Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On the 12th day of 2011 . . .

On December 31st I had grandiose ideas for the New Year.  I had a marvelous list of Resolutions ready to begin!

This is the 12th day of 2011.  Those grandiose ideas were quickly obscured by 

12 pots of hot tea 
11 episodes of "Little House on the Prairie"
10 days of coughing  
9 days of fever
days of breathing treatments
7 days of wheezing 
6 co-pays paid 
prescriptions filled
boxes of Kleenex
3 snow days 
2 nights that Chris was out of town 
and an addition being built on our house . . .
Ella, Ava and Jack are feeling much better.  Whew! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Man's Trash . . .

I always thought that if I were to blog I would probably post for a few days, then get busy and skip a few weeks, then post something obnoxiously long to overcompensate . . . this is that post. Sorry in advance for the overcompensation.

I was in about 6th grade when an unforgettable event took place in my family. The four of us were driving home when my Mom yelled,  "STOP THE CAR!" My Dad stopped and backed up to a curb where there were two antique double-wide school desks left for the garbage man.  Because it was broad daylight, AND those things were too big to fit easily into the trunk of a Volvo, AND because my Dad is an engineer who would be very meticulous in tying desks into his Volvo, my parents decided they could not make a clean getaway and should ask for permission to take the curbside desks. At this point my sister and I were on the floorboard in the back of the car . . . mortified.

My Mom spent hours cleaning and refinishing those desks and eventually I grew to appreciate them.  Not only were they interesting furniture, but they were an entertaining story.  

our rescued desk
Last spring driving down MY road, I yelled to Chris,  "STOP THE CAR!"  It was the night before trash pickup and, guess what . . . there was an old school desk on the curb!  I learned that night, that rescuing furniture is in my blood . . . and that, unlike my dad,  my husband can steal trash at lightening speed.

So this is my tribute to some of our recent "rescues" and other freebies . . .
This is the front of an old "on-its-way-to-the-dump-because-it-couldn't-be-tuned" piano that is now hanging above my bed.

Chris's contribution: a wooden pumpkin he carved out of a log in our yard.

These are the kids' "Thankful Trees."  My favorite thankful leaf is Jack's "my eyeballs."

Chris's Mom discovered a tree with acorns the size of golf balls.  I just gluegunned them on wreaths that I already had and hung them with burlap.
This is my "fruit of the spirit" sign.  Chris drug the board off of a scrap pile from a house being torn down, and I painted the words.
My sweet neighbor liked mine, drug her own board off the scrap pile and asked me to paint some words for her.  She picked a list from 1 Corinthians 13.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Ella was only 6 months old when we found out about her food allergies. I have always been allergic to nuts so that part was not a transition for me, but eggs and milk?!? I had grown up baking with my Mom and looked forward to doing the same with my kids but I did not have one recipe that my girl could even eat.  So I began my search and tried out a lot of recipes for Ella.  Many of these first trials were not fit for human consumption. Just ask anyone who was at her second birthday party where I served "2-ton-too-sweet-upset-your-stomach Chocolate Cake." 

A lot of "allergy free" recipes I found used weird ingredients that just tasted too...well, weird!  Ella didn't know anything different so she was content, but that meant I was making 2 recipes for everything: one weird tasting thing she could eat, and one normal for the rest of us. That is way too much work!  So my new goal became finding (or creating) recipes that Ella could eat, would not contain bizarre or hard-to-find ingredients, and that everyone would love (not just tolerate).  We have made these blueberry muffins twice this week and I don't think I would change anything even if I could!


1   cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2   tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1   Tbsp. ground flax seed*
3   Tbsp water
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1   cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
*crumb topping (optional but YUM!) recipe below

  • Mix in a big bowl the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  
  • In a small bowl mix the flax seed and 3 Tbsp of water.  
  • Add the water, oil, flax mixture and vanilla to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix till combined.
  • Add the blueberries.
  • Spoon the batter into 12 greased muffin cups.
  • Top with the crumb topping (if you are using it).
  • Bake for 18 minutes at 400 F.
* OK I realize I said "no bizarre or hard to find ingredients" and now I am telling you to use flax seed.  Sorry 'bout that one.  But milled or ground flax is a great egg-substitute: it is not hard to find or expensive or weird tasting. I just got a huge bag of it at Costco.  If you just can't get flax than you could use a 1/4 cup of applesauce (it makes the muffins almost a little too moist though) or if you don't need to worry about the allergy thing then use an egg!

2   Tbsp. melted dairy-free margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats 

  • Mix all the ingredients till it is very crumb-y.
  • Spoon the crumbs on the tops of unbaked muffins.
  • Pat them down a bit so they don't roll off when the muffins rise (can you tell I learned that from experience)
  • Bake according to your muffin recipe. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All I want for Christmas . . .

Ava lost her first tooth in January.  That top tooth was not at all loose, and only came out because of a violent encounter with the top of Jack's head.  The new tooth has decided to take its good ol' time coming in (10 months so far).  Well, last week Jack's head took care of Ava's other top tooth while she was spinning him on the tire swing.  Poor Ava . . . but at least she has a good start to her Christmas list.

And I couldn't pass up the chance to show off our very first (though half eaten) carrot from our garden. I am surprised how much my kiddos like them - they act like they have won the lottery!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Graham Crackers

"Anything homemade is always better . . . except for money"
~Ella, age 7
Obviously the perfect birthday gift for that kid is her very own cookbook. Right?  That's what my brilliant sister, Erin, thought, too! (note: she is brilliant in many ways but in this case because the thought came months before the quote.)  So she began looking for the perfect kids cookbook with cute illustrations and easy instructions for things that required little adult assistance.  There are a lot of these books out there but, because of (%$#@) food allergies, none for Ella! 
We are a high maintenance house when it comes to food:  Ella and Jack are both allergic to egg, milk, tree nut and peanut; and Jack is also allergic to sesame, sunflower, and shrimp.  Ava is somehow  only allergic to sunscreen, which is a pain but does not affect meal preparation.

Since Erin's first brilliant idea was thwarted, her second idea was just as brilliant: we shall write our OWN kids cookbook! One with cute illustrations and easy instructions for things that require little adult assistance, AND with recipes that Ella (and Jack) could actually eat! 
Neither of us know how to write a cookbook. And most of my successful, allergy-friendly recipes are not easily accessible or passed on. (Meaning they are on the back of a receipt in my purse, or a notecard in my junk drawer, or scribbled in beside a "regular" recipe or just McGuyver-ed on the fly.)  So a blog seemed a good place to get organized, have people (allergic or not) try out recipes and give feedback. 

These are a current favorite around here for many reasons: fast, easy, warm, delicious.  I keep thinking we will make s'mores with them but they never last! Why make them when I could buy a whole box for 2 bucks? If you've tried them you would never ask such a silly question.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour (I just grind old-fashioned oats in the blender)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 cup oil (I use canola) 
3 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. honey
  • Mix the dry ingredients.  
  • Add the wet ingredients.  
  • Stir.  Your dough should be about the consistency of play-doh.
  • Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (I roll mine on parchment paper then just stick the paper on the sheet - easy to roll and less to clean up). 
  • Cut the dough (I use a pizza cutter) into rectangles (or the creative shape of your choice) and if you want, prick them with a fork (I that is just to trick people into thinking you bought them)
  • Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes or until they are a lovely light brown. 
  • Let them cool at least long enough so they don't scald your mouth.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Hi. My name is Amber and I am a procrastinator.  In fact, one of the things I do best is procrastinate. It was a year ago that I had an "I-will-start-a-blog-if-you-do" conversation with a sweet friend . . . who has been blogging since the very next day.  I, however, have spent the year wondering what I would say, when I would have time, what people think, etc.  So this first blog post is a very big step for me.

Were I not a procrastinator, this is what you would have seen last year for Halloween:
Ava was a 4-year-old eggplant, Jack was a 2-year-old Lego and Ella was a 6-year-old Wonder Woman.

Fast forward a year to yesterday: 
Ava, now 5, decided to do her own version of Wonder Woman - including a wig to add to the Lynda Carter-ness.  Jack, 3, was the Lone Ranger.  The funny thing is that, minus the bandanna, this is pretty much how Jack looks all the time.  He is an avid shirt-tucking, belt-wearing cowboy. Ella, 7, created her own super hero. She drew the character on our chalkboard and after a few hours of sewing, glue-gunning, taping and laminating, "Ice Girl" was born!  She even made up her own logo and insisted the "i" and the "g" were connected. (Ice Girl may have been fighting the bad guys for candy because a lot of sequins were missing by the end of the night - but you get the picture)
Whew! I am about to push "publish post" which means I am a step closer to my procrastination recovery! . . . except that it is now almost 6 and we may be having frozen waffles for dinner.