Organized Kitchen Cabinets = Organized Mind

I know, I know. The State of my kitchen cabinets does not directly equal the State of my mind, except it kind of does. Here’s why. One of the ways my depression is triggered is the state of my house. Cluttered, untidy house, more likely that I’ll be less able to handle my evil jerk brain, more depression. Or maybe another way to say it is this: if my house is clean, I am more productive and I take care of myself and I don’t get stuck in my head. If my house is messy, my self-care routines tend to lapse, and I do get stuck in my head. So, over the years as I’ve figured this out, I’ve gotten better at strategies to keep my house tidy. And generally I succeed. But there’s one area I’m NOT tidy, and that is my kitchen cabinets. I have never, in 10 years of keeping house, had well organized cabinets. Not once. And while my house is mostly clean and tidy, it is still mentally exhausting to have messy cabinets, to not be able to find the things I need to feed myself, to buy things I already have because I don’t know I have them (I had 4 different bags of dried cranberries, you guys), and so today, I did something about it.

I feel the need to clarify here. I didn’t intend to do something about it. I had a big long list for the day and cleaning out and organizing my kitchen cabinets was most definitely not on the list. But we had gone camping for spring break, and there were some snack foods that needed to be put away, and I was going to make a pie so I needed to know if I had Karo syrup, and the next thing I knew, everything that used to be in the cabinets was on the counter.

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I said to J, I think I just did something really dumb. He came inside, took one look at the counter, and went right back outside. I think he agreed with me.

Like many people who organize things, I found myself in need of containers. Because clearly, the lack of containers was the problem. But! I didn’t just rush off to buy containers, I made a list first of everything that I wanted containers for, and about how big those containers should be. THEN I rushed off to buy containers. I ended up with 14 of these in assorted sizes, and as it turns out, I probably could have used one or two more, but overall I’m pretty happy with them. Then of course I had to wash all of them. So that was fun.

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Eventually, though, everything got washed and dried and I got to start filling them up and clearing off my countertops. I got some nifty chalkboard labels at World Market when I was buying the jars (they were right next to each other! How clever!) so everything is labeled. It’s fantastic!

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I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out, and how much more space I have now that it’s all tidy. A few things I learned, though:

  • Use square containers. They waste less space than round ones
  • If you wash the containers first, make sure that they are 100% dry before you put anything in them
  • Before putting something in a container, make sure it’s the right one. You don’t want to have to shift things around in containers.
  • On a completely unrelated note to the point above, quinoa WILL NOT come out of the container all the way, and you will have to re-wash and re-dry the container, so maybe just leave the quinoa alone?

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So that’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon. Most of my list still didn’t get done, although I did prep a couple of dinners for the upcoming week, and I baked my pie (which was amazing) and we are unpacked from camping, so I’ll consider that a win. Additionally, that super organized and tidy cabinet makes my head happy, which was the whole point in the first place.

Do you have any tricky areas in your house? Anything that just won’t stay organized? Any areas you recently conquered? Tell me about them!

What to do while sitting in Phoenix for the day…

When we first got our dog, five and a half years ago, we started taking her to the vet at Banfield, which is a vet operating out of Petsmarts all across the nation. The reasoning was, since we move so often, it might be nice to have a national vet. This turned out to be a brilliant idea on our parts, because since then, Ginger and I have lived in 5 different houses in 3 cities. Since we moved to Tiny Cowboy Town, the nearest Banfield location is about an hour and a half away, in Phoenix. We continued to take her there at first, to finish out her wellness plan (preventative care visits, dental cleanings, vaccinations, etc, paid monthly throughout the year), and then liked the vets there so much we keep taking her there!  Which is fine, except it means occasionally I drive to Phoenix very early in the morning, drop her off, and then have to spend the day here waiting until she is done.

Which brings us to today. What can you do in a city you don’t live in, to keep yourself occupied for a significant block of time, without spending a ton of money? Here’s what I’ve come up with for today:

-Breakfast at a new restaurant. I know this is spending money, but there’s about 5 places to get breakfast in Tiny Cowboy Town, and it’s nice to mix it up a little bit.

