Kitchen Tour Feed

#52 Weeks: My Fridge & Freezer!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. :)

Well it's time for another "52 Weeks to an Organized Home" progress report! And this past week we focused our decluttering muscles on the refrigerator and freezer, two spots in my kitchen that are almost never as clean and well managed as they should be. I can't fault the refrigerator anymore ... our appliance is relatively new, since the old one went kaput last October. The shelves and compartments are supposed to make sense and lead one into an easy and efficient (not to mention edible) state of organization. Even so, I still manage to have overcrowded, sticky shelves and somehow food still gets overlooked (and goes bad). Not all of it of course, but enough of it that I cringe when a visitor takes a peek in our fridge or if someone brings something to a party that - heaven forbid - needs refrigerating!

But no more! I spent a few mornings this week working on this very area and all its - er, my - faults. With my trusty helper by my side, natch!

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Well, in this picture he's just moved on to the ovens but honestly, do you see the sheen on that refrigerator? Little Bear's been such a wonderful cleaning assistant - just as he loves working outside with Daddy (gathering branches is a favorite task), he also enjoys "working" inside with Mama. As soon as he sees cleaning spray in my hand or a chair pushed up next to the cabinets, he's all: "I help, Mama?" So I give him a damp dishrag and set him to work! :)

Ok, so here's the before picture of my fridge/freezer ...

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So maybe it doesn't look too bad, but clearly it was pretty crowded ... and that's because there was a lot of old food that needed clearing out. Salad dressings for example. (For people who don't eat nearly enough salad we certainly have more than enough dressing on hand!)

Oh, and note the dead/dying flowers on top of the fridge. These were a lovely birthday gift from my husband ... but because we have naughty cats who like to eat plants - poisonous or otherwise - any type of floral arrangement must be kept well out of reach. Where it's usually forgotten and left to die.

Anyway, I cleared EVERYTHING out - the fridge kept beeping at me because the door was open too long! - and got rid of food that had spoiled. (For the record, we did clean out and recycle the containers.) Then I gave some thought to how I had items organized, tweaked the plan a bit, and then put it all back.

Oh yes - we wiped each shelf and drawer as we went!

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The after ...

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I don't think you need to hear about all the food, but there is a rhyme and reason to it. And look! SPACE! There's a whole shelf there that has next to nothing on it. (Save some lettuce put aside for "the girls.")

Interesting fact: This particular fridge came with an easy-access door which I almost never use but does seem terribly smart. It's hard to explain, but there is a latch on the fridge handle that allows you to open an outer door that reveals the things you see on the shelves inside the door itself. The milk and whatnot ... the things you'd need to grab most often. This is supposed to conserve energy since you don't need to open the fridge wide every time the kids want a glass of juice or a cheese stick. I didn't take a picture of that but if I think to do so I'll grab one tomorrow and plug it into this post. 

(Note: I don't usually have so much pudding on hand, lol - but I'm currently nursing a "dry socket," which - if you're not familiar with this affliction - is when a wisdom tooth extraction goes awry. Very painful! Soft foods have been the norm for me for the past 10 days. God bless my mum, she brought me all kinds of yogurt and pudding and protein drinks and applesauce AND made me egg salad to have on hand. I'm healing slowly but surely - but boy, am I getting tired of pudding!)

And here's the freezer ...

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... which we did a few days later. :)

The freezer was in better shape than the fridge, but there wasn't really a good system in place. After removing it all and weeding out old items, it's a little better now ... And yes, we have a lot of ice cream on those shelves, but no they don't have anything to do with my tooth! We host a lot of parties as you know, particularly birthday parties, so ice cream gets bought - half eaten - and then returned to the freezer. Bill can't eat ice cream (he's lactose-intolerant) and I try not to, if you know what I mean. ;) And the boys are allowed ice cream only on occasion ... so it really piles up!

Oh, and did I mention Bill's new hobby is making ice cream?

Ha-ha, go figure! Seriously though, his lemon sorbet and vanilla custard ice cream is to die for! (Especially since the latter is made with our hen's fresh eggs!) Those white containers are holding his recent concoctions and the white object in the bottom drawer is the ice cream maker bowl. (Kept frozen and ready to go!)

Now one of the things I just LOVE about this program is how Taylor assigns a challenge (or zone) for each week - case in point, "fridge/freezer" last week and "recipes" next week - but then instead of just sending you off on your own, she ALSO gives you daily missions that will help you on the way to conquering that challenge! So this past week, on one day we decluttered the fridge, and on another we cleaned the fridge thoroughly. Then we tackled the freezer another day, and the front and top of the fridge another day entirely. This challenge is so VERY doable!

Speaking of the front of the fridge, here is mine ...

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Love this sweet teapot wallie!

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On the left is a board for Earlybird's ABA weekend homework, and on the right is a pen cup, the teapot wallie (which is like chalkboard) and our week-at-a-glance. I love how they look against the black fridge! I am using the teapot to list a seasonal verse or idea each week - something that ties into our home/learning theme (which next week is "candles"). The calendar is pretty self-explanatory ... I have this here so the rest of the family can see what's going each day of the week. :)

(I bought the homework board at Staples (Martha Stewart Office) and the items on the right were found on Amazon.)

So there we have it! Another week behind us and several spots in my kitchen are much cleaner than they were on January 1st! This coming week we are targeting "recipes and cookbooks" and I am SO looking forward to digging into those things. I will be back with a report on how that challenge went and I hope to also return in a few days with a peek at my binder's February section ... how those planning sheets are working for me and some thoughts on the month ahead!

For now though I will leave you, but as always, it's with my thanks for your time and attention. I hope you all have a nice week ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


#52 Weeks: My Pantry & Bakeware ...

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Hello, my friends and Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is off to a great start! I have just finished up week three of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge and I'm here to report in! (Please see my previous progress reports here and here.)

Above you see my kitchen pantry and if I may say so, I just adore my pantry. It's located in the kitchen proper, on the wall across from the kitchen "nook" and just before the passageway into the family room. When we were first shown this house (almost four years ago now) there were several things that really stood out to me as a prospective buyer (already half in love with the house from the first foot out of the car!) and one of them was this pantry. It was built by a local craftsman and apparently several homes in our town have the same feature. Short of a separate room with a utility sink and work table - and maybe rafters for drying herbs - I thought this was pretty perfect as pantries go! Certainly a "luxury" we had never enjoyed before in our previous homes. Food storage was always tricky especially as our family grew and I yearned to cook more at home.

Now, I grew up with a back hall pantry (the stairwell down to the back door) and my grandparents had a wonderful pantry in their basement (also in a back stairwell). My grandparents went through the Great Depression and lived by the old adage "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" ... AND, always be prepared. I remember having such a feeling of comfort and security just knowing those shelves existed. Grama would often send me down to fetch a can of this or that ... but sometimes I looked it over all on my own ... just because. Full of jars and bottles and cans of all kinds, I found them fascinating and maybe even a little mysterious. :) Both my mother and grandmother were fabulous home cooks (my mum still is!) who loved caring for their families and so by extension, their pantries provided more than just physical nourishment. Nowadays of course we can just run to the grocery store and get what we need - almost at any time of day - but still, my Yankee roots urge me to secure for the future, stock up on goods, fill the larder, and never take any of it for granted. How blessed we are to know we can feed those we love when they are hungry ...

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Art by Tasha Tudor

Well, anyway ... back to the pantry in question! And if you can't tell, the photo at the top is the "before" shot. ;) I was told by a few folks that this looked pretty good as is (was), but honestly, things were really quite messy. There was so much out-of-date food (that moved with us from the old house!) and crumbs and stickiness of all kinds. And I really didn't have a good idea of just what all was in here. It's hard to "work" a pantry with which you're not completely familiar! And as I've mentioned before, one of my 2017 goals is to cook more at home - to make more of the food we eat rather than rely on packaged/prepared/processed kinds of foods. Better for us and our budget!

So the first thing I did was to empty the WHOLE thing out, shelf by shelf, and place things on the kitchen table.

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(I mean, how many bags of flour does one family really need?)

See, here's an example of one of my problems. I don't cook with flour as often as I should (or would if I had my A-game going) so I had no idea how many bags of flour we actually had. I'd buy flour if I saw it on sale, or if I was at the store thinking how I'd like to make pizza dough from scratch, then I'd buy flour just in case I didn't have the right kind on hand at home. Several of these bags were past their expiration date and honestly, that is just shameful.

(I'm baring my soul here friends ... just in case you thought I was some kind of super-organized, homemaking maven! Lol.)

I also had SO many supplies for cupcake baking ...

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But that makes sense because we do make cupcakes quite often (apparently not from scratch though) and sprinkles don't ever really go bad. (Do they?)

Ok, so once I had ALL the foodstuffs out (I worked cabinet by cabinet - my kitchen table's not that big) I stood on a chair and vacuumed and wiped all the shelves. (The boys were beside themselves ... Mama, come down from there! That's not safe! We'll tell Dad!) Next I combed through it all and got rid of expired items. (This was better done when my husband was at work ... he would have fainted to see me toss so much food!) Finally, I set things back in place, again going shelf by shelf - trying to come up with some efficient storage solutions as I went along.

And voila!

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A trimmed down, clean and organized pantry. With plenty of room for adding more! Generally speaking, the left cabinet holds savory things, the middle cabinet is for baking, fruits and sweet mixes and the last cabinet is for health, pets, baby and breakfast items.

How about a tour? :)

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Top shelf has beverages. We don't drink soda often, but keep it on hand for company and large-scale entertaining. The shelf just below that has snack-type foods - chips, taco shells, crackers and salad croutons.

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Next shelf down is for rice and soups ...

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There are two handy pull-out metal drawers for seasoning packets/sauce mixes, soup bouillon, and seafood cans/pouches.

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Ok, on to the middle cabinet ...

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Top shelf has flours, oats, cornmeal and pancake mix. (p.s. As I went along I worked on a pantry inventory - using handy printables from Taylor at Home Storage Solutions 101, noting any pre-made packaged foods I'd like to make from scratch - such as pancake mix.) The next shelf down has sugars (confectioner's sugar, brown sugar (hidden in an air-tight container just behind the Domino boxes), stevia, organic raw sugar and plain old granulated sugar. Also, a bin full of decorative sugars, colored sprinkles, icing gel, cupcake liners and toppers, etc.

