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.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Finding space.

Thank you to everyone who helped last week with free things we can do to be better prepared.  We ended up with quite a list.  When you find an idea that would help your household write it down. I really need to put things into my diary and plan to do them or just do them straight away or they kind of evaporate!
I did think to add that if it is relevant to your children's ages... if they are parted from their phones do they know how to call home? Do they know the numbers?

This week we are taking a look at finding space in our homes for increasing our pantries and preparedness supplies. Almost everyone feels they have a space issue.  I wrote about this in my 2015 series but I think I have learned a lot since then.

Many ideas are not a solution in themselves but added together you can be amazed how your house has places for all kinds of supplies.

I began with cleaning out my kitchen pantry. There were things in there that made me think my pantry was full but it wasn't. Many things were nothing to do with the pantry! Re homing non related things and having a clean out left me with more room than I thought.
Repackaging things is an immediate space saver as anything in packets is usually about half full only when you look inside of it.
If there is a lot of space above your rows of shelves then more shelves can go in. There are booster shelves and under self baskets as well that you can get for this. Places like IKEA have them and they are brilliant and not expensive.

There are often spaces that just seem useless. Chloe had a fake cupboard in her kitchen that is very shallow. She converted it into a spice and oils cupboard with a stick on spice holder that cost her $3!

After the big clean out and re arrange  I worked on actually filling my pantry!
Next Andy built me a long shelf in the kitchen that holds a lot of really big jars. I got all the jars for free and make labels for them. They hold a lot of dry goods like pasta, rice etc.
We added more shelves on an empty wall as well. I have a row of baby formula tins that I decorated and they are full of bird seed and chicken food as emergency back ups.

I began to realise I should count laundry and bathroom supplies in my pantry too.  I found a giant old trunk on the road side and did it up to become my blanket box.

This gave me empty  shelves in my linen cupboard and these became my stash of shampoos, conditioners, soaps and so on.
Many things were like this...  I moved, cleaned up, cleaned out and re arranged myself into more pantry space.
In the last series we had the story of Mel S's Grandmother. She had saved soaps and lined her drawers with a layer of them. When WW2 hit her big supply of soaps supplied the family and she used them for gifts and to barter with. Those soaps had become gold! They didn't take up any noticeable space due to the way she did it!

Later we added risers to the bed and now I slide underneath low storage tubs which contain all kinds of supplies. Back up cans, dry goods, you name it!

Then I found the IKEA cube shelves,  made them over and filled them with baskets that act as drawers. This looks so neat and you would never guess it is a back up pantry!
The idea to use baskets as drawers can also apply to under cupboards. Cupboards with legs have a space underneath. If you can find baskets to fit that space they can pull out as drawers do and look so nice as well.
Space across the top of cupboards can also have a row of baskets. Not for things you need everyday of course but I keep emergency stuff like spare toilet paper, paper plates and cups etc in places like this.

I asked Vicky what her ideas were especially for those with small spaces...

            Preparedness and small spaces......

When you live in a small place and space can be limited, but you still want to be able to prepare there are a few things that need to be considered. Basically the size of the spaces you will be using and the items you will be putting in them. It is possible to build up a good stash of emergency supplies or nice sized pantry to get you through or to take advantage of good bargains that you find. Really if you don't have the space to store 500 pounds of beans and flour and barrels of water you can still have supplies just on a smaller scale. And if you don't have space at some point on an item enough is enough. You don't want to store 100 tubes of toothpaste when you don't have room for them and would never use that many anyway. Think more along the lines of variety. 
I do know people who have small places, but don't prepare in any way because it doesn't go with their décor and they think of it as clutter. It can be, but it doesn't have to always be an eyesore, be creative with your spaces, look up and down and under and over! There is actually a lot of places we can store things if we really want to and in emergencies the more you have to work with the better off you will be in being able to take care of yourself and family or whatever circumstances you may find your self in. 

