Reduce. Reuse. Organize.

Our pantry gets messy. There are days items get taken down, and then put back up with no regard to where they went. We’re all guilty of it in this house. Last weekend I looked around at it and had one of those “MUST CLEAN EVERYTHING NOW” moments. You can see why.

DSC_5943-01Now sometimes on a blog you have to have no shame. So let’s take a closer look at this hot mess.

DSC_5936-01 DSC_5938-01My first step was removing EVERYTHING from the pantry, including the shelf liners.

DSC_5945-01 DSC_5946-01 DSC_5947-01Back to the “have no shame” part, the shelves underneath of the liners were absolutely horrendous. I have cleaned out and reorganized the pantry before, but not once had I ever taken up the liners. The liners ended up in the trash, and the shelving ended up with a heavy dose of cleaner.

DSC_5949-01 DSC_5950-01Once the shelves were cleaned and while they aired out, I started to consolidate the pantry items. I tossed items deemed old, out of date, etc. into the compost and recycling bin and then started moving other items into my favorite storage bins ever—mason jars.

DSC_5957-01While I know mason jars are the trendy thing on Pinterest and other places let me just say this, I know why. They are awesome. Around here though they just flow like honey and we believe in using what you have. We use them for storage whether it’s for dry goods or canned goods, and when they aren’t used for storage we use them to drink out of. When we don’t use them for either of those you might find flowers in them. In our place they’re general purpose goods and always nice to have around.  

While mason jars are great for storage, I on the other hand can never remember what flour is what without a label, so I like to make sure I label everything. This time around I used 2″ round labels I had left over from another project. I bought these at Paper Mart, an online retailer for a really good price.

DSC_5953-01In addition to labeling the product, I also put what company it was from just in case I either wanted to buy more, or wanted to avoid a certain brand again.

I don’t transfer everything in the mason jars. Mostly I put things in that are already partially opened, or I know would easily get bugs into them if I didn’t. For instance, I had some barley that came in a cheap plastic bag. I opened the plastic and realized there was a hole in the bag where a moth got in. These are the types of things that I try to transfer to mason jars when I get home from shopping or soon after. Flours are another one I like to keep in jars but filling them can be tricky. My thing is to alternate between filling and tapping on the counter to remove air so I can fit more in. While I keep my heritage flours/grains in the freezer, the off the shelf stuff stays in jars in the pantry.

Another organization technique I utilize are magazine/binder holders. I found these super cheap plastic ones at Target for a couple bucks a piece. They work great for holding the large cans of tomatoes and beans we like to keep around for a quick dinner or pasta sauce.

DSC_5964-01Other organization techniques including stacking items that can lay flat on one another, like egg noodle bags, and also utilizing the countless wooden bowls we have around here. I use our deeper one for tossing in pastas that only have a little left in each bag so they don’t get lost on the shelf, and I use our shallower wider bowls for storing potatoes/onions, etc. 

The theory of organization is as simple as use what you already have on hand, and then try and not spend too much if you need something special.

DSC_5978-01 DSC_5977-01My last bit of advice is to keep “like” things together. I have my flours and grains in one section, beans in another, pasta in another, baking in another, you get the idea. This really helps when I’m looking for something. Oh, and if you have a dog and an open pantry my tip is to keep anything they might find interesting higher up. For my dogs this includes the potatoes. They will eat an entire bag of them when we’re gone if they are within reach. We only need to keep them a shelf or two up to keep them out of the bag. Onions always stay up too because they are poisonous to dogs.

All organization complete, I finally have an organized pantry again!

DSC_5968-01So you don’t have to scroll up, here is the before and after from the same angle.

DSC_5943-01 DSC_5967-01Someday this pantry will be reverted back into a closet and I’ll have a beautiful walk in pantry/linen closet where our current bathroom is. Until then, a nice neat pantry to look at anytime I walk in the house after work has been awfully nice. Let’s not forget how much easier it makes prepping dinner. Now to see how long it stays like this.



Friday Freebie: Good Food Kitchen Art

Having a hearty meal with family and friends, filled with laughter, is something I equate with love. Some of my favorite memories in my life have been with family or friends surrounding a table, in someones kitchen. There is truly not much more in life one needs than good food, laughter, and love—at least in my book.

I also love designing digital art. I don’t have money for custom art, and I want pieces that mean something to me. What this means is I typically need to do it myself. I’m not an artist, and I’m certainly not a graphic designer, just like I’m not a photographer. That said, I love creating whether it’s with my hands making homemade pasta, through a computer or with my camera.

With the renovations underway, the “design and decor” section of this blog has all but been ignored. No more though! Over the next few months, until I have time to regularly add to it, I’m going to be putting up some free digital art for you guys.

Today’s free digital art is kitchen art, and it was inspired by what I want people to know about my home when they enter. To me the kitchen is the heart of the home, and from my own experience good people and good food build bonds. I hope you love this as much as I do.

