The trees outside our window

I love the stark lines of these giant plants!

Ravens playing in their winter home

These birds are surprisingly comfortable around humans.

Winter sunset off of the lake

This is what -30 degree Celcius looks like.

The black stray cat comes to visit

We have three cats, and they don't much like it when other felines invade their space.

Rough waves of Lake Winnipeg

The lake is always changing and moving, never the same.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What if the Vision You Had For Yourself as a Teenager Was Real?

The lake, an early summer morning.
Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. I apologize for the inconsistent posting schedule lately. I know it must have been strange to have no posts for six months, and suddenly, it's three in a month. Yikes! Get a schedule, girl! But, I am experimenting to see how often I can squeeze in some writing, in between my crazy work schedule and everything else that needs to be done. It's hard to do it all, as we all know.

My topic today is about discovering who I am, and who I have always been, underneath career titles and official names. I hope that some part of it might resonate with you, too. Or someone you know, who still grapples with "what am I here for?"

I sit in my truck, 11:00 at night, Christian music blaring on the radio. I stare out at the lake, covered by soft mist from the warm air pressure coming in from the South. Every song fits my thoughts, like the radio is a direct message from God himself. And I see it. 
The little balcony overlooking the lake at night.
A vision of what my life is meant to be. Surely being this tired and exhausted all of the time ... is not it! Is this all I am meant to be? No ... surely not!

I have been binge reading the blog and material from Marianne Cantwell at the Free Range Human, and it is starting to click. What I am reading, is starting to connect with my life, in a very personal way. 
And I know I must write it down. I search my purse for paper, and find a photocopy of receipts I copied for school. These are the only paper on the premises, and I must capture this vision before it goes away, lost forever in the endless mess of my everyday life. 

So I write:
I am a writer.  It is what makes my heart sing. It was who I was before I ever stood at the front of a class, and introduced myself as the teacher. It is who I am in the quiet moments: observing, taking notes, noticing details. I recall:
  •  longing to write at every job I ever had, even a memo, or an e-mail. Just let me form words. 
  •  taking a job in advertising sales at the weekly newspaper, just so I could be around the writers. 
  • writing the entrance exam to journalism school at 3:00 in the morning, on a couple of envelopes, transferred quickly unto paper a couple of hours before the deadline, and getting in.
  •  intense poetry at nineteen, long since lost but snippets still floating in my head.

 I see a vision of my life, and it is writing, and alway has been. I get out of the truck and take some pictures of the soft snow coming down on the lake. It is perfectly still and the lake stretches out for miles and miles. 
The lake in the light, in the fall. 

I write more, with excitement, seeing my vision, possible, do-able. I see that doing what I am is not the risk. What's risky is not doing what I am. Reaching my deathbed and regretting the undone. How utter depressing and hopeless! 

I am so inspired by the message from Ms. Cantwell. Her main message, as I understand it, is about living a life that is based primarily on who you are. Her words have been resonating with me, and I see it for myself. It is something I have been learning for a long time, but something is just clicking in a different way. My actions need to become who I am ... no matter what ... 
The song on the radio, Jason Gray sings "He made you to glow in the dark."  The song confirms this truth deep in my soul. He loves me, and wants me to be who he created me to be. That is not just wishful thinking -- that is the truth. 

I get back back in the truck and head home to a husband who loves me, to our quiet little house in the woods. It feels right. I feel hope.

Now, back to you. Does any of this resonate with you? Have you had any of my same struggles? If so, let me just ask you a couple of questions. What makes your heart sing? Who are you, who have you always been, through all your jobs? Through all your heartbreaks and silly moments? Like the proverbial girl next door, maybe it has been right there along. Maybe you have just neglected to see it. 

What if you dared to believe that that calm peaceful feeling you get when you do that one thing, is real? That the vision you had for yourself as a teenager, but gave up when life demanded more "practical decisions" was the truth? Was you? What if that is exactly what you should be doing. And that that should is way more real than the "should get a good job that pays the bills, no matter if it interests me or not," and "should stick with something I hate, because after all, I'm too old to change now." What if? Think about it; kick it around, and let me know what you think. 

For more reading on this topic, I very highly recommend Ms. Cantwell's blog, and book. I have now downloaded the sample on my computer, and when I have book money in the budget, will be buying the rest. It's good stuff.  

