Monday, January 13, 2014

Organizational Extravaganza sounds really trite to say, “Hey, New Year’s Resolution...I’m gonna get organized!”
Yeah...that usually lasts until January 2nd at 2pm. But...not this year. I really feel called to be a much better steward of our money and time by organizing key areas in our house. That would be....most of the house. The good news is, I have conquered something that has had the upper hand over me for years. I am not a born organizer. I love to be organized, but man, is it work!! When we moved here 6 1/2 years ago, I was ginormously pregnant with this little pipsqueak.

I had her five weeks after we moved in to this house. Most everything was unpacked in three weeks, which meant everything was taken out of boxes rather hastily and not with a lot of thought into best placement.  My main focus was on a certain nursery that I got to decorate for my first girl....not organizing my kitchen. My kitchen has been put on the back burner for years. The thing is, the kitchen is our command post. It is where Things Get Done. It’s been so irritating when most of my supplies are not easily accessible or efficiently organized to maximize my time in the kitchen...and I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen. Why did I wait so long?? Well....I have had a lot going on.

You know you want to see those before photos, right? It is amazing what can hide in cabinets...I felt so guilty as I pulled out so many things that had been stuffed back on very deep pantry shelves. So much was out of date, and many things were thrown away.

It looks like a mug shot, doesn’t it? Guilty....

Hand me the scalpel, this is going to be painful....

And then I found something way more emotionally evocative than oatmeal two years out of date.....

Looks like a cap of some kind....I mulled through my memory rolodex, trying to figure out why I was so emotionally keyed up over this tiny cap. Yes! It was the cap that we had to use in plugging Lily’s trach over three years ago, this was the judge who ruled either yes or no if she could get her trach out. While it was plugging her trach, she had to breathe on her own, through her mouth and nose,  and stay pink and happy as she did it.  I’m saving this holds a lot of meaning for us. 

There are two parts to my pantry, the food side and the pharmacy side.  We specialize in airways here, so most of this on the left side is the daily regime for asthma and allergies. We had a few baskets that random things were thrown in, and most of the daily meds were in loosely placed in “groups”. So after I got the food side cleaned out, I still had to deal with the medicine side. It took me basically two long afternoons into early evening to get this one space cleaned out. Wow...

So now everyone has their own bin, labeled with their name. Other meds are placed by grouping and labeled. The labels are from the Martha Stewart/Avery line at Staples. I also have our battery and a few flashlights in there as well. The key here is to have bins that are clear and accessible. I have never labeled anything like this in my life. Most labels I have written are, “Last piece of cake belongs to Peter” hastily written on a napkin next to a crumbly piece of cake. This labeling thing is my eureka moment. I want a labeler now....I finally get the addiction. 

Several kitchen trash bags out to the garage later...and I have a labeled, organized pantry and med area. 

I buy some things like rice, flour and sugar in larger bags, which have always been swimming down below under the shelves...but that area gets so dusty and dirty as people walk by from the garage, I wanted to get them off the floor and into the pantry. I found 1/2 gallon Ball Jars at Walmart. They are perfect for storing dried goods. I see you yawn.....”Yeah, Diana, we’ve known 1/2 gallon Ball Jars for years.” I told you this is not something that comes naturally for me!!

I used washi tape and a permanent marker to label everything. No more, “Where is the brown sugar??” I love washi tape, and plan on getting something prettier than what is here, but that is for another day and a trip to Michael’s. 

I know this is getting long, but I have to show you what I did with my spice area. It was like a your worst closet that falls out on you every time you open it....every day....why did I wait so long to do this?? 

This has always been a reach for me to get, since I am a shorty, and it’s up over the appliance garage. 

It ended up being a much bigger project because I had to rearrange a few other cabinets that have needed organized as well. I use my big mixing bowls several times a week, and always had to get the step stool out....but no more falling spices, no more climbing ladders...

I grouped all of the main spices by: baking, spicy/chili, and savory. It is all at my fingertips now, with the mixing bowls right above where I can reach on my tippy toes.

 My eyes have been opened, the onion peels yanked off....organization is a good thing. In my usual impatient way, I’m ready to get the entire house organized this is something that will take several months. I’m excited! How about you? Do you have that ONE area that you use all of the time but just haven’t made it work for you? 

Now I feel better prepared to menu plan, which in turn does save us money. With the obscene amount of food I had to throw away that was past due...I am in this to stay organized now. No more waste!! Washi tape and permanent markers are now part of my tools in the kitchen. I’ve started marking leftover containers in the fridge with dates on washi tape. The grand thing about washi tape is that it peels off so easily from containers, who knew?? 

