Category Archives: kitchen

Things to Come

July is drawing to a close and my kitchen is looking great – if you look past the crumbs and the tiny fingerprints, but at least it’s being used more efficiently! This is not my re-cap post so I’m going to leave you in suspense as far as details go!

August is going to be a busy time for me. I turn 25 on the 16th (Happy Birthday to Me!!!). I am going to two rock shows. I have a surprise baby shower to throw for a co-worker (don’t worry, she doesn’t know I blog). My mom’s birthday is the 17th (Happy Birthday to her!!!), and of course we can’t forget the good-ol’ 9 to 5 11 hour job.

As far as projects go I have a few things in mind. I’m a horrible decision maker, so I thought I would leave it up to y’all! Please leave me a comment and let me know what I should focus on!

a) the office/sewing room/play room
b) Christmas in August
c) finishing up those pesky loose ends

The most obvious project (when you glance around my house) is the office. I have fabric scraps all over the floor. I just moved a new hutch in, and the bins I previously used for fabric are empty and taking up space. My sewing table is trashed. The desks are cluttered (with stuff and empty coke cans). It’s not a usable space right now. It’s supposed to be a play room and I’m afraid to let my son in there.
Now, even if this is not my August focus, I’m going to clean the crap off the floor so little man can go in there. So don’t let the safety of my child sway your vote! I’m not heartless! hehe!
If I focus on the office, I will discuss storage of my crafty stuffs, sewing stuffs, bill paying stuffs, and toy stuffs. I *may* touch on computer storage of my digital stuffs and possibly some debt management Dave Ramsey stuffs.
The only downside to doing the office is that it will have to be redone in about a year anyway. We are going to be making some big changes to our whole house (and what room is use for what), so my whole vision will 100% be changing. Lol!

This Christmas, Derek and I have decided to do primarily homemade gifts. I will be sewing gifts for our family and friends. I am still a novice sewist (I don’t know if that’s a word but it sounds better than sewer! ick!), and I want to give myself PLENTY of time to make things, not like them, try again, etc. I have a fairly complete list of who gets what and I’m ready to get started!
If I focus on Christmas in August, I’ll share homemade gift ideas, progress on making them, as well as a few tutorials for things I make up as I go! This will primarily be a sewing month, however I’m not ruling out other projects (there are a few people I haven’t decided on yet). If I do go this route and you have great gift ideas (or know someone who does), let me know! I’d love to do a features post, or even have guest posters if anyone is interested!

Finishing up loose ends is probably the least glamorous of my projects. There are a ton of things I need to finish up around the house. Off the top of my head, and without even looking up from the computer, I need to a) finish the curtains in the office b) paint the master bathroom vanity doors c) finish painting the master bathroom d) make a wedding gift for my friend e) make a baby shower gift for another friend f) finish painting doors (front & back) g) bleach the outside chair cover so I can use it as a pattern h) spray paint the outdoor chair (orange?)… I could keep going!

As far as the logical order goes:
Having the office clean and organized would help with making gifts and give me a clean space to tie up those loose ends.
Finishing with Christmas stuff (or at least getting a good start on it) would allow me to relax a little bit and ensure quality gifts come Christmas time. It would also be a HUGE weight off of my shoulders, because I dwell on this a lot!
Finishing up those pesky loose ends would clear my to-do list to work on bigger projects like the office and Christmas.
So yea… the logical order is to do all 3 at once! haha!

Ok voting time! In a comment, please tell me which you think I should do for August and why? Remember to also let me know if you have a post you’d like to be featured and/or would be interested in a guest post. My e-mail is anestinthemaking {at} gmail {dot} com! July is almost over people and it’s time for a new POA!!!

Kristi

*Linking Up At*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

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Recipe Storage – What a Boring Title!

What a boring title, yea? Oh well, there just aren’t many witty comments to go with Recipe Organization. Have any? Let me know! I can always use more humor, wit and sarcasm! *love*

Anyway, how are your kitchens coming along? Did anyone get crazy like me and totally re-vamp the work space? How is that working for you? I have to say, I LOVE having my kitchen organized like it is. It does take a bit to get used to, but it’s super convenient!

We’ve talked about organizing the kitchen and creating menu plans, but we haven’t talked at all about how we keep our recipes. I have gone through tons of systems trying to find what I like.

My first love was the cook book. How amazing that there are so many yummy recipes in that nifty little book! But, storage was always an issue for me. I know I have tons of cabinet space now, but I want my recipes to be someplace I’ll see them and think about them.

My second love was the handed-down recipe. These came in by the ones and twos from family members and friends all over. I’d taste something, ask for the recipe, and throw it in “the pile” with the others. These pages are unsightly, unorganized and don’t get used!

So e end up with this pile of crap delicious recipes. In my old hutch, this was the entire bottom drawer, but my new hutch doesn’t have drawers, which necessitates a change.

And here is my solution:

When I try a new recipe and it gets rave reviews (or an “sure that’s fine,” whichever) it goes straight on an index card. If I don’t have time to do it then, I make sure it’s done before I go to bed that night. This way, our newer recipes and the ones that we love are stored where I can find them easily.


I chose index cards because of their convenient size. I haven’t found a recipe that doesn’t fit (yes I write small), and I like that I can store them out of the way. The box (which I admit, needs a makeover) is the perfect size as well. It’s not taking up a lot of space, but it’s easy to find.

{ain’t she a beaut’!)

The other great thing about the cards is actually using them. I have a cook book holder, but the pages still tend to shut when I’m trying to read them. With the little cards, I can clip them on one of my magnet clips and stick it on the range. It’s a little above eye level, out of the way, and exactly where I need it to reference it as I’m cooking!

Moving all of my recipes over to cards is a long process, but I”m taking it one day at a time. As I said, if there is a recipe I make and love, it goes straight on a card. Otherwise, it’s 2 recipes here, 5 recipes there, and slowly the pile will dwindle away.

I know this isn’t the quickest solution, but I think it’s right for our family. And not having a drawer to stash them away under is going to light a fire under my booty to get started!

How do you store your recipes?

Kristi

 

 

*Linking Up At*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

Good morning! My recipe post is also a bit behind schedule. Things are rough right now as your prayers are appreciated. I hope to get the post up this weekend, but please bear with me as my family deals with illness.

Thank you.

Menu Planning – An Aha! Moment

First of all, I just wanted to say that yesterday was a hard day for me. I’m coming to terms with some family issues (medical) that I’ve been hiding from and it’s not so fun. I would appreciate prayers for my family if you don’t mind. Prayers for healing and prayers to trust Him. I know that He knows what He’s doing, and that He has a plan. But there are some things you just don’t want to (or aren’t ready to) let go of.
Thank you.

Now on to my delayed post on menu planning!

First things first: am I doing it?
Y-E-S!
I admit it’s the first week (and the third day…) but this is a record for me! I know what I’m eating tonight. And let me tell you how great it was knowing what we were eating yesterday. I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to do anything. But the meat was thawed, the veggies were thawed (grilled and frozen previously), the tortillas were thawed (purchased in bulk and frozen previously) and I had my seasoning all mixed up (I keep a “Mexican” spice mix ready at all times because we love our Mexican food)! So, fairly numb, I heated a pan, put in the chicken, seasoned it. I heated up the veggies and tortillas in the microwave. In less than 15 minutes I had fajitas for my husband and I, on an evening when I could have easily just not eaten. I’m grateful for that. So again, I know it’s the beginning (I haven’t even made it a week), but so far I’m thinking there is something to this meal planning.

So here’s what I did. I modified the plan from Simple Mom to fit our family’s needs.
Monday – Mexican
Tuesday – Italian
Wednesday – homemade pizza
Thursday – easy/leftovers
Friday – crock pot
Saturday – something
Sunday – easy/leftovers

I sat down and made a list of meals that fall under each category. We have lots of recipes that we love, but I tend to not think of. With my list of meals in front of me, and my pantry/freezer lists beside me, I was quickly able to piece together a 2-week plan.

