Get Your DrinkBands in Time for the Holidays! {GIVEAWAY}

If you read Raising Arrows regularly, you know how important DrinkBands are in our house.  In fact, just the other day, I mentioned them in my post on having a Minimalist Kitchen.

DrinkBands Giveaway!

DrinkBands make having a minimalist kitchen with a large family possible because it saves me on washing glasses constantly.  Everyone leaves their glasses on the counter for the day, and we wash them at night.  Everyone has a color, so they aren’t dragging 50 glasses out of the cupboard over the course of the day and I know exactly who has misplaced theirs.

When company comes, we add an extra set of DrinkBands (often the Camo Pack or Party Pack).  Our family’s set of DrinkBands are now personalized too!  It makes me smile to have mine say “Mama” and Ty’s say “Daddy”. :)

Do you have guests coming for Thanksgiving?  What about Christmas?  Well, now is the perfect time to snag a great deal on DrinkBands and be prepared for the holidays!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

And guess what?!  Two Raising Arrows readers are going to win DrinkBands!  I’m giving away a set of 9 Regular Personalized DrinkBands and a set of Camo DrinkBands!

All you have to do is enter the giveaway below.  (email readers click through to the post to find the giveaway!)  Winners will be announced on Saturday, so hurry!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Minimalist Kitchen Tour Part 2

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? Part 2 | RaisingArrows.netIn some ways, this seems a bit silly to post Part 2 of our minimalist kitchen with us moving.  Every time I move, I have to reconfigure my new kitchen.  So, the new house will look very different from this house in how we set things up and what our minimalism looks like.  However, I said I was going to post Part 2, so I am going to post Part 2!

In Part 1, I gave you a tour of the main section of my kitchen.  Before, we move on to the island and bar area of my kitchen, I wanted to address one reader question, and that is concerning my glasses.  I said we had 2 glasses per person, plus extras for guests.  One reader wanted to see inside the cupboard, so here it is…

Glasses in cupboard

The tie dye cup in the back of the bottom shelf is my Tervis.  It has a lid and it is the cup I take with me on the go.  Ty prefers the plastic cups you see in the box on the top shelf.  That box also holds his on-the-go coffee cups.  I got tired of these awkward glasses falling down on me every time I opened the cupboard door!  The glasses to the right of the box are the guest glasses.  We will often outfit them with a DrinkBand during the duration of their stay with us.  (pssst….DrinkBands giveaway coming soon!)

OK, so back to the tour!

On the opposite wall of the kitchen is a bar area.  This is my work station, and I still haven’t found a great system for organizing it.  So, I guess I’ll start over in the new house!  (By the way, the new house has a built-in office area in the kitchen already!  Yippee!)  The only appliance on the bar is the coffee maker, with the coffee mugs and coffee in a cupboard above it.  In the cupboards below I have stored the Vitamix (we have the wet and dry containers), a toaster, a large percolator (for my Festive Hot Punch), storage for jellies and sauces I canned this summer, vases, office supplies (our printer and computers are also on this bar), and a couple of baskets with utensils and small appliances we don’t use often (i.e. electric knife, apple peeler, corer, slicer, etc), and finally, a cupboard for tools.

And then, there is the island.  As you see in the graphic, only the Berkey and the knife block sit on the island.  (Ty brought me some flowers home that were there that day too!)

Can a Large Family Have a Minimalist Kitchen? Part 2 | RaisingArrows.net

Another reader question concerned the knife block and keeping my toddler out of it.  Frankly, this hasn’t been much of an issue.  I wish I could give you some great training lesson, but the younger crowd seem to understand that knives are not something they are allowed to touch.

The cupboards under the bar contain the following items:

  • 2 large & 2 small mixing bowls (we prefer Pyrex)
  • canning jars and lids
  • a few glass and plastic containers and lids for leftovers
  • 3 large bowls for serving things like popcorn or chips to a crowd
  • 2 serving trays
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 large and 1 small cast iron skillet
  • 1 large, 2 medium, and 1 small saucepan with lids
  • a double boiler and a steamer for one of the medium pots
  • a roasting pan I never use…and for some reason, keep

I do need to mention that we have a large pantry that holds not only our dry goods and bulk foods, but also a couple of crock pots, an electric skillet, a dehydrator, a water bath canner, and an air popper.  We also have a large electric roaster that typically gets stored in the basement.

We could probably pare down even more, but I am comfortable with where we are right now.  I use most everything in the kitchen on a fairly regular basis (except for the roaster and the dehydrator), so that’s been my gauge of whether or not I “need” something.  There are certainly some items I’d like to own at some point (like a larger stock pot), but I manage just fine with the items I have.

And that is the key to minimalism in a large family…do you really need it?  Will you really use it?  If you find you don’t, let it go.


Need a little help paring down the “stuff” in your kitchen?  Nourishing Minimalism (the blog I mentioned inspired me to get rid of a lot!) has a set of ebooks that helps you declutter and live a more minimalist life. – including the one shown below:  30 Days to a Clean & Organized Kitchen.

30 days

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


So, what about your kitchen?  Are you a minimalist or do you tend to hold on to things you don’t use (and maybe don’t even like?)  I’d encourage you to start decluttering today and head into the New Year “lighter”!

How To Simplify Your Dinner Routine

How to Simplify Your Dinner Routine {using Simplified Dinners} | RaisingArrows.net

Meal planning is one of those things that seems like it should be a breeze, but in reality, can quickly become a nightmare.  Some weeks, I really enjoy meal planning, but as soon as life gets busy, meal planning becomes a chore that feels nearly impossible.  Not to mention the fact that I am a stay at home homeschooling mom.  I have no less than 8 people (sometimes 9, soon to be 10) eating 3 meals a day on any given day!  Add to that a steady flow of guests, and you can imagine what one little hiccup in our routine will do to a meal plan.

In fact, I can totally relate to what Mystie Winkler has to say in this video:


Simplified Dinners ebook with recipes!

Get $3 off Simplified Dinners when you use coupon code: raisingarrows


Are you burned out on meal planning?

Simplified Dinners is Mystie’s creative answer to a busy mom’s frustration with meal planning.  It implements a master grocery list along with versatile recipes to create a method of meal planning that is streamlined and easy to use.  It even creates a pantry and refrigerator/freezer that can accommodate someone who isn’t used to running your kitchen – say a young cook, dad, or Grandma.

In fact, I decided to have my 13 year old daughter read through the ebook to see if she understood the concept and thought she could implement it on her own.  Her words were, “This is really neat!  I could definitely do this!”

Simplified Dinners - even my 13 year old can do it! | RaisingArrows.net

So, how does it work?

Every recipe in Simplified Dinners gives you a starting point.  This is your “base”.  From there you add in other options to create a variety of different meals from that starting point.

For instance, let’s look at the Slow Cooker, No Defrost Chicken section (because, let’s be honest, how many busy moms actually get around to defrosting the chicken before it goes in the crock pot?)  The starting point is the chicken, a sauce, and a crock pot on low 8-10 hours.  From there, Mystie gives you 6 different kinds of sauces, along with notes on serving ideas and additions.  

This is how ALL the recipes are!  Tons of options, all laid out for you – easy peasy!

LEARN MORE HERE!

Use coupon code: raisingarrows to get $3 off your purchase!
code expires 10/20/14

None of the ingredients are crazy weird.  There is a shopping list included, so you could potentially always have everything on hand, no matter which starting point and which addition you choose.  The entire process is Simple, Simple, Simple!

But, let’s say you DO want to plan a little more than just opening the ebook.  (By the way, I printed out Simplified Dinners and put it in my Food Notebook so I don’t even have to open my computer to grab the recipes!)  Why not snag Mystie’s menu planner?

It’s FREE and Totally customized for use with the ebook!

Download Mystie’s Simplified Dinners Menu Planner & Master Grocery List!

This is especially helpful if you have someone coming into your home to care for your family and they might need a bit of help knowing what to feed everyone.

Simplified Dinners is also fabulous for new moms!  You know that newborn fog?  Don’t worry about it!  Lean on the recipes in Simplified Dinners!  Give the shopping list to your husband or other family member and you are all set!  In fact, most of the meals in Simplified Dinners are perfect freezer meals!

So, give yourself a break and order a copy of Simplified Dinners!

(Don’t forget that coupon code!  raisingarrows gets you $3 off! - code expires 10/20)

Simplified Dinners ebook with recipes!

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

Finger Food Lunches for Busy Moms

Finger Food Lunch - having a snack lunch is a quick and easy homeschool meal! | RaisingArrows.net

Once a week for many years, we’ve had what we call an Amish Lunch or Finger Food Lunch.  This meal, which consists of, you guessed it – finger foods – was a concept we were first introduced to while reading The Amish Cook syndicated column in a local newspaper.  The Amish Cook would talk about her daily activities as well as the meals they were having, and often, one of those meals was this very simple, yet delicious finger food concept – thus, the reason we have always called it an “Amish Lunch”.  This type of meal always sounded so yummy and easy, so I began to brainstorm how we could incorporate it into our homeschool lunch menu.

Lunch for the Busy Homeschool Mom

Homeschool moms have a lot on their hands – especially around lunch time.  It is VERY difficult to break away from studies and make time to eat, let alone make time to cook.  Most homeschool moms I know choose to make very easy lunch meals or use up leftovers.  The Amish concept of a finger food lunch fits in perfectly with these!

Finger Food Lunch - a quick and easy way to serve lunch in a busy homeschooling household! | RaisingArrows.net

While you can certainly plan to buy specific foods to have for your Finger Food Lunch, you can also simply use up foods in your refrigerator and pantry that meet the finger food criteria.  Serve them on plates and platters and let everyone dig in.  You could even get fancy and give them toothpicks to choose their foods – but then again, toothpicks might end up being used as swords…or is that just my household?

Ideas for Finger Food Lunches

Meats – deli, summer sausage, hamburger patties, pepperonis, Canadian bacon, etc.

Cheeses – cheese wedges, string cheese, cheese slices or cubes, etc.

Cut Veggies – carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Fruits – grapes, apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, blueberries, bananas, etc.

Dried fruit

Pickled foods – beets, olives, onions, cucumbers, you might even want to try my pickled green beans!

Crackers

Jelly/Jam/Fruit Butters

Relishes

Dips – this Autumn, try my Caramel Apple Dip!

Nuts – at Christmas time, we like to have Sugar-Coasted Roasted Nuts - YUM!

Breads – see my Large Family Recipes page for some of our favorite bread recipes!

Drinks – water is easy, but we like to do homemade lemonade because I have a daughter who really enjoys making it for the family!


 

Megan’s Famous Homemade Lemonade

2 cups of sugar (or comparable sweetener)
2 cups of lemon juice
1 gallon of water

Mix all ingredients well in a gallon pitcher.  Watch it disappear!


I have a friend who calls this type of meal Snack Lunch; however, one complaint she has about it is that it does not seem to stick with her kids, and they are soon hungry again.  I have a couple of suggestions to remedy this:

1.  Be sure you have put enough food and enough caloric density on the platter.  You may want to add popcorn, denser breads, and plenty of meat and cheese to your platter.  Maybe you have a great roasted garbanzo bean recipe or you’ve made some savory oyster crackers – throw those in the mix!

2.  Have your Finger Food Lunch on a day when you are able to have a heavier snack or an early dinner.  Finger Foods may not be a good choice if you are going to be out all day shopping with the kids.  It all depends on #1.  If you can’t pull together a more caloric dense lunch, then save those lunches for days when you are home and snack time will be some homemade yummy or when dinner time will be early.

So, what would you put on your Finger Food Lunch platter?