While we're talking about leaving things out on the counter, here's another ingredient that sits on ours: Kosher salt and pepper in little dishes next to the stovetop. This is one of the first things we did when we started cooking regularly- a tip we learned from watching the Food Network many years ago...We tend to use up these little amounts quickly enough that they don't get dirty or stale. And it's nice to have a well of pepper for measuring out specific amounts, even if you use a mill for grinding super-fresh pepper over most dishes. If you have a spare ramekin, it's the perfect vessel.
We like the feel of pinching salt and pepper between our fingers, plus, having them on the counter reminds us to salt at every stage of cooking. We're not extremely germ-phobic, so we'll even set them on the dinner table for others to use.
What do you keep your salt and pepper in? A box with a lid, like this one? Do you keep any other spices out in the open?