valentine's day dining table

Valentine’s Day Dining Table Decor On A Dime

Happy Valentines Day! (aka Happy Singles Awareness Day! aka Happy Galentines Day!) The one day of the year when it is publicly accepted to buy giant teddy bears for adults – and NOT be the recipient of public ridicule. The season of chocolate, flowers, and fat winged babies shooting unsuspecting loners with diabolic arrows, irrevocably plunging them into the throws of that flighty temptress, LOVE. (Bet you’re glad you clicked over to this page, aren’t you?) All joking aside, love is a wonderful thing that we believe should be celebrated in all its forms. Whether you’re hosting a Galentines Brunch, having your sweetheart over for a romantic dinner, or throwing a Valentine’s Day soireé, here’s how we decorated our Valentine’s Day dining table on a dime – and you can too!

Start with simple

valentine's day dining table decor

valentine's day dining table

Almost all of the items you see in these photographs already belonged to us, or we were able to purchase them at our local Walmart and Hobby Lobby for a dime. When you open yourself up to thinking creatively, you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas flow in! And you DO NOT have to spend a fortune. For instance, you could spend $2-10 a setting on napkin rings… OR you could use cheap fresh flowers and string to wrap silverware in one-of-a-kind woodland creations.

*Oak and Earth tip* This is pretty well known, but it bears repeating: WAIT until things go on sale at Hobby Lobby! They always do and you will feel so much better about that new lamp/vase/garland when it only cost you half the price! Most of the glassware pictured here was purchased for pocket change at Hobby Lobby.

valentine's day dining table

valentine's day dining table

*Oak and Earth tip* Keep it versatile. Something we really loved about this spread is that it’s Valentine’s-themed without being over-the-top. With the floral plates at the heads of the table, and pops of teal and neutrals found throughout the room, the majority of this spread could be used from February to April as Spring-themed decor. This is a great way to stretch your dollars while still getting festive.
valentine's day dining table

Think outside the box this Valentines Day! Wow your guests with a fun and festive holiday spread! Start here:

We hope you and yours have a wonderful and love-filled February 14th, and every day.

XO – Oak and Earth

Downsizing: The Simple Life

My husband and I began talking about a pretty significant idea back in April of last year: downsizing. (Side-note: I cannot believe 2016 is now past tense…where does the time go?!) It was our 4th anniversary weekend, and we had sent our oldest with some family and had a mini stay-cation at a nice hotel here in NWA. Being just the two of us, we had all the time in the world to discuss things that are many times otherwise interrupted and pushed aside these days. On our last morning “away,” while we ate our breakfast, we flipped our hotel television on to our favorite channel: HGTV. Of course a show popped on that we didn’t ordinarily watch, but it was immediately intriguing to us so we kept it going; it was a show on ‘tiny living’. “That is so cool, but I just don’t see how these families do it. Especially with kids!”

I remember saying this to Jer a few times while we watched these families (some with kids, some without) take their belongings and their space and condense it all into a space of about 400 sq ft or less. We marveled at the idea, and slightly envied the people who nipped America’s stereotypical house in the bud, dropped 80-90% of their belongings, and headed straight for the simple life. It was a concept that we just couldn’t get out of our heads.  “What if we did this?”

At first we thought it would just be too hard. After all, we had one toddler and had recently found out we would be having a second baby in the fall. How in the world would we make the (lack of) space work? We lived in a decent size home, about 1800 sq ft, and we had “stuff” in every room! I should also note that we had only moved into this nice home months before, adding even more insanity to our scheme. But what we finally realized, was that much of our living space was not utilized; it was just holding all the stuff we’d accumulated over the course of our marriage, much of which we could certainly live without.

The idea of simplifying our lifestyle grew more and more compelling to us, and the more we researched and read, the more we loved it. Not just for the mere fact of getting rid of “things,” though that was a large portion of it. We also loved the idea of taking our girls out of the cycle that we tend to get caught up in of not being content unless we have the latest and greatest, the nicest, the biggest and best, [insert ‘thing’ here]. Taking them out of this cycle and raising them in an atmosphere that was safe, promoted creativity, created closeness, and of course was always truly ‘enough.’ We were sold.

Downsizing Simple Life

A few days after listing our house for sale, we placed an offer on a small home in my childhood hometown, and were accepted. A couple weeks after our house was on the market we were under contract, and thus officially began our downsizing! “Simplify” quickly became our word for the remainder of 2016. Bit by bit we sifted through our things, donating a substantial amount of our belongings that we would no longer have the space for. A few weeks later we packed up what was left of our things and moved into a home that is just under 1000 sq ft. Of course, this was our version of a big downsize, and we didn’t move into a truly tiny home. But those of you with kids know that moving a family of four into a very small, 2 bedroom home is quite a feat! Simplify.

