Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's Get Organized: Freezer

I know this is another one of those dreaded places to clean out, but that's why I'm here to inspire you, right? I've been neglecting my freezer for a long time. And it was kind of the same story as my pantry and cupboard... I didn't really have any idea what was in there or how old it was, or in this case how completely freezer burned it was! Each time I went to the grocery store I would just cram things in wherever I could get them to fit. Let's just say I ended up throwing a lot of things out!

One of the benefits of having an organized freezer is that it will help you save money by making sure you use the food you have before it's time to toss it!

So let's get started...
  1. Turn-up freezer temperature (since you'll be having the door open for awhile)
  2. Take everything out while checking the dates
  3. Throw-out anything that is older than 1 year or appears freezer-burned
  4. Give it a good wipe down & be sure to dry
  5. Decide what you want to storage on each shelf (consider size & amount of item vs size of shelf)
  6. Put items that tend to get freezer-burned inside plastic freezer bags
  7. Put everything back in with newer items in the back & older items in the front
  8. Turn temperature back down



Shelf-by-Shelf Break Down:

Shelf #1: pasta & potatoes...

Shelf #2: pizza, skillet meals, hors d'oeuvres ...

Shelf #3: ground beef & meatballs...

Shelf #4: chicken breast, pork chops, fish, shrimp...

Drawer: vegetables

Three vegetables you should alway keep in your freezer: peas, broccoli and spinach. They are wonderful to throw into pasta, plus it's a great way to get your servings of veggies! Buying a bag a frozen spinach is a great deal when you think of how many bags of fresh spinach it would take to make one bag of frozen spinach!

Door Top Shelf: (all-fruit) top-sickles

Door Bottom half: ice cream, breakfast items...

Since we don't use our ice-maker (because the water that comes out taste like plastic) I decided to use it for more storage space.

Ice Compartment: fruit

Although frozen foods remain safe indefinitely you'll want to limit the freeze time for quality reasons. Putting food in freezer bags will help prolong it's quality!

bacon & sausage..................................1-2 months
casseroles.............................................2-3 months
egg whites or egg substitutes............12 months
frozen dinners & entrees....................3-4 months
gravy, meat & poultry........................2-3 months
ham, hotdogs & lunchmeats...............1-2 months
meat (uncooked roast)........................4-12 months
meat (uncooked steaks or chops)......4-12 months
meat (uncooked ground).....................3-4 months
meat (cooked).......................................2-3 months
poultry (uncooked whole)...................12 months
poultry (uncooked parts)....................9 months
poultry (uncooked giblets)..................3-4 months
poultry (cooked)...................................4 months
soups & stews........................................2-3 months
wild game (uncooked)..........................8-12 months

How do you organize your freezer?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter Therapy: Garden Nursery

Experiencing the "winter-blues"? Need a break from all that organizing we've been doing!? A great way to get refreshed during the winter months is to visit a garden nursery!

Today my mom, Angelia and I visited Family Tree Nursery, where their motto is 'Give Your Life Some Living Color'! (They have 3 locations in the Kansas City area!) When we walked in it immediately felt like it was summer! ...It was just what I needed!

Angelia really loved it at the nursery too!

Don't you just love this goose!? I'm thinking it would be a fun project to make one of your own!

Faux flowers are a great way to create forever-lasting arrangements that add life and color to any room in your home.

Now for the best part! Get excited... we're entering the greenhouse!

I love the smell, warmth and beauty of the greenhouse! It awakens all your senses!

Angelia enjoying the flowers with her "Ju-Ju"!

We came hoping to find plants for our terrariums and these tropicals are perfect and they're on sale... can't beat that! I'll be doing a post on making your own terrarium soon!

Baby Tears:
Baby Tears is a moss-like, creeping plant composed of tiny, kidney-shaped leaves that grow on threadlike stems. It makes the perfect mound of foliage if pinched, or looks great draped over the side of a pot!



Beautiful winter blooms...

Learn more about Cyclamen here from a previous post.

Ivy Topiaries:
Topiaries are fun and surprisingly easy to make! I'll be making one for a future post!


Angelia loves smelling Rosemary!

mmmmm... so good! Like mother, like daughter!


Delicious, nutritious and pretty!

I got some lettuce to pot in my kitchen. It will add some green-life, and convenience when it comes to salad making. My hopes are that it will grow back after I cut it, and be like the never ending bag of lettuce! ...I'll let you know how it goes!

Fountains are a great way to add sound and beauty to your garden! And don't forget about the fun gold-fish and water-plants!

Save money by growing your plants from seed.

There are plenty to choose from!

I love these bamboo and willow edging.

I hope you enjoyed the glimpse of my garden nursery visit and that it inspires you to visit one this winter!

How do you beat the "winter-blues"?
Where is your favorite place to get plants?
Tell me about your visit to a garden nursery.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Let's Get Organized: Toys

I took on the small organization project of Angelia's toys! I've been brainstorming on what to keep all her toys in for awhile now. Although I'm still wanting to get a more solid piece with shelves... when I saw this cute organizer at Target and it's $15 price tag I knew it would come in handy, especial with baby girl #2 on the way!


Now she has more floor space to play on and she loves taking things in and out of it so it's like a toy in itself!

