Monday, April 9, 2012

I Hate My Pantry

I love my house. I really do. It might seem like I'm always trying to change something, move something around, brighten up this, get rid of that, etc., but I guess that's because I want it to be just so. Well, if there is one place in my home that is just "not so," it is always my pantry. I hate it. It's horrible. And it's not my fault really.

Let me start at the beginning. When we fell in love with this house, I was 26. When you are 26, you look for certain things in a home. Beautiful floors? Check. Big spa-like bathroom? Check. Nice neighborhood? Check. Close to friends? Check. Was a functional pantry on my list? Uh, no. They called it a "butler's pantry." Oh, how fancy it sounded. Like it came with some little Mr. Belvedere type to tidy up after you. Not the case. My pantry is two sided. One side has these beautiful glass cabinets that I keep pretty things in. The other side...the death of me. The area I have to keep food is so strange in space and size that I have a hard time describing it. The top area is sloped on the top, so it's really only useful from the front two feet. The bottom area is deep, but keeping everything down there is like keeping things in the basement (if we had one of those). You put it down there and forget it's there because, really, who wants to look through a dark dank basement for that angel hair pasta you know you bought a couple of months ago, but it would be easier to scrape together the 88 cents and buy a new Great Value box (Walmart brand, for you uppity grocery shoppers that are not aware of the beauty of Great Value...haha).

Now that I am in my 30's and a mommy, my priorities for my pantry are so different. Oh how I wish for a closet pantry. One that I can walk in to, that I can hang a rack over the back of the door for canned goods, that I can keep small appliances and my trash can. But, alas, this is not what I have. I have the monster that screams at me every time I open it. I try to keep it organized, really I do. But when your pantry explodes with freaking Goldfish, multiple types of bread and breakfast cereals, and other things like a box of old tupperware for your baby to play with because you don't want him playing with the new tupperware you just replaced it with (silly, I know) it's just impossible to keep clean.

Every time my mom visits, 2 or 3 times a year, she empties it out and organizes it. And this is in addition to me cleaning it every few months, too. It's to the point where sometimes I do it right before she comes because I can't bear to hear the "Oh my god look at this pantry" that always is shouted the first time she opens it to search for her coffee maker that is housed somewhere in the "basement" area.

I feel like if my pantry is organized, from top to bottom, I'll be a better mommy. Rainbows will soar over my home, and my children will always behave beautifully. All because I have order in my pantry. Right? Today was the day I decided to organize the beast. My mom isn't coming for another months, so that should give me ample time to completely obliterate it again before her arrival. I figured if I took 30 minutes to clean it, I could reward myself with 30 minutes of blogging about it. Because I know everyone yearns to read about other people's pantries.

Here's the closed doors, both childproofed. Isabelle is tall enough to open the top part and search for things. Scary.

Here's the counter for the "butler's area." Please note the several empty milk jugs which I am supposed to be saving for crafting with Isabelle. Hasn't happened yet. An egg carton that is filled with plastic eggs for games. The rubbermaid tub full of arts and crafts things. Where in the heck am I going to put all these crafting things???? Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I clean this counter off quite often and it always explodes with stuff rather quickly. Horrible. are the doors opened. It's embarrassing. But SO not functional and it so quickly goes terribly wrong!

I start by taking most things out and decided what to keep. Here is the counter during the purge.

Here is the top slightly emptied. Notice the sloping ceiling that totally robs me of my pantry space.

Pantry observations. Trust me. This is going to be good:

1. I am obsessed with nuts and seeds. In my pantry I found one can of roasted salted almonds, one can of honey roasted peanuts, one can of natural almonds, a three pound bag of natural almonds, a bag of pistachios, a bag of pine nuts, and a bag of sunflower seeds. Now, in my defense I am on a quest to make the perfect candied almonds, which is why I have so many of the natural variety. But then again I did just go to Sprouts today and bought a pound of cinnamon roasted almonds. Add those to the list. They are a wonderfully healthy treat, and Isabelle loves all of them. So I guess it's okay.

2. Every time I do this, I find myself asking, why do I buy enormous bags of chips at Costco? We never eat the whole bag and they end up getting thrown away half eaten. But I have a hard time paying $3.99 for the tiny bag of Pirate Booty at the grocery store when I could buy the 8 pound bag for $5.99 at Costco. It's just crazy the deals you can find there! Wait, that's another post.

