how to can tomatoes without a canner

I’m so excited to share my video tutorial on how to preserve tomatoes without any fancy equipment. All you need are your jars, tomatoes, salt, lids and rings and a hot oven or dishwasher. Easy Peasy!

This is my Granny’s recipe and her tomatoes were notorious in our family. We absolutely loved them for spaghetti sauce, soups and chili’s. She was a great southern cook, gardener and canner and she would be proud to know so many of you guys would be using her recipe if she was still with us.

I hope my step by step video is helpful! Let me know if you guys try it out!

Pregnancy Update

So many of you guys have been checking up on me and being so incredibly kind in doing so. But I figured this might be a little bit easier than responding to every DM on Instagram.

For those of you who may not have seen my update, around 2 weeks ago I started vomiting uncontrollably…we’re talking like 7 times in 4 hours. My upper right side and across the top of my belly started hurting terribly. We called the nurse call line (because of course it was the weekend and the office was closed) and went into triage. They ran tests and hooked me up to an IV to give me fluids and nausea medicine (thank you Lord) and they were worried because of my history of this kind of pain at 34 weeks with Elliot’s pregnancy. With her I had the same symptoms and my liver was swollen and she ended up having to be delivered at 37 weeks because my symptoms wouldn’t let up.

I was 30 weeks and 1 day this time so we were all concerned about Hollis being delivered so early. They sent me home because my labs were all fine and the doctor told me to come back in Tuesday if I wasn’t feeling any better. I ended up going back the next day because the pain had gotten unbearable and I couldn’t make it until Tuesday.

I was still severely dehydrated so they gave me more fluids and ran tests and did an ultrasound on my gallbladder and liver. Everything came back normal, but I was still doubled over in pain and in tears. The doctor on call that day came in and said “Everything looks fine! Are you sure its not just heartburn?” I couldn’t even answer her because I was so in shock. Heartburn?! Really!? She then said “Pregnancy just sucks sometimes doesn’t it?” It took every bit of willpower for me not to strangle her with my IV. haha She sent me home with some pain meds. Thankfully they gave me some relief.

When I saw my doctor later that week he said the plan was just to basically survive. If the pain came back, I needed to take pain medicine to manage it.

That was two weeks ago and honestly I’ve been really struggling. I’ve been so sick and barely able to eat. I’ve lost 9 pounds in 12 days and am now back to what I weighed at 6 weeks pregnant. Thankfully I’ve been able to manage the pain with Tylenol and when needed the stronger pain medicine.

Today Chris drove me to the doctor and I threw up on the way there…and all I had eaten was jello and a smoothie. So that was fun haha We had an ultrasound and praise Jesus Hollis is looking great. They estimate that she weighs around 4lbs 7 oz.

My doctor said the new plan is to schedule a c section for me at 37 weeks. I am 32 weeks 3 days today, so in a little over a month! Honestly right now with how miserable I’m feeling that feels almost unbearable, like how am I going to make it 4 1/2 more weeks with constant nausea and vomiting and pain? But at the same time, I am determined to do the best I can to keep my daughter in there as long as possible to give her the best shot at life I can.

If my pain or dehydration gets too bad, the doctor said I need to check myself into the hospital to get some pain management and fluids to help me survive these next few weeks. Hopefully I won’t have to do that, but we shall see.

So that’s the “plan.” I hope that update helps and again thank you all so much for your kind messages and your prayers! I read every single one!

2021 Garden: Phase 2

This weekend, we got to work on our garden and this meant: building raised beds! We had planned to complete all of them, or at least get the supplies for them, but with lumber prices being way higher and our budget being tight…we decided to just get the supplies to build two beds. One for the onions I need to get in as soon as possible and the other for my lettuce I’m starting from seed soon.

One way we made the beds more affordable was to buy cedar privacy fence pickets. They were about $3.50 a piece, so way more than we were expecting but also not ridiculous. We used 2×4’s to create four “legs” on each end to put into the ground the level the bed.

Chris did a great job assembling the beds…especially considering we didn’t have plans for how to do these. He just made it up as he went and as usual it turned out great! The area we chose for our new garden is the most level in our yard, but it’s still downhill slightly, so I was excited to see what it looked like once he leveled the beds. Much more pleasing to the eye than the wonky way my other beds last year were laying. ha

After the bed was leveled, it was time to fill ‘er up! We used a soil combo recommended by one of our favorite youtube channels Hollis and Nancy’s Homestead. Its cow manure, peat moss, and soil. We used top soil from Lowe’s (and got the other two from there too). We aren’t planning on buying soil from the store for all of the beds because its EXPENSIVE. But we needed to just get these two done and it didn’t kill our budget in small quantities. We plan on finding bulk soil from a local farm for the next ones.

I used cardboard boxes to line the bottom to keep grass from growing through. I did this last year and it worked great. And it eventually decomposes so the plants can grow through it if they so choose. Then we added some limbs from the tree we cut down. It will take a while for those to decompose, providing lots of organic matter as food for the plants throughout the next few years.

We added some leaves from our pile we’ve been saving since the Fall. And then we added our soil mixture on top of that. And we were done with the first bed!

We didn’t have time to build the second one due to it starting to rain, but I’m hoping to get my onions in the bed by tomorrow. This is my first year growing onions and I’m nervous but hopeful I won’t screw it up too bad. ha

I’m so excited to have one bed down and ready to go! Gardening season cannot get here fast enough!

Check out our vlog of building the beds today.

Fighting distraction in motherhood

The longer I’ve been a mother, the more I have realized what the number one enemy of stewarding my children well is… Any guesses? Distraction. This may seem hilarious because if you’re a mother too, you realize that our children actually cause a ton of distraction! ha I’ve become a queen at multitasking because there are always so. many. distractions going on with three children.

They ask questions at the same time.

They need something from me all at the same time.

They play loudly whenever I’m trying to talk on the phone or need to focus on an important task.

Yes, they can be distracting, but that’s not the distraction I am referring to above.

I am referring to the distractions that take my attention AWAY from my kids. For me personally, these can commonly look like the following:

1. endless scrolling through social media or just being on my phone a lot in general

2. feeling too tired and exhausted so I disengage

3. putting my kids in front of the tv because its easier than answering a million questions and I just want a moment to myself

Those are just a few, there are many more, but I’ve noticed that when I find myself caving to these distractions, my motherhood becomes stressful and my children become increasingly disobedient and discontent. Which makes sense because my kids need their mother…all of their mother and they can tell when I am disengaged and not fully invested in them, so they act out in the only way they know how to get my attention.

The Lord has made me more and more aware of how my level of distraction affects my kids. And while yes there are seasons (like my current one of morning sickness) where I am doing the best I can but we’re on the struggle bus and the kids watch a lot more TV than normal because I’m in the bathroom vomiting, but this is not our normal circumstances and even in this season, I am striving to let my kids know they are loved and seen and even sick I need to get the job done as a mother that God has given me.

Because in all honesty, my job as a mother doesn’t stop just because life throws a curveball. It may feel like I’ve got all the time in the world to parent my children, but it’s not true. My youngest is almost 5 years old. That blows my mind because I swear I blinked and she went from a chunky baby to a lanky little girl. I know that my time with my kids is fleeting, but it’s hit me in a whole new way lately because I’ve got 18 years with these kids at the least…I pray for more, but with my goal not being to hoard my children…but to send them out into the world, I WANT them to leave the nest and make a difference in the world. And that just means my time to shape them and instill character, life skills, and education into them is flying by. I don’t have time to be distracted! I’ve got a big job to do.

And I’ve been told by countless momma’s of older kids that if I will do the hard work now while they are young, the older years become a lot easier. So I’m trying to follow their advice and lay a foundation of obedience, tenderheartedness, selflessness, and love into my kids now while they are so young, so that they have a solid place to continue to develop their character on.

So how do I fight distraction?

1. Get enough sleep

If this means I need to go to bed at 9pm so I am up at 6:30 and not feeling like death, that’s what I need to do. Tired me = grumpy me. And no one is served well when I’m a grouch. I am tempted soooo much more to be disengaged when I am tired.

2. Put my phone down

Everyone is always suggesting this and we know it in our minds, but how often do we actually DO this? I don’t know about you but it’s nearly impossible for me to listen to my kids’ thousands of stories and also be scrolling on Instagram. How am I going to be aware of how my kids are treating each other and talk them through disputes and get to the heart of their behavior, if I have no idea what’s going on? I have to be paying attention to see those things! And I also don’t want my kids to never get eye contact from me because my eyes are always pointing at my phone.

