Monday, January 25, 2010

Organized Beginnings

Organization is something that’s always eluded me. Much admired. So unattainable. Just like those magic eight (okay, maybe 10) pounds. If I’d just lose those, I’d be perfect. If I’d just be organized, my life would be so less stressed. I wouldn’t lose things. Stuff wouldn’t tumble out of closets, drawers wouldn’t get stuck. I’d find one of four instant-read thermometers I know I have in that utensil drawer, when I need it, not later. The picture I want to e-mail would be in the computer, appropriately filed. The missing receipt, in the right file, not crumpled up in a pocket. Nirvana.

I tend to think of organizing as an event instead of a way of life. And I tend to do it this time of year. Fresh start. New year resolutions and all that. And so, I go around the house attacking the worst of them. I have a big list. There’s my desk. Receipts, coupons, clipped recipes, are all living together in clothes-pinned clipped jumbles. (I read a clever hint somewhere, a Martha Stewart Living article about home offices, I think, that recommended using clothes pins with neatly lettered labels to corral stacks of papers. Didn’t work for me. Just looked like more stuff in the wrong place.) There’s receipts, statements, magazine articles, subscription reminders, donation requests, all in paper purgatory.

I figured my spice cabinet was a good place to start my annual “let’s get organized” quest. It seemed like a bite-size project. I could savor some success and then move on to the next drawer, cupboard or closet. It turned into a three-hour project. I was embarrassed to find three containers of ground black pepper and three jars of multi-colored peppercorns, although I do think at least one of the peppercorn jars was a gift. And what on earth was I thinking when I bought six ounces of poppy seeds?

Mustered with resolve, I totally emptied three shelves of the lazy susan. I opened and smelled them all, checked expiration dates, wiped off any stickiness. I combined the duplicates. And then I put many of the spices and herbs into the jars I’ve been saving for months preparing for just this very day. (Storing the motley collection of jars I’d been saving – pickle jars, bouillon jars, other spice jars – became a problem in itself.) And then started the labeling.

Something about that Martha article must have struck a chord with me, because I set about making the weird collection at least look somewhat alike by making new labels for many of them. I wasn’t going to just hand-letter. My calligraphy is wanting. I made a list, went to the computer, fired off my homemade labels, cut them and then used clear packing tape to affix them to my sundry collection, and Voila! I had (what looked like) organization!

It’s been over a week and it has indeed lasted. I’ll see what it looks like in a month after spinning the susan with floured hands, or being in a hurry (i.e., too lazy to get the stool my 5’3” frame needs to get to the third tier) and pushing the offending jar in front of whatever is in its way.

I’m approaching this blog with the same resolve as cleaning my cupboards. It’s a beginning.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to find a way to organize my spices that makes any sense to me at all. At present I have 4 baskets with the misc. spice bottles thrown into them in a sort of haphazard alphabetical order. I can't wait to hear how your method is working.


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