Wednesday, March 30, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.19: March'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 April 2.  

Since today is the last Five Favorites linkup of the month, I'm sharing the five items in March's Prize Pack!  A few notes for any newcomers:  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 March: 

1 // Wool Dryer Balls from We Keep It Real (with essential oils samples from me!)
P.S. Raeleen is offering my readers free shipping on all wool dryer ball sets with the coupon code: THEBIGWHITEFARMHOUSE

2 // Self-Watering Parsley Garden Kit from Modern Sprout

3 // Frog and Toad Collection Set

4 // Watercolor Thank You Cards

5 // Green Cupcake Liners from My Little Otter


I'd love to hear above five of your favorite things too! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

{book report} My Latest Reads // March

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!

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I received this little book in a giveaway I won last summer and finally took it off the shelf!  At 97 pages, it's a sweet little memoir about the unlikely friendship between a New Yorker and a London bookstore employee, as told through their correspondence.  Helene's replies are often witty and sarcastic, which is fun to read.  I finished the entire thing in one afternoon, checking off another book for the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge!

Beyond the Birds and the Bees by Greg & Lisa Popcak
This one was a recommendation.  I've been reading bits and pieces for almost a year and finally finished the last chapters this month.  The advice is based on Theology of the Body and how that mindset can be incorporated as your children grow.  While no parenting book will having you agreeing with everything (at least for me), I felt like the Popcaks gave me many good starting points and a bit of self-confidence as we enter this stage.  Definitely one to reference again down the road.
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
This was my first historical fiction pick of the year and dare I admit that I chose it primarily based on the cover?  Told in alternating chapters, the story follows two women - Sarah Brown in the 1800's and Eden in modern day.  Sarah's story is about slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the tense time before and during the Civil War.  Eden's story is about a new house and a lot of personal sorrow.  While I generally don't mind two stories woven into one, I had a hard time with this one.  Maybe it was because I felt like I couldn't relate to or cheer on either of the characters?  Not a bad book by any means, but not my favorite.    
(I received this book from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are mine.)


My Reading in Numbers

Books Read this Month: 3
Total Books Read this Year: 9
Books Read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Challenge: 4
A book published this year
A book you've been meaning to read
A book chosen for me by my spouse
A book you can finish in a day

Friday, March 25, 2016

{around here} Week 12/52: Week of 3.21.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

cleaning the carpets!  (You know you're getting old when this brings sincere excitement!)  We rented a Rug Doctor from the grocery store for 24 hours and there's something so satisfying about the process.  Of course, within days, one of the kids knocked over an entire cup of coffee...AND this is why we can't have nice things.

surviving a busy week of appointments.  All five kids had doctor's checkups (all healthy and perfect!) and a dentist checkup for me (cavity free!).  

feeling so inspired by this podcast with the founder of Neighbor's Table.  My mind is racing with big dreams and ideas for implementing something right where we are.

starting a bullet journal.  I already use a similar system, but decided to invest in a special hardbound book.  I LOVE the mix of daily to-dos with a little bit of creativity.

reading The Mapmaker's Children.

watching Fluffy, our neighborhood cottontail rabbit, build a nest in our yard.  We think she is preparing a space for her babies and the kids are beside themselves!  They check for her every morning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.18: Lego Rosaries, Bullet Journals and Introverted Hospitality

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 April 1.

On to this week's favorites:

I've been making this recipe in my bread machine at least three or four times a week.  It has a great crust and tastes delicious!  

"Plus, I’m a major introvert. I’m not shy, I don’t hate people (usually) I just would rather be alone and people, any kind, drain my energy. So an hour before I have any type of people activity, I start hating myself for saying yes and wishing a disaster would happen so I would have a good excuse not to have to go."  
I could so relate to this!


Surrender Essential Oil
You can read the whole story in my Essential Oils journal, but the short version?  This stuff is amazing.  I tend to be really skeptical when reading testimonials, but after many successful uses on my son, I'm convinced and so thankful.     

Bobbi's Bullet Journal Spring Update 
"...I’ve accepted that I have my weaknesses but I also have my talents too. I still drool over some of the artwork and hand lettering I see on IG but I don’t despair. Instead, I get inspired. I do what I know, practice what I don’t and keep moving forward. So if looking at all the pretty depresses you, stop looking."  
She inspired me so much that I just started my own bullet journal!

The kids each got one of these rosaries in their Easter basket last year.  We love them!  They are perfect for little ones who struggle to sit still and for wiggly boys too.  We couldn't get through our nightly decade without them! 


I'd love to hear above five of your favorite things too!  

