Kitchen Tips · organization

A Kitchen Pantry Check-In

My pantry is an essential part of my kitchen. Kind of like my own little “store,” it’s where all of the staples are safely tucked away. I’m in that closet space many times every single day!

We’ve lived in our current home for 7.5 years and this is my first time to have a decent size pantry. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain it and keep it in order, so in an effort to organize it, I got baskets, bins and jars and got things in shape four years ago. I thought I’d do a little check-in today to give you a report on how it’s going.

First off, I still LOVE my chalkboard vinyl that I got at Hobby Lobby. It allows my kitchen reflect the season. I did the spring pick-up truck last week when I added the spring vignettes to my downstairs. If you have a white closet pantry door, you should try adding this vinyl chalkboard. You could use it for an ongoing menu board, shopping list or for drawing or writing things like Bible verses, sayings or quotes!

This side of my pantry gets used a lot! From the Olive oil, cooking spray, and canned goods, it holds the things I use the most. I love that my oils and vanilla are in baskets that slide out. It makes it super easy to pull it out and grab what I need. I have a couple of my favorite cookbooks behind the brown sugar cannister on the left side and my aprons are on hooks to the far left. That works great!

The lazy Susans are perfect for my canned goods. It’s easy to turn and see what’s available. On the top shelf are the pots and pans I don’t use that often, as well as some of my home canned fruits and vegetables. I have some of those things “hidden” by the framed recipe for bread, written in the handwriting of my dear friend, Hope, who is now in heaven. It’s a sweet reminder of her giving heart.

I don’t love the way these shelves look, but boxes of crackers, pastas and jars of condiments are all a little taller than my containers. These came from the Dollar Tree and have been okay, but I think I’ll be looking for deeper baskets in the near future.

Above that shelf are two baskets with “extras.” They contain tea for sweet tea, Chex mix, crackers, Syran wrap and the like. I think this is the kind of material I’ll get for to replace the white Dollar Tree containers.

I LOVE keeping my pantry stocked so it’s easy to pull a meal together. I try to use what I have on hand, then restock as I empty my shelves. Canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pastas, dry beans, and baking ingredients like chocolate chips, sugars, coconut and nuts are all sitting and waiting to be stirred into my favorite recipes. My girls tease me and say if there’s ever a food shortage, they’re coming to my house! Live and learn, right?

After my little survey, I’m going to be looking for new baskets, but other than that, my system is working well. I say that because as Whitney, one of the most organized people I know, says that if your organization makes it difficult to use your things, then it’s not well organized!

How about you? Do you need to take inventory of your pantry space? Do you need bins, jars or baskets to keep like things together? Is your space working well and making it easy to work in the kitchen? Even if your pantry is a cupboard or one shelf in a closet, it’s important to keep it organized so you know what you have, you don’t over-purchase and you’re more effective because of your organization. Also, it will make you smile every time you open it up! Well, maybe you’ll be smiling at the chocolate chips you see, but you will be smiling!

Refresh your pantry!

organization · refreshment at home · spring cleaning

Mini Mudroom in the Garage

When your garage is messy a disaster and needs some good organization and then you see that your neighbor is giving away a lovely piece of furniture that would make the perfect mini-mudroom, you slam on the brakes and go get that piece of furniture! That’s exactly what happened to us last weekend!

Garages easily become catch-all’s for everything that you don’t know what to do with or don’t need anymore (can I get a witness?!). Over the winter months, our garage got Out. Of. Hand. Now with this beautiful piece of furniture in tow, I decided to use it to make a mud room of sorts. It will be a place where shoes can be slipped on and off, and also used for some extra storage space for the thing my husband needs more room for – his books. I failed to take a picture before we moved the piece in, but here it is just piled up and not yet organized.

I’m married to a sentimental guy. He likes to hold onto things that were his from long ago, his parents’ possessions and maybe even his grandparents’. That means an old cell phone from his mom, a CD player/Boom Box, a ton of CD’s (you know what those are, right? Ha!), letters, and year books are treasures to him. I wanted to help organize his belongings, not really toss them, so that was part of my task in this garage clean-up job. I made a place for his mom’s CD player (and have it plugged in and accessible) and also found storage for the CD’s. I also made a place for his shoes when he comes in, as well as space for some car accessories, yard games and fire pit tools.

Since we always come in through the garage, I like to make it inviting. A wreath, a cute greeting on the door say, “Welcome Home!” If you’re going to hang art work in your garage, why not hang up a picture of a cool, old truck?! A young man at our church gave that to my husband a few years ago.

I also added a tin for bats, balls and other toys so that my grandsons could easily access them. The aqua cushion on the furniture was one I had already and wasn’t using anymore. Now it’s providing a soft place to sit down and lace up shoes!

