Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Praying you all have a beautiful, blessed Christmas celebrating the birth of our wonderful Savior, Jesus!
Matt, Amber, James, Hannah and Ellie xoxo

"...Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:10-14

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shade Clothing Giveaway

Check this out! Petit Elefant is giving away a WHOLE outfit from Shade Clothing. Wow! A whole outfit!! Shade Clothing has some adorable and modest clothes at affordable prices. I discovered them a couple of months ago and fell in love. I was so excited to find this giveaway. Go enter for your chance to win today! You must enter by December 14th.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carrot Muffins

Today I was making some carrot juice (LOVE my Champion juicer!) and thought that it would be nice to make some muffins or something with the carrot pulp that's leftover. So, I headed to Google and found a recipe on It sounded pretty simple, so I thought it would be worth a try. However, as I was going through, I realized that it called for lots of salt and LOTS of oil! I altered the recipe some and this is what I ended up with:

Carrot Muffins:

1 cup dried blueberries (The original recipe called for raisins, but my hubby doesn't eat raisins, so that's why I used the dried blueberries. I think dried cranberries would also be good. Or maybe chopped prunes. I suppose pretty much any dried fruit would work. Just get creative!)
2 cups warm water

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
(Originally, this recipe called for 2 cups of all-purpose flour. As mentioned before, I thought they asked for too much salt and oil, and of course it didn't really dawn on me until I had everything measured, so to make up for that I just added an extra cup of flour. I've started using spelt flour recently because of its nutritive value, and always try to use whole wheat, but I thought with both of those together it might be too heavy, thus the 1 cup of all-purpose flour.)
1/4 -1/2 cup wheat bran (I didn't measure, just dumped some in. Not in the original recipe. Another thing I added for a little extra punch.)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 eggs
1 cup oil
(I used a combination of extra virgin olive oil and walnut oil. You can't taste the olive oil at all, and it's much healthier than regular vegetable oil. And walnut oil has essential Omega-3)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Sqeeze of agave nectar
(Probably could have used a little more of this)
1/4 cup applesauce
(For a little extra moisture since I had added extra flour)

3 cups grated carrots
(I used the pulp leftover from great! I think next time I might mix it in with the wet ingredients didn't want to mix very well at the end.)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Combine blueberries and water in a small bowl and set aside to soak while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins, or line with paper liners. This recipe, how I altered it, made 30 muffins.
3. Sift together flours, wheat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine eggs, oil, sugar, molasses, agave nectar and applesauce and beat well. (You could add the carrots in at this point, or save them to mix in at the end.) Combine egg mixture with flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Drain blueberries and fold into batter along with carrots (if you haven't already added them) and almonds. Spoon in to prepared muffin cups.
4. Bake 20-30 minutes. I think I baked mine about 23 minutes. Let cool and then enjoy!

These are not sweet, cupcake like muffins. They are hearty and have a very rustic look. But they are packed full of good stuff and are delicious with a little butter and honey on top. I know, I added quite a bit of extra items, but I love to see what healthy things I can sneak into everything I make. Now that I think of it, ground flax seeds would be another great thing to throw in there! I suppose the possibilities are endless!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Frugal Friday

Well, here it is! Frugal Friday! Everyone likes to look their best, but unfortunately skin care products can cost lots and LOTS of money, and not everyone has lots and LOTS of money. So today I'd like to share with you a few things that I use that are easy and frugal.

1. Castile soap: For cleansing I've gone to using castile soap. I usually add a few drops of tea tree and lavender essential oils to it for scent and added benefits to my skin. It is a very gentle soap and very versatile. Not only can you use it on your face, but you can use it as a shampoo, body wash, baby wash, hand washing, cleaning your home, fruit/veggie wash and washing dishes! Plus it is biodegradable so it is good for the earth! I get mine at Trader Joe's where it is about $3.49 for a 16 oz. bottle. Dr. Bronner's also makes a good castile soap that you can find at Whole Foods or other natural food markets.

2. Baking Soda: For exfoliating I use baking soda. It is very cheap, and can also be used for so many other things as well. I usually buy a big bag of it at Costco so I always have it on hand. The baking soda can be kind of difficult to rinse off so it is best to use it in the shower. All you do is just mix a little water with the baking soda to make a paste, rub it around gently on your face and neck, avoiding the eyes, and rinse.

3. Witch Hazel: After cleansing I use a little bit of witch hazel as toner. Witch hazel is an astingent and helps tighten and close pores. You can get a bottle for around $1 at Target or Wal-Mart. And if you'd like, you can add some drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil to it.

