Tagged with " kitchen"
1 Feb
2012
Posted in: Household
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Lazy Susan Makeover

Hello and welcome to my lazy susan.

Sure it looks safe from the outside but inside it was a wild and dangerous place.

Let’s take a look at the offenses.

Poorly labeled containers with a dirty stand? Check. Giant duplicate containers? Check. Even more poorly labeled containers that could lead to a baking powder and baking soda mixup? Check. A hodge podge of spices and poorly bagged sugar? Check. A giant mess that makes it hard to find things? Check.

It was rough in there. Confession: I had never emptied it since I piled stuff in there after its installation in 2008. I empty out my pantry regularly but this area was out of control and hidden so I just never addressed it.

So I followed my simple organizing plan. I removed everything and cleaned it up. Then I consolidated any duplicates and threw out all the junk and expired goods. I started cleaning out all the containers and bought new ones to put all the bagged and boxed goods into.

I buy spices in bulk (if you’re a St. Louis local you won’t believe the deals for spices at Old Town Spice Shoppe in St. Charles, $2-$4 is how much I pay for most spice blends) so sometimes I just plop them in my lazy susan rather than putting them away (because I’m lazy). I finally put them all in the right place and refilled old containers that needed it.

making cricut labels

Then it was time to put everything back. I made labels using my Cricut and some chalkboard contact paper (if you don’t want to go that route try these Martha Stewart chalkboard labels from Staples). I put the items back so I spin one way to reach all my baking items and another way to reach all my cooking items. The results speak for themselves.

organized lazy susan with chalkboard labels

It took some work but it’s so much easier to spin that lazy susan now. It’s also very empty in there so I might be able to fill it up more or jest embrace a nice, accessible cabinet. The real key to this project was having plenty of jars and plenty of labels and now I don’t dread looking at 4 years of mess that had accumulated.

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19 Jan
2012
Posted in: Home Renovation
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Kitchen Tour

So remember that scary kitchen? Or maybe the blue one we lived with? Here’s the end result of all the work my husband and I did:

Walking into the kitchen you now see the new door leading up to the attic and the chalkboard my husband built from scratch.

Here’s the way you just came from leading back into the dining room. That ladder bookshelf is one of my favorite things.

Here’s another shot of it along with the pantry and my little baker’s nook. Can you believe all of this used to be in the bathroom of the house?

Here’s another shot of the nook with a glimpse at the full row of cabinets. I use those tiny little stacked drawers to hold all my spices and they fit amazingly well.

Here’s a shot into the corner where we have a few more glass front cabinets.

This shot shows off the schoolhouse light we bought a few months ago from Lowe’s and the tile. Here’s a detailed tile shot.

It’s from Home Depot and so incredibly amazing looking.

Remember how we built a nook where a door once was? This shows off the new layout pretty well.

We still have some very minor things to touch-up in this room but we’ve hit the 95% mark so I think that my husband and I did amazingly well so far. Here’s some before and after shots. Check them out while listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” for an authentic experience.

It’s been a few years, a ton of work, a chunk of change, lots of yelling, lots of love, but it all came together. You can’t believe how wonderful it is to cook a meal in such a beautiful and organized space and knowing how much I did and my husband did with our two hands (along with those of family and friends). I just feel so proud of this space. The rest of our home has quite a ways to go but I really believe we’re on the right path and some day all the rooms will look this good.

Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Show Us Your Kitchens! link party.

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18 Jan
2012
Posted in: Home Renovation
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Beginning to Take Shape

You saw the kitchen before and the demolition, now here’s the process we went through to turn it into a useful room.

When it came time to order cabinets, one look stuck in our minds. We had seen it while collecting brochures and this one in particular came from Home Depot.

