Fitness Apparel Trends & Favorites

Recently I posted a photo on my Instagram page of all of my workout laundry, and a friend suggested I do a post on workout gear.


Now, I tend to go through a lot of workout gear every week because I teach Jazzercise 5x a week.  That, my friends means a lot of laundry.  I try not to live in it when I’m not working out, even though it’s easy to do, it’s dangerous (read this post regarding my opinions of living a life in leggings).  The trend these days is to wear fitness apparel even when you have absolutely no plans on breaking a sweat.  Because of this, the fitness fashion industry is booming, giving us lots of styles and choices!

Here are some of the things I’ve observed of fitness fashion trends:

#1 Loose-fitting tops

It’s still very common and normal to see trim-fitting tops, but the world of loose-fitting tops are making their way from the normal fashion trends to the fitness fashion trends.  This is a refreshing change for those days when sucking in and standing tall don’t sound appealing 🙂  Often times you tuck in one side to your waistline of your pants…or you can tie on the side (hello 1980s!).

lulu loose fitting tankVia Lululemon

#2 Bras Making a Statement, 3 Ways

There are a few different ways that the undergarment is making their way into the fitness trend.

Peekaboo Bra

Often times the top is loose fitting, and the bra is peeking out on the sides or in the back.

peekaboo bra

Via Jazzercise 

Colorful Bra Layered Under Basic Top

You don’t have to have a wild and crazy patterned top to have fun.  Start being more adventurous with your bra colors and more basic with your tops.  Victoria’s Secret has a great selection of fun sports bras.

colorful bra

Via Jazzercise

Statement Backs

Of course, you can always just wear a bra top (but you won’t find me doing this…no matter how much I work out!), but if I were to wear bra tops, I would be looking to find more with statement backs.

Victoria's Secret Knockout

Via Victoria’s Secret

Free to be wild bra

Via Lululemon

#3 Sheer Fabrics

Colorful, sassy pants still have a place in the fitness world, but again, I’m noticing a trend towards solid pants with a subtle statement of sheer pieces to break up the same ol’ same ol’ black leggings (and also noticing sheer in tops).

bee's knees

Via Nordstrom

sheer top Jazzercise

Via Jazzercise

#4 Joggers

As a child of the 1980s, I knew these as “sweat pants”.  But “joggers” is way more fun, don’t you think?  And they are everywhere.

jogger  Via Athleta

#5 Motivational T Shirts

Nordstrom has a great selection of these shirts, but unfortunately I can’t save a picture of them.  But check this one out here or this one here.  I’ve also seen a lot of affordable motivational shirts at Kohls near the fitness section.

A word on brands…..

There are so many good brands in the fitness industry, it’s hard for me to narrow it down to just a few good ones.  Generally, I do believe you get what you pay for.  Even though Lululemon pants are overpriced, they are better than a pair from Old Navy.  Even though an Athleta shirt may seem a little sky-high at $50 bucks, it feels so much better than a top from Target and lasts longer.  But perhaps you don’t want to spend the money, that’s okay.  As I’ve worked out more, I’ve come to appreciate the higher quality workout gear and tend to only be buying nicer brands these days, knowing they will last longer. I’ve bought several nice brands via Facebook swap sites, or at consignment stores!  They have lasted way longer than my Old Navy bottoms I bought new!  My go-to brands are pretty much all the ones you saw listed in this post.  I’ve heard GREAT things about the Zella pants (Nordstrom’s house brand), but I have not tried them yet.

A word on supportive sports bras…

If you have anything to “hold up”, I highly suggest plunking down the bucks for a good bra.  Here are my 3 favorite for support, shape, and quality: Panache/Victoria’s Secret/Natori.  But everyone is different and I would suggest checking out Title Nine for a variety of styles/support levels.

What’s your favorite, go-to brands for fitness apparel?

Outdoor Garage Updates & Pipe Dreams

We’ve been in the middle of an addition to our home, it’s not something that will be done quickly….more at a snail’s pace.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?

Last I updated on the exterior of our garage doors, it looked like this:

garage doors finished

We had no driveway, no electrical, therefore garage doors that would only open manually, no lighting installed, and we were dealing with a lot of this:

mudfront property
That, my friends, was the view out of my back door all winter.  Let me tell you, it was muddy outside our house AND inside our house.  Try telling 3 boys to stay out of the mud for 6 months.  The holdup and the reason for all the forever mud is that we had the project started in October/November, but we didn’t pour concrete till the temperatures warmed up in the spring and the weather cooperated.

Even though I get anxious to move this project along at a faster rate, it’s good to look back at these old photos, because it’s come a long way, baby!

