1 These dark snowy weeks have been very good for one thing! Spring Cleaning! Our latest project is reorganizing the Winter House Basement. In this very large basement are stored props, cooking tools, baking essentials, and a wonderful assortment of dishes and glassware. Laura Acuna, head housekeeper, spearheaded the reorganization. Carlos helped carry the very heavy tubs.
2 Susan Carmichael, my new assistant in Bedford, used her organizational skills to clearly separate and mark my large assortment of canning and preserving jars, marking each tub with numbers, sizes, and descriptions of contents.
3 What did we do before the advent of the tight-lidded plastic tub?? I prefer the square, simple-topped, clear tubs that can stack easily one atop the other. I love my Brother P-Touch, which allows me to label in fine or bold, on thick or thin tape.
4 I have been canning for many years and have accumulated a really large collection of jars, both old and new. Ball Jar maker, Jarden, sponsored one of my PBS cooking series, and I am forever grateful for their generosity—I love Ball Jars.
5 Weck Jars are another type of jar—more old-fashioned in design, using rubber rings and clamps.
6 I have many of my grandmother's Ball and Kerr jars from the 1930s and '40s.
7 I love the wide-mouth jars that make canning tomatoes or peaches a much easier task.
8 It was a rather large puzzle, organizing not only jars by size and type, but also the myriad tops, rings, clamps and rubbers.
9 The P-Touch is one of my favorite "can't live without" tools. We use it for filing, for daily folders, for medicine cabinets, for storage, etc.
10 The tubs got more and more numerous as we divided and emptied all the old tubs, which were in a bad state of disarray, and rearranged the jars in new, clean tubs all the same size.
11 All the newly arranged tubs are now stacked in an anteroom. We are about to reorganize all the shelves and their contents in the next week—what a chore!!
12 We have an assortment of tubs from years past—I really don't care for the curvy tubs, or those with handles that "lock." Clamp tops are fine for most jobs, they look nice, they have colored trim, and they are see-through, so even if mislabeled you can find what you are searching for more easily than in opaque tubs.
13 By the end of the day, there were just a few tubs that still appeared to be disorganized—screw tops with clamp tops, jars with lids, without lids—but since these blue jars are collector's items, we keep them in the collection. We use them for many things: screws, nails, nuts and bolts, as well as for jams, jellies and canning.
14 Some day I will have just one type of tub, but for now, I am using, and re-using, what I have. By the way, plastic tubs are great in basements where floods do occur. None of the contents will be damaged. A very good thing!
15 We have also started to organize the party glasses I use for entertaining. We store these in tubs, also, with accurate counts on the outside of the contents. When throwing a party, it is so great to have large numbers of nice glasses right in the basement.
16 The big job now is to rearrange the shelving neatly, and then find a good way to stack the tubs for easy access. I will be happy to continue this process in future blogs.