"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘housework’ Category

As the Kitchen Goes, So Does the Rest

I’ve posted before about how I continually seem to battle the natural disorder that likes to take over my house when I’m not looking . With the kids back in school, I’ve decided that I want to tackle some overdue projects that would simplify and make my life a little easier. My pantry has been bothering me for several years now, and I just felt overwhelmed by the whole premise of where to start. That could be because I started with Pinterest and the types of posts there about pantries have alphabetized spice racks and color-coded expiration date systems. I’ve not reached that level of organization. If I live to be 178 years old, I might.

My pantry is HUGE comparable to the size of our home. It’s a walk-in pantry that had some very deep, ill-spaced shelves. Not a good combination for people like us. Or more specifically me. I’m just a bit of a food hoarder. I don’t know why—we never went hungry as kids or anything and it’s not a result of my stocking up in bulk on the cheap. My friends have been known to say that in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse they are coming over to my house. I think I just grocery shop too much when I’m hungry and everything looks good. In any event, lots of non-perishable food would be brought home and get stashed in the pantry. So eventually there would be three opened boxes of Cheez-Its because the kids wouldn’t bother to dig out the already-opened box.

The more the problem pantry grew (literally), the less I felt inclined to deal with it. Quite the metaphor for life that contains all the elements of a First World Problem—overabundance breeding the problem of “too much” and then an overwhelming inability to know how to handle it. Or more accurately, the energy and desire to “fix” it.

Because I’ve found that as the kitchen goes, so does the rest of my life. When my kitchen’s a mess, it’s generally a reflection of how we’ve been spending our days. When it’s non-stop activities and not enough time at home, the kitchen is the first place to becoming the family dumping ground, minus the great family time around the kitchen table that’s supposed to be there. It’s living in survival mode, and it wears me down very quickly. Once I take an hour to just put away everything that’s wandered its way into the kitchen and polish up the stove top, I feel like I’ve regained a bit of myself.

Before I could get a decent before picture, Darrell had the shelves out.  This is what it looked like empty with builder's grade primer on the walls.

Before I could get a decent before picture, Darrell had the shelves out. This is what it looked like empty with builder’s grade primer on the walls.  Probably just as well–I cringe at the thought of my “before” pantry being out there for the world to see!

So over Labor Day weekend, with the help of my talented and very patient husband, we took every single thing out of the pantry, including those shelves. Darrell patched the walls and painted it a very generic color with a pole-dancer-sounding name, “Vanilla Delight” and we started over again. We came up with a different configuration of the shelves. We purged and re-thought how to organize the various types of foods, paper supplies, small appliances and baking sheets and pans that have been haphazardly put away over the last few years. A small step for mankind, to be sure, but a huge one for Amy.  It feels terrific, even if not everything has found its permanent home yet.

In all her painted glory. It took almost three quarters of a gallon of paint to cover just the pantry because the walls soaked it in.


I never want to revert to how we had the pantry before. Even if it means following my kids into the pantry and pointing out where the bread goes. Because, although I may never color code the expiration dates, it still looks pretty damn good. If you’ve got any great tips for pantry organization that don’t involve alphabetizing or color coding, share them with me in the comments.  I’d love to hear them.

The after. Still need to put a few of the shelves back in. Although you can’t see the exact contents, it made a difference having similar items put together and lesser used items put in the back corners. What comes naturally to some people was an epiphany for me!


My House Was Clean Yesterday—Sorry You Missed It

I actually have a sign in my laundry room that says that. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my house is clean and in order—I just seem to have a hard time keeping it that way. It’s not because I mind actually cleaning, either, other than there are so many more fun things to do instead.   It’s never bothered me to tackle a dirty toilet or soap-scum filled tub. What bothers me is that no matter how clean my house might be one day, the tendency is to fall back into chaotic disorder the next. Phyllis Diller was quoted as saying, “Cleaning your house while your children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Yep. Our family is a little apathetic when it comes to clutter. Or at least more tolerant of it than most.

I watched a segment on Dr. Oz he had about clutter and he pointed out the old tried and true rule, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” It sounds so simple, but I feel like my stuff needs a purgatory of some kind. I am a very visual person, and if it’s out of sight I forget about it, so I like having my stuff out where I can see it. It wouldn’t be so bad except we as a family have a lot of stuff. And, it’s usually items we use on a regular basis. (My son and all his shoes comes to mind.)

Consequently my desk has lots of writing books, cool notebooks/journals, tons of pens along with things I am not supposed to forget to do—like bills to pay and field trip permission forms to return. If I “put it away”, it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be gone forever—or at least until it’s past the time I was supposed to take care of it. I’ve tried different systems to keep it to a minimum, like having a special folder for all my ongoing projects, but then I still need to have the folder where I can see it!

But, hey, I know where my stuff is. As does everyone else who visits.

What I’ve learned is that a mess won’t go anywhere.   In fact, it seems to multiply. The kitchen island is a great example. It starts with a piece of mail I want to make sure my husband notices, so I put it on the island. He comes home, eats, doesn’t notice the mail and I forget to tell him about it. It stays on the counter and is joined by a few other “husband pile” items, like safety glasses and an odd screw I found on the kitchen floor that might be important. In the meantime, the kids notice that there’s empty, horizontal surface space on the counter and add their school papers to the mix. It’s amazing how little time it takes for the paper monster to grow.

The worst part of being tolerant of a mess is that most of the people I admire are naturally organized or admittedly OCD about cleanliness. At any given time I could drop by their homes and probably eat off their bathroom floors. They suffer from the inability to leave a mess or aren’t able to sleep knowing there are dishes in the sink that didn’t fit in the load in the dishwasher. They alphabetize their spice racks. There’s no such thing as a junk drawer. I need my junk drawer.

I like to think that my friends and family understand this about me and think it’s one of my cute, quirky characteristics. Or that dog hair dust bunnies are a new trend I’m experimenting with in my décor. Thankfully I do not have to remind them that they shouldn’t attempt eating off my bathroom floors. After all, they’d have to fight with my dogs if they did that. I have to hope that they love me anyway, even if my philosophy on housework is more Erma Bombeck than Martha Stewart.

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