4th of July Trifle

Our 4th of July fun marches on.  Today I have for you a great 4th of July Trifle recipe.  This has become a 4th of July tradition in our house, per my husband’s request.  I made this dessert about five years ago and my husband insists that I make it every year.  It is to date, also the only trifle that he will eat.

4th of July Trifle Dessert (pin)

4th of July Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 1 box red velvet cake
  • 16 oz whipped topping (I prefer Cool Whip)
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries (or strawberries)

Instructions:

  • Bake the cake according to the directions on the box.  For this dessert, I prefer to bake my cake in the round pans, as the rounded edges look nicer in the trifle dish.  Allow to cool.
  • If you can’t find red velvet cake, you can purchase a chocolate or a vanilla cake and use red food dye to change the color (depending on how bright and red your want your cake to be).
  • Wash and clean your fruit.  Slice the strawberries in half, if using strawberries.
  • Once the cake is cooled, place the layers as follows: cake, whipped topping, blueberries, cake, whipped topping.
  • On the top, you can arrange a pretty little design of your choosing with the remaining blueberries and strawberries/raspberries.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

Since I just make this for us as home, I just use a large trifle dish.  However, this dessert would also look adorable in individual sized clear cups if you were making it for a party and get together.  (If anyone tries this, I would LOVE to see pictures).

What 4th of July traditions do you have in your family?

How to Color Water Beads

Back in March, I wanted to make a St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin with water beads, but I could not find green water beads anywhere.  I was incredibly frustrated because I kept seeing pictures of great sensory bins on Pinterest that had colors like black and green.  Every time I followed the link to a blog though, the blogger had purchased these beads from craft stores.  None of the stores in our area (Hobby Lobby, JoAnns, or Michael’s) had anything other than clear, blue, and purple.  Those were my choices.  I even hunted online and couldn’t find the colors I was looking for.

I started looking for ways to color water beads but came up empty handed.  I started looking for ways to make my own water beads (and hopefully by extension, make them whatever color I wanted).  That involved buying various kinds of expensive organic seeds that I would have to order.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this honestly couldn’t be that hard, could it?  Water beads are these little dehydrated seed things (that’s my technical term) that grow in size when they sit and absorb water.  The beads absorb the water and grow.  When left out of water, they shrink back down.
how to color water beads (pin)

They absorb water.

This was key.  So I decided to experiment.  I grabbed a handful of clear water beads, black food coloring, and a cup of water.  I dumped some black food coloring into the cup, put the water beads in, and checked on them throughout the day.  Guess what?  My clear water beads turned a dark gray.  The longer they sat in the colored water, the darker the water beads became.

Huh… it really is that simple.

How to color Water Beads

What You need

  1. Clear water beads
  2. Water
  3. Food coloring

Instructions

  • I recommend placing the water in a large container with a lid.  We have cats and I didn’t want them drinking the water or me spilling them when I was working in the kitchen.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring (you don’t need a lot).
  • Place the water beads inside the container, close, and wait.
  • The lighter colors will be done in about 12 or so hours.  The longer you let the beads sit, the richer the color becomes.  For black, I let ours sit for about three days, before letting the kids play with them.
  • Strain your water beads in some type of colander.  If you play in the colored water, the food coloring will stain your hands.  The water beads on their own (without the colored water) leave minimal (if any) stains.
  • The color will start to fade after a while.  Simply put the water beads back in a container with colored water to recolor them.

I know that some people store their water beads after they are finished for future use, but I’ve never tried.  My kids like to pinch and break the water beads, so we just throw them out when we are done.

Word of caution: These are a choking hazard.  Water beads are not meant to be played with (this is posted right on the package).  They are meant for hydrating plants, not for kids to play with.  So please make sure that if you are using these in sensory play, that these are with kids who understand that they are not to put these in their mouths.

Viola!  The world of themed sensory bins and water beads just got a whole lot more creative and interesting.

4th of July Jello Cups

Who here doesn’t love summer?  The swimming, the snow cones, the 4th of July… it’s all good fun.  I love to celebrate the holidays with my family and the 4th of July is no exception.  In all honesty, I probably get a little too excited for the 4th, since the last “kid friendly” holiday is Easter.  (No offense to Memorial Day. It is extremely important but it is a holiday of remembrance).  In an effort to continue our quest for great 4th of July, kid friendly fun, I bring you: 4th of July Jello Cups.

4th of July Jello Cups (Pin)

4th of July Jello Cups

Ingredients:

  • Cool Whip (small container)
  • 1 small (3 oz) box of blue Jello mix
  • 1 small (3 oz) box of red Jello mix

Instructions:

  1. Prepare blue and red jello mix according to package instructions.
  2. After cooling, use a spoon to mix and “shred” the blue jello.  Do the same to the red.
  3. In small, clear cups, place a layer of red jello.
  4. Next, spread a small layer of cool whip.
  5. On the top, spread a layer of blue jello.
  6. Two small 3 oz boxes make approximately 4 to 6 jello cups, depending on the size of your cup and layers.

What is your favorite part of the 4th of July?

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

There is just something about summer that means we must have snow cones.   We purchased a snow cone machine from Wal-Mart several years ago for a cheap price.  It was on clearance for $10, marked down from $19.99 at the end of one summer.  The price of the syrups, though, seemed crazy expensive.  At anywhere from $2 to $5 per bottle of syrup (depending on the brand and the store).  Crushed ice is cheap.  Flavoring syrup is not.  In the tradition of all things frugal, I decided to make my own.  The best part of this, is that homemade snow cone syrup costs approximately 25 cents to make!  Yes, you read that right.  25 cents!

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Kool-Aid packet

Instructions

  1. Place 1.5 cups of water into a small saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Add Kool-Aid packet.
  7. Stir until dissolved.
  8. Allow to cool in the saucepan.
  9. Using a funnel, transfer the syrup from the pan to a condiment type bottle.
  10. Store in the fridge for 30 days.

Where to find storage bottles

You can be as fancy, or as frugal, as you like when it comes to the storage containers.  I purchased condiment containers from Wal-Mart for .97 cents each.

At the time of this posting, Kool-Aid packets were .15 each at Wal-Mart.  Talk about a price difference between homemade syrup and store bought syrup.

We made several different flavors: watermelon, strawberry, melon, grape, blue raspberry, and pina colada (for Mommy!  I promise it is a pina colada Kool-Aid packet and is alcohol free!).  This looks like a lot of syrup for 30 days, but in the summer, we eat snow cones every.single.day.  No, I’m not kidding.  When is over 100 degrees outside, we are going to stay cool however we can.

This also makes a great party food for the summer and an easy snack that the kids will love.

What is your favorite summer treat?

4th of July Fruit Parfait

I’m always trying to find new ways to give my kids healthy food, while keeping things in line with the season or homeschool theme of the week.  With Memorial Day behind us, the Fourth of July ahead of us, and fruit at peak season, I knew I could come up with some fun, healthy snacks that were red, white, and blue.  After taking advantage of the blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry sales, I finally came up with a simple, yet healthy 4th of July Fruit Parfait.

(This is so easy, you are going to love it).

4th of July Fruit Parfait

4th of July Fruit Parfait

Ingredients:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries or Raspberries
  • Vanilla (or plain) yogurt
  • Clear cups

Instructions:

  1. Wash all fruit.  If you using strawberries, dice them.
  2. Place a layer of fruit (I chose blueberries) on the bottom of a clear cup.
  3. Scoop some yogurt on top of the fruit.
  4. Place another layer of fruit (we used the strawberries) on the top.
  5. I recommend using a clear container for your parfaits, so that you can see the layers.

Other Options:

  • You can make individual cups swapping out strawberries or raspberries, depending on the person.
  • This can be eaten at anytime but ties in nicely to U.S. Patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day or the 4th of July.
  • If you homeschool this dessert can also be tied in with a unit on France (their flag is also red, white, and blue).

What is your favorite 4th of July treat?

June 2016 Goals Update

I know I say this every month, but May was one difficult month.  I ended April on a high note, thought things were going to be fantastic for May.  I set goals, deadlines, my house was in order.  I was going to rock the month of May!

Yeah…. I should’ve known better.

June 2016

On the morning of May 1st I was woken by my two year old screaming at the top of her lungs.  At 4 a.m!  As I stumbled my way down to her bedroom (half asleep and not sure if I was going to make it), I passed the bathroom where my husband was making some rather nasty vomit sounding noises.  Gross.  I hate puke.

Our Nightmare with Listeriosis

It was all downhill from there.  Over the next two weeks, my husband and my two kids were sick with listeriosis.  Listeriosis is caused by the bacteria listeria, which has been all over the news in recent months.  Guys, the symptoms of listeriosis are disgusting.  I really don’t want to go into detail (and I don’t think you want me to either), but it is just downright gross.  Since I was the only one who was not sick (thank goodness), I spent my time running back and forth to the grocery store and pharmacy.  I was also scrubbing carpets almost around the clock and washing more pillow cases than should be possible.

Following this, I then spent the next two weeks trying to clean up the house, getting things back in order, reorganizing my menu plan (since I planned and purchased for the whole month and nobody had eaten anything for just over two weeks), and restructuring our homeschool plans… all while battling several (yes, I said several) toothaches.

I clench my jaw when I get stressed out.  As a result, I was irritating my (already fragile and temperamental) teeth nerves.  My entire mouth ached.  So… I took a trip to the dentist.  She told me to destress… and that tooth 29 was going to need a root canal and crown.  Ugh… okay, but it doesn’t stop there!  Tooth 31 is going to need to be pulled.  It already had a root canal/crown on it from years ago.  All the clenching and grinding of my teeth caused the tooth to the break and it is going to need to be pulled.  Fantastic.

So… this post is a few days late because last week I had to have a tooth pulled and had to forgo care of said tooth because my daughter needed an emergency trip to the pedatrian.  (Recurrence of issues from the beginning of the month).  Thankfully the tooth extraction area is healing well and my daughter seems to be getting over whatever stomach ailment was going on last week.

That being said, despite the chaos of this month, I actually managed to get a lot done.  In all honesty, most of this was accomplished in the last week and a half of May.  I was sleep deprived, full of too much coffee, and could use a day at the spa.  However, what are you going to do, right?  This is life.

May 2016 Goal Progress

Have a date night.  Pass.  We ended up doing a pizza and movie (The Last Holiday).

Track my health and fitness goals every day in my planner.  Pass.  My health and fitness goals went pretty much out the window the first two and half weeks of the month, but this month’s goal was simply to track my progress.  I need accountability more than anything else and I think tracking these items in my planner is going to help me do just that.

Have June’s lesson plans completed by May 20th, including all printing and laminating.  Pass and Fail.  This goal was both.  The lesson plans (including printing and laminating) were all completed by the end of May.  I did not (as a result of 2.5 weeks of doing nothing but taking care of sick family members) get this done by May 20th.  However, this is where giving myself a little bit of grace comes into play.  The most important thing is that I got our lesson plans and all materials ready to go for the month of June.

One family day.  Pass.  This one was easy this month.  After being cooped up in the house for over two weeks, my family went running for the door after everyone recovered.  We purchased a yearly pass to the new Legoland experience that opened in our mall and spent a joyous morning playing with legos.

Clean zones two and three.  Use checklists and daily planners to stay on target.  Pass.  This was a barely and only got completed in the last few days of May, because I cleaned like a mad woman.  I had hoped to spread out these tasks throughout the month, so I wasn’t spending more than 30 minutes a day on routine household management.

Have June’s editorial calendar complete by May 13th.  Pass.  I actually got this done by the deadline, but that was just because I sat down on May 12th and tried to take advantage of everyone passed out in front of Finding Nemo (for the 800th time that week).

Have all of June’s photographs taken by May 30th. Pass.  I am unbelievably excited about this.  Photographs are the hardest thing for me to get to, where blogging is concerned.  They are not polished and ready for publication, but they have been taken and that’s what I wanted to accomplish the most.

Watch two AFI films.  Pass.  I watched Jaws and Frankenstein (1931).  Whenever I watch an AFI film, I usually look up information about the film after viewing, to put things in better context.  I’m an ’80s baby (’90s kid) and both of these films are before my time.  Jaws looked like dozens of other horror/mystery films that I’ve seen over the years.  Well guess what?  They’re all Jaws rip-offs.  This is why research is important.  Jaws was also the first summer blockbuster film, with Star Wars being released the following summer.  Jaws and Star Wars were highly influential in how movies in the U.S. were released and marketed.

I did enjoy Frankenstein, as well.  Again, research is important.  I learned, from my research, that the current Frankenstein monsters get this looks from this film.  Apparently the Frankenstein depicted this in the 1931 Frankenstein Film (and all future media) look nothing like the monster that Mary Shelley depicted her in novel.  (Which I have not read).

Read or listen to “Much Ado About Nothing.”  Pass.   I listened to an audiobook of “Much Ado About Nothing” on my laptop.  About halfway through the first act, I realized I probably could have skipped this play on my to read/listen to list, as I have seen the movie dozens of times (and the movie uses Shakespeare’s script verbatim). I own a copy Much Ado About Nothing starring Kate Beckinsale and have watched it dozens of times, it is one of my favorite films.  Oh well.