Friday, March 18, 2016

{around here} Week 11/52: Week of 3.14.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

starting spring cleaning with a bang.  I'm feeling the pressure to get my to-do list accomplished before soccer season starts!  This week's accomplishments: I dragged the vacuum around on my hands and knees and sucked up every last dust bunny and crumb in all the nooks and crannies.  I also thoroughly vacuumed the stairs vs. the quick brush they usually get.  Next up: finishing the painting in the living room (which I've been meaning to get to for...a year?) and cleaning all the carpets.   

reading Bakhita: From Slave to SaintThe Mapmaker's Children and Better than Before for book club.

trying a new blend in my diffuser called the "Afternoon Blast": lemon and peppermint.  I didn't mind it, but the kids thought it smelled weird.  (P.S. I also started a journal page for my essential oils where I've been jotting down what I've been learning.  My goal is to research or try something new at least twice a week.)  

thinking about the class I'm teaching at the co-op next year.  The co-op is in the planning stage for next year and I volunteered to teach a class for the 5/6-year-olds.  My running idea is "Travel Around the World through Literature" and it will be picture books with some geography, crafts and food mixed altogether.     

buying last minute things for Easter.  Everyone has clothes (even me!) and the baskets are complete except for the chocolate, so I'd say I'm pretty prepared.  Lent went by so quickly this year and I definitely feel like I bombed in preparation.  I had such big goals and am sad to say that I don't think I did well at any of them.  Maybe that was God's lesson for me (as always!): I don't need to be in control.

working out and loving Dollar Workout Club (if you sign up through this link, you get the first week free!).  I start half marathon training in two weeks, so I've increased my weight training to give myself the best jump start.  I definitely plan to continue (to a lesser degree) in the months to come too.  This week's exercises:
m: T25 Core Cardio
t: Dollar Workout Club: Chest & Back (this one hurt)
w: T25 Speed 2.0
th: Dollar Workout Club: Legs & Shoulders
f: Dollar Workout Club: Biceps & Triceps and 2 mile walk

letting TJ paint with the kids for the first time and ahh, what a disaster!  Dropping paint brushes on the floor, trying to climb onto the table, putting paint all over himself, adding his own touches to his siblings work....SO not ready for that level of fun!  I can't help but laugh at the craziness.

ordering standardized testing for the boys and in disbelief that we're nearing the end of the school year already.  Time sure flies.

homeschool notes:
+ I've been having the boys do some free writing using these Star Wars notebook pages.  Writing is always more fun when you have the right tools!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.17: A Blast from the #5Faves Past

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 April 1.

Before I took on the #5Faves linkup here at The Big White Farmhouse, I was a regular participant!  Today I'm sharing five of my favorite posts from the archives:


Almost a year later, this one was fun to revisit!  It's always fun to see what has become a life-long favorite and what the kids have outgrown.  J is still a huge fan of Spot It Jr., while Sophia enjoys making up her own set of rules for Jenga.  The bigger boys seem to have graduated to older games, like chess and regular Monopoly.

This was one of my favorite posts to write and I come back to it frequently to make sure that I practice what I preach.  

More Easter ideas that are both practical and fun!

I wrote this last summer, but the sentiment is still true: I LOVE JET.  In the months since this post, the turnaround time has gotten even faster (1-2 days on almost everything) and I still think the prices are comparable or better to what I would get at the store.  Highly recommend.

I'm gearing up to begin half marathon training in a few weeks, so this post was a good refresher.  The title is a little misleading, since most of these items work for warm weather too!

I'd love to hear about five of your favorite things too!

Monday, March 14, 2016

{currently} 20 Things I Love: A Gratitude Journal vol.7

the way the sun shines through the windows in the morning
turning the heat off and not needing the air conditioning
TJ's curls
watching the boys run and play at the park
praying the St. Joseph novena for all of the fathers in my life
putting all of the winter coats away
freshly sharpened pencils
a book I can't put down
waking up headache-free after a hard few days
checking long-awaited projects off the to-do list
waking up to the smell of coffee
lemon and lavender in the diffuser
seeing itty-bitty progress in my workouts
when M cooks breakfast for all of his siblings
Sophia's compliments on any food I make: "Oh mama, it's delightful!"
packaging orders 
the sweet (and sometimes sour) relationship growing between D and J
planning a training schedule for another half marathon
learning something new
this quote I stumbled upon on Pinterest from Ruth Bell Graham: "As a mother, my job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible."

Friday, March 11, 2016

{around here} Week 10/52: Week of 3.7.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

loving this warm weather!  We've had unseasonably warm days this week, with a few days even into the 80's.  We've been playing at the park with friends, eating outside and just enjoying the sunshine.  Makes me so excited for spring!

watching new birds check out our hanging basket.  Last year's fern is long dead, but I haven't had the heart to remove the nest inside.  And now it looks like there will be new residents!  I'll have to do a little trim of the worst pieces when the birds are away.

working out, but it was a struggle.  I just wasn't feeling it this week!  I've been having dull headaches off and on and I'm pretty sure it's because I'm not drinking enough water.  Definitely need to work on that next week.
m: T25 Speed 2.0
t: Dollar Workout Club - Chest & Back
w: Cardio Kickboxing
th: T25 Dynamic Core
f: off

switching winter clothes out for spring ones.  The kids love this activity, but I tend to dread it.  So many clothes in so many sizes...I get so overwhelmed and I just want to donate it all!  So glad to have that project done.  

reading Bakhita: From Slave to Saint, The Mapmaker's Children and Better than Before for book club.

getting a lot of work in for Big White Farmhouse.  Ordering new products (so fun and nerve-wracking!), packaging orders, and tweaking a new social media strategy.  We also were offered a HUGE opportunity (more on that soon) and I am so excited to share BWF with a new audience.  

homeschool notes:
+ M is learning about the African savanna in his science co-op class and his teacher recommended this webcam.  It is awesome!  We were able to see an elephant and what we think are wild boar, which was so exciting.  It's been fun to check in at different times of the day to see who's near the watering hole.
+ For that same co-op class, M is doing his very first presentation.  This week he worked on his visual aid and he'll start his talking points on notecards next.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.16: Five Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

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 April 1.

