Savanna McMichael

the moments that create my life

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kitchen Renovation

When we first started our renovation, the kitchen was hands-down the place that we needed to start! We jumped right in and started tearing out cabinets and removing walls. In fact, I don't have a single before picture. So some of the "wow" factor may be a little bit lost since I can't show you where we started at. 
When we started designing how we wanted our renovations to play out, we knew that we wanted clean lines, semi-neutral colors (whites, grey, black, and blues), and lots of metal. We don't have a  specific 'theme' to the house. Our main goal was to be sure to use things that we truly love! So we've ended up with a mix of a modern farmhouse/industrial styled home. 
As far as the kitchen goes, we knew that it would be the main room in the house. We opened up the kitchen, breakfast area, and living room to be one big area. We love to have family meals, invite our friends and family over and just enjoy each others' company. To increase our available kitchen space, we enclosed a hallway to create a large pantry and opened up a laundry room, closet, and existing pantry to become part of the kitchen. 

Once everything was opened up, we were able to really get our cabinet design finalized. We wanted to maximize storage space and utilize the majority of the middle for an island. Our vision was for the island to be surrounded by friends and family enjoying each other's company whether that be our family dinners or parties or Saturday morning breakfast! The process was long and arduous. But it was absolutely worth it! Our kitchen is definitely the focal point of the house. It is the most amazing spot to gather around and chat. We've spent countless hours sitting in the barstools mulling over life and goals and spending time with friends. There is great flow that allows you to be in the kitchen, but still heavily involved in what may be going on in the living room and breakfast area.  

The paint colors are HGTV by Sherwin Williams from Lowe's.
walls- Latitude (HGSW1446)
main island- Raven Wing (HGSW1442)
wall cabinets- Noreaster

All of our cabinets were designed, manufactured, painted and installed by Toby Trice at Woodcraft Unlimited. Our hardware was also purchased through Woodcraft. Toby is local to us and was a breeze to work with. Our cabinets have upheld their quality and awesome appearance despite all of the battering that they get. 

Granite was cut and installed by Artistic Granite and Cabinet Designs, LLC. Ryan is also a great guy who is local to us. He made the process of picking out granite and having it installed so easy. The Viscount White granite that we chose is SO BEAUTIFUL! It has the most wonderful detail. They cut the pieces exactly as I asked so to maximize the gorgeous black swirls. Our countertops have held up better than we could have hoped! They still look gorgeous a year into using them. 

We have been so pleased with the quality of all of the work that was done, except the tile. While we love our tile, it wasn't laid properly. We have experienced a lot of loose grout and several popped or cracked tiles. Unfortunately, the best way to fix this is to remove the tile and have it done over again. The tile is still beautiful! There are just some little flaws. So some advice would be to really double check your contractors. Look at multiple references and see the actual property. We did try to cut cost doing the tile and it has not been beneficial to us. 

All of our appliances were purchased through Lowe's. We chose a gas stovetop by Samsung for our island. Our dishwasher and refrigerator are also by Samsung. I will link those as well. Some Samsung products didn't have the greatest reviews. As we researched and asked our family/friends, we found that those were the products that were considered more builder grade. We went with a higher end level of appliance and have loved them. We have not had a single issue with any of our appliances.
For our oven, we chose a Bosch product that is a double oven/microwave combination. The top door is the microwave that doubles as a smaller oven. We did decide to go with stainless steel on all of our appliances. They do show finger and handprints despite their marketings, but we love the look still!
Samsung Premium Plus stovetop

Samsung 4-Door Flex w/ Food Showcase
 Our refrigerator is a flex unit, meaning that the bottom doors can both be freezers or switched to refrigerator. We also have the Food Showcase which we have enjoyed for drinks, creamers, and things we use very often.
Samsung WaterWall Built-in Dishwasher
 The dishwasher that we chose has a WaterWall that helps get dishes even cleaner and rinsed well. It operates at only 42 decibels so it is incredibly quiet. 

