Wednesday, October 17, 2018

No.189: A 100 Little Things Check-In

This post contains affiliate links.

Time for a 100 Little Things two month update!  The current total is 7.5/100, which is pitiful, but big things happen little by little, right?  Here's what I've accomplished so far:

#4. BAKE THREE NEW KIND OF COOKIES. (2/3 COMPLETE)
  • In mid-August, we made Oatmeal Toffee Cookies.  I slightly tweaked the recipe with a tad less brown sugar and a bit more flour, used my big ice cream scoop and baked for 13 minutes until just golden brown.  
  • At the end of August, we tried Toasted S'More Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I modified it a bit and just made my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe instead.  The kids added the s'mores toppings at the end of the baking time and it was perfect.  Definitely sweet, but so good.

#17. CREATE A PHOTOBOOK WITH THE INSTAGRAM PHOTOS FROM OUR 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR.
Last school year, I took a photo every day, showing what the kids made or learned, and posted it on Instagram.  IG is a great place to keep them all together, but what good is it if they only stay on the app?  I used the Instagram Photo Book from Blurb, easily uploaded my photos, and made a little 7x7" book in no time.  Simple but filled with memories.

#44. BUY A NEW PAIR OF JEANS.
I've been in desperate need of a new pair of jeans but always procrastinated because...what if I suddenly lost a lot of weight?!  HAHAHA.  Since that's a ridiculous reason (and apparently not happening anytime soon), I found and bought a pair of Kut from the Kloth skinny jeans on Poshmark in my current size for less than $20.

#48. MEASURE FOR NEW (NON NURSING) BRAS.
This took more time than I planned.  It was a little hit or miss - I used three different infographics online and got three different sizes!  Thankfully, I finally found the right fit, but I think I may go for an in-person measurement next time.

#55. HANG A GALLERY WALL OF KIDS ART IN THE BASEMENT STAIRWELL.
We've had these Ikea frames stacked in our coat closet since we moved in last June!  I finally dusted them off, replaced a few art pieces with more recent ones and hung them up.  It took less than an hour.  Such a satisfying project and bonus, it was free!

#57. FIND A LAMP FOR THE HALLWAY CONSOLE TABLE.
After browsing for months, I found the perfect little white ceramic lamp for the hallway - and it was on sale too!

#68. BUY NEW DRYER BALLS.
My previous set of dryer balls somehow didn't make the move last summer.  I've had this task on my to-do list since we moved in and am so happy to have finally made it happen!  I ordered these dryer balls and have been pleased so far.

#89. BRING SOPHIE FOR HER K IMMUNIZATIONS.
Since we're homeschooling, I had been dragging my feet to get this accomplished.  She was terrified, but so brave!

Monday, October 15, 2018

No.188: Intentions for the End of October


“Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by 
paying attention to what we already have.” 
-unknown

I'm entering my 34th year at a limp.  I'm still in the thick of a post-weaning funk/depression, although it ebbs and flows.  It's hard to talk about and I cannot wait for the clouds to lift for me.  I constantly remind myself that this is temporary, that my hormones will eventually stabilize, and that's a small motivator to keep going.  Good thing I'm a fighter, haha.  I'd appreciate your prayers.    


INTENTIONS FOR THE END OF OCTOBER

  • finish painting the headboards and add the topcoat
  • decide on a rug for the front hallway
  • send out Halloween packages
  • finish reading Estrogeneration
  • get the generator serviced (100LT #77)
  • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
  • increase Poshmark inventory to 85+
  • take out and work on my quilt using Memere's fabric (100LT #13)
  • buy lightbulbs for the dining room chandelier
  • look into supplements (maybe magnesium?)
  • give myself lots of patience and grace as I continue to fight through this hormonal mess

    PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

    If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
    • run (no training plan, just for fun) three times a week (I took two weeks off to see if it would help some health issues, but I'm looking forward to starting again soon)
    • paint the little boys' headboards (started, but need to do the touch-ups and topcoat)
    • go on a birthday date (thank you Mom for babysitting!!)
    • buy gifts for D's birthday
    • send two letters in the mail (just sent one)
    • try a new soup for "soup night" (I made tortellini soup with italian sausage and spinach)
    • decide on outfits for our family photos (I'm going with a red, cream and navy blue vibe this time)
    • figure out the front porch staining situation 
    • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
    • buy new sneakers for M (we found a deal at Rack Room Shoes)
    • increase Poshmark inventory to 75+
    • finish reading Estrogeneration
    • read 100 pages in Don Quixote

    What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

    Thursday, October 11, 2018

    No.187: 34 Things I Love // A Birthday Gratitude Journal


    the way the sun shines in my bedroom in the morning 
    sending surprises in the mail
    quiet car rides
    S's ridiculous "riddles" that crack everyone up
    glow-in-the-dark stars on the little boys' bedroom ceiling
    a husband who cherishes me
    pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
    the way P waves and says "bye Daddy" every morning
    drinking from my new coffee mug
    baby steps closer to financial freedom
    finally hanging frames on the walls
    the look of pride in J's eyes as he reads something easily
    making Memere's crepes
    back-to-back sales on Poshmark
    letting myself have a good cry (it's always cleansing)
    D's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
    "I Love Lucy" reruns
    the way M cares so deeply for his siblings
    little touches of autumn decor throughout the house
    crossing a few things off my (never-ending) to-do list
    TJ's joy
    new boots, just in time for cold weather
    honeycrisp apple butter on toast
    cool breezes through open windows
    timing dinner perfectly to Mark's arrival (rare!)
    rocking on the front porch
    gorgeous red and orange sunsets through the trees
    the way a deer's coat changes color in the fall
    ending the day with a good book
    butterflies
    stacks of freshly folded jeans, in all the sizes
    giving old furniture new life with a coat of paint
    God's faithfulness
    another year to learn, grow and love my people

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    No.186: Five Reasons to Send a Letter in October

    This post contains affiliate links.