June 2016 (facebook)

June 2016 Goals

Eat three meals a day.  If you’re a mom, you probably get this.  Sometimes I can go a whole day without eating and not even realize it until after my kids go to bed.  While I have been better about making sure I eat three good meals a day, I haven’t been at my best.  Food = energy, and I certainly need energy.

Continue tracking my health and wellness goals in my planner every day.  I’m going to do my very best not to fall off my planner wagon.  I’ve been doing great tracking my goals.  My goals are to consume more water (I have two cute little water bottles to help track this), stick to my dental plan, and walk 1,500 miles by the end of the year.

Have July’s lesson plans (including printing, laminating, to-do lists, and shopping lists) completed by 18th.  The one slip up I made with this goal this month was not including my lists.  There are some things I can’t do (such as the sensory bins) until the beginning of the week, so I need to keep track of these in my planner.  Otherwise I’m scrambling at the last minute because I son goes “where’s my bin, Mom?”  Oops…

Clean zones four and five.  Use checklists and planners to stay on target.  Zones four and five include: the laundry room, stairway, office, downstairs closet, and two bedrooms (both belonging to the kids).  The only trouble with these two zones is that the majority of the cleaning needs to take place upstairs.  My husband sleeps during the day and the kids sleep at night.  Mmmm…

Have July’s editorial calendar complete by June 15th.  Creating the editorial calendar for the blog is easy.  I have more ideas than I know what to do with.  It’s sticking with it that is the problem.  As I write this I am surrounded by crayons, toy dinosaurs, and have been interrupted by two littles ones approximately 18,000 times.

Have all of July’s photographs taken by June 25.  One of the toughest things about a lifestyle blog is taking my own photographs.  I can’t very well purchase photographs of projects I’ve created (and I’m not spending a fortune on a professional photographer to come to my home).  I’m not very skilled at photos (although I am learning, slowly.  It’s almost embarrassing to look at last year’s photos.)  I also have to find time to do it when my kids won’t want to “help”.

Watch three AFI films.  I’ve already put three on hold at the library.  For this month I’ve chosen The Manchurian CandidateThe Grapes of Wrath, and Chinatown.  I also requested the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate to compare to the original.

Read or listen to “Othello”.  I’m still chugging my way through Shakespeare’s complete works.  I will probably listen to this on audiobook.  However, I need my husband to fix itunes for me.  I updated it and now it won’t recognize my ipod.  Argh.  There’s always something right?

How was your May? What goals are you looking forward to accomplishing in June?

Space Sensory Bin

Sensory play is HUGE in our house and I try to incorporate at least one sensory bin into each of our homeschool themes/units.  My four year old can be occupied by a sensory bin for HOURS (no exaggeration).  Since he learns best through picture books, play, and discussions, these bins have become a vital part in our unit studies.  My son also contributed a lot to the materials that went into our space sensory bin.

Space Sensory Bin

Materials Used in the Space Sensory Bin

  • Black beans
  • Space toob
  • Bouncy balls
  • Glow in the dark stars
  • Stones (from the dollar tree)
  • Some weird yellow spikey ball we got from an Easter egg hunt

When I initially constructed the space sensory bin, I just had the black beans, bouncy balls (which are supposed to represent planets), the stars, and the items from the space toob.  My son promptly informed me that we were missing asteroids (the stones) and the sun (the spikey ball thing).  Well okay then… I guess Mommy built a less than adequate solar system.

After my son finished offering his input I gave it to him to explore.  The imagination of a four year old knows no bounds.  He “landed” the astronauts on various planets, the asteroids hit a planet or two, he showed how the planets rotate around the sun.  He was upset with me for a little bit because we didn’t have a moon, so we “promoted” one of the larger asteroids to moon status.

Since we read many (and I mean many) books on space prior to our sensory play, the space sensory bin, gave my four year old a chance to show his knowledge on the subject.  He talked about the rover (from the space toob) and what it’s job was on the planets/moons that it visits, as well as the hubble telescope (from the space toob)

You May Also Like:

Spring Sensory Bin   St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

May 2016 Goals Update

I didn’t do a goals update for the month of April, because frankly, there was nothing to report.  I bombed my goals for March (miserably) and honestly hadn’t even noticed that we’d rolled over into a new month until about the second week of April.

I was that overwhelmed and tired.  So… as I do every month, I sat down and did some thinking.  What wasn’t working and why?  Truthfully?  I’m still not taking good care of myself.  I’m not drinking enough water, I’m not eating enough food, and I’m not getting enough sleep.  I’m also (still) watching too much T.V.

I’m thinking of having the (very outdated) television set taken out of our master bedroom.

Our master suite serves as our bedroom, my office, and my craft space.  There’s also a T.V. in there.  Too often I tell myself “It’s okay to listen to Law & Order rereuns”, you can still get stuff done… yea, right.  Four hours later, I’ve fallen asleep with the lights on and my clothes are still soaking in the washing machine downstairs.

May 2016 Goals Update

So… I retooled my arc planner (again) and did something thinking about “S.M.A.R.T.” goals.  Smart goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

I know this.  I’ve been setting goals and using planners since I was about five years old.  No… I’m not being dramatic.  Getting my new school issued agenda at the start of the school year was more exciting to me than Christmas morning.

The fact of the matter is, I haven’t been successful at setting and reaching goals since becoming a mother.  Pregnancy brain?  It never goes away.  The majority of my day is spent chasing after two little (very demanding) devils angels.  Trying to accomplish anything during their waking hours is a waste of time and added stress.  A simple five minute chore turns into a forty-five minute ordeal.  After which everyone is snotty, cranky, and tear stained.  Myself included.

May 2016 Goals Update

So, for May I decided to tie my goals straight into my (newly improved) arc planner.  My theme for this month is accountability.  Goals are great, but I need a way to be held accountable or it’s all for naught.

Have a date night.  Hubby and I have slipped up on this in recently weeks.  We’ve both been tired, sick, and overworked.  I want to get back to making our marriage a priority.

Track my health and fitness goals every day in my planner.  I’ll be sharing my newly retooled planner in a few weeks and the majority of my health and fitness goals go straight out the window, because, frankly, I don’t make my health a priority.  I have goals for the year that I set (water drinking and miles walked), but need a way to be held accountable.  This is where my new planner pages come in.

Have June’s lesson plans completed by May 20th, including all printing and laminating.  Guys, when I have all my stuff done, life is better!  We studied the Rainforest and Bugs/Insects at the beginning of April and it was AWESOME.  I had everything done ahead of time, there was no stress.  The kids had a great time, I had a great time.  It was great.  I’m hoping that by including a deadline on it (and then breaking it up into smaller chunks for each week), I’ll actually get this done.

One family day.  Mommy admission: I’m really bad about setting aside days just for family.  We had a family day last week and it was great.  No housework.  Just the husband, me, and the kids.  We went the aquarium, built legos, had lunch, no stress.  I need to stop worrying so much about dishes and laundry and weeds (sorry HOA) and slow down.  The housework will still be there tomorrow.

Clean zones two and three.  Use checklists and daily planners to stay on target.  Again, tying this goal directly into my planner system.  I use the Fly Lady cleaning zones system to keep my house clean, but I tend to take things on a slower scale.  She’d probably be appalled at the fact that I’m only going to clean my bathrooms (2.5), kitchen, and living room this month.  However, I have a 3,200 sq. ft house on a 7,000 sq. ft. lot.  That’s a lot of square footage.  I don’t want to spend my life cleaning, but I don’t want to live in a dusty mess either.  Balance is key.

Have June’s editorial calendar complete by May 13th.  Ah… the blogging goals.  Finding time for this is just downright painful.  As I write I’m surrounded by unfinished scrapbooking layouts, my kids are roughhousing with my husband, and I’m panicking over my unfinished lesson plans for this week.  Creating the calendar is the easy part, but only step one in the much larger process.  I’m not short on ideas, just short on time.  The earlier I get the calendar created, the sooner I can start on the materials.

Have all of June’s photographs taken by May 30th.  Confession time: I hate taking photographs.  If you guys could see the amount of finished drafts in my archive, ya’ll would be appalled.  The posts are written, the photos are awful.  I also can’t take photographs with natural light for several reasons.  The first is that the desert sun is not kind to photographs of still objects.  The second is the little hands that want to “help.”  Photographs don’t look so great when taken at 1 a.m.  Since so many of my posts involve my life, stock photographs aren’t going to get the job done.

Watch two AFI films.  This is not a goal that I have forgotten.  I’ve been working on this list for about eight years.  It’s fallen to the wayside, but I’ve decided to start adding it to my monthly items again.  I’d like to finish this goal sometime this decade…

Read or listen to “Much Ado About Nothing.”  Shakespeare… Still working my way through his complete works.

How are you holding yourself accountable this month?

This entry was posted in My Life.

Spring Sensory Bin

How else would you celebrate spring than with a spring sensory bin!?  While the desert is in full bloom, there aren’t many bugs and plants around here that I would deem safe for play, so I took a trip to the dollar store and put together the following spring sensory bin.

Spring Sensory Bin

We used the following materials (all purchased from the dollar tree):

  • Potting soil
  • Plastic bugs
  • Plastic flowers
  • Plastic “terra cotta” pots
  • Plastic gardening tools
  • Stones

I was absolutely floored when I saw that the dollar tree sold bags of potting soil.  I’m not sure how well it works for growing plants.  However, since we were using it for play and not for planting, the price and the size (4.4 dry QTs) was perfect.  I purchased various plastic flowers from the dollar tree that I took apart into individual stems using my husband’s wire cutters (sssh… don’t tattle on me, please!).  I also purchased several packages of plastic bugs from the toy section.  The gardening tools are also plastic and were found in the toy section at the Dollar Tree last year.

In the gardening section of the Dollar Tree (at each of the three stores I’ve been too – the perks of living in the big city – these were located in the front with the other seasonal stuff), I found both real terra cotta pots and these plastic pots.  Since these babies are going to get used and abused by my two kids, I went with the plastic ones.  They were packaged four for a $1.

Since this was actual dirt we were playing with, we took the bins outside.  If you don’t want the kids playing with dirt, you could also use dried black beans or dried pinto beans in place of the potting soil.  However, I always encourage messy play whenever possible (and patience allows).

8 Tips for Organizing a Small Pantry

One of the reasons we purchased our house was our large kitchen.  In our apartment, our kitchen was incredibly small and hard to navigate with one person, let alone two.  Our kitchen now is spacious, has an island, and lots of cupboard space.  Our small pantry, however… is sad.  If there was someway to create a larger pantry in our kitchen I would do it in a heartbeat.  As it is, there is no way to make our pantry larger, so I had to make do with the space that we have.

8 Tips for a Small Pantry

How to Organize a Small Pantry

1. Decide what does (and doesn’t) go in your pantry.  Since we had a small pantry, I wanted to keep our pantry limited to frequently used cooking/baking materials and snacks.  No kitchen gadgets or infrequently used items (such as jello mixes, pastas, food coloring, etc.).

2. Categorize everything.  If it doesn’t have a category either create it or store the item somewhere else.  My categories are: baking, spices/mixes, cooking oils, snacks, sugars/flours/rices.

3. Purchase bins/containers for each category.  A few of the larger white bins in my pantry are leftover from my teaching days (they were in my classroom).  The smaller bins are from the Dollar Tree.  I used 50lb pet food containers to store our large bulk items such as flour and rice.

8 Tips for a Small Pantry 2

4. Place the heavy stuff on the floor.  Our pantry goes from floor to ceiling.  Obviously, the super heavy stuff (100 lbs of flour and rice for instance) go on the floor.  I also keep our ziploc bags, soda cases, potatoes, and onions on the floor.  (Potatoes on one side and onions on the other since they “harm” each other when stored together).

5. Place the most frequently used items within reach.  I keep our snacks on the lowest shelf.  While it does make for quick toddler hands when I reach into pantry, I’m also trying to teach my kids independence.  Therefore, their snacks are kept within their reach (with a child proof lock on the pantry door!).  My heavily used items are within my reach, so I don’t have to get the stepping stool every time I go into the pantry.

6. If possible, place your stockpiling/backup items on the top shelf.  I hate reaching for ketchup in the fridge and finding there isn’t anymore.  I always keep two bottles/bags of frequently used items in our house.  Things like mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, salsa, etc.  One open and in the fridge and one in the pantry for when we run out.  These items get placed on the top shelf (and out of my reach) since we don’t need them everyday.

8 Tips for a Small Pantry 3

7. Use an over the door shoe rack for small, easy to lose items.  It is really easy to lose little bags of muffin mix or a small bottle of vanilla extract in your pantry.  Even a small one.  If you have a door on your pantry (most of them do), you can use a cheap, over the door shoe hanger (with pockets) to store your smaller items.  In mine I keep: muffin mixes, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, soda stream syrups, small snacks, popcorn, and various odds and ends.

8.  Make it Work for You.  What I’ve shared today is my system, that works for my family.  You may need something similar, with a few changes, or something completely different.  The best piece of advice that I can give for organizing a small pantry is this: take what you need from today’s post and use it.  Leave the rest behind.  Set yourself up for success.

What are your best tips for organizing a small space?