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Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 3

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 3 - Supplies Week |
Find all the Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas posts HERE!

How did you do with the Week 2 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 3!

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. (affiliate link)  Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

This week we will be focusing on making your shopping lists and going shopping! I know this may seem like you are getting way ahead of the game, but believe me, you won’t be sorry! Getting this shopping down now will save you big time later on! Besides, next week is baking week, so you will want to make sure you have all the ingredients on hand to make baking week a success!

Note from Amy:  This week I focus on Thanksgiving and Decoration Day baking, as well as any Fall festivities we might be needing to bake for.  There are more Baking Weeks later on, so think about what you need for Fall baking.  What can you make ahead for Thanksgiving now?  Rolls?  Desserts?  Breakfast casseroles for overnight guests?  (For ideas & recipes, take a look at my Large Family Recipes section!)

Week 3: Supplies Week

[ ] Inventory the supplies you have on hand, then…

[ ] Shopping Lists for non-perishables! Turn to your Recipe Cards filed under the Holiday Menus and Holiday Baking sections and using the form provided make a list of non-perishables needed for holiday meals and baking. Make sure you have plenty of yeast and related items on hand.

[ ] Baking Shopping List! Next week will be a Baking Week, so if you plan on doing some holiday baking ahead of time that you can put in the freezer, include perishable items you will need for these recipes as well!

[ ] Gift making Shopping List! Turn to your Gift Making Checklist filed under the Christmas Gifts section and jot down the supplies needed for gift making.

[ ] Decorations Shopping List! Turn to your Decoration Ideas form filed under the Holiday Decorations section and jot down supplies you will need for decorating for the holidays.

[ ] Finalize Shopping List! Also jot down miscellaneous supplies such as film, batteries, gift wrapping, and Christmas cards as needed.

[ ] Shopping! Take your lists and GO SHOPPING!


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

Find all the Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas posts HERE!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 2

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 2 - Browse Week | RaisingArrows.netHow did you do with the Week 1 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 2!

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. (affiliate link)  Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

This week’s list is short, but it is very important! You will be making lists of gifts that you want to buy or make yourself, as well as jotting down some decorating ideas. You may be tempted to skip over these this week, but don’t!  Remember, baby steps each week will make for a much more peaceful Christmas later!

Week 2: Browse Week

[ ] Develop gift ideas! Turn to your Christmas Gift Shopping List and Gift Making Checklist that are filed under the Christmas Gifts section. Develop and record ideas for gifts that you want to buy and gifts that you want to make yourself. We have included a wealth of gift ideas for you to choose from to get you started (in the Holiday Planner). You can also find some great gift ideas in Sheri’s Homemade for the Holidays series on Sheri’s blog or check out her Gifts Kids Can Make Pinterest board or Amy’s post on Meaningful Christmas Gifts.

Note from Amy:  If you are feeling a little stumped this early in the season, use an extra Gift List to write down each name and a brainstorming list of their interests, passions, goals, etc to help you think in the direction of what they might like or need as a gift.

[ ] Brainstorm decoration ideas! Using the Decoration Ideas form provided, begin to jot down decoration ideas for each room of your home, along with supplies that you will need. File this form under the Holiday Decorations section when completed.

Note from Amy:  I really love the Decorating Ideas print out!  I print one for Fall Decor and one for Christmas Decor.  I am able to look back from year to year to see how I decorated in previous years.  I even include a note about where we put the Christmas tree.


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!


Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from and

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!) |

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? |

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? |

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!|

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

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas {Week 1}

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - Week 1:  List Week |

Purchase Your Planner HERE! {affiliate link}
Use coupon code:  HOLIDAYPEACE to get the Holiday Combo Set for $12.95 (expires 10/10)

Welcome everyone!  Today, Sheri is going to walk us through Week 1 – List Week of the Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas series.  This week is critical to getting your holiday planning set in motion.  My absolute favorite part of this week is the Holiday Self-Evaluation.  I always sit down with the entire family and discuss what memories and traditions we have that they really want to continue, how we can do better this year from previous years, and any new things we might like to add.  Everyone always has a lot of input, and we often end up reminiscing over past Christmas seasons.

I do want to add a couple of quick notes about my own personal planner that might be helpful for you…

Every year, I print off a new set of Monthly Calendar Pages to place at the front of my planner.  I like to do this to give me an at-a-glance look at the next 3 months.  I’d also encourage you to purchase page protectors for your 12 Week Holiday Planner.  These will keep your pages looking neat, and you will avoid needing to reprint all the pages every year if you protect them from the get-go.  I keep my planner in a 2″ binder.  You might want to go even bigger to allow yourself room for extra print outs from other websites or ideas you’d like to try during the holiday season.

Now, here’s Sheri to guide us through this first week of planning!

I am so excited to encourage and inspire you to get busy now preparing for the holidays, so that you can have a peaceful Christmas!  Each week in this Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas series, you will receive Weekly To Do Lists that are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner.

12 Week Holiday PlannerThose of you who have purchased the Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists.  If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!  (Remember, the coupon code to get the entire Holiday Combo Set for $12.95 expires October 10.)

Print out these weekly posts and work on completing the To-Do List. Most of the items do not take long to do, and by doing a little each week, you are well on your way to a much more peaceful Christmas!

Are you ready to begin?  Let’s go!

Week 1: List Week

[ ] Holiday Self-Evaluation! Complete the Holiday Self-Evaluation form provided. Now is the time to really evaluate what your family’s goals are for the holidays. Sit down together as a family and discuss what the Lord would want your family to do as far as activities, traditions, etc. this holiday season. Keep this form in a place where you will frequently see it and be reminded of your goals for the holiday season.

[ ] Make your lists of gift recipients - Using the Christmas Gift Shopping List and Gift Making Checklist provided, jot down people you will want to buy gifts for and/or make gifts for. Don’t worry about specific gift ideas now…you will work on that next week. For now, just jot down names!  Once completed, file this list in your Christmas Gifts Checklists section in the back.

[ ] Christmas Card List- Using the Christmas Card Checklist provided, fill in the names and addresses of family and friends you want to send cards to. Once the names and addresses are completed, slide into a sheet protector and file in the Christmas Card Checklists section in the back. (Use a washable marker to fill out the checklist, marking on the sheet protector if you want to include a picture and when the card is mailed, so that you can wash off and reuse this list year after year!)

[ ] Plan out menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s – Fill out the Menu forms and Recipe Cards provided for each of these holidays and file them in the Holiday Menus & Recipes section for later use! (See Our Favorite Holiday Recipes section for some ideas!)

[ ] List of baked goodies to share or to give away – Using the form provided, jot down a list of people you would like to bake for this holiday season! Use the Holiday Baking Recipe Cards to fill in recipes you may want to use for these gifts. File this under the Holiday Baking & Recipes section when your list is completed. (See Our Favorite Holiday Recipes section in the planner, check out Sheri’s Recipe Index or Amy’s Large Family Recipes or the Raising Arrows recipe section for ideas!)

[ ] List of favorite meals to freeze for later – Using the form provided, make a list of some of your family’s favorite meals that you can make and freeze ahead of time!  (Check out Sheri’s Freezer Cooking Pinterest Board for some ideas!)  You can also use the Freezer Meal Recipe Cards to fill in some recipes you want to use. Having some meals in the freezer during the busy holiday season will be such a blessing! Just make a list for now, the actual preparation of these meals will be done later. Once you have compiled a list of meals, file this form under the Holiday Menus & Recipes section. (See Our Favorite Holiday Recipes section for some ideas!)

[ ] Holiday Wardrobe Planner – Using the form provided, make a list of the holiday clothes each family member currently has. Note any clothing items that need to be purchased and plan on getting those things soon. It is very handy to have this thought through ahead of time. When it comes time for your family picture, or a formal holiday dinner, you can quickly turn to this list and see what clothing items each family member should wear (so you can all match if you wish!). Print out more than one page of this planner, if needed, to include every family member.


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!


Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from and

Get Your Holiday Planner in Preparation for Next Week’s Series!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused | hosted by along with

On Monday, Sheri and I will be starting our 12 week walk through Sheri’s Holiday Planner to help you prepare for a peaceful Christmas season.  I have been using this planner for years, and asked Sheri to help me guide all of you through what has become a beloved part of our holiday season.

So, if you haven’t snagged your 12 Week Holiday Planner and the Holiday Combo Set, now is the time to do so!  You can get the entire set for $12.95 when you use coupon code:



And join us here on on Monday to get started!

Getting My Household Back on Track

I’m going to share something that is pretty raw.  Something I really don’t like people to see…at least not like this.  These are photos of our house just a few weeks ago.

WARNING:  These photos are scary.

Girls RoomBoys Roomhomeschool closetThese were taken all on the same day with my iPhone as I was explaining to my husband (who was at work) that life here at home had taken a huge step backward and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I was feeling like I had gone back in time about 8 years when I had only littles and my life felt very chaotic.  Our move to this house in February, followed by several speaking engagements, followed by morning sickness had created a household that was barely functioning.

The kids’ rooms were always a mess.  Laundry was never under control.  The homeschool closet (shown above) was a colossal mess.  And then the basement flooded…

flooded basement

I couldn’t even begin to concern myself with what was down there when what was upstairs was nowhere near where it should be.

And who did I think I was, standing before a crowd of homeschool moms, telling them how to have a well-ordered household?!

I found myself at a place where I was completely incapacitated by the sheer volume of things that NEEDED to be accomplished, and I was begging God for an answer…a place to begin and get back to the way of life I knew I needed to have in order make our home run well.

The very next day, Mystie Winckler contacted me about her new ecourse, Simplified Organization.  I knew she had some things in the works, but I had no idea how much I was going to need exactly what she was working on.

How I and Getting my Household Back on Track with Simplified Organization ecourse |

Simplified Organization has been a breath of fresh air in our home.  It is a go-at-your-own-pace online course, so there is no pressure to have A, B, and C done by Friday, and the information is not going to disappear if you don’t get it done by Friday.  Mystie is even quite candid about the fact that some of these “habits” will take years to fully flesh out, and rather than that being a negative thing, she teaches you to see the process and system of ordering your household as the goal, rather than some arbitrary “by-September-I’ll-have-an-organized-home” goal.  

And everything is from a solid Christian perspective.  This isn’t about digging deeper within yourself…it’s about reaching out to the Lord and working with His plan for your life here on earth.

I’ve gone through 3 of the learning modules already, and I am so excited by the progress I’ve seen that I have to force myself to shut the computer down at night and go to bed!  I have finally learned to use my Google Calendar to its fullest capacity (and I’ve shared it with my oldest two children so they are “in the know” about what is going on around here).  I am learning to immediately get things out of the labyrinth of my brain and onto paper so that I don’t have to try to recall everything.  (This is going to be a steep learning curve!)  I have the beginnings of a command center.  I am finally working on a laundry system for this house, and I am seeing real progress as opposed to hamster-wheel days, weeks, and months.
Learn how to bring order from your chaos

Today, is the official launch of Simplified Organization.  The price of membership and access to all the videos, audios, articles, and step-by-step instruction is $99; HOWEVER, if you use the code


the Simplified Organization course is only $45!
You will not see this price anywhere else, so don’t delay!
(Offer ends AUGUST 30!)


So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the state of your household, if you need some prodding and purpose to get back on track, if you need a place to begin and the focus to continue, this online course may very well be the answer for you in the way that it was for our household!

The tasks have not interfered with our homeschooling.  The lessons are all in bite-sized pieces so I don’t feel like I have to carve out huge sections of time to work through the course.  The encouragement and Biblical advice has given me a whole new perspective on where I am right now.

I am absolutely thrilled that Mystie followed the Lord’s leading and went to the effort to create this course to help other homemakers and mommies learn to love what must be done in our homes.

Learn to love what must be done