{Update #7} Our First Garden

Good morning, friend! I hope you’re having a great week so far! It’s been a busy but fun one for us because of vacation Bible school (Eden’s first, and she’s loving it!), so today I’m just going to give a quick update on how our garden’s doing, because I have to get everyone ready and on time for VBS in a little bit. So here ya go!

~Courtney Faith

 ^Not our garden, but this growing cotton field next to our place is so pretty in the early mornings, I had to snap a picture! It’s going to be simply gorgeous later this summer when it turns white. I LOVE living in The Land of Cotton. We may not get much snow around here, but every year we get to see dozens of fields nearby that look like beautiful snow, and without the dreadful cold temperatures! ^Grape tomatoes! Can’t wait to start putting these in my salads.  ^Okra! ^Squash blooms! ^Little squash! Just a couple days or so and we’ll be able to start picking. Can’t wait! ^We strung up our cucumber vines so they’ll have something to run on. We have a few blooms but no veggies from it yet.  ^Little ears of corn! About 1/4 of our stalks got laid down when we had a lot of wind and rain from the tropical storm, but it’s straightening back up some on its own so I don’t think there was any damage. ^Pumpkin blooms! We have five of these plants and they have pretty much overtaken the whole left side of our garden area!^The watermelon’s blooming!^The right side view of the garden. ^Beans on the left, tomatoes on the right. 

{Update #6} Our First Garden

Our garden is producing a lot more these days! 

We picked our first tomato this week (the two before that, a worm beat us to them). I’ve got hot peppers running out of my ears so I started freezing them. Our bell and sweet peppers are doing really well too. My fennel has gotten big and I’ve been wondering what to do with it (I just planted it for fun), and a friend of mine told me she puts it in her smoothies so I’m looking forward to try that. The rabbits are still a bit of a problem, but we have actually gotten several beans from our bushes, so take that, wascally wabbits! 

My in-laws came over this past weekend and helped us put up sour kraut in an antique crock that’s been in the family at least four generations. I’ve made kraut before, but never this way, so it was a fun new experience! We put up about thirty-five pounds of cabbage (10 heads), and now we wait about a month for it to ferment and then we’ll can it. I’m super excited to get to eat it when it’s ready! 

The squash was planted a bit late, but it’s blooming now so it won’t be long before we start to get that. The watermelon, cucumber, and pumpkin plants are also getting pretty big. We finally thinned out our okra plants, and it’s looking like we’ll have a huge amount of that coming in. The corn has shot up (taller than me now!) and we harvested two huge bunches of broccoli, which were delicious. 

That’s about it, I guess. Here are the pictures I took this morning!

^Eden by the broccoli, bean, and tomato plants. ^Beans and tomatoes. ^Grape tomato and okra plants. ^Eden standing by the corn rows. ^Corn tassels. ^Squash blooms. ^Cucumber plants. ^Watermon plants. ^Five pumpkin plants and our compost pile. ^Beefsteak tomato!^I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this caterpillar. ^Okra blooms. ^Carrying the veggies for Mommy!^Front to back: carrots and lettuce in raised bed, tomatoes, broccoli, okra, tomatoes, corn. 

^We gathered a bunch of broccoli already, but here’s another sprouting up. 

In case you’ve missed the first garden posts, here are the links to them:

Have a great day!

~Courtney

Productivity Tips: 5 Things That Help Me


Today I’m sharing with you five simple things that help me to get more done in a day. I am typically a morning person, so if I don’t get a lot done first thing, the rest of the day won’t be very productive either. And with a toddler, my morning routines change as she grows, so what my mornings look like now as opposed to just a few months ago are very different, and a few months from now they may be very different from now. But that doesn’t change the ways I boost my productivity, so here are five things that motivate me to git-‘r -done at the start of my day. 

(NOTE: All of these steps follow my actual #1 morning ritual. And that is coffee.) 

  1. Get dressed – I feel like I can get more done, because I feel more awake and ready, if I get dressed when I get up. Wash my face, fix my hair (even if it’s just a messy top knot), and put on fresh day clothes. Most people will also put on shoes, but for some reason I can’t do housework in shoes because I feel like they’re in my way, but to each their own, I guess. 
  2. Diffuse oils for alertness and clean smell – I love to diffuse my essential oils to get the house smelling nice and clean, or to get me alert for my chores, or both! One of my favorite blends is 5 drops of any citrus oil and 3 drops of lemongrass. It wakes me up and smells really clean, so it’s a win-win. 
  3. Make a list – I cannot make it through a day without my lists. Whether they be on paper or in my head, I always have some type of to-do list. Writing it down always helps best, so I try to write things down on paper after my coffee, so I’ll have reachable goals that day, and as I cross each chore off I feel that much more accomplished. 
  4. Listen to music – Not always, because I do enjoy my quiet, but a lot of times I love to listen to a CD or the radio while I work. It sets a happy mood, and if I sing along it makes the work easier and the time pass more quickly if it’s a chore I don’t exactly enjoy (like laundry).
  5. Set a timer – Again, this is another that I don’t do every single time, but it’s especially helpful when I’m not feeling very energetic or motivated. I’ll set it for fifteen minutes and work at doing one task, and when the timer goes off, I start the next thing in a fifteen-minute time slot. I’ve also done “power hour” and made a list of things to accomplish within one hour, and work really hard and fast, no breaks, for that long and then take a breath and see what I’ve gotten done. That’s a lot of fun to do, and a good way to just get it all over with if you’re not really into housework that day, or have a bigger thing to do the rest of the day. 

So those are my little handy-dandy housework motivators! What are some of your best productivity secrets?

Have a great day!

~Courtney

Traveling with a Toddler: 5 Screen-Free Must-Haves for in the Car


We live 1+ hour one way from both sets of parents, so just going to visit them is considered a “road trip” for our daughter, now 16 months old, but she’s luckily always been pretty good in the car, as long as she isn’t bored. 

We recently went on an actual road trip in May, and it was a 6+ hour trip from home to the beach. Here, I’ve listed five things that we made sure to have in the vehicle with us — no screens involved! — so that the car ride was bearable for all three of us. I know not every little kid is fond of riding in the car, and unfortunately nothing really helps, but if you’re looking for something you haven’t tried yet, maybe these five things will help. For our daughter they made the trip great (we had zero meltdowns!), but what also helped was driving first while she was in her happy morning mood, and second when she was fed and ready to nap. 

And while we have chosen thus far not to give her a screen to watch or play on during car rides, that doesn’t mean I don’t think kids should have them, or that I will never let her use one. But, for the time being, she does really well on trips and I like to keep her occupied with doing something else, even if that’s just looking out the window, before I resort to a screen to keep her content. 

So, are you ready for the list? (Spoiler alert: it’s really not that mind-blowing of a list and you most likely already thought of these things yourself, but I just wrote down these five specifics that help us to have nice and peaceful trips.)

1) Snacks & Drinks

I love the idea of “no food allowed” in a vehicle, but lets face it: on a long road trip, even adults get hungry and cranky, so the only fix for that, if you still want to make good time, is to take snacks with you. 

We packed a cooler of easy-to-grab, least-possible-messy things to sip and munch on. In my then-15-month-old’s case, that consisted of applesauce pouches, soft crackers, and some cereal (like Cheerios).

Simply put, toddler snacks need to be:

  1. Not chokable. 
  2. Easy for them to hold and eat. 
  3. Not too extremely messy, if you’re wanting to keep your car/car seat somewhat decent. (A good vacuuming may be in order when you get home, but that’s okay.)

I also made sure she had plenty of fluids to keep her hydrated, so because I hate to pump, she got almond milk instead of breast milk for the car ride, and some water and juice. 

2) Board Books

These are chunky but don’t have to take up much room, interesting for toddlers but don’t make noise(!), and just all-around good for your smart, ever learning and growing child, so why not bring some along for the ride? My daughter loves books, so having several in the car with us when we take trips helps tremendously to keep her from getting board too quickly. My favorite set of board books (and hers too!) is a colors, shapes, foods, etc. set of very small (like, 3″x3″) books I got lucky and found at a consignment sale last year. 

3) Blanket, Pacifier, or Favorite Toy

If your toddler has a favorite object that comforts them ( in my child’s case, this is her “paci”), then this should definitely take top priority on your list of things to pack. Their having whatever it is that soothes or helps them sleep will be a big step toward a more peaceful car ride. Also, a blanket, whether it’s their cherished “blankie” or not, is a good thing to have if the car gets chilly or they get sleepy. 

4) Music and/or Audio Books

Classical or soft music for soothing, or peppy kids’ songs or stories for keeping them entertained is a big help on road trips. We also love to listen to a capella hymns and sing along, or listen to one of my husband’s favorite audio books (I’m more of a reader, but he’s huge into listening to books and they’re lots of fun), or just flip through radio stations when things get mundane. My favorite kids’ Bible songs CD we listen to us Each Little Dew Drop, and we love the hymns CDs by Florida College. 

5) Comfy Travel Clothes

Traveling in uncomfortable clothes on a road trip is so not fun. I personally prefer a T-shirt, sweatpants, and no shoes (but flip-flops for rest stops) when traveling, so I can only imagine that a toddler would prefer something comfy as well. So when we travel with our daughter and I can help it, I like to have her in something soft and thin and that won’t bother her or make her hot. 

Also, and this is totally not a “must-have,” just merely my preference, but because our daughter is still under 22 pounds and required to sit rear-facing in her car seat, we have a mirror on the seat in front of her so we can see her from up front, but she actually really loves it too. I catch her looking in it and making faces (or pulling out her hair bows!) and talking to herself all the time! I think it has really helps her during car rides, so you may want to try it too, if you don’t have one already. 

I hope these suggestions were helpful! What are your absolute must-haves for long trips?

Have a great day!

~Courtney

How I Organized Our Master Bathroom


My Mondays

Monday is usually my catch-up day. Over the weekend we’re either working outside or busy with something else, so the housework gets put on the back burner. It’s aggravating at times, but honestly a perfectly clean house all weekend long is just not high on my list of priorities. I like to have it looking nice on Friday evening, but ’till Monday morning I don’t want to fool with it. So that means come Monday morning I have pleeeenty to do!

Drink Coffee, Make a To-Do List

After I’ve had my morning cup of Joe, I like to make a list of things I need to get done each day. Mondays are always more work, but it’s basically the same chores each day:

  • Make bed, straighten up bedroom
  • Unload/load dishwasher
  • Wipe counters, sweep kitchen
  • Start laundry, put away laundry
  • Clean living room 
  • Vacuum floors

Some days it may vary, but you get the gist of it. I just tackle the basics and then see what’s left and do that. 

I Organized Our Master Bathroom Last Monday

Last Monday was Memorial Day and my husband was home, so that made my catch-up day a little different, but that’s how it goes sometimes. He worked outside and was also able to spend time on a project of his. I wasn’t feeling too good, but while Eden napped (she took a nice, long one that day!) I suddenly got in a cleaning/organizing mood and knew that as long as I stayed busy I wouldn’t think about how “blah” I was feeling. 

So, our master bathroom has been needing some TLC for quite a while now (like, since we moved here), and it was driving me bananas how disorganized the cabinets had gotten. I scrubbed the grimy door and floor with a toothbrush and a lot of elbow grease. The door looks fantastic now but the floor is still not the prettiest you’ll ever see, that’s for sure, but it’s a major improvement overall. Then I got to the fun part: organizing. I’m super in to minimalism now and the past few months I’ve been getting rid of things left and right, and wanting to chunk, like, 95% of our stuff, even though we really don’t have a ton of stuff. But I so love the idea of having as little things as possible, and those you do have be only important/necessity. Buuuut I’m still working on that, and my husband and I are not exactly, absolutely, 100% on the same page about the definition of “necessity,” so there’s that little issue. πŸ˜‰ Anyway. I chunked probably half of what was in the cabinets and baskets (old lotions, makeup I’ll never use, a broken flat iron, etc.) and then put what was left into two baskets, two drawers sets, a shoe box, and a wire rack. 

I don’t even wish I’d taken “before” pictures, because it’s nothing I want to see again! So, here are the “after” photos. 





What are some of your favorite ways to declutter and reorganize? Let me in on your secrets!
Have a great day!
~Courtney Faith

Our Vacation at Pensacola Beach

This week we went down to Pensacola, Florida to spend a few days at the beach with my husband’s parents and siblings. Since we all live in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee, we don’t go to the ocean very often. It was a several hours drive with a couple stops in between, and I was so pleased that Eden (15 months) did so well with the trip. There and back, she didn’t have a single cry-fest. Thank the Lord. (Her first trip — at 2.5 months — was to the Smoky Mountains, also a several hours trip, and that car ride was absolute terror.)

The last time my husband and I went to the beach was two years ago, and we’d just found out days before that we were expecting. I remember stepping into the ocean with her inside me, wondering when would be her first time to step in with her own two feet and see it for herself. So this was her first time, and she had so much fun in the sand! Being in the ocean was definitely not her thing, andΒ I don’t blame her — it’s much more enjoyableΒ to look at than play in.

My mother-in-law planned for us to all have our pictures taken on our second day there, and I am in love with how they turned out! The light blues and creams turned out to be great colors for sunset pictures on the seashore. Here are a few photos of our little family of three and some of Eden enjoying the sand. These were taken on a day she hadn’t gotten a good nap in, so she was not the happiest camper in the world by the time we were getting our pictures taken, but I think the photographer did a good job hiding the fact that she was squaling and squirming 95% of the time (but there I go, giving that secret away).

During our trip we also toured Fort Pickens, ate at some local restaurants, went go-kart racing and played putt-putt golf, and got to watch the Blue Angels perform and also toured the National Naval Aviation Museum. It was a great vacation and we got to spend it with great family. But no matter where I go, or how much I love the beach, there will never be a better place than home, sweet home.

Have a great day!
~Courtney Faith

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{Update #1} Our First Garden

We’ve had lots (and lots!) of rain recently, and plenty of sun the past few days, so everything in the garden has really shot up and is looking really great so far. The tomato and pepper plants have blooms on them now, the cabbage plants are huge, the peas are growing fast, and the carrots, spinach, lettuce, and fennel are sprouting up too. The other things we’ve planted are popping up, and it’s really starting to look like a good Summer garden now.

We’re super excited to be gathering food from our own back yard, and I’m so thankful we have this opportunity to show our daughter about God’s earth and how He makes it all grow.

 

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Eden by her garden.


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Sprouting!


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Carrots, lettuce, and spinach are popping up!

 

 

 

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Peppers, broccoli, cabbage, peas, beans, tomatoes, and the raised bed.


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Cabbage and broccoli.


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Tomatoes!


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“Clothes on the clothesline hangin’ in the sunshine, a garden growin ‘ in the ground.” -Josh Turner, “Way Down South”

Have a great day!

~Courtney Faith