Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Organize right down memory lane

I've been bitten by the it's-the-new-year-let's-get-off-our-butts-and-get-this-house-organized bug. In the past, when other folks are organizing, I've made excuses.  My house is too small to organize. I've got way too much stuff to organize.  I don't have the time to organize. This time, I'm reminding myself to stop focusing on the flaws and take steps toward correction.  So I'm using my own modified versions of organization plans I've found on the Bowl Full of Lemons blog/website. Check this out:

Home Organization on Bowl Full of Lemons

Yesterday I modified the blogger's plan to organize my bedroom.  I would post "before" pictures but I'm afraid that the crew from the Hoarders TV show might be alerted to make an emergency visit to my house. I threw away a huge garbage bag full of stuff I didn't need, found a few items to donate and even found a few treasures. Among those were two partial Wal-Mart gift cards totaling about $24, a pendant that Jay and I both forgot he had given me a few years ago for Christmas, and some Girl Scout patches I need to put on Caroline's sash. Now our bedside tables, floor and dresser are cleared except for a few organizational baskets and a lamp. I'm thrilled with the progress, which is certainly not perfection.

Today I moved on to organizing the two cabinets on either side of our wine rack bar.  This is an addition we made when we started remodeling the kitchen two and a half years ago. The cabinet consultant at Lowe's warned me that this space, which was previously occupied by a completely blank wall, might become a catch-all if I wasn't careful. Oh no, I said. It will remain a functional workspace in my beautiful new kitchen. Well, time went by and my vision turned into the junky space he had cautioned me against. 

Today I cleaned a bunch of junk out of the cabinets, including a partial box of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes that could be used as hockey pucks and about 8,000 empty water balloons. What I also discovered, however, was a treasured memory. As I was cleaning I showed Jay three empty wine glasses that my grandma gave me about 12 years ago.  I also told the story that went along with them.

I was living in an apartment by myself just up the hill from Grandma's house. Jay was finishing his last semester at college and was planning to come spend the weekend. I decided to prepare a dinner from scratch to surprise him. I got the recipes for Chicken Cacciatore and fresh pear cake from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, one of the only cookbooks I owned at the time. I called my grandma to ask some advice.  I don't remember the exact content of our conversation, but I imagine it went something like this:

Me: "Grandma, this recipe for this cake says I'm supposed to grease and flour the pan. How do you do that?"
Grandma: "Well, honey, you have to use Crisco and put it all over the inside of the pan."
Me: "I don't have any Crisco."
Grandma: "Well come on down and I'll let you have some."
Me: "OK, I'll be right down."

And I grabbed my bundt pan and ran down the hill to her house. I greased, I floured, and I sat down at her kitchen table to talk to her. Sometime during our conversation, I cautiously mentioned that not only was I preparing a special dinner for Jay, but I had also purchased a bottle of wine for us to enjoy. The problem, I explained with nervous laughter, was that I didn't have any wine glasses and I supposed we would have to drink out of some mismatched plastic tumblers I probably picked up at some concert or baseball game. 

I held my breath, not knowing how my grandma would react to her unmarried granddaughter entertaining her fiance with such a libation. To my relief/surprise Grandma instructed me to get up and look in one of her cabinets. On one of her shelves sat small, plain glass wine goblets. Those, she believed, would help make my dinner complete.  As I recall, she told me that my grandfather had bought the wine glasses at some time.

I treasure a lot of memories of time spent at my grandma's house. I have to smile, because when Jay and I decided to move out of the apartment and bought a house that was the equivalent of a few blocks away from hers, she said she hated to see us move away. About five years ago, Grandma had to move out of her house and she now lives in an assisted living facility. Now I have two little ones who are making memories with their "Granny."

Anyway, cleaning junk out of the cabinets gave me room to neatly organize the stuff that was taking up space on the counter underneath the wine rack. You can't really check out my progress since, again, I didn't take before pictures. But I'm proud of this: 

My sense of accomplishment, paired with the discovery of forgotten treasures -- and treasured memories -- are spurring me on to continue with organizing. I'll be posting more organization accomplishments soon :)

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