

3. Clean the copper cookware. To be fair, this is on my list every month, but I only really get to it every three months or so. Since we don’t like chemicals, we use lemon halves dipped in table salt to polish our pots and pans. And because we’re cheap, we save all of the squeezed lemon halves we use for cooking to later use for polishing. We toss them in a plastic bag that we keep in the freezer. They often have just enough acidic juice left in them for polishing. (Also, because we’re really really cheap, we zest all of our citrus, even those used for juice or snacks, and keep the zest in a bag in the freezer. You can never have enough zest, and why waste any of it?)

4. Bring wood over to the house. John lets us use his tractor to move the wood from the barn to the side of the house (I drive, of course.) Brent used to hate it when I would bring an armful of wood into the house, dropping twigs and pieces of bark as I went. So I started using those big blue Ikea bags. Not only do they hold more than I can carry in my arms, I can also dump all of the “bark crumbs” directly into the fireplace. Instant kindling! Footnote: Brent has since given me a canvas log tote for Christmas. Romantic, right?

5. Clean out both city and farm pantries. I got a jump start on this by cleaning out the farm pantry over Christmas break, but I’ve been working on our city pantry since New Years. One of my pet peeves, (yes I have them too) is too many nearly empty spice jars. This is the time year to use them up, since fresh herbs aren’t always readily available. My trick for consolidating them is to make my own blends. You know that if you’re making something Italian you’re almost certainly going to use a combination of dried oregano, basil, and parsley. So if you’ve got less than a third of a jar of each, use a funnel to combine them into one. The same goes for thyme, crushed rosemary, sage leaves & parsley. You’ll probably use that blend in stews. By consolidating now, you’ll clean out your drawers, and save time searching for jars while cooking. Just be sure to label them with a Sharpie marker and promise yourself you’ll use them up by herb planting time.

So, what are your chores for January?

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Reader Comments

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Jeannie Rodman

As a long-time fan who has friends who transplated to the Ithaca area, I was so so so glad to hear you are now full-time in Sharon Springs. Of course my psychologist hubby says this will prove to reduce the tension in your relationship, but there will always be the chores and money for that, right? Cliff loves you guys for giving American the view of a real-life gay relationship, “So people can see they’re not Martians.” I am addicted to your lovely goats’ milk soap. I don’t miss that itchy winter skin at all!

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Rainie Cole

Glad you’re finally getting to be together 24/7 in Sharon Springs. But NYC will miss you! May we meet again soon. Will new episodes of “Fabulous Beekman Boys” ever return to TV?

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victoria silva

Okay… Here’s an idea for you… the next time Brent hands you your to do list… have it framed… that way he doesn’t have to write the same list over and over again… all you have to do is hang it somewhere in the kitchen… and have him take it down and hand it to you next time!

Problem solved.

And hey listen… YOU can follow suit and start making him lists too!!!

Love you guys
Victoria Silva

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Adrienne Baker Vennen

We use a kiddie sled, the two seater kind, to haul wood in and take trash out. Tip: when you buy the sled, buy a good length of rope to pull it with,

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Chazzy Foy

A fantastic place to get free top soil / dirt is you local cemetary. Just call ahead & ask permission.

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Abigail

It’s January cleaning time here in northwest illinois. IT’s like spring cleaning. Curtains are taken down and washed. Linen and sheets are inventoried as they are usually are sale this month. Sewing projects are completed. I like attic idea, but i’ll apply it to the basement. I have’nt cleaned it in years. I did clean the garage last year with assistance. Being disabled can be a pain to complete some these projects. My husband keeps our kitchen cubbords like your pantry. He just needs to apply it to the rest of our house. Thanks.

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Darcell

I think that is a fair chore list. I organized my pantry and junk drawer in my den and the basement. I find if I take down one room at a time of Christmas decorations it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I will have to look for those bags at lkea.

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Candace Punch

I would kill for a pantry that looked like that!!!! I might need to borrow Brent or maybe get a bigger kitchen!

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Christine Wenrich

I took my Christmas tree down today! Rest of the decorations to follow shortly. Cleaning out the closets seems pratical prior to putting the tubs of decorations back in them. I did get Josh and Brent’s Christmas gift packaged up today for mailing tomorrow, finally! Germs had found me so I have been a tad bit behind. The kitchen cabinettes need attention too. That might wait until February though. So much to do!

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curiouscathy

I want to read Brent’s to-do list for January. (wink) We work similarly here at Curious Farm (near Portland, Oregon). I participate in an annual pantry challenge and try to shop as little as possible and use up stores in the pantry, spice cabinet and freezer. It is a lot of work, but I’ve learned over time that we really don’t use frozen soups as other people do. They always stack up in the freezer. This has driven me to purchase supplies and to cook differently. I also have learned that it doesn’t do us any good to have a rainbow of beans in the pantry if we only want red and black ones. It also is encouraging to see how little we can buy at the grocery if we’re trying to reduce our pantry. Lemons, yes (for cleaning copper, too!). Avocados for mental health. Do we really need fresh parsley? Or should we dig out some bracing mustard greens from the garden to feather instead for brightness on top of soups? All farms do this good work. Use, grow, and buy wisely. So much mindfulness. But there is joy, too.

