Monday, December 16, 2013

Side Effect of Living on a Boat: Uber Organization

"A place for everything and everything in it's place" is a mantra for many (organized/neat/tidy) cruising sailors.  Of course, not all of us are the same; and I have been on many a boat where organization is clearly not a priority - but for us, it is.  When space is at such a premium, even the tiniest amount of clutter or disarray can make a place look "messy" not to mention the fact that to get the most out of storage on a boat (you will never have enough, mind you) you must use it very wisely and effectively.  I was organized and tidy before I moved onto a boat, but three years of living afloat really kicked my love of order up a notch.

It seems that this is a desire/impulse/urge I have brought back to land because this, combined with my undeniable "nesting instinct", caused me to spend the better part of yesterday organizing and cleaning all the cupboards in my parents kitchen.  If you are thinking "clearly she has too much time on her hands" you would be correct.  It's like twenty friggin' degrees outside, people.

Before I go on you should know that my parents are very clean and tidy people - their house is by no means a mess, quite the opposite in fact.  One look inside the refrigerator, kitchen cupboards or pantry, however, and you'd think you stumbled upon an episode of Hoarders.  Opening the pantry you would see that my father is clearly an accumulator of sauces and spices in need of an intervention.  Doubles, triples and even quadruples of oils, vinegars and rubs were jammed all together into a giant conglomerate of confusion.  I threw out rubs, spices and sauces that pre-dated 2010.  Some of the spice packs might have even been left over from the Reagan years.  My mother - while the furthest thing from a hoarder and a lover of tidiness - squirrels away anything and everything just to simply get it out of the way and cares not for rhyme and reason as to how it is done.  Bouillon cubes sit next to the cereal.  Canned goods are here and there.  Random half-eaten jars of peanut butter are sprinkled among four or five shelves.  Crackers and bags of cereal sit in their haphazardly torn packages, open and exposed (the woman doesn't even use chip clips!).  I found a rubbermaid container of brown sugar that had morphed into brick of sweetness so solid it could have been considered a weapon.  All these things are a crime against cruising and would not fly on a boat.  Something had to be done.

My compulsive tendencies took over and - with the blessing and help from my parents - I put my cruiser mind to work and made magic out of mayhem.

After a solid four hours of work and a very fruitful trip to The Container Store - we finished.  Of course I didn't take any real "before" pictures because I didn't think of it until after the work was complete, but trust me when I say the "afters" tell a whole, new story.  I can now open all the cupboards without having an anxiety attack and we can eat a can of beans without fear of botulism.  Win/win, right?  Both my mom and dad are thrilled.  Point for the boomerang child!
This is only SOME of the spices and how they were stowed.  You should have seen the sauces!!!
My storage solution for the spices.  The turn-style stepped spice rack.
Pantry "after" shot.  If it looks like there is no food in there, it's because there isn't. 
We whittled down the oils, vinegars and sauces to a select few.
The tea, coffee and associated cabinet has been rid of clutter and organized.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who makes a living organizing spaces like you have! She often found herself decluttering spaces when she had free time, and so she turned it into a business. Totally not my thing, but I appreciate it to be sure!

Carol Florida U.S.A. said...

Just want to let you know that you can come to my house and get me organized, Brittany!!! Sounds (and looks) like you've done a wonderful job!! And, it's nice and warm down here in Florida!! But, I also wanted to tell you (even though you may know it already) . . . that anytime you have a box of brown sugar (light or dark brown) that has been opened and is now like a "brick" inside. If you take a piece of bread (just tear off a corner, not more than a quarter of it) and put it into the box (or jar, if it's been transferred to a jar). and closes it up tight . . . the sugar will become soft again. If it's still not nice and soft, try doing the same thing once more before giving up on it. I've never had to do it more than once to get beautiful results. That piece of bread will have to be thrown away next time you open up the box, because it will get hard. I usually keep a piece of bread in any opened brown sugar container, and just put a fresh slice in it next time I use some of the sugar. The bread never gets moldy, just gets dried out. Try it, it works!!! I can see you are having a great time up in cold country, and I'm sure they all love having you and Isla home with them!!! I notice that you didn't say anything about Isla helping you with you project . . . like she always helped Scott with his!! :-) :-)

Sandra said...

Hi Brit,
This may sound a little OCD but...I alphabetize my spices. Works like a charm.

Have fun in the snow. :)

The Chatty Housewife said...

Loved this! :)

Radar The Kat said...

I've learned so much from reading your blog and finally I have the opportunity to give back a little of my own wisdom. Those jars of vegetable shortening you are referring to as peanut butter are anything but! You'll agree the first time you introduce yourself to a proper jar of peanut butter. Teddy's brand is quite good if you can find it on your supermarket shelf. And so too is Schmucker's all natural. Doesn't matter the brand really, as long as the ingredients read: Peanuts, Salt. You'll thank me.

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