Monday, June 30, 2014

Fort Stevens

Our last day of camping we headed to Fort Stevens after breakfast. The day before had been the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on the fort during WWII. There were some reserves there who had set it up to look like they were stationed there during the time it was in use. It was really fun to see.

Sunrise at 5 am.

Looking out of the lookout at Battery Russel

Hiding inside a tent! 

Just hanging out with Gramma
From the top of the Steam Room at Fort Stevens

I just love this picture. Xander wanted to stop and pick every dandelion he saw! 

Matt and dad stayed at the fort and went on the underground tour while mom and I took the kids back to camp. After lunch we played some ladderball. Xander apparently thought this was the way to play! 

We had a great time on our 4 day trip. Astoria, Seaside and Warrenton were all great little towns full of free/cheap things to do for all ages. We are already looking forward to going next summer!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Easy Chicken Chili with Beans

My family loves to eat beans! Here is a chicken chili with beans that is super easy and super delicious.
2 cups dry black beans
3 cups dry pinto beans
1 can of organic diced tomatoes (16 ounce size)
14 cups of water
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1 Tablespoon each of: garlic powder, dried minced onion, sea salt, italian seasoning and chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender. Add more water if needed.

We enjoyed ours with some organic corn chips on the side. I also melted a slice of Daiya provolone cheese over the top of mine, it was amazing!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Over the Lake

It's been a long time since I watched the sun rise over Lake Union. For 3 years of college I was on the water, every morning, rain or shine when the sun rose. I could smell the fresh air, feel the water spraying up around the bow of the boat in the breeze, hear the rowers breathing hard as the boat slid gracefully along the water. But things are different today.

Today I am watching the sun rise over the lake, with the beautiful Seattle skyline in the background. The wind is blowing on my face but it is coming out of an air vent in the wall. The air smells of sanitizer and warm blankets. I am still listening to heavy breathing, but it is not from exercising. Watching the sun rise with an old rowing buddy from a hospital room window is just not the same as watching it together on the water.

God works in mysterious ways. I think we say that to ouraelves and each other to give ourselves comfort when life seems chaotic and difficult. God doesn't work in mysterious ways, He works in ways that are higher than ours. He sees the entire story of our lives at one time, and we see just the snapshots.

We can beg, cry, scream, yell, and curse; but what does that get us? We can plead and bargain and make deals; but again,  that gains us nothing.

When Jesus said that we would have suffering, He meant it. Paul wrote in Phillippians that he wanted to know Jesus so well and be so intimate with Him that he would be able to participate in Jesus' full joy and suffering. And that by participating in Jesus' sufferings, he would be transformed in his spirit and be able to be separated from the grip that death had on his physical body.

When you are suffering it is awful. But watching someone else suffer is a whole different experience. Watching someone you love hurting, crying, and struggling is worse. There are never enough words or prayers at that point. No bargaining, screaming or cursing will change the situation. There is no magic solution, no special prayer to say, no miracle medicine that will work. There is only Jesus. And in that moment of suffering, we can look at Jesus' eyes and plow straight through the storm of suffering; because on the other side there is a transformation where death has no grip.

So for now, we are looking at Jesus' eyes and plowing straight through, pushing forward and pursuing His peace; because in that perfect peace, nothing in this world can shake us. For now we will watch sunrises over the lake out of hospital windows. But that doesn't mean we won't be watching them from on the water again...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Seaside and Shipwreck Beach

Our third day of camping we headed in to Seaside for the morning. The kids and Matt rode the carousel (thanks to my motion sickness i have to miss out on things like this :( ) and then we spent a little bit of time walking around the boardwalk and in and out of some little shops and thrift stores.

We ate our picnic lunch in the back of dad's truck (hey, its an easy way to corral the kiddos) and then drove slowly back to camp. We made a few yard sale stops (dad just had to buy the bagpipes and unicycle) and a quick stop at Costco; where we found Matt and Genevieve!  So fun to see them for a few minutes while they were over for the day!

Uncle Matt and Auntie Genevieve! 

Xander snoozed in the car and we decided to head to Shipwreck Beach when we got back to camp.

It was perfect wind for kite flying! Matt and I had a lot of fun flying the two stringed kite! 

As soon as we hit the sand Xander flopped down on it and started playing with the dune buggy (he called it "my jeep") that Grampa had gotten him at a yard sale earlier that afternoon.

Part of the hull of the ship that gave the beach its name. It ran aground in 1906 and depending on the level of the tide you can see quite a bit of the ship sticking out of the sand. 

Me and my love! 

Mom and dad

The tide was coming in slowly. It was so shallow so far out! Gabriella and I are the two people out in the picture. We were out that far and the water wasn't even up to my knees! It was super fun! 

She was loving the sandy water! 

Xander always gets covered in sand when we go to the beach. Gabriella took one look at him and said, "mom, Xander is a sandy monster again!" 

Xander biffed it on ths shipwreck so he needed a few bandaids when we got back to camp. Thankfully this momma remembered to pack a Thomas dvd so he happily watched it while I cleaned up his arm. 

And my two silly kids snuggled up in the same chair when there are 3 others to choose from! I love the way they love each other! 

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes ~ no gluten, nuts, dairy, soy or refined sugars!

I've been feeling rather uninspired for dinners lately until tonight when I remembered that I had a package of bacon in the fridge. Woo hoo!! Pancakes and bacon sounded good and then it hit me: chocolate chip bacon pancakes!
They turned out amazing!! I love them!  They are not very sweet, I am not a fan of super sweet things. Part of the not sweetness of them is due to the unsweetened chocolate that I use in the batter, if you use sweetened chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life brand) then they will be very sweet.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

1 organic egg
1 cup Organic Coconut Milk Beverage Unsweetened
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Organic Coconut Sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Organic Coconut Flour
1/2 ounce Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate
4 ounces of bacon (I use Hemplers that is cured with organic honey instead of sugar)

Chop up the bacon into small cubes and fry in a frying pan. Drain bacon from oil and let set on a plate covered in a paper towel. Chop the chocolate cubes into tiny chunks.

Using a fork, whip the egg in a medium mixing bowl for about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients and stir just until mixed and not lumpy. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the bacon and chocolate chunks.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto a griddle heated to 375F. Grill pancakes for a minute or two on each side until they are a beautiful golden brown.

Yields 10 pancakes
 We enjoyed these with our organic Earth Balance spread and a little maple syrup drizzled over the top.

For more amazing recipes, be sure and check out Allergy Free Alaska and their Gluten Free and DIY Tuesdays page! Talk about some amazing recipes!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Camping Trip ~ Day 1

We went camping with my parents in the Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside area of northwest Oregon last week. It was nice to spend some time with them and get to get away from our lives for a bit.

On Friday morning we headed to Astoria to spend the day. The first thing we did was visit the Astoria Column.  It was 164 steps straight up a spiral staircase. Gabriella walked up them all but I carried Xander up them all!

The view from the top was amazing! You could see for miles in all directions! This is definitely a must see place if you are in Astoria! It was a $2 parking fee per car but otherwise was free to go up the column. At the gift shop we bought $1 wooden glider planes to sail off the tower. It was so much fun watching them glide down!

Proof we made it to the top! 

Next we stopped at the Goondocks, the house from the movie The Goonies.

We snacked on some grapes and then rode the Old 300 trolley car. It was $1 per person and was very fun and informative to ride on.

 We hopped off at the Buoy Brewery and grabbed some fries and tried a couple beers (well, not all of us had a beer. But I did find a GF one to try, score!).

We cruised back to camp. We camped at the KOA campground right across from Fort Stevens. It was great! They had a great playground, mini golf, bouncy pillow, tether ball,  giant chess set, pool, etc. We will definitely be back next summer!

Gabriella loved the bouncy pillow! 

While mom enjoyed mini golf

Hmmmm, A2 to A4.

Me, Gabriella and my mom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When Words Fail

Words are a cornerstone of our lives. We use them and rely on them every day.  Sometimes we use elegant and descriptive words, and other times we use short and harsh ones. Words are used to express and explain. They describe, direct, establish, and comfort. We depend on them as our primary form of communication with everyone around us. The dictionary is filled with more words than one could possibly use in a lifetime; but what happens when words fail us? 

Words are empty. They are made of letters and sounds. They are inanimate objects scribbled on paper and carved into stone. They are misspelled,  misused and misinterpreted. Words fail us over and over and over again.

In those times when words fail, what happens next? Sometimes there are deep, deep emotion with no words to describe, explain or convey them.

Today marks one year since our twins went to heaven. A year filled with celebration and tears. A year of relief and a year of loss. I never understood the expression "deep calls out to deep" until I saw those two little boys. On Earth I saw a "mass of tissue", something many would argue ended there. But in heaven, oh what life I saw! I attempted to describe my emotions and experiences with words (you can see my two original blog posts here at Our Twins and Reality) but they fall short; words always do.

