Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Five... Organized Refrigerator!

Hey people! I've been pretty quiet this week... I know, but for good reason.  We've decided to keep Ace home for one more year of preschool at home with mommy.  It was a last minute decision, which has had me scrambling to plan out the coming months of fun learning activities.  I want to make sure my "baby" is ready for kindergarten when it's time.  More on our preschool at home to come.

Today, I want to share my organized fridge with you.  I know some people might be thinking... enough already!  Organizing the fridge is just one small step from being OCD, but it's really not.  Lot's of good can come from having an organized fridge.  For one, less food is spoiled.  If you always put your leftovers in the same place and clearly label them, you are more likely to not forget about them in the back.  Also, with an organized fridge you will (or should) spend less time looking for things with an open door, which lowers you fridge temp, and causes it to work harder, therefore jacking up your electricity bill!

Yes... I absolutely see the irony in this picture with the doors wide open.
Now that you know why organizing the fridge is a good thing, lets talk about how to organize your fridge.  As with any project in my home (or anywhere for that matter) I start off with some research.  Turns out, I am not the only one into fridge organizing.  I have gained lots of newfound knowledge in terms of where to store things.  The last time I did a fridge shuffle I kind of winged it and just moved stuff where I thought it looked best.  This was not conducive to long lasting food, which is why I did so much research this time around.  There is tons of info out there, But I will keep it simple and share just 5.  So here we go...

Friday Five: Tips For Organizing a Refrigerator.

1. Milk.  When I was mentally planning out my new organized fridge, I was thinking of placing my milk on the door along with our OJ.  I just thought it would look good there and be a good use of space.  I figured that would be the best place, Wrong!! Milk is supposed to be placed as far to the back of the refrigerator as possible, and is best kept at a temperature of between 38 and 40 degrees F.  

2.  Meats and Cheese.  I keep my meats and cheeses in the same drawer.  Keeping them together makes for easy sandwich making.  Ziplock storage bags are my best friend.  We don't go through meat super fast.  So when I buy it, it is separated and frozen into smaller portions.  I keep only small amounts in the fridge at a time, and the rest is kept in the freezer.  It is best placed in the lower section or where ever is closest to the freezer.  

3. Fruits and Veggies.  While people often group fruits and veggies together, these two healthy food options should be stored separately.  Veggies do best in high humidity.  In my fridge I have a humidity controller, and it is now set to its highest level.  My berry type fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and grapes) get a water and vinegar rinse before being sliced and placed in glass containers for easier snacking.  This is great for the kids, because they basically want what they see.  Too bad I have a problem seeing the chips I hide from them, or the cookies for that matter.  I have recently begun storing my other fruits out on the counter.  This again is so they are in the kiddos (and mine and hubby's) faces.  If you were going to store your fruit in the fridge it should be in a low humidity drawer often called the crisper.  I used to think the crisper was the place for veggies since crisp lettuce is way more appetizing than wilted... turns out I was wrong.

4. Labeled Leftovers.  I always store my leftovers on the top shelf, so they are in my face and I am more apt to use them.  Even then, sometimes things don't get eaten, or I forget how old they are.  Then I had an idea.  To all you Pinterest junkies out there, ever see a great tip and file it in your brain under one of these days?   I do, all the time.  A while back I saw a cute idea to use chalk on a lid for labeling the date of leftovers.  While cleaning out one of my school drawers in the kitchen I came across one of my chalk markers.  HELLO!! I immediately tested it out on my lids.  It didn't work quite so well.  Then I tried it on the actual glass and it was perfect.  Even my hubs was impressed, which is not easy to do.  Generally, leftovers are good for 4 days, although I typically give my leftovers a week in the fridge before tossing or eating them.  Now we can clearly see when something needs to be eaten, no more guess work!  FYI - I've been using this system for about 2 weeks now.  It works, but the glass tends to sweat so the chalk is always wet.  It doesn't bother me, or the hubs, but I can see it bothering some people.  

