Friday, August 31, 2012

No Spend September

I'm declaring September as No Spend September.  My goal for September is to spend zero dollars on projects.  I have so many projects that I would like to start or finish.  I need to focus on those and not bring on anything new.  I tend to get distracted easily with new projects after I've seen something in a magazine or on Pinterest.

I know this will make my husband happy for a couple of reasons.  The first and obvious reason, me spending no money and the second, me completing some of my projects that are taking up space in his parking spot in the garage.

Anyone want to join me in my No Spend September?

Because every post deserves a picture...


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Family Pictures

We had Parker's Meet the Teacher Night at his school on Tuesday and we were asked to bring in a family picture that they could display.  We hardly have any family pictures, the couple that we do have are after Ryder was born and I didn't really want those displayed at school, plus Ryder has changed so much since then.  It was time for a new family picture.  When we were up at the lake a couple weeks ago, we took advantage of the beautiful backdrop and took a few family pictures.  My brother and sister were also at the lake, so we took a few of all of us for a birthday present for my mom.  Parker and Ryder's aunt and uncle are pretty good at making them laugh and smile so we could get a few happy pictures.

I set up our camera on our tripod and my dad snapped some pictures.  For anyone who is interested, we have a Nikon D60 SLR that we got before Parker was born and it takes great pictures.  I have been very happy with it.  I recently ordered a remote for our camera to make it easier to take family pictures in the future, just in case no one else is around.  I usually use Google Picasa when I edit my pictures.  It's very user friendly, anyone could use it.

Here are a few of my favorites that we got.  By the way Parker is standing on a milk crate, he isn't as tall as he appears in the pictures.  I wish I would have gotten a few of just the boys, but the goal of this shoot was a family picture and Parker was ready to go fishing or in the paddle boat after we were done.  I didn't want to press my luck.

Family Squeeze

This one would have been good, except for the fact that the tops of Marcus and Chris' heads were cut off.  Guess I should have checked the view finder of the camera once we all got in the shot.


Happy Champagne Thursday!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Got Zucchini?

Our garden is overflowing with zucchinis!  I thought I planted one zucchini plant and one cucumber plant, but it turns out they were both zucchini, even though the little tag said cucumber.  Sad face.  I was a disappointed, I was hoping to make pickles with the cucumbers, plus Parker likes me to pack cucumbers in his lunch for school.  Once I realized I had two zucchini plants I knew I needed to find some new recipes that included zucchini.  

We grow 'em big here

Here are a few recipes we have tried and enjoyed.

Oven Fried Zucchini with Basil Dipping Sauce found on Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Zucchini rounds coated in parmesan panko crumbs and baked to a crispy, golden brown.  These were tasty!
non-stick cooking spray
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup milk 
2 small zucchini cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a large oven-proof wire rack with non-stick spray and set on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, onion powder and pepper in a medium bowl. Place milk in a separate shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk then in breadcrumb mixture patting the crumbs on. Place slices on wire rack. Repeat until all are coated.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by pulsing all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor.
  5. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Mom's Zucchini Bread found on

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  • Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F 
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  • Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
I made one loaf of bread and a dozen muffins with this recipe.  I baked the muffins for approximately 20 minutes.

Zucchini Bread adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Dieter's Cookbook


1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 beaten egg
1 cup sugar (I used half sugar and half Splenda)
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease bottom and sides of 8x4x2 inch loaf pan
  • In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg
  • In another medium bowl stir together egg, sugar, zucchini, and oil
  • Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture all at once, fold in nuts
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes (I only baked it for 40 minutes and it was done)
  • Let cool on wire rack
I tried to make these a little healthier by using whole wheat flour and half Splenda and they still tasted good.  

Does anyone else have any recipes with zucchini that they recommend?  We've still got a lot more growing in our garden.

And a special birthday shout out to my mom!  Happy Birthday, Mom!  Thank you for all your love and support!  Cheers to you!

Happy Champagne Thursday!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Backyard Landscaping

Chris and I have been very busy this Summer working on our landscaping in our backyard.  After we put the boys to bed, we head out to the backyard to dig, plant, build, beautify, sit by our small fire pit and sometimes even enjoy a glass of champagne.

Our backyard was very blah and boring, so our goal this summer was to add a some landscaping around our fence line and color.  It all started with our Destination Sign Post Mother's Day weekend, Chris began tearing up the sod along the fence line so we would have an area for planting.

