Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pardon Me........(and a giveaway)

...while I hang out with my cubs today. PapaBear has the opportunity to work another day so I'm on my own with the kids. No uploading pictures while I create blog book pages, no twittering while I give my eyes a break from the detail work of photo editing, and no blog surfing in between looking for quotes and poems.

Just me, the cubs, some homemade bran muffins, and a whole lot of snuggles.
See you on Thursday for Alphabitty Moments and a special treat for one participant. This week in honor of the letter 'F', I will draw* one name from the Mr. Linky list to receive eight of these pretty (blank inside) notecards.

* Mr. Linky will be up until I post the new one for next week - as long as your post is up and linked before then you are still eligable for the drawing. Good Luck!


Stain Remover 101

I got a crash course in stain removal Saturday morning after an unnamed member of our family PapaBear dropped a blueberry from his toast onto our couch.

By the time I took this picture, he'd tried to get it out with carpet cleaner (cringe). I think that's where the white residue is from, but at least it didn't bleach our couch.

I searched the internet for options and came up with a few.

1st I poured warm water over the stain and blotted after a minute. The instructions were to blot until there wasn't anything transferring to the paper towel, but there never was anything transferring.

2nd step was to mix warm water with dish soap and let it soak into the stain. Again the blotting didn't look like it was removing anything...

Then I got an email from gbmom2407 who saw my tweet and suggested shaving cream.

Worked like a charm.

Who knew!?

Thanks friend!

My husband thanks you for saving him from the repercussions of wrecking our couch teasing about having to extend the "no eating on the couch rule" to him.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Tasty Tuesday - Homemade Taco Seasoning

Lindsay hosts Tasty Tuesday over at Our Lives in a know, when she's not on bed-rest or dealing with the worst flood in over a hundred years. So far their basement is staying dry, but one look at the pictures she's posted and you can see first hand that her town has quite a fight on their hands. May God continue to protect your precious family Lindsay!

We are slowly but surely trying to weed out the additives, preservatives, and unpronounceable ingredients from our diet. When it came to Taco Tuesday* night I was dropping the ball. The packets of taco seasoning you buy at the store have MSG in them. It bugged me that I was knowingly putting it into my family's bodies.

So on my last trip to the grocery store I bought a few new spices and tried making taco seasoning from scratch. It wasn't hot by any means, but it was certainly tasty enough. I think next time I mix a batch I'll add more cumin and possibly more chili powder. Don't want it to get too spicy with little kids in the house and all.

This recipe is the equivalent of 2 store bought packages of seasoning.

Taco Seasoning

1 T. chili powder

2 t. onion powder

1 t. cumin

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. paprika

1 t. sugar

1 t. salt

1 t. powdered oregano (no need to use powdered if you ask me - I didn't even notice the bigger bits)

* I plan our menu with a specific type of food for 6 days of the week. It helps me not feel so overwhelmed when I sit down with my cookbooks. We don't necessarily eat the meal on the 'correct' day, but at least all the ingredients are in the house for 6 dinners. Rather than say "what are we going to eat this week?" I say, "Ok, time to find a chicken recipe."

Monday - chicken

Tuesday - Mexican

Wednesday - Italian

Thursday - Breakfast foods

Friday - Homemade pizza (still searching for the perfect crust recipe)

Saturday - Crock Pot meal

Sunday - leftovers

Next on my recipe wish list is a substitute for "Cream of (take your pick) Soup" Anyone out there know a good one?

For my other Tasty Tuesday posts click here.

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I heart faces - a double entry

I didn't get a chance to enter last week's contest because I was busy praying for and arranging meals for my friend MckMama and her family. but I'm making up for it by posting two pictures this week.

My entry for the Pet Category:

Our almost 11 year old Husky, Lab, and Shepard mix. To this day we get comments about how he still looks like a puppy. It looks like he's smiling, but to be honest, he's actually gagging on grass. Ha!

And for the kid's pouting category:

My sweet SisterBear working the camera and having a good hair day.

To see other entries in this wonderful forum for photography click on the button below....

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Hot off the presses

It's always exciting to see the FedEx or UPS guy drive up our driveway, but I have to admit that when it's a book being delivered, the excitement is mixed with nervousness. I spend upwards of a hundred hours on each blog book and about twenty hours getting images ready and designing the layout for a photography book.

My biggest fear is that something will be wrong -that I'll have to get in touch with the printer and do through the hassle of getting a book reprinted. It doesn't happen very often, but it's never fun when it does.

A blog book arrived today and I couldn't get the packaging off fast enough. I was surprised by how thick it was compared to a 40 page book. See?