    If you've read here for any length of time, you know that I am a passionate supporter of keeping snail mail alive!  This is a monthly series that I hope will inspire you to start putting thoughts on paper.  There's nothing like finding a handwritten note among the piles of bills and junk mail.   
    _________________________________________

    PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH
    Sadly, we all seem to know someone who has lost a child through miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, a stillbirth, or SIDS.  October is a month dedicated to them, so it's an appropriate time to jot a few words, letting them know you're thinking of them and that you are remembering their sweet baby in heaven.

    OCTOBER 7 // YOU MATTER TO ME DAY
    You Matter To Me Day was created in 2010 by Linda Jew. A friend and his son passed away and she realized that she had never told them, "You matter to me."  As she started telling people she knew that they mattered, she decided to start a day centered around the phrase. Write a letter to those people in your life who could use the reminder.  Only four words, but man, are they powerful.

    OCTOBER 12 // UN SPANISH LANGUAGE DAY
    Established in 2010 by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), this day was created "to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization". (source)  Brush up on your high school Spanish and write a card to a Spanish-speaking friend.  Better yet, send one to a non Spanish-speaking friend and have them work on the translation.  An educational challenge!

    OCTOBER 29 // NATIONAL CAT DAY
    National Cat Day was originally founded as a way to bring awareness to the number of homeless cats in the United States.  Today is a great time to thank your local animal shelter and cuddle those orphaned kitties.  Maybe you can bring along a card and a few donations.  Don't forget about the obsessed cat ladies in your life too!

    OCTOBER 31 // HALLOWEEN
    We may be too old for trick-or-treating, but how fun would it be to surprise a friend with a card and a bag of her favorite sweets?

    _________________________________________

    A few fun snail mail related links:


    mail for sticker lovers.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    No.185: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (September 2018)


    September was a blur and made meal planning quite tricky.  How you eat healthily while running around town is beyond me!  We ate out much more than usual, but I'm trying to give myself some grace in this area.  We'll find some sort of groove soon...I hope.


    Week 62: 
    Saturday, September 1: roasted pork tenderloin with veggies
    Sunday, September 2: leftovers
    Monday, September 3: Labor Day! bacon cheeseburgers on the grill, chips
    Tuesday, September 4: chicken, apple, potato and brussels sprouts skillet over rice
    Wednesday, September 5: beef and broccoli ramen
    Thursday, September 6: breakfast for dinner - french toast
    Friday, September 7: french onion meatballs and mashed potatoes, strawberry cheesecake

    Week 63:
    Saturday, September 8: tacos
    Sunday, September 9: burgers after late Mass
    Monday, September 10: Mark's first day!  Little Caesars in between the boys' extra-curriculars
    Tuesday, September 11: oktoberfest sheet pan brats and roasted vegetables
    Wednesday, September 12: perfect pot roast
    Thursday, September 13: breakfast for dinner - crustless quiche
    Friday, September 14: frozen pizzas and strawberry cheesecake (celebrating TJ's birthday early!)

    Week 64:
    Saturday, September 15: out for burgers
    Sunday, September 16: Mark's chili and cornbread
    Monday, September 17: make-your-own sub sandwiches
    Tuesday, September 18: Mark business trip. leftovers and funfetti cupcakes
    Wednesday, September 19: TJ's birthday! out for pizza and choco-tacos
    Thursday, September 20: slow cooker parmesan honey pork roast, mashed potatoes and broccoli
    Friday, September 21: burgers and fries

    Week 65:
    Saturday, September 22: frozen pizzas and cookie cake (celebrating S's birthday early!)
    Sunday, September 23: white chicken chili, served with salsa and tortilla chips (I used a rotisserie chicken to make it easier)
    Monday, September 24: S's birthday! slow cooker beef stew
    Tuesday, September 25: roasted brats and vegetables
    Wednesday, September 26: we were supposed to attend "Food Truck Wednesday" but it was cancelled due to rain, so we grabbed burgers instead
    Thursday, September 27: meat and veggies paleo chili (we subbed the zucchini for butternut squash)
    Friday, September 28: leftovers

    Week 66:
    Saturday, September 29: roasted pork loin, broccoli and rice
    Sunday, September 30: pulled pork tacos with coleslaw

    Monday, October 1, 2018

    No.184: Intentions for the Beginning of October

    "Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." - Lauren Destefano
    (Now if only Virginia would get the hint!)


    INTENTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

    • run (no training plan, just for fun) three times a week
    • paint the little boys' headboards
    • go on a birthday date (!!)
    • buy gifts for D's birthday
    • send two letters in the mail
    • try a new soup for "soup night"
    • decide on outfits for our family photos
    • figure out the front porch staining situation 
    • call to have someone look at the dishwasher
    • buy new sneakers for M (why are sneakers so expensive!?)
    • increase Poshmark inventory to 75+
    • finish reading Estrogeneration
    • read 100 pages in Don Quixote

      PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

      If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
      • SLOW DOWN - life is full, but letting it feel crazy is a choice (a work in progress - some days are better than others)
      • buy new sneakers for M
      • finish wrapping Sophie's birthday gifts 
      • reach 50 listings in my Poshmark closet (a big milestone for me as I grow my business)
      • sell at least 8 items on Poshmark (final total was 14!)
      •  order poly mailers and tissue paper (I went with my classic kraft tissue and these mailers)
      • send a letter in the mail
      • figure out the front porch staining situation
      • attend our local "Food Truck Wednesday" for dinner (they cancelled the event due to rain)
      • start Don Quixote (at over 800 pages, this is only slightly intimidating, hah! here we go!)
      • decide on a paint color for Sophie's room
      • decide on a paint color for the little boys' headboards (I'm going to try Rustoleum's chalk paint in Coastal Blue)

      What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

      Friday, September 28, 2018

      No.183: What I Learned in September

      These photos are unrelated and were taken around the property this summer, but are too pretty not to share.  Nature is amazing.

      1 // I'M (STILL!) NOT VERY GOOD WITH CHANGE.
      September was a total blur of new activities and routines.  Mark also started his new job, which brought its own changes.  You'd think at this point in my life, I'd roll with the punches when things like this happen...but I don't, hah!  It's been a constant battle to take care of myself with everything going on.  Thankfully, each week gets a little easier.

      2 // ABRAHAM LINCOLN HAD A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR.
      We read Abraham Lincoln in school and it may be my favorite d'Aulaire book yet!  We all enjoyed learning more about him beyond the typical presidential facts.  The kids loved that he had such a jovial sense of humor! 

      3 // I'M BACK TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. 
      I've been having so much fun with Poshmark that I'm dipping my toes in creating a "real" business again!   I've been setting aside a little time each day to work on "my closet" and in really fires me up creatively.  I'm learning so much about clothing: brands, fabrics, quality, etc etc etc.  In some ways I feel like I did years ago when I launched Big White Farmhouse - learning a brand new industry is fascinating.
      P.S. If you sign up on Poshmark with the code BWFARMHOUSE, you get $5 off your first purchase!

      4 // MY GRAY HAIRS ARE REALLY COMING IN.
      I was brushing my teeth one night when I did a double take - what is happening on the top of my head?!  I'm not necessarily dreading getting older, but it really is surreal to watch it happen.

      5 // I FINALLY HAVE A LITTLE BOY WHO LOVES TRAINS.
      I've been nudging my boys toward trains for years and years and none of them have ever really caught on.  BUT!  P (at almost 22 months) is obsessed!  He watches Thomas the Train on repeat and looks at all of our train books.  He'll play with the trains and tracks on and off all day!  So fun to watch.

      Your turn: what did you learn this month?

      Thursday, September 27, 2018

      No.182: My Latest Reads // September

      This post contains affiliate links.

      NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland 
      My Rating: ★★

      "How long have you been working for the Russians?” I say. The words are raw, unprocessed. But they’re out now, so I watch his face closely, because his expression matters far more to me than his words. Will there be honest confusion? Indignation? Shame? There’s nothing. Absolutely no emotion crosses his face. It doesn’t change. And that sends a bolt of fear through me. He looks at me evenly. Waits a beat too long to answer, but just barely. “Twenty-two years.” (11%)

      I stayed up way too late devouring this book!  You know how much I love a spy thriller and this one did not disappoint.  Such a page turner.  And the end?!  I can't talk much about it without giving too much away, but it was SO good.  Definitely one of my favorites for 2018.  

      TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN  by John Green 
      My Rating: ★★

      Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see. (4%)

      Full disclosure: I don't really enjoy YA - I have zero desire to return to my teenage years!  Even so, I have people in my life who suffer from OCD and anxiety and since Turtles All the Way Down comes highly recommended, I decided to give it a try.  And it was good!  Hearing of the main character's internal battle was exhausting and even gave me a bit of anxiety, but I also found it to be really helpful.  By knowing more, I hope I can be a better friend/relative to those that suffer in this way.

      SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult 
      My Rating: ★★

      On the day before classes were supposed to start, Mama took me out to dinner. “You’re destined to do small great things,” she told me. “Just like Dr. King said.” She was referring to one of her favorite quotes: If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way. (35%)

      The science of creating another human is remarkable, and no matter how many times I’ve learned about cells and mitosis and neural tubes and all the rest that goes into forming a baby, I can’t help but think there’s a dash of miracle involved, too. (40%)

      What can I say about this book?  It was an honest look at racism in America.  Hard to read at times, but also so good.  The parts related to birth and motherhood choked me up on more than one occasion.  It definitely gave me a lot to think about.

      THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom
      My Rating: ★★

      "Abinia," she said, "this I know.  What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don't mean nothin'.  We a family, carin' for each other.  Family make us strong in times of trouble.  We all stick together, help each other out.  That the real meanin' of family.  When you grow up, you take that family feelin' with you." (p.160)

      The Kitchen House dealt with slavery in the eighteenth century.  I enjoyed it, even if the bad things happening one after the other seemed a little like a soap opera.  I wasn't particularly attached to the main character, but I sure did love Mama Mae.  Solid three stars.

      ____________________________

      MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS

      Books Read: 53
      Fiction: 31  // Non-Fiction: 22
      Kindle Books: 33  // Paper Books: 20
      Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 426

      Monday, September 24, 2018

      No.181: Five September Favorites (A Link-Up!)

      This post contains affiliate links.

      Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  Here are five of my favorite things this month:


      1 // MY WEEKLY NOTEPAD FOR SELF-CARE
      My life feels ca-razy right now.  Since I'm prone to overwhelm and anxiety, I've started focusing on little ways to fill my tank and avoid all of that mess.  Self-care is different for everyone, but for me, I really enjoy blogging and working on my new business.  Both require surges of creativity and I think that's the key!  I keep my gingham weekly notepad in a visible spot on the counter and it's really helping me stay accountable to myself.  Mama can't pour from an empty cup.

      2 // BEEF STEW IN THE SLOW COOKER
      The weather is finally starting to cool off and I'm so excited to start a weekly soup/stew night.  (One of my 100 Little Things goals!)  This week, we're starting off with our go-to beef stew recipe:
      INGREDIENTS // 2lb stew beef, onions chopped, celery chopped, carrots peeled and chopped, mini red potatoes, 28oz. can whole tomatoes, 1.5tsp. Italian seasoning, 3 cups beef broth, 2 bay leaves, frozen peas, salt and pepper, and 0.5 cup flour
      DIRECTIONS // Lightly brown the stew meat in batches in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Dump tomatoes and their juices into the slow cooker and mash them a little.  Add onions, celery, carrots and potatoes.  (The amounts of these depends on who I'm feeding and how much I have in my refrigerator.  In my house, it's generally the more, the merrier!)  Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the vegetables and then add beef and drippings.  Pour 2.5 cups beef broth over all, stir quickly, add bay leaves and cover.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  20 minutes before serving, add the frozen peas (about 1 cup) and salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, whisk the last 0.5 cup of broth with the flour to make a smooth paste.  Stir into stew and cook until thickened, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and enjoy!
      The recipe calls for the slow cooker, but I've also modified it to work in the dutch oven too.

      3 // TJ'S NEW FISHING GAME
      When we went on a field trip to the Marine Corps Museum a few weeks ago, TJ was obsessed with a fishing exhibit for kids.  It was the highlight of his day!  So for his birthday, I bought him this sweet little fishing game.  It's been a big hit with all three little ones and I love the handy box to keep all of the pieces.

      4 // TEACHING TEXTBOOKS
      Teaching Textbooks is a homeschooling lifesaver at our house.  Originally, I had planned for just the two oldest boys to use the program, but J (2nd grade) begged and begged and I finally gave in.  He started Teaching Textbooks 3 last week and I've had to cut him off on lessons...I think he'd do them all in a matter of days if I let him!  TT makes a difficult subject just a little more enjoyable.

      5 // NEW BOOT SOCKS FOR FALL
      Socks are one of those essentials that I never seem to buy for myself.  Fun (and embarrassing) fact: some of my current pairs have been around for almost a decade!  Needless to say, threadbare and holes isn't exactly a good look, so I invested in a few new ones.  I got this pair and this one and these too and am so excited to wear them soon.  Why did I wait so long?!  It's the little things.

      _______________________________

      I can't wait to hear about what you're loving this month!  Here's what to do:
      1. Write a blog post sharing about five of your favorite things.  You could also share a photo on Instagram too! (hashtag is #bwffivefavorites)  It can have a theme (ie: five of your favorite slow cooker recipes) or just a mishmash like I usually do.
      2. Please link back to this post so your readers know where to find the Five Favorites hub (posts not mentioning "Five Favorites" or not linking back to this post will be subject to removal).
      3. Not mandatory, but feel free to visit some of the other posts in the link-up!  Sharing and/or leaving a comment is even better.
      4. Make sure to add a link to your specific post or Instagram picture, not just your blog address.
      Thanks for linking up!

      Monday, September 17, 2018

      No.180: Intentions for the End of September


      I'm back from a much-needed internet break!  September is flying by and I've started to feel the beginning of burn out: our busy schedule, lots of new responsibilities, and staying up way too late were taking its toll.  I've been a frazzled, hot mess!  So last week, I turned off the horrible news stories, put my running plan on pause and tried to relax.  I wouldn't say it fixed everything, but it's a start. 


      INTENTIONS FOR THE END OF SEPTEMBER

      • SLOW DOWN - life is full, but letting it feel crazy is a choice
      • buy new sneakers for M
      • finish wrapping Sophie's birthday gifts
      • reach 50 listings in my Poshmark closet
      • sell at least 8 items on Poshmark
      • order poly mailers and tissue paper
      • send a letter in the mail
      • figure out the front porch staining situation
      • attend our local "Food Truck Wednesday" for dinner
      • start Don Quixote (100LT #31)
      • decide on a paint color for Sophie's room
      • decide on a paint color for the little boys' headboards

        PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

        If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
        • wrap birthday gifts for TJ and Sophie
        • attach glow-in-the-dark stars on the little boys' room ceiling 
        • organize the toys in their room too (bring in the bookshelf?)
        • buy new sneakers for M and S
        • replace dryer balls (I ordered these)
        • go through the kids' fall clothes and see what needs to be tossed/purchased
        • sign up for Turkey Trot 10K in November (still debating whether to pass this year)
        • beat my personal best 5K time (my 5K was postponed until November because of the hurricane)
        • organize my closet (still not perfect, but a BIG improvement!)
        • STOP putting books on hold at the library

