Mise en place

Say it Rah-shay By Oct 17, 2017 28 Comments

At one of the last cooking class I participated in, I learned the term ‘Mise en place.” Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up.

Mise en place

For the kitchen, this means having everything needed on hand so that one (me) is not running all around trying to gather this ingredient or the other while attempting to make a meal. But I have been applying this term in all aspects of my life and so far the results have been fascinating. There are the things I can control such as my desk or the supply closet at work. The things I control with other people, my home that I share with The Librarian and The Bee. The last is my health, which I *think* that I am in control until my body shows me that I ain’t controlling a thing.


This summer, things at work seemed to click into place. My old director left, we had an interim and the summer program that I am always lamenting was not quite the stress induced days that left me questioning my desire to be a Library lady. I know that I keep saying it, but after being diagnosed with renal disease, I decided that I needed to stop sweating the small stuff and allowing for space and time to do things that bring me joy.


After putting it off for weeks, I cleaned up the storage areas at work. I had help – it was definitely a multi person job – and it helped to have someone else suggest that things could be thrown away (some things I needed or could have used in the next week or so, natch). Everything has its place and I am anal about making sure things are put where they belong. There also is the weeklyish tidying of the areas. Since they are being used, there is a little shabby chic going on. My co-workers and I have gotten a little lax about making sure everything is where we placed it so I do go through and reorganize a bit when I am pulling supplies for a program.

Not my desk but why not enjoy more Lil?

This led to me cleaning off my desk. When I let my desk get to outrageous, it was like a paper Jenga game. There were so many piles of paper just waiting to be gotten to or waiting to fall. I told myself that I needed all of the things but once I started to sort and file, I realized that needing all of the things may have been an exaggeration. Did I really need that idea from a conference that I went to in 2008? I never tried it, probably was not going to and it was time to say goodbye.

Once I started I could not stop! Goodbye, duplicates! Sayonara, to that booklet! Ciao, to that template for the program that I only picked up because it was free! Each day I pick a pile to declutter, working my way between my desk and the boxes that I would use to at I swept all of the paper from my desk onto because I was going away and did not want to deal with. One of my library families thought I had another job because my desk was not the confusion and chaos!

Everything has a place. Pens, pencils, the daily things to list” that I have been faithfully keeping. I spend a few minutes at the end of my day putting these things away, making my to-do list and then clearing my desk. I believe that having a clear/clean desk encourages my library people to keep the room cleaner, keeps the kids off of my desk and I love going in the next day and not having to look for things.



Before moving, my house was a mess! Some of it is because I am a hot, unorganized mess. But even as messy as I am, I feel comfortable saying that living in my grandmother;’s house, with her things, held a level of responsibility. Even though I know she is not going to look for the eight staple guns she had stuffed in a closet or ever revisit this home, there was that obligation to keep most of the items that she had bought, collected and owned.

Combining homes with The Librarian gave us double some items so I was not as pressed to keep all of the things. I do feel like most of my things are better but have allowed for me to stop being so snobby and we compromised. Being able to decorate my home the way I want without restrictions of someone else’s belongings has given me the power to stop thinking that I “can’t keep house”and my house and space is not quite the mess that it once was.

Mise en place

Gratuitous shot of Liliana because cat

There is a junk drawer, cabinet, and, yes, room. A catch-all that boxes of books, extra not unwanted but uneeded items have been relegated to but the idea of company coming does not elicit anxiety and me throwing things into a box for until they all leave. I have a morning routine, especially on those days when I get up at why is this an hour” o’clock. I spend a few moments putting things away, doing a household task or two and my house, while not quite museum quality, is ready for visitors.


I am still working on this one. With the exception of gaining weight and a few bruises decorating my body, I do not always look sick. I have to tell myself to take it easy, that just because I *feel* better, it does mean that I can push myself and really, other than the things I have implemented (different diet and working out) sometimes it feels like it;s not enough.

I found a segment from NPR about Mise en place which made me KNOW that I was on to something. You can check it out here. This is not just a simple segment playing in the background. This was the start of a new way of life which allowed me to find a place for everything and get rid of things that were not helpful or being used.


Mise en place

No, this face does not look like it was down for almost two weeks.