Jenny and Joel - here's a sneak peak at a few of the 314 pages that will arrive on your door step soon....


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Not Me Monday - Stellan Style

It crossed my mind to skip Not Me's this week. Like I said in an email to a blogging friend, it didn't seem right to do a post linking to MckMama without it being about Stellan. I thought about admitting all the things I did this week as I tried to be a friend to MckMama, but gave up the idea because I was scared it would sound to uppity coming from a in real life friend even though there were times I was very overwhelmed and felt like I was letting everyone down .

Seeing that Emily is hosting Not Me Monday - Stellan Style, I decided that it would OK to talk about how hard this past week has been.

I (don't) feel heaps of guilt just writing that since any of my troubles pale in comparison to what MckMama has dealt with in the past 7 days.

I (didn't) spend 3 days returning emails from people who wanted to reach out and offer their support in anyway to my best friend.

I (didn't) hope that I could catch up for even a few hours at a time. Not me!

It (didn't) take me up to two days to return some of those emails. Nope. I'm faster than that.

Then, I (didn't) miss some people who had to email me multiples times to get the contact information. Nope. Not me!

I did (not) have to ask for personal information from kind, well meaning folks who just didn't happen to have a profile linked to their email. Nope. I would never be so bold as to ask people to verify who they are just because someone out there thought it would be fun to impersonate me on another blog. That did not freak me out one bit.


I'm above that nonsense.

I am (not) mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner, but I now have a much faster way of writing back to people who request MckMama's information. Not me! I'm efficient from the get-go!

I did not weep and shake my way through tweeting and posting when I learned that Stellan was in Vtach.

I have (not) felt inadequate to answer questions about MckMama's food likes and dislikes.

I have (not) been singing Sunday School songs all week as a way to lift Stellan up to God. Nope. Not me!

I have (not) felt helpless, relieved, frightened, mad, scared, and peaceful all in a matter of hours. Not me!

I am (not) bummed that I didn't take the time to make sure I got a 'keeper' the last time I saw Stellan.

I'm (not) posting them anyway just to see his sweet face when I log on.

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

Keep fighting little guy!

Mr. Linky is up and running already on Emily's blog. Click here to add your own link.

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Random Picture Challenge #5

The challenge from Brittany this week is the 27th folder or December 2007, 27th picture:

Not very interesting at first glance (well, probably not very interesting at the second or third glance for that matter, but bear with me)

What I love about these challenges is that I get to dig back into my 2008 archives (2006-2007 are on my desktop) and see how far our family has come. Take this photo for example - it was taken the day before we moved to our current home.

The moving truck was loaded, leaving us with only the odds and ends (and that darn refrigerator to empty).

In the spirit of the random picture challenge I give you the random thoughts on the random things in this photo:

Sam's blue Croc - he wore them for almost two full summers till he lost one at a different park one day in July. He went home barefoot.

My almost n'ked kids - You're guess is as good as mine as to why they aren't clothed. It certainly wasn't hot out - it snowed the day we moved in

The ladder leaning up against our neighbor's house - the day after they moved in they took it upon themselves to tear up a perfectly good screen porch to put real windows in. They worked on it for two days and then for a year the project sat untouched.

The blue water bottle and the red water bottle - we still use them. They are made from safe plastic, are small enough for a purse, and are relatively inexpensive.

PapaBear - he wasn't going to take a day off of work right before the move, but I am forever grateful that he did. I made an extra trip to the new house and had some help getting the garage cleaned out for good. He is my rock. I love him so so so much!

The TV: Their last shot at television. After we moved they went a while without even watching a movie. That has since changed, but come May it will have been a year since they watched any regular TV.

Big Green Ball: It's not nearly that inflated anymore, but the kids love it when Daddy kicks it high up in the air. Love those simple toys. :)

LittlePeople Main Street: A toy that had been in storage for almost 20 years made an appearance before we moved so the kids would have something "new" to keep 'em busy. Now that we have a playroom when we set up the LittlePeople village, we can leave it up for a while. No more toys in my living room! Wahoo!!

Carpet and '70 woodwork: Ah the joy of leaving a house built in the 70's! We have SO many memories of that home, but I can only think of three things I miss about living there and two of those aren't even about the house itself. 1) the double sink in the (only) bathroom 2) the closeness to The Cities and local shops, and 3) the 15 miles of paved walking trails out our backdoor


A glimpse into the future

I saw a lady today who had the exact same hair as Julia, only her's was 15 inches longer. It was even the same color! It was surreal. What struck me was that even at that length it was as curly as Julia's is now. I've always wondered if length would pull the curls out. I really wanted to go up to her and ask her how she cares for it, but I was too chicken.

