Bahamian Babymoon

Remember when I posted about how chaotic my May was going to be? And when I said I planned to drop down to just one blog post a week? And then I basically disappeared off the blog for the last two weeks of May? Oops. Sorry about that.

After moving, we didn’t have internet set up in our house right away and we only had one week to move in and get settled before packing up again and leaving for our babymoon so…life happened. Now that May is behind us it should be back to regularly scheduled (Tuesday/Thursday) programming around here!

Babymoon at Secrets Emerald Bay

Justin and I honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and absolutely loved it. Ever since coming back from that trip, we’ve dreamed of taking another one. We always had summer 2019 in the back of our minds as a potential time to do it as a combo celebration (Justin finishes up seven years of schooling and career training at the end of June!) and anniversary trip (we celebrate 6 years on June 22). It felt meant to be when we found out we were pregnant – now it could also be a babymoon!

My pregnancy actually made narrowing down dates + location very easy. We picked the Bahamas because it was the only tropical location that did not have a Zika warning at the time we booked and we chose late May because it worked for Justin’s work schedule, my parents’ schedules (since they’re watching LJ) and I was still in my second trimester, or as I like to call it, the pregnancy “sweet spot.” There were actually two all-inclusives we considered in the Bahamas and after looking at both options, we settled on Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.

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We were so happy with our choice! We had great service, excellent food (they had 11 different restaurants with different kinds of cuisines – all were delicious but my favorite meals were at the Parisian and Indian restaurants), and amazing weather. Most of our days were spent lounging poolside but we did sign up for one excursion, a 30-minute snorkeling trip in a coral reef which was a lot of fun, although we did not take any pictures so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 😉

Instead of a day-by-day recap, I’m going to share a smattering of pictures from our trip. Enjoy!

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Fresh off the plane. We couldn’t check into our room right away because we arrived before check-in but the resort allowed us to drop off our bags and get some food. I had the first of many virgin daiquiris – so yummy!

The beachside restaurant was a fun experience – eating delicious food while your toes are sunk in the sand just says paradise.

Most mornings we got breakfast at one of the restaurants but the first morning we were extra lazy and ordered room service to eat on our little patio balcony overlooking the ocean.

The views around the resort were just ❤ ❤ ❤

The cabanas were nearly impossible to snag but one morning we lucked out and got one! It was the perfect opportunity to get a little less sun (so we could stay longer). I also loved ordering the little wood fired pizzas for a yummy poolside lunch!

I kept up my Expecting and Empowered workouts through vacation (since the program comes as a download, I had it on my phone!) which made me feel 0% guilt about indulging in things like the resort’s Chocolate Night.

One of the best things about all-inclusive is you can sample lots of food! Justin loves sushi and I don’t, so he could binge on sushi while I snacked on edamame and vegetable spring rolls, then we headed to the pub for more food later. Best of both worlds!

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Every night they had fires going by the pool, which was a relaxing way to unwind after dinner.

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That feeling you get when you’re finished with an hour-long prenatal massage. 🙂

SO much lounging + reading. I brought several books and Justin ended up reading one of them as well on vacation (I’m hoping to rope him into contributing to my book review – we’ll see!)

While most of our days were spent by the pool, we did venture down to the beach a few times. It was heavenly – beautiful sand and clear, warm water!

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This picture cracks me up. I thought it would be a sweet, romantic shot I think? Like “oh, let’s ask this passerby to snap a pic of us holding hands on the swings! It’ll be so sweet!” Guys, LOOK how far away the swings are from one another! We were both fully outstretched and the swings are different heights, so it just looks hilariously awkward. Oh well!

Lots and lots of bump pictures were taken this week. I loved having so much focused time with Justin while still getting to feel sweet little baby kicks as our littlest one joined us. ❤

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On the way to dinner one night we stopped and asked a worker passing by if she would take a picture. She took the phone and proceeded to hold it at a crazy angle to take the picture. We could not stop laughing at this shot of us super far away and weirdly angled. I guess she wanted to take some creative liberties?

