Friday, January 29, 2016

{around here} Week 4/52: Week of 1.25.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

surviving the blizzard of 2016!  We probably got around three feet of snow and since we're in the south, the aftermath has been a bit hairy.  Our neighborhood wasn't plowed until about three days after the storm!  Mark shoveled for hours everyday and I am so grateful.  The kids have loved playing outside and TJ and I have loved watching them from the warmth of the house.  Lots of hot cocoa and coffee being poured around here.

calling off school for a few days, but we got back to the books on Wednesday.  The public school kids had the entire week off, but I'm a mean homeschool mom.  The boys didn't seem to mind too much.

having heart palpitations when TJ dropped a tomato sauce can on his toe. SO much blood from such a little guy!  We were so worried because we were largely still snowed in at that point.  Thankfully, the bleeding stopped and the cut was minimal.

signing up for a 5 mile race in May.  Just the right kick in the pants to put my running shoes back on.

reading Eleanor, which is a book I chose from Blogging for Books and is SO out of my usual reading comfort zone!

cleaning closets and going through the kids' clothes again.  One of my 100 Little Things goals is to "Donate 100 items" and I got a fast start one afternoon.  It took me an embarrassingly short amount of time to find about 56 items and I've only just begun.  I feel like I declutter often, but there always seems more to pass along.  Where does this stuff come from?!

laughing at Sophie calling TJ her "little feetie" (sweetie).  She uses a high sing-song voice and he just eats it up. What a little mama.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

{learn goals} What I Learned in January


After researching for weeks and weeks (and saving my pennies too!), I finally purchased the Premium Starter Kit.  The kit came with 11 oils and a diffuser, which turns out to be a great deal versus purchasing them individually.  I'm a little overwhelmed with all of the education out there (what oils need a carrier oil, what works for everyone and what should be avoided on kids, etc etc), but starting small and I love it so far!  We use the diffuser almost everyday.  Our current favorites are Thieves (which smells like chai tea to me) and the boys love Lavender in their room at bedtime.  
(My member number is #3507725 if you ever want to order something!)


Our big Christmas gift for all of the kids was an IKEA cart filled with art supplies.  We call it the "art cart" and it's housed in the coat closet for easy access when they want to make masterpieces.  I usually let them go to town on their own, but occasionally, I've found inspiration on Pinterest and we spend some time in the morning creating together.  It is SO good for my soul.  Stretching myself, trying new things (like acrylic paint and watercolors) and even making crappy art.  I need to create with the kids more often.     


Being pregnant or nursing for the past ten years, I'm a total mess in this department.  Since getting a professional fitting was currently out of the question, I followed the advice on this infographic and what.a.difference.  If you're overdue too, I highly recommend.


I love sugar.  Like a lot.  But I know how much damage it does to my insides and since 2016 is the year I start acting like a grownup and taking better care of myself, I'm trying to go without (meaning, I won't make cookies "for the kids" three times a week and eat most of the batch).  I really do feel so much better!  And being an abstainer, it's crazy to me how quickly the desire goes away when I just don't eat it.    


I'm taking a class on The Great Courses Plus called The World's Greatest Churches and nerd alert: I love it.  My baby sister, a senior in high school, got a good laugh when she heard I was taking a college lecture-like class online for the fun of it.  I find it all so fascinating: the iconography, the architecture, the influence of different religions!         


I am passionate about supporting fellow bloggers, but I also don't want to spend tons of time online.  Buffer has been a lifesaver in making those goals both possible!  I spend a little time each week searching for good content to share, schedule them between my Facebook page and Twitter account and I'm done!  Love how easy and efficient it is. 


I am my absolute worst critic and can be really hard on myself.  I've started to try to speak to myself like I would speak to my daughter and while it sometimes kills me, it's also incredibly needed.  So when Mark asks me how my run went, instead of saying, "It was awful and I'm so slow and I'll never get back in shape...", I say "I'm better than I was yesterday."  Baby steps.


I took Crystal Paine's Make Over Your Mornings 14-Day Course and while some of the material is the preacher talking to the choir (you know me and goal setting!), I have been really inspired to tweak our mornings to be more productive and peaceful.  A few baby steps in that direction: helping my future self out by going to bed with a clean kitchen and relatively picked up house, taking time to say my morning prayers and meal-planning for more nutritious breakfasts.


We have a few bottles of holy water high up in our kitchen cabinet and I ran into them randomly as I was cleaning one day.  This led to a rabbit trail of Google searches, where I learned so much!  (This Q&A and this blog post are a good start.)  I found a beautiful antique on etsy (there are tons of gorgeous choices there!) and we just hung it by our garage door.  