The best part is....I can close the door on my pantry and I don’t have Costco size cumin falling on me whenever I try to get cinnamon. Hurray!! Victory!!


  1. Several times when visiting the girls in CA I have undertaken the task of cleaning and organizing their cupboards. Lindsey's husband is the cook and his pantry sent me into a tail spin. I took her to Lowes and bought large, low white wire baskets that fit all the way back into the abyss. Then I organized what went on which shelf. Now the basket can be pulled all the way out and the back stuff becomes visible. Time investment is always a good gift to the family. I also clean and organize freezers.

  2. Beautiful in so many ways, Diana! I also started organizing, which doesn't come natural to me either. Thanks for the tips on the Ball jars. I have lots of these but never thought to put my flours in! Your writing was practical and humorous. How many times have you opened your pantry to admire?! ;) peace be with you, dear sister in Christ.

  3. LOVE IT, friend!!! You did a GREAT JOB! Oh, I'm just thrilled for you because I know just how good it feels to have everything put in places so you can find them and use them!! FANTASTIC work - I'm in your cheering section!! So....where are you heading next in the house?? :)

  4. Hey, Gal! I'm feeling your excitement! That was so fun to read and see! During our family 2-week staycation, we also undertook many projects, and yes, it does make you cringe with guilt to throw things away. A little prayer of thanksgiving for abundance and asking for its return to the earth helped ease that! This past weekend Dev decided to tackle the storage spaces in the house. Out came at least 6 boxes of broken electronics from the past 2 decades that he couldn't part with. Well, we have finally parted! Unfortunately, also came a box of clothing that would have fit Shaan perfectly a year ago, but I didn't know it was there. We salvaged a few items, but rest gets donated. Drat! Why did I spend good money buying him clothes last year! Thankfully, Jay can still wear most of the box that had been squirreled away for him. I did my pantry over the break as well. There are no-man's-land cupboards that I will have to deal with. Taking my inspiration from you, I will do them this week. Our great organizing fever started last month when we opened our big box of Christmas decor and out of it poured dozens of cockroaches scurrying everywhere! Thank goodness this was in the garage! But what couldn't be sanitized (the majority) had to be trashed, and that's when we took noticed of other corners that could be harboring the critters (we did find old evidence, but I'm happy to report, we are cockroach free!). Today is all about donating baby stuff to the women's shelter thrift store. Let's keep up the momentum of simplifying, organizing, prioritizing what's important. Love and Joy to you!

    1. Kim, I would have fainted dead with the bugs. Seriously. I know that's really common in the South. I'll put up with snow. ;) I agree, this is the year of simplifying and organizing!! Here, here!!!

  5. Safe now from falling cumin!! Haha....

    When I was pregnant with one of my kiddos, I made tacos. Being super tired (shocking, I know) I inadvertently added cinnamon instead of cumin to the meat!! Argh! I rinsed the meat, added the cumin... the family didn't think it was *that* bad. (cough cough). I couldn't bring myself to taste it because I could still smell the cinnamon. I still double check my spices and that kid just turned 5! :)

    Looks great, Diana! Keep it up! Now I feel inspired to have one of the kids go organize the lazy-susan cupboard! ;)

    1. Katherine, you put cinnamon in again, just call it Cinci chili!! ;)
      I LOVE my lazy Susan cupboard!!

  6. IT.LOOKS.MAHVAHLOUS (I am from the Boston area - go with the accent LOL)

    Great job - I am a born organizer and have never thought to label my leftovers with washi tape - gonna do that (as soon as the locusts leave me leftovers ;-) )

    thanks for sharing so we can cheer you on!


  7. It looks wonderful! And, I'm sure you feel so great about it--which is motivation in and of itself! Nice work!

  8. I love washi tape! I would not have thought to use it to label containers. Good job, friend! And separate baskets for medicines??? Why didn't I think of that???!!! :-) Thank you for posting this! I am going to hold on to that idea!

  9. Hey, I think we're in the same place! I'm ready to wave my magic wand and have everything in the house organized right this minute, but I think (know) I'm going to have to look at it as a loooong term project instead. We also got off to a really disorganized start when we moved almost 4 years ago, and so I kind of feel like I'm still moving in! Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  10. Angel ( Angela;) I'm so glad to see you!! Yes, you and I have led parallel lives! Off to check in with your blogs!