Two Kitchen Items EVERY Whole Foods Chef Must Have!

Recently Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist recently published a blog post entitled 16 Things Your Kitchen Can Do Without written by guest bloggers John and Dana Shultz of Minimalist Baker.

While overall his article is right-on, I have a strong disagreement with two of the items he mentions as not being very useful in a kitchen, especially in the kitchen of a minimalist. You can read the article yourself and see if you agree with me.

Did you guess which two I use almost every day??

A Crock Pot and a Rice Cooker.

My guess is that this young couple is mainly cooking for themselves and have no children for whom they must feed and take to music class/soccer practice/4H events on a regular basis. Otherwise they would know the saving grace of a crock pot and a rice cooker.

 (The fact that he lists 8 plates/glasses/bowls as being plenty and that they keep their knives in the silverware drawer lends support to the thought that they don't have a family too.)

If you want to avoid fast food dinners and eat a whole foods diet even on music lesson nights, a crock pot is your answer! I regularly put dinner on in our slow cooker before we head out the door. When we return, the smell of a ready dinner greats us. Enough to warm your heart on those busy days!

To make a dinner go even farther - add in some rice. If you are trying to eat a whole foods diet, you will avoid the quick-cooking white rice and opt for the brown rice that takes a minimum of 45 minutes to cook. How is that going to happen? Plus you have to stay in the kitchen to make sure the rice doesn't over-boil while it's cooking. With a 2 year old, I don't stay in one room too long, so our rice WILL over boil, unless I use the rice cooker. I can even set it on a delay start and a keep warm setting so it is ready for us when we are ready to eat.

I'm not the only one who lives by her crock pot and rice cooker. The Humbled Homemaker recently wrote an article about all the different things you can cook in a rice cooker besides rice! A little while back she also had a guest contributor write about how important her rice cooker was as a kitchen tool.

Do a quick internet search for crock pot recipes and you won't be disappointed. Many can be found on the recipe section of my blog as well as on many, many other whole-food, simplicity, mothering, homemaking, or cooking blogs.

I won't be getting rid or my crock pot or rice cooker any time soon!

The Minimalist Packs for a Ski Trip Part II

When traveling, John and I and each of the 5 kiddos packed one suitcase each with our personal clothes. We use suitcases that qualify as carry-ons on airlines - 21" or less. It helps keep you from over packing.

 I always pack diapers in the little guys suitcase not only so I don't have to go looking for all natural diapers in an unfamiliar town, but also so that we are guaranteed some extra suitcase space on the way home for souvenirs.

Once we got home from our recent ski trip to Colorado, I realized that I only wore about half of the clothes that I packed in my suitcase. Note to self - next time lay out clothes to pack, put half back in the closet and pack the other half.

What Do You Really Need?

When we travel usually stay at someone's house that we rent thru AirBnb or HomeAway or VRBO. Therefore, I can make sure we will have access to a washer and dryer. I find that we can pack less clothes if we are able to wash during the time we're there. Works wonders!

And yet, I still over pack!

What I actually wore on a 2 week trip

1. Underwear for 1/3 of the number of days your gone - you don't want to HAVE to wash the first few days of your vacation.

2. Pants for skiing and 2 warm ski tops.

3. One long underwear pants and 2 long underwear tops to go under your ski clothes.

4. Two outfits for going out  - with tops that will cross coordinate with bottoms.

5. PJs

6. 2 pairs of socks - for skiing - and one pair of tights for outfits.

7. One sweater that will coordinate with anything.

8. Winter boots. I brought a pair of flats but it was TOO cold to wear them.

I think that was it! And I packed a lot more because I tend to be a "What If" person - an over-packer!

I polled everyone in my family and they all admitted to the same thing - no one wore everything they had packed.

Maybe next trip we'll all share a suitcase with someone else. That would help achieve more minimalistic packing.

Any packing tips you want to add?

The Minimalist Packs for a Ski Trip - Part I

We recently went on a road trip to Colorado to snow ski - 20 hours in the car! It went really well and we had a great time skiing and visiting with friends there.

The one thing I dislike about traveling in the winter - besides the uncertain weather - is how much stuff you have to take with you. Winter clothes are just so BULKY! And then add in ski clothes for 7 people!

We came up with a great idea to minimalize the amount of car space that the ski clothes took up.

We bought a jumbo Ziploc Space Saver Bag and put it down inside a large duffle bag that opens on the top. The ski clothes all went in - jackets, pants, bibs, socks, hats, ear warmers - anything we didn't need until we reached the slopes. Then we attached a vacuum to the Space Saver bag and deflated it.

It decreased size by about 50%! Be warned - it will be a very heavy bag, but it will take up half the space!

You may consider buying 2 of these bags and take the extra one with you. We sure wish we had! With all the people in and out of the ski clothes bag, we developed a hole in our Space Saver bag. That created quite an issue of not enough space in the back of the suburban on the way home! We managed, but not without a lot of stress that we could have done without!

Book Review: Prairie Rose

Prairie Rose is the first book in a series of books written by Susan Kirby.

It is a heart warming book of love and adventure. The main character is a 17 year old girl, Libby, who goes from being a house maid for her Dad and brothers after her mother's death to being a store keeper and post mistress in the country store she inherits. She soon becomes actively involved in her new town and the lives of the people who live there.

There is enough history in the book, that I would call it a historical novel. I love reading books that are entertaining, yet I finish feeling like I learned something. In this book I learned more about what life was like in the coal mine towns as well small growing towns of the early 1900s.

It is also a Christian, though not preachy, book and contains many encouraging gems. Libby learns through all that she faces in the book that there is a God and that He does have a perfect plan for each of our lives.

Prairie Rose is also a love story. Libby has 2 totally different suitors vying for her attention. She has to learn which one God has planned for her.

I look forward to reading the other books in this series - As the Lily Grows and When the Lilacs Bloom.

Happy New Year

Many Wishes for a Happy New Year!