Essential Oils

Print Shop

Our Home

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!! The first official Friday of Summer and we have sunny skies for the first time in weeks! We are going big this weekend with an indoor camping trip for the girls tonight, fishing on Sunday & lots of time in the pool. We are also trying our hand at online grocery ordering + pickup so I am feeling extra productive already! πŸ˜‰

I wanted to share a few Friday Favorites before we sign off for the weekend!!

My favorite leggings to keep cool in this Summer.

19 Popsicle Recipes to try.

The best distressed white denim for under $50.

The cutest baby girl ice cream dress, a summer must have! Love it in a onesie print as well!

Five Essential Oil DIYs.

Best gift for guys (got a few for my dad & Brandon for Father’s Day).

Have the BEST weekend friends, hope it involves lots of fun in the sun & a little ice cream too! XO

56

Outdoor String Lights Tutorial

Happy official first day of Summer! It has been nothing but swimming, adventuring, napping & evening thunderstorms over here. Isn’t that what Summer is all about?!

I wanted to share a little tutorial on how we hung our string lights on the back deck. Tons of you have asked about how to do it, as this is a super common deck set up where there isn’t something on the opposite end of the house to attach your lights to! My husband, a master problem solving extraordinaire, put this set up together after I drew out for him what I wanted it to look like. His dad, who is an electrician, gave him some pointers for materials & proper hanging safety, and here is what we came up with:

What you will need:

Electrical conduit (3/4”)Β (we boughtΒ 4 10’ sections as we were installing a piece of vertical conduit every other railing post for the length of the railing.Β  We chose to make ours 6’ tall as we wanted the lights to start higher by the door and slope down, like a canopy, towards our backyard. The conduit I picked up was galvanized, so it any of the paint chips off, it won’t rust or corrode),Β Electrical conduit brackets (3’/4”),Β Stainless steel lag screw eye (~3”),Β Deck Screws (2 ½”), Hack Saw, Zip Ties (Black), Level, Power Drill, Exterior Extension Cord, Exterior Caulk & String Lights (these are the lights we chose, I wanted them to be super heavy duty to withstand the weather, I love the look of the edison bulb as opposed to a round bulb.

What you will do:

  1. Plan & Measure. Map out where you’re going to hang your lights. Cut some string//rope to the length of your string lights and zig-zag that across your outdoor space to get an idea as to how many of strands to use. This also helps with planning how to fully use your strands, making sure there isn’t a ball of Christmas Vacation style lights at one end.
  2. Determine the height at which your lights will hang. Ours hang at 6’ on the railing side and about 9’ under the eve of the house.
  3. Cut the electrical conduit with a hacksaw to length. I ran mine down the railing as far down as I could (until it butted up against one of the bolts that holds the railing to the deck floor), which was about 8’. If you have a metal file, now is a great time to get any burrs or sharp edges off the cut end of the conduit.
  4. Spray paint the conduit & conduit brackets. I did several (5+) light applications to give it an even coat.
  5. Install conduit to the deck railing with the conduit brackets, deck screws and drill. It’s great to have a second set of hands here to hold the level, keeping the conduit plumb (vertically level).One of the hacks I used on this was using a white marker to mark on the conduit exactly where it should sit against the top of the railing. This little tick-mark made sure that every piece of conduit was exactly 6’ off the deck, without also trying to balance a tape measure.
  6. Install Lag (Eye) Screws.If the deck, or outdoor space isn’t connected to your house, you can run the electrical conduit around the entire perimeter instead of using the lags.Β Β Our design was to zig-zag the lights down the deck.Β  So I installed the lag screw (under the roof) at the halfway point between the pieces of conduit. Drill a hole and screw in the lag screw. I use a smaller drill bit than necessary to really keep the fit tight, which makes it tough to twist the lag. So, I’ll usually take a screwdriver, put the blade end into the hole and turn the handle to gain some leverage.
  7. This is probably optional, I put some white silicone caulk around where the lag meets the wood, just as a safety precaution to prevent any potential water damage.
  8. Hang Lights! I connected the two strands plugged in together via zip ties (see photo) and zip-tied the end to the conduit (using 3 or 4 zip ties to make sure it doesn’t slide). I then attached the string lights to the lag screw using the same zip ties. Continue this across the deck, trying to match the same amount of droop between each point (again, a second set of hands can be a huge help with keeping an eye on this and telling you when you need to tighten or loosen before zip-tying the strand).
  9. Power Up! Using an extra-long extension cord, we ran the lights underneath the deck from the end and drilled a hole through the deck directly under our power outlet.

Thank you to my handy hubby for writing that all out! πŸ™‚ If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and we will come back and answer them! We didn’t get to take pictures of each step but I did try to get some close ups to help you along the way. Using black poles, black cord & black zip ties makes everything sorta disappear and blend together which gives an overall seamless look.

