Homemaking | Cleaning Expectations

Today’s post is about expectations.  Expectations we have of ourselves and that others have of us.  But, I can’t go any further without nailing down the foundation as to why we keep a home.    This will resonate with some of you and others will be all “peace out” before I start building on the foundation. That’s okay.  Take what bits you want to take and leave the rest, but these three things directly impact the way I serve my family.

It’s easy, in our flesh, to not experience joy in our labors.  It’s easy for us to be lazy… it’s our natural bent, but it’s so important to know a few truths.  

  1. We serve a God of order- not chaos.  Our homes should be a place of peace and order.  No one enjoys a home that is full of junk and has clutter/messes over every square inch.  That doesn’t create calm or peace in our home.  Our homes won’t be pristine 24/7, but they should be places that have some sort of order in place.
  2. When we were children, we were messy and undisciplined.  We are to put off our childish ways and do mature things- namely be disciplined in our work. I tell my “oily team” often that “adults do adult things.”  
  3. We are to do all things without grumbling.  Our work might not always be a ‘walk in the park’ (I mean, who loves scrubbing toilets or folding 100 loads of laundry??), but we are to delight in the fact that our bodies and minds have the ability to do the work that is required of us.  Not every person on this planet has a body that can vacuum and scrub.  It is a privilege to have such a thing and we shouldn’t squander it! We are not required to move a mountain.  We are required to glorify God by being joyful in our work.

Now that our minds and hearts have been taken off of us, and placed on a firm foundation, let’s keep moving on.  

Expectations are huge.  We all have our own vision of what “clean” looks like.  Your vision doesn’t have to be my vision.  It’s important to have an ‘end game,’ so to speak, so you need to spend a moment thinking about what your ideal might be.  

For me, I want clear counter tops, dust-bunny free corners, cobweb free light fixtures, and a tidy house when I turn in for the night.  Maybe you simply want your home to be drop-by presentable and not spotless- that is totally fine!  Your expectations should match the desires of you (and your husband) and your ability to meet those expectations. I say "ability" because we all know that there are seasons that require us to be doing other things.  For example, newborn life. I tried to keep the house tidy with new babies, but it was really hard and somethings didn't happen like I would have liked.  Another example, maybe your hubby is in the military and he's gone.  Single momming it is super hard and your expectations should reflect that difficulty.  Maybe you've had a season of lots of sickness running through the home... laundry and dishes will inevitably pile up during those times.  Those aren't excuses to throw all caution to the wind, but just some instances where we need to keep things in perspective. 

So, your first bit of work is to write down your ideals.  Write down what you want your home to reflect and what you will need to do in order to accomplish that end game. Are there areas that really bother you?  Write them down so you can tackle them.  Is there a chore you consistently neglect... work to be more disciplined in that area (hello... mine is laundry. oy!).

Things I will cover in later posts:

Preparing your home- decluttering, etc.
Cleaning supplies I use
Daily tidying schedule
Weekly Cleaning Schedule
How I deep clean

Homemaking | New Year, Same Resolution

Some mornings I want my coffee in 30 seconds and other mornings I want it slow brewed... today was a slow-brew kind of day.  It feels more like a Monday than a Tuesday and I have quite a list of things to accomplish- laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, school room cleaning, etc.  It might seem like a silly list, but with four kids under foot... it can feel like climbing Mount Everest.

As I scroll social media, I see so many worthy resolutions being shared.  I have never been a "resolution" kind of person, not because goal setting isn't a good thing, but because I find that my "strivings" were set for me years ago and they don't really change.  

This year, like the past 13 years, I will focus on being joyful in my daily work and pointing myself and my family to Christ... to Truth.  Even in my own mind, I must keep things simple, because I am prone to wander and the end goal gets foggy.  Christ is the end goal.  

So, here I am... doing the same thing I've done for years and while it seems pointless, and possibly boring to some, it's so comforting to me.  It is a lofty enough goal for me to keep my heart focused on eternal things, and I will most likely spend my entire life surging forward toward that goal and, until my last day, will never quite reach it.  But, it will be oh, so sweet once I do. 

Happy New Year... 2018.

Recipe | Perfect Biscuits

One of my favorite parts of December is prepping the kitchen for the week of Christmas.  I want to make it special- something more than just gifts under the tree.  So, I turn on the Christmas music and tackle one dish per day in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Today, I worked on our biscuits for Christmas morning and I wanted to share the recipe with you.

These biscuits are the perfect biscuits to pair with gravy.  They separate beautifully, right down the middle, and they even have layers to them... just like you want when you are eating biscuits and gravy.  A couple of my kiddos don't love gravy, so they slather jelly on them and are quite satisfied.  

One thing I want to mention is how easy these are.  You only need a few ingredients and they come out of the oven a lovely golden brown.  I had to quickly toss them in the freezer (after cooling them) before I ate them all.  :) That's another thing I love about these biscuits... you can make them ahead and they keep very well in the freezer.  Now, on Christmas morning, all I have to do is whip up the gravy and pull out the biscuits.  

If you are wanting to try the recipe for yourself, you can find it HERE.  I hope you enjoy these last few days until Christmas.  

Recipe | Detox Broccoli Soup

We are going on 2 years of plant-based eating and loving it.  Here's the problem... the holidays aren't for plant-based eating.  They are for comfort food, am I right?  They are for Nene's Banana Pudding and homemade cinnamon rolls (see a pattern??? Sugary carbs, anyone?).  So, that means the aftermath of the holidays are for detoxing, at least in our case.  

I was searching for a few recipes that were new for us, tasty, and packed with real veggies.  I stumbled upon this Detox Broccoli Soup from Pinch of Yum... and it was YUM!  She slaps on some delish looking croutons, but we opted to just eat it plain and were not disappointed in the least.  

I made homemade chicken strips for the kiddos and they ate those alongside the soup.  They even asked for seconds, which I consider a big- WIN, in my book.  Not to mention, this soup is easy and quick to whip up.  If you have a family larger than four, I'd double the recipe so people can have more than one bowl.

Enjoy, and let me know if you try this recipe. For the recipe... visit Pinch of Yum and print this baby off so you can detox the holidays away with us! ;)

Essential Oils | Skin Salve

I shared my bedside oily products on Instagram the other day (@thelivingwellessentials) and got several messages about a recipe for my Skin Salve.  It has proven to be extremely supportive for our skin no matter if we have scrapes, blisters, or dry/itchy skin.

I originally made this when Mark was preparing for his two week hunting trip in the mountains.  He was rucking on the country roads with a weighted packframe on to prepare his feet and body for the conditions he was going to be hiking in when he hit the mountains.  After several trips, he developed severe blisters on his heels and I whipped up this salve to help support the healing process.  That is one of the many reasons I love oils... you can concoct things right at home, instead of having to get a script or go to the store.

I also struggle with dry, itchy hands in the winter time from all of the washing I do + the dry air.  It can be pretty uncomfortable, so I rub this on my hands twice each night to help support that skin.  It works wonders.

I hope you find this recipe to be helpful.

Essential Oil Skin Salve:

2 oz Coconut Oil (solid, not fractionated)
1 tsp Jojoba Oil (grab off of amazon)
20 drops Helichrysum
10 drops Frankincense
10 drops Lavender


Mix until whipped and place in a glass jar.
Store in a cool place & label for future use. :)

Style & Home | Day Date with thredUp

Mark had his work Christmas party last weekend and we planned an entire day date for the two of us.  Sipping coffee, no rushing around, slowly walking through Ikea, and looking at Christmas lights.  We spent years never getting away, just the two of us, so this was a much anticipated treat.  

If I am being honest, the last nine years have been spent filling my drawers with maternity clothes and "easy to nurse in" tops (which I have loved so much- no complaints here). It has only been recently that I have been able to branch out and wear different clothing pieces.  With that said, I don't have a big shopping budget- like at all, so I rely on second hand shops to grab high-quality, gently-used pieces.  

Earlier this year I found thredUp.  It is an online store that specializes in offering second-hand clothing at a fraction of the cost.  I have received several items from thredUp and have been extremely pleased with the quality.  Some of the items even have tags still on them.  

For our day date, I wanted to be casual, but still feel stylish.  It's cold here and I knew I would need a jacket pretty much the entire day, so I grabbed this sweet leather coat from thredUp (brand: Kut from the Kloth).  It is normally over $100, but I got it for more than half-off of the retail price.  Y'all, you cannot even tell this isn't brand new.  There's no pilling or wear marks on the leather.  It fits great and I loved having a cuter coat to wear on our date.  :) 

I reached out to thredUp and they have a deal for you if you want to grab some pieces for your Christmas wardrobe.  You can get H &M clothing for up to 50% off (discount is up to $50 off of the total price of your order).  Head here to see the items they have (there are some really cute dresses and coats available) and use the code HANDM50 to grab your 50% off!  Enjoy!!! 

Style & Home | Shop Small this Christmas

I love Target as much as the next person.  Seriously, I can't go in that store without coming out with an entire house worth of goodies.  With that said, when it comes to gifts and filling my home, I find that shopping small is always the best policy.  It's a simple way to help another family out and get gifts that are made with exceptional attention to detail.  I love handmade shops so, so much and I decided to carry on my tradition of sharing a few of my favorites from this past year to help inspire you with your Christmas shopping.

Mel and her father-in-law create amazing and beautiful pieces together in their spare time.  Mel is the mama to 3 little ones that she homeschools.  I love anything with natural elements and W+B's products are so creative and well made.  If you have a hostess or kitchen dweller in your inner circle, these products will be loved and cherished.

Ruby, and sweet teen, runs her etsy shop and offers all kinds of macrame goodness.  I have several of her macrame planters and they are THE. BEST.  I have bought other holders and they do not compare.  She also creates wall hangings and necklaces with her macrame skills. 

Krista is a maker-mama who spends hours perfecting her wooden art.  When I first saw her pieces, I instantly fell in love and wanted a piece in my own home.  Actually, I want a piece in every room in my home.  She has goods of all sizes and I love that they are a minimalist, yet beautiful focal point in a room.

It's true, I love the southwestern flare that animal prints can add to a home.  My home is bright and white and I was needing the perfect pieces to warm it up a bit.  When I commissioned Rachel Ottmann about creating a few pieces for me, I was blown away by the result.  Pictures do not do her prints justice- at all.  She is a mama who does photography on the side and you will love her cattle and horse prints. 

This roundup wouldn't be complete without some Vol25 art.  I have almost wallpapered my home in Jessica's art.  It is beautiful and creative and I love the splash of texture her prints add to our home.  I first saw the Vol25 art last fall and quickly put two hangings on my Christmas list with exclamation points following them because I wanted them so badly.  Luckily, they were under the tree and my obsession has only grown for this handmade shop.  Check her out and let me know what you grab from her shop!

My babes hang out in their jammies far too often.  Here's why... jammies are comfy and cozy.  When I saw Mallory's rompers, I knew Julia needed to have one for Christmas.  r/r has tons of soft, cozy jammies, dresses, leggings, and rompers for little of all ages.  Make sure you dress your kiddos in r/r style this winter. 

I hope you enjoyed this handmade round-up.  I know I'm pretty quiet on here, but if you like knowing what shops/products I'm loving, let me know and I will do more of these posts.  :)  If there's something else you are wanting me to feature in a post, comment and I will do my best to blog it for you. Happy Thanksgiving!!