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Moving down ... we have the spice shelf! The rack on the far left has pull out shelves and the two bins hold spices for cooking (left) and baking (right). (Generally speaking of course. Just how it made sense in my own head.) Then there is a mortar-pestle for grinding whole spices, an air-tight jar with cinnamon sticks, a pretty crock of Herbs de Provence (a gift from a friend), and a few other assorted spices ... vanilla beans, dry mustard, Bell's seasoning, cream of tartar, chili powder and seasoned salt.

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More pull-out drawers below  ... these hold gelatin, yeast, pudding mixes, and chocolate chips/baking chocolate of all kinds. Just below that are assorted baking ingredients: cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, coconut oil, corn syrup, molasses, honey, shortening, and cocoa.

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(Notice I'm spending more time on these shelves ... I'm much more a baker than a cook. Flour issues notwithstanding.)

Ok, next we have flavorings and seasonings ... salt, No-Salt (for my dad), assorted seasoning rubs and blends, cinnamon sugar and vanilla sugar (in the latched jar), packets of raw sugar, vanilla and assorted flavorings (peppermint, almond, lemon, orange, hazelnut, etc.), a large bag of mulling spices, a small bag of dried flower petals, cloth spice bags, and rosewater and orange blossom water. And a pack of flavored Italian honey. This is a fun shelf - it might be my favorite! :) Madagascar vanilla is my favorite thing in my kitchen. Well, after coffee ... and maybe tea.  

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Ok, on to the next shelf! Here we have dried fruits (dates, raisins, cherries and cranberries), a good ol' jar of Marshmallow Fluff (a New England staple), a jar of mincemeat (which actually contains no meat whatsoever) and many, many cans of squash and pumpkin. (One can never have too many cans of pumpkin, imho.)

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Allrighty, last cabinet!

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At the very top is a cabinet with medicinal things, matches, bandaids, sunscreen and, oddly enough, bubble solution. Bubbles bring high emotions in this household, so it's best to keep them somewhere out of sight when not in use.

The next shelf down holds my "master stash" of tea and a basket of assorted cocoa packets ...

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Then we have a shelf for larger containers of cocoa, marshmallows and leftover Halloween (and um, Thanksgiving and Christmas) candies. Nobody eats these really, but I can't bear to throw them out! (Actually, that's not entirely true - the Annie's Halloween bunny grahams are gone now.) And behind the tea tins on the left is a large container of protein powder we never remember to use. I love reusing those pretty Harney & Sons tea tins for storage!

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And here we have the pets and baby shelf, holding a basket of canned food, pouches of treats (one for cats, one for hens), a tupperware container of homegrown catnip, Little Bear's toddler snacks and bottle liners. (He's actually off bottles now - he really held onto that bedtime bubba! - but we're saving those liners in case my sister-in-law - who is due soon with her first baby - might need them.)

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Next shelf down holds cold cereal boxes - they don't fit standing up and we have yet to find another storage spot - and a bin of oatmeal packets, plus a jug of spring water.

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And then we have ... hey, wait a minute!

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Oh, do cats love it when you clean. :) But this is actually an empty shelf! (Which is fine ... sometimes, especially when Bookworm is home, we have lots of cold cereal boxes on hand.) And below that is a bottom shelf holding extra boxes of food wraps.

Ok, a couple more photos showing you how I tackled the "organize bakeware" mission ...

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Same procedure as the pantry, more or less - took everything out of these cabinets and weeded through it all. What do we need up here in the kitchen? What can go down to storage in the basement? Then cleaned out the cabinets themselves and finally, placed all of my bakeware back inside.

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Far left holds baking molds and and muffin pans, plus a large half-sheet cake pan. The middle cabinet holds bundt pans, springform pans, quiche/tart pans, and regular 9" round pans. Also, a couple of waffle makers. And the third cabinet holds a bin of random baking supplies - cookie cutters, candy molds and popsicle molds - as well as our Griddler and deep fryer.

You can probably see that these under-counter cabinets have a neat feature - a surprise cabinet on the backside of the jetty! (Do you see Little Bear's tiny face peeking in through the light in the back? :)

In this cabinet, which opens on the kitchen nook side, we store our crockpots, pressure cooker, juicer and salad spinner just behind.

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(The crockpot on the let was missing its inner pot - it was in the dishwasher!)

So that was last week's challenge in a nutshell. Pretty big nut there, Dawn - I bet you're thinking! Well, you know how I can talk. But thanks so much for sharing in my pantry joy - I hope you enjoyed hearing about the process! This week we're assigned missions that target the refrigerator and freezer and as you can see below ...

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I'm getting a lot of help from my little guy! :)

Well my friends, thanks again for stopping by and I'd love to hear about your pantry if you have the time to leave a comment. Or pantry memories? I'm very fond of those. :) I'll be back next weekend (or so) with another progress report ...

As I've said before, I am really enjoying this challenge! It feels so good to devote my time and attention on my home and really get things back in order. This is my workspace after all! I'm here all day (for the most part) really using these spaces with my family and it's my hope to become even more comfortable in the kitchen, cooking more often and with more purpose than I usually do. I think a tidy pantry is a good step in that direction, as will be a clean fridge and freezer!

So see you next time ... I hope to be back again this week, perhaps with a "home office" kind of post, but we shall see what the week brings!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


#52Weeks: My Kitchen Cabinets & Drawers ...

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! I'm here with a report on my "Organized Home Challenge" progress! And I'm happy to say it's still going well ... :)

As I mentioned in last week's post, I am following a challenge called, "52 Weeks to an Organized Home" this year. It's run by Taylor Flanery of Household Storage Solutions 101 and each week we tackle a different section of the home, working our way through daily "decluttering missions." Along the way there are all kinds of supportive posts to encourage us (on Facebook and Instagram) and daily email reminders to keep us on track ...

Happily, I'm finding it easy to keep up and honestly, I'm having fun too!

You can find out more about the program through links provided in my earlier post, but here is a peek at the Challenge printables I have stashed in my planning binder for easy reference ...

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On the left is a breakdown of all 52 challenges - one for each week of the year - and on the right is January's daily decluttering missions calendar. I have been using a blank cleaning schedule I found online to keep track of my weekly tasks as seen here ...

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I just copy the daily missions into each daily block and use a red pen to mark off each completed task. This sheet shows tasks for the next two weeks - 1/16-1/22 "Pantry/Food Storage" and 1/23-1/29 "Refrigerator/Freezer." The underside of this sheet shows the last two weeks' tasks which I'm pleased to say is filled with red checks! :)

Anyhoo - today I am here to catch up and show you how last week went. I really hope to do this each week as a means of keeping myself motivated and dedicated! (And don't hesitate to nudge me or ask about my progress if I've gone quiet on the topic, lol!)

Well, our first week of the year focused on The Kitchen Sink, Table & Countertops, while this past week's challenge targeted "Kitchen Cabinets & Drawers." And I think I'll probably say this each week but, BOY did my cabinets and drawers need a lot of work! But by taking just one small challenge each day I found it to be definitely do-able. I even finished a day early - doubling up yesterday by tackling food storage containers AND pots and pans. :)

Ok ... here we go!

Here is my utensils container on the kitchen counter, parked next to the microwave ...

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I could probably fill three of these stands, but instead, I pared things down, including only the tools we use most often. The rest of our utensils were placed in a small pile tucked rather tidily in this bottom drawer filled with random things ...

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Which also now holds paper bags, wax paper sandwich bags, paper plates and a small amount of paper napkins. (We try to avoid using disposables, but sometimes they're handy to have on hand!)

I did remember to take before pictures of that above "junk" drawer ... hang on:

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Above as it first appeared, and then below, after removing a layer of debris ...

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(Is it just my kids or do yours also come out of the woodwork whenever you start "weeding out" some kind of stuff and so suddenly they MUST be involved in order to see whatall is going down and whatall might be of use to them. Heaven forbid you get rid of anything as essential as an oversized warped wire whisk!)

So yes, this was very much a JUNK drawer and had not been cleaned out ... well, ever. Things just got stashed here when we moved in (3 1/2 years ago!) and stuff kept getting thown in here. Extra utensils, party goods, plastic utensils, egg cartons ...

Once I removed EVERYTHING from this drawer and the one above it  ...

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... I got down to business. In each case I cleaned the space first (vacuuming and/or wiping out with a damp cloth) and then went through all the items, whittling down what was essential and what was not. Once I had those essential items in neat piles, I returned them to the clean spaces.

Here is the potholder/kitchen cloths drawer now:

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It might not look like a lot of towels, but these are very deep drawers. Under that basket (which holds smaller-sized dish rags and microfiber cloths) are more folded towels. And under the oven mitts (which are scorched and well used!) are even more pot holders. Under the scented bluebird mug mats are a few trivets.

I can't tell you how good it felt to get these drawers - long neglected and forever overcrowded - all tidy!

Ok, moving on ... here is my silverware drawer:

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This didn't need too much decluttering, but I did lift out the divider and vacuum all the crumbs! (Cute story about the dual sets of stainless steel measuring cups and spoons ... many moons ago, Bill and I each bought the other a set of these for our first Christmas as husband and wife. It's actually convenient to have two sets since we do cook and bake quite a bit.)

One of the more time-consuming challenges for me was this absolute mess ...

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So yeah, that happened. Lol, I can't believe I'm showing you this! As you can see from the scribbles somebody once made use of the Sharpies hidden in this drawer ... only he didn't bother to find paper. sigh Eventually we will paint the drawer to cover up all the scribbles ... but today was not that day!

So what's in this drawer? Well, what isn't, lol? Clearly a real hodgepodge of things - kitchen twine, garden twine, writing utensils, take out menus, notepads, batteries ... and um, a Christmas ornament???

Anyway, here's the after ...

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:)

Small glass jam jars for glue sticks, rubber bands, erasers, paper clips and thumb tacks (in the covered jar). Local menus, notepads, an assortment of pencils and pens, stapler, scissors, tape, rulers and a bin of index cards which I use for Earlybird's daily therapist. I'm also considering using the alphabetical tabs for a simple and easily accessible family address/phone book.

Next up I tackled foils, plastic wraps and plastic bags ...