There is truly nothing more magical than a summer night under the string lights, hopefully this tutorial is helpful & easy enough for you all to make this project come to life! XO

119

Whole30ish

Alternatively titled: I miss toast.

We are almost finished with our first ever attempt at whole30 (I know, I hate me too) and I wanted to share some thoughts & tips with you all. I have gotten tons of emails and messages about what we are doing, how it is going and advice for anyone who is going to try it. I will start by saying, there are SO many amazing resources for whole30 so please don’t let this be your main resource, do tons of research before starting and decide what foods you will and won’t eat. We decided to do ours after basically binge eating & drinking all the sugary things and junk food on our beach trip, we came home feeling like we needed to hit the reset button. It helped so much to have each other to hold accountable, and Brandon was a champ, both at grilling lots of the meals and also putting up with me saying “I’m hungry” two thousand times a day.

I learned after we started that there are a lot of different levels of whole30, we basically followed the rules on the whole30 site & the grocery list. Some people don’t eat any fruit because of the natural sugar, some don’t eat potatoes at all, etc. but we did the less strict version and I realized there is no way I could have done it any other way. We printed this grocery list and based most of our meal planning on what was on it. We tried to keep meals super simple, rather than complicated and full of substitutes. We also basically stopped going out to eat for the most part, it felt overwhelming thinking about what was in all of the dishes, so aside from when I was travelling, we cooked basically everything at home.

Some of the biggest struggles for me were finding food I liked for breakfast that would also keep me full. I looove my sweets at breakfast (waffles, pancakes, french toast, TOAST) and usually do not wake up wanting to eat salty/savory food, so it was hard to eat eggs early in the morning. I started eating a banana when I first woke up and then would wait and do a later second breakfast of eggs + sweet potatoes or avocado. Also, the banana + 2 egg pancakes are legit and topped with some fruit and shredded coconut can be a pretty great substitute. Although the whole time I eat them I can’t help but think, “stop trying to make whole30 pancakes happen, they’re never going to happen.” Strangely I didn’t miss milk or cream in my coffee, I had no problem drinking it black (I tried unsweetened almond milk but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in taste) but I reeeeaally miss having yogurt and fruit for breakfast.

One thing that I think made our things a little easier was doing it during summer when fruit is in season & grilling is always an option. We eat a ton of grilled chicken, fish, burgers, and pork chops. Roasted veggies are everything, we did lots of cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, squash and sweet potatoes. Ohhh the sweet potatoes, they were my saving grace, either in the oven or sauteed in some olive oil, YUM. I could still eat them for every meal. LaraBars, RX Bars & LaCroix are life savers, and adding essential oils like Peppermint, Orange, Grapefruit & Lemon to my water helped to curb sugar cravings. I made a lot of smoothies using unsweetened almond milk, frozen fruits, almond butter & shredded coconut.

Some of our favorite dishes include burger bowls (grilled burger over sweet potato hash, topped with a fried egg, sauteed onions & avocado), chicken fried cauliflower-rice (using my favorite chicken fried rice recipe but substituting frozen/steamed riced cauliflower + sweet potato), chicken salad (best mayo option), sweet potato breakfast bowls, chicken or turkey lettuce wraps, and the best everΒ cracklin’ chicken. I followed this blog religiously for amazing recipes & love this list of breakfast food options.

What I learned from doing this so far is how bad my eating habits were prior to making a point to eat healthy. I never ate a ton of junk food, but would never turn down pancakes for breakfast, and could easily follow it with grilled cheese for lunch or fries with my dinner. Not to mention the handfuls of goldfish or peanut butter crackers I would eat here and there with the kids. Doing whole30 has helped me change my perspective on food, to view it as fuel instead of treats. I have learned what sweets are necessary in my life (yogurt + granola) and what is not (donuts). For the first time ever, I paid attention to added sugar and feel that I can make much better decisions on meals for our whole family.

Did I do the best whole30 ever with absolutely no cheating? Not a chance. There were meals when I was travelling unexpectedly last week that I couldn’t really avoid (although I did my best), I drank at a concert because #lukebryan, and I definitely ate a few pieces of homemade popcorn without even thinking about it. But when I think of all the food I did not eat (and drinks I did not drink!) and all of the amazing, healthy meals that I now love and will make often, I feel really good about it. To be honest, I never thought I would make it through a week, so to have done this much is a huge accomplishment!

So if you are thinking about attempting your first whole30, my advice would be yes, try it!!! Even if you only make it a week, the knowledge you will take away from it is worth it, and you will see amazing changes in your energy & body after just a few days which is so encouraging.

Have a happy weekend, friends!! XO

167