Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Want a free $100 Gift Card???

My friend Heather always finds great deals! She shared with me this great blog: http://www.moneysavingmom.com. Today, they are giving away 5 $100 gift cards to the store of your choice! Can you just imagine the great Christmas gifts for yourself...errr...I mean everyone on your list?!

Go to the money saving mom site for details on how to sign-up....and for Heaven's sake, sign-up!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart

I love to read. This often drives the Mr. batty. I can get so entranced by a good book that I usually don't hear my name called until the third round to which I intelligently reply, "Huh?"

So, to my delight, and my husband's annoyance, I have to share with you this great read by Des Moines author, Kimberly Stuart. This book was so good, I finished it in two days! *disclaimer* (no children, husband or pets were harmed or neglected during said literary jaunt).

The book was passed to me by my good friend Heather over at onederrblog. She asked me to read it and give it a review...ummmmm...free book AND I get permission to take a break and read it whenever?! Sign me up! I went into it knowing I would review it honestly for all of you. I have to say that I've read Kimberly's other novels, so I had a pretty good feeling about this book.

So, here goes! This book was incredibly entertaining. I'm not one to laugh or cry while reading...I think that's kind of weird. But, I laughed... OUT LOUD! Which annoyed my hubby further. Kimberly's writing is smart, witty and CANDID. She captures the plight of her characters honestly, making them relatable and in the end hysterical. The novels heroine finds herself facing motherhood and all the ups and downs that go along with it (see...relatable!). By the time I was finished, I wanted Mia to be my new BFF. I love how Kimberly writes about the good and the uncertain, even as her characters explore their faith in God. The characters are genuine and endearing. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll stop there. But, do plan to add this book to your 'have-to-read' list. After reading a ton of heavy non-fiction recently, I was looking to just kick back and be entertained...and entertained I was.

So, if you are looking to shirk your laundry and dusting duties; kick back with a cup of tea and grab Stretch Marks...this is the book for you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More PICS!!!

There are a few things I said I would never do if I had a daughter:
1) Allow her to go out half-naked
2) Dress her up in tutus and fairy wings
3) Give in to tantrums
Well, I've done all three and even documented it for posterity. You've been gracious enough once to indulge me in viewing a photo montage of my kiddos...so, I thought I'd press my luck and go for round TWO. My friend Nicole sweetly agreed to come to my house and do a mini photoshoot of the little miss. Here are the fruits of her labor...I personally feel her subject is so sweet...but, I'm a little biased.

But, Daddy, I want a GOLDEN EGG!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Family Pictures...

Those words strike fear in my heart. I dread family pictures. Growing up it meant standing in line at K-mart in a funky outfit with my three siblings. When the middle school years hit it meant me with a frizzy perm, glasses and braces smiling awkwardly into the camera lens. Don't even get me started on high school...there's a reason I never break out my old yearbooks. Bad. Bad. Bad.

Now, it means wrangling my crying munchkins, bribbing the little Mr. with fruit snacks and wiping the little Miss's drool strings from her chin just before the camera flashes.

Yes, it's a grueling and painful process my friends. The only reason I partake is because the grandparents would otherwise disown me.

There is a bright sunny spot to my glum sounding post...her name is Nicole Young (cue sun rays beaming through clouds and an angelic choir). A few weeks ago I got my family 'picture perfect' and we hauled ourselves and our gear to meet Nicole at the Papajohn sculpture garden downtown. Then, Nicole took over and worked her magic. The girl is a genius behind the lens, not to mention the most patient photographer ever! My kids were smiling and happy and that made this mama VERY HAPPY! I don't know how she did it, but she captured my sweet family as I see them every day. The pictures are so natural (for once I don't have a cheesy forced smile...or maybe I still do, but my cute kiddos distract from it!) . This gal is so talented.

Thank you Nicole for your patience and for taking such great family photos! You have forever changed my whole outlook on family pictures...I am putty in your hands!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch...

When I was a little girl, my mom, grandma and I sort of had a little tradition. I think it was an unspoken tradition. We would set out fairly early on a Saturday morning and go SHOPPING. The aim was to beat the crowds and hit as many of their favorite stores before I got cranky. I would walk as fast as my short, stubby legs could carry me and we'd hit em' all. Honestly, I loved every minute of it. I'd watch them try on stylish outfits and if I was good...there was usually something in it for me too...like a COOKIE! Or sometimes a browse through the toy store...just to 'look', but grandma couldn't resist and usually I'd come out with some little treasure.

Then there was LUNCH! Mmmmmmm. We'd stop in some restaurant, grab a booth and I would slide in next to grandma. She would read me the options from the kid's menu, using her pinkie finger to underline the words 'grilled cheese', 'hot dog', 'macaroni n' cheese' etc.
Then there was the other unspoken tradition...the argument between grandma and mom as to who would pay the check. Mom would insist, grandma would quickly grab the check and threaten that if mom didn't put away her money, then this would be the last time we went shopping. Just so you know...this little argument still continues to this day.

I'm happy to say that I get to continue this tradition with my mom. I took my mom to lunch at
my favorite spot, Flarah's in Beaverdale. Of course what good is a tradition if we don't include the next generation...so Eva tagged along. We stepped up to the counter placed our orders and...mom and I both started to pay...mom (grandma) won. We ate, chatted, cooed over Eva and just enjoyed being ladies who lunch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Difference Between Boys and Whales...

Pre-kids, dinner conversation was candlelit, romantic, and covered various adult genre. It was educated adult conversation. These days? Well, it's certainly educated. But, with a three-year-old...ya never know what you're gonna get! Take last night for example. The convo started out simple enough. "Mommy, whales have holes." See. Simple.

It took a very abrupt turn. "The holes shoot water...out of their neck! Or wait....out of their back? The water shoots high. I don't have a hole on my back. I don't shoot water...I do shoot water but it's out of my mouth in the tub. I'm not supposed to drink the bath water. The whale is really Big...but, God made me little. Can I go in a whale? Jonah was in the whale's throat...then he shot out of the hole. And went to Ninevah. Marlin (from finding Nemo) and Dory came out of the whale's hole (spout)." This went on for quite some time then turned to Pirates, what babies eat and so on. Now, Mr. J and I did have input somewhere in there...but, it wasn't much...we just couldn't seem to fit it in before the next question or statement was spoken. Want to know something? I loved every minute of it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Pirate and the Strawberry...

What do a pirate and a strawberry have in common? Well, nothing. Except that in our household they happen to be siblings. Here are a couple of pics of my sweet kiddos in their costumes right before we headed out the door for our church's fall fun night! Ethan's dream of becoming a pirate finally came true. His favorite accessories were his cowboy boots (from Aunt Lanie and Uncle Ryan) and his sword. And Eva? Well, her accessories were her red chucks and her chubbiness. There's nothing better than a chub-i-licious strawberry. Don't you just want to nibble her up?

Here are the kiddos with Miss Colleen from church...she is so sweet...and the kids absolutely adore her! We look forward to Fall Fun Night every year! It's a fantastic outreach to our community and the staff and volunteers work so hard to make it great for everyone! It's the ultimate kid zone...candy, bounce house, games, petting zoo, face painting. The candy is EVERYWHERE! And so is the gospel message. Which is the sweetest of all. Thanks for a wonderful night Federated! And just so you know...candy was apparently on the breakfast menu this morning.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Story Time With Ethan

Potty time in our household is...storytime. Oh, come on! I know you do it too! Don't even tell me you don't sneak the paper in with you! :0
Anyway, We are proud that Ethan has carried on this special tradition as he potty trains 'Georgie' (his monkey). Ethan has decided that since he's now the in-house pro, it's time to turn teacher and pass his potty training knowledge along. Good Luck George! You can do it! AND...there's a special treat in it for you!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Free Gift!

I admit...I am all about the FREE STUFF! It seems every blog is offering something for free these days and frankly, it excites me! What I love even more is that I usually don't have to do much to get it...just leave a comment? Ummm...OKAY! Sign me up!

Well, I've decided to follow suit and offer something for free too! Well, it actually isn't from me, but from SOMEONE else. But, hey...it's still free! And the best part? I won't be doing a random drawing or picking a number...you ALL can have it!

