Monday, February 28, 2011

Girls Night

Over the weekend I had an incredible girl's night.  I got a great deal on a manicure, had pizza, and got to watch a movie.  It doesn't get much better!   Here is a picture of my nails after the very professional manicure.  

What do you think?  Ha!  This picture doesn't even do justice to the beautiful mess that my hands were.  I guess I should have mentioned that my manicurist was a darling 4 year old, the pizza was delivered, and the movie was The Lion King.  The boys went to a basketball game so us girls were at home alone.  It really was fun to have some time just the two of us.   I really don't usually wear color on my nails, and I really don't like paint on my skin {I guess no one really does}, so this was a good practice in patience for me.   I made myself leave it on for the weekend, and then to my great dismay {not really} it started chipping and I had to take it off.  Thank goodness this excuse seemed understandable to a 4 year old.   If you would like to make an appointment, I am sure we could work you in for a manicure too!  

The Doctor is in the House

Friday, February 25, 2011

6 Months Later.......

My mom was sweet to get these outfits for the kids when Beckett was born.  I was so sad when Beckett outgrew his onesie he wore in the hospital, but luckily she also bought the same one in a 6 month size.  Beckett has changed so much in such a short time.  It is amazing to me as a mom, that you see your child every day but don't notice how they change until you look back at pictures.  I love all of my kids so much and feel so blessed by them.  I thank God for them and am amazed that He entrusted these three precious souls to me to raise.  These days can be so long and weary, yet at the same time I told Collin the other day that I know we are in our "Glory Days".  We are still young (kind of), and healthy (what a huge praise!).  These days are very precious with our little ones.  I am trying so hard to really soak all of this in and love this time because it is already flying by.  I feel like I would freeze time if I could.  I never want to forget what it is like to feel Beckett snuggle his head on my shoulder when he is sleepy after nursing, or Braden and Ella run to the door when I come home, or seeing them sneak into our room early in the morning, or hear their little voices say "momma".  This list could go on and on but I am tearing enough for now.

 I have a very wise friend (and faithful reader to my blog, thanks Jamie Jo!) who gave me great advice on kids growing up.   One day we were in her car and she had pictures of her kids as babies with her.  While looking at them I ask her if she missed having her kids that little.  She quickly responded, "No.....I love every stage with them".  That has struck me ever since then.  Lord help me to love and soak in every moment, smile, laugh, hug, tantrum, and even the fights.  I thank you and praise you for allowing me to do this wonderful and exhausting job of being a mom!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Play Date and Cupcakes

Yesterday Ella had some preschool friends over for a play date.  There were 5 girls and not one fight the entire time!  I love that Ella has great friends, and I pray they can continue these friendship for many years.  

Dress up time in Mom's shoes.  

Working Hard!  

I made cupcakes for the girls to decorate and I'm not sure if I made them more for the girls or me.  This is the second batch of these cupcakes that I have made this week.  I am obsessed!  They are so good.  They are strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting.  I have always loved strawberry cake or just anything strawberry, so these are right up my alley.   This recipe has fresh strawberry in the batter so the cupcakes bake up really moist and kind of dense.  I will post the recipe below.  

Don't overmix these and make sure to not over bake them.  The recipe only makes 12 so it seems like the perfect amount to just have a small amount around for a snack.  Or if you're like me, to limit the temptation to eat to many.  I think I need to go eat one right now....but I better not, it would be my 3rd today.  I know, I know.... don't judge me

Strawberry Cupcakes

2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

2.  Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary.  If you have any leftover save it for the frosting.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

4.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

5.  With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

6.  Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Strawberry Frosting

Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes (I had some leftover and used it for a second batch)

1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1.  Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Head Wraps

I have realized lately that I really like to crochet. There are so many fun things that you can do with it, and I love having a project that you can pick up and put down, take in a car, or work on when you are watching tv.   Here are the my two latest creations.  They are head wraps to keep your ears warm.  Next I want to make some in brighter colors, but I was making these for my mom and she requested black.  Hope you like them mom!  They are fun to make, let me know if you need one. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Play Room

For those of you that have ever been to my house, you know that we have a "dining room" that has never been used for eating (unless gold fish and juice cups count).  Actually our dining room has never even had a table in it, or chairs, or anything that even resembles a dining room (except for a gold chandler that I really do not care for).

