Saturday, October 30, 2010

coming up

I have some reviews + giveaways coming very soon. I'm continuing to work with CSN stores to provide reviews for relevant products. CSN has a variety of stores + products like nightstands + other bedroom furniture as well as anything you could ever need for your kitchen.

I'll also be working with some Etsy sellers + other handmade shops to share new goodies with you before the Holiday season.

Be sure to follow me publicly through google friend connect (to the right) so you don't miss any of the helpful reviews and exciting giveaways coming up soon! Also, because I really want to see your smiling face on the sidebar.

And now I'm off for the weekend for pumpkin carving, football, a Harvest festival + one very cute little robot.

Friday, October 29, 2010

trip to the farm

At the end of last weekend I realized that we were running out of days to take Malakai to the pumpkin patch. The weather was finally acting like fall in Oregon, tons of rain and fairly cold days.

Ben + I both wanted to be there for his first real trip to the pumpkin patch. Last year, he wasn't even crawling yet. It looked a little something like this...

{I posted a photo of this orchard earlier this week}

We didn't buy a pumpkin that year. This year we went to a farm closer to our house and we didn't buy a pumpkin there either. I had envisioned having Malakai "select" one from the patch, but they were all rotten. All the nice ones were in the farms store front and I figured we could save money and pick one up at ANY storefront. So, we let Malakai loose in the patch for a bit and took advantage of the photo ops  as fast as we could during the break in rain.

We dressed Malakai in grubby clothes so I wasn't worried about mud. We did however make sure he didn't stick his hand into the moldy pumpkins. He tripped over vines a lot, but didn't seem to care. He was literally running all over that field. 

Ben's mom was able to come with us at a moments notice. She took some photos as well and helped us corral Malakai a few times. He really didn't want to stand still or be held for photos, he's pretty much a little blur in most of them.

{Kai loved drumming on the pumpkins}

{he didn't seem to like the water on his hands though}

Unfortunately we didn't get to take the hayride out to the pumpkin patch. We're guessing it was too late in the day or maybe they only run it on the weekends.  We did get to see some hay though...

The rain washed away some of the paint, but you get the idea. They had a lot of things like this that made for some pretty fun pictures. I was actually thankful for the overcast sky which made for some great lighting, it was terribly cold though!

They had a playground area and near it were some places to take photos. There was an adorable little train. 

But it didn't interest Malakai for very long. As soon as he wriggled free of Ben's grip...

{I just wanna be freeee!}

There were some goats + sheep that we couldn't get very good photos of, but Malakai enjoyed looking at them. We were set to go because it was so cold when we saw a few more photo ops we couldn't resist. 

Ben set Malakai among a bunch of large pumpkins and I thought it would help him stay still for a photo. Instead he made this pathetic face and whined until we set him free again. Can't fence him in!

We had a great time watching Malakai run around and enjoy the new sights. Tomorrow we will attempt pumpkin carving with our 15 month old! That may make for a scary Halloween!

Happy Weekend + 

PS I'll post Halloween photos from the Harvest party we're attending and of course pics of Kai in his costume on Monday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday: influencing change

As those of you who have been reading here for a while know, I talk a lot about change (hence the name of this space). It's one of few things in this world that you can always count on. Much of it is out of our control, and I really prefer it that way. What I mean is, that I try to let go of as much as I can so that God can lead.

I also know that letting God lead doesn't mean waiting around for things to happen. Ecclesiastes 10:18 says "If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks." This is just one of many Biblical examples of why not to be stagnant in your faith.

It's important to find balance with God between taking control over your own affairs and not letting God's guidance in and sitting around doing nothing in the name of trusting in God. How unique is it to be a follower of Christ that we get to have a relationship with our God and commune with Him in this life through the Holy Spirit.

I am the most guilty of waiting idly for God to fix things when it comes to finances. I know it's important to trust in God for provision, but I also need to partner with Him and let Him guide me to solutions when there are problems. Easier said than done, but I'm trying.

Ben + I have also realized that we've let the romance in our relationship take a back burner to many things like home ownership and especially parenthood. It's the concept of the squeakiest wheel getting the oil first. I finally had to speak up a little louder for us to come to a realization that we were starting to fall behind in caring for our marriage.

We are far from having deep marital issues, and we show each other love + affection on a daily basis. However, we were still in a bit of a rut romantically. Each evening we'd both be so exhausted that after Malakai went to sleep we'd lazily sit in front of the tv until bedtime. It wasn't good enough, for either of us. We're influencing change that we finally realized needed to happen. We came together to do household tasks as a team, planned more family outings and more importantly date nights, we started doing small things for each other to show our love and bigger things to show our commitment. Since making these changes, while most are quite subtle, I've felt a big difference in my mood each day.

