Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Small Pantry Blues

Close your eyes... (Come on! Humor me. Just for a minute) Think about your dream home. Walk into the kitchen. You're about to prepare for supper. Walk over to your pantry. Open the door and WALK IN... Just look at those shelves! Everything has it's own place. There's plenty of room to group like foods together. Oh, and over here- the counter where all of your small kitchen appliances are kept. You have everything you need in one convenient place. Open your eyes...

Some of us are blessed in the pantry area. When we were on the market for a new house, having a pantry was my main make or break. If there wasn't a decent pantry, we didn't even talk about the house. I have a problem. I'm a pantry snob. When I was growing up, my mom had a pantry. It wasn't luxurious or anything, but it served it's purpose. There was plenty of room for all the food we needed and it housed our extra stuff like ziploc bags, paper towels, foil, etc.

When Justin and I bought our first house, we thought we knew what to look for. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a decent living room and kitchen... and no pantry. I stored our food in the laundry room. The house needed a renovation and what did we do (along with tons of other updates)? We added a pantry!

Fast forward a year.. we sold our house! After a few months of house hunting, we've decided to build and we're renting a house for the time being... a house without a pantry.

We're using three cabinets as our pantry. Is it luxurious? No. Do I wish I had a bigger pantry? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? No. I can, however, make the most of what I have. Hence the purpose for this post.

I have gotten in a REAL BAD HABIT of buying groceries and stuffing them wherever they will fit in the "pantry". No rhyme or reason. When I go to look for something I need I often can't find it.

I needed an intervention!
 I ventured out to our local Walmart in search of some inspiration. I found a Better Homes and Gardens 6 piece stack-able canister set (I bought two sets) and a couple of baskets. When I got home I got straight to work.
I used the canisters to store food that was already opened like noodles, dry beans, and cookies. I used the baskets to store snacks. One basket for Justin and my snacks and one for Brooks. Where we had a lot of half empty boxes, I combined them or put them in a snack basket. I organized the canned goods into like foods. The less often used things like cake mixes and pie fillings I moved to the top shelf.

The pantry is still full, but I know where things are now.

I hope to purchase some more of these canisters when we finish our house.

Maybe, just maybe, this inspires you to make the most of your small pantry.

Do you have any tips for organizing small pantry spaces?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Easy Banana Bread Recipe

It never fails. I buy fresh fruit or vegetables, we're gone from the house during meal times, and they inevitably go to waste. I hate when I've spend hard earned money on something just to throw it away. It seems to always happen!

I bought a bunch of bananas with every intention of making a smoothie for breakfast every morning while I was at home. I made one. I was opening the lid to the trashcan today about to toss those {almost} rotten bananas when a light bulb went off- BANANA BREAD! We hadn't eaten breakfast yet and this would be the perfect surprise for Justin- he loves banana bread. I'm not a bake at breakfast kinda girl, so he wouldn't be expecting it.

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law way back. It's pretty much a no fail recipe.

3-4 really ripe bananas (mashed)
1 c.sugar
1 stick margarine (softened)
2 eggs
1/4 c. oil (I used vegetable)
2 c. plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together sugar, margarine, eggs, and oil. Add mashed bananas. Mix until combined well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture.  Mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased pan. I used two loaf pans, but you could use a muffin pan or another pan of your choice.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Word of the Year: Balance

Resolutions- I've never been very good at them. Who is? On January 1st we all set these unrealistic goals and be March we're back to our same old selves. It's hard to change. Change, though, is a good thing. God is always working on his children. We have to be willing to grow, be mold-able. I've been thinking about my life as a Christian wife and mother. Relationships take work- every day. Parenting is hard. LIFE is hard! Then, the world hands us all the extra 'stuff' that throws us off kilter. My prayer this year is that I can realize what's important in this life. Really focus on things that make me smile.

I was over on The Small Things Blog where Kate posted about her word of the year success story from 2015 and announced her word for 2016: focus.

My word for 2016 is Balance. Finding a way to balance parenting, relationships, work, blogging, finances, etc. Not taking on more than I can handle. Doing my best for my family. We've got a lot going on this year (read that post here). If not properly balanced, it could drive a person mad.

I'm excited about this year. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be worth it!