How do/would you organize your kiddos toys?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Let's Get Organized: Under the Kitchen Sink

This is probably one of those places you dread cleaning out, but believe me you'll be glad you did!


Start by...
(1) Emptying everything out!
(2) If you have more than one of a certain cleaning product try to combine the two.
(3) Less is more... 1 wood furniture cleaner, 1 glass cleaner, 1 all-purpose cleaner, 1 dish/hand gel, 1 floor cleaner, 1 dish-washing detergent.

I keep all of my cleaning products in a plastic tub. That way they stay organized and should one of them leak I can easily wipe it up!

My new compost bucket from World Market!
...Ok, so I don't have a compost pile or barrel outside yet, but it's on my wish-list!

Wondering what's inside the glass jar? ...It's my dish-washing detergent.
I'm trying to have a more 'green' home, and a great way to do that is by using natural cleaning products. Now days natural cleaning products are becoming much more easy to find!

In fact, Martha Stewart just came out with her own line of cleaning products called 'Martha Stewart Clean' that you can find at Home Depot! The best part is that they're 99% plant and mineral-based!

How do you organize under your kitchen sink?
Do you compost or use eco-friendly cleaning products?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's Get Organized: Kitchen Cupboard

Now that I've got you in the mood to organize your kitchen I thought I'd continue to run with it!

This is what I started with...
Pretty packed full, and like the pantry I didn't really know what was in there or how old it was. Let's just say some things in there were marked 'JZ' which were my initials before I got married... which was over 3 1/2 years ago!

Start by...
(1) Emptying everything out! It helps to start with a clean slate.
(2) Put your hand-held-vacuum and a damp cloth to work. You might as well while you have everything out, right?
(3) Decide what you want to designate each shelf for.

In progress...

Still tweaking...
At first I put my spaghetti and fettuccine noodles in plastics contains, and for easy access I removed the lids and turned them on their side. But then I got another idea...

I stacked them inside a large basket that I turned on it's side. And moved the plastic containers to the top shelf for pasta that I can pour from the spout on the lid. *I found the basket at Target (I even brought my tape-measure to the store with me to make sure it would fit... like a glove!).



Shelf-by-Shelf Break Down:

Shelf #1: Since this shelf is hard to reach I used it for things I don't use too often, like the kosher salt, pepper corns and olive oil I use for refilling my containers near the stove.

3 plastic (non-air-tight) containers with pour spouts (pasta). And I placed them near the edge so I'd be able to reach them more easily.

Shelf #2:
2 Plastic (non-air-tight) containers (rice & macaroni mixes)
2 Plastic (air-tight) containers (manicotti & lasagna noodles)

Shelf#3: I used a spinning spice rack and a small wire rack to provide more storage space.

I also moved some of the excess items to the basement where I store my bulk food... you know for those trips to Costco!

How do you organize your cupboard?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Let's Get Organized: Kitchen Pantry

A great way to organize your pantry is to use storage containers. When selecting your containers it's important to consider the following: seal, functionality, size and price.

Seal... Is the food you are storing prone to stale or pest?
Functionality... Does the food need to be poured, grabbed or scooped?
Size... Will at least one package fit in the container?
Price... How much do you want to spend? ...Although a better option as far as maintaining freshness, air-tight containers tend to be more costly.

For foods that are prone to stale or pest, such as crackers and cereal, I used air-tight containers. And for foods that are kept in their individual wrappers, such as toaster pastries and breakfast bars I used glass or plastic non-air-tight containers. The air-tight containers I used can be purchased at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. And the glass and plastic non-air-tight containers I used can be purchased at Wal-Mart and Target.

When we purchased our home, what is now the pantry was a broom closet with only one shelf at the top. To turn the closet into a pantry we simply added four shelves and give it a fresh coat of paint! ...And we now have a lot more storage space in our kitchen!



Shelf-by-Shelf Break-Down:

Shelf #1: chips- I didn't use storage containers for the chips, instead I stuck with my original technique of folding the bags down while lettings the air out and fastening them with clothes pins.

Shelf #2:
4 plastic (air-tight) containers (snacks- wheat thins, triscuits, cheeze-its & pretzels).

...and in the corner...
3 small (non-air-tight) glass containers (nuts- cashews, almonds & pistachios)

Shelf #3: breakfast items~
3 plastic (air-tight) containers (cereal)
3 medium (non-air-tight) glass containers (oatmeal packets, oatmeal to-go bars, and toaster pastries)
3 small (non-air-tight) glass containers (dried fruit- apricots, raisins & craisins)

Shelf #4:
3 plastic (non-air-tight) containers (breakfast bars) ...I turned the containers on there side so I could easily reach in and grab them.
2 medium (non-air-tight) glass containers (trail-mix packs and fruit snacks)

Basket (potatoes, onions & bread)
Small (non-air-tight) glass container (clothes pins for sealing chips bags)
Plastic (air-tight) container (dark chocolate!)

Bottom: baby food, formula & 'toddler snacks' -for the girls.
3 plastic containers (snacks, such as gold-fish, cheerios & animal crackers)

I also added the wire shelf for more storage space,
...and moved the cookies to a jar on the counter.

How do you organize your pantry?
Do you use storage containers or do you keep your food in it's original packaging?