Attempting to Get Organized

I know that there’s this whole obsessive subculture in which people enjoy taking their groceries and re-homing every ingredient in their house into beautiful minimalist packaging (which some people love and some people hate). I understand the appeal, but I just can’t get over how comically unrealistic they are, at least to me..

Specifically, I would love a gorgeous and organized spice cabinet, but also I would like to use my arms to fly over canyons, and I feel that both are equally likely. You can find all sorts of examples of the How-To-Organize-Your-Spices Industrial Complex, and they all seem like they’re only truly appropriate for people who don’t actually cook.

I just. . . we have so many spices. And there’s no way I could stick with a single brand. And of course you need different amounts of everything. I mean, if I see someone’s cabinet has got the same size containers for their garlic powder and cumin and nutmeg and cloves, well. . . how is that appropriate for anyone? Not to mention that we even have some of our own mixes–Cute W’s cinnamon & sugar, J’s pumpkin spice blend, and my baby jars with pre-mixed spices to save time on a couple of our favorite labor-intensive recipes.

My coping mechanism has been lazy susans. A lot of them. I have a pair of them from who-knows-when that are older than my children and were probably a hand-me-down from another household. More recently I acquired another pair that help me access the vinegars, oils, and sauces. So when I came across a little double-decker number at Target recently (and I can’t find the exact model online that I found in the store), it begged me to take it home and make the most of our limited cabinet space. Due to the space constraints, this also meant I had to come up with a whole new concept to replace straight alphabetization. It’s roughly a little and/or less frequently used category placed on the upper shelf until I ran out of space, then old reliables and everything else on the lower shelf. But still alphabetized. And it will not win me any devotees from the #refillandreorganize crowd, but it’s about as organized as I can possibly get, and I am satisfied and weirdly proud:

Meanwhile, I am struggling with the annual changing-of-the-seasons in our back closet. Our back closet is a a wretched little space, too small to fit everything we need, too deep to allow easy access to everything we do manage to fit in. The problem always feels worse right now, in early spring, when on any given day you may need a heavy winter coat and scarf and boots or a light jacket. Which means every season is represented in a tiny space. You may think that we’d be at an advantage, since we are down one daughter, but J does her best to move into any spaces vacated by her elder sister. She’s already basically converted M’s bedroom into a study. It is honestly too atrocious to show you how the whole closet looks, but recently I did acquire a baseball cap organizer.

I don’t really understand baseball caps. I guess that they are the men’s equivalent to how some women feel about shoes or purses? But honestly, I don’t really understand that, either. I find almost all shoes pretty uncomfortable, what with my very short, very wide feet. This reminds me of my favorite quote ever from Mindy Kaling’s first show. There’s a scene where she’s trying on shoes and someone says in this appalled voice, “Wow, you got real wide feet.” And Mindy cheerfully answers, “Thanks, I almost never fall down.”I try to keep that spirit within me, but it can be a challenge. Meanwhile, when it comes to purses, I have a love ’em and leave ’em attitude. I tend to use one purse until it is destroyed, and then I grudgingly switch to the next one. But I digress. It seems like this cap organizer is good. At least I’m not accidentally knocking caps to the floor all the time anymore. In fairness to Cute W, a few years back he set aside a couple of red old reliables (our local high school and our college color) because walking around Philadelphia we saw a couple of groups of people noticeably become alarmed and avoid him, and we speculated they thought he was wearing one of those other red hats. Anyway, this seems tidier, and there’s room for many more hats, some not pictured at the top and bottom, as well as room to store multiple hats on each clip. It’s not clear how quick and easy it is for Cute W to remove caps and hang them again each day, but so far, so good.

And finally, something very sad happened the other day: my vintage bureau broke. I started to open my underwear drawer, and one the (irreplaceable!) metal drawer pulls broke, and because of the unequal force exerted when I yanked one side as usual and the other side wasn’t yanked at all, I pulled the entire front panel of the drawer off, leaving a little rectangular window into my unmentionables. Once again, I am blessed to have the super-handy Cute W, who thought that he’d be relaxing over last weekend and instead was suddenly repairing my drawer. But meanwhile, with my entire top drawer emptied, I took the opportunity to reorganize with the help of this hanging bra organizer. Just to make life difficult, the shipping was delayed, and I couldn’t bring myself to reorganize the drawer twice in the same month, so I spent nearly a week with all of those clothes rather unceremoniously dumped into a laundry basket that I’d ransack each morning. But now I’ve got the bras hanging, enjoying the fresh air and the opportunity to have their cups only a little bit squished instead of awfully squished, and the rest of the contents of my drawer is much better organized with that extra space. Meanwhile, Cute W’s reattached the front of the drawer and the bureau looks much nicer, although if you look closely you’ll see that I am still missing the pretty pull on the right-hand-side of my top drawer.


  1. Claire

    I feel your pain. Small house, tiny closets. I can tolerate disorganization behind closed doors as long as the visible stuff is neat and organized.

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