Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Cherry Brownies

Cherry Brownies were a favourite at my house growing up.
My Mom made them often because my Dad loved them, and still loves them.
The recipe was passed down from his kind, sweet Grandmother Inez.
She lived to be 94 years old and was  married  for almost 75 years to my great-grandfather Rupert.
They raised 11 children in a dear little house that still stands to this day, although they passed away in the mid-1970's.
When I was growing up, my Mom made Cherry Brownies with a very thin cherry-flavoured icing.
 I have taken a few liberties with the recipe to update them for  a bit more of a gourmet coffee shop  look.
 {I also changed the name from Cherry Squares to Cherry an older sister of the original recipe.}
I have adapted the recipe to fit today's tastes... a thicker square, thicker icing and chocolate drizzle and cherry on top  to make them look ever more pur-ty.
And they taste divine....moist and cherry sweet and delish.
You will not be disappointed with this very easy recipe!

 Cherry Brownies
{makes 16 squares in 8x8 pan}

1.5 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup chopped red cherries

Favourite frosting, tinted pink if desired.
Melted chocolate for drizzling.
Cherries with stems.

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.
3. Stir together flour and baking powder. Add into butter & sugar mixture.  Mix until blended.
4. Add  chopped cherries.
5. Pour into greased 8x8 baking pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. {The top of the squares will look very brown when done, but will taste just fine!}
7. Let cool. Then frost with favorite icing tinted pink. Flavour icing with a little cherry juice from the jar of cherries if desired.
8. When icing has set, drizzle melted chocolate on top if desired. Let chocolate set.
9. Cut & remove from pan. Add cherries to slices just before serving

These would be perfect to make as a treat for neighbours or friends for Valentine's Day... or even for your adorable people at home.

Thank you Great Grammie Inez for such an amazing recipe that we are still enjoying!
Your Great Granddaughter Angie
And these fun boards on Pinterest:

This post is linked to:
The Party Bunch Sugarbee Crafts, Time To Sparkle, What's Cooking With Ruthie, Tip Me Tuesday, Block Party, Monday FundayTime To Sparkle,

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Valentine Petit Fours

Valentine Petit Fours.
Despite the fancy french name, they are really only tiny little cakes that are dressed up for a party.
You are really going to love how easy this is...and it`s a great project to make with children.
It is that easy.
And in case you have never heard of this dessert before, petit fours are traditionally small confections served for dessert.
Petit Four literally means ``small oven`` and petit fours can not only be cakes, but pastries, biscuits, cheesecakes and any other confection...but they are always small or ``petit``.

Valentine Petit Fours

Pound cake, cut into 1 inch cubes
1-2 cups Icing sugar
Food colouring or tint for icing
A few tablespoons of water.
Valentine`s sprinkles.

1. Make icing. Mix together approx. 2 cups of icing sugar with a few tablespoons of water with a whisk  to make a thin consistency. The icing should be thin enough so that it can be poured over cakes, or cakes can be dipped into.

2. Put a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. Place cubes of cake on the cooling rack. This will allow for the extra icing from the cakes to drip into the cookie sheet instead of the counter.

3. Although the traditional method is pouring icing over the cakes, I prefer dipping the cubes into the icing. I find there is less waste this way. Put each cube on a skewer and dip into icing until fully coated. You can also use a spoon  to help spread the icing over the cake. Place cake cube on cooling rack on cookie sheet. Sprinkle on some love...Valentine's sprinkles.

{After the first few cubes are done, if you find that the icing is too thin and is running off the cakes entirely, it is okay to add more icing sugar to the mixture to make it a little thicker. You can also re-dip the first few cubes if necessary.}

5. Let petit fours dry for an hour or until icing is set.

To serve, you can place them in mini-cupcake liners.
These would be a great addition to any little party...and perfect for small children because they are a perfect size for small hands and appetites.
You can find more easy Valentine's Day treats here, here and here.

To see some other fun desserts made with pound cake:
And have a peek at these fun boards on Pinterest:
Thank you so much for visiting!

This post is linked to:
Tip Me Tuesday, Inspire Me Please, Tatertots and Jello, Block Party, Monday Funday,The Party Bunch
Time To Sparkle,

Monday, 28 January 2013

Tomato & Lentil Soup with Hunt's Tomatoes

Who doesn't love a hot bowl of soup on a cold day? This Tomato & Lentil Soup hits the spot! I am so lucky because my entire family adores soup, so serving soup for dinner in our house is always a welcome choice. And tomatoes are a favourite soup base too. The kind people at Hunts Tomatoes contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out this recipe and share some of the goodness about their tomatoes with you. Since I buy Hunts Tomatoes & Tomato Paste by the case, I agreed.

Did you know that Tomatoes are:
  • packed with healthy goodness.
  • are a source of Vitamin A, C, Fibre & Potassium
  • are naturally fat free.
Let's talk about the recipe I am sharing first. I make soups all the time....every week in fact...and what I loved about this soup, besides how yummy it tasted, was how quickly it came together. Since Hunts Tomatoes are the star ingredient...there is not a lot of chopping of other ingredients.This recipe delivers fantastic flavour and easy preparation.
This recipe was developed by Celebrity Chef David Rocca, who is also a Tommalier. What is a Tommalier you ask? A Tommalier is a person who really, really knows their tomatoes, and is passionate about, and an expert in, tomatoes and creating amazing tomato-based dishes. Isn't that cool? Who knew?

David Rocco's Tomato and Lentil Soup
Serves 4-6 people.

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 fresh chili peppers, chopped
2 cans {14 oz/398 ml} tomatoes, such as Hunt's Original Diced Tomatoes
1 can {19 oz/540 ml} lentils, rinsed and drained
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. of tomato paste, such as Hunt's Original Tomato Paste
3-4 Sausages {Optional. I used it in my recipe.}

1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add garlic, parsley and chili peppers and saute for a few minutes until the garlic has started to turn golden.
2. Pour in diced tomatoes with the juice right from the tin. With the back of a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes into little chucks. You can decide the consistency. Then add the rinsed lentils, salt & pepper. Add tomato paste, and then add water about 1/2 an inch above the lentils. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes until the soup has thickened.
3. For a heartier version of the soup, break up some sausage and let it slightly brown in a frying pan just before you add in the tomatoes. {I added the sausage to our soup.}
Some things you should know about Hunts Tomatoes:
  • Hunt's is passionate about fresh.
  • Hunt's tomatoes are packed at the peak of ripeness.
  • Each year, Hunt's farmers grow 55 different tomato varieties so that Hunt's experts can choose the ideal varieties based on sweetness, texture and flavor profiles.
  • Hunt's is continually testing  the variety of tomato that is produced, and in blind tests, this variety has continually ranked #1.
  • Hunt's is unwavering in it's passion to ensure only the best and freshest tomatoes can be called Hunt's tomatoes.
As a cook for my family, I always keep my pantry stocked with Hunts canned tomatoes and tomato paste because I use canned tomatoes every week to make meals such as soups, pasta sauces, salsa, pizza and lasagna. The tomato season is short in Canada and I know that with Hunt's canned tomatoes packed at their peak of freshness,  I am making dishes for my family are top quality in taste!

For more tasty tomato-based recipes, please visit Hunt's Tomatoes.

{Disclosure – This post was brought to you by enCompass Media on behalf of Con Agra Foods. Opinions expressed are my own.}

Sunday, 27 January 2013

BlogWest 2013~Edmonton, AB +Win A FREE Conference Pass

I am so excited to share some happy news with you! I am so honoured to be chosen as 1 of 5 Ambassadors for BlogWest 2013 being held right here in Edmonton, Alberta on March 7-9, 2013.

 BlogWest is the premiere blogging conference for Western Canada and provides us Western Canadians with an opportunity to come together for learning, fun, connections and friendships.This amazing conference is designed for every blogger....whether it be DIY blogger, food blogger, lifestyle blogger, tech blogger, dad blogger, mom blogger....there is learning and fun for everyone!They are many exciting speakers & events plannted and if you are a blogger craving more blogging know-how, information and blogging friendships....then you won't want to miss this conference!I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural conference last year, and it was a total eye-opening experience for me as I got to meet so many great bloggers, make some important connections and take away lots of new ideas from the many informative sessions.

Right now, you can register for an Early Bird pass for the special price of $199 until February 11, 2013. After February 11, the conference passes will be $249. Please visit the registration page here to learn more.

