Fall Family Fun!

The past week has been full of all sorts of fall family fun – my favorite kind of fun! I recently wrote on the Tommy Nelson blog about simple fall break ideas – things to do locally when you can’t get away for long but want to enjoy some autumnal activities! Here’s what we’ve been up to as we enjoy the change in seasons…

First stop: the pumpkin patch!

Vala's 2014 001 Vala's 2014 002 Vala's 2014 003 Vala's 2014 004 Vala's 2014 005 Vala's 2014 006IMG_3873 Vala's 2014 007 Vala's 2014 008 Vala's 2014 009 Vala's 2014 010 Vala's 2014 011 Vala's 2014 012 Vala's 2014 013 Vala's 2014 014 Vala's 2014 015 Vala's 2014 016 Vala's 2014 017IMG_3886

And then the Monster Mash Fun Run/Walk to finish out our Miracle Marathon

IMG_3970 IMG_3971 FullSizeRender FullSizeRender (1)

It was super fun to meet up with blog reader and Miracle Marathon team member Erika, her boys, and her mom! We all enjoyed the activities, the walk, and each other’s company! We also met Curt Tomasevicz, former Husker football player and Olympic bobsledder! How fun that he let us hold his Olympic medals?!

Speaking of the Miracle Marathon, the miles have been logged, but it’s not too late to donate! I still have a ways to go to reach my $272 goal, but you can help me out and give until November 1st!

Don’t forget to check out my fall break ideas over at Tommy Nelson to make the most of my favorite season!

What kind of fall fun does your family enjoy?


The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

What I Wore: Fall Capsule Wardrobe {Vol. 1}

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

This fall capsule wardrobe thing has me back in the swing of What I Wore Wednesday! It’s been a few weeks since I committed to my capsule wardrobe and I am still loving it! I have not felt limited for outfit choices at all. I am dying for fall weather to kick in full throttle so I can start layering more!

Here’s what I wore in the past few weeks from my capsule wardrobe…

WIWW 10:8 1

striped tunic – H&M, white jeans – Target, flats – The Root Collective, necklace – Charming Charlie’s

WIWW 10:8 2

grey tee – Old Navy, skinny jeans – Target, grey ankle boots – Steve Madden, Genet scarf – fashionABLE {available for a limited time through Kickstarter right now!}, Mamuye tote – fashionABLE

black drape tank – Everlane, Josie hoodie – Evy’s Tree, red jeans – Target, Tierdrop necklace – Noonday Collection, Willow boots – Lane Boots

WIWW 10:8 4

navy u-neck tee – Everlane, vest – made from fashionABLE scarf, jeans – Ann Taylor {thrifted}, flats – The Root Collective, sunglasses – H&M

Packers tee – Target, Packers hat – Scheels…and the PACKERS WIN!

WIWW 10:8 6

Brooke tunic + infinity scarf – Evy’s Tree, black leggings – Target, moccasin boots – Minnetonka

white tee + black maxi – GAP, scarf – fashionABLE, wild copper ballet flats – Tieks

be kind to you tee – Revelation Wellness, white jeans – Target, necklace – The Root Collective, denim stripe TOMS

That last tee is a new addition to the capsule and I have just a couple more to introduce to you next week! One of the advantages of this capsule wardrobe thing is how it has curbed my impulse shopping. While I was in Nashville, we spent an afternoon at a mall and I didn’t even feel tempted to buy any clothes! I did snag some new sunglasses, but that’s it! I love that I have a well-thought-out plan for the season to save me money, time, and space!

So what have you been wearing lately? Any new fall favorites? Have you taken the capsule wardrobe plunge?!


Linking up with The Pleated Poppy’s What I Wore Wednesday!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Fall Ethical Fashion Must-Haves

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Before we dive in to my fall capsule wardrobe next week, I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my favorite pieces for the fall that are ethically made. I’m not in a place where I can buy everything fair-trade, but I sure am a lot more aware of my purchases and always have my eyes open for new places to buy clothing and accessories that are ethically sourced.

I could do a post every day about ethically-made pieces I love, so it was a challenge to narrow down this list, but here are a few of my favorites for fall right now…

Fall Ethical Fashion Must-Haves (1)

clockwise starting from the top right…

Game Day Selam scarf by fashionABLE – Fashion + football = two of my favorite things in the world. They have all sorts of team colors available now, with more coming soon!

