Friday, December 12, 2008

While he was out: a cabinet makeover

I don't know if you're familiar with the shows Clean Sweep or While You Were Out, but Eric and I have a good bachelor friend who I've been wanting to clean sweep for a long time! He is a wonderful person, and has many amazing domestic skills: the man makes yogurt and bread and even paper! However, organization and cleanliness are not his strong suits, and I wanted to give him a little help.

Earlier this fall, I surprised him by re-organizing his small and crowded pantry. I didn't want to stop there, so I asked him what other areas of his kitchen I could work on. He said his biggest issue was spices--he could never find what he needed, and thus would go out and buy another one. Upon beginning the project, I quickly saw what he meant:

Although I wanted to take absolutely everything out of the cabinet and start over, I only had a couple hours and needed to focus on the task at hand: the spices. Do you see them way up there on the top shelf? That was obviously a problem--no wonder he couldn't see what he had! I took down all the containers and counted them--there were over a hundred spice jars, not including things like extracts and flavorings! Here's a pic of them all spread out (some are even stacked on top of each other):As I started sorting them, I noticed quite a few duplicates. It was rather humorous to me at times. I've never even used allspice, and I think he had three containers of it! Whenever I could, I combined like spices to eliminate extra packaging. I set up a spice shelf near his cooking area and placed what I guessed were his most used spices on the shelf for easy access. After combining spices, if he still had more than two containers of the same spice, I set those jars aside so they wouldn't go back in the cabinet.

Next I grouped things together. He had a lot of flavorings as well as many spice blends for grilling, etc., so a friend and I labeled shoeboxes to contain those groupings accordingly:

I had a lot of fun working on this project, and have plans for dealing with those stacks of dishes in the next month or so. Our friend was quite pleased with the changes, and I hope it's helped him be able to find and use what he needs!

If you're wondering what I did with the remaining spices, I asked my friend if we could have a potluck centered around his "pantry excess." When cleaning out his pantry earlier, I'd come across quite a few staples and mixes that he said he would never use. About eight of us gathered for a very random dinner--each person was given a couple ingredients from the friend's pantry and asked to make a dish containing those items. It was a delicious meal, and a fun way to clear out our friend's shelves and have fellowship at the same time!

Note to real life friends: If you know/recognize the makeover recipient--please don't disclose his name in the comments. Thanks!

12 comments:

thehomespunheart said...

I've been waiting for this post - great job Carrie, looks great and I know it will make his cooking easier! Very fun idea about the potluck too! :) Talk to you this afternoon...

Anonymous said...

It is so tempting to tell the world our friend's name...What a great idea to help him out! The potluck was a GREAT idea...I wish I could have been there. Love you, friend!

-Sara

mom said...

Great match for your skills and interest -- and great result! The potluck using the excess items was a creative idea! :) Love you, Mom

Wendi said...

Such a nice thing for you to do. The potluck sounds like it was fun!

Mary said...

What a great idea about the potluck! I'll have to show this post to my husband - he thinks I'm the only loon that keeps her spices in a shoebox. But I also get those little round stickers and put them on the top of the lid and write the spice there so I don't have to pull out all the jars. That might push me over into the loon category...

gail said...

i think spices multiply like gremlins or tribbles (star trek). glad you were able to help your friend out and that potluck idea is very creative!

Ewokgirl said...

Wow, and I thought I had a lot of spices! Great job on the organization. And what a fun way to use excess spices!

kelseylynae said...

What a thoughtful way to help him out. The dinner sounds like a hoot as well, and I'm sure it was interesting to see what everyone came up with. Did anyone use kraft.com-- they have a place where you can simply type in ingredients you have to use and they'll put it together for you and come up with a dish! It's wonderful for clearing out MY pantry before shopping.

This post also made me miss his bread, and our random meetings in his apt. last year! Let us know how the next cabinet makeover goes!

Jeremy and Christa Nichols said...

Okay, so when can you come to my house? I am really great at keeping things that are out in view spiffy. However, when it comes to cupboards, my motto tends towards, "If the door is closed, you're good."

Jeremy and Christa Nichols said...

Okay, so when can you come do my house?

Amy A. said...

That is so much fun!

Anonymous said...

Great Job, Carrie:
I wouldn't have thought of doing such a thing. I'm sure he was pleased.
Also the potluck dinner was a very neat/creative idea. Sounds like fun.

Love, Grandma