Real Life Pantry Organization

Such a good idea when you're short on space for a pantry: Ikea bookshelves!!!

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When we moved from our condo into our house, we lost a huge under the stairs pantry space from our little condo kitchen. The new house had more cupboards than the condo, but once we accounted for the amount of storage we needed for the pantry, it amounted to a lot less space for dishes. The design of the house means the kitchen acts as a hallway to get to the back half of the house, so we didn’t have any space to put a traditional deep pantry. So, Ikea to the rescue! We purchased 2 Billy Bookcases from Ikea, covered the back in a contact paper I liked and anchored them to the wall. Honestly, I prefer this set up to the big, deep pantry we left behind at the condo.

Real life pantry with re-purposed glass jar storage

That’s a real picture of my pantry up there. I love this pantry because it’s not as deep as traditional pantries, so I don’t lose as much stuff at the back of the pantry. The glass doors force me to keep it tidy and they also pick up on the reflection of the window, so it actually adds light to the room, a little bit like having a mirror there. They do get a little grimy from little fingers, but nothing that a quick wipe can’t take care of!

As for storage for our pantry, I prefer glass containers and I think re-purposing is the cat’s meow! The benefits are many! It diverts trash from landfills, saves the earth’s resources, and saves my resources ($$$)! There’s plenty of money to be saved by reusing things that we have coming into our houses anyway. Let me show you some of the ways that I use re-purpose glass jars I got for the cost of the products I was purchasing anyway.

Even though I often make my own pasta sauce, when jarred pasta sauce goes on sale, I pick up a few jars to keep in my pantry. Mr Wonderful likes to use it to make a quick lunch or dinner for himself or the kids. And in a pinch, even I will heat up a bunch of homemade or store-bought meatballs and add some jarred pasta sauce for a quick, brainless dinner for the family. These are actually Mason jars, which I have also re-used to can peaches. Mr Wonderful also likes to use them as large water glasses, so I just embraced that, and we have a whole bunch in our glasses cupboard.

Re-use glass jars as beverage glasses

These same jars make great dry pantry storage. I keep mineral salt, nuts, baking soda, baking powder, Trim Healthy Mama sweeteners, psyllium husks, chocolate chips, and all manner of dry pantry items. I bought those cute chalkboard labels and these chalkboard pens and also some oil-based, permanent white pens to write labels on containers that get cold or wet or dirty easily, and for those products I use often and always have on hand. I ordered all my chalkboard labels and pens on Amazon since it’s just so easy to find things there. And then, click, click… you’ve got mail!

I really held off getting an Amazon Prime membership for a long time, since I thought it was a lot of money to spend in order to have to spend more money, but now that more and more items are shipping to Canada and with 1-day shipping, it’s turned out to be super-handy, so we worked it into the budget.

Re-purpose glass jars for pantry storage!

Once upon a time, I spray-painted a bunch of lids black so that they could all be the same colour, but that was work that I just haven’t repeated. Over the years, I’ve also picked up some of these lids (the white ones pictured above). You can get them on Amazon, but you can also find them in grocery stores and other large retailers with the canning supplies. They are lids for freezer canning and dry storage, fitting perfectly on Mason jars. Now that I have collected a lot of jars, I either use these lids or only keep jars with black or white lids, so my pantry looks cohesive, which is important since my pantry is a feature in my kitchen and has glass doors.


There are plenty of other jars I reuse as well. I also love to use these shorter jars. Most are Better than Bouillon jars; they have a black lid and they are a perfect size for gluccie, stevia, and other things that I keep a smaller amount of in my pantry/fridge. The chalkboard labels are great for these too. Salsa jars are also a great size for pantry storage, but I don’t buy much salsa in that size and I reuse those jars for pysanky dyes (more on that later!), so I don’t have many of them in my pantry.

Great re-purposing idea! Chalkboard labels on re-purposed glass jars!

For larger pantry storage, I would love to get some sweet jars like these, which would match my chalkboard labels theme. But right now I’m using a combination of hand-me-down Tupperware my mom gave me and some cheap storage containers I bought in college.

I’m constantly trying to improve the look of my pantry since it’s always on display. Organization and tidiness are key. What are your tips for keeping your pantry tidy and organized? Tell me in the comments below: I’m always looking for new ideas! Thanks!

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How I Hem and Patch Jeans

How to Hem and Patch Jeans

My children inherited my husband’s long torso and shortish legs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly the tall, slender type myself, but proportionately my legs are pretty long for my height. So I can wear regular pants without having to hem. But even for me, jeans can be the exception to that. So, with short legs running in our family (and nice round bums) we have to size up in the jeans department (for the kids) and hem (a LOT).

I was so happy to find this fabulous way of hemming jeans from Just Something I Made. Fast and easy and it keeps the original hem look that we all love about jeans. It has its drawbacks, but overall, it’s pretty great. I’ll show you on my son’s jeans.

This picture was taken after I ripped out the seam, but you can get a good idea from the wear lines, how it worked. I didn’t cut the leftover fabric off, I just hand-tacked it up on the inside so it would stay there.

This is how it looks after ripping them hem out. You can see that I took about 3 inches out in hemming them. They’ll be a little long on him and might look a tad goofy with the wear lines (and darker portion there), but I hope they’ll be acceptable enough for my husband to put them on him (he dresses the kids most days).

These jeans needed letting down for a little while, but they also began to sport a small wear tear in the knee (boys!), so I took care of the whole job in one go. I patched up the hole in the jeans like this. I first saw this here on CRAFT (complete tutorial in that link).

Inside pic. If you can’t tell what I did here, I cut a small piece of denim (from old jeans; I keep them around for crafting and whatnot… it also occurred to me that I should keep the bottom portion of my daughter’s hemmed jeans since there are usually about 4 or 5 inches to lop off those and then I could use them for patches). So I cut a little square, quite a bit bigger than the hole. Usually, there’s wear around the hole, so it’s good to give the whole area some reinforcement. I pin the denim in place and, using my sewing machine, I just sew back (using the reverse button) and forth pulling slightly to kind of zigzag it along the patch. Cover the patch that way, trim the excess patch, if you like… and you’re done!

Turn them right side out and they look like that. It’s a little funky looking, but I think goofy patches are more obvious; this is more like the distressed look. And that patch isn’t going ANYWHERE!

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Birthday-Zilla and the Birthday Cake

Daisy flower cake

So, my daughter turned 8 the other weekend. Crazy, but our friends have a 9-year-old, so I sort of feel prepared for it. Y’know, their kid turns 8 and then I have a full 14 months to get used to the fact that our kid is going to be 8. Helps soften the blow.

And maybe I’m a bit biased, but she’s the sweetest eight-year-old I know. Normally, she’s a very accommodating child. She’s our first-born and she has always loved people so much. So much so that I used to wonder why they even had toys for babies, because she was never very interested in toys, other than to chew on them. She was much more entertained by people. When her brother came along, there wasn’t a moment of jealousy. It was almost bizarre: she just loved him so much and was so glad to have another person along with her all the time. Z’s definition of a brother: permanent friend.

She’s usually pretty quick to offer solutions when there are disagreements over things and many times it’s: “You can have that, Simon, I’ll just use this.” It’s not that she’s never selfish, demanding or stubborn, but her usual way is pretty accommodating.

But I don’t know who told her the rules all changed for her birthday, but this year wasn’t the first year that she turned into something of a “Birthday-Zilla,” demanding that everything had to be her way. She had to have the biggest balloon “because it’s MY birthday.” SHE was going to help make lunch because it was HER birthday. Fun. Still, all in all, it turned out to be a good day.

There’s a lot of birthday party talk for a few months before the event around our house. It starts in earnest after Christmas. I remember the birthday party being quite the commodity as a child of Z’s age. I guess it’s one of the few things that a child really has much control or say over, so whom they invite and what they do and what the cake looks like is all a pretty big deal. Z described her cake and then she drew a picture of what she wanted it to look like. I wish I could find that picture; it was great. The kids helped with the flowers. I found some great fondant punches at J. Wilton Distributors which is a great little cake supply place not too far from my work. I make my own marshmallow fondant, which is easy and yummy (if you like super sweet marshmallows) and makes a lovely soft workable fondant.

Flower birthday cake



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Beauty Cupcakes

The following cupcakes were inspired by Beauty & the Beast, made for a bridal shower a few weeks ago. They were chocolate ganache filled chocolate cupcakes topped with a vanilla whipped buttercream and sugar pearls.



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Heffalump Cake

For my son’s first birthday, I made him this cake. S has a stuffed Ty elephant that Z affectionately named “Lumpy” (after the Heffalump from Winnie the Pooh), so while I thought at first that I would model the cake after S’s stuffed toy, it was infinitely easier to use the Heffalump from Winnie the Pooh. Here was my inspiration:

I printed this picture off the Internet and took a picture of it.

Then I traced the cake pan, and sketched the picture onto the paper. I had some help because I copied and pasted the picture from the Internet into my Paint program and drew a rectangle around the main part of the body, so I knew about how much to sketch onto the main part and how to make the leftovers work for the rest of the pieces.

The taped-on pieces are “leftovers” from the rest of the shape being cut out. I placed this image on the cake and cut the cake around it.

I decided to use the rounded top of the cake (that I had cut off to level the cake) to shape a 3D nose for Lumpy because the cake just didn’t seem challenging enough (ha ha ha). Here is a picture with all the pieces pasted together before icing. Just about every edge was raw (a cake decorator’s nightmare).

Then, I iced the cake. I used a buttercream icing flavoured with peppermint extract instead of vanilla (mint chocolate cake…mmmmm…) and coloured it light blue (like S’s stuffie instead of light purple like the Heffalump).

Not too bad. It’s hard to get a smooth finish on a “Lumpy” surface (pun intended).

After putting the main coat of icing on, it was time for finishing.

So, here he is all drawn on and outlined.

And here we are posing with the cake, before or after singing to S at the park.
That’s my sister holding S.
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I made this: Banana

I found this really great free amigurumi pattern site last week that I just had to share. If you like to crochet small anthropomorphic things, this website is just the place for you. While I was intrigued by the severed fingers pattern that came up in my google reader today, I poked around a bit and found this great banana pattern. I have made some other amigurumi play food for my kids and I started to attempt a banana earlier this summer, but got caught up in trying to make the pattern curve like a banana. This pattern really relies on the way you stuff the banana to get a curve to it. But it works. And it’s a lot better than the banana I never finished.

 I like how this shot of the banana looks like it’s in a police line up.
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