If you don't mind, I'll be unwrapping this gift for you...but it's still yours if you want it. Let's start with reading the tag and undoing the bow...

The gift is from Jesus...HOLD IT! Now, for some of you, this is the point where you are tempted to click on the small 'X' in the upper right hand corner of the screen, forever deleting this post from your thoughts. Please hang with me a bit longer. I'm not judging or preaching 'fire and brimstone', I promise.

So, what's in the box?

Life. Mercy. Love. Sacrifice. Acceptance. Grace. Forgiveness. So, who's this gift for? EVERYONE...that's right. You. Me. Everyone. And the best part is that we haven't had to do anything to earn it. It's FREE! That's the whole purpose of a gift right? The giver doesn't give it to you with strings attached...it's free...all you have to do is accept it (well, and usually there's a 'thank you' somewhere on your part ;)

You see, what God longs for is to have a relationship with us. And, we are created to have a desire to search for HIM. But, unfortunately, something is standing in the way of that relationship. It's called sin. Again, hang with me here. I'm not wagging my finger at anyone.

I know what you're thinking, because I've told myself the same thing, "But I'm a good person! I'm a nice person!" But, I know that deep down I'm selfish. I'm out for #1. I lie. I gossip. I envy. I covet. I'm weak. Sometimes, I'm filled with hatred.

Do you want to know the blessing...the GIFT? The gift is that while I'm all those things...while I'm a sinner, Jesus died for me...HE died for you. HE didn't wait for me to be good enough, or nice enough, do all the right things or earn my way to Heaven. No, he died for me, for you, while I was (am) dirty, imperfect, selfish, weak. This is why I love HIM.
This is the ultimate SACRIFICE...THE GIFT my friends.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The gift is sitting in your lap. He's waiting to have a relationship with you. That's how much HE loves you. Won't you let Him in your life? All you have to do is unwrap it, accept it. There's no trick to it, but there's truth to it. The truth that despite how much I think I can do life on my own...that I can do it better, I can't...I need Him.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His own son (Jesus) that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.

Won't you consider what this means to you, what HE means to you? It's as simple as admitting you need Him.

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

20 years ago someone was bold enough to share this truth with me. They prayed with me and I trusted Jesus with my life. I am forever grateful...that's why I am sharing this with you. Wouldn't it be selfish of me to keep this gift in my lap?

If anything I have said has resonated with your heart, then would you consider praying? Would you consider letting Him in your heart?

God, I confess that I need you. I know that I can't do life on my own. I know that my sin stands in the way of my relationship with you. Please forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus to die as the ultimate sacrifice to pay the price of my sin. Thank You God that I don't have to be perfect, that You accept me as I am. Thank You God that even though I sin against you every day, you take me back. Thank you God that I am under Your grace and Thank You God, that when life seems unfair, You are there to remind me of Your truths. AMEN.

If you prayed that prayer I would love for you to let me know! I want to celebrate with you! You can e-mail me anonymously at nikolejackson@gmail.com. I would be happy to help you find a Bible believing church so you can grow in your relationship with HIM and meet others who are finding their way as well.

I want you to know that this isn't some magic bullet...or the 'easy button'. Life is hard. God doesn't promise that once you're in a relationship with Him you will never face heartache, trouble, or pain, or that people won't let you down. But, He promises to see you through it. He promises to to be there when you pray to Him. He promises you eternal life. He promises you that what you see in the world around you is not all there is to life. He is what life is all about.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Heart Swells Every Time...

Remember when I told you about my 'Toe up, six feet under' camera? Well, because she's on the fritz, I was so bummed that she let me down when I really needed her. How do you like me prescribing my camera human traits?
Anyway...I was unable to digitally capture my children's hallmark moment, so I'll just have to recount it for you...in full detail...cause' that's my style.
From my post in the kitchen, I could hear raucous laughter in the living room. This is the scene I walked in on...Eva was in her play center and Ethan was sitting in front of her. Ethan would dangle his bare foot in front of Eva, and just as she would reach for it, pull it back quickly, enlisting them both in peels of laughter. I stood in the doorway for several minutes watching them repeat their little game, thanking God their three-year age gap had been bridged...even if it was over a game utilizing stinky, bare feet as the playing piece. My friends', it's the simple things in life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh, So Humbled...