What's your word for 2016?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Here's to 2016

2016? Seriously? Is it just me, or do the years seem to pass by faster and faster? I think it comes with parenthood (or so I've been told). 2015 has absolutely flown by. It seems like yesterday that Brooks was so tiny. He has accomplished so much this year, and Justin and I have definitely grown as parents and husband and wife. I know that 2016 is going to offer us just as many blessings as 2015 did.

So what's in store for Coalleys in 2016?
We're building a house!! You read that right! The loggers stared clearing the property the week before Christmas. There's been one clear day since then, so needless to say, they aren't making much progress. As much as I want this house finished (yesterday), I know it will be finished in due time. I'm sure I'll be forced to practice patience over the next year. Justin has given me the task of thumbing through dozens of catalogs of light fixtures, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, doors, windows, paints.. you catch my drift? I think he's trying to keep my busy. I have searched Pinterest through and through looking for the perfect rustic modern decor. I'm certain that I'll have all the answers when I'm asked about trim and cabinets, sinks and faucets. I'm in the excitement phase right now. There's something new happening almost every day. I know it's not all roses and butterflies. There will be lots of tough days when I'm more than ready to move in, but when I think about how quickly this past year has flown by, I know that we'll be in our new house before we know it. If all goes well, we'll be decorating our Christmas tree in our forever home in 2016. That makes me so, so happy.

Also happening in 2016- My sister is getting married! She has found the one whom her soul loves and we couldn't be more thrilled! We're working on planning the perfect fall wedding. Who doesn't love fall? Fall, full of oranges, browns, golds. Love FALL!

Brooks turns 2 this year. I can't believe it! With all the other things we have going on this year, I am getting a head start with planning. I always want him to have a party that he enjoys and boy does he enjoy a lot of things! The kid loves everything that moves. He's amazed by every little thing. It's precious. So what's the theme for his shindig this year? Here's a hint: Choo-choo... He is obsessed with trains. If he doesn't have a drastic change in interest we will be hosting a0" Choo-choo Brooks is 2" birthday party in August.

Some events are planned and we look forward to. Some come as surprises and we can either embrace them or let them get us down. I hope to continue to grow this little blog of mine. Do you like what you're reading? Let me know in the comments.

Let us embrace life's moments, big and small. I pray that 2016 is full of love and laughter. I love ya'll!

God Bless!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

12 Christmas Traditions Your Kids Won't Forget

Christmas is a special time of year. People have a different spirit about them. They're happy, cheerful, even loving. The majority of my childhood memories come from Christmastime. It's special, but it's also BUSY! I love the hustle and bustle of the season. With the world's materialistic view on the holiday, it's easy to get caught up in the gifts and the stress of needing to be a million places at once.

My parents always made sure we knew the true meaning of this season: Christ. Even though we celebrate Him all year long, this season is special, set aside to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Now that I have a family of my own, I look forward to the starting Christmas traditions with my family that they will remember forever.

12 Christmas Traditions for the Kids

Decorating the tree- Ever since I can remember, we've decorated our Christmas tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I carried on the tradition my parents started when Justin and I got married. It's one of my favorite days of the year.

Christmas Lights- I absolutely love to see a house that's all decorated with lights. Brooks loves to look at lights so this is a favorite for me as well. Last year we went to the Lights of the South light display. It was the most beautiful light display I've ever seen. They even has a castle completely made of lights. Brooks was so little. I can't wait to go bath this year to see how he reacts.

Pre-Christmas Purge- This is a new one for me this year. I don't think I ever realized how much "stuff" comes with having a child. I'm sure someone told me but holy cow! A friend told me a while back that their elf came with a letter telling the kids to pack up all of the toys they have outgrown or never use anymore to give to a child who's less fortunate. This is the same for us adults. I have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Know the feeling? My plan for my first day of the Christmas break is to purge. I'm excited to start the holiday season and the new year with a little less clutter.

Elf on the Shelf/Kindness Elf- This is my first year using the Elf in my classroom. I haven't used it at home yet. Brooks is too young to make it fun. We're undecided on if we'll use Elf on the Shelf or the Kindness Elf concept at home.

