Hello, and welcome to Tumbleweed Tidings on this cold and snowy day in Southeastern Washington! Here in the Tri Cities, we are not used to having so much snow, especially in February. We are the ones that see over 300 days a sunshine per year. We are the ones who typically sail through winter without breaking out a snow shovel. Well, not this year. Last week, school was cancelled every single day. With almost blizzard conditions a couple of days dumping over 12″ of snow, and a little freezing rain thrown in just for fun, many people have been literally housebound. The students and teachers in our area are now enjoying an 11 day weekend, with President’s Day today. I say “enjoying” somewhat sarcastically, because at this rate, they will still be in school the first of July.
By now you’re thinking, “hey, I thought this blog was about tidying and clearing the clutter?” You are so right! But first, I had to give you our grim weather scenario so you will understand why I had so much time on my hands to organize and tidy up our home… sheer boredom:) As a result of all of this weather, my husband’s work was cancelled most days, my ladies club meeting was cancelled on Tuesday, Rotary was cancelled on Wednesday, and even our church Valentine’s dinner and Sunday services were cancelled last weekend; something that never, ever happens. In other words, our whole life was pretty much cancelled last week!
Most of you have probably heard of the newest tidying phenomenon, Marie Kondo, and her KonMari style of tidying up. She has written a couple of books and has a new Netflix series that I haven’t seen yet. But I have watched a few of her YouTube videos, and some of her ideas are very inspiring. She has an order for going through your house and organizing and tidying every area, starting with clothes. As you look at each item, you are to decide if it “sparks joy” in you. As I go through my closet, the only way most of my clothes would spark joy is if I would lose 20 pounds so they fit nicer. But that’s a blog for another day:)
So, back to tidying my house. Once I had done all of my normal chores on my to-do list each day, it was time to find other things to keep myself busy and productive while snowed in. I read, did Sudoku, worked crosswords, talked on the phone, paid bills, and did social media and other computer work. But even that can’t fill a 10-12 hour day when you can’t leave the house. Enter my organizing frenzy! I quickly ordered some clear bins on Amazon, which came in two days. Once they arrived, I went after my pantry with a vengeance. The shelves were cluttered and not super organized, and I’m sad to say there were a few post dated items that had to be discarded.
So as not to bore you with pantry overload, for this post I will just cover one side of our two cabinet pantry. Each side has five shelves. This side of the pantry includes coffee, tea, baking supplies, nuts, dried fruits, baking mixes, pancake and waffle supplies, and all oils, vinegars and extra pantry items that I keep on hand. The other side contains all of the canned soups, vegetables, and fruits. It also contains dried grains and beans, pasta and rice.
Staring at the top of the left cabinet, I tackled the first shelf which is coffee and tea, along with filters and tea caddies. While I don’t drink coffee and rarely drink tea, my husband loves both. And his favorite is Lion Macadamia, all the way from our former home of Hawaii. Twice a year, we order it online by the case, so there is usually a lot on hand. As for tea, we just seem to keep buying more and more and more, without really noticing how much was stacking up. If I can say one thing about this project, it clearly showed us the items that we are buying too much of.
Using some of the bins, I put tea bags into one container, with all ice tea and loose tea products behind. The bins I bought have cutout handles that make them very easy to remove and access the contents, which makes them super functional. Then I consolidated like items into some of the tea caddies we have, which got rid of several half-full boxes. Before replacing everything, I cleaned off the shelf with household cleaner/disinfectant and allowed it to dry. We are lucky to have full extension pull out sliders on all of our pantry shelves, making it so easy to see what is in the back of the cabinet.
Time for the next shelf. This shelf contains nuts (lots and lots of kinds of nuts!), dried fruits, croutons, and for some strange reason, our dinner napkins. Again, cleaned the shelf, and then used the bins to corral all of the partial small packages of nuts and dried fruits. Things like pine nuts, slivered almonds and pistachios that we use often are kept in front in plastic containers. Larger containers from Costco hold cashews, pecans and walnuts. We must be pretty nutty people, with all of the nuts we have on hand, but surprisingly we incorporate them into many meals.
Moving down the pantry to shelf three, which contains peanut butter, almond butter, jams and jellies, honey, coconut oil, sugar, bread and artificial sweeteners. This shelf was cleaned and consolidated, as well.
Shelf four contains the large canisters of flour and sugar, various baking mixes, breadcrumbs, and a bin to hold onions and potatoes. This one was pretty easy, as most things just line up nicely. But I have to admit, when I pulled out the basket that holds onions, there was big mess of onion skins underneath! Who knows how long it had been since I’d cleaned under there.
The fifth and final shelf contains microwave popcorn, a large box of brownie mix, several types of oils and vinegars, pancake syrups, and replacements of a couple of things we don’t want to run out of like parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we won’t be needing any more rice wine vinegar for a while. Seriously, every time I’m at the store, I must say “I think I’m out of rice wine vinegar”, and grab another one. I do use it often for salad dressings and my Asian coleslaw, but enough is enough:) #foodhoarder.
So, there you have it. The great pantry cleanout of 2019, brought on by the snow and motivation from Marie Kondo and her magic of tidying up. I will admit that after I was done, I went back and opened the pantry doors up a couple of times during the day to admire my handiwork. I also may or may not have opened it up for Jim with a big “ta-da.” Like a good husband, he feigned extreme enthusiasm for my project. Please let me know in the comments if you would like to see any more organizing blog posts. My house is a target rich environment for organizing and tidying, so I’d be happy to oblige and motivate.
In addition to the pantry, I used more of these bins in various sizes to tidy and corral items in the medicine/toiletry cabinet in our master bedroom, straightened out our towel and sheet shelves in the linen closet, and eliminated many items of clothing for charity. If this snow doesn’t clear up soon, I’m moving on to a new all-time low; alphabetizing my spice cabinet. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!
A thing of pure Beauty and Inspiration!
Thanks, Gwen! As I said above, just when I think I have such a neat house, I find cupboards that keep me humble:)
Ha! I have always had alphabetized spices, and I’ve ignored all the teasing I get. I too have been housebound with all the snow – going outside only to feed the birds, and staying inside watching way too many documentaries. I have been going through my pantry, not to organize, but to cook dishes that will use up items I’ve ignored for too long. Once I get it reduced, I’ll work on a reorganization plan. Thanks for providing winter activities!!
I’m glad to know I’m not the only one trying to purge the pantry! It’s nice to rotate and organize the stock. Thanks for the nice comments!
This is an area we all could improve on and it would make our lives so much easier in our kitchens. Keep it up.
I agree. I felt I was pretty organized, but now I’m taking it to the next level. It does make everything easier to find, and prevents any waste.
Diane, Funny, one of today’s projects for me is organizing my pantry. It will help me see what needs to be used before out-of-date comes up. I already alphabetize my spices and have done it for years. I put them on a plastic round double-decker tray that rotates, with larger bottles on bottom shelf and shorter ones on top shelf. I have lots of spices and use two of these trays, putting them on a shelf in a kitchen cabinet for easy access. I can easily find what I’m looking for and what I need to replenish and no longer have to worry about having several bottles of the same thing.
Great ideas, Yvonne! Today I’m working on the kitchen office cabinet. Finding all kinds of interesting things in there, like church directories from 2013 that I shredded:) Just when I think I’m a good housekeeper, these kinds of things remind me to stay humble!
This is so fabulous !! I simply loved reading it.
I am so behind on the computer,that I was late in reading it.
Well, you’ve had good reasons to be behind on the computer! I’m just glad you are feeling well enough now!