Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This is part of the Who Needs It? challenge #2 that has this cool button but I have no idea how to make it work. Blogger spites me again. I suspect another post for challenge 2 will be forthcoming.

OK, so in the post on toy clutter I touched on the EMOTIONS of the stuff a tiny bit. So much stuff. Here's a bit about the food part of that stuff heap.

We keep perhaps an abnormally large amount of food on hand. OK, probably it really is abnormally large. We could eat only what's in the house or freezer in the garage for at least 2 weeks easily, probably as far as 3 weeks. It would be better if we could also buy some milk for the kid and spouse to go with it but otherwise we are set for that long. Currently I've got about 25 lbs of pasta lurking around, and that comes in 1 lb boxes so it's a lot. We have a 7 foot tall bookshelf that's all food plus a 5 foot high cupboard for baking supplies and cans of things (fruit mostly).

Growing up, a close family friend owned a small general store, and I hung around enough to get to know about warehouses and inventory and how much inventory it is wise to have on hand. For example, you have to order some things in bulk and if it's a custom order like for shirts, you have to get the entire year's worth at once and keep the extra stored someplace while you wait to sell it. For bread or eggs, the storage space only needs to hold a week's worth of inventory at a time because the wholesaler delivers weekly and that stuff would go bad in little more than a week anyway. So your space limits how much business you can do in a way because you can only sell in a week what you can store. Recently they remodeled to give more room for inventory out in the store rather than having a larger back room and so far it works well (not too much theft, more sales because of a wider variety of things and choices).

Inventory management is key to making your pharmacy profitable in America right now. Most pharmacies don't stock costly drugs until someone needs them or keep a very small supply on hand because you just can't tie up the business's assets in product on the shelf. It means that if you need something unusual, you might need to wait until the next day to get it or go to more than one pharmacy to get it. When the kid was sick once while we were out of town, I went to 3 pharmacies before I found one that had what she was prescribed. Was it a weird prescription? Were there better options available? Yes, but it wasn't realistic to get a new prescription in this case and it was just inconvenient the doctor prescribed something unusual. The first 2 pharmacies could have ordered her medication and had it for us by noon the next day but since it was to help her breathe better and sleep, we didn't want to wait. Inventory. It's all in how fast you can get what you need and how willing you are to make your customer wait for a medication that determines how tight you can keep your inventory as a pharmacy.

I often feel like we are trying to cut out the local shop and go straight to the warehouse ourselves these days. We do just that by going to the giant big box warehouse stores. Stores encourage it by buying one thing in bulk and then selling it cheaply to encourage us to stock up (see my pasta collection - typical price around here is $1.50/lb and my stash was all bought on sale for $1, mostly from our supermarket's truckload sales). Even supermarkets sell things in bigger packages than they used to for whatever reason. The kid and I (and occasionally Little Monster, but rarely) have been watching Classic Ses.ame lately. There was a segment on where milk came from, and all the milk in the corner store came in half gallons or quarts. I'm hard pressed to find those anymore in grocery carts at the store. Almost everyone is buying gallons now and I bet most people aren't going through 1.5 gallons a week like we do (with 2 milk drinkers... hmm...).

For me, food insecurity is a big chunk of both the buying in bulk when things are cheaper that way or on sale and in maintaining a big stockpile of food. If I know it's very possible it will be the 16th and there will be no more income until the 30th and there's no money left at all, it makes some sense to keep enough on hand to bridge the gap if we can. In the past 6 months we have discussed how to gear our stash toward foods we know the kid will eat so if we can't buy her milk (I suspect it of being her main source of nutrients) and twice we adults have eaten only stashed food for a couple of weeks. We were able to keep buying bread so I avoided baking but there's enough on hand that I can bake bread if we are out sometime. I bet it will happen again.

Just the thought of knowing exactly where my next meal comes from (the pantry or our freezer) is comforting. I am pretty sure that from here on out I will have an abnormally large stash of food around the house, no matter what our income stability looks like, because it's very soothing to be confident there will be something to eat. It might be lentils and pasta for a week but it is better than nothing.

I suppose I'd say that fear of being out of something and unable to get a new one goes beyond just food too. I have work clothes in at least 5 sizes, ranging from my student teaching days to maternity stuff, most of which I haven't worn in years and some of which I'd rather never wear again (polyester cowboy piped shirt anyone?) but I am clutching at it JUST IN CASE. There are toys the kid has outgrown that the baby won't need for a year or two that I'm keeping in haphazardly packed boxes JUST IN CASE.

My house is too much a warehouse and not enough a home. It's housing fears of economic insecurity greater than what we're experiencing now as well as the extra food and clothing. It's housing guilt that we have somehow gotten ourselves into this economic insecurity (the guilt that not having more than a half time job between us is our fault and a moral failing and not me in school and the spouse's bad luck). It's housing anxiety that we might have had something we need once but we ditched it in a de-cluttering effort and now we have to spend money to replace it (see that high chair we don't have and haven't replaced).

I think it's time to ditch some of that emotional inventory along with some of the physical stuff. Here's hoping it's possible.


  1. This is really brave, and really interesting. Especially this "My house is too much a warehouse and not enough a home." My goal in all of this is to create a HOME. Anyone can clean/purge/organize, but finding peace is the hard part. I am really proud of you for looking at this, and sharing it. I have been thinking about this post since it went up and it made me look at some things I was pretending weren't there.

    JUST IN CASE. Yep. This.

  2. I found this post to be very, very interesting. As someone who has lived in very small city apartments for a long time, we couldn't stock pile food AT ALL. Now we have a shelving unit in our garage but mostly it's for all the extra toilet paper and paper towels, and a giant Costco box of Annie's Mac n Cheese. Even in our new house, we still don't have a lot of space to stock pile.

    I can understand that your house isn't feeling enough like a home for you right now. I know that feeling well. We've been in our house for 18 months and I'm only just now putting stuff up on the walls. Let me tell you, it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.I don't think I realized that my house didn't feel like a home until I started adding those details and noticing how much warmer it felt.

    I hope your participation in this challenge helps you make your house feel more like a home. I look forward to following your progress.

  3. I am often jealous of people that have tons of food on hand... like when we visit our families back in Canada, the USA, or the UK with freezers, fridges and cupboards full. It feels like everything you could possibly need is right there. We only ever have enough for a few days of meals due to space and I can see now how that might be a positive thing in some ways. I get the 'just in case' thing.. well my husband does even more than me. He always says this when I want to throw something out. I do get it with kid stuff though. I knew we wanted another baby and one reason I was eager to get pregnant was to move on with all that stuff. After this baby, that is it, the stuff goes... no just in case. I can't keep doing just in case.

    Thanks for sharing this post and your emotions!

  4. This is all very good background information and just goes to show that everyone has their reasons for why they collect or hang on to things. Our pantry is full (the pics are up) and yet so many times we stand there staring at it saying we have nothing to eat. It's crazy!

    I'm afraid of throwing something out and needing it later too. We aren't getting rid of too many big things right now, but my thought process is, we haven't used it in a long time and if we do find that we have a need for another one down the road, we can buy again and it may be more suitable than the old one.

    Good luck with everything!