I don't even know how to begin this post...I'm speechless, humbled, embarrassed etc. etc.
Maybe I'll take the long way of telling this story and give you a bit of background info. My sweet in-laws have a DVD at their house that Ethan just loves. It's from the 'Really Woolly' series. Each video teaches kids about Biblical truths through the adventures of Woolly and Grace. The above video uses a pirate adventure. Woolly and Grace pretend to be pirates...not really sure how that ties into the story, but whatever gets the truth across. Anyway, ever since, Ethan has been obsessed with pirates....pretending to be one, turning everything imaginable into a sword, tying his pajama pants around his head, shouting 'ARGH' randomly...you get the point.

Well, this morning we had a bit of shopping to do. We made our way to Wally-world and made a quick stop at customer service to make a return. While I was waiting, there was a sweet employee behind the counter putting away merchandise. She was wearing an eye-patch over her left eye...ummm...I think you know where I'm going with this. Ethan saw her and stood up excitedly in the basket and began pointing and exclaiming (LOUDLY), "Mommy! Look! It's a pirate, a pirate! ARGH! Mommy, she's 'One Eyed Woolly!" I quickly began to shush him, praying she couldn't hear him. I explained that she was not a pirate and had a boo boo on her eye and so she wore a patch. This did not satisfy my strong-willed son one bit who pretty much ignored me and kept saying she was a pirate. I finally got him to quiet down and explained that sometimes people look differently, or have boo boos we can see and we don't want to hurt their feelings by talking about them. "Why?" he asked. Ah Ha! A teachable moment! I explained that God makes us all very different, and no matter if we are born with boo boos or look differently, we are still perfect and she is still perfect and beautiful because God made her. Ethan thought for a minute, then said, "That's Amazing!"

I'm not sure if that sweet lady heard Ethan (she probably did) if she did, she was gracious enough to not say anything. I wish I could say this put an end to the pirate talk...but no...it continued on through Hy-Vee and all the way home and ended with him turning various household items into swords up until naptime.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Devil Baby...OR...I Need A New Camera...

I'm not looking for an exorcism of my sweet baby girl, but I am in the market for a new camera. When pics of my sweet kiddos started looking more like 'Rosemary's Baby', I knew it was time.

My heart's desire is a D-SLR...sadly, that's not in the budget. Our dollars are steering us more towards a good point and shoot like this canon powershot. We've also been looking at a Panasonic which is a little more pricey. Both have received good reviews. BUT, I would love to get some reviews from you all! What is your camera of choice and why do you like/dislike it?! Come on, don't be shy! The pics I take of my kiddos now could scare off future suitors...hmmmmm...then again...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grande Skim Chai With A Shot Of Vanilla Please

Sometimes I swing by my local Friedrich's with the little miss on the days I go in to the office. I get the afore mentioned cup of heaven to go and Eva...well, she gets the ooh's and aah's from the regulars. We both leave with a little more bounce in our step.
I love this place. I imagine the employees are these hip struggling artists on the verge of being discovered (they certainly have the vibe). They are friendly and exude this cool laid back style.
Today, I got a lovely surprise...as I stepped up to the counter and placed my order for my usual, forked over the $3.50 (I cringe in this economy) and stepped aside, I heard my order called out...wow, talk about fast! The Barista saw Eva and I approaching and got my order going! I can't decide which I love more...amazing customer service or the equally amazing chai in my cup. I'll take both please!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Bountiful Harvest

These pictures show just SOME of what we brought in from our garden. We've had a great harvest of green beans, zucchini, red bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and rhubarb, unfortunately
we weren't so great about taking pictures. We've been blanching, freezing, making sauce, bread, and salsa for our freezer. I am all cooked out! But, I'm going to miss going right out my back door to pick fresh vegetables for our lunch or dinner once fall is in full swing.
Brent is really the mastermind behind our garden! The guy is the garden whisperer or something...if he plants it, it will grow! Every evening he goes out and just when we think we've picked the last good produce, he comes in with a bag full!
He attributes all of his knowledge to his grandparents who were avid gardeners. They taught him about composting (before it was the 'green' thing to do) and using it as fertilizer. When Brent and I were dating/first married, I remember going to his grandparents house and seeing their huge garden. For years we were eating green beans his grandmother had canned. Now, it's kind of neat that Brent is carrying on that legacy with our family.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Andy and Opie

Look at my handsome boys! Doesn't this picture look like it came straight from the opening credits of the 'Andy Griffith Show' ?! My guys went fishing a few times over the Labor Day weekend...or rather daddy fished with both poles while Ethan ran around and came back in time to reel in his catch! They had a blast...we all did! We spent the three day weekend with my family at a resort in KC. We swam, fished, walked, played, sat around the camp fire and ate...A LOT! Ethan really bonded with his aunts and uncles and even learned a couple of new 'tricks'...more about THAT later.
Here is a picture of Ethan and Aunt Lanie peeking out of the loft in our cabin:

It was such a great time...can't wait to do it all over again!

She made it happen!

here are the little beauties in all their glory!
Remember THIS post about the "billy balls/billy buttons/craspedia"? Well, it turns out, my sweet friend Diedre in KC decided to make my day! She searched for a florist in KC who sold the little gems, had them packaged in poster tubes and sent them to me as a baby gift! How sweet is that? I am so thrilled and plan to trim them to various lengths and put them in an adorable vase in my bedroom for just the right punch of color! Thank you Diedre! You're the best!

Nappy, Nappy Nap time

What does nap time look like in your household? Pre-kiddos, mine was a couple hours of pure bliss tucked under a down comforter slipping into a dreamy sleep on a Sunday afternoon.

Now, it looks something like this: me walking a path between the two rooms popping the paci back in Little Miss's mouth and telling the Little Mr. to stop standing on the bed and that he is NOT Buzz Lightyear. 45 minutes pass...Little Miss must have phased out of REM because she is now fussing and the Little Mr. is still pretending to be Buzz...I pop paci back in and remind 'Buzz' that I'm about to send him to "infinity and beyond" if I catch him standing on his bed one more time. 30 minutes pass...Little Miss finally asleep and 'Buzz' is singing "This little light of mine" and counting to 30, there's a strange wall banging, which I discover is his feet tapping the wall; I decide to choose my battles. 10 minutes pass...Little Mr. is finally asleep, body half off the bed and feet perched against the wall. Little Miss, completely unswaddled, but definitely asleep.

Me...well, I'll be spending nap time doing laundry, cleaning up lunch, a little alone time reading HIS word and enjoying the peace and quiet...until the UPS man comes, the dog barks, or the phone rings...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

She's four months old! (and 3 weeks)

Okay, so I'm about three weeks late on this post...better late than never! Eva is just the sweetest little thing! She's smiley, sweet, brilliant (believe me, I CAN tell!) and just an all around happy baby! Here are some pics to show you what I mean! And, in another week or so, we'll celebrate the five month mark...I hope you're not holding your breath ;) Please excuse the blurriness of the photos...I think our camera is on the fritz...mmmmm...now maybe we can get that digital SLR!

"You're the bestest friend in the whole world!"

These are the words my sweet boy has been telling me lately! Oh, how special it makes me feel! And to think I'm the only one who hears these special words....ummmmm, not quite. Come to find out he has many, "bestest friends in the whole world!" WHAT?! It turns out it's more of a generic, "I like you" kind of phrase he's been sharing with the sweet middle school sitter who came to watch him, the little neighbor boy, the sacker at the grocery store (yeah, I know!), teachers at church, our crazy neighbor across the street...ummm the pool of people is limitless! But, until he turns 16 when I will definitely NOT be viewed as his best friend in the whole wide world, I will relish these sweet words despite that I share this category with many, MANY people!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Last Hoorah

Today, I say good-bye to my sedentary lifestyle along with sleeping til' 7am. As of Monday morning at 5:30 am I am getting my post-baby body whipped into shape by taking a kick boxing/strength training class at a local church.

I know you must be thinking that the above time is a type-o, I really mean 5:30 PM...no, unfortunately for me, that time is correct. I have to work around my kiddos, so, I'm biting the bullet.

So, today, I am celebrating my commitment to healthy living and fitness by slamming down a couple of chocolate zucchini cupcakes and a root beer...I'll work it off on Monday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Headed to Prison?

So, one of my readers so generously informed me in church this morning that killing a bat is illegal in Iowa as they are endangered species. This could be my final post.

I wonder if I qualify for Camp Cupcake?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Showdown With A Bat

(I took time out from my run-in to take a pic...would you have believed me otherwise?)

Not less than 15 minutes ago I had a run-in with a bat...in my house...under the cover of my son's toys. Friends, I couldn't make up a story like this if I tried.

Here I was, home alone (sweet Eva was taking a nap), cleaning house like the good wife and picking up my son's toys (who I might add had been told twice this morning to pick them up himself...another story for another time.) I bent down to pick up Ethan's guitar and heard a high pitched frantic squeaking. I looked down to see a bat staring up at me. Hmmmm, I thought, I didn't know Ethan had a bat toy...so realistic too! That's because it was real! I jumped back and screamed, which sent the bat flying through the house. So not cool.

He landed on the arm of the couch. This was a job too big for me, so I frantically called my big strong man...he didn't answer, neither did the big strong man next door or the big strong man across the street.

So, I grabbed the broom and devised my plan. I would swing the broom and hit the bat, going for the kill (I know, PETA is probably going to picket my house right now).

The problem with my plan? I've never been known for my hand/eye coordination. I swing and miss baseballs, golf balls, punching bags and pretty much anything else one could aim to hit.
Despite my weakness, I proceeded with my plan. I stealthily approached the bat, broom poised in the air, all the while praying aloud, "Lord, please don't miss, please don't miss, please don't miss."
I swung and...MISSED, which sent the bat squeaking and flying around the house! I was not abandoning my plan yet, so I began swinging wildly in the air and finally, bat met broom and went crashing to the floor. Now, I'll spare you the rest of the details as most of you would probably have found a way to have him peacefully exit the house. Even my husband sympathetically hailed the bat's goodness for ridding us of the pesky mosquito.
So, while I am still cringing from this debacle, I will take a moment of silence for the bat.

So, bat, here's to you, who today, took one for the team by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, pitted against a crazy woman wielding a broom.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What I Love...

I'm obsessed with the illusive Billy Button (Craspedia). These cute little guys are hardy, dry well, expensive, AND hard to find! So, you can bet I'm going to order some seeds from here and add them to next year's garden! I so want a simple vase with a few of these of varying lengths...sigh.

AND...One Last Post For The Day...Master Bedroom Redo

In 8 years of marriage we haven't really had "bedroom furniture". Mostly because we're minimalist furniture snobs and it's over budget! But, we've been checking craigslist and found this great Malm bed from Ikea and paired it with a couple of glass topped nightstands that Brent designed/built as well as a linear wall bookcase also by said designer/hubby. I'm pretty pleased with the pairing...now just to get rid of the tan wall color and add some art!

ikea malm bed: a steal on craigslist
bedding: Area "rain" bedding http://www.designpublic.com/
we actually purchased the rain bedding four years ago for a great
price...sadly it is quite pricey now!

linear bookshelf: b. jackson

glass and oak nightstand: b. jackson
square glass "vase lamp" ikea

Why I love the Dollar Tree

I'm all for a deal, but sometimes I think the "dollar stores" have a lot of junk...until I discovered the Dollar Tree. Ummmm....I'm in love! I found some great stuff for Ethan (cool coloring books, foam stickers, craft stuff), some large sturdy plastic zip bags for storing outgrown kids clothing (neatly) and the great square Libbey flower vases pictured above (I'm thinking of pairing them with the green "Astro Balls" from the CB2 website http://www.cb2.com/) all for...you guessed it...a DOLLAR! Now, admittedly they do have some "junk" like the silk flower adorned fly swatter (WHAT?!), but I'm no longer a Dollar Tree snob.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake Recipe

We have an abundance of zucchini in our garden, and so have been using them in just about every way possible...but these little beauties of pure delight and decadence are by far my favorite way to use zucchini!

