homestead

Organic Mattress Search + Avocado Mattress

 
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After almost of year of debating + researching we finally purchased an organic king mattress. We searched high and low for one that fit our requirements without breaking the bank, and finally decided on an Avocado Mattress. We looked through many of the most popular brands and compared them based on whether or not they were: organic, zero VOC, sustainably sources, chemical-free, made in the USA and affordable. Here are the other brands we researched and how they compared to Avocado. Note: the prices are based on king size mattresses.

 
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Avocado:                                                               
Organic: YES                                                                
Zero VOC: YES                                                             
Sustainably sourced: YES                                            
Chemicals: NONE                                                        
Made in USA: YES (handmade to order)                    
Price: $$ (1100)                                                            

Saavta:                                                                         
Organic cotton: Yes                                                    
Zero VOC: Low VOC                                                    
Sustainably sourced: Yes                                             
Chemicals: No                                                              
Made in USA: Yes                                                         
Price: $$$ (1700)                                                         

My Green Mattress:
Organic cotton: Yes
Zero VOC: Low VOC
Sustainably sourced: Yes
Chemicals: No
Made in USA: Yes
Price: $ (1200+)

Intellibed
Organic cotton: N/A
Zero VOC: Yes
Sustainably sourced: ?
Chemicals: No
Made in USA: Yes
Price:  $$$$ (3799+)

 
 
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We obviously chose Avocado and are over the moon happy with our mattress! It is comfortable, firm and supportive but soft, safe for our family, and we are supporting a small USA-based business. To say we are happy is an understatement. The edges are supportive, so you don't feel like you are sinking in when you sit on the side of the bed, and I have been sleeping much better than I was on our previous mattress. I don't have to worry about our kids breathing in toxic chemicals from the off-gasing of plastic that occurs in other mattresses. We have enough room for everyone when the littlest sneaks into our bed in the middle of the night. The only problem is that I don't want to get out of bed!

 
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If you follow on Instagram, you've seen that our bedroom is fairly monochromatic but full of pattern and texture. It's my favorite room in the house and one I often visit because it feels so serene. To complete our new bed, I ordered some organic flannel sheets for winter (similar here) + crisp white cotton ones for spring. I went with a black bedskirt to hide the metal frame (and storage underneath!), and we already had a king size comforter (also love this one, this one and the simplicity of this one). I just added a coverlet for more texture and extra warmth and will simply fold the comforter at the food of the bed when the weather warms up again. Add a couple king size pillows for extra coziness, black and white pillow cases (similar here), and an amazing throw (similar here and here) and our bed was complete!

My bedroom has become my oasis, and I truly look forward to climbing into bed at night! 


Other source details:
Black paint: Magnolia for Ace Hardware in Prairie Smoke
Dreamcatcher: Project62 for Target
Comforter: Urban Outfitters (similar linked above) 
Throw blanket: Home Goods (similar linked above)
Macrame curtains: Living Roots Decor
Black dresser: Vintage
Hairpin leg bench: DIY 

Paint it Black (or White)

Ever since we moved into our home over five years ago I've been wanting to pain our oak trim white. It's one of those projects that no one really wants to tackle because it's just so huge, yet it would make such a dramatic difference in the look of our home. Well, a couple weeks ago I finally got my wish! We ended up hiring someone to do the work because #life, and I could not be happier. We also painted the built-in bookshelves in our living room which as really opened up the whole space.

I love the crisp contrast of black and white, and despite how common it's becoming, we love the modern farmhouse feel. Always have, always will! Next on our list for our living space is painting the interior doors (I vote black, my man says white but he will come around!) and the front door (mint green? turquoise?). Then we will tackle the windows. Deciding between painting the slats black or replacing the windows with full-pane. Our last project is wood floors! Here are some of my inspirations (find them all here!):

I love the giant glass door because our living room, dining room and foyer are open but lacking in natural light. However, I am a little concerned about having our front door be completely see-through.... 

