Friday, October 31, 2008

Creating a Pantry

We are renting a split level house. Because we are renting, we are very limited on the changes we are allowed to make. I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with this house. I LOVE it because it works & we are able to live peacefully with our 5 youngest kids in it. I HATE it for too many reasons to name....mainly cost & energy efficiency, things that I have no control over.

Since my options are limited, but I NEED storage space in the kitchen, I had to be inventive. While I call the house a split level, I have been told it is technically a split come in the front door & you are on a landing, you can either go up to the kitchen & living areas or you can go down to the laundry & the space we are using as our master bedroom. For todays purpose we go UP. At the top of the stairs, there is a "hall" closet to the right, the livingroom to the left and the kitchen straight ahead. While we could really use a place to hang our coats, a pantry was of more urgency. The kitchen has four small cabinets that barely hold our dishes, glasses & pots & pans. We needed a place to store food.

We solved the coat storage problem by putting removable hooks on the back of each bedroom door and decided to use the "hall closet" as a pantry. The closet had a traditional rod for hanging coats & a shelf above that. We took a 3 shelf (cheap) pressed wood bookcase & mounted it just above the baseboard in the closet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's cold out there!

Every year I do this dance. It's called the "when will we break down and turn on the heat in the house?" dance. Living in Chicago, we are used to brutal winters. Autumn is my favorite seasons, and while we are often gifted with a few lovely days well into November, we can get some pretty cold days as early as September. I hate the thought of the heating bills we are hit with in the deep winter months. So, I play the game, trying to keep from turning on the heat until the last possible moment. With temperatures dipping into the 30s at night, it's been hard not to. We haven't caved yet! Though, admittedly, we are cheating a bit, using small heater fans to supplement. But I really want to hold off a little while longer.

How long do you wait until turning on the heat? Have you broken down and used yours yet? Comment and let other readers know how you handle the beginning of "heating season."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Musing about when Less is More

I have a new Michelle's Musing over at Lotsofkids. There has been a lot of talk about how the bad economy is having an unexpected positive effect. People are going back to the basics. Frugality was once equated with being cheap. Not anymore. Erika writes about how being frugal is a blessing for her family over at 4 or More. You can find countless articles and blog entries on the Internet where people are talking about getting back to the basics. This is a good thing. I think most readers of this blog are looking for ideas on how to live comfortably on less. I hope some of the tips here will inspire. As sad as the reasoning is behind this trend (a recession and struggling economy), I am happy that the lifestyle many large families on suddenly not being frowned upon. Encouraging, indeed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Simplify those clothes!

Last night we went clothes shopping for the kids!! I know to many this doesn't sound all that exciting, but this is the first time WE (my dh and I) have been able to really buy clothes for our kids. Up until this point it's mostly been grandma or hand me downs from other people.

That said, for some time now I have been planning out how we can simplify our clothing. We have four children 7 and under, one more on the way and Lord willing, we'll have bunches more. Clothing can QUICKLY become overwhelming when it comes to storage and maintaining. One things we have always tried to do is DE-CLUTTER the clothes on a regular basis. For example, my 5 year old does not need 10 pairs of pants, even if they are all cute - so together her and I pick out 4-6 pairs she is going to keep.

When we went to buy clothes last night I went with very specific ideas in mind. All we needed was jeans for all three of the bigger kids, socks & a few long sleeve shirts for the two oldest and underwear. To make laundry easier, I planned on only buying ONE TYPE of sock for each particular child. So I bought a big 10 pack of socks for each child and they have one or two random "fancy" socks at home. This makes matching and sorting easier. For jeans, everyone got only two pairs of jeans (oldest got three, he has NO pants LOL!). This may seem like very little, but in all honesty, with how often we do laundry and how quickly kids wear clothes out, the likelihood that we'll need more is slim. AND if we do need another pair we can go get them, rather than having one too many and it going to "waste" or take up much needed space.

I don't know if this little bit of info will be helpful to anyone lol :) but I thought I'd share. I wish someone had told me about this with child #1 so we wouldn't be spending our time now trying to figure this out with four kiddos.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Kitchen Challenge

A few months ago I had the idea to do a cooking challenge. Meaning that periodically we would run mini-contests, posing cooking tasks to the community, and seeing what everyone would come up with. I knew this was not a unique concept (official names for such contests are "food events"), but I wanted to do something that regular family cooks could participate it.

Our first couple of rounds went well. However, we had a bit of a shake-up prior to our last contest, and as a result our most recent one fell kinda flat. We only had 2 entries to our "cereal challenge." So, I realized that perhaps the challenge needed a reboot. After some thought, I decided that the best thing would be to broaden it a bit. And thus, the KITCHEN Challenge was born.

This Challenge will have the same concept as to cooking one, except it won't be limited to cooking. The goal of the challenge is to help inspire our readers in all areas of the kitchen, from cooking, to budgeting, to organizing.

Since we have several people who have indicated they want to help in this endeavor, the challenge will be periodically guest-hosteded on different blogs throughout the year. The host will be in charge of coming up with the challenge and participate in the judging. If you're interested in possible hosting a Challenge, drop us a line at lotsofkids123[at]

Usually our Challenges are host bi-monthly, but since things kinda fell flat last month, we are going to be doing a new challenge this month. It will be hosted by our sister blog, Large Family Cooking. Be sure to check out the current challenge here.

For more general information on the LOK Kitchen Challenge, as well as to grab banners to put your website, click HERE.