Nov 8, 2010

Holiday Sprint Week 2: Merely Organized or OCD?

I report, you decide.

But first some background.  You know the saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it." Well, a couple years ago, I wished for a walk-in pantry. And my awesome husband and dad granted my wish: I have a truly palatial pantry that measures 4 feet by 10 feet (actually a tad bigger than that.)

Now, before you wonder what on earth I could complain about with this pantry, consider how many times most of us have wished for a bigger closet - but know in our hearts we'd just cram it full of stuff? Or a bigger purse - ditto. Or a bigger car, house, whatever. Bigger is not always better. We know this.

And I'm really not complaining - my pantry storage is awesome. It almost makes up for the fact that my kitchen workspace is a compact 9x9 (with another 9x9 for eating area. It's the smallest kitchen I've had since our first apartment, and we've lived here ten years - far longer than we've lived anywhere else.)

But back to the pantry. Do you know how much stuff you can store in a huge pantry? Let me tell you, it's a lot. And if you don't have time feel like putting away all the canned and boxed foods from the grocery store trip, it's okay - just slide the bags in the pantry and close the door. Channel Miss Scarlett O'Hara and tell yourself you'll think about it tomorrow.

So my slovenly ways finally caught up with me, and I found myself stepping over week-old bags of groceries randomly scattered on the pantry floor. That makes for an interesting gauntlet to cross when you dash into the pantry for something you need to add to your sizzling dish on the stove, right. this. second.  I'm embarrassed to show this picture, but here it was:

The "before" shot. Now you know why I keep the pantry door closed.
I gritted my teeth and went to work. Combined two boxes of quart-size tea bags into one. Combined the two boxes of individual-size green tea bags into one. Found I had two open boxes of many things ('Nilla wafers, cereal, snack crackers...the list goes on.) Dug deep and found a headless chocolate bunny from Easter. (It gets better.) Kept digging and found a headless chocolate Santa from last December. (I detect a homicidal pattern, and I'm pretty sure I know which child did it.) Found a can of mandarin oranges had ruptured and spilled down the back of one shelving unit. That was pleasant. Not.

Okay, so all the nastiness was tossed, the drippy stuff cleaned up, the floor under the shelves all vacuumed, the out-of-date items were scrapped, the new groceries were put away and the older stuff rotated to the front. I could stop right there - job done.  I probably should have stopped there.

The "in-between" shot - much better.
But there's just something alluring about taking organization to that next level - bordering on "Sleeping with the Enemy" kind of tidiness. (I think we were supposed to be disturbed by the scene with all the perfectly arranged canned goods, but I found myself admiring the neatness and organization and wondering if I could replicate it without being creepy. I digress.)

I realized as I began to clean and organize more deeply that I had allowed myself to pile things too deep on the shelves, which meant I was constantly reaching behind (and knocking things over) to retrieve or return something.  So this time around, I ruthlessly sorted and organized in a one-deep layer (except for canned goods.)

See, the labels are not all turned *perfectly* towards the front. No scary music playing.

And just above that, my triumph, my pièce de résistance:  my flours, grains and sugars are now all labeled and stacked in modular containers.
Yes, that is a big bottle of Bacardi.  It is vanilla-in-the-making, for culinary purposes only.
And the pastas and rice are all neatly organized and visible.  (Yes, I buy warehouse-size boxes of macaroni and spaghetti, along with white and brown rice.  We heart carbs in all shapes, sizes and textures.)
I don't think I alphabetized the boxes...
Now I'll let you be the judge - is it just good organization, or is it obsessive-compulsive?  Either way, now that I'm done I realize how much food we have stowed away.  Time to stop stockpiling, and see if I can use up a lot of these items - now that I can get to them.  My menus for the next few weeks will definitely be incorporating a lot of the excess buildup I found, and hopefully I can clear out a lot of the surplus before the holidays.

Happy organizing,