Teshome leather wrap bracelets by fashionABLE – I wear one or two or three of these every single day. They are perfect for stacking!

The Geno women’s houndstooth socks by Mitscoots – Fun socks on a mission to give socks AND employ people. Plus they are super comfy.

Brynnda custom bag by Better Life Bags – Favorite purse I’ve ever owned and you can customize it with whatever fabrics your heart desires. See my Brynnda here.

Grey diamond ballet flats by The Root Collective – Grey is THE hot color for the fall and goes with everything. I love knowing that Otto made my shoes and is getting paid a fair wage for making them!

White tagua seed earrings by The Root Collective – Yep. I wear these several times a week. They are neutral and so light!

Faith, Hope, and Love Block Print Wallet by JOYN for DaySpring – This print is just fabulous and screams fall! Use the code SAVE20GIFTS to get 20% off!

French Terry shirt in Midnight by Everlane – I love my Everlane shirts and I’ve heard this is the softest sweatshirt around. You can check out all the factories Everlane products are made in right on their website. Love that transparency.

Teal Sankofa necklace by Johari Creations – How gorgeous is this necklace?! I can picture it sprucing up a plain tee/maxi skirt outfit or with a chambray shirt and black skinnies!


The color grey, lots of leather, tribal prints – what fall trends are you loving?

What ethical fashion companies do you love?


The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Where I’m Going From Here…

Now that the 31 Days series is over, I thought I’d share a little bit of what’s up next for me and this blog!

The 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life Challenge with Crystal and Laura and myself starts today! I may post about it from time to time, but my main role will be Twitter cheerleader {use hashtag #disciplined21} for all you lovelies joining the challenge and tackling a mega-project! Mine involves an e-book. I’m scared. Hold me. {You can still get your ebook and start with us!}

What I Wore Wednesday will be returning and I’ll be sharing a little more about fashion as a mom in a fun new place. Stay tuned…

I’m getting ready now for Truth in the Tinsel! If I don’t start now, I will be frantically trying to gather supplies in the midst of the already-crazy holiday season. I’m trying to prevent that with all I am. I’m also printing out the brand new Truth in the Tinsel printable ornaments to use on the days when a craft just isn’t going to happen. Have you seen them?! SO cute.

I’m revisiting and reworking my mission statements. Thanks to Kat, I have a mom mission statement that I wrote over two years ago, so I’m going back to it, praying over it, tweaking it, and working on LIVING. IT. OUT.

I also have a mission statement for how I take care of our home thanks to Sarah Mae’s 31 Days to Clean. It’s been tucked away in a binder, but I’m pulling that out again because I need to read those words more often!

And God has given me the gift of a clarified vision for this little blog space. I am praying I follow that vision with every post!

Oh yeah, and I signed up for a half-marathon. On Thanksgiving morning. With The Hubby. And it’s a TRAIL run. Who is this woman, seriously?! Please pray for me…

How about a few of my favorite pics from the last month just to wrap this up nicely?

Baby brother being loved on {and wondering what is going on?!} at the pumpkin patch!

Big J trying out fall soccer.

My Avengers trick or treating at the hospital.

Pumpkin faces and silly faces.

My first 15K this past weekend. Small race, but this was good enough for first in my age group!

So, friends, how was your October? What are you looking forward to in November?


*This post contains affiliate links.

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

31 Days: Fall Fashion Trends

Wow – I have been overwhelmed by your response to the first few days of this 31 Days series! Thank you! Feeling so blessed!

Today we’re going to lighten things up a bit with fashion!

I am NOT the type to rush out to the stores as soon as the next season’s fashion trends are announced. But I do enjoy looking through my own closet – or at the thrift stores – to see what I can put together without spending too much!

Here’s a little peak at some of my favorite fall fashion trends this year…

Top Ten Fall Fashion Trends

1. Mustard hues

Whether it’s an entire dress…

Photo via Pinterest

Or just a cardigan to accent…

Photo via Pinterest

Mustard hues are hot colors right now! You will find them all over Pinterest and popping up at stores near you as well! You can use it as much or little as you want! I have similar pieces for everything in that second outfit, so I can’t wait to put it all together and see how it looks!

2. Polka dots

Photo via Pinterest

If I wasn’t expecting, I would buy this dress from DownEast Basics in a heartbeat. It is such a subtle take on the polka dot trend AND it is in gray, one of the colors in this fall’s color palette. There are a lot of fun ways to do polka dots this fall – even in some cute shoes!

