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Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? {Kitchen Tour – Part 1}

Back in March, I wrote a post about keeping your kitchen clean.  I mentioned in the post how reducing clutter in your kitchen helps tremendously, but I’ll be honest, sometimes clutter lurks in places you forget about, or sneaks onto your counters, and sometimes it shows up in the form of a gift from a well-meaning someone who brings it into your kitchen and leaves it there.  Before you know it, the kitchen has been overrun by things that do nothing but take up space.

So, when I saw a post on Pinterest that begged me to take a look at one woman’s minimalist kitchen, I couldn’t help myself.  What I saw made me sigh happy, clean counter, sighs.  But, it also made me wonder…

Can a large family live without a lot of extra kitchen appliances, dishes, tools, and gadgets?

In other words…

Can a large family have a minimalist kitchen?

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? (plus Kitchen Tour Part 1!) | RaisingArrows.net

I will start off by telling you that kitchen gadgets are NOT my thing.  They hold no appeal for me, so you won’t find a lot of that type of thing in my kitchen, minimalist or not.  In fact, in nearly every area of my life, I tend toward the minimalist category.  Decluttering is cheap therapy for me.  I like to throw things away.  But everyone knows a large family naturally accumulates more stuff than a smaller family.  More people bringing in more things, not to mention outsiders who figure you need more stuff since there are so many of you, can easily overtake a large family kitchen.

I was determined to take the minimalist approach to the kitchen, and run with it – just to see how far I’d get.  I can definitively say that you ABSOLUTELY CAN HAVE A MINIMALIST KITCHEN in a large family, but there are a couple of things you have to take into consideration.

1.  Have the RIGHT SIZE of tool for the job.  You will waste a ton of space if you are trying to accommodate a large family with 3 too-small pots, rather than 1 perfect-sized pot.  Don’t hang onto items that don’t really fit your family.  Upsize and declutter the too-small things.

2.  Purge often.  Because of the sheer number of people in a large family household, you have to be on your toes with sorting and getting rid of things that don’t truly belong in your home.  If you receive something that is a better fit, get rid of the item it replaces.  And don’t look back!

OK, let’s get started with the tour…

{affiliate links included}

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? | RaisingArrows.net

This is the main wall of my kitchen.  This is by far, the largest kitchen I have ever had; however, it has a few tricky spots I’ll point out as we go.

On the far left, you see a glimpse of an antique ice box that holds our teas and my Bosch mixer.  While I use my Bosch often, I decided it was not often enough to warrant counter space.  On top of the ice box is a glass pitcher, a flower arrangement my 10 year put together (she has a real knack for home decor), and a plate for fruit.  These things are all decorative and functional.

Working our way to the right, you’ll see a counter space that has a basket for bread with a butter dish next to it.  I could get a bread box, but that’s not something I’ve ever owned, so until I do, a basket works.  I also hung my hot pads on a 3M removable hook next to the stove.  (I LOVE these hooks!)

Above that counter space is my Baking Cupboard.  I have had a designated Baking Cabinet/Cupboard for years.  If you bake a lot, and you can spare the space, I highly recommend doing this.  This is also where our often-used seasonings go, so they are quick to grab when cooking up meat and other dishes.

Below that counter, are casserole dishes, cookie sheets, and other baking dishes.  Here is a list of exactly what I own:

I could rid of the items we don’t use often, but for now, I like to have them on hand for the few times I do want to make something that calls for one of those pans.

Next, is the stove.  I do not keep anything stored in the oven or in the drawer below (except the broiler pan that belongs with the stove…and never gets used).  On top of the stove, I have a tea pot.  This would not necessarily have to be there, but I like the way it makes the stove look all homey. ;)

Above the stove and microwave, is where I keep olive oil and olive oil spray, along with my knife sharpener.

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? | RaisingArrows.net

The next counter space over has an upcycled utensil holder made by my friend Char at New Life Treasures.  It holds a few wooden spoons, an assortment of spatulas, whisks, tongs, a ladle, and a couple of other utensils.  I was brutal and got rid of any utensil that didn’t get used regularly.  If there was something that didn’t get used often, but I still thought ought to be kept, I moved it to a container in a cupboard – more on that in another post.  I will say this counter top space is also where clean dishes go to dry.  We hand wash any dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher as well as any dishes or knives that are not supposed to be put in a dishwasher.  I use an XL Envision Dish Drying Mat to put the overflow dishes on to dry.

