The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Pretty up your Pantry.

We have been talking about building up our pantries and supplies. Today is about prettying up your pantry.

Many of us would remember our Nanna's pantry or have seen pictures of pantries from years ago. I think of shelves lined with pretty paper, a row of lace stuck along the front of the shelf, all kinds of old jars with labels. Remember lovely old canisters that had "Sugar" "tea" "flour" written on them? And bread bins, stackable cake tins, biscuit tins (cookie tins) and so many lovely things! Mum always lined shelves, things looked fresh and clean. Later contact was the in thing to transform the inside of your cupboards. Both my Nan's and Andy's Nan used big jars with screw top lids and they would fill them with biscuits to send with our families on holidays. We both had Nan's who did this! And they both made biscuits with a forcer and "glued" them together with icing! So nice.

I know that women used to cut paper trims, even from newspaper, to decorate their shelves and add transfers (decals) to pretty up jars or cover recycled tins with pretty paper so they could become kitchen storage. Baby formula tins were transformed into a row of canisters. Women just found one way or another to pretty things up, create storage and build up their pantries.  I know all kinds of things were used including wooden crates to create shelves, recycling and repurposing back before that was fashionable.

We can still do all of these things. I can't help but love a row of jams lined up with pretty labels or covers. That somehow represents something so lovely to me! I am happy to make over jars or tins to use in my pantry.

Once I had a comment from a lady that she disagreed with me and didn't understand why I needed to make pretty cards and note pads and things and why couldn't I use an old envelope? Well, I didn't mind for her to do that and good on her for recycling I said. But my answer to why do I want things to look nice is because God must have made me that way. Even in Grade 1 I decorated my pages at school with flowers in the corners. Mum and Dad got a letter from the teacher about it...
Anyway I know I am not the only one who likes making things look nice. Women have been making things lovely from nothing and straightening things up forever!  And in the case of jams and preserves it makes them into lovely gifts as well.

When we first moved here there was no pantry cupboard at all. My first attempt to create storage space was made from an old bakers stand Andy found on the road side. Actually a lady came out and said to him it was junk and he shouldn't take it. He said to her he thought his wife would like it. She thought he was crazy! Lucky he stuck to his guns and I loved it! It needed a new shelf and painting. Andy cut a new wooden shelf and I painted. Then I decorated tins and lined up my jars ready to fill...

Once I stocked this up it was a great help in the kitchen.

Good storage is really important. But I want to spend my money on produce not the containers. I have been able to collect all sizes of jars and tins over the years and I am still collecting. When I get a few the same size  I paint the lids and decorate them.  Just love doing this!  I used to use decals but now tend to cut out little flowers or birds from pictures and just varnish them on.

Some jars have come from cheap shops but I often don't like the lids. So painting is my solution.

I have also bought spice racks for a couple of dollars and painted them up. These are also awesome for nail varnish collections! This one came with all the little jars as a set.

I really love labels. You can print free labels for just about anything. If you search online you will find just so many. You can use contact to stick them on or print them onto special label paper. This is a good list of labels that includes jam labels as well as pantry labels... Kitchen Printables.

Another idea is to paint your lids with blackboard paint so you can identify the contents with chalk and change it anytime you want. Blackboard is also available now in contact form so you can make a lot of labels by cutting out the shapes and sizes you want.

Jars that have the lids that come apart have great potential! I think most canning jars are like this. You can add any picture or label your heart desires! I did these for Christmas presents...

I added birds to a row of jars just recently as the lids were just plain...

Old tins are really wonderful too. Often you can find tins that have contained biscuits or chocolates and have a brand picture on them. It is really easy to paint them any colour you want. I find tins keep things really crisp and fresh. I am saving tins just now and when theres enough my palest pink paint is coming out and then rose decals.

Having a day where I have time to fluff around with kitchen things is lovely. We have nice shelves now and my cellar storage to bolster up my supplies on a more serious level. But I keep my pretty stuff in the kitchen cupboards.

We have a trip coming up and I will be hunting for more jars and tins. The best jars are really old thick glass preserving jars. They are amazing. Country op shops are pretty good for them and they are usually 20c or 50c. Larger ones with lids can be a couple of dollars. But comparing that to some brands of plastic containers that are huge prices each I think this is a bargain.

Looking at old images of past kitchens is really interesting. One picture I saw gave me an idea. Helen will faint at this I think. It was a narrow strip of red gingham softly gathered up into a ruffle and stuck along shelf edging. Ooohhh it reminded me of I Love Lucy and old kitchens like that. Adorable! A plain old book shelf painted up with shelf trim could be an improvised and lovely pantry.

How do you pretty up your kitchen? It might not be "pretty" it might be stylish or country or industrial or another theme. It might be making do with what you have or what you can recycle into storage containers.  I think we can all be quite inventive when we need to be.

Overall I like things to be practical/useful and pretty. I think I like old fashioned things a lot over modern. I would choose jars and tins over plastic containers. It is really fun to collect things for my pantry and as my storage grows I need more containers so I have the excuse to hunt for more!
I love that we can find so much joy in this important aspect of building up our nests!


  1. What a super idea!
    I like the bakers stand you have - I am on the look-out for one similar

    1. Thank you Phil! I hope you find one. An alternative is to put shelves on top of a chest of drawers... or a desk with shelves over the top as it gives the same shape and effect and a ton of space. Or even a low book case with wall shelves above it... I keep seeing things and think oh I could make that over! Many thanks for your comment.xx

    2. Wow - even better! Yes I have a narrow space in my kitchen that would suit the bookcase method you suggested - OK, I'm onto it now.

  2. I love this post Annabel. I spend so much time in the kitchen, that I really want it neat and tidy and organised and PRETTY! I have a hanging pot rack with some copper pots on it that cost me just a few dollars at garage sales. These retail for hundreds! My storage is mostly 500gm fruit salad jars, which I've painted with chalkboard paint. They look great, stack neatly, and most packets of things are 500gms or under, so you wonder why anyone needs all these gigantic canisters! I also have some glass jars to hold flour, coconut, caster sugar, Arborio, carnoli and sushi rice and a few other things, and mine have little bluebird decals, funnily enough. But pride of place on my sideboard is given to my vintage square canisters with the gelati coloured lids. I adore them, and they are my everyday use storage for flour, sugar, long grain rice and coffee. They cost me just $20 at a thrift store and I've seen similar ones selling for over $100 on eBay and Etsy. You just have to be in the right place at the right time, just like Andy and your bakers stand. Which is beautiful by the way! Mimi xxx

    1. Thanks Mimi. You should post a pic on your blog of your blackboard painted jars! They would probably be a fortune to buy ready made. And you have bluebirds on your jars! Bluebirds of happiness! Thats us.
      Your canisters are so sweet. And garage sales, bargains and recycling have built up your kitchen so much! My up coming few days of op shopping I am hoping are going to provide me with some new stuff to play with! Thank you for this lovely

  3. Annabel, your pantry is so pretty! Love your decorated jars. :)

    1. Thank you Tracy! I hope to collect some more (as my pantry grows)
      They are fun to collect and decorate! xx

  4. Annabel, you inspire me so much by sharing the beauty of your home. I love the fact that you do it without spending lots of money. It makes me smile when I see a new post from your blog pop up in my notifications. I know I'm in for another treat!

    1. Thank you Patsy! I feel the same when I see A Working Pantry post. Next week I will be without internet for a few days. I will have to have a major catch up after that. But I will be op shopping/thrift shopping and thats exciting. Who knows what I might find for my pantry! I hope you are having a good week. xxx

  5. Annabel, Andy picks up some great household items on the road side. We aren't allowed to do that here in our city. I love the way you have decorated your jars and shelves. You really are a romantic at heart, aren't you?

    1. Nanna Chle it is wonderful Andy knows what to get AND he drives a van! With a van you can fit all kinds of stuff in!
      Our council and the ones around us, they crush all the god stuff. They dont even recycle it! To me that is such a waste. The best thing I ever got was a chandelier!
      I might end up in jail. As long as I can blog in jail and decorate it Ill be ok lol.
      Next week I am op shopping heaps. So I will be able to start on my rag rug. I am really looking forward to this!
      Hope you are having a great

  6. I love pretty but the kitchen doesn't lend itself to it - yet. My containers that I use were purchased years ago when the Tupperware started to have a really strong petrochemical smell to it (after I had replaced it I found out that they had a bad batch). I replaced it all with the preserving jars with the attached lids - they have moved quite a few times with us and I can change what is in each jar to suit what I am wanting to store. My labels are now blackboard ones from a cheap shop, I can write in large letters on them so that my husband doesn't misread what is in a jar.

    The other thing I use is Nescafe coffee jars - they change their size so I have lots of different sizes, plenty to suit what I need to store in the way of dried fruit, sesame and poppy seeds and chocolate bits etc.

    To pretty a shelf up you could always place a doiley on the shelf and allow some of it to hang over the edge even serviettes could be pressed into service.


    1. Lynette I love doilies and embroidered linens etc. Very pretty.I saw blackboard labels recently too! I think they are lovely.
      Collecting jars takes a while but really they are great. Never a small or any stains etc that can happen with plastics.
      I have seen serviettes used to line trays and drawers. I think that looks lovely and fresh.
      It will be nice when all your renovations are finished. But it is a process getting things as we want in a new home. It takes a while! We had to re do the kitchen and it would be nice to re do the bathroom but it wont be happening for a while. Renovating is so messy! But worth it in the

    2. Annabel I will be glad when we get the last 2 rooms done then we can get our things out of storage and I can see what has survived the over 3 years of being packed up after being man handled a couple of times by the removalists. It is funny because I see some of the latest decorating items and I remember that I have similar in storage.

      Prettying up the kitchen area will be down to a dinner set that came from my mother. A 1950's Meakin set with flowers all the way around the edges. It was only ever used for Christmas when I was growing up and then for quite a number of years it was just left sitting not being used. It is crazed and not dishwasher proof but it needs to be cared for and the only way to do that is to use it so the plan is to use that for 'sunday night tea' the night we have a roast. The dresser that it will be in needs to be painted (currently just pine) so lots to go on with and in the end it will look pretty which will lift the feel of the room.


  7. Hi Annabel, your pantry looks lovely. You have done a great job creating a space that is practical and pretty, and that you will enjoy working in. I have really been enjoying reading your blog since recently discovering it. It is very encouraging, and inspiring. I love your approach to building up our homes and feathering our nests. I only hope that I can create a warm, inviting and happy home for my family one day and achieve even half as much as you do! At the moment, I feel quite down when I look around my home, there are so many things mounting up that I feel overwhelmed and like I'll never get through it all. I have 3 young children, aged 8 yrs, 5 yrs & 6 mths. Lately it feels like just getting the basics done is quite a struggle... I know they are young for such a short time and I want to enjoy this time with the kids, but I also want to feel productive and more organised... I wondered whether you may have any advice for me since you have been through this life stage...? Sorry for rambling and going off the pantry topic. I wasn't sure how to email you directly with my unusual query! Many thanks, Kelly

  8. Dear Kelly, Thank you for your lovely letter! I am so glad you are here.
    Now I had two girls 22 months apart. And I was busy. I brought them up on my own too. Now there are times when you just dont get anything extra done! And you have another child as well compared to me. So please dont be too hard on yourself. If you try to do too much you also get too tired, the atmosphere gets too stressed.
    Aim for a happy household first. And I always aimed for healthy meals and things to be reasonable and clean first. I always did a lot of crafts, decorating, cooking and gardening. I was the same then in that I always loved so many things and I was always painting, wallpapering and goodness knows what! But there are times you just cant. When the youngest is only 6 months it is pretty hard.
    But later I got more done! I would say my tips are that I soon learned everyone wanted my time. People often wanted to visit me and sit around all day. I leaned to stop that as I didnt have the time to waste. Thats not to say dont help someone when they need it. I just felt I had a lot of bored housewives that thought I might entertain them. That is not on. You have stuff to do! Next I never watched daytime TV. And I limited how much I went out. I was always asked to be on this committee and that and I really couldnt manage to do all of this. I decided early that home was my priority.
    I learned a lot of ways to do things easier. I folded all the washing straight from the line and hardly ever ironed anything. I hung my tops etc onto hangers when wet and hung them on the line on hangers. I never had to iron them. Never stuff anything into a laundry basket once its dry and then you have to iron it!
    I almost always cooked double or more of a recipe. That gives you half the nights off, over time, plus meals in the freezer.
    Over the years through people I knew very well I had two teenage girls who adored my girls and were quite helpful to me.I had them as babysitters kind of but I was home. This wasnt all the time but an hour or two a week on and off. But it was a great help.
    I think a routine and good bedtimes is a big help. To your energy, everyones moods and then you have some freedom and quite time in the evenings. Then I would do all sorts of things from painting to sewing or whatever I was working on.I painted both my houses top to bottom when the kids were little this way!
    Other times when someone wasnt well or something went wrong, well, nothing extra got done. Also I suffered from migraines and would lose days to those. There is nothing you can do but jus get through some of these times.
    Later when the kids were in school the routine changed. It was still very busy but in different hours. I would cook a lot during the day, bath and dinner times were early. Bed time was 7.30 through primary school.
    Some things like blogging I can do now as I have heaps more free time.Some things can wait until a different season in life.
    But mainly I wanted the girls to have really happy childhoods. That was number one. My heart and soul really went into that. It paid off in the end.It does go faster than you think. Really focus on the important stuff and see if you can eliminate anything that is not important and time wasters. Then you get a little more time for some of what you want. (hopefully)
    (continued in next comment....)

    1. To Kelly cont...
      Flylady is really good. It is true that a few minutes a day attacking an area or project really gets results. I make lists lists lists! I really find motivation in challenges and joining in with someone. Like my post called the buddy system... that to me is how I get lots done.It is usually more fun to work on things along side others. Thats why I have Feather your Nest Friday.. and I join in on similar things on other blogs. I just find it motivating. We are not alone then. Truly you can build strong friendships even over the internet. It is a help. I wish I could give you a hug and come alongside you and help you out. But just take a little by little approach.
      It is all worth it. Sorry for a long answer! I am sure Ill think of a million other things but thats a start!
      If you can, join in on Fridays. Post the things you did achieve and what you did. Because your list of what you did would be long. Its important to see how hard you worked and what you achieved rather than just what you still have to do. That makes all the difference.You are doing a lot.
      Much love,

    2. Annabel great words of wisdom. Kelly I have 2 now adult children who are 18 months apart, we spent a lot of time at the doctors because both of them were quite ill during their younger years, it was only when we originally moved up here that they both started to get well.

      My aim was to make sure that we were fed and I had 1 room where I could have visitors come into (not that we had any but it was a feel good room) - the rest got done when I could. I had my husband and no one else to help me.

      My food shop was once a fortnight and often that money had to pay the chemist bill so when we had snatches of time that both were well and I could shop for food I would stock up the pantry and freezer. Even had pre cooked meals (spaghetti sauce was the main one) in the freezer.

      Yes we were doing this before people made money out of it.

      I found time management was the hardest with two children who would get sick at the drop of a hat so I learnt not to worry about things. We had a basic 3 bedroom home and I worked out that my cleaning routine only took 2 hours to get right through so I would alternate where I started - 1 week it was from the front door, the next week it was from the back door. Some things got a quick wipe over everyday and I found that if I did it while I was in the room it was so much easier, took 5 minutes and then it was done.

      Do not ever feel that spending time with your children is taking away from something else - they are the most important job in the world.

      Sometimes life is overwhelming purely because of others expectations - if you and your other half are happy with things then so be it - but make sure as the children get older you start them off with some jobs that they can do - it is the only way to prepare them for their grown up lives.