One of the best meals we had all week was at the French restaurant. From the appetizers to the dessert, everything was absolutely delicious and the food presentation was amazing! SO so yummy!

There was a golf course at the resort and one morning we decided to walk the back nine holes after breakfast. It was about a 2.5 mile walk – the course follows a peninsula and the views were just GORGEOUS! We were amazed by the houses on the course too; the one pictured above had stunning views of the ocean, a sand volleyball court, an infinity pool, and a lazy river! The course wasn’t very shaded and it got hot FAST so I was thankful we brought water although I did wish we had gone even earlier in the day.

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One night after dinner, Justin decided he was still hungry so we went back to the sushi restaurant and he ordered a ton of sushi for “dessert” (I happily munched on a little edamame). His sushi-loving heart was so happy ha!

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I think there was only ONE day that we didn’t get to the pool because we were doing other things, but for the most part we spent a ton of time there every day. It was so nice to just relax without a care in the world and lounge/read/swim/repeat.

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The sunrise on our last morning was one for the books! I enjoyed watching it from our balcony as I read and worked on some upcoming blog posts.

One last stroll on the beach before checking out on the last day. We were so thankful for such a rejuvenating week!

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Farewell, Bahamas!

 

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A Look Back on our Home

It’s moving week!

Justin and I officially close on our new home on Friday afternoon and Saturday is moving day! I can’t believe that it’s finally here. I shared in a previous post that we were not initially planning to look for another house until the fall, but we found our dream property and we jumped on it. We did a 60 day closing since it was a sudden-ish decision and this gave us some extra time to prepare (and the sellers extra time to move out) so it’s been a bit of a long process. Now that we’re down to the final few days, both Justin and I are getting super excited!

While we’re thrilled for this new adventure and truly looking forward to settling in to our new home and starting the next chapter of our family’s life there, it is bittersweet to be leaving our current home. We bought this home when we moved to Indiana 3 years ago and we put a ton of hard work into it. Justin ripped up old carpeting and tile by himself. We recruited family to come help us tear down old wallpaper, repair holes in the walls, and repaint every single wall. I painted all the trim and doors. We replaced some light fixtures and we had new laminate flooring and carpet installed. Our friends Jeremy and Bethany came for a weekend to help us install a new subway tile backsplash in our kitchen. Cabinets got painted, flowers got planted, a house became our home. We love this place and truly made it our own over these past 3 years. We love our neighbors, we love our location. We love the memories we’ve made here. We are going to miss this place.

I thought it would be fitting to share some before-and-after pictures today as a little tribute to this sweet little home of ours. It’s the first home Justin and I bought. It’s where we mourned the loss of our first baby and joyfully brought LJ home a little over a year later. It’s where we hosted fun backyard parties, where we shared our dreams for our family’s future. We’ll always remember it fondly and I am thankful we’ll take the pictures and memories with us.

Entryway

Foyer After

I love that Scout made a cameo in the “after” shot because that little landing has been his favorite spot in this house. He spends most of his day perched there. We think he likes it because he can see out the front door and windows and also keep track of us in the living room and TV/playroom. As you can see, we changed out all flooring, painted the walls, and also painted the railing. We also changed the light fixture although it’s not visible in the picture.

Living Room

Living Room Before

Living Room After

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The most dramatic changes in this room was paint and flooring. This was really the first room we tackled when we moved in. Justin ripped up all that old carpet and we had new laminate flooring installed.

TV Room/Playroom

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The previous owners used this space off the front door as an office. We initially thought we’d use this space as a dining room, but then we decided we’d get way more use out of it as a cozy den and it became a TV room (and then also a playroom when LJ came along – check out pics of this space on a typical day here). This became our favorite place to hang out as a family! Justin ripped up the hallway tile and laminate flooring here too and we had the same laminate installed as in the living room to make the first floor feel less broken up.

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Half Bath

Half Bath Before

Half Bath After

The first floor half bath was the only room in the house that had floor-to-ceiling wallpaper (and toilet humor-themed wallpaper at that) and I was all too happy to see it go. I chose a dark color for the walls of this small space and I love how it turned out!

Dining Room/Kitchen

Dining Room Before

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In my opinion, this space was the most dramatic transformation. The tile was in good shape so we left it but pretty much everything else changed. New paint on the walls, painted cabinets, new dining light fixture, new backsplash, new appliances – we loved how this room turned out!

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Laundry Room

Rounding out the first floor is the little laundry room off the kitchen. This wasn’t a big space, but painted walls and cabinets with a little bit of decor made a big difference!

Hallway Nook

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Our home is 3 bedrooms but when we moved in we knew we wanted to keep a guest room available for family and hoped to soon convert the other room to a nursery so I needed to get creative with finding space for a little home office. At the top of our staircase there is a fairly large landing with just enough space for a small bookcase and desk and it worked out perfectly for an office! The bookcase faced the stairway and the desk fit perfectly in the little nook – it was such a cozy place to light a candle and get some work done.

Master Bedroom

We rearranged the layout from how the previous owners had done things and I think it helped open up the room and make it seem much larger. Painted trim and walls gave it a fresh, relaxing facelift!

Master Bathroom

The “before” picture on the left isn’t great, but it gives you a small idea of our little updates. We didn’t do much in this room – took down the wallpaper border, fresh cost of paint, painted trim, and hung new towel rods.

Guest Room

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We took down that border wall paper and those shelves, which were a HUGE pain because they were all anchored into the wall. There was a ton of patchwork involved but after a fresh coat of paint the room was refreshed! We kept it pretty simple in here, just enough to make a cozy space for guests to stay.

Hallway/Guest Bathroom

Guest Bath After

The hallway bath was mostly used as a guest bathroom since we just bathed LJ in ours. We painted the walls and cabinet (I actually love how the dark cabinet turned out!), added vanity fixtures, and took down the old shower door and exchanged it for a curtain rod.

Nursery

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Nursery After

My favorite room in the whole house! It was used by the previous owners as an office and we didn’t do much with it for a while. Then, when I found out I was pregnant, we started dreaming of a nursery. I would spend time praying in the room for the baby we would soon welcome into our home. Sadly, that pregnancy was ectopic and we did not get to meet that baby (read more of the story here). I shut the door and stopped dreaming to deal with my grief. Then slowly, I started going in there again. I painted the room before I was pregnant again, believing that someday a baby would need this room. I got this sign off Etsy as the first piece of nursery decor and when I got the glorious positive pregnancy test a few months later, I immediately hung it up by the door. This room has seen tears, rejoicing, preparations, and so many snuggles. I’m so thankful for this room!

And that’s our home. It’s been so good to us and we’re so thankful to have called this place home for 3 years. Now on to the next adventure!

My Mom Uniform

Good morning!

Today I’m once again joining Erika & Shay‘s monthly Let’s Look link-up (which will actually be tomorrow, I’m just posting a day early) and this month’s topic is your favorite “outfit of the day” or OOTD. 

If you’ve been around for a long time, like 5 years ago before my blog’s hiatus, you know that this space started out as a place to share lots of teacher outfits. My Instagram used to be exclusively dedicated to sharing my teacher ootd and I would share simple, everyday looks that were professional, comfortable, and affordable. The outfits are all still saved under my closet archives but here’s a little sampling of what my professional wardrobe used to be:

 

I loved mix-and-matching basic pieces in different ways – I loved little details like a fun ruffle, statement jewelry, or unique shoes and I enjoyed finding fun ways to layer. I still enjoy dressing up like this if I have the occasion to!

Now that I am no longer teaching and stay at home with LJ all day, it would be super easy to live in sweatpants, but I still try to get dressed every day. I don’t mean get dressed up, I mean just get dressed in anything other than the same old sweats.  It is literally JUST as easy to throw on a basic striped shirt as it is to throw on a sweatshirt, and it may seem silly but it affects my overall confidence and happiness. I’m way happier bumping into a friend in the grocery store if I’m wearing a “real” shirt. I’m way more confident kissing my husband when he comes home if I’m not in the same sweatpants I was wearing when he left for work in the morning. When I feel like I look even just a little bit put together, I feel better about myself and a happier, more confident Sarah is honestly a happier, more confident wife and mom.

All that being said, I don’t have the same about of time to piece together a daily outfit like I did when I was teaching and even if I did, there’s no real reason to go to that level of thought and effort. My days usually include pushing a stroller on a walk or running around my backyard or reading books on the floor so the heels have taken a leave of absence. Plus, many days I end up with yogurt on my pants or have a strawberry thrown at my shirt (thanks LJ) so I stick with basic, easy to clean clothes. I have a “mom uniform” of sorts that goes something like this: easy top in a classic pattern (stripes, plaid, etc), one piece of simple or statement jewelry, skinny jeans, and flats. It maybe takes an extra two minutes to pull these items from my closet instead of reaching for sweats, but the minimal amount of extra effort makes a huge difference.

All of those outfits were super easy to thrown on, and I felt so much happier and more confident heading out the door. And they are all still comfortable and easy to “mom” in!

Now do I also take the time to do full-on hair and make-up everyday? Heck no. I’m often in a messy bun with maybe a few swipes of bronzer and mascara. And of course there are days where LJ and I are in jammies and sweats all day long. But I really do try to put at least a little effort into getting dressed more often than not.

I also want to address that now that I’m pregnant, my wardrobe is reduced and comfort is the name of the game, but I still try to look put together. I’m rocking a comfy, simple top, skinny jeans, and my Converse most days.

Also, since it’s approaching summer, we’re outside playing a lot now so I’m often wearing some form of athleisure.

My favorite OOTD is one that is comfy, cute, and requires minimal thought and effort while still staying a step or two above my ratty college sweatshirt. By keeping a simple “mom uniform” in mind, it’s easy for me to feel put together every day.

What’s your standby, go-to outfit that makes you feel put together and confident?

Mayday Mayday – Crazy May Ahead!

Good morning friends!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe it is May! The past week has been full of rainy days, but that means whenever the sun does shine, it showcases lush green grass, blooming flowers, and glorious signs of spring. Just yesterday I plucked some fresh daffodils from one of my flower beds and it made me so happy – I love this time of year where everything seems fresh and new!

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That being said, this month is going to be absolutely wild for us. We have some MAJOR things happening in our family coming up and everything kind of fell into the same 3-4 week window. I wrote out a giant “to-do” list for the month and it’s a bit uhh… hefty. (Side note: I love love love my Erin Condren Life Planner for keeping track of my days and I also love that there is a space to make lists or write notes before each month. It helps keep me super organized!)

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The biggest thing we have going on this month is: MOVING! Justin and I bought our house 3 years ago when we moved to Indiana and purposely bought a smaller house. At the time, we weren’t sure what our long term plans were and this house was right for us, our two dogs, and a future baby we were then dreaming of. We have since decided to stay in the area long-term and wanted to find a home with a little more space to grow our family. Our original plan was to house hunt this fall after baby arrives and we’re adjusted to life as a family of four, but we happened to stumble across our dream property for sale in April and our plans got expedited! It’s been an absolute whirlwind but thankfully it’s been a smooth process overall and we close on our new house on May 17. So this has meant I’ve been a flurry of activity over the past few weeks, getting our home ready to put up for sale and show to potential buyers. We have accepted an offer on our home and are in the process of finalizing all those details. Whew!

So now, it’s time to purge, clean, pack, and prepare to move! On top of that, I’m hosting my sister’s bachelorette party over Memorial Day weekend and then Justin and I leave on our babymoon (which was planned and fully booked a solid month before we even considered buying a house and moving in May).

I’m all about keeping life as simple as possible, but my head is spinning a little just typing all that. It’s all exciting stuff, but there are so many logistics and to-dos that I know I need to find ways to streamline and cut back in other areas of life in order to manage all these things well. One way to do this is to cut back on the blog. For the time being, I’m going to post just once a week on Tuesdays so I can focus my time and energy on other things and not go insane. 😉 I’ll still be posting regularly on Instagram (@simplifythechaos) so feel free to keep up with me there!

I hope you have lots of fun things coming up in May too!

First Haircut + Easter Weekend 2019

Good morning!