As of today, this is where we stand:

house 6

Our driveway has been poured.  I was about to hug the contractors when they came with all their fancy machines and trucks full of concrete.

Also, you can see that we added lighting all along the garage doors.   They are not the nicest, fanciest lights ever, but I think it helps the house look more finished.  Lighting on a house are like the “accessories” that really set off the perfect outfit (not that I would know, since I never remember to accessorize).  Hopefully these will last for a bit, and perhaps when they are wearing out we can replace with something a little nicer.

house 3

I have a friend that’s in the middle of a major remodel at her home, and she summed it up best when she said, “I feel like there’s a hole in the bottom of my wallet.”  

Ummmm.  Yeah.

But we are coming along!

Having a driveway is so nice, parking in the garage is a luxury that I missed dearly when I was banished, and 2 of the 3 garage doors are fully-functional with a garage door opener!

house 2

We now have a really long driveway.  The old garage space and driveway connects to the new garage and driveway.  What we’ve done so far to this original space is enclose the old 2-car garage, exchange garage door openings for windows, and replace the light up high to match the garage door lights (it’s larger in scale than the garage door lights).

house 1

Ascetically, we would like to purchase shutters for the new windows that match the front of the house, making this space feel more original and less plain.  Also, I think two large, long planters underneath the windows would help break up the long driveway and make it feel less concrete-ish.  For now, a generous friend gave me some pots and old patio furniture when she was moving, and I’ve just added those plants to help add some warmth.

When I was taking these photos, I noticed I had a photobomber! I’m pretty sure I scared the crap right out of him.  Literally.


scared turtle

I love this photo I happened to catch of the boys visiting with the scared little turtle.  Eventually they got him off the driveway and set him free in the back yard.

house 5

What do you think?   I would love suggestions and ideas from you on what to do with our old exterior space/garage to make that feel more warm and inviting?  It gets a lot of sun, so it’s not exactly a fun space to “hang out” or put seating.  Plus we’ll use that for parking space when we have guests, so it needs to stay somewhat clutter-free.

Hopefully next week I can share about our patio and our future plans pipe dreams.

Adventures In Probiotics: Making Kefir

I’ve been silent the last few months, mostly because life overtakes me and sitting down to write just does not happen!

Lots has changed over the last few months, lots to share with you, I’m excited!  Hard to know where to start, but I’ll start with my new foodie adventure.

Adventures In Probiotics Making Kefir
In April I started making my own Kefir.  Have you ever had kefir?  It’s a pretty amazing food that we’ve always been a big fan of around here, but the problem for our family has been two-fold:

*The stuff from the grocery store, while amazingly yummy, is amazingly pricey!  Our family can go through a quart of Keifer in a day, and that’s an expensive habit!

*Most of what you buy from the store, unless you buy plain, is unfortunately, loaded with sugar, making a healthy product less healthy {even if it has natural cane sugar or fruit sugar, it does not mean it’s good for you}.

We make lots of smoothies around here {try this yummy one, or this one}, and I wanted to start replacing my milk for keifer.


Kefir is loaded with probiotics.  It makes yogurt look like a weakling in terms of probiotic benefit (I’ve read about 50 healthy bacteria strains in Kefir versus less than 10 strains in average yogurt).  It’s mild, slightly tangy, can be a bit effervescent depending on how you culture it, and best of all, it’s very low or lactose free!  Not only is it a great source of probiotics, it’s high in protein, B vitamins, calcium and phosphorous.  It can also be made with other animal milks if cow’s milk does not work for you, and also responds well to coconut milk for a time (but the grains will eventually have to be refreshed with cow’s milk) .

I started with grains from Cultures For Health, and followed their wonderful directions (I purchased locally, but you can buy online).  Kefir grains (not an actual grain) thrive best between about 68-85 degrees.  I started when our house was still sort of in the springtime chilliness, so it was a bit tricky to get them started.  Now is the easiest time of year to get your kefir going (assuming you have air conditioning)!

I make about a quart every 12-24 hours, depending on our room temperature.  Kefir grains grow pretty slowly, but I’m at the point where if I wanted to make more, I’m sure my grains are healthy enough that I could split and culture more.

My body does not get along well with lactose (the natural sugar found in cow’s milk), and so this has been the best solution for me to be able to consume milk without the bad side effects.

Kefir In Jar

Kefir does not react well to metals, so I avoid contact with any metals.  I use glass mason jars, plastic mason jar lids (found near mason jars in the store), a plastic canning jar sized funnel, and to strain my grains I use my plastic salad spinner insert.

