Seasonal chaos

Can a person living in northern Minnesota ever have too many hats, gloves and mittens? I’ve always considered the answer to that question “no.”

Therefore, such items are always a go-to gift for babysitters, aunts, uncles and others I don’t know well enough to determine what they actually need.

Having said that, and despite having an older home with a mudroom and a pantry, it seems the members of my family can never find a pair of mittens or gloves without some frantic scrambling.

A couple years ago, I thought I had the problem solved when I hung up one of those over-the-door shoe organizers. Each of the 20 pockets could hold either a hat or two pairs of mittens. (In the summer they hold sunscreen, baseball caps and glasses — apparently we have fewer summer items.)

Still, even with the fabulous organizer, within a month we’d be doing the mad scramble again, mostly because there weren’t enough pockets (and because my kids and my husband didn’t always put stuff away, it’s SO much easier to just throw it on the floor or the pantry shelf).

Then, on an interview at Duluth writer Ellen Sandbeck’s home, I spotted the perfect solution. On the wall as you go up the stairs onto the main floor of her home, she had what looked like a big white wooden box filled with 4×4-inch cubbyholes. Each cubby held some kind of winter accessory. Perfect!

Perfect, except I’d never seen one outside of Ellen’s home until last Thursday, where I discovered something similar in the shoe storage aisle at Menards. (Why is everything cool made for shoes? There must be more folks out there with a shoe fetish than I realized.)

I bought it ($26, I believe) brought it home and, with a minimum of assembly, I now have my own winter-wear cubby box to add to the over-the-door thingee.

More than that, I have hope again.

(The pantry looks great for now, check back in two months.)

P.S. If anyone wants to share his or her own success stories with organizing (especially if it doesn’t require remodeling), please add your comment or e-mail me at

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