This past weekend Justin, LJ, and I packed up the car and road tripped out to Virginia to spend Easter weekend with Justin’s family. Since they live so far away, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like so it was wonderful to have lots of quality time together. I more or less unplugged from social media, which was also a nice change of pace. Today I thought I’d just share a few pictures from our weekend.

Before we left on Friday morning, we stopped in at a local men’s salon for…LJ’s first official haircut! Insert all my mama emotions here.

I love his wispy blond hair but it was just getting sooo long – it was getting in his eyes and was starting to look a little mullet-like so we decided it was time.

The place we went was amazing! They had him sit on Justin’s lap and turned the little TV in the booth on to Paw Patrol so he was pretty mesmerized the whole time. He’s a little ticklish around the neck so there were a few flinches but the hairstylist was so patient with him and we’re really happy with the end result. Overall, LJ did way better than we expected! They gave him a little certificate for “graduating babyhood” with his first haircut. Beforehand, I’m not sure I would have said this was “the step” to no longer being a baby but afterwards I see where they’re coming from because he immediately looked SO. MUCH. OLDER. Justin and I could not get over how he looks like a full-fledged toddler now.

After the haircut excitement we headed out to Virginia. LJ did great on the trip and we made decent time. We arrived Friday night and left Tuesday morning. It was a fantastic weekend with family! A few highlights include:

A mega Easter Egg hunt! Justin’s brother’s church puts on a giant egg hunt for the community and there were SO many people there. Do you see all the people in the grass? This is just the 4 years and under hunt – it was crazy! LJ and his youngest cousin (bottom of the left picture) were more fascinated with the chaos happening around them and we really had to work to get them to focus on picking up an egg. It was pretty hilarious actually. By the time they caught on, the eggs were mostly gone. LJ got three eggs which honestly was two more than I was expecting him to get so overall it was a success.

We also spent a ton of time outside. LJ was obsessed with the basketball hoop and we spent hours out there playing. It was so sweet to see him with our 6-year old nephew (middle picture) who is so sweet to him. They are the only boy cousins so far and they already have a special little bond.

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Can’t forget about our sweet 4-year-old niece who also loved playing with LJ. In this picture they are heading off to find the cat that is hiding along the edge of the woods. 😉 Since none of my siblings have children yet, these are LJ’s only cousins and I just love watching their little relationships blossom. Plus, I feel like this picture just captures something magical about spring evenings.

My little growing family attended my husband’s home church on Sunday. It was extra special because my sister actually lives in the area and she was able to join our festivities!

Easter Sunday is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. The music is always so worshipful and inspiring and I love celebrating the fact that Jesus not only died for our sins, but also rose again and we now have eternal life in Him. It brings me to tears every year!

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And last but not least, it was pretty hilarious to watch LJ open his Easter basket – in true toddler style, he only cared about the tissue paper. 😉

 

Easter always feels like the true kick-off to spring, so I’m excited for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and more and more time outside!

Prayers for “G”

I had a different blog post planned for today, but this morning I woke up to a text from a former co-worker that flipped my day upside down before it had even begun.

For those who don’t know, I am a former special education teacher. I taught for 6 years in 3 different schools (we moved a lot!) and loved it. I started this blog partly as a way to share teacher outfits and classroom projects & activities which you can find under my “Teach” menu in the archives. Even though I love staying at home with my son now, teaching remains a passion of mine and I miss getting to work with my students.

My co-worker reached out to me because she realized I give up Facebook for Lent and hadn’t heard the news: a former student of mine has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 malignant astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. Yesterday he suffered a pulmonary embolism and is in critical condition. I had him in 6th & 7th grade but he is now 16 years old and a sophomore.

To say my heart is broken is an understatement. I truly mean it when I say that all the students I’ve had on my caseload through the years have a special place in my heart, but some students just stick with you a little more. He is one of those. Whenever he pops up in my mind I smile and look back on our struggles and triumphs with great fondness. We came a long way in two years and when Justin and I had to pack up and move to Indiana, it was hard for me to know I wouldn’t get to see him go all the way through middle school. I am completely devastated to hear about his cancer and will be spending much of today lifting him up in prayer.

