February 27, 2014

and the cars go...

I enjoy going to the library with my kids on an almost weekly basis. The trip gets us out of the house and we borrow new books to add to our reading rotation.

Lately these library visits have been getting a bit more difficult due to Eleanor. She likes to run around and snatch books off of shelves, leaving James and I little time to peruse the isles together because I am chasing her and returning books to their places. Consequently, we have come home with some dud books- either boring, way too long, or just plain weird.

However, the other day I grabbed a book as we were headed toward the checkout, and it proved to be a winner. It is so fun to read out loud, with car noises and many different voices of characters. My favorite voice to read is the surfer dude, and James has been mimicking the voice as well.

The other night, as I was putting Eleanor to bed, I overheard Lane requesting to read the book to James. James obliged, of course, and after they were in bed Lane and I actually discussed how much we like the book.

The book is called "and the cars go..." by William Bee. If you have a little one to read to, I highly recommend checking this out at your local library. If you don't have a little one, check it out and just read it out loud to yourself!

What good read-out-loud kid books have you read lately?

Happy reading,

February 25, 2014

bridal shower outfit

I had Lane snap this picture quickly on Saturday as I was running extremely late to my cousin's bridal shower (please ignore the tupperware of play food in the background, the disheveled, wet hair, etc). 

As I stood and "posed" for the picture, I asked myself "Why do I do these outfit posts?" and I realized you may be wondering the same thing.

boat neck shirt- Old Navy (from a decade ago)
jean jacket- American Eagle (from highschool?)
skirt- thrifted
awesome bag- France (gift from Katie!)
necklace- Uganda (gift from another friend)
(also wearing black tights and flats)

After some soul searching (not really, just thinking), I came up with several reasons we do this. I'm sure you are on the edge of your seat, so here they are:

1. I am a stay-at-home mom- It's true, some days I don't leave the house... or really get dressed. I'll be honest, although I wish I put outfits like the one above together for library story time or a park play date, I do not. I am more likely to be wearing jeans and flannel, or running pants. So, when I do put a little more thought into my outfit, I would like to document it.

2. I, like my children, don't have a huge wardrobe- I probably have more clothes than I need, but most of my clothes have been given to me, are second hand, really old, super cheap, or all four. I actually find it fun, and a bit of a challenge, to put an outfit together using what I have rather than going out and buying something new. Having a personal style doesn't mean you have to spend a bunch of money on clothing.

3. This is a girly outlet- I am at the stage in life where I don't have enough to time or energy to paint my toenails or even blow-dry my hair (as evidenced above), so it is nice to talk about clothes and feel a little bit like a girl.

As I was driving to the shower, it hit me- is it taboo to wear black to a bridal shower? The wedding is next month and I was going to wear a black dress with pops of color- is that kosher? I so don't know these things, please clue me in if you are style-savvy!


February 21, 2014

ten tips for building your child's wardrobe on a budget

I consider my children to be well-dressed. As in, they are appropriately dressed for the season and the occasion. I think they always look pretty darn cute, even though they don't have the hippest clothes out there. The most amazing part of this is that I hardly ever buy them clothes, and when I do I don't spend much at all. Here are a few tips I've learned over the last 3.5 years that have helped me to keep the clothing budget low:

1. Keep this in mind: it's okay to not have the trendiest kid on the playground.Your kid may be the cutest, but if you're on a strict budget, your children will not be donning the adorable vintage dresses or Baby Gap onesies that the other children do. And that's okay. A child can have just as much fun in second hand Osh Kosh as they can in Baby Boden.

2. Say "yes" to hand-me-downs. Always. No matter what. Say "yes". Whatever you don't use you can always give back or hand down to someone else.

3. Ask to borrow specific items you need. Luckily for me, I have a lot of friends with kids who are open to sharing and swapping clothes back and forth. When I need to fill in particular gaps in my kid's wardrobe, I usually ask my friends who have older kids if I can borrow the item I need. For example, I needed dress shoes to go with Elle's Christmas dress (a hand-me-down). I asked a good friend who has three older girls. She not only had the perfect little pair of shoes in Elle's size, but also offered tights to match. Money spent on Elle's Christmas outfit = zero dollars.

4. Shop garage sales over consignment stores. From my experience, consignment prices are always too high. However, people having garage sales are usually in a purging mood and will generally just want to get rid of all their kids' old clothes.

5. Splurge on important pieces. By "important" I don't mean those size 2T True Religion jeans you want for your toddler. "Important" means the practical stuff. Buy good cold weather gear, for example. I was able to splurge on a nice new pair of Bog boots for Eleanor so she can go puddle jumping with James. I justified spending forty dollars on a pair of kids shoes because we hardly ever have to buy clothes for Eleanor; when I have, they have been second-hand and extremely inexpensive.
Tip #1 is important to keep in mind here, because practical and trendy do not always go hand-in-hand. Sadly, Bog boots do not come in hipster chevron or bohemian tapestry, so Elle is stuck with neon pink. But, her feet are warm and dry on our outdoor adventures.

6. Remember: kids do not need as many clothes as you may think. After all, they will grow out of their current outfit in about five minutes. Even when my children have a chock full closet, they always end up wearing the same few outfits over and over. You really only need a few basic, comfortable pieces for them.

For when you absolutely must go out and shop for clothes for your kids:

7. Make a list. Like you do with groceries. Write down exactly what your kids need in which sizes and how many. Do not stray from your list.

8. Go straight to the clearance section. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.... because you will spend it. Shop the clearance. We have had great luck with Old Navy clearance. James has about a half dozen long-sleeved shirts we bought for as little as $2.50 a piece.

9. Don't be fooled by coupons. Often times they exclude clearance, or even sale prices. Coupons also usually have a minimum, so you will end up buying more than you need.

10. Shop online. If you shop from home, it may be easier to stick to your list than if you go into the store and get distracted by all the cute clothes on half-sized manikins. Additionally, there is generally better availability of items online versus at the store.

Are these tips helpful? Are they things you already do? What tips do you have for buying kids clothes?

I would love more advice as my kiddos get older and need more and more clothing!


February 18, 2014

our beloved pacific northwest: what to do in Portland

We believe the west coast is the best coast... and the great Pacific Northwest is our favorite place on earth. We want to share our love for Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC with you by giving you some hints on places to eat and things to do in our beloved cities! We both grew up in Portland, OR and Ashley is still a resident; Katie has spent the last ten years in Seattle and Vancouver BC, so our hints come from our experiences of these great places. 

There is a lot more to Portland than beer, donuts and bicycles. Depending on your mood, there's definitely a place for you to explore. Here's a little list of our favorite inexpensive or free ways to pass the time in the Rose city (and here's our list of great places to eat, while you're out and about):

NW 23rd & the Pearl District:

Powell’s books (Burnside between NW 10th and 11th): A gem. The biggest bookstore in the world (literally). Be prepared to spend hours here if you are a book person. Used and new, rooms and rooms and rooms of books.

The Pearl Disctrict (the area around Powells- a few blocks north and south to the park blocks and a few blocks east): A newer neighborhood with some nice shops and restaurants. Worth a stroll while you’re by Powells. Mio Gelato, NW 11th @ Burnside, is delicious. And don't forget to stop by the Pearl REI. Also, there are a few hidden parks and a water fountain for hot summer days.

NW 23rd St (between Burnside and Quimby): A fun street with a collection of shops and restaurants. Work your way down the street poking in shops, grab a bite (Pizzicato Pizza, NW 23rd @ Glisan is one of my favorites!) or have a coffee.


Pioneer Courthouse Square (Yamhill @ NW 7th): this square is a neat place to people-watch in Portland. Grab a Starbucks and sit on the steps, or bring take-out lunch here to eat and enjoy the city’s vibe. While you're there, try out the echo box in the corner near Starbucks.

Salmon Street Springs (Salmon @ Naito Pkwy): If it’s a hot day, kids will be jumping in the water here.

Waterfront Park (along the river on the west side): A lovely place for a stroll. In June, the rose festival takes place here, and there are other festivals all through the summer. Cross one of the bridges to the east side for a lovely walk along the East Side Esplanade- a walkway on the water.

Washington Park: Just above downtown sits a hill of trees and parks. It’s well-worth a drive. Take a walk in forest park, visit the Pittock Mansion and see the view from the top, picnic in the rose gardens (gorgeous in early summer months). The Oregon Zoo and Japanese Gardens are also located here, for an admission fee.

