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My Motherhood Story + Restore Your Home Challenge

I’ll never forget the memory my husband shared with me as a snippet of the birth of our first son. That is where my motherhood story truly begins. He said, “Something in you changed in that moment, you became a mom.” He was referring to what he physically witnessed in me just moments before our first baby was born. Him saying that to me is one of my most cherished memories. That experience did change me, drastically. As many other mothers will attest, I had no idea a love so big existed.

At 20 years old, I wasn’t ready for a lot of the information I would absorb during my first pregnancy. At 21 years old, ready or not I was giving birth. I would also be plummeting into my first year of caring for a newborn baby. No, this isn’t a birth story, you can find those here, if you’re interested.

However, my story doesn’t start at that moment. It starts long before the transformational moment that baby was placed in my arms…

Before I Became a Mama

Few people know the full story behind my unconventional ways, and I’ll keep it sweet and short for you here. I grew up eating the typical red-capped whole milk from the grocery store. We ate fish sticks, and the same cereal you probably did. (Not in that order, or all together, yuck haha). I didn’t grow up wealthy, and we ate what we had without giving it much thought. I was not taught to cook, and not raised to question ingredients in things, etc. However, we grew up relatively healthy and active. I spent a LOT of time outside growing up and without any serious medical issues.

Fast-forward to entering into adulthood, and my physical activity came almost to a screeching halt. I wasn’t playing sports anymore, or riding horses, and my coupon clipping supported diet was absolute trash. Not knowing how to cook, I found myself married at 19 and really struggling mentally. I was quickly given a diagnosis and multiple prescriptions to counter the symptoms I was experiencing. It wouldn’t be until 2-3 years after that diagnosis that I would realize that I was grossly mis-diagnosed. A bandaid was placed on me with zero consideration for my nutrition or lifestyle.

A few months after starting those meds, I wanted to get off of them. I was offered no help when I shared that with the doctor’s office that had prescribed them. No one would help me. My general practitioner told me, “You’re already on the lowest dose. I don’t know how to help you wean off of these.”

This was the pivotal moment in my life when things started to shift. When I started seeing benefits from using things like essential oils and switching to raw dairy, the questioning of everything else began.

My First Pregnancy

My first pregnancy was…difficult. Not because I was high-risk or because I have any medical conditions that made it so, but because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I was worried and stressed at every turn:
What if I move too quickly, or pick something up that’s too heavy?
How am I going to handle the pain of childbirth? I have such a low pain tolerance and I have no idea what to expect.
Why do I need to get a flu shot, and can that effect my baby?

It wasn’t until I found a Bradley Method instructor and doula at 7 months pregnant that I was at peace with the thought of giving birth. I was terrified before meeting her and taking those classes. Despite having just moved 8 hours north of almost everyone we knew and loved, we ended up doubling down and taking a 12-week childbirth education class in just 6 short weeks. We finished the course just in time to wait for me to go into labor. If you’d like to you can read my first birth story here.

I am a firm believer that the more education you can provide yourself with before your first pregnancy, the less stress and overwhelm you’ll experience during that pregnancy. That will also naturally effect your birth experience, and first year of life with your new baby. People in our culture don’t pass down wisdom like they once did (or welcome it when it’s offered), and our motherhood journeys suffer for it.

My Second, Third, and Fourth Pregnancies

Sadly, we experienced an early miscarriage with our second pregnancy. This taught me it’s own set of lessons, but some of those weren’t understood until years later……

My third pregnancy with our second son had it’s own set of difficulty and stress, especially following a miscarriage. The biggest difference in this in contrast to my first was the care team we chose for this baby. I knew after the hospital birth with our first that I would seek an out of hospital birth next time. This time, we hired a certified professional midwife for my prenatal, birth, and postpartum care. We had a very quick home birth with a skilled team, you can read that birth story here.

My fourth pregnancy was much easier on my body than my previous ones. We had our second home birth with him as well.

I want to clarify something that I learned through my years as a birth photographer and doula. (I did this from the time my first baby was 2 years old until he was about 6.) Just because I have had unmedicated hospital births, home births, and choose differently than you might, doesn’t make me right and you wrong.

