Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Cookbook Situation

We have a lot of cookbooks.  I mean a lot lot.  Most of them have been gifts, but somehow over the last ten years we've managed to amass a healthy library of every possible cookbook you can imagine.  We're talking over two dozen different types of cookbooks addressing all sorts of cooking styles, regional dishes, tips, shortcuts - you name it.

Pasta recipes?  Check.  Easy Thai food?  Got it.  Every celebrity chef that has ever been featured on the Food Network?  It seems like it.  Except Giada.  For some reason the hubby loathes Giada.  Which is funny because most men like her because of the hotness factor.  He can't stand her.  But Alton?  Oh Lord, don't even get me started on Alton.  I'm surprised there isn't some sort of makeshift altar commemorating his greatness somewhere in the house.  We have at least 3 of his cookbooks.  Probably more.  And I have to admit, a few of them were gifts from me.  So really, I'm part of the problem.  Alton has good recipes, but I could never get past the uber-geekiness of his show, Good Eats. I mean, the puppets?  Come on.  But again, I digress.

So, why am I talking about cookbooks this week?  Well, since we've moved and have been getting settled with all the furniture, knick-knacks and what not, I decided it was time to deal with this whole cookbook situation.  I knew we had a lot of them, but I didn't realize exactly how many until I started unpacking all the books and shelving them in the office.  Once I saw the pile, I knew we had to tame the beast.  I also realized I could kill two birds with one stone.  Works for me!

I've had an idea simmering around for a while that I hadn't pulled the trigger on because we didn't have anywhere that would work in the house we used to live in.  But now that we've got the new place, I can finally make it happen.  I know, the suspense is killing you.  Well, wonder no more.  Invisible shelves!  I can get all the cookbooks together in one place in the kitchen (where we'll actually use them) and free up some space on the bookshelves in the office.  For. . . you know, more books.

Of course, books can obviously go on any type of shelves, but there was something about the way the invisible shelves look (or don't look, depending on your view) that appeals to me.  They have such a clean, streamlined feel.  It's a little more minimalist and contemporary than what I would usually be drawn toward as far as decorating goes, but I just love the way the final product looks.  They turned out great, and it really wasn't that much of a pain in the ass.  I saw the idea on one of the many home decorating and crafting blogs I follow, I can't remember which one.  I need a bit of an intervention when it comes to reading them.  I can't help it.   They have such good ideas!  And tutorials to show you how.  It's where I get half of my inspiration.

The invisible shelves only require a few items, and they're all pretty affordable.  If you're so inclined to try it in your house, you'll need several standard metal brackets that you can get at any hardware store, screws, and anchors.  As far as tools, you'll need a drill, a hammer, a level, and a pencil.  I'm assuming most of you already have the drill, hammer and level, so total cost is only around twenty bucks.  You can also buy invisible shelves, but this way is more fun and more affordable.  Besides, DIY is the way to go!

Once you decide where you want the shelves to go, you'll need to mark off where to drill your holes for the anchors and screws.  The most important thing is to make sure the brackets are level before you start making holes in your walls.   

Taking the picture where I'm holding up the brackets & the 
level at the same time with only two hands was a comedy routine
Not too terribly difficult so far.  After you've marked off and drilled the holes, all you'll need to do at this point is tap the anchors into the holes, and then drill the screws through the holes in the shelf brackets into the anchors.  That's pretty much it.  Once the brackets are installed, it's time to start stacking your books.  Which is kind of the fun part.  Well, fun if you're into organizing.  And books.  Which I am.  Organizing and books?  Now that's something I can get behind. Not really a shock that I ended up working in libraries.

I went with a more visual organization than anything more formal with categories.  I mostly wanted the sizes to look proportional and the colors to work together.  I resisted the urge to put like things together.  Which can sometimes be more difficult for me than for most people.  Must keep order!  It's okay if Quick & Easy Thai Recipes is on a different shelf than Momofuku, and Quick From Scratch Pasta Recipes isn't next to Viva la Cucina Italiana.  Do you hear me still convincing myself?  Alright fine, I had to put the pizza cookbooks next to each other, but that's as far as it went, I promise.  Well, for now.  Until the next time I look at the shelves and am overcome by the urge to rearrange.

I'm so glad I finally got this project done!

The cookbooks have been hanging around in random places around the house, just cluttering up whatever space they happened to be in.  Some were scattered around the kitchen table, some were piled in the office, (which I hate to admit is still a complete disaster area) and some were still unpacked in boxes I hadn't managed to get to the bottom of just yet.  So, without further ado, here's the final after picture of my invisible shelves:

I figure if I can't see the brackets, most other people won't be able to either.  It's really
the only downside. - If you want to install them up high, the shelves become less than invisible
because you can see the brackets.  But with mine, you'd have to be really short to see them if I can't.
Bonus to being on the short side, perhaps? 

So, what do you think?  I'd love to hear from you guys in the comments.  Just click on comment at the bottom of the page and have at it!

I guess there's no reason in the world why we shouldn't be able to come up with some new dinner recipes now with all these resources at our finger tips.  Maybe I'll bust out with an Alton recipe.  Without the puppets.

Ta-Ta for now.

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