For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Way Back When-endsday: Bathing Beauty

When: Dec. 26th, 2008
Age of twins: 18 months
Who: Me & Anya

Obviously this was right after bath time and she was in such a good mood that we just had to take a picture! She was all bundled up in the handmade hooded towel that my mom's cousin made for the girls. I LOVE those towels!!! And I love this picture of my sweet baby girl.

For more Way Back fun visit Cheryl over at Twinfatuation!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cookie Giveaway!!!

Yup! I'm giving away a dozen cookies! Of your choice! Shipped to your house, for FREE! Aren't ya glad?

Wanna know what the choices are? Just click over on the right hand side on that Alphabetical List of Recipes! There are several cookie recipes over on that link.


If you don't see something you like over there, I'm totally open to requests!

Why am I doing this?

Because I aim to please! :)

Oh, and because I'm participating in the giveaway carnival over at Heavenly Homemakers! Laura is hosting, and she's amazing! Want some great ideas to organize your home, plan your meals, and make Christ the center of your home? Then you really need to check her out.


First and MANDATORY Entry: Leave me a comment requesting what type of cookie you would like if you win. Again, it can be one on my Alphabetical List of Recipes on the right, or you can just shout out any ol' cookie and I'll see what I can do for ya.

Extra Entries:
- Follow my blog publicly or subscribe to my RSS Feed. Either one, get an extra entry. Please leave me a comment saying you have done this.
- Follow me on Twitter. I don't really "get" Twitter, but I guess if you follow me I'll give you an extra entry. Don't worry, I won't spam you with Tweets... I barely know what a Tweet is. Again, leave a comment saying you did this.
- Blog about this giveaway! Comment, link where you blogged it, THANKS SO MUCH I LOVE YOU!!!
- For an extra super dooper fourth entry link up your own Mystery Spice recipe HERE! And again, comment to make sure your entry is counted.

That's a total of FIVE possible entries!

Winner will be decided by (sorry, no names in a tupperware dish this time, I've decided it's too much work, got enough work in my life). SO BE SURE YOU HAVE POSTED ONE COMMENT PER ENTRY!!! The drawing (metephorically speaking) will occur on Monday May 4th, at 10am! Any entries after that will not be counted!

That is all! Thank you for playing!


Mystery Spice Monday! Coconut Macaroons

I think I'm starting to get lazy...

Yup, definitely lazy.

Plus it seems that as the days are getting brighter my priorities are starting to shift from the kitchen to the garden.

So this past week our dinner menu has consisted of grilled chicken, spaghetti with sauce pulled from my freezer, and burritos. Basically anything that I can get on the table in 20 minutes is what we've eaten lately.

So I apologize for this next recipe...

Although really I shouldn't because it's EASY and DELICIOUS! Plus the end result is lighter than air and should really carry a disclaimer that says CANNOT EAT JUST ONE!

So, maybe you should actually thank me rather than ask me to apologize...

Yup, I believe thanks are in order. :)

Coconut Macaroons
Adapted from

4 large egg whites (120 grams)(4 ounces), at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

In a double boiler (or a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water), whisk together egg whites, sugar and salt. When this mixture is creamy and warm to the touch remove from heat and stir in extracts, flour, and coconut. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or your handy dandy Sipats).

Place in small mounds (I used a mini ice cream scoop) on the parchment-lined cookie sheets; space several inches apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Makes 2 dozen cookies, so if I were you I'd double it! :)

Do you have something fun that you made this past week that you'd love to share with the world? Then join in the fun!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wanna Get Something FUN In The Mail??

hometown swap button

I'm participating in this super fun Swap hosted by Shannon at Welcome to The Nut House! Basically it's a Secret Sister type thing, except it's via the internet and your mail box! Each participant is asked to send something from their home town to another person, and in return you will receive something cool from someone else's home town! I already have some great ideas of what I'm going to send! So if you wanna chance to get something fun from me in the mail, just request that you get a gift from "someone" in Washington State. It just might be me! And be sure to tell Shannon that I sent you. She says that there will be a special gift for the person who refers the most participants. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Aloha Friday! #5

Ok, I'm gonna make this quick and to the point! I promise! I just spent most of the day at a plant sale with my parents and the girls. It was long, fun, exciting, and now I'm exhausted. I know this post is super late, but I figure better late than never, it is still Friday after all... just barely! lol

I have 3 blogging questions to ask. I thought about asking each one for the next 3 weeks, but I'm already getting tired of the subject and I just wanna get down and dirty and learn the answers. Don't you? I thought so.

