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

 

The 12 Dates of Christmas: Holiday Themed Date Ideas

HEREHappy Holidays, readers! It’s Bethany here today, and I am so excited to be sharing this blog post with you during the Christmas season!

All right, picture this: I’m sitting on the couch after work, and my husband comes in and asks, “What would you like to do tonight?”. To which I always respond, “What would you like to do tonight?”. We tear open our blinds for inspiration and are swiftly reminded that “fall back” has conquered the sky. At 5:00 p.m. it already looks and feels like midnight. At this point, it’s easier to watch Netflix and call it good.

I’m all for binge watching Parks and Rec, New Girl, or whatever show you might be captivated by (I’m told I’m crazy for not having started Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead). HOWEVER. The holiday season should be properly celebrated in all its wonder! How much easier would it be to have someone else plan your Christmas dates for you?

Merry Christmas!

I am giving you a list of 12 holiday inspired date ideas. These dates are designed to bring you together during the most joyous season of the year. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at how much closer it makes you as a couple. Don’t worry, I threw some binge watching dates in there as well.

While you may not have time to do all of these, you can save some ideas for next year, or opt to do a few off the list.

Let’s get started!

1. Ice Skating

I have a special place in my heart for ice skating dates. Ice skating was my very first date with my husband!  For some,  this date sounds completely romantic and movie-esque. For others, ice skating sounds like a humiliating situation waiting to happen. The good news is, laughter will surely ensue. Nothing brings out your inner child more than ice skating together. While this can take some getting used to, this activity leaves you plenty of chances for great contact. You might leave with some bruises, but you’ll also leave with some great memories.

**Helpful tip: Call around to some local rinks, and find out the best time to go! Some rinks will offer discounts on certain nights, and some close earlier than you would think. Call ahead for pricing as well.

2. Black and White Christmas Movie Marathon 

Yes, this is your binge watching date. While some dates are meant to be adventurous, others should have you in a relaxed and cozy environment. Get in your comfiest pj’s, and curl up with some hot cocoa or cider. Some of the best Christmas movies are the black and white classics! So, why not dedicate an entire night to them?

To get you started, I provided a short list of some of my favorites. There are so many great ones, you might want to make this a week long extravaganza!

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Scrooge (1951)
  • A Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

**Helpful tip: I have previously blogged a wonderful hot cider recipe that you can find HERE.

3. Downtown Date–Carriage Ride 

This is one of our “splurge” date suggestions. Go to a nearby square and check out the festivities and lights! Where we live, we have a couple downtown squares to choose from. It is worth it to drive to the best one around you, and really spend the night in awe. We usually bundle up, grab a hot chocolate, and walk around until our toes go numb.

This is a great date to soak in the wonderful holiday atmosphere as a couple. If you want to take it up a notch, many larger town squares offer horse drawn carriage rides. Denver surprised me with this once, and it was unforgettable. You  must do this at least once in your life. If you’re tight on cash, you can totally opt to just do the walking portion.

**Helpful hint: If you decide upon this date, I would suggest putting your phones away. Maybe you can walk around once and take some cute pictures together, but I would definitely suggest putting them away the rest of the night. This allows you to really enjoy each other in such a beautiful environment.

4. Paint Ornaments and/or Ceramics 

This is an activity that I would often do as a child; however, I recommend this activity for adults as well. Why? It gets your creative juices flowing, and it can end up being quite humorous. Last year, Denver and I decided to paint 12 ornaments together. We threw on a Christmas movie in the background and painted away. Some of them did not turn out so fabulously, but I really enjoyed taking it back to one of my favorite childhood activities.

**Helpful Hint: If you decide to do some ceramics, these make for wonderful little gifts for children. It might be fun to have this in mind while painting them. If you decide to paint ornaments together, Hobby Lobby sells some inexpensive clear bulbs that are very easy to paint.

5. Candle Light Service

I would highly recommend attending a Candle Light Service together. I understand that many families enjoy this activity together; however, there are several services offered before Christmas. We suggest this activity as a date because it is important to come together and really think about what Christmas should be centered around. This date allows you to have some spiritual time spent together. In addition to that time spent together, most of these services are incredibly beautiful.

**Helpful Hint: I would suggest asking friends and family for their favorite candle light services in the area.

6. Christmas Picture Scavenger Hunt (Group date!)

This is one of my favorite date ideas on the list. This is a good weekend activity, as you might need to start during daylight and end during the evening. Remember that we suggest this date to be a double date or a group date.

HOW IT WORKS:

This is a picture scavenger hunt! You will need to take your phone or camera, and take a picture of everything you can find on the list I provided below. Break up into couples and make sure you each have access to the scavenger hunt list. Set a time limit that you think is obtainable but challenging. Once your time limit is up, you must meet at a local coffee shop to compare pictures. The couple that has the most pictures of the listed items gets coffee/hot chocolate bought for them by the other couples. This is a fun way to get out of your comfort zone! It ends up being a good laugh.

**Helpful hint: It is even more fun to up the game by adding one extra point for every picture that has one of the team members in the picture with the scavenger hunt item. If you are driving to each destination, please practice safety at all times.

SCAVENGER HUNT LIST: 

  • Nativity scene
  • Charlie Brown
  • 3+ Light Up Reindeer in one yard
  • Christmas Wreath
  • Pinecone
  • Mistletoe
  • Someone drinking hot chocolate
  • An elf
  • Star
  • Moving lights
  • Inflatable decorations
  • Candy cane
  • A dog in a Christmas sweater
  • Decorated mailbox
  • Silver bells
  • A Christmas vest
  • Angel
  • “My first Christmas” ornament
  • A good deed taking place
  • Christmas snow globe
  • The Grinch
  • Short video of Christmas music playing in a store/shop
  • Christmas tree in a window
  • A light display that plays music
  • Santa clause on a roof
  • Over-sized candy cane
  • An employee wearing a Santa Hat
  • A gift wrapped present
  • A gingerbread house

7. Angel Tree

Often times, a Salvation Army or school in your town will have a large Christmas tree with paper angels attached to it. These paper angels will include the age of a boy or girl in need, along with a list of their most wanted Christmas items. Go pick out these items as a couple! It’s really enjoyable to do something for a child that needs some Christmas cheer. If you are completely unaware of what the Angel Tree organization does, you can check out their website HERE.

**Helpful Hint: You can often find out where nearby Angel Trees are locate by asking the local Salvation Army. The earlier into the season you look into this, the better.

8. Ugly Sweater Date

What is the holiday season without a little ugly sweater fun? For this date, you must be willing to go a bit out of your comfort zone. Instead of picking out your own ugly sweater, you must pick out the ugly sweater for your significant other with maximum embarrassment as the goal. Why? This is a friendly little competition.

Once you have exchanged your ugly sweaters, it’s time to have your friends and family vote on the ugliest sweater. This can be done by an easy Facebook post or by physically asking friends and family to vote. Once the ugliest sweater has been selected, the person that purchased the sweater gets a Christmas treat of  their choosing. Have you been wanting to see a certain Christmas movie? Have you been wanting to have a certain Christmas drink? The winner shall receive it! This date is much more fun if you continue to wear the ugly sweaters the rest of the night. You might be embarrassed, but you’ll be embarrassed together.

**Helpful hint: If you cannot find ugly sweaters, opt for the ugliest ornament instead! Christmas sweaters of all shapes and sizes can often be found at Good Will or a simple dollar general store. Please don’t spend heaps of money on an ugly sweater! They can get picked over this time of year, so the earlier in the holiday season you start looking, the better.

9. Attend a Local Children’s Play

This one sounds a bit odd, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Nothing will put a smile on your face like watching a children’s performance. You know those puppies that are so ugly that they are cute? This is a similar concept. Cheesy children’s plays= adorable. Laughter is sure to follow.

*Helpful hint: Contact friends or family for a list of local plays.

10. Christmas Lights Drive

Put together the best Christmas music playlist you can find, and hop in the car for one of the classiest Christmas dates around. My family has done this for years, but this can also be a super fun date!  Drive around local neighborhoods and take in all the festive lights that you can. Although we had some alternative dates in mind for you, this one just has to make the list.

*Helpful hint: We feel like 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm is a good time to start this drive. This gives people enough time to get home and turn on their lights, and this allows you time to drive around before people start turning them off for bed.

11. Volunteer as a Couple

While there are so many other activities that could have made our list, we feel that this one is incredibly important.  Let me tell you, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities out there. Denver and I volunteered in the community for Thanksgiving this year, and we will be doing the same for Christmas!

Why volunteer as a couple?

Volunteering in the community gives you more joy than you will ever know until you experience it. While this is a cheerful time of year for many, some families are struggling horribly. In the past, Denver and I have made excuses as to why we can’t do this. We’re too tired after work, or it’s more fun to do something else. You name it, we’ve thought it.  I encourage you to think differently for at least one date. Volunteering allows you to give one of the most precious gifts of all: your time. Not only does this benefit the community, but it is a GREAT bonding experience for a couple. Win. Win. Win. Speaking from personal experience, it is so worth it to give your time. Here are some volunteer ideas to get you started:

  • Deliver meals
  • Visit a senior
  • Angel Tree
  • Toys for Tots

**Helpful Hint: Contact your local Salvation Army or City of Commerce for some volunteer events in your local area.

12. Sunrise/Sunset Yearly Reflection 

Before you automatically discount this date because of the cold, I have a warmer option for you as well. I don’t think I’m alone in that I enjoy quality time and open communication.  But how do you make this fun? One of the best ways to do this is to spend some time watching the sunrise or sunset. There’s something special about dedicating time to wake up early just to reflect on God’s beauty. Not everyone is awake during sunrise, and there’s something about catching it together that is just plain magical. While it can be tough to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise, it would definitely be my first choice because of the seclusion. Bundle up and take a hot drink and some blankets, and find somewhere special to look back on the year. For example, Denver and I like to hike to a local look out spot.

If rising early is out of the question, opt for the sunset option. If hiking a mountain trail seems like an unrealistic option for you, we have found that lakes are also a great place to reflect! (pun intended)

What are these warmer options I spoke about earlier? For those of you who are less enthused for this adventurous idea, park at a local sunset location and talk in the heat of the car! As long as you’re talking and watching the sun go down or up, you’ve completed the task.

Sunrise/sunset dates are hands down some of the most cherished dates I’ve had with my husband. Don’t let the year go by without giving this date a shot.

**Helpful hint: Be sure to use an app or Google to research the time the sun rises or sets in your area and plan accordingly. Partly sunny days emit the best color. Completely sunny days are your next best option. If it’s completely cloudy outside, you’ll never see it. Trust me, we’ve tried.

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This concludes our 12 dates of Christmas!

We love hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment, ask questions, or say hello. You can keep up with our holiday experiences on  Instagram at @OakAndEarth and on my personal Instagram BethanyMPoteet. While I have listed some great options for couples, you can get a list of more family oriented ideas by visiting Tera’s latest post HERE! We have more Christmas posts to follow, so stay tuned.

Happy Holidays!

-Bethany <3

 

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Make Christmas Memorable for Your Family While Keeping it Simple

Merry Christmas season, readers! It’s Tera here on Oak and Earth today. This time of year is by far my favorite, for so many reasons! It is a time for family, a time of giving, a whole season of yummy foods, a time for Christmas lights and hot chocolate, and most of all a time to celebrate and remember the true reason for the season: the birth of our Lord and Savior! I have the most special memories of the holidays from my childhood years, and the excitement and fun my family had during the Christmas season has most certainly carried on in me into adulthood!

 I was reflecting recently on Christmas time and my own little family, and I tried to think of ways to make this a memorable time of year for Norah (and us), while keeping our main focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not getting wrapped up in the common mindset of, “more is more.” I want to instill meaningful and treasured memories into Norah’s core for Christmas time that teach her what principles are important to have and to pass down, and that will tug her heart strings (in a good way) for years to come. Simple moments that create a lifelong impact. So, I have created a list of some simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, give quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. I’m sharing my list below, and I hope you can be inspired for your family by some of these ideas! ‘Tis the season!

1.   Christmas Lights Outing  

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Downtown Siloam Springs, AR

This is an easy way for you and yours to have some fun during the Christmas season! My family would do this every year after our Christmas Eve service, but this is something you could do any time during December! Many of your local neighborhoods will have some fun light displays, or your downtown square (for us NWA folk, the Fayetteville square, for example). Some houses even connect their light displays with one of your local radio stations, and it’s really fun to see the lights flickering to the rhythm of the music! Your kids would love it if you all dressed in your comfy, festive Christmas pj’s, whipped up some hot chocolate, and hopped in your car together for a ride around town to see the pretty lights! It’s a nearly free activity (minus a little gas), and the kids will love starting this tradition with you!

 2.  Trim the Tree as a Family 

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My Christmas mantle in my pretty new house!!

Another fun memory I have from my childhood is helping my mom and siblings decorate our Christmas tree together each year! We would all get a new hallmark ornament every year to add to the collection. My own Christmas tree now is full of all of these ornaments (plus Jeremy’s and now Norah’s). There is something super special about those homemade ornaments and little hallmark collectibles that make a Christmas tree so sentimental and nostalgic! Pick a day where the whole family can be a part of this; and if you want to make a whole afternoon of it, visit a local tree nursery and choose a real tree to take home and decorate! The prices are usually very reasonable and it’s a fun and neat experience for the family. Set your tree up, stick some cookies in the oven, and choose a favorite Christmas movie to watch while you all have fun decorating (our tradition is The Polar Express). Let your little ones have a role in making the tree pretty! You can “touch up” some bare spots after they go to bed and disperse the ornaments that are stringing around the bottom half of your tree up and throughout (they’ll never know the difference), but, in the meantime, let them feel special and like they have an important part of this Christmas tradition! They’ll grow to love it, and their decorating skills should improve over the years ;). For the teeny tots who are still trying to grasp what a Christmas tree is, and from whom you’d like to spare some of your favorite glass ornaments from the game, “throw it on the floor,” try purchasing a mini tree and some plastic ornaments and set it up next to the big tree. We did this for Norah and let her decorate her special tree while we did the big tree and she loved it, (and we purchased her tree for $8)! Until they can better understand the concept of the ornaments and the tree, this is another way to get the littlest tots involved, and they’ll have their own special tree to decorate!

3.  Do an Advent Series Together 

Make some time during the month of December  for everyone to reflect on the ‘reason for the season’ by doing an advent series together. There is nothing more important that you can instill into your children’s hearts (or your own for that matter) than the love of Christ. Make sure in the hustle and bustle that your family stays grounded and that you make some quality time for this! I realize we are already part way through December, but this is something so important that I am adding it anyway to encourage you to do! You can play a little catch up, or just pick up where you are! It will help your whole family remember what matters most during Christmas, and you will instill this most important thing into your kids’ lives–and this is something you can’t put a price tag on! I am linking a great advent series for the whole family to partake in HERE. If you want to save money for budget purposes, there are some great online resources to pull verses and stories from to read each night as a family. Try doing this at a time where everyone is always together, like at the dinner table either before or after a meal (while everyone is still gathered). Making a routine like this is a good way to keep from having to try and squeeze it in at the end of the night while kids are dispersing to bed, or forgetting to do it altogether! After a long day at work or school, this is a great way to end each evening this month and will be so impactive on your kids’ hearts!

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My sweet little family at our church; New Life Church, Fayetteville

Free online resources:

4.  Christmas Cookie Decorating 

You can’t go wrong with a fun day of baking and decorating (and eating)! Tune in on your favorite Christmas pandora station, and you have a festive party right in your own kitchen! Google or Pinterest some easy sugar cookie recipes, pull the sprinkles from your pantry, and check Target’s Christmas aisles for some adorable (and cheap) Christmas cookie cutters! This is something you can do whether you have two or twelve people, and have fun doing it without breaking the bank! Take it to the next level on your baking day by trying a salt dough recipe and making some homemade ornaments that the kids can decorate and hang on the tree! This is a low stress, low cost way to get festive and celebrate the holidays, and will be a fun tradition the whole bunch can look forward to each year.

Fun cookie cutter set HERE ; Delicious sugar cookie recipe found HERE ; adorable and easy salt dough ornament recipe HERE !

5.  Christmas Caroling            

This is an outing to get your extended family and friends involved in! Take a big group around the neighborhood and sing some popular and well-known Christmas songs together! My family has not ever done this, but I think it sounds like a super fun way to spend an afternoon, and would love incorporating this into our yearly festivities! The more the merrier for this activity, so a little planning may be required to get the group together, but it would be well worth the effort, and would create fun memories for the whole family! End the night with some hot chocolate and a nice fire (because you can’t go wrong with hot chocolate)! This is a free way to lift people’s spirits and put a smile on their faces. If you want to go the extra mile this season, look into caroling at your local nursing home and share some love and Christmas cheer with our beloved elders…no one would love and appreciate it more! This is a totally free and fun way to get the whole family involved in some fun times together, and share some great memories!

6.   Gingerbread House Contest

  Nothing like some friendly competition to make for a fun night! You can purchase gingerbread house kits for fairly cheap at the store; why not buy two and make a friendly contest of boys vs. girls and have some fun?! You can have as small or as big of teams as you want, and that makes this activity super universal and accommodating to any family size! Spend the evening dressing your gingerbread houses up, and have some friends be the judge (without them knowing whose is whose). Let the winners choose the next Christmas movie for movie night, or spice it up with a bigger incentive for the winners! This is a tradition that your kids will want to repeat next year, and they’ll cherish their memories!

7.  Downtown Parade (or your town’s Christmas festivities)             

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Aren’t my besties totally adorable holding children?? 😉 We were able to enjoy the downtown parade together this year!

Going to our annual downtown Christmas parade is a tradition my family has held for years. It’s always a fun night of warm bundles, a hot drink in hand, and lots of pretty Christmas floats! Check your calendars for your town’s holiday festivities and make it a family affair! Bundle up, grab some extra blankets and a warm beverage (you know what would be great for this? Hot chocolate), and share some laughs together. If you missed this year’s, make it a goal to try it next year and start a new tradition together!

8.  “Christmas” Game Night

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“Louie” themed socks and hot cocoa are my secret to winning 😉

Here’s another fun idea for the entire family and even some of your friends to join in on! For the last few years, my husband’s side has done a fun game night together for our Christmas tradition, and it has been a huge hit! You can find some Christmas themed minute -to -win it games for your inspiration on Pinterest, or even google, and most of them look super fun! Get the group together, share some yummy snacks (and maybe some hot chocolate), split into teams, and let the laughs begin! What’s nice about these games, is that any supplies you may need can most always be found at the dollar store, so you can stretch your dollar and enjoy lots of games. Make your prizes as big or small as you want, or nix them all together and play just for the fun of it. There will be guaranteed a ton of laughs, and with or without the prizes, everyone will look forward to next year’s annual game night! Here are a few links to some very fun minute to win it ideas you can try:  Here , here , and here !

9.  Christmas Angels

Teach your kids the importance of giving during this holiday season. Magnify this and make it a higher priority than being on the receiving end. If we are honest, most of our kiddos who live in a warm and safe home do not really need much for Christmas! I’m not saying our kids don’t deserve gifts, or that we shouldn’t let them receive any. It’s so fun to watch Norah open her gifts and seeing her face light up! But, the more important thing we can give them is to teach them selfless love and share what we have with those who go without. Go to your nearest Christmas Angel tree and choose a couple angels to give a nice Christmas. Let your kids have a big part in choosing the Angels and the gifts. It’s important to show our kids that there are some big needs in our communities, and that they can have a part in making Christmas special for someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the same experience. Partake as a family in spreading love this season, and make it a tradition to give to others in a very tangible way every Christmas! If you don’t have Christmas Angel trees in your area, research some places that you can donate items and help make Christmas special for someone else!

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Here is our littlest angel, to give you all the feels!! *sigh*

10.  Wise Men Gifts

One principle we really want to keep incorporated into our Christmas as a family is simplicity. The excessiveness that is so common during this time of year we believe takes away from the specialness and “sacredness” that simplicity holds. Keep your gift giving simple with your kiddos this year by trying the Wise Men Gift method. This is a concept I first heard from Oak and Earth’s Bethany, whose family started doing this several years ago. Whether your budget is $3,000 or $300, this is a concept that you can easily incorporate into your family’s traditions. It’s very simple: each kid (and/or spouse) would receive just three gifts, and their stockings. You can arrange them however you choose; two smaller gifts and one big gift, three small gifts, one “Santa” gift, and two from you–there’s no method to it other than keeping the number simple with 3. We loved the idea and decided to start this tradition with Norah! It’s an awesome way to keep the sweetness of Christmas time by not drowning our kids (and our finances) in “more.” Our little ones will expect only what they are used to when it comes to gifts, so why not start this tradition now and keep your gift giving sweet and simple. 

If you want more ideas for gift giving methods, here are a few others you can try:

  • Do the “4 gifts” (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read)
  • For older kids (this is what we do for my husband’s side), draw names and each person gets one person a gift or two.
  • Sock exchange (buy your kids some christmas socks and fill them up with goodies, much like a stocking), or just their stockings!
  • Encourage your kids to read and grow their imaginations by giving books for gifts!
  • If you are opting for “no gifts” this year, try donating to a charity in honor of each of your children. It’s a great way to give back and will be a special way to honor your kids.

I absolutely love getting to start new traditions with Norah, and I’m excited to start with some of these ideas together as a family! Keeping our holidays sweet and simple by focusing more on the memories and fun, and less on the “things” will hopefully create a special place in Norah’s heart for this time of year, much like it did for me! I hope I have given you some ideas that you can start incorporating into your family festivities each year too! No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, try to do some fun things as a family that will make it memorable for everyone!  If you want some fun and creative date ideas to do with your special someone, make sure to check back in a couple days for Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post coming soon! Also be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth this month, as we have several holiday inspired posts that we can’t wait to show you!! Follow me on Instagram @terapianalto if you don’t already, so you can stay informed on all of our blog happenings, and make sure to hashtag any Oak and Earth experiences you have with #OakandEarthBlog. We love your feedback and would love to know what you would like to see us write about on here! We’ll do our best to try out your ideas! Wishing you the sweetest and merriest Christmas yet!


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Happy Month of December, and Holiday’s best,

Tera (with Jeremy and Norah, and Louie)   -xo

Dessert Apple Cider: A Crock-pot Recipe

Hello, readers! It’s Bethany here for this autumn drink recipe!

Autumn is here in all its glory. With bonfires, hayrides, camping, snuggling, pumpkin spice, boots and scarves, it is time for Hot Apple Cider to make its way to our blog! Not only does this amazing cider have a 5 minute prep time, but  it is made in the kitchen appliance that was brought down from the heavens–the crock-pot *enter hallelujah chorus*.

I love this recipe because it can be made for several different occasions. You can add the dessert toppings and serve this for a fall party, OR  you can choose to keep it as a simple and rustic cider in a mug. The dessert version makes for a fun party favorite, and the simplified version is great to curl up with after a long day. This recipe is based off of a recipe I found on a site that I visit quite often for slow cooker meals: Taste of Home. I highly recommend checking it out! I have tweaked it to my taste, style, and convenience Let’s get started!

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WHAT DO I NEED: 

  • 8 cups apple cider (I buy a gallon jug.)
  • 1/4 cup caramel syrup. **Note: The original recipe calls for 1 cup of caramel, and this was too sweet to me and a few of my taste testers . I prefer a spicier cider, so 1/4 cup is more than enough for me; however, I would suggest 1/2 cup if you like a sweet cider. 
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches) **Note: I found a small and inexpensive package of cinnamon sticks in the baking isle. 
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • Cheesecloth or non-bleached coffee filter
  • **Dessert Version: Garnish with  whipped cream, hot caramel ice cream topping and cinnamon sticks (3 inches)

DIRECTIONS (5 min prep time, 2-3 hour cook time) 

  1. In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the apple cider, caramel syrup and lemon juice.  
  2. Place the cinnamon sticks and allspice on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Bring up the corners of the bag and tie with string to form a bag. I did not have a cheesecloth, but I have found that a non-bleached coffee filter does essentially the same thing for this recipe! If you find yourself without a cheesecloth, you can follow my lead. After putting these ingredients into my coffee filter, I tied it off like a bag, and left it to steep in my cider mixture for the rest of the cooking time (as seen below). 

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3. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until heated through. Discard spice bag. Pour cider into mugs; garnish with whipped cream, caramel topping and additional cinnamon sticks if desired. Yield: 12 servings (3/4 cup each).

MAKE YOUR DESSERT

It’s time to decide how you would like to serve it up! This cider can hold its own in a mug or it can be elevated to be a stunning fall dessert drink. If you are going to make it into a dessert drink, be sure to remember that if you put your whipped cream onto your piping hot drink, it might turn loose pretty quickly. I waited a few minutes for it to cool a bit.

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This cider has been a great hit and I can’t wait to share it at my next fall get together! Maybe I’ll have to whip up some  Pumpkin Spice Cakes that Tera blogged about last week to go with it! Be sure the keep up with all of our Oak & Earth adventures through social media, and tell us about your experience! You can follow my adventures on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet.

Happy fall y’all!

-Bethizzle Potizzle with the Apple Cizzle.

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Local Flavor: Oak and Earth Does the Dogwood Festival

It’s Bethany comin’ at ya for this post!

Funnel cake, hot pavement, trees blooming, music, and a bunch of people you vaguely know but don’t want to talk to. Must be a small town festival! Holy festivals, Batman! I’ve experienced all kinds of festivals and fairs in my lifetime. My favorite is still claimed by none other than the Dogwood Festival. I feel like every town has an annual festival that they are super proud of, and this is ours. In this post you’ll find a video of me chatting it up with festival goers, you will discover OakandEarth’s Dogwood Festival musts, and share in Dogwood experiences that were new to me this year!

I felt compelled to write about the festival because this festival celebrates OakAndEarth’s common roots! Our tagline for our blog is Common Roots, Different Routes. Our common roots are planted in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Siloam Springs is a charming town of about 15,000 people. We have beautiful parks, a downtown with coffee shops and antiques, and dogwood trees (ahhh, now you’re getting it, right?). At a typical Dogwood Festival there are a ton of booths with handmade goodies, fair food, live bluegrass music, and an awesome kid section that I find myself mindlessly wandering into each year. (I wonder what this says about me).

When I wandered into the kid section this year, I found a ton of happy families. I’m throwing it back to the early 1990’s for a second. After my family’s first trip to the festival, my older brother left in tears. Sugary treats, warm weather, music, why was he crying?? Simply put, he thought the Dogwood Festival would have dogs. “There weren’t any dogs!!!”. A clear rookie mistake that could happen to anyone. Names are not always as literal as we wish them to be.

Denver and I spent Saturday being slightly creepy, and asking random festival goers what they enjoy the most. Let’s take a look at the festival this weekend and what people think about it!

OakandEarth Dogwood Favorites:

–CHRISTIANA–

We caught up with Christiana at the festival, and she said her festival musts are the Kettle Corn and the book sale at the local library! She also bought some honey and a few other treats that she will discuss next week!
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–BETHANY–

My favorite treat will forever and always be the Tigers Blood snow cone. I get one every year, and this year was no exception! Tigers Blood is a mixture of watermelon, strawberry, and coconut. Good for a hot day, and also good if you desire an obnoxiously red mouth.

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Something I had never noticed at the fair before was a food truck that sold roasted corn on the cob! Okay, readers. If you’re going to learn anything about me, it is that I have 3 loves (listed in no particular order)– stew, corn on the cob, and Denver (my husband). At the festival, I got two of those fixes! The third will be relieved in few hours when I make homemade stew. But I digress. This corn on the cob is one food item that could make me shout a curse word to the high heavens. Thankfully I have some restraint (in public). For now, just enjoy pictures of me in what can only be referred to as  corn heaven.

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 –TERA–

Tera was in Colorado this year! But she was with us in Dogwood spirit! She said her favorite part of the Dogwood is the atmosphere, and the Funnel Cake. Since she could not partake, Denver  stepped in a did the difficult task of consuming a funnel cake for her! Poor, Denver. *sarcasm*

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 –SHELBY–

I met up with Shelby and her boyfriend Jeff in the later part of the day. Shelby is fun to go with, because she hops along to each booth with great intention. She snagged some honey, beautiful succulents, and some food! Her favorite treats are the Kettle Corn and Lemonade! How southern are we?

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New to me!

While these are our  festival musts, I saw a few surprises this year! One being the corn booth (have I talked about corn enough?), another being a neat home made guitar booth! We also walked right up to a kids’ martial arts show in the midst of them breaking boards (see video for that goodness). As many years as I have gone, it’s neat to experience new booths.

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Although the Dogwood may be a stereotypical small town festival, I like to think that it’s special in it’s own right. And I will keep going as long as it comes around. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a small part of our Common Roots as we bring in the spring season! I have some great ideas for my next post, and I look forward to connecting with you all again. As always if you have any suggestions or questions for us, please feel free! Christiana has a pretty neat spring themed blog coming at you next week, so be sure to look for it!

Peace, love, and Rocketships,

Bethany

 

Becoming a Weekend Warrior

Hello!

My name is Bethany, and you can learn a little more about me in the “About” page of our blog. I’ll be making all different types of blog posts (adventures, cooking, how to’s, music, art, fashion, life battles, stresses and more).This first post explains a life transition I have made. I’m on the slow road to happier life, and it starts with the weekend! In the post below, I give a bit of info on my lifestyle change, why I chose this path, what I consider a “Weekend Warrior”, and 11 steps to becoming one. Enjoy.

Meet me ( Bethany):

Me and a Mocha. A divine relationship.

Meet the husband (Denver):

Denver. I call husband.

Meet our marriage. (The Poteets)

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My Lifestyle Change:

This is my marriage of nearly two years. We both have college degrees, bills, and day to day stresses. What we DON’T posses is the mundane desire to stay in one place and do the same thing every day. What we DO have is the itch and passion to do things differently. So, we do. What do I mean by differently?

For a while I was feeling depressed about living every day the same way: Wake up early, go to work, come home to make dinner, eat said dinner, watch Netflix, sleep (or try to ), and repeat. Occasionally there would be some Olive Garden thrown in the mix (crazy, I know), or some frisbee. Most week days were the same. Week days are busy and tiring, because the bills must be paid! So then what about the weeekends? I suppose we did typical married couple activities. The thing is, I  don’t think we’re particularly typical. One day I found myself asking,  why follow the pattern that society puts directly in front of you? This is when I learned that there is no right way to live your life. Life is not absolute.

The Pizza Theory

It’s like society tells you it’s time for dinner and the only thing to eat is plain pizza. What “the man” doesn’t tell you is that there are so many toppings that make life delicious! Better yet, you don’t have to eat pizza at all. In fact, you can eat dinner any time you want. So why do we always choose what society puts in front of us (plain pizza)? If it were so simple to live life on different trajectories, wouldn’t everybody? Living differently is not easy. You will face questions and hurdles. What you need to remember is that the life you live is what you create.

Why have I chosen a new path?

“20 Somethings”, as we are so often called, have a few different paths we tend follow. There is nothing wrong with any of these normal paths. I graduated college with a BA degree in Corporate Communication and a minor in Art in 2013. After college I went straight to work, and I had a great job. What I struggled with for years was feeling like my creativity was locked in a cage. I like to play music, paint, take pictures, hike, and write. My husband likes to do many of the same things, meaning I was not alone in this struggle. I felt as if I was not dedicating any time to my hobbies, let alone my passions. So why the change and how did it occur?

My husband and I moved states (a discussion for another post). The move was only about two hours away from where we were first located. With this transition I found it hard to find a job. I have had a lot of time to consider what makes up a life. I haven’t quite made the life I desire, but I am finally making steps toward it. My husband works full time, and we are often busy during the week. So why not take weekends and create steps toward a happier or more fulfilling life? A life full of many pizza toppings, if you will. For Denver and I, that meant dedicating time specifically for creative activities. Since this change, we have traveled, gone to concerts, hiked, biked, climbed, painted, made music, worked on video games, and made time for friends and family–we are becoming Weekend Warriors.

What does being a “Weekend Warrior” mean to me?

A Weekend Warrior breaks the mold of the average 20 Something individual. For me this means going the extra mile to achieve short term goals and to fulfill creative desires. It is not for those who tire easily. These steps are helping me get over repetition and mundane behavior. So if you’re looking to mix up your life and achieve some small goals, you might be able to realistically apply these to your weekend. While this phrase does have the word “weekend” in it, I am aware that some people do not have weekend off. If this is the case, apply the steps below to the time you do have off. If you prefer to chase bullet points, short cuts, and pictures, this next part is for you. These are my magic steps. 

11 STEPS TO BECOMING A WEEKEND WARRIOR

1) Stop accepting plain pizza. (Plain pizza theory explained above)

This first step starts by realizing what you want your life to be. We only have one. So what would you like  to improve on? What do you miss during the week that you really wish you had time for? If you want more out of life than what people typically accept, you’re already on the right path to become a Weekend Warrior.

2) Pick some rad activities, and practice your hobbies!

For my husband and I, we love to go outdoors. We love to do this because it feeds our creative bones. When I am writing music or painting, surrounding myself in nature is key. Nature is inspiring, and it keeps you thinking. We are also dedicating more time to practice our hobbies! This might mean a night of jamming on the guitar or painting. For Denver it usually means working on video game development. Whatever it might be, make sure you fit it into your weekend at least once.

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3) Get a partner(s) in crime.

Even if you do some of these activities by yourself, let someone you’re close to in on your change. They might want to come along with you. If they don’t, they might encourage you to keep going when you feel like slipping back into mundane life. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you in your endeavors is necessary.

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4) Kill your phone.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic. Something we have learned to do is to leave our phones on silent, stash them away, or don’t bring them at all. Sometimes I’ll turn my phone on airplane mode so it makes it impossible to get on the internet during my activities. When we hike we like to take pictures. So we will take our camera and phone and capture some amazing things we want to remember, and then we shut everything down. A moment of silence can go a long way. It can be easy for a phone or camera to ruin your experience. Don’t forget to be in the moment.

5) Be prepared to be exhausted. (Totally worth it)

So for many activities we start early and end late. Part of living the weekend to the fullest is being tired.  What helps is planning it out to have a day to recoup. Having a recoup day doesn’t always happen. If you can’t get this recoup time, you can’t complain. It’s a part of it.

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6) Make good Playlists.

Playlists can drive any weekend home. A really good playlist can put you in the mood to achieve great things. Trust me. (Future posts include some tunes I’ll recommend, and how they can amp up every day activities).

7) Be willing to drive…a lot.

We have gone from Arkansas to Colorado and back in one weekend (12 hours one way). We have also done this with Austin, Texas in one weekend  (9 hours one way). Both driving expeditions were to travel to see my favorite artist LIGHTS. They were both tiring but incredibly epic weekends. These endeavors are incredibly exhausting and induce a lot of driving, but it’s worth it to get to see something or do something you’ve always wanted to do. Sometimes we just have to work with the time given. These particular weekends were planned out, and the trip to Colorado required asking a half day off of work on Friday to kick it off. Life is too short to not go the distance. It helps that Denver and I enjoy driving.

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8) Be able to deviate from your original plan. (shiz-stuff happens)
Remember that you have to go the extra mile to obtain greatness. This is why being a Weekend Warrior is not for everybody. It’s not for people who require a lot of sleep, and it’s not for people who will break down if the plans don’t pan out perfectly (definitely guilty of that). When you’re doing multiple activities, the weather doesn’t always flow accordingly. When you get up and drive to see the sunrise and it rains so much you can’t see the sun, or when you’re hitting an ice storm on the way home from Austin, put in some awesome tunes and thank God for all the blessings in your life. Learn to laugh and go with the flow. Yes, these are real life occurrences during our adventures.

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 9) Face some fears.

Take this time to strive for something you have never done. Do something you’ve been too scared to do. Go places you’ve never been.

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10) Fulfill random thoughts.

You know when you have a thought like:
What if we got waffles right now?
What if we make a fort??
What if we leave said fort up for 2 months?
Want to sleep on the floor?
Do you want to go watch the sunrise in the morning?
Do you want to have a picnic?

DO THESE THINGS. My motto is–random thoughts are good thoughts.

12) End on the basics.
When my husband and I were choosing activities, we decided to go back to basics. What makes you inherently and uncontrollably happy? Forget what other people are doing. Live your life the way you desire, and take pride in being different. What makes you happy?

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I hope this helps you think outside the box a little. These steps can easily be adapted to different lifestyles. Get on the road to a happier and more creative you. I am open for questions, and I would love to get to know you!  If you end up doing anything different with your weekends, let me know! I would love to hear about your adventures. I’ll end with this quote from my favorite musician:

“You have to be uncomfortable in order to be successful, in some ways. Because if you stay in your comfort zone, you would never do the things that you need to do.” -LIGHTS

Peace, love, and rocketships.

-Bethany