So thankful for my girl and for showing me that life doesn't always need to be so complicated.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.10: January's #5Faves Prize Pack

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!
A reminder about a new twist I'm adding to the linkup this year: At the end of each month, I'll be giving away a prize pack to one #5Faves participant!  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog post, it counts as one entry.  So if you link up a post every week, you'd get four entries.  I'll keep track throughout the month and then randomly pick a winner on February 1.  

Since today is the last Five Favorites linkup of the month, I'm sharing the five items in January's Prize Pack!  A few notes:  I wanted to start the Prize Pack incentive as a way to thank you for visiting here and linking up your posts.  It's my small way of showing you that your words are being heard!  I read every single entry and try to comment on or share a few (I wish I could do this for every one - not enough hours in the day!)  

The giveaway items I've chosen are a mix of some of my favorite things: etsy finds, vintage pieces and little bits picked up from various stores.  All have been purchased by me and nothing has been sponsored.  Here's what I have for one lucky winner in January:  

1 // Thick Knit Slouchy Beanie in Taupe

2 // To-Do Notepad from Print Stitch & Paste

3 // Organic Wild Berry Tea

4 // Snowy Scene Stoneware Mug from ChattCatVintage

5 // Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap in Cranberry


I'd love to hear above five of your favorite things too!  Need some ideas?  Here are a few to get you started:
+ What are your five favorite winter essentials?
+ Lent is just around the corner.  What are five of your go-to meatless meals?
+ What are five pieces of advice you would tell a new bride or mom?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

{book report} My Latest Reads // January

As my part of my Learn goals for 2016, I'm reading a variety of styles and genres of books in the attempt to discover new ideas and expand my horizons.  My goal is to read at least 25 this year, of which I'm keeping track on Goodreads.  Are you over there?  Let's connect! 

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi
Military history is not typically a genre I would ever choose on my own.  Mark received this book for Christmas, devoured it in a matter of days and recommended that I read it too.  13 Hours is the story of what happened in the Benghazi raids that killed the Ambassador and three other men in 2012.  It isn't politically motivated (which I appreciate), but written from the perspective of the security team who fought that night.  Well written, intense and gripping.  I couldn't put it down.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Big Magic was our January choice for the Inspired Reader's Book Club.  While parts of it are definitely a bit "woo woo" for me, I did come away inspired and looking at creativity in a different way.  The thing I loved most about the book was the idea that creativity, in whatever way that shows up in your life, doesn't have to be life-changing or extreme.  It doesn't even have to be good.  Creativity can just be that small thing that makes you feel alive, tucked into the busyness of your life.  Since finishing the last pages, I've unearthed a few half-finished craft projects, made plans to begin a few more, and started brainstorming a way to give creativity a more permanent spot in my day. 

The Temperament God Gave You
This book has been on my "100 Little Things" list, so when my friend recommended and even let me borrow her copy, I was so excited!  Such a good book about personalities and how different people view themselves and life in general.  I struggled to figure out my temperament, but I think I'm leaning toward a combination of melancholic and phlegmatic.  My favorite parts were the discussions about relationships between different temperaments, namely with your spouse and with your children.  So eye-opening!  It's definitely the type of book you can go back and review again and again.  I need to order myself a copy soon.      


My Reading in Numbers

Books Read this Month: 3
Total Books Read this Year: 3
Books Read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Challenge:
A book you've been meaning to read and A book chosen for me by my spouse

What books did you read this month?

Friday, January 22, 2016

{around here} Week 3/52: Week of 1.18.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

parenting solo as Mark was away on business.  Only two nights this time!

preparing for the snow.  The predictions keep getting higher and higher.  At last check, we may be getting more than two FEET!  As usual, we are so unprepared - the big boys don't have boots and M doesn't even have a waterproof coat!  But our pantry is full, so there's that! 

watching TED talks in order to cross that task off my 100 Little Things list.  I love learning from such a variety of thinkers and topics.  My favorite: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

eating popcorn for National Popcorn Day and watching Mulan.

thinking about this quote from Big Magic: "I've watched far too many brilliant and gifted female creators say, 'I am 99.8 percent qualified for this task, but until I master that last smidgen of ability, I will hold myself back, just to be on the safe side.'"

dying over TJ's new love for music. He carries around the speaker and dances, which is just about the cutest thing ever.  He also loves his hats, which takes it up a notch too.

laughing at Sophie as she watches Super Why: "I got it right, Mama!  Look, I'm learning!"

homeschool notes:
+ We tried to make Star Wars snowflakes.  Definitely tricky for little hands and we didn't have an Exacto knife, but the storm trooper was simple enough to make fairly recognizable.
+ To reinforce multiplication tables (he's still struggling with the 4s, 7s, and 8s), M practiced with online games, a hit!  The website also has games for addition and subtraction, so D and J got in the fun too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.09: Five (kind-of crazy) Ways I'm Trying to Get in 10,000 Steps

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!
A reminder about a new twist I'm adding to the linkup this year: At the end of each month, I'll be giving away a prize pack to one #5Faves participant!  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog post, it counts as one entry.  So if you link up a post every week, you'd get four entries.  I'll keep track throughout the month and then randomly pick a winner on February 1.  

