Over the summer, Mike and I got to spend a glorious month in Boulder, Colorado. We basically take our Illinois life and do it there instead of here. It’s a huge treat! (Although the mountains are a huge distraction to my work.)
One of the best parts about being away for an extended time is returning home. I love walking through the door and being greeted by the scent of our home—a scent that is so familiar that most of the time I don’t notice it. But after being away for a month, it is there, as always, and I am happy to breathe it in. This is home. I also love seeing my house with fresh eyes. All the things my mind glosses over become new again. I see the pattern in my kitchen counter top and remember that I chose it because it reminded me of sand after the water has pull back from it to return to the sea. I notice how the sun lights up the turtle sun-catcher in my window. I am happy to see my books again, all crammed into the bookshelves and overflowing to the floor in stacks.
Seeing my home with fresh eyes gives me all sorts of ideas about cleaning, organizing, rearranging, painting . . .but Christa Wells must have been thinking of me in her song “Shine”: “Your house is full of unfinished rooms/’Cause you’re fond of starts, but you find it hard to follow through.” Sadly, yes! I’m a really good starter. Not a great finisher. So when I got home from Boulder and had lots of ideas, I wanted to pick one that I could actually finish. I chose my kitchen pantry, which is a large two-drawer cabinet that typically is packed and messy, as you can see from this post’s feature image, the BEFORE photo is on the left side.
Being away from the mess for a month gave me the gumption to tackle it for reorganization. Because this is my only cabinet for food storage in the kitchen, I thought it might help to put everything in containers that could be lined up together. I purchased a few options in town, only to return them because they weren’t quite right. Then I searched online at Container Store (love!!) and found these containers with lids that seal shut with a little twist of the lid. I order a few to test, then ordered the rest. The stickers on the containers were enough to send me over the edge—why are four sticky things needed on each container?! ugh. After surviving the sticker fiasco, I started transferring the foods and cleaning out old items from way too long ago.
All my cooking oils were transferred into squeezy bottles, because we watch too much FoodNetwork and I loved the idea of cooking like the pros. ha! Then I borrowed my mother-in-law’s label maker to tag all the bottles. By moving our mixer to another cabinet and placing rarely used items in a food storage cabinet in our basement, I gained lots of extra space in the lower drawer.
Although I loved the uniformity of the bottles and the containers, I also wanted to use containers I had on hand to give it some spunk. So I pulled out an ornate teacup from my grandmother to hold garlic and a small ceramic serving tray to corral onions. Both of these were tucked away and rarely used; now I see them every day.
Welcome to my new pantry! You can see the AFTER photo on the right side of this post’s feature image. I am so happy with the end result. It is cheery, full of personality, and orderly (for now, at least). And I can open the cabinet without items falling out at me! That’s a bonus.
Best of all, I actually finished this project.