On Being Brave

photo1-30 Last week while at the lake, I did something that was very unlike me. It probably won’t impress you at all, but I wanted to make sure to tell you about it. I’ve been having crazy thoughts lately about how temporary life is and how we ought to live it up. In fact, I’ve got another post in the works about it all. Anyway. While at the lake, I finished reading Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. It was fabulous for all the right reasons. (More on Delancey in another post!) In the book, she references an article she once read and a quote from it stood out to me. In fact, I texted it to Phil because it was so poignant.

“Authentic living without fear.” 

I don’t think of myself as a scared person. But I do think I carry around a weight of anxiety and fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of my kids acting out. Fear of failing as a mother. Fear of embarrassment. You get the idea.

For several days, those words echoed in my brain. My new mantra. Authentic living without fear. Authentic living without fear. Authentic living without fear.

Saturday morning, Phil, the girls, and I, headed out for a boat ride with my dad and my brother’s family. After a 30 minute ride, my dad asked if anyone wanted to ski. Like I was 8 years old again, I felt a lump in my throat. I don’t want to ski. But I so wish I was brave enough to try. I wish I could say that I was a skier. I wish I could be that girl that would jump up and say “sure!” A few seconds later, the mantra repeated itself in my head. Authentic living without fear. And with it, I blurted out, “I’ll try.”

I decided enough was enough. It was time to be brave. It was time to let go of my fears. It was time to do something that was unlike me. It was time for my girls to see me be brave. How could I expect them to try new things or face their fears if I didn’t ever show them that I could do it, too?

I started shaking a bit. I’m a little bit afraid of the water and I haven’t skied since at least high school and I couldn’t believe that I was going first. I put on a lifejacket and jumped in. Fear came over me to the point of having to focus on my breathing. (No one saw this part. It was just me and the water and the not-so-distant memory of seeing a gigantic snapping turtle in the water the previous day. No big deal.) I got my crap together while I adjusted the skis and got ready for the boat to pull me up.

I tried to get up 3 or 4 times, with no success. In fact, the last time, I tried channeling my inner Beyonce. (Yes, it’s a thing. See my favorite mug, above.) But it didn’t work. The girls cheered for me from the boat and Ingrid was worried for each time I “fell” in the water. “Is Mommy gonna be okay?”

I didn’t really ski. I didn’t get up. But that part doesn’t even matter. What matters, is that I tried. I faced my fears. I was brave for myself and for my girls. And for the first time in a very long time, I felt pretty proud of myself. And a week later, I still can’t get that phrase out of my head. Authentic living without fear.

Like I said, this story proably won’t impress you it all. But maybe it’ll encourage you to step out of your comfort zone a bit. Maybe it’ll give you the push you need to be brave. If anything at all, it’ll serve as a reminder to me each time I am scared or anxious or full of fear. xoxo, L

 

Sew Darling Custom Doll Review & Giveaway

sewdarling-giveaway Last week, my family spent 5 days at the lake. It was so much fun and fairly relaxing. We got home Sunday afternoon and I was immediately overwhlemed and annoyed by mounds of laundry and an empty refrigerator. My husband went to check the mail and returned with a package for me. I opened it up to find 3 of the most adorable handmade dolls I have ever laid my eyes on. Immediately, my mood changed… custom-dolls Ashley of Sew Darling sent us 3 of her custom dolls, each one looking like one of our girls. Addie’s doll is dressed in her favorite heart dress, her blue shoes, and has “Anna braids” (because FROZEN!), Ingrid’s doll has cute blonde curly pigtails and is wearing Ingrid’s favorite grey boots, and Margot’s doll is dressed in light pink and mint to match the nursery, and even has a cute headband atop her head. They seriously could not be cuter. I wrapped them back up in the tissue and string they came with and took them to the girls so they could open their surprise. As expected, they were smitten. The girls have taken their dollies with them everywhere! In fact, it has now been almost 48 hours since they got ahold of them and the dolls have yet to leave their side. Pretty much adorable. Or should I say so sew darling! ;)

dolls You must stop everything and head over to the Sew Darling shop. Ashley is famous for her amazing Frozen-inspired dolls. (There’s even a Kristoff!!) She also makes adorable mermaids, hippy chicks, salsa dancers, and even boy dolls! Her custom dolls are quite amazing. You get to pick out the cute little details – hair, eye color, outfits, possible accessories, etc. Best of all, they start at just $22! Be sure to check out the hashtag #sewdarling on Instagram to see more photos of her handmade creations!

sew-darling-giveaway One lucky reader is going to win a custom doll from Sew Darling! There are lots of ways you can enter. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below. I’ll announce the winner Friday morning, so be sure to check back then! In addition to the giveaway, Sew Darling is offering all Living on Love readers a 20% discount, too! You can use the code LIVINGONLOVE at checkout! If you’re interested in a custom doll, send Ashley an email at ashleywhetman@hotmail.com. Be sure to mention Living on Love! You can get your 20% discount through July 31. (It’s never too early to shop for Christmas!) Good luck and happy shopping!
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3 Months of Margot

12weeksofmarge Last week marked 3 months of little miss Margot. Her birth seems long ago, yet the past 3 months have flown by. What I was calling “survival mode” has turned into our new normal. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on life with 3 little ones, now. That doesn’t mean it’s not crazy from time-to-time. It just means I feel like we have created a sweet little rhythm. It took around 2 months for us to get all of our breastfeeding kinks worked out and Margot has been nursing beautifully since. Around 12 weeks, Margot decided to become the best little babe on the planet, sleeping all night long, and napping well during the day, too. I’m serious. She’ll sleep in the middle of the floor with the vacuum going or her sisters running around, acting like hooligans in the background. [Insert applause emoji here.]

Of course, there are already things I miss about Margot’s early days and a million little things I wish I could bottle up and keep forever. Her smell. The way she snorts all the livelong day. (It’s seriously adorable.) How she finally figured out to suck her thumb. (Like a copycat of little Ingrid!) The way she coos. It’s like she’s singing me a little song. The way her eyes dance when you talk to her. The way she laughs and gets a kick out of it when you laugh at her. The way she lets her sisters smother her and doesn’t even try to be annoyed. The way she kicks her little feet when she’s excited about something. The way she gazes into my eyes when she nurses. The way she’s perfectly content when we go to the pool. The way her hair styles itself. The sounds she makes when we read her a story…

I do hope I remember her every sound, milestone, and personality. Margot is my constant joy, friends. We are so blessed by her life in ours. Here’s to month 4!

P.S. – Want to track Margot’s first year along with us? Just search #weeklymarge on Instagram. Curious about what it takes to do her weekly photos? Click here!

 

12 Practical Tips for Saving Time & Money

One thing I am asked constantly is “how do you do it all?” It might appear that I do it all, but that is far from reality. Very far, indeed. 

First of all, I have a lot of help from Phil. Some people expect stay-at-home-moms to do all the housework, but that’s not the case here. (We can do another post on this some other time.) Phil helps with his fair share, giving me more time and energy to do more.

Second of all, I do what is important to me. Some people take an hour to get dressed and do their hair. Some people use 30 minutes to watch a TV show. Some people spend an hour on the treadmill. Some people vacuum for 15 minutes every single day.

I use my time to do what is important to me, and what is important to me is making. Bread. Art. Ice cream. Dinner. Curtains. Pie. You name it, I want to make it. It’s who I am. But making takes time. Making dinner from scratch takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. And I tend to do this every single night. With 3 little ones, this might seem like an impossible feat. But with the help of a few time-saving tricks, we have managed to make it work.

So here you go. A list of practical tips for saving time and money.  None of these tips are going to completely change your life. Not really. (Well, maybe the TV one.) But I do believe they’ll help your family in the day-to-day. 5 minutes here. 10 bucks there. Etc.

save-money-tips Buy in bulk. We actually just purchased a small deep freeze off of Craigslist with the hope of purchasing part of a pig or cow sometime soon. Meat aside, there are lots of things you can purchase in bulk to help save time/money. Milk. The girls go through a gallon of whole milk in about 2-4 days, so I try to buy 2 gallons at a time so we don’t have to make an unnecessary trip to the store. Beans. Beans are cheap and good for you and we eat them a lot. When they’re on my list to buy, I always get extra. Toilet paper. It’s SO MUCH CHEAPER in bulk. We get a thing at Sam’s Club and it lasts almost 6 months!

Stock up during sales. Last week, Aldi had a huge sale on produce. I stocked up on sweet corn, blueberries, and strawberries. Lucky’s, another local grocery story, had an amazing deal on their house-made sausages, so I bought about 8 lbs of it and stuck it in the freezer. Any time pricey things that we use/eat a lot are on sale, I stock up. Olive oil. Meat. Organic everything. Deodorant. Soap. Toothpaste. You get my point.

Double a recipe. If you’re cooking for 2-4 people, this is super easy to do. It adds just a few minutes of cooking time and saves you SO MUCH TIME in the future. I always double a recipe if it can be frozen. Soup. Stew. Lasagnas. Cinnamon Rolls. Wheat sandwich bread. Shredded chicken. The list goes on and on. We used to waste so much money on nights when we didn’t have any food in the house because we’d drive into town and go to a restaurant instead. Now, we’ve always got a back-up.

Freeze things. When you buy in bulk, stock up during sales, or double a recipe, you’ve got to utilize the freezer! Just label things and keep it organized so that it’s easy to find. If you’ve got something that’s about to go bad, try freezing it! I do this a lot with chicken broth, buttermilk, and tomato paste or tomato sauce. It seems like I never need the entire container, but they freeze really well. You can also freeze already-made foods to save time later. Cookies. Waffles. Muffins. Bread. The things that make a huge recipe!

Use dryer balls. If you’re like us, the laundry is never done. Ever. Even when you do 8 million loads in one day, there’s already another laundry basket filling up again. A local friend of mine made me some wool dryer balls and they have cut our drying time in HALF! I kid you not. Not only are we saving a little bit of electricity (& $$$) we are saving tons of time. So I can get what used to take me 2 days, done in 1.

Utilize a clothesline. We have one of those umbrella clotheslines, so it holds TONS of stuff. And with as hot as it gets in the summertime, things dry out there in no time at all. If it’s really hot and your clothes get that crunchy/stiff feeling from the sun, just fluff them in the dryer for 10 minutes afterwards.

Open the windows. Today, for example, it’s like 75 degrees outside AND there’s a beautiful breeze. The air is off and the windows are open and it is purely glorious. When the weather is cool enough, use it! And save some monies while you’re at it. During the late Spring and early Fall, our windows are almost always open.

Say no to paper products. We used to spend anywhere from $10-$20 a month on paper products. Paper plates, paper towels, etc. While they are super convenient, they are also super wasteful. It takes half a second to rinse a dish and put it in the dishwasher. You can save yourself over $200 a year just by cutting out paper products. There are like 10 million things I’d rather spend $200 on. Brunch. Quilts from Anthropologie. A weekend trip. Getting my toes done.

Fill up the tank. I don’t know why, but I used to only put 20 or 30 bucks in my car at a time. Maybe I was hoping the price would drop? I don’t know. Lately, I’ve been filling up all the way, every time. Instead of making multiple trips to the gas station each week, I usually go just once. That’s about an hour’s worth of time that I now have with my family.

Make lists. If I had a dollar for every time we went to the store and only got groceries for that night, I’d be a rich, rich woman. Especially living 20 minutes away from the nearest store, it’s so important for us to keep lists. I always have a grocery list, a target list, and a to-do list in my phone. We try our best to only go to the store once a week. Same with Target. And if we have another errand that needs to be done, like the post-office or the library or something, then we try to do it during the same outing. Killing as many birds with the same stone.

Grow a garden. Gardening can seem intimidating. I get that. But I promise you, if you have 2 hands and some good dirt, you can make something grow. We spend about $50 on our garden each year and reap the benefits because of it. I love cooking with fresh herbs. Fresh herbs from the grocery store are EXPENSIVE. Often, more expensive than a plant itself! There is nothing like the satisfaction of picking your own basil, parsley, or rosemary straight from your backyard and chopping it up for your recipe. Same with veggies. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash. These things are SO easy to grow. Fun and saves you money!

Turn off your TV. We actually got rid of cable a couple of years ago and I think it was the single best decision we have ever made in terms of pursuing our dreams. I used to dream about living on a farm or laying in a hammock or making food from scratch. And because we no longer have cable, I have time to do those things! My dreams, which were not impractical by any means, are now my reality. We still have a TV for watching Netflix, Hulu, or movies, but we’re no longer wasting time watching crap TV every night like we used to.

What about you? What are your best tips for saving time or money? I’d love to hear! xo, L

Saranoni Review & Giveaway

In this life, there are just a few things that you can never have enough of. Shoes. Brunch dates. Kitchen utensils. Coffee. Blankets. Etc. In the course of 1 day at my house, no less than 10 blankets are used. We use them for all types of things. Sleeping of course. Cuddling. Movie watching. Fort making. Picnicking. Super hero playing, etc. Blankets are kind of a necessity.

saranoni-giveaway When Saranoni contacted me about doing a review, I said “YES!” immediately. Super cozy blankets for the girls? Yes, please. A luxury throw for me and my man? Absolutely. You can never have too many blankets! (Can’t you envision this on an art print?!)

Saranoni sent us 3 blankets. 2 of the Toddler-to-Teen, and 1 home throw. All I can say is that OH MY GOODNESS, these are heavenly. Seriously, the term “luxury blanket” is spot-on for these glorious gifts. They are so soft and cozy. Perfect for the girls. Perfect for baby snuggles. Perfect for movie night with my honey. Perfect for reading to the chickens outside…

photo1 You should know that it’s darn near impossible to get a decent photo of all 3 girls at the same time. Case in point…
saranonicollage One lucky reader is going to win an XL home throw of their choice ($96 value)! All you have to to is enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

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*This is a sponsored post. But as always, opinions are 100% my own! 

2 Weeks Into Essential Oils

You might know that I’ve been quite interested in essential oils for the past year or so. I finally invested in a doTerra Family Physician kit not quite 2 weeks ago, and let me tell you, I am already amazed. I am still such a beginner with these oils, but I have found several ways to use them already and the benefits have been so wonderful. If you are interested in how essential oils might benefit your health and lifestyle, please contact me! I don’t know everything, but I can certainly help you get started. photo1-25 I use lavender the most. I’ve been using lavender on Margot’s feet at bedtime. Would you believe that she’s been sleeping through the night? Yep, and she started doing so as soon as we started using the oils. I also use it in the big girls’ bath, just before bed to help them relax. I’ve put it on our pillows at night and I’ve used it while vacuuming, too. It makes the house smell amazing! Oh, and I’ve used this on itchy bug bites instead of using an anti-itch cream. So far, so good!

For headaches, (and I get them regularly) I’ve been using a mix of peppermint, lavender, and frankensense on my neck, temples, and forehead. It has been amazing to see the results and to not have to worry about taking Tylenol. I haven’t had a migraine the past 2 weeks either! Not sure if the oils have much to do with that or not.

I have been having weird shoulder pains for a few weeks now. I think from when I was co-sleeping with Margot. I often slept with my arm up above my head, and would wake with pain in my shoulder every morning. Instead of using Tylenol or Bengay, I used Deep Blue (a doTerra oil blend) and the pain was relieved almost instantly. It smells just like Bengay, in my opinion, but knowing that it’s all natural instead of full of chemicals is fantastic! (Bengay is among the worst, fyi. You can’t use it while pregnant, either!!)

I’ve also been using lemon almost everyday. I’ve added a drop to my ice water and I’ve used it for cleaning – adding it to my vinegar all-purpose cleaner, and using it when I wash and rinse my produce.

My next purchases are going to be Balance (another doTerra oil blend) and a good diffuser. I’m so excited to continue learning and so happy to be living a more natural, healthier life! If you use essential oils, I’d love to know your favorite ways! If you are interested in learning more, please contact me! (And locals – I’d be happy to let you in on my discount!) xoxo, L

P.S. – HUGE shout-out to my girl, Jenny, who finally convinced me to try them out. I’ve been learning SO MUCH from her!

 

Say Yes: The #livingonloveproject for July

sayyes

When you have little kids, you say “no” quite a lot. I probably say “no” more than I say anything else.

No, we can’t watch a movie.

No, we can’t drive to Nana & Poppy’s.

No, we can’t go to the beach. (Clearly my kids need a geography lesson.)

No, we can’t have dessert for breakfast. 

No, we can’t…

No, don’t touch the…

No, that’s not for… 

It gets exhausting, you know? Saying no all the time. Last month, I was with the girls outside and Addie asked if we could bring their tent outside so the could read underneath it. My first reaction was to say no. But then I gave it another second and thought, why CAN’T they bring it outside? It’s not going to hurt anything. It’s not raining. In fact, it’d be kind of magical. 

So we brought it outside. And it WAS magical. And I realized right then how many times I’ve “no-ed” what could have been an AMAZING experience. And I vowed to myself to make it a point to say YES more often.

This month, SAY YES. For the whole month. For a day. For a second when you’re prone to say no. For any time at all. SAY YES to making memories and living a bit on the seat of your pants. SAY YES to adventure and dessert for breakfast (okay,  maybe just once!) and living a life that’s a little bit magical. Take a picture and share it on Instagram. Make sure to tag it with #livingonloveproject when you do. I cannot wait to see what you SAY YES to this month! 

Solly Baby Wrap & Freshly Picked Moccs GIVEAWAY!

freshly-picked-giveaway Happy Monday! I’m so excited because today is day 10 in our 14 Days of Love summer giveaway series, which means it’s time for our AMAZING giveaway from Solly Baby & Freshly Picked. I’m sure you’ve heard me RAVE over both of these companies before. They are 2 of my favorite baby products around. They are both businesses that are run by MAMAS. Their products are HANDMADE, right here in the US. And I don’t even have to mention how ADORABLE their goodies are. I use my Solly Baby Wrap almost every single day and you’ll find Freshly Picked Moccs on all 3 of my girls’ feet. I mean… can we just take a minute to admire how cute these are together???

freshly-picked-solly-baby-giveaway One super lucky reader is going to win 1 Solly Baby Wrap and 1 pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins. If you are a mama or if you are expecting, make sure to enter! But if you’re not, you should TOTALLY still enter. You will be the favorite guest at your next baby shower. I promise! ;)

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway will only run for 3 days, so don’t delay! Open to US residents only.
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Lastly, be sure to check out the rest of our 14 Days of Love summer giveaway series. There are still plenty of amazing prizes up for grabs!

June 28 – Jade and Fern – 2 Simple Peace Bags, The Handwoven Beach Carryall and The Organic Hemp and Cotton Farmer’s Market Bag ($120 value)
June 29 – Everyday Reading – Wrenn Jewelry Giveaway
June 30 – Living on Love – Freshly Picked Moccs and Solly Baby Wrap
July 1 – Poppy Haus – Curated Art Wall from: Emily Jeffords, Clare Elsaesser, and Jennifer Daily (4 pieces valued at $350)
July 2 – A Girl Named PJ 
July 3 – The Flair Exchange – $100 gift card to Pier One Imports
July 4 – Melissa Creates – Prize Package including products from Shop Melissa Creates and a Target Gift Card (total value of $100)

14 Days of Summer Love Begins Today!

14-days-of-love-logo-summer

Happy first day of summer, friends! To celebrate this brand new season and to thank all of you for being so fabulous, 13 other bloggers and I have teamed up to bring you 14 days of summer love! AKA – 14 days of AMAZING giveaways. Starting today and continuing through the 4th of July, you can visit each blog to enter to win some fabulous prizes! Oleander and Palm is kicking us off today by giving away a Shark Vacuum!

Make sure you’ve liked the 14 days of love page on Facebook! That way, you won’t miss an update!

Here’s the schedule and list of prizes:

  1. June 21 – Oleander and Palm –  Shark Vacuum
  2. June 22 – Dream Green DIY – 8 B by Brandie Dessert/Appetizer Plates of Choice ($250 value)
  3. June 23 – Design Improvised – $200 Home Decorator’s Gift Card
  4. June 24 – Handmade Mood – Instax Camera and Film
  5. June 25 – Squirrelly Minds – $150 Wayfair Giftcard 
  6. June 26 – Frock Files – MZ Wallace Purse
  7. June 27 – Lulu the Baker – Sseko Designs Sandals and Leather Hobo Bag
  8. June 28 – Jade and Fern – 2 Simple Peace Bags, The Handwoven Beach Carryall and The Organic Hemp and Cotton Farmer’s Market Bag ($120 value)
  9. June 29 – Everyday Reading – Wrenn Jewelry Giveaway
  10. June 30 – Living on Love – Freshly Picked Moccs and Solly Baby Wrap
  11. July 1 – Poppy Haus – Curated Art Wall from: Emily Jeffords, Clare Elsaesser, and Jennifer Daily (4 pieces valued at $350)
  12. July 2 – A Girl Named PJ – Warby Parker Sunglasses
  13. July 3 – The Flair Exchange – $100 gift card to Pier One Imports
  14. July 4 – Melissa Creates – Prize Package including products from Shop Melissa Creates and a Target Gift Card (total value of $100)

Be share to spread the word to your family and friends! Good luck and happy entering!!!

xoxo, L

101 Kids Activities

Dudarinos, (yes, this is a word I use on a regular basis) last week I got the HAPPIEST MAIL of happy mail. My friends Holly and Rachel wrote an amazing book and they sent me a copy! 101 Kids Activities is packed FULL of amazing things for kids to do – games, projects, science experiments… No longer will you need to search on Pinterest for a fun activity to do with your “bored” children. Instead, whip this baby out and let them pick out something that sounds awesome.  101-kids-activities-that-are-the-bestest-funnest-ever-book-cover-650 If you have children, you need this book. Trust me on this. There are loads (101 to be exact!) of activities for every age. My toddler and preschooler have already picked out some things they want to do. If you’ve got school-aged kiddos, they’ll love it, too! Messy play, competitive games, creative projects… There’s no end to fun with this book, you guys!

fizzing-paint-promo-long Make sure you grab a copy today! It’s available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. You can even purchase it for your Kindle! If you’d like to try to win a copy, use the Rafflecopter widget below…

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Photos from 101 Kids Activities by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller, printed with permission of Page Street Publishing June 2014.