What do you post on such a nationally important and yet highly emotional day in our history????? Listen, it’s out of our hands at this point (once you vote). We can’t control the results but you know what we can control? THE INSIDES OF OUR COLLECTIVE JUNK DRAWERS. So, all weekend and continuing into this week I have been reorganizing every single drawer, cabinet, and closet in my house and today I am giving you the before/after. You know what they say: when you feel powerless, show your pantry who is boss.
I’m also a big proponent of leaning into my anxieties and naming my shame (I listen to a lot of Brene Brown) and so here we go: Clutter makes me anxious, AND yet I’m very messy and disorganized and carry a lot of shame over that. I do this to myself, I realize. I am my own disheveled nightmare. Well, it was time to do something about it, while also managing my election anxiety (and listening to podcasts).
Before I tackled the drawers and closets I am about to show you, we looked like we had been robbed (aka it was a MESS). It was hard to find ANYTHING and I was so embarrassed because while we keep the visual parts of our house looking really pretty (my level of house pride is so high) I literally just shove ‘junk’ and garbage into the closest drawer to keep the rest of the house pretty. It’s gross and childish and people are always SHOCKED when they come over and open a drawer.
When we first designed the kitchen we worked with an organizing company, The Neat Method, and it truly did set us up for more success than I ever would have been able to do without the systems they put in place and the products they recommended and installed. So I’m not starting from ground zero in here, just from “super messy, but with a system”.
The Junk Drawer
That photo almost makes me laugh. Look at the batteries all lined up in a cute little row as if I’m not going to throw used batteries in there too and never know which is which! I knew that this wasn’t going to last, not in this family.
Here’s a cautionary tale for you – two creative, left-brained people get married and their house is forever a challenge to keep organized. It’s a bummer, and we both literally feel like all we do is clean, and yet what you are about to see is not abnormal for us – it’s extreme, yes, but not rare.
Now to be fair this is the ‘catchall near the door’ and we do need easy access to a lot: sunscreen, daily allergy meds, hair ties, keys, masks, sanitizer, and 17 pairs of sunglasses. We moved any and all ‘daily hardware’ to the toolbox in the garage and most of the office stuff to the credenza upstairs. We also went ahead and put that rogue sock, you know, NOT IN THE JUNK DRAWER (in the pantry where it belongs, duh).
To start, I had to pull everything out to get my bearings… I put on Armchair Expert and Brene Brown and got to work (we have an agreement with the kids on Sundays that they can either clean quietly or play quietly because we need quiet cleaning adult time and so they generally just stay out of our hair and play in the attic knowing that if they don’t they’ll get put to work – funny how that works).
It took about 45 minutes and felt SO GOOD.
Now I know that that doesn’t look super impressive and it’s not the ‘org porn’ that we are all used to, more like a low budget ‘org indie movie’. But that’s where we are at now… Those lucite containers really do help, though (they are hard to see, but they keep everything divided).
So here’s the before and after, left and right (I like how I have to spell it out because it’s not THAT obvious). But trust me, in person it’s a world of difference. We couldn’t even open it before.
The Cooking Utensil Drawer
Two years ago… This one also makes me laugh. I’m so glad I had so many brown paper bags for… uh…??? We actually did make a ton of puppets out of them but certainly didn’t need them here.
As of last week, it looked like this:
It was driving me NUTS and yet it was my mess as I cook the most. It’s so hard to be your own pet peeve…
Listen. It’s clean. It’s organized. I know what we have and now that we live here full time we have way more tools.
Two years ago this pantry was set up REALLY GREAT, actually. I highly recommend reading the post on what products we used to keep everything organized (but namely, these baskets and the clear food containers are GAME CHANGERS). Big fan over here. So yes, it was messy but I’m so grateful I had it set up to actually reference these photos as I organized it.
Here’s what it looked like last week.
It was out of control and I couldn’t find ANYTHING, including our ‘vacation chips’ (Cool Ranch Doritos) that somehow have become ‘Pandemic Chips’ thanks to Brian’s wonderful rationalization skills. But good news! We had 2 bags of spirulina powder (??) and not one, not two, but FOUR bags of almond flour up top, with 2 that had spilled over.
Here she is after I organized on Sunday.
