Tuesday, July 26

On My Nightstand (It's Getting Crowded)

I don't have any projects for you today, but I wanted to post real quick to share what I've been spending time on this summer. Part of it is still post-moving recovery (unpacking, organizing, you know), part is more time spent outdoors in this beautiful summer weather, but another part is that... I actually started reading. Since my kids were born, I've read maybe two book a year. Maybe. I'm pretty sure it's less but I was embarrassed to say it. Sigh. After our last move, we signed up with our new library and I was on their website when I just started adding all these books I've been meaning to read to my hold list. And then all the books started coming in. Fast. And I felt like I had to read them in three weeks before they were due back. It's the best reading motivation I've had in a while! When I head to bed, instead of reaching for my phone or grabbing the laptop to write a post, I'm picking a book from my stack. And I'm starting to remember that I actually like to read.

So here's what's been on my nightstand this summer:

Alignment Matters by Katy Bowman - This is one I own but hadn't cracked yet, and it's the second of her books of read (I've also read Move Your DNA) and both have been excellent. This is great movement-lifestyle stuff to keep your body healthy and moving well. I like her writing so well I actually ordered three more of her books - Whole Body Barefoot, Diastasis Recti, and Don't Just Sit There.

What Women Fear by Angie Smith - This is another one I got for Christmas, and I'm loving it, too. It especially speaks to my mom-self.

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan - A little fiction to keep things fresh. I don't want to give any spoilers if you haven't read it, but I did enjoy this one quite a bit, too. I love having some fiction in the stack to help me keep myself chugging along.

Give them Grace by - I'll tell you, the idea of this book really sounded great - parenting from an attitude of grace. But I could. not. get. through. it. I already returned it half finished. I don't know if it's just not written in a style I enjoy? I would hit ideas that made me stop and go "oh! this makes sense! I'll give it a try." but for the most part it was so wordy I felt like each chapter was dragging me through quicksand. If you ever read it, please give me the Cliff Notes version. K, thanks.

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie - L.O.V.E.D. this read about homeschooling (without going crazy). It's short, quick, and full of great ideas I can implement right away. This one is going on my must-buy list.

The boys and I have been reading quite a bit, too. We started Little House in the Big Woods and are still working away at the Magic Tree House series, but have mostly been burning through all the library books they can carry for the Library's summer reading program. If you're looking for a good laugh, they've also been loving the book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More.

I recently discovered Read Aloud Revival and it has been inspiring to read more with the boys and read better. That's also where I heard about Simple Homeschool's Read the World Summer Book Club and we've been adding books about different regions to our library haul every week. It's based on the book Give Your Child the World which is full of wonderful ways to open their eyes to the bigger world around them.

Our library also has a great downloadable collection. Husband and I have both been working our way through the How to Train Your Dragon Series read by David Tennant. It's been great, and I love being able to listen while I work on other things. 

I just picked up Honey for Child's Heart (another book about reading with kids, but haven't started it yet) and 'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (which I haven't been able to put down. I love a little fiction, okay?)

So I guess I'm favoring a little self-improvement and reading about reading, with a sprinkle of fiction on top. I'm looking for more book ideas once I finish these, so....

What are you reading this summer? 

P.S. Don't forget to come enter our giveaway!

Monday, July 25

Kimberly's Kupboard GIVEAWAY!!!

We have a really fun giveaway for you today, courtesy of Kimberly's Kupboard! Kimberly's Kupboard offers a variety of all-natural herbal teas and salves that we love to keep on hand. The products include soaps, salves, teas, tinctures, and more! They cover everything from bumps and bruises, to pregnancy, to bug bites, to congestion and colds... there's something for everyone. Today we'll learn a bit about the company, share the products we use most, and you can enter to win on of our favorites!

We discovered Kimberly's Kupboard last summer at a local farmer's market and have been thrilled with the all-natural products she offers.  Being DIY-ers, I do sometimes make my own natural remedies (my go-to's are elderberry and echinacea syrups, and GOOT). Making a few of my own remedies has made sense, but the huge variety of ingredients I would need to make so many different remedies, plus the time it would take, definitely does not make sense for me. That's why I was so excited to find these products to fill in the gaps in our "medicine" cabinet! Thank goodness for Kimberly!

Here's a little bit about the mom behind Kimberly's Kupboard and the products she makes:
"I'm a stay-at-home mom of 3 busy, homeschooled kids. I love working with herbs and I am continually learning about new uses for them.  My driving  passion is for people to enjoy herbs and learn all about their wonderful benefits!"

"I wasn't looking to start an herb business, really. I had been making my Chickweed Salve for just our own use and had been extremely impressed with the results I was getting, so I developed more salves that had different purposes. One day, I just casually mentioned to a lady farmer who owned a little farm store that I was toying with the idea of making my herbal products to sell.  She immediately said, "Bring me some samples!". And so then it just took off from there. I designed my herbal tea line, my herbal salves,  the packaging and it just all came together. I'm finding that people are desiring to get away from conventional  medicine and back to the natural ways our predecessors used to treat their common ailments.  People are wanting a healthier, eco-friendlier and more affordable way to treat themselves.  I am so excited to be bringing the world of herbs to my customers!"
So not only will you get amazing, natural products for your home and family, you'll also be supporting a small business WHAM at the same time!

My latest box of goodies, including a free sample of her new white strawberry tea!

If you're looking for a good place to start with herbal products, my personal favorite is the one that started it all - the Chickweed Salve. We love having this on hand (I just had to order more because we lost ours on vacation this summer!). Our favorite use for this salve is summer time bug bites, but it's great for anything itchy like stings and rashes, too. We never leave home without our Chickweed Salve!


This Arnica Salve just came in our newest order. I've heard it's great for bruises, sprains, and muscle pain, so we're excited to give it a try for a certain rough-and-tumble two year old.


The elderberry infused honey is another favorite that we always have on hand, especially in winter. It's shelf-stable (unlike my elderberry syrup) which makes it great to take on our travels, plus it lasts a long time without spoiling. We'll have a spoonful when we're under the weather, and we've been loving it mixed in tea or spread on toast for an extra immune system boost. I haven't tried the lemon verbena yet, but after looking at this picture a few times I can tell you I'll be getting some with my next order. It calls to me with lemony goodness.


Next up is a little something I like to call "mama's tea." Because it's mama's so don't even touch it. I love peaches, and this White Peach Tea really hits the spot. It's light and peachy and wonderful. I like to add a spoonful of honey, because I'm a sweet-tea kind of girl. So yummy!


We just ordered this Breathe Easy Tea in my latest order. One of our boys get so congested when he catches even the slightest cold, and this is made with a blend of herbs that are supposed to help with both respiratory and sinus congestion. Here's hoping it brings him a bit of relief next time he's feeling ikcy!


There are a few other teas I'd love to try, like the Organic Allergy Tea, Immune Booster tea, and Very Berry Tea with Hibiscus (plus she has a mommy-to-be tea that looks great for all you pregnant momma's). I prefer the loose leaf tea, but you can also select pre-bagged... if that's your cup of tea. Just working on my mom-puns.

Breathe Easy loose leaf tea.
Besides these items, there are a whole range of other products I haven't tapped into but I'm planning to try. I'm super excited about the bug spray, oregano salve, handcrafted soaps, echinacea tincture, several items from the skin care section, and a sweet little herbal baby bath set (I'm thinking it would be a wonderful baby shower gift paired with a set of homemade flannel blankets!).

Now that you've seen our favorite products, it's time to win one for yourself! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win a 2 oz tin of chickweed salve! And don't forget to stay up-to-date with Kimberly's Kupboard by following her on facebook, instagram, and pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Monday, friends!

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Friday, July 22

X Entry Bench - Friday Hack

Another Friday, another hack! Today we're working on another look for the entryway. A few weeks ago we hacked a rustic entry table, but this time we're working on something with a much more modern vibe. But don't worry, it's still wonderfully warm and inviting.


So first things first, we need to hack this sweet X Bench. Finished dimensions will be 48" long x 18.5" tall x 14" deep. Here's what you need:

2 - 2x2 @ 8' long
1 - 1x2 @ 8' long
1 - 1x2 @ 6' long
2 - 1x4 @ 8' long
1 1/4" pocket hole screws 
2 1/2" pocket hole screws
wood glue
*if you don't have a Kreg Jig, you can get by with regular 1 1/4" and 2" screws and a countersink bit, and some finishing nails.

Measure twice, cut once. Use glue in every step. Read through all the instructions before you begin. Be safe, have fun, and let me know if you have any questions!

Cut List:
A) 4 - 2x2  @  17.75"  (legs)
B) 2 - 2x2  @  11" (side top)
C) 2 - 1x2  @  11  (side bottom)
D) 2 - 1x2  @  17 1/16 (X long)
E) 4 - 1x2  @  7.75"  (X short)
F) 2 - 2x2  @  45"  (front/back trim)
G) 4 - 1x2  @  11"  (seat supports)
H) 4 - 1x4  @  48"  (seat)

You'll actually want to start by cutting your seat boards (H). You'll lose up to 1/8" of length when you cut through your 8' board, so you'll actually end up with boards ever so slightly shorter than a full 48". This will be important later. Go ahead and attach the boards together side by side using the 1 1/4" pocket screws and Kreg Jig. Don't forget the glue. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, just cut the boards and then move to the next step.

Thursday, July 14

The One Where Everything is Muddy {How We Installed a Backyard Drainage System}

This summer brought one of the the biggest, dirtiest, most labor intensive home-maintenance projects we've ever tackled. There's nothing like a little bit (or a lot) of mud to keep things interesting on the homefront. So hold on to your hats! This is the story of how we turned our backyard river into... you know... a normal backyard.

When we first toured this house we loved it, but as soon as we walked out the backdoor and saw the big deck overlooking two beautiful acres we were sold.

That was at the end of winter. We moved in just as spring came. The property looked even better when it was green. Then it started to rain. And rain. And the lowest part of the yard started to fill with water. And I mean really fill with water. It was like a small river running through the yard while it rained, then turned into a pond at the south end with a creek trickling out the North end for days after when the rain stopped. Over time it would get lower until the rain came again, but I didn't think it would ever really be dry again! We never mowed the center of the yard because the mud was so deep. Turns out, the ground has an abundance of clay and lacks any real drainage. Conclusion: Indiana is a swamp. We live here now.

 These boys love mud. And clay.

So we did a little googling and hatched a plan to improve our drainage. The flood zone was pretty flat at the south end of the yard, but the north end slanted toward the north and right into a culvert that runs under the neighbors yards and the street. Perfect. So we bought a van-full of material (we had a roll of pipes inside and one tied to the rack on top). (More details on the materials coming up in a second.) But first - the big dig. We waited for things to dry up a bit more, then enthusiastically grabbed our shovels to start digging the 200 ft. trench. This is the first hole I dug:

It immediately filled with water. This might be harder than we thought. The boys had a hey-day, of course. I turned my back to try a drier area and heard hysterical laughter followed by "Mommy! My brudder throw-ed a snowball at me!"

I don't think that was a snowball, son.