It was everything our first kitchen wasn’t: bright, airy, and open. Obviously we weren’t going to be able to replicate the entire look but we knew that those were the cabinets we wanted. We loved the simple modern lines but the classic Shaker style of the cabinets. The name of the cabinets were Del Ray in Maple Spice from Woodmark Cabinetry, available at Home Depot. Another shot:

Virtually the same kitchen, just with different tile. Check out the detailing on the doors:

When you get cabinets installed, you might be surprised how long it takes for the actual installation to begin. First you have a consult where you schedule the measurement and discuss your basic budget and plans. Then a contractor comes to your home to measure the space from walls to windows, outlets to doors. Then you meet with your consultant again and plan out your space. We started by discussing our preferred cabinet design, placing the appliances and sink, and building cabinets around those needs. From there we talked countertops, sinks, faucets, and the ordering process. We sat on it for a few days, then placed our order. That was about a 10-day process in itself.

After that we had the long process of waiting. When the cabinets arrived they had to be inspected for defects before they could be installed. The installation took only about 3 days but we ran into an issue where one cabinet was the wrong size (but not defective so it was missed in the inspection) so they had to reorder it. While we waited we bought handles but the downside was that our counters would be delayed until the new cabinet arrived and could be installed. Finally the new cabinet arrived and we could schedule our countertop measure. Another 10 days from the measure and we got our counters in. It took over 2 months from start to finish while we lived with just a laundry sink, a stove, a fridge, and a card table as a counter. Be prepared to rough it folks. But here was the result of all the wait:

The kitchen view from the old doorway.

Look at that huge open workspace!

Here’s that former bathroom area (and my dog’s behind). On the left is the pantry and on the right we installed what was actually a bathroom vanity as a baker’s nook to fit below the kitchen window.

Here’s that nook we built by building a false wall where the door once stood. Now it holds a stove, a fridge, a microwave, and cabinets.

The countertop we ended up choosing was a Corian sold surface counter in Silt. We wanted the look of a slab without the high price of granite and it’s held up pretty well over the last 4 years.

But our kitchen wasn’t complete yet. My husband and I had failed to agree on a wall color before the cabinets went up so we just decided we’d paint it later. (Huge mistake by the way) We also had the cheapest lights on the market installed and we had held off on putting up window trim till the counters were installed. Plus, we wanted to add some decorations.

Here’s a sneak peek at the look we ended up with. You can see the actual room tomorrow in its final form.

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17 Jan
2012
Posted in: Home Renovation
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Kitchen Demolition

Welcome to renovation time! It’s about Spring 2006 in this timeline and the wall between the kitchen and bathroom is coming down along with a lot of other walls.

Here we are with the inner walls torn out, the outer walls torn out, and working on tearing out the soffits too. My husband is on the step ladder working on demolishing everything. Can you believe we didn’t find a speck of insulation between the inner and outer walls? Suddenly the chill in the house made sense.

Here’s a shot that gives you a better look at the layout of the house. On the left are the stairs leading down to the basement (with yet another brilliant shade of aqua) and on the right are the stairs leading up to the attic.

The bathroom wasn’t safe from destruction either. No insulation here either, though we did find some nice old razor blades in the wall.

Meanwhile my brother-in-law rests after helping haul out the cast iron tub. I’m very thankful no one asked me to help haul that thing.

Next, we installed new windows and had an electrician come out to install new lights and upgrade the existing electrical to work with modern appliances. I have two brother-in-laws and one worked as a plumber and the other worked in HVAC so both were able to help us out with the necessary plumbing and ductwork changes. After that we were ready to drywall.

You can see here that we built onto an old wall on the right of the screen. This is actually where the original kitchen door stood. In that nook we built we planned to fit in a full sized range, fridge, and even cabinetry.

This is the same wall where that awful sink and toilet once stood. Is drywall better than pink tile?

Find out how we decided to fill the space in tomorrow’s post.

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16 Jan
2012
Posted in: Home Renovation
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The Kitchen Before

To show you my kitchen I have to show you it in stages. When we first saw the house, the kitchen wasn’t in very good shape. Don’t believe me?

This was the view from the old doorway. There was a soffit wasting valuable space, and very few cabinets.

Even this side wasted space. And the color, ugh!

Over here we had an old stove, no counter, and a space so small that a specially-sized fridge used to be here.

