Favorite Raised Garden Designs

May 16, 2016

As we get closer to our home being completed I’ve been spending time thinking about the backyard, the landscaping, and the overall layout. One thing in particular that I’ve been focused on is my future garden.

I’ve been considering all the vegetables and fruit that I would like to grow as well as how much of it I think I can handle. Which crops would need special treatment or location, and which ones can climb. Lots to consider.

So after doing a decent amount of homework, here are some garden tips I compiled from others much more experienced:

  • Northern states are encouraged to have their crop rows facing north to south. Southern states should have their garden rows facing east to west.
  • Depth of your garden boxes should depend on the vegetables you are growing. For example, deeper garden boxes are required for root vegetables vs. vegetables growing on bushes.
  • Plant only the vegetables and fruit your family will eat.
  • According to some gardeners, the garden boxes shouldn’t be any larger than 4’x4′.
  • It was recommended to add a later of compost over your box liner but below the soil.
  • If you have the potential threat of burrowing creatures – line the bottom of your boxes with chicken wire.
  • Build a border fence to keep out animals and other threats.
  • Plan ahead for watering systems and plans.
  • Provide shade for the plants that cannot withstand full sunlight all day.

Based on our lot with our new house I know I will want our garden to be on the south side of my house. The rows of vegetables will need to go north to south. And because there will eventually be a fence there, I need to leave enough space for the plants to avoid any shade.

Some of the items on my plant list need extra protection and will need covers. And the entire garden will need a fence to keep animals (and my children) out of the garden.

As for containers, I will want to have raised garden beds.

So as I’ve been brainstorming how this is going to look and feel when it is finished (next year) – here are some garden designs that I really was impressed with. Not all of them will work for my specific garden design/layout, but they definitely get the job done.

privacy-fence-with-container-garden jpg

I really love this design. It obviously can’t work for everyone based on your fence and lot direction but you can still build them up close to a wall. It takes up less yard space and keeps things organized. Love it!



These grow bags are perfect for small places or even an apartment. If you don’t have the ability to dig up a garden or build raised beds – these work just as well.



This is probably one of my favorite designs that I came across. Such a fun and smart way to help your growing veggies climb. And I bet it looks so beautiful when it’s full of lush green vines. The narrow boxes at the bottom are genius too. I’m definitely adding this to my garden layout.



I’ve heard of people talk about cinder block garden beds but I hadn’t seen some that I really liked. I this these turned out great for these gardeners. I also love the idea of planting flowers in the outlining cubes to dress up your garden. So beautiful.



I really like the idea of only one vegetable per garden box. Obviously this means there will be several garden boxes but they don’t have to be huge to produce a lot of goodies. I love how clean and organized this raised bed is. And if you look – they do have more than one veggie in this box.



We love growing strawberries. But between the birds and the kids it’s nearly impossible to keep them growing. I really like this design that helps protect your berries. This is going to be a must have in our garden as well.



There are several different items you can use to line the bottom of your garden boxes. People shared using cardboard, stray/hay, sand, or even black garden liner. There are even ways you can level different types to create a base level compost. Regardless, just make sure you line your garden boxes.



I really love separated garden boxes, but this is a great design. The depth, shape and accessibility is great. Such a simple design.



Not everyone has the space to have this large of a designed garden but I LOVE it. The design and organization is great. I would love to see this design in full bloom.


DSC_1015 easy diy raised garden bed tutorial

This is such a simple design, but it’s exactly what you should be doing for your garden boxes. Don’t get too crazy, it’s what is inside that will matter the most. This is a great tutorial – check it out.



Family & Life

Blessings are Trials

May 12, 2016

I can relate to the saying that trials are blessings, especially when we overcome them. However, the past 8 months have seemed more like my blessings are my trials. I’m not any less grateful for them, but I can say that I have felt a different kind of personal growth from our experiences.

Today I’m officially 37 weeks pregnancy. We are quickly approaching our little guy’s arrival, and it is literally a race at this point to see if he will arrive before or after we move into our new home. Then only a couple weeks after, my husband will be traveling again for work. There is plenty of stress, but also plenty to be grateful for. I’m taking it day by day, and trying to keep little man to stay put as long as possible.

Last August we started considering the possibility of building a new home. It was a Tuesday night in September when we finally committed to moving forward with our plan. We had prayed many times about our decision, and I prayed that if our plan wasn’t meant to be we would face roadblocks. It was completely the opposite, anytime there was a minor hesitation, a solution fell in our lap. The process of getting ready to build, finding renters for our other home, paperwork – everything fell into place as if we had spent months preparing.


33 weeks pregnant. Looking forward to unloading some off-centered weight soon. :)

So Tuesday night we had decided we were going to move forward. Wednesday morning I found out I was pregnant. And Thursday I had a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment to begin pregnancy planning – so I cancelled that appointment since it was no longer necessary. My heart was full and I felt like the Lord was guiding us along this path.

My heart was indeed full, but so was my to-do list, and my stress level was definitely rising. I was so grateful to be pregnant, I tried very hard not to complain when I felt weak or sick. I was so grateful to be able to rent our home and move in with my in laws while we built, I tried not to complain about missing my friends and neighborhood environment. I was so grateful to be building a new home, that I tried to express my gratitude for our simple blessings in life.


Just keep building, just keep building.

Over the past year we have been blessed in so many ways, I would be horrible to not acknowledge them all or to envy another. We have what we need, and we are able to raise our family and provide for them.

Even though I was putting forth effort, I’ve struggled with staying positive. In the 7 months we have lived with my in laws, my husband has been gone nearly 10 weeks for work travel. My pregnancy has taken my body and sent it through a whirlwind of symptoms I’ve never experienced or heard of. Our building process has been a rollercoaster of learning experiences – good and bad. My children have struggled with the limited space they have and the new environment changes. And I’ve struggled with winter blues/baby blues/winter depression – whatever you want to refer to it as. Never before have I felt so lonely or down as I did this winter, but again – I know it is caused by the winter, living away from everything familiar, and dealing with pregnancy hormones.


We’ve made wonderful new friends in our temporary home. It will be hard to move away and start again in a new neighborhood.

I’ve learned a lot this past year about pacing myself, practicing patience, and surviving some of the longest days of my life. 🙂 I won’t lie, I’ve set milestones to look forward to and it is has helped.

Through the last year, I wouldn’t trade my trials for another’s. But for the first time I can truly confess that I feel like my blessings have tried me and made me stronger. I’ve had moments I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to see the fruit of our blessings because I wasn’t strong enough to make it that far. But then I open my blessing journal (I have a journal for everything) and just made a list of everything I was grateful for. I listed our blessings, my blessings, and I found the energy and patience to keep moving forward. Sometimes it was just hour by hour, or day by day.


Just by looking at the sass going on in this photo – you can guess which one belongs to me. :)

I feel spoiled sharing these “trials” that we’ve been blessed with, but my mind and especially my body have been pushed to new limits this pregnancy. I was telling my husband a couple of weeks ago that even through my hardest times of pregnancy or other, my mind and motivation was present and usually I could do whatever I wanted without and consequences. However, this pregnancy, I feel almost trapped in a body that isn’t able to do what it is used to. I feel weak, physically and mentally.

Our blessings have been from simple random acts from other people they didn’t know helped me, to huge blessings like our health, new baby boy, Rory’s career, our family and friends who have helped along the way, my faith has been strengthened, the friends my children have made and many many more. I could go on for pages- but I’ve never had to work so hard to enjoy my blessings. But just because they have been hard to me doesn’t mean they are any less of a blessing. If trials can be blessings, then it makes sense that blessings can be a trial to bare as well, right?

Here is to hoping that I can survive the next few weeks, and then facing new trials like being a mother of four. 🙂 I already need a nap just thinking about it.




Family & Life

8 Essentials for Your Hospital Bag

April 26, 2016

I’m pretty sure when we had our first child, my hospital bag was crazy full, in fact, I think I had multiple bags. I had a folder with organized details that included my birth plan, insurance information and other forms that seem unnecessary for anyone who doesn’t have OCD. But when we checked in with luggage to have our baby girl – I felt prepared. Afterall, she was three days late – I had plenty of time to prepare.

Then I had our son, and another daughter, and now I’m about to have baby #4 and as I start to make my list of things I need before he comes, I can pretty much write it all down on a sticky note. Whereas with my daughter, I had a 3-page word document checklist (I’m not joking even a little bit about the 3-pages). Please tell me I’m not the only one who is this OCD about life?

Granted, there are a few things different between my first pregnancy and my fourth. I have experience, I have saved a lot of things that I’ve needed/used through my pregnancies and birth experiences. But mainly, I’ve just learned what items are essential and what items I was most likely just buying based on commercial advertisements (true story).

With our little man coming in 5 weeks I’ve already purchased most of the items I will need when he gets here. And let me tell you, my hospital bag will be much lighter this time around.

So what does baby actually need?

Hospital Bag Essentials

hospital bag

  • Carseat – I’ve used various brands and setups through our kiddos but I have to say my absolute favorite car seat brand that I’ve come across has been Graco. They are easy to move and adjust, easy to clean, and live up to their reputation. Here is the newest one we just ordered for baby boy and once I opened it I fell even more in love with the style and design! If you watch for a sale you can usually get it for about $149.99 at BabiesRUs. Graco SnugRidge 35LX Holt
  • Carseat/nursing cover – I just got my MilkSnob and I’m SOOO happy with it – I’ve already tried it on and it is really comfortable and lightweight.
  • Infant Pacifiers – I always purchase Phillips Avent pacifiers. For you new moms just a little fyi. The design of these pacifiers has a purpose. They are completely rubber and have holes around the base of the pacifier. The reason for this design is because it is possible for the infants to accidentally swallow the pacifier. If it is rubber and has holes it will still allow the baby to breathe if it gets lodged. This isn’t fun to talk or think about – but they also resemble the form a of a nipple more than other pacifiers. I give my kids a pacifier in the hospital (only this brand) and when they turn one, I cold turkey them away from them by tossing them all in the garbage. But I highly recommend this brand not just for safety reasons but also for the natural design. Good luck mommas!
  • Nursing Pads & Nursing Cream – Let me just say, you will think that you can get away without these. And you probably can, but that doesn’t mean you should have to. 🙂 I stock up on this stuff ahead of time and life is so much better! I always purchase Lansinoh Lanolin.
  • Nursing Bra – There are hundreds of versions of nursing bras. I don’t have one that I love more than another, because a bra can’t miraculously make nursing less painful – I know – I’ve looked for one. But make sure you have a couple packed in your hospital bag.
  • Swaddling Blankets – I personally love making my own. There are tons of really cute ones you can buy (like the one I purchased in the photo) 🙂 but honestly the best swaddling blankets cost me next to nothing and require no sewing! Just go to your closest fabric store, pick out your favorite Jersey Knit and purchase it by the yard (for two blankets) or by the half yard (for a single swaddling blanket). If you want to see more selections check out the fabric selection at
  • Baby Essentials – Make sure you’ve packed a few outfits for baby, including socks, bows, sweaters and even bibs.
  • Burp Cloths – I never buy burp cloths that are listed as “burp cloths”. When it comes to nursing and the mess that usually is involved – go big. I personally LOVE using cloth diapers. I purchase a large pack of the pre-folded cloth diapers (add cute fabric or accessories if you want) and never look back. They are worth every cent.

In addition to these baby essentials you will want to make sure to pack in your hospital bag – pack plenty of comfortable clothes, your bathroom bag (yes it’s okay to pack makeup etc – you still want to feel human right?) and take snacks, any devices you want, and some reading material. Some mom’s are there for 30 hours (my last delivery) – other mom’s are in the hospital for 3 days. Just make sure you are prepared because you won’t know the length of your stay until after baby has arrived.


*These links or items are not based on affiliate links – they are just my opinion from experience. Good luck mommas.


Family & Life

We Are Building a House

April 19, 2016

Moving is exhausting!

We didn’t plan on moving, we hadn’t even really considered it. Of course building a home has always been a dream, but we assumed we were still a couple years from being able to make it a reality.

Within a couple of weeks of our 5 year mark of being in our first home, our realtor emailed us a congratulatory note. One email led to another and we quickly learned that the market value of our home, and the equity we had in it was more than double what we had estimated.

So we started discussing our options. The Parade of Homes was during this time so we toured several houses, my husband also went on a guy’s boating trip to Lake Powell where several of his friends shared investment tips about real estate. We had a lot of “help” moving towards our decision to finally go through and build a house.

But we decided that rather than selling our current home, we were going to make it an investment property and rent it out. And so the journey of of building a new home began.

If you’ve ever built a home, bravo, you survived. 🙂 Well, here are a few photos from our process of building and things we considered along the way.


When we decided to build, we had to have a west-facing lot. We wanted a shaded back yard – something we never considered when buying our first home.


One of my biggest requirements was to have a separated laundry room, mud room, and walk-in pantry. I didn’t want a small closet for a pantry, and I really wanted separated spaces for all three.


Because I love photography, and I’ve spent the last 5 years of my business rotating my “studio” equipment from room to room to finally a closet in our last house, I wanted a designated space just for my studio stuff. And here it is. I cannot wait to set it up, organize it, and turn on my wonderful lights.


When I used to day-dream about my future home layout, an open floor plan was never really a want of mine. Then I became a mom, and it’s the only thing that seems to make sense anymore. 🙂


I know my personality enough to know and understand that I need natural light, and a LOT of it. Without big windows, natural light, and access to outside I get down and almost claustrophobic. So when it came time to plan our fireplace and windows – I added three windows above the mantel. The more natural light, the better!

Though these are just a few aspects of the hundreds we considered when building our house, they make the world of difference for our family. Check out the rest of my OCD requirements, lessons learned, and checklists we did on our way to getting our new home.


Click HERE to get your copy today.



Family & Life

Why did I have a daughter?

April 8, 2016

Growing up an only child I often daydreamed about having an older brother. I never really wished for sisters, but the older I’ve gotten I have become truly jealous of those women in my life who have strong positive bonds with their sisters.

Fast forward to when I was married and expecting our first child. My husband and I both so badly wanted to have a son. He was just excited to have a boy to rough house with, and I was excited to create a family like I had always dreamed up… boy, girl…etc.

We both hoped for a boy so long that we really couldn’t agree on any girl names – it was impossible. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were standing in the room in my inlaws basement (where we were living saving up for a house at the time) and we were both getting ready for work. I stopped, turned to Rory, and said, “We aren’t having a son, it’s a going to be a girl.”

We were still a week away from our ultrasound to find out the gender. I was expecting Rory to turn and say something like, “don’t say that!” But instead he turned and said, “I know. I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring it up to you.”


We instantly stopped discussing boy names. It was so impossible for us to agree or even like any girl names so we made one up. The next week at my ultrasound when the doctor announced it was in fact a girl, Rory and I both named her right then and there belly-jelly and all. Her name was to be Brecklee.

I’m a firm believer that the Lord gives you what you need not what you want. I instantly started daydreaming about girl things, all things pink, and beautiful dresses and bows. The idea of having a son seemed like a long past thought. Everything was going to be perfect for our Brecklee Kate.

As Brecklee grew I started to assume that the reason why we had a daughter was because I wouldn’t know what to do with a son. Being a girl and an only child things like dresses, bows, braids, dance, nails, all came naturally to me. It was an easy transition into motherhood having a daughter.