BlogWest is pleased to partner with the Westin Edmonton in beautiful downtown Edmonton, Alberta. To obtain your special $199 BlogWest rate, please phone and reserve your room as soon as possible as this is an extremely busy weekend in Edmonton {The Brier} and there are a limited number of rooms available. This rate will only be available until sold out or until February 11, 2012!

You can find the BlogWest Facebook page HERE.

 As part of my Ambassadorship for BlogWest, I am thrilled to be able to give one lucky reader a BLOGWEST 2013 FULL CONFERENCE PASS for this fun-filled event. This pass includes all the events and sessions for the full 3 days of the conference. {Important to Note: This ticket is non-transferable, so if you win, you must be able to use it!} 

1-Please leave me a comment telling me why you would like to attend BlogWest 2013.
2-One entry per person. {Please, please make sure your blogger account links back to a valid email address and you are not a 'no-reply' blogger! Or leave your email address in the comment.}
4-Winner is responsible for accomodations and meals outside of conference provisions.
3-Giveway open from January 27, 2013 to midnight on January 31, 2013.

Good luck! And if you win, I look forward to seeing you there!

{Disclaimer: I am a BlogWest 2013 Conference Ambassador and will be receiving special perks as part of my affiliation with the conference. All opinions are my own.}

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Pretty Valentine's Vignette

I am back today to share  a little project with you....a pretty Valentine's vignette.
I love vignettes...there are easy to create and add a little seasonal touch to a space without a ton of work.
This week, I also created a Valentine's Mantel and a special Valentine's drink.

My favourite place for vignettes is the dining room table.
It's the spot where we spend the most time and it's nice to look at when the kitchen is a mess.
Here a few pointers on creating your own vignette for the dining table.
1. Start with a base..a place mat, a tray or a lazy susan.
2. Use seasonal colours or a colour theme that makes you happy.
3. Add a vase or jar with fresh flowers or fake flowers...they both work!
4. Add 2 other decorative objects next to your vase...vary heights and size and stay with your theme colour.
5. Add a napkin holder with napkins that work with what you have going on.

Now stand back & enjoy. Or tweak it a little.
And enjoy some more!

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

You might also love to take a peek at these boards on Pinterest:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cupcake Garnish For Drinks

Are these not the cutest garnishes ever?
This idea is going to tickle you...right in the cupcake!
Mini-cupcakes used as a garnish for a glass of milk make the perfect couple, don't you think?
Mini-cupcakes used to pretty-up a plain mason jar is just total awesome-sauce.

And this idea is so easy to create at home if you use those sweet little mini-cupcakes from the grocery store. Or you can make your own....whichever rocks your socks.
To use a cupcake as a's what you do~
~buy or make mini-cupcakes
~peel the paper off the cupcake
~make a small slit in the buttom of the cupcake with a knife.
~to the side of the jar, add a little frosting or mashmallow fluff to help hold the cupcake.
~gently press cupcake onto side of jar, using the slit for where the jar will go.

The cupcake garnish is a very delicate garnish. It falls off easily, so this works well for when guests are sitting at a table...where giggling can ensue when cupcakes drop into the milk (and not on the floor}....because you know this will happen.
I recommend eating the cupcake as soon as possible!
And not only do mini-cupckes make adorable garnishes, but so do mini powdered donuts and coloured sugar.
And make sure you use some pretty striped straws!
I love garnishes for food or drink for special or not so special events.
It's a simple thing to add....but it shouts HAPPY!

If you liked this post, you may want to visit:

And these lovely boards on Pinterest:

Thank you so much for visiting!

This post is linked to:
Tip Me Tuesday, Inspire Me Please, Tatertots and Jello, Block Party, Monday Funday, Sunday Best ShowcaseThe Party Bunch.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Valentine's Mantel

A Valentine's Mantel went from a vision to a reality this week.
This year I wanted a Valentine's Mantel that was very simple and sweet....mostly white & pink and I wanted to include some of my favourite tulips.
 I used a white teapot and a teapot shaped vase, so I think you could say this is a tea party inspired mantel.
That tattered looking pink heart hanging on the right? It was a gift from my Grandmother...given to me in the late 1970's. It's a handmade creation with needle work and ribbon.
I don't think my grandmother made it?
{I believe she bought it a craft sale or won it at a card party? Remember those? That's what people used to do for cold winter evenings...get together in the evening for a  good game of cards.}
 If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know how I love pink tulips. My local grocery store sells them for $3.99 a bundle and I cannot resist when the weather is cruel.
The print in this scroll frame is a free printable from the blog eighteen25. I love those girls.
{You can find the print here.}
 Really, is there anything more lovely than fresh flowers?
And even if your life is too busy and the thoughts of decorating for Valentine's Day seems ridiculous or overwhelming, buy yourself some fresh flowers the next time you are in the grocery store and put them in a vase or teapot when you get will feel instantly happier. 

If you would like to see a simple centrepiece for Valentine's Day, go here.
To see 10 Inspiring Valentine's Ideas, go here.
If you would like to make some quick Valentine's treats, go here and here.

And be sure to have a peek at these boards on Pinterest:
Valentine's Inspiration
Flowers To Love
Easter Ideas

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

January Blues Party...

Looking to chase away the January Blues?
A January Blues Party is a perfect little event to host to lift spirits in  a month of long, cold gray days.
I don't know about you, but January seems so long and many days are too cold to want to venture out anywhere.
Getting together with some girlfriends to chat & laugh is the best way I know to put some happiness into an otherwise bleak month.
I love my girlfriends!
 I put together this January Blues Party with white dishes and anything blue I could find, but really any theme would be just as fun!
{I think a Mexican dinner would be super dandy!}
I also added some sweet little yellow daffodils to play with the blues.
{Plus, they were $1.99 a bundle at the grocery store!} 
 I chose to use some grocery store desserts for this and mini powdered donuts.
And the lovely straws come from fav place for party supplies. 
And I made the sparkly tree globe with a mason jar, a sparkly white tree Christmas decoration, Epsom salts and some hot glue.
A pretty tablescape is always a nice treat.
 The menu was a homemade soup, salad & rolls. 
How about you?
Have you gotten together with girlfriends lately? 
 What are some of the things you do to chase away the January Blues?
I like nice hot baths, cozy socks and a TV series on DVD.
Lately I have been watching Vampire Diaries....which I blogger friend brought to my attention and lucky for me....3 seasons were already on my daughter's bookshelf!

If you liked this tablescape, you may like to check out my:

And these fun boards on Pinterest:

This post is linked to these great parties: Tip Junkie, Block Party,
The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, Gingersnap Crafts, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Someday Crafts, StoneGable, Craftberry Bush, The Frugal Girls, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Tidy Mom,  The 36th Avenue, Between Naps on the Porch, Tatertots and Jello, It's Overflowing, Craft-O-Maniac, Aalderberry Hill, Uncommon Designs, I Heart Naptime, Under The Table & Dreaming,Home Stories A to Z, Today's Creative Blog, A Stroll Thru Life, Cozy Little House, Chef-in-Training, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Skip To My Lou, Inspire Me Please,

Friday, 18 January 2013

How To Make Easy Treat Bag Toppers & FREE Valentine Printable

I made these sweet little treat bags for my daugher and her friends.
I know it's a little early for Valentine's Day, but they start semester one final exams on Monday, and I thought they could use a chocolate fix for their study sessions.
{I love to spoil my girls!}
So, I thought I would share my super easy way to make treat bag toppers.
I love making my own treat bag toppers for bags of treats or cookies.
They make the treat bag looks so adorable and can lend some panache to a party or event.
This is such a great thing to know how to do because you can make them for birthday parties or any time you would like to give out a little something.
Treat bag toppers can be made quickly & easily without having to be an expert computer graphics designer or  buying a special program. It can be done with online with a free program.
I use to make my treat bag toppers.  It's the company that makes fantastic label sheets that you can buy in stores. But here's a little don't have to buy the label sheets. You can use their design and print online option to design your own labels and then print the labels at home on your own home computer on white cardstock, and cut them yourself.
This will save you money because cardstock is much,much cheaper than a package of label sheets.  
How To Make Treat Bag Toppers

Treats for bags
White cardstock
Paper Trimmer

1. Go to Sign in or set up an online account.
2. Go to the Design & Print Online Option under Templates and Software.
3. Click on the Marketing Solutions Category.
4. In the menu on the left side, you will see "Bag Toppers". Click that.
5. Now you will see a menu brought up of themes for Bag Toppers. Use any theme you like, or click on "Blank" to create your own. If you choose to create your own, you can play with fonts and images.
6. When you have finished the design, save it.
7. Print the design on white cardstock {white paper will also be fine.}
8. Trim the design into 4 bag toppers with a paper trimmer.
9. Fold bag topper and staple on treat bags.

