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Some of my blogging friends and I are giving you a peek inside our kitchens today, showing how you can make small spaces work, even when you're sticking to a whole food diet! I am so excited to be part of today's blog tour! (A big Texas welcome to you if you're visiting for the first time from one of the other blogs on the tour!) Here at the Good Old Days Farm, our kitchen is truly the heart of our home…. or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it's the Grand Central Station of our home! Either way, it's high time that I gave you the grand tour!
First, A Bit of House-History…
Our house was built in the 1930's in Frognot, Texas. The town of Frognot “isn't there” any more and not very much is known about it, but I have a dear friend (now in her 80's) who grew up there. Back then there were very few cars and the roads were bad so even to come a few miles west into Blue Ridge was a big deal. It was a very rural community where most of the families farmed and it sounds like several of the families were related to each other! It was remote and rural. There's even a story about Bonnie and Clyde coming through Frognot one afternoon as they were escaping the police… and the locals just thought to themselves, “Who are those strangers and what are they doing here?” They had no idea history was walking through their backyard!
My friend remembers my house being built and the family who built it. They were a farm family with seven or eight children, but the house only ever had 2 bedrooms. The house is solidly built but it's a simple house that was owned by the same family until the youngest brother died in the mid 1990's. At that point somebody decided to move the house a few miles west to Blue Ridge. Amazingly, the house had never had plumbing or electricity installed in all those years so the new owners stripped the house down to just it's studs, moved it, put it in its current location, then installed modern plumbing, electricity and drywall. The result is a simple, plain space that feels new, but retains some old-time, country charm. I love it!
Now, Come On Inside For The Tour…
When you walk in my front door there is only one room, with the bedrooms coming off that room. To your right is the living room area and to the left is the kitchen/dining area. Immediately in front of you is what I assume was the old coat closet. Except that this is Texas and most of the year you don't need coats, so, since I entertain a lot, I turned that cupboard into the cupboard where I keep my main “tools of the trade”: Large Platters, Mixing bowls, Serving dishes and trays all go in that closet as well as appliances like my Champion juicer and my Excalibur dehydrators. (Yes, I have more than one… We live on a farm, after all!)
One day I was browsing in a junk shop and I found a nice little coat rack. I screwed that to the inside of that closet door and that is where I hang our family's aprons (my favorites are from Flirty Aprons).
The table is where everything happens. It's where we eat, we homeschool, we make preserves, we do arts and crafts, and the list goes on. With the leaves in place, our table seats 10 (11 if you include the baby's high chair… which was a $5 find at a Garage Sale on the side of the road several years ago). There are only 6 of us and so I have often closed the table up thinking I could save space, but inevitably a day or two after closing the table up we end up having guests or find ourselves doing a big project and needing the table opened up again. So now I just leave the table open to its fullest size. Yes, it's huge and it takes over my small kitchen, but it works for us! The table itself was a Craigslist find. Somebody had decided to replace her kitchen table and put this table in the garage. After a couple of months her husband was so tired of seeing the table in the garage that he gave it to us for free saying, “I just want it OUT of here so I can have my garage back!” What a blessing for us!
Before our baby was born last winter, I had been keeping all our long-term and bulk food storage in one of the bedroom closets. With the arrival of the baby, we now need that closet to store the girls' clothes and I needed to move all the food. I found these wonderful Billy Bookcases from Ikea on a Facebook Garage Sale site (4 for $60). They included the extension piece so that the shelves go up to the ceiling. On the lower shelves (which can't be seen behind the table) I store bulk items in buckets and on the upper shelves I store our dry goods and non-perishable foods in mason jars (flours, beans, dehydrated vegetables, canned goods, etc).
We needed a deep freeze and found one at the scratch and dent store, but we had no space for one so we had to get a bit creative. You'd never know it, but behind our upright freezer is what used to be our front door. I always disliked having guests walk in and be standing right in my kitchen (where the mess is!). Nobody can use that door now but we have other doors (plural – there are still ample escape routes in the event of an emergency), so now everybody comes into the house at the living room, which is the way it should be anyway.
I always try to keep the counters clear so that the kitchen looks clean (even when there's a lot going on.) My Blendtec blender is the one appliance that I keep out on my counter. It is my new favorite appliance and I use it multiple times a day. I love that, unlike previous blenders I have owned, it is short enough to be tucked under the kitchen cabinets without being obtrusive.
The other item that I allow out on the counter is my “command central station.” This is a recipe holder with two 3″x 5″ drawers. I keep my Homemakers' Friend Day Planner on the easel so that I can see what's going on each week and quickly jot down my shopping list items as I think of them. I'd be so lost without my Homemakers' Friend Planner!
Where I Store the Big Stuff…
The biggest challenge of feeding a large family a whole food diet is that I cook a lot of food and all my pans are BIG… too big to store in traditional cupboards. So here's what I've done:
My stock pots are almost the size of a water bath canner. The only place I have to store them is up on top of the cupboards, near the ceiling. Yes, it looks bad and yes, I have to climb up on a chair every time I want to get a pot down or put one away, but for now it's my best solution.
If you purchased my Granola Ebook, then you know that granola is a staple around here. I use a special 16″ x 16″ x 3″ cake pan to make the granola so that I can turn it without making a mess. I also use the same pan to roast potatoes and other vegetables in. I love that pan, but it's huge! So that gets stored… Where else? Right inside my oven! Now it's just a habit to pull it out of the oven before I turn the oven on!
We have a TON of fruits and vegetables… more than can fit in a fruit basket. I struggled for a long time trying to figure out how to prevent my produce from taking over precious counter space and one day I stumbled across a Craigslist ad for an outdoor patio plant stand. It has served me well for several years now holding all the fruits and veggies that don't go in the fridge!
Finally, a lot of cooking means that we have a LOT of spices. I buy all my spices in bulk so I needed a way to keep them fresh. When we bought the house there was this crazy empty spot right over the stove, so Papa the Farmer put a shelf in for me and now I store my spices in mason jars. They have a great seal, so the spices stay fresh for a really long time and best of all, they're right within reach when I am standing at the stove cooking!
I hope you enjoyed your tour of my kitchen. If this is your first time here, please subscribe to my blog while you're here. As a way of saying “Thank you” you'll receive a free sampler pack of my Words Fitly Spoken Conversation Starters. And if you're already one of my regular readers, then I invite you to join the kitchen tour and come visit some of these lovely ladies with me!
Danielle from More Than Four Walls shares how she continued their real food philosophy while living in a camper.
Jennifer from GrowingUpTriplets.com shares a video of how she manages real food prep
Elsie from RichlyRooted.com shows how she organizes her tiny cabin kitchen…with no kitchen drawers!
Rachel at Mason Jar Values shows how you can make a kitchen work as big as it seems…even if it's not!
Katie Mae at Nourishing Simplicity gives you a tour of tiny her make-shift kitchen in Mexico!
Jaimie E Ramsey shares how she she organizes, creates new recipes, and entertains in her small apartment kitchen