Monday, September 29, 2014

Lately// The Simple Things in Photos

Penny and Plaid. 
I know I'm my Father's daughter, because he's worn plaid at least 5 days per week for the last 30 years and I'm starting to catch on. I won't follow him to 5 days a week, but from time to time, a little fall plaid just feels right.
Dust Baths.
There's nothing better in the world than a dust bath for these ladies. While they fly the dirt through their wings, they basically become intoxicated. It's like catnip, but not....
She said she was "just checkin' for an egg". 
Fall strawberries.
A happy surprise.
Little Mama.
The way little girls instinctively know how to take care of their babies just blows me away. She's not even 18 months and she rocks this baby, sings to her and feeds her. She drops her too, but hey- no mom is perfect. Ha!
Casting Crowns/ Sidewalk Prophets/ Mandisa event with Spirit 105.3 and All Mom Does. 
This event was like the best exfoliator. When you get an opportunity to go do a concert like this, do it. You leave feeling like the old, dry, icky stuff is gone and all of the good stuff is visible again.
Before the show, Sarah Taylor and I welcomed 25 ladies who won concert tickets and backstage passes. After chatting for a moment, we heard from the ladies of Casting Crowns. I wrote more about it over on the All Mom Does blog- click here to join me over there. 
When I got home from the concert, I found this note from Judah. Can I tell you that NOTHING beats this. This is  where it's at, you guys. THIS is where my heart is. Sure, it's fun to go and do something special for an evening, but this grabs my heart more than anything. 
 New expression. 
The sunset outside the grocery store. 
Right before stepping into the store for a few things, I looked up and saw this. After a day of rain, He reminds us of His BIG promises.
Tonight Paisley was teary as we got ready for bed. I explained to her that when I'm tired, I get teary too. Together, we remembered that JOY comes in the morning. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

Favorite Blog Post:

"For me, it is a matter of WHO I am going to let down, not IF I will let someone down. I'm not prompt at responding to email or texts because I am choosing to be prompt at responding to something else...or rather someone else. I'd rather disappoint a stranger that only knows me online than my little boy longing for time with me." 
Click the photo below to read the entire thing. This is BY FAR the best thing I've read all week.
Favorite Pin:
This week the kids and I had the best time making butter. Honestly, I think it was the best part of my week and it wasn't about the butter, although the butter DID turn out well. The best part was seeing how excited they are to learn, how we can work together and do something that teaches us and also brings us closer together. 
Choosing public school for Judah was a hard choice and every time we do something like this that feels like "homeschool" is blesses me an incredible amount. I've never wanted to put my parenting style into a box. When my babies were little, I was not an "attachment parent", although I loved wearing them.
Now that they're getting older, I'm realizing that we can have our teaching moments at school and also at home. I love that our parenting style doesn't need to be put in a box. We are MANY things. So, with all of that being said, we made butter and it was fun. We danced and we used this worksheet to write about our experience. The homemade butter instructions are here
Favorite Recipe:
This creamy mushroom chicken recipe from Laughing Spatula looks amazing.

Favorite Place:
Cabin in the woods. Hey husband- I want to go here with you. Let's bring big fuzzy socks, lots of hot chocolate mix and a few cozy quilts. Doesn't this look perfect?

Favorite Instagram:
Posted by Under The Sycamore.

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Morning Light

For awhile now, I've been wanting to get different curtains for our slider. It's hard for me since I'm a Type- A, who aims for perfection and when I can't find that perfect curtain, then I end up doing nothing---for literally years. I can't even tell you how long we had that awful brown curtain. It's funny actually, how you stop seeing how icky something is, when you look at it all the time.

Finally, I spontaneously grabbed these creamy white curtains, late one night at Ross. They aren't what I had pictured, but I just can't get over how much more light they let in and how beautifully they brighten up this room. I definitely go in spurts of feeling inspired to decorate our home to be the beautiful space that I want it to be. Most of the time it's so overwhelming in this season of life, but I have to remember that I don't need to tackle it all.

Little things like a new slider curtain make a huge difference. An ounce of inspiration is enough to propel me to want to continue to make our home the peaceful space that I crave.

Lately I'm learning to let go of my desire for perfection. I'd rather have the people that come into our home be comfortable and I'd rather make a beautiful mess with my kids, than be terrified of messes. The other day we made homemade butter and while we shook jars of cream for 20 minutes all over the house, we danced...and we danced crazy. I was terrified that one of those jars would break, but we did it anyway. It was the most fun thing we did that day. Honestly, I can't remember the last time Judah and I danced together like that.

Today started with spilled cereal in Judah's lap and it ended with Paisley spilling her milk. It's in those moments that I have to remember that God gives grace freely to me and if I'm truly accepting His grace and taking it as my own, then I should freely pour out that grace on others- especially the little people who share this home with us.

So, tonight I'm thankful for little things like morning light that shines through the new curtain. I'm thankful that I don't need to go all out and re-decorate our entire house this very moment, but that it's okay to find joy in small things like pretty light.

The photo above isn't perfect and I almost didn't post because of that, but I'm sharing anyway. I am a work in progress. My photos are a work in progress and so is my house.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

VTech’s Go! Go! Smart Animals Tree House Hideaway Playset Giveaway!

This post, the VTech product, information, and additional playset have all been provided by VTech. As always, these opinions are all mine.
I absolutely love having 3 kids close in age, but I've noticed that there really aren't that many toys that all 3 of them can enjoy playing with together. When VTech asked me if I'd consider sharing about the New "Go! Go! Smart Animals Tree House Hideaway Playset", the first thing I noticed is the wide age range for this toy. Because it's well suited for a 1-5 year old, I gladly accepted. 

All of our kids have enjoyed playing with this Hideaway Playset. Sometimes they play all together and sometimes they play with it separately. I love how it's very versatile and it can entertain all of my kids, although they range from 1-5 years old. 
Go! Go! Smart Animals™ Tree House Hideaway Playset™ includes:
  • The ability to learn about animals, play sing-along songs and more with the included SmartPoint™ panda or other SmartPoint animals (sold separately).
  • A Tree House Hideaway Playset with five SmartPoint locations and six manipulative features including a shape sorter that can help develop hand/eye coordination.
  •  Unique features such as a crank basket elevator that goes to the top of the playset, a swing for the panda and a slide the panda can ride to the bottom.
  • Colorful tracks that can be connected to other Go! Go! Smart Animals or Go! Go! Smart Wheels playsets (each sold separately) to encourage children’s creativity.
Looking to go a little wild during playtime with your little one? Go on an adventure with VTech’s Go! Go! Smart Animals™ Tree House Hideaway Playset™! Join the SmartPoint™ panda as he plays with animal friends and responds to various SmartPoint locations on the playset with different phrases, music or fun sound effects.

To enter, leave a comment telling me anything- like what was the best thing that happened today? For additional entries, use the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be notified on October 9th via email. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

White Chocolate Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

After taking all 3 kids to the Dentist for their regular checkups and then rewarding myself with a Pumpkin Spice Americano, we spent most of the morning outside. It was a little chilly, but that never phases the kids. A friend asked me recently how we play outside so much with this crazy Pacific Northwest weather. All I could tell her is that the more you do it, the more your kids will grow to love it.

While they ran around the yard, I picked a few things from the garden. One of the things I love about gardening is how easy it is to use simple things like old corn stalks, tied with burlap for a simple front porch fall decoration. I also picked a few pumpkins and put a few of those on the porch as well. Zinnias were brought in for the table, the carrots went into soup for dinner and so did the tomatoes.

After we came in, I let the kids pick a movie and I made White Chocolate Pumpkin Breakfast cookies. This recipe is so simple and it's always a big hit in our house. If you try them and you like them, come back and let me know. I love sharing our favorite recipes here with you all.

To make the breakfast cookies, stir together oats, salt and pumpkin pie spice. 
Add in the white chocolate chips. 

In a separate bowl, combine the honey and the pumpkin. 
 Stir together and then use your hands to form into balls. Press the cookies down onto a greased cookie sheet.
 Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are starting to turn brown. Let the cookies sit for a few minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. 
White Chocolate Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
3 Cups quick oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup white chocolate chips1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pureed canned pumpkin
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, salt, white chocolate chips and pumpkin pie spice together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin and honey. Gently stir together. 

Grease a cookie sheet and lightly grease your hands with just a touch of oil. Roll dough into medium sized balls and flatten onto cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Skyline Divide

Photo courtesy of my friend Kristi, who happens to be the cousin-in-law (which probably isn't really a thing), of my brother-in-law. It sounds more complicated than it is. She's fun.

This weekend we had our ladies hike. After seeing a few photos on Instagram of Skyline Divide, I asked the girls how they'd feel about trying it out. Thank goodness, they were totally game. 

It was a bit of a long drive and a challenging hike, but holy smokes- this is the MOST rewarding hike I've ever done. If I'm remembering correctly, I believe that this hike is only open for a few months each year, during late summer and early fall. Before the trails are once again covered with snow, I really want to pack a special picnic and go up there with my husband. 

These girls were so fun to explore with. I'm so thankful for the conversations with them and of course, the rest breaks when we could hardly breath.

Hiking selfie. 
 The hike was mostly shaded, with a few great glimpses of the mountains, here and there.
There wasn't really a warm up, as the climb was steady right from the get go.
 As we climbed, we began to see some really nice views of Mt. Baker.
 A few wildflowers were still in bloom and also there were quite a few wild huckleberries.
 Meadows of flowers, with Baker in the background.

When we reached the top, it was pretty unreal. The burn in my legs completely disappeared when I saw this view. Really, how gorgeous is this?
Our picnic view.
We stayed for awhile after eating lunch and then we headed up the trail a bit more, before starting back down.
Basically, when you're up there, you pretty much want to twirl around while singing, "The Hills Are Alive" from the Sound of Music. If you're local, pack yourself a lunch and go for it. Your legs will burn, but it's so worth it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken Tomato Soup

Instead of posting my normal "Friday Favorites" post, I thought I'd share this recipe with you all today. This soup is my favorite lately. I'm absolutely in love with crock pot cooking and this is one of those recipes that just gets thrown together in the morning, then you go about your day and hey- at dinner time, it's there! Perfectly done and waiting! 

In case you just want to skip to the full recipe, go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post.
Dump into your crock pot 1 can full-fat coconut milk, two cans of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce. Mince some fresh garlic and throw that in as well.
 Next, roughly chop up an onion.
 Dump the onion in and generously sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
If you have fresh oregano and basil, roughly chop those and add them. If you don't have fresh herbs, just go ahead and use dried ones.
Stir it all together, add 3 frozen chicken breasts, turn the crock pot on and then walk away. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 4-6 hours or until chicken shreds easily. Shred chicken and return to crock pot.

Garnish with cheese, sour cream and avocado.

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken Tomato Soup

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk (full fat)
2 (14 ounce)cans diced tomatoes (add the juice)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoon dried (or fresh) basil
1 tablespoon dried (or fresh) chopped oregeno
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix coconut milk, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes along with onion, garlic and seasonings in your crock pot. Add chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-9 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours or until chicken shreds easily. Shred chicken and return to crock pot. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Garnish with sour cream, cheese and avocado. 
Serves 6-8



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