Bosch Self-cleaning Microwave Wall Oven Combo

We have truly loved every aspect of our kitchen design! We are so thrilled with the way everything turned out and have enjoyed it so much. It was worth every bit of hard work and budget splurging to get it exactly how we want it! 

We truly love our kitchen! I hope that you've gained some inspiration from it as well. Our hope and desire is that we would have many years of memories that fill this space! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

a chicken update

Our chickens have faired well so far this winter. They've appreciated the warmer weather that we've had! Just a little refresher, the breeds that we have from our original purchases are Plymouth Barred Rock, ISA Brown, Leghorn, and Rhode Island Red. We also have two Bantam Silkie roosters that are not at all beneficial...They just get everyone wound up and make the bigger roosters mad when they try to interact with the ladies. We have added Australorps and Araucanas, two each, to our flock.

I have been working on a review as we are coming up on one year since we started caring for chickens. Our eggs have quite the demand so we are looking into adding to our flock. We also desire to move into meat production so we are weighing the costs and possible interest in that. As I'm reviewing, I'm looking to see which breeds have been most hardy, resilient and productive. Temperament is also of big importance to us as our kids are a vital part in their daily lives. There are always younger kids here at our house and we need chickens that range without causing an issue with them.

Here is my little breakdown:

Rhode Island Reds: We currently have two hens and one rooster. They have excellent personalities. The rooster is calm and protective, yet never bothers the kids. He has yet to cause an issue or attack a person. The hens are docile and easy to deal with. They don't love to be picked up, but don't fight it. They have been efficient layers. We previously lost two of Rhode Island Red roosters, unfortunately to our own dogs. At times, we do rely on our dogs to help herd the chickens into the coop. The loss of the roosters was a combination of the dogs being over zealous and the roosters, extra stubborn. 

ISA Browns: The ISA Browns are one of our favorites. They have all been so friendly and incredibly easy to handle. They return to the coop without much fight every evening. The ISA Browns are a breed that is considered to be more of an industrial layer. They lay very consistently, about every 24-36 hours from what I can tell. During the summer months, we consistently get double yolk eggs from the ISAs. The only real issue that we have had with them has been their inability to escape demise. We have lost more ISA Browns to predators than any of the other breeds. An accurate ratio would be 4:1, ISA Brown to Barred Rock. I don’t know what makes the difference, but it has been unfortunate to lose so many ISAs.

Plymouth Barred Rocks: These birds are very hardy. They’ve handled all of the weather extremes very well. They are productive layers with a gentle personality. Being picked up is not their preference, but they do tolerate it. The Barred Rocks have been successful rangers with very little issues. They return to the coop at night when it is dark or they’re coaxed with feed.  We have only lost one Barred Rock over the course of raising the chickens. Like the ISAs, they are very productive layers and began to lay eggs earlier than any other breed we have.

Australorps & Araucanas:  The Australorps and Araucanas have been a sweet addition to our flock. They have docile personalities and enjoy being around us. We acquired them when they were already several months old, but they adapted well and took right to us. They come up to us when we are outside, will eat out of our hands, and have been successful at ranging. I have noticed that these hens have just started laying. The Australorps lay a light brown egg. The Araucana hen has given us our first white (almost light blue) egg. We have seen eggs from them almost every day this week. I have loved having them as part of our flock. In the future, I would love to add some more!

We also have ten chicks from our December hatch. I am fairly certain that at least four of the chicks are roosters and will need new homes. They are White Leghorn crossed with either ISA or Barred Rock. Those personalities seem to be a bit less combative than their dad’s was as a chick. Our Leghorn rooster is not a fan favorite. He is very protective of the hens, quickly letting you know if he wants you to leave them alone. There have been several times that he has had unfavorable encounters with the kids so we do have to watch him when he’s near. We have kept him on the farm though because we do highly value his ability to protect the girls.

I am hopeful that the other six chicks will turn out to be pullets. We would love to keep them here on the farm and see how their mixed breeds present as far as temperament and productivity.

As we contemplate adding to our flock, the Barred Rocks are the highest on our list. We have loved the ISAs and would consider adding a few more. Their inability to keep themselves safe makes it a little more difficult to add too many more of them. The Barred Rocks have overall been our favorite breed. We would also love to raise some Orpingtons, Black Marans, and Easter Eggers (for the fun colored eggs!). Our barn is due for some updating, mainly for a brooder room. Once that is done, we hope to add about twenty more chicks to our flock. Having a brooder room will also open up opportunity for us to be able to begin moving into meat production. We have high expectations for the meat that our family consumes. By moving towards meat production, our goal is to be part of every step of the production process, knowing exactly what goes into the meats that we eat.

As always, our desire is to raise all of our animals with the most ethical, respectful practices. All of our animals are antibiotic and vaccine free and fed organic, GMO-free feed. The pastured animals range on areas that are free of pesticides, fertilizers, and other stuff that’s just gross and doesn’t belong in our food or bodies!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekend Snaps

We had the best low key weekend! Those don't happen very often this time of year for us. We had a great dinner and fun time with friends on Friday night. Hutt had a friend over to spend the night, which was fun. We are just getting into having boys sleep over. It's a great kind of different from the girls....less squealing and drama and a lot of roughness and noise! Both are awesome and it's so fun to have the kids' friends over. Saturday was pretty free with only one practice to get to. The sweetest daddy took all of the kids to the trampoline park and let this mama go to the nail salon. 
Sundays are my favorite days to just relax. We made it to church on time with no rushing and enjoyed a sweet lunch just the five of us. The rain caused all of our afternoon games and races to be cancelled. SO we got to come home and change into pjs. We spent the whole afternoon relaxing, watching the Olympics, relaxing, catching up on laundry and relaxing! There was definitely a relaxing/napping theme to our day. Games and races are always exciting to watch, but the days at home just being with my people will always be my favorites. 

When it was time to go out and feed the animals and put them up for the night, no one wanted to come out of their pjs. So we just went out in our robes and pjs! (and undies, for one little naked cowboy!)  
My pretty girl is getting too big!
I'm having to work really hard lately on being present and not letting the rushed, busy-ness of life weigh me down. These kids are growing at lightning speed and if I spend all of my time cleaning, organizing, creating, and nagging I am going to miss the most important days! So I'm working on better using my time to get things finished and having more time to really be present. I want to listen more with my eyes locked on theirs. I want to truly hear their stories and remember their expressions. There is a balance to marking things off of the to-do list and really being present for my people. I haven't been great at keeping the balance over the past couple of months, but I'm working at getting better! Our low key weekend was just what I needed to recharge for the week ahead! 

Speaking of the week ahead, Happy LOVE week! We're off to do our last minute Valentine picking today! Enjoy the extra excuse to love on all of your people! 
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Weekend Snaps

This weekend proved to be a very eventful one! Technically, the weekend starts on Friday for myself and our littlest man. Generally our Fridays consist of cleaning and grabbing lunch. This past Friday, I decided to add a little excitement by ripping a fingernail off and spending the day having that taken care of. So thankful for a sweet friend who stepped in and made that a tad easier to deal with. 
Also...don't ever rip off a fingernail. It doesn't stop hurting and, apparently, takes a year to grow back. 

Saturday really kicked off our sports seasons for us. Both of the boys raced in their first BMX State Qualifier of the season. Its a fun series that lasts until September where you earn points for your finish each race. It culminates with a championship race and the champion gets a special #1 plate for their bike and a State Champion book bag. [Our big guy is hoping to earn his fourth consecutive title this year!] 

This weekend, Hutt raced up with the 9 intermediate riders. He fought hard and finished 3rd....super proud of him! Those guys were big! Hess raced his balance bike with the four year olds and won all of his little races. Balance bikes are so fun and a great opportunity for the kids to learn the tracks and race basics. I think someone is ready for his pedal bike! 