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It's a bit of a tight fit but it's everything I need. Actually, I really don't need that second box of Press n' Seal. That could be kept in the pantry ...

And here is last Friday's challenge: Food Storage Containers.

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We use all glass containers made by Pyrex. It took a while to phase out the Tupperware but it was worth it! These take up one end of the cabinets where we keep our dishes.

And here we have our pots and pans ...

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This is a rather dark photo (this cabinet is under our island, facing the sink) but what we have here is a large wok on the top shelf, sitting on top of an oversized cookie sheet. The orange thing is a flexible cutting mat. (Or I'm pretty sure it is, anyway. It could be a silicone baking mat, but I've yet to test that theory.) The lower level has a pull-out rack with (not seen, tucked in back) a few fry pans, including our cast iron pans and our two main pots. (Above the fridge I have our oversized dutch oven and stockpot.) Stacked on the right hand side are cookie sheets, cookie racks, cutting boards and our pizza stone.

Last but not least, it was time to address the cabinet under the kitchen sink! A rather gloomy and cluttered cabinet if ever there was one! I had hoped to paint the inside of this dark cabinet as part of the challenge, but ... not enough time! (Added to our master household task list!)DSC00313

I basically cleaned everything out - tossed or recycled old stuff - and then set up some nice storage containers.

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The blue plastic bins I found at Target and the aqua wire bin I picked up at Michaels. I pared down the cleaning supplies to sponges, cleaning sprays, sink powder, dishwashing liquid, dishwasher tabs, hand soap and an all-purpose cleaner.

(Note: We have a child-proof lock on the outside of this cabinet!)

And now a sneak peek at next week's challenge ... the pantry!

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As you can see, I will DEFINITELY have my work cut out for me here!

Taylor has a great suggestion to go along with the challenges for the next couple of weeks. We're going to - as much as possible anyway - eat from the pantry, fridge and freezer in order to use up what we have on hand and make space where we can. I will have to tweak my menu plan a little but I think this makes sense and clearly, we have plenty of foodstuffs to choose from ...

I tend to over-buy food, but hey - we are a family of six including four growing boys - and because we homeschool we eat at home quite a bit. Plus, we hardly ever eat out and only order take out once or twice a month (if that). So it's good to have plenty of food on hand! Non-perishables are fine in that scenario, but I have a hard time keeping the fresh foods in balance. How many times do I buy produce only to have it spoil before it's been utilized? And UGH do I hate wasting food. It's a waste of money, yes, but it just makes me feel awful. Too many people go hungry and I honestly feel shameful when we let food go bad. A goal this year is to be less wasteful - all around.

So clearly my pantry shelves are not as organized as they once were and honestly, I've lost track of what we have here. Plus there are likely some things in here that are out of date and/or need replacing. (Especially baking supplies and such.) Another family goal for the year is to eat less prepared and processed foods so keeping basic ingredients on hand is important. If we're going to make our own pizza dough we need our yeast to be fresh!

But all this is something to tackle next week ... I am looking forward to it, though! :)

One more thing before I go and I know I've kept you here quite long!

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I have had this book on my shelf for a few years now, but have yet to really dig in. (I tend to over-buy when it comes to books, too!) Well, I found it the other day on my library floor - yes, just sitting right there on the floor as if it leapt off the shelf and then waited there for me to stumble over it! (Which I did, because I'm graceful like that.) So I perused the contents for a moment - and found my interest piqued because the program is divided by weeks AND they are starting in the kitchen. Which is of course right where I'm at! I am going to try reading along as I work on the #52Weeks Challenge and see what kind of extra tidbits of encouragement and information this book brings me! More on this later though ... I've only just begun reading! :)

Well my friends, I thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed my weekly "progress report!" I'll return next weekend with another check-in ... but this week I will also be sharing pictures from my "Birthday Tea" and I hope, a close-up look at my Day Designer daily page. But for now I leave you with my gratitude and my wish that your evening is pleasant and peaceful. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


My Kitchen Table, Countertops & Sink ...

In other words ... it's week one of the Organized Home Challenge! Who's with me? :)

Hello my friends and Happy Friday! 

As I've mentioned a couple of times on Facebook, this year I am following along with Home Storage Solutions 101's 52 Week Organized Home Challenge. (Boy that's a mouthful isn't it? Lol.) I was all ready to revamp my housekeeping calendar (since it didn't work as well as I'd hoped last year) when I came across this program (hosted and created by Taylor Flanery) and I thought, "You know, this sounds pretty do-able!"

I like that Taylor's really thought out where to start and how the tasks should flow. And I really I like that the challenge is broken down into 52 weeks - that means there's plenty of time to get around to all the THINGS. (Take a peek at the 52 Week breakdown here. It makes such sense!) And I need ample time like that. I would LOVE to have my house clean and organized as soon as yesterday, but realistically I need to go slow. I know I'm not alone when I say I have a lot on my plate and not a lot of extra time in my day! Another plus is the program is free, and there are printables, email reminders, a Facebook group and even Instagram sharing, too. There is also a coordinating Daily De-Clutter Calendar for each month of the year. I signed up for that, too!

Ok.

You can read more about the 52 Week challenge here.

You can sign up for the daily emails here.

You can get the monthly Decluttering Calendars here.

So this week, for example, the Weekly Challenge is "Kitchen Organization: Countertops & Sink." This is where our organizing focus will be aimed this week! And today's decluttering mission was the kitchen table. (Yesterday's was the sink.) I LOVE how this program is mapped out! It feels really "possible" and I love all the support and encouragement that comes with it! I especially love perusing her various "Halls of Fame" - which are collections of pictures that people share when they get their missions completed. All very inspiring!

Anyhoo, let me know if you are following this program too ... I'll be posting at Facebook and #hashtagging at Instagram and ... what I'm going to TRY to do each week is to blog about how things went for me in the assigned challenge area. Now, I say TRY because you know me - and I know me - and we both know I won't always find time to post. And if we're going to be brutally honest ... I won't alway keep up with the challenges!

But as best as I'm able, I'll try. I am resolved to make THIS the year we finally really move into this house and make it our own. And treat it with the respect it deserves. â¤

So we're off to a pretty good start so far, even though this week was pretty tricky because we were all sick (some of us still are) but fortunately, when you're sick, you stay home ... and then as you start to feel better you just want to get everything back to normal. So, because I had all week and could do a little here and there, I got most of it done!

(And now you're thinking, Dawn, enough of the rambling - let's see the pics! So here they are ... but um, conveniently I forgot to take "before" pictures ... ðŸ˜³ )

Walking into the kitchen from the foyer, look at all that (visible) counter space!

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Don't look further into the family room though ... that zone has not been assigned yet! ;)

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I find keeping my sink neat (and the surrounding area) nearly impossible. For one thing, it's just so hard to get ahead - and keep ahead - with the dishes! We are a family of six (four of them boys, mind you) and we homeschool - so we're here a lot. We eat here a lot. The kitchen sink gets used ... A LOT. And dagnabit, my sink is porcelain and darn near impossible to keep white! I don't like to use Soft Scrub but it seems to be the only thing that does the trick ...

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But since I needed to declutter here, I pared down the sill to have just a few things. I will try to keep it that way but this is definitely - to use a bit of FlyLady speak - one of those hot spots in my house. I'm always putting out fires here!

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have to have my hand lotion here even if that bottle isn't the prettiest. I use it constantly throughout the day, especially after washing up - dishes, hands or eggs and such. Next is a small china dish where I place any eggs I've gathered that day - a kind of "holding zone" before they get sorted into cartons. Then we have my small cross and peace rock ... and a pretty snowflake-design candleholder, a gift from my cousin Kara.

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I like to keep a candle on my kitchen windowsill year round, changing it with the seasons. I do adore candles - but with young kids and curious cats around, they need to be lit somewhere well out of reach. I find it so deeply satisfying to light a candle at the end of the day as I putter about my kitchen ...

In the far corner there is a small golden pot in which I keep syringes for administering Earlybird's twice daily anti-seizure meds. And a sweet and colorful glass rooster that holds a small photo of my beloved grandmother ... whom I miss dearly and who, without a doubt was the best homemaker I've ever known. I try to be like her in so many ways and one of them is in the care and commitment I show to my home.

Now, along the top of the window is the garland of herbs I grew and dried this year as well as our "winter blessings" angel. And finally, on the back of the sink itself is our preferred liquid hand soap and the dish wand resting in its metal tray.

And that's as pared down as I could get it! It may still be considered a bit cluttered, but I'm ok with that. :)

Ok, the rest of the counters ...

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These countertops - also white - are no fun to keep clean either. One day we might replace them with something different. I'm just grateful there's a lot of them - because in our old kitchen we had very little workspace. Here above you see where I'm parking my homekeeping binder these days. I am trying very hard to whittle down what I leave out here because this is probably the worst hot spot we have in the house. I can get a little carried away with the "stuff" I feel I need to have in my line of vision ...

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At the end of this stretch of counter there is a simple basket where I'm now keeping the mail. I wanted to move it (the mail, not the basket) elsewhere but Bill said he likes to look at the mail in this spot so I let it go. He's the one that deals with the bills so I can't complain there! (I deal with other types of mail but he's the finances guy.)

Also seen in this photo is a book stand with Earth Psalms open to this week's passage. I had been keeping it in my personal reading basket, but because I want to make this a family devotional I decided to try keeping it open on the kitchen counter - where I might remember to share it with Bill and the boys each week. This week we're marveling at sunrises and sunsets and contemplating how they're like God's way of saying good morning and good night. It's really a very lovely book ...

The small red tea light lanterns were an Advent purchase at Michael's and I just like how they sit here - how there are four of them, one for each of my boys. :)

There is also a small tv here as you can see in this photo below ...

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It's not a fancy one - just antenna, no cable - but it allows me to catch the news as I can through the day. And ok, yes - turn on PBS Kids when we need the little guy otherwise occupied!

Also you can see this final counter (the "jetty" we call it, as opposed to the "island," lol) divides the kitchen proper with the kitchen nook. Today's decluttering mission was to clear the kitchen table ... another scorching hot spot in my home!