My process:

*Place grains in jar.  Add milk (I alternate between whole milk and lower fat milks, because kefir grains like animal fats, so I cannot consistently use low-fat milks).

*Let sit for 24 hours or so.  I cover with a cloth rubber-banded to the top, keeping it out of direct sunlight.  Sometimes it sits for 12 hours, sometimes it’s 36.  It depends.

*When the kefir is ready the grains have typically floated to the top and it has the consistency of buttermilk.  At that point I get out a clean mason jar, strain my new kefir into that jar (you can refrigerate your new kefir at this point).

*All the original grains will be in my strainer.  I then put them back into my original kefir container, add milk, and go back to step one.  About once a week I start a fresh new mason jar.

*Before refrigerating your new kefir, you can ferment it without the grains for an extra 6 hours to increase it’s culture time.  Refrigerate and enjoy at that point.

A few extra tips:

*You should not use ultra-pasteurized milk (many organic milks you find on the grocery store shelf are ultra-pasteurized)

*You gotta keep out of sunlight, but you shouldn’t put in a cabinet that does not have constant air exchange.  Healthy kefir needs healthy air!

*Beware, because it’s a fermented product, fruit flies will be attracted to it.  Keep covered with a cloth or cheese cloth and sealed from any yucky pests that want to infiltrate your fermented goodness.

keifer photo

If you don’t like the taste plain, use in smoothies!  Or add a drop of something sweet to cut the tang (vanilla extract is great, too)!

The research isn’t conclusive, but from what I’ve read, because the kefir grains feed on the lactose (sugar), it’s actually lower in sugar than a milk.  Though, the USDA does not allow kefir makers to claim it is low sugar on their nutritional labels, because the nutritional facts on the back label is pre-fermentation, not post-fermentation (I’m not certain on this fact, but what I’ve read in other places alludes to this fact).

I use my kefir in all sorts of things.  Just recently I used extra I had in my favorite pancakes (kills the healthy bacteria, I’m sure, but still gives that great buttermilk-like flavor), home-made coleslaw, home-made salad dressing, not to mention smoothies.  It has a million uses and is so very easy to make.  I used to make yogurt, but it’s sort of been forgotten because I love kefir so much and it’s so. much. easier.

If you have the itch to start this process, you really should!  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it!  You can even rest it in the fridge when you go out of town for vacation, or get ahead and needs to take a few days off.  I would encourage you to read lots of online tutorials and watch You Tube videos, not to mention, read all the great info on the Cultures For Health website.

Let me know if you try making your own Kefir!  Also, let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer if I know the answer 🙂

Simple Chalkboard Platter & Giveaway!

***Edit: Giveaway is now closed.  Congrats to Erica, lucky #1!***

Last fall I got a wild hair and picked up two silver platters at a thrift store.  They were not high-quality, antique sterling silver platters, so I didn’t feel bad when I painted them.

Years ago on Pinterest I saw this idea:

The link to this photo does not work, so I didn’t really have any guidance on making the item, but the picture pretty much tells the story.  (If you know the original source of the photo, I’d love to know).

chalkboard platter ideas

First step is finding some cheap platters that you don’t mind painting.

before platters

Next step (not pictured):

I used some liquid deglossor over the part of the plate that I was painting, just to hopefully help the chalkboard paint to adhere.  My mother in law actually used a spray paint primer I believe, when she made some similar last fall (turns out we made some within weeks of each other, without the other knowing.) 🙂

Once that dried, I just simply hand-painted some old chalk paint I had on the platter.

painting platter

It took two coats to cover fully. Unfortunately, I think my chalk paint is old and so it’s not the smoothest finish ever, but it got the job done!

After a few days, I seasoned my chalkboard (rubbed chalk sideways all over it, fully covering with chalk, then dusting off.  This will prevent you from seeing the first thing you write on it forever and ever).

Over Thanksgiving, my sign said “Thankful”, over Christmas I think it said “Joy”, over Valentine’s day it said, “Sweet”, and the other day I chose to write “Shine”.

chalkboard platter sideview sarahandtheboysblog

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16

kitchen shelf sarahandtheboysblog

It is stuck to my wall with two 3M stickers that pull off for easy removal.

So, since I was making a platter/sign for myself, I decided to make one for you as well!  And since it’s my birthday month, I decided I should celebrate with a giveaway!

giveaway sarahandtheboysblog

This little chalkboard-themed giveaway includes:

*glass mason jar style drinking glass with chalkboard label (Marshalls)

*chalk board note cards (Michaels)

*chalkboard style stickers (think adorable letters!–got this at Marshalls)

*Chalkboard sign/platter/plate (made with love from me)

*Black and Whilte dish towel (Target)

(not included: plate display stand, but you can easily pick one up at your local craft store)

***Contest Closed.  Lucky #1 Erica Won according to!***

Here’s what you need to do to enter the giveaway:

Comment below on your favorite thing about March (my birthday month, so obviously one of the best months of the year):

If you want extra entries:

If you want extra entries, share this giveaway (or a different blog post from this blog) on either your Facebook or Twitter page and leave a second comment naming where you shared (FB or Twitter).

You are entered! Thank you for reading and celebrating my birthday with me!

The fine print: Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. Available to anyone in the contiguous United States, must be 18 or older to win. One winner will be chosen at random from comment(s) approved on this blog in comments section (not on FB or any other platform of social media). Winner will contacted by sarahandtheboysblog via email. Deadline to enter is Saturday, March 28th, @ 10pm cst.

Use of a private social media accounts (Facebook or Twitter) to promote this giveaway is at the entrant’s sole discretion and not required to enter. Note, promotion of a giveaway via social media accounts such as Facebook and/or Twitter are commonly used as a marketing tool, and also to provide entrant with an extra chance to win.

Almost Millionaires?

Well, I’ve been MIA…again. I have been a productive little girl, but not productive on the blog. Several have asked me what’s going on with our garage addition, and so I thought I’d share some quick photos of the progress. If you are one that wants to see nice, exciting, pretty, pinterest-worthy blog posts, this isn’t the post for you! But if you are curious about home remodel/diy, then this may be interesting to you. 🙂

Last I checked in, we had a garage, but not much else was done. Progress is slow. Inside, Nathan & my dad have been working on this:

boring electrical

Did you fall asleep? I know, boring. It’s been a lot of work, but they’ve been running additional electrical to the garage, something called a “sub panel”, and that’s where I dozed off.  Important, I know, but not the fun stuff.

Also, Nathan has been working on updating some of our existing home so that we can have the gutter company come and put up gutter on the new garage and backside of the existing home. He took down all the soffit, installed lighting, electrical outlets, and ran sound from our inside sound system to the exterior.  Once we have a patio we’ll be able to enjoy music out there (or a St. Louis Cardinals game, for me). 🙂 Again, this wasn’t exciting work, but I am the first to admit that it looks a little better and the additional lighting will be nice.

back of house

I think this photo gives you a good idea of where the lighting is. If you look up under the soffit (under the overhang) you can see some recessed lighting. The only lighting that was out there originally was the little light off the patio doors. Now we have several lights, so all sides of the patio will be lit. He put these on some sort of dimmer switch so we don’t have to have them at full strength if we wanted low lighting. They are also LED, so they use very little electricity.

The speakers are not anything fancy or super expensive.  And I’m sure the sound won’t blow your mind, but it will be nice to have a little outside entertainment.  Here’s another view, from the side.


It looks like we belong on the Beverly Hillbillies.  It’s rough out there.  I’m tiring of my “lakefront property”. And muddy house. This is the view from our dining room.

mudfront property

But someday it will be worth it, when we can go out and enjoy our patio and have a driveway so we can park in the garage.  The contractor is supposed to come back soon and finish grading and pour concrete.  {hurry, hurry, concrete team!  I’m ready for you!  I’ll bake you cookies!!}

The most “fun” part for me as of late was seeing the garage doors go up:

garage doors finished

Since our old garage was two doors, we decided to just start fresh and go with three new doors.  I could have gone wild with garage door styles and picked out some custom made, crazy-fancy doors, but the budget sure wouldn’t allow that! These are quality, but reasonable priced garage doors.  We spent a little extra to get metal backed doors (vs vinyl) and higher R-Value insulation.  I think the window grid goes nicely with our home and the hardware is a fun touch, for me. We went ahead and had them installed, because what a the contractor charged to install them was so reasonable, it just didn’t justify our time in installing ourselves.

We are hoping to add more lighting to the garage soon, when the budget allows.  We had the contractor install a few recessed lights (centered over each door, as the arrow indicates):

garage door with light

But we are also planning on adding some sort of wall sconce in-between every garage door opening, to add more light and character.  I threw some circles in-between each garage door, just to get an idea what it would look like.  I don’t know what to do down on the left end, as I’m afraid a fourth one may look cramped down there.  Thoughts?

garage with possible lighting

I guess it does not matter too much, as right now we fit in really well with the Clampetts.  Does that make us almost millionaires?


