Category Archives: organization

Coming Soon…

I’m setting a goal for myself to produce two blog posts per week from now until the end of the year. I’ve jotted down some ideas and I think it should be totally doable, I just need to commit to it. Some of the potential posts should be pretty easy… Like for instance this post totally counts as one of the two for this week. 🙂 But I don’t just want to post cute pictures of Dakota all the time, (too easy!) so I need to get cracking on some of these projects I’ve been talking about but never actually doing.

Since Dakota is almost crawling we need to get a lot of things picked up and stored away, so I really need to get moving on some of the built-in storage I’ve been planning… At the top of the list is a bench for the foot of our bed, because the bed frame down there actually has some exposed wood that probably wouldn’t be considered baby safe.

foot of the bed

We currently have an old ottoman stuffed halfway under there because Loki needs the help so he can get up on the bed. We’ll make sure the bench is low enough for him to jump onto. 🙂

We’re also planning a built-in banquette for the corner behind the dining table, it’s the only way to fit seating all the way around our table, and I refuse to downgrade to a smaller table. And since it’ll be there anyway, the banquette will have some hidden storage too.

dining table space

The banquette would provide seating under the window and also on the back wall.

The other thing I’ve been contemplating is some sort of storage under the window in the living room. I know the room is a bit small to begin with, but under the window is kind of a dead space right now that just accumulates extra blankets and PS3 controllers and such, so maybe a narrow hinge-top bench that fits between the couch and the wall and runs under the window? I could almost just re-use the plans for the foot-of-the-bed bench!

under the window

So what are the chances I can get any of these projects done by the end of the year? 😉

Spice Storage

Hm, I searched through the archives, but it turns out I’ve never actually blogged about our spice storage in the kitchen. Shame on me, as I’m sure that there are people out there that are just DYING to know all of the minutia I have to share on this subject.

I’m not super fond of just leaving spices in their original containers, because once they start to accumulate it’s hard to see what is what and I’m not good at keeping track of just how long ago I bought them. Actually, my biggest pet peeve is that I can’t stick a measuring spoon directly in most standard spice containers.

We don’t have much storage space in the kitchen, so for my first organizational attempt I bought a bunch of wide-mouthed cylindrical containers with magnets on the back, and I stuck them on the side of the refrigerator. I didn’t actually take a picture at the time, but here’s a rough reenactment that I threw together for this post:

Spices on the fridge

This setup had a few issues. For one, some of the magnets were pretty pathetic, so after a few hours the containers would slide down to the counter. For another, it always looked a little cluttered and messy, and I’m not obsessive enough to whip out rulers and levels and line everything up evenly. Most importantly though, we don’t like putting anything on the actual refrigerator doors, so this side of the refrigerator got taken over as a space to post up notes, reminders, various magnets and such, crowding out the spice containers.

For my next attempt, I stuffed all of the spices in the drawer just visible in the bottom of the above picture, one of the very few drawers in the entire kitchen:

Spice drawer 1

This drawer had various utensils that were useful to have near the stove, which I squished over to the right side. It also had oven mitts, which we have since hung on hooks on the back wall above the counter, which is working fine for us. I liked this setup because I could see very easily how much of each spice we had, and they spent most of their time tucked out of the way. The problem is that since the jars are so squat-shaped they take up a lot of room, so we quickly ran out of space and had to start leaving some spices in their original containers, making it much harder to see what exactly we had. Given the depth of the drawer, the low height of the metal containers didn’t really make sense. They were too short, and it just wasn’t a very efficient use of space. But I still wanted something I could stick a measuring spoon into and label the top of. So I spent a while searching around on the internet, and I eventually ended up settling on some taller oval-shaped containers:

New spice containers

I had a pretty difficult time making a decision, because very few jars for sale listed much in the way of dimensions besides actual total volume. I needed to know the exact height, (to know that it would fit upright in the drawer) as well as the dimensions of the opening, to better judge whether a spoon would fit inside. Anyway, it’s a tough life, yada yada, but I eventually took the plunge and ordered a pack of 12. They fit very nicely in the drawer:

Spice drawer 2

And one of our tablespoons even fits inside:

Tablespoon

The other tablespoon we have doesn’t quite fit, but really I’m okay with it as long as most of the other measuring spoons work. 🙂

For now I’m writing the purchase dates for the various spices on the side of the container with a grease pencil, as seen in that first close-up a few pictures higher up in this post. (It says “Jan 2013” in green, in case you couldn’t tell…) I’m also using some labels that we had lying around to write the name of the spice on the top. These labels are by no means waterproof, but we have a whole lot of them and are unlikely to use them for anything else. For now I’m using them as a proof-of-concept, and I can buy more suitable labels once I’m sure this new setup is working for us. Here’s another shot of the spices in the drawer for your viewing pleasure:

Spice drawer 3

We’ll give it a week or two, and if this is still making us happy, I’ll probably shell out for another dozen or so of the same containers, so we can transfer the rest of the random spices into lovely matching containers.