There's nothing healthy about this recipe...but, I assure you, once you take one bite you won't be able to stop yourself! They are moist, sweet and the perfect amount of chocolate; so delicious they don't need frosting! I'm not a chocolate person, but these take the...well...cake! As the recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog site said, "on a scale of chocolatiness...these are an 8 out of 10!" They are rich, but not so rich you can't enjoy them.

Give em' a try and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

1 1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. melted butter
3/4 C. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. buttermilk
2 C. grated zucchini
1C. Chocolate chips (I do half milk chocolate, half semi-sweet)
2C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (don't skip this...you won't be sorry)
1 C. cocoa

Directions: Preheat oven to 35o. In large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, butter and oil. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.

In separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for about 35 minutes (or less...you'll want to watch these. It's better to be slightly under baked so the cupcakes stay moist. I pulled mine after about 20 minutes and they were completely done, yet still moist. My oven runs a bit hot.) Let cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

An Entry of Pictures

I'm tired, and have done a terrible job of keeping my blog updated (can't imagine why???) So, in my laziness, this will be an entry of pictures! Eva is growing and changing and Ethan??? Well, he just cracks us up with the funny things he does so, enjoy!

Playing around with tape and helping paint the dining room...they kind of look like Super Mario Brothers?

ummm...licking the mirror?

An Oldie But A Goodie

You're probably wondering why I'm blogging about an old stand mixer...or maybe not, but indulge me nonetheless.
Who would have thought a 30-year-old Montgomery Ward stand mixer would have so much worth? Sure it's not the sleek color and design of a kitchen aid stand mixer...but there's so much life and story behind it...AND HORSEPOWER! This mixer is STILL going strong! (They sure don't make em' like they used to!)
My sweet mother-in-law pulled this guy down from her cabinet and offered it to me after hearing me dream (ahem...whine) about how I would love to have a stand mixer.
So, why so sentimental? This stand mixer was lovingly used to create the childhood birthday cakes and treats for her young sons and wedding cakes for her small business. She shared how often she used it and even reminisced of all the cakes she'd made (and taken pictures of...can't wait to see that album!). She then showed me some of her cake decorating techniques, gave me some pointers...and offered to show me more of what she learned! I can't wait!
This stand mixer opened up for us a fun afternoon playing around with frosting, chatting, baking and laughing. Now, it has a new home, proudly displayed on my worn counter and will continue to make sweet memories for our family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"God Makes Me Grow"

During one of our many bedtime chats I gave Ethan a great big hug and made him promise me he wouldn't grow up. Ethan's wise response? "But, God makes me grow mommy!" *SIGH*
Here's what God is up to:

Ethan at 8 months
Eva at 3 months

Ethan 3 1/2 years

Thank you God for blessing me with healthy children and "making them grow."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Melt this mama's heart

Here's a story you mother's of boys will appreciate! While in Omaha, we spent some time in the Old Market District. It has some quaint local shops and is really a lot of fun (especially if you are a foodie at heart like we are). Anyway, back to the original story.

Brent and Ethan wandered into a cute little floral shop. After looking around a bit and watching the florist put together a bouquet of Gerber Daisies, Ethan shouted, "Mommy needs one!" The florist thought this was so cute that she gave Ethan one of daisies to give to me. Ethan was so excited and when he gave me the flower he even serenaded me to the tune of "Happy Birthday." Or more like, "Had a Burfday." I still can't get over how incredibly sweet and thoughtful he is...I'm still enjoying my beautiful *hot pink* daisy sitting on the dining room table.


This will mostly be an entry of pictures. We took a short trip to Omaha with the kids and Brent's parents. We had a blast! We stayed in a two bedroom suite, went to the zoo and did some swimming. The kids did fantastic the entire time (thank goodness!).

Here are some of the highlights:

The kiddos in the car on the way to Omaha...such great little travelers!

We did the zoo!

Got up close and personal (like a foot away) from a Lion Mained Tamarind that was on the loose!

Rode the train...

And the Carousel...

Pretended to be a spider...

An afternoon of swimming with daddy...

Ate yummy ice cream here...

All that play led to THIS...
And what about Eva you ask?

She spent most of her vacation like this...

And this...
Overall we had a wonderful time! We are eager to do it again!