Do I think you should consider all of your options fully, including home birth with a skilled and professional team of midwives? Whole heartedly, yes. Do I think you’re wrong if you choose differently than I did? Absolutely not. However, you can’t make a fully educated decision without fully understanding what your options are. Just like there are some phenomenal obstetricians, there are just as many skilled midwives helping women deliver babies safely at home. You may be surprised to learn that many professional midwives learn the exact same skillset as OBs. The biggest difference being that they don’t learn to perform surgery. The reality is if you don’t know what your options are, you don’t have any.

Learning Through Motherhood

I share so much about my pregnancies because without them, I wouldn’t have the knowledge or skills to share my story with clarity. The compelling I’ve always felt to share my own birth stories openly have undoubtedly had a positive impact on many other’s pregnancies and birth experiences.

It’s not just through pregnancy and childbirth that I’ve learned, though. When I was 9 months postpartum with my first son, I did my first Whole30. I had no clue what I was doing in the kitchen as a young stay at home mama with a small family to feed. In 2014, you couldn’t buy many things that were compliant for Whole30 in the store. I had to learn quickly how to make things from scratch if I wanted to eat and stay on track. Homemade mayo, ranch, and ketchup are skills still pressed on my memory now.

Sometime after that, I learned about some real food and natural living meetings local to me. The woman I was picking up my fresh, raw Jersey milk from led a local Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter. They held monthly nutrient-dense potlucks and meetings that covered a different topic each time. There may have been mostly older crowds that showed up for this, but I learned priceless valuable information that I couldn’t have learned elsewhere.

Motherhood is a Marathon

There is so very much to learn when we enter into motherhood. I believe we go through waves of absorbing massive amounts of information, to learning how to apply those, and even getting overwhelmed when it all becomes too much. This is all part of learning. Mistakes will be made. Without mistakes, how can we really learn anything?Motherhood is a marathon, which gives us the grace of space to learn and make small adjustments overtime.

If I would have switched my lifestyle from what it was for the first 20 years of my life to what it is now overnight, I would have crumbled under the pressure. I started making sourdough bread less than 3 years ago and I just the other day learned something new about using my starter (thank you to my friend Liz from Homegrown Education, you’re a literal culture saver, pun-intended).

Let this be an encouragement to you now. Life is a journey of living and learning and making small adjustments for the sake of serving your loved ones. It will take change, sacrifice, and hard work sometimes. But, when you make the adjustments over time at a pace that serves you and your family, you make space to flourish. You make space to cultivate a more holistic, healthy, and natural home.

Restore Your Home

Readiness wasn’t even on my mind when I began this lifelong journey of restoring my own home. I’m still doing it now, and I hope to never stop. There is always more to learn, but I hope that you’ll at least start somewhere. If you need a place to start, my Restore Your Home Challenge is a fantastic option. I created this challenge and resource with the hopes that it will get you started on your own journey. Or, perhaps encourage you to keep going if you’ve been at it for a while.

Over the course of this next year, I will be providing a different free printable PDF checklist that focuses on a different part of your home.

  • January | Kitchen
  • February | Medicine Cabinet
  • March | Cleaning Products
  • April | Furniture, Closet, + Linens
  • May | Catchup + Review
  • June | Air Quality
  • July | Technology
  • August | Water
  • September | Garden + Yard
  • October | Bath, Body, + Haircare
  • November | Catchup + Review
  • December | End of Year Wrap Up

This is for you to have an organized place to dig into all of the nooks and crannies of your home. Customize this challenge how you want to restore your own home. This is going to look different for everyone, don’t play the comparison game and just start.

If you consider yourself a homemaker at all, I invite you to join me alongside numerous other homemakers and start restoring your home, today.

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Weston A. Price Foundation Overview

Every time I have a conversation with someone about nutrition, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is sure to come out of my mouth. I am not sure if anyone has every answered, “Yes,” when I ask if they have ever heard of the WAPF. Why does this so frequently come out of my mouth? Evidently, it’s been an invaluable resource I’ve grown to rely on when it comes to feeding myself and my family well. It’s past time I provide you with a Weston A. Price Foundation Overview. Shall we?

How Did I Learn About the Foundation?

Living in Northern California for five years following the final weeks of my pregnancy with my firstborn provided me with a slew of resources. It is only natural that the Weston A. Price Foundation practically fell into my lap, too. There was a local chapter that met monthly to potluck with real, homemade foods. In addition, they also sought out to learn about a relevant topic that changed each month.

weston a. price foundation
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I chose the above image here because it very perfectly portrays the feeling I would get when I would attend these meetings. I was back in time. An era where knowledge is shared openly and wisdom is passed down from older and wiser generations. Knowledge that was once passed down, and started slipping through the cracks at some point in the last few decades.

So, What is the Weston A. Price Foundation?

While the foundation covers a vast amount of topics, I think they describe their overall intentions best by how they explain their logo (pictured below). I can’t give you an adequate Weston A. Price Foundation Overview without this vital information, the heart of everything they share.

Weston A. Price Foundation

The Weston A. Price logo (a registered trademark of the Weston A. Price Foundation) superimposes three faces over the map of the world.

Reading from left to right, the first face is the broad face of someone who was nurtured with a nutrient-dense traditional diet, as were the traditional peoples of Alaska, Australia and the Pacific region, over which the face is positioned.

The left-hand face is the past. The middle face is the narrow face of someone brought up on industrialized food. It represents the present. The face is positioned over North America where these foods originated. The deleterious effects of these industrialized foods were first described by Dr. Weston Price whose name indicates to us that this legacy is truly the “price of the west,” the price cultures pay for western modernization.

The face on the right is the goal, the future–once again broad faces that come from nourishing diets. The face is superimposed on Europe and Africa, the ancestral homelands of many Americans. We must re-embrace traditional foods in order to restore nutrient-dense foods to our tables.

Weston A. Price Foundation Website

We don’t pass down the knowledge of nourishing foods anymore to our children and grandchildren. Raise your hand if you were raised on cereal, pasteurized milk, top ramen, and fish sticks. ✋🏼
(Obviously I ate more than that, too, like: boxed mac n cheese, “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!” …the list goes on.)

I spend a lot of time investing in my calling within marriage and motherhood, reading and teaching myself new skills in the kitchen. Skills that I simply wasn’t raised on. You can, too.

Who Was Weston. A Price?

Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist who lived from 1870-1948.

In his search for the causes of dental decay and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice, he turned from test tubes and microscopes to unstudied evidence among human beings. Dr. Price sought the factors responsible for fine teeth among the people who had them- the isolated “primitives.”

Weston A. Price Foundation

Price’s studies include various different primitive cultures. These studies lead to the conclusion that the vast majority of physical issues find their roots in nutritional deficiencies.

When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated indigenous peoples he found that they provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish and organ meats.

Weston A. Price Foundation

You can find more details in this biography about Dr. Weston A. Price here.

What Can I Do to Start Feeding my Family an Ancestral Diet?

Thankfully, we’ve been provided with great resources because of modern technology and foundations like the WAPF and The Price-Pottenger Foundation. Homegrown Education is a sweet online friend of mine who participates in her local chapter in Ohio. Liz has created a phenomenal upper elementary curriculum-middle school nutrition curriculum that is perfect to supplement any learning environment. She is working on a lower elementary curriculum that I cannot wait for!

In addition to resources like I’ve mentioned above, I always recommend the books that the founder of the WAPF has provided. This wouldn’t be a Weston A. Price Foundation Overview if I didn’t mention these vital resources:

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats

“This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious.”

I resource this book regularly to this day. Some of the best meals I’ve ever made have come from the inspirations in the recipes provided. This is a must-have book whether you are just beginning this journey or have been on this path for a while.

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care

“The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care makes the principles of traditional nutrition available to modern parents. The book provides holistic advice for pregnancy and newborn interventions, vaccinations, breastfeeding and child development, as well as a compendium of natural treatments for childhood illnesses, from autism to whooping cough. The work of Rudulf Steiner supports the book’s emphasis on the child’s spiritual requirement for imaginative play.”

Equipped with the only formula option I would ever be comfortable making, this is another invaluable resource that every family should read through. If you ever plan to or already have children, add this to your bookshelf.

The above books are the two I have, but you can find those along with many more incredible books by visiting my Amazon Storefront here.

This post contains some affiliate links, meaning when you click on some of the links and make a purchase, I receive a commission which supports my efforts to share with you in this space the products and resources I used and love most.

Getting Passed the Overwhelmed

Look, I understand that there is a lot pining for your attention, including on the WAPF website itself. From raw milk, cod liver oil, and soy to dentistry, women’s health, and vaccinations it can be a lot to take in. I hope this overview provides you a more simplistic view of starting somewhere and growing at your own pace.

Start with something affordable and relatively simple like Making Chicken Bone Broth at Home using my free, printable recipe. Instructions on how to freeze it with little space included!

This is a huge reason I am working very hard to finish my Restore Your Home Checklist. I want you to restore your home to health and wellness. I want you to know how to combat modern conveniences that may be interfering with that goal. Newsletter subscribers will get the resource first when it’s available. Get on the list right here if you’re not already and share this with a friend who might be interested too!

Please feel free to reach out to me or comment below anytime if there are any specific questions you have about this Weston A. Price Foundation Overview!

Weston A. Price Foundation Overview
Photo by Destiny Stansel of Freckled Fragments Photography

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

garden fresh tomato soup

Don’t let this title fool you! Before you think you need garden fresh tomatoes to make this garden fresh tomato soup, allow me to set the record straight. You can totally use canned or jarred tomatoes instead to make this delicious soup. Garden fresh just puts it over the top incredible!

After trying a lot of tomato soup recipes from scratch, all fell flat. I finally did my own thing, and this soup was born. This recipe is very far off from the original and would only cause confusion to share, otherwise I would site it. This recipe has loads of garlic, the only dairy in it is cheese and butter, and it’s enough to feed a large crowd or freeze for later!

Get the Most Out of Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

Our favorite way to enjoy this garden fresh tomato soup is with fresh einkorn sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches using our favorite raw cheese. It’s also great with freshly made parmesan croutons, too. Just like our family’s favorite Green Soup, this recipe is a regular staple in our dinner rotation.

Blending this soup in a good blender is the trick to getting a smooth and thick end result. The freshly grated parmesan cheese gives it all the creaminess it needs, but feel free to add some heavy cream if you prefer.

Canned or Jarred is Okay, Too!

Remember, you don’t have to have a garden to make this soup! You could even snag some fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil from your local farmer’s market. The grocery store is also an option. However, supporting local farmers lessens our carbon footprint and supports food growers right at the source. I’m all about that!

I hope your family enjoys this garden fresh tomato soup just as much as mine does! It’s right up there with Green Soup in our house!

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Simple Meal Plan Rotation for the Busy Family

Finding a meal plan rotation that works for your family is the only way meal planning will ever work for you. It’s totally ok to get meal ideas from other families. However, if you’re using someone else’s favorites and they’re totally new to your family, you might end up with funky looks and little eating. Having worked so hard creating a plan, this can be super frustrating to run into. That is why I’m sharing this method I’ve discovered along the way of my own attempts at meal planning. This system can work for everyone. This system will end up totally custom to your family’s preferences and taste buds, which is why it works! Plus, saving money by not over-buying food is a definite win.

meal plan rotation binder

The Prep Work Required for Your Meal Plan Rotation

One day I had had enough. I never knew where to find a recipe I needed on any given night. Was it saved on Pinterest? Is it in one of my five cookbooks? Did I find it on Instagram? Did I already print it? Was it emailed to me? This was maddening when it was pushing five o’clock in the evening and I knew what I wanted to make but had to waste time searching for what I needed. Finally finding it, I realize I don’t have all of the ingredients I need to make the darn thing. I don’t know about you, but this does. not. work. for me as a busy mama with a busy family.

One day I said forget it, I’ll make my own binder. So I spent an entire day ignoring every other responsibility I had (you know, besides bare necessities like feeding my children). I committed to locating all of the recipes we used, and printing or copying them. From there, I put them in three ring binder inside clear sheets. Ah, now I can find what I need. This helped, but I hadn’t struck the gold in the process yet.

What I still needed at this point, was to pinpoint what meals my entire family enjoyed and simplify this now massive binder of recipes I had. So, ultimately I needed two binders.

Figuring Out Breakfast

What do you like to eat for breakfast? List them all out, as many as you can think of. Then, pick five things. Or, if you’re super easy and can eat the same things day after day, make it even simpler and pick one thing. Write down Monday through Friday on a notepad and pick one day for each thing you chose.

Breakfast Rotation Example:
Monday – oatmeal (overnight or hot)
Tuesday – waffles
Wednesday – eggs + toast or biscuits
Thursday – scones or muffins
Friday – greek yogurt parfait or cereal

Make Saturday a special morning for things like cinnamon rolls on birthday weeks, or pancakes and bacon. To make Sunday’s easy, double your Saturday morning breakfast for enough to eat on Sunday morning, too. Every single week repeat this, and breakfast becomes thoughtless. If you prep the night before with overnight oats, waffle batter, biscuit batter, cut sweet potatoes, etc. then you will also simplify even further.

Figuring Out Lunch

Once you have breakfast figured out, do the exact same thing for lunches. Remember, choose things you already make frequently that your family enjoys. Pick five more meals for lunch that you all love. Sneak greens in my choosing spinach tortillas for raw cheese quesadillas. Add some extra protein to mac n cheese by using bone broth instead of water in your recipe and add sliced grass-fed hotdogs. Consider a simple yeast sandwich loaf with ancient grains for your sandwiches. Planning ahead makes all of this possible.

LUNCH ROTATION EXAMPLE:
Monday – spinach tortilla quesadillas
Tuesday – hot dog mac n’cheese
Wednesday – pb+j sandwiches
Thursday – chicken nuggets + sweet potato fries
Friday – tuna (OR hard boiled eggs) + crackers + cheese

Next, I consider what we’re eating for breakfast while plugging in these lunch items each day. For example, I try to avoid having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch if breakfast was light on protein. Be sure to keep in mind how much protein, healhty fats, sugars, etc. are involved to have some balance.

Snacks for Your Meal Plan Rotation

“I’m hungry.” Every mother’s favorite words one hour after we’ve just eaten breakfast, am I right? Kids burn fuel like crazy, and truthfully so do adults when our metabolisms are working correctly. Ever get hangry (angry hungry) when you haven’t eaten in a while? So do little ones, they need to refuel frequently to keep up with how much energy they have! Set snack times with good options help fill in the gaps in between meals.

So, choose ten snack ideas that are easy or able to be prepared ahead of time that you know you’ll all enjoy. Remember you need to eat too, mama!SNACK IDEAS:

SNACK IDEAS:
– fresh fruit
– crackers + cottage cheese
– stovetop popcorn (helps you control what goes in it, all you
– nuts + dried fruit or trail mix
– smoothie
– olives
– sliced cheese
– applesauce
– apple + peanut butter
– leftover baked good

We eat breakfast between 7-8am everyday, lunch at 12-1pm, and dinner about 5-6pm. Then snacks are nestled in between those times at 10am (when we start school time together) and 3:30pm (when quiet time is over). Figure out how this makes sense for you, and post it somewhere in your kitchen. Most importantly, utilize it!

Make it Easy to Find Your Meals

Make yourself two binders. In the first one put recipes you use regularly. For me, this looks like: bone broths, granola, chai tea concentrate, mayonnaise. Followed by those recipes are breakfast recipes like waffles, sandwich bread, biscuits, scones, muffins, mac n’ cheese, and sweet potato fries. Following those are my dinner recipes that are in my four week rotation.

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 1 OF 4:
M – TOMATO SOUP
T – BEEF ROAST
W – WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
TH – TACO SALAD
F – SQUASH PASTA
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 2 OF 4:
M – CHICKEN SOUP
T – KOREAN GROUND BEEF BOWLS
W – KALUA PORK
TH – LETTUCE BURGERS
F – PIZZA
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 3 OF 4:
M – GREEN SOUP
T – SHEPHERD’S PIE
W – CHICKEN SALAD
TH – TACO BOWLS
F – CHILI
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 4 OF 4:
M – CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
T – SPAGHETTI
W – BRAISIN’ GREENS PIE
TH – HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER
F – CHICKEN POT TOT HOTDISH
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

meal plan rotation
Freckled Fragments Photography by Destiny Stansel

Meal Plan Rotation, Your Way

Remember, this meal plan rotation only works if you make it your way. If you simply plug in my recipes into your rotation, it might not go as well as you hope. So, talk to you family. Ask your husband to pick the top five dinners he loves you to make. Include your kiddos in the process. My seven and five year olds both helped me make this breakfast, lunch, and snack rotation for our family and it was genuinely a big help.

I plan to share many of these recipes as time goes on, so feel free to try them on Saturdays if you use this system! I have found it’s so much easier to implement new recipes on Saturdays when I can give my full attention to it with fewer interruptions of the craziness of the week.

Be sure to head over to From Faye to check out her Homeschool Dinner Matrix for som more great ideas to implement, too!

I hope this helps simplify meal planning for you and your family, please share with anyone else you think might benefit from this method, too!

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Azure Standard Staples for Home & Groceries

After nearly a decade of ordering household goods and groceries for my home from them, I definitely have a good record of Azure Standard staples that I purchase on a regular basis. Some of the items here are ones I save the most on verses buying from other places like the local grocery store, Thrive Market, and Costco. Some of them are not, but worth every penny. If you’re just learning about Azure Standard, this blog post can give you a good overview!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning when you click on some of the links and make a purchase, I receive a commission which supports my efforts to share with you in this space the products and resources I used and love most.

Cleaning Staples from Azure Standard

azure standard staple dishwasher detergent

Since discontinuing the sales of Biokleen household products, Azure is offering an entire new line of their own. I have yet to try all that they have created, but what I’ve tried so far I love! After trying loads of other natural (and some not so natural) options for the dishwasher, this one far surpasses them all. It’s also the most affordable I’ve found, starting at only $2.02+/lb.

azure standard staple laundry detergent

Country Save laundry detergent has finally given me a solution to cleaning our laundry well without unnecessary scents or toxins like are found in conventional options. The company has been around since 1977, and I just learned the majority of the ownership of it is made up of retired Veterans of the US Armed Forces and their hope is to hire more veterans as they grow, amazing! This is even cheaper than the dishwasher detergent above, too, starting at $1.36+/lb. There are smaller boxes available if you’d like to give it a try before getting a big bag like this!

azure standard staple oxygen boost

Paired with some vinegar for softening, this Oxygen Powdered Bleach by Country Save is keeps our clothes brighter and cleaner while allowing us to avoid harsh chemicals found in other options. I use this with success on tough stains, too! At only $1.76+/lb, this is another no-brainer Azure Standard staple for our home!

Household Staples from Azure Standard

I get it, beeswax candles are pricier than regular ones. The thing is though, that those cheaper options come at a price we don’t necessarily see, until they start to effect our health. Look into the truth of the risk we take when we light our favorite scented candles, you will learn a lot and hopefully will change some habits as a result. These Bee Healthy Beeswax candles smell great, burn for a long time, and help neutralize undesirable scents in my home when needed! I also love these pillar candle options!

azure standard staples body soap

These soaps by Longview Farms are by far my favorite soaps for our entire family. They aren’t drying, have no artificial scents, or unwanted ingredients. I get this one for my older boys (they use it for their hair and bodies) and this one for our littlest dude since a gentler option is still ideal for his toddler skin. Check out their other flavors for some more adult friendly options, too! We have loved all three: Oats, Honey & Milk, Cucumber Melon, and Peppermint Lavender.

Produce Staples from Azure Standard

All of the produce I regularly purchase from Azure lasts much longer than when I buy locally from the grocery stores here. It’s not necessarily cheaper, but if I’m throwing away less because it lasts longer, it just might be. If I lived closer to where they’re located in Oregon, I’d have a lot more produce on this list. Unfortunately, being in Texas, not everything makes it in time to stay fresh. These items make it just fine and last me at least a month!

Organic Garlic $4.50+/lb

Organic Ginger $4.00+/lb

Organic Valencia Oranges $1.34+/lb
and blood oranges, lemons, etc. when in season, yum!

Organic Parsley $2+/bunch
Organic Cilantro $2+/bunch

Supplement and Wellness Staples

At the top of the list (of course) is Green Pasture’s Cod Liver Oil. This stuff is so beneficial and results in zero fish burps, I swear! All of my kiddos take this from ages 6-ish months old and up, and so do I . Learn more about the benefits of this superfood from this article by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is another staple from Azure Standard I keep in my medicine cabinet. This stuff is really potent, so there is also this option to take it by pill form for those able to swallow them.

If you have yet to add homeopathies to your medicine cabinet, Arnica is a great place to start! It’s great for reducing pain and actually worked way better for me with pain relief postpartum with my youngest.

Manuka Honey is the honey I add to teas (and also just take spoonfuls of) when we are under the weather in our home. Look into it’s many benefits, it’s an incredible resource to rely on!

Bulk Spices from Azure Standard

It would take me all day to show you every single bulk spice I have from Azure Standard. They last a really long time, and are so much more affordable than re-buying smaller amounts over and over again. You’ll save a bunch from going the bulk route, and if you don’t want a large amount to save and refill as needed, then find someone to split a bag with!

Pantry & Refrigerated Staples

Raw cheese is expensive in most grocery stores as well as from local farmers where I live, if I’m even lucky enough to find it. Purchasing in bulk has been the trick to affording good cheese. As a family of 5 we go through this before it goes moldy, but it’s great to shred and freeze, if needed. I don’t recommend freezing the solid block because it will crumble after defrosting. This option isn’t organic, but it’s usually the best we can do at this stage of life. We eat a lot of cheese. If you prefer organic, this option is also great.

Organic, gluten-free, and very affordable, these oats have been a staple in our home for years now!

Coconut sugar is a great substitute for brown sugar, and pairs super well with maple syrup to sweeten anything from oatmeal to cookies!

Allergen friendly chocolate chips that are delicious are hard to find, and usually a lot more pricey than other conventional options. These chocolate chips are my favorite and I am picky about my chocolate! I use equal parts of these dark chocolate chips plus these mini semi-sweet ones for the best chocolate chip cookies.

We avoid soy in our home, and Coconut Secret coconut aminos replaces it in recipes calling for it flawlessly.

Red Wine Vinegar is another staple I keep in my cabinet ready to be used when I need it!

Red Wine Vinegar is another staple I keep in my cabinet ready to be used when I need it!

Other Azure Standard Staples

Nuts and seeds, baking powder, molasses, vanilla extract, popping corn, bulk cereal, chicken feed…I could clearly go on and on. Your staples might look differently than mine, and that’s okay! I just want to provide an idea of the types of things you could get through Azure Standard if you decide to place a monthly order with them. If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, or want to spend less on great options, it’s well worth looking into!

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Mid-Summer Garden Planting

Knowing what to plant in your garden this summer is a great first step in extending your growing season! Did you know that places located closer to the equator have more than one growing season during the summer? That’s right, season’s aren’t the same everywhere.

Starting Seeds Indoors vs. Directly Seeding

Some plants have such delicate root systems that starting them in their non-permanent planting spots can really impact the health and productivity of your plants. We learned at an organic gardening class (at a local farm-to-table restaurant called Season’s Harvest) that just about all squash variety plants are one of those plants that really should be planted directly in the ground. I’m opting to start some indoors anyways to speed up the growing season and have a little more control, but plan to be super careful.

The Arbor Gate has a fantastic and FREE Vegetable Planting Calendar for Harris County that shows you exactly what and when to plant. If you’re local and haven’t been, Arbor Gate is a must visit! All of their plants are un-sprayed or certified organic. Plan to spend some time, and bring lots of water and your wallet! It’s hard to stay in budget when there are so many wonderful plants, supplies, and a full gift shop.

Anyways, make sure to do a little bit of research on whether you should plant your seeds directly into the ground or start them inside for your summer garden.

Starting Summer Garden Seeds Indoors

What you do may not look the same as what I do, and that’s okay! This is just an idea of what someone else is doing to get you inspired to start yourself. If you are starting seeds indoors, be sure to purchase some organic seedling soil. This soil will be finer in texture to allow for the baby plants to move easier and establish their roots.

This is the seedling soil I grabbed from Home Depot. I also chose these seed starting strips to make it easier for me. They are both located just inside the garden center near the seed stands. I also hand drilled little holes in the bottom of each pot in the strip to allow roots to come through. This will help the plant transplant better by allowing the roots to move down freely as opposed to wrapping themselves around at the bottom. I’m using cookie cooling sheets to set these on while the seedlings grow.

Seedlings I’m Starting Mid-Summer:

  • Tomatoes: Roma, Moneymaker, Beefsteak, and Sweet Cherry
  • Collards
  • Swiss chard
  • California orange bell pepper
  • Zucchini: black beauty and emerald green
  • Winter squashes: acorn, butternut, and honeynut
  • Canteloupe
  • Watermelon: sugar baby
  • Spinach: Malabar (I bought established seedlings from Arbor Gate because they had them)

Directly Seeding Outdoors

Our soil has improved greatly since adding about 30% topsoil this past spring. Check your soil and confirm it’s in fortified condition to plant. I have a bit of work on my hands to treat my soil before planting for my summer garden. We’ve had ants, squash vine borers (the reason I’m having to plant new summer squash plants at all, ugh), weeds, and I need to also do some additional tilling to better mix in the top soil. In addition to all of that, we need to re-fertilize with organic fertilizer to give the soil some boost, and I’ll be adding some worm castings as well. We have raised garden beds that I’m glad we went with. The raised beds have been helpful because of the abundance of rain we’ve had in Houston this year.

There’s likely some work you’ll want to do in your garden before planting, too. Spend some time and call someone over to help if you’re unsure about something! (Feel free to post your questions below as well, happy to help if I can!)

Direct Seeds I’m Planting Mid-Summer:

  • Pumpkins: sugar pies, howden, big max, and white lumia
  • Lettuce: salad varieties, red romaine, and butter
  • Chives
  • Bunching onions
  • Sweet Corn

Flowers for Your Summer Garden

I have had a blast having my first flower garden in our front yard, but now I’m ready to add some more floral notes in our backyard as well. I feel a bit less overwhelmed by adding them to the vegetable garden now that I’ve had some successful experience, and am excited to mix it up a bit!

Flowers can bring beneficial bugs to your organic garden, and they sure are beautiful!

Flowers I’m Plantings Mid-Summer:

  • Sunflowers: many varieties! (Keep planting these all through September!)
  • Larkspurs
  • Cosmos
  • Cypress vine
  • Moonflower vine

All of the flowers I’m planting will be directly seeded with the exception of the Mexican sunflower variety which is recommended to start indoors.

Encouragement for You

Listen, I don’t know much but I’ve learned more than I ever could from someone else by just going for it. Making mistakes is going to happen with gardening, probably forever. But, the good news is every mistake is an opportunity for learning valuable lessons. You likely won’t make the same mistake twice, and you learn to be grateful for each harvest as it increases with experience and time.

The enjoyment from getting my hands dirty and cultivating growth in the hot sun is unlike anything else. The smell of a fresh bell pepper from your garden is beyond refreshing. Having fresh tomatoes on hand for various needs is worth every step of the way.

I hope if you’re feeling overwhelmed like I often do, that you’ll start just by researching what fresh garden herbs you can begin growing in your area this fall. Just having fresh basil is enough to get you inspired for more. From there you can just add little by little and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in a garden of freshness!

If You’re Just Starting Out

If you’re more of the “all or nothing” type like I am, then I’m sure you have the list above all written down already and are working on figuring it all out. Take it from me, and try to reduce your list by 50% (I know it’s hard, I serioulsy know). Unless you have all the time in the world, you’re planning on way too much if you’re anything like me. Your garden will have a lot more success starting out if you start smaller and focus more on keeping only the necessities alive.

I’m so excited to see what you’ll do with your garden this summer, please let me know in the comments what you’re planting and where you’re located! Happy planting!

mid-summer garden