Thursday, January 31, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 14: Foodie Penpals

The Lean Green Bean

I love mail, don't you?  E-mail is great, but there is nothing like going to the mailbox and finding something other than bills there!  Last year, I participated in a blogger swap and I hosted two Mamma Support Swaps.  Both were so incredibly fun!  So when I heard about the Foodie Penpal Program, I couldn't wait to sign up! 

I met two new girls by participating in Foodie Penpals: I sent my package to Katy at Savor Life's Flavors, and Heather at Happy & Simple sent one to me! 

Katy lives in Massachusetts and is a New England Patriots fan...yay!  I decided to go with a Football Muchies theme for her box and included a bunch of semi-healthy choices.  This is what I sent:

When Heather's box for me arrived, the entire family was so excited to see what was inside!  She really knocked it out of the park...we loved (and quickly devoured) everything!!

These dark chocolate raspberry bites were amazing.  I need to contact Heather and get the recipe!

I had such a wonderful experience and can't wait to swap again!  Foodie Penpals occurs monthly, so you can jump in at anytime.  If you're interested, read more here

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 13: Laundry Room Inspiration Board

I am writing today's post from the laundry room.  Well not really, but I might as well be.  With four children and an active husband, I seem to be in there on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  Oh laundry, you are a chore I am learning to love...
Anyway, if I am going to spend so much time in one room, I might as well make it pretty to look out and be in, right?  Painting, organizing and decorating time!  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this picture:
This was the moment when inspiration hit!  After I got my thoughts on paper, I checked my Pinterest boards for a few more ideas and this is what I came up with: 

I plan on painting the room the same color as the first floor, Benjamin Moore's Manchester Tan.  I'm just a little bit in love.  Neutral, but not drab.

1.  We currently have wire shelving above our washer and dryer.  They are fine and get the job done, but I hope to eventually replace them with white cabinets and a hanging rod
2. I love the vintage look of schoolhouse lights.  I think this one would work (different from the one pictured, since it is semi-flushmount vs. a pendant).
3. This rug from West Elm is beautiful and in the blue/gray palette I'm going for. 
4. I have one small window in the room.  Still undecided, but I'm thinking bamboo blinds (to add a different texture) or possibly roman shades.  This tutorial is for the faux version and no sew! 
5. Since the laundry room also doubles as a makeshift mudroom, we've got all kinds of craziness going on.  Shoes are everywhere!  I'm hoping to pick up two of these Ikea shoe cabinets soon to get things under control.
6. My husband frequently wears a shirt and tie for work, so the ironing board actually gets some use!  I'm hoping to find a space to hang ours up like this.

So that's the plan!  What about you?  What's your laundry area like?  Seen any great ideas on Pinterest?  Please share!   

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 12: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

As part of our resolutions this year, my little family is trying to cut out processed foods.  The transition has been pretty painless...until we get to the sweet section of the store.  Goodbye Oreos.  See ya later Chips Ahoy!  To satisfy our sweet tooths (teeth?), I've decided to make cookies here at home.  Hence, my Pinterest board, The Cookie Project, was born!  Today's recipe is a good one.  I added a big handful of chocolate chips to mine, but you definitely don't need them...they are delicious as is.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
orginial recipe from The Girl who Ate Everything, chocolate chips are my addition :)

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 heaping cup raisins
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk for 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Add the oats, raisins, and chocolate chips. Mix until just blended.

5. Bake 14-16 minutes, until the edges are brown and the centers still slightly soft. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 11: Snow Crafts with the Kiddos

Happy Monday, friends!  How was your weekend?  Did you see snow in your neck of the woods?  We heard rumors of 4-6 inches, but ended up only getting a dusting.  My boys were ecstatic anyway!   

Afterwards, my oldest and I snuck away and did a snow day craft, just the two of us.  We don't get one-on-one time very often these days.  It was special. 

The pin is from the blog, Art, Paper, Scissors.  For maximum creativity, I explained the craft to M without showing him the picture.  The result was so him!  It is now taped proudly on our wall.  

In the mood to do a few wintery activities with your little ones?  Check out these links:

Friday, January 25, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 10: Quiet Strength

A little known fact about me: I love football.  I love the strategy of the game and the comraderie of the fans.  And even though I am a die-hard New England Patriots fan (and yes, let's not talk about last week...), I have a lot of respect for many other players and coaches.  One of those is the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy. 

His book, Quiet Strength, has been on my Pinterest "Book List" board for weeks now.  So with the end of the football season near, I decided now was a good time to read!

All in all, I enjoyed it.  Some parts were easier to read than others.  I stumbled through the name-heavy parts as well as some of the game play-by-plays.  But the life lessons alone were worth the read.  So many nuggets of truth.  I jotted many of them down; I know they will be helpful as we raise these boys of ours.  
Food for thought from the book:

"To whom much is given, much is required--whether it's privileges, responsibilities, or material items.  And if God has given you a lot of ability, I believe you should be held to a higher level of expectation." --from page 19

During one season, he studied the book of Nehemiah:
"I learned three key truths from Nehemiah.  First, Nehemiah's opportunity came in God's time, not his own.  Second, Nehemiah diligently prepared his mind and his heart so he would be ready when God's time arrived.  Third, Nehemiah needed to be prepared to take on the problems, doubt, and adversity that would come his way both from the outside and from within." --from page 87

What he expected of his players as a head coach (I love this list for my boys too!):
  • "Be a pro.
  • Act like a champion.
  • Respond to adversity; don't react.
  • Be on time.  Being late means either it's not important to you or you can't be relied on.
  • Execute.  Do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it.  Not almost.  All the way.  Not most of the time.  All of the time.
  • Take ownership.
Whatever it takes.  No excuses, no explanations." --page 116

Thursday, January 24, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 9: Home Cold Remedies

All of us here at the Big White Farmhouse are battling a nasty cold.  I'm almost positive that my husband brought it home from work and it has quickly traveled from child to child to me.  From the looks of my Facebook and Instagram feeds, it looks like we're not alone.  This winter has been rough! 

I'm on a mission to get my family healthy and stay that way, so I went to my Pinterest boards for ideas and inspiration.  Here are a few things I've got on my to-do list:

Make chicken noodle soupPerfect for cold weather and sick bellies.  This recipe looks quick and easy if you have all the ingredients on hand.  This chicken noodle soup recipe can be made in the slow cooker!

Buy more hand sanitizer and soap for every sinkTime to review our hand-washing habits! 

Stay hydratedDrink lots and lots of water.  Tea with honey is also a good choice.

Boost our immune systemsGet lots of rest.  Eat fruits and vegetables.  Remove as much stress in our lives as possible.
Many of these ideas were taken from R29's Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Guide.  What would you add to my list?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 8: The Beginning of my Home Office

Our home has a small room that is generally used as a formal sitting area.  But with four kids (and three of those being rambunctious boys), there's nothing "formal" about this house!  So instead, we decided to designate this space as a home office for me.  I am so, so excited!

The requirements for this space were:
  1. A desk for scrapbooking, computer work, etc.
  2. Bookshelves of some sort
  3. Storage!  Kids toys, scrapbooking supplies, and other crafty odds and ends all need a place.
I already had the desk, but needed something that worked for numbers 2 and 3.  After a lot of research, I went with the Ikea Expedit mostly because it was inexpensive, but had plenty of room. I also liked that I could fit baskets along the bottom to corral a bunch of the kids' toys. Functional and favorite combination!

Here is the room so far:

Good thing I like to keep it real.  I still have so much work to do!  Each little section needs simplifying (I just threw a bunch of things in there and have yet to tweak them) and I need a lot of organization.  After a lot of Pinterest perusing, these images really caught my eye:

And since I love a list, here's a bulleted version of what's left to do in this room:
  • Paint the room to match the rest of the first floor
  • Find something to put up on top of the bookcase (maybe start a vintage globe collection?)
  • Purchase a longer curtain rod and install
  • Hang up window treatments
  • Find an interesting floor lamp for the corner
  • Get a rug to anchor the desk
  • Purchase accessories and storage items to corral scrapbook supplies and odds & ends
  • Clear the clutter!
  • Purchase or DIY a bigger brainstorming bulletin board

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 7: A Balloon Birthday Box

We have a sweet little friend in Texas who is turning six at the end of the month.  Since we can't be there in person to celebrate, I'm always trying to come up with fun ways to ship her gifts.  This year, I tried this out:


Now, prepare yourselves because my version borders on a Pinterest fail...

So pathetic, but I think she'll still have fun.  Laugh along with me, okay?  Other things to note:
  • I had one more pink balloon to add, but I photographed the above so you could see the gifts beneath. 
  • I had the hardest time finding balloons and finally settled on a pastel set from Target.  Unfortunately, there was some sort of sheen on them, so the washi tape didn't stick well.  They also made this weird pointed time, I need to find smaller balloons!
  • I added a note and pin to the yellow chevron pocket and taped it to the side of the box.
  • I want to try this version of the same idea someday too.

Monday, January 21, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 6: Scripture Handprints

Confession time: I've never been very good at praying consistantly for my kids.  I've tried different methods for incorporating specific prayer time into my day, but nothing has ever stuck for more than a few months.  2013 will be different.  This is my year of intention, and I'm determined to do better.  One look at my Pinterest boards and I found just the thing:

I used this chart of "31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for your Children" to pick verses for each of my children.  Instead of four different squares like above, I decided to make one bookmark to keep in my Bible.  It was hard, but I let go of my Type-A "must have pretty paper" craziness and just went with cardstock we had handy.  A little embellishment and now I have a tangible reminder to pray for these precious kids of mine.

Friday, January 18, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 5: Embracing an Active Life

Day 5.  It wouldn't be the new year without talking about the most cliched resolution out there, right?  Yup, we're talking health and weight today.

To be honest, I debated sharing this part of my goals.  It's personal and incredibly embarrassing.  But as a mother who fell into the "I have no time to exercise" trap, who then fell into the back-to-back (to-back-to-back) babies and no significant weight loss in between trap...well, I think it's an important (and maybe helpful!) story to tell.

So here goes...My first step in this whole process was to let go of the shame.  Shame is a nasty, horrible, debilitating thing and I'm tired of it.  So am I a little embarrassed about my weight?  Yes.  Am I ashamed? Not any more.

My second step was to stop the excuses.  There will always be some reason why it will be hard to exercise.  But living with intention means that if its important to me, I'll find a way.  And I intend to do that.

Last step: find a workout that sticks.  We received a Kinect as a family Christmas gift this year and I have been using Your Shape with good success.  I also like Just Dance Greatest Hits, even though I look like a lunatic!  (Cue the Elaine dance.)  These games are perfect for winter, but I'm hoping to get outside once warmer weather hits this spring.

Other fitness things to note:

  • Using my pins: I am using these printables from Megan at Balancing Home.  You know how I love a list and checking things off!  Be sure to give her some love if you use them too...I think they are awesome!
  • I have declared this a "lifestyle change" vs. a diet.  I'm choosing to focus on what I'm gaining (health, strength) instead of what I have to give up.
  • Food is a big part of my lifestyle change.  I need more vegetables and less sugar.  I see SkinnyTaste recipes on Pinterest all the time and I have even pinned some myself.  I can't wait to try her Top 25 Recipes of 2012.
  • Another Pinterest link led me to 40 Healthy Snack Ideas.  I definitely need the inspiration since I don't like to eat the same thing over and over. 
  • My big goal for 2013 is to run races with my Dad.  He is a running superstar (I mean, who volunteers to run a double marathon?!) and I'd really like to not only run with him, but keep up!  Hopefully, I'll have a few 5Ks under my belt by year's end.
  • To help with motivation, I've made a few stepping stone rewards for myself.  One is that I'm going to splurge for the "good stuff" aka Lululemon, which is huge for a cheapskate like me.  Can't wait to get to that step!

Please chime in if you're on this adventure too!  Do you have any good tips?  Any delicious veggie dishes?  Do you have a favorite workout video?  Let's encourage each other on this year of health!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 4: Lego Quest

When it comes to Legos, my boys are like moths to a flame.  They are addicted.  They would spend hours in the Lego aisle at Target if I let them.  And you should see them with the catalog we got in the mail!  Let's just say they have sets circled and their sweet little names written across the page. So yeah, my boys love their Legos.

I, on the other hand, have a love/hate relationship with them.  I hate the small pieces and the never-ending cleanup, but I do appreciate the unlimited creative possibilities.  I also like that Legos can be interesting to all ages.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
So with this pin:


An idea for structured family time was born!  From the website, Lego Quest is "a non-competitive, creative building challenge resource for LEGO loving kids that lasted for three years and resulted in 51 unique quests."  So fun and easy. 
We started doing a few challenges every Saturday morning. We drag our bins of pieces to the table, I read the quest (and explain any terms that aren't familiar) and set them loose. Fun for the whole family and memories in the making.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 3: 12 Months of Kindness

Today's post is kind of a Pinspiration stretch, so bear with me while I explain.  One evening months ago, I was browsing Pinterest when I came across a pin for "25 Rules for Mothers of Sons".  After reading pages and pages of Tabitha's blog, Team Studer, I quickly became a follower!  She is inspirational in so many ways, but one thing I love is her commitment to 12 Months of KindnessIn her words, " is a monthly reminder to say thank you to others and thank you for this life that we are so lucky to have."

