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Be Curious, Be Brave

My personal theme for the year is to Be Curious & Be Brave.  I’m not big on setting new years resolutions and goals.  They don’t inspire me – AT ALL.  What does inspire me is the idea of challenging myself to be more authentic, passionate, generous, forgiving, thoughtful, open, and courageous every day.


When we were in Beaver Creek Colorado, I saw this statue and was immediately captivated by it.  I just stood there staring at it for the longest time.  I love how the child doesn’t shrink back in fear while the bear comes close.  Both curious, both brave.  Obviously this doesn’t translate in the literal sense, but I can think of a handful of “bears” in my life that I have shied away from simply due to some form of fear.

Sometimes the first step in overcoming fear is to stop making excuses for it and see it for the ugly, suffocating parasite that it is.  If we live in fear long enough it becomes so normative that we don’t even question it anymore.  If everyone else we know lives that same way than it’s not even seen as a problem – it’s just REALITY.

I’m not cool with that kind of reality.

My dream is that my kids would be WILD and FREE.  WISE and BOLD.  GENTLE and STRONG.  Precious little ones that refuse to measure their journey against anyone else’s or become paralyzed by the fear of failure or what others will think of them.

If I want my kids to be all of those things that means I have to be moving in that direction myself first.

This year I want to cultivate a Courageous Curiosity to dig deeper and see the beauty and potential that lies beneath the surface.  I want to see past the obvious and peer into the veiled space not immediately apparent without careful examination.  A treasure hunter!

It takes very little effort to see what is messed up in everyone and everything, but bravery to:

  • See the beauty in the ordinary
  • Recognize strength in weakness
  • Embrace those that are nothing like us
  • Pursue dreams without guarntees
  • Live for the audience of One

I love the words to Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave.”

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

So I’m checking my fear and preconceived ideas at the door and stepping into this year with open hands and an open heart.  Here’s to being Curious and Brave in 2014!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Strong Luv Uncategorized

Homemade Christmas Gifts

I wanted to share with you some quick and easy Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas just in case you are anything like me and have really good intentions and poor overall follow through when it comes to giving neighbors, teachers, friends or family meaningful gifts.

handmade gift ideas christmas

I am a horrendous baker so I can’t just whip up a few dozen cookies, wrap them up pretty and give them away.   It is a serious detriment. It usually plays out something like this:

  1. Emily gets a couple of good ideas on homemade Christmas gifts to make.  Things that will really knock the receivers socks off.  She gets really excited about finally making it happen this year.
  2. The ideas Emily comes up with are somewhat complex, time consuming to make, or outside of her abilities (i.e.. baking or embroidery).
  3. Emily musters up the courage to face her homemade christmas gift past failures and is determined to overcome.
  4. Just days before Christmas, Emily finds a little time after the kids go to bed to throw something together.
  5. It doesn’t turn out well,  never gets completed, or in the saga of baked goods – they come out flat and/or taste atrocious.

It is the same story almost every year.  It’s sad.  I lump that failure into my unsent christmas cards – good intentions that were never realized – and call it a year.

But I got smart this year.  I decided to go the no bake route and create some simple & edible homemade Christmas gifts for our neighbors and friends.  And they turned out SO GOOD.  Next time I will spend a little more time on beautiful packaging as it was somewhat of an afterthought.

But seriously, I made Christmas treats and they were good enough to give out this time!

At this point you should really be rejoicing for me.  If you are not cut from the same cloth as me, you are probably saying to yourself  “I don’t get it.  You just follow the recipe and it’s fine.”  I assure you this is not the case.  Cookies especially seem to have it out for me.  I have fought against it my whole adult life.  I’m leaving my baked good dreams behind.

It’s liberating!

I made three different things:

  • Peppermint Bark Popcorn in a Mason Jar
  • Peppermint & Marshmallow Hot Cocoa Mix in a Mini Mason Jar
  • Peppermint Chocolate Marshmallow Pops

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

homemade christmas gifts
peppermint bark popcornIngredients:

  • 16 C popped popcorn* (fresh, or about 2 bags non-buttered microwave popcorn)
  • 3 bars of white bakers chocolate
  • 1 6 ounce box candy canes – crushed with a rolling pin
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (optional)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips


Air pop the popcorn.  Lay popped corn out on large sheet pans lined with parchment paper.  Melt the white chocolate and stir in peppermint oil(optional).  Drizzle it evenly onto the popcorn.  Toss it around a bit to get a nice coating.  Top with crushed candy canes and drizzle with melted chocolate. *This will make 4 quart size Mason Jars worth.

homemade christmas gifts

Peppermint & Marshmallow Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe:

homemade christmas giftshomemade christmas giftsThis recipe is what you will need for 1 Mini Mason Jar.

  • 8 Tablespoons of Starbucks Hot Cocoa Mix or your own favorite Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 2 Tablespoons of Crushed Candy Cane – for our family and friends that are sensitive to food coloring I used dye free candy canes
  • Top off with Mini Marshmallows – I used these natural ones

* Make sure to include a tag with directions to mix the entire jar with 4 cups of  hot milk

Peppermint Chocolate Marshmallow Pops

homemade christmas gift ideas

Directions: Melt chocolate.  Insert lollipop sticks in marshmallows and dip them in the melted chocolate three quarters of the way up.  Dip the chocolatey marshmallows in a bowl of crushed candy canes.  Line them up on parchment paper and let them dry. homemade christmas gifts homemade christmas gifts homemade christmas gifts
homemade christmas gifts

It melts me every time a friend or neighbor blesses us with something they’ve made.   I hope this gives you some great ideas for a few EASY homemade Christmas gifts you can make for your neighbors or friends in a snap. IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Now, even us non-bakers can get in on the goodie giving action with our head held high!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Strong Luv Uncategorized

Family Tradition – Words of LIFE Handmade Christmas Ornaments

We are starting a new family tradition this Christmas, and I just love it.  This is a brilliant one for me because unlike other Martha Stewart Super Moms, I have 3 unfinished baby books and countless scrapbooks which have yet to be cracked open.   So any family tradition that can play double duty is a keeper!

family tradition

This art project family tradition is a perfect one for anyone with minimal craft skills too!  Even the kids can do it.  All you need to make them is:

Plastic or Glass Ornaments. (Found at Michael’s Craft Store or on Amazon)
Wax Paper
Thin Ribbon or String
Paper of Choice for Tag
Mini Leaves or Confetti (optional)

That is it!

You don’t have to use wax paper but I really like the delicate look that was achieved from ironing two pieces of wax paper together.  They look delicate but they aren’t.  Make sure to iron them on the wool setting.  Go slow and pass over the two pieces until they are bonded together.

Cut narrow strips from the paper and write the unique attributes of each person on separate strips.  Since it’s 2013, David and I decided to each write 13 things for each one of the kids.  For our ornaments, I wrote 13 things about David and had each child tell me the most awesome thing about their daddy.  I wrote them down along with the child’s name beside the word that they thought best described their daddy.  He did the same for my ornament.

handmade christmas ornaments

family tradition holiday

handmade christmas ornaments family tradition

Before we rolled them up in scrolls for a Christmas Keepsake, we prayed over our kids and told them about what virtues and characteristics we saw in them.  It was a sweet time.  We got to explain what some of the words meant.  You could see them sit a little taller with each word of life spoken over their lives.

We spent a little time thinking about words that accurately described them this year.  I want to be able to pull these handmade christmas ornaments out someday, unroll the scrolls and remember who they really were at this moment.

handmade christmas ornaments

family tradition

I hope that gave you some inspiration to start your own family tradition this year.  They take a little effort but in the end it is so worth it!  What are your favorite Christmas family traditions?

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Our Travels Uncategorized

Eating Fried Frog Legs – Frog Legs Recipe Included!

I took the leap and tried fried frog legs for the first time recently and have to say, I showed ridiculously poor frog leg eating skill and etiquette.  I was so worked up with the idea of eating fried frog legs for the first time that it never occurred to me that they wouldn’t be boneless.


My brain totally went blank.  It took a while to compute that I had just bit into bone.  I actually thought – wow, this is really tough meat!

fried frog legs

fried frog legs

frog legs

frog leg recipes

I can’t say I’ll be lining up for fried frog legs again any time soon.  They were basically deep fat fried bones with very little meat on them.  It was fine.  But, i mean, I just ate fried frog legs!  Cool right?  The boys were pretty impressed.  Unfortunately, it was girls night out so my little guys didn’t get in on the action.

We will have to remedy that.

As a little girl we had a lot of foreign exchange students in and out of our house.  They introduced us to all kinds of “strange” ethnic foods.  I basically grew up on fish head soup and yogurt cake so I guess once you’ve gone down that path it’s not a big stretch to find yourself bellied up to a frog leg buffet.

Seems like a pretty natural conclusion to me.

Whether you are in a far away land or your own backyard, experiencing culture through food is so much fun! If you want to try fried frog legs for yourself, here is a recipe.  Go for it!  Chances are your kids will think you are hardcore!

So it was me vs. fried frog legs.  The frog legs came out on top.  But I’ve learned a few things, and next time around they won’t be so lucky.

What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever tried?
Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Our Travels Uncategorized

Living in Seattle – One Year Later

snoqualmie ridge

It’s amazing the difference a year makes.  This week marks one year since we moved back to Seattle.  We were originally going to settle down somewhere in or near Boulder, Colorado.  We wanted to be nestled up against the rocky mountains after having lived in the flats of the midwest for five years.  We dropped our stuff off at a storage unit in Denver before our road trip began and didn’t know when we would see our belongings again – and didn’t care!  We were SO excited to explore the open road.

Living like a free birds and traveling from place to place was the experience of a life time.  Longtime dreams were fulfilled, adventures were had.   It was AMAZING.  As time went on though, it became increasingly clear that our son’s health concerns were something that had to be addressed as the issues around his special needs became more and more difficult to manage.  Our business was not getting the attention it needed to thrive on the road and our support system in Colorado was not as solid as we thought.

We were devastated.  Our hearts were broken.

Our time on the road was clearly winding down and to start over again in a new place with few resources and support was a foolish thing to do moving forward.  We needed to find a home, set down roots, and regroup.  We needed help.

We came to Seattle weary and worn, battered and bruised.   In desparate need of family to surround us while everything was falling apart around us.  So:

  • Our family of five moved into my parents ONE BEDROOM basement apartment!
  • We lived out of our suitcases for the next 6 months while our stuff was packed away in Denver.
  • David closed our business, went back to Microsoft and got health insurance.
  • We went to doctor after doctor to try and find help for our son.
  • We put the boys in public school for the very first time.

As time passed things began to settle down.  We slowly transitioned from being on life support to breathing on our own once again.  Getting our footing little by little and coming out of what was the most difficult season of our lives yet.   I feel like I have aged about ten years in one!  The lines of my face show it and the tenderness of my heart bears witness.

I am grateful.  Grateful that our lives have purpose.  That each chapter of our story always ends with the beautiful pen stokes of an author who reminds us that he knows the end from the beginning.   That precious things are formed in darkness and that the movements of our heart towards trust, love and openness – when everything in us wants to shut down – count.

It’s hard to be vulnerable.  To tell others that you are weak and need them to come along side of you.

I’m thankful for:

  • Our family and friends who rose to the occasion and embraced us at our messiest.
  • Doctors that were insightful and dedicated to helping us.
  • Fresh air.
  • Breakthrough for our son!!!  I’ll have to write about Neurofeedback and how it has transformed our family!
  • A home next to the cascade mountains.  The picture above was taken from our guest room and every time I look out our windows I am reminded that God’s ways are better than mine.  Every time.
  • David – who has my heart.

We always said we didn’t want to permanently move back to Seattle because of the grey skies, rain and traffic.  I don’t know that we would have moved back had the pressure not been as intense.  Now, I can’t imagine anyplace I’d rather be.  We have fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest in a way that we never imagined possible.  This time we are armed with copious amounts of vitamin d, rain boots, and the carpool lane!

Isn’t it funny how sometimes the BEST thing for us is the very thing we would never do for ourselves?!  If you are in a difficult season, I hope this reminds you that there is hope and that your darkness is forming something rare and beautiful in your life.

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road



Free Kowalli Baby Gear Giveaway at My Rad Dad!

Kowalli Baby Gear Giveaway Contest

Our friends over at My Rad Dad have a contest where they are giving away some really cool Kowalli baby gear.

The Kowalli Baby Carrier Cover, KozyHats and SnuggleBoots are high-performance outerwear that work with active lifestyles.

Kowalli has agreed to give away a Kowalli Baby Carrier Cover. That means 2 people will win this raffle.  1 will in the Kowalli and 1 will win the KozyHat and SnuggleBoots.

[order_box_1 width=”60%” + border=”4px”]Click Here and Enter to Win Free Stuff From Kowalli![/order_box_1]

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Last Train to Awesometown

Home Sweet Road Theme Song!

Feast your ears on this! Last Train to Awesometown is the theme song for Home Sweet Road and our family adventures. We play it loud and dance around every time we hear it. It never gets old. Just a fun, silly song. Hope you enjoy it:)

Our Travels Travel With Kids Uncategorized

The Adventure Begins – Our First Stop

I love road trips

On Our Way to Bozeman, MT

We had originally arranged to drop our belongings off in Denver at the storage unit we rented and stay the night at our friends’ home to get a good night sleep after the grueling move.  You never know what’s going to happen when you travel with kids.

Those plans changed after Girlr threw up all over me.   Twice.

I was afraid she may have come down with the flu and didn’t want her getting our friends’ kids sick so we decided to forego sleep and hit the road.  Turns out it was food poisoning from McDonald’s.  No kidding!

Traveling with kids can be challenging but driving through the night works well for us since our kids can fall asleep and wake up many hours down the road.  It cuts down on the whining that is bound to happen on a long drive.

kids sleeping in the car

Neck Pillow Anyone?!!!

As mountain starved as we’ve been we reveled at the sight of Bozeman’s Bridger and Gallatin mountain ranges as we arrived in the early morning.  They aren’t particularly majestic but they are beautiful and we welcomed the sight of them.

There is beauty everywhere if you look for it.  Homesteads and farms scatter the landscape along I-90 east of town.   Pine trees and firs populate the ground while streams and ponds wait to refresh the animals nearby.   Secluded mountain top homes make me crave solace and quiet.  The kind of quiet we will have to wait a couple decades for most likely.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll keep the kids and settle for the occasional use of earplugs! 

Driveway Camping in the Trailer

In the past we have not been big into camping as a family.  Not that we haven’t wanted to, it just hasn’t EVER happened.  So when the opportunity to stay in The Man’s sisters’ camper presented itself we jumped at the opportunity.

We just couldn’t resist that sweet smile E gave us in petition.  The same one he flashes when he really wants something.  It wasn’t hard to say yes.  Let’s be honest, a huge temperature controlled trailer in the driveway is not exactly “roughing it” but it is a good way for our clan to ease into it nonetheless.

So yes, we camped in Montana and we liked it!

driveway camping

Not a bad start to our crazy adventure.  We don’t know where this road will take us, but we are excited for what’s ahead!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road


Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Alone

We have been blessed with some pretty awesome friends in our lives.  When The Man’s best friend Craig Stevens found out we were moving he insisted on flying out from Seattle to help us.  Little did any of us know at that time that we would be dropping our stuff off at a storage unit and packing up our van, Ol’ Faithful, for the adventure of a lifetime.  Of all of our friends, Craig epitomizes risk taking and living with a wild abandon.  We love that about him, what a perfect friend to help us kick things off!

Reviews Uncategorized

Review of Penske Truck Rental and 1-800-Pack-Rat

Penske, PODS or Pack-Rat?

We originally secured a storage container similar to the PODS from a company called 1-800-Pack-Rat.  We loved the idea of using them because it takes so much hassle out of moving.  Like the PODS, 1-800-Pack-Rat will drop off the container when and wherever you want them to and pick it up when you are ready.  This is ideal as it allows you to pack at your leisure.  Once you are ready for them to pick it up, either have them deliver it next door or across the country.

If you are planning an epic road trip between moves like we did (come on you know you want to) just have them store your container in one of their secure temperature controlled storage facilities.  They charge a monthly fee which is comparable to standard storage space and will hold it for as long as you’d like.  They even throw in 30 days free when you sign up with them.  The downside is that 1-800-Pack-Rat only allow for a 6000 lb weight limit for each large unit, which isn’t bad unless you are:

  • Collecting books with the express purpose of opening a library soon
  • Are a scrap metal collector who needs an intervention for hoarding
  • Us and our food storage!!!  Yep, as soon as I started packing up our disaster supplies I knew we were doomed!  Everyone I know that has used 1-800-Pack-Rat has been extremely happy with their service, maybe once we burn through all these rice and beans we’ll get a chance to see for ourselves!

penske truck rental

Why We Chose Penske over the Competition:

In the end Penske Truck Rental was a better fit for us.  After getting rid of a bunch of our stuff we still had a large amount to transfer to storage.  We would have needed at least 2  1-800-Pack-Rat storage containers to fit the same amount as one 26 foot Penske Truck Rental.

Save Money with Penske Using this Method:

If you are planning a move and looking into how to save money on these services you can save BIG by knowing a few tips:

  • Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate!  We were able to get 1-800-Pack-Rat down to $1400 for one large container by asking for their best price.  And then asking again!
  • One trick is to fill out the online form (this is what we did with Penske Truck Rental) and go through the entire ordering process but not actually pay.  This will ensure a call back from a Penske representative who will then give you an even better price than any online “special”.
  • Be sure to use your AAA discount to get the best deal possible.  Don’t forget your AAA card when you go to pick up your truck.
  • If you plan to drop off your Penske Truck Rental after hours be sure to use a location that allows for after hours drop-offs.

I sincerely hope this helps you as you decide the best way to transition from one place to another.  Moving can be so overwhelming!  All the best to you 🙂

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road