-Browse the aisles of the SuperTarget! Since the Target in my town is half the size of the one here, chances are good they have more/better/different things to look at, making it a great time killer

-Find a bookstore! While we have an excellent library system, there’s something about being in a huge bookstore that makes my heart happy. Additionally, I keep a list of books on my phone that I want to check out, so when I come to Phoenix, it’s a good chance to weed through them.

At the bookstore, I move to Phase 2 of my day. AKA the phase that requires wifi.

-Catch up on all the blogs that I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t had time for

-Work on my own blog, post ideas, calendar, updating the theme, etc

-Catch up on email and clear out my inboxes

-Take care of any other pesky ‘errands’ like phone calls, research, or other tasks on my to-do list that I never seem to get to (Are you noticing a theme here?)

-Shamelessly eavesdrop on the baristas talking about their personal lives/boyfriends/families/second jobs/etc. This doesn’t require wifi, but it’s still fun.

-Browse Pinterest looking for solutions to problem areas around the house. Right now, a weird corner/window/table thing that isn’t working.

After the bookstore, I’ll head to a nearby mall and a) enjoy the feeling of civilization and b) spend some time walking and moving. It might be February, but Phoenix is already hot and the mall is by far the most pleasant place to walk. Then hopefully Ginger will be done and I’ll pick her up and head home.

What do you do to kill time when you aren’t at your house?

A welcome sight, indeed

Growing up in the Northeast as I did, this is not the sort of thing one is accustomed to seeing at the end of February.

I imagine that if one has lived in Southern California all ones life, seeing sights such as these in the middle of winter are common occurrences. However, although it has been several years since I’ve lived in an area which does have winter, I was still struck by this sight outside of the local mall the other day. One of the things that I miss the most about the Northeast is the changing of the seasons and always having something to look forward to. I miss the sight of the first crocus or the buds on the trees, seeing the daffodils begin to come up and that sense that winter is almost over, spring is here. Like the world is coming to life again, and one cannot help but be filled with a sense of newness and wonder and and new beginnings. To me, the sight of that first crocus or the first flowers on a tree was more inspiring than the changing of the calender year. So while those around me continued on their business, I stopped for a moment and savored those cherry trees. Because that means spring is almost here.

photo credit: mine

On rainy saturday mornings

I woke up to the sounds of rain falling on the broad leaves of the trumpet flower plant outside my window and a dog licking my face. Which does not bode well for the rest of the day. Ginger doesn’t like playing outside in the rain. But when she’s stuck inside the house all day, she starts bouncing off the walls. It’s not fun. We went for a walk, then came back inside whereupon she immediately started whining to go out and play. I’m short on rations right now, which includes coffee and components for any sort of decent breakfast. We went to the park and I stood in the rain playing ball with my puppy who kept stopping to shake her self off or stare malevolently up at the falling rain, and as a reward, I decided to take myself out to breakfast at one of my favorite San Diego Restaurants My day got much better after enjoying this for breakfast.


It’s a ‘California omelette’, with tomatoes, cheese, and bacon inside, served with a side of refried beans and topped with avocado.

Now, my dog is napping on my bed and I might go join her before I start doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming and all the other chores that need to be done and which I’ve been putting off all week.

Of dogs and cookies

I started this morning with a walk at Fiesta Island with Ginger and my neighbor’s dog Bruschi. Fiesta Island is a man made, off-leash recreation area in the middle of Mission Bay. Ginger likes to go there to chase birds, dig for gophers, swim, and smell other dogs butts. I like getting some sunshine and exercise first thing in the morning. And Ginger and Bruschi had a great time.

Tonight for dinner I had some yummy leftover CPK. Afterwords, I cracked open a tin of cookies that I got the other day at Fresh and Easy. Check out the cool design on the back of this cookie! How cool is that! Its in chocolate! On a cookie! It was almost too pretty to eat, but I managed, and it tasted even better than it looked. Hooray! (Sorry, it was hard to get a picture close enough to see it without it being blurry. But it was cool. I promise.)

What’s your favorite way to start the morning?