6 Tips For Organizing Your Pantry

6 Tips For Organizing Your Pantry

 The last time I organized my pantry was before Christmas so by now it was getting out of hand; specially since we are getting ready to host 3 big birthday parties.  I’ve been shoving candies, baking ingredients and more into the pantry just trying to get them put away.

In my house “spring cleaning” not only means cleaning the house, it means organizing it too.  Once we finished deep cleaning the kitchen it was time to organize the pantry.

There are many tips and ideas out there on how to organize your pantry.  Many of the after shots look great; everything in labeled canisters and bins.  I look at those after photos and think I’d like my pantry to look like that, but the reality is I don’t really want to spend the time making my pantry look just like them.  I just want my pantry to be organized to that I can find what I need when I’m cooking.

With that said here are my tips for organizing a pantry.  I think the most important tip I would give to anyone is to organize YOUR pantry to make it convenient for YOU; after all you’re the one who has to live with it and what’s the use of a pristine pantry if you can’t find what you’re looking for when you need it.  Also you don’t need to spend lots of time and money buying expensive canisters and bins which you will stick labels on.  Canisters and bins from the dollar store or Walmart work just as well as the more expensive department store ones; although I love the OXO Good Grips Pop Canisters, they are great for keeping those pesty little rice weevils away.  Labels are a must for canisters, but I only label canisters that I know will always hold the same items, i.e. flour, sugar, cereal, etc.  If the canister will hold different things at different times there’s no sense sticking a permanent label on it, you’ll only have to take the time to scrape off the label or tossing the canister.

Here are the steps to organizing your pantry.

*Clicking on a linked product name/picture will take you to an Amazon Affiliate Link.  


1.  Empty out the pantry.

2.  Toss out all food that’s expired and/or have no labels,  opened boxes of food you haven’t used in a long time, and anything else you don’t have any use for.

3.  Wipe shelves, walls, door, door molding, and light switches with your favorite cleanser.  I use a mixture of equal parts of  Dawn dish washing liquid, vinegar,  water, and 3 drops lemon essential oil.
4.  Sweep and mop floor.

5.  Wash and dry cans, bottles, canisters, etc.

6.  Replace items on shelves.  Place items in a way that makes it convenient for you.

– Place items you don’t use daily on the higher less accessible shelves
– Place items you use daily at eye level and on shelves that are easily accessible
– Place items for kids, cereal, granola bars, juice boxes, snacks, etc. on shelves that kids can                   reach
– Avoid placing anything directly on the floor, if you can lower a shelf to about 4″-6″ from the               floor.  This makes it easier to sweep and mop under. If you must put items on the floor place
place them in bins or other containers so that you can easily pull them out so you can sweep                 and mop.
– Place items that are closer to their expiration date in front of items that will expire later.
When you re-stock always place newer items behind older items; learn to live by the rule                     restaurants have – rotation:  FIRST IN FIRST OUT
– Don’t store toxic items in the pantry
– If you will be storing non-food items in the pantry; over sized tray & bowls, serving pieces,
small appliances, etc.  Store them on a separate shelf or in a separate section from the food.
– Place smaller items in plastic bins to keep them from falling or slipping thru the shelves. I like to store cupcake/candy liners and decoration in stackable see thru mini drawers, and sprinkles, colored sugars, etc. in plastic baskets.
– If storing small appliances in the pantry consider putting all the parts together in a bin
i.e. portable electric mixer with beaters, food processor with discs, etc.
– To avoid a rice or grain weevil problem place flour, rice, bread crumbs, anything that is or made from grains, in sealed containers.  I like using OXO Good Grips Pop Canisters and   Rubbermaid Cereal/Snack Containers.
– Label canisters
– Group items in a way that makes sense to YOU.  i.e. baking ingredients together, pastas & pasta sauces, soups (canned, boxed, mixes), etc.
– Save space by stacking items

Organizing Your Pantry
Why Is A Road Trip An Ideal Way To Enjoy Your Grandchildren This Summer?

Why Is A Road Trip An Ideal Way To Enjoy Your Grandchildren This Summer?

If you are a grandparent who loves nothing more than to spend time with your grandkids, how does a liberating, adventurous road trip sound? The Times published an article about the major comeback of the US road trip, touting it “a tradition that feels like a national birthright.” Being on the road also benefits children and adults in powerful ways. With statistics showing that about one in four Americans spends almost their entire day indoors,, a road trip is the perfect way to free the mind and embrace new experiences – something that is almost always best done in the summer!

Less Gadgets, More Greenery
Many studies have shown that human beings benefit greatly from being in the Great Outdoors. The mind is instantly transported to ‘the here and now’, and stress levels drop in a significant and measurable manner. Road trips give families the opportunity to plan a trip around cities/cultural events, stopping at beautiful natural spots in which to de-stress, enjoy a walk or swim, and even partake in activities like outdoor yoga. When you’re on the road, gadgets and phones somehow seem less appealing. It’s all about making the most of what is around you and experiencing the healing effects of mindfulness. Regardless of which spot in the map you choose, you will probably find a host of interesting natural sites and activities to check out. In the summer, everything from parasailing right through to white water rafting may appeal.

Dance to Your Own Drum
One difficult aspect of travel with young children is transport. When visiting a new city or green area, you may find that you have to take various trains, buses, and other transport combinations to get to desired spots. Moreover, some cities and green areas have better transport than others. A road trip allows you to travel at your own pace, visiting the areas you want to as you go along. It also permits you to change your mind, staying longer when you want to and cutting less desirable stays short. Space is another big benefit. A vehicle for family travel such as an RV is sturdy enough to keep you safe, and large enough to carry family items like toys, clothing, sporting equipment, etc. Luggage and the weight of equipment can be a big problem indeed if you opt for flight or train travel with little children.

Time to Bond
Road trips are as ideal for what goes on inside the vehicle, as out. Pew Research has found that older Americans say that having more time to spend with family is by far the best thing about being a senior. During the school year, you may find it hard to see your grandchildren as much as you like to, owing to the many demands that academic and sports activities impose. Road travel allows you to play little games as well as reveal experiences and funny anecdotes. It also gives you hours on end to ask questions that can enlighten you more on your grandchildren’s passions, interests, and views.

Road trips are enjoying a big boom for many factors – including their relatively lower cost, and the freedom and independence they afford. Travelling across the U.S. in a comfortable vehicle allows kids to rest, and older folk to have a break when they are driving. If you are ready to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, plan your next road trip but don’t plan it too minutely. Let your instinct and wishes be your guides as you travel at your own pace and discover the beauty that surrounds you.

DIY Citronella Jars – Pretty & Inexpensive

DIY Citronella Jars – Pretty & Inexpensive

Citronella Jars

This month we hosted an 80th. Birthday Party for my Mom in her Texas home.  Guest seating was outdoors and mosquitoes were a concern.  To keep these nasty bugs away my mother had her yard man spray mosquito repellent and we incorporated these Citronella Jars in our centerpieces, it worked out well, no one got any mosquito bites that night.

These jars are so simple and inexpensive to make and will fit any party theme or decor.  I’ve used them for outdoor barbecues, birthday parties, and pretty much any outdoor event.  I find them much prettier than store bought citronella candles and torches, cheaper too!  You can use ribbons to match your color scheme or for a more rustic look use burlap ribbon or twine.

I fill the jars with fresh herbs that are have natural mosquito repellent and citronella essential oil.  I try to use herbs from my garden when possible making these jars even more economical.  Mosquito repelling herbs include Lavender, Mint, Lemon Balm, Basil, Catnip, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, and Lemon Verbena.  There are other plants and herbs that have natural mosquito repellent qualities, but I like to use the ones I listed as I have them in my garden.  I like to use 2-3 different herbs and choose herbs with leaves that look good together.  I add lemon and lime slices for color and a floating candle at the top to keep the herbs from floating over the jar rim.

If you use homegrown herbs each jar cost about $2 or less to make.  I got the Citronella Essential Oil from HEB for just a bit over $5.  I made a dozen jars and still have more than half the bottle of essential oil leftover.  I got the Mason Jars (about $1 each) and floating candles (6 for $4) from Walmart.  If you need to buy fresh herbs you can buy small amounts for about $2 – 3 a package in the produce section of most grocery stores, but if you need to make a lot of jars you will probably get a better deal at your local farmer’s market.  If you can’t find a farmer’s market nearby consider buying pots of herbs from the garden department of Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, or your local garden shop; it’s less expensive than buying sprigs from the grocery store and you can plant leftover herbs to use next time.

Here are directions for making your own Citronella Jars, the best part it you can reuse the jars for other events, just change the ribbon to fit your decor!

Materials:

Quart Sized Mason Jar
Sprigs of Fresh Herbs – Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, or any other mosquito repelling herbs
5 drops Citronella Essential Oil
1 Lemon – sliced in circles (optional)
1 Lime – sliced in circles (optional)
Ribbon or Twine
1 Floating Candle

Directions:

1.  Snip sprigs of herbs to size you want; rinse off any soil.

2.  Place herbs in mason jar and fill jar half way with water (herbs will float).

3.  Add Citronella Essential Oil to water and shake gently to evenly distribute the oil.

4.  Add more water to fill the jar.

5.  Add lemon and lime slices.

6.  Gently push herbs and fruit slices into the water and place floating candle on top.

7.  Tie ribbon or twine on the jar.

8.  Light candle when needed.

When it’s very hot outside store jars indoors or in a cool area to keep the candle from melting.
Herbs will last in the jar for several days depending on the temperature.  When the herbs wilt just toss them out, wash the jar in warm soapy water to remove oil residue, and make another batch when you need them.

Make these jars in a well ventilated area and avoid inhaling the Citronella Essential Oil, it’s unsafe and has been reported to cause lung problems.

Wear gloves when handling this oil as it can cause allergies in some people.

Keep the jars and citronella oil away from children and pets.  It is safe to use around children and pets but ingesting large amounts of the oil is very harmful.

Summer Picnic Essentials

Summer Picnic Essentials

Now that summer is here and the kids are out of school many of us will be spending more time outdoors at the beach, park, lake, and other outdoor venues.  Some folks will be hitting the highways for that annual family road trip.

Picnic EssentialsWe’ll be swimming, camping, hiking, and really just enjoying the warm summer sun in the great outdoors.  Whatever activity you choose to do it won’t be complete without a picnic!  Picnicking is definitely one of my favorite outdoor activities, one I indulge in every chance I get.

It doesn’t take a lot of planning to throw a picnic together, we’ve done it in less than half and hour by emptying the fridge and pantry of cold cuts, breads, cheese, and chips; or even stopping by the nearest KFC for a bucket of chicken and fixings.

Almost anything can be picnic food, except maybe your Thanksgiving turkey, although I’ve known someone who actually brought a roast turkey to the beach for a Thanksgiving Day picnic; very messy and I wouldn’t recommend it, the turkey was not only cold it ended up covered in sand.  Perhaps turkey sandwiches would have been a better choice!

There are many kinds of picnics:  family reunion picnics that involve every member of the family you can muster, picnic with just hubby and the kids, play date picnics, girls day out picnics, romantic picnics with your significant other, and more.  Whatever the occasion you can turn it into a picnic!

Other than food there are other picnic essentials for a great picnic.  Here are a few ideas, recipes, and tips for your summer picnics.  Just remember the most essential part of a picnic is to have fun!

Picnic Essentials:

Picnic EssentialsA picnic basket, cooler, or sack to carry food and beverages.

You can pick one up at Pier 1, TJMaxx, Walmart, or any other home goods store.  Or you can make your own like these pretty baskets made from apple crates by Style Me Pretty.

Click here for instructions! [spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsA picnic blanket.

We use an old large quilt. You can use any kind of blanket or sheet you have at home, buy one at any discount store, or make your own with this video tutorial from Design Love Fest.  A pillow or two will make the picnic more comfy, great idea for a romantic date night picnic!

Click here for tutorial!

Here’s a tip:  Stitch on a cheap plastic shower curtain to the back of your blanket to keep it dry.  If you don’t sew just lay the shower curtain under the blanket when you set up the picnic and use clothes pins to attach it to the blanket to keep it from slipping.

Picnic EssentialsNapkins and eating utensils.

You can keep them neat and clean in these DIY pouches made from brown lunch bags from The Gunny Sack.

Click here for instructions! [spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsMusic sets the stage.

Load your smart device with appropriate music and plug it into an external speaker.  If you or someone in your party is musically talented ask him or her to bring an instrument and provide everyone with live music, fun! [spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsFor evening picnics lighting and mosquito repellent are must haves.

Combine both with this DIY Summer Citronella candles from Adventures in Making.

These simple to make dual purpose candles keep the bugs at bay while providing romantic lighting.  They’re easy to transport, just screw the lids on the mason jars and drop the candle in before you use them.  Don’t transport them with the candle in the water, the wicks will get wet and won’t light up.  Click here for instructions!

Don’t forget hand wipes to clean up after the meal and trash bags for all your disposables.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Food & Beverage Ideas:

You can of course pick-up a bucket of chicken or deli sandwiches on your way to your picnic venue, but for and extra yummy picnic here are some ideas.

Picnic EssentialsOne of the easiest things to prepare are sandwiches.

Wrap them individually in parchment or wax paper to make them look pretty.

Here are a couple of ideas from Delish.com!

You can make wraps instead or sandwiches. [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Picnic EssentialsFor lighter fare try this salad in a cup by 247 Low Carb Diner.

Perfect portion size and easy to take on a picnic! [spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsFor an early morning picnic bring breakfast in mason jars.

Try this Granola, Jam & Yogurt parfait from By Stephanie Lynn.

Picnic EssentialsYou can pack your favorite pasta salad, or any other food in mason jars too![spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsDon’t forget dessert, that’s the best part!

You can make these no bake cheesecakes by Family Feedbag, or make your favorite dessert in a jar.

Click here for recipe![spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsYou can even pack your favorite beverages in individual jars.

Chin Deep has some yummy recipes![spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsDIY drink pouches like She Knows does.

You can fill small ziploc bags with your favorite summer beverage and freeze them until ready to go, makes for cool slushy drinks.

For a drink with an adult kick try She Knows’ Vodka Lemonade.

Click here for recipe![spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsRe-purpose egg cartons to neatly transport deviled eggs, filled strawberries, and other small goodies.

Here’s a recipe for picnic deviled eggs from Recipes.com![spacer height=”-20px”]

Picnic EssentialsWatermelon is a great addition to summer picnics.

Keep them neat and easy to eat with this idea from Tidy Mom.

 

Homemade Doggie Biscuits

Homemade Doggie Biscuits

Doggie biscuitsWe’re all very busy working on our gift lists just like Santa’s little elves.  In all the hustle and bustle of the season we sometimes forget to give our furry little friends a little something.

We’ve been giving not only our family pets Christmas gifts for years, we give our pet lover friends gifts for their fur balls too.  I’m not sure who started this tradition and when we started, but I do know that we all love it!

I know sometimes things get too crazy and you think do I have to think of pet gits too?  Not to mention pet gifts at the pet stores can be ridiculously expensive,  sometimes hard to fit into a Christmas budget specially if you have lots of pet friends.  But you don’t have to break the bank on buying gifts for the furry critters or your friends that have some.

This year we’ll be giving out homemade doggie biscuits.  They are very easy and inexpensive to make and you can package them in any type of container you like.  We’re packing ours in pint size Mason jars, it’s sort of the double gift, the jar can be used throughout the year for more treats!

I baked these treats in about an hour using just a few ingredients, many of which I already had in my pantry.  I used rolled oats, ground flax seeds, and olive oil along with the other ingredients for a tasty and healthy treat.  Rolled oats are a good source of fiber and the flax seeds and olive oil are good for skin and coat.  My Siberian Husky, Cannoli, loves them.  She’s my taste tester!