3. I am always excited to find a super expired item. And I'm not talking your leftover box of Stovetop Stuffing from last Thanksgiving. I'm talking jar of jalepenos that expired when I was still living my apartment back in 2001 and somehow got moved and moved and moved and shoved so far to the back and bottom that they could never possibly be found. I know what you must be thinking--how could you ever have anything expired if you clean your freaking pantry so often? And I would say, You are right!!! That's why it's so exciting when I find it. I say, "How could I have POSSIBLY missed this last time?" Here are my items from this time:

First of all, my official "super expired" find this time was the Knorr Vegetable Boullion. It has been overlook each and every time the pantry has been cleaned, and it expired...get ready for it...November 10, 2007. That is so awesome. Boullion lasts A LONG TIME. So that must mean I bought this stuff around 2003 when I was in culinary school and probably needed it for a recipe. 2003 still living with my mom and dad 2003. 2003 wasn't even married yet 2003! Holy moly. Well, it met the trash can today. I also decided to finally clean through the spices this time. Don't do this every time, but now that I did I really how many of them are expired in the same year as the boullion. Cayenne pepper, fajita seasoning, thyme, poultry seasoning, it's time to go. See ya!

4. Item of interest that keeps staying in the pantry: a jar of pure Maple Syrup. I think we bought this back a few years ago when we were convinced that high fructose corn syrup was the devil and we should swear off good ole Log Cabin Syrup. But we never opened the maple syrup, and soon after Log Cabin started toting their NO HFCS syrup on the shelves!'s good. Maybe one day we'll open the maple syrup. It doesn't have an expiration date on it, so it's good to go in there for at least another 10 years I would think. And we are back on High Fructose Corn Syrup. It just makes things tastier. I'm sorry, but it does.

So here is the finished product, all spick and span. Still a bit cluttered, but again, I don't have much to work with.

The counter is half clean. It's the best I could do.

So, the world is better today. I got to clean my pantry and sit on the computer to blog about it, all before both of my kids started screaming from their rooms upstairs after a not-long-enough-for-this-mommy nap.

Now, don't even get me started on my kitchen drawers...

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Fun Month

Hello! It's April already--how is that possible? March was full of fun in this house, and thought I would share a few pictures of the kids.

Matching Jammies: Oh boy. Well, at Christmas time I got them matching reindeer jammies. And for any of you that have a toddler and a baby, you know how it is--the big kid is always wanting what the little one has. So, Isabelle kept asking for matching jammies, and I obliged and got several pairs on clearance at Target (boy ones--I wouldn't feel right putting Connor is pink jammies, but okay with putting Isabelle in blue ones...haha). To this day, they still wear matching ones every night. It is hilarious. Here is a photo of them:

Here is Connor laughing at me as I pretend to throw a goldfish in the air and catch it in my mouth. He thought it was just as funny as when I do it for real! Just love him!!!

Activity time! So I am obsessed with this blog called No Time For Flash Cards. I swear the lady that writes it is a genius at thinking of activities at home, and she is WAY more involved with playing with her kids than I ever am! But here are my attempts.

Exhibit A: Easter Egg Letter Game. You put magnet letters in eggs, and as they open them you ask what the letter is and think of words that start with that letter. I took it up a notch and put miniature marshmallows in some of the eggs, too. This was a hit! Please notice the matching jammies. :-)

Exhibit B: Finger painting with yogurt. Get plain yogurt and mix in a drop or two of food coloring. Dip your finger in and paint!

Exhibit C: Finger painting with actual paint. Messy. But fun. Don't ask why she's not wearing pants. I'm not really sure.

Exhibit D: Glowing Easter Eggs! Get large plastic eggs and small glow sticks. Crack the glow sticks and place them inside the egg and watch them glow! I couldn't get a good shot of this, but you can see how they are glowing. It was hard though because every time I got an egg put together, Connor immediately opened it.

Fun in the sun! It's been in the 70s and 80s alot, so we've been outside a lot. I put the tarp down for some sprinkler/splash table time and invited our neighbor Chase over. We have since added a baby pool to the tarp as well. It's fun to slip and slide on, and the kids don't get as grassy.

Messy boy! I realized I had never gotten a shot of Connor all messy after he eats. This is probably because the kid refuses to eat pretty much anything, so we end up feeding him yogurt and goldfish all the time. Kind of hard to get messy with those. He will eat black beans every now and again, so here he is after a particularly delicious session with some.

Both kids got their first haircuts at the end of February. Isabelle insisted that Connor go first. He was not a fan. But sure looks precious in his little blue cape!

Isabelle was a trooper. I mean, who wouldn't be when you are treated to your favorite television show, a lollipop, and a pretty pink cape to wear? Here she is after the cut get her hair blow dried. Hilarious!!!

After this weekend I will get some Easter pics posted. Have a blessed day, and rejoice in our risen Lord!!!! Happy Easter!