I’m about to show you something I’ll probably regret, but here goes…let’s call it: A Roadmap To Dinner Hour. Or maybe it’s just my reality. I’m not sure.

Behold, my glorified kitchen. And let me tell you, there was no Photoshop action/tutorial in the world able to make this picture something it isn’t (read: big and clean).
fe.com: Roadmap to Dinner

We love our little house. It’s amazing-slash-scary how quickly it has come to feel like home even though I was anxious when we first moved in about the smallness. But I’m not going to lie: I wouldn’t shed buckets of tears if I had, say, another 50 square feet in my kitchen and maybe 2 more cupboards.

Let’s break it down a bit, shall we? This is a pretty typical late afternoon/evening in my world.
fe.com: Roadmap to Dinner

1. A sweet 8-month old baby who is not happy, not happy at all, when mom is working her guts out to make dinner. Sometimes there’s screaming. Sometimes there’s thrown toys and measuring cups. It gets ugly. Thankfully one of her brothers usually comes to the rescue and makes her giggle before the whining starts up again. I’ll tell you this, I am a master at hefting a 22-pound baby in one hand/arm and cooking or baking single handedly with the other. I’m putting that on my resume.

2. My favorite trash can in all the world. Our great friends gave it to us years ago for Christmas. (They are the type of friends, a.k.a. soulmates, who can give a trash can for Christmas and everyone feels warm and fuzzy because of it.) I don’t know the exact brand but basically, the trash bag stays in place no matter what is thrown in it, and I can lever the lid up and down with the foot pedal which is great for a germaphobe like me.

3. Those industrial-sized tupperware containers house my flour, sugar (found them at Sam’s Club a few years ago) and stuck behind them is a 50 pound bucket of wheat. I go through a lot of carbohydrates. And just as a sidenote, that little black cupboard to the right is home to all my spices. Can a girl ever really have too many spices? I think not.

4. Although my beloved Bosch mixer and wheat grinder seem tucked away into a corner – never fear! There is no corner too far in my kitchen and they still get used daily. To the right of them, if you care, is my novel windowsill filing system (i.e. an extra deep window sill that is a stopping place for bills and other filing necessities). You should get one. It’s awesome.

5. My mom is cringing right now because she h.a.t.e.s clutter. But when you are severely limited on cupboard space, the cookbooks and recipe binders go on top of the refrigerator. It isn’t pretty but it works. Up there also is my pizza stone and pizza paddle. The silver bowl is our “treat bucket” which largely consists of my dark chocolate fix. The good news is that this area of my kitchen is perhaps the only place in my house that you can’t see from the front door so who cares what’s on top of the refrigerator, right?

6. Bottles that need to be washed. It seems like there are always bottles that need to be washed. But I’ll take it because I hate that my baby is growing up and as long as I’m washing bottles, she’s still a baby, right? (Can a Kindergartener go to school with a bottle in her backpack?)

7. Lunch boxes that have been washed (shocker!) but haven’t been put away because after dinner, lunches will be packed and stored in the refrigerator for the chaotic morning ahead.

8. Cookies laying in wait for little hands to snitch them. Today’s cookie were these delicious whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. Is it sad/bad/rad that there usually is a “cookie of the day” around here?

9. Clutter. Plain and simple. This recent clutter was from a big box of stuff a marketing company sent me and I had yet to put away. It consisted of some dark chocolate so it may never get “put away” unless it’s down my gullet.

10. Ingredients for dinner that was partly in progress: Cashew Chicken, to be exact (terrible recipe that will need to be perfected before I post it). And you’ll spy our iPad which I use almost exclusively to view recipes as I cook/bake. It’s usually hanging on my fridge because I have one of these cool Kicmount thingies (love, love, love) that keeps it magnetically in place and off the counter. I’m pretty sure today a 5-year old boy who shall remain nameless was playing Smule while I was trying to eyeball the recipe and thus it found a home on the already crowded countertop.

And there you have it. My overfilled but loveable kitchen. I’m pretty sure I’d be embarrassed to death if any of you stopped by between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. So please call before you come.

Later, skaters!

If you’d like to check out past Snapshot Saturdays, click HERE.

73 Responses to Snapshot Saturday: Keepin’ It Real

  1. Janneke says:

    I just found this blog today after my friend told me about it. I think we would be friends if we lived closer than 1200 miles away. Thanks for the recipes and the snapshots of real life. πŸ™‚

  2. Rebecca says:

    My dad always said “there will be time to clean after the funeral”. My personal experience has been either a spotless kitchen OR a lot of fun/creativity/love going on! Your obviously happy family says you make good choices about raising them.

