Wednesday, November 30, 2016

{100 little things} November Review: Fall Flowers, a Winter Coat & President Garfield

November was a blur!  I feel like we had Halloween, I blinked and here we are at December's door.  Time flies when you're having fun.  Due to some unexpected health issues, I wasn't quite as successful as I had planned, but still felt relatively accomplished for being hugely pregnant.  Current totals: 13 completed and 8 partial finishes.

#5. Leave a positive, thoughtful comment on 50 blog posts. 
I finished up the last batch of comments this month.  Below are a handful of the blogs, some repeats from last month and a few new ones too:

#10. Send someone flowers, just because. 
I sent a bouquet of fall-inspired flowers from The Bouqs (the bouquet was called Autumn's Callin').  Every time I order, I'm tempted to subscribe to deliveries for myself!  So many gorgeous options there.

#87. Find a new winter coat.
To say I needed a winter coat is a big understatement.  Every year, I convince myself I can make do with what I have, but really, it was time to be a grownup and invest in something that will last.  I ended up going with a T Tahari wool-blend coat in black - super basic and boring, but something I think I'll still like for years to come.

#97. Buy 2 new board games to play as a family.
We got Harry Potter Clue for M's birthday.  I loved the traditional Clue as a kid and knew M would enjoy the twist.  Mark, M and I have had some really cut-throat games.  So fun.

#1. Read 35 books. (7/35 completed)
I'm officially back in the reading groove!  Four finishes this month: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, The Book of Speculation, Flight Behavior, and The Quality of Silence.  (Book report here.)

#6. Blog at least twice a week regularly. (4/12 months completed)
I've been trying to come up with a quantitative way to measure "regularly" and I think I've decided to go with the goal of 8 posts a month.  So some weeks, I may be incredibly inspired and knock out five posts in a week; in others, I might only get in my weekly Around Here post done.  The real goal is to just keep writing, despite the ebbs and flows.  (My only caveat is to give myself a break in December - that new baby and all!)  
My totals so far: August: 11 // September: 8 // October: 13 // November: 9

#52. Watch 15 documentaries. (10/15 completed)
The Beginning of Life: A beautiful look at the first few years of a child's life.  While this vocation can be insanely hard, the role of motherhood truly is a priceless gift.
Without Charity: An interesting crime story about a naive girl and the repercussions of her actions. 
Amanda Knox: I've always been curious, but the case has been so dragged out through the years that I've never really known the whole story.  Mark and I watched the Netflix exclusive and while it did fill in a lot of the unknowns, we still came away not quite sure of her involvement.  Such a bizarre crime.
My Son the Jihadi:  This was a mother's story of watching her son's involvement in terrorist activity.  It was so heartbreaking.
American Experience: Murder of a President: If you're anything like me, President James Garfield was just a blip in the history radar growing up.  I knew he was a president and I knew he had been assassinated, but that's about it.  With all the hubbub of the election, I've become interested in past presidencies, and wow, does it all put today's craziness in perspective!  While it seems like the world is caving in right now, America felt much the same in the 1880's.  And somehow, despite racial divisions, political corruption and an assassination, we all managed to stick together.  Hope for 2017 and beyond!

#57. Make 20 freezer meals before the baby comes. (2/20 completed)
I had high hopes for this goal, but bed rest put a stop to any real attempts.  I did manage to help Mark make two gallon bags full of breakfast burritos, so that's something!

#68. Grow BWF’s Instagram followers to 400+.
At the time of this posting, our Instagram account has 399 followers!!  So, so close.  I'm excited to finally *fingers crossed* knock this goal off the list in December.  

#93. Try 5 new local restaurants. (2/5 completed)
For our anniversary, Mark and I decided to keep it super simple and try a new restaurant to go.  At 38 weeks pregnant, I was all about the idea of staying home in my elastic waist pants and slippers, hah!  The burgers were delicious and I may or may not have dreamed about the Tex-Mex Eggrolls (and had him go back for more on two separate occasions, ahem...) - loving this local challenge so far!

Monday, November 28, 2016

{book report} My Latest Reads // November

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!

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
I started this book after finishing Father Elijah, which was such a suspenseful thriller.  Because the pace was so different, I had a hard time getting into it at the beginning, but thank goodness for the gentle peer pressure of the book club!  I powered through and I'm so glad I did - so many beautiful lessons on generational relationships.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler 
Just okay for me.  I was sucked into the story quickly, but it lost some of its steam halfway through.  

