The Pantry Tuesday, Apr 10 2012 

Whether you are moving to your first home or just doing some Spring-cleaning, having a well-stocked pantry can make throwing together a quick meal much easier.  When cleaning out your pantry (which could be one cabinet to a walk-in closet, preferably away from heat and light), take out everything and check for expired items. Dispose of any expired items and donate any items you no longer use (unless the containers are open). Next, put dry goods in airtight containers that are labeled with the date. Then, organize your shelves by like items (oil and vinegar on one shelf, pastas and grains on another, etc.) Below you will find a list for stocking or re-stocking your pantry. You will then be able to create meals on the fly even if your fridge is bare. This will come in handy if there is a natural disaster, as well.

For a well stocked pantry start here, revise and make substitutions based on your dietary needs and tastes:

  • Vinegar (Balsamic, Red Wine, Apple Cider, Rice, White)
  • Oil (Olive, Extra Virgin Olive, Vegetable)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Hot Sauce
  • Hot Chili Oil
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (Dijon, Grainy)
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Crackers
  • Cereal/Granola/Oatmeal
  • Rice (Jasmine, Long Grain, Brown, Arborio, Basmati, Etc.)
  • Grains (Couscous, Bulgur, Quinoa, Kasha, Etc.)
  • Pasta (Assorted Shapes)
  • Canned/Boxed Broth (Assorted Flavors)
  • Canned/Boxed Tomatoes (Whole Peeled, Crushed, Diced, Pureed)
  • Canned Soups
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Canned Tuna
  • Capers
  • Jam/Preserves (Assorted — if you bake, include Apricot)
  • Nuts (Assorted)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Raisins/Currants
  • Dried and Canned Beans/Lentils
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts
  • Olives
  • Olive Paste
  • Canned Peppers (Diced Mild Green, Chipotle in Adobo, Roasted Red, Etc.)
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Onions
  • Flour (All Purpose, Cake, Whole-Wheat, Etc.)
  • Sugar (Granulated, Brown, Confectioner’s, Etc.)
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Chocolate (Semi-Sweet and Unsweetened)
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Spices (Assorted)

Keeping Critters at Bay Wednesday, Mar 7 2012 

I have had raccoons coming in my yard for many years without any problems. Then about two years ago a raccoon discovered my dog door and came inside my house. Luckily I was home when it happened and scared the raccoon away. Since then, I have made sure to always lock up the dog door at dusk and that seemed to work. However, in the last several months I have been awakened in the middle of the night by a tap, tap, tapping at my back door, only to discover a raccoon trying to get in through the dog door.

I have done all of the preventive measures such as keep food, water, garbage and shelter unavailable to raccoons without success. Through some research I found some Raccoon Help and the solution is ammonia. Place a rag in a low, unbreakable container then pour ammonia on the rag, enough to cover the rag (the rag will help the ammonia from evaporating too fast). Next, put the container where you want to keep raccoons away, for me that was outside near the dog door. You can also use this method for keeping raccoons away from a lawn (you will need several ammonia stations for larger areas with multiple access points). Good luck!

What’s in Your Toolbox? Friday, Feb 10 2012 

Everyone, even if you’re not handy, should have a basic tool kit for the home. The first thing you should get is a toolbox or tote to store and carry the tools. You can go traditional or be creative. Find something that will work with your tools and where you plan to store the box.


Next, get some basic tools. Hardware stores can be overwhelming, but they usually have helpful people working that can assist you.

Here is a very basic list that will handle most simple jobs around the house:

  • Tape Measure: I like a 25′ Retractable Tape Measure
  • Screw Drivers: Assorted Sizes, Flat Blade and Phillips
  • Gimlet: You use it to start a hole. This is a handy tool for those of us without drills
  • Claw Hammer
  • Flashlight
  • Wire Cutter
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Assorted Nails & Screws
  • Picture Hanger Assortment
  • Duct Tape & Painter’s Tape
  • Spackling Paste & Putty Knife
  • Flat Scraper Razor Blades
  • Super Glue
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Crescent Wrench
  • Steel Wool
  • Assorted Sand Paper

You will be able to take care of most small home-related tasks with the tools above. Happy fixing!

The Welcome Mat Sunday, Nov 13 2011 

As friends and family come to town to stay with you, having a few simple things prepared in advance can help make their stay relaxed and less harried for you.