It is in no way an easy thing to accomplish, especially with kids, and we are still in the process of slowly downsizing more of our things even 6 months later, but as we’ve moved into 2017, we haven’t once looked back! I believe our word to live by this year is “intentional.” One of the biggest things we’ve had to do in our downsizing process has been to be so intentional with our space and how we utilize it. Do I love this piece, and does it make me smile? Like (Emily Gilmore, anyone?) Every piece we own must serve a purpose, and if it can serve for more than one purpose, even better!

Our space is very intentional. One of the main things we wanted to fit into our small home was our full size dining set. We wanted to have a space to bring people into our home and have good food, good discussion, and close relationships. I have my reading corner, the girls have a play space…every part of our home has been thought out, and is utilized! As far as the girls’ things go, we haven’t cleaned them out of all their toys, and they have a substantial book collection in the making, but we do have regular “sorting” days where we filter through and weed out the toys that have since become unexciting, and make room for the new. I can tell you our oldest never misses a thing!

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Since downsizing and simplifying, we’ve decided we love it so much that we are working toward ways to simplify even more! There is such a freedom in knowing that there isn’t a wrong or a right way to “live,” and for us this lifestyle has been so rewarding! Don’t get me wrong, we see nothing wrong with consumption, and having “things.” We still have things, and we still love to buy certain things! But where I have seen a difference in our consumption is in the intent behind our purchases. Is it compulsory, or is it intentional and for a purpose? Let’s be real, in this small space we live in, there isn’t room for anything but intentional and purposeful–and I love that!

My favorite thing about downsizing has been that it consistently makes us reflect and consider the things that are most important to us, and then the freedom we feel when we condense down to only those most important things! Living small may or may not be forever for our family, but the idea of working toward more freedom with how we use and spend our time and where will be a theme that sticks with us wherever we go from here on out.

I am excited to share more about our downsizing, different projects that have ensued in order to make a small space the most efficient, and updates as we progress to an even more minimalist lifestyle. My husband jokes that our next downsize will be our wardrobes…okay, he’s only half joking (insert nervous sweating emoji).

For more updates and peeks into our day to day, follow me on Instagram ( @terapianalto ) and be sure to follow all of Oak and Earth’s social media accounts!

Here’s to a fresh start to your 2017!

Tera, xo

 

 

Three Years a Mama

One thing you hear a lot when you are expecting a baby is, “your whole world is about to change,” and it’s true. Nothing is ever the same after having your baby! I learned this myself after having our first daughter, Norah. A month and a half ago, we welcomed our second daughter, Elsie, into our family, and again I say, our world has forever been changed. Of course I mean this in the best way possible! She has been such a treasure to get to know and love, and we are all smitten–especially her older sister!

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Elsie Jo Pianalto:: sweetest little pumpkin

Along with the life changing experience of becoming a mother, and then again recently for the second time, I’ve learned some life lessons for myself and my fellow mama friends who may be reading this. So with this being my first post up since Elsie’s arrival, I felt it appropriate to compile that list on here today!

First, I’ve learned that no matter what stage or season of motherhood you are in, you’re a mama! Whether it’s the first week of baby’s conception, or your last week of pregnancy, you’re a mama to that sweet life inside you. Whether you only carried your baby for a short while here on earth, you are a mama. Whether you are an adoptive parent, a foster parent, or are still waiting for that call, you are a mama. This is something to take pride in.

I’ve learned that your heart triples in size when you have your first baby, and that a mother’s love is rooted so deeply into your soul that nothing here on earth can quite compare to it. When you welcome your second (or fifth) baby, your heart triples again, and that unconditional love is equally felt for them.

I’ve learned that no two pregnancies are the same. Not your pregnancy and your friend’s pregnancy. Not your first pregnancy and your second. Stop comparing your beautiful preggo baby body and be thankful to have a baby body.

I’ve learned that no two babies are the same. Don’t place expectations on your baby to match your first baby or your friends’ babies; they wont meet those expectations! Enjoy getting to know your baby, enjoy watching your baby meet his/her own milestones, and soak it all in.

I’ve learned that when it comes between a nap and a meal, many times, a nap wins.

I’ve learned that when it comes down to having that nice shower you were hoping to get, and lying on the bed with your baby because it’s the only way she’ll sleep right now, you decide that your shower can wait.

I’ve learned that your baby body will linger, and that’s okay. Those extra pounds and stretch marks won’t go away over night (or in two months). Your post baby body is a beautiful representation of being a mother…it’s part of it. Allow yourself some grace to give it time to heal!

With this, I’ve learned that when your baby pounds do come off, your body really won’t ever be the same. Sure, you may fit into your old jeans and bras, but you’ll notice your boobs have taken a new shape, and your hips maybe changed ever slightly. You’ll take on a new woman’s body, and it’ll never be what it was before children. It’s okay; it’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s a new you.

I’ve learned that breastfeeding comes easily to some women, and to others, like myself, it is a huge obstacle. It hurts, you bleed, your supply isn’t overly abundant, your baby doesn’t latch to you, it puts you into a depression. Or, it works. No matter what end of the spectrum you are on, that’s okay.

Along with this, I’ve learned that fed really is best. There is no right or wrong for you, mama. Is your baby happy, and growing? If so, it does not matter what route you take. Don’t cause yourself so much stress and angst over this–your beautiful baby will be absolutely okay.

I’ve learned that you just can’t compare yourself to other mamas. Be inspired? Sure. Be encouraged? Yes. Ask advice? Okay. Learn from? Absolutely. But you can’t compare. Stop comparing.

I’ve learned that sometimes, the days seem never-ending, but I promise when you blink an eye you’ll be staring at your once tiny newborn who now is a beautiful, spunky, witty little girl. During those midnight feeds when your tired body and brain are tempted to wish for the day she sleeps through the night, try, try to remember this, and soak in every last hour with your sweet baby. Every day they are growing to need mama a little bit less, and someday, you’ll wish these days back.

I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. It’s okay if you can’t get your picky toddler to eat anything but a pouch and a hot dog for lunch one day. Tomorrow, they won’t even like hot dogs! It’s okay that you napped with baby instead of doing that load of laundry today. Soak all that cuddle time you can get; laundry will be there tonight.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no to some things. If you aren’t the mom type who has a Pinterest home, goes to social gatherings every day, runs a small business, has a homemade meal in the oven every night, spends quality time with your kiddos and saves an extra hour for a bubble bath and a book, I deem you normal. It’s okay to say yes to some things and not feel guilty to say no to others! Say yes to the things that are Kingdom work, and say no to the things that aren’t purposeful and intentional.

I’ve learned that you are watched every minute of every day. Be intentional with what you watch, listen to, say, how you treat others, how you react to things. Our kids’ minds are soaking it in and learning from our actions.

I’ve learned that children are the easiest way to bring us to our knees in prayer. It is a blessing and a privilege to be a mother, and we need to be in constant prayer for those sweet babies.

I’ve learned that our children are our biggest and most important ministry.

I’ve learned that raising children is the best way to grow yourself; in patience, in character, in wisdom, in love, in creativity, in discipline, and on a spiritual realm. Norah and Elsie bring out the best and the worst in me, but they also make me want to be better!

I won’t tell you I’ve mastered all of these life lessons, but I am thankful for all that my girls have taught me so far! Being a mama to Norah and Elsie has truly been my biggest blessing, and the greatest adventure that my hubs and I have ventured on together! To my fellow mamas out there: what are some of the most important things you have learned on your motherhood journey? I’d love to connect with you and hear!

I don’t know about you, but Oak and Earth is super excited for the upcoming holidays! Keep an eye out for some fun holiday inspired posts that will be coming your way really soon! Follow @oakandearth on instagram, and my personal handle @terapianalto for blog updates and my every day snippets!

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Peace and Love,

Tera -xo

5 Inexpensive Ways to Style Pumpkins All Fall

Do you have all the desire to decorate for the entire fall season, and little money to do so? Yeah, me too.

Every time Halloween ends, I toss out our rotted pumpkins and I feel like I toss out heaps of my money right along with them. Not only that, but I’m left with little to no decorations on my porch for Thanksgiving! Now, if you haven’t noticed the massive expense of fall decorating, take out cash the next time you go to purchase real pumpkins and everything that goes with them. Your pocket book will drain faster than you can say PSL!

I could buy fake pumpkins, but one of my favorite parts of fall is romping around the pumpkin patch in search of the perfect ones! In addition to that, I prefer the natural look of the real pumpkins, especially for the front porch.  This leaves quite the predicament. And I have the feeling I’m not alone in this. Do I prefer a barren and sad little porch, or wasted money?

Fortunately, there’s always a way to work with your budget. A little innovation and a pinch of creativity can provide you with all the fall fun no wasted money.

Here are some inexpensive ways to make your (real) pumpkin arrangements last from October through Thanksgiving!

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1.Preserve your pumpkins.

One of the best ways to have your natural arrangements last is to prep your pumpkins ahead of time. Once you preserve them, most can last at least a couple of months. With this technique, you can pick out the best pumpkins and keep them around through Thanksgiving! This alone will save you a lot of money. Here are few links I found that will help guide you in the preservation process. Try HERE or HERE.

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2. Purchase neutral shades.

Not only have these neutral pumpkins been on trend, but their muted pallet makes it easier to create different combinations for the entire fall season. I think they’re gorgeous! When picking yours out, choose different shades to mix and match. I chose whites, sage greens, and pale orange winter squash. I used vibrant mums (an inexpensive choice) to brighten up the space. Have fun with it! The more neutrals you have, the easier it is to play around with your accessories.

3. Rotate your pumpkins.

This one might sounds a bit odd at first, but it makes total sense! Once you’ve gathered your favorite bunch of neutral pumpkins, you can easily rotate the different colors and shades in and out of your arrangements. It takes minimal effort, and helps you feel like you constantly have a brand new arrangement. This is especially helpful when you want to inexpensively transition from an October arrangement to a November arrangement. Check out my example below. I took this arrangement from October to November by substituting my winter squash for my sage pumpkin, yellow mums for burgundy, and swapping out my dried accessories — all of which were a part of my original haul.

4. Style small pumpkins.

While investing in the beautiful large pumpkins is so fun (and necessary to fill large spaces), I find that the small ones are just as useful. It’s very inexpensive to buy a large bundle or two of the small pumpkins. I found mine at Wal-Mart. I use the small ones to fill in the empty nooks in my house, and it automatically feels more festive and inviting. Check out these simple ways to style the small white pumpkins throughout spaces you might not think of, like your bedroom or office space.

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5. Mix and match dried accessories.

For those of you who love the natural look like I do, using dried accessories helps obtain that style while keeping expenses down. Try using dried plants and flowers, pine cones, and maize. All of these dried pieces look great with the pumpkins, and can be preserved or for many fall seasons. In looking at my arrangements, you can see hints of dried accessories all throughout.

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I hope you enjoyed these styling tips! I would love to hear about some of your favorite arrangements you’ve seen this fall. Are you an over the top decorator? Do you prefer the natural decorations? I love to see both! Let’s keep the conversation going! Leave a comment below or follow me on my personal Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. We love to chat with you all.

Happy Fall, yall!

Bethany

5 Inexpensive Ways to Style Pumpkins All Fall

 

Our New Normal

As my second pregnancy comes to the finish line–nearly 36 weeks and counting–I suddenly feel the reality hitting me of going from a family of three to a family of four. I anxiously and excitedly prepare for and await the arrival of our second daughter, and though I daydream about how incredible it will be to watch our little girls growing up together and the bond that we pray and hope they will share, tears come to my eyes at the thought of our sweet Norah going from our baby to our oldest daughter as we welcome our newest little one into the family. So many blessings that await our nearly family of four, yet such a bittersweet-ness to saying goodbye to our budding family of three.

These thoughts that have been on my heart recently have me truly soaking up every bit of my Norah that I can before our new love is here. Not because I feel I am losing anything by adding a sweet new blessing, but because I know that my care, my time, my attention, my energy are all about to soon be divided.

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Soaking up even the long, hard days of raising a sassy toddler because I know that soon, the moments of just Norah and mama will be a rarer thing. Our every day routine will be shared with our new baby. Though I know this will bring even more special moments with my girls, my heart clings a little bit longer to Norah’s hugs. I will myself to remember the  special and tender moments of holding my first girl, the countless times I’ve read “Where are You Going, Smitty Baby?” as she sat on my lap begging for just one more book, and the undivided attention that allowed me to cave in (most times). The endless hours I’ve sat on the floor with her and played with her dolls, and the extra time (mostly from saying: “the dishes can wait”) that I had to sit and marvel at how creative and sweet she was (is) as she plays with her toys and brings them to life. The extra snuggles at night that make my heart swell as I listen to her say her sweet and innocent prayers, and sings her favorite songs. I want to cherish these times more than ever before because I know these last few weeks of just she and I will be fleeting, and they’ll all feel like just a few moments.

I know these moments won’t be totally lost on me; I’ll make time for my oldest treasure, and she and I will continue to have special memories together. But another part of me realizes that these moments will have to be fought for. That our new little love will become a part of our new normal, a part of our story time and our play time, a part of our nighttime prayers. Life with two babies will be a whole new ballpark and learning experience for me, and Norah’s role will go from being our only baby, to being an older sister. My heart bursts with anticipation and pride as I picture this new normal, though I realize the changes and adjustments that Norah and I will have to make may not be as easy for a while. I am so excited to grow our family and begin a new journey, but also so nervous about this transition.

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I look at Norah, and I picture how big she will look standing next to our newborn, but also how much of a baby she really still is. How dependent on her mama she still is, and how I hope (and to be transparent, worry a tad) that she never feels like she can’t depend on me. How she was entrusted to me by the One who gave her life, and how much I rely on Him to help me raise her (and our next) with grace. During my last few weeks of pregnancy, I’m seeing how God is doubling my love. How much love I have for my sweet Norah, and already the love I have for our unborn daughter. How I would do anything for Norah, and already could say the same for our littlest. Though there are moments with my first born that I will miss, there is nothing that I anticipate and look forward to more than becoming a family of four. The bittersweet-ness it is to say goodbye to one season that holds so many memories so near and dear to my heart, and to trade it in for even more love and more precious memories to be shared together.

I am so thankful to God that He extends His love and grace to us so that we can give it. Multiplying the love of a mother so that though her life may look different by adding a new baby to the mix, she doesn’t have to divide her heart and her love for them. Giving mama’s of multiples the energy to get through a sleepless night with one baby, and still do the ‘mama thing’ with the kiddos the next day and with a thankful heart. I am thankful that God has painted a picture of our family and that His picture includes both of our sweet babies.

My time with Norah as my only baby is coming to an end, and it is a precious season that I am thankful to have gotten with her. And though I will miss these moments with her, I am so blessed and grateful to begin our new normal.

-xo,

Tera

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My sassy, yet oh so sweet Norah 🙂

D.I.Y. No-Sew Pillow Covers

Hello Oak and Earth readers! It’s Bethany here on the blog this week. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for us Oak and Earth gals. In the midst of all this craziness, Denver and I have been doing a few home projects (more on this later), and I have decided to show you one that I did recently!

This project came about because we had finally decided to purchase a real couch. Now, when I say real couch, I mean not a passed down (but very comfortable) love seat that we’ve had since we were married. In fact, almost all of our furniture has been passed down to us. We have been so thankful for it, but it’s time for a furniture face lift! Most of it we have been painting or re-inventing.

Ain’t nobody got money for all new furniture (except for Kimye).

A new couch, however, is something we have wanted for a long time and felt the investment was worth it. We found one that we love, and it came with throw pillows! The throw pillows weren’t awful, but they weren’t anything I would have chosen. Instead of tossing them or putting them in a garage sale, I decided to re-invent these too!

I had remembered seeing a video on how to do no-sew slip covers for pillows, and this sounded like a perfect project for a busy girl like me. I had two of these pillows, and I chose a different fabric for each. Why do this project? Simple — all (yes all) throw pillows are expensive, and the fabric I chose is not. I also love that if we change our style later down the road, all I have to do is go grab a new set of fabrics! Win and win. Let’s check it out.

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STEP 1: Pick out fabric for your pillows. I was covering two pillows and chose one yard of white fabric, and one yard of navy fabric with white arrows (as pictured). I found mine at Hobby Lobby.

STEP 2: Lay your fabric pattern face down, and measure it into a square. Fold up excess fabric.

STEP 3: Rotate your fabric into a diamond shape.
STEP 4:
Fold the bottom corner onto the pillow.

STEP 5: While holding the corner of fabric on the pillow (see above), roll the pillow into the middle of the fabric.
STEP 6:
Grab the top corner of the fabric.

STEP 7: Pull that corner over the pillow.
STEP 8: Tuck the corner under so that it makes a straight edge.

STEP 9: Tuck the edges of the fabric in like you’re wrapping a present. This just straightens the edges.
STEP 10: Pull the two sides together in preparation to tie them. As you do this, make sure your fabric is pulled tight and crisp.

STEP 11: Tie the edges into a double knot.
STEP 12: Tuck the excess fabric into the side folds to hide them.

Once these steps are done, you can either display the knotted side, or the flat side (both options are pictured below). The white pillow displayed below is also a cover done the exact same way!

I enjoy having these on my couch or on my bed. Let’s take a look!

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This was a really quick and easy D.I.Y.! I am so glad I decided to keep the original pillows and turn them into something I can use in multiple rooms of my house. Being the D.I.Y. loving woman that I am, I can’t wait to experience (and possibly blog about) our next set of home projects! In the mean time, you can keep up with me on Instagram @bethanympoteet, and with our Oak and Earth accounts located in the side bar or footer.

Happy last couple weeks of summer!

<3 Bethany

Pinterest Project Fun: DIY Yarn Hangers

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Hello, everyone! It’s Bethany here today, and I am so excited to be writing on Oak & Earth  as my favorite season has arrived – summer! During the warmer months, I find myself day dreaming and scrolling through my Pinterest page frequently. With so many fun project ideas available at my fingertips, I decided to take a risk and try one that I’ve been swooning over for a while. DIY Yarn Hangers!

While you can go on Etsy and snag something similar, I prefer DIY’s because you can add personal touches and really make it your own. I also found that the materials to make these hangers are very cost efficient. Once I gathered the materials, I threw on some music and simply tied the evening away. This would be a really fun project to do with some girlfriends!

I chose this yarn hanger DIY in particular because they fit the minimal vibe that I love, the metal rings added a fun touch I hadn’t seen in other yarn hangers, and I thought the user friendly instructions were perfect for a busy girl like me! It turns out, this project wasn’t a Pinterest fail at all (we’ve all had them). I’m absolutely in love, and I think they fit so well with my style and my home.

Here’s how they turned out!

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Making the Yarn Hangers

← P R E P A R E 

Because I wanted to hang my pieces in a wide blank space, I decided to make my yarn hangers a little larger than the measurements provided in the DIY. I simply multiplied the measurements to my liking. I found every single material item at Hobby Lobby! Remember that you can choose your own color of yarn, length, texture, tying styles, etc., and that personal choices are part of the fun of doing a DIY!

← M A T E R I A L S →

  • Yarn of choice
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Cardboard piece at least 14”
  • Metal rings **Note: The size of ring depends on how large you would like your hanging pieces. The DIY demonstration calls for 1.5” and 3” rings, while I upped the size a touch. There are many sizes to choose from at Hobby Lobby. 
  • Krazy glue
  • Round wood dowel **Note: DIY instructions called for 7. 5″, I chose 12”

← C R A F T →

I followed the instructions in the DIY Yarn Hanger post found HERE. This DIY project was created by the wonderful blogger, Amy, of HomeyOhMy. Her blog is great for minimal and modern home décor ideas and projects, so be sure to check her out!

 

We are so excited to share all the fun recipes, DIYS, and experiences that we have planned this summer! Please let us know if you try this project, and be sure to suggest some posts you would like to see in the future! You can keep up with me on Instagram @bethanympoteet, as well as our Oak & Earth social media links located in our side bar or footer.

Happy summer, and happy pinning!

Bethany

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Down and Dirty Guide to: Essential Oils

A Beginners Guide To-

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Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about essential oils.

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in learning more about essential oils after listening to several friends and acquaintances rave about them. What were they? Why was I just now hearing about them? Were they just a fad? Why would I want to incorporate them in my life? Were they hippy mumbo jumbo?

I set out on a quest to discover all of these things, and like any normal human, I turned to Google for answers. I immediately realized it was going to be very difficult to discern fact from fiction and to get the answers I was looking for about oils. There is just so much (often contradictory) info out there. I longed for a simple, broken-down, absolute beginner’s guide to oils.

And so a year and a half later, I’m writing one.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices, as well as in aromatherapy. They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in plants. Some come from the seeds, others come from the flowers, roots, bark, etc. They are extracted through various methods, such as steam distillation and cold pressing, and in this potent form are much more powerful than the plants from which they were extracted.

Put simply – essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts.

When I say they have “long been used…” I mean LONG. Although essential oils have only gained more popularity in the Western world recently, oils have been in use since (at least) the times of ancient Egypt. Essential oils were also popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. There is even mention of essential oils in the Bible.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what essential oils are. . .

WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

I know what you’re thinking; if essential oils have been around for so long, why have they only become popular in the West recently?

I think it is fair to say that in the past decade there has been a definite push toward a more natural, toxin-free, and sustainable lifestyle. Being derived from plants, essential oils definitely fall into this category.

Oils are reputed to be a natural remedy for many common ailments such as headaches, inflammation, viruses, bacterial infection, skin issues, and much more, as well as boosting the immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more.

You can also clean with essential oils, and they smell amazing when diffused (more on this below!)

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HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, how should you use essential oils starting out?

Some of the first oils I bought were:

  • lavender
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • eucalyptus

I had done a little research, and it seemed that these oils were used frequently in different recipes that caught my interest. When I say “recipes,” I simply mean combining different oils to suite different purposes. You can diffuse your oils, blend them with together for topical application, use them in steam inhalation, or put them to use in homemade face wash or cleaning products! There are so many possibilities.

After personally testing many different recipes, here are some of my favorite blends that I make in 10mL roller bottles. Other than diffusing, this is how I most often use my oils, and I would not hesitate in recommending these to beginners. When making these concoctions, you will need a carrier oil, which will vary based on what you are using it for and personal preference. For more on carrier oils, try here.

Headache/Pain Relief Roller

  • 10 drops copaiba
  • 10 drops panaway (blend)
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops lavender
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on wherever the pain is. (You could also make this in a cream with coconut oil as the carrier oil – I love coconut oil.)

Seasonal Relief/Immunity Roller

  • 5 drops thieves (blend)
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 10 drops lemon
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 5 drops R.C. (blend)
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on over your sinuses, on your chest, or on your feet for sweet relief.

Skin Blemish/Wound Salve/Anti-Aging

  • 5 drops lemon or purification (blend) or tea tree or copaiba*
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

If it has to do with your skin, this is your best friend. I’ve rolled this on everything from wrinkles to bug bites to scratches to blemishes. (* – I use a couple drops of each)

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Finally, I think my favorite use for essential oils is diffusing. Some of my personal favorite combinations are:

  1. Lavender + Cedarwood + Citrus — for sleeping
  2. Purification (blend) — for making my space smell enticingly clean and odor free
  3. R.C. (blend) — for breathing easily
  4. Tea Tree + Eucalyptus + Peppermint — for calming and focus
  5. Thieves (blend) + R.C. (blend) — for combating a cold/sinus congestion

One of the great thing about oils is that as you learn more about them, you begin to understand how they compliment one another, and what works and doesn’t work for you.

And there you have it! My down-and-dirty, absolute beginner’s guide to essential oils.

If you have questions, comments, essential oil recipes/uses, or anything else, please comment below! I would love to hear from you! (Even and especially if it is to correct me or make this post better!)

Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and find me on Snapchat at shelby.briley!

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Photo by: Jeff Rose

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby


Further reading:

The New American Herbal – Stephen Orr

Herbs; An A-Z Guide Gardening, Cooking & Health – Reader’s Digest

hello oils.

 

 

 

Tea Pots and Deep Talks: The Power of Female Fellowship

In the midst of an absolutely crazy month, I sat on the floor and poured myself some tea. Before you get too worried about my stability, I was not alone. After reminiscing about how much fun tea parties were when we were little girls, our 20 something women’s devotional group decided to have a little tea party of our own.

While our plan was to set up a spot outside in the beautiful spring sun, what we got was a large dose of rain and cold. Thankfully we all know how to roll with the Arkansas weather, and we set up our own little version inside on the floor! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t in little girl heaven. Floral dresses and lace tops, vintage tea cups and pink lemonade, mini quiche and sweet treats, patterned quilts and a lot of laughter, it was a breath of fresh (indoor) air.

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This is what I determined: God gives you little gifts wrapped in peculiar packages. While I knew this would be a fun memory for us, I wasn’t expecting sitting around with women in their mid-twenties drinking tea to be a spiritual gift. Who knew that a moment to pause, laugh, and indulge in sugary treats was exactly what the Good Lord ordered?

As I drove home from our tea party, I wanted to dissect the power of female fellowship and why it has impacted my life as much as it has in the last year!

I had been spiritually starving myself of fellowship, and I didn’t even know it.

 

Why female fellowship is so important.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

The Bible says that when two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there too. When Jesus walked the earth, He loved to gather people together to laugh and dance and enjoy one another’s company. Jesus knew what He was doing when He gathered people together. Having people around you means someone is there to listen. To relate to your pain. To share in your joys. To sharpen you. Notice this blog post isn’t about fellowship in general. It’s about female driven fellowship. While it is beneficial to have fellowship in all forms, positive women are important to have around you! Find a group of women who understand your personal struggles. This particular team of women know of my horrible flaws, my embarrassing stories, and what I struggle with on a daily basis. Even so, talking it out with other women who have been through similar struggles is one of the best feelings in the world! They’ll never know the impact each of them has had on me or how this time set aside during the month refreshes me when I need it most. I encourage you to find a group of women you feel  you can confide in.

How do you find time to fellowship?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

All of us ladies have excruciatingly busy lives. But carving out specific time in the week just to be with others and relish in daily joys is so incredibly important! We often call it our little getaway. That being said, I haven’t always had a group like this. Although most weeks we gather on the couch and go over our devotional, fellowship can happen anytime and anywhere if you invite Him to join. You can fellowship over coffee, at each other’s house, during a walk etc., however you can find the time. Often times, us girls of Oak and Earth cram into my Prius after our devotional group and talk up to an hour or more. We discuss what crazy thing happened that week, what we can pray over each other, and how we can offer each other encouragement. I consider even this little moment in time to be one of my favorite times of fellowship!  Once you make the time, it will be easy to understand why it is so important (especially as young women).

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How is your story an important asset to other women ?

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

Often times I don’t feel worthy of helping others. Yet for all the dirty parts of your past, there is also God’s unwavering grace to meet you in the present! As I have gotten older, I have learned how important it is to lift one another up. I was terrible about this in years past. Be it due to insecurity, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, or whatever you might be going through, remember your unique beauty and talents over any negative thoughts or phrases. Seeking God and building relationships with people who speak positivity over you is a complete life changer. You never know how your story might help someone who is struggling! Can you think of a way you’ve sharpened a fellow female? What about someone who has sharpened you? Every story is important. You are an asset to this world.

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As much as I enjoyed our little garden party,  I have enjoyed getting to know these beautiful and strong women over the past year even more (including my girls of Oak and Earth). Even when we are just telling funny stories, ranting about our busy schedules, or sitting down to sip some tea, I know that God placed this group in my life for a very specific reason. When you’re around positive people, you can’t help but want to do better. I encourage everyone to find some wonderful women to fellowship with. Have you had a time that women’s ministry has impacted your life? Is there a way we can be praying for you? We would love to hear your thoughts! You can find us on social media @OakAndEarth, or you can comment below to keep the conversation going. You can also find me personally (Bethany) on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. If you’re wondering who this Life Group is through, us girls of Oak and Earth go to New Life Church at the Fayetteville location. If you’re in the area, feel free to check it out!

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1st John 3:16

Thanks for reading!

-Bethany

HERBventure is Out There: Starting an Indoor Herb Garden

Hello, readers. It’s Bethany here on Oak and Earth today, and I’m so excited to be writing during a time as wonderful as this—Spring.

Being 25 years old, I’ve been living in various apartments and duplexes for about seven years now. While I am completely enamored by the idea of owning my own home, I don’t hate living in an apartment or duplex either! I mean, simple spaces, low utility bills, convenient amenities at your fingertips etc., there’s really a lot to love. But there’s one thing that is always keeping my apartment from having that homey vibe I long for—not having my own garden! When I was little, Spring time meant dirt on my knees, tilling the soil, and eating grapes with my mom as we showered the garden bed with colorful flowers. I even grew my own corn! I miss this so much. If I were to walk outside of my place right now and grow a little garden, the lawn service would mow over it in five minutes flat. Not ideal.

As I have spent years sulking because I can’t grow a full garden, I had never thought about growing one indoors! Thank you, Pinterest, for giving me gardening hope. Instead of waiting for that perfect little starter home, I decided to start one right in my little duplex window sill! I love cooking with fresh herbs, especially in the spring and summer, so I have been thrilled at the thought of my own little indoor herb garden.

Herb2Below, I have listed some questions that I found to be helpful while starting this process:

Purchasing
»
What herbs will I use regularly?
»How many herbs am I comfortable starting out with?
»How obtainable are these herbs for beginners?
»Where can I purchase these herbs and my gardening tools?
»What kind of container will I need for proper growth?

Care
»
How much light do they need?
»Do I have the proper windows for this light? (South facing)
»What type of soil will I need?
»How often do I water them?

Harvesting
»
How will I know when to harvest?
»How do I prep them for cooking?

I found many sites and blogs that answered many of these questions and more, but here are a few sites that I found particularly helpful in my research:

← H E R B V E N T U R E →

I have never planted herbs before, so this herb-venture is completely new to me, and I am fully aware that I could kill them. Whether they thrive or die, I thought we could go on this journey together!

Choosing My Herbs

Prior to purchasing my herbs, I did a lot of thorough research. Besides the links above, I also asked my girls of Oak and Earth about their experiences! We all have been in a planting mood lately, so it’s been really fun chatting about what works and what doesn’t. Instead of starting from seeds, which can be very challenging, I decided to get the herbs from the garden section at Lowe’s. I chose to plant Italian Oregano, Spearmint, and Cilantro. Cilantro in my fresh salsa, mint in that refreshing Mojito, and oregano in a tossed summer pasta? That’s the goal! If you’re not sure what herbs to start with, both of the sites I linked above give a great list of herbs that are able to thrive indoors!

Potting My Herbs

Finding the proper pots is imperative to growth, and I wanted to make sure mine had a good draining hole (be sure to read up on this). They’re going to be a part of your home, so you also want to make sure they fit your style profile! There are a ton of ideas for different potting, shelving, and re-purposing indoor plants on Pinterest. Should they do well, I’m excited to try some of them. I wanted to keep it simple to start out, so I decided to paint my own terracotta pots! Painting them allows you to add your personal touch, and it made for a really fun project. I really love how they turned out, and they fit perfectly in my South facing window.

As I watered them today, I was wondering what their story will be this summer. Do they flourish? Do they die? Do they almost die but I swoop in to nurse them back to health? My hope is that they flourish enough to harvest! I have eaten my home grown corn on the cob as a child, and I am more than excited to cook with my fresh herbs as an adult. Either way, I am just giddy at the thought of taking care of my little herb babies.

Come summer, I’ll be sure to do an updated post about my herbs (dead or alive). I really hope that this gives you fellow apartment-living folk some great ideas! If you enjoyed reading this, you might also want to check out Shelby’s beginners guide to planting succulents here. Please feel free to keep up with our stories a little bit easier by following us on social media! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. If you like the “Let Your Love Grow Tall” banner in the background of my photos, I got it from our friend Sarah’s shop @PinAndThreadCo. You should definitely check her out, she has some adorable home decor! We have a lot of fun Spring-themed posts in store, so be sure to keep visiting Oak and Earth! In a home big or small, gardening is for all. Thanks for reading!

Happy Spring!

-Bethany