Nativity PreK and K Packs

December 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lizzy calls these her Christmas “specials”:






Kitchen skills

July 9, 2009 § 3 Comments

This is a stub post of sorts for a series of lessons I am preparing for my children on kitchen skills.

Welcome to my kitchen: What says “home” better than a well run kitchen?  I suppose there is a bit of irony in the fact that most of what I learned about kitchen management I actually learned in commercial kitchens, but I suppose that is a sign of the times I grew up in.   There is so much that goes into creating a efficient, well run kitchen – but the reality is that if you wish to eat well and save money you have to cook and cooking is much easier, safer and more enjoyable in a well run kitchen.

If you were to step into a commercial kitchen you would see more or less exactly what you see in the home kitchen only on a larger scale.   The commercial kitchen will have stations where particular activities take place, hand washing, dish washing, cooking, prep stations,  storage:  dry,  refrigerated and frozen, trash disposal.  Additionally every activity from selecting the menu to cleaning up at the end of the day is carefully planned, this is the workflow.  The home kitchen also has these elements, though they may be a little more difficult to identify.  There will be work stations, but they often do double or triple duty.    Your kitchen sink is your handwash station and your prep-cleaning station and your dishwashing station.  The same counter that you do prep-cutting on will be used for baking.   Your workflow will be different, but it should be planned.

Now I don’t pretend that this is the only way to run a kitchen.  Kitchens are rather personal things, but there are some universal basics and many more hints, tips and tricks that you can pick up.   So let’s start with the basics.

Safety: Before you start there are some safety basics to know.  Safety really does come first.

ClothingHot Things | Sharp things |  Slips and Spills

Cleanliness and sanitation:

Work flow

Work areas


Food Stuffs





Menu planning




Kitchen skills – Clothing

July 9, 2009 § 1 Comment

Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen?  No: safety first when it comes to cooking.

Shoes: You should wear closed toe, sensible, non-skid shoes.  If you are working with hot oil I recommend wearing non-porous shoes.  There is almost nothing that hurts quite as badly as a grease spill that lands on your foot.    Even a drop of hot oil on a sandal shod foot can be painful for days.    Dropped knives or cutlery, boiling water all spell disaster on bare feet or feet inadequately protected by open toe shoes or sandals.    Avoid high heals or shoes with substandard arch support – if you are on your feet a lot cooking and then cleaning you will want supportive foot wear.  Non-skid soles will help keep you from slipping, which in a kitchen with a hot stove could go from embarrassing to disastrous in an instant.

Shirts and blouses: Shirts should be cuffed at the wrist and somewhat trim fitting.  If you are wearing a loose fitting long sleeve  you should consider wearing sleeve garters or a chef’s  jacket.   Likewise if you are working with heat you might want to seriously consider a chef’s jacket over short sleeves.

Chef’s Jackets and Aprons: A chef jacket or apron will protect your clothing from spills, flour dust, water, oil and all those little kitchen “incidences”.    Chef’s jackets can be purchased from uniform supply stores and some kitchen supply stores – you can also find them online.  Aprons can be found nearly everywhere and come in a wide range of designs and colors.  Pick something sensible.  You can find many really pretty aprons that are very serviceable, but you can find many more that, while super cute, are just not cut our for kitchen work.   Aprons come in a variety of styles, look for a butcher, cook, or chef  bib style apron.   Bistro aprons are designed to be worn with chef’s jackets and those cute little hostess aprons are worn to serve not to cook.   Go for a sturdy, comfortable and washable fabric such as cotton twill.

Legs:  Be extra careful if you are wearing shorts or a skirt in the kitchen.  Hot liquid spills are the biggest concern.  A long apron can help save your legs.

Hair: If you have long hair pull it back; if it is really long wear it up.  While it is unlikely,  it has happened that hair has been caught in mixers and blenders  and set ablaze by gas burners.   Be safe.

Kitchen Skills is a serries I am working on for my children.

Culling the clothing

February 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

Every six months or so I walk into the children’s rooms to put away laundry, open the door and realise that I can’t fit everything in there.   I don’t think the children’s clothing actually breeds in the laundry, but it sure seems like it sometimes.  We start the season with the “right” amount of clothing and then through gifts, hand-me-downs and bringing things up from storage as the children grow into a new size we end up stuffed to the gills again.  Now if I was smart I would pull clothing equal to the gifts/hand-me-downs and I wouldn’t let a storage box open before I had sorted out the smaller size but most times I am just not that smart or diligent.

So the clothing multiplies and before many months go by there is just too much in the drawers again, so I have to cut back.  I have written before about my clothing inventory and clothing checklist here.   This system works really well for me.

So the time has come to go through the clothing again.

I pulled out the lists for the girls:

Hannah’s list

Sarah’s list

I am culling back to the list level, then I will be able to see what I need to get.

A penny saved

January 13, 2009 § 3 Comments

WWII Poster encouraging thrift - The National Archives

WWII Poster encouraging thrift - The National Archives

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”.  A well worn little axiom if there ever was one.   January is always a great  month to start working on new ideas, new plans, new goals.  With the current economic situation many of us are talking about ways to be thrifty, live more simply, basically spend and use less.

Right before Christmas Portland was blanketed in snow and ice.  After the holiday had pass and the snow was all but gone I took my oldest to get her hair cut and happened to overhear another customer talking about what a great Christmas she had had.  She hadn’t been able to get out and shop for all her last minute gifts, but she had a wonderful Christmas anyway.  She had made a couple gifts and just hadn’t given as many gifts as usual.  I thought it was really cool that she felt that way instead of feeling as though she had missed something.

Yesterday I found a really nice post about economy at  The Simple Wife.   I like her takes on the concept of economy and I agree whole heartily that we live in a culture with too much waste and trash.  We view everything as disposable — even people.

One of the themes in Tolkien’s work which has stuck with me is the thought of  things made to last.  He covers almost in passing, but as an enduring theme in his books,  the connections between craftsmanship, beauty and thrift.  All things functional also have form and where possible the form should be lovely and well crafted.  All things worth of creating are worth creating well and nothing should be wasted, tossed aside or abandoned.  Which is in a sense the essence of simple living, have less, do more with it and select those things we add to our life with care and care for what we have.  Only when something is ruined and twisted or wasted beyond repair is it destroyed.

Holiday Grand Plan Week One.

August 20, 2008 § 8 Comments

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

Week One
It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner.  It is also a busy time for moms.  School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat. 

Cleaning:  The front porch is the space on the agenda this week.    While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance.  The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start. 

Planning:  I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner.  This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists.  I have the following that I am making:

Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.

The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.

I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already.   Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.

Christmas and Advent 2008

August 5, 2008 § 1 Comment

I walked into Fred Meyer’s the other day and tucked away near the cards and the books was the first Christmas display, the American Greetings ornaments I believe.   Normally I am rather perturbed by the consumer driven tendency to market Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but this year I looked at it and thought about how dizzying the Advent/Christmas season is.  Every year I hope to be more organised and for the last few years I have note of “The Holiday Grand Plan” which starts holiday planning in the last week of August and finishes it in the main planning endeavors by the middle of December. 

Normally I forget all about the “Grand Plan” until mid October.  This year I actually remembered about it early enough to bump it back two weeks so I can use it for Advent and Christmas.  I plan to bump the Grand Plan back to August 17 and “Tweak” it so that I can focus on Advent too.

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