Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mountain road trip

Last weekend we drove up into the mountains which are to the north of us. Iain and I were still recovering from a stomach virus and those windy roads were a little tough for us, but we made it and we had fun too.

The first town we came to was Horseshoe Bend. I couldn't believe the size of this stack of logs. Look how tiny I am in comparison! We had to stop and get a picture.

We drove up highway 55, which follows the lovely rushing Payette River for a long time.

The next stop was at Smith's Ferry, which was basically a few houses and a tiny store and restaurant. They had a cool old fire truck parked outside that Iain got to climb around on.

We spent some time taking in the views, throwing rocks in the river and checking out the yellow pine trees. There seems to be debate about whether they are called Tamaracks or Ponderosas.

Then we headed up the road towards McCall, stopping off in Cascade at a diner for lunch. It was so strange to be in an American country diner after living in England. I had biscuits and gravy and Brian had a burger and tater tot fries. There was not a single vegetable to be seen on the menu. Hmm.

Payette Lake in McCall is truly lovely and McCall is a nice town with a compact downtown/high street that you can walk with ease. It would only be improved if there was more of a local population. I get the sense that most of the businesses up there are serving tourists and seasonal guests.

We stopped at a public park on one end of the lake before walking around town. I enjoyed snapping tons of pics while we were up there.

Checking out the dock.

After walking around town, we drove around the lake and found a nice little spot where we could walk through the woods and get onto the beach. Iain had a blast climbing around and I had fun snapping tons of photos.

Beautiful autumn leaves.

Fun with sticks!

The mystery tree. (Upon further investigation, it seems to be a Tamarack.)

Beautiful driftwood.

Beautiful blessings.

This is why we love Brian's new job

As most of you know we moved out to Boise, Idaho so that Brian could take a job teaching 12th grade theology and humanities at Foundations Academy. We strongly believe in the classical model of education and we think this school does it exceptionally well. We're also excited by the vision and leadership of the headmaster, David Goodwin.

Foundations is currently building a new facility that is scheduled to be opened next year. To celebrate the completion of the foundation, they came up with a big idea: an aerial art gallery. All of the students in the school participated in in reproducing five great works of art in massive scale on the freshly poured concrete at the new building site. They used chalk to draw the Mona Lisa, George Washington, Starry Night, American Gothic, and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

The kids did all of the work in just 3 hours. They had the local media out, and a local film company produced a short time-lapse film of the event. You can view it here.

This whole thing took weeks of preparation and planning, but it came off beautifully. We feel proud and excited to be part of this school. Brian's class worked quite a bit on Mona Lisa and George Washington.

I was only able to be on site for a short time, since I was babysitting and the wind made it bitterly cold out there. I did snap a few quick snapshots.

I made it back just as the sun was setting, but I didn't have my tripod, so these pictures are pretty dark and blurry! Oops. (Can I just say that I love the classic red barn in the background? So Americana.)

For all of you wondering why on earth we moved out to Idaho, now you know why. To draw the Mona Lisa 30 feet high in chalk. Or rather to be inspired to do and create big things, and to give kids (including our son) the tools to do that too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wide open spaces

A rather interesting contrast between the last two places we've lived:

Combined land area of England, Scotland, & Wales: 88,782 sq. mi.
Land area of Idaho: 83,642 sq. mi.

Combined population of ES&W: approx. 59 million
Population of Idaho: 1.5 million

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy birthday, Dad

Brian here again: Today is my Dad's birthday. Someone at work recently asked me who my hero was; I told him it was my Dad. He asked why; I said it was because of his unwavering loyalty to those he loves. I've seen my Dad get figuratively kicked and spat on by the people he loves most. I've even done my share of the kicking and spitting over the years. But my Dad's loyalty is unshakable: no matter how hurt he might be, his love for his family is never diminished in the slightest. He will still fight for them and sacrifice himself for them at any time and at any cost. I need to be a lot more like that.