And I would love to share my Valentine's Bag Toppers with you!

{This is a proud moment for me! After a few hours & tears of frustration, I think I finally figured out how to share a PDF on my blog! I am not technically savvy at all!!!}

Have you made treat bag toppers before?
 Do you think you will be using to make treat bag toppers?
Wishing you a lovely weekend!

ps-If you like, you can also check out my Valentine's Inspiration Board and Fabulous Things In A Jar Board  on Pinterest.

And my other Valentine's Day projects:
Valentine Marshmallow Pops
Valentine's Pretzel Hugs
10 Inspiring Valentine's Ideas


This post is linked to these great parties: Tip Junkie,
Tatertots & Jello, Six Sisters Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors, Under The Table & Dreaming, Uncommon Designs, Craft-O-Maniac, Aalderberry Hill, The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style,
Gingersnap Crafts, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Someday Crafts, StoneGable, Craftberry Bush
The Frugal Girls, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Tidy Mom, Today's Creative Blog, Chef-in-Training, Someday Crafts, Somewhat Simple,

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Valentine's Love From The Oven

Hello there!
I am here today just to share a bit of inspiration.
Sometimes we think that we must make something fancy for gift-giving, but we don't
Just remember that anything that comes from your oven is made with love.
I know that with all the wonderful sources like magazines and Pinterest,  it can be so tempting to get super fancy...but we don't need to.
Sometimes the tried & true is just perfect on it's own.
I made a banana chocolate chip bread in a mini-loaf pan for a friend.
It wasn't fancy....just my usual recipe.
But then I wrapped it in waxed paper, added a paper doily and a heart-shaped Valentine and tied it up with baker's twine.
The love was in the care with which I made and packaged it.
Simple & pretty. Made with love.
Sometimes that is  all we need.
Thank you so much for visiting me!

Here are some of my Pinterset Boards you might want to check out:
Valentine's Inspiration
Organized Homes
Organized Kitchens

This post is linked to these parties:
Craftberry Bush, The Frugal Girls, Tidy Mom, Tatertots & Jello, Six Sister's Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors,  Under The Table & Dreaming, Uncommon Designs, Craft-O-Maniac, Aalderberry Hill, The DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, Gingersnap Crafts, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible,
Someday Crafts, StoneGable, Today's Creative BLog, Chef-in-Training, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons,

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Sweetheart Pops..

Can you tell that I have a bit of an obsession with marshmallows?
When I saw these heart marshmallows for Valentine's day, I thought they were just so cute & sweet looking that I just had to create something with them.
And like many of my projects...they are fast & easy to make.
 Sweetheart Pops would be such an adorable project to make for a child's class for Valentine's Day or for a table favour for a Valentine luncheon or dinner.
 I know that most of you know how they are made just by looking at them, but in case you don't,  I will go through how I came up with this little pop.
Sweetheart Pops

Red heart marshmallows{I found mine at the grocery store}
White chocolate melting wafers
Valentine sprinkles
Lollipop sticks
Ribbon, if desired.

1. Gently press lollipop sticks into the bottom of the heart marshmallows. Place marshmallow pops on waxed paper.
2. Melt white chocolate wafers gently in microwave {20-30 seconds}. Stir until smooth.
3. Drizzle white chocolate over marshmallows. Add sprinkles.
4. Let pops dry until chocolate hardens.
5. Tie a cute ribbon around the sticks as shown, if desired.

That's it!
Isn't that easy? No baking required!
You can make oodles and oodles of these for family & friends and they will love you forever!

If you would like to see my other marshmallow creations:
Check out my Easter Kabobs here.
Have a look at my Valentine's Marshmallow Pops here.

To see my other Valentine's creations:
Visit 10 Inspiring Valentine's Ideas here.
Valentine's Pretzel here.