In criticial and crucial moments we often find ourselves saying things. And that is what those words usually are, just things. As humans we feel the need to reassure, convince, and comfort. A few months after Steven Curtis Chapman's young daughter died, his wife said something in an interview that made perfect sense. She said that after they left the hospital they went straight to their parents' house. They couldn't go home for weeks. When they finally did they could not handle being alone, but they never had to be. They were surrounded by people who came and just sat at their house. They didn't talk or try and explain how the situation was going to get better. They didn't share experience stories or offer words of advice. They were simply there.

I try to be one of those people now. The people who are there, just always there. A person who offers the presence of God to a situation without filling it with words invented by man. There are moments in our lifetime that our hearts replay over and over and over again. Moments of endless joy and moments of deep sorrow. Emotions and experiences are full of substance and depth. Shoving words into it that barely capture a snapshot of the moment cheapens the spiritual impact of it. 

And now, here I am again, at a loss for words. The tears are flowing and seem to be endless. My heart is breaking in a way I cannot explain or describe. The waves of grief have been harsh and powerful the last two days. I feel so alone in this ocean, yet my spirit feels an anchor. God's deep spirit is calling out to the deepest part of mine, whispering over and over. A whisper that has no words. A voice that speaks volumes without any words. And even in the throat-grippingly painful waves of grief where I find myself silent, I know that it is a good place to be. Because even in the silence, God is always speaking of deep things.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fresh Chicken Avocado Wraps

It is outdoor farmers market season! Woo hoo! We headed to the local farmers market this morning to check it out. There were the usual crafters, soap makers and face painters. Today there was a bee company selling local raw honey with a glass hive for people to see inside of. The kids really liked that. But the thing that I most love about farmers markets is table after table filled with fresh, local, organic, hand picked produce! Aaaaaah!

Today we picked out some cherries, a summer squash and a large bunch of rainbow chard.

Matt had to work today so the kids and I were on our own for lunch. I got a great idea looking at the large leaves on the rainbow chard; wraps!


1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken
1 medium sized avocado
1/2 Tablespoon diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tablespoon organic mayonnaise
Sea salt to taste
Rainbow chard leaves (or other dark greens of choice,  Matt prefers Romaine lettuce for his)

Wash the chard and pat dry. Mix all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl using a fork to blend and mash the avocado. Cut the leaves off the chard stalk. My leaves were so large that I ended up quarting the leaves to make them more manageable as wraps. Spread the avocado mixture onto one side of the leaf. Roll it up and secure (if needed) with a toothpick.

Serve fresh and enjoy! We ate ours with the cherries we picked too.

Recipe yields 6 large wraps.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

French Toast ~ No sugar, dairy, soy or gluten

I am always looking for something new and delicious to make for meals for myself to eat. Last week my amazing hubby found me some bread that I could actually eat! Woo hoo! It is from Trader Joes and is free of wheat, gluten and absolutely no sweetener is used. Hooray for me!!

Today I decided to try some French Toast with my new bread for lunch. I think that it turned out amazing and both kids agreed. Here is the recipe to make your own.

1 organic egg
1/3 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk blend
1/2 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
6 slices Gluten Free bread (I used Trader Joes Brown Rice Bread)

In a shallow bowl (large enough to fit a slice of bread in) use a fork and whisk together all the ingredients except the bread.

Heat a frying pan on your range top at medium heat. I used a pre-oil treatment organic frying pan so I never use any oil to cook with. If you normally use oil so that things don't stick to your cookware, then use some now. Wet each side of the slices of bread with the egg mixture and place flat in your heated frying pan. Only dip bread in mixture right before you put it  in the pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Flip over and fry other side 1-2 minutes as well until lightly browned.

Serve warm.

I drizzled some unsweetened almond butter and some homemade peach jam (no sweetener added) over the top. It was amazing and definitely will become a family favorite!

For more amazing gluten free recipes, check out Allergy Free Alaska's blog for their Gluten Free and DIY Tuesdays post. Talk about some delicious recipes to try!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Non Dairy Strawberry Cream Soda

This weekend we celebrated my friend's 30th birthday. Between the two of us we have over a dozen food allergies/intolerances so the menu for dinner was quite thought through. But one thing we both new we wanted: a creamy fizzy fruity drink!

We found a recipe online and modified it to be non dairy, no sugar added, and no carrageenan. Here is what we came up with!

1 cup Hempmilk Unsweetened
2 cans (12 ounce size) of RW Knudsen Sparkling fruit juice (no sugar added) berry flavor
     *Can also use plain carbonated water
2 cups mashed organic strawberries

Have all ingredients chilled. Rinse and coarsely mash the strawberries. Evenly divide and spoon the mashed strawberries between 4 glasses. Pour 3/4 cup of carbonated juice/water into each glass. Pour 1/4 cup of hemp milk into each glass. Stir gently to blend and serve immediately.