Friday, November 28, 2014

{brave} A Review of November's Goals

1. Read two books.
I only finished one.  I enjoyed Let's All Be Brave, but it wasn't one of those books for me that I quickly devour.  Maybe I wasn't the target audience?     

2. Complete a "ten on ten" photo challenge. 
Done!  I loved this challenge.  It was fun to document our very ordinary day and I'm anxious to try it again.  Maybe I should make it a monthly goal in 2015.

3. Take 10,000+ steps a day and exercise at least four times a week.
I'm calling this one a half success.  Some weeks, I took at least 10,000 steps, but didn't get four workouts in.  Other weeks, I did five workouts, but not 10,000 steps!  Either way, I was active throughout the month and I'm proud of that.  17 pounds down, about 20 to go!    

4. Continue with Couch25K.  
I stopped following this plan about halfway through the month.  I'm still running, but not on a specific schedule for now.

5. Invite a family over for a playdate.
Done.  We had another homeschooling family over and it was so nice to chat with the mama while our kids played together.  

6. Bake an apple pie.
I still didn't get this one completed!  One of these days...

7. Declutter a small area of the house everyday.  
Done.  So good for my mental health as well as preparation for all the new things to come into the house at Christmas.  I plan to continue through December.

8. Announce the new Holiday Collection on the Big White Farmhouse shop.
Done.  The Holiday Collection is live on the site!  We have gorgeous pewter ornaments, fun dish towels and even hand-printed star pillows.  All make wonderful gifts.  We also just got in eco-friendly art supplies for kids...perfect "non-junk" stocking stuffers!

9. Get started on Christmas shopping!
Done!  I've gotten a good start on presents for the kids and I've started a shopping list for the rest.  Hopefully, I'll be able to finish up during the first week in December, so I can fully enjoy the rest of Advent.  I firmly believe that gift giving shouldn't be stressful!

Looking forward to finishing the year strong in December.  How did you do with your monthly goals?

P.S. We're having a big Black Friday sale at Big White Farmhouse today!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

{BWF} 2014 Holiday Gift Guide from Big White Farmhouse

This is our first Christmas season at Big White Farmhouse and we are SO excited to share our products with you!  Today I wanted to show you a few gift suggestions as well as ideas to package them for gift giving.  It's helpful to know that when choosing products for the shop, I am really picky.  I steer clear of the junk and try to only pick products that are beautiful and well made.  We hope you love our products as much as we do!       

Our Vanilla Candle is 100% soy wax and has been hand poured into a 13oz. glass tumbler.  Each candle is shipped to you in a burlap bag, making gift giving SO easy!  Attach a tag to the ties and you're done!  With such a classic scent, this makes a great choice for many people on your list, including teachers, neighbors and co-workers.   

We only have a few left in stock, but our linen aprons make a thoughtful gift for the home cook.  We carry two varieties: the half apron in Oatmeal and the full apron in Brown.  A fun and unexpected idea is to package in a vintage Ball Jar!

Owen Fox is just one in our collection of adorable stuffed animals (We also have Nicholas BearGracie Cat, and Lucy Owl in stock).  Every plush is sent to you in a reusable muslin bag, so you can just attach a gift tag and you're done!

These pewter coffee scoops are new in the shop and they are fantastic!  Perfect for any coffee lover (or maybe a new mama?), you could attach it with ribbon to your favorite brew.  Each scoop also comes to you in a beautiful kraft-colored gift box, so you have another easy way to package and give.  

Our letterpress recipe box is a great idea when you have a few people who'd like to go in on a gift together.  Made of gorgeous American Maple, the box has a leather loop at the top and fits about 250 recipe cards.  I can imagine it purchased for a new bride, filled with favorite recipes from her family.  In the picture above, I included our Mason Jar recipe cards to help her get started! 

Our seed bombs are a fun choice (and at a great price point!) if you need to buy for many: teachers, co-workers, girlfriends, etc.  We carry three varieties: Salad Greens, Herbs, and Edible Flowers.  While you obviously can wait until spring to plant outside, these also do well when planted indoors during the winter.  A small plastic take out box was the perfect size to package three of them for giving.   

If you just can't decide on the perfect present, our Gift Certificates are the perfect solution.  We have them in $15, $25, $50 and $100 amounts. 

There are many more great gift ideas in the shop, so be sure to come on over and check us out.  (We just got all-natural eco-dough and crayons and they make great stocking stuffers!)  We would love to have your business this holiday season!

printable gift tags found here

Friday, November 21, 2014

{around here} Week of 11.17.14

Woo boy, is it cold outside!  The flannel sheets are on the beds and cozy blankets are ready next to the couch.  I also made a few new comfort food recipes for dinner and they were hits: Biscuit Pot Pie and Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.    

TJ turned two months old this week.  I can't believe it!  Where does the time go?  He is a smiling, cooing, happy boy and such a joy to our family.  We call him our "little turtle" because he has a habit of scrunching his neck and sticking out his tongue.  He loves to be cuddled, has outgrown all of his newborn clothing, and sleeps 4 hour stretches at night.  He is so loved.  

Favorite homeschooling activities:
  • We bought M a volcano kit for his birthday and he has used it often.  I love to watch him become a scientist as he adjusts the ratios between the vinegar and baking soda.  He often asks, "What will happen if..." and I am happy to tell him, "Let's find out and see!"
  • I swapped out the "required" reading about the water cycle for a Magic School Bus episode I found on Netflix.  The boys couldn't believe their luck: watching TV for school?!  
  • It was J week in Kindergarten.  I was brave and took out the paints so all four could make jellyfish.  BIG hit.

We wrapped up our Pajama Drive and they are headed to Northern Virginia Family Services.  To everyone who donated, thank you SO much!  Because of you, many children in my community will be warm this winter.  We are so grateful for your help and support. 

Plans for the weekend: M and Mark are running in a Turkey Trot and we are all coming to cheer them on!
Hope you have a great weekend too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

{family favorites} Three Thanksgiving Books & an Easy Craft

Thanksgiving has snuck up on me this year - I can't believe we're more than halfway through November already!  I made a few last minute lesson plans to add to our homeschooling and thought I'd share a few of our Thanksgiving favorites with you!

These three books are ones I take out every year:

  • Franklin's Thanksgiving: Franklin's grandparents can't make it to Thanksgiving dinner and he is bummed.  So without telling each other, Franklin, his mom and his dad each invite someone to Thanksgiving dinner, thinking it will make a wonderful surprise for the others.  Imagine the shock when everyone arrives on Thanksgiving morning!  It's a sweet little story about hospitality.    
  • A Turkey for Thanksgiving: Mr. and Mrs. Moose are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but wish they had a real turkey instead of the paper one they have on their table.  Mr. Moose goes to find her one and meets his friends along the way.  When they find a turkey and call to him, he is terrified and runs away but Mr. Moose insists.  The ending is so cute...and unexpected!  My kids love it.  
  • P Is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet: I love the illustrations in this book.  I also like how the story (written in rhyme) is simple, but there are also more detailed information on the edges of the's perfect for reading to a variety of ages.    

Need a super easy craft to do before the holiday?  These thankful turkeys are perfect.  I quickly cut the body and feathers beforehand, but a little guy who likes cutting could easily do the same.  My oldest wanted to fill in all of his feathers at one time (he was so excited to be allowed to use the Sharpie!).  Another idea would be to fill in one everyday until Thanksgiving.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

{around here} Week of 11.10.14

This week was packed full of fun things: celebrating the Marine Corps birthday, having friends over for a play date and an end-of-season soccer pizza party.  Mark was away on a business trip for part of the week too, so I tried to keep us busy with art projects and movie nights.     

Favorite homeschooling activities:
  • It was D week in Kindergarten.  We didn't do any themed crafts, but I think a trip to the grocery store for doughnuts may be just as effective. :)
  • We're halfway through Owls in the Family and the boys think the stories are hilarious.  We also learned about nocturnal animals and M created a really neat owl using newspaper (he used this one as inspiration). 
  • For spelling, we played Spelling Battleship.  It was such a hit, I think we'll need to buy the real game soon! 

Even though the scale hasn't moved in about 10 days, I'm still pushing through my workouts.  I started boxing this week, an exercise that has always interested me but has been equally intimidating.  I put on my brave face and tried it anyway, and it was so fun!  I also did a kettlebell workout I found online that was so effective, I could barely walk the next morning!  Add in my Couch25K and I am definitely working hard, whether the scale says so or not.  It'll come eventually.
As for nutrition, I'm weaning myself off sugar again (darn you, Halloween!) and trying to focus on filling myself with good foods.      

On the blog:

This weekend, we have even more fun in store: celebrating a big 8th birthday!  
Hope your weekend is full of good things too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

{around here} Ten on Ten: November 2014

Part of my November Goals was to complete my first Ten on Ten photo challenge.  In case you haven't heard about it, here's how it works: On the tenth of the month, you take a photograph an hour for ten consecutive hours.  I loved the experience and even though, it was just an ordinary day, I think I'll treasure all of the little details I was able to capture.  I can't wait to do this again!

ten on ten button

Monday, November 10, 2014

{in the kitchen} Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Fall Tradition

One of my favorite things about having a family is creating traditions that we all look forward to each year.  My kids are still quite young, so we're still in the stage of trying new things and seeing what sticks.  Baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies has become one of those traditions. 

This year seemed particularly special.  With Pandora playing in the background, the kids danced while Mark and I chatted as I whipped up a batch of these cookies.  They all watched eagerly (my husband included!) through the oven window as the cookies baked.  We even had running commentary as they counted down the minutes.  And then, when they heard the beep of the timer, there were cheers all around and I couldn't get the cookies off the tray fast enough!  The kids all managed to burn their fingers or mouths, but to them, it was totally worth it.  Life is rarely picture perfect, but it felt pretty close that night.

If you like pumpkin, these cookies are definitely worth a try.  They are fluffy, a little bit cakey and perfect with a cup of coffee, if you can keep them long enough to brew some!  I hope you enjoy.

To print: Right click the recipe card above to save to your desktop.  You should be able to print from there.

Friday, November 7, 2014

{around here} Week of 11.3.14

Oh Daylight Savings Time.  You mess us up every time.  I've spent the week chugging cups of coffee to compensate for my early risers and I've been ready for bed by 8pm!  Hopefully, we'll get back on track this weekend.

On Monday, I was nursing the baby and looked around at all.the.stuff.  With Christmas right around the corner, it's the perfect time to do a sweep and declutter before all of the new stuff enters the house.  I managed to label a few boxes (similar to this) and make a to-do list (you know me!) and I hope to really get started tomorrow.  

Favorite homeschooling activities this week:

I got the green light from my OB last week, so I am full speed ahead on exercise.  This week was a mix of Couch25K runs and the last section of my postpartum exercise DVD:
M: Couch25K Wk 2 Day 1
T: Postnatal Rescue DVD (Progression 3), 2 sets of arms, 30 second plank
W: off
Th: Postnatal Rescue DVD (Progression 3)
F: Couch25K Wk2 Day 2
Sat: Couch25K Wk 2 Day 3
Sun: off

Holding an old cell phone: "I'm gonna call my girlfriend, okay?  Hi mama!  I was wondering if you'd like to go on a date with me to the grocery shop.  You have to put on some good clothes, though, okay?" -J, almost 4

On the blog:

I'm still reading Let's All Be Brave but hope to finish up this weekend.  This quote stuck with me: "The longer I live, the more I think I'm figuring out that courage often looks like sacrifice and service.  In the places where you find the most comfort, you have to have a little extra something to give there.  Home is where we rest.  Home is where we find peace, so to give from there, to sacrifice in that place, is to sacrifice deeply, I think.  It's brave."  

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

{BWF} Behind the Scenes: A Reflection on the Past 10 Months

It will be ten months next week that we launched Big White Farmhouse, our online home decor and gift shop.  As I type this, I really can't believe how fast the year has gone!  With 2015 just weeks away, I've been reflecting on life as new business owners and looking back on all we've accomplished.  Take a peek into my journal:  

+ We are proud to be a debt-free company.  Andrea (my cousin and co-owner) and I have each invested money into our store and we are determined to use our money wisely.  The decision against borrowing money has caused slower growth for us, but it's been good growth.  Each purchase from customers gets us closer to new products and an expanded line.  
+ My favorite part of owning a business is packaging up orders.  A close second would be wholesale purchasing; I love searching for the best new products!
+ My weakest part of owning a business: marketing.  For example, I rarely post news about our shop on my Instagram feed, but each time I do, without fail, I always lose a few followers.  For a long time, I really struggled with that.  In 2015, I hope to brainstorm creative ways to market our sales/new products, but I'm not longer going to feel guilty for promoting a company that I'm so proud of! Facebook is complicated for businesses.  We have over 300 "fans" and yet our posts only reach a handful of them!  Frustrating, for sure.  
+ We were surprised to realize that it's really hard to sell candles online!  Trying to describe scents is tricky and I'm still trying to figure it out.
+ The Vintage Finds section of the store has been a big hit, but I struggle to find the time to check thrift shops and antique stores on a regular basis.  This is one area I hope to improve on in 2015.
+ Big White Farmhouse stands on the belief of quality vs. quantity and because of this, I've really changed how I look at my own purchases.  I find myself venturing away from buying as much as I can for the lowest price and instead embracing the idea of saving my pennies to purchase that one special piece.  My love for Target still stands, but I think there can be a balance.
+ I can't wait to see where Year Two takes us!

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