(please don’t judge the picture, my super-wonderfuly-fabulous husband just took it and sent it to me since I’m not at home – Thanks Derek!)

So is anyone else feeling inspired? Or what about needing some inspiration? Have you had a big *aha* moment where meal planning really kept you going? Please share!

Kristi

*Linking Up At*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

 Also, I know I’m eluding to some heavy stuff without giving a lot of information. Please forgive me for not going in to more detail. This blog is new to me, and while I want to be as open as possible with people, there are some things I’m not quite ready to share. I appreciate your understanding.

Good afternoon!

Today’s post on my meal planning experience is going to be a little late. I had a very busy weekend of snuggling, playing dinosaur, grilling out, and going to church. There just wasn’t time for blogging. haha! But it will be up – just a little later than expected!

Kristi

Menu Planning – Yes, Again!

Let me start out by saying, I don’t want to write this entry.

I don’t want to meal plan.

I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna!

Ok, someone ask me why I don’t wanna… seriously, ask!

I don’t know.

I have no clue why I am so adverse to meal planning – but I am. In the spirit of reorganizing my kitchen and life therein, I am going to give this a shot. Because this is all new to me, I’m still in the research process. I don’t want to dive in head first here – that might be too productive. So first, let me share some inspiration with you and some great how-tos I found.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time I’ve looked in to meal planning. The last time I did I saved these links, so I figured it was appropriate to kick off my linkies with them:

The Coupon Project – list of sale cycles for most grocery stores (great for looking ahead and seeing what may be coming on sale soon)
Org Junkie: Recipe Index Round-Up – a great linkie party full of recipe index pages, which each link to many more recipes (for when you just don’t know what to make)
Ask Anna: Meal Planning – very detailed how-to for setting up a system
Econobusters: Menu Planning – an ebook for planning menus monthly

Next, instead of making a list of links (which so many people have done), I’m going to link to Laura, who has already created one! It’s extensive and we can be thankful that this lovely lady has done the work for us!

Org Junkie: Menu Planning Resources –  Laura has such a great tool here! I’m specifically talking about the helper site (about half way down), but she also lists resources for recipes, couponing and special diets.

The last thing I want to show you, is probably the most helpful for me. These ladies have made the plans, and are sharing them with the world (FOR FREE)!

Simple Mom: Menu Planning Resources – This is the one I am leaning toward following. I love her idea of having set genres per day, and then making her meals to match.
Menus 4 Moms: Meal Planning – Links to multiple meal plans for different lifestyles.

Maybe Hopefully reading all of these great resources will help me turn my “I don’t wanna” into a “I’m gonna!” (wow that was cheesy, yea?)

So what about you? Do you meal plan? Have you tried it and failed? Have you never tried because you’re super super stubborn and silly about the whole thing? No, I guess that’s just me! Any tips, tricks or resources for me to check out?

On Monday I’ll be posting the menu planning system I decided to go with, so it looks like it’s nose in the books for me for the weekend! Hope everyone has a great one!

 

Kristi

 

 

*linking up at*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

Cabinet Reorganization

Welcome back! Did you miss me? I hope everyone is making some progress on their pantry and freezers! AND keeping those counter tops clean!

So far I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been trying to make meals based on what I have in the pantry and freezer and so far so good! My dear hubby is loving the list because he “didn’t know those snacks were in there!” A happy snacking husband is a happy home!

*disclaimer: this is my lived in kitchen. it’s not perfect. there are dishes in the sink. I don’t know what to do with all those vases yet. But that’s ok – I’m being real here.

Today I want to talk to you about organizing your kitchen. When we first moved in to this home, we had sooo much extra space we didn’t know what to do! I remember having empty cabinets. We even considered taking one down to open up the space more. Fast forward a few years and I have a very full kitchen. All the cabinets are full to the brink. The hutch is over-flowing, and there is a cabinet in the garage with even more appliances. (As a disclaimer, this is not about food. We’re talking about storage for your regular kitchen stuffs here!)

