Confessions of a cluttering packrat

Fuzzy phone picture I took shortly after moving about 14 boxes of tea into this organizer.

Fuzzy phone picture I took shortly after moving about 14 boxes of tea into this organizer.

I have mentioned many times that I am a packrat, son of packrats, grandson of packrats, great-grandson of packrats. On top of that, my husband is also a packrat son of packrats… so I hang onto things. I save things that other people would give away/take to Goodwill/throw away because “we might need that some day!”

It’s the reason we found multiple old microwave ovens hidden in the closets of my maternal grandmother’s house after she died. It’s the reason that clearing out the first bedroom in grandma’s house filled up the beds of three of my cousins’s pickup trucks more than four times each for trips to thrift stores and the dump. And it’s the reason that any time I replace an old appliance or gadget or household item with a new one, I hear that phrase, “you might need that some day!” in my Grandma’s voice. I essentially have to have an argument with Grandma’s ghost every single time I even contemplate discarding an item.

And Grandma’s ghost is stubborn!

Another eccentricity I have is They’re All My Favorite syndrome. For instance, I like tea. I admit to being an cultureless American who grew up on Lipton tea bags, I have made real tea with loose leaf teas, but 99.8% of the time I make tea from tea bags. And I have favorites. I love Numi Aged Earl Grey, for instance. And Stash Double Bergamot, and Stash Earl Grey Green & Black, and Revolution Earl Grey Lavender, and Numi Jasmine Blosson Green Tea, and Stash Lemon Ginger Green, and Twinnings Darjeeling, and Revolution Peach Ginger Black, and Revolution Dragon Eye Oolong, and Revolution Jasmine Blackberry Oolong, and Twinnings Orange & Cinnamon Spice, and let’s just admit that absolutely any blend that has Bergamot or Lavender in it will be bought by me and tried at least once, so there are always about ten Earl Greys of one sort or another…

And don’t get me started on Bigelow Raspberry Royale that used to be carried in all the grocery stores around here but I have to order it online—when it is in stock, which isn’t often!

The problem is, I love all of these teas, and I buy boxes of the teas, but I have tended to buy teas faster than I drink them. I take some boxes in to work, but I drink the free office provided coffee in the morning, switching to tea in the afternoon. Because I really need the strong caffeine hit of the coffee! Making tea with a kettle on the stove, particularly since most of the time I’m only making it for one, has always been more of a hassle than making a pot of coffee in the morning and reheating it as needed, or grabbing something premade out of the fridge if I want something other than water.

And for various health reasons, I’ve been cultivating a habit of drinking a glass or mug of plain water whenever I head into the kitchen looking for something to drink. As in, I don’t allow myself to pour some coffee or grab a bottle out of the fridge until I’ve drank water.

I have almost bought myself an electric tea kettle many times, but then feel guilty because the house is already cluttered everywhere, and do we really need another appliance that has only one purpose?

The last time our coffee maker died, my husband talked me into buying the model that had a separate tea maker. All it really is is a second separate water reservoir and separate heating element and so on that makes hot water that you can dispense in a cup in the separate location from the coffee pot. So now I make tea much more often.

Unfortunately, this had the effect of making me start buying even more tea. Thankfully, some weeks back my friend J’wyl sent me a link to a tea bag organizer thing that was selling pretty cheap on Amazon. Another friend she shared the link with bought it right away and waxed rhapsodic about how much it cleaned up his big pile of tea boxes. So I bit the bullet. I shared the picture at the top of this post with them the day after I moved tea bags out of boxes and disposed of about 14 boxes. I wish I’d taken a picture of the pile of empty boxes.

You can see in the picture I did take that I couldn’t get all of the tea bags into the organizer. For one thing, the larger Revolution bags don’t fit (and if you don’t keep them in their airtight resealable ziplock foil bag, they lose a lot of their flavor fairly quickly). But it does help. The compartments only hold about 12 bags each. The are another six compartments on the back side, so it holds about 144 tea bags, which I realize is a lot. Most of the teas I buy come in boxes of 18-24, so it would be nice if the compartments were a little bit bigger, but it is definitely an improvement over the pile of boxes. Particularly since a box that only has a couple of bags in it takes up just as much space as the brand new, completely full box.

It is a teeny, tiny step against the clutter. But an improvement!

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live in Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

3 responses to “Confessions of a cluttering packrat”

  1. Kristin says :

    Something to think about when you are temped to buy more tea before using what you have is that many teas (like spices) can lose flavor over time– so it’s better to use what you have before buying new.

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