AMERICANA DECOR + INSPIRATION

May 20, 2020
While officially Memorial Day is when we remember those men and women who died for our freedoms - truly a gift we could never repay - unofficially it marks the start of summer. It's also when I like to hang our patriotic decor outside. Our house turned 150 years old this year and I think she looks best with flags on. Followed very closely by Christmastime when she's covered in wreaths and lights.



This is our house ready for Memorial Day last year. We've made a few changes out front and I can't wait to see the flags up this year. A lot of the things I have below can be picked up at Walmart or your local hardware store but I always try to purchase made in the USA patriotic items when I can.

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SOURCES

Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk.

American Flag* | (Made in the USA) The one thing I think every house should put out is an American Flag. It doesn't have to be huge but I think it's the best place to start.

Boxwood Wreath With Flag | This is something I saw from House 1924. In 2018 she hung a boxwood wreath with a flag hanging down in the middle. Last year I only hung my eucalyptus wreath from Hearth & Hand but I'm excited to have the addition of the little flag this year.

Festive Cloth Napkins* | Step up your entertaining game this summer with cloth napkins. They're reusable, beautiful and easy to wash. I love these blue gingham ones and they're perfect for all the patriotic holidays and all the other get togethers in between.

Festive Letter Board | We have a few letter boards throughout our house and while I don't change them out as often as I thought I would, I love switching them up for special occasions. Our's currently says "Coronation 2020" so I'm definitely ready to switch to something else and I really like "This land was made for you and me" as pictured above. Some other fun and festive phrases you could use are: Liberty & Sparklers For All, Party Like It's 1776, and Baby You're a Firework.

Americana Bunting Scarf* | (Made in the USA) This is another idea from House 1924. (You can see the inspiration over on my Pinterest board.) The bunting scarf she used was found at antique store. I have the one linked here coming my way in the next week. I'm thinking it won't be as flow-y as her's (it's a different material) but I'm hoping I can recreate a similar look.

Star Cookie Cutters* | Another way to take your entertaining up a notch is with the food and beverages. There are so many things you can cut out in the shape of stars for a more festive look - cheese slices for a charcuterie board, apples for a fruit plate, pineapples in the sangria, and of course cookies. There are so many possibilities!

American Flags | You can pick these up in store at Walmart or your local hardware store for much cheaper but I love to place these all over the place. I put some in our planters out front and I love to stick them in vases all over the house. It's a simple touch that leaves a festive punch.

Ferns | This big plant just screams summer to me. They don't do all that great in direct sunlight and we get both for big chunks of time in the front and the back. I'd love to have some in planters out front and I love when people have them hanging from covered porches.

Americana Bunting | This is my favorite thing we do to our house. I absolutely love when the flags go up and we get so many compliments - this old colonial was just made to wear flags! I'm excited to add some around our deck out back this year too. I may have a few other things up my sleeve for back there because we're hoping to have a small cookout with some friends.

Will you be decorating for summer? If so, how do you do it? I have a lot more inspiration (and you can see where a lot of these ideas came from) on my Pinterest board Stars & Stipes so head over and follow along!

BACKYARD PLANS & PROGRESS

May 18, 2020
If you've been following along on Instagram you know we've done a lot of work in our backyard. We had these plans before quarantine hit but because of all the extra time at home we've been able to do a lot more in a shorter amount of time. It's already looking so great and it feels like a completely different yard. While we've accomplished so much we still have a long way to go and I'm just ready for it all to be complete so we can relax and enjoy the space on the weekends.

THE BEFORE

It was a hot mess. When we moved in there was river rock all along the side (as well as out front, but I'll save that for another day) and in front of the deck was a bed of pebble rocks. It was all unusable space and it turned into a weed garden. Our deck wasn't in the greatest shape either. 



I love that Tucker is mowing the grass in this photo.😊

We've already made lots of progress since this photo was taken. We now have a beautiful patio and Jeremy has resurfaced most of our deck. We've started painting it and have done a whole lot of other stuff I'll share soon but for now I want to share the inspiration board I pulled together for the space.



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SOURCES

Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk.

Outdoor Throw Pillows* | I think I've decided to purchase these waterproof outdoor pillow inserts* that way I can easily and cheaply switch out the covers when I want. I'm pretty sure these navy gingham covers are what I'm going with first. They're super affordable and come in a set of two. Our furniture has waterproof covers so I'm not worried about them getting wet. 

Twinkle Lights* | We purchased our bistro patio lights from Costco but I found these on Amazon that look the same. Twinkle lights make everything magical. I love the ambiance outside when we have these on and it brightens up the space enough we can easily see each others faces when it's dark and its light enough we could play a card game out there. I love them!

Patio Furniture Set | This is hands down the best deal I could find out there. I never realized how expensive patio furniture was. Walmart carried a similar patio set last year. The only difference is this years model has waterproof covers and the chairs swivel. They are so comfortable and I love them so much. They're currently out of stock (unless you can find them at your local store) so I highly recommend signing up for the restock alert.

Insect Repellant* | This stuff is so good. It smells delicious and it is not harmful for your skin. I love that I have no worries about putting it on my boys' bodies. If you have never done so, Google the dangers of ingredients found in the most popular bug repellants. You will be appalled. I did a little hack to our repellant so I could use it in a spray bottle. I will share that here soon in case y'all want to do the same.

Floral Outdoor Rug | I searched a long time for an outdoor rug. I new I wanted something patterned and preferably blue. I also knew I didn't want to spend a ton of money. I almost purchased this rug from Walmart because the price was so good but I really had my heart set on some shade of blue.

Cordless Diffuser | This diffuser is currently sold out. It was sold out when I wanted to purchase it but I signed up for a restock alert (3 times) and finally got my hands on one when it came back. Sign up for the alerts and act fast when you get an alert or I promise you, you will miss it. I've brought a plug in diffuser out before and that works fine but at our last get together my nephew tripped on the cord and the diffuser went tumbling so I'm super excited to have this cordless one.

Citronella Essential Oil* | This oil smells good and honestly before I signed up with Young Living 2.5 years ago I didn't even know citronella was a natural element.🙈 Last year I would bring a little fan outside and attach a citronella soaked cotton ball to it to keep the bugs away. It worked great so if you don't happen to get your hands on the diffuser above, you still have a natural, non-toxic solution.

Planters* | This planter is only available for in-store pickup but it's so cute and comes in a few different sizes. I planted pink double geraniums and it adds the perfect pop of color on the patio.

Whiskey Barrel Planters* | These aren't the ones we have but I actually like them better! We picked ours up at either Menards or Lowes a few years ago (I can't remember🙈) but they carry them every year. Jeremy used these planters to secure our poles for our twinkle lights and then planted pink and white petunias around the posts. They look so great! 

Peony Bushes | Jeremy planted four peony bushes for me this year. Two white and two pale pink. My wedding bouquet was made of white peonies so I'm going to love the sweet reminder every May. I couldn't find the exact ones we got but ours were only $14 and a good size (I'm going to have eight blooms this first year) so I definitely recommend checking out your local home improvement store or nursery. 

BONUS*

Inflatable Rainbow Sprinkler* | My sister Courtney ordered this for the boys and it is so fun! There are lots of these out there and they are super expensive but this one is under $40! I do recommend weighting down the clouds with water or sand (there is an opening on the bottoms) to help it stand up. Otherwise, once the water is turned on it weighs it down and it falls over.

I am so excited (have I said that already?😉) and just really thankful for this beautiful space. I feel like such an adult being excited about a new patio and landscaping, but here we are. Hopefully I'll be back soon to share the after photos with y'all!

HOMEMAKING | HOW I WASH & PREP OUR PRODUCE FOR THE WEEK

May 13, 2020
One thing I do that helps our weeks run smoother is I wash and prep our produce. Not only does this clean the produce and make it safe for my family to consume but it is so much easier to prepare a meal or snack when I have healthy options readily available. We also throw out way less produce when I take the time to do this. Our produce seems to have a longer shelf life and because it's more convenient we are more likely to grab it than if we had to take the time to wash and cut it.

Fresh produce (even organic) is FILTHY. You may not think so but it needs a serious wash. There's no telling how many hands have touched it or who has breathed, sneezed, and coughed on it. It's most likely been sprayed for preservation on the farms and in the warehouses. It gets loaded up on a dirty truck and taken to wherever you purchase it. See what I'm saying? It's dirty. And needs a bath.

The EWG has a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that are known to be the worst offenders. They call this list the "Dirty Dozen". I don't know about y'all but our house regularly stocks the majority of these. Yikes.

DIRTY DOZEN

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes 

Strawberries seem to top the EWG's list year after year and they found that one third of all conventional (non-organic) strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides. That is crazy to me and I definitely don't want my family to consume those toxins.

That's where my Fruit and Veggie Soak comes in. It's made from naturally derived ingredients, is safe for my family, and cleans our produce. I don't want to have to worry about what contaminates are harming my sweet boys when I think I'm giving them a healthy snack.

BENEFITS OF YL'S FRUIT & VEGGIES SOAK

  • Made from plant based ingredients
  • Cleanses produce back to the way nature intended them to be
  • Naturally removes residue safely
  • Does not effect the taste of produce after soaking

I typically wash my produce all at one time in our large sink. You can also use a bowl or whatever else you have on hand. It's recommended to use 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) for every gallon of water. (I just fill one to two capfuls when I'm filling up my sink.) Completely cover produce and soak for 1–2 minutes. Rinse with clean water.



You do not have to become a member with Young Living to purchase this fruit and veggie soak but you will get a better price if you're a member. You do not have to sell Young Living if you choose to become a member. If you have any interest at all in becoming a member please reach out to me and I can help you. You can also sign yourself up here if you're ready.

Whether you use Young Living's produce cleaner or you make your own, I really hope this helped you see the importance of doing it. We are the gatekeepers to our homes and this is one small way we can love, serve, and protect ourselves and our families.

ESSENTIAL OIL TOOL KIT

May 5, 2020
I signed up with Young Living over two years ago and while the company has SO much more to offer than essential oils (shampoos, lotions, supplements, etc.) that is generally what draws people in first. At least that was the case for me. Once I received my Premium Starter Kit there were so many fun DIYs I had come across and wanted to try. I was honestly a bit overwhelmed with where to start so I thought it would be helpful if I shared my favorite items to support using essential oils in your home.



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Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk.

Diffuser + Humidifier* // This is my all time favorite diffuser. I have one in each of our bedrooms. It's the perfect diffuser for bedrooms because it doubles as a humidifier, has a large water tank that will last you all night, has multiple color variations (can be used as a nightlight if necessary), and is very affordable.

Glass Amber Bottle Set* // You will want a glass bottle for your Thieves cleaner and it's only a matter of time before you want to create your own roller. I love this set because it has spray bottles in different sizes, bottles for serums, and roller bottles. You'll be set for all the DIYs. If you want to purchase the items separately, I've ordered these spray bottles* for my Thieves cleaner and these roller bottles. I have this set of rainbow roller bottles arriving on Monday and I also have my eyes on this set of matte black ones.

Fractionated Coconut Oil* // This is probably my carrier oil of choice. I use it to top off the majority of my rollers. Make sure you get fractionated (that means its in liquid format incase you're like me and don't know that already😂) so you can use for your roller bottles.

Jojoba Oil* // This is a carrier oil that you're going to want for all those beauty DIYs. (I use it in my DIY glow serum.) Jojoba oil is moisturizing, it's antibacterial, and it's an antioxidant - among other great benefits. Just make sure you purchase one that is cold pressed and unrefined.

Wool Dryer Balls* // This was a super quick and easy way to rid our house of some of the toxins we were being exposed to. A quick Google search will show you the dangers of using dryer sheets and while there may be a slight learning curve to using dryer balls (roll up a wad of aluminum foil and throw it in the dryer to reduce static) the pros to using these natural fabric softeners outweigh the cons tenfold, in my opinion.

BONUS*

Roller Bottle Case // How adorable is this? I love that Rifle Paper Co. fabric. I would love to have this carrier for travel as well as for every day. It'd be perfect to throw in the diaper bag. Adding this to my wish list for sure!

Label Maker* // I have loved this label maker for labeling my roller bottles, dry shampoo, leave in conditioner, you name it. The one I linked does come with black labels too, fyi.