Ostensible Order – A Deceptive Diversion

Superfluous organization is pure nectar of the OCD gods.  Helloooo sweet spice rack.  I should clarify that my commitment to maintaining my spices in this fashion has less to do with OCD and more to do with the immense amusement I feel each time someone tells me what a nice rack I have.  My other non-spice rack doesn’t typically receive the same commendations, so I get my kicks where I can.

When people enter my pantry and see this spice rack, their tendency is to react in one of three ways:

  1. They are genuinely in awe of how lovely it looks and how wonderful it must be to have access to so many seasoning options.
  2. They are quickly troubled by the way I leap into action returning the little jars into place that have been relocated by a fraction of a nanometer.  These same people also appear to dislike my icy stares, but it’s a necessary defense that I must employ.  There are those who seek to bring chaos to my spice rack, but thou shall not mess with the jars.  <– Commandment # 11.  Look it up.  (Or don’t look it up.  That’s probably a better plan.)
  3. They roll their eyes because they know me well enough to see through veil and recognize the reality.

And the reality that this display fails to disguise is this:

a juniper berries

Juniper berries?  I thought that those were for throwing at each other while waiting for the bus to arrive.

  1. I don’t have the slightest clue how to incorporate most of these spices into my cooking, and almost all of the jars remain sealed with plastic wrappers around the lids confirming their lack of use.

    a celery salt

    Celery has salt?  I only use salt salt.  Apparently celery also has cream, and I have the soup to prove it.

  2. Every spice displayed in this collection expired between the years of 2008 and 2011, and I worry that their antique food status only qualifies them to be ingredients in a witch’s brew for certain death.

    a star anise

    Star anise?  Quite lovely, but if it wasn’t in a spice bottle, I probably would have given these to my daughter to make an organic bead necklace.

  3. The real reason that I don’t use them is because frankly, I just don’t want to mess up all that pretty.

If you walk a little farther into the pantry and look slightly to the right, you will find that my OCD is selective at best.  What I actually incorporate into my cooking isn’t anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing, but you wouldn’t know that since my cooking incorporates other delicious flavors that are neither expired nor vacuum-sealed shut.  I will confess that this rule does not hold when I attempt to grill steaks.  Those are less savory and more akin to replacement soles for my husband’s work shoes.  I don’t why I can’t figure them out, but if you ever come for dinner and I offer to personally cook you some steaks, it’s probably best to assume that I dislike you.  With a passion.


Most people’s lives are very similar to my nice rack…I mean spice rack.  (Ha! It never ceases to amuse me.)  At a glance, the pretty and organized parts look really good on the surface.  Delve a little further, and it’s probably not quite as put-together as the display implied.  And if you dig really deeply, you may uncover the parts that we typically don’t celebrate if we even notice them at all.  The mundane.  The messy.  The unpretty.

The semblance of order is beautiful, and it flirts with my incessant desire for predictability, consistency, and control.  But even I know that it is merely a veil.  Life refuses to commit to coloring inside the lines.

So forget the order and give up the false hope of maintaining control.  Appreciate the amazing and wonderful magic of unpredictability that can only be found outside the pretty.  Also maybe stick with the chicken at my table.

But keep your paws off my rack.

.a1 mystery spices
Seriously – what the heck do people make with this stuff?  No.  Don’t tell me.  I’m sticking with salt salt.  These are expired anyway.


*** MoJo ***

This post was inspired by the WordPress weekly photo challenge.  Details are below for those interested in joining the fun.


The sites below approached the concept of order in completely different yet completely fantastic ways. I love each of these posts. They inspire me and remind to keep my eyes and my perspective open. Thank you calmkate, serendipity, colonialist, lifeofangela, and kochiphotography for your superb submissions.

calmkate’s corporate configuration –
serendipity’s own spice shout out –
colonialist’s clever colony –
lifeofangela’s affinity for alignment –
kochiphotography’s beauty of the birds –

One last note of thanks to my dear friend Maria.  I am tremendously grateful for your beautiful friendship in my times of order as well as my times of chaos.  You are a gift in my life.  🙂

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Order on the Bridge | What's (in) the picture?
  2. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Jun 10, 2017 @ 06:26:01

    There are actually lots of cool recipes….but I like to cook. I have a really small kitchen with almost no storage space, so I’m a little crazy about grouping “like” items, and people have heard me say- I can’t buy that- I have no room in my baking section…..nothing wrong with a little facade of order though!


