Cocina Confessional: I’ve got a dirty little secret

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I dislike the term “New Year’s Resolution,” mostly because it’s so often synonymous with failure for many people – myself included. Whether it’s exercising more, eating healthier or trying to have more patience in certain situations, sometime we set ourselves up for failure because we’re not really committed to doing these things. Instead I prefer to use the term “lifestyle change” because I feel like there’s a little less pressure and though it has grand aspirations like a new year’s resolution with hopes you’ll stick to your changes, it somehow seems more manageable to implement over time, little by little. Nobody changes overnight and I’m trying to be realistic with my organizational goals.

I made this silly video to talk about one of my lifestyle-changing decisions for 2011: cleaning my cabinets and getting organized. Though you might think I have the perfect, organized kitchen, I admit I’m human. This year, I’ve resolved to make a change, though. I just can’t live with a messy kitchen the way I used to. When I was single and lived alone, I could leave dirty dishes in the sink for days without feeling any shame about it. But not anymore. The cabinets are what has finally gotten to me. I’ve been shoving anything and everything in there for more than two years now – quite precariously – with hopes that nothing would fall out when I open up the door. I thought maybe if I put it out there that I had cabinet-mess shame, two great things might happen that would help me get over this bump in the road:

1. Admitting the problem is the first step to recovery, right? If I share my dirty little secret, I thought, I’ll feel less shame about it. And the possibility of someone asking me if my cabinets got cleaned after they saw the video might force me into really decluttering my cabinets – because I’d be mortified if someone asked or actually looked inside my cabinets and I still hadn’t done it. My husband is afraid to open certain cabinets in the kitchen because something might fall out on him. Seriously.

2. Being a neat freak has never been my thing (and honestly, never will be), but I know there are some of you out there who are neat freaks or at least reformed mess-makers who can share tips with me on how to get my cocina in order.

So this year, I plan to do a monthly Cocina Confessional video with how my progress is coming along. Thanks to the blizzard we had in Chicago earlier this week, I’ve already tackled the silverware drawer and the cabinet shown in the video. And you know what? It feels good. I now know where to find things instead of having to yank 20 items out of the cabinet before I see what I’m looking for. I still have six more cabinets to go. Baby steps.

I’m one of those people who thinks of the Mayan prophecies about 2012 as a beautiful chance for rebirth and renewal instead of as the end of days or some kind of apocalypse. This year, I want to get started on a good path to set myself up for whatever the universe’s next cycle has to offer me. But I’ll tell you one thing: I can’t do it without a clean, organized kitchen.

  • I’d love if you’d leave me some tips on how you organize your kitchen. Everything from cabinets to drawers, to pots and pans. Do you have an organizational system for your spices or your refrigerator? I want to hear it all!


  1. says

    I worked in a restaurant that had every spice known. They were in such disorder, it could take me 15 minutes to find the jar of cinnamon. Finally, I spent an hour arranging them all alphabetically. Problem solved! When I returned from a vacation, one of my first questions to the staff: are the spices still alphabetical? Response: They are, if you speak Swahili.


  2. says

    Lo máximo!!! Me encantó el video!! I’m with you 100%, lo que me salva es que realmente no cocino. Maybe if my kitchen was more organized, it’d be a different story. Hmmm…. I want the after video!!

    • says

      Roxana, I can’t tell you what a huge difference it makes to have my spice cabinet all organized. I actually know where things are and it makes things so much easier because I don’t have to go searching for spices and pull 20 things out of the cabinet before I find what I’m looking for anymore. I promise I’ll do an after photo of what it looks like soon. Plastic boxes and erasable labels have been a really handy tool to keep things in order!

  3. simona says

    I don;t have cabinet space but keep my spices in the kitchen. One sugestion that works for my can goods…the few that I have is that I keep them in categories. It works. Lecheras, clavel and all other canned milks together. I keep canned peppers together and so on. I also have a section for my canela, piloncillo and basically keep all that with my baking goods. I also use small plastic containers. I also bought shoe size containers and use them for my small pasta packs…you know for sopita aguada….estrellitas, fideos, letritas, semillitas de melon…etc, also another shoe box for my different types of lentejas and frijoles. Obviously all in their bags. We love lentils so I sometimes mix various indian kinds to make ours mexican style. Dollar store has economical prices for plastic containers. Good luck!!!!


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