For the sake of privacy, I will not disclose his name in this space but I will tell you his first initial is G. My hope is that you would join me in prayer today for “G” and his family – prayers for miraculous healing for G and prayers for comfort and strength for his family.

Thank you ❤

Let’s Look: My Pantry

Good morning!

This week has an extra blog post because I’m once again linking up with Shay and Erika for their monthly “Let’s Look” post. These posts are always a fun way to look at a little piece of life (past months have discussed cozy spots, favorite books, and family) and this month’s topic is something I honestly never in a million years thought I would blog about.

Let's Look

So let’s look at . . . my pantry!

Yep, today’s topic is all about pantries and so I’m going to share a little peek into mine.

Our pantry is conveniently located between our fridge and laundry room entrance. I keep my aprons on a hook on the inside of the door for easy access when I’m baking.

I read a book last year that was trying to help women simplify and organize their lives, and the author encouraged the reader to not worry about pretty labels, matching containers, making your pantry all look amazing . . . and yet the picture on the very next page was a picture of gorgeous open shelving with pretty labels, matching containers, and neat little bins that had just the right amount of matching food stored in it. I mean, I’m all for pretty pantries (and if that’s your thing, absolutely go for it!), but talk about mixed messages from the book! This is one instance where I take to heart something frequently mentioned on the “Happier” podcast: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. My pantry could be prettier and probably better organized, but really the space just needs to help me get through the day and feed my family with as little stress and frustration as possible. Things need to be easy to find and access, so I make that happen as best I can with the space I have and don’t stress further over the space.  Today you’re getting my a glimpse at my very practical, functional, and un-Pinterest-like pantry. This is my unfiltered, real life storage solution and I’m going to take you through shelf by shelf.

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The bottom two shelves are pretty unexciting. The very bottom is where I keep extra canned goods and large bulk items that don’t fit anywhere else, as well as small tote bages and lunch boxes. The next shelf up is where I keep paper products: plates, cups, napkins, extra food storage containers for taking food to friends, etc. Also I have syrup and flour here because that’s where they fit right now – ha!

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The next shelf up is basically divided in thirds. The left side is all LJ’s food: applesauce pouches, freeze dried fruit, little bars he likes, basically any of his snacks. The middle container holds snacks for Justin and I: extra granola bars, chips, Rx butter, etc and we keep fruit snacks, popcorn, and bread here too. The far right stores grains: rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.

The next shelf is right at my eye level and stores the most frequently used items. We keep all our nut butters, crackers, granola bars, cereal, and oatmeal right in front because I’m reaching for those items almost daily. Behind all these items I have inserted a small shelf and I keep small items like honey and infrequently used spices on top and canned goods like soups and beans underneath. The right side holds all our things like mac and cheese, various pasta noodles, and sauces.

The next shelf holds all my baking items. Most frequently used items like oils and oats are in front, and less frequent items like specialty flours and other powders are stored behind on a turntable.  The turntable is a must because the shelf is slightly above my eye level so the easiest way to reach things in the back is just turn the table and they come forward to within my reach. This also keeps things from just getting shoved in the back and forgotten about. I do have to keep flour, sugar, and brown sugar in containers along the right side which is a little annoying because I have to take a lot of the other things out to reach the flour in back, but it’s really the only way everything fits and I just deal with it.

The very top shelf holds all our bagged snacks like goldfish, pita chips, tortilla chips, etc. Behind the bags I’ve inserted another shelf; on top are extras of items we frequently go through like ketchup and applesauce and beneath I keep all my mom’s yummy homemade salsa. I do have to use a little step ladder that I store nearby to reach the items behind the bags when it’s time for more olive oil or whatever.

And that’s my pantry! Not the most glamorous space in the house, but it’s perfectly functional and does its job well. If I could wave a magic wand and change the way the shelves were laid out, I would make them longer and not as deep so I don’t have to remove items to reach stuff in back, but I’m happy with how we make do with what we have. Are there any great tricks you use when organizing your pantry?