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Remove, refill, replace.

April 13, 2011
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I love organizing things.  I love the magical process of taking a mess and turning it into order and method.  I have been feeling a strong need to reorder things around the house lately.  I always do in Spring because the sunny, breezy, warm days make me long for wide open spaces and bright, light backdrops.  In order to cultivate that, there is always clutter that needs to be removed and disorder that needs to be reigned in.  This year has been especially bad because with a new baby around, I have had a hard time keeping things as organized and tidy as is my preference.  Sometimes I literally can’t take care of it, and sometimes I choose to play with the tiny person smiling at me instead of folding laundry.  I’ll have plenty of days for the latter.

But eventually, the chaos gets to me.  So it was today with the pantry.  I’ve been meaning to get to it for some time as part of the Simple Mom Project: Simplify. Today after moving  4 cans of soup around on the counter, again, because I couldn’t figure out where to put them, I decided enough was enough.  It started out like this.

Left, my baking shelf; right, the full view.

Once upon a time there had been an order to all my stuff, but many, many cooking projects later, it had been lost.  I like to cook.  Actually, I love to cook.  I like to experiment with new cuisines.  I like to try new spices, seasonings, flours, sugars, dried fruits, artisan-made crackers, exotic nut mixes, and the list goes on.  So, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out where my latest acquisition might be housed.  Do Honey Dates go with the baking stuff, the dried fruit, or the sweeteners?  Does the chipotle-infused dark chocolate go with the snacks, or with the baking chocolate? I also sometimes have a hard time keeping things organized because I buy a lot in bulk, which gives me a lot of saggy bags, instead of self-sufficient boxes, jars and cans.  When I got started today I pulled out something like 15 half-full bags of dried fruits, rice, sugar, flour, lentils, coconut flakes and dried beans.  I was daunted by the task of figuring out how to organize all these things.  However, Simple Mom had a brilliant suggestion: Mason jars.  Why had I never thought of this??

So much better!

I have a ton of Mason jars because I mentioned one time to my father that I needed some so I could can my excess summer produce.  So, in typical dad style, he provided me about 5 copy paper boxes full of jars.  Even in my most productive salsa and jelly summers, I haven’t needed that many.  Fear not, poor jars, you have purpose in life yet!  A few cute stickers and a lot of pouring and scooping later, I have a beautifully organized pantry.  It is way better than it ever has been.  The food is easier to organize because the containers are all similar shapes and sizes.  The food is easier to see in the clear jars, and thus I will better be able to tell how much I have of what and not be so wasteful.  Also, the little critters that sometimes find their way into the pantry generally can’t navigate jars, so no more having to worry about finding unwanted additions in my grains and flours.

I got so inspired after all this that I made mini-pumpkin pies, in muffin cups, and topped them with caramelized walnuts.  Ah, the joys of a well organized kitchen.

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