Procrastination Jobs: Cleaning up the Spice Cabinet

Procrastination jobs are things I do when I should be doing something else. I first noticed procrastination jobs when I was in school. In the throes of finishing a term paper, I’d be overcome by the desire to take a break and sort out my closet or finally put photos in an album – things I couldn’t usually find time for.

Fast forward to today, when I’m procrastinating painting the spare bedroom. The easy parts are done and I’m stuck on the picky parts. Of course I cleaned out my spice cabinet.

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- here's a big mess on my counter.

Oops. This “cleaning” job made a big mess on the counter.

When Bob and I combined households, everything got shoved in; time passed; we added new things and ignored the old. To be fair, most of these were not stored alongside usable ingredients, so if you’ve eaten with me recently, never fear (Sam, Mickey, Susan, SolarBlessed – it’s OK).
It wasn’t hard to identify old stuff. What was interesting to me was just how old it was! I feel like a spice cabinet archeologist.

Here’s my visual list of tips on what to look for when you’re sorting:

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- does it have a date stamp? These are vintage.

Does it have a date stamp? These are vintage, maybe even antique.

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- was it ever used?

Did I ever use it? These hadn’t been opened.

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- is it from a store that no longer exists?

Is it from a store that no longer exists or doesn’t exist in this part of the country? As for CNO, I’ve blogged about it before, and our much loved old Harry’s Farmer’s Market has been Harry’s Whole Foods for years. Sigh.

In Kansas City, I loved to shop at Planter’s Seed Company. It’s still there, but I’m not. We don’t have Safeway here either, but I still have some of their spice jars.

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- is the price amazingly low?

Is the price amazingly low? That might be a clue that no way it’s from this century.

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- is everything stuck to the bottom?

Is all the stuff stuck to the bottom of the container? (ewww)

Cleaning the spice cabinet -- here's one more -- is it empty?

Oh wait, there’s one more — is it empty? (good grief)

On a more somber note: I also found this package.

MoMA salt and pepper IMG_3451I know what’s inside. It’s the “Wobble” salt and pepper set Bob and I bought at the MoMA gift shop in New York two nights before he went in for the medical procedure that led to his death. We rarely bought things like this, but it was modern and roly-poly, and looked like so much fun that we decided to splurge and buy ourselves a Christmas present. The package was still in my suitcase when I came home alone. I put it away without ever opening it. But now I’ve made a fresh start not just with my spice cabinet, but with life. Maybe I’ll open the package. I’ll post a picture if I do.

What will I do with the old spices?
•    Make a fragrant addition to the compost
•    Or, like that quote about life handing you lemons and making lemonade — if life hands you old spices, make potpourri.

What will I do for new ones?  I want something more environmentally friendly. I’m looking for a local store that sells in bulk, where I could take my own containers for refill. Or maybe I’ll just stop by Planter’s Seed Company on my next trip to Kansas City.

By the way, did you notice my newest procrastination job: writing about sorting out the spice cabinet?
What’s your favorite procrastination job?

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19 thoughts on “Procrastination Jobs: Cleaning up the Spice Cabinet

  1. Since I change households twice a year, I take my spices with me. I have to put them away twice a year! I find the best spices ever are at Penzey Spices. There’s a store in Sandy Springs. You can buy in bulk…in their plastic bags that are pre-weighed. Freshest spices, and best tasting ever.

  2. I love it! I went through our spice cupboard a while back and found spices that were out of date 10 years ago – yuk!
    My favourite procrastination job is cleaning the kitchen extra carefully. Wiping all the cupboard doors, getting splatters off the gas stove top and the kettle, washing the little plate from the inside of the microwave, clearing and washing the fruit bowl and so on. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but it always seems to happen when I really need to clean the bathroom!

    • Ah – I did go on to take everything out of the adjoining cabinet (coffee and tea, baking supplies) and go through that too, plus take out & clean the vinyl shelf liner & everything. You’re right: it IS lots more fun than cleaning the bathroom.

  3. Wow that’s an incredibly extensive collection! Though, as you’ve shown, there were all sorts of things to thin it out – like empties, and expired sprices. I tend to think if they are still smelling, they might be ok, but otherwise, off they go! Thankfully, all mine are less than 2 years old, as I bought them all when I moved out on my own. Nice work!

    • I did find it amazing that some of the really old ones still had a nice aroma. (I really did save some for potpourri) The old herb powders look so pretty in my compost container that I kind of hate to take it out.

  4. My favorite procrastination job (hmmm, does this count as a ‘job?) is reading blogs about procrastination jobs instead of doing my own tasks!

  5. Great post, and it made me laugh! I used to have a spice box exactly the same, the only reason I don’t now is because I moved country and couldn’t take them with me! Although now I’m much more careful with what I buy so hopefully I won’t be accumulating stuff in the same way…

  6. I tend to accumulate books and books and more books. Magazines are another big one. So far, boxes of them have gone to the thrift store or donated to the library. The cottage breathes better this way 🙂 m.

    • I know what you mean – I have 3 bags of book donations ready to deliver, and have sold (on amazon) a few per week, traded a few on paperbackswap too. I need a new outlet for magazines now that my library no longer takes them. Bit by bit it’s getting better.

  7. I agree with JanL that reading blogs is a great way to procrastinate. When I was in a share house, if I cleaned the bathroom, my housemates would always ask if I had an essay or report due! We didn’t have the internet back then.

  8. Pingback: Sisters unite – my first ever award nomination « Pip Marks

    • The bedroom looks 200 % better, thanks for asking– and also for reminding me that I could post some photos. I am SUCH a procrastinator though, that there is still a strip of the woodwork I need to paint.

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