Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Fulfillment Project Tackles the Refrigerator

I know you were probably expecting horseback riding pics today...and those will come.  However, I want to get back to my happiness cookbook, aka Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  In one of the early chapters of The Happiness Project Gretchen describes cleaning out her closets.  Her apartment is cluttered and tackling that clutter brings her a certain amount of happiness. 

It looks so tidy...until you open those white built-in cabinets.
 As I walked through my house I knew that clearing the surface clutter wasn't an option.  Mostly, because there is no surface clutter.  My husband hates clutter and so I've become a closet clutterer.  Out of sight, out of mind, right.  My house is well-equipped with LOTS of closets and every single one of them is full.  I tuck things away and years later discover the emergency flashlight in the basement bathroom vanity drawer or a ziplocked baggie of confetti in my overflow storage.  I considered devoting the weekend to just the living room cupboards but then I remembered my friend Rachel's refrigerator.

Rach's refrigerator is pristine.  It's a thing of beauty.  She freely admits that if she feels stressed out, all she needs to do is open her refrigerator door.  The labeled bins, everything in its proper place, it's the Rach equivalent to a day at the spa.
Note Rach's empty top shelf....for leftovers!

 Because she's a good friend, and finds her joy in organizing, she agreed to spend a few hours reorganizing my fridge (and when I say agreed, I actually mean jumped at the chance).  Here's what we started with at the Garth household. 
Luckily you can't see the slimy section hidden at the back.


And this!

I count 2 pickle jars in this picture alone.
What the pictures, thankfully, don't show is the build up of grime and the back row of forgotten items.  I am theoretically anti-food waste.  I make an effort to menu plan and use up all the food we buy.  However, often things don't go as planned.  We grab a quick pizza.  Someone invites us to dinner.  Vacations, soccer games and holidays, they all conspire to make sure the food I buy doesn't get eaten.  My way of coping with this is to ignore it.  I let the ignored food get pushed to the deep, dark regions of the fridge until they're unrecognizable and slimy.  Only when my organic tomatoes have turned to slush do I then feel free to toss them out, guilt free. 

Rachel sized my fridge up with a practiced eye.  "The first thing we're going to do is take everything out."  And so we did.  Everything!  We lined it up on my counter and she made me sort things into use groups.  If I used something every day it went into the often group.  Twice a week was seldom and less than once a week items went straight to the rarely used.  We discovered that I have four jars of pickles, three jars of dijon mustard and three containers of cream cheese.  There was no judgment about my jars of excess condiments, but when it came to the cream cheese she said, "You've got to promise me you'll stop buying cream cheese until you use these three packages."  I promised.  It was the least I could do for someone who gave up two hours of her Saturday to hang out with me and my slimy vegetables.  

Tomorrow we get into the nitty gritty of how we reclaimed my refrigerator.  I've got the after pictures and, even better, some amazing Rachel advice for how to avoid the slimy food syndrome.  It's a whole new way of conceptualizing refrigerator space.   



Krista said...

Wow. I dream of having a fridge like Rachel's. I xan get things organized - it is the keeping them that way that I struggle with.

Krista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beylit said...

I think a fridge that organized might actually drive me crazy. Not because I don't like things organized, because I do. Everything has its place, it is just between my husband and our kid nothing ever manages to stay where it belongs. Blatantly misplacing objects from my perceived order is one thing, blatantly ignoring a labeled system might send me over the edge.

It would be nice though...

Hart Johnson said...

teehee--Man, my hubby would LOVE it if I would get rid of the surface clutter. I just can't seem to. If I put it out of SIGHT then I never attend to it. it needs to stay out until I get the thing DONE. Our fridge isn's too bad sometimes... I mean sometimes it SEEMS that way, but it is just because it gets pretty full. I think the worst part is the condiments. We DO have some duplicates there.

Sarah Tokeley said...

Dear Johanna,

Please would you send Rachel to England?

Love Sarah

Mariebop said...

I suffer from slimy food syndrome. My husband gets mad when he finds it. Then, I gently remind him that he was the one that pushed that item to the back of the fridge when he stuffed it full of beer. :P

My fridge is definitely due for a good clean.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not letting my wife see your post or I'll helping her clean the fridge tonight.

Brenda McKenna said...

I love this, and I completely understand about the pizza/invited to dinner/oh, look, it's the kid's carnival! food waste. Thank you for sharing your organizational journey!

Johanna Garth said...

Krista, me too!

Beylit, I think I'll do a follow up at some point to see how well we stick with it once you factor in kids and hubs.

Hart, the duplicate condiments were killing me, space wise, that is.

Sarah, Absolutely!

Mariebop, so glad to know I'm not the only one.

Alex, wait until you see the after pics! Then you'll really want to keep your wife away from this blog.

Brenda, tomorrow I'm writing about Rach's top tips to keep everything organized.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I can so relate to this post! I have the same style of housekeeping! But the fidge is often a noman's land of arcane and mysterious ingredients for forgotten attempts at creating the Philosopher's Stone! It resists cleaning, with its superior magic. All I can do is achieve a standoff with it - I don't win, exactly, but neither does the Kenmore (which is demon-speak for Black-hole).

jenny milchman said...

Oh man, will she come to my house??? It's a real challenge--like, she'll be able to call herself the Goddess of Fridges after--because ours is about 2/3 normal size and we are BIG eaters.

Anyway--congrats on this momentous occasion. No joke. Fulfillment indeed.

Danielle Butts said...

omg I am so jealous of your fridge... ours looks like a bachelor's pad :)

Unknown said...

I'm just so excited to MAKE THE BLOG! (this is Rach). I feel so honored! The best thing about organizing with Johanna is that she didn't fight me on any suggestion!

Pame Brennan said...

Can Rachel come do my entire house? That would be HEAVEN!!

The Bookworm said...

Isn't it crazy how when you take everything out, how much stuff there is?