4. Olive Oil: Lastly, I use olive oil as a moisturizer before bed. I have a small bottle that I keep in the bathroom so that I'm not using from the same bottle that I use for cooking. You smell kind of like a salad, but it makes your skin feel wonderful!! I just recently started using it because I ran out of other moisturizer and I've already been noticing a difference in my skin. It is much softer and I don't have as much problem with dry flaking skin.

So. there you have it, my basic, frugal skin care routine.

What do you do to save money on your skin care?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Frugal Friday

I was thinking the other day about some things that I am really passionate about and how to incorporate them into my blog writing, and one thing I came up with was my passion for being frugal and saving money. So I decided that I'm going to make Friday my day to share some frugal tip, whether it is something that we already do as a family or something new that we are going to try. And I would also love to have input from you! What do you do to save money?

Since I just posted about our trip to the nature park, I figured that would be a good place to start with my frugal tips.
Checking out your local park and rec district is a great way to get out and enjoy nature, and usually at NO COST! I know here in the Portland Metro area there are parks tucked here and there all over the place with miles of trails for walking and hiking. All you have to do is drive there.
This is not something we have done very much, but I've been trying to make a better effort to get us all out for some fresh air, exercise and time together. It is always so much fun to get out in nature and explore God's beautiful creation! And it's amazing what you can find right within the city if you just get out and go!
I know with winter upon us it will not be quite as easy to do this, especially if you live in a snowy climate, but when a nice sunny day comes along, bundle up and go exploring!

What do you like to do with your family that is no cost/low cost?

Cooper Mountain Nature Park

Last week when we had a nice day without rain I decided it would be fun to go take Hannah for a walk at the new THPRD nature park, Cooper Mountain. We had never been there before, but had driven by and looked it up online. They have 3 1/2 miles of trails going through the trees and a beautiful little meadow. The view from up there is quite amazing as well. They also have a little playground and a building where they hold classes and such. I was excited to learn that they offer homeschool nature programs there as well. So in a couple more years I will be able to take Hannah to some of those.
We had a very nice time even though it was a bit chilly. Hannah loved running and walking on the trails! And we got to see some neat things and hear some different sounds too. We saw a little tiny garter snake, some deer tracks, opposum tracks, some trees with smooth reddish bark, and lots of different plants and flowers. We heard lots of birds singing, and also a frog or something making an interesting sound.
All in all we had a great afternoon and are looking forward to going back again sometime!
The view

Enjoying a run on the trail.

Hannah found a walking stick.

Listening for the birds with Daddy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elissa Faith

Elissa Faith 1 month old
Well, I guess since it's been two months since Elissa was born, maybe I should post something about it on here since she is now a big part of our family in the Little House in Hillsboro. Elissa Faith made her entrance into the world at 3:23 pm on Tuesday, September 1st...right on her due date!!! Yes, we are one of the few that actually has their baby exactly on the due date. Ha!
I went into labor on August 31st around 12 or 1 o'clockish (Is that a word?? O'clockish?? Oh, well. I'm using it anyway!). It was a loooooooooooong labor and everything went almost like it did with Hannah. Oy! And people kept telling me the second one would be easier! I had to have pitocin because my contractions weren't doing anything...although they sure felt like they were! And then I had an epidural which helped me to relax tremendously and make some progress. We pushed for a long time (don't ask me how long...I was too busy trying to get a baby out to look at the clock!) and then a doctor came in and flipped the baby over (what a weird feeling that was!) and they used the vacuum suction to help pull her out.
There we were with our little bundle of joy. I am sooo happy that we got to have some skin-on-skin bonding time with her before they rushed her off to do the things that they do to newborns. With Hannah we didn't get that opportunity because she was having some complications with breathing. It was such a special time for us!
We brought her home that Wednesday night and have been happy ever since! A bit tired, and maybe overwhelmed at times, but so happy!
We are so blessed to have Elissa in our lives along with our other children. Children are truly a gift from God!

Elissa Faith 2 months old

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Fall!!!

My how times flies! I cannot believe that it is already November! Life has been pretty crazy around here since the birth of Elissa. Even though things have been crazy, it has all been good. Elissa is growing well and turning into such a happy baby, Hannah adores her baby sister, and James thinks it's pretty cool to have two little sisters. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family!

A couple weeks ago I took the kids to a nearby park to feed the ducks and get some exercise out on the trails. We decided it would be fun to collect leaves for some sort of project, and James had the great idea to make a tree. When we got home we got out some big paper and the kids drew a tree shape and decorated it, then we taped on all the leaves we had gathered. Now we have a lovely "fall tree" in our dining room.

