Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pros and Cons and Kitchen Shelves

 Pro: Reading Mary Ostyn's book Family Feasts for $75 a Week has led me to begin making most of our sauces, dressings, spice mixes, refried beans and even some soup mix at home. Reading Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking has led me to begin tinkering with making our bread at home.

Con: Making all of this at home has led to a spice, flour and yeast supply that dwindles much more rapidly than I've been accustomed to.

Pro: A rapidly dwindling spice supply has led to a new section of my shopping list: bulk foods store (Winco). I have not shopped there in years, as it's a lengthy drive. However, now I think the drive will be worth it if I can accumulate a long enough list.

Con: The first trip to the bulk foods store in over 6 years landed me with a mound of bulky spice bags... and no room in my spice drawer or pantry for the new additions:

Pro: No room for stocking up on the staples has led to dollar-store glass latching jars (accented by chalkboard roll labels) and the re-arranging of a kitchen shelf...
from this:
to this:

I think this will be a temporary place for the jars, as they are a little too close to the shelf's edge for my liking. For now, though, there they sit-- short and stout and wonderfully accessible.

Side note: no, the bulk foods store did not have looseleaf vanilla black tea. Would that they did! My current favorite tea just needed a nice home, so it joined ranks with the frequently-used-spices on the shelf.

Now, where to put my displaced recipe box? Oh, the never-ending shuffle in the search for perfect storage...

If you stock up on pantry staples, where do you store yours?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Story of a Jar

Last Monday, on A Happy Thought Indeed, the fruitbowl got a new home.

It is now a stout sentinel, guarding its the former hot-spot counter space from the wiles of the pilemaker ( and helping me remember to sort my mail instead of pile it. Read all about it here.

However, its absence was being felt in the dark recesses of a kitchen corner where it once stood... a gaping void, a space begging to be used to relieve some of the tension in my precariously packed pantry.

Perhaps things were not quite that dramatic, but that truly was the predicament. See gaping hole below: a tooth-lorn youngin', sporting a small-scale black hole in his proud grin...

I decline to show a picture of the state of the pantry.

Let's just say that my ambitious Saturday morning dive into the stores of everything-that-won't-fit-anywhere-else to retrieve the pancake griddle ended in a shattered jar of almond butter. Oh, and me-- slightly fuming.

The images of a peaceful weekend morning with a surprise stack-o-flapjacks were displaced by the reality of my scathing glares at the clock, silently censuring that intrusive device for having the audacity to keep moving forward as I scooped up almond butter and glass and frantically tried to feed people before they had to leave. Darn that top shelf of the pantry. How dare it be so hazardous.

Anyhow, suffice it to say that there was a hole on the counter waiting to be filled, and a shelf in the pantry waiting to be (slightly) emptied. What else was I to do but go out and find a Behemoth-sized jar? Really. Over 10 pounds of whole wheat flour needed to move. That plucky little white flour canister on the counter was adorably offering itself for use, but it just wouldn't do for the massive migrating stockpile.

Plus, there was the issue of this picture:

*Sigh.* A jar! On the counter! With a teacup presiding indefinitely for measuring purposes! A happy thought indeed.

It had to be done.

This post should have been over by now, but I've let my fingers run away with me once again and become way too wordy. So, I shall now leave off with the typing and give you a visual history of the progression.

All's well, that ends well. Especially because, that teacup that I brought in from the bedroom? It measures exactly 1 standard cup of flour. Excellent.

A few last notes:
  • This jar is filled with a full 10 pound bag of flour plus whatever I had left in my already open flour (which you can see pictured in the first snapshot of the sequence). Probably about 12 pounds total.
  • I could've sworn this jar (purchased at Target for $15) was 2.5 gallons, but all I can find to link to for you on Amazon is a 2 gallon. Here you go:

Back to you: Am I the only one out there with (a) a pantry avalanche story, or (b) a giant jar on the counter? Lend some solidarity... what's your story?