5. Containers.  Don't be afraid to containerize in the refrigerator.  Putting like items together makes grabbing things quickly, easy.  Again, we need that fridge door to be open for as short a time as possible.   I use a fridge binz for juice boxes and another bin I grabbed from my pantry to contain my refrigerated snacks.  Now it's packed with Danimals yogurt smoothies for the kiddos.

Take a look at my organized refrigerator... isn't she pretty?

One more bonus tip - I read this tip years ago, before I ever owned a home.  When one of your shelves is getting slightly low on food, move the few remaining items to another shelf or area.  Give that section or shelf  a quick wipe down (2 minutes... seriously!!).  I use a vinegar and water solution.  If you do one shelf at a time as they begin to empty it's easier to maintain a clean fridge.  I use this strategy and it really helps.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Coffee and Tea Staion

Hey there!  So, on Sunday night I was smiling.  Seriously smiling... And tired.  It was 12am (I guess that makes it Monday night.) and I had just finished organizing the last cabinets in the main part of my kitchen.  Yeah, I still have the Command Center to spruce up and the fridge and pantry need some love, but the main part is done. It's like wow, every cabinet door I open reveals a clean and seriously organized space.  I'm in love.  My cabinets have finally become part of my home, a place to store things for my family, and not just a place to hide or stash stuff.  Check out my baking station if you missed that!

Today I want to share my coffee and tea station.  It, along with my baking station, has been apart of my kitchen from the start.  It's the place I set up our coffee maker on move in day (or weekend).  It sits right  between my fridge and toaster.  Easy access for creamer, and cream cheese for my breakfast bagel.  All my little tea things tucked nicely into a little basket, It made me happy for a long time.  I was perfectly content making my coffee at home, occasionally a green tea with lemon.  Then Dunkin' Donuts released it's ice cream themed summer flavors, one being Butter Pecan.

I kind of lost my mind for a while.  Like, I was seriously a little cray cray!!  The kind of crazy who would load the truck with 3 kids in pj's (and sometimes a dog), take a 10 minute drive to Dunkin Donuts (closest one), then wait in a 5 (sometimes 10) minute line, then order a medium (or large) iced butter pecan coffee (light and sweet of course), then drive 10 minutes back home, kind of crazy.  I mean I had to have it.  I was taking the drive 3, sometimes 4 times a week, just for an iced coffee!  However, like I said, I am recovering.  Too much sugar, too many calories, too much money, too much wasted time in the car!  I decided it was time for a change.  So to help entice myself back to my little mini coffee and tea station, I gave it a bit of a makeover.

This is what it used to look like.  By the way, please excuse these pictures.  I am neither a photographer, or user of fine equipment.  This picture was probably taken with my iPhone, and the after pics were taken late at night, definitely with my iPhone.

Anyway, there's a lot of crap in there!!  Sorry, but seriously, remember I said there was just so much space.  All the empty space was calling for random crap.  I do most of our school time in the kitchen, so there is a lot of school stuff stashed away here and there, in all the empty space.  There was even Easter grass! SMH!! That's Shaking My Head in case you didn't know.   So, yeah, you see all those empty containers?  They were used here and there for projects or activities for the kids, but this is not the place to store them.  There's construction paper, that doesn't even fit nicely.  A mess, just a mess!  You can't even see my cute little basket I had all my teas and things in.  I had long since grown out of it, but never changed or upgraded... until now!

Just so you know what we are looking at.  This is the area directly to the left of my refrigerator.  No Kale Chips tonight, I had only some crystal light in my favorite Wonder Woman tumbler to keep me going.

Here's my finished project! Smile... I did just looking at this dark, slightly blurry picture!

crooked much?
Okay from the top: I'm keeping my mason jars here because they are used for drinks, but very rarely, mostly for parties.  On the opposite side I have my seasonal mugs.  I always use the brown polka dot ones for hot chocolate.  I'll switch them when the seasons change.  I've been placing most of my rarely used items on the very top shelves.  I'm tall (5' 8") but still have trouble reaching the top shelves, and I don't want the hassle of getting a step ladder out frequently.

