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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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Holiday Gift Guide for the Family in 2021

When it comes to showing your loved ones you care, the Christmas season provides a sweet opportunity to do that and do it well. This family holiday gift guide has a little something for everyone. It’s jam-packed with unique and sustainable options. You can buy confidently knowing you’re picking out some great things while supporting some wonderful companies. Just like everything I share and do, the 80/20 rule applies. Not everything is perfect on these lists, but they’re perfect for someone!

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.

I’ve organized three separate lists for you on this single blog post:

  • Holiday Gift Guide For Kids
  • Holiday Gift Guide For Him
  • Holiday Gift Guide For Her

I hope this family gift guide will help you choose meaningful and unique gifts this season! Keep an eye out for the bold text for discount codes!

Holiday Gift Guide For Kids

holiday gift guide 2021
  1. Baby Björn Bouncer from Baby Björn or Amazon. $199.99+
    This has been my favorite baby item I’ve ever had between my three children for the newborn stage, absolutely wonderful.
  2. Play Gym from LOVEVERY. $140
    Sustainably sourced wood, organic cotton, this is hands down the best play gym for a baby or toddler.
  3. Baby Toys & Play Mats from The Natural Baby Company. $4.99-$89.95
    First Stacking Ring Pastel $15
    Manhattan Toy Artful Skwish $19
    Wee Gallery Forest Playmat $89.95
    If you’re in the market for cloth diapers as well, The Natural Baby Company makes Grovia Diapers which are by far my favorite.
  4. Kwik Stix by The Pencil Grip. $12.99 [Save 10% off your entire purchase with code CULTIVATING10]
    Solid tempera paint, the Classic 12 pack provides a full rainbow of colors to paint with the washable and formula that allows them to dry in 90 seconds! No cups, smocks, water or brushes needed.
  5. Forest Friends Kidsafe Diffuser by Plant Therapy. $59.95
    With three different interchangeable ears, our fun Forest Friends diffuser can turn into a feisty fox, cute bunny or precious bear. This diffuser requires no chemicals or heat, allowing the essential oils to retain all of their natural benefits and chemical profile. Find Kidsafe oil blends here.
  6. Block Beeswax Crayons by Stockmar. $19.40 (current sale price)
    The best non-toxic first crayon a little one could ask for.
  7. Baltic Amber Teething Toy by Bambeado. $19.90
    Used on all of my three children, baltic amber is an incredible pain reliever for teething.
  8. Wooden Rainbow Stacker by QZMTOY. $54.99
    A toddler+ favorite with tons of versatality.
  9. Pact Baby Clothing and Holiday Socks. $7-18 [Save 20% off your purchase with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD20]
    100% Organic clothing with unmatched quality.
  10. Wooden Block Set by Melissa & Doug. $50.89 (current sale price)
    A classic set of blocks that every little one should have.
  11. Block Set by LOVEVERY. $90
    For ages 18 months-48 months+ this is a brilliant, practical system of solid wood blocks for building spatial, language, and problem-solving skills.
  12. Thin Stix by The Pencil Grip. $12.99 [Save 10% off your entire purchase with code CULTIVATING10]
    Solid tempera paint with all the same qualities and features of Kwik Stix (gift guide #4 above), but a thinner tube for better detail and different grip. Closer to the size and shape of a marker, these are great for more precision and as grip develops and improves.
  13. Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter by Melissa & Doug. $38.48 (current sale price)
    One of the most interactive toys my kiddos have played with together, this is on their wish list this year!
  14. Artist Grade Wax Stick Crayons by Stockmar. $63.80
    An excellent option for the young artist in your home ready to upgrade from block crayons.
  15. Wheely “Bug” Ride-On Toy by Prince Lionheart. $59.99 (current sale price)
    A BIG favorite in our home, played with every single day and made very well and sturdy.
  16. Artist Quality Colored Pencils by Prismacolor. $19.98-$85.91
    When we switched to these pencils from the basic Crayola’s, the coloring enjoyment for my boys increased like crazy. These pencils are remarkable and worth every penny.
  17. Board Games Ticket to Ride First Journey and Catan Jr. $17.99-$22.39 (current sale prices)
    The top two board games we enjoy playing together as a family with our 8 and 5 year old are easily these two.
  18. Blackboard Playmat Kit by The Pencil Grip. $18.99-$25.99 [Save 10% off your entire purchase with code CULTIVATING10]
    This set is great for travelling, play dates, dinner time, restaurants and more!  Draw directly on the playmats, and remove with a damp cloth and start over and over again.
  19. Plush Avocado by Squishmallow. $19.88
    There is something so loveable about these soft and squishy things, we all love them! Find many more designs here.
  20. Balance Bike by Strider. $82.99 (current sale price)
    One of the best things we ever did was skip the training wheels entirely and start our boys on balance bikes. It gave them the best foundation to bike riding and none of them have ever used training wheels because of these bikes.