I wrote another post about following your passions, and you can also read an encouraging poem about overcoming depression that I wrote a while back.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this message encouraging. If you would like to stay in regular contact, please sign up for my emails, and/or join the Facebook page for posts about life lessons, nature, faith, and the simple life. Please, please, please leave a comment! Even if you totally disagree with what I said ... I don't mind! Just talk! 

Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I Am Not A Hockey Fan

Little kids playing hockey. (MorgueFile Photo)
Hi everyone! This next post is a bit different than my usual. It's more of an essay style. The other night, I went to a little hockey game in my community, and it had a profound effect on me. I wanted to share my feelings about the night with you.

First of all, I am not a hockey fan. Never have been. I don't care for the frigid arena where you freeze your buns off, in order to watch.  The puck moves so fast, that I can't even follow it. The sport is all about being quick, noisy and slick. I am none of those things.  I'd really rather be reading a book, or taking a nature walk. Almost anything but watching a hockey game. But  regardless, tonight, here I am, at a hockey game.

The kids are playing: pee wee level. I have come to see this team because some of the students are in my class. As my husband and I walk in to our seats, one of the boys waves at me from the ice. I recognize him right away, because he had told me to look out for his red helmet. 
Youth playing hockey. (Pixaby photo)
Like I said, I am not a hockey fan. I was forced to listen to it on the radio, by a father who was a loyal Calgary Flames fan. I even pretended to like a random team, just to fit in, and have a way to connect with my Dad. It's a sport I have always pretended to like, in order to appease the men in my life. But it was all a pretense, a social nicety. 

The goalie on the red team is down, struck by an opposing team member. All the players, red and yellow, wait in anticipation to see if he is okay. The coach shuffles out to check on this fallen heap on the ice. He stands. All the players bang their sticks on the ice, in unison. Respect for their fallen comrade. It is intensely moving. 
In Canada, hockey is almost a national religion. (Photo from Pixaby)
I have never been a genuine hockey fan. But I live in a country where hockey might be called the national religion. Every year, our national broadcaster chooses the most "hockey-crazy town" in a series called Hockeyville. In Canada, hockey pools are watched more carefully than the Evening News. "I am not a hockey fan" are not words to be spoken aloud. I hide my lack of enthusiasm from those around me, in an attempt to not offend the devoted.
Our team, the red team, has a tough time. They have not won a game all season. Tonight is no different. Goal after goal gets into their net. Few attempts to score. A lot of missed passes and fumbled pucks. But still they keep playing. Skating the full two hours, no quitting allowed. I know they all love hockey. The disappointing season has not dulled their enthusiasm for this sport. 

You know what? Maybe I am becoming a hockey fan?? Maybe just a little, at least ... 

I watch the action more closely now. Seeing how they could improve, rooting for these little underdogs. Proud of seeing my students in a different way: so competent on ice, so comfortable wearing these big, bulky uniforms. Moved by the emotion, the passion, the sheer intensity. These kids are obviously having fun. They play with incredible enthusiasm, in spite of their lack of scoring success. 

Kids of all ages line the bleachers, watching their peers with attention, following each move. They know each player, each number, each position. Grandpas and Kookums, too, sitting beside the parents and uncles. Little kids chase older boys down the front of the row, laughing in delight. No adults tell them stop: for this moment, there are no limits or boundaries.  Teens and near-teens wave at me, and even give a hug in greeting. Old students, girls, share details of their lives, ask me for a smoke. 

Today, in class, we wrote about our passions. One boy wrote, "hockey is life." I asked him to explain, in his essay, and now, I think I, too, am beginning to understand. Not as the die-hard fan would understand, perhaps, but in my own unique way. 

Hockey is never giving up, but playing the full 60 minutes, even if you're losing, badly. It is never losing your love of the sport, even when your team is the worst in the league. 

And life is playing the game, even when you are broke, heartbroken, divorced, widowed, sick. Staying alive when you feel like you should kill yourself. Holding on for the full 3 periods of your life, until the game is done.

Hockey is continuing to play, even when you're winning. Not giving up halfway through the game, content with the goals scored last period. Instead, pushing through for more points, more achievements, more accomplishments. 

In life, it's trying hard at your job, even when you can get away with slacking off. It's getting your hands dirty at home, even when you are an important person at work. It's finding new ways to love your spouse, even when they have already promised to stay with you forever.
Hockey is recognizing those who are hurt on the ice
Photo by slgckc, via Flickr, CC -BY 2.0
Hockey is recognizing those who are hurt on the ice, no matter whose team, with a loud banging of sticks. It is showing respect to those who get up, and recognizing that even opposing teams are all getting to play the same great team. 

In life, it's showing compassion to those who hurt, even if we are not on the same side. Like the same political side, or the same side of town, or the same side of a family dispute.  It is recognizing that we all fall down, but getting up is what makes us a hero. And letting the fallen know, loudly and definitely, that we are rooting for their well-being.
Yes, yes, I admit, it, maybe I am starting to like hockey, just a bit. Approximately 200 kids and adults huddled up in a freezing arena  have changed my heart. I am finally starting to get a bit of this "sports thing." It's not just about being macho, and wanting to be the best. It's about life itself. It's pretty emotional ... Maybe hockey is the male version of the chick flick...even though it looks all rough and tough, it gets you right in the heart. 

Take care and God bless. Please feel free to share this message, if you feel others would gain encouragement from it.  Please share your thoughts and feelings about the post in the comments section below. And sign up if you would like to receive regular updates from the Life in the Woods blog. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Christmas Was Better This Year

Hey, everyone! Happy New Year! I hope you had a good Christmas, and are settling into your routine for the new year.

It's been a while since I've shared with you here on the Life in the Woods blog, but I have missed this page terribly. School this year (like every year) is just so crazy busy, that by the time I come home, I am mentally and emotionally drained, and find it difficult to put words together. But I miss you guys, and I miss writing!

This year, I had a wonderful Christmas. I would say one of the best in a long time. And what made it wonderful? Spending time with my family, whom I had not seen for a few months. (We live hours apart.) Great hospitality from my amazing sister, brother-in-law, and two incredible nieces. And continuing some traditions that have been in the family since my childhood.
My sister's family Christmas tree.

Also, what made it great was what I didn't do. These are three things I didn't do this Christmas helped make this holiday one of the best.  And I hope the lessons I learned help you, not just at Christmas, but throughout the coming new year.


One of my love languages is gift -giving. I absolute love giving gifts at Christmas, on birthdays, and whatever other excuse I can find. Can you relate?

But ... this year, as I was doing my usual last minute scramble to finish shopping, I stopped. Stopped piling more and more gifts on. I wanted to keep going. I kept seeing more things that would be perfect. A beading set for my youngest niece. A necklace for my oldest niece. Another book for both of them. And on and on. 

But I stopped. Two gifts for each of them was enough. And it fit our budget. And as I stopped, I realized that getting more gifts would be out of guilt, and striving to be good enough.  To show that I cared, to make up for lost time. To prove myself. And assauge my guilt. It was striving. And I realized that it was the wrong motives. And  so I stopped. Two gifts each was enough. 

And for the first time, I told my family: my presence here is the main gift. Because I traveled 862 miles to be with them. And really, isn't that always the main gift? Our presence? Spending time. Laughing. Enjoying. Listening. Talking. 

 A photo from the 18 hour bus ride I took to visit my sister this year. This one is from Saskatchewan. 
I had a whole morning of binge-watching Master Chef with my one niece, exchanging sarcastic comments. A sleepover with my other niece that included a late-night talk about boys. Those were the other gifts. The ones that won't show up on the bank account statement. 

And in addition, there the numerous gifts they gave to me, besides the beautiful scarves and jewelry. There was the board game tournament. The lesson on selfies. The time spent wrapping after everyone else was ready to open. The Christmas story, read by a teenager, and almost teenager. And most of all, the welcome. Gifts I carried home in my heart, not my suitcase. 

    2. I DIDN'T RUSH

    This year, I barely rushed. This seemed very different than other years, and it made such a difference. In fact, I deliberately set things up, to not rush.

    This year, for the first time in ages, I actually rode the bus across two provinces, for eighteen hours straight. Why? Because I didn't feel like fighting the crowds and rush of the airport. I wanted a slower pace. To make it even slower, I did not tell anyone exactly when I was arriving. And it was wonderful. It was an eighteen hour ride, but an enjoyable one. I met some wonderful people, and had  some amazing conversations.

    And when I got there, I let myself sleep in, keeping myself off the crazy machine, and creating far less stress. Of course, it may be said, it is far easier for me, with no children in tow. Those with kids may find it much more difficult. But don't even the kids also need a break? Isn't the whole idea of holidays for all of us to stop rushing, young and old? Why do we have to do things to make ourselves completely stressed out? Let's enjoy our break. 
    My photo of crowds at a mall in Calgary. So much rushing! 
    Christians and Jewish people believe that God set up the seventh day as a Sabbath, a time to rest. In the Bible, holidays were also days set aside to get away from the regular routine, from the rush. Because God said that it was good to rest. So, this holiday, I rested. And I didn't rush. And it was wonderful. 

    Now, in our everyday life, we sometimes have to rush (often!) But if we allow ourselves the rest in-between, the quiet pockets of non-scheduling, I believe we will be better equipped to handle the rush on all the days in between. 

    Allow ourselves time to rest in between all the busyness.
    (Photo of our front yard, first snow fall.)
    Holidays tend to bring out the best and the worst in people. For our family, it's often the worst. Feelings get hurt, and words get yelled, as we try to negotiate where to eat Christmas dinner, which parties to attend, how much to spend.

    Everyone we meet says, "are you ready for Christmas yet?" in that stressed, urgent tone. And we reply back, with a wry, apologetic tone, "No, not yet, but getting there." And then we exchange our done and undone to-do lists, wringing our hands at the huge responsibility to it all. When did it all become so --- MUCH??? 

    I saw a link on Facebook before Christmas that described Christmas in the 70's compared to Christmas now. Yes, it did use to be less involved. And less guilt-inducing! 

    So, this was the year I decided to stop apologizing. We have to do what works for us, as individuals and families. So, maybe we can't attend every event that our coworkers manage to put together. Maybe our house isn't decorated in a perfectly coordinated pattern. Maybe it's not decorated at all! 

    This year, I went to my sister's. My husband stayed home, and spent time with his boys and his family. And we didn't apologize. We just enjoyed our time respectively. Other years, we ended up in a big fight because we both felt guilty, if we didn't have the Christmas card Christmas. But we didn't apologize.

    This year, I stayed in a hotel, so I could have my own space, instead of bunking down with family.  And I didn't apologize for needing my own space. It allowed me to be less rushed, and much more present when I did spend time with them. 

    These were some small differences, but they made this year one of the best Christmases ever. And the lesssons learned were not only for Christmas time. As we head into the New Year, it's going to be busy again. But let's try to spend less out of guilt, take time to rest, and to apologize less for doing what we need to do, to take of ourselves. 
    This year, let's stop apologizing so much.
    Night tree in our woods. 
    Take care and God bless. Please feel free to share this message, if you feel others would gain encouragement from it.  For more on Christmas stress, see this post from last year. Also, sign up if you would like to receive regular updates from the Life in the Woods blog. 

    Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your commenehts and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook pagei . or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

    Konmari Journey to More Space, Less Junk, and Less Stress: Introduction

    Hi everyone! I am excited to share with you, a brand new series on the blog, called Konmari Journey to More Space, Less Junk and Less Stress. Over the summer, I have been working on something called a "tidying festival." You may remember the Konmari method, as explained in this incredible book called, the life-changing magic of tidying up, by Marie Kondo. 

    You may recall that I wrote this review of the book back in April. Since that time, I have been going through each of my items one by one. Two weeks ago, I reached a point of near completion. and feel ready to share my journey with you. I share it with you, to encourage you, if you want to declutter. It is totally worth it, and this book helps you through the whole process. 

    (As we go, I will also share some of the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed this year, at the beaches close to our home. These are all photos taken from my phone this summer.)
    Gone Swimmin'
    The Konmari method can be summed up in one question: "does this item spark joy?" If it does, you keep it. If if does not, you get rid of it. Now, this sounds simple enough, but it is more difficult than it sounds. Because you must determine what the objects mean to you. Do you keep a certain sweater, because it was from your sister, but you never really liked it? Then toss it! Or are you holding unto 300 envelopes, even though you only use two envelopes a year? Get rid of them! 

    By letting go of those things that bring you down, with guilt, sadness, remorse, you clear up space for the "joy-sparkers" to shine, and be seen.  

    So far, my journey has been frustrating, exhilerating, exhausting, but most importantly, transformative. To examine everything I have in my possession has been to truly live an "examined life," and it helped to see myself in ways I never imagined. 

    The very title of the book says that this process is life-changing, and Kondo states this same thing very clearly in her book. When I first started reading, I was skeptical, but now, being 95% completed, I can confirm that it absolutely is "life-changing."
    Breathtaking view after a long, hot day.
    First, I have gone from a person who felt like housework would never, ever, ever be done, to someone who feels confident that cleaning up the house is totally possible. I am not saying the house will always be perfect (this is just a book, not a fairy godmother!) but I am saying that I will know how to clean it up with confidence and get back in order within a reasonable time. 

    Secondly, I feel lighter and more free. Knowing that I am leaving a tidy house, without loads of junk, is a wonderful feeling. Being aware that I will be coming back to a tidy house, after a long day, is even better. I knew clutter was bad, but I had no idea how much it was stressing me out. 
    On any given day, I can tell you where 95% of the items in my house can be found.  There will always be a few glitches, but for the most part, I know where stuff is. Why? Because there's way less of it, to keep track of. Over the years, I have worked on being more organized, and not losing stuff. (I was notorious as a kid, and in my early 20's, for losing things constantly.) But now, it is even more finely tuned.  

    One area that I always struggled with badly, was business papers. When someone called, needing this or that document, I knew I was in big trouble. "Give me a couple days to find it, I would say." But not now. Now, I have followed the system pretty closely from the book, for holding papers, with this method, things are different around here! 

    Let me give a couple of examples. Our yearly municipal taxes just came up. And when my husband went to pay them, I just went to our "action binder", and got him the bill. Before, that could have been a few hours of looking for it. Today, we were looking for a business card from our mortgage guy, for some business matters. I told my gorgeous husband where it should be, and it took him two minutes to find it. If you knew me before, you would know these moments are miracles in my life. The MariKondo method instructs you get rid of most of the papers in your house, so the ones you have left, are easy to sort through. That is priceless, in my opinion

    Since almost completing the process  a couple weeks ago, we have had company over three times.  The thought of having people over no longer puts me in state of extreme dread. It doesn't take long to clean up the main living areas. Before, it took so long that I often tried to find an excuse to not have them over. 

    Since April, when I began, I have donated, trashed and recycled over 60 bags/bins/boxes of my belongings, as well as over a dozen pieces of furniture. 
    My gorgeous husband captured this photo of me walking along the beach.

    This series will focus on the journey that I took this summer, towards a simpler, less stressful life. I call it My Journey to More Space, Less Junk and Less Stress. 

    I will share the insights that I discovered as I pared down my belongings, one at a time, uncovering the things in my life that truly belong there, and letting go of the things that weigh me down. And I will share things that will help you, if you are wanting t pare down, practical suggestions to help make the process easier. 

    The posts will categorized by items, because this is the way that the MariKondo method works. I will focus first on clothes, books, papers, and then various miscellaneous items. 

    Before I go, I will show you some pictures taken last weekend, of the house, after it had been cleaned. 

    These are pictures of the main living areas, and they are how I want the house to stay most of the time. Please trust me when I say that my house has never looked this way. It is truly the affect of tidying up, in a way that is different than any other decluttering method. The house is not perfect, but it is virtually clutter-free and it feels very peaceful. 
    The living room, with the cat! The bags were for donations.

    The kitchen, uncluttered.

    A view of the dining area

    Well, that is it for now. Please check your inbox for more in the series in the upcoming monthes. My goal is to share my journey with you, for inspiration and encouragement. Bless you today. I hope you had a good summer. Please feel  free to comment with any questions, observations or ideas. I do love your comments. Take care. 

    Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here

    Sunday, April 26, 2015

    How Cleaning Up Can Be Life Changing -- A Book Review

    I love the stark lines of these giants of my yard. 
    It didn't surprise me that I was a bit behind in discovering the latest book craze, written by a Japanese organizer who doesn't even speak English. In my life, I always tend to be a bit behind on the trends, if I ever notice them at all. 

    The book was published in October of last year, was a #1 New York Times bestseller, has spawned Facebook groups about it, and is still currently #3 in Amazon books. 