Here is a picture of four generations of Douglas men on my first Father's Day, just a couple weeks after Iain was born:

Happy birthday, Dad! I love you very much.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Frivolity

It's Friday! Even as a stay at home mom, I love Fridays. I know that we're in for some relaxed time as a family, whether we're off exploring a new part of town, combing yard sales, or just sleeping in and treating ourselves to a box of day old pastries from our local bakery, we're going have a time of rest together. I also try to do some of my best cooking on the weekend, and tonight I'm looking forward to trying this pizza braid that I found on another homemaking blog. It reminds me of the fantastic strombolis we used to get from a pizza place called Vito's in Fort Lauderdale. We spent many meals with friends there. I'm going to pair it with this marinara sauce. I'm excited to try this recipe and I hope it turns out!

I'll spend the day today menu planning, grocery shopping, and cleaning in preparation for the weekend, but it is very happy work.

And just for fun, because it is Friday, I'm going to have a silly little autumn quiz!

1. Thanksgiving or Halloween?
Thanksgiving. That's a fabulous holiday and I'm always disappointed that it gets overshadowed by Christmas.

2. Halloween or Reformation Day?
Halloween. I know it is not the most spiritual answer, but we celebrate fall on Halloween and don't really bother with Reformation Day. We're Presbyterians, so every day is Reformation Day in this house. ;)

3. What's your favorite hot drink?
Well it used to be hot chocolate with nutmeg, but this fall I've discovered spiced chai tea and it is my new favorite!

4. Pumpkin pie or apple pie?
Pumpkin pie. Hands down.

5. If you could go anywhere to see the fall color, where would you go?
Maybe British Columbia? I bet it is awesome up there.

6. What was your most memorable Halloween (or fancy dress) costume?
My mom made me this awesome fairy princess costume one year and it was so pretty. I got to pick out the fabric and everything. It was awesome. But then she made me wear the next year too since it still fit and that wasn't as much fun. (Sorry, mom! What an ungrateful girl!!) I also dressed up one year as a mom and that was a total bust. I carried my Cabbage Patch doll and had a gray wig and a bathrobe. I think people just thought I was a bum.

Happy Friday and Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Appreciating the Little Things

Ok, this is kind of a strange thing to post about, but I am trying foster contentment in my own heart. Here is some snack mix I made today using the Cheerios I got on sale a few weeks back.

Iain and I had some with our lunch and it is pretty good.

If you fancy trying your hand at it, here is the recipe:

Sunflower seeds
Season salt to taste
2 tbsps olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients together, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle on the seasoning. Mix well. Put in a single layer on a baking tray and bake at 275 for 10 minutes. (My house smelled like warm nuts afterwards!) Allow to cool and then store in airtight containers.

I get so bogged down by the things I don't do that I forget to be thankful for what I can do. For instance, I wanted to plant my daffodil bulbs in our flower bed today, so I cleared the weeds and started to dig. I got about 3 inches into the soil before hitting the plastic tarp the apartment people put down to suppress weeds. Not nearly deep enough for my bulbs. So, instead of being frustrated about that, I'm going to be thankful that I cleared away the unsightly weeds. Does anybody know if you can grow bulbs in containers?

So today I am trying to be diligent and to celebrate what I do accomplish. Because constantly feeling like a failure gets awfully darn old.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun with Corn

It snowed on Friday. Yes, snow. On October 10th! This is what the foothills looked like on Saturday morning.

Aren't they lovely? They look like proper mountains with a dusting of snow on them. Snow is highly unusual this time of year-- it broke the record as Idaho's earliest snowfall. So that's a relief, considering we had an Indian summer. I need my autumn fix! No skipping my favorite season!

On Saturday it was cloudy and windy, but it was not snowing. We braved the elements to go to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. Here we are waiting for the pig race to begin. I can't believe the words "pig race" are now on my blog.

You can see Iain is thrilled about being out in the cold weather. Clearly he has more sense than his Mama.

And they're off!

After the pig race, we headed over to the hayride. We were the only ones on it and there was no hay! The tractor also broke down, but they got it started up again. Iain was definitely still dubious at this point, but did show some interest in the tractor.
This is what we saw on our hayride.

After the hayride, we hit the corn maze to get a break from the wind. There were actually two mazes. One cut to look like John McCain, and the other cut like Barack Obama. I personally think the Obama maze looks more like Ronald Reagan. We ended up going in the McCain side and exiting on the Obama side, so we didn't do it right, but we just glad to be out after wandering around in there for an hour or so without a map!

After the corn maze we hit the kiddie activities in the courtyard. Iain especially loved playing in the corn pit, but at first he and this little girl stood in there like this for about 5 minutes. They looked liked little zombies!

Then we all jumped on this giant pillow. It was awesome! Definitely the highlight of my day. Though I felt a little funny being the only adult on there at first.

There was some lasso practice and yeah, that's a lot harder than it looks. They also had some animals, go-karts, and a wicked tall slide.

Overall, it was a fab day despite the winter weather.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bargain Shopping

I've had a few people ask me how to do this, so I'll pass along a few tips. I'm no expert at this, but I'm happy to share what I know.

I always thought I was pretty good with coupons and deals, but my friend Marissa opened up a whole new world to me this summer. (Thanks so much Marissa!)

1. Get a coupon stash. To get these good deals you need to start accumulating manufacturer's coupons that you can combine with sales and store coupons to get good deals. If you can get multiple copies of the same coupons, all the better. But for our family, we just get the Sunday paper and I make do with those. I also print coupons from and other places online. Make sure to check to see if your store accepts coupons printed from the internet before you get in the checkout line.

2. Watch the deals. I look through the ads and coupons on Sunday and I follow several blogs that track the sales and deals. These sites will show you how to combine sales, store coupons, manufacturer's coupons, and loyalty rewards programs. I like:

3. Read the fine print and know your store's policies. Be sure to read your coupons carefully. Check the sizes, quantities, and styles included in the offer. Sometimes it looks like you can use a coupon with a sale, but a tiny detail will make your coupon ineligible. :( Sometimes you have to buy a certain quantity of an item to get a sale price, but sometimes you only have to buy one. Some stores limit the number coupons you can use in a transaction. For instance, Walgreens doesn't allow you to use more coupons than you have items, so you may need to plan to purchase an extra small item. Don't be afraid to ask questions if a coupon is rejected or a sale price doen't ring up. In my experience sometimes I have misunderstood an offer but other times things just don't ring up correctly and my order can be adjusted. If you are using lots of coupons, be prepared to have the manager called to help with your order. Have the store ad at hand to show them.

4. Set aside some money to invest. Walgreens has a rebate program that gives you your rebates back on a gift card. To begin building up a credit on your Walgreens card, you'll need to lay out some money initially. Every month they offer free after rebate items, but it takes about a month to get that money back on the card. But once you've made that initial outlay you can use that same money over and over to buy the free after rebate items. It also helps to give yourself a little money to spend while you are starting out because it is easy to make a lot of mistakes as you begin learning.

5. Give yourself some grace.Don't fret when you do make a few mistakes. And don't worry if you miss a deal or two along the way. Just do your best and thank God for what he provides for you.

6. Don't succomb to coupon obession. The one problem with following the sales is that you become more susceptible to marketing. This can foster the desire to go shopping or to buy new things that you don't need because it is a "good deal". Limit yourself to buying things that your family needs or would use anyway. Know your prices and don't buy things that you can get cheaper elsewhere without coupons-- at a garage sale, at the dollar store, or your local discount grocery store.

Happy shopping and be sure to let me know if you get some good deals!

Walgreens 10/12-10/15

Yes, it is yet another bargain post. I'm so thankful to the Lord for providing what we need, and I'm hopeful that other people can benefit from these great sales too. Technically I got all of this for .84 cents!

I got all of what is pictured above for 18.57 out of pocket, and I'm due to receive an 18.12 credit on my Walgreen's gift card for my next shopping trip! Here is how I did it:

Transaction 1:
3 Kotex products for on sale for $9, with $3 in Register Rewards back. (Register Rewards are a coupons that print out along with your receipt after the transaction is complete.)
Minus $2.00 in coupons from the Sunday paper, but you can also print some from
Total $3.77
I paid that with the credit on Walgreens gift card from last time. Total out of pocket: $0.

Transaction 2:
Buy 4 Dove products receive $3 in Register Rewards.
I bought 2 bars of soap at $1.00 each and 2 deodorants at $2.00 each for a total of $6.
Then I had $1.50 coupon for the deodorants from this Sunday's paper.
So my total came to 4.97, which I again used my gift card to pay for. Total out of pocket: $0.

Transaction 3:
One package of Walgreens diapers on sale for 5.99.
Minus $3.00 Register Rewards Coupon.
Total: $3.35, again paid for by the trusty gift card. Total out of pocket: $0.

Transaction 4:
Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation 7.49 (Free after rebate on Walgreens gift card)
L'Oreal Cleanser Towelettes 7.99 (Free after rebate on Walgreens giftcard)
Minus $1.00 coupon from the beauty counter in store.
Parsley .50 Cinnamon .50 using 2/$1 coupon in Walgreens ad
Pert Shampoo 3.49, minus 2.50 EasySaver coupon, and $1.00 coupon from the paper, free
Candle $4.00, no coupons, just a blessing for me and my family to enjoy
Hershey's candy, .39 each using Walgreens coupon (I had another coupon, but I forgot to use it!)
Arm & Hammer detergent, $2.99, minus $1 rebate and $1.00 coupon, .99 cents.
Minus $3.00 Register Rewards coupon and .39 remaining on the gift card. Total out of pocket 18.96, 18.12 in rebates to be credited to my gift card.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lovely River

I took this photo as we were out for a bike ride on the Greenbelt earlier this week. Isn't it a beautiful world that God has made? Isn't he kind to allow man the creativity to add to his works?

Monday, October 06, 2008


I just got a $23.00 check in the mail from Ebates. They offer a small percentage discount at online retailers. The best part is that you can stack coupons on top of this and save even more. I'm thrilled because I only use Ebates for stuff I'm planning to buy online anyway. If you are interested in joining, check it out at And if you do sign up, can you please tell them I referred you ( I get a $5.00 credit and so do you!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bye-bye, Binky!

Last night was a tremendous milestone for Iain. It was his first night without his beloved pacifier. We prepared him through the late afternoon and evening, and then when it was time for bed, Papa sat him down for a serious heart-to-heart talk. Brian told Iain that he was too big for his binky, and that he wasn't going to need it anymore. Instead Iain would get a special big boy prize. I gave Iain his binky and had him trade it to me for a brand new wooden train. He was very excited about the train, but when he handed over his binky he said "Bye-bye binky" and cried. The look on his face nearly broke my heart. I've been dreading doing this. I was so sad. I think it was as hard for me to see the binky go as it was for him. But happily it only lasted for about 5 seconds and then he was all smiles for the new big boy train!

He played with it for a while and took it to bed with him. Iain slept from 9:30 or so and slept until 6:00, so he did really well. Today he been saying "Bye-bye binky" in a very conversational way, so I think this transition is going to go pretty well. The only mark of babyhood he has left are his diapers. I don't think he is quite ready for potty training yet, but it will be very nice when we don't have to buy diapers any more.

My boy is getting so big! Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Albertson's sale Oct 1-7

You can get General Mills cereal for $1.50 a box at Albertson's this week when you buy 10 boxes. The flyer says select varieties and it pictures Cheerios, Fruity Cheerios, Kix, Trix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Total, and Lucky Charms. I'm guessing there are probably a few more that are on sale but not pictured. There's a coupon from the newspaper a few weeks back that is good for $1 off two boxes, and you can print some more coupons from I see .55 cents off Cheerios, .75 cents off Kix, .55 cents off Trix, $1.00 off two Chex, and .75 cents off Oatmeal Crisp. Be sure to ask if your store accepts coupons printed from the internet. With the coupons, you can get cereal for .75 cents to a $1 a box! I'm hoping to make it to Albertson's later this week, but I thought I share this deal now so you have time to grab it too!

Update: I did manage to make it to Albertson's. I got 10 boxes of cereal for 12.85! The sale is going on until Tuesday, and it is limited to the varieties listed above. I was disappointed that more weren't included because I could have saved another dollar or two!