Holiday Gift Guide For Him

holiday gift guide 2021
  1. Sauce Pot & Basting Brush Set by Cuisinart. $14.99 (currently on sale)
    For the serious BBQ chef.
  2. Stainless Steel Meat Shredding Claws by TOFTMAN. $18
    For the chef or soux chef to pull and shred meat without burning fingers or ruining utensils.
  3. Organic Grilling Spice Gift Set by FreshJax. $24.99
    These five organic sampler spice glass bottles will have your man’s grilling game on full throttle.
  4. Andalou Naturals Shampoo & Conditioner and Highland Pine Deodorant. $10.99
    They take the tricky guess work out of regimens by combining Fruit Stem Cell Science® with unique and innovative ingredients to provide skincare solutions that target specific concerns.
  5. Classic Clogs by Crocs. $44.63+ (current sale price)
    Every dude needs a nice pair of classic Crocs. Once you go Croc, you never go bock.
  6. Pact Organic Clothing. $12-$85 [Save 20% off your purchase with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD20]
    Holiday Socks
    Boxer Brief 4-Pack
    Black & White Crewneck Undershirts
    100% Organic clothing with unmatched quality.
  7. Muscle Aloe Jelly by Plant Therapy. $13.95
    The perfect icy/hot combination after a long workout or worry-some day, a combination of soothing and relaxing essential oils mixed perfectly with hydrating aloe jelly.
  8. Espresso Tamper by Blue Bottle. $87
    For the espresso lover, don’t forget to add on an organic coffee subscription while you’re at it. Cancel anytime!
  9. Athlete Sport Collection by Charlotte’s Web. $89.97 [Save 15% sitewide with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD]
    Soothe sore and achy muscles and temporarily relieve with the support of the best ingredients mother nature has to offer.
  10. Fish/Flag hat by Columbia. $16.97+
    Mesh Tree Ball Cap features a classic fit that provides comfort for long fishing days to casual wear.
  11. Portable Speaker by Bose. $219
    Deep. Loud. And immersive, too. Eyeballing this for my hubby this year for sure.
  12. Taza Chocolate. $5-29.99
    Peppermint Bark
    Gingerbread Cookie
    Comfort & Joy Sampler
    Some of the best chocolate I have ever had. Fantastic gift option.
  13. Double-Insulated Warm/Cold Lookout Bottle by Berkey. $24.99 [Save 10% sitewide with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD]
    Built tough from rust-resistant 18/8 304 stainless steel—ideal for camping trips, sporting events, workouts, school, on the job, or everyday. 
  14. Parker Clay Sustainable Genuine Leather Items. $72-$558 [Save 20% sitewide with code PC-NICOLE20]
    Abera Billfold Wallet
    Mekonnen Leather Belt
    Axum Dopp Bag
    Parker Briefcase