First- Packaging takes up space! And cardboard can harbor bug eggs that in the right environment can hatch so by removing some things from the packaging you can fit more in a small space and help eliminate pantry bugs. When you have a box of something and half of the box is air that is just a waste of space. Plastic shoe boxes are fantastic for storing and stacking. Just keep the directions if they are boxed mixes. 

Size matters- sometimes smaller is better. Example: a can of tomato paste is very versatile and is very small so takes a lot less space than a can of tomato sauce or a jar of pasta sauce, etc. Dehydrated foods can be vacuum sealed flat or even store bought items like oats. This takes up much less space than the containers they came in and makes storing more far easier. 

Do you have a closet? Closet walls behind clothes are a perfect place to put the hanging organizers that have pockets. There you can store all kinds of things. Alternatively if the closet has a higher ceiling an extra rod up high or a shelf can help maximize the space. 

Under tables, beds, mattresses, behind furniture, in decorative trunks or hat boxes even a cleaned out junk drawer can yield space for something. Not everyone has a huge walk in pantry to fill, but as always we can make do. 
I use hat boxes and the extra space on the TV stand to store dried beans and vacuum sealed dehydrated veggies. 

Do you have shelving where the spaces in between are quite large? Consider adding more shelves in between them to maximize that space and keep it more organized. If there is a foot of air space between each shelf that is a waste of unused space. 

Trunks are great storage. Have room under a window or the end of a bed or even as a coffee table? You can fill trunks with lots of things even if it is a smaller size. 

I have a lot of spices, but instead of them all being in a cupboard I put  some of them in Ziplock bags and roll them up and have them in a small drawer. For me it takes up a lot less real estate since I only have so many cupboards in the kitchen. 

No matter how small your space is you can still store a good pantry and emergency supplies. We just tend to overlook space that could be utilized in a better way. 

Vicky's use of the above the door space is brilliant!  You will start looking at wall space and glancing around with new eyes!

I have seen whole spare rooms converted into a pantry, hallways lined with built in shelves, a whole wardrobe converted with shelving. Decluttering to make room for more important things can possibly also finance your emergency supplies. Decluttering is not the same as minimalism. We all end up with stuff that is outgrown, no longer useful etc and a clean out can create space.

If you have a car this can be a surprising place to keep quite a bit of your preparedness. We will have a post about what to keep in your car.

If you have a shed then this can also be part of your preparedness storage. Ours is full of tools and things that are in reality really useful and prepare you for anything. Also fuel, our generator and so on.
Rachel sent me a picture of her overhead storage space in her shed. She uses this to store things that she doesn't want mice or anything else to get into!

We have a similar set up in our shed and all kinds of stuff goes up into that.

Rachel also made the point that your fruit trees and veggie garden are kind of part of your own personal pantry supplies! This is true!

Most houses I have lived in I end up with a gap between the fridge and the wall. In this house I have a gap like that in the laundry as well. About 5 or 6 inches wide.  Take a look at this...
Roll out pantry.  This idea could apply to any space like that.  It looks neat and is just the right width for jars or cans. It fits a lot!  I am seeing ready built roll in and out narrow shelving units online now. They are fantastic!
Also there are so many clever added storage shelves i.e. over the washing machine or toilet shelving units that can then store supplies.
Then there are back of the door storage systems and shoe storage hangers. In my last home on the inside of the pantry door I had a shoe hanging system and I kept all my herbs, spices and packet mixes in that.  I have more shelf space and could also see what I had so easily!

My bed side drawers hold torches.  I love that many emergency basics really don't take up much space at all. I have a mini torch (flashlight) on my keyring as well.

I hope we have given some ideas that you can use. Like everything else it is a case of little bits adding up.  Even in a really small space there are things you can do to improve your situation.

Jes has started a preparedness course at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.  I am in! The first post is here... Proverbs 31 Preparedness Series.  I am printing up my binder as I find I like printed copies of things and to write things down. This is worth thinking about. This is why I have printed copies of all of Laine's Letters. (and thanks to Helen)  What is on the internet can be here one day and gone the next.  Keep printed copies of water is important to you.

If you have some clever or interesting places to store things please share!  If you have a storage problem let us brainstorm for you! We love to help!

Have a good week! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel and the bluebird bikies ( as aptly named by Rachel , at least I think it was Rachel?) .
    Thank you thank you thank you Annapbel and Vicky , this is a brilliant and timely post. I live in a one bedroom unit and thought I had " no more storage room" , in fact I probably have a lot of room. For one I need to decluttering my wardrobe and that could free up at least two shelves but they are deep shelves so I could fit another shelve in between maybe . I also can better use my pantry, I bought plastic containers for pantry stockpile storage and until last week I wasn't using them to their full capacity . I also have non food related items in my pantry so they will be gone into the next few days and may find a home in my white cupboard like your idea cube one Annabel. Oh this is wonderful because I want to stockpile more of some things but less of others ( due to wanting to eat down my pantry a bit before I get my new kitchen) . I am looking for storage ideas for my plates, cups, food etc as I will have to move everything out of my kitchen for maybe weeks once my kitchen renovations start. I am on the lookout for some sturdy boxes but I also thought I could use the large plastic containers I bought for my stockpile and I can store some things in my white cupboard. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for the motivation, inspiration and encouragement.i am also decluttering my kitchen, anything I haven't used for awhile is going.have a good week Barb W.

    1. Dear Barb, It is exciting for you getting a new kitchen! That is a good opportunity to have a big organise and change around. It will be lovely!
      When we had a new kitchen going in it was a while as Andy did it. I set up a station on the dining room table with kettle, toaster, etc and plates and basics. It worked out pretty well. Oh and the microwave was there as well.
      I am glad this was helpful. It takes time but getting to a situation where you have plenty of basics to see you through a time you cant get out... that is really good.
      Have a good week Barb! With love

    2. Barb,
      It sounds like you have a plan and some wonderful ideas! And if your decluttering the kitchen in the process just think more space! It can be a lot of work, but just think everything will be all organized in your nice new kitchen! have a great week!

  2. Hi Annabel and bluebird friends,
    I believe the saying goes that great minds think alike. This past week has seen me cleaning out my entire kitchen. I was able to identify what we have and what we need(not very much at all) by doing this.
    I now have the pantries sorted, so that all like items are together. I was rather shocked by how much I had on my shopping list was crossed off.
    Whilst I have a small kitchen I have some lovely free standing vintage cabinets through my house. One 1920's leadlight cabinet holds the preserves I have made and all the jars and bottles I use for this. This cabinet has two oil lanterns and a candelabra on top.
    Our TV cabinet is a handmade early 1900's food cupboard we found in an old shed and Bluey fully restored. I have DVD's in the bottom and plan on using the rest for storage.
    I keep spare bandaids, Panadol and other over counter medications in the narrow drawers of my Singer Treadle
    I found a wooden hinged box, country style potato box, at the op shop. This sits between two chairs and is used daily to hold a cup of tea. The interior holds my candle making supplies.
    I have shelves similar to yours and Barbs with baskets. These hold my yarn stash and my Office paraphernalia out of the way. One thing I am thinking we might need in a poor situation is pen and paper. If the power goes down and phone and internet fail, then contact may only be able to occur through the mail service. A notebook and pen would also be a way of keeping an account of daily life to be able to recall your situation at a later time.
    I'm off to sort out the linen cabinet and the laundry cupboard.
    Bluey has been feeling so good lately that he has been doing his own inventory of the shed. He said to mention that making shelving out of old metal beds is a great way of giving yourself extra space. He has some metal bed shelves that are four high. He has cut and re welded the legs. He has replaced the metal mesh on the base with concrete mesh. The beds came from the tip shop and the shelving cost very little beyond time and effort. The shelf making was done some time ago and well before he got sick. He made me several sets for my container. Mind you he has taken over most of these.
    Life is good.

