Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pantry Love :: Yep I heart my pantry!

First I must say a heartfelt 'rank-roo' to all our little friends who wished Jack a speedy recovery. I am not a morning person but this morning I was awake very early - I was rejoicing at the fact that Jack had a night without one single hacking cough -yippee! This means no need to anesthetize him to check his throat and we made the right decision to see if the anti-inflammatory drug would work. Boy did it work. This morning I whispered to Hubbie (we were in bed) 'Jack didn't cough once!' and Hubbie gave me the 'thumbs-up'. We are so relieved.

About my love for my Pantry...

If I knew then what I know now I would never have gone without some sort of pantry in my previous homes/dwellings. I mean if I had to redo it I'd have purchased a thrift store armoire or other type of cupboard and plopped-it where it could serve as a pantry - when I think back to the days when I used to dig dig dig for my pantry foods - well I just shake my head in wonder.

Last week my latest order from Mountain Rose Herbs arrived and I finally realized that my pantry shelves were groaning beneath the weight of all these packages AND I knew that the herbs will keep much longer if kept in the basement (which means traipsing up and down to get them, phooey.) This decision to clear-out the shelf allowed me to take-up some much needed shelf space so I reorganized my beloved pantry and was so smitten that I took photos - I know it's silly but I'm about to share Pantry photos with you, ha!

Now a pantry is just a closet really. It's a closet with floor to ceiling shelves and this is what we did with this one - we added the railing type shelving system where you insert brackets at the desired level (reminds me very much of my days working retail - the store fixtures were exactly the same). We then purchased unfinished pine shelves (all at Home Depot but I must say that Ikea has fantastic shelving accessories too). The result is as you will see in the photos below - and we did this in a hurry - we had just moved into the house and we needed these shelves so it's not a complicated task.

If you do not have a pantry I have a suggestion below for what I did in a previous home which you might like but I would heartily recommend even a thrift store cabinet given a slick paint job and pushed into a nice spot in the kitchen, dining room, hallway...I don't think I'd go without such a convenience ever again.

Behold, my lovely pantry (these were night time photos and the pantry has a hallogen light in it - sorry 'bout the glare)

I built the spice rack from leftover 1x2's that were in the basement - it's basically a mini-ladder. I then painted it the same colour as the pantry (which is also the wall colours) and voila!

The cookbooks I look to only for the occasional recipe are kept on the top shelf and I have a little ladder that sits in the kitchen for easy access.

I buy a lot of our foods in bulk so the vintage Tupperware tubs are great for loose bags plus I am always on the lookout for nice old jars to store beans, seeds and flours.

These baskets are from the discontinued Martha Stewart products line at KMart and were called Nantucket Baskets. The handle makes them perfect for hanging. I use them for bread and more bulk goods.

A pretty vintaage apron

These are a few recipes I want to try - I printed them and taped them onto the doors to remind me and now I think they're kinda pretty there :-)

When we built this house I immediately decided that this closet - which was shown as a linen closet - was to be my kitchen appliance closet. I am so sick of stooping over to lift heavy applicances and this closet is right next to the pantry - perfect.

A great way to store loose bits is vintage containers, baskets and I even added a fabric topper to this large basket - the top has a drawstring so all that inside is hidden but easily accessible.

And where did all the herbs go?

I built this Laundry Room unit when we first moved into the house. We had to buy all new appliances when we came back to Canada - our old appliances were either too far gone (washer and dryer were on last legs) or good enough to work fine and donated to charity - none were in great shape and so when I got this beautiful washer - dryer set I felt like I'd won the lottery. Sadly, that dryer never gets any use anymore - hydro costs are just too high and I air dry everything. It must feel lonely...

I simply built a table topper to go over the washer-dryer then I added the top section of our buffet (the base is upstairs but we had no room for the top) and painted it all to match.

Almost all the herbs are for the dogs and in particular, for Charlie. Some are for ouchie lotions and most are for herbal infusions and dry blends.

I Heart vintage dish drying racks in yummy colours

My essential oils and other heat and light sensitive items live in this little china display unit.  The light is rarely on (it would heat-up the oils, not good) and I have an assortment of jars and bottles that I've saved to recycle into containers for salves and other products I might concoct. All these shelves, and decorative things were from our Straw Bale house where I had a much more eclectic cottage style decor - I am happy to have them cheer-up the unfinished basement.

If you do not have a pantry but would love to have one - perhaps you have a closet, cabinet or even a shelf unit that you could convert into a pantry.

How about painting a vintage shelf unit in creamy white on the outside, the shelves too but the backs of the shelves in blackboard paint. You could even add fabric curtains to hide the inside when not in use. I can think of so many ways to make a pantry!

This was a really odd closet beneath the stairs. It's saving grace was that it was in the dining/kitchen area and that it had a light inside. I drew-up a plan to turn it into a much needed pantry  (that kitchen had no cabinet space) and I love the results.

I painted the door and then used painters' tape to mark-out a black-board area. I used an online recipe for making your own blackboard paint (grout and black paint of which I had plenty of both so why spend the money on expensive blackboard paint?) and I added some decoupage on one corner.