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I love this tablecloth - it belonged to my grandmother and it's soft as butter! (These are my favorite table linens ... made in Vermont and very "New England!") My mum and grandmother always had a few of these on hand for their kitchen tables, and now I'm collecting them. I "inherited" this soft blue and an olive green ... I'd love to purchase a deep blue someday and perhaps a butternut ... something to tie in with the braided rug underneath the table:

Braided rug

In the middle of the table is a lovely "led" lantern my parents gave us for our anniversary in October. I love having it lit after dinner as the household slows down and we button up for the night. We eat most of our meals here - unless we have company in which case we move to the dining room. (Which is a zone for October!)

From Taylor today at FB:

"The results from completing this mission are so beneficial, from encouraging family meals, allowing kids to get their homework done, and even letting you just sit and relax with a cup of coffee or tea at a nice clear table. It really just makes you say, ahhhh."

Very true. What a difference in your day when you have a nice table to sit at - especially at suppertime with the family. But in my house, any "horizontal surface" is vulnerable, and this particular surface attracts all kinds of things: dishes, schoolbooks, magazines, novels, newspapers, toys, coupons, cats ...

So there has to be some sort of strategy, doesn't there?

Ahhh ... so that will be a post for another day because I'm running long here - plus it's something I need to think on a bit anyway! How do we cultivate habits that support this decluttered lifestyle? I am going to have to come up with some routines for myself and my family ... and I'll be back to share my thoughts on that soon. And I'm all ears if you would like to share your own methods for keeping your kitchen areas clean and simplified! And please, if you decide to follow the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge, let me know! It would be fun to compare notes and share strategies! :)

But for now, I'll be off ... my kitchen is still pretty clean, but as the dinner hour draws near, I'd best strategize a little to make sure we stay on top of our game!

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Playing Catch Up!

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! And for that matter ... Happy June! :)

Gosh, it's been a while since I've posted ... and I'm sorry about that. Everything is fine here, we're just extra busy as the year winds down and a few computer issues have slowed me down a bit, too. I hope to find more blogging time this Summer because I have an awful lot of ideas and things I want to talk with you all about!

But for today, I'd like to play a little catch up and share some pictures from the past few weeks, as this will give you a glimpse of what's been going on around here ... most significantly ...

THIS!

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Our baby chicks arrived three weeks ago! Aren't they sweet?

We ordered six one-day-old pullets and they sent us seven. Unfortunately, one of them didn't make it so we now have the original six. They are doing quite well, I'm happy to report! They are getting so big and Bill and the boys are working hard to finish the coop and pen! 

Chicken pen

We've got a few more weeks to get it done ...

Here are my "Full Flower Moon" cupcakes from a couple of weeks ago. We baked these as part of our seasonal homeschooling rhythm. (That week's theme was "Spring Flowers.") You probably saw these if you follow me on Facebook, but they're too pretty not to share again! :)

Flower cupcakes

More flowers from the spring garden .... also gathered during "Spring Flower" week.

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I love pretty vases and old pitchers, but nothing is more charming than a plain old Mason jar. :)

Here is a lovely pond in our neighborhood ...

Morning pond

On this walk I had Little Bear with me as you can see. We were saying "Good Morning" to the geese and frogs and turtles and blackbirds ... and whoever else we could hear on this breezy May day!

Phlox

Some of the pretty purple phlox that bloomed last month ...

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Oh, and here is Little Bear's birthday cake! My mum made the cake and I supplied the trucks and "rock wall." Mum added Oreo crumbs to make the construction site!

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And here is a close up of a braided rug set we purchased for our kitchen - I am so in love with these colors! Bill and I stopped in at a moving sale up the street and I just could not pass these rugs up. (Two runners and an under-table rug.) They look great in the kitchen! Braided rugs just say "cozy home" to me ...

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Thankfully, Archie approved the purchase ... ;)

Kitchen table with peonies

The largest rug fit our breakfast nook perfectly! It means a little more vacuuming, but I'm ok with that. :)

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Oh and did I mention, Bookworm (our college boy) is home? He arrived mid-May and is with us till the end of August. It is SO good to have him home - to have ALL my chicks back in the nest! And of course, Little Bear is just soaking up all the extra big-brother attention. ðŸ’™

But back to the garden ...

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I love this little herb-and-flower patch, which I'm hoping to expand this summer. The yellow flowers are Yarrow, and the purpley things are Coral Bells, which the hummingbirds absolutely adore. They drink deep from those tiny pink blooms!

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On the other end of the scale - here are my gigantic pink blooms, our lovely Peonies! I wish they would linger longer ... they are the most photogenic flowers and do they ever smell heavenly!

But my Foxgloves are really stealing the show this Spring ...

Foxgloves sunshine

Foxgloves pink

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Foxgloves are biennial so they didn't bloom last year and the year before that was their first so they were fairly small. This year though, boy oh boy are they doing well! (And to think, we almost pulled them up thinking they were weeds!) Also known as Fairy Thimbles (or properly, Digitalis purpurea), this plant is one of my all-time favorites ... it reminds me of Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor ... a sweet, old-fashioned, country cottage kind of flower!

One last shot, here they are this morning under our glorious American flag ...

Flag day foxgloves

(Happy Flag Day!)

Ok, and finally, a little more wildlife news ... we have a woodchuck family living in our backyard!

Woodchuck 1

This is the mother - who, I think, wintered under our old shed on the hill and then spent the spring making herself a few dens here and there around our property. (We'd see her hurrying across the yard, with her mouth full of leaves!) Well, yesterday we watched her and her THREE babies enjoying our plentiful (organic, weedy) grass! They are so cute I can't stand it!

This picture doesn't really show them that well, but it was hard to get a picture through the sunroom window ...

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I can't wait to watch them this Summer!

We also have a red squirrel family that visits our deck every day for the seed I scatter ... there can be up to six squirrels at a time! There are also lots of chipmunks and gray squirrels, of course. The usual songbirds - goldfinches, chickadees, titmice, mourning doves, woodpeckers, wrens, cardinals - and a pair of HUGE ravens that are so incredibly majestic.

Oh, and a gorgeous fox trotted through our yard the other night as we sat in the kitchen nook enjoying our dinner. We have never seen one before!

(And yes, we are planning to keep our chickens in a pen! They will be allowed to roam "free" with supervision.)

***

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now! I hope you enjoyed seeing these pictures and I thank you so much for joining me. I can't promise when my next post will be up, but I hope it won't be too long ... I would like to do a Q&A roundup and show you all how the Day Designer is working for me now that I've used it for a whole two weeks. :)

I do hope you are all enjoying your June so far - has your Summer begun yet? - and I wish you all a pleasant evening (or day as the case might be) ...

See you here again very soon! 


Hello & Happy June ...

And Rabbit-Rabbit, my friends!

:)

It's a cool and rainy day here - which is a good thing, actually! We are in sore need of rain in our region, whereas other parts of our country have been deluged with it lately. (My prayers are with those suffering through destructive storms and their aftermath.) Generally speaking though, here in New England the Spring has been lovely ... but I can tell Summer is nipping at its heels!

Well, it's been a while since my last post and I hope you've all been well! We are winding down our homeschooling year here, though we have lots of summer learning planned, natch! We've been quite focused on projects around the house lately and I'd like to share some photos this morning if I may?

First up, these great second-hand planters!

Front door planters 1 

I've wanted a pair of planters like this for our front doorway since we moved here nearly two years ago - but gosh, they are expensive if bought new! Well, Bill happened upon a pair bring thrown out - and scooped them from the side of the road and brought them home. We plan to clean them up and repaint them (solid black) and then fill them with some nice plants - geraniums, perhaps?

And here's how my kitchen wall looks now ...

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You might remember it once held large maps and a calendar - useful, but not necessarily what I wanted here. Well, I absolutely love botanical prints so I was looking online for some to purchase when I came across a series that looked vintage and interesting and kind of "French Country." I ordered the 22x28 prints (about $5 each) and then kept my eyes open for frame sales at the craft store. We found the frames for 60% off at Michaels (!) and splurged on custom-cut mats ...

Bill added hardware to the backs and hung them for me as a surprise while I was at Mass yesterday morning. I am beyond thrilled with how they look here! Here are a couple of close-ups:

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Aren't they lovely?

Now here's a glimpse at a new binder I've made for myself ...

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This is my plant journal - or Household Herbal - where I'm recording information and observations for each of the plants we are growing in our yard. (And those I hope to grow someday.) I'm using alphabetical tabs to organize the information for now. I also have gardening goals listed in here and sketches/plot plans ... as well as a section on using herbs for health and housekeeping. This past weekend we visited a local farm that specializes in organically grown plants and really stocked up!

Here are some pretty "botanical" papers I picked up recently ...

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I'll use them for dividers by cutting them to fit and adding tabs to the edges.

Oh, and here are some of the herbs awaiting planting!

Herbs 1

We have rosemary, lavender, thyme, bee balm, calendula, horehound, Lady's mantle, scented geranium, peppermint, nasturtium, lemon balm, marshmallow, morning glories, catnip, St. John's Wort, yarrow, sage and chives to name a few ... :)

Also, here is another project we've been working on - and by "we" I mean, mostly Bill:

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Our fledgling home orchard!

So far we have six semi-dwarf apple trees and three pear trees as well as two hazelnuts. It will take some time for the trees to bear fruit (and nuts) but it's just great to have them in our midst ... we've wanted fruit trees for the longest time!

Here's Bill getting them in ...

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(And if you're wondering, yes - the chickens and bees are on hold. We hope to get around to them next year. Too much on our plate this year!)

Also, remember the birdhouse I had at the old house? The one the boys gave me for Mother's Day years ago? Well, we left that for the new owners to enjoy, but I have been generously gifted with another!

Birdhouse 1

And at its base we planted a deep purple, climbing clematis vine. The front of the house faces north so it gets partial shade through the day. Bleeding hearts and ferns grow well here.

This is the herb garden under construction out back. In the foreground is an already established bed of various flowers - phlox, forget-me-nots, sedum and coneflowers. The little black pot holds a moonflower plant and we're adding yarrow and herbs. And just beyond, under the windows is a full-sun bed for rhubarb and cherry tomatoes, pickling cukes, hot peppers and wee pumpkins. The wood on the ground will form a raised bed where some more herbs and flowers will go, those that can tolerate partial shade ... and there will be containers will move around on the sunny patio. The herbs that need full sun will go in these.

