Spring(ish) Cleaning: The Pantry Raid

No better time to start spring cleaning than when you’re trying to get everything set for a two-week trip out of the country next week, right? I’ve been meaning to do some spring cleaning, but have been putting it off until I had something else more important to procrastinate on. Aaaand technically, summer solstice isn’t until June 20, so I can still call this spring cleaning.

We’ll start with the area that’s plagued me the most: the pantry. Now, I have rooms that are worse off, but I don’t store food in them and they’re not as visible to the public, so those are a little lower on my priority list. But my pantry was a hot mess. Part of me thought that maybe if I had a bigger pantry, I wouldn’t have as many problems…but let’s be real: a bigger pantry would just mean a hotter mess. Plus, people with less room make it work, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and figure this out. There are no before pictures. Partly because I forgot, but mostly because I’m ashamed. Ha.

Now everyone says step one is to clear out the pantry and figure out what you’ve got. I really didn’t feel like doing that – mostly because my kitchen counters were also a mess too, so I had nowhere to put things – so I made it work. I figured out how much I had of what and what each shelf should have on it. Took a little bit of guessing and checking, but I made it work.

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It was harder to get a picture of the whole thing than I thought.

Anyway, here’s the final product!


One of my favorite parts of every pantry organization post I could find was matching containers for things. Yes, I realize this is really bougie and extra of me, but hey, I’m a grown man and pay my own bills. If I wanna be bougie and extra, you can’t judge me. For the pastas and grains I used these half-gallon mason jars.

Full disclosure: none of these people are paying me to advertise for them. I ain’t a serious enough blogger for that. I have less followers than I have fingers and only update when I get a wild hair up my…anyway. I just figure if someone stumbles on this post, may as well make it interesting.

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Ignore the uneven labels

Anyway, so the jars. They’re great, and fit the one pound bags of pasta perfectly. But they’re too short for spaghetti and the like, so I had to deviate for those. These are the canisters I’m using for the spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and lasagna. It drove me nuts that there wasn’t a mason jar tall enough for this, but whatever. I’ll deal with it.

I wanted the labels to be in the same font as my recipe binder (I’ll post that one in another post) but I’m not bougie enough to own a Cricut or Silhouette, so I found some 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of clear label paper I bought on sale when an Office Depot near me was doing its closing clearance a few years ago and used that. The background of the text is kind of frosted-looking but it’s fine. It’s labeled, kind of matches, and has been resistant against moisture so far. I probably wouldn’t go soaking them in water though.

Speaking of canisters, my baking supplies are also in matching ones. I was going to use mason jars for them too, but then quickly realized that if I’m going to bake, I need to be able to get a measuring cup into it, so that went out the window. But the Anchor Hocking cracker jars were close. I swear, the people at the Container Store are probably sick of seeing me.

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Again, please ignore the imperfect labels

The last of the matching bottle saga is the one I used for the sauces and cooking oils. I bought this one from Specialty Bottle online. It’s technically a liquor bottle, but whatever. It works for my purposes and looked cute, especially with all of them lined up. I paired them with these hinged vented pourers I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond, but I can’t find them online, so when I saw them at the store, I bought all four packs I found. Anyway, with the first round of oil bottles I had, I tried frosting the glass, but getting a consistent font and size didn’t quite work because that depended on finding the right stickers to get the frosting to take. If I end up getting one of those vinyl cutting machines, I may be able to make my own stencils and do it, but for now, the Office Depot labels will have to do.

SC - Pantry03Now for the other things, I got some baskets from At Home. I found some similar ones I thought were cute at the Container Store, but I didn’t feel like paying $10 each so I found these for about half the price. For things I had less of but still needed to be in baskets, I bought these handled storage baskets to keep my baking supplies corralled. And then I also bought these handled spice baskets because I intended to use them in my spice cabinet. Then I quickly realized that the stupid cabinet I have my spices in is too shallow. BUT I had some essential oil bottles and some extracts that needed homes, so they were perfect for that, so yay for having a plan B. The non-perishables are still kind of there, but at least the chaos is limited now.