And don't forget to take a peek at my board Inspiring Valentine's Ideas on Pinterest.

Thank you so much for visiting me!

This post is linked to these parties: Tip Junkie,
The 36th Avenue, Craftberry Bush, The Frugal Girls, Tidy Mom, Tatertots and Jello, Six Sisters Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors, Under The Table & Dreaming , Uncommon Designs, Craft-O-Maniac, Aalderberry Hill, The DIY DreamerSavvy Southern Style, Gingersnap Crafts, Lil Luna, Clean & ScentsibleSomeday Crafts, StoneGable, Craftberry Bush, Today's Creative Blog, Chef-in-Training, Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, Skip To My Lou, Somewhat Simple,

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Delicious Mushroom & Leek Quiche

I love quiches.
They are so good and easy to make, and are a perfect meal with a salad and some fruit.
I like this recipe because it makes 2 quiches...which gives enough for two meals, or an extra for the freezer or to share.
And if you want to make it super quick... buy the pastry shells at the grocery store and then just chop the veggies and shred the cheese.
I love this recipe....the leeks and the swiss cheese make it so declicious!
Mushroom & Leek Quiche

2 pie shells, purchased or homemade
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 leek chopped, white & light green parts only
2-3cups sliced mushrooms
8 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tsp. fresh dill or thyme
1.5 cups shredded Swiss cheese, or favourite cheese.

1. Heat oven to 375. Cook pie shells for 10 min. Remove from oven and let cool. Increase oven to 425.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in frying pan and cook mushrooms and leeks until tender  and golden in colour. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
3. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add milk, and dill or thyme.
4. To cooled pie shells, add half of shredded cheese and all of cooked veggies.dividing evenly between each shell. Pour egg & milk mixture into pie, dividing evenly. Sprinkle pies with remaining cheese.
5. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. Serve with a crisp salad and fruit slices.

And you know another I like about quiche? It can be breakfast, or brunch, or lunch or dinner!
This is also a great make ahead dish that can be re-heated when needed.

Thank you so much for visiting me! 

If you are looking for more simple meals to serve with a salad, try these:
Delectable Shrimp Cakes
Broccoli & Mushroom Fritatas Made In A Muffin Tin
Scrumptious Salmon Cakes

This post is linked to: Tip Junkie,
Savy Southern Style, Gingersnap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, Lil Luna, The DIY Dreamer,
The 36th Avenue, Craftberry Bush, The Frugal Girls, Tidy Mom, Tatertots and Jello, Six Sisters Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors. Under The Table & Dreaming, Uncommon DesignsAalderberry Hill, Someday Crafts, StoneGable, Today's Creative Blog, Chef-in-Training,

Monday, 14 January 2013

Organizing A Kitchen Into Zones...

