Pantry Organization

Hi Friends!

Spring is here and that means Spring Cleaning! I typically do all that stuff in the FALL (I know, I’m such a *rebel*) but this past Fall was more about getting the house clean enough to host the holidays and not much more. I have more than made up for that this Spring!

*Spring* cleaning (no matter the season) usually involves making a MUCH LARGER MESS and then decluttering and putting what remains back in a tidy manner. Most of the house is currently in that LARGER MESS phase, but now that the first project is complete I have some motivation to keep going!

When I say “first project” I certainly don’t mean the first one I started. I started with the linen closet, got frustrated, started the pantry, got sidetracked, went back to the linen closet, dabbled in some clothes clutter, went back to the pantry, FINISHED the pantry, and now I’ve got my eye on the front coat closet. But the PANTRY!!!…

It’s EMBARRASSING to look at the *before* pictures. I didn’t want to post any but I feel like it can be helpful to others.

It might not be obvious, but when I look at the *before* picture I can see some level of organization going on. Like items were together, cans were contained on a large tray, and kid snacks were reachable. But it was chaotic and cluttered. Lots of things didn’t have a home so they were just shoved in front or in bins where they didn’t belong. Nothing was labeled so how could I expect anyone else to keep up?!

Even though it took a lot of dedicated effort and a solid week of having my kitchen look like a BOMB went off in it (for real though, the process is anything but glamorous – see photo below!), I’m so happy with the results and now I feel like I can tackle even the messiest closet in my house!

There are FIVE things that made the biggest difference to me in terms of functionality. I’m calling them game-changers.

  • ONE: The OXO Pop Canisters. They are air tight. They are easy enough (and FUN!) for kids to use. They are clear so you know when something is getting low! They can be pricey so I put off buying them for a long time but they are totally worth it. I would even pay FULL PRICE, they are that good! If the cost is holding you back, I would highly suggest buying one or two for your most used pantry items (think cereals and kid snacks). Then, if you decide they are awesome you can buy one or two at a time and build up your collection. Mine are all from The Container Store or HomeGoods. There are usually some fantastic deals online too so try here, here, here, and here.)
  • TWO: The Can riser. This was easily one of the least expensive things I added to the pantry and made one of the biggest impacts both aesthetically and functionally. Previous to the pantry makeover, everything was contained on a large tray. While the tray kept cans and bottles centrally located, it made things difficult to see and everything at the back was forgotten or expired. No More! And did I mention it expands to be wider and accommodate more cans if necessary?! It does. Mine is the MEGA size one which is big enough for cans and the regular one is perfect for spices. There are acrylic options available and ones with silicone padding but I like the look of this simple (and easy to clean!) option. It’s also really sturdy so I’m not worried about weighing it down with lots of products.
  • THREE: The Lazy Susan. This goes hand-in-hand with the can riser. I could have purchased a second riser and called it a day but this baby called out to me from the shelf at HomeGoods and is working out beautifully so far. The size here was KEY because my shelves are 18″ deep. Plus, it adds another texture and design element which I love. I don’t need to see what’s at the back of the shelf or reach around things because all of the jars and bottles are within reach. BONUS: It’s apparently super fun for kiddos to spin around to get the Peanut Butter. Obviously I can’t link you to HomeGoods but they were still in stock at 2 different locations the other day (in multiple sizes AND metal hardware options!). I also found the SAME ONE on Amazon and Walmart! There are plenty of similar less expensive options out there too!
  • FOUR: The Gravity Can Feeder. This is something that is marketed for canned goods, but we use it for beverages. There seems to be a variety of drinks in our house at all times and we usually end up with 3 of these, 6 of those, 4 of this flavor and 2 of that, etc. Traditional drink dispensers are designed to hold a 12-pack of the same drink, and every time you take one out a new one rolls forward. The organizer we have now fits 12 drink cans on each level and essentially allows up to 9 different types of drinks on the rack. This is perfect for all those odd leftover cans that used to hide in the back of the pantry for YEARS at at time.
  • FIVE: Labels. This little chalk marker now lives in the pantry. I wrote directly on all the clear containers and I used black gift tags from the craft store (love these on Amazon!) for the baskets. I promise, it wipes off every container AND tag easily if you mess up! Nothing in the pantry was labeled before so you either had to know what each basket was meant to contain or you had to look inside and make an educated guess. (Want to guess how often the hubs and the Kindergartener took the time to look in a basket and make an educated guess before they put something away? The answer is NEVER). Now everything is labeled and it helps keep us all accountable. Bonus points for teaching the kiddo to read cursive! If you’re going to organize your pantry on a budget and can’t swing adding all things shiny and new, I highly recommend labels!

In addition to these 5 game-changers, my ELFA over-the-door organizers from The Container Store have been used since day one in this house and are a great way to maximize space. If I didn’t already have them before the makeover, I would have absolutely included them in my top FIVE! I also think the shelf liners made a big difference. There are a lot of options available but I used these from The Container Store since they are already cut to size. They just help things stay upright without having to replace all the shelving.

I’ve had a few people ask for a step-by-step *guide* but I think it’s different for everyone depending on what space you have, your budget, how you work best etc. So instead, I’ve just compiled a quick checklist to cover the basics and MUST-COMPLETE tasks! It’s okay to do them out of order or go back and forth between steps (ex: empty one shelf at a time and declutter as you go) but if I skip any of these steps, I won’t get the same results!

  1. Empty EVERYTHING from the pantry.
  2. Declutter. Throw out expired goods, donate food items that you know you will not use, and remove anything that doesn’t belong!
  4. CLEAN. Take the time to sweep the floor, dust the shelves, and give yourself a fresh start. If you plan to paint, wallpaper, or update the shelves – now is the time!
  5. GROUP like-items. This will help you get a better sense of how to arrange things, how many containers you need, what to put on your LABELS, and if you’re over-shopping (or under-shopping) in any one category.
  6. LABEL. (EVERYTHING!) This will make things easier to find but also help keep everyone accountable!
  7. Do it ALL AT ONCE. This doesn’t mean it has to be completed in an hour, a day, or a week. But don’t organize one section or one shelf and pat yourself on the back. Chances are, you won’t be able to maintain it! The #konmari method isn’t for everyone but I understand why Marie Kondo says to tackle everything in a category at once.
  8. If it’s not maintainable, it’s not actually organized. It’s the biggest mistake I’ve made in the past and it is SO important. You can clean, categorize, contain, and label to your hearts desire – but if you know you won’t take the time to open that box of cereal and pour it into a pretty clear container when you get home from the grocery store, don’t torture yourself! If you want your kids to serve themselves snacks after school, try to stay away from heavy glass containers on high shelves! Make it work for YOU!

I know when a space is working for me (for us as a family) when it STAYS that way. If it starts turning into a mess then it’s just a disorganized space that happens to look pretty for a hot minute. If you *think* a space is organized and it’s starts to get a little chaotic, take a step back and address the issue. Sometimes all you need is a little tweak to get you back on track. Move it to a different shelf, change the container, make the label more specific, etc. Don’t be afraid to edit the space a bit over the first few weeks or months! I will definitely be posting any updates over on Instagram or in my Instagram stories (behind the scenes and updates aresaved to my highlights!) so check-in with me over there!

DIY: FREE Halloween Art

A few weeks ago when I was looking for my Halloween decorations, I happened upon an image that inspired me to DIY a little Halloween art. You can look back at that post and see my inspiration here. As promised, I’m going to share how I made it so you can do the same!

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - ONE

I looked at Wikimedia Commons and found a bunch of options. This one was my favorite. It looked aged and hand sketched like it actually had a scientific or medical purpose instead of just a picture of a skull. Intentional Art – I love that!

Skull aged WikimediaCommons

Here are a couple of my other favorites. I ended up searching both skulls and full skeletons.

Skull Wikimedia Options

The first option looked aged already but I wasn’t sure if it would look the same after I printed it, and the others were bright white. I decided they all needed a little doctoring {wait, I seriously didn’t say that to be funny}. Do you remember in grade school when you soaked paper in tea after you crumpled it up and smoothed it back out? Well that’s exactly what I did. I printed the image on a regular printer, soaked it in tea, crumpled it up, let it dry, and then framed it and hung it on the wall. Take a look:

What you need:

1. An image printed on regular white printer paper

2. A 9″x13″ pyrex baking dish, or other container that is at least the size of your paper and can hold hot liquid

3. Three to Four tea bags {any variety you have on hand is fine}

4. Hot water

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 2

First things first – get your water hot. I used my tea kettle on the stove but you could just as easily heat some water in the microwave. It needs to be hot enough to release that beautiful color from the tea leaves in your tea bags, and the warmth of the water will also help the paper absorb the color.

Once your water is hot {but not boiling} pour it into your dish so that you have about an inch of liquid. The amount of water will vary depending on the size of your dish {and the size of your paper} but I used between 2.5 and 3 cups of water. Add your tea bags and dip them repeatedly so the tea leaves inside are fully saturated and plenty of the color is released. Then place your piece of paper in the water and use a utensil to make sure it is fully submerged – you don’t want it to just sit on top of the water. When I did this I used my finger but the water was pretty hot. Please make sure you don’t burn yourself!

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 3

CitySouthern DIYHalloweenArt 5

CitySouthern DIYHalloweenArt - 4

Now that the paper is fully covered in brown water, you can leave it alone or you can place the tea bags directly on top of the water. This will create a few spots of darker color when you remove the paper from the water – it’s completely optional but I like the effect because I want the end result to be imperfect and uneven.


Let your paper soak in the water for a while. 30 minutes is probably long enough. The time will vary depending on what type of paper you use, how saturated the tea is, and how dark you want the result to be. I would suggest not leaving the paper in the tea for longer than an hour so the paper doesn’t get too soft.

When it’s time to remove your paper from the tea, use caution because the paper is delicate and will rip easily. Carefully transfer the paper to a flat surface for drying. I used a cookie sheet with two layers of paper towel on top. This helped to prevent a big mess and also absorbed some of the excess tea.

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 6

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 7

If you want to take the aged look one step further, there’s one final optional step to this process. Take that piece of paper that I just told you to be super careful with, and crumble it up into a ball! Of course, you have to be even more careful when you open the paper back up.

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 9

See how much more authentic that looks? Instant age!

Once your paper is completely dry, the only thing left to do is frame it and hang it on the wall. I used a simple black frame that I happened to have on hand. You can get the same one here. I figured a black frame would help the image stand out now that I made it all a bit darker. Plus it’s for Halloween and black is the obvious choice for the theme.

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt

CitySouthern FREEDIYHalloweenArt - 10

So there you have it, friends. A fun little Halloween DIY that will cost you nothing but your time and a few items you probably have on hand already. This is also a fun project to do with kids! If you try it for yourself, be sure to come back and let us all know how it turns out!

Catherine Calligraphy




Getting Ready for Halloween

The end of September is near and I’m getting ready for Halloween. Avery was just a little lump of a tiger {she was Aubie} last year for Halloween at 3 months old. But this year she can walk around and is a little more aware of what’s going on which means I’m excited to see her reaction to it all! When it comes to holidays, there’s something about having a kid that gives me back the kind of excitement I had when I was a kid. We have plans for a trip to the Pumpkin Patch and I’m researching costume ideas. I also decided to locate our Halloween decorations…and had no luck! I was in a slight panic last week thinking that the tub of Halloween stuff was donated with the last trip to Salvation Army. If the plastic skeletons that hang from our front tree didn’t make it, then I’ll be okay. But the actual home decor that’s a little more chic {and expensive} is what I’m worried about. Not to mention I’ve been collecting it since before Chris and I ever started dating so it would take me a long time to build back up to what I had before!

Should the old stuff be truly gone forever, I need a backup plan. So I started thinking ahead to how I can quickly and cheaply add some new decorations this year and I came up with a few ideas. I was inspired by this picture I found on Houzz.

CitySouthern Halloween Decor Ideas

See the skeleton picture reflected in the mirror? I saw that and thought – that would be great to hang on the wall for Halloween! I began searching Etsy for a skull print and there are tons of options. This one seems to have similar qualities to the inspiration photo with it’s sketched look and antiqued paper.

Skull Artkurka Etsy

It’s a really reasonably priced little print which makes me happy. And I’m sure I have an empty frame I could use. But I’ve got the DIY bug and I don’t want to just buy an aged-looking crisp piece of art. I want something that looks and feels like a page from an antique book, or was hanging on the wall of creepy haunted mansion. Maybe it was salvaged from an abandoned asylum? It’s Halloween afterall! So…I decided I’m going to DIY it. For FREE! I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out but at least I know I’ve got etsy as a backup plan!

And because I love a good happy ending, I found the box of missing decorations when I cleaned out the entire garage this past weekend. {There was definitely an embarrassing happy dance in the driveway for all the neighbors to see.} I can’t wait to start putting them up!

So when do you put up your Halloween decorations? Comment below, and stay tuned to see how my creepy skull print turns out!

Catherine Calligraphy



UPDATE: My artwork is complete! To see the tutorial for my DIY Project, click here!

I Can’t Decide on Fabric

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this picture. It’s an ottoman that I reupholstered once upon a time in a far away land where I had free time that I took for granted didn’t have a kid yet.

Ottoman Instagram

The light blue chevron doesn’t go with anything anymore. I should take that back. It goes with the one blue accent wall in our living room. {That I did not paint. That I do not like. That I have finally decided to paint over.}

Since the wall is getting painted, it’s time to RE-reupholster the ottoman. And to reupholster it’s twin that I never got around to. Or maybe I just knew that the chevron wasn’t quite right and wouldn’t last so I was saving myself the future trouble of removing all those staples?? I’m not really in love with the curves of the x-base on these ottomans anymore either but using them is cheaper than replacing them so I will gladly spend a few dollars on the fabric. Especially when the retail price for just ONE of the ottomans I fell in love with on One Kings Lane is about 5 times the price I paid for BOTH of the ones I already have!

Ottoman - X base inspiration

{Ottoman, currently unavailable}

Back to the dilemma: I can’t decide on the fabric to use to reupholster my ottomans! We are still rearranging the furniture in our house so I’m not even sure if they will stay on the main floor or move upstairs to our bedroom, but the colors in both areas are the same {and neutral…shocker} so whatever fabric I choose will go with the rest of the room either way. I’m very into geometric prints right now and I’ve always had a thing for ikat prints. {haha, i-kat…I just noticed that. yes, I’m weird and my nickname starts with a “k” even though my full name starts with a “c”. complain all you want but The Dutchess Kate does the same thing and I don’t hear everyone complaining about her!}

I couldn’t find any upholstery grade fabrics at local craft stores or cheap online fabric retailers so I started looking at Spoonflower because I can find the pattern I like and then order the type of fabric that I need. If you haven’t ever looked at Spoonflower you should – it’s kind of like Society6 in a way. All these artists submit their designs and Spoonflower will print that design on a range of fabrics for you! Each artist will tell you if you are allowed to sell products using their design or not so it would be a great resource for an etsy shop owner too.

I’ve been loving a few fabrics with triangles ever since I saw this Nate Berkus fabric at Calico Corners. So I searched for triangles and came up with these that are similar:

Fabric - grey and cream triangles

{ one | two | three }

I also found some prints while searching for triangles that had a more Southwestern vibe. I certainly don’t think my house currently has an overwhelming “Southwestern” vibe to it but I keep finding myself drawn to the patterns and textures.

Fabric - Southwestern

{ four | five | six }

And there were a few that had a burlap look but I’m not sure how they would look and feel in person.

Fabric - burlaps

{ seven | eight }

Swiss Cross designs have been a bit of an obsession lately. {Did you see my new bedding? You can buy it here.} These are some of the options I found for swiss cross.

Fabric - Swiss Cross Natural

{ nine | ten | eleven | twelve }

And of course, this black and white one is the opposite of my bedding so that would be pretty cool in the master bedroom.

Fabric - Spoonflower - kleababy crosses white on black

{ thirteen }

I have to keep in mind that the legs of the ottomans are a very dark wood so I’m not sure that a black background is the way to go. But I might still drape a sheepskin over top like you see in the first picture. With the new fabric the sheepskin would be there to break up the dark colors and to add a layer of texture where as it is currently there purely to cover up as much of the blue as possible.

So if those were your options, which fabric would you choose? Alternate suggestions are more than welcome! Thanks in advance for voting and I will be sure to do a full reveal when I’m done!

Catherine Calligraphy