So here's my questions, feel free to answer one or all, whichever you prefer:

1) How do you turn off comments? I've seen on some uber popular blogs when people turn off comments, which makes sense to me because who wants to read 500 comments about something that doesn't need comment. I'm not uber popular, so I haven't had a need to do this, but just in case... I'd like to know how.

2) How do you end up with sample products to review for your blog? Do you just buy them? If you are, I'm assuming you actually make money from you blog... which obviously puts you in a different category than me since I think I've only made $1.32... and google won't send me a check till I've made $100. So really I'm more interested in FREE sample products. I like writing reviews, and even more, I like sharing products that I love with others.

Which leads to my next question...

3) How do you end up with items to giveaway on your blog? As most of you know, I did a cookie contest a while back. I had a LOT of fun doing it! Seriously, I'm gonna do it again really soon. But I guess I just wonder if cookies are enough? Especially since I share the recipes here most of the time so people can make them at home. But maybe there are people who don't cook/bake who really enjoy getting free ones in the mail. Anyhoo... all that to say, I'd love to up the anti and give away more exciting stuff. But how does one finance such ventures? We do ok financially, but I'm thinkin' Hubs would object if I suddenly started making large purchases in the name of my blog. If anyone would care to point me in the right direction for this, or suggest ideas that they would enjoy winning, please let me know!

So I guess that's it! Three Aloha Friday questions. Can ya handle it???

To play along with Aloha Friday visit An Island Life!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tiptoe... Through The Tulips..

Tuesday... was a GORGEOUS day here in the PNW. It was the kind of day that reminded me why I choose to live here rather than anywhere else. Sometimes, usually around the middle of January, I question that decision. I ask myself why oh why did I move back here??? But then days like Tuesday come along and remind me why there really is no better place than the Pacific Northwest.

The thing is, I totally take it for granted! I see these beautiful sights nearly every day, and after a while it becomes ho hum. I look out my window, see Mt. Hood, and instead of staring in awe at it's majestic beauty I note the snow levels and wonder if there will be drought this summer...

I'm such an idiot!

So as I mentioned yesterday, when it's sunny here we must take advantage of it while we can. Especially in the spring when we could be socked in with clouds and rain the very next day and the weather men are notoriously wrong.

I was scheduled to MeetUp with some ladies from my mom's group at the Tulip Festival, and was it ever the perfect day for it! I loaded up the girlies in the car, packed up some snacks and sunscreen and hit the road. The tulip fields are down in Woodburn, OR, which as it turns out is about an hour and 15 minutes from my house. I expected it would take is 45 minutes, so I was considerably late. When I drove up to the gates for the festival I realized... crap... there's a LOT of people here! I completely didn't expect to see that many people on a Tuesday morning, but here they were, in full force, as if it was a Saturday. I guess everyone got the memo that it would be GORGEOUS and they should totally skip work for it.

When I get into situations like that alone with the girls I get a little... oh what's the word... itchy. I start having a little mental conversation with myself, "Amy, it will be OK! Really! Yes, there are lots of people here and you are going solo with twin toddlers. But you have a stroller, you don't have to let them out of it, and you can all still enjoy the pretty flowers." Yikes! I was a bit of a wreck. But once I talked myself into the idea that I really COULD do it, I got out of the car, got out the stroller, smeared the girls with sunscreen, and we were off!

And boy was it worth it!!!

Ziva was a little "itchy" too at that point. She REALLY wanted to get out and run around after the long car ride. I really wanted to let her do just that. But with so many people around it just didn't seem super safe. As long as I kept the stroller moving they were pretty happy, but every time I stopped they wanted to get out. Needless to say I didn't stay for long.

Oh yeah, the other thing that kept them happy? Getting within reach of the flowers. They very much wanted to touch... er... destroy... them.

While I was there I ordered tulips and dafodils for my garden next year. The bulbs will arrive at my doorstep this fall! I'm already excited about it! If you'd like to order some tulips from the same farm, Check This Out! Pictured below is what they call the Field Mix. It's what I ordered, and I can't wait to see these blooms in my yard next spring!

They had many MANY varieties though! I'm sure they'd have exactly what you want if you're looking for something specific.

They even had a great view of my highly taken for granted friend, Mt. Hood.

Hello friend. :)

I've missed you so. All winter long you've been hiding behind those clouds, only coming out for short visits.

I'm so looking forward to seeing your beautiful face more often this summer.

And yes, I took these through my windshield while driving. Don't call the cops on me please. I just couldn't resist! Just LOOK at her! All white and gorgeous!!

Mt. Hood + Columbia River = Masterpiece of Nature!

And yes, for those of you PNW natives, I realize that Mt. Hood is actually a he, and that Mt. St. Helens is a she. I too was taught Native American lore in grade school. :)

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday over at The Diaper Diaries. Because living here is certainly a thing I love!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Clouds Away

Again, I've been lacking in my blog updating... But I have several perfectly good excuses along with a prayer request!

First the prayer request:

Hubs has a very badly injured shoulder. He's been off work for the past 3 weeks, and will be off for at least 2 more. He was injured during a self-defense training class that he had to take for work. Most of the instructors of said class were great, but there was one guy who really got off on hurting the participants and Hubs was unfortunately one of his victims. Don't believe me? Two other guys from his work were also badly injured. One with a broken nose which will require surgery, and the other with several broken ribs. I cannot even begin to tell you how angry I am at this particular trainer, because Hubs was perfectly fine going into this class, and now he has very limited mobility of his right arm. And guess what, he's right handed. Which means I have had to pick up the slack and do practically everything that he would normally do. As if I don't have enough to do already!!! I guess the good news is that I have learned a new appreciation for the things Hubs normally does around the house: the diapers he changes, the trash he takes out, the picking things up and organizing he normally takes care of. Plus there have been lots of extra forms to fill out which I need to do because he can't write more than his signature without being in serious pain. He's really in a bad way.

Having had my own shoulder injury to deal with over the past 10+ years I know what it's like to some extent, except that I think his shoulder is much worse than mine ever was which worries me... a LOT! At this stage in the game the Dr.'s suspect that his shoulder is separated and they're talking about referring him to a specialist. I'm actually really thankful that they're sending him to someone else because I think that up to this point he hasn't been receiving the proper care... it's been 3 weeks of him being at nearly the same level of pain and not improving at all. And the amount of pain meds they're giving him is a little scary in my opinion. I tend to lean towards the more holistic approach of medicine, and the fact that nothing has really changed in 3 weeks means to me that the problem is really not being addressed or treated. And that makes me really angry too!

Mostly, I want my husband back! I want him to be well and healthy and pain free!!! I know there are people with bigger problems in this world so I feel kind of lame talking/complaining about our little problem, but I don't have many ways to vent my frustrations... so there you have it. lol


On to a BRIGHTER topic!!!

Another reason I haven't been blogging much lately is our weather here has been FANTASTIC! I mean, seriously gorgeous! And if you also live in the Pacific Northwest you know that when the sun comes after 9 months of absence there's really only one thing to do. GET OUTSIDE and ENJOY it WHILE YOU CAN because we all know that this is yet a temporary reprieve from the rain. Proof? Forecast predicts rain tomorrow. I'm totally not thrilled about that. But very thankful that I was able to enjoy the sun for the past few days. Especially considering what was going on inside my house... sigh...

I decided that this last weekend was THE weekend for getting my garden beds put in. Since Hubs has his shoulder situation the garden has been put off and put off weekend after weekend. But this last weekend I said NO MORE and just decided it would get done without him. And much like any project I tackle, I want it done NOW! All at once! No step by step process, just one BIG step. Honestly, I tend to thrive during such big projects and get a rush from seeing large things accomplished.

So after many phone calls recruiting help from my parents, ordering soil, hiring our lawn guys to fill the beds etc... I pretty much had it all handled and in place to ALL occur on Saturday.

My parents came over early Saturday morning. Mom watched the girls while me and Dad put the beds together. After some time passed Mom decided to bring the girls outside with us, which kinda freaked me out at first, but it turned out ok. And the girls really enjoyed being outside "helping". Plus it gave us an excuse to take lots of pictures.

Here's Ziva, laying in the moss. She decided she really liked the moss and kept trying to kiss/taste it. Very cute, but very messy. lol

Anya was mostly interested in the stuff we had brought out there for the project. I was really surprised with her that day because she actually tried to imitate a lot of the things we were doing. I was VERY proud of her! :)

Yup, that's me with a power tool! I had never used a power tool before Saturday. In fact, I'd never worked on a project like this with my Dad before either! So it was a day of firsts, and I'm very glad that I was able to have such a day! My Dad's quote of the day? "We'll make a real woman outta you yet!" lol

All while Ziva played with the weeds and Anya "helped".

There's me measuring.

And Anya supervising.

Such good little helpers!

Whoops! Looks a little scary, but she was actually laughing while she was in this position. lol

And then we ran into a little road block. Some of our boards had labels on them that didn't come off easily! So we had to stop and scrape/soak/goo gone to get it off on at least the outward facing side.

But then we were finally done!!! We put chicken wire under the beds to prevent moles from digging up into our garden.

And we finished not a moment too soon! Our dirt arrived during lunch time, and the lawn guys showed up to move the soil to the beds just a few minutes after we finished! Perfect timing in my book! Too close to call according to others... lol

Then I made a fabulous recipe for dinner, which I will share with you next week. :)

And we did a little celebrating! We put the bucket seats on our swing set and took the girls out for a swing!

Yup, we NEEDED that sunshine let me tell ya! Feels so good to get my garden beds done, and extra super good to feel the sun on our faces and enjoy it's sweet warmth!

Tomorrow? I'll share pics of our trip to the Tulip Fields... you'll wanna see them, trust me! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mystery Spice Monday! French Lentil Rice Soup

Today seems so anti-soup, so I apologize for today's recipe if you live near me. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and everything is right with the world! Spring has certainly arrived here in the Pacific Northwest!

But don't worry! It's supposed to rain Thursday. So maybe you can plan to make this soup then.

This recipe is a GREAT use of your spice rack! You'll see why in a minute.

First you buy a bag of dry lentils. Sort through them to make sure there are no rocks. Yes, beans sometimes come with bonuses. One time I found THREE rocks in one bag, so seriously, it's worth it to sort.

Then soak the lentils overnight in a pot of water. The next morning drain and rinse them. Then toss them into your crock pot with 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.

Then chop up 2 medium carrots, 1 small onion, and 4 stalks of celery. Toss them into the pot.

Then add 3 tablespoons of uncooked rice. If the rice part of this recipe really intrigues you I'd recommend adding more than what's suggested. I really didn't notice the rice at all in the end product with only 3 tablespoons. I think next time I'll use 1/4 cup.

Now here's the exciting part! We're gonna make herbes de Provence! I've heard you actually can buy herbes de Provence already mixed up, but you can't get it at Walmart, I checked. But that's ok! I found a great recipe by Emeril to make your very own. If you don't have ALL the spices in his recipe don't worry about it! I found several different recipe mixes online and they all included different things. Emeril's recipe requires equal parts savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and fennel seed. I'm thinkin' the most important parts are rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil... and the other spices are not as important. So use what you've got and don't stress over it!

Whatever mix you've got, add 1 teaspoon to the pot. In the future, I'd use more. Like 1 tablespoon. Oh, and don't forget the salt & pepper! Crock pot cooking really makes spices taste stronger, so I'd recommend adding 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. And then after it's done cooking add more depending on your taste buds.

Set on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. And Voila! Super easy super simple soup! This one requires a little bit of planning ahead (for the soaking) but other than that it's pretty much a no-brainer! Great for those nights when you feel like you're missing a few brain cells.

We served ours with a side of bacon and a bisket. It was yumtastic!

French Lentil Rice Soup
Adapted from Crock Pot Recipe Collection

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 package dried lentils, picked over, soaked and rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, sliced
3 tablespoons uncooked rice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Stir together broth, lentils, vegetables, rice, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt & pepper in 4-quart crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Easy peasy!
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