Here’s my recipe!  It will make 24 bone shaped dog treats about 3″ long and 1/2″ thick

Ingredients:

2 cups flour – organic if you have it
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup  flax seed meal
1 small jar of chicken in chicken broth strained baby food
1 small jar of carrot strained baby food
3/4 + cup water
1/4 cup Olive oil

Directions:

1.  Mix all ingredients except water together in large bowl.

2.  Knead dough, adding water about 1/4 cup at a time until the dry ingredients are all mixed in and you can form a ball.

3.  Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness.

4.  Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters or use a glass to make round shapes.

5.  Place biscuits on parchment paper covered baking sheet.

6.  Re-roll dough until you have cut it all into biscuits.

7.  Brush both sides of biscuits with olive oil.

8.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Turning biscuits halfway for even browning.

9.  Remove from oven and cool on racks.  Cool completely before placing in containers.

Store at room temperature in sealed containers.  It will keep for 2-3 weeks or place in freezer to store longer.

Doggie biscuits
Homemade Doggie Biscuits
Print Recipe
Easy dog biscuit recipe my pup loves them!
Servings Prep Time
24 Biscuits 15 Minutes
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 Biscuits 15 Minutes
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Doggie biscuits
Homemade Doggie Biscuits
Print Recipe
Easy dog biscuit recipe my pup loves them!
Servings Prep Time
24 Biscuits 15 Minutes
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 Biscuits 15 Minutes
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Biscuits
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except water together in large bowl.
  2. Knead dough, adding water about 1/4 cup at a time until the dry ingredients are all mixed in and you can form a ball.
  3. Roll out dough to 1/2" thickness.
  4. Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters or use a glass to make round shapes.
  5. Place biscuits on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
  6. Re-roll dough until you have cut it all into biscuits.
  7. Brush both sides of biscuits with olive oil.
  8. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turning biscuits halfway for even browning.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Cool completely before placing in containers.
  10. Store at room temperature in sealed containers. It will keep for 2-3 weeks or place in freezer to store longer.
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Deep Fried Oreos

Deep Fried Oreos

fried oreosOreos!  I think just about everyone loves Oreos, those chocolate cookies with the creamy filled centers.  Of course everyone has their own preference when it comes to eating those yummy cookies.  Do you bite into the whole sandwich or do you twist one side off and eat the creamy filling first?  Personally I’m the bite the sandwich kind of gal!  Now as much as we love oreos we also love funnel cake, that oily sweet crunchy treat you find at fairs, carnivals, and theme parks.  Well have you ever had Deep Fried Oreos?

The only way I can describe Deep Fried Oreos is to say they’re a marriage of Oreo cookies and funnel cake.  Yes it’s a battered and fried treat that has recently been added to the fried treats found at the state fairs and carnivals across the country.  But it’s so easy to make at home so you don’t have to wait until the fair comes to town!

All you need is pancake batter, eggs, milk, oil, and of course the oreos.  It’s so easy you can make a batch of about 2 dozen in less than an hour.  I fry mine in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, the coconut oil gives it that little bitty taste of coconut, yummy!  But you can fry it in any oil you normally use.  So with out further delay here’s the recipe.  Hope you love these treats as much as we do!

Deep Fried Oreos

Ingredients:

1 Egg

1 Cup Milk

1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix

1 Tsp. Vanilla

24 Oreos

About 2″ oil for deep frying

Powdered Sugar

Directions:

Beat Eggs and milk together in a small bowl.

Mix in Bisquick until the batter is smooth not lumpy.

Stir in Vanilla

Heat oil over medium high heat.

Dip each oreo in dough and drop into hot oil.

Fry until golden brown.

Drain fried oreos on paper towel

Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Some folks like them hot, they’re crunchier when served hot.  But others like them cooled.  I’m not sure how well they keep as we never have any left over that needs storing!

fried oreos