Am I the only person who catches the spring cleaning bug about six minutes after the Christmas tree is gone? I seriously turn into a dust cloth-clutching Tasmanian devil this time every year. Add to that the fact that I’ve still got that nesting thing going on since the birth of my grandson, and I’ve got quite the cleaning urge. Let’s just say that if you were a knickknack in my house right now, your little ceramic legs would be shaking.
I started this year by filling and dropping off about ten big bags of GoodWill stuff. That’s not unusual for me in January. But what IS unusual is that I parted with a ton of Christmas stuff that I never dreamed I would let go of. I just let the urge take me and I didn’t question it. Tera, of course (wise girl that she is), said, “How about if we put those bags in the car right this minute?” I think she worried I might start digging through and reclaiming some of it. We’ll never know, because I took her advice and got it out of the house immediately.
So most years, that little burst of let’s-get-rid-of-stuff lasts about a week, during which time I also dust all the places I usually ignore, and clean off the leaves on my fake plants, and maybe take a halfhearted attempt at organizing the freezer. But around that time, the urge-to-clean dies a nice, quiet death, and I go back to my real self. But this year, something is different.
This is going to sound terribly maudlin, and I don’t mean to get all dramatic on you, but lately I’ve had this recurring thought. When I die, do I want someone else to have to deal with all this? I’ll glance over at a pile of papers and imagine someone who is not me trying to figure out what stays and what goes. Or I’ll look at my too-many shoes and think about Dave having to shove them all in a big plastic bag for charity. Do I want others to deal with my stuff? I don’t. I’d kind of like to slip away and leave a tidy, easy-to-manage, SMALL pile of belongings. And so, with that thought in mind, I have become the Ruthless Warrior.
My first step was to buy a shredder. I have a dream of turning my mounds of papers (book ideas (transferred to my laptop), notes on napkins, unnecessary receipts, extra handouts for classes I’ve taught) into compost for a worm farm. Nice dream, huh? Plus when I’m standing over that shredder feeding it handfuls of paper, I feel just a tiny bit like someone involved in a big espionage cover-up. That’s a nice plus.
And then yesterday, I decided I could no longer live with our pantry area. For those of you who have been to our house and had to a) walk past the pantry accompanied by my frantic shouts of, “Avert your eyes! Look away!” or b) not been permitted to walk through the pantry but been forced to take another exit out of the house when that would have been the most expedient route, I would like to invite you over to gaze wide-eyed and admiringly at my new, organized pantry. Gasps and hand-clapping are permitted.
Unfortunately (or VERY fortunately, according to Tera), I didn’t think to take a before-picture of the pantry. And I still have the very top shelf to go through, but when that’s done, I’ll post an after-picture. But I couldn’t finish the pantry without doing something about my baking cupboard, which, before today, was only about 50% full of baking ingredients.
Are you ready for the before-picture of the baking cupboard? The one that has my daughter in despair? (“Mom, we don’t show these things to people!”) Here you go:
Do you still love me? I’d like to report to Tera that no relationships were destroyed by the viewing of my shameful cupboard.
Here’s a close-up of the bottom corner. Do you see the white dealy-bob on the bottom left, and the glass container behind it?
That’s a toddy maker (cold coffee) which my friend, Hannah, turned me on to about four years ago. I really loved it that ONE summer I used it. And then there it sat, taking up prime real estate in my baking cupboard. I really can’t believe I didn’t move it before now. Instead, I worked around it every time I needed the baking soda (which is about every other day) or the cornstarch. What was I thinking?
It only took about a half an hour to organize this cupboard. Here’s the after:
Love Tupperware. Love Rubbermaid. Love my new baking cupboard.
Today the cupboard … tomorrow the world!
karen cadle says
I think the first pictures were PERFECT! The second set looks like a woman who has nothing else to do! 😉
One of my friends and I have a pact. Whoever dies first…the other one of us is the ONLY person who can come into our homes and go through things…NO CHURCH LADIES allowed, even tho we are church ladies, we are not THOSE kind of church ladies, we are the ones who have cupboards similar to your first set of photos and let’s not even get into the closets!!! And if my friend donna’s husband decides to marry a blonde young twithead, I am to take a small hammer and hammer up their vehicles so he is beside himself..and the daughter has to take out the antiques etc. 😉
great post really
Hahahaha! Karen, that’s brilliant. 🙂 I need to make a pact like that …
Arline Stone says
Love your after picture, and all of that fabulous Tupperware!
Where did you ever find Non-Instant powdered Milk? I have all but given up. I use it in my goat’s milk yogurt recipe. The yogurt doesn’t come out the right way with the instant.
Safeway no longer carries anything but Instant, nor does our local health food store.
Is everyone in a big hurry? Instant everything…
Arline, Azure Standard carries it (http://www.azurestandard.com/). You sign up as a customer and they let you know who your nearest drop-off will be. You have to make a minimum order, but it’s not hard at all. If there’s no drop-off near you, you can become one yourself. And you could probably get others at church to order with you.
Arline Stone says
Teresa Townsell says
Love it!! Love it!!
I have a rule that works for me . . . “50% goes.” Yup, when a file cabinet, closet, garage storage, box of treasures, shelf, etc. needs a COMPLETE overhaul, then, “50% goes!” After I’ve organized and gotten rid of as much as I can, then I take a cold, hard look at the discard pile. If 50% didn’t go, then I dig back into that file cabinet or closet and amazingly, with a little spine-straightening, a deep breath and eyes looking with steely-eyed determination (and thinking the old stand-by phrase, “Use it, or lose it.”), the discard pile will continue to grow.
Hmmm, as I’m looking around at my desk area, I’m thinking . . .”50% goes!”
Teresa, that is a GREAT rule! I’m going to try it. I have so much paperwork in my office … it’s overwhelming. Much of it has to stay until I finish a book I’m writing, but then I’m going to be ruthless.
That was some good writing up, Teresa. I could actually see you standing up a bit straighter and tackling the pile. 🙂
anita scheftner says
wow! you all are inspiring me..:D great ideas will start almost immediately..lol (watching grandchild and teens on the way home from Hot Doggin..laundry avalanche pending..lol) i’ll use that 50% goes…and one of my rules for paper work is…handle it once..it either goes to the recycle/trash..bills to be paid..or to be filed..no excuses..and i still end up with paperwork orphans..lol..i use glass jars in my pantry..sooo pretty..