The next shelf down is protein powder for smoothies and shakes, as well as extra NutriBullet accessories.  That is my cute little basket I've always had!  Glad I found a way to make it functional again.

Do you see that empty space?  At first, I was a little concerned.  Would I fall back into my bad habit and stuff it full of something I need to hide?  NOPE!  I have a plan.  This area is strictly for drinks, and drink making.  It is not for school supplies, or a wooden letter D, or Easter grass, or any other random item that needs a hiding spot!  If something goes in that spot, it will belong and be a perfectly welcomed member of the drink community.

Anyway, I decided at the last minute to add my blender because A). there was space, and B). it made more logistical sense, since a lot of things I use for smoothies, are in the fridge or freezer, and of course its for making drinks!

On the bottom shelf, under the blender, I have a few mugs.  My husband doesn't drink coffee or tea often, but I leave his "Good to be King" mug with in reach just in case.  I typically rotate between 3 mugs, the other is in the dishwasher of course.  I also keep the travel mug handy for when the need arises.

Next to the blender I've placed two new bins.  I love these bins, I picked them up from Lowes by the way.  One holds coffee and chocolate.  Those packets are actually Carnation Breakfast drink.  Sometimes I make the boys a chocolate banana smoothie using those.  The other basket holds my growing tea collection and tea ball.  They fit perfectly on the shelf and keep all the loose packages nice and neat.

On the bottom shelf under my two bins, I have items I use for smoothies, tea, and coffee.  I placed some Truvia packets in the white sugar bowl, I have a ton of little spoons for stirring, mixing, and even adding ingredients.  There's almond butter, and ground flax seed that I snagged from my baking cabinet.  I mostly use it in smoothies, so it makes more sense here.  Behind my little sugar container is a small bottle of agave nectar.  My health nut uncle talked me into trying it as an alternative sweetener and I have not regretted it.

So that's it for my coffee and tea station.  I guess it's more of a drink station at this point.  There are still a few things I'd like to do, the main thing being, to add cute labels to the bins.  Also, I want to get another Better Homes and Gardens container to put the protein powder in.  I just think it will look a little prettier that way.  SMH and LOL at pretty protein powder!!

I'm heading out of town for the week, and I'm not one of those super organized blogger's who has posts lined up, Sooo I'll have to share more next week.  Until then, have a wonderful week... and enjoy these last few precious moments of summer!!


Friday, August 16, 2013

A Baking Station, and Some Kale Chips

Hello friends!

As you can see by the title this post is all (mostly) about the baking station in my kitchen.  I think having your kitchen organized into specific stations is really important.  Believe it or not even before I started this Kitchen Overhaul, I had a few stations already in place.  The baking center is one of them.  Before we even moved in, I had this baking station set up in my head.  Over the last few days, I've been focusing on making it more efficient and organized.  So let's take a look.

This is the area where all of my baking things are kept.  I showed the organized drawers off in this post.

This is the before.  As you can see I had a bit of organizing going on in the upper cabinet.  I just had to adjust a few things.  In the lower cabinets, it was a hot mess! 

Let's take a closer look at the uppers.

I haven't added to labels to them all because they sometimes change depending on what I have in stock. 

This is where I keep all of my baking goods.  During this whole organizing process I've been moving around my shelves.  This may seem obvious but simple things like adjusting shelf height can really make cabinets more functional.  In this cabinet I raised the height of the top shelf, so my larger bottles of extract could fit better on the second shelf from the top.  I used a command hook to hang disposable piping bags on the door.

On the very top shelf is just extra stock.  The box of Bisquick is empty but I keep it for the recipes.  I keep meaning to make a recipe binder but I'll have to save that project for another time.  When I took the before picture it was right after a trip to SAMs in which I had stocked up on my nuts, and I hadn't gotten a chance to refill my containers.  Typically I store whatever is left in the bags, in the freezer.

On the second shelf from the top I have two bins that I got from the Dollar Tree.  Love that place!  One is filled with food coloring and other decorating things, the other holds my extracts and other items that I typically use for baking.

On the bottom two shelves I use airtight containers for sugars, flour, nuts, etc.  I know a lot of people love those OXO containers.  I would have loved to stock my cabinets and pantry full of them too, but they're pretty pricey. 

My not-so-secret, secret; Better Homes and Garden containers.  They look almost exactly the same, they function almost exactly the same, but they are cheaper!  I picked mine up from Walmart and filled my cabinet slowly but surely, adding 2 maybe 3 at a time.

It flips open, then flips close to get that airtight seal we all want.
So, on to the the lower cabinets.  I actually made the most changes here.  Take a look at this before and after:

The biggest difference is the new pull out drawers I added.  My husband was giving me an awkward look as I giggled looking at them.  I'm really not sure why these new organized spaces don't impress him.  Whatevs!! I love them!

So yeah, back to the pull outs.  Like I've said (probably too many times) I'm doing a major overhaul.  One of the tasks that I wanted to accomplish was to install new under cabinet garbage and recycling bins, and I did.  I chose the area just to the right of my kitchen sink.  Those cabinets had two pull out drawers.  When I removed them, I thought... hmmm, I bet I could just re-install these in another area in the kitchen.  Voila! (Not so) New Pull outs in the baking cabinets. WINNING!!

Whats inside?

 The bin in the front contains my stand mixer accessories. behind the bin I have my regular hand mixer.  I hardly use it these days.

My mixing bowls.  Yes, I only have three (only 2 are pictured).  I do lots of baking and cooking and still haven't ever needed more than three at one time.  Behind the mixing bowls is a rarely used loaf pan with an often used measuring cup inside.

Pans for cakes, tarts, and muffins live here.

My cooling rack, cookie sheets, and 2 different sized cupcake tins are all housed on this drawer.  I also have one of those bakers mats.  I was about to toss it, but I decided to keep it and use it between some of the tins to keep them from sliding around.

Everything else that you can see in the before picture that is not in the after, either found a new home or was tossed.  My much larger sheet cake pans were moved to that drawer under the oven that I don't use often. 

That's it for my organized baking station...


Before I leave you I want to share a quick recipe for Kale Chips.  I know this seems totally out there, and off topic, but this is what I was munching on during this cleaning out process.  I posted it on Face Book and peeps showed interest so I thought I'd share.  Like my page if you want to join the fun, and see some of my late night baking antics... top right!!! LOL, shameless plug.)

Chili Lime Crispy Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and dried.  I actually had mine sitting on the counter all day.
1 lime
Chili and Salt to taste
3-4 Tbsp olive oil

What to do:
After rinsing your Kale, and removing the rib, break them into small chip sized pieces.  Lay them on a sheet pan and squeeze lime juice over them all.  Allow to dry.

Once completely dried, and this is extremely important, otherwise you'll have steamed Kale and it's just not as good, drizzle with olive oil.  I drizzled, then tossed to evenly coat.  Then because I didn't want them too oily, I moved them to another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spread evenly in a single layer, also very important.

Sprinkle with chili powder and salt.  I think I added too much salt and not enough chili.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Check often, because they cook and crisp pretty quickly.  They should feel super light when you pick one up to pop it in your mouth.  

Disclaimer:  These are not potato chips (as some would lead you to believe).  They are a healthier option, that definitely suited my munchies.  These crunchies, plus a cold bottle of crystal light, and my favorite Pandora station helped me organize through the wee hours of the night.  Hey, whatever works.. right?

Thanks for reading!


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Hi There! On Saturday, the fam and I went to visit one of my favorite people.  We all went to NYC and hung out for the day.  It had been years since I had been in the city, and boy did I miss it.  It was awesome to watch my guys stare with wide eyes at the tall buildings and ahem, some of the more strange sights New York City has to offer.  We spent the day taking the subway (a treat for the boys, who had never been on a real train), and walking through Central Park.  It was a great day filled with memories I will cherish for years to come.

My Uncle, who we went to visit, loves red velvet cake.  So of course, I took a break from all the kitchen organizing and made some.  In my spice cabinet I had a real vanilla bean just waiting for the perfect dessert to flavor.  It sat patiently while I grabbed my vanilla extract for cookies, and other cupcakes, even while I made lemonade with vanilla flavoring (yum!!).  That little long bean didn't realize I was saving it for the perfect frosting.  You see it's not everyday, I have real vanilla bean.  Not every dessert deserves to be flavored with the aromatic deliciousness that is real vanilla.  I knew I wanted that bean for a frosting.  I wasn't sure if I was going to use it for a buttercream, an Italian buttercream, or a Swiss meringue buttercream.  In the end of course I decided it would be TDF (to die for) in some cream cheese frosting on top of a decadent red velvet cupcake.

I had to do a bit of searching to find the perfect cream cheese frosting that called for real vanilla bean as apposed to an extract.  Now, don't get me wrong, while I am a total frosting snob (no love here greasy canned frosting) I have no qualms with using an extract for flavor.  This frosting, however, was to be a special treat, and that it was.  I found my perfect frosting here.  I only read the recipe for the cupcakes, but it appears, she has some good stuff going on over there.

The red velvet was a little more easy to make since I have made red velvet cake before.  A wonderful red velvet cake with a cheese cake center.. say what?! Check mine out here.  Then go visit  This woman has a lot of great cakes, and I will definitely be back to try some more.

These cupcakes... They, are the kind that when a crumb falls down your shirt into your bra... You get that crumb and eat it.  Wait, was that TMI?? Lol, seriously though, these cupcakes were everything you want in a red velvet cake.  The perfect crumble, moist, not overly sweet, with a nice chocolaty flavor, and the frosting, oh my gosh... The frosting!  Perfect, creamy and delicious, the kind that you are actually sad when it's gone.  The fact that you can see the tiny vanilla seeds running throughout just adds to the joy of eating.  Trust me, you want to make, then eat, these cupcakes.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring (If you use Gel food color you can use less.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake tin with liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  This is the time to really whisk the crap outta the dry mix.  When you mix it with your wet ingredients, you can't go all mixing cray cray!

At this point, I like to measure out my buttermilk and mix in the vanilla.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, or of course a hand mixer, or if you're ol' school using your hand (People did make cake before this things were invented.. right?), mix the butter and oil on medium-high.  Again, I like to whip it, and whip it good!  Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.  Scrap down the sides as needed.  Mix in food coloring, and vinegar.  Beat it all really well.

Turn Mixer to low and add dry ingredients in batches of three, alternating with buttermilk(and vanilla).  So dry mix then buttermilk, dry mix then buttermilk, then dry mix.  Scrape down the sides and bottom as needed.

Fill cupcake about 3/4 full. and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place tins on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing cupcakes.  If you're like me and only have 1 cupcake tin, then remove cupcakes and repeat.  :)

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Deliciousness. 

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz (1 package) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter room temp (this was a happy mistake, the original recipe calls for 1 stick and I added two... Seriously, when could extra butter be a problem?)
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar (I believe I only added 3)
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and seeds removed.

You can do this while your cupcakes are cooling.  In a stand mixer with paddle (or with a hand mixer), cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Reduce mixer to low (or you"ll cover your kitchen with sugar) slowly add the confectioners' sugar until its all smooth and creamy.  I like to taste after the additions so I know when to stop adding more.

Add the seeds and mix until well combined.  Frost cupcakes, and devour!!

I'll be back later this week with more kitchen updates!!

Thanks for reading,


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Monday, August 12, 2013

Kitchen Tour: Organized Drawers Part 2

Hello all! And welcome to Part 2 of my drawer tour.  For a little back ground, check out my Kitchen Drawers Part 1 Here.  For this tour I'll show you my remaining drawers, as well as request some suggestions for empty drawers.  As I said in part 1, empty drawers are just asking for mess in this house.

Okay, so I'll start the tour with these 4.  To the left of them is my lazy susan and to the right is where most of my baking things are kept.  I don't have any before pics of these drawers.  These are all pretty much the same as they were before, with just an addition of drawer liner.  I did rearrange a few things so that I had more similar dishes in the same place.

Random green car... my husband calls these boobie traps.  Be ware, they are all over my house.

These drawers all hold serving dishes.  This is why I chose to place my serving utensils, coasters, and bottle openers in the drawer to the left.  

These dishes and platters are things that I mostly use for special occasions. 

You'll notice there is a lot of white, and clear.  I think when you set things out for entertaining everything looks better if it all matches, and white and clear accomplishes that.  It's also easy to match some of my dishes that are specific to a certain holiday or season. 
There are a few things missing from this drawer... in the dishwasher.
The very bottom drawers houses a lot of my plastic serve ware.  This is a strategic spot.  The boys like to "help" in the kitchen, and this is one of the drawers they frequent.  Since it's all plastic, I don't freak out when they start playing.  They have learned which drawers are acceptable for play, and which are not.

The following drawers are all in my island.  I have two pretty wide drawers on either side of my stove.  

Believe it or not, these two drawers have been organized like this for a few months.  I took a trip to the Container Store while visiting my mom.  Okay, who am I kidding, I took the 1 1/2 hour trip for the The Container Store, and met my mom while I was there.  For anyone who hasn't been to The Container Store, it's like a little bit of organizational heaven... right here on Earth.  Anyway, I got the dividers then and went to town on these two drawers, then for some reason I stopped there.

Most of my dinner and food prep happens to the right of my stove.  I'm left handed, so I guess that makes sense, since I often reach over from where I'm standing and stir pots with my left hand.  

These tools I use daily, or at least weekly.

These are used at least weekly or monthly.
To the left of my stove are these two drawers.  I really don't know what to put in them, but I'm afraid of leaving them empty.  Right now one is holding some extra place mats.  Maybe I can put some table runners, in the other.  Hmmm?  I'll have to work on that.

These last two drawers are on the opposite side of my island.  

This is the drawer that is closest to the oven, so it makes sense to place pot holders here.  Yes, those are my only pot holders.  I've said before, I'm not the type to just buy stuff.  Of course with that said, I'm on the look out for some cute holiday ones.  I'm thinking a turkey, gingerbread man, and either a flower or bunny rabbit.  Seen any around?

This last drawer is filled with things, we are always needing to grab or use before we leave the house.  Combs and brushes, mostly for the boys, so they don't look like Lords of the Flies when we are out in public... at home is another story.  I toss my sunglasses in there if I actually bring them out of the car.  There is even some deodorant that is in the way back of the drawer. 

See the charcoal, and tote on the floor?  We went to a nearby lake this week.  Yeah, and you thought I was spending my last few weeks of summer knee deep in kitchen utensils.  Now, I am definitely a beach gal, but there is something to be said of the calm cool waters of a lake.  My boys get the sand they love, and I get to relax as they play along the edge, with out worrying some huge wave is going to knock them over, and drag them out to sea.  Yeah, I think of things like that.  Here's my Ace doing what he loves.  These mini-construction vehicles are his favorite sand toy.

Alright, well I'm off to go attack my upper cabinets.  Will be back soon with more updates.  Until next time, thanks for reading!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Kitchen Tour: Organized Drawers Part 1

Ever write an entire blog post so all you have to do in the AM is add pictures and then post.  Then, something goes terribly awry and you’re left with the first three sentences.  Sigh… yeah, that happened. 

I am not letting that get me down, because I have completely organized all my kitchen drawers (- 1, more on that later).  I mean seriously I am super excited.  Yesterday, While walking through my kitchen with a crying baby on my hip, a whining 2 year old close behind, and a 4 year old asking one of his 45,867,967 questions, I opened one of my drawers, and laughed out loud… it made me that happy. 

Anyway, before I get on with the tour, let me give you a bit of a back story.  We all love a good back-story.  Right?  Okay, actually this will serve as an excuse as to why some of my cabinets and drawers are so disorganized.

You ready for it?  My kitchen is huge.  Yes, I know that is a piss poor excuse, but hear me out.  It’s the largest kitchen I’ve ever had, this includes while growing up when I didn’t actually own a kitchen.  Because of always having a small kitchen we didn’t have much stuff.  I am not one for buying things that can’t fit in a space.   We had no appliances (save a toaster), a minimal number of pots and pans, as well as the basics in terms of cutlery, dishes, and serving things.  So when my hubby and I unpacked and moved into our home, there was A LOT of empty space.

As our family grew (and grew), those empty spaces began filling up.  Suddenly our walk-in pantry that at one point held only a few cans and jars was now chock-full of our most recent SAMs club run.  The cabinets and drawers that had been empty were slowly getting filled with all kind of random things.  Ever have an extra drawer? It becomes a junk drawer; multiply that by 5 or 6.  Even the cabinets just started getting filled with stuff.

In the past I have made some attempts to wrangle our kitchen, even going as far as Googling what people actually keep in their kitchens.  Some of those attempts very successful some so so, but I’ve never done a top to bottom clean out, overhaul.  Until now!

So with out further ado, welcome to my Kitchen Overhaul Tour.  Check out the Art Center Here.  

The Main part of my kitchen is a large U shape with a center island.  In this post I'll start at one end of the U and go around. The island drawers will be in a separate post.   

So here are some before shots.. GASP!! Shame on me... I know it!!!  The two top left are the worst.  I was keeping (some of) the kids' school supplies in there.   No matter how much I packaged all the pocket chart cards in baggies and what not, it was still a mess.  These are only some of my drawers, I figured, you didn't need to see all my mess.

For all of the drawers I removed everything, vacuumed crumbs, and washed them down with warm soapy water.  I used a square, and utility knife to cut my liner.

Remember, it always looks messier before it looks better (at least when I do a project).
Here we are mid way through on Day 3.  Yes, it took me three days to do just my drawers, take a look at that mess up there again.

Okay, on with the good stuff!!! So this may be a photo overload for some of you, but here we go.

 You can't see it, but there is a window above the sink the faces my backyard.  The bright window in this picture faces the side of my house.  The door with the wreath is my pantry.  The first set of drawers I will show you will be the drawers along the far right of the picture above, basically facing the back of the house.

These two drawers are side by side and the closest to the Art Center.  One holds everyday place mats, the other, kids utensils, straws, and plastic utensils.

 These two are side by side and next to the sink.  I keep everyday dish towels and cloths in one, and seasonal in the other.

 I keep my regular flatware in this drawer which is right next to the dishwasher.  All our grilling tools are in the other drawer.

 The following drawers are at the bottom of the U if you will.  There is a window that faces out the side of my house.  This is typically where I do all my baking.

The drawer in the top picture holds serving utensils, coasters, and bottle openers.  It is basically my entertaining drawer.  The other drawer has sandwich cutters, along with cookie cutters I sometimes use on sandwiches.  My cheese graters. are in the back of the drawer because they are rarely used.  My food processor does most of my grating.

These are my two baking drawers.  The drawer in the bottom pic is closest to the oven, and houses all of my most commonly used baking tools.  The other drawers hold my less commonly used baking tools.

Okay peeps.. almost done, hang in there!!
This is the drawer under the oven.  Remember I said I did all my drawers except one? This is it.  Totally forgot about it. Imagine my surprise as I was dancing around the kitchen snapping after photos and I stumbled on this.  Oh well.
These last two drawers contain all of my storage baggies, and food wrapping.  There is no before shot of them in the messy mishmash up at the top because they look the same, except they now have liner.  These drawers are right next to my fridge and are now coming up the other side of my U shaped kitchen (follow all that?).  There are actually three drawers side by side, the bottom pic being the center drawer, but I have no idea what to put in that last drawer.  So it's empty, until I give it a job.

I always keep a sharpie in this drawer for easy labeling.

WOW... that was long.  I think I'll break the reast of the tours into even smaller sections.  If you made it to the end... Thank you so much for hanging out!!  I'll be back through out the month as I complete more and more projects in my kitchen.  I hope you'll join me.  I promise not to make them so long as this.

Until next time,