what i made for monday - zucchini cardamom bread

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom (or more to your taste)
3 eggs
1 cup veggie oil
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 325. 

Combine first six dry ingredients.  Add eggs and oil.  Combine.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Combine well and mix zucchini in until blended through.  

Bake in two 9 by 4in pans that have been greased or lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a knife entered in the center comes out clean. 

Freezes well!

what i made for monday - easy oreo truffle bar - only six ingredients!

Oh man.  I know I say this a lot...but you are really not going to like me for showing you these.  They are AMAZING.  A close number two to the No-Bake Peanut Butter bars from a few days ago.  
I found a recipe for these on Chef in Training and tweaked it a bit.  Brownies are one of those things that I don't feel needs to be made from scratch.  So I don't.  I hope you enjoy my simplified version of these AMAZING Oreo truffle bars.

All you need is:
your favorite box brownie mix (and the ingredients listed to prepare them- oil and eggs)
one package of Oreos
5 oz of cream cheese
10oz of chocolate candy coating
I used chocolate...but you could try white chocolate or peppermint? 
Line your brownie pan with parchment paper or treat the pan per directions on the box.  But really, if you aren't using parchment paper when you bake, your life is harder than it needs to be.

Bake the brownies as directed in a 9 by 13in pan and leave them in the pan when done. 
 Meanwhile...get out your handy food processor...or use a ziplock bag and hammer of sorts...
And crush the Oreos into a fine mixture with no big lumps. 
Add the crumbs to a mixing bowl...
And add in the cream cheese.  Mix until it's all incorporated together.  
Spread the Oreo and cream cheese mixture on top of your cooled brownies.  
Spread until smooth...
Melt the candy coating in the microwave according to the directions on the package.  My chocolate said to heat for 20-30 seconds, stir, heat, stir, etc until smooth.  You could also use a double boiler for this, too.  Once it's fully melted, pour on top of Oreo/cream cheese/brownies.  Spread all over.  Sprinkle the still melted chocolate with broken up Oreos, sprinkles, candy bits, etc.      
Once it is set, use your parchment paper to lift the bars out in one big piece. 
Using a SHARP knife score and cut into just the chocolate shell...
Then with a plastic knife or spreader cut into the bottom layers.  This will keep the brownies from sticking to your knife.  

Enjoy and share with friends!

Inspiring good in our kids - a sponsored post

I don't know about you...but I'm raising kids who will make a difference in the world and stand up for what they believe in.

It's so tough, in a world so full of corrupt thinking and ways, to teach children to navigate the world in a way that is loving but also firm in the belief of what is right. It's so hard when your kids may be surrounded by people making wrong choices or maybe just different choices than your family would make.
As my kids get older, the problems get more complex, the answers get trickier to navigate as you weave in and out of the areas they understand at their ages, both emotionally and spiritually. At the end of the day we spend most of the time talking about loving others.

I work hard to model love to my boys as the best way to inspire change in others. The boys and I show love to our mailman, to our UPS carrier, to their teachers and peers. I involve the boys in choosing items and drawing pictures for our Operation Christmas Child boxes every year as a way to love someone they don't even know. We donate toys and clothes to charity together.

We are teaching our kids to live out Proverbs 16:24: Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

We are loving to each other, to our friends, to our family and to the people in our neighborhood. As they get older they will see us model this kind of love to all sorts of people we come across...even those we don't agree with because at the end of the day, there is not a more powerful change inducer than love.

I was excited to see Fox's new movie trailer "Won't Back Down" because there seems to be so few movies these days that inspire good change. Our society seems to focus on the bad, the sad, the ugly and the things that tear down our society.

In case you haven't heard about it here is Fox's description: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.

Fox is using this new movie as a catapult to inspire change...and it comes out September 28!

You can check out more on their Facebook page HERE to get some inspiration and use that inspiration to answer the following question and enter to win one of two $40 Fandango gift cards! (Because movies aren't cheap ya'll!)

To enter you must leave a comment on this post answering the question:

"How can you be an agent for change in your community? What gives you courage?"
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
"b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the
following unique term in your tweet message: ""#SweepstakesEntry""; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post"
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 9/5/12-9/30/12.
Be sure to visit the Won't Back Down brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts and find more chances to win!


Daily I am reminded in our own little neighborhood, just how good God is to us.  This double rainbow is a bold reminder but regularly I can find smaller examples of how awesome God is (bigger ones too sometimes!).

I encourage you, if you need a little reminder of the Saviors love and how he still looks after his people...take some time to read my Ebenezer posts...be encouraged and set out to set up your own...

before and after...

I turned a $10 meh stool into an awesome addition to my kitchen!

The best part is that I DIY'd my own vinyl!  Anyone interested in how to do that?  Hang in there, I'm working on a little how to! :) 

Pregnancy test and beyond - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

So what you may not know about me is that we got pregnant on our honeymoon with Moses. Unexpectedly so, not planned by us but almost six years out clearly planned by someone more in control.

As you can imagine, a couple of short weeks after returning home from our honeymoon, I knew something was awry. My "lady functions" were like clockwork and the clock was stalled. I vaguely remember mentioning it to Doug the DAY that it missed. The very next morning we took a test. So basically, within 24 hours of being overdue, we knew we were pregnant. Approximately 3 weeks into a new marriage, we had new BIG news. You know what most people do? Keep it on the down low for several weeks. You know what we did? We called people the day of.

Yeah, we are those crazy people.

It was a whirlwind year for us. We got married, had a baby, got a job promotion, moved to a new city, quit my job, bought a new house...all in about a year and a half. But that's a story in itself.

I'm pretty sure that within the week we had a doctors appointment. I was fortunate with both of my pregnancies that we lived near colleges that stocked the local hospitals with excellent doctors and nurses. In both cases, we managed to stumble into excellent practices full of awesome doctors. We may have had a recommendation from friends but I think Google was the most pivotal in our doctor research.

How about you? How did you know you were pregnant? How soon? How did you find a doctor you loved?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

how to replace your iphone 4 screen - resources for doing it yourself

I lived my nightmare this week.  Talk about first world problems.  My iPhone just flew out of my hands and landed face down on the tile.  I knew before I picked it up that my number had come.  I also never pay for an insurance plan.  I figure the money I save over time there makes up for what I will have to put out to replace or fix a broken phone and usually that is true.

In this case it was definitely true.  I fixed my completely broken iPhone front for around $35 total.  It was either that or pay $550 for a new iPhone since I can't get a discount with my account renewal until February.  I did it myself, with the help of You Tube and Amazon.  And I'm here to tell you that if I can do it...you can do it too!  Especially if you are like me and just need it to make it a few more months for a replacement.  

I ordered THIS KIT  from Amazon for about $25 and paid extra for it to come in 24 hours.  I was mostly happy with the kit except that the phillips head screwdriver was a little too big and the new face didn't come with a speaker screen.  If you keep those two things in mind, you can be prepared and just transfer the old speaker screen to the new.   
The first thing I did before starting was to place clear tape over the broken face of my phone to save my fingers from being sliced up.  You might not need to do this if you just have a little crack but as you can see...I did serious work on my phone.  
Besides the new face, this is what came in the kit.  A star screwdriver, a flat head and a phillips head, two blue puller uppers and a suction cup.  
 The first thing you do is remove the two star screws. 
 ...slide up the back and it pops off.
Then you get down to business...and touch things that you should never have to touch.  
I was planning on doing a step by step but I got too involved in what I was doing so I will just refer you to THIS video to take it apart and THIS video to put it back together.  Fixing it yourself is totally doable.  I am not a "tech" person and even I will admit it was easy, even if it was tedious.  

Helpful hints:
--I would recommend taking a photo of each step for your own help in reassembly.  I may or may not have ended up with a couple of extra parts.
--Have magnetic screwdrivers. 
--Have a large flat workspace.  In my case I used my cutting mat.  It made keeping track of TEENY screws a lot easier and the bright background was helpful.
--Wait until your kids are not around. 
--Breathe and have chocolate on hand.
At the end of the day, I fixed it nearly to the state it was before.  My only tiny issue is that my power button doesn't work, but that doesn't bother me since I never really used it anyway and my phone is set to power off after a minute. 

There is also a small mark on my photos but I can totally work around it.  Both things I can easily live with until February and a small price to pay to save $550.

My sound on/off button works better than before so at least there is that. 

So if you find that your number is up...there is hope.  Have a little confidence in your ability and jump in! Just be aware that this would probably void your warranty and you may be able to sweet talk an Apple nerd to fix it for you.  If that fails, at least you know you have an option!

Also, I was in Best Buy within minutes of fixing it buying an Otterbox. :)

Odwalla - a guest post

I was delighted to be asked by BlogHer to share this episode of Weelicious Lunch Crunch sponsored by Odwalla Fruit Smoothies For Kids with my readers. Enjoy!

First days of school...

Thursday was my first day of having TWO kids in school...and let me tell you...I already feel like a better mother. :)

raising my ebenezer - how Moses saved Aaron

Yes, I realize that I have completed my story on our house and moving and all that.  But I keep feeling this nagging (or maybe it's a gentle nudging) to keep this series open ended.  After all, God uses each intricate detail of our life as part of a bigger story.  The details alone may not seem all that awesome but when you take the time to step back and look, you may be amazed at what you see.  So for now, as the stories come, from formation or memory, I will use this spot as a way to share the miraculous things that God has done for me and I hope it will encourage you to do the same, because He does indeed work miraculously in all of our lives.  
This story is a tough one for me to share.  It still makes me highly emotional and you will see why.  You may not know, because I don't talk about it much, but I wholeheartedly believe that Moses saved Aaron's life long before Aaron was ever born.  I fully believe that the details of Moses' birth set into motion actions that saved Aaron's life.

Let's start from the beginning.  I naturally went into labor with Moses.  We watched the season premiere of Lost with friends, with minor random contractions all through the show and went home.  We got home and the contractions were still irregular, I wasn't alarmed and pretty sure I told Doug "If this IS it, we will need our sleep."  So we went to bed.  I woke up at 2:30am to my water breaking.  Still no major contractions.  Got ready, went to the hospital and shortly after was informed that I was too far along for an epidural.  SAY WHAT?!  I am NOT a natural birth advocate.  I wanted drugs.  As far as I was concerned, unless a natural birth would make my baby cuter, my butt smaller and my baby weight FALL off, I was not interested.  But I was denied my precious epidural.  I hallucinated from the pain it was SO bad.  They did give me something that did NOTHING.  I felt every bit and Moses was born a very swift four hours after my water broke.  No one could believe he came so fast.  Every doctor that I have ever mentioned that to is shocked that a first baby came so fast.  They tell you that the first takes forever, in general.  Not the case here.  Little Moses was born at 6:24am or so.  He was also born with the umbilical cord cinched around his little neck.  Thankfully it wasn't too tight or too far gone and all was well.  Little did we know what foreshadowing we had just witnessed.  
Fast forward less than two years later.  Moses is awesome and we love him of course.  He's such an easy baby that we are ready to try again and get pregnant with ease. 

Now let me tell you, at this point my feelings on drugs with birth had not changed.  From the moment of conception, I knew I wanted an epidural when Aaron was born.  I am not kidding when I say that from my very first prenatal appointment with Aaron I advocated and BEGGED to be induced.  There was something in me that would NOT let my doctors ignore me or my requests.  It was more than just not wanting to deal with the pain.  Something more was pushing me to make SURE that I was induced.  Doug was working overnights and we were alone in Charlottesville.  God laid all of these details in our path to ensure that I kept begging.  I am sure that not a single visit went by without me bringing it up.  By the last third of our pregnancy it was the first and last thing I talked about with every doctor. 

I would relay how fast my first came, how the second is supposed to come twice as fast, how my husband worked nights, how I was alone with a two year old on those nights with no one to call.  I was insistent beyond any earthly reason that I MUST BE INDUCED. 

Finally they relented.  I don't know if I just annoyed them enough or what, but they finally scheduled my induction for a time that was before my due date but also safe for the baby.  And let me tell you people, all the while this induction was not for my convenience.  I didn't WANT a nice afternoon birth or it to fit nicely in my schedule.  There was something more that was driving me, and I am sure crazy pregnant hormones didn't help the matter but deep inside me I KNEW that it needed to happen this way.

So one happy day in February we got the call to come in, we left Moses at home with a sitter and went off to the hospital.  We got checked in and shortly after starting the induction they offered me my precious epidural.  I gratefully accepted.  I also remember them asking Doug if he would like to cut the cord and of course he did, just like with Moses. 

Things went smoothly, some pushing happened and Aaron was born.  Completely silent. 

Even in my stupor I knew something wasn't right. 
They didn't let Doug cut the cord. 
They didn't hand him over to me. 
They didn't even let me see him. 
Doug was by my side and I may have yelled for him to go to Aaron. 
They had taken him to the incubator to work on him.
I couldn't see what was going on.
Somehow I learned that the cord was around his neck and they were having trouble getting it off, it was so tight.  SO tight. 

I'm not sure how long he was quiet but it was long enough to scare me.  I remember thinking SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM.  I waited and begged for him to SCREAM.

Then he did.  He did.  He did. 

The most glorious noise ever. 

It may have taken a few days or hours but eventually I was able to connect the dots.  If Moses' birth hadn't been so painful and quick we would have had no reason to insist on an induction with Aaron.  There would have been no reason for alarm.  No push to get it scheduled.   I would never even had considered induction. 

And I firmly believe that given another couple of hours or days at the most we wouldn't have Aaron today.  He was born just in time.  Just before the cord was too tight.  Just before he couldn't breathe anymore.  Just in time.   

Moses' hurried entrance into the world set into motion the actions we would take to welcome his brother just in time.  God used my pain for good.  And He always does.  He always does.   

pallet to coat rack - another pinterest win

It takes a while to get settled into a new home.  When we moved into this house there was no need for anywhere to hang a jacket or a bag...it was summer and we didn't use those things.  As school has started and the mornings have become cool enough for a jacket, it became apparent that we needed a better solution than the back of the dining room chairs or the floor by the door.

I started looking into tradition coat racks.  You know, the tall, weapon shaped, spears that were not only ridiculously expensive but guaranteed to be knocked over repeatedly.  My next stop in the search was pinterest.  I found THIS genius post by Shelterness and knew I had my answer...now where to find the perfect pallet? 
My husband to the rescue.  He came home from work with a pallet that was made not only for the project but also for the very space I had in mind to hang it.  All I did was spray paint it black, then white primer and then painted all the different colors.  Then I gave it a good sanding.  The black and white layers give it great texture when you sand it.  
Then I added a bunch of industrial type hooks and attached it firmly to the wall.  
Done in a day.  And now we have a great place for all the jackets and bags to come that can't be turned into a weapon!

my favorite...

I almost love the convenience and quality of my camera phone as much as my "real" camera. 

What's not to love about being able to capture a moment like this in an instant?

I'd love to see your favorite phone photo!  Hop on over to my FB page and leave it there for me to see or leave a comment with a link to your blog post! :)

Happy Wednesday!

what I made for Monday - no bake peanut butter and chocolate bars - (OH MY GOSH amazing!!)

You will hate me for telling you about these.  Then love me.  Then hate me.  Then love me.

But these may be the most amazing thing I have made for a Monday yet.  And I have made a lot.

Here's how you make them.  And it's imperative that you make them TODAY.

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
1 1/2 cup graham crushed graham crackers 
1 lb powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 sticks butter, melted.  I always use salted.
12oz of chocolate chips (one bag) 
1 spoonful of creamy peanut butter

Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, peanut butter and melted butter in a large bowl until combined. 
Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and press the mixture into the bottom evenly.

Melt chocolate and spoonful of peanut butter in a double broiler until melted and smooth.  
Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture and spread out evenly.  
Place pan in the fridge just until set and then cut into bars.  Try not to eat them all yourself. 
Recipe adapted from the one I found at "Tell Love and Chocolate". :) 

Adding things boys love to things boys love - a sponsored post!

Recently my boys were sent some of VTech's new Switch & Go Dinos™ to test drive. To say the boys loved them would be an understatement! The new dinos combine two of my boys' favorite things...make that three things: cars, dinos and toys that transform! From the moment they got the toys out of the box a few days ago, they have been constant companions. They have made several trips to the store with us and have been carried (or driven) from room to room.

The boys love how the dinos "talk" to them and how the sounds that the dinos make add to the play they are already doing! For example, when one of them is transformed into a dino, when you roll it across the floor it makes stomping sounds like a dino would in the woods, another makes car noises as it drives. The LCD screen that shows different drivers and other fun details is also pretty awesome!

VTech is challenging kids to "transform their imaginations", and these toys do a good job of catapulting my boys in that direction. You may think that a "tech" toy would dull the imagination, but these have done just the opposite.

The boys love the interactive noises and sounds (that have a volume control for us parents!!). They love that these are toys that they can play with and "do" all by themselves. There isn't much that is more frustrating to them then having to get help to use a toy right...that's not a problem there. They have gone between dino to vehicle many times all on their own. These are very kid-friendly, intuitive and easy to enjoy toys!
VTech is hosting a pretty cool "Show and Tell with Switch & Go" contest with equally cool prizes. You can upload videos from now through October 1:
Show – What does your child's Switch & Go Dino look like?
Let your child choose 1 of 3 ways to show-off their home-made Dino creation and record it on video:
o 1. Draw: They can use markers, crayons, paint or pen to sketch your creation on paper
o 2. Build: They can use foil, paper, cardboard, or any non-branded household items to build your Dino
o 3. Customize: They can update their own VTech Switch & Go Dino with accessories and fun props to give them a new image!
VTech wants to hear about the cool things your child's Dino does. What makes it large and in charge? Encourage your child to name it and share its roaring sound effects.
From October 8 through October 19 cast your vote for the coolest, most creative and fiercest video…
One grand-prize winner will get a kids lifetime supply of educational toys from VTech. And your video will air on a VTech commercial on Nickelodeon, which you can watch at your very own viewing party with your friends and family. And VTech will also transform your living room into the ultimate Dino den!

Give it a go and click here to enter!! For other bloggers' reviews and to see other customized Switch & Go dinos, visit the VTech brand page on BlogHer.

what i made for Monday - seven layer bars

So since we have moved, I have continued my "What I Made for Monday" treat tradition with Doug's new crowd of employees.  They love them are a very grateful and sweet group to bake for!  Even though I now bake for Wednesdays, I'll stick with "What I Made for Monday" as the title of the series.  Today I sent in Seven Layer bars.  I used this recipe from Mr.Food.  It's simple, easy and has amazing results!
Melt one stick of butter and pour it into the bottom of an 8 by 8in pan.
Spread one cup of crushed graham crackers on top of the butter....
On top of that, add a cup of coconut.  And yes, the number of portions I send to work with Doug have reached cafeteria lady proportions. :)
On top of that add a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. 
On top of that a cup of peanut butter chips.
On top of that pour one can of sweetened condensed milk.
On top of the milk add one cup of chopped walnuts.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until it begins to brown around the edges.  Let it cool completely before you cut them into squares.  I put them in the fridge for a while. 

one stick of butter melted
one cup of graham cracker crumbs
one cup of coconut
one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
one cup of peanut butter chips
one can of sweetened condensed milk
one cup of chopped walnuts

Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Enjoy! They are so very good!

random things and etc.

First things first...bus riding is a success! He loved it.  It makes him so happy to ride the bus!  He's done so well and loves it so much that he's going to start riding it HOME too and not just in the morning.  This was a huge step for me...want to know the hardest part for me?  Guilt.  Pure guilt over letting someone else do "my job" and feeling like I was being lazy in "just" putting him on the bus. 

Once I had an inkling that I was doing something to Moses that was for my benefit and not his...well, conviction set it.  Not to mention a little harassing by certain relatives in my life. :)  
I've been making these adorable baby hats using a pattern from Oodles4Noodles.  It's a free, easy pattern that is great for beginners.  I may be adding them to my shop since football season is upon us and I need something to do during those endless hours.  :)  
Once I got the hang of her pattern, I altered it to make bigger sizes.  Hers is only for newborns but with a little manipulation, I was able to make a larger size.  Next up...kid-sized ones!
I am taming the endless stream of paper that comes home from school.  What I don't want gets thrown away immediately and the keepers get put in these new, clean pizza boxes and will be stored under a bed or in a closet.  Label it with name and year and limit yourself to JUST this much and your paper monster will be tamed!
Finally getting caught up with penpal packages!  I like to reuse empty Crystal Lite tubs!
And I am so thrilled to finally share this little bit of info...A few months ago my friends Aaron and Jeremy asked if I would start working with them at their photography business called Enigma.  I know I've mentioned them before and I have always looked up to these guys.  It was an honor to be asked to work along side them behind the scenes and I am thrilled to that part.  But THEN they asked if I would be interested in also doing infant and child photos for them as well!  I'm blown away by their trust in my abilities and I am so excited to learn and grow as a photographer.  Above is a favorite from my first shoot under their name. :) Enigma is no joke...they have been voted the number one photographer by theKnot.com three years in a row! You can see the rest of my favorites by visiting my Flickr page. 

And finally.  I am forever being asked how I get so much done in a day.  I found this article by The Stressed Mom and it fits me to a T.  I could have written the post and follow all the "rules" she mentions.    I would also add that I don't watch TV during the day (or ever!) without doing something else at the same time...laundry, blogging, crafty stuff, etc.  I hardly turn on the TV during the day in the first place but sometimes I will watch a little Dateline while Aaron naps. :) If you implement these things into your life...I promise you will see a positive difference!

I hope your day is WONDERFUL and I am thankful for you! 

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