Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shoe Storage

One of the things that I think is hardest for large families is the "clothes" situation. That extends to outerwear and footwear. Keeping your family clothed appropriately for all seasons means that you need to store that stuff. My salvation in that regard was utilizing several cube organizers designed for shoes. I labeled them for easy use. You can see pictures on this page, near the bottom.

Of course, one size does not fit all, and you may not be able to use shoe cubes which can take up a lot of wall space. Or you may simply want another solution. One of the Lotsofkids staffers, Melanie, came up with this great solution for her family. Her kitchen closet is used to store coats and other outside gear. Since there was unused space in the front of the closet, her husband mounted store bought wire shelving on the door. The shelving was deliberately mounted upside-down and at an angle, so that there would be a lip to hold the shoes in place. I absolutely love this idea, and think that it could also work well in basements and on regular walls! Another bit of ingenuity from a large-family mom and dad.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Potracks on the Cheap

Living in an old house, the layout of our home is not the most efficient. While the house it not small, it’s not huge either. Most of the rooms are narrow and there is not a lot of free space. The kitchens in particular are pretty small. That has forced us to be very practical and utilize the space wisely. One of the ways we do this is by using pot racks. Having the majority of pots hanging above the stove freed up valuable cabinet space for other items. We have 2 kitchens in our home, and I have utilized a pot rack for years in the upper kitchen. However, last year we did a small remodel of the downstairs kitchen (just paint and new hardware, but it made a big difference). I wanted to utilize a potrack for that kitchen, but 2 things stood in my way.

First challenge: The ceilings are very high and have ceiling tiles on them. To mount a rack on chains in the ceiling would be very difficult.

Second challenge: No money. Our other pot rack had cost $60 15 years ago. Nowadays a comparable rack would easily run over $100.

So we needed to come up with a solution. I went to the internet for inspiration. I wanted to find cheap, do-it-yourself racks. There were a lot of options, but most involved buying plans and then buying a lot of material. I bookmarked about a dozen sites that interested me and then weeded it down from there. Here were my top picks:

Pipe Potrack - This was a great rack and I thought it was a very clever and inexpensive way to do a rack. Due to the problems I mentioned earlier, this one wouldn’t have worked, but it was worth an honorable mention.

Wire Shelving Potrack - I fell in love with the ingenuity of this rack. I mean, it really is functional and cheap and…well, I love it. I wanted SOOOO badly to go with this design, and even had a piece of wire shelving I could have used. But our layout didn’t work. Still, I felt the need to share it here because I think others might find inspiration.

Bike Wheel Potrack - Actually, I love this idea, even though it wouldn’t have worked in our space. Very clever.

Home Depot Potrack - What I liked about this link is that they give you the instructions, and the pot rack is really nice and classy. But, bottom line, the materials would have cost as much as a regular rack.

Log Potrack - This one really intrigued me. A first I just thought it a neat (and cheap) concept. Eventually, though, it would be the one I would base our design off of.

So, once it was all said and done, we decided to go with a rack made from a simple 2x4. Using the design from the rack listed above, we bought hardware and put it together. Because of the high ceilings, we needed a way to mount it lower and from the wall. That is where I got the idea to use heavy duty plant hooks. I utilize these in another part of my house for lighting (will write about that another time. It did add a little more cost to the project, but turned out fine.

Here’s the pictures of our project. Oh, and one of our cat who decided to sniff around while we worked. Click on the picture to view a bigger version in a separate window.

The whole project cost us $35. If we had been able to ceiling mount it, the cost would have been $25. Note that we did not stain the wood, but plan to in the future. For now, it’s functional, looks pretty darn good, and did its job—freeing up storage space. Who could ask for anything more.

September Cooking Challenge

Cooking with Cereal

This challenge actually was born out of a dilemma I recently had. We had purchased cereal on sale a while back, and for whatever reason it had not gotten eaten. Probably because it was not a super-sweet brand the kids normally eat. So, I started thinking that I didn't want this to go to waste, but I had no idea how to eat it other than the traditional way. So, I thought--there must be a way to incorporate cereal into a dish. And not just a dessert. How about a snack, or a main dish.

So, the challenge is born. Of course, there is the temptation to go with a rice-krispie-treat knockoff. But I am hoping you all are a bit more creative than that. So the challenge is to create a dish incorporating cereal. Since we are trying to use up the cereal, you should incorporate at least a one cup of cereal.

No limit on which brand or type of cereal you can use. The recipe should be original, or a fair alteration on an existing recipe. Creativity will factor heavily into this challenge, so keep that in mind.

Since we are still hammering out who is going to be hosting the challenge, as well as tweaking the overall rules a bit, we are not going to have a formal "rule page" for this month's challenge. The only rules that need to be followed is that you need to either post your entry somewhere on the web (and give us a link) or email us the details. Pictures are a plus, but not mandatory. Any further information on the challenge will posted on this blog, and links to any entries can be posted here in the comments of this blog.

Happy cooking,everyone!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Coming Soon!

Coming Monday. Our new Cooking Challenge for September! Be sure to come back and check it out.

Also, we've been a bit slow here on the blog, but are hoping to get things started again. We have a lot planned, including cooking help, household organization, holiday fun, and more.

Lastly, we are looking for bloggers to join our team! If you are a mom of many (4 or more kids--natural/adopted/blended) and are interested in sharing your household journey with us, drop me a line at lotsofkids123[at]

I'll be back this weekend with a new "space-saving" blog entry. See you then!