You asked: What happened to the Learning Room?


I’ve shared with all of you that we are pursuing some remodeling plans. It’s exciting…and daunting.

As I planned our booklists this summer, I kept in mind that our year would need to be flexible and I began to consider ways to stretch outside of comfortable routines and spaces. Earlier this summer, I shared with you that I had to let go of this….

learning room BEFORE

Challenging?  Yep.  But completely doable, and I enjoyed the challenge!  Everything in this space was emptied.  Everything…

remodel learning room BEFORE

And our entire learning room was distilled into the most useful, most needed books and things that I planned for us to use for the year upcoming and it all landed….here…

Learning On Wheels

Yes, that’s the picture book cart!  Initially, when I emptied the learning room, I moved our few needed books to a small bookshelf in my bedroom, thinking that would be a good transitional solution. However, it only took one day of living our plans out {we began our lessons last week! 🙂 } to realize that while workable, it wasn’t the most intuitive place for those books to live. We grabbed stacks of books and brought them to the table, finished half by lunch, then had to shift and move books for lunch, then bring books back, then re-shelve them…I knew there was a better way. So, I called my Mom to brainstorm, explained my challenge, and within seconds she suggested repurposing the picture book cart!!!! Eureka! So the hat tip for this fantastic solution goes to my Mom!

I know you’re squinting to see the titles of those books {in the above picture}…because I know that’s what I would be doing!  🙂  Here’s a picture for you without all those busy little words and arrows. {Not all our books have arrived yet – so a few books didn’t arrive in time for the photo op.}



Behind the cart (but still attached and a part of the cart) is a perfect place for some of our oversized things…like our Holling C. Holling maps (we’re finishing up Minn of the Mississippi – see Minn up there in the top left?), bluetooth keyboard for the iPad, and a small container of pens, pencils and things we want to keep out of sight and out of reach of little Octo-baby!


I challenged myself to keep only those things that were truly needful on a daily basis and I was determined to contain ALL of those things, like our clipboards, on the cart. I found a place for them on the far right of the cart!  We can see them, grab them, grab needed books…and go!


Repurposing the picture book cart works great! {Thanks, Mom!!!!} Living out the rest of the week went so smoothly. Our entire school week can live on the cart, which rolls next to the table, the couch, out of the way in the hall at the end of a day, into another room, or in a closet if needed.


Each new year brings its own set of challenges and blessings.  And remodeling our home…during a school year…while we live in it…ouch! That’s definitely going to challenge! Stretching and brainstorming to meet the challenges for this year helps me see spaces and tools in new ways, helps me simplify in considering those things that are essential…needful.


Warning…this post will now be briefly interrupted to share gratuitous and adorable baby shots…


 So…what happened to the learning room?


It is now our dining space, awaiting it’s full transformation and connection to the kitchen…


…which will include the removal of a wall, pretty new chairs for my kitchen table, and perhaps a couple more functional and pretty furniture pieces for serving.


Now, I’m brainstorming kitchen function – and specifically – I’ve been brainstorming my menus with an eye toward losing my entire kitchen space for a time. And you know what?  I think I can do it!  I’ve been collecting recipes for my slow cooker and introducing them to my family, knowing that I’ll rely on my slow cooker a lot during this time!  The family LOVED French Dip Sandwiches {which I tweaked just a tad}. So…on to brainstorming my menus more! PLEASE let me know if you have some good remodeling-and-living-without-a-kitchen tips! {Fortunately, the builders we’re interviewing are willing to brainstorm creative solutions to keep my washer/dryer working throughout the remodel – HUGE sigh of relief — WHEW!!!!}

Whatever your space challenges might be this year, I hope your planning and new year bring great joy and contentment in living out the ordinary of your day!  Those ordinary and small moments are lifesavers and sanity savers in the midst of physical upheaval and turmoil!

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  1. Wow. You know, I’ve had your learning room in my Evernote file for years wanting to copy it. And now… it’s gone! I almost grieving! LOL Do you have plans for a new school room or are you going to be living off the cart as a way of life?

    1. I know what you mean, Leslie! It was a little hard for me to let go of, too!! And YES!!! We have some really neat plans for the learning room in our remodeling plans!! BIG windows, lots of shelves, tons of storage space for organizing {bliss} – lovely spaces! I’ll keep you posted! With luck, we’ll be back in learning room spaces around the 1st of the year! Fingers are crossed and prayers ascending!