Hope you all are having a blessed fall season!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big Game James

Well, I am really behind in getting these posted, but here they are. Pictures of James' basketball. He had a really great season with a great team...they won every game! And they had lots and lots of fun.

Monday, July 6, 2009

James aka Prince Ronald

Towards the end of the school year, the 1st-3rd graders at James' school put on a play for all their families. They did a play that their music teacher wrote based off of a book called "The Paper Bag Princess". All of the kids worked very hard and practiced for at least a couple of months. James would come home from school everyday and talk about it and work on his lines. Yes, he was one of the characters in the play, Prince Ronald. Finally the big day came. James couldn't wait to perform and show us all of their hard work. We were wondering how he would do as this was his first time performing like this. He was excited, but seemed a little nervous, so we weren't sure if he was going to have stage fright or not. Well, no need to worry there! He rocked it! He was so confident and did such a great job portraying the character of Prince Ronald! He definitely has some acting skills. The play was a great success and enjoyed by all. And I don't think anyone was as proud and beaming afterward as James was.

I'm back!!!

Wow! It has been awhile since I've posted anything! I was gone almost the whole month of June and didn't have any computer access where I was. Hannah and I went on a road trip to Idaho and Minnesota to visit family for 3 weeks. Nana (my mom) and Uncle Drew (my brother) went with us from Idaho and we had a wonderful time!!! I will post pics and details soon. But first I'm going to post some pics of James that I meant to get up before our trip, but didn't get around too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


May 20th my hubby and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary. We had a sitter and were able to go out for about 4 hours and have some "couple" time. We went downtown Portland to the 30th floor of the US Bank building to the Portland City Grill. The view from up there is AMAZING!!! You can see all over Portland, Mt Hood, Mt St. Helens and on and on!!! The sky was so clear and beautiful on the day we were there so we could really see a lot. We had drinks and a really yummy spring roll appetizer in the bar area while we waited for our table. Then we got a great table right by the windows and shared a DELICIOUS steak dinner followed by fresh baked cookies with ice cream for dessert. We had such a wonderful time and just really enjoyed the time we got to spend together. I love my hubby!!!

O is for Owl

Here is a pic of one of the crafts we did last week for our letter O studies. They just turned out so cute I couldn't resist sharing. We used different craft foam shapes to make little owls that we glued onto magnets. The kids really had fun with it!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Garden Update

We have been having such nice, HOT weather the past week or so and the garden is really taking off! My first planting of corn is already more than a foot tall and the second planting is already about 6 inches! It is growing like crazy!! The two tomato plants that got planted in a garden bed are doing great as well as all of the peppers. The onions still aren't doing very well, but hopefully we'll atleast get a couple out of it down the road and maybe have better luck next year. The carrots and beans are also not doing too great, but alteast have been growing a little bit. I will need to get out this week and plant some more carrot seeds as only a handful of the ones I planted earlier came up. My herbs are all doing well, and I'm very thankful I bought those as plants instead of starting them from seeds...definitely the way to go! The peas are growing nicely and are starting to climb the trellis and the cucumbers should soon be following. The best thing is that we've been able to enjoy some salad from the garden!!! The other night we had spinach and lettuce salad for dinner along with our homemade pizza with fresh herbs. Yum! It was sooo rewarding to be able to just walk out to the backyard and get some salad. I can't wait till we are doing more of that! As for the Topsy Turvy tomatoes...........hmmmm.....I'm not thinking I would recommend them to anyone. I've noticed a tiny bit of growth in a couple of the tomatoes, but they look more sick than anything. I'm hoping they'll come around and give us some harvest. We'll just have to wait and see. I also finally got Hannah's tipi made the other day using branches that we trimmed out of the pine trees in the front yard. It turned out really cute! And she loves it! I planted a zucchini plant that the neighbor gave me and 4 summer squash (over kill maybe, but oh, well!). I'm hoping they will grow and climb up around the tipi along with the sweet pea flowers and peas that I'm going to plant around it. Then Hannah will have a cute little play house out in the yard. That pretty much covers what's been "growing" on in the garden the past week. I'm really enjoying our square foot garden boxes and have already learned so much! Next year should be even better!
Bed #1: has already grown even more since I took this pic a couple days ago!
Bed #2: Two tomato plants, 4 hot chili peppers, 4 bell peppers, cantaloupe, onions and chives
Bed #3: Green beans, herbs and carrots
Bed #4: Cucumbers, peas, kale, chard, spinach and lettuces
Hannah's tipi in the corner next to the garden.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Boots!

