...because home doesn't happen overnight.
In our previous house we had a roomy, walk-in kitchen pantry. Here? Notsomuch. When we designed the kitchen, the plan was to use cabinet space for dried and packaged goods. We thought if worse came to worse we could always store pantry items in one of the wardrobes in the adjacent mudroom but, luckily, we haven’t had to.
Downsizing has changed our lives a lot – which we expected for the most part. But we’re surprised by how much it has affected our thoughts on food. It seems like in our previous house, we bought (and ate) way more packaged food because we had this huge pantry to stock. Here, there’s no pantry begging to be filled so we find ourselves buying (and eating) less boxed food. And we’re making the packaged foods we do eat count. We’re also better at keeping our fridge stocked with fresh produce.
So where exactly do we keep packaged foods and dry goods in this house?
We’ve designated a corner lazy susan as our “pantry.” It’s easily accessible and doesn’t take up much space.
Even though it’s probably a tenth of the size of our previous pantry, nobody goes hungry around here. If anything, we’re eating better. We’re more conscious of what we’re buying and eating since we only have so much room for food. The whole “quality over quantity” theme has even seeped into our grocery shopping and regular diets. I’m not saying we’re perfect (um, hello boxes of Girl Scout cookies) but our attitude towards in-house food has definitely changed. Plus, I can pull the “we don’t have room for it” card, guilt-free, anytime one of my kids asks for juice boxes at the grocery store.
The limited space makes for quick inventory checks, too. It’s easy to see what we’re running low on and what we have plenty of.
I think lazy susans are difficult to organize. Why can’t I find wedge-shaped bins to organize and optimize space in a lazy susan?! BAM. Someone should take that idea to Shark Tank. I did the best I could with some bins and baskets we already had on hand. (In fact, most of them once lived in our big, flashy pantry.) The cabinet contents are divvied up into categories: canned goods, snacks, pasta & rice, non-refrigerated produce, breakfast foods, baking ingredients, sweets, etc. I try to keep the items in each bin specific to a given category so I can simply pull out one basket to find what I need instead of bending over and spinning my way through everything just to find one item.
The basket system works really well for snacks. The kids can grab the snack basket to pick an item of their choice without my help. To keep things relatively healthy but also give the kids a sense of freedom, I control what goes into the basket but they choose what comes out. Win-win.
NatureBox recently sent my family some goodies to try and they made their way into the snack basket. With no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated corn oils, no trans fats, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and no artificial colors, I’m happy to support NatureBox’s mission to help people discover better choices. Being a busy mom, I also appreciate that the monthly snack subscription includes free shipping anywhere in the continental U.S. Healthy snacks at your doorstep, people! Best of all, YOU CHOOSE which snacks show up at your doorstep.
To free up room in the corner cabinet, I do store a few things elsewhere in the kitchen. Cereal and oatmeal live in large glass canisters just above the “pantry.” We go through those two things so quickly there’s never any worry of them becoming stale before consumption.
I keep flour and various sugars in containers next to the stove. The stainless steel canisters have rubber-sealed lids with secure latches to keep contents fresh.
I’ve received SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. about where we keep food in our downsized house. I hope this post gives you some answers. (Doesn’t peeking into someone’s pantry feel extremely personal?) We’ve discovered that having less space for food isn’t necessarily a problem. For us, it’s motivation to make better choices. And better is always a step in the right direction.
Would you like to discover better snack options with the help of NatureBox? Great! See entry details below.
PRIZE: 6-month deluxe snacker subscription to NatureBox ($120 value). There will be TWO WINNERS!
RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) in the U.S. One entry per email address.
TO ENTER: Browse the snacks NatureBox has to offer then leave a comment on this post stating which ones you’d like to try. (I fell hard for the oat bran dippin’ stix and dark cocoa almonds. YUM.)
DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, March 16th at 9:00 p.m. EST. Two random winners will be announced Monday, March 17th.
BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: House*Tweaking readers receive an exclusive discount. Enter the code “HT50″ to score 50% off your first box of any size. Valid only on first month’s box, new customers only.
This post sponsored in part by NatureBox. All images and content by me. All crumbs by my kids. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
This is the fifth post in a series I’m devoting to all things closet at my house. (Snoop around in more of my closets here, here, here and here.) Today I’m giving you a peek at our linen closet. It’s not much but it works!
We have one linen closet in our house. It’s located at the end of the hall leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms. As far as linen closets go, it’s actually a decent size. It’s about 36″ wide and 26″ deep and it’s more than enough room for our needs.
The closet came to us with wood shelving already in place. We simply painted everything white and added organization.
This closet is where I keep the boys’ laundry hamper. Their shared room is off to the right so it’s a convenient spot for them to dump their dirty clothes. (Mabrey has a laundry basket in her room. Steve and I have an organization system in our closet which includes two pull-out hampers.) Up until a month ago, I had a plain ol’ plastic laundry basket sitting on the floor of the closet to corral the boys’ clothes. But it couldn’t contain a week’s worth of dirty clothes and laundry was always spilling over.
I ordered this double hamper and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for our closet and has two deep partitions which keep clothes from erupting out onto the floor. The idea is to use one side for lights and the other for darks but, so far, my boys haven’t caught on. Honestly, I’m happy if their dirty clothes just make it into the hamper – separated or not. On laundry day, I carry the entire thing to the laundry nook. Easy.
The shelf above the hamper holds paper towels, toilet paper, bath mats, hand towels and washcloths. One of Everett’s chores is to keep the kitchen stocked with paper towels and the bathroom stocked with toilet paper. This shelf is easy for him to reach both the paper towels and toilet paper.
The two uppermost shelves hold towels, toiletries and medicine. We don’t own a bunch of bath linens but we have enough for us plus guests. Not having a huge supply keeps me on top of laundry. When I switch out dirty towels for clean ones in the bathroom, I automatically throw the dirties in the wash. Eventually, I’d like to replace all of our traditional terrycloth towels with peshtemal towels. We made the switch last year but still have a few regular towels hanging around. The peshtemals take up less space and are more absorbent so they’re great for small spaces.
I try to keep stuff I don’t want the kids to have easy access to up high: medicine, razor blade replacements, fingernail polish, harsh cleaners, etc. On the top shelf, the basket on the left holds medicine. (The pharmacist in me wants to remind you NOT to keep your medicine in the bathroom!) On the right, an organizer with drawers holds health and beauty items, kids’ tattoos, hair accessories, first aid supplies, etc. There’s a small container devoted specifically to travel-size toiletries.
They aren’t visible but I keep a humidifier and hair trimmer kit on the top shelf behind the plastic bins. We don’t use them that often so they don’t get prime real estate.
Everything is labeled so we can quickly find what we’re looking for. (I got cheeky with my label maker. Organization is FUN.) We also hang a pole in this closet for reaching the attic door and ladder. The attic access is located near the closet (as seen in the first two images of this post) so it made sense to keep the pole here. We always know where to find it. You can read more about our attic here if you’re curious.
We optimized space on the back of the door with a hanging wire rack that I picked up at Home Depot. We hung it out of reach of little hands and it’s where I keep more things I don’t necessarily want the kids playing with: cleaners, fingernail polish remover, soap, sunscreen, shaving cream, etc. The toiletry bag is Steve’s. The hair dryer is mine. I rarely blow-dry my hair so the dryer goes in the closet versus the bathroom.
There you have it – our one and only linen closet! I think once the kid / guest bathroom is finished I’ll spring for some new peshtemals but, for the most part, this is really all we need.
What about you? Where do you keep your supply of toilet paper and paper towels? Do your kids separate their laundry? Have you tried peshtemal towels? Do you keep your medicine in the bathroom? (The pharmacist in me is giving you the wagging no-no finger…in a non-judgmental sorta way, of course.)
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Many of you want to know what’s become of our outdoor furniture this winter. We don’t have room for it in the garage. We don’t have a shed. We don’t have an off-site storage unit.
In the fall, we arranged the sectional, chair and coffee table pieces into two rectangular shapes (kinda like a 3D puzzle), covered them with two outdoor covers and pushed them up against the back of the house under an eave. Everything sits up off the ground on the platform deck. I washed the cushion covers and sealed them in plastic bags then took them and the cushions up to the attic to hibernate for the winter.
On a tangent, you can see more of our newly organized attic here. The Home Depot contacted me earlier this year about collaborating on a storage / organization post. Seeing as how we had been living with two pieces of foam board taped over our attic access for months in order to prevent heat from escaping into the attic, it seemed like a good fit. I love it when collaborations work out that way. When they give us a kick in the butt to tackle something we should have done already. Deadlines are good motivators!
Anyhow, the outdoor sectional cushions are up in that tidy, blue-carpeted attic space waiting for spring.
Let’s get back to the sofa. (I feel like this is a very scatter-brained narrative. Steve is out of town this week and I’m running on two hours of sleep sooooo…yeah, that explains a lot.) Our hope was that the deep eave would shelter the furniture from the elements somewhat. It does okay. Obviously, snow and rain still get on the furniture but that’s where the covers come in.
We bought the covers online. I don’t remember where (Steve has all that info. I’ll ask him when he’s back.) but I do remember we opted for ones near the “high quality” end of the spectrum but they weren’t the most expensive option we came across. We figured it was worth it to protect the not-so-cheap furniture we invested in. With the way this winter has been, we’re happy with our decision.
The one drawback is that snow, water and ice tend to accumulate on the covers causing them to dip. Every few days I go out and brush them off. The worst is when it’s water or ice. Water and ice are HEAVY. I use a pitcher as a bail to scoop and dump the water. When it’s ice, I gotta put my back into it. My fear is that the weight will pull on the covers and rip them. So even though the covers are protecting the furniture, our setup isn’t completely maintenance free. Then again, it’s been some kind of winter.
You may have noticed the outdoor dining chairs hanging out under the eave as well. They’re plastic and don’t hold snow like the bigger furniture so we left them uncovered. They’re swell.
The outdoor dining table is uncovered, too. We left it open to the elements all last summer and it was fine so no cover here either. It has a slatted top so water can drain off. If anyone’s been wondering about the DIY wood art, it still looks brand new. No worries.
And now this is the end of a very boring, snowy post. Wish it was the end of a very boring, snowy winter instead.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to browse beach cottage rentals online just to torture myself a little more.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
This winter has been brutal. Most of you already know this from first-hand experience. We’re in the midwest and have had record snowfall and cold temps. Part of our bedtime routine with the kids is sharing something we’re thankful for and every night this winter I’ve been thankful for shelter from the cold and snow. So many people don’t have basic necessities (shelter, coats, warm meals, etc.) during winter and I think it’s something easily taken for granted. I try to remind my kids how lucky we are to have a roof over heads, all decorating aside.
On a lighter note, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite winter essentials (non-shelter related) today. You know, since there’s a polar vortex right outside my door. Also, can I just say that persons in southern California should not be permitted to do winter essential roundups? That’s just ridiculous. But maybe Canadians feel the same way about midwesterners??
Anyway, here are six things that made this winter a tad more tolerable for me.
1 – organic, unrefined coconut oil I switched from regular body lotion to coconut oil last winter and I have nothing but good things to report. I picked up a jar at a local health food store and keep it in my bathroom vanity. I rub one to two teaspoonful into my skin right after showering to lock in moisture for days. My husband and kids use it as well. The oil is solid at room temp but melts to the touch. It might seem expensive but the nearly empty jar pictured here is the original jar I purchased last year. It’s lasted me that long! A little really goes a long way. I use it in the summer, too, but in the winter it is a godsend. Bonus: you can cook with it!
2 – easy-to-maintain houseplants In Ohio, everything goes dormant and turns brown for the winter but I need greenery around me. To me, houseplants are signs of life and warmer things to come. They purify indoor air and, since we spend most of our time inside during cold & flu season, they help to keep us healthy. I’ve been known to have a black thumb but I’ve had luck keeping jade and snake plants alive throughout winter.
3 – honest dryer cloths It’s so dry here in the winter that static cling is inevitable. I find it sooooo annoying. Typically, I don’t use dryer sheets but this winter I’ve had to. The static is that bad. I’m a big fan of The Honest Co. (This isn’t sponsored, btw.) I buy their products with my own money and usually receive an order from them every other month. You can easily customize your personal ship date by clicking a box online – no phone calls necessary. For the past few months, I’ve been ordering these dryer sheets. They are wet, plant-based cloths with no artificial fragrances or animal fats. Each sheet can be used twice. And best of all, they work!
4 – vitamin D3 About one month into winter, I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was drained – emotionally and physically. On a hunch (I’m a pharmacist by trade although I’m not practicing at this time), I picked up a bottle of vitamin D tablets at the grocery store to see if they would help. You guys, I noticed a difference within 24 hours of taking my first dose! I had more energy and felt more like myself. This might be a little TMI but…the vitamin D also helped regulate my out-of-whack menstrual cycle, too. My vitamins are a cheap-y version because I wanted to see if they made a difference before I invested in something pricier. When my current bottle is empty, I’m upgrading to a higher quality, organic softgel. FYI – Check with your physician regarding vitamin D deficiency and dosing.
5 – fekkai advanced brilliant glossing conditioner By far, the best conditioner I’ve ever used. Back to the static cling that drives me insane in the winter…it affects my hair, too. But when I use this conditioner, BAM!, no staticky flyaways. I use it year round and it’s worth every penny. One bottle usually lasts me a year (I use it once or twice a week on the bottom half of my hair after shampooing) so, like the coconut oil, a little goes a long way. Pssst – I tried using the coconut oil as a conditioner since I read it was great for hair but it was a total flop. Using a little resulted in oily hair for days.
6 – C.O. bigelow night balm Dry, cracked lips are no joke but I’m prone to them during winter months. My sister gifted me this balm for Christmas after raving about it. She was right. It’s the bomb. I apply just a little before bed every night and it’s enough to keep my lips supple for 24 hours.
I’d love to hear about your winter essentials! This list is mostly health and beauty related but a glass of red wine in the evenings always helps take the chill off for me, too. Mmmm…warm fuzzies.
image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking