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.

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Making most of space... an issue for all of us!

I have been busy on my preparedness the last couple of weeks with organising my bathroom related products and also over the counter tablets and medicines.  Having a nice set of shelves has given me somewhere to keep everything together.

I found some baskets that sit just right on top of my shelves. They are pretty big so will hold lots!

Also now I have a decent sized wall cabinet which can hold (out of harms way) tablets and medicines.  The thought of not having pain killers after a life time of migraines is too much for me!  I buy things like this on big specials.   Apart from safer storage I can see what I have (which is a lot).  I found some just right containers that fit perfectly inside this cabinet.
At one time I didn't even know that over the counter medications came on special.  They sure do!  I often see big packs too so much cheaper than regular prices.

This is it so far. Still a little way to go!

As I was doing this Rosanne said to me to get rid of packaging and I would fit in much more i.e. toothpaste boxes.  As soon as I did this I had so much more room!

All of this has meant going through all my supplies and re organising basically everything. Now I have made space where I had none!  But I have better track of things!

Vicky was talking about this subject with me too.   She spoke about it in terms of downsizing.  This can be applied when literally downsizing your home,  trying to make the most of the space you have, wanting to store more when you are thinking your shelves are already full!
She wrote this for us:

Today I would like to talk about downsizing. I think everyone has either been in a situation where we have to downsize or possibly will be at some point in our lives. 
The decisions can be so hard as to what to keep and what to get rid of?  Smaller spaces can be so challenging and using a space to it's fullest potential difficult. You can look back to some of the examples that were shared in previous posts for ideas, just don't forget to look up and down, under and over to maximise space. 
The downsizing I want to discuss today is pantry downsizing. What? We're trying to build pantries and I am talking about downsizing? 
I am by no means talking about getting rid of everything in the pantry at all, but having been doing this for so long I wanted to share some examples of downsizing so we all know that actually getting rid of things in the pantry is ok and why. 

Over the years I have over couponed and gave boxes and boxes of those coupon deals away to others, they made great gifts, but 400 bottles of laundry soap take up a lot of space. So I have one set of shelves in my gross old laundry room that holds enough supplies to last me a long time and plus I have the stuff to take up making my own again should I not get anymore free or really cheap. So I downsized and gave the rest away. 

From experience deodorant also can be had cheaply, but it was a good thing I did gift the most of it and only kept a year's supply because deodorant may not technically expire, but if it gets old it stinks. Like an old bottle of perfume. 

Our tastes have changed some over the years and of course the people who live here have changed too. So with 40 boxes of cereal sitting on a shelf and it not getting eaten it finally dawned on me that my youngest is not a cereal eater. So those were given away. 

Other things that we didn't eat, but they had useable ingredients like pasta, beans or dried veggies I kept the ingredients we do use and the rest went to the chickens or dog food. 

And most recently since I don't seem to need as many I am downsizing the feminine hygiene products. I will gift the bulk of them to my DIL and keep a few packs for emergencies and some of the tampons for part of emergency lighting or medical supplies. 

Since I paid pennies on the dollar or nothing for any of these things it isn't costing me much to gift any of it to others and it gives me room in the pantry to stock what we eat now. I still have plenty of pouches and boxes of instant foods for emergencies like power outages and I have either a year's supply or close too it of most of the things we do eat since my plan should we need to implement it is simple foods that are hearty and filling. 

So do you need to revisit the pantry and evaluate what you have? Have your tastes and eating habits changed? Are you stocking for someone else as well and have their tastes changed? If so it is ok to downsize and make some room and fill the shelves with the bargains that you now eat and use. 

I have gotten some flack for giving so much away, but I am quite confident with what I have, can grow and the wild edibles we have that we will not go hungry. The skills that we acquire and the pantry knowledge we learn guarantees success in building the pantry! 

Thank you Vicky! She is busy as she has been totally re doing two whole rooms of her house. One room will be her new pantry! So we are all working away on our pantry projects!  I can't wait to see the finished result.  It is Vicky's Victory Pantry! 

Recently I pulled out everything from the kitchen cupboards, washed them out and put it all back in again in a better order... and of course as you go you find things that need to be tossed out, you know NO ONE is ever going to eat and things that don't even belong in your  pantry!    After all of this I was surprised how much spare room I had!  And now I can find everything and know exactly how much I have of any given category!

This week Rosanne was doing the same.  It was good as all week we encouraged each other to keep going!  At one stage she was telling me so much was out on the bench she doubted she would ever get it all back in again! (above)

But she did and you can see the boxes she covered in contact to form organisation trays. 

What an impressive pantry!  

Reducing packaging certainly creates space. Many boxed items are half air! When you open them they are half empty!  
The other thing is there is often a choice on how you store things. There can be several versions of the same thing. Take stock... you can buy stock as a ready to go liquid in cartons.  It also comes in tubs in a concentrated form. You could use a canned soup. You could use stock powder or stock cubes....  
The amount of space this all takes up o your shelves will vary enormously!  If space is an issue then this is a subject worth thinking about.

The ultimate space saver would be to make your own stock and save your money and pantry shelves! I do this but I would also  keep some alternatives i.e. I keep stock powder for just in case.  But that is a small tin that goes a long long way!  

And this leads us to next weeks subject.  Things that you can make yourself from very basic ingredients.  This will save you an enormous amount of money and a huge amount of storage space!  It will likely save you a lot of chemicals as well.    Knowing how to make these basics from scratch is a very good skill as well.  Most are super fast and easy!  Each time you adopt one your grocery expenditure shrinks!  Or look at it this way... as you spend less you can build up your pantry more with those savings!  It is all a win/win! 

I can finally move on from sorting out bathroom supplies but it was really good and now I know exactly what I have.  Big improvement! 

How did you improve your preparedness or build up your pantry last week?
We have pouring rain here.  I hope to get everything back in place around the whole house and gets lots done.  Have a very good week! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel and Vicky, Thank you for another excellent post. It sounds like Vicky is very generous and as well as blessing others you are helping yourself too Vicky , well done.

    I have built up my pantry this week by shopping at Aldi and Woolworths and buying some great specials. I am in the middle of writing a list off things I need that I can use to build up parts of my pantry that need adding to. It is certain I do not need any more food at the moment, my pantry, fridge and freezer are bulging . I have done well , a bit too well in building my pantry lately!. I have some rewards $ to spend at Woolworths and some flybuys points which I can convert if I need anything . Otherwise I will be saving my flybuys points for Christmas to build up my pantry then.
    I hope everyone has a great week. Roseanne , you have done a great job with your pantry .
    Annabel, I love all your storage in the bathroom and I especially like those white lace topped looking baskets / bins , are they from Kmart? Or from a $2 shop?.i have seen some like that at a shop near me, I love them.
    Thanks again Annabel, Vicky and Roseanne.
    Love Barb W.

    1. Dear Barb, Thanks so much! The lacy ones are from IKEA. They have them in several sizes. They are really handy and IKEA good prices!
      You have done really well with your shopping Barb! With winter just coming it is extra good to have supplies in case of storms and outages etc. We have had a massive down pour here today and the local shopping centre had rain coming in through the roof and a big mess!
      Have a very good week Barb! With lots of love,

  2. What a timely post! We have tons of space in our house including about 1900 square foot of basement. But our family has shrunk from 13 of us at home down to 3!

    I realized that even when things are a "great deal" that it doesn't make sense to store amounts that wouldn't be used up for 2, 3,7 or even 10+ years! Take my pickle relish! We love it, but did we really need to can more when I already had 48 jars still on my shelves? So I skipped canning it last summer. That also freed up space for me to start stocking in other things that we wanted to add to our pantry to diversify! Like teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, pineapple chunks, etc. my pantry has become much more well rounded which gives me much more versatility!
    I, too, stocked up on toiletries back when couponing would let me get things for free! So, I have donated deodorants, toothpaste, etc, to homeless shelters so that they will be used.
    I've also found that as I pare down the amounts of what I store to better reflect our family size (while allowing extra to gift or for others to "shop" from my pantry when needed) that my pantries become much more organized which saves me time and ultimately, money as well. I can find things in my pantries much easier and that keeps me from purchasing more than i need and it also frees up the amount I don't spend on overbuilding my supply of 1 item to use to build up a supply of something I can use OR to just move that amount into my savings account!

    It's been a hard lesson to learn but I seem to finally be able to downsize my pantry and simplify my life at the same time! I love it! Thanks for so many great ideas from all of you- Annabel and the rest of my favorite bluebirds!!

    1. Dear Gardenpat,
      Feeding thirteen must have been such a big job! I have seen your pantry and it is beautiful!
      I agree that having enough to help out when needed is really good. Any of our kids can face a financial challenge and they can come to "the shop" which could make a world of difference.
      You are a great example in being prepared. It is from a lot of different angles apart from the pantry, the garden, ability to generate income streams, make things and so on. This is really ideal as then we have a whole heap of back up plans and not just one!
      We certainly need to regularly re assess what it is we need to be doing and what we can let go of! Thank you for your comment! With love,

  3. What a timely post Annabel and Vicky. I have been in the caravan and listing what we need and editing what we have. We keep our caravan stocked with dry and tinned goods, both as a back up for the house and so that we have the van ready to go if we have to bug out quickly.
    The caravan is very much a place where we have to downsize. It is where we have to keep the weight of what we stock down as well. The van storage containers are all plastic. Our baking tins are silicone. We still cook all our meals whilst we travel. We use stock cubes or stock powder to keep the space used minimal(downsized). We also travel with powdered milk and powdered soup mixes.
    My main pantry editing this week has been in my laundry. There was so much that had just been shoved in and on the cupboard. Not much has been thrown out, but with the reorganising there appears to be more space. I also added a few things to the shopping list that we are running low on.
    Annabel I'm going to the Sunny coast to have a sleep over at Mum's this week. We plan on going to Ikea. This will be the first time either of us has been. It's an hours drive south of Mum's so hopefully we will have a bit of fun.
    Life is good.

    1. Jane you will be passing by my door. The shopping center now has paid parking, even where Ikea is. First 3 hours are free.

      There are a lot more shops to look at, even on the outside area,not part of the main shopping center - have fun.


  4. You know Anabel this post has such great information. I too couponed and didn't realize toothpaste would go bad. It has an expiration date on it and it just dries up where you can't get it out of the tube. Even though I got it for free Still a lesson learned. I have two big tubs that I put our bathroom supplies in and I learned that you can fit a lot more shampoo and shaving cream in them if you put them on their side. Of course now I'm going through and taking the toothpaste out of the box! Have a great day!


    1. Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone has found a good use for dry toothpaste -- that doesn't come out of the tube?!
      Thank you, Vickie, for your information, and comment!

  5. Hi Annabel, Vicky, Rosanne and Beautiful Bluebirds!!

    Phew! I might be, finally, spelling Rosanne's name right! What a beautiful name, Rosanne!

    Annabel, your baskets are lovely, and I have been wondering where the wire baskets came from! This downsizing is yet another favourite topic for me! Did I ever really tell you -- I love your work!!

    Vicky, you have put your writing together so nicely! Your sorting makes perfect sense, so be extra proud of your efforts!

    Rosanne, you are doing exceptionally well with your sorting, on account of your very accomplished kitchen work! You must have so many wonderful ingredients to arrange!

    When I have sorted through kitchen cupboards, I have found it possible to repurpose some unwanted pantry items for other purposes, too. For example, dried herbs that are too out of condition for the kitchen might be useful for sprinkling around the dog's kennel. Old, old jam, yeast and distasteful wine I have set aside for making fruit fly traps. If Mum has oxidised cooking oil, she donates it for my oil lamp!

    When I had full-looking shelves, I still managed to fit in twenty-one large jars of olives! I guess the shelves are still not quite full yet!

    As for general downsizing, over summer, I downsized the books I own! When I donated one box of books, I basicly swapped it for knitting wool! I had so much paper to burn that I had thought of emailing it to the northern hemisphere to start their winter fires! I don't miss any of it, and can now concentrate on my better books!

    Anyway, that's enough from me! I love the topic!

    Warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel, I think you are on to a winner here... things to do with things that is not really the original purpose but is still useful! The stock standard ones for us over the years have been whatever isn't going to do as human food becomes either chook or dog food. With this nothing is really wasted. But you have taken it up a notch! We should have a post on this. Did I tell you that your dog looks like the dog Dad had when I was growing up... I thought it but now I am not sure if I said it! He was called Mitt and he lived to 24 or so.
      Books for knitting wool! I would choose knitting wool!
      Thank you for your thoughts, I love them! With lots of love,

    2. Yes, I second the notion of a blog post on this wonderful subject! Thanks, Rachel!

  6. Great information and ideas! Thanks ladies! :)

    1. Dear Jes!
      Who would have thought that downsizing and doing better with less could be so very satisfying?!!!! It's amazing how a few good tips can boost our morale!!

  7. Love this post. It is something that each of us needs to work on and figure out for our families. Our needs do change, and our pantries should reflect that.
    Love the generosity that I read about here.
    Thank you for great info.

    1. Thanks, again, Cheryl, for participating! Yes, Bluebirds fly on generosity!

  8. Annabel, I, like Vickie, am going to remove my toothpaste out of the box and razors out of their packaging. This will free up some additional space. Your bathroom organization is functional and beautiful. I see a couple of things I can do that will help me in my organizing. Vicky's writing is full of wisdom and prudence and is something that we all need reminding of from time to time. At my house space is too important to keep things we won't use! Rosanne's pantry is so organized and pretty with all the labels and covered boxes. This is such a good post and so inspiring! Thank you to all 3 of you ladies!

    1. Patsy, isn't it valuable to have the tips from three wise .... oops .... Bluebirds all at once! Ha ha!! Annabel, Vicky and Rosanne have built a wonderful, practical, thought-provoking post here!! We are grateful for them!

  9. great post Annabel and Vickie.

    I love the look of your bathroom Annabel.

    Jane you won't get out of ikea in a hurry. I'm guessing three hours!!!!

    Hope you are all well, haven't had internet so only been on phone so quick reply here as I have so much to catch up on, bills, emails etc.

    Look forward to tomorrows post Annabel. Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, Yes IKEA has no windows for a reason. When you walk in it is day. When you walk out it is dark! I am serious!
      No interent? Thats not good! I will try it out and see if it is working now... with love

  10. Dear Annabel
    Thanks for another informative and practical post. I learn so much from everyone's sharing! The adventures in extreme couponing brought back a few memories of once coming home with 12 half gallons of free ice cream. Now that was useful. Ha ha. I'm​ still reorganizing and creating more space. Rather than stockpile dozens of something I've begun to focus on things that have multiple uses. For instance like baking soda , a relatively in expensive item that can be used for baking, cleaning, toothepaste, shampoo, deodorant,and possibly many more things even if it is out of date. Streamlining while still being prepared is the new watchword here. Blessings, Cookir

    1. Dear Cookie,
      I love these coupling stories since 12 gallons of free ice-cream would never happen here, we don't even have coupons!
      You have hit on what the subjects is coming up! Multiple uses! Ok start thinking of your entire list as Glenda is working on this and also I am working on making things from scratch ... from basic ingredients! So much cheaper but also saves pantry room! This is a big subject!
      Many thanks Cookie! Lots of love

  11. I too, want to comment on downsizing. I am trying to sell my house and will be moving in with my brother in FL. At one time I had over 30 jugs of laundry detergent, 400 rolls of toilet paper and about 30 boxes of pasta mixes. Then Hurricane Sandy hit, and I donated a lot of the tp to the relief effort (no pun intended). A lot also went to my sister during the time she filed for bankruptcy and was going through the process of getting disability.I stopped stocking up on laundry detergent, and now make my own (I have one 50oz. jug and one gallon jug to make it in). Most of the extra pasta mixes either went to my church's free store (food pantry and clothing give away), or to my nephew when he married. It was mixes he liked, so that was the perfect home for it. I gave shelf after shelf of books to our local library (most were either crochet books or cookbooks). A lot of dvds were also included in that give away. I gave tons and tons of stuff to the local church for their yearly yard sale. I have given lots to neighbors and friends who can use some of those things. When I move it will be a pretty "clean" move with just the basics. Having to downsize to facilitate a move has shown me what is really important to keep and stock up on, and how much (or little) I really need. That extra money can be spent in other ways, or kept for future needs.