About 4 years ago, a strange thing happened.  It started very small and innocent, like a small wave that gently breaks on your toes at the beach.  We barely noticed at first.  In the beginning we even welcomed it began to take over.  It went from a small wave to a Tsunami consuming anything in its path.  It took over our dining room and began to spread to the rest of the house.  Until we decided that enough is enough, we had to take back the reins, show it who is boss, get back control and regain our home.  Of course what I have to be talking about is......the onslaught of TOYS!

Years ago we gave up our dining room to be a play room.  This past weekend we finally added a little bit of much needed organization to it.  It has made such a difference.  Now the kids get so excited to put things away.  So here is the before picture......

Ok, the sad thing is we had already picked up a little when I took this picture.  Isn't this horrible! 

And this is the After picture!  So much better!  The bins are all labeled with pictures so the kids can tell exactly what goes in each bin.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Growing up Fast!

My little man is growing up so fast.  He is just a week away from being 6 months old.  How did 6 months go by so fast!  He has two teeth now, and just started eating solids this week.  We started with rice cereal and bananas.  He loves eating.  I took him hardly anytime to get the hang of it.  The first time was a little awkward but then after that he was already an experienced eater. I can't get the bites in fast enough.  I have started him eating a little bit earlier than my other two, but he was very ready!   I love this little guy so much and feel so thankful for him.  He was a surprise coming to us, but now I could never imagine life without him.  He makes me smile constantly, thank you Lord for this precious boy! 

First Bites

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gumball Necklaces

Ella and I decided that for Valentines day we wanted to give the girls in her class necklaces made from gumballs.  I love this idea, and first saw on One Charming Party.  They were pretty easy to make and I think turned out oh so cute.  I hope the girls in her class liked them.  I think these would also be fun in other colors for birthday parties.  

The original tutorial suggested using a metal skewer to punch the holes in the gumballs.  Well....that was taking a little too long so we broke out the power tools.  Using a power drill made it super easy and really fast.  I highly recommend doing this if you make these.  

Next I threaded ribbon on a large needle.

 Then because the holes were already drilled it was really easy to thread the ribbon through. I used a couple of different kinds of ribbon.  Depending on the width and kind of ribbon it made big difference of how easily it threaded. 

I used about 7 gumballs for each necklace, but they could look cute with alot more too.   I tied knots in between stringing on each gumball and then tied a bow in the ribbon at the end.  Here is the finished product on some of Ella's friends at school.  The girls looked so cute in them, and I hope their moms didn't kill me for giving them gum!  

Happy Valentines Day!

I hope that you had a wonderful Valentine's Day like we did at the Sparks' house.  It was a great day to celebrate love!
This is how my day started.  My eyes really didn't want to open this morning, but when I did pry open my eye lids, I saw this.  My incredible husband had left me the sweetest valentine!  He left at 6:00am for bible study this morning, so this was a labor of love on so many levels.   I feel so blessed to have a husband that goes out of his way to love and appreciate me.  

Hello Ladies!   
(Thanks Katie for the cute Valentine's Day onesie)

Finding a heart... Ella for the last week has left Collin and I hearts around the house.   It is so sweet to find these little images that remind me of her sweetness, and how she tries to tell us she loves us.  I also love how she is drawing hearts right now.  She is so proud each time she draws one.  

Ella's Preschool V-Day Party

Bunko Anyone?   It was Monday night, so it was Valentine's Day and K-Kountry hang out night.  We decided to celebrate with fun food and a night of bunko.  It was great food, so much fun, and hilarious fellowship.  There were some wrestling matches for dice, competitive spirits and lots of shouting.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow in the Tub

We are having such a snowy winter and I love it!  More snow fell today and I could have just stared out my window all day.  Both kiddos are just getting over being sick, and I wasn't feeling like I wanted to bundle everyone up to go outside, so we brought the outdoors in.  After a few trips back and forth with shovels full of snow, we had all the snow we needed to play with minus the layers of clothes, hats, and cold toes.  We broke out all of our sand tools, some spray bottles with colored water, and had a blast. The best part was the cleanup.  I just turned all the water and it all went down the drain.  Yeah for inside snow days! 

Georgia Tech Nerd Night

We love all of our K-Kountry friends here in Branson!  One of the highlights of our week is when we all get together to hang out each Monday.  This week was Georgia Tech Nerd night in honor of Allen Tignor's Birthday.  Allen, we are so glad you were born and for the record, you are not a nerd (but you look pretty good dressed up like one)!