With some help from Hubbie I built these shelves into the back wall and painted it all in a sage green and dark walnut stain.

This spice rack is sold as a drawer organizer and I simply screwed-it into the wall.

I had found these pretty wine-themed framed art pieces at a thrift store and they inspired the idea to make this wine bottle rack in the short knee-wall space. Hubbie helped me cut the boards and I can tell you that drilling into these closet walls was not fun - I swear there's concrete behind those walls!

This bottle rack works great for bottled Perrier type waters and there is a nice space at the bottom for baskets of potatoes and onions.

I'm really proud of this bottle rack

A cast-iron hook for a pretty apron finishes things off nicely

But that's not all...many older homes come with funky little nooks and crannies and this was an odd little cabinet again in the kitchen area. It was dark and dreary and really needed a cheer-up job.

I painted the entire interior a pale celery green (sadly not so obvious in the photos) and I went crazy with decoupage. Love this happy cabinet transformation. I even used a stick-on halogen light - you push it on or off. Cute, eh?

I used inexpensive moulding to make plate rails on the sides and on the back of the shelves - this way I could display pretty platters if I wanted to. 

Enjoy the process...

I really love to transform less than beautiful nooks and crannies into something pretty - it does take work but it's so rewarding. It's fun drawing-it all out on some note paper, going to the hardware store to select wood, paint etc...the process, if you do it with the right frame of mind - to enjoy the process as much as the finished  product - is very enjoyable. Put on the radio, keep all your materials neatly organized and have a way to hide it all at the end of the day until you are ready to tackle it again. In the end you may find yourself looking for another nook to transform because it was just too much fun!

If you like what I've done then here are my sources of inspiration...

I am very much inspired by the books of  Rachel Ashwell (Shabby Chic Home is my favourite), Tracy Porter (her three home decor books from her earlier years are fantastic but she went a tad over the top in her later years - too extravagant and wasteful for me which is unfortunate, I think she may have strayed too far into the extravagant as they have just shut-down operations which is very unfortunate, this woman has a big heart and an incredible imagination), the Junk Market Style ladies (both books on home decor)  and the Salvage sisters (I have provided a link because Amazon isn't co-operating!)   I also enjoy Amy Butler's home style very much (the book is called Midwest Modern).

If you don't have a satisfactory way to store your dry food, give it some serious thought - think outside the box and maybe look through the books I have mentioned above (surely all available by inter-library loan). If you really want a pantry - you can find a way to make yourself one - I guarantee it!

I am taking the weekend off to knit and be with the peeps! Happy Thanksgiving to my little American friends (who are groaning from eating too much, perhaps??) and I wish you a wonderful, peaceful and inspired weekend.

A Lundi mes amies!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The warm weather is gone and that's all right with me...

This week, the incredible mild weather turned and we are back to normal temperatures. While I enjoyed every second of this mild November, I am also enjoying every second of the cold.  There is something in me which clicks-on when the temperatures go down that I cannot explain - I find myself pulled by a moment of irresistible outdoor perfection and more often than not this happens first thing in the morning or at my absolute favourite time of the day - when the sun begins it's slow descent into the horizon. 

When we were RVing and would finally hit cold weather in Virginia or were travelling through Pennsylvania or Maine. Once that RV was parked, plugged-in and the routine of settling into a new campsite was complete -  I had to put on the tea kettle,  get into my cold weather comfies, find a book or a knitting project and park myself on the stairs of the RV. There were just two little stairs which saw a lot of sitting action from me on cold days - I loved to sit on them in the morning with my teacup sitting on a mechanical piece of one of our slides -the section of the RV that slides-out when the RV is parked and gives so much more room inside the place. I'd watch other people in the RV campgrounds or I'd knit, read a book or just watch. Most of the RV campgrounds were really nice ( I assure you that some were most definitely NOT) and were surrounded by woods and trails. When we RV'd in Maine, one place had a view of the ocean, another had a buoy on the ocean whose bell rang day and night - it was pure magic. 

Favourite moments....tea, a book, the cold, my Creative Journal and some hens!

Right around the time when the sun will begin to go down and I had to drop everything and head outside for a tea , my journal and a book as backup - and hens watching me. 

The Girls saw snow for the first time this week! 

Poor little girls, they huddled under the roof extension wondering what in the world was happening out there.The snow melted within 15 minutes but it was quite spectacular - huge flakes!

And finally, without cold weather, how could I indulge in the bliss of a rocking chair by the firelight surrounded by dogs with knitting needles clicking away?

There's a pizza baking in the pizza oven!

I am not saying I love the frigid temperatures of January and February.  I agree with Hubbie who would prefer for the snow to arrive in late December and it would be all right with us if it left by February but I have a much easier time with the extreme cold than the extreme heat.

Right now, this weather is just fine for me, in fact, it's perfect.

Perfect for outdoor bonfires
Perfect for Soup & Sandwich suppers
Perfect for crisp, silent walks on our land
Perfect for wearing all the hand knit goodness I so love to make.

Have a wonderful, peaceful weekend, see you Monday for the Give-away announcement!