Honeymoon Granola Recipe

Nathan and I were married in the hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot month of July. We chose the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our honeymoon, partially because it looked like a sweet, quaint, romantic destination, but also because I was a bridesmaid in a wedding two weeks after my own wedding in North Carolina (and she flew to Missouri 2 weeks before her own wedding to be in my wedding!  What a friend!).

We stayed in the quaint town of Beaufort, NC and then traveled up the coast along the outerbanks. It was an absolutly wonderful vacation and a magical, peaceful time (when I happened to be really tan…I got my first-ever major sunburn on this trip…but that’s another story).

We were younger.

Much Younger.

Three kids, jobs, homes, life, will age a person.

When in Beaufort (5 days, I think) we stayed at the Pecan Tree Inn.  As a bed and breakfast, they offered breakfast fare every morning. But unlike many B&Bs, it didn’t serve a fancy-clog-your-arteries-leave-you-stuffed sort of breakfast. Every morning we were able to come down to breakfast, at our own appointed time, sit at our own table in the warm July sun, and have a light and simple breakfast.

pecan tree inn

This was perfect for us. We settled into a routine of yogurt, fresh fruit, and this delightful granola that they made at the inn. We loved it so much we asked the innkeepers for the recipe. For years we’ve been using it as our go-to granola recipe. When a friend asked for it the other day, I thought I should just post it here.  We’ve modified it over the years, so it’s not really their recipe anymore, but it always brings back memories of a sweet, simple time in our relationship.  *swoon*

sarahandtheboysblog honeymoon granola

The most beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can totally modify for your dietary needs.  No wheat?  No big deal–just switch ingredients and keep the amounts the same.


Honeymoon Granola

by Sarah and the Boys Blog

Mix together dry team:

:: 4 cups Rolled oats

:: 1/2 cup wheat germ

:: 1/2 rolled wheat flakes

:: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, etc)

:: 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

:: 1/8 cup sesame seeds

:: generous pinch of salt

:: (optional) 1/2 cup flaked coconut, preferable unsweetened if you are thinking healthy

Set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix together wet team:

:: 1/3 cup healthy oil (canola, etc)

:: 3 tablespoons of water

:: 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (or brown sugar works, too)

:: 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry team and wet team until coated.  Pour into large sheet pan {are these called jelly roll pans?} lined with parchment and bake at 325, stirring frequently (about every 10 minutes) until lightly brown.

Add your choice of dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, dates, etc).

You don’t have to use parchment, but I don’t care to clean pans, so this cuts down cleaning time.

We, of course double this recipe, and most of the time our almost-ten-year-old makes this (how did we go from our honeymoon to a ten-year old kid???).

It keeps well, but because it has nuts, it won’t keep forever.

Like I said, you can keep these measurements and just use whatever you have on hand.  Right now I’m out of wheat flakes so I just used extra rolled oats.  Sometimes I use cereal mixes (bob’s red mill) in place of wheat germ.

And now I give you exhibit A, my son’s lunch today (plain yogurt, topped with granola and frozen blueberries):

granola 1
Eat and enjoy friends!


PS if you are gluten-free, would you make some suggestions of things you would add instead of wheat flakes and wheat germ?  I would think some sort of ground brown rice and flaxmeal?   🙂


Piece of Cake Whole Wheat Pancakes

Generally during the week I encourage healthy breakfast eating.  We eat a lot of eggs, and a lot of smoothies.  We limit the cereal, because the boys stay full for all of 10 minutes before they ask for breakfast again.

Once I quit teaching my Saturday Jazzercise class and moved to an all-weekday teaching schedule, I started making the boys pancakes every Saturday.  They love this tradition.  This morning, when I was whipping together a batch, I thought I should share my tried-and-true recipe with you.

Piece of Cake Whole Wheat Pancake // sarahandtheboysblog

I still want to give them a delectable, yummy, pancake, but of course, try to sneak some wheat flour into the recipe.  You could increase or decrease the wheat flour, but you may need more liquid if you increase the wheat flour.  Also, be really careful to not over-stir your batter; lumpy is good.

Piece of Cake Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe // sarahandtheboysblog

I almost always just make sour milk (as opposed to buttermilk) pancakes.  They always turn out just fine this way, though if you have buttermilk on hand, it’s definitely the tastier option!

Piece of Cake Whole Wheat Pancake // sarahandtheboysblog

Piece of Cake Whole Wheat Pancake // sarahandtheboysblog

I typically have just one pancake, plain or with a little bit of peanut butter.  The boys eat a triple batch.  I’m not kidding.  To keep the sugar intake down, we use unsweetened applesauce on top instead of honey or syrup.  But Grant said I needed to take a photo of one with butter melting on top, so I obliged.

piece of cake pancake re 1
One batch equals about 8 servings (smaller than shown in photo) with approximately:
*122 calories
*5g total fat (1g sat. fat)
*3g protein
*1g fiber

Let me know if you try this. Enjoy!