To download the art, click on the link below. It’s an 8.5×11 (regular paper size) PDF, so it may take a moment to open for you. You can either print right from the PDF, or save the PDF to your desktop to print at a later time.

In This Kitchen There Shall Be Good Food – Download

If you want a different color head on over to Etsy where I have an option to customize these. I have a variety of colors you can choose from for the background, and you’ll also get a much higher-res file meaning you can print larger than 8.5×11 without distortion.

Here’s to good food, love, and laughter.



Kitchen Reveal

Drum Roll Please.

The painted kitchen.

I could say I was over the moon excited, and I would have expected this emotion – but it’s not there. Not because it isn’t awesome to have a freshly painted kitchen. It surely is. Not because I don’t feel accomplished. I do. I completely feel accomplished. What I’m feeling is relieved & happy. Not only is the kitchen finally not a nasty blue color with waves all through the walls, which the photos don’t show, but it finally flows with the rest of the house. As a reminder, here’s the before from just days after we moved in 4 years ago.

With plenty of sanding, caulking, joint compound, re-caulking certain areas, sanding again, painting, accidentally touching up with one shade darker, retouching up with the correct color, I and my right shoulder are just relieved to be done and have it flow into the rest of the house.

So what color is it? Benjamin Moore (or Sherwin-Williams?) Edgecomb Gray.

It’s more beige in person, with only a slightly gray tint. A little more like this.

I have debated on painting the cabinets too, but it’s honestly a lot of work for not much payback considering we’re not reusing them in our kitchen down the line. It might be easier to sell them too if we keep them oak. I’ll have to think about it. In the mean time, I’m so happy the kitchen is finished.

One of the things I did do was sand down the laminate/plastic backsplash behind the sink and stove with a palm sander before painting it. Scrap that. I only did it behind the stove. I paid for it behind the sink and had to touch it up when it didn’t adhere right. Also – don’t let anyone touch your sink before your paint dries. It gets water on the paint and ruins it. Make them use the bathroom sink for an hour. Ahem, boys. All in all, it looks a lot better than the weird fake stone. It’s not all puppy dogs riding unicorns while eating lollipops, but it’s a lot better.

A few direct job related things I learned along the way:

  • A little caulking goes a long way
  • There is a technique to caulking, but it takes no time to pick up.
  • It’s impossible to paint trim without getting the cabinet when you have less than an inch to work in.
  • Cleaning up paint from laminate counter tops is as easy as 1,2,3.
  • 1.) gently scrape it with a drywall knife
  • 2.) pick up your scrapings
  • 3.) spray and wipe down the counter
  • This is very unlike getting paint of a wood floor which is as easy as…
  • Forget it, it’s not easy. Nail polish remover works wonders to do it though, especially if you pour it on, cover it in plastic, wait 5 minutes and then gently scrape. I cannot recommend that method for all wood floors. I would test a corner first. For my untreated oak floors, it left no mark. Don’t sue me if nail polish ruins your wood floors. I told you it might.

A few non-direct job related things I learned along the way:

  • Doing something yourself and seeing it through is the best self-esteem booster.
  • Joint compound dust everywhere made me go batty. I’m a little concerned with how tiny this was, how I’m going to handle my house being ripped to the studs. I’m hoping sheer excitement and a patient husband gets me through it. He knows what to expect and is used to full on residential job sites since he visits them regularly. I think as long as I get to demo I’ll be happy. I like demolition.
  • My right shoulder flares up when I paint for hours and hours on end and causes insane trigger points which I then pay my God send of an acupuncturist to take care of.
  • The top of my cabinets need a scrub.
  • I absolutely positively do not want a ceiling fan in the kitchen come full renovation. I in fact realized I am simply just not a fan of fans. I’m a fan of other kinds of fans. But not ceiling fans. I like hand held fans. I like  Brandi Carlile fans. Okay, I just like Brandi Carlile’s music. I knew this years ago.
  • I am pretty proud of myself for learning how to do construction related jobs along the way. With a professional husband, sometimes it’s easy to feel left in the dark dust. He’s good at letting me try things, screw them up, and then have him fix it. Unless it’s a big thing, then I just step out of the way and watch. Unless it’s plumbing. Dear God, I enjoy plumbing. I have no idea why. It makes no sense. I just like it. I will get under Andy’s foot every step of the way to watch a plumbing job. You know, sinks – not septics.  I’m not sure power washing a toilet when we first moved in counted as plumbing.

All in all, I’m real happy with how this turned out. Even though I’m excited about what my renovated kitchen will look like someday for now I’m relishing in my newly painted kitchen, and that’s good enough for me.

Happy Painting & Meditative Breathing,


Return of the Claw {Hand}

I’m covered in white paint, caulking and a few rogue glow in the dark stickers as I write this. My claw hands from painting are cheering to say I am finally done – for today. Among the things I painted today included the first coat on the kitchen, the first coat of the ceiling in the laundry/pantry, painting trim in the laundry/pantry, 2 coats of white on one wall in the guest room, and two walls base boards. My day consisted of a few more things than that too. Let’s recap. Why? Because I want to remember this day.

FYI – this is going to be a doozy of a post, and a combo update of both the guest room & the kitchen.

This was before claw hands came into play and before I realized my hair was white from paint – not stress as I guessed at the end of the day. As well, I apparently loaded the dishwasher with something too tall, so we had to run it again. Ignore the dishes in the background. I’m happy to say that it’s taken care of now.

Why so much paint? I decided to whip out the white 5 gallons of Sherwin Williams ProMar 400 we had left over from the common room and paint every. single. thing. that needed to be white today. I still need to finish 2 walls in the guest room but that will require moving all of the furniture out of the room, so that will have to wait.

My day went as follows:

  • Wake up at 6:00.
  • Let the dogs out.
  • Feed the dogs.
  • Caulk the kitchen, until I ran out.
  • Load the car up with GoodWill donation items.
  • Let the dogs out to go to the bathroom again. It was probably a bad idea to let Rosie have that small Jack-Be-Little Pumpkin last night. Winnie seems ok.
  • Load the dogs up in the car and head to Lowes to get more caulking and paint rollers.
  • Turn around a few houses down and drop Primrose off at home because she farted something fierce in the car from the pumpkin and I am not having that. Yes, I just wrote that as a key bullet of my day. Be glad you weren’t there.

  • Roll down all the windows in the car.
  • Finally get to Lowes.
  • Find out there is a GoodWill donation center in the parking lot of Lowes and get excited.
  • Buy said items at Lowes.
  • Chase my receipt down the parking lot because the wind decided to blow immediately as I left the door, and the receipt was in the paint tray I bought. I looked cool. Winnie licked me excessively as I got in the car. A family laughed.
  • Drop items off at GoodWill. Winnie barked at the attendant.
  • Go to tractor supply to get dog food. Winnie jumped around in the car with excitement when I walked out with the bag.
  • Get home & lay out bought items. Yes, that is a 100% biodegradable paint tray and it made me stinking happy, so I bought one to try. I kind of love it.

  • Caulk the kitchen.

  • Paint the first coat of white on the big wall in the guest room. The other two purple walls will be white too eventually. You can see the colors I was testing to use on the wall in this post, about the guest room, from a few days ago.

  • Paint the first coat of the ceiling in the laundry/pantry, and paint the trim. Decide to keep the trim on the darker wall on the left the same color and nix painting the trim white. Make a mental note to touch it up. I still have yet to write a post about painting the laundry room. When we moved in it was teal. Then I primed it white. I only recently painted it. Four years later.

  • Sand down and paint the end cap of the cabinets in the kitchen. Lose said photo of end cap completed. So only give you photo of it before.

  • Paint the second coat of paint in the guest room while singing far too loud to country music. Consider becoming a world renown country star. Decide against it as I might put everyone to shame in Nashville. Conclude I best just finish painting.

  • I look up  at the ceiling, at those glow in the dark stickers that I have hated since we moved in – and always assumed they would be a gluey mess to take off. I decide today is judgement day, and grab the putty knife.

  • Much to my happiness, and my Chuck Norris threat of impending doom, the stars to fall off with much less than a simple scrape. I ask myself why I didn’t attempt this four years ago. I also take a look at the floor and note how many paint splatters are on it from previous owners. We’re saving sanding that for the big renovation.

  • Pull out the big guns and finally focus my attention on painting the kitchen. I decide to give it a once over in white first, which will cover everything enough so I hopefully only have one coat of the darker Behr paint I’ll be using for the final. Hey pst, – see, the end cap of the cabinets is painted white now. I paint the kitchen as the sun is setting so I get all sorts of crazy different photo lighting.

  • In the midst of painting I take a break to do dishes, which are purposely hidden behind the fridge in these photos. I pat myself on the back for being clever. Except all the other counters are trashed anyway from moving everything around. I continue painting until I’m done.


All in all I completed painting of the first coat in the kitchen just in time for A Prairie Home Companion on Maine Public Radio at 6:00. That’s twelve hours from when I woke up. This includes a one hour break for lunch and a brief nap. I can’t believe I just pulled an 11 hour day (so far). I’m pretty proud of myself.

Now, time to enjoy my favorite two hours on Saturday night and a warm cup of tea and maybe a grilled cheese for dinner. Why? Grilled cheeses don’t involve knifes.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t grip one right now.

As for tomorrow? We’ll see how long that day goes. I plan on finishing the kitchen, doing a second coat on the ceiling in the pantry/laundry, touching up all the trim and then…then…we’ll see. Maybe I’ll actually write a post on the laundry room transformation…

…and sleep a little more.

No I won’t. The girls will have me up at 6am for breakfast. Plus, what can I say, I’m a sucker for the quite hour I get in the morning to myself.

Happy Hard Work!