    3. Thank you Lynette for this. I agree with everything. It is really wise to get children helping and building up their responsibilities. This is good training. Could not agree more! xxx

  9. Hi Annabel, Another lovely, well written post!! They seem to always hit a topic I am very interested in! I to collect jars of all shapes and sizes, I just love them. I also paint the lids and attach a flower or pretty picture on the lid. My neighbor also saves glass jars for me. At Christmas I make up gift baskets (baskets are 30 to 50 cents at our local goodwill) and will put homemade things in them. My daughter says I have way to many glass jars, but I told her you can never have enough jars! lol. Also great for storing things, much neater than boxes, bags, or plastic. I love your spice rack and bakers stand, they are ever so pretty!! I will have to keep an eye out for different wall storage, you made yours look so beautiful. My kitchen is rather small and there is not a lot of wall space. I so enjoy your posts! Have a great day! Hugs, Nana

    1. Dear Nana, I can believe you also collect jars and paint the lids! Not many people do that! And you add a flower. We are sisters for sure!
      Shelves and hanging things is a great help in a small kitchen. I am continually fiddling around with the space I have to make it better.
      Next week I am hoping to find some more nice jars. My supply for jams etc is now almost non existent. And I wouldnt say no to some storage ones either!
      It is amazing that as I am posting on pantries and preparedness I dont have any shortage of things to talk about. I have about 12 weeks of pantry subjects worked out! I just love it. It is so nice we can have fun doing this as well as it being helpful and important. Many thanks for telling me about you jars! Love Annabel. xxx

  10. Dear Annabel,
    Ohhhhhhh I looooove this! Because of the white! And the flowers! And the jars! And just EVERYTHING! You have such a special way with things. And it's so sweet because you are steadfast. One doesn't acquire all of these special things, paint them, personalize them, and place them in a day! This is a precious labor of love and warmth, a work in progress.

    My kitchen is tremendously beautiful. However, it was another woman's dream...the family that lived here before us spent a fortune renovating the kitchen in 2008. It is gorgeous and I am grateful, but it is not my style. The cabinets will be kept because they are amazing, but they will eventually be painted. The former first lady of this home was really into "tuscan style" decor which again is gorgeous, but just not me :) I'm a shabby, cottage kinda gal. So I decorate around it with touches to my liking. The pantry was painted last year by us. And I put in....get ready for it....a little chandelier from IKEA. Yes. In the pantry! And as you know, I'm currently swapping all my plastic containers for glass. It will take time but THAT'S the JOY!!!! Doilies make me crazy happy and I use them all over. I have hand-crocheted doilies that were under all of the centerpieces on the reception tables when Bill and I married and I use them in my home!

    Your comment to Kelly was beautiful. I needed an Annabel in my life when I was in Kelly's stage, and it ministered to me as well! If Kelly reads this, may I add: everything Annabel said is true times 1 million! If you need a pretty little space, find a chair, a nook...have a few things you like there. Maybe a pretty picture on the wall where the littles can't reach, maybe a shelf with pretty things you like they cannot reach, and truly enjoy this season of your life. You'll never regret the attention and love you give to your children. Thank you, Annabel for such a beautiful mid-week post! xxx

    1. When I was young with the girls I had some lovely women in my life. What a help. And Laines Letters! They helped me so much! I was very blessed really.
      I love that you have a chandelier in your pantry! Five stars for that I say. I have a chandelier in my bathroom lol so again we are similar!
      I just realised I have been collecting jars for about 30 years! That means the new ones I bought back then are antiques now haha.
      Colette Im not sure but I am thinking Tuscan might be able to be re worked a little to be shabby....I love french country/shabby... so I am trying to visualise... feel free to send me photos! I love making stuff over (or under?) so I would love to see!
      I am thinking you should work you jar collecting artfully into every conversation... with clients, family, friends, perfect strangers :) because you might come across some one who says oh they have a preserving kit and boxes of jars in the shed and maybe you would like them! Seriously this happens. Old jars that have that thick lovely glass are so lovely. I will be hunting for those on my coming up country op shopping trip. So let everyone know and see what happens....
      It is gorgeous we can so much enjoy building up our kitchens, pantries and families! Thank you, I love hearing and imagining these little details! xxx