How We Went From Scrap Wood to Family Farm Table

This, my friends is what inspired Nathan to make my long-drempt-of farm table.


Now if you saw this pile of lumber, would you think you could make this?

farm table LR view

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the ability or confidence to work that sort of magic.  But Nathan is one talented guy, and he was able to turn this old wood into a beautiful piece for us to love for years to come. The wood was part of an old machine shed/barn that was knocked down to make way for growing retail development not too far from our home.  Nathan went by one Saturday afternoon and helped himself to some of the scraps of wood that were salvageable.  Two days later it was all burned.  So sad. 😦 The wood was very rough, uneven, different thicknesses, etc.  The first part to his puzzle was making sense of the wood and fitting the pieces together.  This probably took him a solid day, just to make it look like it was meant to be together.


Once he had the boards in an order that he thought work work, the table top began to take shape.

progress 1.5

As I already mentioned, the wood was very cupped, uneven, warped.  That’s what comes with the territory of old wood.  The beauty and character of reclaimed wood also comes with challenges.


We don’t have a lot of photos of the entire process…this was pre-blog.  He shaved a lot of boards with a wood planer, but tried to leave the top untouched, and do all of his thickness adjusting on the bottom side, which would not be visible. And for those that have asked, his pieces are held together with biscuit joints and wood glue.

progress 3

A lot of farmhouse tables have four legs, but we designed this table to maximize flexibility in seating arrangements.  Having the support in the middle, instead of at the four corners, helps this table seat a lot of people.

progress 4
Now if you look closely you can see the boards are still pretty rough at this point.  He spent probably a day total sanding this piece, using a belt sander (thanks, brother!) and a hand-held palm sander.  He was careful to sand it so that it was not too bumpy, but not to the point where all the rough-sawn cuts were sanded away. Once he got to the place where it was sanded to his liking, we took it inside.

before staining
Please excuse the poor photo quality.  But you get the drift.  This was the table pre-finished.  We let it sit inside for a good, long time.  Perhaps six months like this?  We moved it inside to let the wood acclimate before our final sanding and finish.  I LOVED it unfinished.  Very reminiscent of a table you would see at Restoration Hardware.  But we had to keep it covered with a piece of clear plastic from the fabric store to protect it from stains.  Classy.

At this point, we had researched several options for finish:

*Polyurethane: we decided against this type of treatment because we didn’t want the “plastic” look that comes with polyurethane. Poly sits on top of your wood, so it leaves more of a coating. We have three boys, and this table gets hard use. Poly would have been durable, but also has the potential to get scratched up. When it does, the only way to fix the scratches would be to strip and re-coat the entire table. Plus, I didn’t think a plastic-feeling coating went with the same vibe as a farm table.

*Wax: many will simply put furniture wax on a piece like this, and you can preserve the light finish like this table has. I would have loved that option if this table was for show, or for a dining room that is not used often, or for a home with no kiddos. Since this table is used DAILY, we needed something that would be able to handle the wear and tear, that would not need maintenance.

*Oils: hemp oil or other oils could have been a more natural option as well, but, again, I didn’t think the oil finish could stand up to my kids!

*Unfinished: this is an option, but you need to be okay with the table soaking in every water mark, spill of wine, crayons, etc. I wouldn’t have been able to handle that!

*Waterlox: we decided to go with Waterlox because it is a durable finish that could make this table able to withstand the abuse that we were going to give it. The great thing about Waterlox is that it is like a poly and an oil in one.  It soaks into the wood, so that if you ever have a scratch, etc., you can lightly sand that area and touch up the scratches, but it has the durability of a poly. Perfect for us! Also, because it soaks into the wood, it looks more natural than a poly that sits on top of the wood.  Many folks use Waterlox for their butcher block counters, even in kitchens, around their sink (check out Miss Mustard Seed’s counters here or Holly Mathis Butcher Block Counter’s here).

We decided not to stain our piece before we sealed it.  If we would have had less rough-cut marks, I probably would have stained it first.  But I did several test pieces, and decided that if I stained it, some parts of the table would get too dark.  If you ever use Waterlox or poly, make sure you test it out first and decide if you need to stain it.

We applied the Waterlox in a well-ventilated area.  Did you catch that?  Well-ventilated is important.  This stuff is stinky.  If you want something that is low-VOC, this is not it.  Restoration Hardware sells many of their tables raw (yes, you pay $3000 for a table, and then you get to finish it!!!), and they have a low-VOC sealer they recommend, but it was pretty expensive and I wasn’t sure of how durable it would be.  So, we went with the uber-stinky Waterlox.

during staining process
We applied the finish with a cheap, 4″ chip brush.  Between each coat it went inside some plastic bags, in our freezer outside.  I wouldn’t do this forever, but we worked this product back-to-back days.  We waited the recommended time between coats, and make sure the space was well-ventilated.  From my research, the curing process happens from ventilation.  Even if the temperature is colder than ideal, the ventilation is the key.

See how the can is smashed?  This is on purpose–Waterlox will last forever, but you need to keep the air out of it.  So Nathan used a clamp (see photos above this one) to smash the can as we used the product, keeping the can “full”.  Make sense?

profile of table in progress sarahandtheboysblog
We applied 3 full coats to all sides of this piece and 5 on the top.  Everything.  Folks that use Waterlox for their kitchen counters seem to do 4-5 coats or more.  If you don’t want the shiny look that comes along with additional coats, you can finish your last coat with Waterlox’s flat finish (we used the original for all coats).  I didn’t want to spring for an extra can, but it’s not a bad idea if you want your finish to be matte.

We LOVED working with the Waterlox.  It is so much easier than applying a polyurethane.  Our favorite thing about this product was the ease of application.  Waterlox is easy to apply, you didn’t have to worry about over-working it, this had no sags, no runs, didn’t bubble, this was so.much.easier.

This sat outside in our garage for a few weeks de-stinkifying.  We brought inside, and I have the super-sniffer 3000 nose, so it still smelled for about 3 months, in my opinion.  Not strong, but when I got up close, I could smell it.  We were gentle with it at first, not really using it much for at least a month.  It is holding up beautifully.

long shot resized sarahandtheboysblog

farm table 2 sarahandtheboysblog

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to ask and the smart one (Nathan) will answer!

(to see more photos of the final photos, check out this post)


How We Went From Scrap Wood To Family Farm Table first appeared on Sarah and the Boys Blog.  For more posts like this, sign up for emails or follow on Facebook or Instagram!

From Abandoned Wood to Family Farm Table

For years and years, I have been eying dining tables, dreaming of my someday farm table.  Of course, we all see the beautiful tables at Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn, West, Elm, etc. and we drool.  And then we get smacked in the face when we look at the price tag.  I felt like my “dream” farm table was out of reach, just because what I wanted (reclaimed wood, rough-sawn, practical design that would fit a lot of people) would take me years be able to afford.  And even then, braces, soccer and food for 3 boys would always outweigh my desire for a new table.

We had a table that worked perfectly fine, but it had some problems for our growing family.  It was a hand-me-down from my parents, when they upgraded to a larger table for their home.  The main issue with the table was that due to the way the legs were placed, it was difficult for us to seat many folks around it.  We have a lot of guests and large family gatherings, so it’s frustrating when a table takes up a bunch of room but can only seat 4 comfortably (6 was possibly as well, but not as comfortable).

The other thing that wasn’t working for us is that it had a “skirt” around the bottom of the tabletop.  This wasn’t an ugly feature by any means, but it made it near impossible to cross your legs under the table, fit a booster seat under the table, or if you were taller, fit comfortably under the table.

Did our old table look fine?  Yes, it wasn’t bad at all from a design standpoint, just functionality in our space wasn’t working.

So my dream husband found some abandoned lumber and built a table.


Cost: less than $150 (mostly for wood glue, a few clamps, and the Waterlox that we chose to finish the table with).  My husband is a pretty talented guy, so he whipped this baby up in his spare time, all the design coming out of that smart brain of his.  We looked at a lot of tables, mostly on Restoration Hardware, for inspiration.

My requirements were:

  • The legs and support had to be set in the middle, so we could squash as many people around it as we wanted, without being inhibited by the table legs.
  • The top needed to be high enough to comfortably sit under, and no table skirt.