Like almost everyone, I've been trying to get back to healthy habits this month.  And like most everyone, I've been struggling.  It's cold outside and all I want to do is stay on the couch with copious amounts of coffee and books!  I've decided that for long-term success, I need to start with the basics: less sugar, more water and movement.  I've been working back up to 10,000 steps a day and since we don't leave the house much, I've been coming up with some crazy ways to get it in.  Here are five things that are working for me right now: 

1 // Dance Parties.  The kids always want to be in the kitchen with me.  On a typical evening, you'll find at least two chairs pulled up the counter, with curious little people asking questions and touching ingredients.  To avoid all the "help", I've started playing music while I make dinner and encouraging them to show me their moves instead.  It gets everyone moving (me included!) and also lets me cook in peace!

2 // Be Inefficient.  As someone who prides herself in efficiency, this one took a little practice.  Instead of carrying huge armfuls of clothes to put away, I take one small pile at a time.  As I unload the dishwasher, I put dishes away one by one instead of grouping like items.  It's seems ridiculous, but it doesn't take that much more time.

3 // Pace & Pray.  I've been trying to devote more time to prayer, but my brain always seems to be going nonstop and I'm easily distracted.  Pacing seems to be beneficial in two ways: I'm getting more steps and the movement seems to help me concentrate.  Who knew?  

4 // 5 Minute Power Pickup.  About three times a day, I rally the kids and we set the timer for a 5 Minute Power Pickup.  We run around the house, picking up toys and putting things back in place.  It's a great way to get your heart pumping and have a semi-picked up house in the process.

5 // Use the Stairs.  I'm guilty of asking the kids or Mark to get me an item, just so I don't have to go up or down the stairs.  Lately, I've been sucking it up for the sake of the steps.  Just got into bed, but need a glass of water?  Down I go.  Need more diapers for TJ?  Up the stairs I run.    


I'd love to hear about five of your favorite things too!  Need some ideas?  Here are a few to get you started:
+ Share five things you are thankful for this month.
+ Show us five of your favorite corners in your home.
+ What are five of your new baby must-haves?

Friday, January 15, 2016

{around here} Week 2/52: Week of 1.11.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

taking care of sick kids.  The little three have gone down one after the other with high fevers and barking coughs.  We've been spending a lot of time on the couch reading and watching Octonauts (Sophie's favorite) and Wild Kratts (J's favorite).    

celebrating Big White Farmhouse's second birthday

remembering a little date Sophie and I had last weekend.  We went, just the two of us, to Home Goods and she was just the sweetest thing.  She never stopped talking: "This is cute, mama...Look! A pink basket, mama....Daddy would like that coffee mug, mama..." and on and on.  We shared a candy treat on the way home.  It was so special to have that time with her.

reading The Temperament God Gave You and Big Magic for book club.

wanting to remember how the kids wrap themselves in blankets and then lay over the floor grates as the heat turns on in the mornings.

finding Sophia in my makeup: "It's okay, Mama.  I look beautiful.  I like this makeup."

watching Making a Murderer after bedtime while putting together a puzzle.  

bringing dinner to a family from church after the birth of their first baby.  We made them a Mexican fajita bar with all the fixin's.  We also gifted them one of Laura's gorgeous blankets!

working on a few home projects: sprucing up the parlor (a WMP post to come!), a DIY coat rack for the laundry room and art for the master bedroom.  Decorating always goes so slowly around here, as my BIG visions wait for my small budget to catch up.  So satisfying to see a few of my ideas finally come to life.

starting homeschool co-op again after a month off for break.  The big boys are excited to get back to their friends and classes.

homeschool notes:
+ D flew through Level 1 of his reading curriculum, so we ordered and started Level 2.  He often doubts his ability, so I love to see the surprise and pride in his eyes when something proves easier than he thought.
+ In history, we are starting a new unit on Vikings.  The kids have been acting out the stories and pretending to be Leif Erikson.  Hoping to add a few crafts to the mix next week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

{BWF} Celebrating our Second Birthday at Big White Farmhouse

Today Big White Farmhouse turned two.  Two!

