Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where I Buy Bows & Clippies for Our Princess Bear

There's hardly a photo of Princess Diva Bear, where you don't see a bow of some sort in her hair. Well, I LOVE Etsy, and I LOVE finding sweet hair accessories for our little princess.

Here are some of my sources, from where I've gotten bows for PDB.

Tessie Lou

Celeste & Company

Sugar -n- Spice Boutique

Neisha's Blue

So there you have it. And believe me, I WILL be checking out more Etsy shops for more CUTE hair accessories for Princess Diva Bear, so I'll be sure to share with you.

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recipe: Best Ever Sugar Cookies

I think this is probably one of my favorite cookies from my childhood. My mom had a church cookbook that had a vinyl or plastic cover and was done with run off pages...the typed out kind. It had those fold over metal tab thingys to bind it. I remember it pretty well. There were a few pretty tasty recipes in a sea of cream of something-or-other casseroles. This recipe was the best thing to come out of that cookbook.

This is a light, crisp cookie that just melts in your mouth.


2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
3/4 cup cooking oil (preferably canola or vegetable)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Cream together the 1st three ingredients. Add salt, eggs, and vanilla.

Sift together flour, soda, and cream of tartar. Add to creamy mixture and mix.

Roll dough into 1-1/2" balls and roll in some sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and slightly press on the ball with the bottom of a glass. (It helps to first press on the cookie dough, and then dip in sugar each time before "flattening" the next ball of dough. This way, the glass doesn't stick to the dough with each cookie.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn a nice, golden brown.

Cool on aluminum foil or cookie racks.


Mama Bear

Friday, July 22, 2011

Princess Diva Bear's First Camping Trip

This is the first day of camping for our little princess diva bear. She really had a lot of fun, but BOY, did she get filthy! I will write more about our trip in the next day or so. It was an experience that we will always remember, including having to buy a new tent halfway through the trip. UGH!

Mama Bear

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Sweet Little Gift

Check out this sweet little gift a friend brought over today.
His wife made these little treats and decorated the mason jar.

How cute is this?!!

Mama Bear

Happy Annivesary & Happy Birthday!

Happy Anniversary to my darling Papa Bear! July 17th marks 7 years that we've been married, and I couldn't have asked for a better bear to spend the rest of my life with. Papa Bear, I love you, and I'm so grateful that God brought us together over the internet and over the many miles! You are my best friend, my knight in shining armor, my love, an amazing daddy to our children, and the most patient and forgiving person I know. Thank you for being such a picture of who Christ is for our family.

Happy 30th Birthday (July 15) to my little sister (in red), who has turned 30 years old today! I have so many great memories of growing up with her. She was my maid of honor in my wedding (above). She is "auntie" to my kids who love her dearly. She was the best sister ever, since we had FOUR brothers to contend with!

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

If You Think You Have a Rough Life, Read This!

Through a series of occurences, I have come upon this site of a little boy with cancer, who was photographed by Fotolanthropy.

If you think that you have a rough life, watch this video and then go read the family's blog, which is a journey through dealing with their son's cancer. You WILL need Kleenex!!!

Before you even finish reading, I am POSITIVE that you will be thanking God for His mercy in your life, and that you will be grateful for the life that He has given you, no matter how easy or how rough that life might be.

If you think about it, please pray for this family. I am sure that they are devastated that their precious little James will likely not see his first birthday. They will need a LOT of prayer as they deal with their grief and their loss.

Mama Bear

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Depth of Mercy: Selah

Depth of Mercy by Selah


Depth of mercy can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

Heaven find me on my knees
Hear my soul’s impassioned plea
Depth of mercy can there be
Mercy still reserved for me

Now incline me to repent,
Let me now my sins lament,
Deeply my revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

Heaven find me on my knees
Hear my soul’s impassioned plea
Depth of mercy can there be
Mercy still reserved for me

Heaven find me on my knees
Hear my soul’s impassioned plea
Depth of mercy can there be
Mercy still reserved
Mercy still reserved
Mercy still reserved for me

Lord, Please Grant Me Your Grace!


