The Continuing Kitchen Shelf Saga



I was going to title this “The Never Ending Kitchen Shelf Saga,” but I’m feeling optimistic today.

I have to say, I like the way the shelves look.

It’s nice to have all of my cookbooks and garden books together, easily accessible and sorted by category. I’ve gotten my jars of beans and grains off the counter and onto the shelves, too. Some baskets hold small books and pamphlets; others keep medicines, vitamins, sunscreen and insect repellants close at hand. A few plants and a couple candles soften the edges.

If I have a superpower, it is the knack for arranging shelves.

If I have a “green Kryptonite”-like weakness, it is the absolute inability to sort. Every aspect of it stymies me…from deciding on categories for dozens of disparate objects to not being able to discount anything as “useless”…which is one reason this project, at times, seems like it will never end.

Fifty years ago, when my sister Brenda and I were – every couple weeks or so – forced to clean our room, this short-coming became evident.

Brenda’s tactic was to sweep everything into one (huge) mound in the middle of the floor. The next step was to yank all of the dirty clothes out of that pile and put them in the baskets downstairs. Next, pick out all the Barbie dolls, their clothing and accessories…put them away. Next, game pieces, puzzle pieces and cards. Continue, until all that was left got swept into the dustpan  and thrown away. She had a plan, and it worked!

I don’t know why it was so disagreeable to me…or why I was so disagreeable about the method.

I remember feeling absolutely appalled at the idea of sweeping everything together, where all of our belongings would mix and mingle. It seemed like we were making an even greater mess. I couldn’t stand it…no matter how many times she proved to me that it worked.

My method, contrarily, was to pick up one random object, look at it, think about it, adjust it if necessary (perhaps the doll should be wearing the blue dress instead of the green?) and finally put it in its place. Which, if the “place”  was not in order, would then lead to another distraction, and another…forever.

I still use the same tactics!

I have four kitchen drawers to clean out and put into use. They have spent the last two or three years lazily picking up bits of flotsam and jetsam that didn’t have a specific place. Now, since I have taken the large 32-drawer cabinet out of the kitchen, I really need that drawer space. Those four drawers have to go back to work!

So, I’ve been emptying and sorting.

I have a pile of dog collars: two that no longer fit Rosa Parks, one that fits her but that she only wears when I walk her on a leash and one that belonged to my old dog, Maggie, who left this world more than three years ago.

I have two mounds of art-related objects. One contains a roll of mounting tape, a package of glazier’s points, a couple screw eyes, a few oil pastels, a handful of paintbrushes and other miscellaneous objects that actually have places in the studio. The other contains bits of foil and papers that I found or saved, to use in collage someday.

Christmas related items: one hand-made ornament that needs to be glued back together, ornament hooks, ribbon and four little packages of tiny replacement bulbs for Christmas lights (though I haven’t decorated for Christmas in years!).

I have quite an accumulation of hooks, from large decorative ones – for coats or robes – to the tiniest cup hooks.

I have an extensive collection of batteries, it seems, plus two flashlights, an alarm clock and a disposable camera.

I have an inordinate amount of pest-related products: simple mouse traps and plug in devises to discourage rodents, several battery-powered devises to keep mosquitoes away and three small bottles of ant killer.

Now, I have four empty drawers, cleaned and paper-lined, ready to be put back into use.

I have all of my collections laid out on the counter, waiting for decisions to be made. What gets moved to a new location? What can be given away? What gets tossed?

I just needed a break, before I got into all of that!


8 responses »

  1. I am SO grateful to have Sara, as she helps me sort and organize. I’m not bad at it, but she is an organizing genius, I swear. I don’t think your sister’s method would appeal to me either, by the way. But, gosh, Cindy, those shelves look INCREDIBLE! I love them.

    Good luck with the drawers. Thanks for the kitchen update!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Hi there! Even though I hated it, Brenda was pretty genius to come up with that system at such a young age. She has moved on to being one of the most organized, best house-keepers I know. I, unfortunately, am still stuck in my “pick it up, ponder, go in circles, get nothing accomplished” plan! Thanks for reading, Kathy…I need all the encouragement I can get!

  2. Cindy, I love you! Your shelves look like something I only dream of. I laughed out loud when I read about changing Barbie’s dress. You and I have so much in common. Once, when Greg and I were giving a party, he went out to gather supplies, while my job was to clean the downstairs rooms of our house. He flipped when he came home and found me surrounded by mess, putting all the record albums in alphabetical order on a bookshelf.

    • Oh, Soul Sister, that is exactly the way my mind works! It keeps life interesting, though has gotten me in a bind more often than I care to think about! Thank you for reading, Kate, and for your comments!

  3. Your shelves are fabulous! I have a sister who is great at organizing, although I don’t think she ever used the method your sister did/does. I’m coming up on my spring cleaning and am looking forward to it, but it will most likely not get done because I get side-tracked by the minutiae. It’s the same thing every year.

    When/if I ever get wonderful shelves like you have I’ll invite you over to arrange them. I love what you’ve done!

    • Oh, that’s so sweet! These are actually just pine boards that I used as shelves for several years until – in another fit of re-organizing – I cut them down, trimmed the corners off and painted them white. I have put them to other use throughout the house over the years, but am happy now to have them back in their original location. Rearranging and reorganizing will take my attention over simply cleaning any day. It’s a curse, but comes with its own rewards! Have a great Sunday, Sara!

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