  3. susan says:

    love this! right there with ya, sister! looks like a lot of love and happiness to me.

  4. Lana says:

    I *MUST* have some of those industrial sized Tupperware containers. No, really. I have a membership to Costco, but it would be worth it to me to get one to Sam’s just to get those… anyone know if they still have them?? I have a large family and we go through an insane amount of flour and sugar and using the one gallon size ones has been driving me nuts, but I haven’t found anything bigger that seems to be of any quality.

  5. Jill says:

    Haha! Sara, I was just thinking the same thing. Before I read the post, I thought, “Wow, that’s a nice, big kitchen for a small house.” But I have found that no matter how big my kitchen is (we have moved many, many times), it is never quite big enough.

  6. hillary says:

    this picture really made me smile for one big reason… we have so much in common. those are almost my identical cupboards and countertop, I have a cute (7 month old) baby, pretty sure we have the same stools (we just recently did replace them though due to my kids breaking them), of course my bosch is always in reaching distance and my kitchen is most always… everywhere! I think we’d make good friends! Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

  7. Heather says:

    Am I the only one who’s shocked she’s 8 months old?! So glad I’m not the only one who lugs a (now 13 month old) baby around while cooking. BTW, I’m typing this on a keyboard with five missing keys thanks to said 13 month old lol. Love the kitchen! Maybe I should post a picture of mine too lol. For the longest time I used the hole where the dishwasher was supposed to be for storage lol.

  8. Wendy says:

    This is life. Thank you SO much for sharing and keeping it real. We are all in the same boat!

  9. deb devo says:

    you are AMAZING! I read about 25 cooking blogs…but I take most of my recipes from yours. The fact that you are doing everything else that you do, and can still put out food that everyone likes is awesome. I’m glad that you run a real home, and not a magazine home!

  10. Rachel says:

    I love you. We could easily be best friends…in a non-stalkerish, totally not weird kind of way! Our kids would clearly understand each other too! Thank you for beng real!

  11. Jody says:

    I love it! It doesn’t matter how spotless my house is at 3:00 – it will inevitably look like a tornado hit between the hours of 3:30 and 6:30. I’m glad I’m not alone!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this! It makes me feel so much better that my kitchen looks just the same!

  13. Sara says:

    You’re awesome.

  14. Christina says:

    Pretty sure the cookie of the day is rad, not sad or bad. We could be neighbors just fine!

  15. Kerry says:

    OMG! I love that you weren’t afraid to show this view into your kitchen! I keep thinking like EVERY weekend ” I need to find a way to de-clutter my kitchen!” Glad to know I am in good company with my clutter. πŸ™‚

  16. Kim in MD says:

    I smiled though every word of this post. When I see your kitchen I don’t see a mess, I see LOVE. You show your family, by making nutricious homemade meals (and a cookie of the day everyday!) how much you love them. Enjoy every precious, chaotic moment with your little ones, Mel! πŸ™‚

  17. Liz says:

    Wait — that is a messy kitchen??
    You’d cower in fear if you saw MY kitchen.
    It’s half the size of yours and has twice the mess.

    C’est la vie, right?

  18. Not Supermom says:

    First, I’m pretty sure you photographed my kitchen. I even have the same trash can. I’m short one baby though… Also, I *NEED* the Fridge Ipad thing. Like, yesterday.

  19. Rachel Moody says:

    You know what I love?!? That your kitchen looks just like mine πŸ™‚ My resolution this year is to keep crap off the top of my fridge. I’m tall and so it is the ‘mommy shelf’ where confiscated items go! But, now that I have one in the pantry and the top of the fridge looking nice, lets cross our fingers that it stays that way! Oh, and I do have one of those window-sill shelves, and YES it is awesome…and full of paper junk πŸ™‚

  20. Andria says:

    Thank you. That’s really all I have to say. Just, thanks for this perfect little post. I just see drops of awesome everywhere. (I’m sure you’ve seen that blog post by now…)

  21. sharlin wieland says:

    i think this kitchen is impressively clean with 5 little ones living closely. i only have 4 and a few more square feet, and my kitchen pic wouldn’t be this organized. πŸ™‚ i love the numbers and key. fun. πŸ™‚

  22. Thank you for sharing this. We all know that Rachel Ray and Paula Deen’s kitchen’s don’t really look like how they do on TV. It is more important to me for them to be real then to to be pretty. I can’t use the motto, never trust a skinny cook, since from your pic you are pretty skinny (BTW HOW do you do that?), I will use this truer motto. Never trust a cook with a completely clean/organized/immaculate kitchen. Looks perfect for those perfect concoctions you give us! Everything we have had has been so yummy!!!!

