Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures in Organization

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I have always felt like I have a good grasp of the Reuse and Recycle part which leads to a nice reduce of waste in my trash can. However, it has not led to a reduce of stuff in my home!

I believe the problem started with "I love all things glass!" Then expanded to "Fancy boxes I adore!" Add to that a realization that I need to be more organized "That paper box top will work perfectly for sorting papers at my desk." or "Those cookies came in a tin, sure I will take it home, I can find a use for it." Containers for storing, containers for sorting, containers for looking pretty on a shelf... I am beginning to see myself as a hoarder of containers.

I was made fully aware of my hoarding after I made a personal declaration to reclaim my creepy, crawly, full-of-piles-of-STUFF-and-storage, cob-webby, drippy, damp, do-not-like-to-spend-time-down-there basement.

First, I took a 5'x5' section where I like to store my canned goods. The location of last fall's near disaster. My overstocked hutch full of newly canned applesauce, pickles, and tomatoes had half-fallen down, and fortunately not crashed the jars stored on it. Once discovered the jars had all been set out on the basement floor. On top of which went all the tubs full of empty jars that had previously been stored up in my kitchen (above the window that was now a door or in the entryway that will someday be a pantry with shelves or in the pantry cupboard that was now my husband's personal tool and STUFF storage. All of these jars were shifted to the basement when we were having the siding redone, and moving the main door). Now I moved all of them again - to tables and other pieces of floor so that my 5x5 space was empty. I scrubbed it, then painted it, then moved the bottom 1/2 of the cabinet back to the space and painted it too. My lovely husband agreed to help me repair it and reinforce it for heavy use. The top 1/2 was re-purposed upstairs in the kitchen for lightweight hat/mitten/boot storage.

I was feeling motivated, so before the cabinet could be fixed we (my children were helping) started on section two. The jars were shifted again - to my husband's side of the basement (my basement has two "sides", my side - the laundry, sewing, and pantry; my husband's side - the wood stove, corral, wood storage, and furnace). Along with the jars was a stack of empty containers waiting for their chance at reuse, several storage tubs, too many lids for the number of tubs and containers, a bin of electronic odds & ends, and much more. It was humbling to see a pile like that. It really brings to light how much STUFF I keep without real need.

Section two is next to my washing machine & dryer. We moved, scrubbed, painted, and put two tables in the space where once bins of STUFF were. New useful space for laundry. Section three is the new location of our sewing machine, we scrubbed, painted, and moved the machine cabinet. (My husband will insist that I point out that the sections are actually painted different colors! Section 1 is a Lavender - the wall, the floor, and the cabinet. Section 2 is Gumball Red on the wall and under the two white tables. Section 3 is a greyish blue. Given the chance, husband will repaint it all one color. For now, I get my fun sections.) When I had the 3 sections painted and the main furniture in place it was so lovely, simple, peaceful, freeing, and empty.

Then the day came where one of my goats had a baby. The day before winter in Minnesota returned. We knew it was going to get cold fast, and we really wanted to have baby Belle survive! We have, as mentioned above, a corral in our basement. It has been used to house our first batch of puppies, our first rabbits, kittens, chickens, and now was going to be home to our new mama & baby. Have you ever tried carrying a pygmy mama goat down stairs, and tried circumventing a huge pile of STUFF just to get at a coral? I almost dropped her when I accidentally stepped on the edge of a lid. Fortunately I did not and Mama and Baby were safely in my basement.

I knew that absolutely without a doubt I had to find homes for the STUFF in that pile!

Later that evening I set to work. I took everything in that pile and sorted it. A pile in the 4th section for potting supplies. The cabinet was done, so most of the canned jars were put on the shelf, sorted by type. The empty jars were put into bins and piled in front of the shelf for further sorting. The empty container collection was piled in the laundry space, then separated into types. The bins of get rid of it stuff was piled nearby. Cardboard boxes that were broken or moldy or unusable were put in the burn bin. Now my husbands side had a clear path to the wood stove and the corral. It felt like progress.

Within the following week I managed to get the rest of the home canned foods on the lavender shelf. The potting section has a table and shelf nicely organized with some of the box tops I have kept (see my obsession with containers is not completely pointless). The laundry tables are now neatly organized with tubs for sorting colors. All the extra unorganized, do not really know where it goes yet STUFF is now out on my front porch - the current favored place for such things. I try to keep myself to one space at a time. (I MUST get to the porch before spring!)

Still on the list for the basement is painting the lavender cabinet's newly rebuilt side. Section 4 cleaning and painting. Emptying and sorting out the wall cabinets. Cleaning and painting the laundry machine area. Finding space rugs for 3 of the sections. I did not take before photos - but the first image is tonight's so far photo. Here to the right is a humiliating photo of the poor, unfortunate front porch pile of STUFF.

Even though I am a hoarder of containers I like to believe I am improving! I used what I needed to get spaces organized. I reunited several tubs with their lids. I burned unusable cardboard/wood boxes. I even put several broken containers in the recycling bin! Moving forward, I need to remember to put everything back where it belongs, to not bring home new STUFF unless I have a clear and present use for it, and to keep enjoying the appearance of lovely empty spaces!

More adventures to come!