Herbs 3

We're eager to add fruit bushes as well - elderberries, blackberries and blueberries. We do have some wild raspberries and strawberries right now, but eventually we'd like to add more formal hedgerows.

Finally, here is a rather majestic fellow, sitting atop some spent spirea ... 

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Our yard is full of dragonflies these days! Which is a good thing, because it's also full of mosquitos ...

Well I'd best wrap up now as I could go on and on but this post would never be published! Are you planting anything new this year? I will keep you posted on how our little pocket farm develops ... it sure is benefitting from all this rain but I am looking forward to warm sunny days ahead.

Well, my friends - thanks so much for stopping by! I pray you are all well and enjoying your Spring wherever you are in the world. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again sometime soon!


The Week on the Wall

Hello everyone, and Happy Thursday!

Chalkboard 8

So, this is something I'm very excited about ...

Above you see our "learning wall" in the kitchen ... you might remember I had my Susan Branch wall calendar here (and a homemade calendar before that), but I found that no one was really looking at those big month-at-a-glances. (Not even me, lol!) There was just too much information to take in at once, I think. So I decided it might be better to focus on one week at a time - as I do with my planner.

I had seen these chalkboard wall panels in a catalog sometime before Christmas and I was VERY intrigued. But I have a thing about chalkboard - as in, I cannot STAND to be around it. The sound - even the threat of a sound being made - on that surface drives me absolutely batty. It's why I can't hang a traditional chalkboard in my "schoolhouse" much as I'd like to. But these "panels" are not made of that dry, scratchy (ugh, I'm freaking myself out even typing these descriptive words) material ... they're a vinyl kind of thing. Adhesive backed, and reposition-able. I bought two packages (eight panels in all) and a package of liquid chalk markers that sounded neat. I had Bill help me position the panels in the center of our kitchen "learning wall," right between our large maps ...

Chalkboard 1

 And I wrote the name of each day with Saturday/Sunday sharing a "weekend" panel.

  Chalkboard 2

The chalk markers are WONDERFUL. They write smoothly and are quite vivid against the black. I purchased a pack of eight bright colors.

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I haven't completely ironed out how I'll use them, but for the purposes of my post, I filled them out as I envision they might work: different colors for different aspects of weekly family life. I may end up changing this around a bit, but for the time being ...

Green = Classes/activities

Red = Suppers

Blue = Housekeeping

Yellow = Seasonal/Natural

Purple = Seasonal/Liturgical

White = General

(The package also comes with pink and orange.)

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I LOVE the way it looks!!

Bill was a bit skeptical when I first showed him the panels (in the package) - as he usually is when it comes to hanging things on the wall, lol - but he conceded the end result is neat and pretty. :) And for the record, the chalk wipes off easily and neatly with a damp paper towel. No residue left behind ... Anyhoo, I wanted to share this with you all because I know many of you are organization "junkies" like me. These are worth the money in my opinion!

Ok, then - on with the day! A snowy one here (natch) and a busy one, too. I hope yours is a good one, wherever it takes you ... thanks so much for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ... 

p.s. Next post: Answering Helena's question, "What do you mean by "give each day a story?" 

 :)


Flowers for the Fourth

Fourth flowers on table

On my kitchen table today:

A gathering of New England wildflowers (tickseed and asters from the yard), Macintosh apples and our Grand Old Flag (in miniature). In the background, a pretty wall hanging that was left to us by our previous home's original owners. An image of my favorite flag style: the Betsy Ross!

A very simple, last-minute arrangement, but I love how cozy it all looks.

*❤*

What's on your kitchen (or dining) table today? Do you like to display seasonal or holiday items in this spot, or perhaps on your kitchen counter? I take great joy in this very simple, homey act. Doesn't cost much, doesn't take long, but never fails to make me smile. I'm always tempted by the pretty flowers at the farmer's market, but like it best when I can use things I find in my yard. :)

Well, my friends, I'm wishing you all a lovey Friday the Fourth, and a wonderful weekend ahead. Wish it were a little sunnier here today - heavy rains from "Hurricane Arthur" are expected throughout the afternoon. Thankfully we'll be spared any damaging winds ... and there's a beautiful weekend to come, according to those in the know!

See you here again very soon!


Kitchen Chat, Week Eight: Cookbooks!

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Good Monday morning, my friends!

Welcome to another week of Kitchen Chat! Please help yourself to the bread basket - a warm rhubarb scone, perhaps? - and pour yourself a hot cuppa something - tea or coffee, there's plenty of both. Let's settle in and talk about COOKBOOKS! From conversations I've had, and comments I've read - here and elsewhere - I think it's safe to say a great many of us have a bit of a cookbook obsession!

So to start, I have just a couple of "cookbook questions" for you all today ... so if you have the time and inclination, please leave your answers in the comments box below.

 *☕️*

Where do you store/display your cookbooks?

What is (are) your favorite cookbook(s) - and why?

*☕️*

 

I also have several wonderful cookbook pictures to share and I must thank the lovely ladies - Michelle, Jo, Shirley, Carol and Mary - who sent me photos for this post! I think it adds such a fun element to these chats when we open our kitchens up to each other!

Cookbooks 5 

As for me, I store my cookbooks in a kitchen cabinet ... as of about five minutes ago, lol! They've been packed in boxes since we moved here last summer ... but this upcoming post gave me incentive to get them out of those boxes and into a cabinet! (And I'm still missing a few favorites, so there's got to be another box around here somewhere ... hmmm.)

Cookbooks 2

At the old house I kept my cookbooks on the counter to the right of the stove, but since I now have more cabinets to "play" with, I felt I could devote a shelf (maybe a shelf and half) to these books. I like how they look here - I can obviously see them through the glass, and it makes me smile to see them on display.

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I've been collecting cookbooks since I was a teen ... I loved looking through my mother's and grandmother's cookbooks - especially the really old ones, with the super-thin pages and personal notes in the margins. I would say my favorites to read through nowadays are The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook (currently, MIA) and Jamie at Home, shown above. I tend to enjoy books that reflect New England and British cuisine/lifestyle as well as those that feature baked goods and organic/seasonal recipes. I can read a cookbook like Pippa Middleton's Celebrate, front to back, just for the comfort and joy it inspires!

But that's enough from me ... now let's hear from some dear friends - regular readers, all - who are also sharing their own cookbooks today!

From Jo:

Cookbooks jo

"Here are some of my favorites in their home in our kitchen. Some of them are books that I just enjoy looking through. Others, like the Indian Vegetarian cookbook, are cherished ones that I use for inspiration regularly."

From Shirley:

Cookbooks shirley 1

Cookbooks shirley 2

Cookbooks shirley 3

"I have attached a few pics of my cookbooks. My favourite ones are falling apart! One of them is stored in a Ziplock bag to keep it all together. Of course the pages have splashes and stains - all evidence of being well used and well loved. I am lucky to have a very convenient little shelf in my main storage cupboard that holds all my cookbooks beautifully. I have not really added to the collection for years as the Internet is a wonderful free source of endless recipes."

*And here I must add that I agree with Shirley - I used to buy cookbooks quite often, but these days I find most of my recipes online or in magazines. That said, I would buy another Barefoot Contessa or Jamie Oliver cookbook in a heartbeat - just on sheer principle. ;)

From Michelle:

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Cookbooks michelle 3

"My cookbooks are special to me because most of them have been given to me as gifts. My family and friends know how much I enjoy cooking and baking so I am always excited when I receive new recipes to try. In the modern age of technology it is easy to find recipes online but I like to sit down with my cookbooks and thumb through the pages. I just like the feel of the book in my hands, the smell of the pages, and being able to write things down in them.  Hopefully they will be passed on and cherished by my future daughter in laws or even my boys. They like to cook also. Some of my favorite cookbooks are ones I received as wedding gifts over 23 years ago. I am also fond of the Southern Living (circa 1970'S) cookbooks that my 
grandmother gave to me. I display my cookbooks in my kitchen on shelves that are below my kitchen cabinets, but I also have several binders that contain printed recipes stored inside my kitchen cabinets. And last but not least, sitting on my kitchen countertop is my tried and true recipe box holder. It contains handwritten recipes that I have used for years and years."
 
From Carol:

Cookbooks carol 1

Cookbooks carol 2

 "Here at Chestnut Hill I have cookbooks in many places. I have this Shaker Shelf in the kitchen between the large wood cook Stove and the Electric stove. I keep every day cookbooks, and anything that will fit on the shelves. Then in the living room I have some stacks of overflow or of cookbooks that I do not want regularly exposed to grease and wood stove dander. I would love to have a Library or at least nice built in shelves, but our home is almost 200 years old and neither are possible. Favorite Cookbooks . .  tough . . .

 College Cooking by Megan and Jill Carle 

Motherhood and Apple Pie by Junior Leaque Rochester NY

Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman
 
From Mary:

Cookbooks mary 1

Cookbooks mary 2

Cookbooks mary 3

Cookbooks mary 4

Cookbooks mary 5

Cookbooks mary 6

Cookbooks mary 7

Cookbooks mary 8

Cookbooks mary 9

Cookbooks mary 10

(Note: Mary told me I could share whichever pictures I wanted but I had to include them all - there are so many wonderful titles to peruse!)

"I've included assorted pictures of my cookbooks. I have over 1,000! My mother was a collector and passed that gene on to me. :-) Together, we have amassed quite the collection over the years. In my home, our dining room also functions as our library.  In addition to the "library", I also stash my cookbooks into every available nook and cranny I can find! I once read that Nigella Lawson brought in a librarian to catalog all her cookbooks ... what a dream that would be! :-)"

From Theresa:

Cookbooks theresa 1

Cookbooks theresa 2

From Elizabeth:

Cookbooks elizabeth

"My husband put together a couple of bookcases for me over the weekend to put in my breakfast area to hold my cookbooks. I recently weeded out my cookbooks because our eating style has changed. I am starting a new collection to match the way we eat now.
Each month I get a few more with my book money."

*☕️*

Well, my friends, I hope you've enjoyed our cookbook photos and comments. I would love to hear about yours ... so if you can, please take a few moments and leave a comment answering this week's questions (shown near the top of the post). And if you want to send me a photo, please don't hesitate - I can always update this post with more submissions.

I'm thinking for next week ... how about "kids in the kitchen?" I'll post more on that idea, but in the meantime, if you have a suggestion, please let me know! 