Above that counter is where our plates and bowls are kept.  I have 3 small plastic bowls and 3 small plastic plates for my little guys.  I have 6 more plastic bowls that work well for snacks and such, along with 8 pottery bowls that match the 8 dinner plates I have of October Franciscan pottery.  I also keep 3 deep bowls in that cupboard that work well to mix small batches of things.  Besides the 8 dinner plates, I also have 8 smaller Corelle-type plates.  Typically, when the table is set, Mommy, Daddy, and the two oldest children get large plates, and everyone else uses the Corelle or plastic smaller plates.  Sometimes, depending on the meal, we all use the smaller plates.

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? Kitchen Tour!| RaisingArrows.net

Excuse the horrible photo.  I was taking it with my phone and there was no making it look pretty.  You can see below the sink there is a cupboard and another right next to it.  These hold cleaning supplies.

Next to those cupboards, you will see the only drawers in the kitchen.  They are small and shallow.  Very strange setup for such a large kitchen, but we’ve made it work.  The top drawer is silverware and extra DrinkBands for guests.  The next drawer contains kitchen towels.  The 3rd drawer contains Bosch attachments, gadgets we actually use on a regular basis (pastry cutter, apple corer, beaters, etc).  The bottom drawer used to hold plastic storage container lids, but I’ve decluttered enough of those that it currently stands empty! *gasp*  It will probably end up housing my drying mats (yes, I have more than one) or some of the less used kitchen gadgets that are put away on the opposite side of the kitchen (another topic in Part 2).

The counter top above those drawers is the dirty dish holding area.  That is where all the dirty dishes go until my Dishwasher Helper takes care of them after every meal.

And lastly, the cupboard above that counter is where glasses go.  We have two glasses for each person, colored coded with their DrinkBand.  There is also a place for sippy cups, and a box that holds plastic reusable cups that my husband takes with him on his daily commute.  I use a box for these because inevitably, someone would open the cupboard door and out would fall all the plastic cups!  I do have a few extra glasses for when company comes stored on the top shelf as well.

I will be sharing what is housed on the other side of the kitchen along with the island in a later post.  Feel free to ask any questions and offer ideas for other readers to create a more minimalist kitchen of their own!

Posts in this Series:
Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen (with Kitchen Tour Part 1)
Minimalist Kitchen Tour Part 2

Want to read more about Homemaking?
Check out my Homemaking Basics!

Homemaking Basics | RaisingArrows

2014 Canning Season Recipes

2014 Canning Season - so far, we've made salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickles and pickled green beans, freezer green beans, and sandhill plum jelly!  Recipes included in the post! | RaisingArrows.netThis year, we were blessed with abundant produce that was free or nearly free to us.  We had a small garden and very generous landlords.

I’ve admitted in the past that I am not a gardener.  I like to blame it on my sensory issues – there is nothing about playing in the dirt that intrigues me.  However, I REALLY like having fresh produce that WE grew.  So fun!  This year, we grew peas, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, green beans, and there are cantaloupe on the vine as we speak.

As for our generous landlords – they are an older couple who plant WAY more than they could ever eat (as in 60 tomato plants!).  They have sent tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and green beans our way in bucket-fulls!  And I am sure not going to waste it!

Tomatoes!

And then, to top it off, this has been a stellar year for the sandhill (or wild) plum!  These little beauties grow roadside and are usually free for the picking by whomever makes it there first!

sandhill plums

As promised last week in my Pregnancy Update, here are the recipes we’ve been using this canning season.

Sandhill Plum Jelly – Apparently, I’m one of the few sites out there with this recipe because this time of year, I get a lot of hits on this post.

2014 Canning Season - sandhill plum jelly, spaghetti sauce, pickled green beans, and more! | RaisingArrows.net

I mention in my plum jelly post how I was running my pulp through mesh with a spoon.  Well, thankfully, I found my sieve!  This isn’t the cleanest job in the world, but that tart jelly is oh so worth it!

Freezer Green Beans – Early on, we froze our green beans.  This is a nice, simple process that yields beautiful, bags full of bright green veggies!

1.  Wash your beans.
2.  Trim the stems off your beans and cut them in half.
3.  Blanch the beans in boiling water for 1 minute.
4.  Dunk in ice water for 1 minute.
5.  Pat dry (we used paper towels).
6.  Bag in “meal sized” freezer bags.  For our family, this means full 1 gallon bags, but that may be too much for your family.  Adjust accordingly.

Pickled Green Beans – As the season wore on, and the landlords had more and more and more green beans, my kids begged for pickled green beans instead of freezing them.  Now for some of you, the idea of pickled green beans seems pretty “out there”, but you really ought to try it!

You can use any pickle recipe, but this one is very similar to what we use for our pickled okra (when we have it) and has been a favorite for a very long time.  It includes dill, garlic and red pepper flakes, and ends up quite yummy.  By the way, if you ever want to hear my “angry okra” story, fell free to read all about it HERE.

Cucumber Pickles – We didn’t end up with very many cucumbers, so what we did end up with became pickles that went straight into our refrigerator.  When you do this, you really need to let them set in the refrigerator unopened for about a week (more would be ideal) to get the full flavor.  It was all we could do to wait a week, and they were gobbled up all in one setting!  The recipe we used came from Sheri Graham.

Salsa – When the tomatoes first started rolling in, we did up huge batches of our favorite salsa.

Fresh & Tasty Homemade Salsa - nothing like it! | RaisingArrows.net

This is a very chunky salsa with some surprising ingredients like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce!  The acid content in the salsa was plenty high enough to be able to water bath it (the only kind of canning I do), so we ended up doing about 3 gallons.

Later, we moved on to a less chunky salsa that we found HERE.  However, I don’t think either salsa is really going to be hot enough.  I need to put more heat in them next time.

Spaghetti Sauce – I had never canned spaghetti sauce, and frankly, we don’t use the stuff.  For years, we have simply used tomato sauce with spices in it.  That’s it.  However, I thought it would be nice to have some real homemade sauce for our italian meals, so I dug around for a recipe and came up with THIS ONE.

Canned spaghetti sauce

It was VERY tasty, but by the time we had done up a dozen quarts (plus the salsa we had already done), my kids (and myself) were sick of tomatoes.  I happened to mention on Facebook how we were all tired of peeling and seeding tomatoes, and my Facebook blew up with people chiming in saying they didn’t peel or de-seed their tomatoes and I shouldn’t either!  I was astounded.  I was under the impression this was a RULE.  So, when the landlords called and asked if I wanted yet another round of tomatoes, I exasperated my children by saying Yes…because I really wanted to try this little experiment!

Well, the truth is, I will be trying this little experiment later today.  HERE is the recipe I’m going to use. Now, I know the woman in the post freezes hers, but I will be adding some tomato paste (to thicken) and lemon juice (to up the acid content) and water bath them for 20 minutes.  I will also probably run them through the Vita-Mix…just in case people are pulling my leg about having the skins and seeds in there being ok.

Once I’m through the last of the tomatoes and the sandhill plums, we will be finished until apple season…which also looks like a bumper crop.  We buy seconds at a local orchard and turn them into all sorts of yummy treats!  We’ll be freezing slices for pie, making applesauce to can, making apple butter (probably in the crock pot), and maybe even some apple pie filling!

Until then, the rest of the tomatoes on the vine will be picked green and fried.

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.netWhen I wrote about my bulk taco seasoning recipe, I mentioned we only use 2 pounds of ground beef for our family of 9, and that I only started using the second pound about 2 children ago.  Several of you were shocked and wanted to know how this was possible, so I thought I’d write a little bit more about how we manage this.

First of all, THIS is what 2 pounds of ground beef/hamburger looks like (plus some onions from our garden…more on that in a moment):

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 Pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.net

The skillet is a 15″ cast iron skillet from Lodge.  As the meat cooks, we season it and often throw in onions and/or peppers to add flavor.  From here, the possibilities are endless!

Let’s say you are doing something with a Mexican flair…
Add tomatoes, beans, rice, and some type of sauce (tomato sauce is the most often used one here).

Italian?
More garden veggies, noodles, and sauce.

Sandwich meat?
Oatmeal, veggies, beans, lentils, and yes…sauce!

And don’t forget CHEESE!  We use a lot of cheese, sour cream, and veggies to add to our meat to create a heartier meal.

You can easily double the amount of pasta or rice you put into a dish and still keep the ground beef amounts the same.  Casseroles and stove-top meals (like the Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe below) are the easiest to stretch.  We rarely do something like meatloaf or a meat by itself (unless we are cooking up steaks, pork chops, or homemade brats).  Meatloaf can be bulked up with oats or rice, but not many in my family are fans of meatloaf, so I don’t even bother.

We often make quesadillas for a quick lunch (<—take a look at that post – it’s from when I was pregnant with Baby #7 and there’s a sonogram picture!)  We will start with the 2 pounds of hamburger meat, but when that runs out, we finish off with cheese-only quesadillas.  And again, we encourage the kids to add sour cream, lettuce, and salsa to bulk up calories.

Another thing we do is set out bowls of “sides” that add an element of fun to the meal.  It is not uncommon for there to be pickles, black olives, or a bowl of cut up cucumbers on the table to serve as finger foods to supplement the meal.  Sometimes I serve a traditional side (mainly for the evening meal when Daddy is home), but usually for lunch, the main dish is supplemented only by the extra finger foods.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I do serve snacks.  Around 3 o’clock is snack time and it helps to carry everyone through to suppertime.

Now let me give you a real life example from a meal we had a couple of nights ago…

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls | RaisingArrows.net

I set out to make the Trim Healthy Mama Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from the book, but realized too late they were supposed to be in the crock pot for 7-9 hours!  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does stuff like this!)  So, I went with an unstuffed version from a recipe online.  Of course, there’s no way an online recipe is going to contain the right amounts for our family (unless of course, it’s from my own stash of Large Family Recipes), so I set out to tweak it.

The first thing I noticed was that it had 1.5 – 2 pounds of meat listed to serve 5-6 people; however, the cabbage was supposed to be a small head with the addition of only one small can of tomato sauce.  That’s where I grabbed my bulk.  The cabbage I used was large, and I used 2 cans of sauce, but could have used more if I wanted a soupier mixture (which works really well when putting it over something like rice or noodles!).  I could have added other veggies too like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant or peppers.

Because this was going to be a THM-friendly dish, I had my son cook a large pot of rice as a side for the children.  If you aren’t watching your carb intake, then cook the rice and add it right into the dish itself.  You could even turn this into a soup by adding more tomato sauce and some water or broth.

And that was our meal.  Everyone tanked up and there was only a tiny bit of leftovers that Baby Creed will eat for lunch tomorrow.

Here’s my large family (with only 2# of ground beef) version of Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe (stove top using a 15" skillet) | RaisingArrows.net

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes (or fresh)
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cabbage, coarsely chopped
seasonings to taste

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, or other favorite seasonings.  Add in the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and mix.  Next, add the chopped cabbage and rest a lid on top of the pile of cabbage to encourage it to steam and cook down.  (I promise, it WILL cook down and fit in your 15″ skillet.  If you don’t have a large skillet, transfer the meat to a large pot before adding the cabbage.)  Once the cabbage cooks down a bit, stir to mix the meat and sauce in with the cabbage.  Continue to cook down until cabbage is tender.

Now, it’s your turn!  How do you stretch your meat?  What sorts of things do you add for bulk and calories?  And don’t forget to mention how many you are feeding!

Stop Opening Every Jar of Peanut Butter We Own!

You may be a large family if every time you turn around someone has opened a new container of peanut butter…

or mayonnaise…

or [insert name of food that already has a full container sitting open in the refrigerator or pantry].

It’s maddening!

So, I got proactive and did this:

How to stop the kids (and dad) from opening brand new food containers when there is one already open | RaisingArrows.net

X marks the spot!

This is the ONLY peanut butter jar that is allowed to be opened.  And if you can’t find the one with the X, you find mom and together the two of you will look for it before determining it is a good idea to open a new one (which will be promptly marked with an X by the way!).

This works for anything that tends to get opened without thinking.  Maple syrup, boxes of cereal, and yes, mayonnaise!

Sharpie marker saves the day!


Want to win $100 toward homeschool resources
so you can buy more peanut butter?

Click below!
Enter to Win $100 Towards the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

Family Finds {Cookbooks, Free ebook, Translation Fundraiser} – May 17, 2014

Family Finds {Cookbooks, Free ebook, Translation Fundraiser} - May 17, 2014Busy weekend, anyone?  Seems like May is just crazy busy for most everyone!  I hope you are having a wonderful May so far!

The first Family Find of the day is a set of eCookbooks that I have really enjoyed!

The Sweeter Side of Candida Healing Candida With Food

 

When you order The Sweeter Side of Candida or Healing Candida with Food, you receive a FREE 1 Week Menu Plan to help you get started.  Whole Intentions also offers a 6 week menu planner for sale.  And while I know you may not be dealing with candida, the recipes and information in these ebooks are quite valuable and very compatible with eating a no-sugar, low-carb diet.  In fact, Gwen’s Nest has a FREE THM Type Guide for all the recipes on The Sweeter Side of Candida!  (you’ll have to scroll down a bit in the linked post, but it is worth it!)


FREE through tomorrow!

Homeschool Summer FREE ebook

 

Lee Binz is the author of Total Transcript Solutions (get some great FREEBIES from them when you purchase my ebook Large Family Homeschooling!)  She’s been sharing many of her short ebooks for free on Amazon.  Great resources and quick reads!


I mentioned Apologia last week in my Family Finds, and today I want to mention them again because they are offering a unique opportunity for you to get involved in!

Apologia Translation Fund Raiser

Last year a homeschool mom from Pennsylvania contacted Apologia about helping homeschool families in a Certain Large East Asian Nation (We’ll call it “CLEAN” for short). It seems that families in CLEAN have discovered the blessings and benefits of home education and, even though not “supported” by the authorities, they do it anyway, making the most of the resources available to them.

Apologia is kicking off a month long fundraiser to raise the funds to translate their materials in the native language, but each translation is approximately $8000!  They really could use your help!  And if you donate $5 or more (every little bit helps!), you are eligible to WIN A PRIZE!  See more info HERE!

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

Family Finds – May 10, 2014

Family Finds (May 10, 2014) - DrinkBands, BerkeysDrinkBands have been a staple in our household for several years now.  They are a great way to keep all those cups under control!  TODAY ONLY, you can get 20% Off DrinkBands in their Band Blitz Mega Sale!  Like their Facebook page and read the latest post on their blog for the discount code.DrinkBand Blitz 20% off!


For many years, we’ve been wanting a Berkey.  We aren’t exactly preppers, but we do believe in being prepared – especially if we can help others in a time of crisis.  Berkeys are tall, stainless steel water filtration systems that will take pond water and make it drinkable!  This is the ideal product for people who live in areas where the water is not of good quality or in case of a natural disaster.  The best part is, it doesn’t strip the water of the good stuff!

We chose to order through UES because they had a better in-stock selection, but you can also find Berkey at Bulk Herb Store.

We ordered the Big Berkey with 2 black filters.  You can buy an additional 2 for faster filtration.  We have a family of 9 and filling up the Berkey at every meal is a must.  If you want to be less “tied-down,” buy a bigger one, but consider your counter space.  They are big, but well worth the investment.

UES Water


Homeschool Foundation

If your family is looking for ways to help others in the homeschooling community, or perhaps need help yourselves, take a look at the Home School Foundation (the charity associated with HSLDA).  They help homeschoolers in all sorts of difficult circumstances – from the recent tornadoes to single parent homeschoolers, families with special needs, and military families.

Speaking of military families, did you know that Apologia (one of our favorite homeschool curriculum companies!) gives a 40% discount to military and missionary families?!


As you think ahead to the new school year, I wanted to remind you of some of the goodies contained within the pages of my newest ebook LARGE FAMILY HOMESCHOOLING!

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net

You can receive 3 months FREE of Scholaric – the online homeschool planner we use.

FREE GIFTS from Total Transcript Solutions & NotebookingPages.

Discounts on NotebookingPages, The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule, Paperless Home Organization, Simplified Dinners, Finding Joy in Depression, Circle Time, DrinkBands, & 28 Days to Hope for Your Home!

All this + 170 Pages of practical homeschooling help for

Only $7.99

Add to Cart

Learn more about Large Family Homeschooling here!

Have a blessed weekend!  I’m heading to my mom’s for tea. :)