Kut From The Kloth– Boylen Flap Pocket Button Down Shirt
First, I just love this plaid top. It’s not flannel, it’s a light enough weight I would wear it on a warm day. One of the great details is the pearlized snaps. It’s more fitted than a lot of my other clothes, which I’m starting to feel more comfortable in. Versatility means it can be worn with the sleeves rolled up or down.
PINK CLOVER– Stephany Elbow Patch Detail Knit Top
Oddly enough, I had been hoping to get something with elbow patches. I have velvet tunic with them and I just love that detail. This shirt is quite soft. It’s perfect for an autumn picnic or football game, or more realistically, schlepping kids to and from activities and lessons in the rain.
Edyson– Hampton Skinny Corduroy
The pants I’m wearing in all these photos are an incredibly soft corduroy. I was pleasantly surprised that they were a perfect fit, maybe even a tad in the large side, but I’m too old for anything to be uncomfortably tight. I never would have chosen a corduroy for myself, so I’m pleased to branch out and love these now!
MIX BY 41 HAWTHORN– Corinna Brushed Dolman Knit Top
The burgundy stripes in this dolman top are the perfect color for autumn. Additionally, this top goes with many items in my closet already, but it is my first dolman sleeved top. The fabric is delightfully comfortable. This shirt could easily be worn out to dinner or running errands.
MIX BY 41 HAWTHORN– Barona Brushed Knit Open Cardigan
This charcoal cardigan goes with practically everything in my closet. It’s really soft and the perfect length. The light weight fabric will make it a go to choice for layering when I don’t need to be too warm.
This is my third Fix, and honestly I wasn’t going to order again after my second. Even though I love the clothes, I have a really hard time with the price point.
Normally I shop at second hand stores or discount retailers, so there is a lot of sticker shock involved with Stitch fix. However, Stitch Fix sent me an email a while ago letting me know that I had a referral award that was about to expire. That, combined with the discount you receive when you keep all five items, essentially gave me two of these pieces for free.
I know you’ve seen the October Bucket Lists floating around Pinterest, rife with bonfires and bobbing for apples, corn mazes and hayrides. Of course you want to do those traditional fall activities!
This post isn’t about that though.
We have an amazing calendar for celebrating every ordinary day that we have had so much fun with this year, and I just had to share it with you! Our one is similar to these.
I thought it would be interesting, but I didn’t realize the kids would just be obsessed with knowing what “day” it is all the time. It’s been a huge hit!
For this year, here are some ideas you can do in October to throw some easy celebratory fun into your life:
October 3-Butterfly and Hummingbird Day. If you’re local to the Quad Cities, both the Family Museum and the Quad City Botanical Gardens have butterfly areas you can check out on the third.
October 4- Taco Day. Seriously. Do you need directions for this one?
October 5-World Smile Day. Besides just smiling at all the people you meet today, and pretending you’re happy, you could take it one step further and take balloons to a retirement center, or a puppy to a playground, or buy some gift cards at the grocery store and then hand them to the people in line behind you.
October 8- World Octopus Day. If you can’t get your hands on a live octopus, you could go to a Chinese buffet and admire the tiny edible ones. Watch some incredible sea videos. Did you know that octopus suction cups on their tentacles can stick to everything except octopus skin? Isn’t God incredible to have thought of even not letting the octopus get tangled up and stuck on itself?
October 12–Old Farmer’s Day. I have been getting a lot of mileage out of this one by telling my Handsome Husband this day is all for him.
October 13–International Skeptics Day. I know you don’t believe me, but it really is.
October 15–I Love Lucy Day. Great day for binge watching one of the most intelligent ground breakers in television.
October 17–Wear Something Gaudy Day. Make it mandatory for the entire office. They’ll love you.
October 18–Chocolate Cupcake Day—
This is my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe. It’s from Taste of Home. I’ve been loyal to this recipe since before I had kids. Also. It has coffee.
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs (we sell farm fresh eggs , Hint Hint)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
1-1/3 cups sour cream
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
6 tablespoons brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-1/2 to 5-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and sour cream, beating well after each addition.
Pour into greased and floured lined cupcake tins. Bake 15-20ish minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate, coffee and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Cut each cupcake in half horizontally. Spread between layers and over top of fairy cakes. Cover and refrigerate until serving
If you’re not up for making your own chocolate cupcakes from scratch, make your child do it. Failing that, buy a mix- I recommend Ghiradelli.
(Also, America? Can we please start calling these fairy cakes?)
