It sparks joy


Well, it’s not huge, sprayed hair, or cod pieces, or swallowing live goldfish.

So as far as trends go, it ain’t too bad.


In my old house, we had lived there for more than 30 years. After three decades of, well, I won’t say hoarding but ... the easiest way to organize that place would have been to light a match and start over.

Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to frown upon arson. (Their word, not mine; I’d call it extreme house cleaning).

When I moved into my new place, my plan was to keep it tidy, to treat it the way a boat is treated. In a boat there is finite space, so there must be a finite number of objects that all have a spot where they live. When not in use that is where the object resides.

Then my friends Stace and Val began visiting to help get me moved in.

Basically, they were my parents before they had kids and those kids made them old and tired.

Stace is a consummate handyman. I think he was born with a cordless drill in one hand, and a level in the other. He assembled, hung, and created numerous crazy things that I kept coming up with for my new home. I hang my clothes, store my books, and see into my pantry because of Stace.

And Val is my mother in that she is a neat freak. While Stace measured, hammered, and drilled, Val positioned furniture both in an aesthetic and symmetrical way, and helped me set up my kitchen.

In my apartment is a pantry — it’s actually the first pantry I’ve ever had in any place I’ve ever called my own.

So, a lot of stuff went into the pantry. It was out of sight, but kind of haphazard.

That’s when Val began talking about a friend of hers who had gone “all in” on the home organization trend. After the binge watching, bread making, and Zoom meetings during the COVID-19 lockdowns, people started looking around their homes and many of them decided that they needed a system.

Home organization became a thing.

There a few reasons why it became a craze. People were spending lots of time in their homes and its clutter and chaos was noticed and wore on them. There was more time to tackle projects that had been on to do lists. And a third reason had to do with our mental health.

In a world gone berserk, where no one knew what the next horrible twist would bring, getting our homes under control was the only control we had in our own worlds.

And a clean, organized home can confer a sense of calming serenity.

But back to my kitchen.

Everything was put away in pantry and fridge, but there was no rhyme or reason.

I decided that the next time Stace and Val visited, Val would be impressed, and more importantly, it would be easy to keep tidy.

There was one huge hitch in my organizing giddy up: those organization kits and products are really expensive. Like $20 or $30 for one clear plastic bin for the fridge.

My only option was to get creative.

For my refrigerator, I found two plastic bins at a discount store for $10. For the bottom shelf I wanted something to keep my ridiculous amounts of jams and jellies together, yet separate and easy to see. So instead of buying expensive clear plastic bins, I bought inexpensive flatware drawer inserts. I did it without measuring, just on a wing and a prayer.

I got lucky.

(So maybe do a little measuring, Gentle Reader.)

When I went to purchase for my pantry, I was again appalled at the prices, so I took my time.

I decided to go for mainly glass jars of various sizes. I like the look, and you can see through the glass into what’s inside.

My smaller jars? I just bought two cases of canning jars.

For my larger jars I scoured every discount store, sale, and thrift store. I splurged on labels, which in hindsight was a waste of money.

The shelves were racks, which I dislike. They’re not stable. So, I bought heavy plastic cutting mats and laid them on the shelves. Everything is more secure and they’re easy to remove to clean.

I then organized areas on the shelves. I have baking supplies and pasta on one shelf and both sadly and characteristically one entire shelf is taken up with snack items. I picked up a wire basket for the items that don’t work in jars.

My way was not only hundreds of dollars cheaper than regulation organization supplies, but I also love the way it looks.

How much?

The photos I took for this column were not the first photos I’ve taken of my pantry.

Thanks for your time.

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