This is not to say that me life is all kitten and rainbows but I find that I am not suddenly remembering that I have to do a thing, spending hours looking for my keys or wallet to bag or…you get the picture, nor am I bringing work home because I had not gotten to it because I had to spend a while looking for something at work.



So tell it to me…Have you ever heard of Mise en place? If so, how do you apply it to your life? If no, what do you expect  to gain from applying it to your life?



I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.


  1. Amber K says:

    I have never heard of Mise en place. I must admit now I’m highly intrigued.

  2. I have found that putting things in their place is so helpful. I have been clearing out clutter and it makes my home just FEEL better. I work from home so it can get real messy real fast.

  3. robin rue says:

    I am always running around looking for the ingredients – and usually I end up not having at least one, so I have to drop what I am doing and run to the store for it.

  4. lesleycarter says:

    Oh my gosh, you cat is adorable! We’ve been talking about getting a pet and I think it’s time.

    1. Rachee says:

      *whispers* cat. get a cat. they are awesome

  5. msratliff says:

    I took some French classes and I loved this term! It makes so much sense, but it can be hard sometimes to apply it to every single aspect of our lives. You are doing great! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have heard of mise en place, but I’m a food blogger, AND I’m slightly addicted to Food Network! 😉 I’ve never really thought about it any other way but in the kitchen. Although I think using that train of thought is totally helpful since I’m OCD.

    1. Rachee says:

      I feel like I have developed a sort of compulsion with making sure things are in order. It’s worth it to have a clean house and work area.

  7. Rachel says:

    I have never heard of it. It is an interesting concept but I think it is something that could be applied in many aspects of life, just like you said.

    1. Rachee says:

      Without exaggeration my life has been pretty smooth since I have been making sure everything has a place.

  8. Cecil says:

    I must admit I have heard it before an awful lot, I am hooked on Worst Cooks in America and they teach that from the very beginning. Now, applying it to my life is a wholy different thing. My home though, is where I think I have it down, I’ve always had the need to have everything in place. This was a really fun article to read!

    1. Rachee says:

      Thanks for reading, Cecil! I was always a grab as I go kind of chef/life person but I really think having everything have a place has made a great difference.

  9. I love cleaning, lol. It’s like therapy for me and I want to make sure that everything’s clean and organized at home even with four kids. I’ve never heard of the phrase, but I think I’ve been applying it for years now.

  10. Jeanine says:

    I cannot stand clutter ever since we moved in August. Everything has its place and when it’s moved even a little I go all crazy getting it back!your cat is oh so cute!

  11. I can relate to your desk piece. I let my desk get so bad, and then I can’t stand it any more and I must clean it off, right now, or I can’t go on!

  12. reesann723 says:

    I cannot stand clutter, it gives me anxiety. Yet, by the end of the week my house is a mess. I need to give this a try!

  13. Amber Nelson says:

    Oh, clutter is THE worst…especially in the kitchen. My husband goes nuts when he sees anything out of place in the kitchen.

  14. Roxanne says:

    I am a firm believer that everything has a place, and everything belongs in it’s place. My family however has a completely different life philosophy. 😉

  15. haven’t taken a cooking class in forever, this post makes me want to look into one and go give it a try.

  16. Jenny says:

    Love that phrase. I am such an organizer and need everything to be just so. I love that feeling when everything in life just falls into place.

  17. I’ve never heard of this concept, but it sounds like a really great way to lead your life! I’m glad it has been so beneficial for you so far, and I will definitely take what you have said on board and apply it to my own life 🙂

  18. I feel so much better when I’m organized. We just moved into a new home a few weeks ago and the boxes have been driving me mad! This weekend is hopefully the weekend to get it all done!

  19. Everything has its place and it seems to be anywhere in my home, lol. I really need to apply this to my life and start getting better organized.

  20. I LOVE this post! I am all about Mise en place when cooking but had never heard of applying it to life beyond the kitchen before – LOVE this idea!

  21. Tara says:

    I’ve heard of mise en place as far as cooking, but didn’t think about applying it to all aspects of your life. Great idea to help get control.

  22. TColeman says:

    I have always been taught that if it doesnt have a place in your home, you dont need it. Great way to live!

  23. I have never heard of this concept. I am definitely going to look into it more, though! This post is perfectly timed for the upcoming new year!

  24. I’ve never heard of Mise en place before. This post is definitely making me interested, though!

Your turn! Tell it to Rah-shay!