Oct 202017
 

Not sure what to do with an excess of apples?  Here are a few ideas, as well as links to recipes and instructions.

Applesauce – NCHFP and PYO

Sliced Apples – NCHFP

Apple Cider Vinegar – PickYourOwn

Apple Cider – PYO

 

I tried making Apple Cider Vinegar a few years ago.  While it was not hard, I will try it again only if I also have someone near me who knows how to do it.  Let’s just say I think it ended up being a bit too fermented. 😉

Oct 232015
 

What a day this has been! More like what a crazy few weeks. With the workers from our house work gone I really thought things would calm down.  I was wrong.

Between field trips, calls to the insurance and doctors’ offices, visits to doctors’ offices, therapy appointments, school work, house work (painting and all related activities), soccer games and school breaks, in addition to all the normal things we have to do in life, there has not been a calm week all month.  A few days here and there, yes, but otherwise we have been out of the house or had someone come by every day.  I treasure the days that we can stay here, minus taking and picking George up from school.

Earlier this week, while preparing (cleaning up a lot of hot spots) for a home visit, I tackled the kitchen.  This was about the day where I encouraged you, on Facebook, to choose one small job around the house and work on it that day.  This bit was on my  mind as I began working.

In order to sweep I had to pick up the floor.  I had two choices – hide everything or actually put it away.  It took about 30 seconds to decide to take the extra few minutes an put things away.

“While I am at it, I may as well hangs this up to.” I told myself.

It did not even take me 10 minutes (once I found the drill and not counting the break in the middle to go pick up George) to put this $1 new still with tags, garage sale find on the backside of the pantry door.  For about $5, screws were needed, I have added a few more shelves to our limited pantry space without taking up any floor space.  Yes, we have a basement that can hold items, but it is nice to have them right there when they are needed.

pantry door shelving diy

Mar 092013
 

My project choices the past few days have really helped with my momentum.  Honestly, the the public accountability hasn’t  hurt either.  The first day involved making a list of all your projects and what needed to be done to complete those projects.  Day 2 of 30 Days, 21 Projects found us doing a quick project, something we already had everything to do and knew we could get done in one day.  For me this was checking our credit scores.  Thankfully there was not a lot of wrong information, though there were disputes about a few small things.  Day 3 was a bit harder, at least for me as it required going an purchasing something I didn’t have yet.  This also turned out to be a bit harder than I thought since they didn’t have what I was wanting.  Day 4 held a very large project.  I felt as if I had been working up to this one.  This project took much longer than the rest and was more physical than the first 3 days. Day 5 found me going back to an easy project.  The house needed a bit more attention.  I also talked about this during Day 3 – looking ahead.  The discussion was about grouping your projects so that not all the larger projects are being done at the end.  Not only is this so your list doesn’t “feel” unbalanced, or heavier at one end than the other, but also because many of us have other obligations to attend to.

Yesterday’s project was to buy, and install, a bird bath.  On Day 3 I had gone to buy a trash can, but was unable to find what I was looking for.  What I did find out though was the store would let you order items from the store and use a coupon.  After looking online I found a birdbath from there that I liked.  Since I had a few spare minutes in Big Town, I stopped by the same store yesterday.  The bird bath is ordered with a coupon and using a gift card.  The coupon saved me $6 and the gift card made it possible to pay nothing out of pocket. Yes, it is purchased.  No, it isn’t installed as it will take 3-5 business days to get to my house.  I am going to mark is a “work in progress” so I at least know I am still working on that one.

Today, Day 6, I’m ready to tackle another larger project.  Since the weather outside, and hence our wall inside, is still cold that disqualifies painting or yard work.  Instead I am going to work on organizing my pantry.  Everyone’s pantry is different and provides different challenges.  The last house we lived in had a great pantry.  Double folding doors, easy access, at the end of our galley kitchen and against an inside wall.  I would say it was near perfect for me.  Then we moved.

Our current pantry. I actually had to take a few steps down the basement stairs to get far enough away to take this picture.  You can see most of the shelve in the pantry area.
 

I love our house.  I really do.  However, our pantry has a lot left to be desired.  I am pretty sure it was an after thought.  Let’s start with the location – at the top of the basement stairs, right inside a narrow door from the kitchen and bordered on the other side by a narrow door to the outside.  Until this winter that particular outer door had major gaps around it and was by no means a deterant for the cold/hot weather outside. Yes, it did lock, but you if you stepped into the pantry area and closed the door to the kitchen behind you, while leaving the lights to the basement off, you could clearly see the sun shine all the way around the door.  Previous attempts by me to fill these gaps had helped but did not quite do the job.  Finally this winter I had a great idea – use the same thing you put on the bottom of doors to stop drafts.  Off to he hardware store I went.  Not only did I find what I was looking for, but it was in the color I wanted (white) and it did a great job.  The particular items I found did not need to be screwed on, but instead had a sticky backing.  These worked so well that the temperature in the pantry area is finally decent.  I don’t think it has been below freezing all winter.  Yeah for our food stored there and for our heating bill in the rest of the house.

This is the normal calming, uncluttered view of the  pantry floor.  This is the first thing you see when you open the door to the pantry or to go down to the basement.  This is also the way, from inside, out to our deck.  We don’t go that way much.  Can you guess why?
 

Okay, enough about the location.  Let’s talk about layout.  There are shelves.  They vary in height.  They also vary in how deep they are.  On the far side they will hold one can with just a bit of room leftover.  On the other side you can get 4 or 5 cans deep.  Some of the shelves sage a bit in the middle.  This means that you may be able to put a quart jar on the right side, but by the middle or the left side the space is too short.

Over time I this space has become a hot spot for items heading to the basement.  One thing in there I know for sure of are pictures from VBS … from the beginning of Summer 2012.  Oh, and an alarm clock.  And a fire extinguisher  while the one attached to the wall is out of date.  Yet there are no cans of peas or apricot jam or tomato paste because “there isn’t room”.  This means I have to walk down steep steps into the basement for these items while other useless, pointless items take up valuable space. 

The bottom two shelves currently hold a lot of non-food items: crock pots, salad spinner, emergency candles, different vinegar, adult snack stash (hide it in plain sight and they don’t know where it is – hint: it is the box with the blue lid, the front package that everyone can see never changes)

Here is a closer, though darker, picture of the middle shelves.  There really is a general order to things, though my husband can’t figure it out.  Guess that means there really isn’t much of an order to things.  The very top shelf does hold jams and jelly, then canned goods with tomato products being on the far left.  As we go from there the organization starts to break down very quickly.  It soon become more of a “if there is space, but it there” kind of organization.

So what is it about the pantry I want to change and what do I want to leave?

I don’t want to change the flooring or the wall paper.  Yes, both are old, but are in decent shape.  Also, I would rather spend my money in other spaces of the house right now.

What I would like to see are a lot of the non-food items go to the basement, especially the things we only use every so often.  I would like to see label.  I would like to see the groceries for this week in the pantry so I don’t have to walk to the basement multiple times for a meal, or for a meal at all.  I would rather go down at the beginning of the week and restock the upstairs pantry and use from it as the week goes on.  I want my family to be able to open the door and know exactly where to look for something.  I want to be able to, at a glance, know what we need more of.

Lists of my 21 Projects:

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes)
  13. Put out a bird bath – work in progress
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each

And in case you couldn’t guess it, showing all of you the messiest parts of my house and the projects in progress is not my most favorite of things to do.  I would rather be showing you the wonderful tulips that are starting to come up.  Or the red bird that hesitantly goes to our bird feeder in the mornings.  Or the wonderful snow falling outside.  Those are all pretty things.  Things that look orderly and everyone can ooh and aah over.  But, I am trying to keep it honest and real during these projects.  And that means showing you my pantry that has slowly slid into disorganization or the bathroom upstairs that had wall partly de-wallpapered.  (Which by the way I forget what they looked like now that they are wonderfully painted.)  I hope you are able to understand the non-perfect state of my house as I work to get it back in order and projects finished that were put on hold for a bit.

What I am pretty sure that all of you can understand is my desire to have these all done before gardening season starts.  It can’t be too far off.  Like I said, tulips are starting to show.  So, I am going to end today’s post with some pretty pictures from last year: