Points to Ponder, Recipes

Keeping a Well Stocked Pantry

I have to admit something to you all–I didn’t always keep a well-stocked pantry. In fact, up until my twins were born a little over 5 years ago, this is something I didn’t do well. My husband came from a family of 4 boys, so their household almost always had a good supply of cooking and baking essentials. One of the best things he did for me the week after our twins were born was put up an extra shelving unit in our garage specifically for food storage. Up until then I had just utilized our pantry closet in the kitchen and that was it. Therefore, unless I was at the store at least once a week, it seemed like we were always running short on something. Now I have a pantry closet (which I made over last fall), garage shelving, 2 chest freezers, and some shelves in our basement for things we’ve canned.

The closet pantry in our kitchen.

I’m not an advocate of hoarding. However, I do think it’s pretty handy to have a good supply of essentials on hand at all times. It makes meal planning so much easier and if you have to quick whip up a snack or meal to take somewhere, you don’t have to panic. (Plus we have lots of growing bodies to feed around here!) This is not a die-hard list, and yours may look a bit different than mine, but this is what we usually try to keep on hand:

Baking Supplies

white flour

whole wheat flour

white sugar

brown sugar

confectioner’s sugar

baking powder

baking soda

salt

shortening

yeast

cornstarch

corn syrup

cinnamon

cocoa

white vinegar

apple cider vinegar

balsamic vinegar

vanilla

cornmeal

food coloring

assorted spices

coconut oil

olive oil

vegetable oil

cooking spray

oatmeal

raisins or craisins

assorted nuts

assorted chocolate chips

Nutella–not an essential, but good to have around. I have a little love affair with this stuff 😉

Other Pantry Items

rice

assorted pastas

dried beans

assorted canned beans

peanut butter

Nutella

cream soups

boullions

honey

molasses

pancake syrup

Bisquick

assorted cereals

bread crumbs

tea bags

coffee

juices

juice boxes

crackers

snack foods

Refrigerator

milk

chocolate milk

eggs

butter

cream cheese

sour cream

assorted cheeses

yogurts

ketchup

salad dressings

mustard

mayonnaise

jellies

fruit

salad veggies

Freezer

assorted veggies

bread items

applesauce

berries

freezer jams

boneless chicken breasts

ground beef

bacon

whole chicken

sausage

other meats

butter

cheeses

frozen soups

extra freezer meals

Basement Storage

assorted jellies

tomato juice

tomato sauce

salsa

whole tomatoes

stewed tomatoes

peaches

pears

applesauce

potatoes

onions

pickles

grape juice

There may be a couple of things I have forgotten, but these are the basics for us. It seems like a lot, but I can tell you that it saves me from making extra trips to the store and has helped me be a little more organized with planning our meals. Basically, when I’m making up a store list, I just go over these areas and see what I have to replenish. Unless there’s a new recipe I’m trying or something like that, this covers most of the bases for me. As I mentioned before, your list may be different than mine, and that’s fine by me. However, for someone who wants to start keeping a better stocked pantry, hopefully this list helped you out.

Craft/DIY Ideas, Favorite Things

My Love of Lemons

I love lemons.

I love the smell of them, love the taste of them in certain foods, and their yellow color makes me happy. In fact, one of my favorite decor ideas in the spring through summertime is just to have a glass bowl of lemons in the middle of my table. Not mind-blowingly creative, but it always looks fresh and pretty! Here’s some other beautiful ideas that I’ve stumbled across using lemons in decor, whether it’s for everyday or for a special event.

Lemons in a bowl with a blue ribbon tied and pinned around their middles. Photo from blog.amyatlas.com.
A gorgeous wreath made of lemons. Photo courtesy of creativedecorations.com.
Lemons paired with bright pink blossoms and some greenery make an elegant centerpiece. Photo from theknot.com.
Using lemons as place card holders for a wedding or special event. Other fruits would work nicely too! Courtesy of stylemepretty.com.
I love the look of these in a simple blue bowl. Photo from themeadowbrookblog.blogspot.com.
How easy is this? Stack a few in a tall glass and add water.
You wouldn’t even need a special event to use this idea. Arrange lemon slices in a mason jar and use for a flower bouquet. So pretty! Photo courtesy of cowboy-takemeaway.tumblr.com

Lastly, since my family loves to make a lot of fresh-squeezed lemonade in the summer (and year round), I had to throw this one in. I would love to have a big ole’ dispenser like that!

Photo courtesy of classichostess.com.
Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

What I’ve Learned in My 34th Year

I think each year of my life goes by just a tad bit quicker than the last. Really, it feels like just a couple months ago that I turned 33, and here I have just celebrated yet another birthday. I would like to say that I am not only a year older, but a little wiser too. I’m sure I am in a couple of ways. Other times…eh, not so much. I still do a number of stupid and/or unwise things on a daily basis. However, I have learned (and in some cases relearned) a few new things in my 34th year:

1. Getting up before my children really is worth it. Even if they are all early risers. I have found myself sharing this one with newer moms and they sometimes look at me like I’m crazy. Now granted, I don’t always practice what I preach, but when I am diligent about this one it does pay off. Even having a mere 10-20 minutes of quiet makes a huge difference in my attitude for the day. I am rarely up burning the midnight oil, so getting enough sleep isn’t usually an issue right now. (By the way, I also tell newer moms to get their kids on a schedule of going to bed early!)

2. Don’t ignore a toothache. Or don’t skip going to the dentist for much longer than acceptable. I could never understand people’s apprehension about going to the dentist–that is, until I skipped going for years and ended up having a bad experience. Not only did I have my first cavity ever, but it turned into a root canal. I think I was white-knuckled during the whole thing and came home more than a little bit traumatized.

3. I am still capable of memorizing scripture, therefore I have no excuse not to. Even though my brain felt like a big mush-ball for the past almost 11 years. I was challenged to memorize the Book of James a couple months ago, and to my great surprise, was able to pull it off.

4. I learned how to knit. Actually, I did a little how-to series on this back in January, sharing what I learned as I went. It was very relaxing and enjoyable.

5. Taking time to exercise is always worth it. I am a big fan of exercise (even when it’s not fun) and can always feel a difference when I’m not being diligent with this. There’s way too many benefits to it not to take the time to exercise. Believe me, I am usually much happier, healthier, sleep better, eat better, and look better when I do it.

6. No matter what season of life you’re in, God can still use you. It doesn’t matter if you’re elbow-deep in taking care of infants and toddlers or you are beyond retirement. If you’re still alive and kicking, God still has a specific purpose for you and you only for this season of life.

7. Staying home with my kids has been a gift. Sure, there have been days and weeks when they made me crazy and I was wishing for a job instead of being on the homefront. However, since my kids are soon going to all be in school (I just registered my twins for kindergarten), I have to say that I’m thankful for all the years I have had with them at home. There’s so much I would have missed out on had I shipped them off to childcare every day and worked. As the expression goes, “the days are long but the years are short.” How true it is, and I don’t regret staying home one bit. By the way, I am totally not judging moms who work outside the home, so please don’t think I am!

8. I have a huge impact on my kids. This one’s sort of a no-brainer since I am their mother. However, sometimes they will say and do something that I know originated with something I have said and done. Sometimes this is a good thing and is completely humbling. Other times it’s not so good and I am kicking myself.

9. I have a huge impact on my spouse. Again, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. My words and actions can have the power to build him up or they can have the opposite effect. (To all the wives out there, this is true for you as well.) Just recently we unintentionally overheard a cell phone conversation where a wife was completely disrespectful and nasty to her husband. My man told me later that he appreciated how I’ve never spoken to him in that way. I’m by no means a perfect wife and have my own set of faults, but this has really come to my attention more lately.

10. If I don’t write something down, it’s probable that I will forget it. I’m not sure if this has happened more with age or just the fact that my family has many more things that I have to keep track of. Yes, I realize that this contradicts #3, but it’s totally true. Just as a funny aside, while I was memorizing James I went to pay for something with a debit card and drew a complete blank as to what my PIN # was, even though it’s been the same for years. I was so embarrassed! I guess I had way too many things on the brain.

Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Twisted Headband Tutorial

So I happened to mention in my last post that I don’t color my hair because I mostly like my natural color. However, my hair and I do have an almost daily battle due to how crazy-thick it is. I call it “taming the mane.” Believe me, if it is not tamed down, it has a whole other life of its own. It’s ridiculous! Each time I go for a haircut I get it thinned out an insane amount and whatever poor hairdresser has me assures me that it is still thicker than most peoples’. (I know all you thin-hair people are all groaning at me, but us thick-hair people can tell you it can be such a pain!) Anyway, enough about my hair already. What I really wanted to share today is something I made to help tame my crazy mane:

I fell in love with a couple of twisted style headbands I discovered on Pinterest and tried to replicate them. The pink print one is made from an old scarf and the black and white one is made of knit material that I had in my fabric stash. I took pics of how I made the pink one.

In this case I took a long lightweight scarf I was no longer using for that purpose and cut it in half. For the black and white headband I used two long pieces of fabric (maybe 4″ by 20″?) and sewed them into 2 long tubes.

Then I folded each in half again and intertwined them so there is one twist in the center.

To join the two pieces I measured my head and overlapped the ends so that they would fit around securely without being too tight (A problem I have with other headbands sometimes.) Then I sewed the two ends together, backstitching across the width for extra hold.

My favorite kind of project–quick, easy, cute, and practical. I may be making more of these in other colors.

I have to admit that while I love the pink, the knit material of the black and white is more comfy to wear. So, if I I make more, I would probably use another knit material that has a little stretch to it.

Note to self (and others): It’s a little awkward to take pictures of the top of your own head.