I am so thankful for :

351. change. good, bad + everything in between.

352. The Loerke's of Today's Letters. They have such a fun take on marriage. Ben + I have used some of the tips from their blog. If you haven't already, please check them out.

353. Our son who teaches us how to love in a new way each day.

354. relationships. I'm so blessed to have close family + friends in real life and through the internet.

355. my sweet husband who takes such good care of us physically, emotionally, + spiritually.

356. a chance to gather with other mom's at church this morning + make new connections.

357. our HVAC system. So much better than the space heaters we had at the old house in previous fall + winter chills.

358. again, Kai's grandmas. Both are always willing to babysit which allows us to go on date nights!

359. Malakai running around through the pumpkin patch, so much wonder + joy despite the clouds + rain.

{our little blur, running through the patch- more on this tomorrow}

360. as always, my God, Jehovah Jireh who is everything I need at all times.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

parenting choices

When we were getting started with wedding planning in the winter of 2007, I was starting from scratch. I hadn't looked at a single bridal magazine, lurked on The Knot or gone into any shops. It just wasn't my thing. I then found myself overwhelmed by all the questions my mom would ask me about details I hadn't yet considered. I often found myself in over my head and needing help.

Thankfully when it came to pregnancy and parenting, I did my research ahead of time. However, I still sometimes find myself overwhelmed by the list of choices to be made. There are the daily choices that are relatively easy like how to dress my son for the day, how to react when he has a mild tantrum, what to feed him and then what else I can feed him after he throws the original meal on the floor...

There are also the larger scale choices like breastfeeding or formula feeding, immunizations, cord-blood banking, sleep solutions and other individual scenarios.

Then there are what seem like no-brainer choices. Child is running a fever, give them Tylenol; child is enduring extreme teething pain on a regular basis try the most natural remedy available.

Sadly, in both of those cases we've faced recalls. By now everyone is familiar with the Tylenol recall. As a mother who trusted in their product I was furious that we had gone through 2 bottles of the affected medicines.

Recently the FDA has banned Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets. I found myself feeling the same disappointment and anger in yet another company I trusted to make a product to help, not harm, my baby. I had chosen these tablets in an effort to not over medicate my constantly teething son. I chose them over numbing gels as there's known side effects.

Yesterday a friend shared this article with me on Facebook. Now I'm not sure what to think or who to believe on this issue. I do know we'll surely stop using the teething tablets we currently have, it's not worth any risk there might be. But for the future of what the FDA could recall, I'm not sure how much weight I can put in their decisions.

So, now some choices that seemed easy from the beginning have become a bit more complicated. What do you think? If you've used these products, how have the recalls affected you + your family?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the adventures in baking continue

At our housewarming we received a lovely + very thoughtful gift from my friend Krista + her new husband Matt. A fun kitchen towel and these little lovelies:

In addition there was a recipe for Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes on the back of the package. I had an extra package of brownie mix, so instead of getting fully in to the swing of things after burning myself out on baking, I used a box mix for the cupcakes themselves. I also happened to have an extra package of cream cheese that I didn't need for the pumpkin rolls so I made the filling to go on top of the brownie cupcakes. Yay for an experiment!

I rarely do things by the book in the kitchen, mostly because I'm making due with what I have. It usually turns out well. In this case, I had the ingredients to make the cupcakes from scratch, but I wanted to have brownies and I wanted it to be easier + faster. 

I wanted to get started right away, but the recipe called for softened cream I improvised.

I didn't find any better advice beyond "wait 15 minutes or more" to softening it quickly. So I popped it in the preheating oven while I gathered ingredients, which took about 5 minutes, and it was perfectly soft but not runny. 

I mixed the box of brownie mix with oil, water, + eggs. Boring, easy, and kind of cheating. Then I poured the batter into these adorable little silicone cupcake liners. There's even a shaded line to guide you in how much to fill them. awesome.

Then I whipped up the easy cream cheese filling:

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. chocolate chips (I didn't add these)
24 strawberreis ( I didn't do this either)

Beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Drop a heaping teaspoonful of the cream cheese mix into each cupcake. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. 

I had to bake them for longer to get them to bake through since it was brownies instead of cake, maybe 35 minutes. I also had a bit of an overflow mishap with one of them. Last, but certainly not the least of my problems was that I didn't realize you have to "season" silicone by using oil on them the first couple of times. All my brownies were stuck and unfortunately I made them to bring to dinner with some friends of ours. So we just ate them with utensils right out of the liner. It was worth it. So yummy!


P.S. don't forget to check out my new About Us page and my husband's new blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

some reviews...

I've been on a bit of a break from posting reviews and giveaways, but have some past due reviews for CSN to share with you. The wonderful team at CSN stores gave me the great opportunity to choose some items for review recently.

 I chose the Hoover Wet/Dry Hand Vacuum back in August. This little thing has been a lifesaver. I must say that my primary reason for choosing this product was to clean up after Malakai's meals. His highchair has a way of collecting crumbs and I didn't want to remove the cover to shake it out after every meal. The wet/dry feature was important for obvious reasons. I also wanted cordless and something with a wall mount. This was the only choice in a small handheld vacuum with all of those options.

It holds a charge for a long time. I don't always put it on the charging base and it has yet to die on me. It's also super easy to empty + clean out. My only complaint is that it's SUPER loud and makes a bit of a high pitched sound. I'm assuming all hand vacs are about the same in this, I just make sure Malakai isn't near it when it's running.

Earlier this month we received the North States Supergate III for review. We were in need of a gate that would work for our hallway to keep Malakai out of the other side of the house so we could get things done without constantly having to find out where he ran off to. With the layout of our house, this also enables us to have our bedroom + bathroom doors open more often which keeps the whole house at an even temperature. We also move the gate into the kitchen when I'm working with the oven or Ben is loading/unloading the dishwasher to keep Kai away from hot, sharp + breakable objects. We only do this when the other one is home to watch him since we only have the one gate and he could wander out of sight to the other side of the house.

This gate has worked really well for us so far. We've only been using it for about 3 weeks. I only have 2 minor complaints. One was that when we received it there was styrofoam literally inside the gate between the two pieces that slide and it was nearly impossible to remove them to use the gate. Second, it's really difficult to get the lock into place. I'm guessing this is probably pretty standard with tension gates in order to get them to stay, but it's really difficult!

Being short, this gate is a bit too tall for me. I've already fallen once (go ahead and giggle) because I caught my toe. Not the first time something like this has happened to me...all 5'2" of me tried hurdles in High School...bad idea.  Anyway, I just have to be really careful when going over it.

We're thinking of getting another one to create a bit of a smaller space that keeps Malakai on one side of the house AND out of the kitchen at certain times. Just an FYI we don't use the gate all the time or keep Malakai only on the one side of the house. We feel it's important for him to be exposed to all the parts of our home for the purpose of exploration and to learn boundaries.

As always, feel free to ask me for additional information or tips in the comment section or via email (link to the left). 

colors + rain

This weekend the heavy rains that the Willamette Valley is known for finally came. Ben + I both love going to bed or snuggling up on the couch when the rain is pounding outside. It's a comforting sound and the cool temperatures make cuddling under a fuzzy blanket much more enjoyable than the 70-80 degree weather we've been having for the last month.

The cool weather + heavy rain also makes it easier to get stuff done inside, like cleaning out the garage. Our goal is to get the boxes cleared out and the car inside the garage before the first freeze. We got a lot done yesterday and plan to keep working through the rest of this week.

There are a lot of boxes and we found a lot of stuff we forgot we had. Like thank you notes...from our wedding, literally 2 days after I bought some new ones to send out. Figures. We also discovered a box that we didn't recognize. It had my name on it in my mom's handwriting. I assumed Ben had something to do with it, but he didn't recognize it either. Later that evening when we visited my parents we brought it up to my mom and she got a coy smile on her face. Get this, she had my brother sneak that box into our garage (she's constantly trying to clear my stuff out of their storage) back in MAY and we just now found it. Sadly, it was in plain sight the whole time. That's how bad our garage is. I'll have to share before + after photos when we get more done.

I've loved watching the seasons change in our new neighborhood. In the spring it was like watching a mystery unravel when new things would bloom in our yard.

I took a lot of great photos of our magnificently yellow maple tree out front. It is a very large tree and it is so beautiful right now (despite the hundreds of leaves it has shed all over our yard for us to rake up later).  All the wind + rain on Saturday night had made so many leaves fall that they covered the ground. It was so bright it reminded me of walking outside after the first snow, everything is lit up.

Here are some photos I took of Malakai out back on Saturday, our front yard on Sunday, and our drive out to my parents' place in the country.

{the view from our front door}

{the view from our street}

{leaves, leaves, everywhere!}

As soon as Malakai stepped out the front door (with some help of course) we thought he'd love kicking through the leaves...

Instead he went straight for the street. He + daddy check the mail together every day and he was headed for the mailbox. Even when I tried to bring him back into the yard, he screeched at me and ran back into the cul-de-sac. 

After getting the mail and running around for a bit we piled in the car to head to G'Pa + Mema's house. We were glad Malakai got some time to run around outside because it started to rain again a few minutes later. 

I had the camera in my lap so I decided to take some photos along the way. 