Easter is just around the corner, so I've started thinking about what to put in those five little baskets.  (Side note: I bought these baskets from World Market last year and they are so great!  Only $10 and if you use ebates, you even get 4% back.)  My motto with most gift giving is no junk.  I like to mix fun things that can be enjoyed for awhile with a few practical things they'll need for spring.  And of course a bit of chocolate too!  Today I'm sharing five of my favorite ideas for Easter 2016:

Animal Doodles // We love Usborne, don't you?  We have a similar set of these dry-erase cards (ours is monster-themed, which looks to be retired) and they are awesome!  The perfect activity to throw in your bag for waiting rooms, the carpool line or restaurants.    

Avian Friends Puzzle // Puzzles are always a big hit around here.  Lately, we've been buying more difficult ones that they whole family can work on.  (And if you have little ones who could quickly destroy all of your hard work, I highly recommend something like this.  Lifesaver at our house!)

Lucy Owl Plush Doll // I am such a sucker for a well-made plush!  We sell Lucy Owl at Big White Farmhouse (shameless plug!) and she is so, so sweet.

Petal Print Bunny Tee // One of the more practical items going into their baskets this year is a new shirt for spring.  I tend to buy most of their clothing through ebay, ThredUp or Kidizen, so it's a big treat to get something new with tags, hah!  

Wizard of Oz Board Book // This is going into TJ's basket.  We already own a bunch of the BabyLit collection and each one is so cute.  I may love them more than the kids!

**some links may be affiliate - thanks for supporting the BWF!**

I'd love to hear above five of your favorite things too!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

{book club} The Inspired Reader's Book Club: Book Seven

Want a fun way to read a variety of interesting books in 2016?  You should join us in The Inspired Readers Book Club!  Tabitha, Shelly and I started last June and it's been a great way to add some adult conversation to my weeks.  We've read a range of genres, which has helped me try books I'd never think to pull off the shelf.  I also appreciate the accountability aspect of the book club; less mindless TV and more reading!

Shelly is leading this time and she chose Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  Even though I read this one last fall, I am so excited to revisit it again.  I'm also excited to hear how our different book club members are wired (so fascinating to me!) and what factors motivate them best.  

Our reading schedule will be as follows:
Week 1 (March 14): SELF-KNOWLEDGE
Week 2 (March 21): PILLARS OF HABIT

As always, we'll have discussion questions posted on Monday, so feel free to jump into the conversation whenever you have time.  We'd love to see you in the Facebook group!

Monday, March 7, 2016

{house to home} William Morris Project (vol.10): Our Laundry Room/Mudroom Coat Rack

This project has been in the works for a long time.  Like seven months ago!  Last September, I was pretty fed up with our current laundry room/mudroom situation and started making plans...and....that's pretty much where it stopped.

We did purchase the TJUSIG shoe bench from IKEA, which has been great for the boys' soccer cleats and Mark's shoes (we corral all of the kids' sneakers in a separate basket).  But our solution for coats was just not working.  Too big for such a small room and with my current laundry system of "keep separate piles on the floor", it was too hard for anyone to navigate to put their coats away!    

So after searching for a large enough coat rack to fit our needs and coming up empty-handed, Mark and I decided to transform something we already had.  

Back story: Years and years ago, my parents gave us an old bunk bed for my two oldest boys.  It was solid wood, sturdy and we loved it.  But with the addition of more brothers, we needed more beds and I couldn't find another bunk that matched.  (I looked on Craigslist for months!)  Sadly, we retired them for two matching ones and we've kept the old pieces in our basement since.  

Until now!  

The only picture I could find of the bunks was this super old one when we had them separated (M and D were probably 3 and 5, I think...time flies!) into two twins, but you get the idea:

We took one of the top bunk's rails and transformed it into the perfect coat rack for a family of seven!

You'll have to excuse the less-than-awesome pictures.  It's so hard to get a good shot in such a little room!  

The details:

  • Stained with Minwax in Provincial, which is my new favorite!  I want to stain everything this color now!  
  • Hooks are from Overstock and came in a pack of 10, so we have a few leftover for another project

Still to do on my laundry room/mudroom to-do list:

  • Order laundry baskets for a better solution than keeping piles on the floor 
  • Replace the light
  • Replace the flooring to tile
  • Install cabinetry above the washer and dryer

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