Monday, December 26, 2016

.:Holidays on the Homestead 2016:.

Happy Holidays my friends!

Hope you are enjoying the beauty of the season, all cuddled up with loved ones close by.

We are completing our 2016 with our happy little family... one momma, one poppa, one baby boy, a small farm dog, two middle-aged cats, and six laying hens {who are currently taking the winter off}. Our hearts are full and we are thankful for this season of life we are living.

May you enjoy all the magic of the final days of 2016

Much Love!

Monday, December 19, 2016

my 16 in 2016 {end of the year update}

these days are moving fast! really, 2016 has flown by! just dropping in today to post a little 16 in 2016 update...

these last few days will be full + happy.  hope you are enjoying some time with friends + family.

My 16 in 2016

1. Grow. 
4. Taste.
5. Rest.
7. Save.
9. Make.
10. Move.
11. Plant.
12. Do.
14. Learn.
15. Create.

have a great day, folks!

Monday, December 12, 2016

{Local Gift Giving Guide} State of Florida

are you ready for this upcoming season of giving? i can't believe that we are in the thick of the holiday season!

something i love to do for holiday gifting is give my favorite locally made goods to my loved ones. often times family members get excited about specific brands and makers and ask tons of questions. it makes it fun for me and i think it is a great way to support the businesses in our own communities!

today i'm sharing about Florida made gift ideas! our family who lives there is based on the gulf side, so i'm always trying to find new local prizes when i go and visit or need to mail a gift of sorts. Florida is a big state, so these ideas are by no means inclusive of all the local made goodness.

+ local foods
every place has their favorite foods! what about a gift card to an independent restaurant? a bottle of wine from a local Florida winery? maybe Rosa Fiorelli Winery + Vineyard? a growler or tshirt from a local brewery? like Cigar City Brewing?

what about a tasty canned good or holiday style treat? are you a canner? could you pull from your personal jarred up stash? or pick something up from Detwiler Market in Sarasota or Venice? you can head to my favorite Nokomis Groves and find everything to make a gift basket!

+ handmade items
someone on your list need a new necklace? handmade plant stand? locally created stationary? an art print for their office? try a shop that focuses on supporting makers from your area - maybe Just/Because on St. Armand's Circle. i'm dying to get over to the newly opened Spider Lily Finery - go check it out and let me know how great it is!!

and don't forget you can always do a quick search on etsy to support makers from all over during their best selling time of the year!

+ long time local favorites
how about a gift card to a long time local restaurant like Cafe Alcazar - local, fresh cuisine in a lovely location seems like a great Sunday lunch date idea! or to Goff's Drive In... make an ice cream party basket and stick in a little gift card to head over for a mango shake!

okay, so this is where i need your help! do you have a favorite Florida made present you like to give? do you have a favorite way to support local while shopping for your holiday gifts? write in the comments and let me know!

happy gifting!

Monday, December 5, 2016

mama hood mondays {nap time edition}

a hush in the house. everyone is sleeping. doesn't matter the time to me.

so grateful for a little rest, quiet and knowing that this babe is growing in ways that babies grow while napping.

don't mind me, i might catch a little shut eye too.

hope your week is restful and fulfilling!

Monday, November 28, 2016

:i'm dreaming of those holiday cookies:

okay, who else is ready for the holiday foods!?! i am loving the glimmer of hope i have to dedicate some time to baking - even if it is one kind of cookie - that our family can enjoy on christmas eve.

one of our favorite traditions has always been making a few kinds of cookies, of course including some terrible decorating and bringing that holiday cookie tray to the big family get together.

i'm starting to consider what one or two cookies to attempt to make during an upcoming nap-time.

last year we loved having oreo truffles for a super-rich treat... i rarely make truffles so it seemed very special! we used this recipe {from sally's baking addiction} last holiday season.

and pretty much every year my husband gets over the moon excited for the cookies of his childhood - the ever loved {and rarely shared} monster cookies! we've used this recipe {from sally's baking addiction} for the last several years and it always turns out!

and i've been eyeing this recipe {from sally's baking addiction - what can i say, haven't had a bad recipe from sally!} ever since i've had mad-salted-caramel-cravings during pregnancy.

how about you? what cookies will be on your holiday table this year?

Monday, November 21, 2016

{Local Gift Giving Guide} State of Indiana

are you ready for this upcoming season of giving? i guess it is really time to start getting ready for family gatherings and winter gifts!

something i love to do for the holiday season is give my favorite locally made goods to my loved ones. often times family members get excited about specific brands and makers and ask tons of questions. it makes it fun for me and i think it is once again a great way to support the businesses in our own communities!

today i'm sharing about Indiana made gift ideas! I was super inspired about the gifting possibilities during our summer visit to Bloomington, Indiana... so I remembered a few great places to share with you here on the blog! {no special treatment or compensation for mentioning these businesses or products on my blog}

+ local foods
every place has their favorite foods! what about a gift card to a local orchard, an independent restaurant or mom + pop bakery? or are you a canner? could you pull from your personal jarred up stash?

We really enjoyed eating at FARM {click here for their website} + grabbing burgers at Upland Brewing Co. {website here} in Bloomington. I think I'd like to try Late Harvest Kitchen the next time we head to Indianapolis {website here}.

If you decide to eat at FARM you can also try their FARM market while you are there {link here}. Or pick up locally roasted coffee beans from Hopscotch Coffee {click here}

+ handmade items and independent stores
someone on your list need a new tshirt? handmade ceramic mug? a tote bag for dance class? some new stationary? try a shop that focuses on supporting makers from your area.

a few of the favorite shops we hit up while in bloomington...

The Green Nursery {link to independent shop here}
Gather :handmade shoppe & Co: {link to handmade shoppe here}

and don't forget you can always do a quick search on etsy to support makers from all over during their best selling time of the year!

+ long time local favorites
you know the mom + pop store that everyone has loved for years. yes, you can make a gift of that... how about a couple bottles of wine from Oliver Winery {link here}? I know a few people who have loved getting such goodies from me in the past!

okay, so this is where i need your help! do you have a favorite Indiana made present you like to give? do you have a favorite way to support local while shopping for your holiday gifts? write in the comments and let me know!

happy gifting!

::this post was originally shared on slow, simple, self in november 2015::

Monday, November 14, 2016

mama hood mondays {halloween 2016}

good morning dear friends!

i decided today was the perfect day to share a little halloween love from last week. {a perfect, albeit a bit late} my husband and i have historically been pretty into the halloween scene, usually having a few costume ideas by the end of august each year! of course we never make our costumes until the week of halloween - leave it open incase a last minute idea rocks our world!

after a realizing that little j is a wrap-lover we knew he really only needed a hat for a costume. we decided to be three blind mice for the first of many fun family halloweens!

to stick with our more recent traditions of trick-or-treat night we passed out candy, ate snacks and drank cider with dear friends (they get so many trick or treaters at their house! including most of my students!) and our little j had his first big night out!

hope you and your loved ones have slept off the candy hang over! it can be hard to let that last bit of chocolate go after beggar's night is over.

happy monday!

Monday, November 7, 2016

{Local Gift Giving Guide} State of Ohio

hello thoughtful gifters, are you ready for this upcoming season of giving? i can't believe that it is almost time for the holidays!

something i love to do for the holiday season is give my favorite locally made goods to my loved ones. often times family members get excited about specific brands and makers and ask tons of questions. it makes it fun for me and i think it is once again a great way to support the businesses in our own communities!

today i'm sharing about Ohio gift ideas! {please note that this post has many links that take you directly to Ohio businesses. i am intrigued by these businesses and have received nothing for putting them in my blog post.}

+ local foods
every place has their favorite foods! what about a gift card to a local orchard, brewery, an independent restaurant or mom + pop bakery?

Carillon Brewery Co. in Carillon Historical Park in Dayton.
Wheat Penny Oven & Bar in Dayton.
Sunrise Cafe in Yellow Springs.
Wildflower Cafe in Mason.
Skillet near German Village.
Wolf's Ridge Brewing in Columbus.
Casa Nueva in Athens.
Ale House 1890 in Lancaster.
Fowl and Fodder in Toledo.
Cleveland Independents ::MANY places to eat on this link, i might make a personal quest to eat at each place:: around Cleveland area.

or could you find a holiday style treat at a public market? i love picking up local granola, honey or maple syrup to gift. there are many places to shop...

North Market in Columbus.
Second Street Market in Dayton.
West Side Market in Cleveland.
Findlay Market in Cincinnati.

are you a canner? could you pull from your personal jarred up stash? or pick something up from one of these stores... you might want to pick up some spices or chocolates to gift too!

Ashery Country Store in Fredricksburg.
Dorothy Lane Market in the greater Dayton area.
Mustard Seed Market & Cafe in North East Ohio area.

+ handmade items
someone on your list need a new tshirt? handmade ceramic mug? a tote bag for dance class? some new stationary? try a shop or pop up market that focuses on supporting makers from your area.

5th Street Arcades in Cleveland.
Crafty Mart in Akron.
Celebrate Local in the Easton Shopping Center in Columbus.
Urban Handmade in Yellow Springs.
Miami Valley Pottery in Yellow Springs.

and don't forget you can always do a quick search on etsy to support makers from all over during their best selling time of the year!

+ long time local favorites
you know the mom + pop store that everyone has loved for years. yes, you can make a gift of that... just some creative brainstorming and you can make a themed gift basket out of anything! {movie night in with a red box gift card and local snacks, a salsa gift basket with a few salsas and locally made tortilla chips... sounds pretty great to me!}

Ohio is pretty stocked when it comes to historical favorites of the donut and snack food variety...

Becker's Donuts in Lorain.
Bill's Donuts in Centerville {um, open 24 hours.}.
Mikesell's Potato Chips in Dayton.
Grippo's Snacks in Cincinnati.

okay, so this is where i need your help! do you have a favorite Ohio made present you like to give? what other states would you like to see a Local Gift Giving Guide created for? write in the comments and let us know!

happy holiday shopping!

::{Local Gift Giving Guide} State of Ohio was originally posted in november 2015 on slow, simple, self::

Monday, October 31, 2016

::our little one arrived::

hello dear friends!

just popping in this morning to say our little one arrived!!

our son, "little j"
arrived at 10:56 p.m. on October 7, 2016
after 42 weeks and 5 days womb -side
and made this mommy + daddy just so very happy + proud.

we are more in love than we ever imagined and can't wait to share more about this new person we already know so deeply but have so much to learn about.

keep us in your thoughts - we are all well and are enjoying some slow days of healing + bonding.

hooray for our little family, that is now just a little bit bigger!

Monday, October 24, 2016

{Local Gift Giving Guide} How to Give Locally Made Gifts

hello folks, are you ready for this upcoming season of giving? i can't believe that it is almost time for thinking about the holidays!

something i love to do for the holiday season is give my favorite locally made goods to my loved ones. often times family members get excited about specific brands and makers and ask tons of questions. it makes it fun for me and i think it is once again a great way to support the businesses in our own communities!

i thought this would be a perfect time to consider how to give locally made gifts. here are a few tips i have for you...

+ local foods
every place has their favorite foods! i am sure in every city there is a favorite bakery or even a few independent restaurants... we like to snag a few gift cards for our friends + family.

check out a local market that carries independent + local foods. we make at least one trip over to North Market each year in Columbus. even more locally we like to shop at the Second Street Market in Dayton a few times each season. sometimes the hours of operation can be tricky but make a fun outing - grab breakfast and holiday shop on a Saturday morning!

when considering local food one could also create a darling gift from canned goods. i'm talking pretty in the jar goods that either you or someone else thoughtfully put in the jar themselves. our local orchard carries tons of great jellies and jams and we've been known to gift Ohio maple syrup or my very own apple butter.

+ clothing or other handmade items
of course i am a huge fan of shopping {}. supporting makers from all over is very important to me. so i totally believe that if you are looking for something particular and you want a quality made item you could easily find someone on etsy making a wonderful product. that is an avenue worth pursuing. you might also want to find out if you have a local store that supports many makers in your area - many of the makers might even have their own etsy store as well. i've mentioned it before but i like shopping at celebrate local in the easton shopping center in columbus if we are in the area. Or the ever reliable urban handmade in yellow springs {they opened a new location over the summer and it looks super great - check it out!}. shops like these often have t-shirts, bags, winter gloves, gorgeous pottery and other usable goods that might make you think of someone on your list.

+ long time local favorites
you know the mom + pop store that everyone has loved for years. yes, you can make a gift of that... around my home state we have a serious love of potato chips and donuts... i'm sure we can create a cute gift basket out of such goodies.

okay, so this is where i need your help! i have loads of ideas for Ohio made gifts and will be telling you more about that next week. what other states would you like to see a Local Gift Giving Guide? or do you have a favorite way to support local while shopping for your holiday gifts? write in the comments and let me know!

what state do you want to see a Local Gift Giving Guide for?

::this post is an update from november 2015::

Monday, October 17, 2016

::making our home::

wow, it has been just about a year since we bought our little homestead. this time has been so precious, but has moved so very quickly.

we've been living here full time for just under a year and i've never moved to a new location and had it feel like home so quickly.

a few things i always want to remember...

+our pantry - over the summer i spent a few afternoons really organizing our pantry, spices cabinet and stocking those often consumed morsels. i really love how it turned out. it makes my life easier and now my husband can tell where many things are in the kitchen {which helps with all the days that he does the cooking because i'm tired-busy with feeding our little love on demand}.

+seeing our chickens out the window - it is fun when i am busy in the house and look out the nearest window and there are the girls running in the yard or pecking along the fence. it makes me so happy to know that our eggs come from well taken care of layers. i don't know if chickens are an animal that we will forever be able to have live on our property, but i hope that we do for many, many years to come.

+the start of our garden - we didn't get as much planted as i had hoped. i'm beginning to realize that is the way of gardening. i also know that in this season i might not get to do 'all the things' and have decided to be happy and thankful for the work my husband and i did to get a little garden area started. it is a perfect place to begin, and i really enjoyed having fresh peppers and tomatoes this past growing season.

+all the in and out of our pup - everyday our pup wants to be inside, outside and back again. i love, love, love our old beat up fence around the house. it gives our dog some space to run or just sit and smell the air {isn't it funny when dogs do that?!} it keeps her away from pestering the chickens when people are still inside {however, when we are outside and they are all together she just follows the chickens and tries to herd them, but has done a good job of keeping them safe/not stressed, although sometimes annoyed}

+all the sweeping! - hooray for beautiful hardwood floors. i admire them so much i'm having a difficult time putting down rugs in many many rooms. this means that i sweep just about every day (or every other day). at first this annoyed me a bit. but then i realized that this can be a chance to be grateful for what i have and that i have a few minutes each day to make our home feel good under our bare feet.

+eating at our picnic table - for my 'expectant mother's day' my husband designed and built a beautiful picnic table for me. i love it so very much and i really enjoy all the nights we are able to have dinner in our yard, surrounded by so many of the things i wrote about above. whenever we would visit farm houses that came up for sale i would try to picture where we would put a picnic table. i knew that was something i wanted to do, eat outdoors as a family. it is perfect and now that this is really happening my heart is just so full.

how about you? anything super special to be thankful for in your day to day homelife?

Monday, October 10, 2016

::egg recipe round up::

good morning!

in the past year we've eaten a ton of eggs. once in awhile we'd get a little tired from these protein beauties, but after giving away a few dozen of those homegrown lovelies we would get back on the bandwagon and eat up!

::some of our favorite ways to enjoy the work of our sweet chickens::

of course, just plain ol' quick scrambled eggs in the iron skillet

french toast casserole {perfect for big family brunches}

hardboiled eggs on salads or just with salt for a snack

frittatas {i have two favorite posts to refer to for frittatas!}

at least a monthly breakfast casserole i usually just use up whatever veggies i have in the fridge for our bake {sometimes i bake in my silicone muffin tin to have mini breakfast bakes instead - similar to this recipe}

i've also been using the information from this post {and similar article found in mother earth news, also from Fresh Eggs Daily} to try saving eggs for the winter days when our girls just aren't laying like they do in the summer time.

i think i'm going to try and make more paleo baked goods, even though if we are going to have pancakes i typically want the real thing... but i am intrigued by this post for 3 ingredient paleo pancakes.

how about you? any spectacular egg favorites?!

Monday, October 3, 2016

::momma hood mondays:: overdue musings

hey there folks!

that's right - we've got a 41 weeks + a few extra days mama over here. oh my is it work supporting basically a full size newborn inside the womb! i don't know why, but i wasn't expecting to be so hungry and tired at this stage in the game!

all is well, we've been checking on the baby and all our gathered information points to waiting on this little one to get labor going. we've really been hoping for labor to start on its own and plan to only help it along if something seems unhealthy or unsafe. and at this point both mama and baby are cleared to continue with our low risk/low intervention birthing plan... we are thankful and will continue to be watchful of any changes.

i have started my maternity leave so i really am just waiting.  i think i've wiped our counters and vacuumed the couch more times than i care to count just to have something "productive" to do.

so here is to a birthday coming soon! {or maybe a birthday was selected last night and i already posted this blog -!!- we can hope, right?!}

i'll be sure to let y'all know soon!

big hugs at the start of a new week! it is October, oh my!

Monday, September 26, 2016

{a full year of eggs} reflection

good morning!

did you know that it has been just about one full year that our chickens have been laying beautiful, fresh eggs for my family? it is a year to reflect on to say the least…

let’s go ahead and get this out of the way… i love having a laying flock of chickens roaming around our yard more than i expected. they are a little silly and are most definitely diligent workers around our property. i am very grateful for the quality fresh eggs and being able to share those eggs with family and friends. of course there are a few responsibilities to own up to:

yes, sometimes when we are enjoying ourselves out on the town i am worried about hurrying home to “close up the girls”. but that once in awhile pull to get back home isn’t all the time because honestly, many nights we are already home to make sure they are safely locked up after heading into the coop to roost for the night.

and there are the nights that it is rainy and blustery and i let my poor guy head out there to make sure they are all tucked in. as well as some of those late sleepy first and third trimester mornings that i let my husband get up on his own and take care of those morning chores.

but really for us, a smaller flock of laying hens hasn’t been THAT much extra work. designing, building and investing in the coop and structure of how to care for the birds probably was the most work we have had to do all along. feeding, watering and keeping things clean goes along pretty smoothly (yes, there are a few days here and there when we realized that we are running late for work and chicken chores are one of the main contributors - didn’t we fill the water last night?! did they drink that much?!)

having the girls roam the yard for bugs and turning up weeds is no less than fantastic. they love to hop into the open raised bed and scratch around to see what they can find. it makes me smile and keeps the pests down in our little garden. 

i don’t think we will add to our flock anytime soon. our chickens keep us in plenty of eggs and they keep up with scraps as well as feed. maybe one day we will rotate a few new layers in, but i think these ladies will keep us just fine for now. 

have a happy monday!

Monday, September 19, 2016

my postpartum meal prep {recipe links}

as i mentioned earlier this month i decided that making intentional food plans for the start of our fourth trimester would be a solid way to prepare for our new little one's arrival.

i had decided that 6 weeks of meals + snacks would be a fine amount of prepared and saved food to plan. i figured that this would actually stretch longer (8 weeks was my estimation) as there are always the unforeseen evenings of family bringing over dinner, a pizza night in, and maybe actually cooking a meal (i'm sure i'll want a fresh salad, to feel normal and cook dinner, or eat a warm bowl of oatmeal at some point). who knows, if we are really feeling frisky we might venture out one night to grab a quick bite to eat! plus when one considers how many meals + snacks a young family might consume... oh boy that is still a lot of pre-cooked nourishment!

::i planned::

3 meals/day for 2 adults for 6 weeks... which meant:
84 breakfasts
168 lunches/dinners

and approximately 3 snacks/day for 1 breastfeeding mama for 6 weeks... which totaled:
126 snacks

and it broke down roughly like so {click on food item for direct link- thank you to all the bloggers and recipe sharers that helped me with this ultimate food prep!}...

Breakfast Meals
(4) Freezer French Toast
(20) Mini Breakfast Bakes  {i just used my silicone muffin tin to make them individualized}
(4) breakfast sandwiches {i did some bagel + some english muffin for variety}
(12) Bacon, Egg + Potato Breakfast Casserole
(12) Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
(10) Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
(10) Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread {obviously i had some greek yogurt + produce to use up!}
(12) Bread slices to thaw for toast + homemade jam in the cabinet!!

Lunch/Dinner Meals
(6) Sweet potato chili
(12) Crockpot Mexican Chicken Chili {i omitted the cornbread topping and thought if i'm really up for it i can make cornbread muffins before serving}
(12) Crockpot Beef + Lime Chili
(6) Mexican Chicken Soup {this one i cooked in the crock pot while prepping other frozen meals, cooled it then froze the already cooked dinners in ziploc bags}
(8) Crockpot Beef Roast + Carrots
(12) Crockpot Garden Veggie Soup with Beef
(12) Chicken Fajitas
(12) Slow Cooker Sausage Spinach Soup
(12) Italian Sausage Soup
(8) Spicy Sausage Gumbo
(8) Turkey + Noodles

::Protein to be added to noodles, salad or buns::
(5) Shredded Chicken
(12) Crockpot BBQ Shredded Chicken
(8) Turkey Burger Patties {just grilled burger patties}
(24) Turkey Breast Slices {just oven roasted}
(5) Meatballs

:: I also splurged for some variety and bought 6 Trader Joe frozen meals to round out our supply::

(24) Granola Bars
(12) Oat Cakes
(12) Gluten Free Strawberry + Pecan Muffins
(8) Blueberry Oat Crumble Bars
(16) Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars {i actually used the Blueberry Oat Crumble Bar recipe from Averie Cooks but swiped the blueberries for strawberries - it turned out great! i think i do like the blueberry ones better!!}
(36)Chocolate Chip 'Lunch Lady' Bars
(18) Homemade Salsa + Tortilla Chips

i'm hopeful that this pre done cooking will be a huge support in our upcoming sleepy days... any tips out there for a major food prep?

Monday, September 12, 2016

grateful for keeping house...

i've recently felt really grateful for our home and the bit of rhythm i have found in trying to keep up with it..

+ i've learned that a quick sweep in our main spaces keeps clean floors for a lot longer in the rest of the house {less tracking of pet hair and dirt from being outside}

+ having an empty dishwasher to start the day really is super helpful when trying to keep the dirty dishes from stacking up

+ and fully completing a load of laundry {yes, start to finish - like put away the clothes "finish"} saves me from having several clean baskets just waiting around the house

how about you? any good home tips that seem to just work lately?

need some inspiration? try one of these links:

A good and quick read: 

A quick/simple cleaning schedule we are considering for our postpartum period: 

Game. Changer. Just leave spaces like you weren't there: 

Monday, September 5, 2016

{mama hood mondays} my postpartum meal prep + what has worked well for us

i've been doing lots of little preparations around our homestead for the upcoming arrival of our first little one. it has been exciting and fun, but also a bit of work. i'm grateful to do it now, hoping that it will support our first few weeks/months of figuring out this new little person that is making our family bigger and better.

one area i decided to be intentional about was our food. this included a big pantry overhaul as well as stocking our freezers with easy to reheat meals. my husband is planning on taking on more of the meal prep especially during my early weeks of healing and i wanted to make it easier on him since he too will be trying to spend as much time with the baby as well as adjusting to being a working dad after his paternity leave.

A few things that worked well for us:

+grilling double - part way thru our third trimester we started grilling double hamburgers and chicken breast solely to put them in the freezer. we love to make a lunch salad meal by putting a grilled hamburger patty or chicken breast on top of a salad. no bun needed, good veggies and protein. we knew this would vastly help us in the lunches department. and it isn't that much extra work if my guy is already grilling.

+selecting certain foods to wrap individually - sometimes making freezer portions is tricky! so a few foods i decided to embrace the unknown and wrap a them individually, especially things that we might use for just one lunch here or there. {this was hard for me due to accepting the responsibility of extra trash, but throwing out that extra food for the times i thawed too much would also be greatly disappointing}

+making "one handed snacks" - making and freezing quick snacks was something i thought would be extremely helpful in those first few weeks of getting time with just me and baby. making granola bars and muffins was one way i thought i could probably grab a quick snack without a ton of hassle. i enjoyed trying out this recipe for the granola bars. and i think these oat cakes are to die for {on a few i pressed chocolate chips on top for a little extra treat on a rough day}

+making our "family newborn menu" - i thought it would be necessary to keep track of the foods we have. partly so i didn't make only pasta based dishes for our freezer, but also to help us when selecting something to eat on a tired "momma and papa can't do this now" kind of night. we know we need to eat, and we need to sleep. so we are trying to make those two things easy to approach {did i tell you we put our guest bedroom downstairs?! i'll be comfortably napping on both living floors of this house for sure} to make a "menu" i used a newsletter template from my computer's pages program, popped in a few of our food photos and listed food by meal and instead of a price i marked if it was saved in the kitchen or cellar freezer. printing and posting on our fridge made it feel like we could "order" something quickly and get to reheating and eating. our plan is once we know we are out of a food we will cross it off the menu.

+planning for flexibility - we made several ziplocs of cooked protein that could be served on a bun or with noodles or a salad. we also have meals that can reheat straight from the freezer incase we need a quick dinner because someone didn't think about dinner with enough time to defrost something.

+ this website ::New Leaf Wellness:: was a HUGE help! there are plans for preparing several crockpot meals for the freezer at once... including a shopping list and easy to print recipes. i highly recommend checking it out!

+ using ziploc bags really saved room in our freezer - also, i read {in this post} to use parchment paper to line casserole dishes that way once the food cooled the parchment could lift up and slide into a ziploc... saving your casserole dish for continued use in the kitchen! i love this idea!!!

how about you? any bulk food prep tips to share?

have a great day, friends!

Monday, August 29, 2016

{summer} kitchen thoughts

oh dear friends, i had some fill-me-up time in the kitchen the past few days...

canning and chopping and putting by. nothing smells better than a crock pot full of tomatoes simmering down for easy tomato sauce.

with all the hustle and bustle - getting ready for school, getting ready for the baby and spending my summer moments still settling into our house + routines - i almost didn't give myself the permission to can.

what was i thinking?! i decided a few days into august that it wouldn't do to not save something that we needed to fill up our pantry. part of what i love about summer and why i don't teach year round is that i use the summer days to shop local farmer's markets and orchard and then render all the special things we love to eat {click to read about my canning favorites!}. we would really miss those gems in the winter months if i skipped making at least something that we were low on.

so with my minimal time allowance i selected a few things to can... we were down to one jar of ketchup and one small jar of salsa. i knew what i needed to do {click on link to go to direct site for recipe i used}:

Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup
Chunky Homemade Salsa
Corn Salsa

and then i took all the extra tomatoes and made a little batch of easy tomato sauce.

time well spent. now i need to get back to lesson plans and organizing the diaper bag!

how about you? any perfect canning recipes that you just loved this year?

Monday, August 22, 2016

{celebrations} our baby shower

earlier this month we had our family baby shower! it was good fun to celebrate our soon to arrive little one with our dear family members and friends.

we had a lovely little banquet room, tasty buffet style lunch + snacks, such sweet gifts, and a couple of activities that were friendly for all in attendance.

when my mom, sister and mother-in-law asked about having a shower for the baby i really thought about it and decided that i wanted to see everyone and my husband wanted to get to see all our favorite people too! so we had a family-friendly, co-ed bash... open house style incase the younger party-people didn't want to hang for the entire event. several of my friends who have been mommas for a few years said they really enjoyed that it was for the whole family and it made it easy to just pop over but still make nap time. it wasn't exactly the typical ladies luncheon, but no one seemed to mind.  {even my dad had a great time, because he got to visit with his sister and some of our long time family friends and, of course, he always like to harass my good pals from high school}

i felt very spoiled by the end of the day - and tired! celebrating is no joke for me now with this baby bump!

::the details::


we highly recommend Local Roots if you are planning a little party near Powell, Ohio - great food, perfect service and so easy to just show up and enjoy the event


we kept it super simple, and not too babyish since it was for guys + gals... we had flowers + succulents for centerpieces on the tables, we also put up baby photos of me and my husband, a bib that i made and a little tshirt we got from a music festival earlier this summer to add a little something for the serving buffet.


we did a "wee hours" diaper writing activity {some people have called it "late night diapers"}...
so easy! buy disposable diapers (we did one pack of newborn and one pack of size 1) and sharpie markers and invite your guests to write a little note on the booty for the new parents to read while doing those late night diaper changes. hilarious! we peeked at a few and they are just too funny. we just kept this activity in one area since we had younger children involved {what with sharpies and all}, but we had 3 year olds to 65 year olds having a grand time writing on a diaper or two. {i think our 9 year old niece had the best time... she is an ace at the potty - humor!}

we also made a special "ABC Book for the Baby"... my mom assembled cardstock pages with a letter on each page prior to the shower and then we requested that family and friends draw something for the letter on their page... so sweet and funny. my brother-in-law snagged the "T" page right away... so he could make a hand turkey! our guests actually responded really well to this activity, taking more than one page or collaborating with someone else, lots of inside jokes or silly items to represent letters. our baby is going to love this handmade book! and it gave the nieces and nephews a job to put all the pages in order in the book as more and more pages were finished.


we had Harvest Moon Bakery {located in Xenia, Ohio} make their "local, organic, vegan" twinkys for our baby shower favor! they were delicious and fun. everyone got a real kick out of them, especially since we had fun flavors like chocolate raspberry and lemon lavender! a sweet little treat for the road for our very loved guests.

all in all we had a super baby shower. i really enjoyed myself and my husband did too. our tribe is so supportive of this baby - we can't wait for everyone to meet the new family member!

have a great start to the week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

{our little summer garden 2016}

hi there! i decided it was time for a little garden + growing update of sorts!

as you know there’s much going on around here… so my husband and i decided that one place we could slow things down (to make it more manageable) was the garden. i’m not standing the heat super well with being a human incubator and all, so a little lighter load outdoors has been pleasant for me this summer.

here’s what is going + growing these days…

+ we decided with the history of our mini farm (car maintenance as well as a dairy cow farm) that we would change our initial “in ground garden” plans to raised bed garden plans. this allows us to know that the dirt doesn’t have any harsh chemicals as one can never really be sure when you’re talking about farmed and well used land.

+ we have built three brand-new raised garden beds in a sunny place in our yard! one is filled with growing tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. a second is getting filled with quality dirt as we find it for cheap. and the third is our composting bed this year. 

+we have begun to use a compost tumbler to mostly compost veggie/produce/plant scraps so that we can add them to one open raised bed each year. this will allow us to compost and not attract various animals (with extremely fresh food scraps) so near to our growing produce and laying flock of chickens. we will be able to have one open raised bed each year to rotate our soil and keep things vibrant and replenished as needed.

we hope to add a bit more to the overall structure this summer and upcoming fall. but we are going to take it easy with just doing what we can. however, we figured if most of the structure is in place for next spring planting that will be much easier for us as we won’t be starting from scratch like we did this past spring. 

how about you? any good planting?

*i added this post to Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop #66 - go check out all the fun posts sharing about homesteading and simple living!

Monday, August 8, 2016

An Exceptional Fifth Wedded Anniversary

Oh my dear friends, time flies! My husband and I have celebrated five years of being an old married couple. And I just love it!

This getting - bigger - by - the - day momma decided simple was where it was at! No gifts was the plan, just get cleaned up {after a day of working on the nursery!!} and enjoy ourselves on an adult night out!

 We had an exquisite meal at one of our favorite restaurants {you know, the ones we'd love to go to weekly, but just can't afford to eat like that all the time - both for our waist lines and our wallets} and then went to the movies.

The movies. We realized that movies will probably be our date of choice in the upcoming young parenthood season. Because, we really like to splurge and go to the movies once in awhile and taking a little one won't be part of that plan.

We just can't get over how lucky we are to have the life we are living and are about to share it with one more special person! Happy anniversary to my love! I can't wait for all the nights in and our first days/months as a family of three. Until then, we should try and go out for "mock-tails" and the movies at least one more time.

Hope you all are starting a most fantastic week!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mama Hood Mondays {Local Love Edition - Mama & Bean}

Good morning!

Over the weekend I was given a sweet little surprise of an early baby shower gift from some dear ones who are not able to make our upcoming celebration. And you know what... the gesture and the quality of the gift just blew me away! 

I'm talking about Mama & Bean Handcrafted Skin Care products! Yes! So far I'm loving the Gentle Body Butter {safe for pregnant and/or nursing mamas and those teeny babies!}! It left my skin so soft and smooth after only one application. I think I'll start basking in it basically daily... so heavenly!

And I can't wait to try out the diaper cream on our little one... well, I can wait, because diapers + rashes... but the reviews are awesome so I think it will be a perfect go-to product when needed;)

So go ahead and check out this personal care amazingness from Granville, Ohio. Kate seems to update their Facebook and/or Instagram feeds when she is going to sales + pop up markets, or restocking local suppliers. I know I'll be watching when it comes time for some holiday shopping!

Have a great start to the week!

::Please note that this post is entirely of my thoughts. I did not receive any gifts or any prompting to promote this specific product or brand from the maker. This blog series is to celebrate the great products that are made in my home state of Ohio. The photos on this post are mine. ::

Monday, July 25, 2016

our chicken coop tour

good morning there!

it has been awhile since i've gushed about our sweet chickens. things are going well and i just am still smitten over my gals! i'll have to give a little update about how much fun it has been to have our ladies laying the eggs for almost one full year. but today is a photo tour of our chicken coop and some of my favorite parts of their home...

my husband was presented with the task of making a coop. i had picked out a few designs that i liked and even a few pre made packages that one just assembles. he decided that it would be fun to make our very own design and incorporate all the good ideas we noticed from other coops. we decided that we would base our coop on the likelihood that we wouldn't have more than 12 birds at once, so it was designed and built for 12 laying hens. we currently have 8 chickens and they are all layers (well, when our one buff orpington isn't broody!). 

one of the first desired attributes - a tall run! we both decided that if we didn't have to duck down the entire time we were in the run that we would probably keep up on needs inside the run. my husband is just at six feet tall, so that was the height we aimed for and he can comfortably stand in the center of the run when he takes a turn to "lock up" at night.

something else we decided that was important - shade! the girls can hang out under their coop when needing shade, it also is dry under there, so they often take dust baths. we also positioned our coop under some tree branches which provides even more shade seasonally. (at our school we put a tarp over the run to give the ladies some relief from the sun, so you don't really need trees to be next to your coop, this was just what worked well in our yard)

getting in and out of the run is something that happen several times each day - i'm talking hooks/latches/locks/human friendly unlocking and the safety net of "what if i get locked in?' we decided to select various locks and closures that are not raccoon friendly - mostly we have carabiners securing the run and each opening around the coop (the front coop door, each set of nesting boxes, the back coop door, and the tall door to the run are all locked at night) 

my husband installed a simple string pull system incase one ever gets accidentally closed into the run, if the door blows shut behind one of us we can pull on the string and it lifts the unlocked latch on the door.

we have six nesting boxes - but of course the girls like to lay in just a couple of them and put their eggs together. we liked the idea of being able to access the eggs from outside the run, that way we can just quickly pick up eggs on the days that the girls aren't able to free range (i don't like to get their hopes up that they are getting to gallivant around the property, which they do often, but not during the school year/work day when no one is home - too many predators around here).  my husband installed a little hook so the door can be held up easily while we collect eggs. this has been a nice addition, especially if children are helping with egg collecting. then of course we just lock up this exterior access point with a carabiner.

we also decided to use reclaimed barn siding for top layer of siding on our chicken coop. we thought it would look great and age well. it goes well with the look of our mini farm and should continue to be fairly low maintenance. one bonus i didn't think of until we had new wood structures around our place - the wood bees definitely prefer the new wood! so that has been nice too.  

so far we've really enjoyed our coop and the way it was designed and built. one idea not pictured: we have an easy access clean-out on the back of the coop and it is a perfect height for a wheelbarrow to sit underneath and catch the rakings when we have a clean out session. as we consider how to make certain structures and systems around our mini farm we've been trying to make things easy, low maintenance... hoping that it will age well with us and allow us to continue doing the work ourselves for many years to come. 

thanks for checking out our ladies' coop today!

*i added this blog post to the Our Simple Homestead Link Up! Click on over to check out all the homestead goodness! And Nancy On the Home Front selected this post as a favorite of the blog hop! i'm so honored- thanks Nancy!! Click on over to check out her post!

Monday, July 18, 2016

around these parts {+ on my bookshelf} summer 2016

hello loves!

so i've been doing plenty of reading lately - and as an "expecting mama" you know what types of books i'm devouring!! (here's looking at you Dr. Sears!)

i've also been trying to save a little time for fun reads too. i find it enjoyable to sit in the shade and prop up my feet, so i keep telling myself that quiet reading time is part of staying healthy for the baby.

right now i'm reading

+ big magic: creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
sometimes when i'm looking for a new book to read i just find an author that i've enjoyed their books in the past. this is how i decided to pick up a copy of big magic. this is different than the last Elizabeth Gilbert book i read but i'm really enjoying it. in fact, i would credit my inspiration to saving a little time to write on the blog again to this book (well, and to all the podcasts i've been listening to about 'self care' and 'saving some time for you'). if you are looking for a little creative pick-me-up i totally recommend this book!

+ sleeping with your baby: a parent's guide to cosleeping by Dr. James McKenna

i'm about half way thru this book, which means i should probably finish it today - don't you think all parenting books should be roughly 70 pages long?! it is full of research committed to human sleep patterns and healthy development (for mothers, fathers, and babies) and it explains ways to safely create a sleeping environment that includes your new baby whether you room-share or bed-share with your sleeping little one.  part of the book is also dedicated to identifying if sleeping in separate rooms is more appropriate for your family. it is very interesting (yes, early human development nerd right here!!) and i'm hoping to have my husband read it. i think it will be good information to have somewhere in our heads when we are sleep-deprived and trying to figure out what works best for our newest roommate and family member :)

what about you? any juicy summer reads? i think i'm ready to find something suspenseful that i just can't put down!