Monday, April 30, 2012

Newborn Session Giveaway!

Do you live here in Colorado? Are you or someone you know expecting? Would you like to win a free newborn session from a great photographer? My super talented (in EVERY way) Sister-In-Law is having a newborn session giveaway on her blog, Kathy Jacobs Photography! If you are interested, head on over and check out the details! Here are a few of my favorites:


Sunday, April 29, 2012

NatSprat's Homemade Maple Syrup

It's Sunday, so I have pancakes on the brain. Every Sunday after church, we have some sort of a lunch usually requiring maple syrup. Waffles...french toast...pancakes...things like that. So we go through A LOT of syrup! Personally, I'm not a big fan of the imitation syrups like Mrs. Buttersworth or Aunt Jemimah. It's mostly high fructose corn syrup and the texture is SUPER sticky and borderline slimy. I like the REAL stuff. The stuff that is so dang expensive that you cringe as your kids drown their pancakes in it. Know what I'm saying? 

A few years ago I found an alternative to the expensive maple syrup (though you wouldn't be able to taste the difference!). It's SOOOOO much cheaper (around .50 cents per filled syrup bottle!!!) and it's way better than pouring flavored high fructose corn syrup all over your french toast. Want to know my secret?

It's this WONDERFUL thing called Mapeline Imitation Maple Flavor. You can find it at most grocery stores or Walmart. It's about $4 and will make 24 pints of maple syrup!

Want to make your own syrup? It's SO easy!


Bring 1 cup of water to a boil
add 1 cup brown sugar
  1 cup regular sugar
1/2 tsp. Mapeline

Stir it until the sugar is dissolved.
That's it!

This stuff is a staple at our house! It tastes SO good and is a great way to save some grocery money... and not have to cringe when your kids pour their own syrup. ;)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nat's Top Ten Pins of the Week

Happy Saturday! It sure was a long week. We had the flu bug hit our house and man, it hit HARD. I am still catching up on washing all of the laundry that were victims of vomit. *gag*

Now, on to something MUCH better, here's Nat's Top Ten Pins of the Week!

1. Craft Of The Week

This is super cute and it looks SUPER easy. Why didn't I think of this!?! It's a cheater quilt. You just sew squares on a down comforter and call it good! 

2. Cute Outfit Of The Week
Oooh, grey and green. A color combo I don't think I've ever seen put together, but I love it! 

3. Tip Of The Week

Did you know that you can break open glow sticks and dump them into a bottle of bubbles for glow in the dark bubbles!?! AAAAAH! Dollar Tree, here I come!!!

4. Kid Friendly Craft Of The Week

Turn water noodles into fun backyard pool toys! I know they sell these at Dollar Tree, too. Hmmmmm. :)

5. Good Laugh Of The Week 
 Speaking of laundry...this is so true. And sad. And freaking hilarious. I know exactly how she feels. 

6. Inspirational Quote Of The Week poor parents. Hahah! Or is it poor me??? I know I'll come back to this when my kids are teenagers. I know I will totally be a stalker mom. A spy plane to escort them on dates? Heck yes.

7. Drool Of The Week

Okay. We made these this week...they are UH-MA-ZING!!! They went FAST. This is definitely a new family favorite! (dip them in nacho won't regret it.)

8. Beauty Tip Of The Week

Have you always wanted those gorgeous beach waves but don't know how? Apparently this is the trick! Can't wait to try this one either.

9. Home Inspiration Of The Week 
DUDE.  Use an upcycled dresser as a media center!?! Genius!!!

10. DIY Of The Week

How about a list of cleaners you can make yourself at home? Yes please!

And there you have it! Man...I love Pinterest. :)  Want to follow along with me on Pinterest? Click on the link!

Are YOU on Pinterest? I'd love to follow you, too!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Head On Over To {Prepping With NatSprat}

For those of you who are interested, I just did a post over at

Today's subject? Food Storage: Step 1

Learn the secret to the VERY FIRST STEP to obtaining food storage for you and your family! It's easier than you think!

If it's not your cup of tea, don't worry! Stat tuned tomorrow for Nat's Top Ten Pins of the Week! :)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

My New Blog {Prepping With NatSprat} *so excited!*

Guess who started a new blog? That's right, me. After my apology post I was so surprised to see how many of you out there were really interested in emergency preparedness. Thank you for your support and kindness! I really do have the best blog friends on earth!!!

So, to say thank you, I have started up an entirely new blog. It's "Prepping With NatSprat", and it is FULLY dedicated to all things prepp-ish. :) Isn't it cute!?! Who knew prepping could be cute!?!

I'll be doing posts on things like self reliance, DIY, organization, frugal living, food storage, cooking with food storage, recipes, and even some outdoor survival tips. We'll talk about resourceful websites to know about. I'll try out Pins from Pinterest on things about prepping and we'll see how they really work. (Baking bread in your grill!?! Can't wait to try that one...) Just...good old every day useful things to know! I'm keeping it fun, so get ready for lots of laughs as we journey to being prepared! I'm really excited about this blog! And this way, if you aren't interested in things like emergency preparedness, you don't have to see it mixed up with my craft blog.

If you would like to contribute and do a post on something please let me know, too! I would LOVE to see what everyone else is up to as well! I think this will be a great place to learn and share. 

So, if you are interested, be sure to head on over and become a follower! I'll be starting a giveaway at the end of the week with all of my new followers to celebrate the launch of "Prepping With NatSprat"! 

Hope to see you there!


{Pin}spired Copycat: Week 8

This week's {Pin}spiration was quick and easy. I needed that...we've got the flu going around the Brimhall house this week. Anyway, I saw THIS pin of this super cute printable and knew it would go perfectly in my master bathroom that I just made over! I found a frame at the thrift store, spray painted it Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze. The printable is an 11 x 14, so I re-sized it to 8x10 to fit the frame. I think it's the perfect addition. :)

You can find this ADORABLE printable in yellow as well as teal, red and gray from!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


First off, let me say that I am SOOOO sorry for anyone that I offended with my "Prepping Up With NatSprat" post on the 72 hour kit. I had no idea that it would offend people, or make them want to stop reading my blog. I've never received a negative comment before, so it's hitting me pretty hard.  I do put my heart and soul into my blog. I spent 12 hours putting together that post...I was so excited about it. I don't want to sound like a crazy extremist/alarmist, I'm not preparing for a zombie apocalypse...I just never want to be put into a situation where I can not provide for or take care of my children. Being prepared is something that is very important to me. You see, we lived in Houston when hurricane Ike hit. It was one of the scariest experiences I have ever been through. Even just a few days before, the isles of the grocery stores were out of food, water and other necessities. Just...EMPTY. People were frantically trying to get food and supplies for their family before the storm hit. We had food storage, a generator with extra fuel, water, flashlights, batteries...all that kind of stuff so we didn't need to stress about that. However, when the hurricane hit it was nerve wrecking staying up all night listening to the winds howl, the lighting crash, the wind throwing things against the windows. I couldn't watch the news to get was just dark and scary. After the storm passed, there were thousands and thousands of people without power, food or water. Our power came on just a day later, so we were some of the lucky ones.  But it was sad to watch the news and see the HUGE lines of exhausted people waiting for food and water. They stood in line for hours with crying babies on their hips and anxious little kids in the muggy heat. All for the basic necessities. Because we were prepared, we didn't have to do that. We were even able to lend out the generator to others who still didn't have power a week later. To make a long story short, I learned the value of being prepared. However, I now realize that it isn't important to some others and I don't want you to feel like I'm cramming it down your throat. So, for now, I'll stop my "Prepping With NatSprat" posts. Maybe I'll start up a completely different blog for that. I don't know. Either way, I am just sooo sorry. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Prepping Up With NatSprat

This week I've been working on finishing up our 72 hour kits. I call it my bug out bag. Basically, it's a 72 hour kit, which if necessary, can be thrown on and carried if there is some sort of emergency. We live in Colorado, so I have packed this bag according to things I might need in Colorado. If you live in, say, Florida or Hawaii you might pack differently. Also, if you have babies, you'll need to pack accordingly for that: diapers, baby food, etc. However, I think most things I have will apply to pretty much anywhere. So, what do I have in my Bug Out Bag? Let's take a peek, shall we?

First, let's go over some of the basic tools that I have in my bag.


1. Binoculars so you can see over the river and through the woods, of course...

2. Gerber Multi-tool. Basically...a pocket knife which also folds into pliers and has other "accessories" such as screw drivers, mini saw, various other blades, etc. I made sure it was a good brand, because if my life depended on this knife, I sure as heck wouldn't want it to break on me.

3. A knife sharpener...don't want a dull blade!

4. A compass with magnifying glass (also included with this but not pictured is a Colorado map, so include one from wherever you live!) Um...and know how to read a map. ;)

5. Extra Batteries (for the walkie talkie and flash light)

6. LED Flashlight: I recommend LED flashlights because the bulbs last about 100,000 hours, whereas an incandescent bulb will burn out around 40 hours. LED flashlights are also more rugged and drain batteries 3 to 5 times slower than regular incandescent flashlights. They cost more, but it's worth it. I know I sure as heck don't want my flashlight going out in the middle of the night while trying to find camp. We all know that this is when Bigfoot attacks. *shudder*

7. Walkie talkie. My husband has the other one in his bag, so we will be able to communicate with each other in case we get separated. Make sure you have your stations set right and you know how to use them."Marco!"....."Polo!".....

8. Waterproof/windproof matches

9. Flint firestarter...just in case the matches don't work or I run out.

More camp basics:

1. Roll of toilet paper and Germ-ex wipes: Because...well...when you gotta go, you gotta go.

2. Camp cookware and utensils

3. Folding camp stove

4. Portable cooking fuel (Sterno). So, basically, you unfold the stove, light the fuel, put it in the stove, and cook on top of it. And you don't have to worry about building a fire or anything.

*Here's a link to a folding camp stove with cooking fuel on Amazon.

See? Easy Peasy.

5. Work gloves.

6. Gerber camp axe: because the mini saw in my multi-tool just isn't going to cut it. Literally.

7. Tarp: can be made into a shelter (I'm still searching for a good tube tent that isn't the same thickness of Saran Wrap!!!)

8. Rope: a necessity!

9. Winter hat because as much as 45% of your body heat is lost through your head!

Personal Care Items

1. Mascara. Because even if I'm in the woods, I at least have to have mascara on to feel like a human being.

2. Travel size shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

3. Travel size soap. Because I don't want to stink.

4. Kleenex

5. Body powder: also helps if you are chafing!

6. Diaper wipes: These are for if you need to freshen up and no water is available.

7. Feminine products. Because Mother Nature doesn't care where the heck you are.

8. Chapstick because I would die without it.

9. Bug Spray

10. Sunscreen

11. Travel size deodorant

12. Travel toothbrush and toothpaste.

13. Mini sewing kit. You know one of your kids is going to get their shirt ripped on a tree. It is inevitable.

14. Folding hairbrush/mirror and hair ties.

Keeping Warm and Dry

1. Emergency blankets...I got the more durable kind. Hopefully they will hold up to wiggly little kids better!

2. Hooded poncho: never know when it may rain.

3. Marker, paper and tape: leave notes to help people find you, etc. And duct tape is just flipping awesome and you should ALWAYS have some with you. ;)

4. Trash bags: these are all kinds of useful. Use them as back up ponchos, use them to keep your stuff dry, use them as extra liner to sleep on. You can even use them to collect rain water or make a solar still.

*What's a solar still? It's a great way to collect water in emergencies. Click HERE to learn more!

Drinking Water
*Just because most people can live from 3-5 days without water doesn't mean we should!

1. Actual ready to drink water bottles. Can you believe it!?! Now, remember that a gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds. While water is very important in a survival situation, so is being able to actually stand up and walk.

2. Flavored drink packets just in case I have to use the water purification tablets and the water tastes funky.

3. Water bottle with built in water filter. This water bottle filters out 99.9 % of Giardia Lamblia and Cryptosporidium cysts. VERY IMPORTANT!!! Never drink out of rivers, lakes or streams. Unless you want to be vomiting out of one end and more unpleasant things coming out of the other end.

*want one? Here's a link to them!

4. Water purification tablets: another good thing to always have with you, just in case.


Food seemed to be the most stressful part of packing my Bug Out Bag. Especially because I have 3 little kids. I wanted foods that were portable, had a long shelf life, and actually EDIBLE. I found that there were actually a lot of options for food. Here are a few!

Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

One bag of these runs around $6 and has 2 servings. They last a looong time. If water isn't an issue, these are great. They are super light weight and don't take up a whole lot of space. But if you aren't planning on having much water with you, I'd look at the other options. You have to add 2 cups of boiling water to these pouches. I think these sound pretty yummy!

Another very popular option is MRE's, or Meals Ready to Eat. These have a shelf life of about 5-7 years. (or longer, depending on the temperature they are stored at). I have a Brother-In-Law who was a Marine, and he said that these are actually pretty good. These run about $2.50 each, and each meal is 1 serving. You don't have to add water, just heat up the pouch, open it up and chow down. There are lots of different meals to chose from, as well as snacks, side dishes, and desserts! I got mine from
(I seriously love that place.)

Another option is just finding things at your local grocery store! This is an example of breakfast: Instant oatmeal, cereal bars, and hot chocolate. I got all of these things from Walmart! Keep an eye on the expiration dates, though.

These are more grocery store foods. (One of my lunches, to be exact!)
Tuna salad with crackers, granola bar, applesauce, fruit snack, and a crystal light energy water pack.

These Compleats are good, too! The shelf life is about a year, and they have lots of really yummy flavors! I'm planning on just dumping mine into my cookware and heating it up. I can only imagine how wonderful this would taste after a long day of surviving in the woods. :)

This is one of Kate's lunches. Mac & Cheese, applesauce and fruit snacks. Things I know she'll actually eat! And again, no water needed, and the Chef Boyardee things have a pretty good shelf life.

Medical Supplies

1. General First Aid Kit:
* Band-aids of various sizes
* antibiotic ointment
* thermometer
* triangular bandage
* eye rinse
*antiseptic wipes
*Calamine lotion (anti itch cream)
* medical tape
* Sterile gauze bandages various sizes
*Sterile gauze wrap
* acetaminophen and ibuprofen
*antacid tabs
* non-latex gloves (2 pairs)
* burn cream

2. Snake bite kit (sure hope we don't have to use it...)

3. Blister Care Band-aids

4. Masks

5. Various commonly used OTC medicines at our house: children's Tylenol, Mucinex packets, my Zoloft (yes...I need my happy pills!) and Whitney's inhaler. would be such a bad thing if we didn't have it with us!

6. ACE elastic bandage

7. First Aid Guide: In case I freak out and can't remember how to put on a Band-aid.

A few other things to put in your bag (I didn't take pictures of these...sorry!)

*an extra change of clothing
*important documents
*a portable handheld radio (the kind you can wind up by hand)
*folding camp shovel
* fun things for the kids: coloring books, card games, etc.
*scriptures and journal

Annnnnd, that just about covers it! Can you believe that all of those things are crammed into that backpack? ROCK ON. If I forget anything or add things I'll update as I go. Also, my kids each have their own Bug Out Bags, and they just carry the very basics. Otherwise, they would fall over and cry and we would never get anywhere. The end.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment and let me know! Hopefully you found this helpful. You don't have to get everything all at once, just little by little! I made a goal to get at least ONE thing for my pack every time I went to the store. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps. Baby steps to steps to the back pack steps to the camping section....hahah. :)

Oh! And be sure to check out my NEW blog Prepping With NatSprat! It's all about emergency preparedness, but I keep it fun. :)

Linked up to:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Remembering Stephen Chao Peterson

Wow, what an incredible week! It has been full of tears, laughter and tremendous love. I know that so many of you have been following along, and I know how much he touched your lives and meant to you! So, come with me in Remembering Stephen Chao Peterson. :)

We left before the sun was up on Thursday morning to make it to little Stephen's viewing in Albuquerque which is 4 hours away. I had been trying so hard to prepare myself for it, knowing it would be difficult. It was a beautiful experience. I walked up to the tiny little white casket. He looked so peaceful. He had his special blanket with him, his favorite Nemo toy, and traditional Chinese note cards that family and friends wrote their final goodbyes and well wishes to him in. He was dressed in white. It was beautiful. He looked just like he was sleeping peacefully, free from his pain. It was so good to see him one last time. Tears and all. :)

Then we went to the church for his Celebration of Life. They had a room set up with Stephen's favorite things. You may recognize some of the things here. You can click on any of the images to get a better look at them.

His favorite masks (the one in the middle is the one he wore for his last Halloween at St. Jude) and of course, Darth Maul. :)

His favorite clothes (see the Sponge Bob pajamas from when I visited him? *sniff sniff*)

His special blanket (the same one from the viewing) The little note card on it says that it was originally given to Sabin when she was little, but Stephen took a liking to it and she gave it to him.

Some of his artwork from school, the blanket with his sweet school picture on it...

His adoption book, pictures, and some of the Chinese gifts they were going to give him as he grew up.
One of the traditional Chinese note cards (like the one from his viewing) and his sword. He really was a warrior, wasn't he. :)

His beloved bike.

And a cast of his precious little hands and his "lucky fin". *grabbing more Kleenex...*

The memorial service was BEAUTIFUL. It was full clear to the back! There were many of his classmates there, they were easy to spot. They were the little ones with the tears in their eyes, burying their faces in their Mom and Dad's laps. It broke my heart. He was so loved.

They also showed a video that Brent had made.

To see the video, click {HERE.} 

   It has moments from the very first time they held him at the orphanage in China, through the devastating discovery of his cancer, until the very end. It was so beautiful. We laughed and cried (there are some majorly hilarious parts in there!) Then, Stephen sang "I Am A Child of God". How sweet to hear him sing those words in his cute little voice:

"I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here.
Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way,
teach me all that I must do,
to live with Him some day."

Which is exactly where he is. Right now.
Then laying in his bed, looking very frail and weak, Stephen says, "Thank you, and I love you."

There was not a dry eye in that room.

Both of his parents spoke at the memorial and his big sister read a journal entry. Their talks were seriously have to read them. Same with the Eulogy. They were put on his Caring Bridge Journal HERE. I don't know how they got through those talks...such faith, such strength, such humility. The spirit was so strong in that room, you could cut through it with a butter knife. I will never forget it.

Saturday Morning

Saturday was Stephen's Run. OH.MY.GOSH. Words can't even describe how incredible that was. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot I was in tears. There were SO.MANY.CARS!!!

There were hundreds and hundreds of people there, all to support Stephen's family.  

Including these guys. Oh my gosh, I completely lost it. Remember when they went to visit him in the hospital after his first brain surgery?

This is the tail END of the start of the race...but you can still see how many people there were! The other hundreds of people stretch all down the street.

Guide posts to direct the runners...

T shirts for the participants...

The AMAZING 17 year old neighbor, Makaila, who got this all started! (17 years old!!! That girl is going to go places in life.)

Albuquerque's 93.3 KOB FM, the ones who helped organize this race and changed the station's name to STEPHEN FM for a whole day in Stephen's honor! They started the race with his favorite song, Sponge Bob's "The Best Day Ever". I will never be able to hear that song without tearing up again. :)

I hand painted this T Shirt the night before and wore it at the race. I think it turned out pretty well! *sniff sniff*

 I made friends with a Storm Trooper. But...maybe the feelings weren't mutual? (Oh my gosh, I am SUCH a geek.) I was in heaven. 

From where I was standing, I could HEAR Darth Vader breathing!!! Coolest Darth Vader suit EVER. It was seriously cracking me up seeing all of these Storm Troopers and Darth Vader wandering around the park and down the street. A lot of cars honked and other runners on a joy run who were on the same track ran through like, "what the heck is this!?!" Some of them freaked out and ran to the other side of the street! Hahah! Oh, Stephen would have LOVED this.

Stephen's Dad, Brent (on the left), and the Star Wars crew at the finish line cheering everyone on! It was a glorious sight. :) That's my mom, who walked the entire 5K with Kate on her shoulders! GO MOM!!!!

It was such an emotional high, I could not stop crying! I was so unbelievably happy. I could just see little Stephen, running around and playing, cheering people on, and dancing to his favorite songs. I am sure he was there and enjoying the party. :)

After the race, we all went to shower and change and drive to the burial. It was a sweet little gathering of their closest family and friends.

In China, the ladybug is a symbol of good luck. They let everyone release a ladybug in his memory and honor. The girl in the yellow is his big sister.

Red was his favorite color. 

The family had made a promise to Stephen before he died. He had always wanted to go back to China to see where he came from. They had planned to take him back, but when the cancer struck, they knew that he would not have enough time to go back. They thought and prayed about this for a long time, and felt strongly that it was right. For this reason, they chose to have him cremated. They will keep their promise to Stephen by taking part of him to China, where his ashes will be spread near his home town. 

This is from the Caring Bridge Journal:

"Stephen has been betrayed by the cancer that has invaded his healthy body and finally conquered it.   Although we know that his spirit lives on, we can not stand the thought of him laying underground with that same cancer having consumed his body and continuing to exist with it.  Cremation gives us some peace that this ugly cancer has finally been purged and that not only his spirit, but his body will be set free as well."

Take that, cancer! *sniff sniff* It's perfect.

After they put Stephen's remains in a special box to be buried in, his brothers and sister and all of the cousins had an opportunity to write him a little message on the box. It was so touching.

And with that, they put Stephen into the ground to rest until the day when we will see him again in perfect form. Inside the note I wrote and put into his casket it read, "Dear Stephen. I love you with all my heart and am so blessed to be a part of your eternal family. I can't wait until we meet again, it will be THE BEST DAY EVER!" 

And it will.

Love you, little Stephen!