3. Granny plaids

Photo via Pinterest

This plaid scarf is just perfect to me – great colors paired with a great basic outfit. You might be feel comfortable with more or less plaid, but either way, plaid definitely says fall to me!

4. Lace

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of lace, but apparently it is in style this fall, including lace dresses, so it has to be mentioned here.

If I was going to wear lace, this skirt

or this tunic

{both from DownEast Basics} would definitely be pieces I would try!

5. Bright pants

Photo from See Jane via Pinterest

I SO want to try this trend, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough! I adore the above outfit – bright pants with a very neutral top and basic flats. We’ll see if I can get the courage…

6. Leather

I had to use this picture from last winter because it is my FAVORITE leather-looking item in my closet. And that is the key – you don’t have to spend big bucks on real leather. It’s the look of leather that is hot this fall!

7. Knits

Photo via Pinterest

I LOVE pulling out sweaters each fall as the temps drop and knits were seen all over the runway this year! And this year knits are also being paired with…

8. Long skirts

Photo from eShakti via Pinterest

Knit sweaters are being layered with maxi skirts and dresses {like the one above from eShakti} this fall – a great way to get more wear out of some of your summer wear! I’m very interested in trying this trend to see exactly what looks good together in this combination!

9. Jade and Teal

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

Aren’t these colors gorgeous?! Love.

10. Boots

Photo via Pinterest

Hello gorgeous.

My love for this trend can’t be contained in just one point of a top ten list. Boots deserve an entire post all to themselves. So they will get one. Stay tuned for that in the near future.

So, which trend is YOUR favorite?!


A few extra fashion notes:

pleated poppy

*Tomorrow is the weekly “What I Wore Wednesday” link-up over at The Pleated Poppy. If you want some inspiration, check out what hundreds of other women just like you are wearing in their What I Wore posts. It’s so much fun! You can check out my What I Wore entries by clicking here!

*The adorable Hayley over at The Tiny Twig is doing a great series called “31 Days to a No-Brainer Wardrobe!” Follow along for great stye and fashion tips that won’t take too much effort!

*I’m guest posting over at Denise’s place tomorrow about how to wear fall colors this season – even if you’re afraid of color! I hope you’ll head over there to check it out as part of her “31 Days of Autumn Goodness” series!


Top Ten {Tuesday}

I’m linking up with “Top Ten Tuesday” over at Oh Amanda today! It is a list-lover’s delight over there every Tuesday – make sure you take a look around!
The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Give Thanks

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

The Spirit of This Tree

This post.

This post by the brilliant Amanda (Oh Amanda, Impress Your Kids) over at the MOB Society last week inspired the project-loving teacher in me to pick up a roll of craft paper and get to to work on this…

Our “Helping Hands & Thankful Tree.”

We traced tiny hands, brainstormed ways to help others and put ourselves in the “thanks” AND “giving” mood.

Hands go up on the tree as our ideas are fleshed out. More ways to give are always around us.

We track our blessings on the calendar – thanks to be shared a week from Thursday around a food-filled table.

We strive to make this – the spirit of thanksgiving – a part of our every day, not just November.

holy experience

And I continue to count my way slowly to one thousand gifts…

41. Early morning time with Him.

42. Warm, over-sized sweatshirts.

43. Ruffles. Beautiful ruffles.

44. Diet Sioux City Sasparilla in bottles – delightful.

45. Unexpected surprises from the hubby.

46. The joy of working with my hands.

47. Girls’ night.

48. Friends who call, text, email just to say hi.

49. Party mix – my FAVORITE fall food.

50. Watching nature’s decor change with the seasons at the hand of the Master Artist.


How do you and your family get – and stay – in the spirit of thanksgiving?


You are always welcome at Home with the Boys – please join us on the journey!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Home Challenges: Week 2

I am SO glad I joined in these two home challenges: Making Your Home a Haven at Women Living Well and ~ Declutter ~ Beautify ~ Create ~ at Sunflower Schoolhouse.

To be perfectly honest, I desperately NEED both of these challenges. But one of them has gone much better than the other so far.

First, the one I am succeeding at…

Last week, I went out and bought a Cinnamon Streusel candle at Target and I have lit that candle in our kitchen EVERY DAY. It smells SUPER yummy and I have actually remembered to pray for peace in our home when I look at that candle! I also get hungry when I smell it.

