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.

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.

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! 

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!

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.

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.  

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.

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.



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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 


  • 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


    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.   


    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?

    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! 

    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?

    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.

    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'  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!   


    • 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)


      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?
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