{railroad tracks, bluesky patch + windmill, biking in the rain}

{this leaf hung on for the whole 20 mile drive}

{Malakai loved watching the rain hit the windows}

{cows, pumpkin patch + colorful orchard, sheepies}

We played for a few hours at my parents' place and had dinner. On our way home there were some flashes of lightning. Then when we were getting ready for bed there was the longest roll of thunder we've ever heard. It rumbled everything like a mini-earthquake but stopped in time for us to curl up in bed under lots of cozy layers. 

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, October 22, 2010

new page

After blogger ate my first draft, I've finally published an "about us" page for anyone who wants to know a bit more about our little family's background.

Happy Weekend!

P.S. don't forget to check out Ben's new blog if you haven't already. Click on follow + keep up with his unique stories each weekday!


Friday is usually everyone's favorite day. Lately, Fridays have been more challenging for me than any other day.

It's an early morning because we drop Ben off at work by 7am before heading over to watch Henry. This means waking up before 6am (ew) and having all 3 of us ready and out the door by 6:40am at the latest. Some mornings it's quite the difficult task.

Then we're away from the house all day. So Thursday nights are spent preparing breakfasts, snacks, + lunches for all of us. Sadly, this morning I ended up leaving Malakai's sandwich + crackers on the counter. So he got to eat my lunch instead.

The hardest part is getting Malakai to nap away from home. He's just so social that when we're away or there are visitors at our place he has a really hard time going to sleep.

Thankfully at this moment he is snoozing away (after 45 minutes of coaxing). I'm taking the opportunity to sit for a little bit and relax, there's no telling how long this quiet moment will last.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday: in spite of pain

We have had a really interesting week. Unfortunately there were a couple of tragic accidents affecting two different groups of family + friends. My brother lost a childhood friend, just 17 years old, in a BMX accident on Sunday. We've been praying fervently for his family and all the loved ones mourning his loss. Then yesterday we found out that a friend rom our church was severely injured in a motorbike accident in Laos where she just recently moved to teach. She has many injuries requiring many surgeries. Her parents have rushed to her side. Again, we are dedicated in prayer over her healing. We serve such a mighty God.

In spite of the bad, today is meant for focusing on the good. Thursday always arrives right on time.

This week I'm thankful for...

341. dinner out last weekend + watching these two together.

{Liam + Malakai}

342. getting Ben a treat, he loves trying new beers.

{seasonal brews are the best}

343. deep, meaningful, spirit-filled moments.

344. sunny fall afternoons, watching Kai explore our backyard.

345. Ben's sweet new blog. He surprised me with the first post and I eagerly anticipate each new story.

346. getting a love letter in the mail from my husband that made me blush.

347.  thoughtful housewarming gifts + the inspiration to try new things.

348. discovering the Dollar Tree down the street is still open.

349. reinventing playtime.

350. last night's dinner + casual conversation with some of our best friends.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

back to baking {2 new recipes}

After an eventful weekend and a restful start to my week, I'm back in the kitchen (literally, I'm typing this post from my teensy little cooking space). I'm baking something fun + slightly new that I'll post about at a later date.

But here's all the baking I did last week in preparation for our housewarming guests.

Banana-Carrot Bread.
I got this recipe from a friend of ours who brought this delightful treat over along with a pasta dinner just after Malakai was born. Bless her (and all the other kind people who cooked for us that first couple weeks). I used wheat flour + coconut oil instead of "salad oil". It was while making this that I discovered a deep loathing for "finely" grating carrots (this was soon replaced by my loathing for scrubbing tile floors).

Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Creme frosting.
I've made these before. I also served some with plain ol' store bought vanilla frosting. Also, yummy.

Pumpkin Roll
A friend from college made this yummy treat one fall. I can't remember the occasion (small group?) but I remembered loving it. I made two of them and had borrowed my mom's "jelly roll" pan. Since you use wax paper (or parchment) I think it could work with a regular flat cookie sheet as well. I also used 1 batch of frosting for 2 rolls as some advice online said a whole batch would ooze out the sides. So glad I made two of these, it was the most popular thing on the table.

{my first experience rolling cake in a towel}

I had ample amounts of canned pumpkin leftover, so I froze it until I figure out what to make with it next.

*edit: I forgot to mention that I left the nuts out of my recipe. We don't much like nuts in baked goods around here.

I was also going to prepare some parmesan biscuit bites ala The Pioneer Woman, but ran out of time. So to offset all the sweets I put out chips and salsa (which was largely ignored).

This is what my kitchen looked like after all the baking...although a little warped from the panorama mode, you get the gist.


Sadly I didn't get a good picture after the scrubbing + cleaning and now the plates fell off the wall (again) and it's a mess from my current baking project. Some day soon I'll do a tour of our home post, another motivator to get it cleaned up again.

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