Saturday Market (under the burnside bridge along the water on the W side): Blocks of crafts, food, and Portland hippie culture. Very fun on a Saturday morning (and Sundays now, too)!

Portland Timbers (at Civic Stadium- or, as they call it now, PGE park) Catch a soccer game and join the Timber’s Army, one of the rowdiest home crowds in the sport (if you can get tickets).

North and South Park blocks (between 8th and 9th Ave in downtown): blocks and blocks of green space and great people watching. Go on a Saturday for the farmer's market. 

Portland Art Museum (on 9th between Jefferson and Main street in Southwest Portland): Call or check the website ahead of time to find out the current exhibit; also, there is a "happy hour" reduced price around 4:30 (I think). 


OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry): Awesome place for kids and big kids- interactive exhibits, a submarine you can go inside of, IMAX films. (Email Ashley if you will be in town. She has a membership and loves any excuse to go! This way, you will also get in for free)

Hawthorne District: A strip of great restaurants, shops, etc.

Oak’s Park: A classic amusement park next to the east end of the Sellwood bridge. Kids will love it (big kids too). Also, take a meander down the Oak’s Bottom trail that crosses here, along the east side of the river towards town. Great for walking or bikes. 

If you live in Portland or have visited, what would you add to the list?

happy exploring,
Katie & Ashley

February 17, 2014

snow days

One week ago we were in the middle of a crazy and unusual (for Portland area) winter storm. 
Everything was covered in snow and ice. It was amazingly beautiful.

Here is the view from our back deck:

And here are the icicles that formed on the front of our house:

For some reason, ducks walking on ice cracks me up:

My sidekick, posing quite well:

The most special thing to me was when James exclaimed: "I was praying about snow because snow is so beautiful and pretty and looks so clean."

Did you get snow and ice this year? Were you able to get outside and enjoy it?

Happy Monday friends,

February 12, 2014

waiting for applesauce

I have learned the most about my relationship with God through the relationship I have with my children.

There are so many wonderful parallels: I am a child of God, they are my children. I love them with an intense and sacrificial love. He loves me with an intense and sacrificial love. I want only good things for them, but I also want them to develop good character, sometimes at the cost of their immediate happiness. The same is true of God’s desire for me.

Then there are the more difficult parallels: my children whine to me, I whine to God. My children get upset with me for things that are not my fault. They get impatient with me because they know what they want and when they want it. And the "when" is now. Right now.

And it is painful, because this is how I treat God.

The other morning, James wanted applesauce before breakfast. I told him to sit at the table and wait, and I would bring him the applesauce.

He sat. He watched me get out the applesauce.

“Mommy, I want some applesauce.”

“I know, James, you told me. And I will get it for you, just be patient.” I pour a little applesauce into the pancake batter I am making so I can finish it up and get some pancakes going on the griddle.

“Mommy, is that my applesauce?”

“No, James, I am putting some in the pancake batter. Hold on, just a second, I will get your applesauce.” I turn to pour some batter on the griddle.

“Mommy! My applesauce! You forgot! I want applesauce!”

Sigh. I am frustrated with him. Not because of the nagging or the impatience, really (I mean, he is three and it is first thing in the morning). But because I said I would give him applesauce. And I meant it. Does he not believe my words? Does he not trust what I say?

But I do this to God all the time.

The truth is, we are all waiting for something. The promotion. The car. The house to sell. The positive pregnancy test. The diagnosis. The proposal. The call. The restoration of a relationship. The chance to take a vacation. The chance to take a rest. Whatever. We are waiting.

And we are not quite sure that God remembers: “God! Hello! Remember me down here?! I keep praying, and I think you may have forgotten about my request!”

James did get his applesauce that morning. And pancakes with maple syrup. But the scene played out again about a week later. This time I went to pour his applesauce, and noticed a thick ring of black around the inside of the bottle.

“No applesauce today, buddy, it’s gone bad.”

“What!? Why!? But I want applesauce!”

I didn’t give it to him because I knew it was bad for him. It would have made him sick.

I knew I could get more applesauce at the store later, and he could have some in the future. I knew that our fridge was stocked with many other things that would be good for him. I would not let him starve. He just couldn't have any applesauce at that time.

God knows what is good for us, even when we think we know better.

The problem isn't really patience, it's trust. Do we trust God enough to believe that He has heard our requests and will do what is best for us?

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 
And if we know that He hears us- whatever we ask- 
we know that we have what we asked of Him."

-1 John 5:14&15

Let us approach with confidence, knowing He will answer in the best way: according to His good and perfect will.

February 11, 2014

february ten on ten :: ashley

We have been snowed in since Thursday. It has provided some good stay-at-home time, and made me so grateful for our warm house when it is freezing and icy outside.

Yesterday morning, someone woke up in a great mood:

James and Eleanor took a tub together, which was surprisingly successful:

The last of the ice was melting off all the branches. It was so beautiful:

We have been playing a lot of board games:

Giving the girl a piggy back, and attempting to take a photo in the mirror:

Making thumb print cookies:

I've been so grateful for these boots over the last couple days. They look like they are staring out the window, hoping for another adventure:

These curls:

Finished product of our baking project:

Thai chicken soup and salad with ginger dressing... not bad for being at the end of the grocery supply:

So much ordinary, and so much beauty.

Happy Tuesday.

February 10, 2014

simple cupcake valentines (a kid craft)

This year, I decided to keep James' Valentines nice and easy.

(I could NOT get this picture to turn. Neither could my engineer husband. 
So, I guess... just turn your laptop? Or head sideways? Thanks for your cooperation.)

He started by using watercolors to fill a piece of white paper. Then, I traced half-dome shapes for him to cut out of the watercolor. He glued one dome onto each piece of blue card paper.
I cut the "cupcake papers" out of brown paper bags and he glued those in place. 

His favorite part, of course, was gluing the candy hearts as the "cupcake toppings". You could easily add more "toppings" of glitter or cupcake sprinkles using a little glue or modge podge.

I love how colorful and homemade they look. James was pleased with the way they turned out, and said that the watercolors really look like frosting. 

Happy five days 'til Valentine's Day!

PS a (sort of) tribal-looking Valentine kid craft and a Valentine DIY gift for your adventure buddy

February 06, 2014

french yogurt snack cake

I need to start this post with a confession: This is an adapted recipe.

I generally only post original recipes here on my little blog, but this one is a cover of another's work (obviously, because it is a French recipe, and I am not French).

It is actually adapted from a book that is not a cookbook. The book is called "Bringing Up Bebe". It is about French versus American parenting and is written by an American living in Paris. I have many thoughts on the book, but that is a whole other post. So for now, we will focus on the one recipe in the book.

This recipe is (apparently) often made by French children who eat it as their one snack of the day (my kids wouldn't survive a day in France). They use containers of yogurt as the base, and then measure out the other ingredients using the containers. One of the several adaptations I made was to convert the measurements from six ounce containers into cups. Another was to substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil. There is just something about that pure olive oil taste that I love in baked goods, and this cake is no exception.

James helped me make it, and later enjoyed his with a glass of cold milk. My slice was perfect with a cup of coffee.

We may not be French, but we can sure bake a great snack cake.

Gateau au Yaourt   (French Yogurt Cake)

3/4 cup yogurt (I used nonfat, a mixture of Greek and regular)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup olive oil
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 chocolate chips*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray or butter.

Combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle in flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a knife in the center comes out clean. The top will turn a golden-brown.

*I would love to make this again during berry season and substitute some berries for the chocolate chips and add a little lemon zest

Happy snacking!

PS Coffee in the background of the photos brought to me by a sweet friend from my favorite coffee shop.

February 05, 2014

our beloved pacific northwest : where to eat in portland

We believe the west coast is the best coast... and the great Pacific Northwest is our favorite place on earth. We want to share our love for Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC with you by giving you some hints on places to eat and things to do in our beloved cities! We both grew up in Portland, OR and Ashley is still a resident; Katie has spent the last ten years in Seattle and Vancouver BC, so our hints come from our experiences of these great places. 

Portland is such a great town, and has been gaining popularity over the years as outsiders realize the greatness: bicycles, beer, parks, the Willamette, and the cozy, laid-back all-around atmosphere. The Rose City is known for its' micro-breweries and food carts, and for Stumptown coffee and Voodoo Doughnut lately, but there's a lot to it than beer and donuts! Here's a few of our favorite spots:

All over

Food Carts (of course)! In the past few years, Portland has become home to more than 500 food carts. Many different styles of food are represented and most are delicious. Carts are grouped into Pods all through downtown and the east side. Find a map here

McMenimans’ Pubs: A quirky, northwest classic. Many locations all over, each very different but with great food and microbrew. Portlanders are big on beer, you’ll find.


Stumptown Coffee Roasters (NW 3rd @ Pine): some would say the best coffee in town. They roast their own and now it’s sold all over the country. A perfect place to spot true Portland hipsters.

Lucky Lab Beer Hall (NW Quimby @ 19th): Lucky Lab is a Portland institution. Tons of great beer on tap, appetizers and fun vibe. Outdoor/ indoor seating, casual atmosphere (21+).

Oba! (NW 12th @ Hoyt): A lovely latin-fusion restaurant in the Pearl district. Go for just appetizers, or a nicer dinner. Cocktails are lovely and the coconut shrimp is amazing.

Cha Taqueria & Bar (NW 21st @ Everett): delicious tacos and margaritas.

Pizzicato Pizza (locations on NW 23rd, and in Hillsdale and the eastside): My favorite pizza in the city. Gourmet toppings, or a phenomenal slice (Puttanesca is the best). The Hillsdale location is the only one that does slices. The salads are awesome too!

Papa Haydn (NW 23rd @ Irving) A bistro on 23rd with some of the most amazing cakes and desserts. A bit pricey but fun for a nice evening out- we typically do just dessert here although the food is fantastic... I can vouch for the French Onion soup.


Portland City Grill (SW 5th @ Pine): At the top of one of the tallest buildings in Portland, here’s a great place for drinks and dessert, or a fancy meal.

Fat City Cafe (Multnomah Village): A hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint in our old neighborhood. Great vibe and food.

Salvador Molly’s (1523 SW Sunset Blvd., Hillsdale- 10 minutes from downtown): Caribbean food to die for. Get the surfer tacos and a mojito. You eat peanuts as you wait to be served and toss the shells on the floor. Fun and delicious. 

City Thai (Hillsdale): the Pumpkin Curry here is amazing.

Acapulco's (7800 Capitol Hwy; the main corner in Multnomah Village): Mexican food. Always good, even if it isn't the most authentic... Get the peasant plate and peppermint milkshake (hey, we already warned it wasn't authentic)

Jake’s Famous Crawfish (SW 12th @ Stark): A Portland landmark. Arguably the best
seafood in town. Owned by a family Katie used to go to church with.

Cacao (SW 13th @ Stark) or Moonstruck Chocolate (several locations) have incredible drinking chocolate- hot chocolate that is basically melted down chocolate bars.


Rimsky-Korsakoffee House (SE 12th @ Alder): as quirky as it gets. A dessert house (literally in a house) with live classical music, tables decorated after composers, and strange things that occur... you just have to see for yourself. Ice cream sundaes are awesome.

Pok Pok (SE Division @ 32nd): New and famous thai fusion. Haven’t been there yet but people talk LOTS about this place. The other location is in Brooklyn NY. 

Genie’s Cafe (SE Division @ 11th): People say this is the best brunch in town. 

Hoda's  Mediterranean (SE Belmont @ 34th): Amazing family-style mediterranean food- platters of meat, rice, veggies, hummous, falafel, you name it. 

Oooooh my, I'm hungry now! Have fun eating at our favorite spots! Let us know if you visit one... or if you have something to add to the list! Pop in next week for our list of things to do and see in and around Portland. 

happy eating and exploring, Katie & Ashley

February 04, 2014

two more sweet potato lunches

We have already covered the fact that my kids and I love sweet potatoes and have them for lunch in their various forms several times per week. Here are a couple more throw-together lunches starring the delicious, nutritious sweet potato...

Roasted or microwaved and topped with shaved parmesan, fresh oregano, crushed almonds, salt, pepper, and drizzled with olive oil:

Curried and caramelized sweet potatoes:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cube 2 pounds of sweet potato (about 2 large). Place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with a tablespoon plus a teaspoon of olive oil. Then sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2* tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper over the potatoes. Using your hands, coat the potatoes with the toppings. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until becoming caramelized on bottom and soft when poked with a fork (but not mush!).

Happy lunching!

*use 3 tsp curry powder if you want a more bold curry taste...yum!