Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fresh Eggs

 All nine of our hens are laying now and we've been enjoying an abundance of fresh eggs every day.  I realize this may sound a little silly, but our chickens have become a part of our family... as much as we love and enjoy their eggs, we enjoy them too.

 All the different shades are so pretty.  For two months we had only blue eggs, so it was actually pretty exciting when we had our first brown eggs!  We've had enough for us every day, and we've also gotten to share a little with family, friends and neighbor. 

 As our hens have grown, it's been fun getting to know their different personalities.  They all run to us when we step outside and love foraging around in the grass and dirt during the day. 

 Growing up, it was my chore to help out in the care of our family chickens.  I loved them and would gather their eggs every day, wash and put them away... I even had a few egg buying customers (smile).  

Who would have known that years later I would have two little girls doing the same...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bee Lovely Botanicals & Giveaway

 I love discovering products that are both handmade and natural, especially when it comes to bath & body.  I've so enjoyed getting to know Jodie from Bee Lovely Botanicals a little bit since she wrote and loved getting to review some of her products.  She sent me the sweetest box packed full with some of their products, all with a fresh lemon vibe. 

I think what makes their products a little unique and special, is that they use their own raw honey and beeswax.  Jodie and her family raise their bees naturally and their beeswax and honey are as pure as the bees can make them.  This is all so fascinating to me, particularly since it's a little dream of ours to raise honeybees one day.

I love receiving products that are packaged so nicely they would be perfectly presented as a gift just as they are.  Everything in the box sent to me was simple, natural and so pretty.  (As a side note, it's particularly fun getting to photograph a package as you're opening it - you really get to savor it!)

Well, I loved absolutely everything that Jodie sent me.  I've been using and enjoying every single product daily.  This natural beeswax body creme is particularly wonderful - thick and creamy without being greasy at all and again, I love that it's handmade and so natural.  The perfect barrier during the winter months.

Jodie also sent a few bars of soap, all of which our entire family enjoyed.  I can't help but think these would make perfect little stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays.  They all have a great lather and I love reading the ingredient list.  The calendula bar is full of homegrown calendula petals and its fragrance is amazing... I felt like I was sitting in the garden surrounded by the plants!

The Bee Hive Bar soap is like the perfect bar for the entire family - its fragrance is a little more subtle, but still so fresh and natural.  Jodie told me a little about this bar of soap, and I loved hearing about all that goes into it, so I thought I would share with you too.  It's an old fashioned cold process bar and it's the most intense soap they make.  They use their own honey, beeswax, and propolis, as well as adding buttermilk, egg yolks from their own chickens, oatmeal, lanolin, tussah silk fibers, and tea tree and lemongrass essential oils.  The honey brings B vitamins to the bar, beeswax adds hardness, propolis is antibacterial and antifungal, buttermilk and eggs make the bar soothing and bring vitamins A, D, and E, oatmeal gives just a hint of exfoliation and soothes skin, and tea tree and lemongrass oils are antiseptic.   So neat!

They also offer some great balms.  The lip balm is wonderful protection and has a lovely natural fragrance like everything else.  I'm a little picky when it comes to lip balms (everyone that knows me knows I can't live without it (smile)), but I really enjoyed using this balm and it felt great. 

Last, but certainly not least, was the adorable jar of raw honey included.  I always buy our honey local, but I have to say this is the most delicious honey I have ever tasted.  In fact, our supply is just about gone as we've used it just about every day!  You can read more about the benefits of raw honey on their website - it's fascinating and wonderful eating something that is so pure.  

I can't help but feel that the love they have for their bees shines through in their products.  It was a pleasure reviewing everything and know you would love everything just as much as I did.


Bee Lovely Botanicals is graciously offering a reader a $35 gift certificate to use in their shop.  To be entered, all you need to do is simply leave a comment.  I'd love it if you'd visit their website and tell me which product you'd most like to try though in your comment.  (Click here or visit

(Giveaway is open to all readers, whether you have a blog or not, but please leave a way for me to contact you if you do not have a blog... thanks!)

Giveaway will be open until next Monday, November 4, 2013. 

***This giveaway has now closed.  The randomly selected winner is Cinnamon.  Thank you all for entering!***

Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Autumn Look in the Dining Room

 The dining room being in the center of our home, it's one of my favorite rooms to add some seasonal touches.  Recently I made a few changes, one of them being moving a painting over the mantel to a different room and hanging some dishes in its place.

 This fall I'm loving natural colors - colors that remind me of a walk in the woods. 

 I hung an ironstone platter and a few saucers.  I love this brown transferware... I've had my eye on it at the antiques store for a long while and finally brought a few (small) pieces home with me.  I like the idea of changing out the saucers as the seasons change. 

 Justus shook his head at me, wondering what my fascination with hanging plates is.  And I really don't know... I just know I love the way plates look displayed on the wall and always have (smile). 

And speaking of the woods, recently the girls and I walked around a little and collected some treasures to bring indoors.  I love all the nuts we find, especially hickory nuts.  They are plentiful at my parents farm and the girls love gathering and playing with them.    

 Last weekend we also recovered the seats of our dining room chairs.  I made a huge mistake in reupholstering in linen of all things last year... beautiful at first, but not so beautiful with two little girls sitting on them at the dinner table.  I had purchased this outdoor fabric on clearance ($4.99/yd!) for pillows on our front porch and had plenty leftover.  Suddenly I realized they would probably be the perfect solution for right now... easy to clean and easily replaced later on.  Even though the pattern is a little different from the curtains, I kind of like the new look.  (Not to mention, anything was better than stained linen!)

 The gorgeous table runners were made by Ann of On Sutton Place.  I simply adore her work.  These runners are mangle cloth and they are so gorgeous and natural.  I especially can't wait to use them for the holidays this year! 

 On the opposite side of the room, I finally hung some vintage artwork on the empty spot on the wall.  Sometimes the perfect piece can be so simple. 

Our dining room is so large we also keep the piano in here.  Lately it's been used very frequently as Jillian is learning to play.  I love her sweet music.  

Have a wonderful week! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Course Launch, Opening Up & A Blooper

Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays}, the e-course I participated in, launched today!  Putting together the videos and projects was a big part of my summer this year.  I mentioned before that last year I took the original course and I would never have dreamed that this year I would be on the opposite side of the screen!  

Week one is all about decorating for the holidays and looking at the content and videos today, I can't believe everyone's creativity and beautiful projects.  Jeanne did such an amazing job in putting this course together.  Seeing the videos there live today (and trying not to panic at the thought of others watching mine) made me smile, reminiscing about the video mishaps, laughter and even anxiety I had while working on this project.  I thought I'd open up and share a few things I learned along the way...

Sharing when you're a private person... Being a private and quiet person, I'm not sure how I ended up writing a blog and sharing so much of myself.  But writing about yourself is still a lot easier than videoing yourself.  Many, many times during the summer I found myself thinking, what did I get myself into?  The first videos were definitely the most difficult.  It felt so unnatural (not to mention, a little embarrassing) setting up the camera on video and then talking in an empty room!  Gradually it became a little easier and I especially tried to think of myself visiting with a friend while talking.  

Feeling natural... While it did become easier as time went on, I can't tell you how many times I couldn't think of a word to say or I'd stutter or I'd think of something I forgot to mention.  How does The Pioneer Woman do this and look so natural and cute?, I'd wonder.  I wanted the videos to feel natural, like I really was visiting with a friend, since the class is so much about opening up and building a connection.  What helped more than anything was thinking about all of you that leave kind comments and send encouraging words... reminding myself that that is who would be watching the videos.

Videoing Children... I tried, I really tried, to get some videos with my girls.  In the end, only Jillian made it into a video.  But we sure did have a lot of fun trying!  There was a lot more laughter than talking!  In the end I felt thankful that I had those videos to save for when we're older.  Did you know that although my camera has video capability, this was the first time I had switched it to that setting?  Now I'll definitely be videoing more of my girls and moments together. 

What to wear? Once I had my projects and/or thoughts together, it still took quite a bit of preparation to get ready for the videos.  Waiting for a quiet moment in the house, cleaning the area I would be in, getting everything together, setting up the camera and tripod, and oh yes, taking a shower too would probably be a good idea.  Justus teased me when he watched the videos, asking me where my yoga pants, t-shirt and casual ponytail went (smile).

The bugs in the south... I had this great idea of taking one of the project videos outdoors, in the woods no less.  Well, living in the south as I have for almost ten years, I completely forgot how loud the bugs are!  Even while videoing, I didn't hear them.  But oh, when I turned it on later, all I could hear was the bugs chirping and making all kinds of noise!  They literally drowned my voice out.  I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry at that point!  (I did end up re-shooting indoors.)

Using the same word... Well, as you can imagine, there were a lot of bloopers and many times I found myself laughing and later sharing with my family.  Over the course of putting together the videos, I found myself using some of the same words over and over again.  One of those words was special.  But what other words do you use to describe special (smile)? 

Memories... The course definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I'm thankful I did it.  It brought back memories, made me reflect and feel thankful for so many things.  I almost felt myself getting teary at times.  I feel honored to be part of such an inspiring group of women and I am so excited to watch everyone's videos, feel encouraged, try new projects and recipes, and connect with an amazing group. 

I'd love to see you there... if you are interested in joining the course, you can read more and register here

Here's one of my favorite bloopers!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October (On the Porch)

 Happy October!  

With the busyness of late, I have just now begun decorating for fall... and suddenly I'm taking in everything I love about this season. 

 Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins and even a visit to the pumpkin patch this weekend, a yearly activity that is becoming a tradition I look forward to every time October rolls around.

 Fresh, crisp apples from the farmers market and spending more time outside as the weather is absolutely perfect.

 Planning fall activities and time with family and friends for the upcoming holidays.

 Decorating the porch and bringing in all the colors that reflect the beauty of the season.

 A fall porch doesn't seem complete without mums.

 Spending a Saturday morning getting reacquainted with my sewing machine by sewing new pillow covers for the swing on the porch.

Fall has truly arrived and I just want to soak in every glorious thing about the season with my family... so much to look forward to!


This coming week Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays} launches and I am so excited.  I can't wait to be inspired and connect with such inspiring women in this e-course as the holiday season draws closer.  (It's quite possible I may not be able to watch the videos of myself though... maybe I'll get up the nerve to share a blooper with you!)  I think the connection is almost more special than anything else... it's more personal than reading a magazine.  It's wonderful to not only be inspired, but to feel encouraged too.

Jeanne Oliver created a little video that talks a little about the course.  I always enjoy watching Jeanne's videos as she has a way of making you feel like you are sitting and visiting with an old friend.  I thought you might enjoy watching it too, especially if you are interested in the course.

 To learn more about the course, visit here.

  • Each week you will have amazing truthful videos from the nine teachers.
  • There will be 30+ project videos.  These will be incredible videos that include everything from cooking, gift giving and decorating.
  • Tons of beautiful house photos from each of the nine women.
  • Supply lists and PDFs for each project.
  • A digital recipe book of the recipes shared in this course.
  • You will have access for one full year.
  The course will launch October 15 and the price for the course is $58.

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