    1. Dear Jane, Bluey is clever to re use metal beds for shelving. He is very inventive. These kinds of skills are great.
      I love that you use the drawers of the old sewing machine! And I love the sound of your preserves cupboard! You can take a photo of that for me anytime you like! Or a few! The cabinet itself sounds lovely but full of preserves even better!
      Great minds do think alike! You know what you have and where it is. I found a big pantry clean out was quite a big job too.
      Have a great week! With love

    2. Yes, Jane, you and Tania paint beautiful pictures with your old furniture and preserves, and so on! This would be nice to see!!
      P.S. It is good to hear that Bluey is getting on well!

    3. Jane,
      Thanks for the idea about the treadle machine drawers. Brilliant. Yet another place to store items. I was excited to hear how well Bluey is doing. Cookie

  3. This is a great post Annabel and Vicky. So much information for making use of space. I love the over door shelf, that is really great thinking.

    I store excess things under beds. Things like carton milk and toilet paper fit nicely under. I have been blessed with a big house with a lot of storage (but sometimes I still run out). In our dining area I have an old restored dresser and meatsafe. I use these for storing preserves. I also have an old ice box with shelving so I use that. I try to stick with square/rectangle containers rather than round. With the flat sides they fit closer together therefore making good use of storage area. I do the same in my fridge. Furniture in the spare rooms also get used, plus I have a rumpus room on the side of our shed. This is where I keep my craft supplies, it is also good for storing excess. There is a second freezer out there too. I think bookshelves make great storage areas, only trouble mine have books on them! Nice baskets could be used the same way as your cubed curbside find. You have definitely got me thinking.

    I am going to take a look over at Jes's now :)

    Have a lovely week,

    Love Tania xx

  4. I'm really enjoy these posts. They are encouraging me to be more prepared.

  5. And don't forget the tumble dryer if you have one. I don't, or very rarely, use ours so it is a wonderful place to store things. I've had laundry soap and washing soda in it, bulk rolled oats, boxes of cereal, packets of milk powder, shampoo and conditioner and shower gel - as long as it's not too heavy (if the dryer is on the wall) and non-perishable you'd be surprised at just how much you can carefully pack in :) Have a lovely week, Cath.

  6. Hi Annabel, Vicky and Bluebird Bikies/Bikers!!

    I remember one year not knowing where to put my crop of wild grown pumpkins. I set up a camp stretcher to keep them comfy!! Now I have the hanging shelf in the shed idea, where produce can be safe and cool! Thanks for that, Annabel!

    Annabel and Vicky, thank you for your beautiful and practical ways. You are both intelligent in these matters of the home!!

    With very warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Great idea with the pumpkins! We also used a pallet on the garage floor and surprisingly didn't get any varmints...

    2. Rachel,
      I think your over head storage is great and how brilliant to use a camp stretcher to keep your pumpkins on!

    3. Yes - very comfy!!

    4. Hi Rachel, one more thing I thought about as I was on my walk today... Pallets would be excellent hanging shelves in themselves for pumpkins, butternut squash, boxes and so forth. They would be easy to suspend because of the slatting...

  7. Dear Annabel and Vicky,
    Thank you for the great post. After I read it this morning I started looking around to see what space could be put to better use and no be wasted space. I have always vacuum sealed food that was dehydrated in Mason jar instead of vacuum sealed bags. After reading Vicky's ideas the bags will create more space in the pantry and can be resealed.

    Aside from the pantry closet, other places for our food storage include a pie safe, a dry sink with shelves, the vanities in the bathrooms, my husband's grandmother's hope chest that we use instead of a linen closet, the linen closet having been converted to storage, I also use Space Bags to store seasonal clothing under the bed. I keep herbs and spices in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer part of the refrigerator which keeps them potent longer.