Now I feel like I have built you up for a big exciting reveal.  It’s not that exciting, it’s only a table.  But it’s our table and it’s perfect for our family!

full shot with light
farm table 2 sarahandtheboysblog

These are vintage Ethan-Allen chairs that I picked up second-hand. I adore anything close to the Windsor-style, and these are a variation of that style (from what I can tell, they are maple, Ethan-Allen by Baumritter Heirloom Nutmeg. Good news is that they are plentiful on ebay, so I’m on the lookout for more locally to add to my set).

close up farm table resized sarahandtheboys

Close up of it’s distressed goodness.

long shot resized sarahandtheboysblog

Those horizontal lines are the original rough-sawn cuts. They add so much character. When Nathan made the table, he took a lot of care to level it out, without completely removing the cuts.

farm table LR view

This table is SOLID oak. The table separates from the bottom, so we carried it into the house in two pieces. I’m telling you, it’s one of the heaviest things I have ever carried. Old wood is so amazing.

another view resized

nail close up sarahandtheboysblog

One of my favorite details are the antique nails. Technically the table is held together by other more substantial pieces of hardware.  These nails are just for decoration, but add so much character and old-world feel.

profile view table sarahandtheboys

A fancy blogger would have staged her kitchen for these photos. I was just lucky to get a shot of the table when it wasn’t covered in food, schoolwork, or art projects. Judge my kitchen if you want, or just feel comforted that my house is a mess just like yours.

underneath farm table sarahandthe boys

I’m hoping that sometime this year our cheap (and very beat up) flooring will be replaced (going to start getting bids for that tomorrow. I’m telling you, it never ends around here).

fruit closeup resized sarahandtheboysblog

This is sort of a backwards reveal. I’m starting with the pretty pictures and over the next post I’ll show you how we went from abandoned-about-to-be-burned wood to this beauty. I’ll share more on the finish we chose (and why) and some things we learned along the way.

***edit*** To see how Nathan made this table, check out this post!

{PS How do you follow this blog? From Facebook? I love Facebook “likes”, but Facebook is sort of testy and only shares posts with you when it’s in the mood. Sign up for emails–top right side of screen I think–if you want to sure you will be able to read each post!}

6 Months Of Blogging

I’m over the hump of the 6-month point of blogging.  Professional blogger, I am not.  Consistent blogger, I am not.  BUT, I do like blogging and my hope for 2015 is to write more often.  I have a lot of newer readers, so I thought I would be fun to take a little walk down memory lane of my most popular posts of my first 6 months.  Keep in mind–“popular” may not be huge by normal bloggers–but for this small little blog, this is what has been most read.


It’s About To Get Real


I officially threw my hat in the blogging ring, committing to write more posts.  When I wrote that, I had no idea how difficult it would be to consistently post, or how much time one stinkin’ post would take.  But I found quickly that I enjoy sharing my thoughts on the web.


Better Than Panera Greek Salad was the first recipe I ever posted to the blog.  yum.

greek salad5 sarahandtheboysblogUpdate: I’m ready for summer, the pool, and these foods in my garden again!

In Stamps, Bones And Art I shared an interesting way to use a collection as decoration.

stamp art 1 sarahandtheboysblog.comUpdate: This sparked creativity in readers and several shared the collection-inspired art that they made!

How To Get The Stank Out Of Workout Gear stuck a cord with folks.  I was relieved to know I’m not the only one that is annoyed by the funk in workout clothing!

post workoutUpdate: my workout clothes (and stinky wash cloths) still get this treatment, but it seems less frequent in the winter.


Now, far and away, this has been the most read, most shared, most commented on post that I’ve written.  Generally has been received positively.  I held my breath when posting The Day I Told My Kids No More TV because I didn’t want to add to the “mommy wars”.

no more tv headerUpdate: We still watch very limited TV at home.  Sometimes on Saturday we’ll watch it for 1/2 hour or so.  We are halfway through winter and we are plugging along!  Still don’t regret this decision.  My kids are so much better for it, and they never ask to watch television anymore.  They are always super excited when I offer, though 🙂

Another popular September post was when I played a Debbie Downer and warned everyone about the Pumpkin Spice Latte in Smashing Pumpkins: The Sad Truth Of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

sad truthUpdate: I still don’t like the taste of a pumpkin spice latte.


I, again, played Debbie Downer with my post The Death Of Denim and The Danger Of Leggings.  And I thought of it every stinkin’ time I chose leggings over jeans this winter.

legging header 2Update: I still like leggings.

November & December were pretty quiet for me.  I should have been posting lots of beautiful Christmas photos, but instead the boys and I plugged away at school hard core.  So at the end of December, I resolved to do more writing in 2015.


My most popular post to date in January was last week when I shared about all the changes going on at our home, with Ch Ch Change…. 

hunter boots sarahandtheboysblog.comUpdate: This major project is just beginning so I am sure you’ll see lots more on our home remodeling adventures in the future!

Thanks to all of you for reading!  It’s been a fun ride for me.  Coming up soon on the blog (shameless teaser/plug):

*Free Farm Table

*Knox’s Birth Story

*Garage Door Decisions

*Chalky giveaway

*Much Much More!

Much Love,