Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kids and Camp

I'm sorry I've been MIA for a few days. We just dropped my eldest baby girl at a one week camp today. Besides taking forever to drive here, I've been trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the time away from my girl. I don't know if I was ready, but the day came without my permission.

Julia is super excited about the zipline, riding in canoes, hanging with new friends and the pool blob.
Standing in Line to Register
 She is so beautiful. She was so genuinely happy. And Squeal-y.
Registering for Camp

She Was So Excited!

Announcing Her Name, Age and Cabin
Each camper gets to climb up the platform and announce their name and cabin. After they've announced their cabins, their counselors cheer and run up to meet them as they slide down a firemen pole. I was crying a little.
Beautiful Camp Counselor and Beautiful Camper

Julia by Her Bunk
So, I cried a little. And, I miss her. And I've been wondering what she's up to. But I know she's doing great, and that her life is in the Father's Hands. For some reason this verse gives me comfort this evening: 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I had a fun time writing Julia notes everyday. I made her two care packages. Dave wrote some of the notes as well, and I can't wait to hear how she liked them. I re-purposed some plastic shoe boxes and filled them with goodies, snacks, a note with Bible verses and reminders and extra toiletries. 
The One With the Pink Lid is Hers
I hope she loves the goodies!

We plan to do some super fun and really great things with our younger daughters. Please stay tuned for more pictures and fun. 

Thanks for coming by! I appreciate it SO much! -Amber

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Makin' Banana Pancakes

Do you know the song "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson? It's a great song! If the Disney CD "Disney Shuffle" wasn't already playing in our living room, I would be listening to that song right now. You can click here to listen, if you'd like.

I think what Jack was talking about in his dreamy song about pancakes was not what I made for breakfast. What I made is still banana pancakes, but they are really healthy and they have no gluten whatsoever. So, they are still yummy, but not the thick buttery goodness I think about when I listen to his song. (Sarcastic font:) So, now that I've talked these pancakes up so much, here is more about what I did so that you can make them too.

These really were good. They are healthy. I will make them again. And you only need 2 ingredients!

Take one banana and two eggs. (This is a pretty smallish recipe.) Throw them in your kitchenaid (I used the wire whisk attachment) or other mixer and blend until the ingredients became a thin batter. Oh, I let some vanilla dribble in the batter while it was mixing. Cinnamon would have been good to add too! (I'm not very good at sticking to recipes.) Spray a pan with some oil of your choice, and put the batter in small amounts on the pan. Big pancakes do not work with this recipe.
The Batter
Before you flip, you have to wait for the edges to turn brownish. If the under side is under done, your pancakes won't flip. And then they will be a crumpled mess of banana and egg in your pan. That's what happened the last time I attempted these little babies. I gave up that time.

I had more patience this time around. And, we ended up with some yummy pancakes.

These are Palm Sized Pancakes.
 The above picture is a bit deceptive. The cakes are smallish.

They would have been really tasty with toasted pecans...

Kid's Cakes
We topped these pancakes with some homemade syrup. I got the recipe from While the recipe isn't healthy, it is delicious! Click here for a link so see the recipe I used.

I thought about Jack's song the whole time. I hope you make some too. Enjoy!


Monday, July 21, 2014

School. What do you think?

As an update to some of my previous posts, I wanted you all to know that we are still gardening and composting. We harvested 3 more heads of broccoli, and are seeing the brussel sprouts starting to bud up with little brussels. There are several tomatoes that are still green, but should be red soon. I've pretty much used up all of my cilantro, but my basil and mint are still going strong. The jalepenos are flowering and getting ready to produce as well. Gardening is such a neat resource for teaching my girls about the way things grow. I'm so thankful to get to have the time to teach them about it.

Teaching my girls is something that I love to do, and something that I have considered doing full time. But teaching the girls all day everyday is also overwhelming. Dave and I plan to start a pros/cons list for public school versus homeschooling. We will let you all know what we decide. If any of you have pointers for me, please feel free to comment. I'd love to take your comment into consideration on this huge decision for next school year.

More time with our girls
Sleeping later in the mornings and not having morning rush hour at our house
Work at my girls' pace
Not packing lunches
Forming relationships with other home school moms
More time to teach my girls cooking and other things besides just Math and English
Bible lessons
More flexibility in vacationing

Less "Mommy" time
More brain power, creativity and energy required from me
Potential crazy cabin fever
Finding something to occupy Saige during "class" time
Needing to designate a place for homeschooling curriculum and materials
Less time to clean and organize at home
Less time to work on projects I'd like to work on

Y'all, this is me, re-purposing my blog in order to get some feedback from you. This blog is not just about me sharing my thoughts and feelings, but it is also to connect with and learn from you!

Thanks for checking in today.
Blessings, Amber

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dresser Re-purposing

When Dave and I were first married, we couldn't even make ends meet financially. Things were tight. Really tight. We were in college, and had part-time jobs or full-time 100% commission jobs that didn't pay well. When Dave bought the $300 dresser below, I was very upset. We could barely afford to go to the grocery store. When he got it home, I painted the dresser with some left over black paint that we had in the garage, and eventually changed out the hardware. We put it in our bedroom and used it for storing clothes. It was our only clothes dresser at the time. 

A few years later, when Julia was in the womb, but expected to come soon, the dresser moved into her room. In our little two bedroom home, the second bedroom was actually bigger than our master. It fit better in that room. So, we moved the dresser into the baby's room, and it doubled as a changing station. 

After we moved from that house, we bought different second hand furniture for my girls, and the black dresser became our TV and electronic entertainment cabinet. It held electronic items, vhs tapes, dvds and cords in the drawers.  On top it held a TV, VCR, DVD player and an original Nintendo gaming system.

In our Houston town house, it served as a buffet table and additional storage in our dining room. It held coloring books, kitchen towels, napkin rings, odds and ends, and grocery toys that belong to the pretend kitchen.

Now, the dresser that everyone hates to move (because it's real wood) is back to being an entertainment system in our basement. It now has a TV mounted over it instead of sitting on top of it. It holds a DVD player, blu-ray player, Xbox 360 on top. (It actually still has a VHS player too. We still whip our the VHS tapes from time to time.) The drawers are filled with controllers, remotes, odds and ends and blankets. Because here in the North, the basement stays cool or chilly always!

After all these years, that good ole' black dresser has moved with us from house to house. It's served in many different aspects of our home, and we have needed it over and over again. Now, I'm so thankful that Dave bought this piece of furniture for our very humble abode. We really needed it at the time, and it's been a life saver in every other home we've lived in. I hope it stays with us for quite awhile or longer.

Thanks for reading! Love from my family to yours! -Amber

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Re-purposing the Fire Pit

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My mom and dad love to re-purpose too! I guess they are where I got the passion from! Here is what my parents recently did: they planted some pretty flowers in a fire pit that they no longer used. It looks great, doesn't it?

If any of you would like to share your re-purposing tips with me too, I'd love to share them on this here blog just like I did with my parents' idea!

Thanks for stopping by today! Love to my parents and all of you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Re-purposing Dreams

So, I have a new idea. A new dream. Do you want to know what it is?

I want to buy an outdated trailer (aren't they pretty much all decorated in 80's oak cabinets?) and I want to update it! I want to re-purpose the inside! Maybe there are compartments that can be made into something else! Maybe the cabinets can be totally re-painted! I want to re-upholster the fabric in chevrons or damasks or ikats. I want the inside to have a turquoise and coral color scheme. Or maybe a navy and sage green scheme. I could play around with different textiles, fabrics and counter tops that I would be afraid to put in my house. I could put tile in it! Sheesh. Wouldn't that be fun? I would LOVE it!

I first got excited about this little project when I found a post on pinterest that had done something similar to what I'm describing. And as I've been looking for pop-up campers, I've realized that the nice ones are about the same price as an outdated trailer/camper. And, who wants to camp in bear country with a pop-up camper? Dave and I looked at one, and those things are still tent like material where you sleep. If we went to bear country to camp, I think I would stay awake all night staring at my children. I want to camp in bear country because it's amazingly beautiful, but in a pop-up, notsomuch, you know?

You all, I think I may need to write this dream down and step away from this post before my adrenaline skyrockets in excitement! I mean, I could even paint the outside of the darn thing. Or maybe I could just paint around the windows. I could add cute curtains. So. much. fun....

Hopefully in the near future, I'll be sharing some before and afters on this here blog, God willing. Only time will tell!

Blessings, Amber

P.S. To my husband, please don't lose your cookies when you read this post. I will let you know before I buy this dream camper. :)

Flies and Vinegar Re-purposed

Because of our wonderful party on Saturday, we have had a gazillion flies in our house. I've been keeping the swatter close, and my girls have been rooting me on or trying to get the flies themselves. However, it's still been disturbing to hear Saige regularly announce, "I kill 'dem, I kill 'dem. I wanna turn!" Even though I know she's talking about flies, I catch myself wanting to make a new word up for what we are actually doing to those dang flies.

Speaking of flies and the party, I wanted to chat a little about vinegar today. You know the saying that says you can "attract more flies with honey than vinegar". And sometimes, you have to take that saying literally instead of relationally. Well, in our house we don't want to attract flies. So, what do we need? Vinegar! I am not saying that if you spray vinegar around your house that the flies will magically disappear, but if you use the vinegar to clean up crumbs and stickiness, less flies will be attracted to your house! What I mean is: for a lot of my cleaning, I use vinegar water. I have a squirt bottle that I put 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water in. And then I use it to clean and disinfect my kitchen counter tops, clean cabinets, wipe of the floors and anything else you might regularly do with a cleaning product. This way, I know there aren't a bunch of extra chemicals being sprayed all over my house. Just another bonus!
My Fancy Cleaning Bottle
 But wait, there's more....

I use vinegar for all kinds of things! Not just for cleaning. I also put some in my spaghetti sauce every time I make spaghetti. You can use regular old vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Did you know that vinegar is really good for you? Some people drink apple cider vinegar straight for health purposes. (I tried it once and almost lost my lunch.) But, instead of drinking it straight, I just sneak it into my cooking whenever I can, and it tastes awesome! I made my spaghetti sauce from scratch tonight. But even if I have a store bought sauce, I still add it!

Vinegar is also good for taking away a sunburn! When either me or one of my family members get one, I just soak a paper towel in some vinegar and lay it right on the burn until the skin is sopping wet. If you let that air dry, it dries quickly, the burn turns to a tan and doesn't sting anymore. With my fair skin, I've had to use this trick a few times. I love it. (It helps if you don't mind the smell of vinegar. I certainly don't mind it.) It took awhile, but now even my husband is a believer in this vinegar trick!

Anyway, I know there are a ton more uses for this wonderful stuff, but I don't want to give away all my secrets in one post! Plus, I'd love it if you shared your secrets with me. We can compare notes.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today. I appreciate it!
Blessings, Amber

Monday, July 14, 2014

Re-purposing before a Birthday Party

On Saturday, we celebrated my sweet, spunky, witty and mischievous 6-year-old, Lydia. It was the day of her birth, and the day of her party. We had a great time with some new friends and my old sister. (Just kidding, Aubrey. I'm older than you are.)  Four families besides my sis and my family were able to come, and after the party, Dave added up that we probably had 35 people here including kids! (The people we invited are good at the multiplication order found in Genesis. "Go forth and multiply.." ) It was so fun!

There were kiddos jumping on the trampoline, playing with toys in the basement, playing outside, and eating candy from a bashed pinata.  Adults and kids were finishing up hot dogs and hamburgers in the dining room and on the deck. They were also seen enjoying some homemade chocolate cake and some cookies and cream ice cream. It was exactly the crazy and fun kind of at-home party I always thought my kiddos would have one day. I loved it.

I was told by a some of our guests that the chocolate cake I made was delicious. Since I got a positive response, I thought I would share with you all where I got my recipe. It's a pretty easy one to follow, and if you buy a container of Hershey's Cocoa, Special Dark, you'll find the recipe for the cake and the frosting on the back. I wish I would have made two.

Cake Recipe:
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

1. Heat over to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter in to prepared pans.
3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
One tip that I like to share, though, has to do with the dry ingredients in (step 2 of the above or)  any recipe when you bake. After the dry ingredients are all in the bowl, don't just stir them, incorporate and sift them with a wire whisk. This will help keep the cake both light and dense at the same time. (You know what I mean, right?) I don't even own a sifter, I just re-purpose my whisk every time a recipe calls for something to sifted. A whisk is a great tool! It has gads of re-purposing qualities.

After the party, Dave and I reflected on the party and felt so thankful to be able to be hospitable in our home. We really got to know people in our neck of the woods better, and had a great time doing it. Thanks to all of you who were able to be a part and a double thanks to my sister and brother-in-law! I thank my sister for driving 9 hours to my house with her kiddos, for helping me to set up the party and for doing dishes on a daily basis! I thank my brother-in-law for his blessing on the whole adventure.

Thanks for reading and for celebrating along with us in reading about my middle daughters Backyard BBQ Birthday Bash! Let me know what your whisk can do for you!

Love, Amber

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mud Baths and Re-purposing

Tomorrow is Lydia's Birthday, and Dave and are having a little backyard barbeque with some friends and family to celebrate Lydia's day of birth. We decided in preparation for the bbq, that we would do a little yard work today, and get a leg up on some of the projects we wanted to be a little further on. My nephew, Josiah, helped water my garden, and Dave asked him to put some water on another part of our yard because he hoped it would help in leveling that area of the yard out. As the water began to puddle, it became more intriguing to my daughters. Julia started out with a few toes in the water, and then a little wading. And before we knew it, we had four girls mud bathing!

The mud did in fact make the ground easier to level once we talked the girls into getting out and hosing off. By the way, my nephew put a toe in the mud, and that was it. He went back to the kiddie pool. Mud bathing isn't his thing.

After all the outdoor fun, baths were in order for all the kiddos. While bathing my girls, I remembered that I wanted to tell you all that I really love baby body wash. I still have my big girls use it to wash their faces because the tears and drama that come with soap suds in my girls' eyes is pretty much unbearable. So, my baby and my big girls all use baby wash at least on their faces. It's also great for adults to use too! It's gentle, and works great. My mother-in-law even told me it can be used to clean the inner layer of your eye. (She heard this from her eye doctor.) You just put it on a q-tip and run it along the rim of your eye. Disclaimer: Use at your own risk.

Thanks for reading! Please come again, and if you want to, please follow my blog!

Thanks so much, Amber

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sister Dating and Re-purposing

Yesterday was a great day! Aubrey and I took our 5 kiddos to see the buffalo and prairie dogs at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Unfortunately, they were doing some construction in the park, so we had to wait a while to get in and out of the park. But, we rode in my sister's van, and the kids were occupied with a movie. The kids enjoyed seeing the animals, playing at a playground in Medora and eating a picnic lunch. Aubrey and I had a good time too, but we especially liked that all of the kids took a nap when we got back to my house at 2:30. We also ended up snoozing on the couches until the late afternoon, and our kiddos started waking up.

Around 5:00, Aubrey and I got ready for our sister date. We've never done anything like this before, but sometimes it's nice to trade in your husband for some time with your sister. (Not that it wouldn't have also been great to go with Mr. Dave, but sometimes girl time is what every girl needs.) So, we put on sun dresses because it was such a nice, warm day in Dickinson, left the kiddos with Dave and headed to dinner. We froze in the restaurant's a/c while eating a tasty and high-caloric dinner, and then headed to a coffee shop to grab some coffee. Unfortunately, all the coffee shops in our little town are closed by 7:00p.m. So, we opted for some DQ desserts and shopping time instead. We giggled and chatted and had a great time! We were home early and in bed at around 10:30. (Which is early for me and late for Aubrey.)

While we were gone, Dave sent us some pictures, and this video:
These little outbursts are part of what happens with kids, and is also what wears us old parents out! I think it's hilarious! (I'm also glad that it wasn't one of the outbursts that Aubrey and I had to deal with.) All of the drama was due to Dave's request that all the kids come in from playing outside and get ready for bed.You can tell in the video that they aren't tired at all.

Right now, all 5 kids are contentedly watching Mickey shows on Netflix. So, even though it's raining and we can't go outside, life is good!

Aubrey's and my next mission will be getting ready for Lydia's birthday party on Saturday. I need to figure out what kind of cake to make, and get some decorations gathered up. I'm praying that the birthday/summer surprise that we ordered my girls comes on time! Don't tell my daughters, but the trampoline that is being shipped here will be used for re-purposing tons of pent up kids energy! Hallelujah and Amen.

Blessings, Amber

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Running Through the Sprinklers

What do you do when you have crazy and wonderful kiddos who need to get worn out? Watch them race through the sprinklers! Here is a video of our kiddos doing just that. This was after we did colored smoke bomb and watched snake fireworks grow. Please watch and enjoy!!
Thanks for stopping by! -Amber

Monday, July 7, 2014

Christmas in July...and Re-purposing

We are home again! We went to Cheyenne, WY to visit my sister and her family over the Fourth, and we feel so blessed to have been able to do so! Our getaway was filled with great family time, great food, and great fun! But the best part is that I talked my sister into coming back to North Dakota with me! Her and her two littles are hanging out with us Stewarts for the week. I used my Lydia's upcoming birthday party on Saturday as an excuse for her to come, and it worked! (This by the way is a great way to re-purpose! Going to visit your family, and then talking them into coming back with you. It wasn't what the trip was planned for, but wasn't it a great idea?)