SC - Pantry01As we work our way down, more things I used in here are the Akrobins (and accompanying labels) from the Container Store. These little guys were perfect for the shelves but I went a size bigger for the drink mixes/teas, and the height difference was enough so I couldn’t stack them. Lesson learned, folks: always measure before you buy. But whatever, even putting the drink ones side-by-side, I still have extra room on the shelf…it just killed some of my dead space. Which in hindsight may be a good thing, because I’ll be less tempted to dump miscellany there.

SC - Pantry05Finally we’re down to the bottom shelves. I used to keep the ridiculous amount of reusable bags I have down there in baskets (I use Instacart a LOT). But I cleared those out and found another home for them and moved the awkwardly-sized items under there. The cookie sheets, baking tins, and pans have a more comfy home where I’m not having to play Tetris in drawers which is great. These Threshold baskets from Target were the perfect size for what I needed. For all of my disposable dinnerware, I already had the desk organizer for utensils. But the bins from At Home were also perfect for these. Instead of the bulk packs from Sam’s taking way too much space, I’ve got manageable amounts in the pantry and storing the rest elsewhere so that I’m not cluttering everything. The back shelf is overflow for food and spices so that I can refill their containers as needed. It’s partially obscured by the pet food container I’m using to hold my rice, but it’s not a big deal because I don’t really need those right away.

So now I can actually have easy access to my pantry instead of having to dig through things Thrift Shop style just to make lunch. Now to move onto my next area. Or finish my chart audits. Or to actually pack for the trip I leave on next week. Ugh…maybe I shouldn’t have procrastinated.


30DBC Day 23: My Bad Habits

Well this one’s a fun one. Let’s see. My biggest terrible habit is the fact that I tend to procrastinate…especially if the other option is a nap. Because I’d bet dollars to donuts that if given the option between productivity and a nap, I will nap 90% of the time. Which is precisely the reason why I’m largely unproductive, especially on my first day off after working. This is also exactly why the majority of my cleaning happens about 30 minutes prior to somebody coming over. I’d love to have the illusion that I’m neat and clean all the time, but my desire to be neat is overridden by my desire to curl up and nap. Or Facebook. Or Pinterest. Or whatever happens to tickle my fancy at that point in time.

I’m also a terrible impulse shopper. I get an idea in my head, and my first instinct is “YES! Let’s buy ALL THE THINGS to make this happen!” …even though I’ve probably not actually thought the whole thing through. It’s really bad when I’m at the grocery store, and I get a little ambitious about meal planning. Also online shopping is a terrible, terrible thing for my budget. Because I don’t even have to put pants on for that. I just decide I want something and BAM. Done. Then I get to the time of the month where I have to pay my mortgage, and I’m just like “…shit.”

I’ve also got this terrible habit of thinking “Oh I’m going to reorganize [something that was already mildly organized to begin with]” and then unloading it all, getting distracted, and then just having a worse mess than when I started. That’s pretty much why my office and craft closet are hot messes at the moment. I thought taking the whole week off would help with this. Nope.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a “bad habit” per se, but I tend to be a lot less sympathetic than I probably should be. If there is something legitimately wrong, then I’m right there with you. But if I think you’re just being ridiculous, I’ll probably give you lip service but in my head just be thinking, “I get it, this sucks. But man the fuck up.”

Those are probably the biggest ones. There are a lot more minor ones like biting my nails, etc. But nothing else really all that interesting to be honest.

30DBC Day 20: Things that Bring Me Joy

This is another fun one. So things that bring me joy, huh?