Okay, so the weather has been really nice all week long, and there is no need for rain boots now, but we DO live in Oregon, so rain boots are a good investment because you never know when it's going to rain. Last week (or whenever it was!) we couldn't play outside too much because of the rain. Hannah went with me to check the mail one afternoon and there were BIG puddles all over the driveway. Of course she wanted to step in each one! LOL This is when I decided we needed to get her some boots, so she could step in the puddles like she wanted, and I didn't have to worry about her shoes getting yucky or ruined from the water. Thank goodness for Wal-Mart! Hubby just so happened to be heading that way last Friday night, so we all decided to go. They had the cutest little boots and for under $10! Hannah was so excited that when we went out to play the next day she HAD to wear them, even though it was dry and sunny. She was so proud of her new boots!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nature park

Monday the weather was great and I felt like we needed to get out of the house. So we called up some friends and went for a walk at the Tualatin Valley Nature Park. And since we are working on the letter N this week, I thought it would be a good time to start a little nature study. We didn't talk about much on our walk...just let the kids explore and have fun. We had a great time! And they were nice and worn out by the time we got back to the car. Taking the walk inspired me to make little Nature journals for the kids to record things in so everyday this week we've been working on adding things to our journals. We drew some pictures of things we saw on our walk at the park, drew some pictures and used words to describe things that we saw in our little "walk" around the yard yesterday, and today we found some small things like leaves and such to tape to a page in our natural journal. It has been lots of fun, and they are really enjoying being outside and looking at things. We've even seen two different kinds of bird's nests right in the trees in our front yard! So cool! God made a beautiful world and I'm glad we can get out and see it!

The boys! Our friend C, and the two boys I watch, B & J

Little movie stars. H and her friend N with their sunglasses!

Flowers! (Yes, I am addicted to flowers! Love them! Can't get enough of them!)
My little flower exploring at the Nature park.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming along.....

Wednesday last week hubby was home from work and spent the day sanding the built-ins...yes, I know, it has been over a month since we got them in and we are STILL working on them. It is a monumental task, and it is hard to find time to work on it with Matt working during the week and most Saturdays too, and with me watching kids during the week. We got it primed and sanded and we've started painting a little bit, but we still haven't gotten 1 coat on the whole thing yet. And it has finally reached the point where it is making us both grouchy. So tomorrow we are having a painting company come out and give us an estimate to paint it. It seems silly to have to pay someone else to paint it, when we are quite capable. But since we can't find enough time, at the rate we're going it would be fall or later by the time we get it done. Hoping it doesn't cost too much so we can just get it done and get things back in order around here.


The other night when James was getting ready to go to bed, he looked out of his window and saw a raccoon in our maple tree! At first he thought it was a really big squirrel, and then he saw its face. So we all went outside to watch it for a little bit. He was so cute, and was watching our every move. The kids thought it was pretty cool. And, of course, Matt wanted to shoot it, but since we live in the the city, that wouldn't have worked out so well. LOL And me, well, I just hope it doesn't cause trouble in my garden.

Budding artists

James' impression garden painting. What a great artist!

Last week our letter for the week was M. We did some math, talked about muscles, made mud, and learned about Monet. We looked at some of his paintings in a book, but especially focused on his garden paintings. And then we made our own garden paintings. We started by using masking tape to make a bridge shape on our paper, then used brushes and cotton balls and covered the whole paper with paint. Once the whole paper was covered we removed the tape, and voila! We had a garden with a bridge! The kids had a great time painting their gardens and James really, really worked hard on his painting and took lots of time to make it just right. I think maybe I'll have to let him do more painting, like those times when he says he has nothing to do.
All of the boys pictures (James and the three boys I take care of)
Hannah's garden painting...she had a little help from mama making the bridge and finishing the painting, but she did most of it. She loves to paint!

Little angel

Had to share these pics of my sweet little angel. There is just something so precious about a sleeping child. I could just stand in her room for hours and watch her sleep! I love how she tucks her little hand in her shirt by her neck, and if she can she has her other hand in her belly button. So cute! She also has to have all her "babies" around her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Well, I have had so much stuff that I have wanted to add to the blog lately...something almost everyday. But obviously I haven't added or written anything everyday. There just hasn't been time for that. So I apologize for all of these postings happening at once, and then going through a dry spell where I don't post anything. I am trying to make a little bit of time every day to do something, but so far have been unsuccessful. Bear with me, and for now just keep on enjoying what is up there...even if it's not everyday.

Sandbox time