Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday: blessed to be busy

I've been running around all day today, crazy busy.

but I like it.

This week I'm thankful for...

311. Refresh, the mom's group at my church. It was fun to finally get to go after a year of working during the times they meet.

312. A visit with my cousin. We chatted about life + pregnancy. It was fun to see her, she's an adorable little pregnant lady.

313. Malakai's growing personality. He's becoming really outgoing and he's hilarious.

314. motivation to get some cleaning + organizing done during Malakai's nap. It feels so good to have the mail + other paperwork filed away.

315. Being able to trust in God. Ben is up for a review at work and it's such a comfort to know that whether he gets a significant increase or not, God is our provider and we will be taken care of.

316. sunny weather. We had beautiful weather for my mom's birthday last weekend.

317. Ben's co-workers + those on the worship team that are always willing to give him a ride when he needs one {we only have 1 car}.

318. weekend dinner plans to look forward to with friends from out of town.

319. finally setting a date for our housewarming.

320. learning to enjoy cooking + baking more every day.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

creeper town

I'm not a big fan of seasonal decor {although currently, we don't have ANY decor}. I really only change the decorations for Christmas, and pretty much only for the month of December, and then it all comes down.

I think it's cute that other people put out stuff for the fall, and I may start doing more of that once we get more than two things on the walls around here, but it's really just not my thing. I especially don't care for other holiday decor. I don't put bunny rabbits up for Easter and I certainly have never and will never put fake spider webs or the like around my house for Halloween.

That being looks as though my little enemies had other plans.

Spiders are THE most annoying and disgusting thing I can imagine. I hate them, always have, always will. I have been getting better at just hating them and not being as scared of them. Only in the sense that I am far more willing to smash them myself when I have to, versus calling Ben to come home on his lunch break...

Anyway, they really have a way of wrecking this time of year for me. It would be nice for Malakai to run around in our backyard, but it's currently infested with thick, black, speedy ground spiders. 

I just can't do it. 

The white spots are their webs that they jump out of. waaaah!

I'm so ridiculous, and at least I know that. Our entire neighborhood has these spiders everywhere right now. I think they were more noticeable today on my drive home due to the misty air clinging to them. 

It doesn't help that we haven't really done much all summer to get rid of them. We sprayed the home defense stuff once, but only outside. I just don't like spraying chemicals where Malakai could possibly come into contact with them at all. I've heard there are some more natural repellants, but I have no idea where to even begin to look. Any ideas? I mean, I really need them. 

On Monday a rather large spider crawled out from under Kai's turtle ballpit and I jumped + screamed, then smashed it. Malakai just laughed at me. On Tuesday, the same kind of spider seemed to just appear from nowhere in the same area of our house. Luckily Ben was here to take care of it.

So...this Halloween, my house is dressed up, whether I like it or not. 

What's something that "bugs" you?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

this JUST happened

I don't usually post twice in one day, especially this close together, but about 10 minutes ago Malakai was eating his lunch. He got more + more quiet. I was across the room picking up toys when I noticed this...

I just had to share this. It's still cracking me up. He's never done this before. Needless to say, he's now snoozing comfortably in his bed.

Blackberry Muffins

Last week I decided to try another muffin recipe. I just like making muffins because they're handy for both Ben + I to grab on the way out in the mornings.

I happened to have some frozen blackberries that I wanted to use up, so I looked up recipes until I found one that I wanted to try. Luckily, I had just picked up a few of the ingredients the day before so I was already set.

The recipe I used was actually for blueberry muffins, but worked just fine with blackberries.

Here's the recipe


  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/4 stick (10 T.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C. yogurt (calls for plain, I used natural vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 C. berries
  • 1 T. flour (if using defrosted berries)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower part of the oven + preheat to 375 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. set aside
  3. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. Mix in half of the dry ingredients until incorporated. Then one third of the yogurt. Mix in half of the remaining dry ingredients, then the second third of yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, then the remaining yogurt. Again, mix until ingredients are just incorporated. Do not overbeat.
  5. Fold in the berries. If using frozen, defrost first, drain excess liquid, then coat with a light dusting of flour before mixing in.
  6. Using a standard 12 muffin tin, coat each cup lightly with olive oil. (I used the pray version). Distribute the batter evenly among the cups.
  7. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Test with a long toothpick to make sure the center is fully baked. Cool for 5 minutes, remove from tin and serve slightly warm.
Makes 12-16 muffins.

I was so pleased with how large these turned out. They were delicious right out of the oven. However, they were a bit crumbly after a day or two, but really great heated with butter. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Senior Year

This year is my little brother's senior year of High school. It kills me. He is 11 years younger than me, my sister is 9 years younger. Needless to say, it makes me feel old to know that this time next year they will both be in college.


Anyway, I did my sister's senior photos year before last and I took some of my brother over the weekend. I hope to take more {we couldn't convince him to change outfits and keep going} soon. I'm thinking at the park or somewhere with lots of colorful leaves when they start changing a bit more. All of these were taken at my parents' place.

{this one is mom's favorite- she was obsessing over his "baby blues"}

{had to go with some artsy lens flares}

{I had to sneak myself into one. Can you feel the love?}

What do you think?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CSN stores

I have a couple reviews coming up for CSN stores. They have hundreds of online stores with pretty much any item you can think of from console tables to cribs. Their prices are super competitive, I encourage you to check them out soon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

my favorite reads part II

Last week's list of recommendations was not long enough to include everything I read. Even with a second part to the post, there are still many others I haven't included. I may {or may not} do a third installment. For now, please click all these lovely links and enjoy the reads.

This is a recommendation for the very few of you who may be oblivious to the existence of Heather Armstrong. I stumbled across her blog over a year ago when I was pregnant with Malakai and she was also expecting her youngest daughter, who is just a month older. At first I was turned off by her sometimes foul language and her crass humor, but I stuck around for the sarcasm, wit, and overall weirdness.

Today's Letters
I did a little review that featured today's letters here pretty recently. This blog makes me smile on a daily basis, and has really inspired Ben + I to find more time for each other. I wish the Loerke's lived closer, I have a feeling we'd be good friends. I also have a feeling a lot of people feel that way about them, hence the immense popularity of her sweet little blog.

The Heir to Blair
This is another blog I discovered through The Bump message boards. I've followed "Blair's" (just her pen-name) story for almost 2 years now. Her family has been through a lot and her ability to be honest about it all is staggering.

Maggie {aka Gussy} has been sewing adorable creations with ruffles on them for a relatively short time and is already doing what she loves from home full time. Her story is awesome, her blog is really fun to look at and her shop is irresistible.

The Anderson Crew
Emily's family is absolutely adorable. I can't remember how I came across her little piece of the internet, but I'm glad I did. She always has great pictures of her kids and I just love that half the time they're running around in just their underpants. They're also working on adopting a little girl from Ethiopia, which would make 5 kids under the age of 6!

You're welcome.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday: back to basics.

I've noticed that my Thankful on a Thursday posts have been one of the only times {if not THE only time} that I chronicle our daily lives. I got backed up on a bunch of reviews and giveaways but am almost completely caught up. I'm going to take a break from any giveaways for a while and focus on the reason I started blogging in the first place. This means more posts about Malakai, what I'm doing around our new home, family updates, and most likely more cooking + baking.

This week I'm thankful for...

301. the beauty of the Harvest Moon {and Jupiter}. Be sure to check it out again tonight.

302. the sound of the wind + light rain patting on our huge maple tree as I carry my sleeping boy on my shoulder from the car to his crib.

303. having a very productive week. I got a ton of unpacking + organizing done in the guestroom on Tuesday.

304. Malakai's epic nap. I was able to get the previously mentioned things done because my amazing son napped for 4 and a half hours! I'm not counting on that ever happening again!

305. My good friend Jamie. Even though she was resting at home, feeling sick, she let me bring over my sopping wet laundry when our dryer broke. It was great to sit and chat with her on a Monday.

306. Saving money. Ben + I have cut extra expenses and we're starting to see the difference in our bank accounts. Motivation to keep saving instead of spending.

307. Our funny boy. Malakai was toting around the box of crackers, and I didn't realize he had turned it upside down and was shaking it until it was too late...

{confessions: we put them back in the bag...}

{...and let him eat one off the floor}

308. the day off. I have a day off because poor Henry is sick today. I'm not thankful that he's not feeling well, but I'm starting to feel under the weather and am hoping that resting today will help me fight it.

309. a heavier blanket to sleep under. I love the weight + warmth of a fluffy down comforter.

310. the forecast for warmer weather. I'm hoping my mom gets her birthday wish of 80 degree weather + a clear pool to swim in on Saturday.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

baking in the dark

The flickering bulbs in our kitchen finally burnt out, and they just happened to do so during a very busy week. Which meant it stayed dark for 4 days or so. I made dinner a bit earlier while there was still natural light coming in the back window, and I brought in a floorlamp from another room.

Even in the dimly lit kitchen I baked brownies. And not just any brownies, but my first try at baking them from scratch. I was inspired by the recipe on the side of my container of unsweeted cocoa. I realized I had all the ingredients so I just went for it.

It wasn't too bad working by the tiny light above the kitchen sink and what was streaming in from the window in the dining room. I did have to take some of the photos in the dining room however.

Here's the recipe for these simple + delicious brownies.
Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8x2 in pan. In a medium saucepan melt butter (in microwave melt in 1-qt. containter). Remove melted butter from heat, add cocoa, and stir until well blended. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Stir in vanilla, flour, and salt. Do not overbeat. Spread in prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. 

I baked them in a well oiled {olive oil spray} muffin tin. For regular cakes + brownies I usually bake for just 15-20 minutes in the tins but these needed the full 30 minutes.

While they were still hot I sprinkled some mini-chocolate chips on top. These were also delicious with our leftover homemade peanut butter creme frosting.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

rainy lake weekend

This past weekend we spent a couple days at the lake with Ben's family. It was the first time that all of his parents, siblings + significant others had gathered all at the same time. 

Despite the cool weather Ben went wake-boarding on the glassy water late Friday morning just after we arrived. 

Malakai was a bit scared when the boat would get up to speed. He was very clingy, but got better with each ride.

There was a unique outdoor shower. It was oddly refreshing to take a hot shower in the cool rain. 

We saw more of the toddler in Malakai as he wandered around everywhere. He's so curious about everything. He kept walking up to the campfire and blowing on it. I honestly have no idea where he got this from, but it was hilarious.

Just before we headed out on Saturday night, since Ben had to be at church bright and early on Sunday, I was determined to have a s'more. There was a pause in the rain so we all headed out. Of course the rain started back up as soon as I started toasting my marshmallow and by the time I was finished everyone else had run back inside and it was pouring down rain harder than it had all weekend.

{So I stood outside in the rain with my s'more- a true Oregonian}

Now that our lake weekend has come + gone I'm really ready for the fall weather. I'm embracing the chill by baking goodies, having tea in the afternoon, and cuddling up under soft blankets at the end of the day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

EcoMom gift card winner

Thanks to all who entered to win a $15 giftcard to EcoMom. Our lucky winner is...

Congrats, I sent you an email. Please respond within 48 hours.

these are a few of my favorite reads

You may have noticed that I don't have a "blog roll" on my page. I do have some buttons for those who have created some on the lower right, some are giveaway sites, some are Etsy shops, and others are blogs that I read. I don't want to overcrowd my main page, so I thought I'd post about the blogs I read on a regular basis. This isn't an exhaustive list and it's not in any order of importance, just highlighting some talented bloggers.

Most of the blogs I read I've discovered through other bloggers featuring them or just casually mentioning them, so I thought I'd share the love with you in case you haven't heard of any of these gems. I consider all of these a MUST read!

Breaking Through
Lyryn has a beautiful testimony of forgiveness + God's grace. She also recently become a mama of two- her boys are incredibly adorable.

Finding My Feet
Raechel is incredibly creative. She makes cute little outfits + things. She also chronicles the day to day with her sweet little ones, Oliver + Hazel.

Party Perfect
Sarah features all sorts of party ideas. I first discovered her blog when I began the planning process for Malakai's Pirate-themed 1st birthday party. I found a lot of inspiration and love looking through all the ideas and lovely photos on her website.

Pacing the Panic Room
Most people in the blogging world know about Ryan Marshall and his wonderful family over at PTPR. He recently launched a kid's album called Do Fun Stuff to benefit SMS research, a genetic disorder that his step-son was diagnosed with fairly recently. I first discovered this blog like most who currently read there, through the Maternity series he did of his wife Cole when she was pregnant with their daughter Tessa, who is just a month older than my Malakai.

The Outdoor Wife
I've linked to Nish here before. She was the inspiration behind Thankful on a Thursday, which I participate in every week. She's a fellow Oregon girl and I love seeing my home state through here eyes. She's a great writer and is also mama to a sweet little guy.

The Mommy Makeover
I first "met" Marge through The Bump message boards. We were "labor buddies" which meant we were on watch for when the other went into labor to notify the rest of the ladies on the boards. We've stayed connected through emails, blogs, + facebook. We've been sending each other's sons birthday gifts and are hopeful to meet in person some day soon. She started this blog back in March with nearly daily updates on her mission to improve her lifestyle. It's authentic + motivational.

Happy reading,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday

Sometimes when I sit down to reflect on what I'm thankful for I hit wall. It's not that I don't have anything to be thankful for, that's obviously far from true. I think it's that I don't want to write the same things every week. At first I wanted to come up with a unique thing every time I posted another 10 items, but then I think I got lazy and forgot to see if I had already shared how thankful I was for coconut mochas.

Anyway, what I've realized is that while it's great to think of new things and stretch myself to see the good all around me, it's okay to be thankful for the same things each week too. In fact, being thankful for many of those things on a regular basis means that they're still a part of my life, they haven't been taken away {except those coconut mochas, darn budget} and when I look back I can see where I've repeated things in my list and know that those moments are what blessed me the most.

So I'm still thankful for:

291. God's strength.

292. my adorable son.

293. and incredibly handsome husband.

294. our little house

295. and guests that are willing to overlook that pile of boxes in the corner + lack of decor the walls.

296. the chill in the air that opens up a whole new section of my wardrobe.

297. fresh hot coffee.

298. my family.

{Happy Birthday to my lovely "sistore" Amanda!}

299. being able to email with Kai's pediatrician about our concerns, this saves us so. much. money.

300.  a long weekend with family at the lake that starts tomorrow.

This is my 30th week sharing in Thankful on a Thursday. Please visit The Outdoor Wife who started it all for more information and inspiration.

Happy {early} weekend,

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