        What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

        Friday, September 14, 2018

        No.179: 20 Things I Love - A Gratitude Journal vol.10

        This post contains affiliate links.

        reading childhood favorites to a new generation
        deer families who graze in our backyard
        rays of sunshine after days and days of rain
        wrapping birthday presents in fun paper
        beautiful picture book illustrations
        watching as the light bulb goes on when the kids understand something new
        swirls of leaves falling from the trees
        over-sized plaid button-down shirts
        a new family routine as we all adjust to Mark's new job
        baking chocolate chip cookies after dinner, just because
        sweet little water bottles lined up on the counter for co-op
        heart to heart conversations with my mom
        a black bear spotted at dusk
        daily Bible reading - and actually sticking to the reading plan!
        the first pot roast of the season, eaten on a rainy evening
        watching my big boys make my toddler belly laugh
        ending the day with everything in its place
        hugs from my best girl
        seeing butterflies, which remind me of my grandmother
        a good night's sleep

        Friday, September 7, 2018

        No.178: Five Reasons to Send a Letter in September

        This post contains affiliate links.

        If you've read here for any length of time, you know that I am a passionate supporter of keeping snail mail alive!  Starting a new monthly series today that I hope will inspire you to start putting thoughts on paper.  There's nothing like finding a handwritten note among the piles of bills and junk mail.   

        _________________________________________

        SEPTEMBER 9 // NATIONAL GRANDPARENTS DAY
        Signed into law in 1978, National Grandparents Day is observed on the first Sunday in September after Labor Day.  While the observance may have more than one origin, I love the story about Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, a housewife in West Virginia, the best.  She worked to educate people about "the important contributions senior citizens made and the contributions that they would be willing to make if asked. She also urged people to adopt a grandparent, not for one day a year and not for material giving, but for a lifetime of experience." (source)
        This is a great opportunity to send a heartfelt letter to Grandma and Grandpa.  How about having the kids draw a handful of pictures and dropping them off at the local nursing home? 

        SEPTEMBER 19 // INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY
        International Talk Like a Pirate Day was created in 1995.  As an observer of this silly holiday, you greet others with a hearty, "Ahoy, maties!"  Send a letter to a friend who needs a smile, totally written in pirate-ese.  Be sure to include words like Arr, buccaneer, walk the plank, scallywag and the Jolly Roger.  This would make a fun writing assignment for kids too! 

        SEPTEMBER 21 // WORLD GRATITUDE DAY
        World Gratitude Day started in 1965 in Hawaii at an international meeting.  Afterward, the attendees spread the message to their own counties and the celebration has grown and grown.  September 21st is a great day to jot a thank you card to someone special in your life.  Your mom?  A teacher?  The mail lady who delivers your many Amazon packages? 

        SEPTEMBER 23 // THE FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN
        I'm sure you have someone in your life that just loves fall.  You know the one: she counts the days until it's cool enough to wear sweaters and boots, she bakes all the apple desserts and she drinks all the pumpkin spice lattes.  What better way to tell your friend you're thinking of her than to send her a card celebrating the first day of her favorite season!  This is also a great day to snail mail an invitation for getting together for apple picking or wine tasting.

        SEPTEMBER 28 // NATIONAL GOOD NEIGHBOR DAY
        National Good Neighbor Day was created in the 1970s by Becky Mattson.  In 1978, United States President Jimmy Carter issued this proclamation: “As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our Nation and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family…I call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” (source)
        Look for ways to be a good neighbor today and maybe write a little note to the ones in your 'hood. 

        _________________________________________

        A few fun snail mail related links:
        • The Hi-Five is a stationery subscription from one of my favorites, 1canoe2.  Each month, you get five greeting cards, a pen and gold foil envelope seals.  So fun!
        • Alexa Z Design is a new-to-me paper goods store that I just love!  I have my eye on this card and this one and this one too.
        • This is such a fun (and simple!) way to decorate your envelopes.


        Wednesday, September 5, 2018

        No.177: Around Here in September

        This post contains affiliate links.  Linking up with Anne's Currently!

        ENJOYING // our new routine as we work through our third week of school.  The transition has been relatively painless (especially compared with last year!) and the kids have all been so eager to learn.  It's been such a gift.

        PLANNING // a few field trips that aren't too far away.  We took our first one last week to the Marine Corps Museum and it was awesome.  Way less stressful than I anticipated, although I'm not sure I would have had the same experience without Mark there.  The big kids were able to learn while I wrangled the littles.

        READING // Small Great Things and I can't.put.it.down.  So hard and at times painful, but so good too.

        PUTTING // "Bertha" (the affectionate name for my sourdough starter) in the fridge for now.  I made sourdough bread just about every day all summer, but with the return of school and extra-curricular activities, I just don't have the mental energy!  Sometimes it can feel like taking care of another kid.  I love knowing that she'll be dormant in the fridge but easily come back to life when I'm ready to return to baking later this fall. 

        CREATING // mood boards for a little update in Sophie's room and bathroom.  We haven't touched her room since moving in and I'm itching to make it feel more like her.  Her only request is to include her favorite colors (pink and purple, naturally) so we'll see what I can do! 


        SELLING // on Poshmark and loving it!  It's been a fun little side gig and will be helpful for financing my little home improvement projects (see above, hah!). 

        CELEBRATING // Mark's new job offer!  He starts on Monday and we are all so excited with this new change.

        BUYING // presents for my two September birthday kiddos who kick off our family's "birthday season."  Lots of discussion around here about cakes and candles and special dinner requests.  It's crazy having six birthdays (seven, if you count mine!) in a three month span, but I love it.  

        LISTENING // to a weird noise coming from the dishwasher when it runs.  Praying it will magically fix itself, because I'd really prefer not to have to buy a new appliance right now.  It's always something!!

        WORKING // on the front flower beds on Labor Day.  With all the rain we've had this summer, the weed situation was out of control.  I spent almost two hours in sweaty, 90°+ weather weeding and adding mulch and it looks so much better.  Now I have to finally decide what I want to plant - maybe a whole row of peonies or hydrangeas?

        STARTING // a new running program to get me into shape for a 10K in November.  It feels good to push myself and I'm starting to see real progress.

        BAKING // two new cookie recipes as part of 100 Little Things (goal #4).  We made an oatmeal toffee cookie and s'mores chocolate chip - both were delicious.

        DECIDING //  that I should get my sugar consumption in check again.  A summer of ice cream and cookies isn't exactly the diet of champions and I probably need to reign it in a little, hah!  New season, new habits...little by little.

        Tuesday, September 4, 2018

        No.176: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (August 2018)


        Wise words from Julia Child: 
        “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got 
        to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 


        Week 57 (cont.):
        Wednesday, August 1: chimichurri chicken and rice
        Thursday, August 2: breakfast for dinner - scrambled eggs and sourdough waffles
        Friday, August 3: popcorn and vanilla pudding pie (so random!)

        Week 58: 
        Saturday, August 4: Mark's homemade pepperoni and supreme pizzas
        Sunday, August 5: french onion meatballs with mashed potatoes and broccoli
        Monday, August 6: pasta and homemade meat sauce with salad
        Tuesday, August 7: garlic-parmesan vegetables and sausage
        Wednesday, August 8: tacos
        Thursday, August 9: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night
        Friday, August 10: chicken and cheese quesadillas

        Week 59:
        Saturday, August 11: burgers and fries while we were out running errands
        Sunday, August 12: Mark's homemade chicken fingers and french fries
        Monday, August 13: slow cooker french dip sandwiches
        Tuesday, August 14: three cheese chicken broccoli alfredo
        Wednesday, August 15: homemade pizza
        Thursday, August 16: breakfast for dinner - "apple pie" sourdough waffles
        Friday, August 17: BBQ at our favorite local place to celebrate something big!

        Week 60:
        Saturday, August 18: leftovers
        Sunday, August 19: egg roll bowls
        Monday, August 20: First Day of School! Little Caesars pizza to celebrate a successful first day
        Tuesday, August 21: tacos
        Wednesday, August 22: shredded chicken over rice with broccoli
        Thursday, August 23: brats
        Friday, August 24: baked chicken with spinach and artichokes

        Week 61:
        Saturday, August 25: leftovers
        Sunday, August 26: french onion meatballs with mashed potatoes
        Monday, August 27: one pan harvest pasta
        Tuesday, August 28: grinder sandwiches
        Wednesday: August 29: we had a late lunch after our field trip, so just ate popcorn and other random things from the pantry
        Thursday, August 30: baked garlic parmesan chicken and broccoli
        Friday, August 31: homemade pepperoni pizza

        Monday, September 3, 2018

        No.175: Intentions for the Beginning of September


        September is here and we have so much to look forward to: the start of co-op, multiple extra curricular activities, a 5K, and two birthdays.  As I turned the page in my calendar and started filling things in, I couldn't help but remember the days when my monthly pages were practically blank.  When someone would ask when we were free, I'd laugh and say, "Pick a day, any day!"  Oh, how times have (quickly!) changed.  Take heart, mamas with a bunch of little ones who feel like your days stretch to eternity.  Full schedules will be in your future before you know it, hah!   

        INTENTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER

        • wrap birthday gifts for TJ and Sophie
        • attach glow-in-the-dark stars on the little boys' room ceiling
        • organize the toys in their room too (bring in the bookshelf?)
        • buy new sneakers for M and S
        • replace dryer balls
        • go through the kids' fall clothes and see what needs to be tossed/purchased
        • sign up for Turkey Trot 10K in November
        • beat my personal best 5K time (I'm running a race with my oldest in two weeks!)
        • organize my closet
        • STOP putting books on hold at the library (books have been coming off the hold list every week for two months now!  I need a break)

          PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

          If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
          • iron out our new routine as the school year begins
          • make sure we have everything we need for co-op (I think we're ready to go!  First day is this Friday)
          • buy new sneakers for M and S
          • schedule Sophie's Kindergarten immunizations (she needed four and was SO brave!)
          • go through the kids' fall clothes and see what needs to be tossed/purchased (it's been too hot to even think about this)
          • replace dryer balls
          • start purchasing birthday gifts for TJ and S
          • weed and mulch the front flower beds (on the to-do list for today)
          • write a snail-mail letter
          • research possible places to source inventory for Poshmark
          • commit to 40 days of prayer and fasting for the victims of abuse and the healing of the Church

          What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

          Friday, August 31, 2018

          No.174: What I Learned in August

          Linking up with Kelly's Quick Takes!

          1 // I'M OVER SUMMER AND READY FOR FALL.
          I know that I'm the odd man out here, but I am just over summer.  We have had a crazy season: so.much.rain followed by sticky hot humidity.  Especially with the beginning of the school year, I'm ready for crisp mornings and cute sweaters.

          2 // FALSE CONFESSIONS ARE REAL AND THE REPERCUSSIONS ARE SCARY.  
          I've been on a bit of a true crime kick this summer.  Many aspects of this genre interest me, but my latest fascination has been false confessions.  Two things that address this issue: the Netflix documentary "The Confession Tapes" and the book The Innocent Man.  It's scary to think that under great duress, you can be broken enough to say anything and that action could result in life in prison - or worse!  I'm not anti-police department by any means, but I do think that with great power comes great responsibility.  We can do better.

          3 // INTROVERTS ARE SO MISUNDERSTOOD,
          Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then left feeling like you just weren't seen or heard?  I had one this month and it wrecked me.  As an introvert, I'm somewhat used to the flippant comments people make about me and how my behavior is perceived, but this one stung. 

          4 // I SHOULDN'T BE WASHING THE KIDS' PLASTIC DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER.
          According to this article, they're recommending that plastic cups and plates not go in the dishwasher.
          I knew that microwaving plastic containers was a no-no, but never thought about this.  The kids use plastic plates all the time!  I think we'll just start slowly transitioning to regular (breakable) plates because the idea of hand-washing everything after every meal sounds exhausting. #firstworldproblems

          5 // TEACHERS ARE INCREDIBLY SELFLESS.
          I already knew this, but this month brought a bigger realization.  Whether you teach in a public school, private school or even in your own home, the amount of love, time, and resources you pour into your students is astronomical.  What a gift it is for children to learn from such dedicated educators.

          6 // MANY OAT PRODUCTS THAT WE EAT CONTAIN UNSAFE AMOUNTS OF WEED KILLER.
          And another article about how I'm endangering myself and my family: a large number of cereals, granola bars and instant oats were found to contain potentially dangerous amounts of the main ingredient in weed killer.  WHAT?!  Thanks a lot, Cheerios and Quaker oats.

          7 // IT'S A HARD TIME TO BE CATHOLIC.
          My heart hurts for the victims and the church I love so much.
          P.S. Years ago, I signed up to spiritually adopt a priest.  Every year, you receive the name of a different priest to pray for and shamefully, I would only sporadically remember to include him in my prayers.  As scandal after scandal came to light this month, I felt a sudden urgency to resurrect that prayer card I had carelessly tucked away.  I haven't missed a day since.  As a mother, this part of the prayer is especially powerful to me:
          "Mother of all priests, intercede also for those endangered and straying priests who no longer clearly see the path and the goal, and seek another direction according to their personal biases.  No mother abandons her child when it is in danger.  Oh that you, too, would send your holy Angels with such a sharp warning that they cannot fail to hear it." (emphasis mine)
          Mamas don't mess around.


          Your turn!  What did you learn this month?

          Wednesday, August 29, 2018

          No.173: My Latest Reads // August

          This post contains affiliate links.

          THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone
          My Rating: ★★

          The best hiding spots are not the most hidden; they’re merely the least searched. 

          I read and enjoyed one of Chris Pavone's books years ago, so I was excited when The Expats came off the hold list at the library.  A story about a former CIA agent turned stay-at-home mom and the secrets that find her?  Sign me up!  After reading, though, I was a little disappointed.  It read more like a travelogue than a spy thriller, the story line was sometimes hard to follow and I wasn't invested in any of the characters.  I was happy to close the book and move on.  Just okay for me.  I liked Pavone's The Travelers way better.

          THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden
          My Rating: ★★

          "Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.” (81%)

          Another one from the library!  The Bear and the Nightingale is a young adult fantasy, which is a genre I rarely read, but I'm all about expanding my horizons and wanted to give it a shot.  The story is set in fairy tale-like Medieval Russia and is filled with Russian folklore.  There's demons and spirits and even a vampire, so if that's your jam, you'll love this book.  Personally, I have a hard time with that stuff!  (The demons totally creep me out, which I know is ironic given my love for true crime novels.)  A solid three stars.

          THE INNOCENT MAN: MURDER AND INJUSTICE IN A SMALL TOWN by John Grisham
          My Rating: ★★

          “God help us, if ever in this great country we turn our heads while people who have not had fair trials are executed…” -Judge Frank Howell Seay

          The Innocent Man is a true crime story about a man sent to death row for a crime he did not commit.  It was an interesting book, but long and sometimes tedious.  After finishing, I read some reviews on Goodreads and it seems Grisham may have embellished some of the facts to make the prosecution look worse. Totally a "he said/he said" moment, but it does give the book a little less credibility.


          TEARS OF GOD: PERSEVERING IN THE FACE OF GREAT SORROW OR CATASTROPHE by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR
          My Rating: ★★

          It's important to pray quietly and let the sufferings of Jesus sink deeply into your soul, and to match some aspect of the Passion with your own sufferings and sorrows.  Whether your suffering be great or small, whether the catastrophe is something that will pass or a horror that has permanent effects, every one of us can sit down and say with Jesus, "I am so grateful that you are here with me." (p.59-60)

          We who believe in Divine Providence, in life after death, in salvation and resurrection; we, of all people, when faced with catastrophe, must go on with courage, faith, and hope.  We must make things different.  We must not remain fixed in the grief of the past, but move on to doing good and making things better in the future.  The wound of sorrow will always be there.  We don't want it to go away.  We want the wound to heal and scar.  We can work while the scar exists." (p.70)

          With all the horrible things talked about in the Church right now, I felt like it was an appropriate time to pull this book off the shelf.  While it doesn't necessarily address the issue at hand, Fr. Benedict had many wise things to say about suffering that were helpful.

          STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel
          My Rating: ★★

          She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees. (66%)

          Post-apocalyptic science fiction isn't my go-to genre, but after hearing so much buzz for this book over the years, I decided to give it a shot.  And...it was good!  In hindsight, though, after seeing how many people love it, I don't think I really got it.  One positive: I had fresh eyes filled with gratitude for the modern conveniences we take for granted.

          HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS by J.D. Vance
          My Rating: ★★
           
          Not all of the white working class struggles. I knew even as a child that there were two separate sets of mores and social pressures. My grandparents embodied one type: old-fashioned, quietly faithful, self-reliant, hardworking. My mother and, increasingly, the entire neighborhood embodied another: consumerist, isolated, angry, distrustful. (58%)

          It was in the Marine Corps where I first ordered grown men to do a job and watched them listen; where I learned that leadership depended far more on earning the respect of your subordinates than on bossing them around; where I discovered how to earn that respect; and where I saw that men and women of different social classes and races could work as a team and bond like family. It was the Marine Corps that first gave me an opportunity to truly fail, made me take that opportunity, and then, when I did fail, gave me another chance anyway. (68%)

          Another one off the hold list at the library!  There was a lot of talk about Hillbilly Elegy the last few years and you know how much I enjoy a good memoir.  His reflections on his childhood trauma in Appalachia and how that affected relationships as an adult was really interesting.  Overall, I thought the book was insightful and gave me a lot to think about. 

          ____________________________

          MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS

          Books Read: 49
          Fiction: 27  // Non-Fiction: 22
          Kindle Books: 30  // Paper Books: 19
          Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 427

          Monday, August 27, 2018

          No.172: Five August Favorites (A Link-Up!)

          This post contains affiliate links.

          Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  Here are five of my favorite things this month:


          1 // AN EASY MIDWEEK DINNER
          Our favorite weekday meal this summer has been garlic-parmesan veggies and sausage.  The majority of the work is just chopping, which I find strangely calming.  Generally inexpensive and a great way to use up vegetables that are going bad.  I usually make two sheet pans full and a big pot of rice and it feeds my crew with a tiny bit leftover for Mark's lunch.

          2 // PRIME WARDROBE
          My oldest started serving at Mass and needed black pants, black socks and black shoes.  He is growing like crazy, so instead of searching multiple stores, we decided to try out Prime Wardrobe.  I chose three pairs of pants (in different brands because I wasn't sure what would fit him well), a package of socks and black dress shoes.  When the box came, he tried everything on, picked his favorites and we sent the rest back to Amazon.  So easy and a lifesaver for this busy mama. 

          3 // MY SMALL PACKAGE SCALE 
          Since I'm back to selling things online, I pulled out my trusty postage scale this month.  I've had the same one for years and years and it is so handy.  You can purchase shipping from home through USPS and even have them pick up your packages too.  No need to drag six kids to the post office!

          4 // ASK FATHER JOSH PODCAST
          Mark just recommended this podcast to me, so I've been catching up during my runs.  Each episode is a handful of Q&As sent in by listeners and it's another interesting and entertaining way to learn about the faith.  I'm really enjoying it and the way Fr. Josh randomly breaks into song like he lives in a musical?  So funny and awesome.

          5 // NEW SHOES FOR P
          Ever since he could walk, we've always put P in soft moccassins.  I recently pulled out some of the big boys' outgrown sneakers for him to wear and oh man, you'd think he was wearing platform shoes!  He wouldn't walk naturally and it was hilariously pathetic.  I finally caved and bought him a pair of barefoot-like sneakers and all is well in the world again.

          _______________________________

          I can't wait to hear about what you're loving this month!  Here's what to do:
          1. Write a blog post sharing about five of your favorite things.  You could also share a photo on Instagram too! (hashtag is #bwffivefavorites)  It can have a theme (ie: five of your favorite slow cooker recipes) or just a mishmash like I usually do.
          2. Please link back to this post so your readers know where to find the Five Favorites hub (posts not mentioning "Five Favorites" or not linking back to this post will be subject to removal).
          3. Not mandatory, but feel free to visit some of the other posts in the link-up!  Sharing and/or leaving a comment is even better.
          4. Make sure to add a link to your specific post or Instagram picture, not just your blog address.
          Thanks for linking up!

          Friday, August 24, 2018

          No.171: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 01)


          Every year around this time, I get a twinge of anxiety.  All of the doubts come flying and I wonder: Did I make the right decision?  Is this going to work for all of them?  Am I screwing them up for life?  Public school or homeschool, the agonizing questions are always the same.

          We jumped back into school this week and the transition was incredibly easy.  The kids were eager and the younger ones couldn't get enough.  They were asking for more and more!  Our calendar is filling up with co-op, CCD, Trail Life, and youth group.  What a gift it is to begin a new school year knowing we're exactly where we're supposed to be.
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