Don’t be jealous of my iPhone photo skills. This is 2020 content amiright? I just ordered 3 more of those white baskets for all my flours/sugars up top that are just floating around and falling over. And I ordered 4 more canisters to decant even more. Knowing what you have and where it is does make you feel in control. It’s like a closet colonic. Shoot, Caitlin, we need to trademark that… Closet Colonic TM.
The Baking Drawer
This drawer has maintained its purpose which I appreciate – all things baking/mixing and it was pretty easy to reorganize.
Here it was on Friday:
A quick 15 minutes later she looked like this:
Those mixing bowls (that are only $8!!) are still GREAT by the way as they have a spout and they kinda ‘stick’ to the counter (because they are rubber).
The tupperware drawer will always be messy unless you pair the lids with the dishes on a daily basis and even though Brian has his Masters degree and I run a successful business, I think we know the daily ‘tupperware pairing’ task is beyond our skill levels. Could this be a hole in the market? Do we need to hire someone to come and daily pop lids onto plastic? Could they also do this with “socks” as that is its own baffling beast of a puzzle beyond our abilities?
Two years later, on Saturday here’s what it looked like:
It looks like the inside of my soul last week, really. But a quick 15-minute organization and wipe down made my insides feel so much better.
Take that!! Tupperware drawer!! Emily Henderson is IN CONTROL OF YOU (for now). Who’s your Daddy!!!!! (???)
Now, this was OUT OF CONTROL. Part of it was that I brought a lot of the spices from LA up here so we had doubles of a many. But Brian would overhear me muttering ‘where the heck is my garam masala?’ way too often. I’ve become such a cook where I need things like garam masala and star anise! Look at me!!! Look at that disgusting floor!!!
So I pulled everything out….
In case you are wondering what is happening in the background… I forgot that underneath all those upholstered bench seats in the dining room is flip-up storage. So as I was going through closets I started storing a lot in there (like our kitchen appliances – mixers and food processors we rarely use, halloween decor, etc).
And here is the beautiful after. Ahhh, what a relief. 🙂
Kids Game and Paint/Craft Closet
It looks almost like a joke. If this were a set for a film I could see the director pulling aside the set designer and say ‘I know I asked you to make it look like the messiest closet ever, but you’ve gone too far, it’s not believable, nobody would ever have a game closet that looks like this – pull it back a bit, mkay?’
Oh, man. Even I needed some closure on that one. It was giving me agita or vertigo, whatever it is when you feel dizzy and shaky when you see something. Organizing this one did make me want to buy more bins to store stuff in – so stay tuned on that (and we purged some games that we had bought as props for shooting the house that we never played).
I’ll leave you with a good one… The hall closet that is supposed to be the laundry closet.
Since this closet has no purpose it becomes the catchall for everything, namely like 15 hats and our bag of sports stuff that we take down to the field for “P.E”. I would basically close my eyes, open the doors blindly, throw something in, and close the doors before I saw or heard where it landed. Honestly, much like how a 5-year-old cleans. Fun fact: I used to “vacuum” when I was little by taking the 50lb 1970’s vacuum and push and pull it back and forth on the carpet to make all the lines of a thorough vacuum job, but without plugging it in so I could watch/hear Days of Our Lives while doing my chores. I was the kid that shoved everything underneath the sofa or in between the cushions. These are NOT habits that I want to pass down. But you gotta name your shame.
Again, the irony is that our house is actually almost always visually really uncluttered and clean. It is pretty on the outside of the inside and I am proud of it. But like our country – there was so much hidden garbage inside every single drawer, closet and cabinet, growing and making the whole house feel toxic and ugly. And while I can’t do much about this on a macro level, I am a testament that if you dedicate some time, even just one drawer, 10 minutes, to organizing your insides (or helping a neighbor, connecting with family) you will feel better.
I hope you are all hanging in there today – it’s a big emotional day that no national drawer clean-out can eliminate.
We are praying for our country, our kids’ future, our planet’s future, the lives of the so many living in poverty without resources, or marginalized by racism and bigotry, and hoping that our collective – but often disparate – American morals, values and democracy can survive and prevail.
But if things don’t go as I hope, then I’m looking at you “GARAGE” – prepare your toolboxes, seasonal decor, and piles of beach toys to be controlled hard Wednesday morning – or whenever I recover from tonight’s results – by this messy lady. It’s not going to be pretty. xx
Oh and, God Bless America. …
No, seriously. Dear God, please bless America.