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone ... I'll see you back here again very soon!


Kitchen Chat, Week Six: Food Storage

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Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you are all feeling refreshed and ready for a new week. :)

Welcome to another Kitchen Chat! I hope you'll pull up a counter stool and join me for a hot cup of brew and something warm and buttery from the oven - how do blueberry scones sound this morning?

This week we're chatting about food storage ... where you keep food and how you keep it, and what you have on hand. Below I have my questions for you all, I hope you'll take a moment to leave your thoughts! I have some visuals to share as well ... with sincere thanks to Elizabeth, Mary and Tanya for sharing their own food storage photos!

*☕️* 

But before I get to the pictures, first let me ask you my questions:

Name 10 things in your pantry right now.

10 things in your fridge?

How about 10 things in your freezer?

Please describe the area(s) where you keep food. Are you happy with your current food storage space(s)? What would you change if you could?

Do you preserve food in any way - canning or drying, perhaps?

Do you ever shop in bulk?

*☕️*

 Noq, I'm going to work backwards in answering myself ...

Do I shop in bulk? Not really, no. But it's not for lack of interest - I just don't really have the time/energy to get organized on that front. I love the idea, though ...

I do not currently can or dry foods in any way (except for the occasional year when I make picalilli). I would love to do this someday, however. I'm forever collecting articles and even books on the topic of preserving food. :)

And I am quite happy with my food storage space at the moment (we have much more space than we did at the old house), though I would love to add a separate freezer - chest or upright, not sure? - downstairs. We have a set of cabinets in our kitchen which are really well sized for dry good storage. 

10 Things in My Freezer:

Freezer

chicken nuggets * french fries/alphatots * frozen waffles * kernel corn * ice cream & sorbet * frozen tortellini * fish sticks * frozen juice * frozen fruit (raspberries, in particilar) * meatballs

10 Things in My Fridge:

Fridge

yogurt * milk (1% for drinking, whole for tea and the baby) * half-and-half * butter * eggs * pizza dough * leftovers * hummus * chicken * pasta sauce

10 Things in My Pantry:

Pantry open 1

 Take your pick, lol!

 macaroni & cheese * pasta * sauces * baby food * cereal * cookies * crackers * baking needs (flour/sugar/spices/etc.) * canned soups  * tea

*☕️*

Clearly, there's a lot more on those shelves than just those 10 items! But the ones I mentioned are real stalwarts of our family meals. And I must confess, I did clean those pantry cabinets before taking pictures ... I really had not done too much with them since we moved. I purged a lot of out-of-date foods and tried to organize the three main areas by food types. It could be much better organized certainly, but it's a start. :)

(The fridge and freezer are hopeless at the moment, in dire need of a pruning, scouring and sorting. But I wanted to show you what I'm working with, and well ... that's it!)

And now for some wonderful thoughts and photos from my dear friends, Elizabeth, Mary and Tanya ... thank you, ladies for taking the time to put your submissions together!

From Elizabeth:

Pantries 1

Pantries 2

 "As you can see I don't keep much in the pantry. We eat mostly fresh foods. I keep mostly ingredients on hand for baking and cooking from scratch. The bottom picture is my new refrigerator. Which I love. It has a bottom freezer and double top doors."

From Mary:

Pantries 3

Pantries 4

Pantries 5

Pantries 6

"For storing food, I use my pantry, and my refrigerators - one in the kitchen, the other in the laundry room.

The first picture is of my kitchen fridge. It's a french-door top fridge I found on sale at Home Depot ... and I love it! (It replaced a 20+ year old fridge!) You can't see the doors on either side but there is a special place to store milk, butter, etc. which is nice, as it gives me more room in the main part of the fridge where I like to use plastic bins to help organize things. In the second picture is the freezer. It's on the bottom and has multiple "draws" that slide back and forth to make searching for things easier. It's not very organized at this moment...more of work in progress! ;-)

The third and fourth pictures are of my pantry. It's packed! The fourth picture is of the deep side of the pantry that goes rather far back. It's even hard to take a picture! This is where, I will confess, things get lost! ;-) I try using some tiered shelving and wire baskets that pull in and out to help corral the teas, herbs, and spices, but everything else is sort of in an "every man for himself" state of affairs!  LOL!! ;-)"

From Tanya:

Pantries 7

"These show two areas of our kitchen storage that I'm still quite happy with over a year after we moved in. When we started unpacking, I tried to create some stations within my kitchen to make everyday tasks easier and more efficient. The picture on the left is my tea and coffee cupboard. It's situated right above the alcove where the coffee maker and electric kettle are.

On the right, the two photos are the top and bottom cupboards of my baking station. The top cupboard holds sugar/baking necessities/chocolate chips etc. The bottom cupboard holds our flours and oils. Gluten free flours on the top shelf and wheat flours on the bottom one. The drawer you can just see above the bottom shelf holds our mixing utensils, measuring cups and spoons.

I've really loved having these stations set up in our kitchen ~ I find baking and other tasks so much easier since I have everything I need within reach!"

*☕️*

Well, I would be so happy to hear from you on the subject of food storage - if you have thoughts to share and the time to share them, please do so below. (And please feel free to answer one, two or all of the questions!) I think it's such fun to hear about how other people make these household areas work best for them ... to compare notes, challenges and strategies, etc.!

So I do hope to hear from you ...  but in any account, I will say goodbye for now and wish you all a good day ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... and I will see you here again very soon!


Kitchen Chat, Week Five: Kitchen Style!

Bs&c graphic 2

Good Monday morning, my friends!

I am so excited to share this post with you! This whole series has been fun, but today's post is truly special because I have many contributors helping me out this week. Today we're talking about "kitchen style" and so, first off, I have a bunch of questions for you all ... and then I have my own "take on the topic" ... and finally, I have a whole lot of pictures to share!

So! Let me start by posing our questions for this week ... if you have the time to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear about your kitchen and how you feel about kitchen style ...

☕️

In as many (or as few!) words as you'd like, please describe your kitchen.

What kitchen "style" do you like best? (e.g. country, retro, modern, etc.)

What do you like best about your kitchen?

If money was no object, how would you change/improve your kitchen?

☕️

 You've all seen snippets of my kitchen since we've moved here, but I did share some new pictures at the bottom of the post ...

What I like best about my kitchen is the space. I was very fond of my old kitchen but it was a bit small for the amount of cooking I like to do (and the amount of children I have, with whom I love to cook and craft). Our new kitchen has a healthy amount of counter space as well as a lot of storage. Not that it's well organized mind you ... but it will be ... someday!

If money was no object, I would love to replace some of the appliances - notably, the double ovens, fridge and cooktop. I'd really love an induction cooktop someday ...

And now it's time for some pictures!  

I had several kind readers send me pictures of their kitchens ... some folks had one picture to share, some had a few ... and some had lots to say, while others had just a simple reflection. I loved EVERY submission and I am very grateful to all the ladies who took the time to help me out with this project. I'm so pleased this post struck a chord with so many!

So without further ado, please join me for a little kitchen tour ...

From Marianna:

Kitchen chat 1

"The kitchen is truly the heart of the home here so I’m thrilled to be able to share mine. This was taken during dinner prep one night last week. I couldn’t resist the way the sunlight was coming in." 

From Michelle:

Kitchen chat 2

Kitchen chat 3

Kitchen chat 23

"We hold almost all family gatherings at our house becuase we built this kitchen so that many family and friends could gather together. My husband runs a resturant so we are used to cooking for a lot of people. I would say 90% of my family's day is spent in the kitchen area. The kitchen table is to the right (where you see the tip of the chairs) and to the left back of the picture there is a seating area with two couches, t.v., and a fireplace. A view of fireplace and the sitting area and the couches are behind my boys. I LOVE my kitchen! It is warm and cozy. I love cooking, baking, and canning in my kitchen, but most of all I love it when there are many people gathered around eating good food, talking, laughing, and making great family memories!"

From Andrea:

Kitchen chat 4

"Our kitchen is small (not a lot of counter space), and it doesn't have a dishwasher. Those are the things I look forward to having one day! But apart from that, I like my small kitchen. It's painted yellow, and it has a window and screen door (lots of lovely light). And since I don't have a window over my sink, I put up a bulletin board that I love (top right in the photo). It holds my recipes, so it's very practical. But it also allows me to put up photos, Scriptures, quotes, and hymns. We added a small shelf below the bulletin board that holds the remote for my kitchen radio, a candle and a vase for small flowers. My kitchen also has some shelves where I store some of my most-used cookbooks and some other supplies and decorative items. So even though my kitchen is small, it has a very homey feel, which I'm thankful for."

From Elizabeth:

Kitchen chat 5

Kitchen chat 6

"Here are pictures of the kitchen in my new house. Top view is looking out toward the great room and the bottom one is looking toward the breakfast room. I love the extended island my husband had made for me. The counter tops have a touch of pink in them, my favorite color. My mixer is pink. :) My sink is a deep black farm house sink. The appliances are black."

From Tanya: 

Kitchen chat 7

"This is one of my favourite rooms in our (relatively) new house and was the thing I loved the most when we moved in last year. Our previous kitchen faced out at the next door neighbour's siding ... not a favourite view! Our new kitchen faces out towards a 1924 house across the road and a large stand of ancient Garry Oak trees. I love it! I also love our kitchen cupboards space and am so pleased at how we were able to set it up when we moved in. The only downside to our kitchen is that lovely large island which so easily gets cluttered up with papers and whatnot."

 From Divina:

Kitchen chat 8

A serene spot in her kitchen .. a sunny windowsill with a St. Francis statue.

From Mary:

Kitchen chat 9

"A picture of one of my favorite spots in my kitchen ... It is my wing-back reading chair near the fire place. I love to sit here and read and pray and jot down notes and sometimes just plain collapse! ;-) When my son was young he would cuddle up on the chair and cover himself with the quilt while I made breakfast. Also, many a visiting mom has enjoyed nursing a baby here ... including me! The chair has a lot of nice memories. And who knew it when I purchased it so many years ago as a single woman. On the little table next to the chair I keep my various notebooks nearby to make my lists, etc. along with a few books that I am perusing. The table is hand carved and was found by my Mom many years ago on one of our many "junking" adventures. ;-) I remember it in our home as a child."

From Heather, a handcrafted treat from her kitchen:

Kitchen chat 10

"I put together this little platter for our Bible study group that meets our house on Thursday nights. The hand-dipped straweberries took less than ten minutes from start to finish and that delightful Lindt bunny came out of hiding last night to adorn the platter. He's an Easter gift for our kids."

From Jo:

Kitchen chat 11

A peek at the corner where she bakes with her children. :)

From Shirley Ann:

Kitchen chat 15

Kitchen chat 17

Kitchen chat 18

A few favorite spots in her kitchen (which is in England, so naturally I'm especially enthralled!).

From Arlene:

Kitchen chat 13

Kitchen chat 14

"A favorite spot in my kitchen. Living in a townhouse, we do not have a huge kitchen but I like it! I have white cabinets, gray granite countertops and black appliances. I needed additional storage so I found this cute hutch at Hobby Lobby. It is filled with my Bachelor Button Louisville Stoneware and topped with my favorite blue and white ceramics that are scattered through out my kitchen. I love pears so my kitchen is "popped" with some bright green touches. I love how it looks with the blue and white ceramics as well as my black appliances. (Bottom photo) My "Purse Bench". I got this little bench and painted it bright green, put it in the hallway from the garage. Now I have a place to put my purse and anything else I am carrying so it does not get dumped on the kitchen cabinets or table!!"

From Erin:

Kitchen chat 25

Kitchen chat 26

Kitchen chat 16

Itchen chat 19

Kitchen chat 19

"First photo: This is a corner of my counter space, which I have recently found to be much more functional if it has very little on it! I used to have a bread machine out here, and since clearing it and other things off the counters, I have enjoyed the space much more. I have my cookbook stand, a pretty bird tray, and a pottery canister made by my old college roommate in her pottery class - I like to keep it there because it matches the birds on the tray! 

Second photo: My handy shelf along one wall of the kitchen ... this was here when we moved in, and I found, after years of keeping decorative knick-knacks on it, that it was much better for keeping canisters of grains, seeds, etc. Plus my pottery cup that matches the canister in the previous photo, my catch-all home for writing utensils in the kitchen. And just for a bit of decor, my very first tin of Republic of Tea's Earl Greyer tea, my very favorite type. I have saved this tin since 1998, according to the date on the side, and have gone through several more cans of it over the years!

Third photo: This is just a zoomed out shot that shows the location of the wall shelf. I have debated putting hooks on the underside for hanging teacups/mugs, but it may look too cluttered. Maybe I need to lose the corkboards to open it up a bit!
 
Fourth photo: The view through my kitchen sink "window." Most kitchens have a window over the sink that looks into the yard, but mine looks into our sunroom, which was an addition to the house before we moved in. I have my little chicken decorations hanging above it, and in the sunroom, I can see my lisence plate collection hung up as a border along the top of the wall, which makes me happy to look at ... and the sunroom lets lots of light in for a cheerful view!

Last photo: This is the same counter space as in the first picture, which makes itself available to keep birthday cupcakes and other such goodies."

From Jen:

Kitchen chat 20

Kitchen chat 21

Kitchen chat 22 

"The "island" is an old workbench that I rescued from the trash. I cleaned it up and finished it with a protectant to the wood so we could use it in the kitchen. We added casters to the bottom and an old shutter as a shelf so I would have more storage. I use it as a kitchen workspace and we eat at it all the time. Stools are just a Target find.

The shelf underneath holds my beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer a few other bits and bobbles. I use an old Coca-Cola crate to store my spices. They are in small glass jars with labels on top. They are actually very handy in that spot!

The red hutch is a hutch that was in our home when I was growing up. I painted it red and distressed it a bit. It now holds my collection of white dishes."

From Helene:

Kitchen chat 24

"Here is our kitchen. We had a small "renovation" last year when our dishwasher leaked and ruined our flooring and cabinets. We had to replace nearly everything but the best part was that we added an island! I didn't think our kitchen was big enough for this, but we we're told it would be fine. And now I don't think I could live without it! The extra storage underneath and the extra countertop space are indispensable for our big family."

From Sylvia:

Kitchen chat 27

Kitchen chat 28

Pretty splashes of color! :)

From Lorelei:

Kitchen chat 29

Kitchen chat 30

Kitchen chat 31

"Our log house was built entirely by my husband. He cut the trees, milled the wood into "logs" (square) and lumber for the floors, cabinets and trims. It seems the kitchen is the heart of our homes. Mine is no exception. The eating area is just next to the counter. Open concept, with the patio doors opening to the deck. If you lived closer, I would love to invite you for coffee on our deck, watching the sun as it descends. My favorite place. No need for traveling to exotic places ... I already live there."

From Emily ... who offers a lovely tour of her kitchen in this post:

"My husband is an Orthodox priest and we live in a rectory that is attached to the church building and fellowship hall. Our kitchen is very beautiful and far more than we deserve. The property was originally a house and business for a man who ran a tile installation company and his home was his showcase for all of the beautiful tile work that he did. Everything was in pristine order when we moved in two years ago, which was good because the parish had to take on a monumental task of converting a three car garage, office, and bedroom into our sanctuary!"

*

And finally, from Dawn (me): 

My kitchen 2

My kitchen 6 

My kitchen 3

My kitchen 1

My kitchen 8

My kitchen 9

I feel very much at home in my new kitchen ("new" as of last summer). When we first saw it last spring, I liked it immediately, even if at first glance I would not have picked the color scheme for myself. (I have since come to appreciate the soft colors and black accents.) I love spending time in here, which is a good thing considering I find myself here more often than not through the day!

Top picture shows my kitchen sink and the window above that looks out at the back yard and woods beyond. I love this view, and the light (and breeze) that comes in through here ...

Second and third photos show the breakfast nook, another spot where we spend a lot of time. Little Bear's high chair tucks in nicely here and he divides his time looking out the window and   watching all the "action" around him. In the lower photo he's having a snack with his Daddy.

Fourth photo shows the pantry cabinets which line the wall between the breakfast nook and dining room. (That's the family room just beyond.) Lot of great storage here which is something I really yearned for in our old kitchen. I've got Yankee blood in me, I like to stock up on supplies. :)

 Next photo shows the island and other end of the kitchen. In all honesty, the counters are never quite this clean, lol! The peninsula, roomy as it is, tends to get littered with newspapers and mail and whatnot. (Tanya, I feel you on this!) We're trying to figure out a better way of storing all that stuff - in a drawer? Or a basket? Hmmm ...

Final photo, my sturdy little cross with one of my favorite scripture verses ... it sat above my old kitchen sink as well and it brings me peace and energy when I need it.

*☕️*

Well, ok then!

That was quite a long post, but I do hope you enjoyed it! I had such fun putting it together and am very grateful to all the lovely ladies who sent in photos for me to share. And thank you to all who stop by to read and say hi! If you have a moment, please join the conversation and fill us in a little on your kitchen ... just leave a comment below! :)

As for next week's topic ... I'm thinking food storage perhaps? Pantry/freezer/fridge ... but more on that later. For now I'm ready to start the morning ... with a hot cup of coffee and a wedge of raspberry crumb cake leftover from Sunday brunch! 

Care to join me? :)

See you all here again soon ...

p.s. I have not yet caught up with Call the Midwife which began a new season last night on PBS. So I'm torn over posting "Masterpiece Monday" at the moment ... I don't want to "spoil" myself until I've watched, so please bear with me while I do just that. I'll have a chat post up as soon as I can. :)


Mondays in the Kitchen ...

Primroses on sill

Good Monday afternoon, my friends!

So I have a little idea I thought I'd throw out there and see what you all think. I'd like to start a new series of postings (on Mondays), to bridge the gap between Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife ... how about we talk about a new "kitchen" topic each week?

We'll officially begin next Monday, giving us four weeks to chat, and four topics to address. I thought I'd kick off this idea with a picture of my kitchen window view above. I was gazing out it this morning as I washed dishes and it struck me how much I enjoy my kitchen. I really loved my old kitchen so I was pleased to realize this new one now feels ... not so new anymore .... but really, very much like home. :)

So I'm open to suggestions - what kitchen topics are you keen to discuss? Meal plans? Pantries? Kitchen style? Lenten recipes? Kitchen memories? Kids in the kitchen? Those are just a few thoughts, but I'd love to hear your ideas if you have a moment to share them ...

*❤*

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

Some simple, joyful moments on St. Lucia Day ...

Advent joy saint lucia buns

Cinnamon rolls (the easy kind that come from a can that happen to also be the natural kind that Earlybird can have). One of these years I *will* make homemade Lucia bun. I mean it.

;)

Note the adorable "shooting star" beeswax birthday candle.

 Advent joy hook apron 1 

This brushed nickel hook - oh, how I've waited for it! Bill finally got the hook installed on the back of a kitchen door, so I can hang my beautiful winter apron here - a treasured "Vermont" gift from my parents last year ...

Advent joy hook apron 2 

I think it looks nice in this spot, close to the oven ... makes me want to bake!

Advent joy calendar 1

 And while we're in the kitchen ... my monthly wall calendar always makes me smile. I have it hanging on the fridge. The art of Susan Winget (Lang Co.) is just beautiful.

***

And now for a couple of moments today when I truly "took" peace ...

 Advent peace driveway

Walking back from getting the mail - cold air, icy ground, flurries in the midst - so still and quiet, as I made my way up our drive. I could feel Winter's approach ...

Advent peace tea

Back inside, a cup of tea for warmth and (soul) nourishment.

*❤*

And now we're at the weekend ... with a snowstorm pressing upon us here in New England. We have some quiet homey plans, a special boy's birthday to celebrate, a bit of a breather, I hope ... but I'll be back again soon to share the peace and joy I am stumbling upon ...

Blessings to you all! 


☀ Welcome to My New Kitchen!

Now, I must preface this post with a disclaimer that the kitchen (the whole house, in fact) is still in quite a desperate state of disorder. Things are not yet organized or set up as we'd like, but I thought I'd show you "what's what" so far in the kitchen ...

After all, I spend a whole lot of time in - and blogging about - my kitchen!

(Note: Some of these photos were taken on a very dark and stormy afternoon - but the windows face southward so the room gets really nice light throughout the day.)