I'm so thankful that my sister came, that I think I will add a note to our families' 2014 "thankful" jar. This jar was made on January 1st, 2014, after a really tough and strenuous year. Somehow, I knew God had big things planned for our family in 2014, and I wanted to remember it! So, I decided that what I would love to do on December 31st 2014, would be to read, remember and reminisce about what happened in 2014. I saved a jar, and asked my family to join in the fun.

Precious Scraps of Paper

I know that in there is a note thanking God for providing for us in our move, and for blessing Dave with his wonderful new job, but I don't remember at all what else is in there. It'll be like one more Christmas present on December 31st. I can't wait!

One more think I'm thankful for (on a very different note) is this:

Broccoli from My Garden

She tasted great with a little butter and seasoning! Woohoo!!!

More about our Fourth of July vacation to stay tuned! Thanks for stopping by. I'm thankful that you read my blog! Love, Amber

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Preview of our Family Fourth of July

Our happenings on the Fourth:

We walked to the park...


After the park, we ate a wonderful lunch. Then we all rested. After a delicious dinner, we headed to see the fireworks show.

But first, we waited...

 While we were waiting, we did sparklers...

Lady Liberty (a.k.a. Julia)

Josiah Paul- my wonderful nephew

Lyddie Girl
Dave, the Crazy Man
Me and Saigie Girl
We also chatted while we waited...


Chatting Babies are the Best Thing Ever

We took pictures...

The Best of a Million Attempts

Then, finally the fireworks started...

I'm pretty sure it was the best fireworks show I've ever seen.

Today was filled with more fun! A party by the blow-up pool, a few fireworks, shopping, and movies.

Watching the Smoke Bombs
A Lot of Cousins in a Little Pool

Water Babies
Thanks for checking in today. I hope you had a glorious Fourth, just like us. I can't wait to hear about yours and to tell you more about ours.

Peace, Amber

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth!

I hope that you all have a wonderful and blessed Fourth! Dave and I will get to see my sister and her family, and spend the day grilling out and watching fireworks. I can't wait to tell you all about my fourth and hear about yours! 

I'm so thankful to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave! Thank you Dad, for serving in the Air Force. Thank you, Autumn for marrying my brother and for serving in the National Guard. You've blessed our country with your service. 

Don't forget to re-purpose something tomorrow! Happy Independence Day!!! Love, Amber

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Re-purposing Oils

I love different flavored oils. I love the healthier aspect of olive oil. I use it a ton! However, when Dave and I went to Maine last year, we went to a wonderful oil and vinegar store called Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars. It was amazing! (This isn't a commercial, we just stopped in and loved it.) We bought and loved the butternut squash oil, and I hope to reorder some soon! I started using this oil to make popcorn, and it was awesome! It actually gave the oil a touch of nuttiness to it's flavor. The lady working at Fiore's said that she just used the oil instead of butter. (I need a little butter on my popcorn though.) But since I am currently out of that wonderful stuff, I opt for using olive oil in everything again. Oils like olive oil and butternut squash oils are way healthier for you than vegetable or corn oils. (So the nutritionists say.)

But, did you know that oils are also good for cleaning stainless steel appliances? I saw this on an HGTV show back in the day, and have used it clean my appliances ever since. It takes a lot of oil, but it cleans, and works great. I always smear my appliances with oil (corn and vegetable oils work okay, but olive oil works better) before I put our house on the market to be sold. It cleans it up, and makes it sparkle! (Disclaimer: If you should try this trick, please know that you have to fully cover all areas of stainless steel with oil. If you do a quick job and don't rub thoroughly, you will end up with streaks. Don't be scared that it makes your stainless steel a little darker. It'll all be the same color again once the oil is rubbed in.)
Not a Good Job
See the picture above? That's what happens when you are trying to the job too quickly, and decide to clean the appliances without actually taking the necessary time to rub the oil in and do a good job. This was an attempt to remove finger prints and water marks before guests arrived at my house. Not a good idea. I think I made it worse.

Here's an example of the correct way:
Dirty Stove
 Just grab a terri cloth towel, put some oil on it and rub the dirty spots.

Look Between the Knobs
 In between the turners things, is the first bit of olive oil I applied. Just put it on, and rub it in to get all the dirty spots off. Then, wipe with a dry towel to remove excess oil.
Clean and Shiny!
Try out this trick, and let me know how it worked for you, mmmk?

Thanks for reading! -Amber