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I love that this new space cost me $0, thanks to kind neighbors who needed to unload a piece of furniture. If you have a garage that could use some organization, why not look on Facebook Marketplace? People are often selling pieces like this one for little to nothing, or maybe you’ll be blessed with a free piece like I was!

What could you do to create an inviting space in your garage or car port? Sometimes just adding a wreath and a pretty rug can transform the garage from just a place for the car to a place that welcomes you home!

Refresh your garage with a little spring spruce up!

Brunch · entertaining · Hostess Goals · organization · Time management · Uncategorized

Tips For Hosting a Stress-Free Shower

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I love hosting showers! Babies and weddings are just fun events to celebrate! They are both gifts from God, and that alone makes them special!  This past Saturday I had the blessing of having a wedding shower in my home for a sweet young woman who has been a part of my Adult Bible Fellowship this year.  I had so much fun coming up with a menu and decorations to help her celebrate her upcoming fall wedding!

I thought I’d show you how I plan and work ahead of time to keep things from being too stressful the morning of the shower.

  1. Decide on a menu – I went with brunch and served:
    Egg and Sausage sliders
    Strawberry White Chocolate Scones –
    Crackers with Cheese Dip
    Fresh Fruit & Dip (Provided by a friend)
    Cappuccino Punch/Coffee/Water
  2. scones
    These are wonderful!!!

    Decide on a color scheme – I used pink and deep maroon flowers, the colors of the bride’s wedding.

  3. Begin to decorate the week before.  Here are some things I had done before Friday~
    Flower arrangements
    Mantle decorated
    Sketched on my chalkboards
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  4. Make/prep whatever food you can ahead of time.  My do-ahead’s included:
    Cooking the sausage for the sandwiches
    Cutting strawberries for the scones
    Putting all the dry ingredients for the scones in Ziploc bags, ready to mix
  5. Get out all the dishes/platters you’ll need ahead of time. The night before set the tables, label platters and places where the food will be placed.  I use sticky notes on the platters telling what food goes there.  Then the day of the shower, if someone wants to help, they know where to put things. or if I’m working alone, that keeps me from getting frazzled!
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  7. Cute chalkboard labels are great to label food platters
  8. Get the pitchers, utensils, plates and napkins ready.
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  10. The day of the shower, try to have the food ready for the oven, or finished, if possible  30-60 minutes before your guests arrive. Then you can have the kitchen clean and  you’ll be ready to greet your friends as they come.
    Also, accept help if others offer!  A friend from church did the fruit and the punch.  My daughter came an hour early and helped me finish plating food.  Oh,and having a husband who is so wonderful to do dishes is a super-duper blessing!!!!

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Working ahead is the best way to keep from being stressed.  A relaxed hostess can make her guests feel welcome because she really will be glad they came!

Happy showering!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

organization · Priorities · Refreshment · Time management

Planning Can Bring Rest

All those pretty planners that were sold in the month of December or January were so inviting.  There were stickers and binders as well as pretty pens to mark up the dates.  Did you purchase one?  Maybe you got one from Target or ordered a special Erin Condren version.  At any rate, how’s it going?  Is it still in use?  I think it’s easy to get started in those kinds of organizational tools and then let it slip off into the Ocean of Good Intentions.

Sometimes our feelings of being overwhelmed are due to over-scheduling ourselves.  Over-scheduling can come from lack of planning, and a lack of planning comes from getting a bit careless.  This is true of my own life.  I’ll tuck my planner in the cabinet, then start the week off and realize I’m going in circles, and not really sure what needs to be done that day/week.  The reason?  I didn’t write it down!  Why?  I was just too lazy to sit down and do it.

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If you feel overwhelmed and don’t have a planner, can I encourage you to try some sort of daily list?  It can be written in a simple notebook.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy to get you organized.  Here’s my strategy:

  1. At the beginning of the week, I fill in all the appointments and daily routines I know I need to do.
  2. Each day I add the other things that I’d like to accomplish, such as blog posts, cleaning, service to others, etc.
  3. As I accomplish each task, I check it off.  This lets me realize at the end of the day, that even if some things were left undone, I did  get some things completed!

If other things come in and keep you from doing what you’d planned, accept it as the Lord’s intervention and go with it!  If you give each day to Him, your time is not your own and He will allow you to do what is necessary.

If you find you’re not getting things done and there was no “Divine Intervention,” make sure to look over your day and see where you’re wastitng time.  You might want to

  • Limit social media until after noon or after those tasks are completed.
  • Get up earlier, if possible.
  • Try to work on a time schedule – write out the time in the day when you think you should be on that next task.

Proverbs 28:19a He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread

Hard work pays off.  If we forget to “till the land” (prepare for a future time) we will feel overwhelmed with everything that is left undone.  A little tilling now will allow you to reap more than just bread!  You’ll reap the blessing of a rested heart.

Do you use a planner each day or do you need to start one?

Denise