The sink wasn’t bad but the counters could use some work.

The cabinets left something to be desired both inside and out.

We started thinking about how to manage the kitchen and what to do with it. The room was closed off and down a little hallway, it wasn’t big enough to hold a fridge, and it needed a makeover. When we thought about it, there was an obvious solution.

The bathroom next door also had a problem. It was tiny. So tiny I could reach from my place in the bathtub in the photo above and touch the mirror without even leaning forward.

So tiny that the linen cabinet inside of it had a notch cut out of the door so it could open without hitting the bathtub or entrance door.

Not to mention that the bathtub could use some work

The tile wasn’t exactly my #1 choice

And don’t even get me started on the toilet or sink.

When it came down to it, it was a fairly easy choice to make. The kitchen was opening up. Unfortunately, that was the last time anything about the kitchen was easy. Tomorrow I’ll show you what a home renovation looks like.

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11 Jan
2012
Posted in: Household
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6 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

Keeping with the week’s theme of organizing (see part 1 and part 2) today’s post includes 6 simple ways to keep your cabinets organized.

1. Go vertical

One of the easiest ways to change up your cabinets is to stack things or to find new ways to go up instead of out. I found these tiered can stackers at Garden Ridge but you can find them nearly everywhere (available online here). Other solutions I like are this Pull Down Spice Rack and this can rack.

2. Use Baskets

Baskets are key to organizing your cabinets. All those little packets and Tastefully Simple mixes get thrown straight into my baskets. This one is on my pantry’s baking shelf so it holds those half empty packages of nuts, white chocolate chips, and pudding. This is a CD basket from Target’s paper rope line. It fits perfectly in my pantry so naturally I have a million of them.

3. Use containers to hold new things

I use an old cereal container and scoop I bought from Target to hold chocolate chips. Yes, I bulk buy chocolate chips. I do in fact use that many and if you do too, a cereal container is a great way to store them all.

4. Don’t Buy Everything

You don’t have to spend money to organize. I took a shoe box from the running shoes for my giant feet and wrapped it in some wrapping paper. I used scrap paper from printing out coupons to make some dividers and now my teas, coffee mixes, and cocoa have some storage of their own. All for the price of nothing! (except the shoes)

5. Don’t Just Sort the Food

If I’m not careful, I can get messy very quickly with all those paper products in my cabinets. So I buy totes and hide it all away. One holds utensils, plates, and napkins. Another holds straws for summer parties. Yet another holds cookie cutters. I’ve tried plastic bags and the like but the only way I don’t have a crazy cabinet is by locking them all up.

6. Sort It Out

Much like my organizing tip for Monday, I’m really into sorting my items by use. You saw above how I have one shelf set aside for canned goods, well I have another set aside for baking items. On the left is my tea sorter, then my chocolate chip explosion, then my baking basket, and finally on the right are some cake mixes for speeding along baking, some molasses, some powdered egg whites, and finally applesauce to lighten up some recipes. Not every shelf of mine is sorted by use but it does make it easier knowing that if I’m baking up some cookies that all my good stuff will be on the third shelf down.

Tomorrow I’ll show you why these tips are necessary and how I put them to good use with my lazy susan makeover.

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10 Jan
2012
Posted in: Food, Household
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Meal Planning from your pantry

Yesterday I talked about how to clean out your kitchen and to take an inventory list. I mentioned highlighting any irregular items from your inventory and today I’m going to show you how to easily base your meal plan around your pantry.

When I did this last April, some of the items that popped up on my inventory were cherry pie filling, some leftover cream, white cake mix, carrots, peanut satay sauce, coconut milk, raisins, and canned clams. There were some more obvious choices on using up some items but other items had me stumped. The clams I used in clam chowder and the cherry pie filling I used up in a quick bread.

For the raisins I went to one of my favorite sites, foodgawker. I knew I wanted a raisin dessert or breakfast item so first I searched raisins and then I chose desserts and breakfast under category on the second screen.

I had 10 pages of results but on page 3 I found a perfect recipe that used both raisins and carrots: carrot cake! On the same page I also saw Hot Cross Buns. Since I was doing this in April, Easter was right around the corner so both Hot Cross Buns and carrot cake were perfect for my menu.

Another site I like to use is food.com. I figured both the coconut milk and the cake mix could be used in a dessert so I used the site’s recipe sifter tool.

Under filter by ingredient I typed “coconut milk” and checked the green arrow to add it to my sorter.

I repeated the process with “white cake mix” and then I had just 13 recipes.

The most popular recipe was a Tres Leches Cake that not only used my coconut milk and cake mix but also used up most of my extra cream too. Bonus!

For sauces like my peanut satay, I wanted to use it all up and quickly. I was working on this all last spring so I was into grilling a bunch of meat. I took several pounds of chicken and coated it all in the peanut satay sauce before throwing it on the grill. I froze a bunch of it and over the next few weeks I had traditional satay chicken, satay pita pockets, and grilled chicken salad with satay dressing. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed trying to eat up a single ingredient, freezing is definitely the way to go.

The best part of cleaning out your pantry is how few items you’ll need to buy for your many meals. I just added the extra ingredients needed to complete my recipes to my restocking list from the cleanout. For 20 days the only items I had to buy from the store were milk, some fresh produce, and bread. It was a great way to save money and you can do it every 6 months if you’re anything like me.

How about you–what are your best tips for making a meal plan from your pantry?

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9 Jan
2012
Posted in: Household
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Kitchen Cleanout

This week is all about getting organized. I’ll be showing some of my best tips to an organized home and for me that starts in the kitchen. If I don’t have my kitchen organized I end up not cooking as much and that leads to money wasted. On top of that, if I’m not using the items in my kitchen I’m wasting money there too. Last year I worked on following a 5-step process to keep my home organized and I ended up succeeding at having a better organized kitchen and life. My plan was simple:

  1. Remove the problem: After you’ve found your problem spot, empty everything out. Everything.
  2. Clean Clean Clean!: Clean it all out and wipe everything down. Consider protecting your surfaces with shelves or contact paper before moving on.
  3. Trash the trash: Look at what you’re holding on to. If it’s expired or bad, get rid of it. If the item needs upgrading then trash it and add a better one to the shopping list.
  4. Contain the mess: Find new ways to hold your old items. It’ll help keep the area clean and help you see what you already have so you don’t buy duplicates. A label maker is very helpful at this stage.
  5. Sort it all out: Categorize things as you put them back on your shelves. I keep my baking items separate from my cooking items and I store bulk or rarely used items out of the way.

You can apply these ideas to any room of the house. If you’re having a hard time, just watch an episode of Hoarders and you’ll suddenly feel very motivated.

Start with your pantry. Clear all the shelves, wipe them down, and throw away all expired goods. While everything is out on the counter, group similar items in size or use together and find a way to store them. I’ll be sharing some of my storage tips later this week so stick around for more ideas there. I also like to take an inventory at this point. Write everything you have down and include quantities. Then put everything back into your pantry or cabinets using your new sorting system.

Next, work on the fridge. Clear it out and really clean this one, drawers especially. Make an inventory list of all these items too. When you put items back in, choose a shelf at eye level to put your healthiest snacks and leftovers on so you’re most likely to eat these items. If you’re always looking at your leftovers then you’ll be more likely to eat them. If you have any fresh vegetables or fruits, clean them and place them in containers if you haven’t yet.

Last, check on your freezer. If you have an ice maker then this is a great time to thaw it and clean it out. Be quick about cleaning so nothing thaws. Sort meats with similar meats and have one shelf set aside for convenient foods, like frozen shredded chicken or smoothie packs so you can eat quickly from the freezer. Inventory the freezer too.

Take a look at your inventory list and see if you have enough of all your staples. If you don’t, add them to your shopping list. Also add any containers you might need. Highlight all the irregular items on your inventory and check back tomorrow for some helpful advice on cooking from your extra inventory.

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