    1. Dear Norma,
      What a big move for you! You have helped so many people! Well done!
      I hope your move goes well and you will be very happy!
      I am sure you will start a good pantry in your new home too. With love,

  12. Ladies, this has been a very thought provoking post. I find knowing when to downsize or rationalize often difficult, and parting with items very hard, but this week, I made an effort. Not in the pantry, but with the wardrobe. I had numerous pairs of shoes, most only worn 1 or 2 times, some not even worn (purchased for wearing to weddings and formal occasions, or a past working life) taking up a lot of space. Since I simply can't wear 4" stilletos, nor boots after breaking and dislocating my leg 3 years ago, I bit the bullet, bundled them up and took them to the local Cancer Op Shop. The bonus for me is, I found several pairs of shoes hidden in the boxes I'd forgotten about, so I'm set for winter (and next summer too).

    Thank you ladies for the push,

    1. Dear Janine,
      I relate! We have things we keep for ages as they are part of a past life or dream and this happened to me... one day I thought hang on I am NEVER (sadly) going to wear these shoes again as I doubt I could walk to the front door in them! haha! Donating things like this is a good donation... a charity is going to get decent money from them and then we have beautiful space! Clothes are often like this but also other things like projects we don't even like anymore!
      Well done on all your clearing out! AND you had good finds! Money saving too! With much love,

  13. I really enjoy reading your blog. What a wonderful homemaker you are. A couple of questions? Do you make your own towels with the crochet around the edges? I would like to do that. So pretty! Also, who is Vicki that I keep hearing about? Does she have a blog of her own? Keep up your good work. Diane

    1. Dear Diane, Yes I do the crochet edgings. If you are interested I have a tutorial on how to add crochet edgings to anything. I think they improve things a lot! Have a look here...
      Vicky is my friend who I met through the blog. She lives in Ohio. She often writes for Bluebirds and she is a big asset to me!
      We have The Vicky Challenge and that was a series all last year... you can read about that here...
      I hope that helps! Vicky doest have a blog of her own though she certainly could! She also has written for A Working Pantry and for Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.
      Thanks so much Diane! With love

  14. I did a kitchen cabinet/pantry clean out recently. I found stuff I had forgotten about! I put all of the things that needed used up right away in a box on my counter so that they were in sight and planned meals around them for the week. I figured if I had to look at them, I wouldn't forget to use them. Anyway, we had a week with some strange combinations, but everything got eaten, and nothing went to waste. We are not in the downsizing phase yet, we have 3 soon to be 4 teenagers, a tween and a 7 year old boy who thinks he is a man and eats like one, haha! But keeping changing dynamics in mind is smart. I will say though, that my sister in law thought she should be downsizing too, then both of her older kids got married in the same year and started having children, so now she stores more than ever! Since both kids live with in 10 miles of her, she is the central hub now for 3 families!

    After looking at pictures of your bathroom Annabel, I am inspired to go snooping around in mine! I hope everyone has a great week.

    Oh, I almost forgot, my kids wanted me to ask you if kids in Australia are ending school now (like we are) or starting school since it is coming on winter for you. THanks!

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Its amazing what we find when we have a clean out!
      You are in a busy time and your son is just going to eat more and more! There is a while its a full time job feeding everyone!
      Your SIL is right.... once Grandchildren are born you feel that you should stock up in case something went wrong.... i.e. I at all times keep spare baby formula. While they are good housekeepers they cannot imagine a time when supermarket shelves are not full as they have never seen it. So we are the ones keeping our eyes on the bigger picture!
      No ... in Australia the school year ends in December. Then it re starts right at the end of January. The longest holidays are summer holidays. Our winter is not like yours.... most of Australia doenst get snow... (some laces do though) and school is just regular through winter! They should find that interesting!
      Much love,

  15. Dear Annabel, This is wonderful information. We have also changed the things we eat, and have used or donated items.

    Thank you all for the wonderful pictures. Your shelving is so organized, Annabel! Love, Teri S

    1. Thank you Teri! Rosannes pantry is amazing... I am just starting out compared to her! xxx

  16. Thank you Rachel for helping me with replies! Thank you everyone for so many fantastic


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