Holiday Gift Guide For Her

  1. Pact Organic Clothing. $10-$60 [Save 20% off your purchase with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD20]
    Marsala Honeycomb Knit Scarf
    Holiday Socks 3-pack
    100% Organic clothing with unmatched quality.
  2. Memory Foam Slippers by ULTRAIDEAS. $24.99 (current sale price)
    A new pair of slippers each year is a well-loved gift.
  3. Parker Clay Sustainable Genuine Leather Items. $128-198 [Save 20% sitewide with code PC-NICOLE20]
    Abby Drawstring Backpack
    Parker Clay Zahra Wallet
    Desta Belt Bag
    If you’re looking to make a big impression on her, this is your golden ticket.
  4. Jade Roller & Gua Sha Tools by MoValues. $18.98
    Two tools that every woman doesn’t know she needs.
  5. Linen/Cotton Weighted Blanket by YnM. $105.90
    If she’s ever mentioned she’d like to try a weighted blanket, now is your chance!
  6. Wall Hanging Glass Planter by Mkono. $15.99
    If you have a plant lover in your life, this is a great option!
  7. Taza Chocolate. $5-29.99
    Peppermint Bark
    Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
    If she loves chocolate, she’s going to LOVE this chocolate.
  8. Gut Health Starter Tea Bundle from Pique. $96 [Save 5% off your order with code CULTIVATINGMOTHERHOOD]
    If she’s a tea lover, GET THESE (or anything other teas from this website).
  9. Temperature Control Mug by Ember. $99.95
    If she’s always re-heating her coffee or tea, do her a big favor and buy this mug.
  10. Mama Bear Coffee Mug by Brooke & Jess Designs. $20.95
    For the mama bear in your life!
  11. 18-ounce Stump Teapot Infuser by FORLIFE. $39
    This was a gifted to me and it is the best personal teapot to share with a friend over a joyful cup of tea.
  12. Barnwood Planter & Organic Culinary Herb Garden Kit by True Leaf Market. $37.79
    The perfect gift for the beginner or experienced gardener in your life!
  13. Wonder Stix by The Pencil Grip. $16.99 [Save 10% off your entire purchase with code CULTIVATING10]
    Don’t let the description fool you, if she uses chalk regularly she’s going to adore this thoughtful gift.
  14. Himalayan Salt Lamp by Levoit. $39.99 (current sale price)
    Improve the quality of her sleep with this dimmable night light.
  15. Picnic & Outdoor Blanket by Scuddles. $26.99 (current sale price)
    For the outdoorsy type!
  16. Plant Therapy. $10.95-$159.95
    Precious Flowers Set
    Passive Sunflower Diffuser
    Holiday Magic Bath Bombs
    A treat for the essential oil lover in your life.

Happy Shopping

Remember, it’s the intentional thought and heart behind gift giving that really spreads the love. I hope these ideas help you to bless someone else this season. Happy shopping!

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Road and Tent Camping Trip with Children

We did it, we took a road and tent camping trip with children and lived to tell the story. Traveling just over 4,000 miles total we left Houston, Texas to head to Victorville, California and back again. Visiting a total of only four states, we saw a variety of terrain and have memories that will last a lifetime. We weren’t sure it was a good idea, but now that we’ve done it we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Well, there are a few things we would change… for instance, duct tape is forever on our must-have list of camping supplies.

At ages 7, 5, and 22 months our three boys overall handled the trip really well and had tons of fun. If you’re a family who enjoys camping together, then I highly recommend you consider giving this a shot for your next family vacation. If you’re not used to camping as a family, then I highly recommend you find a local place and get your feet wet ASAP!

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.

road and tent camping trip with children

Road Tripping For Less

We knew we wanted to make a trip to California to visit family while my husband (Craig) had two weeks off this year. We debated back and forth on affording it, and finally decided we would go. Knowing money was a huge factor, we decided to tent camp along the way both to avoid expensive hotel stays, as well as to be able to bring and cook our own food. Eating out along the way can be very expensive and risk stomach aches and diminished immune systems from food we’re not used to.

We had two choices. We could get there as fast as possible in two days minimum. Or, we could take extra time getting there and see some incredible things we would otherwise drive right past. We want our kids to see God’s beautiful creation, and this was a great opportunity to do just that.

The Necessity of Planning

I did a bit of research, and decided that planning to drive in 2 1/2-3 1/2 hour increments would be doable with our children’s ages. Toddlers to early elementary boys need a lot of stimulation and breaks to make it through a long road trip. Some stops included sight-seeing and others were 20-minute quick potty breaks and a quick stretch of our legs.

I used Google Maps to create my own saved map with stops all planned out. All the way from our home to where we would stay for 5 days in California it was all mapped out. I utilized Roadtrippers to check for major places along the way. Without this planning, I would have missed a lot of opportunities for learning and adventure for our family.

We did not stick 100% to the planned stops I made, but I was very glad to have them for guidelines along the way. It would have been very chaotic day-to-day without these plans. Planning also made it possible to not miss out on visiting places. New restrictions meant having reservations even for a day visit to some places necessary.

Major Stops Between Texas and California

A while back I posted on social media asking for recommended places to camp in Texas. One of the places recommended over and over again was Big Bend National Park. When it occurred to me that we could drive an extra few hours and stop there, I was sold. I didn’t know what to expect, and we questioned that decision a lot in a matter of a couple of hours while we detoured that way. One of the things we definitely learned on this road trip is:

How drastically terrain can change in a matter of ten minutes of driving. One minute you’re in a seemingly endless desert, and the next you’re in awe of new greens to discover and massive canyons just ahead. Nature provides the unexpected beyond our wildest imaginations.

Nicole | Cultivating Motherhood

Places we stopped on the way to California from Texas:

Had I failed to plan, I would have also wasted us a lot of money. I would have failed to realize how worth it the $80/year National Park Annual Pass would be. We saved a lot choosing this because of how many national parks we visited! Definitely worth the time to add up entrance fees if you plan to visit a number of national parks in a year or road trip like ours. I highly suggest purchasing yours at the first park you visit so that your pass begins as late as possible as well as being able to avoid waiting for the mail to deliver yours.

Major Stops Between California and Texas

The trip home was a bit trickier than on the way. We took five entire days to get to California and planned to get back to Texas in only three. We still wanted to sight-see. The most difficult part in planning this was the reality that we could leave from the home we stayed at in California super early in the morning. However, leaving a campsite in the early hours would be impossible. This meant we needed to go as far as possible the first day, leaving the other days a bit shorter. We originally booked a campsite at the Grand Canyon, but had to change that when we realized we’d need to drive much further that first day. Looking back, I really wish we would have just added on an extra day to be able to make that stop work out.

Places we stopped on the way back to Texas from California:

  • Grand Canyon National Park in Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams, AZ
    this last minute decision to go to Bearizona instead of the Grand Canyon was an expensive but worth it detour, looking back I wish we had done both and extended our trip by one day, MUST DO if you have children!
  • Petrified Forest National Park in Petrified Forest, AZ
  • Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA in Holbrook, AZ
    camped 1 night – with reservations, much prefer camping in national parks
  • Hotel el Rancho in Gallup, NM
    I actually wish we would have taken a chance and booked a room at this historic hotel instead of camping that night, we drove by from taking Historic Route 66 for a bit and it was stunning
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, TX
    camped 1 nightwith reservations, would love to come back here to spend a week, tons to do

Would We Do It Again?

Without a doubt, it was worth every mishap and change of plans. We ran into holes in our tent, a nail in our tire, freezing overnight temps, and much more. But, it was a grand adventure that made for wonderful memories that we’ll never forget. We can’t wait to plan our next major family road trip, and we hope you feel more equipped to take your next (or first!) one, too.

We have got to be honest though, all the Airstream’s we passed by looked awfully nice along the way! Don’t forget to checkout these must-haves for your next camping trip:

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Backyard Garden Fall Planning and Planting

If there’s anything that 2020 has caused an increase in within our family, it’s making our home more sustainable. Starting a backyard garden became a high priority when food shortages were on the radar. After realizing just how hard they work, I feel a much deeper sense of gratefulness to farmers. When I considered what our backyard garden fall planning might look like, I knew I wanted to do it right.

Our spring garden this year was almost a complete failure. We ended up with a handful of “cherry” tomatoes (I say that with quotations because they weren’t supposed to be tiny) and one itty-bitty strawberry. A lack of planning, planting too late in the season, planting the wrong plants for our region at the wrong time, and not having the right soil were all the main culprits.

Fall Garden Planning

bakyard garden plans

Planning is something I am quite good at. However, being that I was only 3-4 months postpartum and trying to get a raised garden bed up from scratch, I put some things on the back-burner. Plans were not in the cards for me.

I was also super overwhelmed. I had a lot to consider when trying to plant things in a relatively small space. Companion planting can be especially overwhelming, and I didn’t think I could ruin too much if we just went for it without a plan. (If you know me well, this is so not like me, hah!) The lack of planning wasn’t so bad, but planting too late in the spring season and planting many of the wrong items was a deal-breaker. We definitely didn’t reap what we sowed.

Fall plans were going to be different, if I could help it. I spent an entire day making the plans for exactly what, where, and how many plants would go in each area of our fall garden. I researched companion planting, being careful to keep certain things away from others that don’t do well together. Then, I put my planning skills to the complete test with a dotted spread sheet.

backyard garden plans

Plans Might Change, That is Okay

Not everything went according to the plans I made. However, I learned something important while training as a birth and postpartum doula that comes to mind:

Having a plan doesn’t mean it is expected that everything will go accordingly. Instead, it is a means of learning what is to be expected. Planning helps us to gain options that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Author Unknown

This quote is well-suited for garden planning, too, it turns out! Having a plan doesn’t mean things have to go exactly as laid out. Life wouldn’t be very interesting if that were the case, would it? A full day of planning resulted in a lot of clarity and hope! I carefully carried my plan to our favorite local nursery when I was ready to purchase seeds and seedlings. I was able to avoid overspending and have another set of experienced eyes at The Arbor Gate to let me know I was on the right track!

Know When and What to Plant in Your Garden

backyard garden fall planting

Gardening rules are not one-size-fits-all. Nature is inevitably something that demands it be respected. If you have ever just “winged” it like we did, you might have experienced the same kind of disappointment we did.

Depending on what region you live, there are different growing seasons. Some places can accommodate year-round growing, and others need a lot more preparations to make that work. Here in the Houston area, we have been blessed with the ability to have both a summer and winter garden. You can read more about planting zones and find out what zone you are in by clicking here. If you’re local, The Arbor Gate also provides a downloadable Planting Zone specific to Harris County. I specifically followed this (loosely) while making my fall garden plans. From the advice of a few of the experienced gardeners there, I pushed back the dates due to the intense heat sticking around longer than anticipated. If I planted too soon, I could risk all of my baby plants burning up in the heat.

I also realized that many of the plants I randomly planted in very late spring were planted in the WRONG season entirely! It’s important to realize that kale is simply not going to tolerate heat and humidity. But, it will grow happily in a winter garden. My hopes and dreams of kale salad would have to wait. This encouraged me to get to work on our backyard garden fall planning.

Choose the Right Soil for Your Garden

backyard garden fall planning

We initially chose a raised garden bed organic soil to fill our raised beds with. Sadly, it didn’t seem to sustain our plants very well. I’ve since learned that many soils contain Peat. Not only is it bad for the ecosystems its removed from, it also causes a packing effect within the soil. Drainage becomes an issue, and it is completely unnecessary to grow plants.

After learning this, we chose to skip the typical bagged options from the store. This time, we chose a Peat-free organic bulk option from The Arbor Gate. So far our plants seem happy with the extra boost!

It was important to us to choose organic for a multitude of reasons. The main reason for this is to avoid the toxic pesticides added to our food products. We definitely did not want to put our organic seeds and seedlings in non-organic soil.

Fall Garden Planting List

backyard garden fall planning

Ready to find out what we’re growing in our fall garden this year? Here it is!

Left Box:

  • parsley
  • kale – three varieties
  • broccoli – two varieties
  • golden potatoes (still need to plant)
  • artichokes (replanting seedlings elsewhere once large enough)
  • peppers – three non-spicy varieties
  • basil (leftover from summer garden)

Right Box:

  • strawberries (leftover from summer garden)
  • carrots – three varieties
  • spinach
  • lettuce – two varieties
  • brussel sprouts – two varieties
  • cauliflower
  • red potatoes
  • romanesco
  • cabbage – three varieties
  • swiss chard
  • beets – variety
  • garlic chives
  • bunching onions

Separate From Raised Beds:

  • mullein
  • elder berry
  • fig
  • meyer lemon
  • fennel – two varieties
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • mint
  • lavender
  • geranium

Just Do It

backyard garden

It might seem daunting, and it’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s been worth every effort. Hopefully it will also be worth every penny when we have a thriving winter garden. I certainly hope that’s what happens!

Making plans and checking out specific details about your local area can certainly help make a successful garden. The learning process along the way is going to happen no matter how you start. If a garden is something you’re envisioning, I say just go for it.

I hope this overview of our backyard garden fall planning and planting has helped to inspire you to begin a garden of your own. Even if it’s simply a collection of potted herbs, that can be an exciting way to start. It’s a wonderful and affordable start if you’re looking for an easy way to save money on store-bought herbs!

backyard garden mullein
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Azure Standard Overview

After many wonderful years of placing orders with Azure Standard and providing my family with really great options at affordable prices, I am thrilled to share them with you! If you value healthy living, non-GMO and organic practices surrounding food and products, and recognize the value in both saving money and voting with your dollars, then this Azure Standard overview is for you.

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.

Here, we understand that naturally grown foods are instrumental in producing a long and satisfying life. We’d like to see more farmers and home gardeners turn to natural organic growing practices, so we do what we can to not only support the organic farmer, but also provide as many organic products as possible.

We chose to call our business Azure Standard, to signify by the name what we are attempting to do. Azure is a shade of blue which has been associated with law, justice, and honesty. In raising an azure standard, we want to place an honest standard in the marketing of food. We feel that the correct way to effect a positive change is not to attack the way it is being done, but to begin to do it right.

We are dedicated to the ‘organic principle’ of cooperating with nature and we pray others will join us so that we may once again see prosperity in our land.

-David Stelzer | Azure Founder and CEO

How Does It Work?

You have two options when shopping with Azure. You can place an order anytime to ship directly to your home. Alternatively, and to save the most, you can join a local drop site. Drop sites are where you will meet a truck monthly to pickup your order. I have met some really incredible people at our Azure drops over the years. I have always gone with the drop site option. I get to enjoy the benefit of a big bulk order of fantastic items without paying a fortune in shipping. Everything comes from Oregon first, and is then delivered all over the US.

Azure reduces waste and saves you money by connecting directly with the independent growers and food producers, shortening the cycle and handling of your food. You have access to organic farm-fresh veggies and dry bulk foods, grass-fed dairy and frozen meats, raw honey and non-GMO oils, packaged foods, nutritional supplements and beauty products. After you place the items in your website cart, our warehouse team in Moro, Oregon pulls them off the shelf like your own personal shopper. Your items are then packed in recycled boxes under your name, and your order is put on a truck that delivers straight to you. You’re a part of the Azure community in your own neighborhood, meeting a fully stocked natural grocery on wheels – coming directly to you.

-Azure Website

What Kind of Things Can I Buy?

Azure offers everything from food, health and beauty, household and family, nutritional supplements, and even outdoor and garden items. Over the years I have purchased a variety of items from Azure. From bulk flour to dairy products, growing seeds to bulk produce, our holiday turkeys, non-toxic cleaning supplies, vitamins/supplements, and much more!

I placed a really huge order this month, a great example of what you can get for your family. This order was a little over $500. The only thing not pictured above was my Mary’s Free-Range Turkey. I placed it directly into our deep freezer when we got home. Here’s a list of what we got, in order from left to right:

Ready To Save and Enjoy?

Head to Azure Standard’s website and scroll to the bottom to “Find A Drop” to connect with a local drop. Or, simply place an order to ship directly to you if you prefer! Azure Standard has certainly blessed my family, and I can’t wait to hear how it blesses yours as well!

Feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments below. I’ll be sure to help you and your family begin saving money and still enjoying wonderful options!