Today, my friends, we are going to talk about organizing the kitchen. But not just organizing the kitchen, but organizing the kitchen into ZONES  that group like tasks together to make working in the kitchen easier and more efficient.
To do this, first we must look at what tasks are performed in the kitchen most often, and then designate zones for those tasks and organize the zone so that it has everything needed for the tasks. Sound complicated? It's really not!
Let me share with you the zones in my kitchen.
 On this side of my kitchen, I have 3 main zones...the baking zone, the breakfast zone, and the food prep & cooking zone.
Let me take you through each zone so you can see how organizing by zone works. 
 The baking's where you create delicious things....hopefully!
 I bake a few times a week, so this zone is necessary for our kitchen.
{If baking doesn't happen in your kitchen, then you definitely don't need a baking zone.} 
This is how my baking zone is set up: everything I need is within easy reach and I can stand in one spot and grab everything.
As a baker, I highly, highly recommend placing flours & sugar on the just makes baking so much easier and enjoyable then having to lug out containers out from dark corners! 
You can see that I have everything I need....mixer, flours and sugar, mixing bowls, etc.
 Here is the 'baking drawer'. All the measuring diddly bops are in here, along with cookie scoops and spatulas. I like 2 sets of measuring cups and spoons because I bake a lot and I often make a few things at a time and I find having 2 sets works best for me.
 In the cupboard above the mixer is this basket of baking essentials that I just have to pop out when I am mixing up some yummy recipe. It holds: vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt...things needed for almost every baking project.
 The next zone I want to share with you is the breakfast zone.
 We use the toaster every day and the blender is used often for fruit smoothies in the morning. 
Directly above the blender is the cupboard that holds things that go on toast.
We didn't always have a breakfast zone per was the last zone I created.
For a long time, I kept peanut butter, etc.,  in our pantry, which really made no sense whatsoever. Every time toast popped, you had to go into the pantry to get something.
So I moved the peanut butter and jam, etc. next to the toaster.
So now when the toast pops...the butter, peanut butter and jam is right there.
It works so much better to have these items in the breakfast zone!
 And here is the food prep and cooking zone.
This is where everything needed for cooking is.
Utensil, oils, knives...etc.
 This area works for chopping vegetables to go into a frying pan or other tasks for cooking. 
Directly above the breakfast zone and the food prep & cooking zone are the dishes needed to plate food, or hold cereal or toast.
I have increased the space by using some portable shelving that adds another level.
I love using these gadgets for increasing storage.
And here's a tip from me: I keep reading from other sources that only one set of dishes is needed.
I beg your pardon....but I beg to differ on this one!
I think a supply of dishes is needed to get the whole family through a day of 3 meals.
If you have to reach for dirty dishes to wash before a meal is served, or dinner plates are being used for toast instead of a side plate...then you need more dishes. Simple fact.
There is nothing worse then having to stop before a meal and reach into a dishwasher full of dirty dishes looking for dishes to wash.
Who has time for that?
Here we find pots and pans in the lower cupboard next to the stove...within easy reach of the food prep area. 
This drawer next to the stove holds food wraps and baggies.
In the back is a basket with utensils that are needed, but not used very often.
This drawer holds utensils that are used all the time and is next to the stove as well. 
And this drawer located under the food prep area  is the spice & utensil drawer.
 {I buy a lot of spices in large Costco size bottles and they are in the pantry.}
The last zone is the lunch making zone. This area is closest to the fridge and provides space for putting together lunches in the morning. 
Here, I keep a basket with snacks prepared for lunches, along with  napkins.  
And just a step away from the lunch making zone is the fridge with these items organized for lunches. 
  The last areas I have to share are the glassware cupboard, soda stream station and the beverage center.
When organizing a glassware cupboard, it helps if the glasses can stack and the glassware is somewhat uniform in size, as opposed to having mis-matched odd & ends that don't stack at all.
Also, I like to keep mason jars with the glassware because we love drinking out of them and use them all the time for drinking, as well as storing food.
So I made the decision to store the mason jars where it makes sense in our kitchen.
 We love our soda stream, and we keep everything together in this small sliver of counter by the fridge.
We use it most often to make sparkling water, with flavored 'soda' being a treat for the weekends only. 
 And lastly, because I have such a small kitchen and counter space is at a premium, I purchased these cabinets to create a beverage station.
This area works great and it keeps traffic out of the main work area of the kitchen. It's always a good idea to have a beverage station set up closest to the area where the coffee or tea is the dining table or breakfast nook.
I know that my kitchen is very small, and not spectacular or lovely, but I have made the best of the space I have, and it works brilliantly for us most of the time. One advantage of having a small kitchen is that it is easy & fast to clean up...which I love. And nothing is more than a step away....which is also an advantage. And because I have very limited cupboard space, all the food is stored in the pantry.

I have helped family and friends organize their kitchens and have found that although lots of people have 'organized' kitchens, they often don't have things organized in a way that makes sense for the tasks that are performed. You can set up any zone in your kitchen for the way you need your kitchen to work!  For instance, do you have a baby? Set up a baby food area where everything needed for feeding the baby is all together.

Zone organizing works! I bet a lot of you have zones already and don't even know it. You may just have to do a little tweaking to make the kitchen function a little know...rethink a few things.

So tell me....will you be doing a little zone re-organizing? What zone will you be creating/re-organizing first?

To see some of my other organizing projects:
A  Breakfast Zone, go here.
 A Beverage Center, go here.
 Packing School Lunches, go here and here.
 An Organized Mudroom, go here.
And don't forget to check out my organizing boards on Pinterest:
Organized Desks & Offices

Thank you so much for visiting me!

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