3. Get in the Word.

Yes, we all know this. But God’s Word and His Holy Spirit are the only thing that will ever change my heart. And a changed heart is what changes my behavior. Being in the presence of God changes me. Knowing Him changes me. And the way I get to know God is through scripture. So I need to be in it, and often.

For me sometimes this means getting up before the kids and spending uninterrupted time reading the Word. Sometimes it looks like listening to it when I’m in the shower and putting on my make up. And other times its reading it in the chaos of children all around me. But no matter how, I NEED Him and His word.

4. Silence negative voices.

There are some negative Nancy’s everywhere these days. I cannot tell you how many times I hear lies spoken over motherhood and children in general.

“Have kids they said. It’s be great they said.”

“Kiss your free time goodbye.”

“Is it time for wine yet?”

You get it. because these messages are EVERYWHERE. In the form of complaining mother’s in mom groups on facebook, or “funny” memes, or real life friends. And while yes, I get it. It’s just not funny to me.

Scripture clearly says that children are a blessing and a REWARD. It doesn’t say they won’t be difficult or hard and that you won’t be exhausted. But as my friend Abbie says “Hard is not the same thing as bad.” God calls children good and I will too. And maybe the difficult things children cause, are for MY good and MY growth.

And my flesh struggles enough as it is not to be whiny and want to complain. So if I add all of the millions of negative voices out there, no wonder I’m discontent and find it easier to disengage with my kids. So I just don’t let those voices into my life.

I follow positive examples of motherhood on Instagram. I listen to motherhood podcasts that focus on scripture and sanctification and not “Man this suckssssss.” And it’s been a huge help to me in keeping focused!

5. Just do it.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes I’ve just got to suck it up and do it. I’m not always going to feel like being a mom or educating my children. And motherhood is not a job I get to clock out of. It’s a 24/7 gig. And yeah sometimes that is really hard. But I’m the adult here. I brought these kids into the world and they are nobody’s responsibility but my own. So I don’t get to whine and throw a fit.

I have to do my job no matter what I feel like.

And while that may sound harsh, its just the way it is.

And while motherhood can feel very monotonous and frustrating at times, I cannot lose sight of the fact that while yes this is my job right now…it is so much more than a normal job. This work is ETERNAL. How often do we get to say that about our jobs? Pretty cool and heavy at the same time.

Raising future adults, future citizen, and hopefully future Kingdom workers is not a job to take lightly. I’ve got to be all in, because it’s that important.


We can’t lose heart, mommas. This work is serious and wonderful and hard and hilarious. But we’ve got to give it 100% of our effort and heart. My great fear is looking at my grown children and wishing I hadn’t let life keep me from giving them my all. I know I’m human and I will have regrets because I make mistakes all the time, but I want to know I gave it my all and I did the very best I could. So let’s get to it, ladies!

Armoire for toy storage/ How to Organize Legos

When my boys were babies, I would see memes about legos and stepping on them and what a pain they were, and I would laugh, but never relate because they were too young for legos. I arrogantly thought to myself “That’s not really a problem for us.” I jinxed myself. ha

Fast forward only a few short years later and my boys are 5 and 6 and my life had become overrun with those tiny little pieces that are somehow in EVERY SINGLE ROOM. I step on them. I sweep them up. Only to find them in every corner and under every piece of furniture.

And all the boys wanted for Christmas was…you guessed it…more legos.

So I was wracking my brain for a practical (and sanity saving) way to store these tiny torture toys. Not only was I sick of them being everywhere, but with baby girl coming in May, I don’t want choking hazards on the floor in every room so I know I need to figure out something soon. I’ve tried and failed before but I think I found a solution. I found these see through zipper baggies on Amazon that are the size of a sheet of paper, and I thought “Perfect! These will work.”

I had the boys separate their lego sets and break them down. They put each individual set into a bag along with the instructions and we wrote the name on the tag and they can easily go pick out a set they want to build and then break it down and put it all back once they are done. Our new rule is only one set per child out at a time.

Also can we now talk about this beautiful armoire?! I found it on Facebook marketplace over New Years and I had been keeping my eye out for a piece to go on that wall. I needed a pretty place to hide all of the toys and this thing is perfect! It makes me so happy to have an antique to add beauty and warmth to the room, but also it be practical and a place for my kids to keep their toys…because they live here too. ha

It had enough room for books, puzzles, Lincoln Logs, Elliot’s baking stuff, and of course, the Legos. And there are extra shelves we can install if we need more storage.

How we stripped our dining room built in

When we looked at this house for the first time, I was so excited when I saw that their was an original built in in the dining room. It had cute glass doors on the top and original beadboard inside the cabinet. I could just picture all of my beautiful, vintage dishes being displayed in it.

But after we moved in something was bothering me about it but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. It took me a few months to realize it just didn’t stand out enough. It blended in with all of the white wainscoting and the light colored walls I had chosen (Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams).

Plus if you know me at all, you know I’m a stripping queen (take that however you will ha) and I love nothing more than original, unpainted woodwork. It’s my love language. So it really was a win-win to attempt to strip it.

One of the things I was nervous about though was with it all being painted white, there was no way for me to tell before stripping if any of the old wood had been replaced. I very well could spend all of that time stripping paint, only to find a piece of new growth wood from Lowe’s hiding underneath the paint. But I finally decided it was worth the risk. If it all went wrong, I could easily just paint it white again.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the process, here is a list of supplies I used to get the job done, in case you have some woodwork you want to strip too.


– Citristrip (it’s less toxic smelling for when you have to strip indoors)

– Glad cling wrap (After applying the Citristrip, I cover it in Glad wrap and let it sit for at least 6 hours, sometimes overnight)

– Paint brush to apply the stripper

Putty knife to scrape off paint

Dental tool to scrape off paint in small areas like corners and trim

– Wide painters tape

Palm sander and sandpaper

– Mineral Spirits to wipe off wood before staining

Minwax Red Mahogony

– Paintbrush and rag to apply and wipe off stain

Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane

Step 1:

I took off the doors from the top and bottom and took them out to the shed to strip. I applied the stripper and covered them in trash bags and let them sit for a few hours. I them used the putty knife to scrape off the paint. It took about rounds of applying stripper to get down to the wood. I wiped them clean with mineral spirits, let them dry and then sanded them before applying the stain.

When I started on the bottom doors my initial fear of finding non-original wood came true and I realized that the “middle” of the bottom doors was not wood at all but particle board. (sigh) This frustrated me a ton and I tried to come up with a solution…which ended up taking like 5 months. haha We finally decided on using some kind of beadboard in the doors, since the wood frame of it was original wood.

Chris found these beadboard pieces at Lowe’s and they could not have turned out better. They stained beautifully and in my opinion you can’t tell they weren’t there from the beginning.

Once we figured out that whole debacle, we stained them with Red Mahogany and wiped them off. I did two coats and once they were completely dry applied a coat of Poly.

Step 2.

Next up was stripping the trim. This was tricky because, obviously, we had to do it in place and I’ve never stripped anything inside. I was worried about the mess and the smell…and if i would ruin the walls. haha I am an effiecient worker but I am not a clean one so I think Chris was more nervous than I was.

I used wide painters tape to protect the walls and it did a good job!

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I repeated the process again and it was ready for me to scrape by that night.

I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy to do…especially the intricate trip around the built in….it almost made me say some bad words. haha Chris helped me a TON and was so much better at the tedious parts than I was. I’ve always said hes the brains I’m the brawn. I get really mad at intricate things haha

We thought we were going to need to do another round of Citristrip, but then I had the ingenious idea to use a baby wipe (We’re parents okay. we use those things for everything ha) to wipe down the trim and it all came right off and you could see the beautiful wood!

Once the wood was dry, we ran the sander over it very lightly (um hello house full of dust) and then applied the stain. It took two coats.

Step 3:

Once the stain was dry (it took about 36 hours) we put the top coat of Poly on and stood back and admired what we had just accomplished. I was in love and I looked at Chris who said “We are never doing that again.” (ya win some ya lose some)

Step 4:

I am obsessed with green. Especially Artichoke Green by Sherwin Williams. In a few years I’m pretty sure my entire house will be covered in it. When I was picturing the built-in completed, I just felt like it needed a pop of color. The white shelves inside looked too stark next to the warm wood tones. So I took a chance and painted the beadboard and shelves green. AND I LOVE IT.

Step 5: (optional)

Fill your built in with beautiful, Fire King and Glasbake dishes. And watch your dreams come true through happy tears.

I hope this is helpful to any of you who may have dreamed about stripping woodwork in your old house. Take heart…if I can do it, ANYONE can. It’s a lot of work and you’ll ask yourself “What the heck was I thinking??” about 10 times throughout the process, but I have never regretted uncovering beautiful, historic woodwork. Not once.