This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Take a Stroll: Freezer cooking, Priorities, and DIY daybeds

Buy at
Flowers Line the Path and...
Buy From

Fridays are for wandering... here are some links to reading I've enjoyed recently. Mosey on over!
  • A post that has revolutionized my perception of "freezer cooking." I used to stay far, far away from freezer cooking because I was exhausted just thinking about fully cooking meal upon meal in one marathon day. Who knows why it never occured to my feeble brain that you can just do prep work, such as preparing pre-marinated, ready-to-grill meat, and then freeze the ready-to-cook raw meal. We lived off of this strategy last summer** thanks to this post.
  • One mother's perspective on priorities at home: "Forget what is unnecessary. Focus on that which is important- your children's souls! NOT checking off the to-do list. NOT a pristine house. NOT a perfect meal. ...just three little souls, bound for Heaven someday."
  • Liked the clever couch-turned-guest bed in the video 2 Fridays ago? Here's another similar project, complete with step-by-step instructions!

** Yes, I did just refer to this past summer as "last summer." I have come to terms that it is now, for all intensive purposes, in the past. Moment of silence please.

Now bring on the Autumn!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grey Square Designs Winner Is....

...Kortney! (petchk79@)

I will e-mail you shortly to put you in touch with the artist. Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

Reading Refuge

Oh, how I love Jane Eyre. Place a copy of the book in my hands,  plop me down in front of any of the film versions,  or even slip that slim new-fangled e-reader into my posession loaded with the timeless tale, and I'm a happy camper.

Although there's not much to envy in young Jane's life at Gateshead with the formidable Mrs. Reed, I do so love her curtain-cloistered window seat. She sneaks into the veiled retreat, escaping her stark childhood in the pages of a beckoning book.

Wouldn't it be splendid to create such a lovely spot for relishing stolen snatches of time? 5 minutes' peace, exponentially multiplied by the sheer loveliness of the nook? The question is, is there room for one in a small living space?

That treehouse retreat (above) and the innovative hanging of curtains from the ceiling (below) make the think the answer is... possibly.

As much as I'm infatuated with the treehouse's treehouse-ness, it's actually the fabric that I noticed, thinking I could create a similar effect indoors. The treehouse uses sheer curtains for walls. In a small indoor space, my hypothesis is that such material would allow window light to continue to pass through to the room, add a feeling of airiness, and still maintain a bit of the "hidden retreat" feel that I'd love.

The curtains hanging from the celing give freedom to create the reading nook anywhere-- around any chair, bench, couch, loveseat, pew (wouldn't that be cool?!), etc., regardless of the presence, or lack thereof, of existing adjascent walls (like Jane's... see what she's leaning up against?).

And now I shall shop the house and see what can be snagged for use in creating the longed-for nook. Will it succeed? Time will tell. I'll keep you posted.

Do you have a nook? What would your ideal small-scale retreat be?

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Take That, Hot Spot!


This is my worst clutter collection point-- probably because it's the first clean-ish surface I encounter when I enter the house laden with mounds of junk mail.

Today I sorted out the pile (tame, compared to what has at times resided there) and moved our fruit bowl into it's place. Bam! No more room for piling! Let's hope I react by sorting through mail on the spot, rather than venturing further into the house and creating a new hot spot.

What are your hot spot eradication techniques?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Take a Stroll: More Canvas Ideas

Since creating our over-the-t.v. gallery on canvas, I've stumbled upon and taken note of several brilliant canvas-decor posts across the blogosphere. Take a look:

  • Mod Podge your own photo onto a canvas. It's vintagey, it's awesome, and you'll love it.
  • Canvas word art- I'm a sucker for wordy things, and this is just beautiful.
  • Puffy paint design (don't let the words "puffy paint" conjur images of elementary school t-shirt projects gone awry. The effect here is pretty elegant!)
  • Toilet paper roll art (again... don't write it off too soon-- you'd never know it's made from toilet paper rolls!)

I love our canvas gallery, but after finding these ideas, I have to ask:
 Is it completely ridiculous to create a rotating wardrobe of canvas art for covering our t.v.?
Probably so. I'll just admire these ideas from afar for now.
Happy weekend!
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