Two wine bottles and a bottle of champagne later …

Cupboard crammed and inefficient

Cupboard crammed and inefficient© All rights reserved

Where’s the bubbly?

You can’t see them here, but there are two bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne buried in this mess.

What you probably can see is how difficult it is to get to any single item in the pantry.

Shopping trip? Good luck putting new purchases away!

This mess and a few others in my kitchen slowed me w-a-a-a-a-y down during the heavy holiday cooking season and nearly caused a nervous breakdown last weekend when I was getting ready for our big party.

Time to make a change

First up: Where to store the wine? Clearly it does no good hidden in this cupboard, and it makes use of this space grossly inefficient.

What to do with it? Open another cupboard.

Inefficient use of storage space

Inefficient use of storage space© All rights reserved

With empty storage bottles and an assortment of baking, cooking and serving supplies, this cupboard is a nightmare to use. What’s more, the door never stays latched!

But hey! Though you cannot see it in this photo, that top shelf is the perfect height for a small wine rack.

I bet I could fit my cookie sheets in with the muffin tin and pizza pan if I cleared out some of the stuff I never use.

Take that tea kettle sticking up (white with spout) near the back. It’s a relic from my office days. Now I’m retired, do I really need it? I’ll set it aside for possible giveaway on Freecycle.

Aha! There in the back right corner is the wine gift tote I looked for over the holidays. I’ll store it up high, with things we use only occasionally, and which also happens to be the first place I looked when I hunted the tote in December.

And looky there, right next to the wine tote: My electric knife. Boy have I needed that since  I started baking bread. That will go in the bread/slash odd utensil drawer I cleaned out Tuesday.

Old urban buildings make for creative storage solutions

Urban apartment life: Storage drawer does double duty as bread drawer (homemade in the brown paper bags) and odd utensil items

Urban apartment life: Storage drawer does double duty as bread drawer (homemade in the brown paper bags) and odd utensil items© All rights reserved

There’s no other place in our hundred-year-old, city apartment kitchen for the bread or for the out-sized food processor wheels, my stainless steel funnel, pastry cutters, butcher’s twine, and now the bread knife. This drawer is it.

Tuesday, thanks to too many bread crumbs flopping around in the drawer, I woke to ants on my bread. This drawer, with bags of bread tossed in on top of all these implements, had become an ant magnet.  I pulled it out, washed everything down with hot, soapy water, let it all dry thoroughly, and chose carefully what went back in the drawer. Anything that fits elsewhere got a new home. Only the most essential tools stayed.

Along the way, I dug through my closets and found an unused plastic tub to contain the bread and inevitable crumbs. I can dump those crumbs easily every day now.

You might be wondering about those brown bags. Like I said, I bake our bread. We like it crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Storing it in paper bags keeps it that way. If I stored it in plastic, that crust would moisten and soften. I need only a small space for the bread, because I bake a new loaf every couple of days, just enough for the two of us.

Rackin’ the wine

Reorganized bottles, baking tins and wine rack

Reorganized bottles, baking tins and wine rack© All rights reserved

Back to the task at hand. After a quick run to the nearby hardware store for an inexpensive wire wine rack I’d had my eye on, I reorganized that bottom cupboard too.

Now all the refill bottles I take to the bulk section of my local Whole Foods Market are in one place.

My baking sheets and wire racks are altogether too. I’m not done with that shelf yet. It needs a rack to hold the pans so they don’t get scratched. I saw a wire rack file folder at the hardware store yesterday. That might be just the ticket. I’ll let you know about that.

What makes me so very happy, though, is that I have room for three more wine bottles on the rack. That means when one of my favorites is on sale, I can buy one or two bottles and not have to worry about where they will live when I bring them home.

Easy pickings in the pantry

Pantry items much more accessible now

Pantry items much more accessible now© All rights reserved

As for those eye-level pantry shelves that have been such a bane the past few years–vast improvement! I can see every item when I open the cupboard door. What’s more, I’ve grouped like items together–beans and rice (in the plastic yogurt tubs) on one side, the few canned goods we keep on hand in the back, stacked two at a time, coconut milk on coconut milk, emergency soup stock on soup stock. Easy pickings! No guessing what’s on the bottom.

How I feel

Fantastic! These cupboards look small in the picture, and they are tiny compared to the pantry shelves I had when I owned a home, so I need to manage them well. I feel good about making this start toward more efficient use of our limited kitchen storage space.

What’s next

I’ll be out of a town for a few days, and this is the last of my clutter zapping this week. Looking to next week and what I’d like to accomplish, I realize these little bits I’ve tackled so far are in the easy category. They give me a feeling of accomplishment, take away some of that nagging feeling I get every time I open a drawer or cupboard, and ease my daily work life.

Elsewhere in the house, I have bigger messes. Monster messes. I have to admit: I don’t know exactly what I’ll find. They are a huge drag on my psyche, and always an embarrassment when company comes.

Next week, I hope to begin making progress on some of the scariest clutter. We’ve shoved most of it into closets. Let me tell you, we take our lives into our hands every time we turn a closet door knob.

While I’ve been eager to clean these little messes, I’ve happily extended my clutter clearing time to one hour, even two hours, some days. To keep myself going on those big messes, I may need to stick with the original plan: Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Force myself to quit when it dings.

We’ll see how it goes.


2 thoughts on “Two wine bottles and a bottle of champagne later …

  1. Thanks for the giggle, Virginia. In truth, I thought long and hard before deciding to share this blog with anyone who might find it, because it’s all my dirty linen, so to speak. But for anyone dealing with embarrassing clutter, well, perhaps they can feel a little less alone, seeing mine.


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