Howdy, folks! How’ve you been? Now that it’s April, we’re finally enjoying a day or two of spring weather once in a while. (Of course, it’s supposed to snow tonight. Longest. Winter. Ever! But 50s and sunny on Sunday, so I can endure it.) I hope the weather is delightful wherever you are.



We have one Sh-Mop and 12 cotton terry mop heads. I love this thing. (affiliate link)


So I finally put together a bathroom cleaning checklist for my older girls, ages nine and 11. I think this list is appropriate for children ages seven and up, give or take. I thought I would share it here for two reasons: 1 – It may help you or be useful, and 2 – You can critique it and tell me what I forgot. Download it here:


Bathroom Cleaning Checklist


A few notes:

  • Our bathroom cleaner is either a natural cleaner purchased at the store on sale or a homemade one made with half vinegar, half water + essential oils of choice (I like tea tree, orange, and/or lemon for bathroom cleaning) in a spray bottle.
  • We do use standard sanitizing wipes from the store. There are more natural versions, such as those made by Seventh Generation, that we have also used, but they get expensive. This is one of the only places you will see us use disposable, conventional cleaning products. Viruses and bathroom germs make me a little crazy.

    (affiliate link)

    Seventh Generation Natural Sanitizing Wipes (affiliate link)

  • We don’t make or buy a special window/mirror cleaner because a microfiber cloth works great. I have friends that use Norwex (also microfiber) cloths, too, and they like them. I just use the ones I already have. Dry microfiber is great for removing streaks and cloudiness.
  • Lest you think I only change my hand towel once a week, allow me to reassure you: I change it once every 1-2 days, whenever I’m in there and thinking about it. With five children and only one main bathroom, it gets gross quickly, so I just change it myself.
  • Why don’t the kids scrub the toilet and mop the floors? Good question. They are capable and those items could easily be incorporated into the kid list. But for our house, this works best. I like to mop the floors all at once myself or with family help, and it becomes a hassle to ask them to get out the Schmop and make a floor cleaning solution in the sink separately from when I do it. Just easier to fill the sink once a week myself and do all the hard floors at once (and our whole house is hard floors, by the way). As for the toilet, I’ve found that children often splash more germs out of the toilet than they actually clean, especially when they’re younger. Definitely something they should be trained to do, but again, I tend to clean the toilet several times a week myself when I’m thinking of it or noticing it. Takes me a minute or less. I think children of this age can easily be be taught to do these tasks, if that works better for your family.

If you find this checklist useful and would like more, or if you have critical feedback to leave, please comment. I wanna know how your kids are cleaning the bathrooms.


1 – Make your favorite layer cake recipe. (I used the Special Occasion Chocolate Cake from the Trim Healthy Mama book.)

2 – Divide the batter evenly between a circle and a square pan of the same width/diameter.


3 – Bake according to recipe instructions. Cool.

4 – Remove from pans, slice the circle in half, and assemble into a heart shape. Use toothpicks to anchor the pieces together, if necessary. If you need to, trim any ill-fitting pieces and eat them.:)


5 – Frost with your frosting of choice. (I used this one.)



A Summer Baby

Say hello to Baby Tomato, around 9.5 weeks gestation:


I am currently 14 weeks pregnant and feeling less like death warmed over. But not much. Baby Tomato is due in July (tomato season, see?) and I’m looking forward to my first summer birth. Maybe an outside one? (Let’s not dwell on the HOT that is a summer pregnancy. Nope.) The girls are lobbying for a girl, and the boys want a boy, of course. We grown ups are praying for healthy and full term.

We are all doing well and finally using that lower level family room that we started working on last spring. It’s great!


I am currently sipping tea and hiding under a blanket. There be sub-zero wind chills and blizzard-like conditions out there, yo. Stay warm!

Not Moving

Life is a roller coaster, is it not?

What we thought was a sure thing (moving to town behind the church where my husband is assistant pastor) turned out not to be. Thankfully, we are fairly good at rolling with the punches. We are at peace with our decision to walk away from the house. There was a huge lack of trust that developed after the inspection revealed some big misrepresentations in the real estate listing. We couldn’t get to a price that we all agreed with. And so we terminated our agreement.

We are truly grateful for the chance to step back and reflect. It allowed us to think, pray, ponder…and we realized the house was no longer worth it for us. God is good and we are fine. We look forward to finishing up the projects we have here at the country house and staying here as long as we can. When I see the kids wander our acreage, exploring and playing together, I know we will be just fine.

To close, a letter my husband wrote to the congregation this week:

Dear beloved friends:

If you have not heard me say it yet, our family is very grateful for the congregation’s agreement to sign the purchase agreement for us to get the yellow house through [church lending institution]. We are humbled and grateful. The extra work required of church staff, the prayers, and the special voters’ assembly touched us with your love and care in a very special way.

Unfortunately, I need to write you now to tell you that the deal is not going to go through. The inspections have been completed, some negotiations followed, and the result is that the agreement has been terminated.

Sometimes, the shortest path between two points is a zigzag, as the people of Israel discovered in their trek from Egypt to Sinai, and later to Canaan. The move to the yellow house seemed to be a clear path for us to live closer to the hub of church ministry, to have a better arrangement for family bedrooms and storage, and to reduce our monthly expenses. It turned out not to be the path we were to take, though I am confident that God will use the experience to help our family clarify our desires and goals for any future housing improvements or changes.

Thank you for your patience during this process. We never intended to draw the whole congregation into an experience of disappointment. We were excited about what we thought was going to happen, but God surely has better plans in mind.

You may be interested in learning more details of why we are not getting the home. Publicly, I will limit my comments to this: The inspections uncovered that the home would have required more work and expense than we initially expected and the listing initially indicated. We could not come to an agreement on a reduced price and we were not comfortable with the amount of work that would be needed.

Please continue to pray for our family’s wisdom in housing decisions; and please accept my personal apology for any confusion or disappointment this whole experience has caused.

In Christ and for the making of mighty messengers,

Pastor Jason


**UPDATE: Just kidding! We’re not moving.**


Oh, yes, it’s true. We’re moving to town!

Big changes. Fast and furious ones. While we are heartbroken over leaving our gorgeous acreage, this new house suits our family so much better – four bedrooms on the second floor (SILAS WILL HAVE A NURSERY and there aren’t big enough capital letters for the excitement over the sleep I plan on getting), two living spaces on the main floor (one for homeschool!), a basement for rec space/craft space/storage), a fenced yard for the six city chickens and small garden we will have, and the biggie – 30 second commute to church for Jason. That there’s the church in our backyard.

There’s already a gate in the fence. It was meant to be.


The kitchen as it looks right now. Lots of customizing opportunities here! And there’s that black-and-white coil top stove that seems to be a mandatory item for any home I move into…

Of course, it’s a mixed blessing. We are honest with ourselves re: the disappointment over leaving the country, but we are also very expectant of the great benefits of city living – more walkable, greatly reduced transportation costs, the ability to support local farms with our finances and time. We plan to stay active at the local farms we’ve come to love. Our chickens will be living with friends, with full visitation rights. We will go hiking and be outside as much as possible. We can walk to the grocery store! And the children will have access to the church’s property without even crossing the street, including the school’s playgrounds.

We are blessed by the new house. We won’t be moving until February (earliest), as there is much work to be done before we can move in. (We apparently love to buy houses with lots of disgusting carpet to rip out!). Then we’ll get this current house all ready to sell to the next owners – now that everything is brand new and just how I like it. I’m getting pretty good at designing a lovely new kitchen for some other lucky cook to enjoy!

Hot pink family bath! Our daughters want to paint it immediately, whereas our 6yo son thinks it's an awesome color. You just never know what they're gonna like. (For the record, it's getting painted FIRST THING.)

Hot pink family bath! Our daughters want to paint it immediately, whereas our 6yo son thinks it’s an awesome color. You just never know what they’re gonna like. (For the record, it’s getting painted FIRST THING.)

We would love your thoughts and prayers as we anticipate a whole lot of home improvement projects in the coming months, in addition to that not-so-small task of moving the worldly goods of seven people across town. (I’m seriously thinking of just bringing the beds, a week’s worth of clothes for every season, and perhaps a sofa, and all the kitchen stuff–and just donating the rest to charity. Wouldn’t that be so much easier?!) Not sure how it will all get done, but I have confidence that it will. Somehow.


Bulletproof coffee (originally seen here) is a fantastic concept that I’ve really enjoyed playing around with. I was really craving a good PSL with pure pumpkin, and this is what I came up with. This recipe is an S, for those following the plan.

**I have successfully reduced the butter to 1 tsp when I want a less rich treat.
**I use a hand (immersion) blender in wide mouth mason jar with a towel wrapped around it. (Time to knit a jar cozy!)
**If you are not following Trim Healthy Mama, or if you are at goal weight, try 1-2 TBSP pure maple syrup as your sweetener. So rich and delicious!
**To get the pumpkin maple flavor without the sugar, I’m going to add maple extract next time.
**Replace the whey protein with heavy cream or coconut milk for a different creamy flavor. I like the whey protein to jump start my day, and it’s surprisingly creamy.
** I’ve been making coffee with an Aeropress and liking it a lot. It works well with this method.

Happy coffee drinking!

(Linked up to Trim Healthy Tuesday @ Gwen’s Nest)

diy teacup jewelry organizer shelf and thrifted mirror

I’m having so much fun getting my girls settled into their very own girl room! My 8- and 10-year-old daughters have been sharing a bedroom with their brothers for over five years now (since little Asher was 10 months old, and he’ll be six at the end of this month!), and we have finally gotten enough work done to get them moved into their new girly haven. True to form, they selected PINK wall paint from the oops paint shelf at Lowes, so we diluted it with white to stretch it out (and tone it down a little) and it turned out perfect!

Lots of little details have gone into this room, but I haven’t bought a single thing for furnishing it. We shopped from our house to put their room together. Even this little DIY project I whipped up today was entirely free!

I have wanted to make the girls a jewelry organizer for some time. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest with great DIY jewelry storage ideas (like this, this, this, and this, for starters). I simply browsed for ideas and put together something that I knew I could do for free, using some antique teacups I already had. The teacups are beautiful and sentimental (my grandmother painted the middle cup and saucer in 1966!), but I never use them, and display space is very short in a small house. So attaching them to a shelf I already owned was the perfect inspiration.

diy teacup jewelry organizer shelf

SUPPLIES: You will need a shelf (I re-purposed one we used in Maya’s nursery), antique teacups and saucers (thrift stores are loaded) or pretty little bowls, super strong adhesive glue (like this; I used an indoor/outdoor glue from Ace Hardware that was approved for use on ceramics and wood), and white screw hooks (something like these; I had them leftover, but you can buy them at Joann). You will also need a drill with various bit sizes and appropriate screws for hanging your shelf on the wall.

First, measure your shelf and decide where you’d like the screw hooks to go. It’s easier to do the hooks first and the teacups second. I used ten small hooks on front and two medium hooks on each side. Make sure you place the hooks low enough that you can fit your fingers over them to put your jewelry on and off. Use a pencil/dry erase marker to mark your holes. Using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than your screw hooks, drill one hole. Make sure you can get the screw hook in firmly; it should be difficult to turn at the end. If needed, adjust your drill bit size. Drill all the holes. Screw the hooks in by hand.

Second, place the saucers and/or teacups on the top of the shelf and decide where you’d like them to be. Then follow your glue’s directions. If your glue requires a wait time before sticking two things together, you can do it the hard way, like I did: attempt to trace the saucer’s base pattern on the shelf, apply glue to both shelf and saucer separately, and hope they meet up five minutes later when they’re tacky. OR do it the easy way, like my husband suggested AFTER I WAS DONE: apply a generous amount of glue to the bottom of the saucer, then place it exactly where you want it on the shelf, then carefully lift up. Then wait five minutes and re-stick them together. After the saucers have set, glue the teacups.

That’s it! Wait for the glue to cure and then hang the shelf and enjoy. The teacups and saucers are perfect for earrings, brooches, watches, etc. and the hooks are great for necklaces and bracelets. We hung ours below a $2 mirror from the thrift store, and the girls are having a great time trying everything on and feeling fancy. Now I need to make one for me!


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