  2. Crock pot recipe. A roast, 1 pack do Italian dressing mix, 1 pack of ranch dressing mix, 1 pack of brown gravy mix, 1 cup of water. Cook 6 – 8 hours.

    1. Thank you so much, Sabrina! I frequently make a roast with a packet of French Onion mix, but I’ve never tried it the way you suggest! Sounds yummy! Definitely going on my list! Thank you!!

  3. I just got back from a little weekend trip and we only cooked in an electric skillet and the grill (for 7 people). It takes a long time to fix breakfast though, lol! I first made pancakes and then the sausage, and then the eggs. Had to keep the stuff warm while making the next. So, my suggestion is don’t forget about using an electric skillet too. I liked the skillet because it was easy to cook where ever. (I had to take it outside since we didn’t have a kitchen and we had bacon and sausage which needed ventilation during cooking!)

    1. What a fantastic idea, Cassie! I hadn’t considered an electric skillet…but you know…I was thinking of making more use of my big family size griddle, and I think I can brainstorm the griddle to function like you used your electric skillet, and then with my slow cooker I should be able to make it work! Thanks for jogging my memory! 🙂

  4. We’re going to need to redo our kitchen, too, in the next year or so. (We keep saying that every year, but really, I’m down to 2 working burners, the oven door has completely lost its handle, and there is another hole in one of the cabinets, so we can’t put it off too much longer.) The bigger problem, I think, is going to be clean up. I wonder if we’ll be able to find a place to store all those paper plates? LOL As far as cooking

    I’m interested in your plans for a future learning room or not, too. We’ve always done school in our dining room/area, but it gets kind of squeezy in there and changing out the materials every term/year is a hassle. Right now I have the most “students” I will probably have at any one time, though: 6 + a preschooler. I’ve coped by making more of my stuff mobile, but really, we don’t do some things that I would like to do because we don’t have the space. I mean, unless we used the upstairs room, which nobody likes because it doesn’t have enough windows and the boys have covered it with Legos.

    Anyway… I’d be interested in hearing more about your remodeling process as you go along!

    1. I knew what you meant, Angela! 🙂

      We’ve been “talking” about this remodel since we moved in…and that was 12 years ago!! It is really exciting to begin to consider that we’re really going to do it! A well functioning {and…I can’t help it…PRETTY} kitchen will be such a joy! Our appliances sound like yours – they’re just limping along and we keep thinking we’re not investing any $ in them because we’re going to replace as we remodel. So it means that motivating myself to be in my current kitchen is NOT easy!

      I’m with you on avoiding “upstairs rooms” – I just don’t like out of the way spaces. They just don’t seem to work for us. I like a space that is close to the every day action around here. Our new learning room will be a part of the potential addition to the house, but it will still be in the general living space of the house. I’m excited about it, but I’m trying to temper my excitement because, though the kitchen is pretty certain in terms of moving forward, the addition is a big FAT ?

  5. Here is a favorite crockpot recipe of ours. We use chicken thigh usually, but you can use breasts also. Take the chicken (even frozen works) and dump it into the crockpot. Sprinkle with a packet of taco seasoning and a jar of salsa. Cook on low 6 – 8 hrs. 8 if the chicken was frozen. I then make rice in the rice cooker and serve it over that. The children really love it. And it is so easy!

  6. We had our kitchen remodeled last year and had our fridge and dining table in our already very small loungeroom for some time. I found one of those small benchtop toaster/ovens really useful. I had inherited one from my grandmother. We also used our BBQ and camp stove. I have to say we used a lot of Costco’s fresh meals during the 2 weeks the kitchen was totally out of commission!

    1. You give me hope, Sarah! I know it will be downright annoying for a little bit of time, but y’all have given me some great ideas! We have a camp stove, too! I could definitely get that out. And…my guess is that we’ll be eating a lot of pizza, sandwiches and Costco meals, too!

  7. It will be lovely, I’m sure. I noticed those beautifully printed lesson plans; is there a post somewhere about them?

      1. That will be wonderful! I’m having a fun time browsing through your blog, it’s lovely as well as inspirational;)

  8. Hi, I was looking through your book cart and I am really curious about the process you go about in picking your history books. I am in my first year of planning for CM and I am struggling with history. Which cycle to go in? Who to use? AO, HUFI, or SCM. So, I was wondering what you use and how you do your history cycles? Your renovation looks beautiful already!

    1. Hi Abby,
      Thanks for your question! You might want to spend a bit of time clicking around my blog, but to get you started, you can read a post I wrote that discusses how to build a booklist considering a variety of sources!

      A Considered Booklist

      If you’re in your first year of planning CM, I’d consider first the ages of your children and the period of history that you guys studied last year, and whatever that is…just study the next period. That would determine my history rotation.

      There are good and bad points to the curriculum providers you listed. AO is rigorous, which I really like! I go to their booklists all the time just to get a sense of what is being read at various stages/ages. In addition, much of AO’s reading lists are in the public domain making it very easy to access the books for free! SCM is fantastic because their history guides take the period of history, and break out reading across a spectrum of ages. This is EXTREMELY helpful to the mom of many who has limited time and finds it convenient (and almost necessary) to have everyone study from the same period. And, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what HUFI is. ?? Regardless, I use many of these resources, but tend to pick first from what I have already living on my shelves. If you haven’t started building your own home library, then choose your period, and then start checking things out from the library to get a feel for the books.

      I sure hope this gives you a jump start, Abby! Have a great time planning out your CM year!

    1. I confess, I’m enjoying the very minimal, streamlined approach, too, Teresa! I do still have access to most of my books and things – but having only the most needful out on a mobile cart – it’s refreshing! And yep – my mom IS brilliant!! 🙂

  9. My girlfriend with nine children remodeled her kitchen, dining, and family room during the school year, too. Their solution was to set up a temporary kitchen/dining area in the garage. They held on to the old stove and just plugged it into the wall, same with the refrigerator. A large piece of the old carpet went under the table and random open shelves held all the plates, cups, and pans, as well as, food. The dishes were done in the big garage sink. It was very functional for the time needed. They, of course, also used the slow cooker and electric skillet but it was a true blessing to have a full size stove. Also, everyone was out of the workers’ way during meals. No trying to share space. It worked well.

    I look forward to seeing your remodel unfold.

  10. So happy for you, Jen! While new and pretty in the kitchen isn’t totally necessary in life it IS a wonderful blessing, one I’m unendingly grateful to be experiencing in our new house. 🙂

    An idea that works nice for cooking on the counter top or table is using a counter top roaster like an electric skillet. They were cooking scrambled eggs, as well as Spanish Rice and the like in the roasters at Girls’ Camp at church this week, and I thought that was an excellent idea.

    The idea for setting up a kitchen in the garage sounds very helpful if it was possible, it would keep everything away from the construction dust. Praying for all your intentions as you prepare for this major project!

  11. So excited to read of you plans!! Very thrilled:) Re temporary kitchen, well had a temporary one set up in my loungeroom that turned into a six month stint! Don’t set up thinking, “it will only be for 6 weeks” set up assuming it will be longer, it always is (though I’m sure yours won’t turn into 6 months) Being summer I’d set up in the deck or the garage, set up a sink (I had a sink in my loungeroom emptied into a pot and then taken out onto the garden, in town!) , so sink, bench space, can you rip out your current cabinets and reset up in your garage/deck that’s what I did, kept as much as possible and relocated. work out what you use the most and pack away the rest though you’ll want access as there is something you’re sure to need. Also set up a good pantry system. Being summer lots of barbies(grills) and salad is easy. Really it’s all about setting it up as longer than a weekend camp site, more just moving your kitchen to another spot. If you can’;t move the sink, use the laundry tub to wash up, you may even be able to reset up the dishwasher, I had my water pumping into a bucket at our second house. Feel free to ask questions, I’m sure more will come to me.

  12. And meant to say I find the white of your dishes so ‘resting’ I really need to work on beauty elements in my home. I just don’t have ‘it’ sure wish I did though

    1. I do know what you mean, Erin! Those little touches of beauty really give the eyes a place to rest! The good news is – I did NOT spend a lot on my pretty little white dishes – they’re ALL flea market finds! I hope you find your element of beauty to include – it’s the simple little things that really bring delight to spaces!

      1. I remember that post, I’ve been looking ever since;) but it’s more than that, I feel I need a tut to know ‘what’ to look for, how to create beauty. Just hit me! as I typed, I should pray!! :):)

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