What a whirlwind.  Starting from a little bitty dream between cousins, we're ever so slowly finding our footing in this online small business world and are so proud of what we've created so far!  I can't wait to see where 2016 takes us.  For the past two weeks, I've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, attempting to make your shopping experience even better.  Here are just a few new additions to the site:  

One of the complaints we had about our site was the amount of clicks it took to get to the actual shopping pages.  No more!  Everything you need is right at the top, with pull-downs and sub-categories to boot!  Now you can either browse through the rooms at your leisure or click to the exact page you need.
At the bottom of the page, we've now included our social media handles (we'd love to connect with you!) as well as a search bar.  Our less important pages (Our Story, Policies and Blog) are all located down here too.

We are celebrating our big day with five days of birthday deals!  See the graphic below and be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram, where we'll be sharing the day's specific information and/or coupon codes.  

Thank you so much for following along and supporting this big dream of ours!

{five favorites} Vol.08: Baby Blankets, Temperaments & Apple Pie Shortbread

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!
A reminder about a new twist I'm adding to the linkup this year: At the end of each month, I'll be giving away a prize pack to one #5Faves participant!  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog post, it counts as one entry.  So if you link up a post every week, you'd get four entries.  I'll keep track throughout the month and then randomly pick a winner on February 1.  

On to the favorites this week:

Sophia and I took a special trip to Home Goods last weekend and both got a treat for the drive home.  This was my pick and I thought they were delicious.  Yummy with a cup of coffee too.

The Temperament God Gave You
My friend recommended this book while at her house for a playdate and even let me borrow her copy.  I'm flying through it and find it fascinating!  I'm still trying to figure out what I am: I'm definitely driven and a goal-setter like a choleric, but also reserved, dependable and conflict-avoiding like a phlegmatic.  Is that even possible?  

Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime
You know how much I love a list!  I've only read 19, how about you?  Any favorites or recommendations?

Baby Blankets from Cotton & May
Do you read Laura's blog, A Spoonful of Joy?  She just started an etsy shop, making baby blankets.  Aren't her fabric choices awesome?  I snagged the top blanket with the boats for a friend from Mark's men's group who just had their first baby.  I'm sure it will be a blanket they'll be able to use for years and years.   

Froggy Gets Dressed 
This book has been in heavy rotation here this week.  Guaranteed laughs from all of the kids!


I'd love to hear about five of your favorite things too!  Need some ideas?  Here are a few to get you started:
+ Tell us about five childhood memories.
+ What is your beauty routine like?  Share five of your favorite products.
+ What are five projects you'd like to accomplish in your home this year?

Monday, January 11, 2016

{currently} 20 Things I Love: A Gratitude Journal vol.6

feeling more like myself after a hard couple of months
how Sophie calls TJ "best friend"
sparks of creativity
the sound of Mark's car pulling into the garage
warm boot socks
cozy twinkle lights above the kitchen cabinets
spontaneous after-dinner car rides for milkshakes
incoming product for Big White Farmhouse on my doorstep
B vitamins
how M's nose is always in a book
the feeling of accomplishment after a good run
this quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa: "Seeking God means following Him wherever He might lead."
big cuddles around the neck from J
competitive family card games
fitting work time in the busyness of everyday
D's creativity 
trying new dinner recipes
pouring out my heart and feeling understood
watching our debt total decrease, little by little
steamy hot showers

Friday, January 8, 2016

{around here} Week 1/52: Week of 1.4.16 - Round Two!

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

feeling cold - finally!  The temperature has been chilly, but no snow yet.

disappointing the kids as I took the Christmas decorations down.  I almost made it to Epiphany, which is a personal record for me.

reading 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, per the recommendation of my husband.  Intense.  I finished the book in bed and sat wide-awake for another 30 minutes before I could fall asleep.  I'm also reading Big Magic for book club and starting The Temperament God Gave You.

cooking healthy meals and trying to get back on track after the holidays.  This week's menu:
m: leftovers
t: chicken with parmesan crusted potato wedges
w: breakfast for dinner, cinnamon rolls
th: kielbasa and pasta bake, salad
f: homemade pizza

researching essential oils.  I tend to avoid anything that gets major hype, but curiosity got the best of me this time.  I have a few hormonal issues I'm dealing with and with winter colds coming, I'm curious to see if the oils will help us.  

working behind the scenes on Big White Farmhouse, in preparation for our site relaunch and second birthday next week.  New site navigation, new products and a hopefully improved shopping experience in the works!
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