  • When plans get cancelled. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, and I am always excited to see them. But it’s the idea of having to get dressed and drive and deal with potential lines and crowds of people in my way when I just want to get a damn beer at the bar…sorry I’m back from that tangent. Anyway, a cancellation means that I have been given the gift of time and the gift of not having to put in effort to look presentable in public.
  • Quality time with people I care about. See? I’m not a total dick. My favorite hangout in the recent past was the day that a couple of coworkers came over, I ordered some pizza, and we sat in my living room and colored while we talked. I love making that connection. I just don’t like having to do it while yelling over loud, shitty music.
  • Landing the IV on a notoriously (or just self-proclaimed) hard stick. There are just some people who aren’t as vascular as others. Or sometimes people had a bad experience a couple of times and have got it in their heads that their veins suck. Either way, when I know someone is a hard stick or someone just tells me that they are, and I see a big juicy vein and get it in on the first try, the victory music from when you defeat a wild Pokemon plays in my head a little bit (Yes it’s from the original Game Boy games, don’t judge me).
  • Successfully completing a Pinterest project. It is no secret that Pinterest is like crack for me. I like trying new projects and recipes. Not all of them work out. I’d probably give myself a 85% success rate…like it’s passable, but I’m not like a Pinterest Jedi master or something. But when things end up as good or better than the original article, I get REAL excited. Like the other week, I made some apple cupcakes with a homemade apple spice buttercream and a homemade salted caramel drizzle for a friend’s party. One of my coworkers said it looked like something from one of those boutique bakeries, and that definitely inflated my ego.
  • Checking something off a to-do list. There is nothing like a feeling of accomplishment, and that’s probably the quickest way to do it.
  • Helping someone when they need it. I enjoy being the resource guy. Something about being seen as the knowledgeable one is kind of nice. But I also like when I get called by someone having some kind of emergency or a crisis…I mean I don’t like that they’re having a hard time, but it’s nice to know that they trust me with either sensitive information or a task that needs to be performed. It makes me feel useful.
  • Connecting with patients. Don’t get me wrong, my job isn’t always sunshine and happiness. But it’s a good feeling when you can make a patient smile despite the shitty day they’re having that brought them into the ER. I remember there was one day I was covering my friend for lunch in the psych pod. I’m mid-IV on a patient, and this woman walks out of her room across the hall talking about how she has to get out of here because she wants to end it all. I finished the IV, and went to see what was wrong because the woman was extremely anxious. I sat her back down in the bed, pulled up a chair, and just let her talk. A couple of minutes later, we finally hit the real issue. We chatted a bit, let her continue to vent, gave her some tissues so she could cry it out a little. Finally after a few more minutes, I managed to get a smile out of her, and she was satisfied and could finally get some sleep. Didn’t even have to whip out the Ativan once. Sometimes the connection doesn’t even have to be verbal. There was one day I got a patient from a nursing home. His brief was soaked with urine, he smelled terrible, and there was this crust on both sides of his face right beside his eyes, and none of it looked like it had just happened in the last couple of hours. As soon as I was done with the basics that I had to do, I gave him a full bed bath and changed everything. He was nonverbal, so he couldn’t really talk. But seeing him in the state he was in awakened this empathy in me for a human that wasn’t even allowed the dignity to rest in a state of decency. Seeing him relatively clean for the first time that ER visit brought me this sense of joy that I helped that man that couldn’t help himself and clearly wasn’t being helped otherwise.
  • Having things organized and labeled. On a much happier note, I love organizing things. It makes me happy when things are in neat rows and put away in boxes. The Container Store is probably my favorite store for that reason. Right now, I have a lot of papers that need to be put away. I just bought some filing boxes, and I’m having a field day with folders and my label maker.
  • A sense of peace. This is the biggest one. Just that moment of spiritual consolation even when everything else is going to shit…nothing beats that. There is absolutely nothing in this world I love more than that feeling of having a clear view despite the fact that conditions may not be ideal. It’s the idea that in that moment, I have this unity with God and I’m going in the right direction.

I’m sure there are more things that give me joy, but that’s all I can think of for the time being.