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And Now for Something Completely Different

January 17, 2011
I stumbled on a blog last year that, to my complete surprise, I’ve really come to enjoy: Honey We’re Home, a blog that focuses on home organization and decorating. I don’t remember what lead me to the blog, but I do remember the day I found it, browsing the photos of the new home Megan and her husband had built. And that kitchen. Oh, the photos of the kitchen. I was smitten. And I found myself going back to her blog with some frequency.

By the end of December, I was completely inspired to tackle my own house, which is in dire need of a new organizational plan. From the kitchen to the living room to my bedroom (and even the attic <groan>), it all needs sorting out, cleaning up and organizing.

My house is no where nearly as lovely as hers — my kitchen is a typical suburban kitchen, and not worth photographing for the world to see (trust SoupAddict on this one) — but my house and my life could definitely benefit from her example.

I was tickled when I discovered that Megan and I both stole our spice organizing plans from smittenkitchen.com. I had happily redone my spice rack last year with these jars, consolidating everything to live in one space (the rack itself was custom built by the late Father of SoupAddict to fit over the trim on the counter and to sit snuggly against the wall, but still be portable). And yes, I do use all of those spices! Here’s Megan’s solution with the same jars on a lazy susan.

It’s the jars that won my heart. I did this about a year ago, and I’m still not tired of it. I found the same style jar (Libbey Vibe) in other sizes at the Container Store to hold larger quantities of dry ingredients (like an entire container of baking soda, or bay leaves that won’t fit in the 4.5 oz size).

This arrangement works extra well for me because I buy my spices and dried herbs in bulk at my favorite local spice provider, Colonel De’s Gourmet Spices, so I can purchase only what I know I will use within a reasonable amount of time. And as you can probably guess from the odd lighting in this photo, this rack is located in a low-light area on the counter. I have not had any issues with light impacting freshness, and in fact, the life-span of my spices has improved since I moved from tins to these air-tight jars.

Another benefit: the opening in these jars is large enough to accommodate all of the measuring spoons I have, including the gigantically round tablespoon of my lovely All-Clad set.

Large-item storage in the kitchen is a problem that I think a lot of folks encounter. To make matters worse, I have some odd cabinet sizes and odd cabinet shapes, so finding a convenient home for large pans has been quite the challenge. This pull-out drawer was a positively magical find: somehow, the stars aligned, angels sang and puppies frolicked, and the measurements were a perfect fit!

This cabinet is tall and skinny, split with an oddly placed shelf in the center, which I removed. This drawer, by Lynk Professional, is actually a storage solution for pot lids, but works perfectly for my baking sheets and cooling racks.

There’s even enough room to store my half sheet parchment paper from KAF. I use an out-of-service baking pan to hold the bag upright against the wall — the bag opening points outward, and sheets pull out easily.
I was so pleased with the results of the baking pan drawer that I decided to check out what other drawer sizes Lynk offers. And again the stars aligned and lo and behold, there was a size that perfectly fit the custom shelving that Brother of SoupAddict built for her some time ago.

These drawers are super easy to install — you need only a hand drill to create a pilot hole and a screwdriver to attach the base to the shelf or cabinet floor (and I only had one of those manual rotary drills — completely sufficient for the pilot hole). The pull-out mechanism comes assembled, so there’s no messing with the drawer itself.

These stainless steel canisters are perfect to hold my many flours and other dry ingredients. They’re airtight, and the clear lids let me see how much is left inside. I could do special labeling, but I’m perfectly content to just cut out the packaging labels and tape them to the lid. I don’t have all the containers I need, but I’m getting there.

I’ll be purchasing a second drawer soon for the bottom shelf, which holds stock pots and my slow cooker.

BTW, has SoupAddict mentioned lately that she ❤ KingArthurFlour.com? No? Okay, then. It was overdue*.

*SoupAddict does not receive compensation from KAF for any commentary contained in this blog. It’s simply the spontaneous outburst of appreciation for a company that operates with integrity and passion, and consistently makes products that she adores. We need more of those companies in this world, I believe.

This north-east facing window sits right above my stove with a roomy window ledge. I used to pile onions and garlic and stray limes and lemons, but knew that (a) that was not an appropriate place to store produce, and (b) such a prime storage location deserved to be better utilized.

At one of my holiday shopping trips to Sur La Table (always a dangerous proposition, going to Sur La Table with time and a credit card on one’s hands), I found these white porcelain oil cruets. Even though this window gets very little sunlight, the cruet’s opaque construction will protect my various oils from any and all light damage. This model is kind of non-descript, but what completely sold me on it is the little hinged lid protecting the opening: it flips open as you pour, and settles back over the tip when you upright the bottle. Perfect for a lazy girl like SoupAddict!

These Oxo POP Containers about made me swoon to the floor when it finally sunk in to my stubborn brain just how the pop button works.

Dig this: you can open these airtight containers with one hand.

And dig this: you can close and seal these containers with one hand.

Mommas with babies on your hips and other kitchen multi-taskers, take heed. One hand.

Believe it, it’s true.

See that big button in the lid? Push it to open. Push it to close and seal. Easy peasy.

For the dried food items that I use all the time, such as rice, pasta, cereal — I’m switching over to using these containers rather than leaving the items in their original boxes. For items that I consistently buy, like this fast-cooking brown rice, I cut out the measuring and prep instructions from the material packaging and taped them on the back.

With the kitchen organizing well under way (although not finished!), I’m turning my attention to other sections of the house. One of the lessons I’ve learned from Megan’s recent series on Get Organized 2011 is that even just putting your stuff in something — even if it’s still visible — makes a huge difference as to how the eye perceives the tidiness of a space. IOW, all those bottles of cleansers will look much, much better sitting in baskets or color-coordinated containers than just lined up on the shelf. That simple detail can totally pull a space together.

I’m a big fan of these richly colored milk crate baskets. I have many baskets in this style and rich, dark color throughout my bedroom and office, picked up from various places over the years like Pottery Barn, Target and Amazon. One of my weekend projects was to re-purpose a bookshelf from holding, well, books, to storing other stuff that I want to keep front and center in the room, without junking up the place.

So, in addition to ordering several milk crate baskets from Amazon, I made a stop at Hobby Lobby.

Oh, dear.

A former crafts junkie should never be allowed to go to Hobby Lobby without adult supervision.

Long story short, the trip, whose only goal was to purchase 2 gift bags and some chalkboard paper, ended an hour and $30 later: pretty scrapbooking paper, chalkboard cards, awesome decorative brads, waxed leather string, scalloping scissors and a white marker. And the gift bags. And a really cool tin for storing onions and garlic in the kitchen.

I’m hopeless.

But now I do have some pretty tags to hang on my new baskets!

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5 Comments
  1. January 18, 2011 11:34 am

    Your organization and containers are making me feel happy inside. There’s something about order in a kitchen . . .
    I really need to think about how I organize my spices. Right now I have so many I don’t think even your system would work. My husband has repurposed small glass jars (jam, jelly and sauce jars) for many of them, but there are still random bags of ancho chilis, vanilla beans, ginger salt, and who knows what else. =)

  2. Nick permalink
    January 19, 2011 11:12 am

    Great post, and one that my kitchen will benefit from. It’s a small condo kitchen, so every bit of space counts. My landlords have generously offered to put in all new cabinets and countertops, so I’m in research mode.

    Those pull-out thingies for the cabinets look great. Don’t know if they’ll spring for those, but I might.

    And, you’re right, those Oxo POP containers are way cool. I have a couple of them, and will be getting more.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 20, 2011 9:12 am

      Hi Nick,
      I was skeptical about the sturdiness of the drawers, but so far, there are no glitches whatsoever. The packaging show a Kitchenaid stand mixer sitting on one – I don’t have anything that heavy stored on them, but I believe it could. Those shelves I show above are really deep, and now things don’t get lost back there.

  3. January 19, 2011 1:10 pm

    Interesting. I always like seeing how different regions vary on the same dish. I’ll have to try Texas’ version! I’ve had Cinncinnati’s already.

  4. January 25, 2011 9:45 pm

    This article is…. inspiring!! I really like those stainless steel containers and I envy your baking sheets storage space!

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