24 Books of Christmas (or however many you choose)- I started collecting Christmas books last year. Every night we read a Christmas book. I don't have 24 books yet. Books can be expensive. If you buy them early and throughout the year, it doesn't seem that bad. Hopefully I'll have a complete 24 book collection by next year.

Cookies and Hot Chocolate- I love to bake, but I really love it during the Christmas season. I don't want to wish Brooks' little years away, but I'm excited to have him "help" me make Christmas cookies.

Polar Express- This is another one on my bucket list of traditions. We watch the Polar Express movie every year anyway (while we enjoy our cookies and hot chocolate:), but I'd love to make a yearly trip to ride the Polar Express Train.

You've Been Elfed!- I'm not sure if this is an original idea or if I saw it somewhere. It's a spin off of the You've Been Boo'd at Halloween. I'm trying it this year.. we'll see how it goes. I can see it being a blast when Brooks is older.

Christmas Eve Gift- As kids, my sisters and I would BEG my parents to open just one gift on Christmas Eve. They would let the excitement build until the last minute when they finally gave in. The catch was- they got to choose the present we opened. This year we're starting a Christmas Eve gift with some Christmas pajamas, a new movie or book, and a sweet treat.

Christmas Sleepover- The parents can't have all the fun, right? Brooks' Grandparents can hardly wait to start this sleepover tradition.

Picture with Santa- Need I say more?

The Christmas Story- LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST! I love Christmas and I have a lot of favorite traditions that I share with my family, but nothing warms my heart more than hearing or reading the story of the first Christmas. Before the gifts are touched, we all sit around and someone reads from the book of Luke (or Matthew- your choice). The story of the Greatest Gift ever given or received. Don't let the true meaning of CHRISTmas slip away.

Do you have special traditions you share with your family? Leave a comment! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

20 Stocking Stuffers for Your Manly Man

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning. It's always been fun to see what all my hubby can fit into that tiny thing. However, it's always a struggle for me to fill his with something worth while. It's hard because he's not into toys, gadgets, and things of the sort, and I hate filling it with candy that most of the time I end up eating. He's a "manly" man. He's into fishing, hunting, and other MAN STUFF. How am I supposed to fit a fishing pole into that thing? So, for ladies like me that have a manly man's stocking to fill this Christmas, I've put together a list of stocking stuffers sure to impress. Hope it gives you some ideas!

2. Zero bar (or your hubby's favorite candy bar)
3. Mini Flashlight
4. Screwdriver
5. Jerky
6. Hunting/Fishing Magazine
7. Pocket Knife
8. Knife Sharpener
9. Hunting Gloves
10. Extra Cell Phone Charger
11. Fishing Lure
12.Peanuts, Walnuts, or Pecans - better yet, a mixture of the three!
13.Beef and Cheese
14. Batteries
15. Gift Card
16. Earbuds
17. Apple Cider
18. Baseball Cards
19.Car Air Fresheners
20.  A Year's Worth of Pre-Planned Dates (see The Thinking Closet's post about this DIY)

Do you have some favorite goodies for your significant other's stocking?  I'd love to hear from you. Comment below:)

Happy Stuffing!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

10 Stocking Stuffers For Your Toddler

Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Claus is coming to town! I don't know about you, but this Santa is READY! well... almost ready. We are so excited about this Christmas with Brooks. Last year, it was fun to see his amazement at the lights, paper, and tissue. This year he might get into his gifts. He is obsessed with farms and trucks, so let's say there will be a lot of farming and trucks! I love buying the perfect gift. Not just for Brooks, for everyone on my list. When it comes to Christmas, my weakness is stuffing stockings. I never know what to put in them. My husband is a pro- He can fill a stocking with the best of them. Now that Brooks has come along, I have two stockings to struggle with. I don't want to fill them with junk that will just collect dust. This takes some serious thought for me. This year, I started making a list when I saw something online or in the store. I have compiled a list of 10 items that will be perfect for my toddler's stocking... it may be perfect for yours as well.

1. Sippy Cup
2. Thomas the Train Flashlight
3. Disposable Placemats
4. My First Markers
5. Mini Tape Measure
6. Tooth Brush
7. Bath Tub Crayons
8.Travel Silverware with Case
9. Matchbox Cars
10. My First Crayons

Am I the only one who has trouble stuffing stockings? What are some of your stuffer ideas?