    But late or not, I am so, so excited to share this book I am currently reading with you. I haven't done many book reviews on the blog, but this book fits perfectly into the things I write about, here at Life in the Woods: the simple life, organizing, and finding beauty in the world around you. 

    "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," is written by a woman from Japan called Marie Kondo, and the goal of the book is help the reader get her house in order. 

    Kondo claims those that follow her system will never let their house get out of order again. They will never relapse. Wow! What a claim. What a promise this is. And those of us who are reformed reforming slobs, what hope! 

    The book is all about how you feel about things -- your things. How you feel about things, is how you decide whether or not to keep something. If something gives you joy, keep it. If it doesn't, don't. That is the book, in two sentences, but there is so much more to the book. 

    Kondo writes in a dreamy, intimate style, that makes you feel as if she is your quirky best friend. The translation is so perfect that you would swear the book was actually written in English. And she shares so much more than just a method of keeping things in order. She shares her heart, her journey, her growth, in learning how to order a home. 

    Her method of decluttering and organizing did not come to her, all at once, but is a system borne out of years of trial and error, experimenting and perfecting. 

    There's no one-size-fits-all system, she tells us. No one can do it for you, she insists. No, we must do the work ourselves. Holding each item we hold in our hands, and deciding if it fits into the life we live, the live we want to live. 

    She writes about how getting our house in our house in order, will help us discover who we really are: 
    After all, our possessions very accurately reflect the history of the decisions we have made in life. Tidying is a way of taking stock that shows us what we really like.
    I can't say enough about how much I am enjoying this book. I am reading it slowly, so it will last longer. I tried to find more books that she has written, and they are presently being translated, from my understanding. 

    I highly recommend this book, for anyone interested in a simpler life. (The link below is an affiliate link.) Since downloading the book to my Kindle last Wednesday, I have gotten rid of about 12 bags of garbage from our home in the woods. This is a picture of a few things I am donating to a local charity: 

     I am giving away books that I no longer need, shoes that don't suit me, and other items.
    This is a start to many more donations!

    The process has been healing, already, for me. Holding each item in my hand, I quietly noticed what I was feeling, and through doing this, got rid of a photo album full of old pictures from my first marriage. I threw out some classroom posters given to me, on a job where I had experienced workplace bullying.  I got rid of bank papers and old bills that I always thought I might need. And much more ... 

    So, tell me, have you already heard of this book? Read it? Do you think you would like to read it? 

    Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my FaceboBok page. or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here

    Sunday, April 5, 2015

    Sixteen Ideas for Organizing a Small Kitchen

    16 Ideas for \Organizing A Small Kitchen
    Hello everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful Easter weekend. It is now Sunday evening, and I am feeling truly refreshed, from a luxurious Spring Break. My husband booked some time, off, too, and we truly enjoyed our little house in the woods, and allowed ourselves some time to simply "be."

    We had a lovely Easter day, too. We did not go to any service, but did read the Scriptures and prayed together. As a believer in Jesus, I find this day to be a day of hope and joy, because it points to serving a God who is alive and all-loving. Without my God, my life is useless, and I have to confess this today, on Resurrection Sunday!

    So my GH (gorgeous husband) and I had a few days of pure laziness, where we simply did what we felt like doing. Like web surfing, T.V. watching, and walking:

    A walk through the woods, to Lake Winnipeg.

    To the lake:
    Lake Winnipeg: it looks like waves, but it is ice formations.
    So, after about four days of just relaxing with my husband, I got up and had to get some work done. What did I work on? Our kitchen! This has been an ongoing project since we moved  here 15 months ago.

    And I wanted to share some cheap-o organizing ideas for the kitchen. Of course, these ideas are not all original, but every kitchen is a little bit different, and applied in slightly different ways, and all these pics are straight from our kitchen.

    Our kitchen is fairly small, and it's been a bit challenging for me to try to find spaces for everything. Plus, we don't want to spend much anything for it. So, without further adieu, here are the pictures of our pretty darn organized kitchen.

    It's not super-pretty but it's working. From a reformed recovering slob, to you. Please let me know if this gives you any ideas for yourself!

    1. Use empty Walmart boxes for holding spices. This is an empty box I got from the shelves from Walmart. (I got this idea, from my teacher-friend who gets many of her containers for the classroom this way. You go in and ask permission first, and then you can grab containers from things that have sold out on the shelves.)
    Store spices in this.

    2.  I use this one to store my cheese graters:

    Store cheese graters in a repurposed chocolate bar display container.

    3. Store your toaster and other appliances in an old dish rack tray, or other tray. This will stop the crumbs from going all over the bottom of the cupboard. I got the idea, of toaster on a tray, from one of my fave organizer gurus, Malitose79.

    Store your toaster and other appliances on a tray.

    4. The travel mugs we have acquired have been the bane of my existence, for all of my marriage. They took up one shelf of the cupboard, but we could never find a cup ad lid together, without exceptional effort. So, I thought of this:
    Store your travel mugs in a box.
    Store your travel mugs in a box ... with lids and throw out all the rest of them away. This box holds the three that actually have lids. The rest were tossed. And I can slide the box out, when they are needed. So simple!

    5. Break up your egg cartons into two sides, and use both sides to store items that would go in your big utensil drawers, such as can pizza cutters, and potato peelers. Use these to have specific places for all of your utensils. To keep the utensils organized, you can also use the tray containers, found at the Dollar store, or Walmart. 
    Break up egg cartons and use to store utensils.
     and for your knives:
    Egg carton halves used to store knives.

    6. In the picture with the egg carton containers, you can also see the drawer organizers storing the scissors and can openers. These are also great for organizing utensils. These ones cost me a $1 or $2 each and were bought a while ago.

    And this next picture features ideas number 7, 8, and 9.

    7. Use plastic containers from for your rice and beans.(These pour!) I got these at the dollar store, for $2 each.

    8. And cereal in a cereal container. Got this at the dollar, for about $2.00.

    9: Put your spaghetti in a pourable container, with a lid. This one from Walmart was about $5.00.
    Bulk food in containers.

     11. These Rubbermaid bulk storage containers for sugar and flour, and other bulk foods. These were the probably the most expensive items we bought, for about $24 for two sets of three containers. I have been wanting to get my bulk food into containers, but now we finally have! These keep your food away from potential invaders (a constant threat, here in the woods.)
    Rubbermaid containers for flour and sugar.

    12. These sweet baskets from the Dollar Store for small loose items, like gravy packages, or chicken coatings, or extra salad dressing bottles, whatever you need. These are great because they keep these items up, and easy to access.
    Baskets for small food items in the pantry.

    13. Store your plates and bowls in a drawer (if you have an extra big one.) My husband suggested this, and it's brilliant! This was a totally new concept for me, because I have never had a house with big strong drawers like this, before.
    And it made me realize how much space we waste by storing them in a cabinet.

    Plates and bowls stored in a drawer.

    14. Store your pots and pans with all the lids on, so you never have to find the lid again! I know this idea is not original, but I had always tried to save space by stacking the pots, and storing the lids elsewhere. Now that I have tried it this way, I honestly feel less stressed, because I know that pots won't fall down, and I won't have to search everywhere to find a lid that fits.

    Store all your pots and pans with the lids on!

    !5. And also related to the picture above, try storing your most-used pots and pans right above the stove, if you have the room. It is so nice to just grab the pot you need, right at the source. I used to have a mish-mash of sauces and rice up there, but this is so much nicer. Easy to simply grab and cook. With our pots and pans this way, I honestly feel less stressed about the idea of cooking!

    16. And this next one, I want to give credit to this very cool blog/Youtube channel I came across yesterday, called A Slob Comes Clean.  She is so inspirational! She says to store your plastic containers with the lids. Those that don't have lids or containers, throw away.

    Store your food containers with the lid on!
    This makes so much sense to me, because I absolutely hate digging through my huge pile of random containers of every size and sort, finally finding a container, and then NOT A LID! Story of my life.

    I have now purged out those mysterious lids without containers, and voila, I present the "every container has a lid" drawer. I swear this is the first time this has happened in my life. Love it! Thank you, Dana White!

    And that's all I have time for. I will try to get more ideas in a later post.

    A related article:

    Storage Ideas for Small Bathrooms

    And now, just one more picture from our walk in the woods, in this rather reluctant spring, here in Canada. Hope you have an excellent week, and have had some refreshing this Easter weekend.
    The time between frozen and spring: life in a Canadian forest.

    Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail by joining here