  11. Thanks so much Annabel for your kindness and encouragement, and all of your ideas for me. Your reply brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way! So thank you so much. I will get there, one step at a time. I will try & join in on Feather Your Nest Fridays, you're right, it will help me focus on what i do achieve rather than all the things i haven't managed to get to yet. Thank you also to Lynette for your advice too. Such a lovely community of wise, kind women here i think! Love Kelly xo

    1. Kelly I just wanted to add... I'm glad you also saw Lynettes reply and also now Colette has replied too. That is so nice!
      We have all been there. Colette is still in the thick of it too!
      Celebrate your achievements every day even if they are just getting dinner on the table and the must dos. Thinking of

  12. Oh Annabel the memories that this post brings back of my beautiful late Nanna. Her kitchen pantry was always filled with lovely homemade jams, the same type of glass screw top jars that you have in your photo. I can still picture her tiny kitchen but it was always filled with love and lots of homemade items. My Nan used to be a baker in her time, she and my Pop had a bakery. I miss her birthday cakes she made for everyone's birthdays.

    Your bakers stand came up perfectly and lucky for you Andy stuck to his instincts and bought it home for you.

    I have been saving my jars madly to fill with all my items that are in plastic containers. Your idea is much more attractive and low and behold I was going to ask what you put on top and you have already answered that for me today.

    Off I go now with my happy memories

    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly, Your Nanna sounds just lovely. I love the sound of her kitchen and your beautiful memories! And look how these have lasted in you and how much of an impression they made on you. This shows how important it all is!
      Do you have any of her recipes? I just think as bakers they must have worked hard and also had amazing recipes! Baking is something incredible really. You take basic things and turn them into magical things!
      I hope you can make over your jar lids and pass on to your little one some of your Nanna. xxx

  13. Annabel, your kitchen and storage looks lovely. Unfortunately my kitchen is boring and very practical. I'm saving like crazy for a country kitchen. I can't wait to choose what I want in my kitchen. I'm sure there will be some apple green color somewhere.

    1. Wendy depending on what the kitchen is made of you can probably change the look of it very easily without spending a fortune. If the door are the only thing you want to change (apart from the bench top) then try a cabinet maker youmay be surprised at just how little it will cost to get that kitchen looking the way you want it to.

    2. Wendy my kitchen is fairly country. We did it from IKEA cupboards and shelves etc. I am really loving it! Another way is to use an old dresser on one wall as that gives the real country feel. Im sure it will have apple green!
      I know your kitchen is a hard working place. I cant wait for you to have the kitchen of your dreams! xxx

  14. Hello Everyone! Annabel, such a beautiful post in every way. Thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments. It made me feel like I had a little visit to everyone's home.
    You're right Annabel, the thought of that gathered red gingham was just delightful.
    Love Helen

  15. Annabel love your jars and kitchen ideas so lovely.

    My kitchen is tiny tiny and no linen cupboard and no pantry but I am working on those slowly, very slowly it seems but I am determined to get there eventually. Your kitchen feels like the heart of the home to me. Thank you for sharing.

    God Bless

  16. Mel my grandmother had a tiny kitchen - it was in a single fronted Edwardian home included in the room that housed the bathroom and the laundry. She use to use the kitchen table (my dining room table) as her work space because the kitchen area was only the space of the old kooka gas stove and a single sink with draining boards either side.

    There was a whole lot of love that came out of that little kitchen though.

    When we first moved up here the kitchen space was tiny with no pantry so I used a bookcase for that - was a bit awkward but it worked in the short term. A pretty wardrobe or one prettied up with shelves in works well as a linen cupboard, even part of one. You never know what you will find that can be changed to meet your needs.


  17. I lived in a country home that had a space about 5 feet wide by 5 feet high behind the back door where a shallow pantry was built in between wall studs. It held an astonishing amount of stuff and was rather handy to unload things into.

    1. That sounds like a brilliant use of the space Terri. Thats what we have to do I think, use whats available the best we can! I love this!

  18. I love all your pretties Annabel, they are adorable. I think it is wonderful that you take such pride in your home, to make things beautiful that would otherwise be plain is a true gift, a special gift.

    You keep inspiring me,


    1. Thank you so much Tania. You inspire me with your vegie garden!xxx


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