I was reading an article over on RamonaCreel where she talked about effective use of space in your kitchen. Ramona explains that there are five centers to every kitchen.

1) Cleaning – sink, dishwasher, trashcan, soap, and cleaning supplies
2) Cooking – stove (obviously), baking sheets, pots, pans, microwave, etc
3) Food Preparation – large workspace, knives, cutting board, mixing bowls, blenders, measuring cups, etc
4) Serving – can be in the dining area, glasses, plates, linens, dishes
5) Food Storage – refrigerator, pantry and Tupperware.

And that ever item/supply/implement in your kitchen should fall in to one of these categories. She suggests arranging your kitchen so that each center is together.

“The goal is to keep your equipment nearest the appropriate center, making it easier for you to perform your kitchen duties.”

Taking a look around my kitchen, there are some glaring changes that should be made!

1) my pots and pans are nowhere near my cooking station
2) my bowls are nowhere near my prep station
3) my small appliances are nowhere near where I use them
4) my linens are nowhere near my table

Also,

5) I have a drawer dedicated to measuring cups (which come on a ring and could be hung up in a cabinet)
6) I have a huge drawer dedicated to towels and potholders (towels could go in a smaller drawer and potholders could be hung in a cabinet)
7) I’m not sure what’s in 3 of my cabinets
8) I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in the little cabinets above my fridge and stove

So I made this pretty picture of my kitchen and color-coded where each zone is.

Orange is cooking
Red is cleaning
Purple is Serving
Blue is food prep
Green is food storage
I made those little cabinets above my stove/fridge white because I don’t know what to do with them yet.

I printed out one of these and have been using it as a rough draft for where I want things. I like to put things on paper first so that I don’t have to move heavy things around as much. This won’t work 100%. I’m sure there are things that will change, but this limits the amount of moving and removing I have to do!

The next step is to empty all the cabinets, wipe them out, and see what I have.

Ah! That’s nice isn’t it? Dare I say cozy? Maybe? NO, it’s probably a  little much.

With my cabinets all emptied and clean it wasn’t difficult to put things where they need to go.

The first thing I did was take out everything that will later go in my hutch.

This is the hutch I am getting, but as you can see it is still holding baby toys at my mother-in-law’s house. That’s ok. I already know what is going on it, so at this point I just need to get it out of the way of my kitchen organizing!

The next step is to put back the things I want to stay where they are. My dishes go above the sink to the left. I like them right there by the sink/dishwasher and in the middle of things. This is where they’ve been since we moved in and I”m quite happy with it. The tupperware was banished to a lower cabinet by the fridge long ago. It went there because I had nowhere else to but it, but now it seems to make sense. These cabinets didn’t get much change, but they did get some straightening and a good wipe down. (See! Not completely neglected!)

I used 3M command hooks to keep my potholders and measuring cups out of the way. The potholders went to the door of a cabinet above and to the right of the stove (what a sentence!), while the measuring cups went to the door of a cabinet above the bar.

My apron, towels and rags went to the little drawer which previously held the measuring cups. They fill the drawer (so much more efficient than the little measuring cups) and give me a nice huge drawer to use for something else! I didn’t change my cabinet under the sink. This is all cleaning stuff and it works great for our family.

After that, I just started putting things “up” based on the zones I made for myself.

My bar, the larges flat surface in the kitchen, became my prep area. I put bowls, baking supplies, strainers, and that type of stuff in the cabinets above. The cabinets below are *gasp* empty! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them yet to be honest.

I put the pots and pans to the top right of the stove, and the casseroles to the top left. Mini appliances went below the pots and tupperware is below the casseroles (which is right next to the fridge).

My dishes and glasses went back where they were (with room for mini-appliances above). I did purge a LOT of dishes though. I kept what I think we’ll actually use. The lower cabinet is the nice china and the top cabinet is plastic (and a butter dish because he needed a home).

