Friday, April 20, 2018

No.111: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 31)

 This post contains affiliate links.

I have major spring fever (already!) and you can tell with the lack of school posts lately.  I think I'm ready for the break more than the kids are!  At almost 17 months, the "baby" is definitely a toddler now and is such a distraction: climbing on the school table, whining constantly for me to hold him, or destroying everything he can reach.  He's exhausting!  Just five more weeks to go... I think I can, I think I can... 


+ We added The Blue Fairy Book to our morning basket and I'm surprised at how much my older boys enjoy the stories.  Favorite so far: Jack the Giant-Killer.

+ M (5th grade) started his Edison unit in science.  He's reading A Story of Thomas Alva Edison and then keeping a journal, writing as if he were Thomas himself.  It has been a nice way to change up his narrations.  I love seeing his creativity.

+ TJ (age 3) is suddenly fascinated by dinosaurs.  A few of his favorite things right now:
+ We have a nest on our front porch fan and just discovered four little white eggs inside.  After a little research, we think they are from an Eastern Phoebe.  We signed up with Nest Watch (a free program with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and will be recording our data to help their scientists.  The perfect spring nature study, just two steps from home.

+ Last week, we watched a few episodes of "Chasing Monsters" on Netflix, including one episode where the Bear Grylls/Crocodile Hunter-like host got bacteria samples from the teeth of live sharks to help with shark bite antibiotic research.  It was so random, but also really interesting.  And in some strange way, it tied back to our science bacteria study from a few weeks ago. 

+ We're starting to wrap up our African Geography Studies for the year - just three weeks left!  This week we went to Zambia and read Beautiful Blackbird.


+ Health: Running again!  I'm starting slow, just a couple of miles at a time, but it feels good to be back and pain-free.
+ Reading: A random library pick called Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook.  It's not something I generally read and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  It has really great reviews though, so we'll see.
+ Fun: I'm in a bit of a creative slump right now.  I need to brainstorm to get that spark back!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

No.110: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Life // April 2018 Edition

A monthly project featuring ten photos throughout the day that show a peek into our extraordinarily ordinary life.

Highlights from Wednesday, April 18, 2018:
  • I was awake at 6:00, but stayed in my warm bed for a good 15 minutes before officially starting the day.  It was cold!
  • The gutter cleaning guys were supposed to come tomorrow, but showed up bright and early today and caught me in a hot mess of an outfit: black leggings, brown socks, an oversized shirt and a navy blue sweater.  My pride is officially gone.
  • I took yesterday off from laundry (such a rebel), but made up for it with four loads today. 
  • I baked a loaf of honey wheat bread for lunch.  We ate it with ham and white cheddar cheese.  Simple and delicious.
  • We spent three hours outside in the sunshine.  The little kids dug in the dirt and the big kids learned how to make different types of knots.  I paced the driveway, drank my afternoon cup of coffee and read my book.
  • P took a morning and afternoon nap and his whiny "I want to be held always" mood changed drastically for the better.  A miracle!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

No.109: What Makes You Feel Alive? A Health Manifesto

I lost myself a bit this winter, but I'm determined to bring her back.

It all started in January when I injured a muscle in my hip.  Unable to run, I wallowed, comforting myself in winter hibernation.  Cozy afternoons reading, curled up under blankets in front of the fire, became my new normal.  At the same time, my fertility struggled to return and my hormones were in chaos.  The scale, for lots of reasons, crept up and up and up.

And then...spring arrived.  There's nothing like temperatures in the 70's, when the bulky sweaters are shed and you have to stare that unfamiliar body in the face.  I looked in the full-length mirror at myself - looking tired and sorta flabby - and wondered, Where did I go?  What happened to me?

It's more than just the number on the scale.  It's the slow burn of aging, the way my body doesn't work in the way I think it should.  It's the wear and tear of six consecutive pregnancies without a significant break between them.  It's the nagging feeling that while I'm happy with so many things in my life, there's one little piece that doesn't feel quite right.

In the quiet, the thought came to me like a whisper: What makes you feel alive?  And without any hesitation, I knew the answer.

Running makes me feel alive.

So last week, I tied on my sneakers and got on the treadmill for the first time in three months.  I started at barely a jog, feeling every step.  I was clunky and slow.  My running shorts were just a wee too snug.  More than one part of me jiggled and my lower back ached.  But it felt SO good.  Afterward, big, ugly tears mingled with my shower water.  I felt proud of myself.  I felt strong.  In a rare moment of self-love, I made a manifesto of sorts and am recording it here because I'm sure I'll need the reminder.

Here's to loving ourselves as we are, while having the courage to make positive changes too.


I am more than just the number on the scale.
I will fill myself with lots of good, nutrient-filled food.  And a little of the "not-so-nutritious" is okay too.  It doesn't have to be either/or.
I will focus on movement, in whatever way it materializes.  Preferably a run, but sometimes laps around the yard or dancing in the kitchen.
I will prioritize my mental health.  Sleep comes first and can cure much.  A little time away can do wonders too.  I am not a bad wife or mother for needing both.
I will stay in my lane.  No comparing myself to others who may be further in their goals than I am.  We don't all have to take the same path to get to success.
Perfectionism has no place in my wellness - I will do what I can, when I can.  And that's enough.

taken last October after a long run 
freshly showered, no makeup, wrinkles, happy

Monday, April 16, 2018

No.108: Intentions for the End of April

I took an unintentional, but much needed internet break last week.  It was a week full of family and weekday sleepovers and play dates - so many good things!  Because of all the extras, I had to scrap my never ending to-do list and stick to the essentials.  Sometimes life forces my hand a bit, telling me sternly, "Lady, you need to check yourself.  You can't do it all and that's okay."  I'm always grateful for that reminder to slow down.  Especially when I refuse to do it on my own.


  • Habit of the Month: Thoroughness
  • start running at least three times a week - movement is the goal, not paces or miles
  • try making bulletproof coffee
  • choose a baby gift for my cousin's shower
  • buy a baptism gift for a friend
  • buy tiny hooks 
  • string lights throughout the back porch (100LT #61)
  • do a science experiment with Sophie
  • make dentist appointments
  • print photographs off of old hard drive 
  • finally finish December Daily 2017 album
  • finish another book that I've only partially finished
  • pick a date for a field trip
  • recommit to weaning P - make a plan and stay strong!
  • start dreaming and sketching our garden for next year


If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
  • switch car seats around (5 out of 6 were happy about the change, so pretty good odds, hah)
  • take out clothes to spring/summer and pack away winter (half done!)
  • fix the dryer hose
  • start a deep cleaning of the house (I'm using this checklist - thank you for sharing, Jessica!)
  • finalize plans for front walkway and flower beds (the estimate was waaay more than we had budgeted, so we've decided to just do the flower beds for now)
  • string lights throughout the back porch (we need to pick up tiny hooks first)
  • install curtain rods and hang curtains in the dining room
  • make dentist appointments (need to sync with Mark's schedule)
  • print photographs off of old hard drive for my December Daily album
  • mail another batch of postcards (I still have some room left on the list - sign up here!)
    • return to a few half-finished books and finish them (finished In This House of Brede, but then started and finished two new ones...oops!)
    • research safe sunscreens that actually work (trying Bare Republic - thanks for the recommendation, Catherine!)
    • bake a loaf of whole wheat bread
    • make a batch of granola
    • learn how to make baguettes 
    • find a local milk provider (did the research, now to figure out how to budget it!)

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

    Tuesday, April 10, 2018

    No.107: New Habits, Little by Little: Homesteading 101 - Make Your Daily Bread (Part Three!)

    I live in a farmhouse on five acres in the country.  It's time for this suburban girl to learn a few things!  
    Welcome to my self-taught Homesteading 101.

    Update on Daily Bread Post #1 and Post #2: I'm still baking bread almost every other day!  The recipes that start in the bread machine and are then put in bread pans to rise seem to be the easiest to fit into busy weekdays.  I keep the more time intensive ones for the weekends.  Maybe I'm at a point where I can stop purchasing bread from the grocery store? 

    Below are three new recipes that I've added to the mix:
    • English Muffin Bread
      • Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!
      • Consensus: This one was really good!  We liked it even more the next day, toasted with jam.  
    • Irish Soda Bread
      • I baked this on St. Patrick's Day for the recommended 45 minutes and while the internal temperature was 190° like the instructions said, the very middle was under-cooked!  Yikes.  I made it again the following week, added 6 more minutes to the cooking time, and it was perfect.
      •  Consensus: Delicious!  Sweet without being too sweet.
    • Honey Wheat Bread
      • This was my first attempt at mixing white and whole wheat flours.  I started the dough in the bread machine and then separated into two bread pans to rise, but it didn't rise nearly enough.  (I'm thinking there's not enough gluten?)  I tried again as just a single loaf and the result was much better.
      • Consensus: A really good sandwich bread!  We ate it with leftover Easter ham and white cheddar cheese.

    Next up: sourdough, french baguettes, and a bread with cheese or herbs mixed in.  Share with me your favorite recipes!  I'm also thinking it's time to start another homesteading skill.  What should I try next?

    Friday, April 6, 2018

    No.106: Farmhouse to Home // What I Bought (Vol.1)

    This post contains affiliate links.

    When we moved to the farmhouse last June, we were pretty house-poor.  The entire selling and moving process is so expensive and our savings took a big hit.  We were thrilled to be in our dream house, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was frustrating not to be able to dive into improvement projects and furniture buying.  There was no floor refinishing or kitchen renovations.  There wasn't even painting!  We literally unpacked our things and there they've sat for nine months.

    Only recently are we finally in a position to begin purchasing things to make this house feel more like us.  It's exciting!  And because of the wait, we appreciate each carefully chosen piece just a little bit more.  There's a good life lesson in that, I think.

    Below are seven new additions to the farmhouse.  I search widely and go for a mix of more expensive, less expensive, vintage and handmade.  It takes much more time, but I love the look of a collected home.  Linking up with Kelly's Quick Takes!

    One of the only things we splurged on when we moved in were two rocking chairs for the front porch.  We really needed three, but money only stretches so far, hah!  We just got the last one we needed and aesthetically, it looks so much better.  The chairs are made in the USA, created with eco-friendly materials, really sturdy and comfortable.   

    I stumbled on Annie's work on Instagram and knew I needed a piece of her art in my house!  I chose one of her original Marian monotypes and it is so stunning in person.  I have it framed and ready to hang in my front foyer.  (ALSO!  Check out her on Instagram for a coupon code, good through tomorrow!)

    I was on the lookout for something to hold fruit on my kitchen island and this metal fruit basket fit the bill.  I wavered between two or three tiers, but the smaller one is perfect.

    I've had naked windows in my dining room, just begging for curtains!  After searching for awhile, I went with my go-to favorite from Ikea.  They are inexpensive and look great!

    Have you heard of Freckled Hen Farmhouse?  I love Natalie's store!  It was so hard to choose, but I picked a zinc flower pot for my first purchase.  It is so cute with that already worn look.  I can't wait to find a new plant to put inside.

    After the addition of my new welcome mat, I wanted something to flank the front door.  (It's totally the home version of "If you give a mouse a cookie," haha!)  I found two 21" concrete planters and am thinking two bay leaf trees may be fun and unexpected.  I'm impatiently waiting for warmer weather to plant them.

    A few weekends ago, Mark and I joked that we needed a bell to wrangle our children for dinner. when they were all outside.  A quick search on etsy and I found this hand forged dinner bell!  It just arrived this week and we are all so impressed with the workmanship.  My kids love the show, Forged in Fire, and it's definitely helped us appreciate the work involved.

    Have you added anything new to your house lately?  I'd love to hear about it!

    Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    No.105: Getting into Nature // 1000 Hours Outside Challenge

    As they huddle together putting on sneakers and sweatshirts, I overhear one of them exclaim, "Let's try for THREE hours today!"  We're less than two weeks in, but I think this is our new normal.  And it all started with a family meeting and a challenge.

    I credit Tabitha for introducing me to Ginny and her 1000 Hours Outside Challenge.  The idea comes from research finding that an average American child spends more than 1200 hours on a screen each year.  So the goal of 1000 hours outdoors, not attached to a screen, seems like a reasonable way to add a little balance.  This challenge has been nagging me since my Seven Changes post and with the arrival of spring, it seemed like the perfect time to jump right in!

    We officially started tracking our hours on March 23.  Our one rule is: the hours count if most of us are outside.  A second personal goal for me: I decided that my cell phone would stay in the house.  (Exception being, I can use it if I want to take a photograph, but then back into the house it goes.)

    This extended time outdoors is new for us.  It's a bit uncomfortable and intimidating.  And yet, just twelve days in, I can already see the fruit of positive change.  A few observations: 
    • There is a difference between the random pleas to "please go play outside" (which could last anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours) and intentionally deciding to spend hours outdoors.  When they know we'll be outside for an hour, they find something specific to do vs. wandering aimlessly.  
    • There is less bickering and fighting.  Maybe because there's room to spread out?
    • Toys are totally over-rated.  We have bikes and plasma cars and sports gear, but the items they use the most?  Sticks.  
    • We all sleep better.  Fresh air and extra exercise have us knocked out at the end of the day.
    • I am the one who had the most trouble at first.  I was the one who kept peeking at the clock.  I was the one who felt the urge to grab my phone and just check one thing (can you say, addict?).  I was one who struggled with the idea that I should be doing something "productive," whatever that means.  I started this challenge for my kids, but it's probably been most beneficial for me.   
    1000 hours can seem like a huge goal, so I decided to bring it down to a more manageable level - 100 hours at a time!  I created a printable tracker to keep in our kitchen and we're coloring in the tree leaves as we go.  As of this writing, we have 24 hours completed.  A solid start!  Feel free to download the tracker for your family as well.

    Some other ideas:
    • Trying to combat weekend laziness?  Set the goal of completing 5 hours outside (if you count Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday, it averages to about an hour and 40 minutes a day) and you'd reach 100 hours in around five months!
    • Fill a tracker during summer vacation!  Most breaks are around 10 weeks, which means a daily habit of around 1.5 hours outdoors would have you finished by the first day of school.
    • Do you have a handful of outdoor places you like to explore?  Color code your experiences (ie. green for the backyard, blue for the beach, yellow for hikes, etc.).  At the end, you'll be able to see at a quick glance where you've been.
    Download your own copy here!

    Tuesday, April 3, 2018

    No.104: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (March 2018)

    It's the sense of what family is at the dinner table. It was the joy of knowing mother was in the kitchen making our favorite dish. I wish more people would do this and recall the joy of life. - Paul Prudhomme

    Week 35 (cont.):
    Thursday, March 1: A Taste of Madagascar. chicken legs and rice, spicy bread
    Friday, March 2: No Power! random food from the pantry

    Week 36:
    Saturday, March 3: Five Guys burgers at my parents' house
    Sunday, March 4: Power is back! random food that we were able to get from the grocery store
    Monday, March 5: tacos
    Tuesday, March 6: shredded chicken tossed in salsa verde over rice, salad
    Wednesday, March 7: roasted chicken thighs with mashed potatoes and broccoli
    Thursday, March 8: french onion pot roast with rice and broccoli
    Friday, March 9: frozen fish sticks and shrimp egg rolls

    Week 37:
    Saturday, March 10: brisket in the smoker, coleslaw, BBQ beans, and ham & cheddar biscuits
    Sunday, March 11: Daylight Savings Time. Mark's homemade pizza
    Monday, March 12: brisket nachos
    Tuesday, March 13: roasted chicken legs with broccoli, rice and ciabatta bread
    Wednesday, March 14: beef stroganoff soup and blueberry pie for "Pi Day"
    Thursday, March 15: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night
    Friday, March 16: Mark worked late, so we just had grilled cheese sandwiches

    Week 38:
    Saturday, March 17: St. Patrick's Feast Day. shepherd's pie and Irish soda bread
    Sunday, March 18: brats on the grill, velveeta&rotel mac&cheese and salad
    Monday, March 19: St. Joseph's Feast Day. philly cheesesteak sloppy joes
    Tuesday, March 20: leftovers
    Wednesday, March 21: breakfast for dinner - waffles
    Thursday, March 22: A Taste of South Africa. shredded chicken with South African yellow rice and salad
    Friday, March 23: sushi

    Week 39:
    Saturday, March 24: homemade buffalo chicken pizza
    Sunday, March 25: leftovers
    Monday, March 26: grilled pork chops with brown rice and broccoli
    Tuesday, March 27: kielbasa with rice and salad
    Wednesday, March 28: Mom and M visit! burgers and fries from our favorite local spot
    Thursday, March 29: beans and rice
    Friday, March 30: creamy tomato tortellini soup

    Week 40:
    Saturday, March 31: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night

    Monday, April 2, 2018

    No.103: Intentions for the Beginning of April

    It's Spring Break for us this week!  Our days are purposefully wide open and while the weather doesn't look promising, I hope we'll be able to spend much of it outdoors.  I also plan to attack my long overdue to-do list and maybe even deep clean my house.  And reading.  Definitely lots of reading too!


    • Habit of the Month: Thoroughness
    • switch car seats around (we need to separate a few frequent squabblers)
    • take out clothes to spring/summer and pack away winter
    • fix the dryer hose
    • start a deep cleaning of the house (find a checklist online!)
    • finalize plans for front walkway and flower beds
    • string lights throughout the back porch (100 LT #61)
    • install curtain rods and hang curtains in the dining room
    • make dentist appointments
    • print photographs off of old hard drive for my December Daily album
    • mail another batch of postcards
      • return to a few half-finished books and finish them
      • research safe sunscreens that actually work
      • bake a loaf of whole wheat bread
      • make a batch of granola
      • learn how to make baguettes (100 LT #50)
      • find a local milk provider


      If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
      • speak kindly about myself to myself (why is this so hard?! working on this)
      • send out the first batch of cards for the Springtime Postcard Project (still room to sign up!)
      • take photos for March's "Our Extraordinary Ordinary Life" (you can see the post here)
      • buy candy and fill eggs
      • make sure the kids have something appropriate to wear for Easter (and me too!)
      • find a type of sushi that I like (anything cooked is good - I still can't get behind raw fish yet)
      • drink more water
      • make dentist appointments
      • plan out flower beds for the front of the house and research local landscape architects (we had a landscape architect consultation last week, so excited!)
      • find coordinating outdoor pillows for the front rocking chairs and back bench that don't cost a small fortune (no luck yet!)
      • start the weaning process with P (this isn't going very well...he's teething and sick and not really having it)

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

      Thursday, March 29, 2018

      No.102: What I Learned in March

      After a month of almost daily consumption, I've gone from taking shots of kombucha (with my eyes stinging from the taste!) to drinking it directly from the bottle, no problem. Not sure if it's doing anything for my gut health yet, but fingers crossed.  My current favorites are Gingerberry and Pink Lady Apple.

      We've been cooking African food each week as part of our geography studies and I often find myself saying to the kids, "It's like a pancake, but with different spices" or "It's like taco meat, but spiced with this" or "It's like a pumpkin cookie but made with sweet potato instead".  For whatever reason, the universality of cooking really stopped me in my tracks this month.  Food, regardless of geography, is the same but different.  Just like people.  And that is so cool.

      I'm not talking about the pieces that are thousands of dollars (our single income doesn't stretch that far!) but searching the little etsy shops and Instagram accounts has been so fun. My latest purchase is an original hand-painted monotype from Paper Monastery.  It is absolutely gorgeous.

      My memory's a bit foggy, but I'm pretty sure that I have never had a climber like I have with P.  He is everywhere, always on the table and getting into mischief.  We'll often hear him saying, "Uh oh, uh oh!" as he dangles from the dining room table, waiting for someone to save him.  I'm holding onto my hat for the "terrible twos" because it looks like we're getting started early!

      Daylight savings time was rough for me this year.  I could not get my act together for almost a week!  And then I discovered that two states don't even participate.  Who knew?  (And if you live in Arizona or Hawaii, lucky you!)

      It took us three months, but we finally had my fried hard drive looked at and he was able to recover all of my photos and files - praise God!  When he returned with the new drive, he casually mentioned that the owner of the computer (cough seemed to have a habit of saving everything on the desktop and that was a really bad idea.  Oops.  I'm trying to be better this time around.

      Right before last week's snow storm, Mark tweaked his back, so I volunteered to shovel with two of the boys.  Our driveway is loooong but we figured out a good system (J dug straight through the middle all the way to the street.  M took one side and I took the other, shoveling in rows sideways.) and laughed and chatted.  By the time we finished, we were exhausted, hungry and I could barely feel my arms, hah!  Signs of a good workout. 

      Wednesday, March 28, 2018

      No.101: My Latest Reads // March

      This post contains affiliate links.

      AMERICAN FIRE by Monica Hesse
      My Rating: ★★★★☆
      In November of 2012, the Eastern Shore of Virginia was old. It was long. It was isolated. It was emptying of people but full of abandoned houses. It was dark. It was a uniquely perfect place to light a string of fires. (8%)
      I'm on a true crime kick.  Where Columbine was fascinating but utterly disturbing, American Fire is fascinating purely by the craziness of it all!  The story is about a series of mysterious building fires in Accomack County, Virginia — around 70 arsons located in just one rural county. The culprit is identified early in the book, but the bigger question answered is why?  Such an interesting book, especially from a psychological standpoint.

      WONDER by R.J. Palacio
      My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (more like 3.5 stars)
      I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives. (p.231)
      My oldest had this read aloud to his class last year (in 4th grade) and he has wanted me to read it ever since.  I heard Wonder was a tear-jerker, but surprisingly, it didn't have that effect on me.  I'm not sure what this says about me, but I was just angry.  (I blame it on being the mother of a child who was picked on and bullied too.  #angrymamabear)  All in all, I'd say it was a good middle-grade novel and a good reminder that words are powerful, both for good and for evil.

      MISSING, PRESUMED by Susie Steiner
      My Rating: ★★☆☆ 
      Life... is full of compromises you never thought you'd make when you were young.
      Missing, Presumed seemed like less of a missing person police procedural and more of a character-driven story about a woman who happens to be a detective.  It was just okay for me - I didn't particularly like any of the characters.  I felt myself constantly distracted while reading, which is usually a good sign that I'm not invested in the story.  Even so, I persevered because I really did want to know what happened at the end...and the ending was just okay too.

      My Rating: ★★★☆
      Courage is one thing that no one can ever take away from you.
      I read The Wishing Spell aloud to the kids for school.  The story line was interesting and the kids loved it, but there were enough eyebrow-raising comments for me not to easily recommend it.  I mean, do we really need to talk about a painting of a barely clothed Red Riding Hood wearing only a wolf-skin coat?

      My Rating: ★★★★
      The only way to accomplish a new goal is to feed it your most valuable resource: time. And what we never like to admit is that you don’t just give time to something, you take it from something else. To be good at one thing you have to be bad at something else. Perfectionism’s third lie is: You can do it all. I’m here to tell you that you can’t. (18%)
       We become adult toddlers when we refuse help from people and believe the lie that seeking assistance is a sign of weakness. (59%)
      Oh boy, this one was a perfectly timed read.  My perfectionism has been rearing its ugly head big time lately.  As I read Finish, it was as if he could see inside my brain!  So weird and yet reassuring too.  I zipped through the book in days and immediately put the tips and tricks he suggested to use.  An inspiring book for sure!


      Books Read: 18
      Fiction: 12  // Non-Fiction: 6
      Kindle Books: 10  // Paper Books: 8
      Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 437

      Linking up with Book by Book!

      Monday, March 26, 2018

      No.100: Five March Favorites (A Link-Up and a Giveaway!)

      The post contains affiliate links.

      Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  Congratulations to Brooke, with February's winning post: Five February Favorites.  Be sure to check below for this month's prize pack!  

      1 //  MY WELCOME MATS
      I finally replaced two of our doormats with this "hello" one and this "home sweet home" one and I just love them so much.  Isn't it funny how something so little can bring so much joy?

      Sections are music to my organization-loving ears!  My Pinterest boards were getting a bit unwieldy with hundreds and hundreds of images.  Who can find anything in that?!  I started using the section feature and it's made all the difference.  Two examples: I have a private meal planning board with sections for each week.  When I browse for ideas, I'll pin them to the appropriate week.  I also have a home improvement board that I categorized by room.  It's so helpful to see everything together!

      Another month, another workout app.  I still love Nike Training Club, but couldn't seem to find 30-45 minute stretches to commit to a workout.  So I'm trying the 7 Minute Workout.  It's easier to fit two or three mini-sessions into my day (right now, I'm using it during our morning school break and then sometime in the afternoon) and I'm still getting my heart rate up.  My perfectionist tendencies want to make me believe this is a cop-out, but something is better than nothing at this point. 

      We've been on a bit of a pie kick over here lately.  Is it random to make blueberry pie in the middle of winter?  I've tried a few different pie crust recipes and Mark and the kids say this one is the best so far.  Really flaky and buttery - it's delicious.

      The kids have a bad habit of turning all the lights on at night when they need to find us or use the bathroom. (#scaredycats)  To avoid soaring electric bills, we compromised with motion-activated nightlights and put them in the bathroom and hallway.  They haven't totally solved the problem, but a big improvement!   


      A Peek into March's Prize Pack
      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.  This incentive is 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!)  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog or Instagram post, you get an entry.  The linkup will be open a little bit longer since Sunday is Easter.  This month, the official closing date will be Wednesday, April 4th and I'll randomly pick a winner on April 5.

      March's prizes include:
      1 // Anklet socks from Woven Pear

      2 // Little white flower dish

      3 //  Honeybee Scatter Garden Seeds

      4 // Journal from Print Stitch and Paste

      5 // Blackberry Hibiscus candle

      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! (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, March 23, 2018

      No.99: 20 Things I Love - A Gratitude Journal vol.6

      This post contains affiliate links.

      drinking hot coffee with Mark by the fire
      the excitement on the kids' faces when they woke to falling snow
      shoveling our loooong driveway with M and J
      watching the baby experience snow for the first time (his reaction: not too sure)
      warm rain boots that double as snow gear
      seeing grass again as it all melted, 24 hours later
      bright blue skies and sunshine
      motivating myself for more movement with my Fitbit
      a new water app that is keeping me accountable
      addressing postcards and thinking about the women who will receive them
      that moment when you return to your dough after it has doubled in size
      the smell of freshly baked bread, straight out of the oven
      Sophie and Daddy card games
      heart-to-heart conversations with a friend
      a book that challenged me to be better
      my nightstand, piled high with new books to begin
      sliding into freshly washed sheets at the end of the day
      the big boys' renewed passion for reading
      watching TJ climb the stairs one step at a time
      this quote: "Those who leave everything in God's hands will eventually see God's hands in everything."

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