New kitchen 1

The kitchen is situated at the back of the house, and at first glance you can see it is painted and much lighter than my old cherry kitchen! But I really love the soft gray-green shade of the cabinetry, and I like the overall layout and size. The window over the sink looks out at the patio and backyard ...

At one end of the room there is a large picture window and space for a table and chairs.

New kitchen 2

New kitchen 3

This is a "new" table and chairs set that my mother-in-law found for us:

New kitchen 9

(And by "new" I mean, "new for us," and by "found" I mean, "salvaged from her local transfer station"! Isn't it nice?)

And oh, I absolutely love this window! That tree in the background - seen in the far right windowpane - is where we plan to post all (or most of) our birdfeeders.

New kitchen 7

The floor-to-ceiling cabinets along this wall form a wonderful pantry ...

New kitchen 4

(I'll do a whole pantry post once I've got it all organized.)

New kitchen 5

(Do not let the number of pots on the cooktop fool you - they are just waiting to be put away. I have yet to do any significant cooking in this kitchen as of yet.)

New kitchen 6

And in this alcove there will be ...

New kitchen 8

Well, we're not sure yet!

A cabinet or hutch of some kind ... perhaps for homeschool supplies or table linens/candles/decorations or maybe this will be home to our new nature corner ... we'll just have to see.

(The room just beyond the kitchen - where Bookworm is sitting - is the family room.)

***

So there's my new kitchen in a nutshell! I will post more photos later once I get things set up as I'd like ... it's quite a mess right now ... but I can hardly wait to get baking in here!

:-)

(And for my homekeeping friends ~ well, you can just bet I'm re-tooling my "weekly housekeeping routine" and a post on that will be forthcoming as well.

Happy Friday, my friends ~ have yourselves a great weekend!

*❤*


Weekly Kitchen Routines

I actually began this post yesterday on "Kitchen Day," and what I mean by that is, on Wednesdays I focus my "housekeeping energy" on the kitchen. This week I put a little extra effort in my cleaning, and it got me thinking about all the steps that are involved in running a family kitchen. I have all these steps listed on my daily chore cards, and though I don't do them all every week, I do have a routine that I stick to as closely as possible. Without it, I'd have a pretty messy kitchen and some pretty hungry kids!

Of course as I was cleaning (and thinking), a post started formulating ... so I took pictures as I worked and I thought I'd do that through the rest of the week, so I (we!) can take a closer look at my (and perhaps, your?) kitchen routines. :)

So on Wednesdays, I look through the food supply "spaces" (kitchen cabinets, fridge, freezer, pantry) and make note of what needs replacing. I start a shopping list in my small shopping notebook. And some weeks (but certainly not all) I give these spaces a thorough cleaning - vacuuming crumbs and wiping surfaces, allowing them to air dry before replacing (and re-organizing) the contents.

This is one of our food supply cabinets - it had some pretty old things collecting in its corners! (Valentine's candy, anyone?)

Kitchen tab 1

In here we store, from top to bottom:

Cereal (hot and cold), as well as Earlybird's cocoa rice bars. We keep them up here because he can't reach them and he would eat these all day long if we let him!

Crackers, cookies, croutons, peanut butter (Fluff/Nutella/Cookie Butter), applesauce and dried fruts.

Bread items, like rolls, sandwich bread, pita pockets, etc. (Some of the more perishable "whole grain" products move to the fridge in very hot weather.)

Once that space was tidied, I turned to the refrigerator ... and goodness, that was a mess!

Kitchen tab 2

The main section is now pretty much sorted and streamlined, but the stuff on the door is another matter, entirely ... for example, the expiration dates on some of the dressings? Yikes!

Next I took a look inside the freezer:

Freezer 1

Freezer 2

I got rid of some old stuff and voila, there was light! But those bags of frozen vegetables really need pruning - for a family that doesn't like peas, we sure have a lot of them!

So once I've finished cleaning the kitchen, I work a little more in my shopping notebook. I try to look at the pantry/fridge/freezer and see what can be used up and transformed into dinners. 

Kitchen tab 3

I still use my marketing binder for coupon sorting and storage, but I found it a bit bulky for actual marketing. So currently I am using a small spiral-bound notebook for my grocery lists. I clip current coupons (ones that are soon to expire or match up with sales) onto the notebook page itself. The clip marks my place and holds my coupons (keeping them in sight, in mind).

Kitchen tab 4

(By the way, I can never have enough bulldog clips - I use them in all sizes!)

And here is my daily chore card on display ...

Kitchen tab 6

If you see at the bottom of my chore list for Wednesday, I have written, "organize trash and recycling." (Thursday is our trash collection day). Well, as you can see I had to table that task for a bit ...

Kitchen tab 5

:)

And here is one more thing in my kitchen to show you - my little index card file box.

Kitchen tab 7

I'm not doing much with it currently, but I really like having it close at hand. Inside are multicolored index cards which I use in different ways. I love the idea of the SHE system, but can't seem to commit completely.

***

So that was yesterday's role in the overall kitchen routine. Today (Thursday) I am working on next week's dinner menu. On this day I prepare a new weekly planning folder, and take a look at the calendar - upcoming activities, events, celebrations, etc. Getting a feel for what the next week brings helps me plan dinners accordingly. Also, the sales flyers arrive in today's paper so I can look those over and add things to my shopping list (notes/coupons). 

Flyers 1

My actual shopping trip will take place either tomorrow (Friday) or Saturday morning. I try to go as early as possible in the day, before the crowds and the heat builds. I will do a post about the excursion, along with a little "shop talk" if you will. (Much like my "beauty shop" post, but this time listing preferred grocery items.) So stay tuned for that!

As always, you know I love to hear from you, so if you'd care to share your thoughts on kitchen routines (or anything!), please leave a comment below. Either way, I hope you all have a nice Thursday, and please take care of yourself and your loved ones...

I'll see you here again very soon!

❤


Kitchen Cabinets & Pantry Shelves

Pantry post 1

Wednesdays are my usual "kitchen days," but I actually worked a little on my pantry yesterday. I was looking for the nutmeg (for a soup I was starting in the crockpot), and not only could I not find it, but things just kept falling out or tipping over and then I noticed the oregano had spilled everywhere ...

So I decided it was time to do a little sorting!

First, I took everything out and grouped things in general piles, and then I vacuumed out the cabinet thoroughly. Next, I turned my attention to the piles ...

Old things went out (and oh my goodness there were some very old things), and overstock got moved downstairs the the big pantry. The rest of the stuff I moved back into the cabinet, as neatly as possible. Now this particular cabinet is situated to the left of our stove and it's what I'd call our "main" cabinet, housing the items we use everyday: coffee and tea supplies, baking goods and pasta-related things.

So here's a little tour ...

First up, bottom left shelf - baking goods:

Pantry post 3

Decorative toppings and chocolate chips, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and other most commonly used spices. The pull-out drawer seen at the very top of this photo holds seasoning packets and decorating supplies like food dye and gels.

Next shelf up, savory spices:

Pantry post 2

Whole things like nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and star anise, etc. Then, in back of the savory spices I have all the flavored extracts, save vanilla. The vanilla is up front in the lower right shelf - I use it so often I need it quite handy. 

Pantry post 4

This shelf also holds our salt/pepper, cocoa, instant coffee (for baking), honey and favorite tinned teas. In the roll-out rack just above, there are two containers of frequently used tea (black, regular).

Just above that shelf, we have prepared foods, jarred sauces and pastas ...

Pantry post 5

As well as the cooking spray and coffee beans.

The top shelves are for less frequently used items ...

Pantry post 6

Extra pasta, sauce-making things, pickling spices and preserves.

And to the left, bottled things like Worcestershire, sesame oil, rose water, molasses, minced garlic, etc. 

Pantry post 7

And since I was moving all this stuff downstairs, I figured it was a good time to neaten the "big" pantry ... which is really just a hodgepodge of shelving at the bottom of our stairs.

The lighting isn't great, so these photos are dark ...

Pantry post 8

On top of these cabinets, I have two open bins - one holds energy bars and hot cereal packets and the other contains an assortment of herb teas. These are easy to reach from the steps and so handy when someone needs to grab a power bar or if I have people over and want to offer a variety of tea.

Pantry post 10

This is just an old bookcase fitted into a space where a freezer used to be. I really want to replace that old freezer and move the shelves just around the corner. If we get a stand up, that is, rather than a chest freezer. (Still debating that point ...)

Pantry post 9

Collected here are also random kitchen appliances like the bread machine, foodsaver, ice cream maker, etc. And for some reason, a folding tray, lol.

So there you have it! It's not as organized as it should be, but at least now it's a bit neater!

***

Well, my friends, I hope you're having a good week! Thanks for stopping by today ... I'll be back here again very soon!

:)


A Peek into my Pantry: The Corner Cupboard

Well, when I proposed sometime back that I would do a whole big post on my kitchen I honestly had only the best intentions. But then no matter how hard I tried, I would get the kitchen almost clean - photo ready so to speak - only to have it get messed up before I could work up a post.

(Kind of like how I can get my laundry caught up for, oh, about 10 minutes and then I have to start all over again?)

So, new tactic. I'm going to do my kitchen post little by little. I'm tackling corners of the kitchen one at a time and I'll post about each as I go.

Today's focus: the corner kitchen cupboard, currently known as the pantry.

Pantry2

As you can see our cupboards are a deep cherry color. I didn't pick them - the previous owners had them installed - but I do like the dark shade; I find it cozy. This cabinet sits in the corner of our kitchen, beneath the countertop (which is almond as you can see). 
Inside is a lazy susan type of device, and here's what we've got in there, turning the cupboard from left to right:

Pantry3

Here we have the toaster, various cooking oils and vinegar, shortening, canned pie filings, and a plastic container filled with sugars. (I had BIG plans for quick breads this Christmas, hence the many cans of pumpkin.)

Pantry1

Turning the cabinet a bit we have bread crumbs, soups and broth, pasta, canned fruit and spreads (fig and squash pictured).

Pantry4

And finally, pasta sauces, more pasta, the crockpot, flours and baking mixes.

Next up, we'll take a look at the sink area. :)

But while we wait, why don't you join me here at the island for a hot cup of tea? I'm brewing a fresh pot of this and I just took some rhubarb bread out of the oven.
Let's talk Mother's Day menus, shall we?