Monday, September 14, 2009

Pretending to be Organized/Domestic here...

My sister in law came to visit us over the Labor Day weekend. In preparation for her visit, we did a little spring cleaning. It was just a few months late! We're slackers, I know. No matter, because we got this place in pretty decent shape. One thing that we did discover, however, was that something had gone bad in the bottom shelf of our pantry, waaaaaaay in the back.

Perhaps "gone bad" is putting it mildly though, because I say "something" as a result of this item being so far gone it was COMPLETELY unidentifiable. How I did not smell it earlier, I do not know. It was nasty, y'all. I keep onions and potatoes in the fridge, even though I know that you shouldn't really, just as a precaution against this sort of thing happening!

It doesn't help that our pantry is just awful. Its narrow, but deep. Things get lost way in the back. I've utilized lazy susans and baskets to help try to keep it organized, but the fact of the matter is that out of sight is out of mind and things that I buy with the best intentions tend to get forgotten. Also, it's built from the absolute lowest grade particle board you've ever seen, painted a sad sack shade of gray-brown. It's nicked and scratched from years of use, by myself and the previous renters. I lined it with pretty shelf paper, but that only helps a little.

Here's a shot of the top cupboard mostly emptied out:

You have to love the faux wood grain on the front too. I learned the hard way not to clean that with cleaners that contain bleach. Luckily, I learned it in a corner so hopefully management won't notice when I move out, ha ha!

Now, this is the cabinet above the sink where I keep my dishes. I long to one day have enough room to own pretty serving pieces, but the truth is I don't really need them, so this works for now. It's maybe half as deep as the pantry, but wide. It's almost like the pantry opened on it's side, but just one level.

They put my bowls on clearance at Target so I panicked and bought more, not realizing how many I already had at home. Maybe I need to have a soup party? Now I need to buy more plates!!!

I decided to move the dishes into the pantry cupboard, putting the most used ones up front and the rarely used ones (saucers on rectangular serving plates) in the back. You can really see how deep this cabinet is now that the dishes are in there. Glasses and mugs are on the next shelf up.

The plan was to move the most perishable food over to that shallow, wide cabinet so that I could actually see what I had and USE it. I bought some glass jars at Ikea for items purchased in bulk and in awkward shaped packages. I used my OCD enabler to label the lids for the jars. Pretty, huh?

When you do a deep cleaning of your cabinets, you find interesting things. For instance, cans of food that expired a few years ago...

Whoops! Luckily, I'm not a big fan of canned food, so I only had to throw out six cans of stuff.

Can you tell I like the Asian supermarket?

I also discovered two HUGE bags of Splenda and two 100 count boxes of individual Splenda packets in there. What the heck was I thinking??? I also found a couple of jars of pickles and several boxes of iced tea bags.

Here is what that cupboard looks like now, with all the food in there. My plan is to try to USE UP what I have in there as much as possible in the next few weeks, and then go back to meal planning and buying just what I need to make those meals. Of course, I'll keep certain staples on hand, like eggs, flour, sugar, seasonings, etc.

I know ideally you should have a pantry full of staples, but the fact of the matter is that I don't have room to be able to see it all and keep it rotated and remember to use it all! This is the way it will be right now, I think, so that I can stay organized. I also want to start making my own food again and stop buying the premade pasta mixes, cookies, bread, etc. Cleaning out the cupboards this severely and making room only for the most basic items will help that goal as well.

There was the issue of the pantry cupboard being twice as much space as the dish cupboard. What I did was move the baking items in sealed containers into the lower shelves, because they're big and I get into them often enough that they won't go bad. Things like flour and sugar are down there. I also put the few canned items I had there as well, because what is left is stuff like canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, both of which I use very often. They should be okay.

I got rid of all the chips, the cookies, the expired food, and the packages with a few tiny bits of food in them. Things with irregularly shaped packages, like brown sugar, corn meal, and the baby's yogurt melts were transferred into glass jars. I cleaned it out enough that I don't NEED to put anything on that bottom shelf if I don't want to do so. That's good, because it still smells funky despite all the baking soda and newspaper we've been using over the past couple of weeks to absorb the smell. Ew.

As a start to my home cooking, I did mix up some bread dough this morning using a recipe that I found on Preppy Pink Crocodile's blog. I made it while my sister in law was here. It has a similar texture to sourdough bread, but instead of that sourdough tang, it has a slightly earthy, nutty flavor due to the whole wheat flour. The absolute hardest thing about making this bread is remembering to mix it up, because it has to rise for a minimum of eight hours. So, here's what I did:

I mixed up all the dry ingredients in Ziploc bags and tossed them in the fridge (due to the yeast). Now, all I have to do is pull one out, dump it into a bowl, add my hot water ( I didn't even check the temperature - I used hot straight from the tap!!! Scandalous!) and set it out to rise. I also weighed the flours so that next time I do this I won't have to bother with the measuring cups. I can just spoon flour into the bags or bowl until I have the appropriate amount.

Now, I'm off to clip coupons! Fun!

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Blogger kingsqueen said...

Nice work on the organizing! It looks terrific. It kind of gives me a few ideas for my own space. I'm thinking about pulling a switcheroo now too. I've already had to utilize the basket idea, and it does work great to corral those smaller items. Looking at your photos though, I may have to take them a step further. Thanks for the ideas this morning! :)

6:43 AM  
Blogger Susanne P. said...

your cupboards look great. i am drooling over your dishes. don't get me wrong, i love mine but there is just something about the square and the white that calls to me. lol i have looked at them in target a dozen times.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hmmm, would you like me to hire you to come and organize my kitchen for me? I even have my own OCD enabler you can use...but somehow it's not *quite* enough to get me where i need to be.

Word verification: terized
I am often terized by the mess in my kitchen gadget drawer...

7:12 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

I'm totally inspired by your organization. This is great. Good for you for rethinking your space and what will work for you. Doesn't it feel so good to give all your things a spot? Especially when it's so functional. I love the IKEA jars with labels. Good stuff!

8:07 PM  

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