Many areas of my life are not at all organized. But I do have a bit of (undiagnosed, probably colloquial in nature rather than clinical) ocd. When the world is falling apart, I get some relief from having certain things organized. Alphabetical books in the bookcases. Pens organized by color. Clips in their appropriate bins by size. Silverware, stationary etc. separated by type and organized in appropriate places in their appropriate drawers. When I went into work and the supply cabinet was kept stocked, I would make sure the teas were organized by type (caffeinated one shelf, greens together, etc… after one botched restocking, I explained to the student workers the system I had put in place. Luckily they like me!). Many of these things are things you can’t see and maybe it doesn’t matter that I have piles of work papers all around me optimistically organized by vintage (newest stuff on top).
One of the things that must be organized alphabetically (and that makes me yell “Who has been messing with my system?!?” when it gets out of order) is my spice rack. Back when we were living in an apartment, spices lived alphabetically on set of cheap shelves in the living room because our kitchens were tiny (or, for two years, shared). When we moved here, I decided I wanted a rack like I’d seen on the backs of doors. Our pantry has enough room that we didn’t need to put it on the back of a door– this is screwed into the wall. I picked out wire rack modules at Home Depot and DH installed them.
Here are the top few shelves (currently I don’t have any little spices sticking out on top– we used up a few of the containers we had duplicates of [like Northwoods seasoning which is my favorite replacement for spice mixes like Emeril’s, blackening, cajun, etc.] so I was able to spread things out.) The holes in the wall above the spice rack pre-date us. I’m not sure what the previous owners had here because whatever it was they took it with them. (They used the walk-in pantry mostly as alcohol storage!)
Here are the bottom three shelves where we keep bagged spices, also in alphabetical order. It’s mostly Penzey’s but they were out of ground cardamom when we needed it (cardamom is one of my favorite spices) so I got some from nuts.com. (In the jarred spices we’re mostly Penzey’s but I don’t mind having different jars so long as they’re about the same shape/size and, importantly, everything is in alphabetical order. We have mostly Penzey’s not because I need all the yellow labels matching but because they have excellent quality spices at reasonable prices. We are not getting paid to say that and they don’t know we exist. It’s just a wonderful company in so many ways. Pick up some of their Northwoods seasoning, and if you like things hot, their Berebere mix. Try their mixed seasonings to make flavored roasted nuts or put them in sour cream for a fun veggie dip. *love emoji*)
You can see each shelf is connected to the wall by brackets that came with the shelf.
Here you can see that the shelf is modular– it’s composed of multiple sets. You can also see the envelope we use to list the spices we’re going to need to get on our next Penzey’s run in The City. Or, since the pandemic started, our next Penzey’s order.
I know these are not very pinteresty pictures– I think I had the light off and the pantry is a bit dark and I was too lazy to play with the lighting, but you get the idea.
To forestall people who question whether we can use all these spices before they go stale: not always, but I would rather have a spice available and stale (meaning we have to use more of it) than to not have it at all. We do go through our regular spices pretty quickly.
And… this is not all our spices. We have a box on the floor to the side that is just different kinds of dried chiles (also alphabetical). On the shelves to the left in between the cereal bars and the crackers I keep different kinds of seeds and fancy salts. On the shelves to the right between the chocolate bars and candied fruit we keep extracts and waters (and would keep food coloring and cake decorations if DC2 weren’t allergic to red dye). Cocoa powder we keep in the back shelves with the flours. Peppercorns are shelved, oddly, in front of the chocolate bars, but I think that’s just because it’s really easy access. But still, a place for everything and everything has its place.
How do you keep your spices? How do you self-sooth when the world is going crazy?