October 20 —International Sloth Day--I have a trip to pet sloths in Costa Rica on my lifetime bucket list, but I know I won’t be able to go this month, unfortunately. I vote we not adult that day and be sloths instead. It’s mandatory.
October 24–Bologna Day–How easy will it be to have fun with this? Make a bologna sandwich. Learn the Oscar Meyer song. Use bologna to demonstrate the parts of a cell.
October 26–Howl at the Moon Day–the full moon is the 24th, so it will still be nice and gorgeous by then.
October 29 —National Cat Day— I have some sweet kitties you can pet, but the kittens and cats at the Humane Societies and pet stores always need some love. Make it a priority to go and snuggle a cat today!
Which idea are you actually going to write in your planner and make happen?
That moment when you’re in your room reading, and you start smelling bacon cooking, and wonder why in the heck you smell bacon, (not that you’re complaining ), and suddenly you remember you put bacon in the oven, and you can now eat some perfect crispy deliciousness, is a welcome moment indeed!
Cooking perfect bacon could not be easier. I use my Pampered Chef stoneware and since I’ve had it for ages, is well seasoned and the residue scrapes right off. You could also use a regular baking pan covered in foil for easy cleanup.
I bake mine at 350 for about 15 minutes but you go right ahead and bake yours crispier if you’re crazy like that.
I do an entire pound at once, because I’m Keto and 6 kids live here.
Full disclosure: I straightened that towel. I also browned two pounds of ground beef because I was going to make spaghetti for lunch, but then I needed a nap. My husband hung that duct tape on that nail above my oven weeks ago. I haven’t gotten around to finding a sign or something for that spot.
What do you have hanging above your oven? How do you eat your bacon?
I know how this noisy world can get in the way of me hearing God’s still, small voice. So, in the past few years, I’ve been intentional about quieting the outer noise in my life.
My biggest challenge is silencing the inner chatter.
I know the value of resting in Jesus, but it’s like my brain won’t stop moving in fifteen different directions. Corralling my thoughts is like herding a nursery full of fork-toting toddlers who just learned how to walk and are weeble-wobbling their way toward electrical outlets on opposite sides of the room.
Take, for instance, one of the places where I go to escape the noise: my bathtub. I’ll toss a bath bomb in the water and sink into the warmth. There’s no TV. No iPhone. Yet even here, my mind is running on high gear. I often receive some of my best writing inspiration in the bathtub, which is why my friend Cheri gave me a set of child’s bathtub crayons. (Yes, part of my latest book,
was written on the walls of my tub.) So while it might look like I am resting, I’m actually still working.
God is reminding me that my brain needs rest as much as my body does. I loosen my mind by simply dwelling with him: “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).
If I have a lot of noise around me—even in the form of the silent iPhone scroll—I can’t hear God.
My friend Lindsay Sterchi, mom of twin toddlers, learned the hard way what happens when she doesn’t get the rest she needs. She told me, “Without rest, I’m not very fun to be around— just ask my kids and husband. I get irritable way too quickly. I lose perspective on the bigger picture of life, and the little things seem bigger than they really are. I get in this fog where I’m going through the motions of life but not really living intentionally.”
The answer for her: finding rest in small pockets of time each day. “Rest means that when the kids nap, or after they’ve gone to bed, I’m not going to zone out on TV or scroll through social media, which might seem restful but ends up being draining.” Instead, she does something that feels life-giving—without feeling guilty. Her escapes: reading a book, journaling, or simply being still, alone with God and her thoughts.
Maybe your escape is Netflix, and if that’s the case, you do you. But make sure it gives you life instead of draining your energy.
No matter what: make rest a priority. It’s vital.
Resting in God serves two purposes: First, rest allows you to intentionally connect with God. God wants to meet with you, not simply to give you the day’s marching orders. He wants to be with you because he likes you.
Second, rest calms the noise around you so you can hear God’s clear direction.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate more rest into your life.
Instead of scrolling, go strolling. Everybody has time for rest. How can I be so sure? Because that’s the time we use to check social media. Put down your iPhone for the fifteen minutes you would’ve spent on Instagram and take a walk instead.
Don’t let your “yes” encroach on your rest. If you say yes to something new, evaluate everything else on your list to see what might have to go. Refuse to put rest on the altar of sacrifice.
Let your work assignments flow from soul realignments. If “everybody is looking for us,” our souls and agendas need realignment so we can hear clear directions from God.
Protect the freed-up time you have already created. God prunes all of us, but achievers try to immediately fill those pruned spaces. Protect the space that God created for you. Downtime is okay; in fact, it will make you more productive in the work you were designed to do.
Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.
Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.
This post contains affiliate links 🙂
Farm Fresh Jessica here —>I’m so excited to be a part of a huge giveaway to celebrate the release of It’s All Under Control! Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies of the book in celebration of its release! Enter below to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers. Email subscribers can click here to enter. Let me know if you win!
Six pregnancies. Nursing for at least a dozen years. Middle age. Life.
It can all play havoc on your body and your health.
I’ve experimented with several different eating styles and exercise programs over the years. From Weight Watchers to Yoli to juicing to the Whole 30, I’ve done them all. I’ve gotten back into pre-pregnancy pants sizes every time. Then last year, my beloved mother-in-law suddenly died. Between that shock and loss and grief, combined with cleaning out and selling her house, depression, a rocky relationship, and homeschooling my sixlets and just life in general, I put on more stress weight than I was comfortable with.
Instagram led me to the Keto lifestyle and I read the book, aptly names Keto. Unless you’re super interested in the science, don’t bother. I was motivated to just get started however, and I did.
The first month I was super dedicated to 20 carbs a day. I was definitely in ketosis, not hungry, feeling good. Then “vacation” (quotes intentional) happened and some home disasters and it’s been hard to be strict again. I happened to be wearing the same outfit yesterday as the day I took my starting pictures, and I was curious if there’s been any change.
I’m pleased that there has been and am motivated to buckle down again.
Keto has been easier to stick to than other plans because it’s not a lot of work. I’m not hungry or constantly thinking about food. Technically, I can eat anything I want as long as I keep it under 20 carbs a day and try to have high fat. I find I HAVE to drink a good amount of water to feel good, which is good for me. I stick to real food and Stevia. I don’t bake much now that I’m Keto, but I do feast my eyes on instagram accounts who do! 😁
I downloaded an app called Carb Manager that really helps me, because of COURSE I think I’m eating fewer carbs than I really am. If I enter my food right after I eat it, I can really tell where I am and what I should eat next. I stay on plan much better when I do that.
It’s not complicated. Juicing took hours and was really expensive. Yoli was confusing (protein day? not protein day? how much on each day?! I don’t even know!) and was really expensive. The weight watching was ridiculous with their promotion of low fat everything and points and who has time to go to meetings anyway? (Disclaimer: that was 9 years ago; they’ve probably updated to more real food.) The Whole 30 was too stringent and rule oriented for my brain and personality.
Lots of people are doing Keto these days and it’s easy to find information and recipes on Pinterest or wherever. A couple of my favorite resources are Bacon and Butter and the cookbooks by Maria Emmerich.
I don’t have a specific goal, other than to feel good and confident, and be able to zip my regular pants.
I start getting it in a couple weeks. I am so excited I told my tattoo artist that I wasn’t going to be able to hold still. He didn’t think that would be such a good idea. I put it in my planner in all caps and double exclamation points!!
This is a prototype he drew on me with Sharpies. The real thing will not be as red and the insects will be bigger.
Aviana is a ladybug because she’s bright unique. She’s hard working and helpful. She’s beautiful and rare, and poems will be written about her.
Brielle is a dragonfly because she rarely is still, she’s bold and bright, she gets attention wherever she goes. She flits from thing to thing and makes things happen. I’m sure they’ll pattern a better helicopter or some other new invention based on her design.
Cadrian is a grasshopper because he is constantly on the go. He’s always outside. He moves fast and leaps and bounds into his life with all his energy-which is considerable.
Denton is a honeybee because he’s a hard worker, continually moving, intense, and creates beauty. He is as sweet and snuggly as can be, but if he feels he’s been wronged by you, he’ll kill himself to sting you.
Elivette is an orchid praying mantis because I nearly died giving birth to her. My midwives saw a praying mantis in the parking lot of the hospital once they knew I was going to recover and sent me selfies with it, telling me they recognized it as a sign all of the prayers of the hundreds of people praying for me were answered and to remember God answers prayer. On Elivette’s first birthday, I saw a praying mantis outside my kitchen window (the ONLY time I’ve ever seen one here on the farm) and knew God was reminding me how much my family needs me and how faithful He is, and to always pray. Because Elivette is my precious pink pixie, it couldn’t be an ordinary praying mantis to represent her though!
And Finnella is my firefly. She brings light to all of us. She’s the gift we didn’t know we needed. She lights up our home more than we thought possible.
All eight of us were born in June, July and August, so that is why the bugs are positioned on the rose, larkspur and gladiolus. Also, the gladiolus happens to be one of my favorite flowers and reminds me of my paternal grandma’s country garden. I had Latin Lady roses in my wedding bouquet. And larkspurs are purple, which is my favorite color.
What are your tattoos? If you don’t have any, would you get one?
We got our The Good and The Beautiful curricula yesterday and started the handwriting portion today. I’m doing their language arts with my younger three this summer and into the year. Finnella is only three and this is totally NOT necessary; she just doesn’t want to be left out of anything and insists on doing whatever everyone else is doing.
I’ve not used a handwriting curriculum before, but I think sometimes it’s necessary. Younger son decided he wanted to keep writing until he got tired…or more likely he wanted to beat his brother by getting a few lessons ahead of him. Nevertheless I appreciated the simplicity of the lessons. Practice one perfect letter, instead of doing it over and over. My boys need extra help slowing down and paying attention, and with fine motor skills, so I think this will be a good fit for us.
My older girls are going to be in Challenge B and A this fall and that is plenty for them to focus on. They are working on math (and music) this summer just to keep them in the habit of doing something schoolish every day. Right now I’m listening to the cello and in the pauses, the ukulele. My oldest son will be starting Essentials of the English Language in our Classical Conversations community for the first time (it’s a three year wonderfully repetitive program).
The boys continue with their Barton Method Tutoring twice weekly throughout the summer. We do our Together Time Books (when I read aloud to all of the kids, from nonfiction and fictional selections) semi-regularly.
Obviously, we school all year round, but not every day. We are casual about it, while at the same time we are gently structured. Life doesn’t take an artificial summer break, so we don’t either. We find plenty of time for lazing in the hammock or going swimming, camping and all the summer fun.
Waking up to a toddler loudly whinging because it’s not dark anymore and her hot cocoa is too hot and she wants to get dressed but not that one while simultaneously needing to pee and pour my first cuppa and take the dog out. Overwhelm.
Trying to read your Bible with people climbing in or near you and teasing the dog and each other and even knowing that God is close to those with young it feels like failing. Overwhelm
Going through a huge gift of clothes with the boys to decide what we will keep and what we will bless to others while the little girls are simultaneously touching everything and fighting about the fact F wants the same kind of cereal as E. Overwhelm.
Keeping this person on track of loading the dishwasher while simultaneously administering directions to five other people who keep popping into the frame like whack-a-mole. Overwhelm.
Giving Father’s Day presents while simultaneously trying to keep someone from opening the other one and noticing the spilled coffee and the random bits scattered around. Overwhelm.
Cleaning up breakfast while simultaneously assigning this person to make sure that person is clean and that person has shoes and answering questions. Overwhelm.
Thrift shopping for summer dresses for the teen while keeping the toddler from unloading shelves and making a towering stack of chairs to climb up and touch the huge inflatable hanging from the ceiling and repeatedly saying no to the millions and millions of requests from the kindergartener. Overwhelm.
Trying to make potato packets for the grill while trying to remember to find or buy more aluminum foil and delegating sunscreen and help tying shoes and thousands more “needs”. Overwhelm.
Attempting to explain your sense of scarcity and inadequacy to your partner and he responds with more and louder negativity basically berating the kids for “never doing anything!” which isn’t at all what you’re saying and now you feel like you need to rise to their defense and you want to point out all the responsibilities and things you keep track of that he doesn’t help with at all but you don’t and it’s just pointless. Overwhelm.
Wanting to have a Super Soaker fight with your kids and as you change into your swimsuit one kid is crying about something that is huge to him and two other kids follow you into your closet dripping wet and impatiently hurrying you along and the water fight isn’t fun at all because one kid keeps squirting people in the face and they cry and there are clothes and towels and toys all over the yard and it just is one more thing you’ll have to clean up or make them clean up. Overwhelm.
Feeling guilty because you had an overnight trip to Galena with your bestie and were gone all day three days ago and you had an overnight birthday party with your daughter and her three besties and your three besties and were gone all day yesterday, and even with these much needed respites, you still can’t manage this life you really want to love. Overwhelm.
I don’t know how to make it easier-but there are a few things I try.
Knowing God is for me and equipping me.
Laughter every day.
Lots of kisses and rough housing, especially when I don’t feel like it.
Looking at breathtaking photos on Pinterest or Instagram.