Oh, Lord! Today hasn't been a good day! I am in such need of your grace! I am a sinner and it shows as I try to take care of my children. I yell at them in frustration or anger. It's an ugly thing. It's because of my own selfishness and laziness. I don't want to be bothered when I'm trying to work, or when I'm web-surfing. I wait until things have reached a fever pitch to take care of the discipline issues, instead of nipping them in the bud.

Father, forgive me for my impatience. For not taking the time to actually listen to what my children are telling me. For not finding the joy in being a mom. For being angry that they have interrupted my schedule today.

Please give me enough grace to make it through the day. Please help me to be loving, tender, compassionate, and full of joy towards the gifts you have given to me. Please help me to tear out the selfishness in my heart, and replace it with a selfless love for others.

Thank you for hearing my prayer.

Delicious Reduced Fat Dill Dip -- Recipe


When I was growing up, my mom always made dill dip. If we had company, she made dill dip. If we had a church potluck, she made dill dip. If we were just having hot dogs, chips, and veggies & dip, it would be dill dip that she would make. And I LOVE dill dip. But mom always used to use fully-loaded (not reduced fat) Miracle Whip and Sour Cream. Here is a lighter version of mom's dill dip:

Delicious Reduced Fat Dill Dip

1 cup light Miracle Whip (or may if you must!)
1 cup light sour cream (or fat free is ok too)
3 Tbsp. onion, minced (NOT the dried stuff!)
CORRECTION: 3 Tbsp. Dill Weed (fresh or dried is fine)
1 Tbsp. seasoned salt

Mix all ingredients together well, and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours, to allow flavors to completely meld together.

Serve with veggies or chips, or even as a salad dressing (better thin it out with a little milk if you're doing to use it as a salad dressing!).

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ten Reasons Why I Would Love to Take Our Family to Virginia Beach

As a little girl, our family loved to travel, and would take off for about two weeks each summer to visit various parts of the United States. Thanks to parents who loved to travel, I have been to such places as Mark Twain's home, Laura Ingalls Wilder's home, 2 of Abraham Lincoln's homes, Thomas Edison's home, Andrew Jackson's home, Juliette Gordon Low's home, the Okeefenokee Swamp, Disney World, the Cherokee Indian reservation in SC, the Sea Lion Caves of Oregon, Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, the Redwood National Forest, Disneyland in CA, Tokyo and Tokyo Disneyland (my dad was stationed in Okinawa while in the Air Force), and MANY, MANY other places.

My husband grew up in California, and until he married me, had only been to Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Tijuana. Since we married, we have together been to Monterey and Carmel on the Central Coast of CA, Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Missouri. And my husband had the opportunity to visit Washington, DC last year, for a pastor's conference in Gaithersburg, MD.

As an adult, I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to many wonderful places as well, including Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone, Colorado, Atlanta, Illinois, Ohio, Carmel and Monterey on the Central California Coast, Hawaii, and one of my favorite places, Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri (which I actually grew up visiting). But one place I have NEVER been is Virginia Beach, VA.

Why would I want to visit Virginia Beach after some of the amazing places I've been? Well, truthfully, because I LOVE the beach, and I LOVE travel, and I LOVE visiting places where I have never before been.

Here are TEN reasons why I would visit Virginia Beach, VA (in no particular order of importance):

1. The beaches! One of my favorite places to be, is the beach. I love the roar of the ocean, because it somehow brings about such a peace inside. God created such an amazing and spectacular gift when He created the ocean and all the beauty within! I love digging my toes in the sand and letting the sun warm my skin. I love the smell of saltwater and the wind tossing my hair about. I love watching my children play in the sand and race away from the lapping waves of the ocean, crying in delight as they barely miss getting splashed.

2. The FOOD! I'm sure that the seafood in Virginia Beach is much different than the seafood on the West Coast, thanks to the cultural differences there. I enjoy food to the very fullest, and so does my family, so we would definitely try to get the most out of our culinary adventures there. From fine dining, to "you catch-it, we cook it", to sampling luscious chocolates at the Schakolad Chocolate Factory, we would be in heaven, on this yummy adventure.

3. The accommodations. We enjoy going camping, but let me tell ya! When it comes to vacation, I want to stay in a place that has it all...clean sheets every night, a nice hot shower, TV, a fitness center, a pool and sauna, and even a full kitchen! Whether you are the camping sort, the vacation home sort, or the luxury hotel sort, Virginia Beach has every type of accommodation that you could want! As long as someone else gets to make the bed, I'm happy!

4. Church! We belong to the Sovereign Grace family of churches, and when we go on vacation, we always like to try and go to a local church if we're there over the weekend. There are several Sovereign Grace churches in VA, but one is particularly close, in Chesapeake. We would be thrilled to worship with others who believe the way we do.

5. History! Papa Bear and I both LOVE American History! Virginia and most of the East Coast is chock FULL of historical places to visit, including where John Smith and his crew stepped off of their ship for the first time, in search for an area to settle. If we had the time, we would fit in as many historical sites as we could!

6. Entertainment! From the looks of the website, there are many ways to be entertained in Virginia Beach, including Family Great Adventures, where you can "camp out" on the beach and watch a movie on the big screen, with your family. That sounds so wonderful! If you're not into watching movies at night on the beach, but you're more into the club scene, go for Funk Fest, at the end of August, where you can shop, eat, and dance, all in the same spot!

7. The weather. While we pretty much have the best weather around, in the Bay Area of Northern CA, I like to go on vacation where the weather isn't too hot, and not too cold, not too rainy, not too snowy. You know, we ARE bears after all (think Goldilocks!). :-) Virginia Beach is said to have some gorgeous spring and summer weather, and I imagine their Falls are full of glorious splendor!

8. Busch Gardens! I LOVE going to GREAT amusement parks, and from what I hear, Busch Gardens is one of the best, and most beautiful parks too. It would be a lot of fun to take the kids to a "new" amusement park! And everyone knows how yummy amusement park food can be!

9. PIRATES, Matey! ARGGHHH! Papa Bear and I would love to take the kids on the Pieces of Eight Pirate Ship Tour! How fun would that be???!!! I mean, between the pirates on The Wiggles, and The Pirates of the Caribbean, we would HAVE to make that a priority should we ever get to visit Virginia Beach.

10. Just because it's somewhere we have never been before and would love to visit!

In conclusion, I'm thinking that I had better start planning my Virginia Beach trip. Hmmm, maybe I should have a "Donate to my Virginia Beach Trip" fund here on the blog. :-) Just kidding. But, seriously, I would LOVE to have a couple of weeks to go to Virginia, and spend a lovely time with my family in Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas. I mean, really! Washington, DC isn't too far away! So much history! So many beaches! So much food!
So little money...

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach Tourism blogging program, for a gift card worth $40.
For more information on how you can participate,

Mama Bear

Some Giveaways Going On Right Now

I would like to try something new, by letting you know about contests and giveaways that are happening around the blogosphere. So, here are just a few:

You can win a First Years True Fit Recline Convertible Car Seat by visiting HERE and completing the requirement for entry.
This giveaway is from Faithfully Free.
Win a $100 Visa Gift Card from Burgh Baby by visiting HERE and completing the requirements.

Win these Costa del Mar Little Harbor Sunglasses from Crunchy Beach Mama by visiting HERE and completing the requirements.

Win a $25 Visa Gift Card by leaving a comment about your laundry routine over at Blessings Abound Mommy.

All of these giveaways end on Monday, July 18th, so hurry and get your entries in at each of the blogs mentioned!

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stickers are a GOOD thing!

Right now, with an almost 2 year old, and a 4 year old in our house, stickers are our best friend. They LOVE to get stickers and we use that to our advantage.

Eat your food without making a mess all over and you get a sticker.

Go to sleep at night without us having to come in and administer discipline for all the talking, playing around, giggling, laughing, and getting out of bed, and you get a sticker in the morning.

Go to the "Gym Time" class (for toddlers) at church, without crying and making a big fuss, and you can get a sticker.

We don't see it as bribery. We see it more as a reward for good behavior. We don't believe in "I'll give you a reward if you stop doing this.". We expect our children to obey the first time we say something. We don't beg and plead with them to behave. If they don't, there are consequences. If they do, there is a reward. Rewarding good behavior can be a great motivator.

Mama Bear

Friday, July 8, 2011

Please vote for our daughter's photo at Winkflash.com

Please go over to Winkflash.com and vote for our Baby Bear. If she gets the most votes, we win a $100 gift certificate from Winkflash. You must register with Winkflash to vote, but when you do, you can get 50 FREE 4x6 digital photo prints!

This contest ends on July 11th, so please hurry over and vote.


Your vote would be HUGELY appreciated! The top entry has nearly 100 votes right now. WE have a LOT of catching up to do!

Many thanks,

Mama Bear

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Capture -- Patriotism

Our family LOVES the 4th of July. If you know me or Papa Bear, you know that our wedding colors were red, white, and blue, and that we would have gotten married on July 4th if it had worked out for us. So, of course, I'm going to dress the kids in their patriotic best for church. Princess Diva Toddler Bear is wearing the pillowcase dress that I made her. The patriotism bug has been passed on to our teenager. He couldn't WAIT to hang the flag!

Want to see more patriotic photos?
Check out the You Capture: Patriotism post.


Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

There's a New Grocery Store in Town

Sprouts Farmer's Market

This is our newest grocery store. It's technically in the next city over from us, but since they all run together, it's practically in our town. They had their grand opening this past weekend, and I just visited today, for the first time. I went specifically for 4 things: Cantaloupe, white peaches, nectarines, and plums.

I came home with more than those 4 things. Here is what I bought:

1.19 pounds of Black Plums at $0.39/lb.

2.53 pounds of broccoli crowns at $0.99/lb.

3 cantaloupe at $0.99 each

2 cucumbers at $0.49 each

1 bunch of green onions at $0.49

2.05 pounds of nectarines at $0.39/lb.

1 bunch of parsley for $0.49

2.19 pounds of white peaches @$0.39/lb.

2 one pound bags of organic tortilla chips

My total for this transaction: $13.54! I could hardly believe it! A lot of their other items are a bit on the pricey side...like $3.49 for 8 flour tortillas. Won't be buying tortillas there any time soon! But, for us, it's completely worth it to go there for JUST the produce! I believe it's much cheaper than ALL of the other grocery stores in town, including Trader Joe's!

Another great thing about this store, is that I got a receipt that measured about 5" long, with half of the transaction printed on the back, instead of a 10" receipt with nothing on the back, or with ads or coupons I'll never use, on the back. Way to go on helping cut down on waste!

You should check to see if there is a Sprouts Farmer's Market near you. Right now, they are in California, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Lot of Fun for Only $20

My three kids in the $20 Walmart Inflatable pool.

Friends and family on the 4th of July.

Who knew that $20 inflatable pool from Walmart could be so fun? It's big enough for my teenager, my preschooler, and my toddler to all get in, AND have fun! Papa Bear and I even took turns getting in this past Sunday, because it was 98 degrees outside!

Mama Bear

A Little Frank Sinatra...

I've been listening to my "Sinatra" station on Pandora,
so I thought I'd create an Etsy Treasury to reflect the man himself.

Please feel free to click on the above image to check out each item or to comment on the treasury.


Mama Bear

I Really, REALLY Like Amazon Prime!

Our family has been using Amazon Prime for probably 3 or 4 years now, and we LOVE it! You pay one fee for the year, and you get FREE 2-day shipping for just about anything you find on Amazon. And believe me when I say, we do a LOT of shopping on Amazon!

If we are at a store and we find something we like, we'll usually say "Well, let's see how much it is on Amazon.", and typically, it will be cheaper on Amazon, plus there's hardly EVER sales tax on it. For those of us who live in a high state tax state (California!), this is a good thing.

We even purchase grocery items, personal care items, and medicine on Amazon. We get my Prilosec on Amazon, along with razor blade refills for my husband, because if you use the subscription method, they're MUCH cheaper than at any store that we go to. We purchase Nature's Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola from Amazon in a case of 6, because it's much cheaper than at the grocery store.

Recently, I was at Target, looking for a certain shampoo that I use. I can't substitute any other shampoo, because of the sensitivity of my skin. But it was EXPENSIVE! I called home and asked hubby to look on Amazon (no, we don't have smart phones yet) to see what the price was. You could get a 2-pack of this shampoo (which will last me probably 6 months or longer!) for $2 less PER BOTTLE, than at Target. So we ordered it.

Books? Yep! When we shop for books, we usually look for USED books, because in most cases they are in really good condition and MUCH cheaper than new books. We have been able to find books for under a dollar, with a few dollars shipping, saving us loads of $$$! Movies too. We'll look for DVDs that are used, but in great condition, and so far, we have not been disappointed.

We have purchased cameras, a Wavemaster punching bag, ice cream makers, electric blankets, vitamins, ink for our printer, USB cables, a video baby monitor (a gift for a friend), cooking utensils, a set of pots and pans, a wine bottle opener, Swiffer dusters, Case Logic cases for electronic devices and for DVDs, 3 ukuleles, batteries, backpacks, bluetooths, our ESV Bibles, ear plugs, a basketball rim, etc. You name it, we've bought it on Amazon!

We also will buy things for our families. Whether it's a gift or something that they are looking for, we will order it for them, and Amazon will ship it directly to them. My parents don't own a computer, so this comes in really handy for them. They're amazed at some of the things you can find on Amazon! My in-laws will be looking for a specific item, and we'll usually say "Let's see if we can find it on Amazon." and usually we can.

No, I'm not receiving any kind of compensation for this post. We just really, REALLY like our Amazon Prime! I'm not sure if our UPS guys like it so much, but we sure do!

You should check it out, if you haven't already. You'll be amazed at what you can find!

Mama Bear

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I've Reached 800 Sales in My Etsy Shop!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to reach 800 sales in my Bear River Photo Greetings Etsy shop!!!!

As a "thank you" of sorts, I am offering 20% off on any invite or announcement design in the shop, good through July 9th.

Please use this discount code when checking out: 800SALES
(This discount code may NOT be used on party favor tags.)

Have a blessed day!


Friday, July 1, 2011

A Good Book: Predator by Terri Blackstock

"Predator" by Terri Blackstock

Amazon's Product Description: "Bestselling author Terri Blackstock presents another stand-alone novel, Predator. The murder of Krista Carmichael's fourteen-year-old sister by an online predator has shaken her faith and made her question God's justice and protection. Desperate to find the killer, she creates an online persona to bait the predator. But when the stalker turns his sights on her, will Krista be able to control the outcome? Ryan Adkins started the social network GrapeVyne in his college dorm and has grown it into a billion-dollar corporation. But he never expected it to become a stalking ground for online Predators. One of them lives in his town and has killed two girls and attacked a third. When Ryan meets Krista, the murders become more than a news story to him, and everything is on the line. Joining forces, he and Krista set out to stop the killer. But when hunters pursue a hunter, the tables can easily turn. Only God can protect them now. "

I like a good crime drama. Some of them out there (like Criminal Minds) are a bit too dark for me, but there are quite a few that Papa Bear and I like to watch together (like Law & Order: Criminal Intent and CSI: NY). So, it is no surprise that I like reading mysteries. When I was young, I read The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and even Encyclopedia Brown. I prefer to stick to Christian mystery writers now, because they don't tend to get too "dark", and there is usually a redeeming element to the story.

This story did give me some adrenaline rushes, for sure! If you're on Facebook, you will likely want to go and take down every picture, every status update, and possibly even delete your account after reading this book. I wanted to...for a minute. (Facebook is really the only way I keep in touch with a lot of people, because I'm not good about writing or calling.)

I hope that you'll give it a try.

If you like this book, try these other titles, also by Terri Blackstock:

Last Light (Restoration Series #1)
Night Light (Restoration Series #2)
True Light (Restoration Series #3)
Dawn's Light (Restoration Series #4)
Double Minds

Happy reading!

Mama Bear