Below is a diagram of what we planted and where.  This is mostly for my sake, in case something doesn't come back next Spring I can check and see what it was.  The area we planted in is considered full sun, more than six hours of sun a day.  We chose to plant flowers and ornamental grasses instead of shrubs, mainly because we wanted to add a lot of color and we are somewhat limited to what we can plant in Montana.  There is also a ton of clay in our soil, so it took a little longer to dig the holes and amend the soil.  Most of the plants we chose are designated as full sun, but there are a few that are part sun so we'll see how those do.  Currently Montana is designated as a zone 4 for planting and I noticed we got a couple zone 6 flowers, I wouldn't be surprised if those didn't make it but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

1.  Munstead Red Stonecrop - Upright Perennial - Full Sun - Bloom Season Summer & Fall - Zone 4 - Deep Red Flowers
2.  Tiny Todd Asiatic Lily - Upright Perennial - Full Sun - Bloom Season Summer - Zone 3 - Light Pink Flowers
3.  Aurora Lavender Delphinium - Upright Perennial- Full Sun - Bloom Season Spring & Summer - Attracts Butterflies & Hummingbirds - Zone 3 - Lavender Blooms on Tall Stems
4.  Heavenly Blue Speedwell - Trailing Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Spring to Summer - Attracts Hummingbirds, Deer Resistant - Zone 6 - Profusion of Blue Flowers
5.  Fire Dance Red Hot Poker - Upright Perennial - Full Sun - Bloom Season Summer & Fall - Attracts Hummingbirds, Deer Resistant - Zone 4 - Coral-Red and Yellow Spikes
6.  Heavenly Blue SpeedwellTrailing Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Spring to Summer - Attracts Hummingbirds, Deer Resistant - Zone 6 - Profusion of Blue Flowers
7.  Lupine - Perennial - Blooms Spring-Summer - Zone 4 - Variety of Different Colors
8.  Elijah Blue Fescue - Ornamental Grass - Part Sun - Zone 4 - Blue-Green Foliage
9.  Elijah Blue Fescue - Ornamental Grass - Part Sun - Zone 4 - Blue-Green Foliage
10.  Peony - Felix Crousse - Upright Perennial- Full Sun - Spring-Summer Bloomer - Zone 3 - Picture looks like bright pink bloom
11.  Baby Sun Coreopsis - Mounding Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Summer & Fall - Attracts Butterflies - Zone 5 - Masses of Golden-Yellow Flowers
12.  Miniature Iris - Upright Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Spring - Deer Resistant - Zone 4 - Blue Blooms
13.  Blanket Flower - Perennial -Full Sun - Blooms Summer and Early Fall - Zones 2-9 - Wine-Red Daisy-Type Flowers
14.  Delphinium Aurora Deep Purple - Upright Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Summer - Zones 4-7, Deep Purple Flowers
15.  Pop Star Dianthus - Mounding Perennial - Full Sun - Bloom Season Spring - Zone 4, Pink Flower
16.  Gaillardia Burgundy, Blanket Flower - Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms June-October - Attracts Butterflies - Zone  4 - Deep Wine Red Flowers 
17.  Oriental Hybrid Lilium tom Pouce - Perennial - Partial Sun & Shade - Blooms Mid-Summer -  Zones 3-8 - Pink with Yellow Stripes
18.  Switchgrass - Perennial - Full Sun - Spring-Fall - Zone 2-9 - Tall Ornamental Grass
19.  Switchgrass - Perennial - Full Sun - Spring-Fall - Zone 2-9 - Tall Ornamental Grass
20.  Red Rubin Hens and Chicks - Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Summer - Zones 4-8 - Ground Cover
21.  Shasta Daisy - Perennial - Full Sun to Part Shade - Blooms May-October - Zone 4 - Lacy-Edged, White, Semi-Double Blooms
22.  Red Rubin Hens and Chicks - Perennial - Full Sun - Blooms Summer - Zones 4-8 - Ground Cover
23.  Oriental Hybrid Lilium Tom Pouce - Perennial - Partial Sun & Shade - Blooms Mid-Summer -  Zones 3-8 - Pink with Yellow Stripes

We bought our flowers from a local nursery, Lowes and Home Depot.  The tags in the Lowes plants and flowers seem to be the most informative.

Parker and Ryder have a very generous GGB (Great Grandma Barbara) who bought them a couple outdoor toys for the backyard, a teeter-totter helicopter and a playhouse.  They were both in a million pieces, so Chris and I spent quite a few nights working on putting them together.  The playhouse is pretty fancy with bay windows, flower boxes, a doorbell, kitchen and a phone.  I think Parker's favorite thing about the house is the doorbell.  He's been having a lot of fun playing with them and soon Ryder will too.

Teeter -Totter Helicopter

Playhouse before

Walls Up

Kitchen Installed

Playhouse Complete = Happy Parker

After we had everything in the ground and planted we added some dark brown mulch.  We don't have a truck, so we bought bagged mulch when it was on sale at Lowes four, two cubic feet sized bags for ten dollars.  I made a couple trips and if I remember right I think I bought eighteen bags.  I found some decent looking solar lights on clearance at Target and bought six at $2.50 piece.  Chris and I were driving around the mountains and found a few rocks to add to the space too.  Just a few things to add a little flare to the area!  Side note, every time I use or hear the word "flare" I think of the movie Office Space.  Any Office Space lovers out there?  I haven't seen that movie in a while, might have to watch it soon.  Sidetracked!  

I am loving our backyard so much more than before.  I enjoy hanging out there and it actually feels a little bigger.  We would eventually like to create a space for entertaining, whether it be a hardscaped area or deck.  We are still discussing and weighing the pros and cons of each, we go back and forth a lot.  I do know it won't be a project for this year though, unless I win the lottery and then I can hire someone to do it.  Wouldn't that be nice? 

Newly planted flowers, before mulch

Solar Lights

Enjoying one of our new rocks

Here's to enjoying our backyard more!

Happy Champagne Thursday!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Busy Little 9 Month Old

Where does the time go?  I think I say that every month, but time is flying by.  Ryder is now 9 months old!  He gets faster and faster everyday. 

Ryder's monthly stats, facts and favorite things:
- Busy busy busy
- 28 inches - 40th percentile
- 17 pounds 7 ounces - 6th percentile
- He needs to start packing on some pounds.  He doesn't ever stop moving, so it makes it hard to gain weight.  Time for some protein.  
- Ryder still doesn't nap very well, but he seems to be making a little progress.  It's a good day if he naps for over one hour, with his two naps combined.  Ryder had his well child check up today and the doctor didn't seem concerned at all.  
- Pulls himself up on everything
- Starting to crawl stairs (as long as mom or dad is right there)
- Crawling under beds, tables, high chairs, etc.
- Getting into mom's plants (Mom needs to move these)
- Loves Puffs and Cheerios
- Giving high fives
- 3rd tooth
- First baseball game - Missoula Osprey vs. Helena Brewers (Helena won)
- Not a fan of the road trips.  We made a couple road trips in the last month and he is not happy after 30-45 minutes of being in the car.  Makes things a little stressful for mom and dad.  
- He loves the park!  We usually go to the park in the mornings before it gets too hot and sometimes again after dinner.  As soon as he spots the park, he starts kicking his feet, clapping, laughing or pulling himself up in his stroller like he wants to jump out.  He likes to swing and has recently started climbing the slide.
- Likes to pull books off shelf but doesn't really enjoy reading quite yet.  
- Likes to close doors
- First and Second time to the Fair, both in Helena and Missoula
- Loves the water and splashing


Check out my sweet moves


Monday, August 13, 2012

Coat Closet for Kiddos

Do you need a little extra room in your coat closet for your little ones coats?  Put a tension rod up and you've got double the hanging storage.  I was getting tired of coats just being thrown on the floor in the closet, not that it was Parker's fault, he couldn't reach the top rod.  The tension rod is the perfect height for him and now he can hang up his own coat.  Well we're still working on that part.

I'm not exactly sure how much weight it can hold, but ours feels very secure.  Plus its easy to remove if you want to change things in the future.

I also added one of the 3M Command large hooks to the door for Parker's backpack.  They are suppose to be a damage free solution for hanging items.  You can remove it anytime without damaging the wall or leaving a sticky residue.  His backpack isn't too heavy yet, so we haven't had any problems with 5 lb weight limit on the hook.

We store our board games in our coat closet too.  What's everyone's favorite board game?  If it isn't obvious, we love Settlers of Catan.  We have a few different versions of the game.  I also love Apples to Apples!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Destination Sign Post

I had been wanting to make a sign post for our backyard for quite some time.  I thought it would be something fun and unique for our backyard.  Chris and the boys got me a post, a few pieces of wood, a compass and a list of our favorite places with the latitude/longitude coordinates for Mother's day.  Yes, for Mother's day three months ago.  I have so many projects I want to work on, I just need more time.  Anyway, Chris and Parker dug a hole in our backyard and placed the post in the ground Mother's day weekend and then it sat like that for a few months.  Chris picked up the post and some of the wood from our local Home Resource store.  I collected a couple more pieces of wood from the lake last month and then last weekend I finally got around to painting the destinations and mileage on the wood.  After I painted the signs, I sprayed the painted portion with a couple clear coats of a protective finish. 

We chose a few of our favorite places and a couple places we would like to visit in the future for our destinations on our post.  We used this handy tool provided by mobilefish to calculate the distance and compass direction between Missoula, MT and our chosen destinations.  The mileage that is calculated on mobilefish is the shortest distance between the two locations, not the shortest distance to drive.  Chris used the Compass tool on his iPhone (under the utilities icon) to place the signs in the appropriate direction on the post.

Empty sad post

Painting in the backyard

Checking the compass direction

Sign Post

Parks checking out the new post

We've also been busy working on some landscaping in our backyard this summer.  Stay tuned for a future post on our landscaping project.

Happy Champagne Thursday!


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