Once more, I secretly assumed that her amazing talents were given to her because I wasn’t capable to help her to the extent she needed. Silly I know, but don’t we all have those secret doubts about our ability to parent? It was things such as talking in sentences by her first birthday, reading at the age of two, her natural ability to lead and be self dependent,  and her over-achieving nature in all things physical.

Her casual and effortless success at everything has been intimidating to me as a parent many times. But now with her 7th birthday only a few weeks away I’ve come to realize another reason why this blessing of a daughter was sent to me.


Being a mom has been one of the best things I’ve chosen to do with my life. I don’t regret it, ever. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, and I certainly fail daily at something. But I don’t stop trying.

Then I have a “human moment” where I just give into my personal weakness and let myself fall apart. It usually is just a good cry to release stress but in those “human moments” when I can’t seem to pull myself together to be an adult, to be a good mom, or to be a good friend or wife. In these adult-meltdowns I periodically have, my daughter is the first one there to pick up the pieces and remind me that it’s okay to have rough days.

I don’t have meltdowns on a regular basis and it is never anything more than a good cry, but even in the moments of daily life I see her amaze me with the wisdom she possesses at just 6 years-old.


With each of my children I have wondered why they were sent to me, what can I do to help them succeed in life, and what will I learn from them? I know without a doubt that the reason it took us longer to get pregnant with #4 had nothing to do with us as parents or with our fourth child. It had everything to do with our 3rd child Aspen. She is a hand-full, and yet her little spirit would not have adjusted well with a new baby if she was any younger. She may still struggle with the transition, but I know without a doubt, she will be an amazing big sister to her baby brother in a couple of months.

The reason this is all coming up today is because over the past 4 days me and our three children have been sick; an not just a little sick. My husband is on week three of a work trip in Asia, and though we’ve been troopers and this trip has flown by, being 7+ months pregnant, parenting three kids, and doing it without extra hands to help has been overly exhausting.

Today, my emotions bubbled over when I had to wash and change bedding for the 7th time in 5 days. There are already mountains of laundry to be done, garbage cans full of tissues to be emptied, medicine bottles and caps that need cleaned, and dishes that need to be washed. Not to mention at some point I really just need to disinfect the entire house.

In the midst of my emotional-sleep-deprived-laundry-meltdown (I blame it partially on my pregnancy hormones) my 6-year-old daughter gathered up her brother, all of their items that were out, cleaned up her room and got the two youngest ones calmed down and put to bed without being asked. She then brought me tissues, offered to get me a drink or give me a backrub, and hugged me and went to bed. It wasn’t 15 minutes later when I received a note that was slid under my bedroom door that just said she was sorry I was having a rough day, she loved me, and if I needed anything just to ask her.

This. This is why I had a daughter first. This sweet spirit in this little girl is what reminded me that I am ok and that even at my low points at being a good mom/housekeeper or apparently a nurse, that I’m not alone, and that I have these three little spirits who love me, no matter my shortcomings.


I’m not just meant to be there for them, but they are here to teach me as well. They are why I became a mom, they are why I have the best days everyday, their father and them are the why to everything I do and everything I enjoy.

But having a daughter has meant a lot to me. Understanding and remembering what it was like to be her age, knowing she is so much stronger than she thinks. I just can’t help but be proud of her and hold her close. Having her as a daughter has made me a better person and has given me the chance to be a mother to more kiddos!

I’m grateful for each of their sweet spirits and what they bring to our lives and our family. But I know that Brecklee is a large part of the why I will be a successful mom – not because she was the first child that blessed me with the title “Mom” but because she will be the one to teach me how to be a better one as I go.

April 30th of every year I celebrate what I call my “Momiversary”. It was the day that I was able to quit my full-time job and be a stay-at-home-mom. Something I had wanted from the beginning, something I longed for, but had no idea how to accomplish. This year will mark my 7 years since becoming a mom, and 5 years being a stay-at-home-mom. This year I will be celebrating in a different way than past years. This day means more to be than mother’s day or any other event, because it was when I started truly learning how to be a better mom from an adorable 2-year-old every single day.