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Vitta Fernandez

I have to reorganize my sewing/craft room…maybe if I do it right this time, I won’t spend an hour looking for that special bead I know I put in that place where I knew I wouldn’t forget. Also, I am getting my raised beds made this month…I have to organize my seeds. I am going to put them in a photo album, with the inserts that have the pockets. Then, I can see the seed packet, and make notes also on X-large index cards. Sort of a garden journal with a little twist. I also have to find someplace near where we live so that I can buy dirt in bulk. I think that would be a lot cheaper than buying it from Lowe’s. Don’t you think?

Plus, my first craft show this year is February 12-14 at the Concourse in Albany, NY. So every spare minute between work and making raised beds is spent sewing, knitting, painting, drilling bottles, decoupaging, making bolster pillows, jewelry pouches,….sorry, I tend to ramble a lot.

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MelissaKlein Johnson

Holy smokes,he does keep you busy.I like the spice trick best of all since we don’t have attic’s in Florida for the fire logs I drag in myself and then I know there is no mess.

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amanda welch

My January list consists of building new beehives and repairing the older boxes, renovating our chicken tractor to hold 25 chickens instead of 8, planning the garden and ordering seeds! My house is not as messy as you might imagine…. You can check out the farm (and chickens and bees) at http://www.grubbygirl.com

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Linda

Josh, does your January list include pouring over the Landreth seed catalog and dreaming of that first salad of luscious home grown lettuce? I'm ready for the 2012 gardening forum! This year I'll be doing programs about Square Foot Gardening and encouraging local schools to use them for plant studies in their science classes. Would love to see your garden plans for this season! Oh, well, I guess you can finish cleaning the attic first….

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Vitta Fernandez

I love Square Foot Gardening! I’ve been a fan of Mel Barholemew when he had his show on PBS many, many, many years ago! I think this year I will be doing a mix of Beekman Boys and Mel’s gardening. Should be faaahbulous!

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David

Hi Josh/Brent;

I only found your website/show/etc. a few days ago, but have already developed a feeling of kinship with both of you for many reasons. Something I found helpful growing up with Wisconsin, and necessary when I moved to the mountains of N. Carolina, was to fill a couple large plastic storage containers with wood for the house and rotate containers. All the "mess" stays inside the container, the wood will be dry when you want to use it, and the chance of "surprise" animals living in the wood stack is eliminated.

I look forward to getting to "know" both of you better and following your adventures in the future.

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Amy Patunas

hello Josh and Brent…I am going to be visiting the Sharon Springs area tomorrow 8/8..for my wedding anniversary…My husband and I love road trips..We just checked out your website for the first time (very impressive)..we were very disappointed to see that you are already sold out for the harvest feast and farm tours…when is the earliest we can book for next year…my 11 year old son is dying to see your farm and meet all of your goats…

We recently moved to Walton, NY (we left the jersey shore)and we are loving the slow pace of farm life…we only have chickens so far,,(25 of them)…but thanks to your show my son was so looking forward to moving to the mountains ..I want to thank both of you for that..otherwise it would have been hell getting him to move away..

so let me know when we can book for next year so my son can finally get to meet both of you and see your fabulous farm…

thanks Amy

.

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Connie

LOL! Ya gotta love him! He is one of a kind, and he is a man on a mission!

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Patricia

Love your show! I have read the book & purchased some of your great products. I am considering getting a few goats. What kind would you reccomend for someone on two acres who wants to use the milk? Do you drink the goat milk? If so, how is it?

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Bruce W. Medanich

Wait…….decorations still up….still waitng…….waiting for that thaw….

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Deb C.

Just received my order from your website…doing an unconventional Easter basket for my partner…a jar of your onion jam and a package of your heirloom seeds.

Thanks for the tip on combining small amounts of herbs to create a blend; just cleaned out old herbs on Sunday and have half jars left.

As always, looking forward to your show tonight and raising a glass!

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penny

Twice a year I take the dry groceries still good yet not used and bag them up for the local food pantry. I also include items in greatest need, juice,soups,crackers, and peanut butter. I cleaned out some shelves, and help others in need.

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Nan

Have loved a goat or two in my past and visiting goat cam makes me feel I've come home, now that our little shed is empty.

The herd size is amazing. I doubt Farmer John would allow the herd to be "culled" would he? Pls say no.

Re organization. My Bill was a funny, stoic Irishman, sorely missed. One winter morning, stranded at home in a blizzard both of us watched Martha make a lampshade. He drank his

coffee, stood up and stated "Martha has a lot of time on her hands!" He got on his boots overcoat and went to work.

But we both loved organization. Bravo, you inspire. Just no lampshades, please. : )

Incidentally, one of your purveyors in Cambridge provided us with Beekman Blakk wheel last fall and I cannot wait for those girls to produce more. Makes for a messy plate, but sooo trendy. Guests who shared are now fans.

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Karen

I watched Martha clean out an acorn squash to make a candle and said the same thing. Why take 5 times as long to do something you could do much more easily? It was the last time I watched!

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Linda Baumes

We have Amish friends here in Glen NY that are starting to milk sheep do you know of a market for this milk. there seems to be one person that buys this and said he has all he needs so they are looking for more markets for this can you help here . thank you Linda Baumes

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Dr. Brent

Hi, Linda

Is the milk pasteurized? If so, he might be able to sell to some local farmers who are making sheep milk cheese. If he has a lot of excess he could contact Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. They buy milk from many different farms to make their cheeses

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Dana Cohea

I've been seeing your promos for your new season and looking forward to the show.

Dana Cohea

Portland, Texas

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Lisa Winter

Here on Long Island, there hasn't even been a February thaw. We still have our Christmas decorations on the lawn. It should be in the 40's & 50's the next two days, so we should get them put away. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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sherri

I love all of your ideas. It makes so much sense to recycle and reuse and to "stretch" things as far as they will go. I would like to give you a tip, if and when you clean out your closets and if you ever donate your previously loved clothes, you could always donate to the wonderful "blue box" at my church on #8 Second Ave in Rensselaer, on your way to the train. The clothes go to needy people in the US. Thank You in advance, if you do this.

One of my tips; I "save" and freeze all of the little bits of leftover veggies, in ziploc bags or freezer containers. I use them in soup or stew or sometimes just pull them out and mix them with rice for a quick meal. And don't tell my boys, but I puree them and add them to my meatloaf recipe, I get the satisfaction of knowing they are eting there veggies and they don't know they are eating them! 🙂

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molly campbell

I just read your book and loved it. I am also a writer, and I have occasionally cherished Martha-like dreams, but came to my senses awhile ago. My latest blog post is about dust. I think you two are kindred spirits! molly

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Patricia (Beekman) R

Looks like lists I have made in the last year, and nearly as long and complicated. Love the Beekman Mansion. I have drawings of the same house, but thought it was in Manhattan. Huh? Pat

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Julie Mooberry

I have a sewing business in my home and this year marks my 30th year… so I devoted much of January to cleaning out and organizing my sewing room. We built this house just a couple years ago and I have a fantastic room that has 24' of cabinets my husband built for me. They are a beautiful shade of 30's glass green. I went through boxes I had put in storage a few years ago and truly enjoyed coming across things I had forgotten about. However I gave myself permission to get rid of a lot of things and now my room is so nice and easy to work in. No clutter what-so-ever! I LOVE IT! Joy!

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anne

I continue to read your blogs hoping that some of your 'tidy tips' will rub off on me. Not much chance of that I'm afraid, but I am also trying to change my lifestyle and live closer to the beautiful land I have here in Maine. My first step has been to create my own line of Goat milk soaps incorporating my home grown herbs and local goat milk. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Cindy

Great tips!, but I thought wrapping any kind of fabric in plastic is a no no according to Martha? Great website and show!!

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Jane Toohey

No Brent – it is too hot to become interested in anything but basic salads. Winter is kitchen time – I love winter – of course we don't get snow and all its beauty/complications but the smell of something on the stove in winter is so comforting. The smell of cooking when it is hot … isn't

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Jane Toohey

January is one of the hottest monnths in Australia (I think February is hotter), so with days of 40 degrees and over these months are spent just moving hoses to keep garden beds alive and inside stuff (that can be done in the comfort of an air-conditioner or fan). Cleaning out cupboards and pantrys is on such job. I love the pic you posted of your city panty – everything branded is hidden in the bin in the corner!! January in Australia is also holiday time when many families take their annual hols and head toward the nearest beach or dam as harvest is finally in. Yes, due to our seasons being opposite to yours, our harvest is always around or over Christmas!! 🙁

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Nicole LeMere

Thanks for the tip on the Lemon Zest…very smart thinking!!

My chores for January were to clean out my son and daughter's closet, and organize my pantry. Since I've been overcome by some unpleasant Morning Sickness over the last 3 weeks, I have not accomplished a thing.

Wish me luck for February!

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darla smelko

Love your show!!!!

Just like you I opted for a simpler life style. We purchased my moms 1890's house

just under 2 acres. I am trying to homestead

when we began to "restore"I put in a large pantry (not as tidy as yours)but I work on it. And just like you we have spirits that live with us. Can't wait till March the new season of your show will air here. Living

simply is more rewarding.LOL from Punxsy Phil territory.

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