after a week of not knowing what the cause of the smell was, i finally figured it out. there was a huge bag of potatoes at the bottom of the pantry closet i forgot about. when i pulled it out a small swarm of fruit flies escaped and the bag was covered in little maggots. ewwwwwww!
unfortunately, the garbage had just been picked up so i double-bagged the rotten, infested mess and threw it in to our garbage bin praying i had contained it enough until pick up next week.
since then i've been swatting and squishing the fruit flies that have now made the kitchen their home.
you'd think this would motivate me to clean up a bit more but you'd be wrong.