AK & I had a sweet little morning together. We went to the nail salon to have my powder color removed....I was feeling a little intimidated by it after the nail situation. Then we were off to celebrate our favorite little Tate! We can't believe he is one already! He had the sweetest little Monster Bash!
After the party, we were off to the world of softball. Scrimmages and practice are in full swing.

With softball scrimmages and lacrosse practice really starting back up this week, we are back to the grind and craziness of sports. Our kids participate in three arduous sports! I need all the simplify tactics I can get.... Favorite crockpot meals, organization ideas, podcasts (for driving and WAITING), the best pandora stations. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Just over two weeks ago, on a super cold and snow blanketed morning, we got the sweetest little surprise. He actually wasn't very little at all! Due to some unfortunate circumstances that my dad had on his cattle farm, we got the opportunity to love on and raise our first calf. His mama had prolapsed after giving birth and, obviously wasn't able to recover. So, my dad loaded him up in the floorboard of the truck and brought him over to us.

Trey loaded up and drove the icy roads to gather all of our calf care supplies. We had no bottles, buckets or 'formula' for him...and we needed them pretty quickly! While he was gone, I loaded up our enclosed trailer with hay, heat lamps and began blocking out the cold and wind.

We think that he was able to get some of the first milk which is called colostrum (just like in humans!) so he was in pretty good shape when he got here. We went ahead and gave him some colostrum with his first two feedings, just to be on the safe side.

As soon as the kids saw that he is, in fact, a he, they began the great name debate. The obvious first choices were Ferdinand and Valiente, based on their love of the Ferdinand movie. Ferdinand evolved into "Ferdinand X" (Hess' choice) but all of those choices were scratched based on the potential popularity of bulls named Ferdinand! Bandit and Ranger became the front runners. We settled on Ranger. (Think: the Lone Ranger, red Power Ranger, etc.)

Ranger is now just a bit over a week old and doing great! He had a little bought with diarrhea over the first couple of days, but that is to be expected. We thickened his milk just a bit and gave him a small dose of some medicine to help prevent him getting worse. If not treated or handled properly and quickly, the calf could really get into bad health because of diarrhea.

He is almost like a puppy, except that he weighs over a hundred pounds. He follows us around in the yard and loves to run and jump around. We haven't decided on his exact future. Of course, our general thought is that anything that is bottle fed does not become food. The initial hope is that we will be able to get a companion and breed them with the intention of using the offspring for meat. We could also use him as a sire bull for other herds. Only time will tell though as we watch him grow.

The kids have loved having him around, helping feed him and NOT mucking his trailer! We are so excited to watch him grow and (fingers crossed!) start our own mini herd. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

FOOD: what we eat and our food goals

Now that we've made it through the holidays and my birthday, it is definitely time to get our diet back on track. I say diet referring to the actual foods that we consume, not 'a diet' where our goal is to lose weight. Our goal is to have strong, healthy, capable bodies. The focus is not on an actual number on the scale, but how we feel and how well our bodies perform. I try to be careful to have positive body language so as to not cause the goods to develop negative body image. We generally are very particular about the food that ourselves and the kiddos consume. We like to consider food fuel for our bodies first, and a pleasure item second. I've had several friends that asked about what we eat, so I thought I would share some typical things that we do.

Our general belief is that whole foods are the best foods. My best advice is to read every label for every product that you buy. Ingredients should be natural and recognizable. I try not to buy anything with corn or fructose syrups or ingredients that I don't know about. We try to stay clear of additives and heavily processed foods. Food dye is generally not something that we have in our diets (except Red Velvet Cake for my birthday, hello!). Hutt is highly sensitive to food dye, especially red 40, and cannot control himself if he eats it. Imagine that he completely loses his mind and acts like a maniac. As far as gluten, we do try to do without when there are alternatives, but our diets do contain gluten. We use gluten-free pasta instead of regular. We do buy organic or natural when there is that option. Unfortunately, not every item is available organically grown each time we grocery shop. In that instance, we just try to choose the next best item.

Some things that we do not buy or keep on hand on a regular basis:
-chips, except tortilla chips
-gummies, fruit snacks, roll-ups, candy
-granola bars (generally are loaded with syrups and sugars)

We aim to keep our refrigerator and pantry stocked with whole fruits, veggies, and meats. We also do some whole grains and legumes as sides for our meals.
Due to Hess' allergies, we heavily limit milk (we use almond milk), ice cream, yogurt, and very little cheese. Thankfully, that is the only whole food allergy that we have in our family. So we are free to use nuts and other foods that may be allergens for others.

I'm excited to share more of what we're eating here! I hope that this will encourage good habits and help fuel some ideas for your own families. I'll share some about our breakfast meals and snack ideas later this week!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Give me ALL the Thieves!

With all of the nasty flu, strep and RSV germs floating around lately, we've been doing all that we can to help our bodies keep themselves healthy. For us, that has looked like a lot of nutrient-rich whole foods, full nights of sleep, and ALL the Thieves and immune supporting oils that I can incorporate into our days! We've been rotating all of our supporting roller bottles throughout the day, especially before we leave the house and go to bed. I've been diffusing combinations that support our immune systems while they make our house smell great (without the nasty toxic chemicals found in candles).

I saw where my friend, Annie, made some Thieves soap and decided to try my hand at it. It is made from a goat milk soap base that is not drying and actually helps keep our skin softer. I have replaced my face wash with it as well. The only change that I've noticed in my skin is that it is much less dry than it has been using my previous wash.
The whole process of making the soap was super simple and took about 20 minutes from start to actually having the molds filled. I let it sit for a few hours before I removed the bars. 

Actual ingredient list:

-For the base, I used this Earth's Secret soap base because it is free of sulfates and additives. I ordered the 2lb package, but worked with 1lb batches when making my soap.

-Add ins of choice: I used oats, but you could use pink himalayan sea salt, chia seeds, dried lavender, etc.

-I used my Young Living Thieves and Lemon essential oils. My personal preference is for Young Living essential oils. Their Seed to Seal process provides unmatched quality and purity. Know what you're putting on your skin---it's your largest organ!

-Double boiler or a makeshift boiler


(I used only 1 lb of base at a time and made two batches.) 

Begin boiling water while you cut up your soap base. If you do not have a double boiler, put a glass or metal bowl over your boiling water. 

Add the cubed soap base to the boiler, let it melt. Stir as it melts. 

Once it is melted, remove from heat and stir your add-ins and essential oils into the melted soap base.  Use about 25 drops of essential oils.  (I used 15 drops of Thieves, 10 drops of Lemon.) 

Place soap molds onto a cookie sheet so you can move them if needed. Also, remember to label your molds if you are making multiple types of soap. Washi tape works great for this. 

I used a small metal ladle to scoop the soap/oats mixture into the molds. This worked really well and was less messy than pouring. 

Once I had the molds filled, I left them to harden for around three hours. 

I wrapped them in wax paper and labeled them up! You could also do wax bags. 

Some other examples of combinations are: 
Rosemary + Peppermint
Lavender + Peace & Calming
Cedarwood + Lavender
Peppermint + Eucalyptus

Other add-ins:
-Chia seeds
-Pink Himalayan sea salt

Now I have some awesome soap that was fairly inexpensive to make and will last us for a good bit! I am confident with the ingredients and happy to put them on my babies' skin! 

Have any questions about Young Living essential oils? Email me at or find me on instagram @savannamcmichael
You can also check out our awesome Oil + Co website. If you'd like to join our team and gain some amazing friends and knowledge, look for me under 'Our Team'-> 'Our Leaders'.