Wk 4: Refridgerator and Freezer

11 Mar

How is it already 11 days into March?  I feel like I’ve been going non-stop for weeks, so I figured I needed to slow down a little and maybe write a new blog post. I finally have pics uploaded for one of the weekly challenges over at 52 Weeks To  An Organized Homefridge and freezer!

First – the fridge. I think this is one of the worst it’s ever been! We had just finished up a week of having company stay with us and without having a system in place it was pure mayhem! Lots of take-out food, expired food, and nothing was in any order whatsoever.


 We cleaned it out the night before trash day and we ended up tossing a LOT of stuff out. I should have taken a pic the, but forgot – it was pretty empty!  Here’s an after pic taken after a week or two of living with it.


I used bins from Dollarama to keep “like” and often used items together, and then used them to create “zones” in the fridge.  Top shelf holds most of the dairy items – L’s milk, a bin for butter, cream cheese blocks, iced coffee creamer-mix, another bin for drink stuff (coffee creamers and drink syrups like chocolate and strawberry),and then our milk. Next shelf has  a bin for cheeses and dips, along with the margarine tub (too big for a bin), some prepped fruit for my husband’s lunch, and celery for a stew I’m planning to make. 3rd shelf has leftovers on the left-hand side, a bin for general sandwich stuff (honey mustard, mayo, Cheez Whiz), one for Lucas sandwich-fixings (jams, cream cheese), and eggs. Bottom shelf has drinks, a bin for L’s yogurts (got tired of discovering empty boxes in the fridge!) and one for L’s snacks placed where he can reach them anytime (applesauces, prepared fruit, cheese strings, etc).

 The bins are great – just grab a bin when making a sandwich and all your spreads are there – no more searching the fridge for that little jar of strawberry jam!

The “before” of the door


And the after:


Not much to explain there lol

Now…the freezer! We don’t have a deep freezer (yet!!), but we do have a little bar fridge-sized freezer. Here are the befores of the fridge freezer:

Before - fridge freezer

Before - fridge freezer door

Messy, messy, messy!!  We semi-recently bought that huge box of ribs, thinking we had a deep freezer to put it in but it went kaput a few days before the ribs arrived. We cleaned out the fridge-freezer at that point so there wasn’t much to be tossed. It just needed organizing. We now have this freezer to store our meats and desserts with the door holding bananas, freezer packs, ice packs, cheese and juice.

After - fridge freezer

After - fridge freezer door

The small bar-sized freezer desperately needs to be defrosted, but here’s the befores:

Before - small freezer, top compartment

Before - small freezer drawers

It now holds our breads and waffles up top, veggies in the middle drawer and stuff like hashbrowns and perogies in the bottom drawer!

After - small freezer, top compartment

After - small freezer drawers

So much easier to find stuff and so far it’s been a great way to keep track of what needs replacing when we go shopping!

Winner, winner, what’s for dinner?!

29 Feb

Tonight was one of those nights we had no clue what to make for dinner. We haven’t done a proper grocery shop in it feels like eons, so the pickin’s were pretty slim. Not a good time to try and figure out what to have at 5:30 in the evening! Spaghetti we had a couple nights ago… ditto KD Surprise. What else… well, we had tuna and lots of different pasta’s – Tuna Casserole, perhaps? I admit… I’m a “Tuna Helper” girl. Open the box, add the tuna and milk, and voila. But..we had none of that so I had to make it from scratch. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a “throw things together” kind of girl, so I called my sister-in-law to see what she does. Here’s her SUPER easy “recipe”. It feeds about 5-7 people, so I halved the recipe

Tara’s Tuna Casserole

  • 2 cans of tuna
  • 2 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup
  • Cooked pasta (I used macaroni, 3 uncooked cups, but remember I halved the recipe!)
  • Bread crumbs (I used about 1/3 cup)
  • Touch of milk (my addition)
  • Shredded cheese (my addition, I used pizza mozzarella)

Throw tuna, soup, pasta, bread crumbs and milk in pot and mix it up!

Transfer to casserole dish and top with the cheese. I used a 2.5qt dish.

No need to cover! Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes (enough to melt the cheese and turn the “peaks” brown)

It wasn’t bad! Definitely needed some colour, but if I had added anything like peas L wouldn’t have touched it with a 10-foot pole (he hates anything green in food and we have a hard enough time getting him to eat dinner!). Next time I might add a can of mushrooms, as well (I LOVE mushrooms!) and maybe a pinch or two of salt.

How about you? What’s your favourite “emergency dinner”? And don’t say takeout! LOL

Wk 3: Organize pantry, spices and food storage areas

23 Feb

Week 3 of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home was for organizing pantry, spices and food storage areas. We don’t really have a pantry in our house. We have a closet in our dining room (which next to the kitchen) that I think is supposed to be a pantry, but it sucks. It wasn’t well thought out when the previous owners put the shelves in and we haven’t made any changes to it. We only really used one shelf for food stuff (crackers, cookies and other snacky items) so I didn’t bother including it in this part of the challenge (although it IS on my to-do list).

We now have 3 of the larger cupboards in our kitchen that we use for food stuff, one small one for drink stuff, and two smaller ones for spicy stuff. First up to bat is the drink cupboard.

I hated this cupboard. HATED IT. It’s so narrow that it was hard to fit anything in it! Before it held our pasta and L’s plates and bowls, but it was always a tight fit. It made no sense to me why the builders would put that small of a shelf as an upper cabinet in a kitchen.


Then we moved the coffee maker over, and it dawned on me – drink stuff! I cleaned out our shelf of coffees, teas, hot chocolates, etc and fit everything in there! SO much better!


Here is one of our food cupboards. As you can see, there’s NO rhyme or reason to anything in there. Pasta sauce is on two shelves, drink mixes are on the top and bottom, soups aren’t together. Ugh.


After clearing out a TON of expired food (wow!), moving the drink mixes to another cupboard and picking up some glass canisters, we now have an organized cupboard! Sauces are all together, pastas lined up in pretty canisters, extra pasta on the top shelf with other “extra” food. It’s great.


These two were our baking/canned good cupboard. I had already sorted out some of the baking stuff using disposable loaf pans I no longer needed, which helped out quite a bit. But as you can see, that was barely a drop in the bucket of what needed to be done!


I went though everything and turfed stuff that I only had a small amount of (unless it was bought recent) or stuff I know we’ve had for a while. The many bags of flour and oats were taken right out and placed on top of the cabinets. All the bagged or bulk stuff (like raisins, choc chips, were put in a bin to keep them all together, and all the canned goods were sorted and reogranized.


Now…the spicy stuff. This cabinet was a MESS! Empty jars, bagged spices – some of them were even duplicates! And Lord only knows how long that Kahlua bottle has been around (and better yet – why it was put back in the cupboard when it was nearly empty!!


Bulk spices and duplicates were sorted – empty jars were filled and the rest was either put into a plastic bin or tossed out. Epicure spices were pulled out of the box and put in the cupboard. Everything on top of the cupboard isn’t there anymore, either.


Ahhh…so much better!! Almost done with the kitchen. Recipies & cookbooks, fridge/freezer, and recycling centre are left. My kitchen has already been greatly transformed… wait till you see the before/after of the recycling!!

Wk 2b – Kitchen Cabinets

23 Feb

So here’s the second half of my Week 2 from the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home, dealing with the cabinets this time – non-food item ones. We actually don’t have a ton of cabinets. 5 of them are pretty small and 2 of them are really small! It was hard to imagine what they could effectively be used for. It took me 2 years to figure out it!!

The first few pictures I don’t have “before” shots for, mainly because there wasn’t much of a “before” to begin with! The first one is above our fridge and was actually empty! Now it holds our salad spinner, popcorn maker, blender and some take-out containers we use when we have guests for dinner and they take home leftovers (then we don’t have to worry about getting our good containers back!)

The cupboard above our microwave. I don’t even remember what was in there before. Now it has our rice cooker and rice, and L’s old drink containers. We’ll be using them soon enough for the Little One so I didn’t bother packing them away – they’d probably just get lost or something LOL

Next up is our dishes cupboard. I hate this cupboard. For some reason they used a corner cabinet here instead of a regular cabinet (the door to the kitchen is to the right of this cabinet so it’s not like it’s an actual “corner” you’d normally find these typs of cabinets in!). We had our plates in the back corner and me being the shortie I am, I had to stretch getting the damn plates out! We have a ton of coffee cups, but they took up the top and middle shelf – total waste of space. So I bought a couple of racks and re-sorted everything. All the coffee cups are now on the middle shelf and it almost completely freed up the top shelf! I’m now storing all my mason jars, freezer jars, wine glasses, etc up there. I had hoped to get two racks per shelf but they didn’t fit. I might pick up a couple corner ones next time I go out (they were out last time) and see if they fit.

No more stretching!!!

 This one was a head-scratcher. It’s so narrow and deep that it was hard to fit anything in it! It’s main purpose was to store our leftover food containers in there, but I hated it. Unless they were put back “just so” you could never match lids with containers. Believe it or not, it was easy to lose stuff in there!


 Now it holds our toaster, kettle, teapot, cheese slicer, Slap Chop, extra coffee travel mugs, etc.


Under the sink was a nightmare. Not only was there a ton of piping, but it also went all the way back into the corner – such wasted space. We stuck our deep fryer back there when we moved in 2.5 years ago and it hasn’t seen the light of day since!

Before: chaos!!
Before: Hello…ello…lo…
I bought an under-sink shelf but when I got home I realized that the pipes were in the way! Hubby took a hacksaw to it in order for it to fit. It works great!

After - ignore the bucket - our sink leaks!

After: still wasted space, but I don't think much can be done with it...

Now, I’m going to show you “before’s” of a couple of cabinets before doing the after…the first one is only a semi-before. It held our pots and pans as well, but we’ve since moved them… the second held our mixing bowls, corning ware, blender…can’t remember what else. 

Semi-before - still room for improvement



And here are the after’s. The pots/pans cabinet was reorganized with the pans also being moved elsewhere, and the mixing bowls were moved and that cabinet became the new home for the leftover food containers. 

After: still need a better solution to the lids..




Now…before I show you where the pots and bowls went, I need to show you one final “before”. I can’t believe I’m showing this – so embarrasing, But proves my point as to why I needed to join this challenge!!

Before - what a mess! And what a waste of space!

Now…where’d the pots and bowls  go? Why, here…

After: Extra countertop and more storage!

and here!

After - awesome, isn't it?!

We picked up a cart at Ikea to give us some more prep surface, as well as for extra storage. Since I put my KitchenAid mixer on it, I decided that it would be a good spot for the mixing bowls. The crock pot and my Magic Bullet stuff is on the bottom shelf. On the little freezer we now have the breadmaker and wine cooler!

As for the shelf, my awesome hubby built it! The pots are hanging from a rack from Ikea. I’m now on the hunt for pretty things to put up on the shelf!! Oh, and we also picked up a rack to hold our brooms and whatnot. SUCH a difference, eh?! I love it!!!

Leave me some feedback! So interested in what you think!

Wk 2a: Kitchen Drawer Organization

22 Feb

Week 2 of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home challenge deals with drawers and cabinets. This post is going to deal with the drawers. They were a MESS! We have so many utensils that we had some in a canister on the counter AND in a drawer! I’d go through it every once in a while and re-sort everything, but it was still always a mess. Not anymore!!

Here’s the before – crazy! Can you find our meat thermometer? I can’t!

Before - where's the can opener?!

And here’s the after: Sooooo much better! I went to Dollarama and bought a bunch of bins for the drawers to help organize things. Plus, we have most of the extra utensils on the counter in 3 separate canisters (an idea I got off of Pinterest – one each for baking, serving and cooking). Doing that freed up so much space in our drawers! And with only having 4 drawers, space was at a premium!

After - no problems finding the can opener now!

 Here’s the drawer that held all the baking utensils – measuring cups, measuring spoons. Another drawer that required some digging in order to find what I was looking for.

Before: What a mess!

 And now – the bins help keep it organized! I know exactly where to find the tiny ¼ teaspoon!

After: So much better!

This was our wraps and foils drawer. While it was pretty organized already, I hated that they took up an entire drawer!

Before: Not too bad...

 So I bought one of those wrap holders that goes on the back of a cupboard and freed up a bunch of room! This is now where I keep a lot of my baking stuff. Large spatulas, spreaders, cookie scoop, etc.


And finally the cutlery drawer. This one had become a catch-all for all the little paperwork we kept for some reason, like receipts from Christmas 2 years ago LOL.

Before: Too much clutter!
 I got rid of all the paperwork, turned the containers around, added a couple extra containers and voila –
After: Organized!!
 It has been SO nice to have organized drawers! We’ve been able to keep them this way for a few weeks now and have yet to add stuff that shouldn’t be in them!! No more junk drawers!!!

Coming next: the cabinets!

Pancake Tuesday

21 Feb

I know it’s almost over, but I had to share my pancake recipe in honour of Shrove Tuesday. Who doesn’t love a good pancake, right?!

Ingredients…this will yield approximately 10-12 pancakes using a 1/4 measuring cup or scoop. I normally double it and freeze the leftovers:

  • 1-1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cup milk ** see yummy substitution below**
  • 3 tbsp butter or oil (I generally use oil)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 

What you'll need

Mix everything together, but don’t mix too much!  Lumps are ok!

 I normally use a ¼ measuring cup to scoop out the batter. It makes a good size pancake and then they’re all the same basic size. Because the batter is so thick, when you pour it onto the griddle, it won’t spread very well. Just use your scoop to spread it out a bit to make it a little flatter. When you start seeing bubbles start to pop in the pancake, it’s time to flip!

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

I made L’s pancakes a little fun for him tonight – I used a piping bag filled with batter and the tip cut off to spell out his name and create a car- and train-shaped pancakes! If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use Ziplocs or other type of sandwich bag!

Beep beep!

Choo choo!

Ours were plain, typical shaped pancakes, but oh-so-tasty!

They taste as good as they look!

 For us, the recipe as-is doesn’t make enough pancakes, so I normally double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. Here’s a tip: use your cooling racks for them! I used to just throw ‘em on a plate to cool off, but I always found that the bottom pancakes wound up soggy. That problem was solved with the cooling racks!

Love these racks!

Layer the pancakes between parchment or wax paper for easy separation and freeze them in freezer bags. To thaw, just throw ‘em in the toaster and enjoy their deliciousness without having to “slave away”! 

Ready for the freezer!

Now for the yummy substitution.. when I made these once I didn’t realize I didn’t have enough milk before it was too late. Everything was together and I only had ½ cup of milk! So I subbed the rest of the milk for ½ cup water and – ready for it? – ¼ cup Hazelnut coffee cream! MAN were they delicious! Unfortunately we haven’t been able to enjoy them that way in a while now as the oldest has a nut allergy and I don’t know if the contents of the cream contain actual hazelnut ingredients. I should email the company to find out!

Happy Pancake Tuesday!

Wk 1: Kitchen Counters and Sink

21 Feb

I am so glad the first few weeks of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home deals with the kitchen. Our kitchen is rather….odd. It’s a good size, but there is so much wasted space and some of the space really had me wondering what to do with it. This week’s challenge focused on cleaning off and organizing your kitchen counters. We REALLY needed this challenge, so I’m doubly-glad it was first! We actually don’t have much counter space, or at least I thought we didn’t. Turns out it was just covered with crap that didn’t need to be there in the first place! Here’s some before/after pics:

This was the old “coffee” station. The cupboard above it has all our dishes so it made sense when we moved in to put the coffee maker here. Everything you see got a new home (or was put where it should have been, ie the shampoo LOL)

Before #1

And the after – I almost didn’t add the bananas here but figured the corner needed something besides the phone!

After #1

 The next before is the other side of the stove. Its where we do most of our prep. A lot of the stuff didn’t belong here (meds, cookies, etc)

Before #2

The after…so much more space! The green mixer was originally put in my donate/sell pile as I really don’t need it since getting a Magic Bullet, but I just love the look of it! I may still part with it yet, but for now it stays. I also plan on re-doing my utensil canisters after seeing an idea on Pinterest (where else?!). But I’ll save that for a little later.

After #2

Here’s one of the sink area. This space was ridiculous. Sink full of empty dishes (almost constantly), miscellaneous items around it and on the windowsill…

Before #3

And the after:

After #3

I know – crazy right?  So different!

 One last “before/after”. This spot usually had a dishrack planted on the counter. Because of the microwave shelf sticking out, it’s not a great spot for food prep, so we don’t really use it unless we’re both working in the kitchen (rarely) or the other counter is full (normal).
Before #4

After: hello new “coffee station”. 

After #3

This spot made so much more sense to have the coffeemaker here. Not only is the coffee maker now next to the sink (yay!  No more coffee drips on my floor!), but see that little cuboard next to the microwave?  The one that’s like 5″ wide? I had one HECK of a time figuring out what to use it for. It used to be for pastas and L’s dishes, but it was such a pita. Then it dawned on me – coffee’s, teas, hot chocolates, coffee grinder – they all fit perfectly in there! Only downside is the mugs are still above the old station. Might get a small mug tree or something, haven’t decided yet.

And there you have it. My first week in the organzation challenge!  I think I did pretty good! I LOVE how clean my counters are (and that we’ve been able to keep them relatively cleared off!)

Now….wait till you see the rest of the kitchen “transformation”. Holy Hannah!