Let’s see… that’s store, clean, prep, cook and serve. Yay! I have room to grow and move things around if I need to, but for now it’s looking great to me!

Here’s my obligatory “stuff I got rid of” picture:

(yes, that is an entire trunk-full!)

Oh! And that drawer that previously held my towels now holds my spices! LOVE IT! So much extra counter space when I could trash the big ol’ rack!

Love it!

So is anyone else working on a major over-haul of your kitchen? Are you making good use of your cabinet space? What changes have you made to your layout that have made a huge difference? And most importantly, what should I do with my huge empty cabinet!?

Kristi

*linking up at*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

Kitchen Lists

Do you like lists? I do! Do you like lists in your kitchen? Yep, I do too! I’m specifically talking about the lists I use to keep my food organized (and my budget under control). The oldest member of my kitchen list family is the grocery list (shocker right?). I am a big coupon-er, so I tend to shop in weird ways. I go grocery shopping when I’m home on Friday, and coupon shopping on Sunday. I’ll save the difference between the two for another day, but suffice it to say that grocery shopping is a very separate thing for me.

I, like many other people, keep a running list of what I need to pick up at the grocery store. As we run out of things, I add it to the list. I know, this is nothing new to anyone, but I do have a nifty secret I’d like to share!

I keep a master grocery list of EVERYTHING I regularly purchase. This includes toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher detergent, flour, sugar, meat, etc. About once a month (this is not clockwork people), I take my list and go through the house. If we have it, and don’t need more, I check it off the list. At the end of my inventory, anything not crossed off goes on to the regular shopping list.

I find that, although I intend to always add an item to the list when it is used up, I don’t. Apparently I’m too busy to take those .5 seconds and save myself future heartache. So instead of teaching myself to be diligent in writing down what I use, I’ve found an effective way to make up for my laziness!

Here is my list. Please note that this is different for everyone. You’re welcome to use my list as a basis to make your own, but only you know what your family uses regularly.

So that’s list #1 (on going grocery list) and list #2 (regular purchases list). Lists #3 and #4 are newer to me. These are my inventory lists. I keep a pantry inventory and a freezer inventory. They both hang on the fridge and allow me to see, at a glance, what we have.

I’m still working on the meal planning thing, so a typical evening for me goes something like this:

Derek – what’s for dinner?
Me – I’m not sure dear. Let me check the refrigerator and see if we have any leftover!
*checks fridge and there are no leftovers*
Me – Oh dear. It looks like I’ll have to cook something! Let’s see what we can have!
*scans the lists and quickly decides on a meal*
*prepares said meal for a happy husband*

Well, I said *something* like this. hehe! But you get the idea!

Even if I’m not planned well ahead of time, I’m able to quickly see that we have pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef – let’s have spaghetti. Or we have tilapia and rice (cooked and frozen) – let’s have that. Or we have ground beef and hamburger buns – let’s grill burgers! See how that goes? So simple!

So that’s it. 4 simple lists that make my life so much easier!

Do you use lists in your kitchen? I’d love to hear what makes your life easier! I’m still working on the meal planning thing, but I figure this is a step in the right direction!

As a reminder, the next step on my Kitchen PoA is to completely reorganize the cabinets and purge purge purge!

See you then!

Kristi

*linking up at*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

The Kitchen – Making that Beauty Shine

Welcome to day one of my July Kitchen Challenge! I’m not sure I’ve called it a challenge before, but I am definitely challenging myself here!

I’ve been following Blessed Mama and the Blog Bible Study as they read through A Woman After God’s Own Heart. I’m a little behind, on chapter 2, but I’m really enjoying the weekly study. The first week, we were asked if there is any aspect of your life where you’re giving “good” or “good enough” when you could be giving “better” or your “best.”

I wrote about cleaning my kitchen/dining room – specifically the high chair. My son eats off of that. He drops food on it, picks it up, and puts it straight in to his mouth. He rarely gets sick *knock on wood* but is it hygienic for me to clean it “sometimes?” No! I vowed, June 19th, to clean it daily after dinner. To wipe it down with a rag and soap and water and clean it (yes, like normal people do). So far I’ve done it every day, with the except of last night when I fell asleep right after dinner). When I get home this evening, I will wash it before feeding my son.

My first goal in my July PoA  is to work on cleaning, and to continue to keep the kitchen table, chairs and high chair clean. This is a small goal, but I think it is important to mention. I don’t want to get great at cooking and meal planning and all of that, and give my son a dirty high chair tray. This is the most important thing. If I fail at every other thing I try this July, I will have a clean surface for my son to eat off of.

As I see it, there are three major parts to cleaning a kitchen:
1) floors
2) surfaces
3) dishes
How’s that for simplified?

Before I talk about how I will be fitting this in to my schedule, let me give you a quick look at evenings in our house.

My husband and son get home about 5:30. Braden eats dinner and they play until I get home a little before 7:30. Braden gets a bath and then it’s his bed time. When Braden goes to bed, I start dinner. We eat a little after 8, usually. At 9 I start getting ready for bed (put up laundry, brush teeth, that fun stuff) and at 9:30 I get in bed and read my bible for a half hour. At 10pm, I turn off the lights. I work Monday-Thursday and Friday’s I am home alone all day. Braden goes to his preschool and Derek works. My evenings are rushed because I work late. I need a cleaning schedule that is simplified and will allow me to keep things clean for my family, but not take away from the brief free time I have with them.

That said, I see two key times when I can quickly straighten up from our meals and that is right after Braden goes to bed, and right after we finish eating. While I’m waiting for water to boil or whatever, I can quickly wipe down Braden’s high chair and sweep up any crumbs off the floor. Then, after Derek and I have dinner, I can wipe down the table we eat at and the counters. I am blessed to say that dishes are handled by my husband. Before bed every night, he loads the dishwasher and runs it. I know! Be jealous! haha!

A quick sweep down isn’t enough for a kitchen floor though. Especially not with a 16 month old running around. So Friday mornings (remember I don’t have to work Fridays), I will get up and sweep/mop the kitchen. I don’t imagine it will take long at all, and I have the time to do it. I just don’t have the motivation – or didn’t have the motivation, now I do!

So that’s the plan for keeping the kitchen clean! Do you have a cleaning plan that helps you keep your kitchen (or any part of your house, really) clean? Any great kitchen cleaning tips for me?

Kristi

*linking up at*
A Bowl Full of Lemons
52 weeks
Delightful Order
Serenity Now

July PoA – Let’s Tackle that Kitchen!

I need a POA (that’s Plan of Action for those of you who haven’t recently been through QEP training (that’s Quality something something, and yes they use a lot of TLAs (that’s Three Letter acronyms, please try to keep up!))).

*Did you like my algebraic use of parenthesis there? Pretty pretty. Yes, I’m a nerd.

Wow I got off topic fast, didn’t I? Anyway, Plan of Action for July. I need a goal. If I am pickle <cross out> fickle, ADD-brain or just don’t have follow-through, I’m going to need a plan and a goal.

July is all about the kitchen. It’s a long month (unlike that tease, February) so I should be able to get a lot done. There are a few areas I want to focus on.

1) cleaning/organizing
July 6th – cleaning
July 8th – Kitchen Lists
July 11th – Use of the Space

2) planning
July 15th – What is a Menu Plan? Why?
July 18th – My Menu Plan System
July 22nd – My Recipe Card System

3) cooking
July 29th – Weekly Meal Plan Walk-Through

All of this will be followed up with a pretty little re-cap post at the end of the month! So, do you think I can do it? We shall see, but I am optimistic!

I look forward to seeing you back here on the 6th when we kick off our little shindig with some good old fashion floor scrubbing!

Kristi

*linking up to*
52 Weeks
Delightful Order
A Slob Comes Clean