And Now the Unpacking Begins

So we moved. Then we finished cleaning out the rental house (like, this weekend, keys to be turned in tomorrow morning). And now we are really getting settled in our house. I would say we are about 75% unpacked, though for the most part that is in parts of the house not visible to the average person (the attic is a MESS). Over the last couple of weeks I've focused on getting the first floor cleared out so we could be sociable and not terrify our Thanksgiving guests.

For example, when last I posted I had sorted all our spices out and alphabetized them (we kept them alphabetized before, but they got jumbled up in the move). Then Noel installed our spice shelves:

Location for spice rack

We measured out the height needed for each shelf.

New spice rack (unpainted)

Then installed the fancy brass cast shelf brackets and wood shelves.

Spices moved in

And then, because Thanksgiving was coming, I threw everything onto the shelves, which we still have to take off and paint at some point. But at least there aren't spices all over the library floor.

While we were living at the Admiralty, I did a big organizing project where I got some jars for the spices. I wanted something I could easily put a measuring spoon into, and I wanted uniform jars. I chose a couple sizes (some spices we have more of than others) and we also use wide-mouth pint jars which we have tons of for certain spices (you can see one on the second shelf down, about a third of the way over, full of köfte spice which is used for Turkish meatballs). I didn't transfer everything over to the jars, but I think it has worked well for us. I love being able to measure right out of the jar without spilling spices everywhere. I also took the opportunity to get rid of spices that had gotten old and stale or bland, and we did get rid of a few that we knew we would not use again (looking at you, disappointing off-brand épices à pain d'épices).

(If you are wondering, we do have a LOT of kinds of salt -- half the bottom row! -- but we still have more kinds of sugar.)

Pantry containers

I also replaced all our large containers for dry goods with new containers that fit more easily into the pull-outs in the cabinets. I was torn on doing this until I got partway through and realized I could easily fit everything in the two pullouts with the new containers (the old, round containers were less efficient at using space). Labels on the top make it super easy to find stuff, too. I made three pies and a layer cake from this pantry and this setup was really easy to work with. In fact, the only real issue is that I need to install a hook for my aprons, and then this part of the kitchen will be done.

Thankgiving dinner

We had a pretty good Thanksgiving, too. Thirteen people at the table, and the dining room functioned really well. It was kind of delightful to cook in our new kitchen, and even better was being able to just open a cupboard to get the china out rather than having to crawl to the back of a storage area and pull it out.

We are really appreciating getting rid of things. I thought I would miss more stuff, especially with entertaining people. But in reality, the best part of having people over is spending time with people, not decorating. It's nice to be able to walk through rooms that are not being used to store piles of materials for projects, and to have room to just sit down and hang out with friends.

Even better was having that giant island to work on. We got almost everything we'd piled on there during moving off, and there was plenty of room to lay out our mise en place for the last-minute dishes, and also carve the turkey, and have an area for cutting pieces of bread for the cheese we started with. There were some compromises I made in the design of the kitchen and dining room space (I'll go into those in a future post), but I was satisfied with how things worked.

Baker's rack

One thing that worked incredibly well was the baker's rack. We got this while at the Admiralty but didn't have the right place for it, so this is really its first run at functionality. We use it to hold things in the process of being made (like the layers of cake I made, while I put together the icing) and afterwards, we used it to load the dirty dishes from the table to take to be washed. Our wedding china has silver leaf on it and cannot be machine washed, so it's a bit of a process to get it cleaned up. We scrape and rinse it the first day, then stack it by size on the rack. Then one dish rack at a time we wash and dry it. The baker's rack gives us a place to keep it out of the way while we work, which beats having it stacked precariously all over the counter. It really makes dealing with the aftermath of a large dinner party a lot easier. Many kudos to our friend Steve for turning us on to this as a functional kitchen tool, and also for the hint that teflon tape makes the trays slide in and out more easily. I designed this place in the cabinets just for it to slide into and it proved its worth right away.

And now the hard work of getting everything else in the house put away or given away really gets started.

posted by ayse on 12/01/19