    Lots of good ideas in your posts today ladies. Thank you again. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie, I love that you have your husbands Grandmothers hope chest! I love anything to do with hope chests!
      The space bags are a great thing to mention! They really reduce the bulk of things plus they keep bugs out too! Thanks for mentioning that. Totally forgot about those.
      Many thanks, Love

  8. Love this post. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for your inspiration. Annabel, I too have one of those hanging shoe holders on my pantry door that holds my stash of spices. It hangs on the inside of my pantry door that is in the basement. I have decided to get another one to put on the other side of the pantry door to hold extra shampoos, body wash, etc. I figure why not, it's extra space to put something. I have also cleaned out my closet (we have very tiny closets in our house and not very many) and took all the clothes out and found a new place to put the things I wanted to keep and donated the rest. I put shelves in there and that is now where I store most of my canning supplies. (They used to be here, there and everywhere.) I like having them upstairs and close to where I use them. I have other spaces that I have been eyeing to declutter. Have a great day Annabel. Paula in Kansas

    1. Paula,
      Happy decluttering! And I am glad to hear your canning supplies are all mostly in the one spot now it will be so much better when you have your next canning session.

    2. Dear Paula,
      It is amazing the space we can find with a re arrange. Having all your canning things together is great. I like bing able to see what I have, it helps.
      Many thanks Paula! Love

  9. Annabel and Vicki, I love all these ideas! I already use alot of them but I don't have shelves over doorways. I really like that idea and am going to add that to my to-do list. I utilize a lot of baskets myself ... on top of bookcases, in corners, sitting by furniture pieces. They are a decorative way to store pantry related items ... food or non-food.

  10. Great storage solutions ladies! I just had someone asking about this today and I will refer this article. Thanks for mentioning our series. I hope we can all learn from each other as we all present different ideas and information which will hopefully be a blessing to all!

  11. Those over-the-door shelves are brilliant! What a great idea and very cute! I'll bet that could work with some windows as well.
    My hidden storage tip is to toss a tablecloth over a neat stack of boxes or a couple of five-gallon buckets fitted with a plywood topper to make a small table. Put a lamp and a couple of decorative items on top and nobody will be the wiser.
    I keep supplies in my car too, so I'm waiting for your post to see what I might be missing!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Leigh, I love your small, circular table idea! I am thinking of a particular round, pale pink, crochet table cloth that I have!

    2. Now Leigh don't give me any more ideas with buckets everyone knows I am addicted to buckets! LOL!

  12. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for this great series! We've been having very heavy rains and flash flooding here. I live in an area of the US that usually does not have severe weather, so I have not been in the mindset of preparedness but I have been reading your posts and thinking a lot of it is very good information! It was storming so hard last night, I looked at my husband and said we better go plug our phones in in case we lose power tonight! This got us talking about being better prepared and I shared with him some of the ideas from your blog. He thought they were all great, so we're on a mission to get better prepared this year! Things have gotten so crazy in the world, we really should be prepared for just about anything to happen! I'm going to try to do a few things a week to get our supplies and disaster plan up and running!
    My husband built both our boys these beds with the idea in mind that we could store off season clothing in the back area up against the wall, but they're just too big and heavy to get in and out of frequently. We think it will be a great spot to store emergency supplies in, though!
    We have a big deep freezer in the garage that's been sitting almost empty for the last couple of years, with the exception of a month's supply of meat. So I have plenty of room to start storing up more meat and ready-made meals. This would also come in handy if we're having a tough month financially. My husband also liked the idea that I read somewhere on here about filling empty jugs with drinking water and putting them in the freezer, as this would help keep the food cold for a few days if we were without power and then it would provide us with drinking water once it melts.
    I have a food dehydrator also. I'm thinking I should start dehydrating whatever I have on hand that's at risk of going bad and saving that up. That could really come in handy and not cost any extra money. I have a vacuum sealer I could seal it up with also. All of these supplies I have right on hand that I'm not utilizing!
    I also really need to be stashing some cash in the house, in case the banks and ATM systems were to go down.
    Thank you for getting our thoughts going in this area!

    1. Tarin,
      It sounds as if you have a great start on the supplies! You'll find that some things are so easy to do and can really come in handy later. Having a spouse that agrees is also good because they can help to make our work easier. I always say one thing done is one thing done and off the list. Your husband did a fabulous job with the beds!