  23. jenny says:

    Love you and your blog. I see SO much space you could be using. You might as well make use of it. I’m talkin cupboards all the way to the ceiling and perhaps open shelves to the left of the sink. I have a little kitchen and would love more space. Make the most of the space you have!

  24. Look just like my kitchen between those hours as well (minus the baby). πŸ™‚

  25. leah says:

    I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping it real mel! i have three little boys 4 years and under and I SWEAR they migrate to me whenever i’m in the kitchen, and stay there, asking to help, for a snack, milk, play in the sink, you name it– they ask for it. and our kitchen is about 1/2 the size of yours, 1/2 as many cubboards as well. This looks much better than mine normally does, but nonetheless than you for making me feel better about my messes while i cook πŸ™‚

  26. Jennifer D. says:

    Thanks for being real!!!!

  27. cathy says:

    With all on your plate I think it looks great!!! Iβ™₯ u

  28. heather bell says:

    Finally!! A real person in blogland!! And I say don’t be embarrassed. We are all human. I say a slightly messy house is normal in mom world and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it! Kids are being loved, the kitchen might be a little messy and it will all be fine!! My goal in my blog is to show real life. My pictures aren’t great, but the recipes are delicious! bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com

  29. Susan from WA says:

    I look at all your pictures on your site, thinking, “How can she create this gorgeous goodness and make it all look so perfect?” πŸ™‚ Now … well, I’m still certain you’re Super Woman. Thank you for sharing your talent!

  30. Charlotte says:

    I love you for this post (I’ve loved all of the others too, but)-I have a strict “don’t post comments to strangers until you’ve succeeded in keeping up w/ your in-person friends” policy that I’ve just broken, I appreciate it THAT much!

  31. Danielle says:

    My kitchen looks like that too. And my 2.5 year old loves to hang on my leg while I make your yummy recipes.

    I like this cashew chicken recipe except I don’t bread and fry the chicken. I just stir fry it. I like it better that way. http://blogchef.net/cashew-chicken-recipe/
    It’s been awhile since I’ve made it since my middle son is allergic to cashews. πŸ™

  32. Thanks for being so real (as always)! πŸ™‚

  33. Heather says:

    This post makes me feel so much better about my house. Thank you for keeping it real. I needed to see that today.

  34. Amanda E says:

    I Love, love, love you letting me into your kitchen! πŸ™‚ I have often thought ” I wonder how Mel’s kitchen looks at this time?” Now I know and now you seem even more relate-able to me! However, mine seems a little more messy/cluttery than yours as we home school and I have a constant supply of dishes to be washed… endless joy though, huh?

    Quick question though… if you ever so desire… would you share with us your top blogs? you know… those that you’d never skip a post on etc….? Just a fun way to get to know you better in this cyber world… I know, it is a bit more personal… just thought I’d ask πŸ™‚

  35. wendy says:

    I LOVE the kitchen. It does not show mess and clutter. It shows homey and cozy. It shows a place where meals and snacks are lovingly created. I know someone who remodeled her kitchen and even knocked down a bedroom wall for more space but she hates to cook-whats the point?! And I worry about people whose kitchens are too neat. Be proud of the fact you love to nurture your family!

  36. You are just as sweet as can be!!! At least your kitchen is cluttered because you use it and have a house full of kids to add to the chaos. It is just the two of us and my husband has to do the majority of the cooking – so the last thing he is concerned about is clutter on the kitchen counter. Thank you for the many wonderful recipes and letting us have a peek at your adorable family. :o)

  37. Shannon says:

    Thanks for sharing…your workspace, your family, and your recipes! You’re the best!

  38. Tracey says:

    I LOVE this post! You’ll probably laugh at this, but I guess for some reason when I read your blog, I envision you as like a superhuman, making all of these grand and wonderful meals for your darling family in a grand kitchen… while I’m lucky to get a meal plan made and dinner on the table without almost having a mental breakdown!
    I’m relieved to know that you’re normal and that your kitchen is a little chaotic. However, I guess this makes you even more amazing! Thanks so much for sharing a little piece of your home, and as always, thanks for all of the awesome recipes!