  1. If you have the luxury of a guest room or cottage prepare it in advance by giving it a good cleaning.
  2. Provide blankets and clean linens for your guest.
  3. If you have a guest room, check the light bulbs to make sure they work.
  4. Provide some hangers or hooks for their clothes.
  5. Provide soap, shampoo, conditioner & toothpaste. If you have a guest bathroom, towels and bathroom essentials can be set out for your guest in the bathroom. If you don’t have a separate guest bathroom you can prepare a basket with the necessary items and give your guest a spot to hang their towels.
  6. If you don’t have a room for your guest make some space where they can keep their belongings and provide them with clean linens, blankets and a basket of bathroom essentials.
  7. Provide a night-light so your guest can find their way in the dark.
  8. Provide some reading material and or a television or radio.
  9. Bottled water and some fresh flowers add a nice touch.
  10. Provide information on the area: tourist guide, local paper, etc.
  11. Show your guest your home and where the kitchen essentials are.

The more your guests have a spot of their own, the more they will feel at home and the less likely they will feel like they are in the way.

Keeping it Together Thursday, Nov 3 2011 

Living in a small house has taught me how to maximize my space. Some of the ways to get the most out of your space and keep things organized are:

Find multi-purpose furniture. I like pieces with lots of storage. Living in a house with small closets and small rooms means I have to find furniture that will accommodate a lot of items, yet won’t over power the room. I use the media stand as a media stand and as a dresser.

Use clear containers and mesh drawer organizers to get the most out of your drawer space, and so you can see what you have.

Clear containers work great in a pantry as well, and if you label and date the containers it will help you to keep your pantry items fresh.

In visible areas where you want things to look stylish and organized try using baskets. You can find various sizes and styles to work with most items.

Inspiration Tuesday, Oct 11 2011 

The internet is full of inspiration and sometimes it’s easy to miss the good stuff. Here are some design and fashion blogs that have inspired me:

These are just a few of the many inspiring blogs out there. Go find your inspiration!

Russian Hill modern kitchen

Quick Fix Friday, Apr 29 2011 

My backyard cottage was in need of a facelift. I painted the cottage a dark blue (Benjamin Moore, Evening Sky) and broadened the white trim (Benjamin Moore, White Dove) around the door. Then I found an old window at a salvage yard and hung it like a picture.  I added a mailbox, some plants, a bench and a doormat to complete the look. The window made all the difference.





Cottage Side View

Get The Mess Out! Friday, Sep 24 2010 

It happens to everyone, all of sudden you look over and you can’t see your desk anymore or your floor or the back of your closet or…  and you know it’s time to tackle the mess.

I have my own system for organizing. First of all, if you feel overwhelmed you might want to get help. The other thing to do if you feel overwhelmed is to pick a small area to focus on – instead of the bookshelf do one shelf. The process works the same whether it is one shelf or an entire house.

The Steps:

  1. Choose your area and make some space to put sorted items. Cover as large an area as you can handle.
  2. Remove items starting with one area (shelf, desktop, drawer, portion of the room, etc.).
  3. Place the items into piles: Keep, Trash, Recycling, Donate, Unsure. The reason I do an Unsure pile is to keep down the time it takes to sort the items, for many people sorting is the hardest part. If you aren’t sure if you can give the item away then just stick the item in the Unsure pile.
  4. Once everything is sorted take the items from the Keep pile and place the appropriate items back in the area you have been organizing. You may have things in your Keep pile that don’t belong in the area you’re working on and those will be placed where they belong or dealt with later.
  5. Now the trash and recycling can be put out, and the items to be donated can be bagged or boxed and given away. See my lists of local resources for donating &
  6. Take a look at your Unsure pile and ask yourself these questions: When was the last time I used this? How often do I use this? Will I use this? Is there a place to keep it? Would someone else be happy to have this? Now sort the items accordingly.
  7. Next continue to move through the rest of the clutter until you are satisfied. You can do this in small blocks of time or all at once if you are motivated. See for tips on how to store items.

In The Know… Monday, Jun 28 2010 

Ever wonder how other people seem to know the latest restaurant, secret hiking trail, newest shop opening or fun event happening? They may be subscribing to these:

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