    2. Dear Tarin, It is great that your husband is on board and in agreement with you about this. Together you can do a lot! We showed last week you can do heaps that doesnt even cost anything.
      If the freezer is really full it wont cost much to run plus yes the bottles of water mean you have water on hand even if the power is off for quite a while.
      It is great you already have some very handy things that will help you. A dehydrator is fabulous and so it the vacuum sealer! Both of those are space savers as well!
      Do not rely on banks or ATMs. In a crisis neither are much help to us. Even here last year in a short power outage people couldn't get what they needed... no cash. Not good!
      Thanks so much for your encouragement. Tarin, truly, do something each week and you will be so surprised how ti adds up! With love

  13. Great ideas and a new one is storing in my antique sewing machine cabinet drawers. Thanks. Nancy

  14. Dear Annabel and friends, these are all brilliant ideas. I can vouch for Leighs idea of boxes of supplies, covered with cloths as side tables. In fact, when I first moved out of home, much of my furniture consisted of boxes with cloths over them! When I look around my home now at all my neat little decorative tables, with NO storage space, I wonder if I've really! IKEA is an incredible source of clever storage, and whilst it's an investment initially, it's a good long term investment, and saves you covering boxes with tablecloths...hehehe! We have some excellent slim shelves in odd spots in the house, all sourced from IKEA over 15 years ago, and serving us well all that time. Great ideas everyone. Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      Thank you! I think IKEA is brilliantly clever for this. They re all about small spaces too. Howard's storage world was brilliant but very expensive and now has gone belly up. But I used to get the catalogue and scan for ideas... and many were do able for much less. Its the clever ideas! The boxes concealed is a goodie. No one would know! With love,

  15. Hello Annabel and lovelies, I find this very timely as I am having a home day today, have done the kitchen pantry and love a good clean up. Went to the cabinet maker today to sort out quote on kitchen. I am getting 3 quotes, have one done so far. I think I will get my idea notebook and make notes on these last couple of posts, there are lots of ideas to think of. This is the first house where I have an abundance of space and cupboards etc and I love storing stuff and organising myself.
    I have just made this recipe from - if you googled it, it is the one with only six ingredients. I really don't like dates but found out this morning they freeze for up to five years if dried. So this silly big packet of dates I bought which would never get used on their own, can now be frozen. I am doing them in batches of 12 which is what the recipe calls for. It's just a nice snack to have which i don't think is too bad for us. Healthy cacao, coconut and date balls is the name of it if you were interested. I better get back to it, I was at work yesterday and did not get a chance to read your post. Hope everyone is well. Especially Kelsey, have you heard back from her Annabel since she told us she was expecting a baby after many years of trying? I hope she is well. Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, I love dates and didn't think of freezing them! I love sticky date pudding and dates in scones.... plus I am trying Rachels date recipe as well.
      It is so exciting to be getting a new kitchen! I know you will have a wonderful pantry! With love

    2. Yes, Fiona, Kelsey is around the ridges, and following the preparedness posts! She is over her second trimester. We love hearing from her!!

    3. That's awesome Rachel for letting us know.

      Annabel I think I am the only person in the history of the world who doesn't like sticky date pudding!


  16. What great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them. We were stuck in our house due to snow a few weeks ago and were so grateful to a well-stocked pantry. I found that the first things to go were the convenience foods, not the wheat and dry beans. :) Although I'm glad we had those too.

  17. Dear Annabel and lovely ladies. I have been trying to think of space for more things. I saw a great covered bench with storage inside at a discount store, it was more than I was willing to pay. I am trying look at things with a can I use this for storage. Can I trade it for something and can I donate or gift it or sell it. I have made more room for useful things and have made some extra. I am looking for things at yard sales for storage. Old dressers that can be redone,etc.
    Also I have seen great ideas on Pinterest and creative storage for small spaces.
    Love Patti

  18. Good morning! I featured this little gem today on our link up. Have a lovely week :)


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