  39. V says:

    It’s so good to know that my child isn’t the only one throwing fits and extra needy while I’m trying to make dinner. Just last night as I was making your orange chicken (which was delicious, btw.) my toddler was a wreck and it took far longer than it should have. Not to mention I was getting a prety dead arm from holding him, so I’m impressed you’ve mastered that skill. I kept thinking, how in the world does Mel make such good meals and take care of 5 kids!!! In the chaos last night at our house I was vowing to myself that I was done making dinner and we were going to live on grilled cheese because I can’t cook dinner with my child. This makes me feel so much better!

  40. Naomi says:

    Oh my word, I love you even more now.

  41. Alyssa B says:

    Love it. Mine is about half the size, and covered in blue-green tile ( walls and ceiling). And usually full of dirty dishes, not cookies.

  42. Allyson says:

    You are awesome, Mel! That’s all there is to it!

  43. Stef says:

    Thank you.

  44. Andrea says:

    LOVE it! All I could think was – Oh gawsh- LOVE the big counter top… lol and all those cabinets!!! That HUGE fridge! (mine is a teensy weensy galley kitchen and no way would a fridge that size even fit! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ loved it.

  45. Kelley says:

    I LOVE how real you are. Interestingly enough…my kitchen resembles that and I have 1 child! πŸ™‚

  46. lisa in WV says:

    as for the cookbook on top of the fridge situation—I have a friend with a similar problem- her husband built a pretty shelf/ 1 level bookcase for the top of her fridge for cookbooks–so she can store them upright. I’ve never looked into purchasing such a beast, but it’s a thought!

  47. sara says:

    I’m actually impressed at how nice/relatively big your kitchen is for a “small” house (as you call it!) The shape is great, and as long as you know where everything is, it’s perfect!

  48. Janet says:

    πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself! Your recipes and blog are so amazing, it’s nice to know that you have a life, too, and a cute little one! Keep up the great work and I personally appreciate all you do and share! Blessings!

  49. Shelli says:

    Just have to say how much I LOVE you for being real! When you have multiple kids and are a busy person, who’s kitchen doesn’t look like that??? Unless they don’t use it… Mine looks like yours… and now I am strangely proud of that! HA!

  50. Jennysue says:

    Mine is worse! So feel good πŸ™‚

  51. Krysta says:

    <3 <3 <3

  52. Marissa says:

    Haha I can relate to every single one of those. This is real life, people! πŸ™‚ And your baby weighs 22 lbs?!?!

  53. Leigh Anne says:

    Love it! Thx so much fo sharing! I am blessed with a nice big kitchen but it still manages to look just like yours! Haha! That’s why I love your blog…..u keep it real πŸ˜‰

  54. StephenC says:

    Therapy session over. What did I learn? That I am normal.

  55. Abby says:

    I love it. My island in my kitchen has “stuff” on it constantly and my counters have my mixers and gadgets galore. With flour dust in places. Thank you for living in your home-and creating memories with your kids. Last night my girls wanted to help me make our supper and I felt very blessed.
    Oh and just have to say my husband is ever so greatful that I found this website in the last couple of years-our mealtime repertoire has expanded. I had some good meals but you’ve helped us add some good healthy, yummy meals that the whole family enjoys them. God bless that lovely kitchen of yours.

  56. Lacee says:

    You don’t realize how relieved this makes me feel! Thank you!!

  57. Kelly says:

    My husband always complains that the kitchen is a mess. (Sometimes he’s right- I get lazy sometimes!) Problem is that as soon as I get it all clean and sparkly, I have to go and make something that puts stuff all over the counters and splatters on the stove and dishes in the dish drainer…

    All I can say is thank goodness for my goofy dog who saves me from a lot of sweeping and mopping! She’s a really good kitchen helper. πŸ˜‰

  58. Hi Mel. Love your lived-in-love-my-family kitchen. Mine was always like this when my 2 children were small. My husband is a retired Marine and moving around the U.S. and living in Japan for 9 years, I have had to make many a small kitchen home. But, now that they are 30 and 33 yrs old, my kitchen is usually clean. It doesn’t cause quite as big a mess for me to cook for just my husband and myself. I sure miss those days of chaotically attempting to get a good meal on the table in the evenings. My children grew up and didn’t move back home like some children do. I still do not like having an empty nest. I still cook for 4 people and my children are happy to take any leftovers I may have.

