Unpacking My Kitchen

What was I thinking?

Yesterday evening, I planned a little get-together with girlfriends to keep me company while I unpacked some (or all?) of my kitchen boxes. I’d packed well over a dozen kitchen boxes during my final months in Arizona and now that my kitchen cabinets and countertops were in, I didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t start unpacking them and putting things away.

The Backstory

For those of you who don’t know the circumstances under which I left my Arizona home in the spring of 2013, let me give you a tiny bit of backstory. In 2012, while I was away in Washington for work, my husband told me he wanted a divorce and began living with a desperate old whore in Scottsdale. When I returned to Arizona, I found the locks changed on my home. I broke in, got the permission of the court to live there without him, and began what would become an extremely ugly divorce battle. My future ex-husband seemed anxious to get me out of the house — which he claimed he wanted to keep — but refused to agree to a reasonable settlement and even pushed back the original court date to delay things, mistakenly believing that I was as anxious to leave my only home as he was to get me out. (To this day, I have no idea how he could have made so many stupid mistakes.)

Meanwhile, other than making a few trips to visit friends and family and start a new job, I was pretty much stuck waiting at home, heartbroken, bored, and angry. I filled my time by packing up things I’d bought throughout the years — things I probably would have left behind if the bastard I’d married had settled. I blogged about this here. (Of course, if you want the dirty details on my divorce ordeal, you might want to read about my upcoming divorce book, tentatively titled Expensive Delusions: A Midlife Crisis Gone Horribly Wrong.)

Anyway, the longer I was stuck waiting, the more I packed. I was finally set free when he agreed to a list of the items I’d leave behind in exchange for me leaving the house. Agreeing to that list was the first — and so far only — reasonable thing he’s done in the past three years.

Nearly two years later, I have dozens of boxes stacked on pallets in my RV garage, waiting to be unpacked in my new home.

Kitchen Unpacking

The kitchen unpacking was the obvious place to start. With the installation of the cabinets, appliances, and countertops, my kitchen is 95% done. All I need to do is finish the flooring (which I’ll likely do today), add the trim, put shelves in my pantry, and get my kitchen sink and dishwasher hooked up (which will be done Monday). I was already using the refrigerator to store some of my food and the stove and microwave to prepare some of my meals. It would be nice to cook with my good pots and pans and eat on my good plates. These were among the first things I packed — the things I knew I wanted with me when I built my new home — and I hadn’t laid eyes on them for well over two years.

I spent most of yesterday laying Pergo in my great room. I was really hoping to get the whole room done before my guests arrived, but by 3:30, I still had the far end of the room and much of the kitchen to do. I spent another half hour cleaning up and starting to bring up boxes. Then I took a shower and prepped to receive my guests.

Great Room
Here’s what my “great room” looked like before I brought up the kitchen boxes. I like to think of this as the calm before the storm.

Although I was hoping to do all of the unpacking and let my friends just keep me company, they dug right in. Soon, the floor was full of empty boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap, and unwrapped kitchen items. I was extremely happy to get those every day dishes and pots and pans unwrapped and put away. And pleased to find many of the things I’d forgotten all about — various vases, my canister set, hand-made serving plates, glass mixing bowls, stainless steel measuring cups and spoons — basically everything I’d need in my new kitchen. And even a few things I don’t use often but really like, like my three little teapots, which will look great on the shelves near my window.

I found my immersion blender, which I’d been searching for months ago, in the bottom of the box marked “Last Kitchen Box” — just where I thought it was. That’s also where I found the last bunch of things I packed: two coffee makers, my coffee grinder, a few mugs, and various things I was using right up to the last day I lived in my old home. Some of those things duplicate what I’ve been using while living in my RV; I’ll take the items that are in the best condition for my home and put the duplicates back in the RV.

But I also found things that I can’t believe I packed: a microwave rice cooker I didn’t use in Arizona and won’t likely use here, a sprouts spouter I hadn’t used in at least five years, several tiny milk pitchers, at least ten extremely uninteresting serving plates and bowls — the list goes on and on. There’s the white marble lazy susan that’s heavy and ugly. There’s the glass plates shaped like fish, which I remember once thinking that I had to have and then rarely used. There’s a pair of desert dishes shaped like a bunch of grapes. There’s a pair of very large Starbucks Christmas mugs. There are also duplicates — I can’t believe I packed three cutting boards, even though I know I left at least one or two behind.

I know I got rid of a lot of my things before I moved — the local thrift shop could have opened a whole room with the Jeep-loads of things I dropped by every week — but I definitely packed stuff that should have been given away.

