Ever since we moved to Ithaca, I’ve been on the lookout for a card catalog. I dreamt of using one for my work, filling it with cards detailing post ideas, recipes and inspiring phrases. I could catalog the recipes from all my cookbooks, a la a physical version of Eat Your Books, I thought. Or! I could use one to hold my crafting supplies: pens, Washi tape, paper scraps, adhesives.
You’d think they’d be easy to find, seeing as most libraries are retiring their card catalogs in favor of online databases. You would be wrong. In reality, buying a card catalog is a Goldilocks endeavor.
This one was too big, and would take up my entire office (and was $2600 to boot). This one was too small for work or crafting (and I wasn’t paying $300 for a 4-drawer catalog, thank you very much). And so on and so on.
We searched the antique stores and Craigslist for nearly three years. Once, we thought we had lucked out. We drove out to see a card catalog advertised on Craigslist, and arrived to see another buyer packing it into their car (and this was a few minutes before our agreed upon “we’re going to drive 30 minutes to potentially buy this card catalog from you” time. Thanks, seller).
We had just about given up. But as we perused Found for Christmas gifts last month, we stumbled upon a beautiful library card catalog, tucked into a back corner of the store. It was solid wood with those great metal label holders, in excellent condition and listed at a very reasonable price. With 80 drawers, it would fit perfectly in our dining room. We knew it had to come home with us.
The card catalog now lives next to the wine rack in our dining room. The drawers hold a little of everything: utensils and spatulas and whisks. The rolling pin fits perfectly in its own drawer, and cookie cutters take up two spots: one for seasonal and one for anytime cutters. We’ve removed the spice rack to clear up some counter space, and moved all the spices to the card catalog. Chocolate, dried fruit, nuts and other ingredients take up a few rows. Netted produce bags and cloth napkins get their own drawers.
We finally feel like we’ve got a good handle on our dining room and kitchen organization. Our system was fine before, but never perfect. We always felt like the pantry shelves and dining room built-ins were crowded, making it difficult to reach exactly what we needed or to remember what we already had on hand. Now, the card catalog has freed up so much space, and we feel like we have a tidier, cleaner kitchen. Plus, the card catalog is just gorgeous and a great conversation piece. I’ll call that a win-win.]
What little things are making you happy today?