Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Random Ramblings

I am very much looking forward to my vacation this weekend.  Rich is taking time off work from Thursday lunch through Tuesday.  So that adds up to 5 1/2 days in a row of being home and spending time with me and the kids.  I did say MY vacation, too, since we will be farming out the kids for several days in there as well.  AR will be headed to Rich's parents and James to my parents from Friday to Sunday.  Then we will drive to Greenville and drop them off at my sister's house where they will have tons of fun with their cousins for a couple days, and we are staying with some old friends in the area.  Rich and I are both looking forward to a break from the normal routine.  My 26th birthday is on Saturday, so we will also celebrate that during the time.  Yay for generous family that is willing to give us a break!

Last night I saw an ad for a new Secret deodorant that is waterproof.  The line they used said, "Keeps working in heat, humidity, and water!"  I was like, okay, so all your other deodorants did not work in the heat or humidity or when wet??!!  Wow, what good to me is a deodorant that only works when you're not hot or sweaty?  If it doesn't work in the heat and humidity or when I start to sweat, it's basically useless to me, especially here in Charleston.  So, either all their previous deodorants are crappy and useless, or they are just trying to sell something new without it really being new at all.  I just thought it was crazy, and I hope people don't see it and think that it's some great new product. 

This pregnancy has been really great so far.  I have rarely felt very bad, and have only have a few waves of nausea a day and sometimes none at all!  I am hungry a lot and am able to eat normally.  With all of my previous pregnancies, I was very nauseous and sick for the first trimester, could not eat much at all, and usually lost at least 5 pounds during the first 15 weeks.  It is so strange that this time around it is so different.  But, hey, I'll take it, especially with two crazy kids keeping me busy all the time.  If anytime I needed an easy pregnancy, it's now.  I was hoping maybe it meant I was having twins, but that's been ruled out.  Oh well, I'm just happy for one healthy baby and that I'm not sick!

I am trying to get better at couponing, but it is hard.  I feel a little overwhelmed trying to keep it all organized and figuring out what I should buy, because you can't buy EVERYTHING that's a good deal!  I've read all the info, watched videos with all the things I need to know and lots of good tips, but actually getting it together every week is daunting.  I have been able to do a little, but I know I could do much better.  I usually save around 50%, but that's because I'm mostly buying BOGO deals, so it doesn't really say much for my couponing skills.  I am working on it, though, and I will update with any progress and success.  If you have any tips, please feel free to share!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cupcake recipe

Here's a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Icing.  I made these a while back and they got rave reviews, so I thought I would share the recipe for you to try.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the final result, so I looked for one online that looked similar, and so that is what you will see here.  It's not exact, but gives you some idea of what they will look like.  Enjoy! 

2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup boiling water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 standard cupcake pans with liners or coat with non-stick cooking spray. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until blended.

2. In separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and gradually add to the sugar mixture, until the mixture begins to come together.

3. Very slowly add the boiling water, and blend until the mixture is smooth and soupy.

4. Ladle the batter into the cupcake tins, filling ¾ full. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cupcakes in their pans on wire racks until cooled completely.

(Do-Ahead: At this point the cupcakes can be kept covered at room temperature up to 2 days or frozen for 6 weeks. Defrost and ice with the cinnamon butter cream frosting.)

Cinnamon Butter Cream Frosting

Makes enough to generously frost two 9-in. layers or 24 cupcakes

4 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 T milk
Chocolate curls or chocolate chips for garnishing cupcakes

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir the sugar to aerate it. Add the butter, vanilla, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the milk, and beat on high speed until the frosting is spreading consistency. If the frosting is stiff, add a few more drops of milk, beating after each addition.

2. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish as desired.

P.S. If you try these, leave me a comment and let me know how they turned out!

Man vs. Woman

Here are a couple of funny pictures I've had for a while that I thought would be fun to share:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family in Town

This past weekend my grandmother (my Dad's mom) and my Uncle Dave (my Dad's brother) came into town for a visit.  It had been several years since we'd seen them, so it was great to have them here.  Anna Ruth had been making drawings for her great-grandmother all week, and she was very excited to meet them.  We also got to see my sister Jessica and her husband Brian, since they have just moved to Charleston!  The details are getting worked out, and we are all excited to have them around and get to spend more time with them.  The kids are especially excited about their dog, Beaufort.  Anyway, we had a wonderful Sunday lunch with everyone before they went off to visit the rest of the family in Greenville, SC.  Here's a group shot before lunch:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blog Reboot & Typical Day

Hey y'all! Long time, no write, right? Well, you know how life gets and keeping up a blog is not quite at the top of my priority list. But it is fun, and I would like to put up a few more things than I have been. It's tempting just to post pictures and stuff on facebook, but writing about my life now seems like it will be interesting to look back on in a few years. So, I am attempting to get back into the swing of things.
I am hoping to post pictures and videos of the happenings around here, some recipes that I try and enjoy, cute quotes from the kids (mostly Anna Ruth right now), smocking projects I've been working on, decorating ideas and tips (from me or just stuff I've found somewhere), and also couponing successes.

I thought I would start off by writing out what a typical day around here is like.

Here goes: My typical day starts off around 7 or 7:30. Rich is generally still home, so I join him on the couch to read the Bible for a little while. There are usually a few noises coming from the vicinity of James' room, but I ignore them until they become cries. Anna Ruth gets up and plays in her room until it's time for Rich to leave, and she will give him big hugs and kisses to send him off. James does the same, but quickly returns to Mommy. He loves his Daddy, but he sure is a Momma's boy at the moment. :) After Rich leaves, I feed the kids breakfast, which is usually cereal. I'm not much for one to make a nice, hot breakfast, and actually the kids prefer cereal anyway. It's a win-win situation. After breakfast, the kids play while I get the kitchen cleaned up, and generally tidy up around the house. They are pretty good about playing together, but they do have some run-ins over toys fairly often. Occasionally I will let them watch Sesame Street at 10AM, which will allow me to check e-mail, facebook, Southern Savers, and a few other blogs I enjoy reading. It's safe to say that not much gets done until the kids go down for their naps after eating lunch. They both go down at 1PM, and usually stay down for around 2-4 hours depending on how late they got to bed the night before, and how busy the day has been. During nap time, I try to pick up the house, do other household chores, and maybe even catch a rest myself. I mainly just enjoy the silence. The time from when the kids get up to when Rich gets home seem to be the longest hours of the day. The kids are wanting to get outside or see Daddy or just be wild and crazy. I have been trying to let Anna Ruth help me with dinner preparations whenever possible, and she loves to help. She also sets the table almost every night, which is actually a big help. When the kids hear the door open, they run squealing to the door, yelling, "Daddy, Daddy!" He appreciates the enthusiastic welcome, and I am grateful for a break from the kids being at my feet. We eat dinner together, and have family worship before getting the kids ready for bed. We always sing the first and last stanzas of Psalm 23 when putting them to bed. With the kids down, Rich and I have time to catch up talk about our days. We are usually both exhausted and try to get to bed before 11PM to be rested up for the day ahead.