And now it’s here.

On Being a Packrat

My friends and I got through most — but not all — of the kitchen boxes. This morning, I came back upstairs to the crazy mess I’d left the night before. As I sipped my coffee and gazed out the window at the brightening landscape around me, I gave it some serious thought.

Unpacking Mess
Looks like I have a lot of cleaning up to do this morning!

I know I live with a packrat mentality — it’s one of my problems. I think it comes from my early years, back before I was able to afford the things I needed. Back then — especially in college — I became a scavenger, always looking for things I could use in my life. My dorm room was a perfect example, with furniture, lamps, and even a rug that I’d scavenged from the trash area on moving day.

Nice plates, but do I really need them?

Even years later, when I lived in Arizona, I’d often encounter items I thought would be useful and save them. For example, I remember buying frozen crème brûlée that came in very nice flat ceramic plates that had a terra cotta look. I couldn’t see throwing out those plates. So here they are, in my new home, making me wonder what the hell I’m going to do with them.

Even today, it’s hard to pass up an item I can use as is or modify to repurpose for another use. As I type this, there’s a load of eight pallets in the back of my pickup truck. I use them to create things like raised bed planters. I have lumber and scrap metal left over from the construction of my building — I’ll use them to redo my chicken coop this summer. And don’t get me started on the empty wine, cider, and beer bottles — all raw materials for my glass work.

Anyway, last night I’d tried to put away all of the things I packed, but with the clarity that comes after a good night’s sleep, I realize that less is more. It’s time to unload those extra things — the things I should have gotten rid of while packing.

I don’t want to continue my cluttered packrat habits in my new home.

Besides, I have a lot more boxes to unpack.

7 thoughts on “Unpacking My Kitchen

  1. Quite an adventure, Maria. I also love how your new home is looking. It’s coming together so nicely. From your latest pics, it feels so wonderfully peaceful, content, and filled with warmth and love, and the setting with the incredible views intensifies, magnifies that. Truly.

    Speaking of packrat and decluttering, I’m in a big time mode right now of getting rid of stuff, cleaning out stuff I don’t really need, too. I plan to spend the next several months or as long as it takes working on this. I’m tired of it all!!!

    When I divorced, my kids and I moved from a large home with waaaaayyyy too much storage space (which at the time was wonderful!) to a very nice but smaller home with very little storage space for its size (although the kitchen is wonderful and has good space). In addition, though, I’ve just had way too much stuff anyway… much of which I really don’t use.

    When we moved after my divorce, I really didn’t have time to go through everything before the move. Movers packed up everything and deposited it all here at my current home. Yuck…

    It also seems that when we’re younger, we do tend to collect stuff. As we get older, we often start what I call “simplifying” our lives and slowly clearing out the stuff we don’t use (need vs. want) … not everyone, of course, but I see this so often.

    At any rate, getting rid of stuff feels so, so good. It’s also part of moving forward, moving on, and so much more.

    • I agree — getting rid of stuff DOES make you feel good. I felt great as I was packing up my old home, throwing away tons of stuff that cluttered my old office and kitchen.

      Although this place has lots of storage — after all, it’s nearly 4000 square feet — I’m going to work hard to keep “garage storage” separate from “house storage.” Any household stuff that doesn’t fit upstairs has to go.

      I think what I’ll do is set up a spring/fall declutter schedule. If I haven’t used something since the last declutter, it goes. For now, I’ll get rid of the things I know I won’t use over the next six months or more.

  2. I “resemble” many of your actions and thoughts re collecting so many things over my life, and still haven’t unpacked/sorted all the “junk”. Sometimes the time passed before one tackles this task in a new place, with a new life as we have both found ourselves in, is a blessing.

    When I finally really begin attacking the project, I know that I will much more easily be able to sort the things that are important from those which no longer have significant meaning or use. And it will be a very cleansing endeavor. Reminders though your experiences gives me added motivation not to procrastinate much longer. And we will both be much happier for the result, and a feeling of control for ourselves in our new, and better, lives.

    Thanks for the inspiration! And enjoy YOUR new home, new life and all the great things that go with it!

    • You are so smart. Clutter is a terrible part of my life that I want so badly to get rid of.

      I like the idea of keeping a box downstairs and filling it with things I don’t want/need and then dropping them off. I’ve also got a bunch of things I took from my old home that I thought I’d use but won’t — my old over-the-range microwave is one of them. I’ll drop that off at Habitat for Humanity when I get a chance; it’ll be a welcome addition for someone else’s home. (Wish I could have used it in mine.)

What do you think?