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Another book for book club!  I'm so conflicted on this one.  I wasn't really negatively affected by the climate change spin, but instead struggled with the main character, Dellarobia.  I wanted to like her and identify with her, but felt she was way too whiny.  

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
I had high hopes for this thriller about a mother and daughter alone in the dangerous Alaskan wilderness and on one level, it didn't disappoint.  It was a quick read, with lots of imagery that had me imagining survival in such a freezing, unforgiving landscape.  The 10-year-old daughter, Ruby, is deaf and I really enjoyed experiencing life through her eyes.  Unfortunately, the plot line left much to be desired and I didn't really feel like it was much of a thriller...I'd consider it more of a drama, maybe?  Just okay for me.
(I received this book from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are mine.)

My Reading in Numbers

Books Read this Month: 4
Total Books Read this Year: 30
Books Read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Challenge: 5
A book published this year
A book you can finish in a day
A book you've been meaning to read
A book chosen for me by my spouse
A book published before I was born

Friday, November 25, 2016

{BWF} Find a Gift for Everyone with our Black Friday Sale!!

Popping in to share our biggest sale of the year at Big White Farmhouse!  Now through Monday, November 28, you can save 30% on your entire order (excluding sale items) with the coupon code MERRYMERRY.  We are so thankful for your support this year and hope that we can help you check off a few gifts from your list.  
xo, Ashley and Andrea

Friday, November 18, 2016

{around here} Week 46/52: Week of 11.14.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

surviving a horrible cold and sinus infection that started late last week.  Since the strongest thing I could take was good ol' Tylenol, it felt like forever until I started feeling better.  I'm still not 100% and this week was such a wash.  I wasn't productive at all.  M
y lifesavers were this chapstick (after almost a week of breathing through my mouth, my lips were hurting!), our cheap humidifier (I always feel like it doesn't help much, but I slept SO much better with it vs. without) and inhaling steam from a bowl of boiling water.

reaching the point of pregnancy where all you can think about/talk about/dream about is birth.  My emotions have been all over the place and I'm generally just a hot mess - my poor husband.  Trying to remember the end is near!  On the rare occasion I've had a burst of energy, I've been distracting myself by reading birth stories (Fran's was awesome) and cleaning the carseat.  I really need to pack a hospital bag, but have been procrastinating.  I probably should prioritize that soon. 

finishing Flight Behavior and starting The Quality of Silence.

celebrating M's 10th birthday.  He requested a BBQ feast from Famous Dave's for dinner and graciously accepted a store bought "brownie cake" instead of homemade because I've been so sick.  (And it was actually delicious!)  We are so proud of the young man he's becoming, even though his tween status feels more than a bit surreal to me.  How in the world have I been in this mothering gig for TEN years?!   Seems like forever and just yesterday.  

granting J's biggest birthday wish by celebrating his birthday two weeks early.  He has the last birthday of the bunch and struggles with it every.single.year.  Sweet boy just can't understand why he has to wait until the very end, watching all of his siblings enjoy presents and cake and adventures with Daddy.  So we surprised him with the option and you'd think he won the lottery!   He requested my homemade crepes for dinner and a cookie cake and ice cream for dessert.  Surprisingly, his favorite present was an inexpensive pirate play set.  We love him so.

adding a handful of vintage Santa mugs and a really cool pair of stocking stretchers to Big White Farmhouse.  I am still in shock that Black Friday is next week already, but hoping we're as prepared as we can be!  


This post contains affiliate links - thank you for reading and supporting this blog!

Friday, November 11, 2016

{around here} Week 45/52: Week of 11.7.16

 A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

surviving a full, somewhat stressful, totally crazy week!  The boys had last Friday off and then Monday, Tuesday and today off this week.  It's been great to have them home, but it also proved to be the perfect time for half of us to get a (thankfully short-lived) fever and then croup-y cough.  The boys are all better, but - as usual - mine is lingering.  We also filled the days with dentist appointments, parent/teacher conferences, an OB appointment, the Marine Corps birthday and oh yeah, a presidential election.  So many ups and downs.  I am so tired and maybe a tiny bit numb from all of the emotions.  

celebrating another successful Pajama Drive!  (To everyone who helped us, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!) We're still waiting on a few pairs to arrive in the mail, but hope to drop them all off with Northern Virginia Family Services next weekend.  It has been pretty consistently chilly here at night now, so I'm excited to give a handful of children something cozy to sleep in this winter.   