    Enjoy this time because it will never be the same again, even though you have meals with them as adult children, it is not the same as baths after dinner and story time. They grow so quickly and now my 33 yr old son has a 4 yr old son of his own. Being a gramma is awesome! As they say, it is God’s compensation for growing older. There is nothing like watching your baby hold his baby.

    God bless you and your wonderful young family. Enjoy the small house and the coziness because it changes all too quickly!

  59. Stefani says:

    Love this post! Makes me feel better about the chaos in my own kitchen! πŸ˜‰ Our kitchen is slightly larger than yours, but the extra “real estate” just allows for more stuff to accumulate. I love it when it’s clean and I can’t see the clutter, but that means the kids aren’t home and I’m not cooking! Happy New Year!

  60. Melissa says:

    It’s funny – I TRULY did NOT notice the clutter until you numbered it and pointed it out! And, I think having your microwave above your oven is a huge bonus! It’s not taking up any counter space πŸ™‚

  61. sueb says:

    My kitchen is smaller but my kids have all moved out – just me, my husband and 2 4-legged boys. Mine looks basically the same at the moment except I have all of my preserves and winter squash on top of the cupboards. I still have books of recipes but they are heading out and I’ll use my tablet 100% if I need to look at a recipe. Like you, if it was bigger with just a few more cupboards πŸ™‚ I suspect we’d both fill them up and want even more space!

  62. wendy says:

    I love your blog! thank you for keeping it real! we can all relate with our kitchens (and homes too). Happy New year!

  63. Clarissa Meegan says:

    I liked you before, but I like you even more for posting this πŸ™‚

  64. Teresa R. says:

    Looks like home to me! My kitchen is usually a mess, but as long as everyone is happy I’m good. Happy new year!

  65. Julia says:

    Hello, Normal!

  66. Bex says:

    My suggestion: Have husband put up a long shelf all around that top portion of the walls where there is empty space, and line it with all your books and small appliances. So it hugs the ceiling all around the room, about 12-15 inches down from the ceiling. That is wasted space up there that you could be using. You might need to buy a small ladder type stool to reach up there. You seriously need shelving.


    Here is a picture of one area where I put up two shelving units one on top of the other and also metal pegboards to hang my cups and pots and pans. My kitchen is small but the wall space is golden.

  67. Patricia says:

    We lived in a small house with our four kids, but bought a bigger house as they got bigger and needed more space. Time goes quickly and before we knew it we were left with lots of empty bedrooms and rooms that don’t get used. I miss the coziness of our small house and the fact that I could clean it in 30 minutes. Your kitchen is adorable and filled with all the good things about home including babies and cookies! Also, we LOVE your recipes and I am off right now to make your buttermilk banana bread!

  68. Kathryn says:

    My kitchen never looks clean despite the fact that I’m always cleaning it. How is that possible? It’s my favorite room in the house and so much love comes from there so it’s something I can live with. Thanks for sharing what life is really like.

  69. 3. This is the best idea! I have a ridiculous amount of ingredients for a single person…
    5. I would need about 11 industrial size refrigerators to house my cookbooks, not including magazines
    6. I have a friend who once said to me `you have to beware of wanting to have a new baby in the house at all times, because they eventually grow up and you have to deal with personsΒ΄ That was after giving birth to her 6th (those last two are twins..)

    About that cashew chicken, it sounds great so hurry!

  70. Jen Bontrager says:

    I love this post! Thanks for being real. I don’t like when bloggers try to make their world look all put together. I have three boys similar ages to yours and my larger kitchen often looks like your picture. By the way, I love your recipes. You dominate my Ziplist recipe box. πŸ™‚ Last night we had Meatball Soup with Pasta. So good.
    Thanks again!

  71. Ruth says:

    Mel, most all of us can identify with that picture more than we want to. It never ceases to amaze me that in the time of a heart beat my kitchen can go from seemingly organized to a total disaster zone. Thanks for keeping it real for all of us who struggle with this. It is called LIFE.

  72. “love your guts” as you would say! A wonderful snapshot, simply wonderful. I would show you mine, but the camera battery is low…………

  73. Hilarious! I’m sure most kitchens look just like yours! πŸ™‚

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