This is how we care for Julia's hair right now.

Lots and lots of conditioner mixed with a dose of humor.

I pulled it all straight to show how long it is but by the time I backed up to take the picture most of it had curled back up.

Curls or no curls, she's our little JoJo that we love to pieces. She'll be celebrating her her half birthday on Thursday. Where has the time gone?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scenic Sunday - Costa Rica

It's Sunday! A day for worship, a day for sleeping in, a day for family, a day for reflection, a day for leftovers, a day for prayer, a day for naps, a day for reading, and the day I post a picture of God's beautiful creation.

Scenic Sunday was created by Michelle over at Pieces of Me. Here is her description of what Scenic Sundays are all about:

"Sometimes we are so busy with everyday life that we forget to appreciate the beauty that God has placed before us. Scenic Sundays are about stopping and smelling the roses. And while you're smelling those roses, take a picture so that others can share in your appreciation for the beauty of His creation. So pretty please come join us on Scenic Sundays. Maybe we'll see things in a different light.

See why I participate? So often life travels in warp speed and this meme reminds me to stop and smell those roses. It also reminds me of my travels, you know, before we had kids, before we had a backyard that is a tourist destination...

I'm going with the water theme again and again it's a picture of a picture (hence the reflective bits in there).

I wish I could tell you exactly where I was in Costa Rica, but we moved around a lot in the 10 days I was there so I'm not sure of the town. What I do know is that the bus couldn't get to our hostel so we had to walk a mile. The howler monkeys were LOUD so waking up early to take this picture of the sun coming up and the tide coming in was a piece of cake.

I'm auto publishing this so it's ready to go for Sunday morning, but will add my name to the Mr. Linky during naps. Hope to see you there too. :)

Safety First! *

*sorry the pictures weren't showing up there for a bit

Before Christmas we made a gingerbread house like we do every year.

Last year I started a new tradition
This year our gingerbread house was on display until this past weekend. It was just too cute to destroy and with snow on the ground outside, I figured it wasn't out of place inside.

Sam flew up the stairs to the playroom to get the safety goggles from his tool sets when we got home from church.

Our play hammer is broken so rather than have two kids swinging real hammers over the garbage can we took our little demo party outdoors.

They pounded and pounded

and pounded some more...

until our Gingerbread house was no more.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Is this what Easter Means?

We don't make a big deal out of the Easter Bunny around here, but we do take the kids to the Mall for a picture if our schedule allows.

They were very brave and thankfully the staff allows parents to take two pictures with their own cameras so it didn't cost a penny. Our entire outing to the mall was free since PapaBear packed PB&J, grapes, snow peas, cheese and Rycrisps, and water for our lunch.

It's such a long drive for us to go into 'town' that it helps to avoid eating fast food when we can. Gas alone makes us plan a bunch of errands for each trip.

Anyway, after some snuggles with the Bunny and each other, we ate lunch, played at Playland, and were on our way.

We also dye eggs every year. A memory making tradition that Grandma & Grandpa join us for (the first link is to 2007 and this one is 2008.)

If you are looking for a way to balance the Easter Bunny with the Real Reason we Celebrate Easter, you might like the book I wrote about in this post from last year.

We also use Resurrection Eggs (thanks Mom!)to teach the story of Jesus' sacrifice for us. I tweeted yesterday about how even at 2 Julia is picking up on the story.

How are you teaching your little ones about Easter?
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tied in Knots

Wednesday was a very long, very emotional day for me and by the afternoon I needed a break. I needed to do something fun with my kids. Of course things don't always turn out the way we want - they fought like cats and dogs while I spoke with PapaBear on the phone after his job interview.

We got back on track when it was time to add the flour to the pretzel dough we made. There aren't any pictures of that process because we had ourselves an itty bitty flour fight.

The look on Sam's face was priceless when he saw me making a mess on purpose.

It was a great stress reliever to kneed the dough. We played catch with the balls of dough, giggled and talked.

We connected.

We had fun.

And we ate a totally unhealthy and unbalanced dinner.

For the recipe for these tasty treats aka dinner, go to Esther's Menu Plan Monday post .

She'll walk you through the whole recipe step by step.
A bit of advice: Print out the recipe before you start.
Scrolling down with my hands covered in sticky dough?
I don't recommend it.


I Hope You Dance

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....
I hope you dance."

I couldn't agree more with Lee Ann Womack's lyrics!

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...