Needless to say, I loved the idea.  Here is our list for 2013's 12 Months of Kindness:


JANUARY: Troops - Make a care package for the troops serving overseas.
FEBRUARY: Food Bank - Purchase groceries to donate to the local food bank.
MARCH: Veterans - Donate fly-fishing supplies to the local chapter of Project Healing Waters
APRIL:  Purchase cards from Cards that Give and send to family, friends and maybe blog readers!
MAY: Babies - Donate baby supplies to our local pregnancy center.
JUNE: Literacy - Donate our favorite books to the local library.
JULY: Seniors - Send happy mail to our grandmothers.
AUGUST: Teachers - Choose a teacher and donate supplies via Donors Choose.
SEPTEMBER: Education - Prepare school kits via Church World Services.
OCTOBER: Adoption - Donate money toward the adoption of a baby on Reece's Rainbow.
NOVEMBER: Kids - Purchase (or maybe hold a drive!) for The Pajama Program.
DECEMBER: Our Neighbor - Adopt a family in need for Christmas.

So that is my very round-about story of today's project: a care package for Marines deployed overseas!  We chose a Marine through and after reading their request, went with the theme: WARMTH. 

For more ideas about care packages for the troops, see our post from 2011 here.
Tabitha has just created a separate blog specifically for the 12 Months of Kindness Project!  Be sure to check it out here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 2: A Fun Addition to my Project Life Album

I've declared my love for Project Life on this blog before.  The system is so simple to make your own and gosh, there is so much inspiration out there!  I'm always keeping my eyes open for new things to try.  One of those great "why didn't I think of that?" ideas was on this page from Michelle Wooderson:

I love the little chevron bag tucked into the 3"x4" pocket and knew I had to try it myself!  Here's my version:

I added a little story about my middle son and tucked it right into the envelope.  I imagine someday when he looks back over the albums, he'll discover a note just for him.  So fun.

Still need to add in the rest of the journaling, but my pen ran out!  Please share if you have a favorite brand!  I found my bags from Hannah's etsy shop, Bahana Splits Boutique.  She has tons of options and I know I'll be back for more colors and styles.   

Linking to The Mom Creative and all those crafty Project Lifers today!

Monday, January 14, 2013

{30 days of pinspiration} Day 1: Baby Clothes Organization

Welcome to Day 1 of my Pinspiration challenge! 

Today's project deals with a topic my home is lacking: organization.  I was on a roll with my systems and "everything has a place" mentality in the old house.  But since we moved back in September, I've felt like I'm back at the very beginning!

So I started in the nursery.  As much as I've told her it's just not allowed, my sweet baby girl is growing like a weed and quickly outgrowing her newborn wardrobe!  Sadly, it was time to organize and pack away.  I needed a system that didn't take up lots of room and was easy to distinguish sizes. 

A quick search to my Pinterest boards and I found these:
Charlie at Attempting Aloha's clothing system (scroll down towards the end of the post)
Free storage labels from Joelle at inBloom Studios

Charlie found her storage bags at the Dollar Tree, but I picked one up at Five Below, since it was more convenient. (Amazon has a similar bag)
My process was incredibly simple.  I went through her closet, her dresser and the growing pile of outgrown clothing on her changing table and threw them all on the floor.  Then I organized by type/outfit and folded. 

Can you tell this girl has been spoiled?? 

The last step was to pack them away.  Too easy.  Why do I procrastinate on the easiest projects?  And bonus!  Her 0-3 month things only fill up half of the bag, so I'll have room to add her 3-6mo clothing when the time comes. 

Feels so good to have that project checked off the list...and two pins actually completed! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

{intention} 30 Days of Pinspiration: A Look at What's to Come!

As I shared last week, my word for 2013 is intention.  So what's a better way to embrace it than to start the year off with a challenge?  For the next six weeks, I'm going to try to complete 30 different things from my Pinterest boards.  

Here's a sneak peak of what's to come at the Big White Farmhouse:

--- Experimenting with new packaging from my "Gift Wrapping Ideas" board
--- Cooking dinner ideas from my "Yummy Food" board
--- Trying out new techniques in my Project Life album from my "Recording Life" board
--- Reading books from my "Book List" board
--- Decorating my office with ideas from my "Home Office" board
--- Getting crafty with my kids with my "Kiddie Crafts" board

And lots and lots more!  I'm so excited to actually get some use out of my Pinterest account and more excited to share the adventure with you.  Check back here on Monday for Day #1! 
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