The windows are another source of debate... black slats or full pane? We have full pane windows in our master, and they let in so much more light! But again, I love the contrast of the black and white. 

I'll definitely be mixing it up with our front door, and will most likely go with something more green like the top image. The exterior of our door is currently grey, so a little bit of color will help spruce up both the front porch and the entryway which now contains a vintage piano (that will shortly be painted white, ha!). More updates this summer! 

Gardening for the Soul

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I remember our gardens growing up... the smell of the dirt, the watering of the plants, the pulling of the radishes and beets. I remember my mom giving me a tiny pair of gloves and showing me how to place the plants in the ground. Those times in the garden with her are some of my sweetest memories. I feel at ease in the garden, and there is a sense of simplicity to the tasks that make even the most complicated things seem simpler. But I would argue that there's something about gardening that appeals to most everyone, even if we don't really have a green thumb. 

There's a positive energy that comes with connecting to creation, seeing growth right in front of you, making a tangible difference in your surroundings. Whether we recognize it or not, gardening touches part of our souls. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." But the benefits of playing in the dirt aren't just spiritual and emotional. Gardening is good for our bodies too! Here are a few reasons why I believe (and science suggests) that gardening is good for your body + soul:

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+ Stress relief: In a world where we are constantly pulled in a million directions with something always demanding our attention, the sights, smells, and sounds of the garden can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Our brains have a finite capacity for attention directed at cell phones, computers, etc.  and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. Luckily this fatigue appears to be reversible! We can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use when enjoying nature.

+ Improves depression symptoms: similar to the stress relief, time in nature allows our brains to disconnect from all the distractions, stress and screens trying to grab our attention and focus us on something tangible. I also believe it connects us back to creation, which brings us to a grounded place emotionally and naturally improves our mood. 

+ Good for the immune system. Playing in the dirt exposes us to good bacteria in our environment. Kind of like nature's probiotic if you will. ;) 

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+ It can be exercise: The days after we plant our garden are some of my sorest days! Hamstrings, triceps, biceps, abs oh my! It's because digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise! 

+ It's good for your brain! Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. 

+ Good nutrition is good for mind, body and soul! The vegetables, herbs and fruit grown in your backyard are ideally organic and are super fresh, so the nutrients, minerals and enzymes are still active. Feeding your body the best is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Be outside, grow your own food, connect to nature, relieve stress and anxiety, boost immunity and brain health and improve mood all at the same time? Sign me up. Honestly it sounds like a commercial for the perfect pharmaceutical medication, except with gardening there are no disclaimers or side effects. Just some good old fashioned dirt under your fingernails. 

DIY Chicken Coop Shelf

I'm the first to admit that I'm not a great DIY-er when it comes to big house projects. I prefer to leave that to the professionals so I know it will be done correctly. But when it comes to smaller things, we will roll up our sleeves, get out the tools and go to work. We've made a farm table for our dining room, raised beds for our organic garden, a couple hairpin leg benches and, possibly my favorite project, a chicken coop display shelf. (Insert heart eyed emoji!)

I love to find unique pieces at antique stores, thrift stores and even barn sales, so when I saw this beat up old coop outside of an auction, I knew it was going to live on our wall. We took it home and cleaned it up with some soap and water, but didn't do much with it in the way of decorating for over four years. (The coop was actually one of the first pieces I bout for our house!!) When we finally took the time to finish the project, we simply sawed off the perches and cut wooden shelves to fit each nesting box. My husband hammered the shelves in with a rubber mallet, then we attached a thick piece of wire to the back for hanging. We have it hanging on two large nails in studs in our dining room because of the weight and have never had any problems! I recently added a 'Pharmacie' sign above it that my sister gifted me for Christmas. 

I use the coop as storage for my oils since my office nook is in our dining room, and it's accessible with the flow of our daily life. (Having your oils out somewhere visible will ensure that you use them!) As we continue our dining room update I will probably mix in some other elements like our glasses for entertaining, a mix of modern and vintage vases (love these, these, and this) and other fun elements. Next up is a new light fixture and maybe some hardwood floors!!! 

Garden Plans

I love being in the garden. I love planting seeds or tiny plants, watering them and loving them, watching them grow, sitting back and enjoying the serenity of a beautiful green space. I think it has a lot to do with being part of Creation and connecting to the Creator, a theme we see a lot in the Bible. But that's just me and my thoughts ;)

Since we love to be outside and cultivate a space of our own, one of our biggest house projects is our yard. When we moved in the landscaping had basically been untended for five or more years, so we had our work cut out for us! Since moving in, we've removed large obstructive shrubs, graded the backyard for drainage and laid a flagstone patio. It's finally time to get to some of the more fun, aesthetic type projects, and I'm so excited! 

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We are going for a practical and functional space that will double as a garden and a place to entertain. You can find all the inspiration posts here, but so far our plans include:

+ Six raised garden beds with chicken wire screens (DIY with plans coming soon!), gravel between the beds and a stack stone fire pit in the middle (DIY hack coming soon!)
+ Blueberry bushes lining the exterior of the garden near the edge of the house
+ A modern mix of greenery including a mixture of ferns, creeping jenny, boxwood and herbs. We already have two white ceramic hanging planters (similar here) to fill with greenery, and I'm thinking whitewashed terra-cotta planters or perhaps these zinc planters for the back porch to tie in with the flagstone. Would love to plant a variety of white bulbs as well to keep the color scheme minimal and add more texture. 
+ A few galvanized planters for daffodils and tulips... because they are so pretty! I mean... because the garden needs flowers for cross pollination (if my husband asks) ;) #multipurpose
+ String lights to add ambiance to the space, natch. We also have this vintage iron chandelier that I plan to add solar string lights to and hang on a shepherd's hook just outside the garden space. 

Also loving these gold hanging planters (1, 2, 3) either to add some texture or just to hang in the sunroom. Would be a cute Easter gift or Mother's Day gift too! Swoon! Can't wait to update you guys when we get it all done!!

Backyard Chickens + Homesteading

A few years ago when my husband mentioned that we should get a few chickens to keep in our backyard, I was a little hesitant. It seemed like one of those things that only people with lots of land and tractors and cows could do, but in reality it has been one of the best things we have done! We buy their food at a local feed store, give them plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit scraps, and let them roam around in the woods behind our house to hunt for insects. As twilight, they return to their little home, and we close them in for the night! We have amazingly fresh eggs every day that are rich in protein and incredibly healthy.

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Right now our coop is a simple structure with a small window, a ramp and a small run. Since we live far enough away from our neighbors, we allow the ladies to roam around in the yard every afternoon. We were talking the other day though, about our big dreams and long-term goals as a family, and a homestead is at the top of the list. I'd love to have a really large flock and a gorgeous coop to house them. Here are some of my favorites!

This whole layout is so dreamy. I love the cedar planks, the modern fence and the large open area for the chickens. This is hands-down our favorite inspiration image, and we would love to recreate this whole garden/farm enclosure! I'm thinking lots of fresh herbs - basil, thyme, oregano, lavender, dill, cilantro, chives, garlic - and plenty of flowering leeks and leafy greens.

We would add plenty of drought-tolerant plants and flowers such as these to surround the coop and garden pathways. I love big, wild-looking flowers and bushes such as lantana and fanal that are reminiscent of natural secret gardens and the English countryside.

Another must for our new coop and garden area is a large workspace for potting, organizing, and storing our homestead necessities. I also want to try our hands at raising bees! Imagine having fresh, raw honey for your tea every morning. Amazing.

Those are our long-term dreams! For now we love our girls and love having them in our yard. Elliot loves them too! One of his first words was 'chick' as he pointed out the window to the foraging chickens. ;) If you want to get started with backyard chickens and just need a small, simple coop, here are some great ideas!