This week’s challenge:

Play soft music everyday in your home. Choose worship, classical or another form of peaceful music that the family enjoys. Focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships. Remind your family to avoid seething anger, tattling, criticism or back talk. As the wife/mother, work on gentleness this week.

I already have great music picked out for this – I may have cheated and done a little of this last week too. Overachiever?! Now, the gentleness part may take a little more work…

And now for the harder challenge…

I am officially several weeks behind on this one. By now I should have decluttered the closets and our “master bedroom.” Forget the overachiever status I just mentioned. I have officially F.A.I.L.E.D. in this subject.

But this is my make-up week. Just as soon as I get over this head cold, achy, tired yuckiness, I am kicking it into high gear. And before I leave for Relevant, I will be right on track.

That means several things:

*Clearing unnecessary things out of all closets, especially hall and bedrooms.

*Finding some inexpensive shelving to add to said closets to keep things better organized.

*Doing a major decluttering of my dresser and nightstand. MAJOR.

And that’s just the start. But it IS a start.

Now if I can just get started.

Inspired To Action Button

Which leads me to the whole Maximize Your Mornings challenge – which I did well with until the weekend hit. I was up between 6:00 and 6:20 every weekday and before the children every day! I’ll consider that a success.

This week I’m working on my quiet time (yes, I know some of you dread that word, but I do ACTUALLY need it, whatever you call it!) – more focused, more reading, more listening, more open to Him  and His voice in the morning.

And there you go. My post to start the week and attempt to inspire myself.

We’ll see how it works! Here we go…

Have a marvelous Monday!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Thankful on a Thursday

Once again, I get to count my blessings on this Thursday, thanks to the most lovely Nish at The Outdoor Wife. And I just came to the realization that I haven’t actually been COUNTING them like she so brilliantly does.

So that starts today.

#1. The beautiful signs of fall in our burning bush.

#2. The glimpses of REAL fall weather.

#3. A boy who loves to create.

#4. A boy who loves to learn.

#5. A boy who loves to laugh.

#6. Two boys who LOVE to love.

#7. A husband following His path.

#8. Fun thrift store trips with friends.

#9. A spontaneous girls’ movie night.

#10. Two weeks until this.

What are YOU thankful for today? It will do your heart some good 🙂

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Chili

Oh fall, how I love thee…

I MUST repost this recipe on this Tasty Tuesday because I cannot WAIT to make the first pot of the season! And I’m linking up to Jen’s Tasty Tuesday over at Beauty and Bedlam for the first time! Check out all the great recipes over there!

And I hope you enjoy this one as well!


In honor of the cold and wind that has taken over our area, I am posting my mom’s Chicken Chili recipe today. Yes, it makes a LOT but it freezes well and is SO yummy. Here is the original recipe with some notes at the end about how I have modified it. This recipe just fits into my 8-qt. stock pot. (The picture is a double batch.)

I don’t have any witty remarks or fabulous pictures like PW or Mindee, but I do think this is one darn good chili and totally worth the effort – just ask my husband.

Chicken Chili
8 cups chopped onion (6 onions)
¼ cup good olive oil (plus extra for chicken)
¼ cup minced garlic (8 cloves)
4 red peppers, cored, seeded & large diced
4 yellow peppers, cored, seeded & large diced
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp pepper (plus more for the chicken)
4 tsp kosher salt (plus more for chicken)
4 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes in puree, undrained
½ cup minced fresh basil leaves
8 split chicken breasts, bone-in & skin-on


Cook onions in oil over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add pepper, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, pepper & salt. Cook one minute. Add crushed tomatoes with puree and basil to the pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat & simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub chicken with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Roast chicken 35-40 minutes. Separate the meat from bones and skin. Cut into chunks. Add to chili and simmer uncovered 20 more minutes. Serve with optional toppings: chopped onion, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream, etc.

Again, this makes a huge recipe but it freezes well.

***I use cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes and dried basil rather than fresh basil. The amount of dried basil is much less than ½ cup – follow your instincts. We also cut the amount of onion in half. Make sure you use coarse kosher salt (like you find on pretzels). It comes in a box. I also roast and cut the chicken the night before I make this to make life easier. Enlist someone to help chop the onions and peppers – trust me.

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook