Thursday, April 28, 2011

There is no bug I love.

So, every year hereabout this time come the love bugs. I don't know why they were named that... because no one loves them. Especially me. (I know that they are called love bugs because they are stuck together and "love" each other. That is beside the point.)

But anyway... the way they have swarmed our house and yard is just ridiculous... and quite bizarre. Take a look at some of these pictures. And if you don't live in Florida, be glad that these creatures don't live near you. At least, they don't bite. They will just crawl on you to death.

This is the corner of our house. You're going to have to click on the picture to blow it up a little. See all those black dots? Yeah, each one of those is a love bug.

This is our back fence. (Pretend the gate didn't get blown down by recent wind storms and is still beautifully attached in its proper place) Go ahead, click on the picture. See those black spots again... yep. You guessed it. More bugs.

I could keep posting more pictures of our poor house covered by these flying, crawling creatures. Heaven forbid you accidentally leave your screen door cracked just the tiniest bit and wind up with 1,367 lovebugs flying around your back porch. Or you drive down the road and it sounds like its raining because so many bugs are splatting on your bumper and windshield. Or you see them in your house and its no big deal because its just going to happen.

How many more weeks until lovebug season is over? I am counting the days.

Well, I am sure you have a lot more pressing things to do than worry about my surmounting bug issues. But, if any of your kids would like to come play catch the lovebugs with Madi and her butterfly net, just let me know!

Much Love,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Planting Our Garden

Ok, so better late than never right?

We planted our spring garden about a week and a half ago and it is going strong. Madi had a great time actually getting to help this year. She was very diligent in helping me pull weeds and rake the soil. Then she helped me plant a few seeds before getting bored and doing this:

That was a great investment. :)

So, in our garden this year we have

Herbs (the parsley isn't looking too hot...)

Green Beans:

These are our butterfly flowers we planted last year... (of course right now, the love bugs are loving that milkweed plant... not sure what that's about):

Then we planted corn:


and Peas!

Madi is very excited about the garden. (Ok, so I might be a teensy bit excited myself!) We have two rows of corn and three rows of green beans that have already sprouted. I will get some pictures for you soon so you can see progress. Its pretty exciting.

Hope you are having a lovely wednesday! :)


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Do I need to say more? Really? They are delicious!

The cupcakes alone are fantastic, but when you top them with the vanilla bean buttercream frosting, they are exceptional. I was in the mood to bake something and I came across this recipe. And if you know me well, you know I just have a thing for real vanilla bean, so it was perfect! The only issue I had was getting the icing the consistency I desired, I had to add in probably another 1/2 C of powdered sugar. It still wasn't as thick as I prefer, but I didn't want to add any more. The cake part of the cupcake deserves its own special mention thought, it is awesome! It has a great flavor and will definitely be my go-to recipe when I make vanilla cupcakes. You must try them as soon as possible.

Let me know if you do!

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Chef Mommy:

(Makes 12 cupcakes)

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Set pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Prepare frosting.

Vanilla-Bean Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 vanilla bean , scraped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
3.5 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted), plus more if necessary

Cream the butter in a medium-size bowl until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla-bean seeds until they're evenly distributed. Add the salt, vanilla and milk, and stir until combined. Sift the sugar over the butter mixture and stir the mixture until it's perfectly smooth. If the frosting is too loose, add a few more tablespoons of confectioners' sugar, and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap until you're ready to use; mix well just before using.
Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Joy of Baking, inspired by Starbucks

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random Thoughts

I haven't really had anything to post lately, so I thought I would share some random thoughts from the last few days. :)

1) I am almost to my second trimester!! Whoo hoo!

2) Madi is has a new slip 'n slide. Im afraid to see our water bill this month.

3) My short-term memory is suffering right now... pregnancy brain is real right? If not, then there is a big problem going on in my synapses.

4) If you have been following my struggle with worry and trusting God, I am happy to inform you that there is a huge difference lately. My faith is stretching and growing right along with my belly. :)

5) I cannot keep up with laundry around this place. Who keeps putting dirty clothes in the basket after I wash them?? Come on people!

6) I am behind in planting my garden. Oops. But its not my fault that I haven't been able to do much lately... maybe now that most of my food stays in my belly, I'll be able to catch up on everything.

7) I told you this was random.

Have a lovely hump day!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

{the baby} 11 Weeks!

Only 199 days to go or 29 weeks if that makes you feel better. It seems like the time is going by quickly and that is just fine! :) As you can see from the above picture, I had my first doctor appointment last week and everything is going well. The baby is perfect and I am doing ok too! I have been soo soo sick the past few weeks, but now that I have a prescription, I am feeling more like myself. I am just counting down the days until the second trimester. I hope its the honeymoon my first pregnancy was. :)

Josh and I still can't agree on any names... we didn't have this problem with baby number 1. Of course, it doesn't help that he is convinced its a boy so he won't even think about girl names. I have tried to tell him that theres a slim chance its a girl, but I'm sure you know how that goes.

I am so thankful for this chance to be a mommy again. Every day I realize what a blessing my beautiful little girl is and I am so humbled knowing that God has seen fit to bless me a second time with a new little baby to love and cherish.

Its going to be a beautiful ride and I am so glad you are here to take it with me. :)

much love,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Money and Marriage by Matt Bell

Money & Marriage is a complete guide for engaged, newly married couples, or couples who have been married for years.
In this thorough and practical guide, financial expert Matt Bell helps engaged and newly married couples navigate the merger of habits, flaws, and attitudes about money so two can truly become one. His writing is full of helpful advice, Scripture, and practical steps to gaining financial freedom together as a couple. Learn to use money in a way that minimizes disputes and maximizes marital happiness.

Matt began his career as a radio journalist, with his work featured on National Public Radio, the NBC Radio Network, and several other networks. His reporting earned national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and United Press International.
Today, Matt is a full-time personal finance writer and speaker. He is the author of two books: "Money, Purpose, Joy" (September 2008) and "Money Strategies for Tough Times" (April 2009), both by NavPress. Matt has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Tribune, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, has written for, and has been a guest on WGN-TV and several nationally syndicated radio talk shows.

Matt holds a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where he wrote a thesis about the emergence of America's consumer culture and its influence on people's beliefs and behaviors. Matt lives with his wife and their three young children in the Chicago area. Visit his website and blog at


I really enjoyed reading Money and Marriage. Josh and I have been married for 6 years and money is still one of our biggest struggles. Matt Bell puts forth some great suggestions for laying a successful financial foundation in your marriage basted on Biblical principles. The book is divided into three sections: decoding each other's financial DNA, a ten-step action plan for financial success, and fostering financial oneness. In the first section, Matt helps the readers figure out their financial personalities. Men and women see money differently and its important to understand your spouse. The second section gives great steps toward acheiving financial freedom like making a plan, putting some money away, and "ruthlessly avoiding debt". Then the final section discusses "financial oneness" which is mainly an issue for engaged and newly married couples - merging checking accounts, figuring out what to do with your separate credit cards, etc.

Throughout the book Matt throws out questions for you to discuss with your spouse, which I think is awesome. Sometimes just figuring out what exactly to ask can be the toughest part of dealing with finances. And once you know how your spouse feels about money issues you can move on to making your plan and getting started on the road to financial success. Matt does a great job explaining money issues and solutions and putting everything into words that are easy to understand.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs guidance with their finances. The steps are easily explained and defined and the solutions are doable if you put your mind and effort behind them.


To celebrate Matt has put together a Nest Egg Giveaway with a prize package worth over $250! 

One winner will receive:

•    A Free 1 Hour Financial Session
•    A $100 Visa Cash Card
•    A signed copy of Matt’s Money, Purpose, Joy and Money Strategies for Tough Times

To enter just click one of the icons below. Then tell your friends. And hurry - the contest ends April 11th. The winner will be announced on Matt's blog on April 13th.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Be sure to pick up a copy of Money & Marriage – important principles whether you're newly engaged or just celebrated your 30th anniversary.

Thanks for reading!

(The book was provided to me by Litfuse Publicity Group at no cost, but I was not required to give a positive review... that's all me!)