    • MoJo
      Jun 10, 2017 @ 14:58:23

      Helloooo future me! ;). I like to cook, too, but my recipes tend to use exotic flavors like black pepper and milk. I have tried to get fancy in the past, and I can do it (assuming I’m willing to buy new spices), but some of these have yet to land on my ingredients list. Star anise smells like licorice so that ones out for me. I think fennel is in Italian sausage? Celery salt – I know that I used that one but I am clueless about it and now I want to taste it but it’s too old! So that leaves me with juniper berries. Have you used these before? Can I just run out to the neighbor’s yard and nab some if I decide to replace them? Do they have to be dried out? Was the spice manufacturer just messing with the non-chefs buying pretty bottles?


      • wakinguponthewrongsideof50
        Jun 11, 2017 @ 05:11:45

        Braved young Padawan, do not be afraid to try the exotic spices held before you in a perfectly crafted spice rack. Celery salt can be used in soups or stews. Star anise is usually used in Asian style dishes (if whole take out before serving) fennel is indeed in sausage, but can also be used when pickling or in a tomato sauce.juniper berries most commonly used in my house in brine for corned beef, but also good pushed into a ham (but don’t eat). Be afraid of gathering juniper berries, especially if there are dogs in neighbors yard. Don’t be afraid to try new things…it is the spice of life…😁

      • MoJo
        Jun 11, 2017 @ 08:55:32

        Oh my lawd you’re Star Wars nerd, too. YOU ARE FUTURE ME!!!

      • wakinguponthewrongsideof50
        Jun 11, 2017 @ 17:17:40

        Dear me in training, do yoga or something to keep flexible and stretch before exercise. Also, buy good hand cream with spf. May the force be with you.😀

  3. chattykerry
    Jun 10, 2017 @ 08:55:14

    I LOVE this! I have an OCD spice rack full of stuff I don’t use because I am too anxious to cook and they are all out of date. 😎


  4. Katherine
    Jun 10, 2017 @ 21:22:16

    Holy moly!!!!! Coincidentally, I just posted yesterday about my spice rack, but how my 16mo messes it up (which I hate!!!). How funny…. I have to say, I wonder how much you spent on spices you don’t use?! Those things are expensive. 😦 But yes … nice rack!! Haha..


    • MoJo
      Jun 10, 2017 @ 21:50:31

      That’s like my 2 year old with laundry. She “helps” me constantly. She helped me a couple days ago when I wasn’t paying attention. I had pulled some of the dry clothes out of the dryer and she put dirty clothes in but there were still clean clothes there, too! I had to wash half of them all over again because I was not going to smell all that – yuck! Love that you are in it, too, girl! Lol


  5. shalini
    Jun 11, 2017 @ 11:49:43

    That’s ur spice rack jo?? I am an indian and we don’t use half the spices you have hehehe


  6. mainepaperpusher
    Jun 11, 2017 @ 13:51:00

    Oh my! Another pantry fanatic! Yes, I love your rack *smirk* and all the bottles on it. I recently redid my pantry. Stripped it to the walls and put in those industrial wire racks. It looks like a restaurant kitchen. All of the grains are in matching jars, all of the cans are in their little can racks. It took WEEKS to get it the way I wanted it. My husband won’t put anything away for fear of disrupting my “system.” I never thought of myself as OCD, but now I wonder!


  7. MoJo
    Jun 11, 2017 @ 21:04:33

    Well the other half that you might use are probably here. Not that I would know! 😉


  8. Tracy
    Jun 13, 2017 @ 03:34:09

    I have Star Anise. Not because I use them in cooking but because I like how they look. Yeah, you DO have a nice rack. 😉


  9. Trackback: All Donations are NOT Created Equal | Momentum of Jo

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