finishing The Book of Speculation and starting Flight Behavior for book club.

watching The Crown on Netflix.  Took me a little while to get into it, but I like it.

working on a wall collage in our upstairs hallway.  D brought home an art project and casually told me, "The art teacher said to draw our best friend, so I just made me and M."  I was so touched, I had to immediately frame and hang it!  That started me on the rabbit trail of finding random unused frames around the house and art I haven't been able to throw away.  I'm still not completely happy with it and not sure if the big red "B" will stay (I'm thinking more frames will make the B less prominent, but I'd have to buy them), but it's a start.  And free!

checking off presents on my Christmas list like a boss.  Mark and I took one night to nail down our choices and then another to see what deals we could find online.  I'd say we're about 60% done now?  I spread my Amazon orders among a handful of bloggers' links (as a blogger, that extra step is SO appreciated, let me tell you!) so we'll be getting a million boxes on our step soon.  The mailman's gonna love me...

sobbing while listening to Emily of The Freckled Fox in this podcast.  Her story makes me appreciate Mark so much.  You just never know when it's your time to go.

trying to keep up with Sophie's frequent wardrobe changes.  She's all of a sudden very into "fashion": "Mama, you like my fashion?"  "Can we hang up all of my dresses and shirts?  They're such good fashion."  She also suddenly sings about everything and her stream-of-consciousness songs make me laugh so hard, I think I'm going to go into labor.  This week's favorite was entitled, "The Dead Squirrel on the Side of the Road."  

listening to Audrey Assad's version of my favorite hymn, Be Thou My Vision.  Her reflection was so honest and beautiful too.  I loved this part: "Hymns like this one have come alive for me with fresh and thrilling meaning in this time of my life. Lines like “Thou my best thought, by day or by night” have a new breathtaking significance—the fact that I spend so much of my time dreaming about what God might be like is the best thing I can be doing. It doesn’t matter, really, that I don’t *know* what God is like exactly, or that I don’t comprehend the metaphysics of this whole God with us thing. I’m thinking about God. I’m dreaming about God. That is beautiful. It’s my best thought, by day or by night. If that’s the only way I pray right now, then okay."

reflecting on the past year and where I want to grow in 2017.  As I get older, with more kids, more responsibilities and less time (funny how that works), I'm learning to be really specific in the direction I'd like to go.  A few thoughts I've jotted down this week:
+ More Knowledge: My thirst for knowledge has always been pretty strong and I want to continue even further.  Specifically, I want to dive deep into my faith, read more challenging topics (like the classics? logic and critical thinking?), and learn from perspectives different from my own.  
+ More Kindness: I often struggle with the idea of service while having lots of little ones, because on the hard days, what more do I possibly have to give?!  Yet I feel like my kids are at a critical stage right now: if we create an atmosphere of service now, it will, God-willing, be second nature to them as teens and adults.  I'd like to continue our family traditions of monthly donations to the food pantry and our fall pajama drive.  I'd also like to seek out opportunities that the bigger boys can do with their dad (seeing their father serve others is powerful!).  For me, I want to continue being aware of the subtle nudging of the Holy Spirit and follow through on those.
+ More Contentment: I'll give myself a small pat on the back in that I've made some progress in this department since last year, but I still have so far to go.  I want to strive for continued peace with where I am right now, in my home, my current vocation, etc.  I don't want to fall into the trap of wishing the time away or to pass quickly, but to enjoy life as it is right this moment.  
+ More Self-Care: With a new baby on the horizon, I need to prioritize my mental health in a big way.  I want to be aware of triggers that may encourage depression and humble myself to ask for help if needed.  I also want to make the effort not to obsess about weight, but come to love the body I have, no matter the current size.  


This post contains affiliate links - thank you for reading and supporting this blog!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

{#100daysproject} Finding Joy in my Extraordinary Ordinary: Days 55-72

Getting closer to the finish line with part four!  

I highly recommend this project to anyone who is really struggling or feeling overwhelmed with motherhood (or maybe just life!).  So many days, when TJ is having a meltdown or the boys bicker after school or dinner isn't ready until way too late because I just didn't have any energy to make it, I reach the brink of overwhelm and bitterness.  It's in those moments where I pray for God to please please please show me the good and without fail, He does.  It's usually later on when I least expect it, but it's there: a gorgeous sunset, a line in a book, belly laughs at the table, even just really noticing how beautiful my kid is.  That one, everyday moment strengthens me and helps me to keep going.  God is faithful.

This installment of photos is from October 20 to November 6:

He's not a cuddler, so it meant so much for him to curl up next to me | Love the soothing sound of rain | Our friends just adopted a cat and TJ was obsessed! | There's no where I'd rather be than hanging out with Mark | Helium-filled balloons make the best party favors!  Hours of fun | This girl and all of her stuff, just to drive her brothers to school | So thankful for our book club's gentle encouragement to keep my nose in a book and not on my phone | She just looked so beautiful today | 34 weeks

We keep popping into the boys' room to look at their finished closet! | You never know what you'll find with TJ and his crazy antics | On my drive to the OB, I was stuck in traffic, but couldn't stop staring at the beautiful view | J painted his pumpkin this year and made a mouse | The leaves on this tree are such a vivid red, so gorgeous! | "Watch out for my laser beans, mama!" | That incredible | 
Teaching TJ how to play Angry Birds and being so patient when he doesn't catch on to the whole sharing part | So thankful for the time spent with J, reading his weekly library book together.  His belly laugh is contagious

Monday, November 7, 2016

{learn goals} Some Goals for November

Things to Look Forward To
- birthday celebrations for M and J
- consistently chilly days (hopefully no more days in the 80s!)
- getting closer and closer to this baby's birth
- spending Thanksgiving with the entire family
- dropping off the donations from our Pajama Drive

Things to Work On
- Christmas shopping

- choosing outfits to leave the hospital in, both for me and the baby
- creating a warm, cozy space for the boys to come home to after school
- supporting mamas in my path who may need a little extra love and encouragement

Things to Think About
- wardrobe needs for that frustrating postpartum period

- ways to combat triggers that would exacerbate postpartum despression
- a pie to make for Thanksgiving dinner
- exciting, but realistic business goals for 2017


Friday, November 4, 2016

{around here} Week 44/52: Week of 10.31.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

receiving nerve-wracking news at my latest OB appointment.  My blood pressure is still pretty high (apparently, I have been consistantly on the high side of normal the entire time) and this reading was even a teeny bit higher than my "normal".  The doctor said that it's enough to raise eyebrows and would consider the trend a higher risk, but not to worry too much for now.  (This kid and his trust lessons....)  I'll be back in a week to check again and am seeing my favorite OB of the bunch, so that's encouraging.  We'll see what happens.  Good news of the appointment: baby boy is head down, measuring on target, and his heartbeat is perfect.

celebrating Halloween!  This year, we had Batman, Batgirl, a mini Batman (who last minute, refused to wear his costume and instead insisted on his skeleton pajamas), the Flash, and a Marine.  We're pretty low-key around here and only do one medium-sized neighborhood loop, but the kids love it anyway.  Just enough candy to feel like kings and gone quickly enough that mama's not always tempted by it.  Oh sugar, I just can't quit you...  

loving the boys' new closet system.  There is SO much storage space!  So far, I've transferred all of their clothing in and now I'm thinking about toys (specifically: Lego), out-of-season clothing and miscellaneous "stuff" of theirs that's been scattered around the house.  

finishing My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry for book club and starting The Book of Speculation.

making my way through my "Baby Countdown To-Do List" and while it's still not complete yet, I feel like it's finally okay for the baby to arrive, hah!  
+ I washed all of the newborn-sized baby clothes (SO teeny!!) and organized the dresser.  
+ Also, finally bit the bullet and invested in some better quality nursing bras and a Bellefit postpartum girdle.  Both were pricey purchases, so fingers crossed they're as awesome as everyone claims.  
+ I used some of my Kidbucks to snag Christmas Eve outfits for baby P and TJ on Kidizen (have I mentioned how much I love that app?!) - now to find something for the three big boys.

preparing for Big White Farmhouse's Early Bird Free Shipping event tomorrow.  (If you haven't checked out my post from yesterday, be sure to click over for the coupon code.  My blog readers get a head start!)  Andrea and I are big fans of shopping before the rush and we wanted to encourage our customers to do the same.  And who doesn't appreciate avoiding the dreaded shipping costs? :)

this week's menu:
t: Chick-Fil-A after All Saints Day Mass
w: french onion meatballs with mashed potatoes
th: Mark's famous chicken fingers and fries
f: homemade pizza 

P.S. Last call for donations for our Pajama Drive, with all pajamas being given to Northern Virginia Family Services!  I just received an email from the Pajama Program that included a letter from a similar organization and this part really touched my heart: "There is something about new pajamas, a sense of comfort and the joy of wearing something new. For a lot of these children, bedtime might have meant listening to a fight between their parents, maybe even having to leave in the middle of the night, maybe leaving their home with nothing but the clothes on their back. This program brings more than just pajamas; it brings comfort and safety."  Wow. 
Our current total is 17 pairs of pajamas, but we have way more PJs for boys than girls - will you help us even out the numbers?  Find our Amazon wishlist here. 


This post contains affiliate links - thank you for reading and supporting this blog!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

{BWF} Early Bird Shopping (and Free Shipping!) with Big White Farmhouse

Typically, I'm a supporter of trying my best to enjoy the season I'm in.  For the past year, I've tried to not look too far into the future and not wish away time.  BUT!  That mentality falls to the wayside when it comes to Christmas shopping.  Working through my list in October and November allows me to choose quality gifts on a relaxed time frame.  And then when Advent comes around, I can spend my time watching our favorite movies, driving around looking at the neighborhood lights and maybe attempting a craft or two.  The weight and stress of finding "the perfect gift" is gone.  

We are heading into the most exciting time of the year, especially for retail shops like Big White Farmhouse!  Today I wanted to share a handful of our favorite products and a few gift ideas too.  Maybe they'll be a good fit for someone on your list!  And P.S. Look for a coupon code at the end!

We've been slowly adding products to our Children's Room section and have lots of new options for babies and preschoolers, including our popular wooden rattles and vehicles.  Our eco-dough also makes a great stocking stuffer and is easy to separate for multiple children!  

Kitchen Tool Kit Letterpress Notebook // This book is as gorgeous as it is functional.  A great idea for someone who likes to experiment in the kitchen or enjoys recipes found on Pinterest.  (Fun idea: write out one or two of your favorite recipes on the first pages to get your recipient started.)
Festive Forks // Four different designs to choose from!  My personal favorite is "Pie Time" and I think it would be so cute to tie two to the top of a homemade (or bakery made, no judgement here) pie.
Gather Around the Table Tea Towel & Wooden Spoon Set // Makes an easy hostess gift and I love the sentiment.
Fresh Lemon Soap // I love how fresh this smells.  Perfect for the kitchen.
Meal Planner and DIY Recipe Book Duo // Someone commented on Instagram that this notebook set would be a great gift for a newlywed or bride-to-be and I can't agree more.  
Grow Tea Towel // Love that silver pop of the watering can!
Wooden Doily Coasters // These are so unique and interesting.  Would be fun paired with a mug and your favorite coffee or tea.
To Market Burlap Tote // A great idea for your friend who loves the farmer's market.  (Also handy at the library too!)

Our Garden section is perfect for that person on your list with the green thumb.  Our garden markers are always best sellers and make such easy gifts: stick into a potted plant and you're done!  We also love the herb magnets and tea seed paper & garden marker kits (we have chamomile and lemon mint).

I like to give bath products as gifts because they can be both beautiful and useful.  And bonus!  They typically won't add additional clutter to your recipient too!  Our collection of soaps smell amazing (every single one, I promise!) and would make a thoughtful gift placed in the hand-dyed rope bowl.  The lip balms are fun stocking stuffers for tweens/teens and that beer soap sampler?  Perfect for guys!

And last but not least...a few special things especially for the season:
Vintage-Inspired Cards // Perfect for penpals and those friends and family members that require a more personal note. 
Gift Tags // We've got everything from the always handy parcel tags (in seven colors!) to the fun Christmas-inspired.
Pewter Ornaments // These make beautiful heirloom-worthy gifts.  The elephant or mouse could celebrate a new birth, the two birds in a tree would be perfect for newlyweds!
Reindeer Tea Towels // Adds a fun pop to your kitchen!  Also adorable as a hostess gift.
Christmas-Themed Garden Markers // Made from vintage silverware, these are so cute and are probably the easiest gift in our entire store!  Pop into a poinsettia or other small potted plant and give.  Perfect for teachers, grandmas and neighbors.


Ready to get a head start on your Christmas shopping too?  You have been so supportive of our little shop through the years and we want to show our thanks by giving you first dibs on our Free Shipping event!  The rest of our BWF family will get the notice on Saturday, but you can get a two day jump with the coupon code EARLYBIRD.  We'd love to help you cross some gifts off your list this year.
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