Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Name Them One by One

I started reading this book a couple days ago.  I have seen it on reading lists, Kindle's favorites, and pinned by many.  Into, always, at least 5 other books, I refrained from purchasing it until now.

I am only about one third of the way into it...speechless.  Guilty.  Truly feeling how unthankful I have really been.  A time for much prayer.  A time, time that is priceless, that is given to me, to name the blessings all one by one.  Deep in my heart I see the complete vanity of the words, "Dear Lord thank you for all of my blessings."  And the reality of never completely stopping to see the blessings, ceasing the moment to record the blessings to my memory, and drawing attention to the smallest details He created and BLESSED me with.  He blessed me with Time to see them, and I am just like this author described it, "a slave to time."  She couldn't have been more right.  I am a slave to time.  I run against time.  I wait on time.  I rush against time.  I fight with time...time that God has given me.  Time he has given me to be thankful in all things.  

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~ 1 Thes 5:18 

How ashamed I am to say that I have not taken the time to see the blessings in everything and everywhere.  Because they truly are everywhere, because God is everywhere.  This morning after my study, all I could hear was...

I want to see the smallest things, some of the most beautiful things, things that are right in front of me, if I just looked and named them one by one.  Ann Voskamp pens a challenge that I should already be living, a challenge to name all the blessings "One by One."  In the rush of life I have not seen the blessings, the gifts.  I have not named them, I have simply thanked him for my blessings.  What are those blessings?  

So, today I start naming them one by one.  I want to see the thousands and thousands of Gifts that he has bestowed to me, to all of us.  I want to record them in my heart, in my mind.  I will journal them, I will photo them, and I will record the beauty of their sounds...all one by one.  The challenge is a year...1,000 gifts, but I can do this for a lifetime, because his gifts are innumerable.  

Gifts Heard
1. the choir of birds singing after the rain 
2. giggles of children playing 
3. the beauty of instrumental music


Friday, June 21, 2013

Living For Him Now, So I Can Live With Him Later

Many know parts of the journey of David and I as we started questioning our lives three years ago, probably before then, but a little over three years ago was a definite marking point in time.  Along with so many other couples we realized many financial mistakes we made that could have saved us tons of money, you know the ones like trading cars when you really didn't need to, etc.  Then there were the things in life that we chose to do that were huge financial costs {but the biggest blessings and priceless} like making our family.  That being said, we had started Dave Ramsey 5 years ago, so when we started having this change of heart in our lives we had already started the debt reduction process.

We were on the tract of "If you live like no one else now, then later you can live like no one else later."  When we realized that there was more to life than what we were living, we were weeks away from bringing Leia home.  We had been questioning everything and all the choices we had made and wanted to make.  We continued on with Dave Ramsey, finished paying off the adoption, paid off a car, and were finally left with our house and a very small car loan.  Weeks before traveling to bring Leia home, we decided after much thought and prayer that we needed to take our first trip to Costa Rica.  I had had several yard sales over a span of 4 years of adoption processes and had gone through my house always finding more and more that I could do without.  So, again, went through the house, sold more stuff, and booked flights for our first trip to Costa Rica.  Dave Ramsey would have balked.  We were not stashing the extra money toward the small car loan or the principal on our mortgage.  Instead, we made our first trip to Costa Rica.

Our first trip down here, led to our second trip, then another, and another.  For two years we had tons of yard sales, made hundreds of pieces of jewelry, and using birthday money, Christmas money to make these trips to Costa Rica.  While we were doing this, I will be honest, we were not saving a dime.  We continued with the envelope plan, and kept paying the car and house debt we had, but not knocking any extra away.  We prepared to sell our house or rent our house.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  Things started falling into place for us to move here.  Our house rented.  We literally sold almost everything, aside from linens and my kitchen.  Sold both of our cars.  Shipped 3 small pallets of our belongings.  And moved our family to another country.  It was one of the hardest things we have done and in so many ways one of the best things we have done.  

Dave Ramsey would not have approved.  Really, not a day goes by that I don't think about "What if."  What if we had continued with the smart and more financially responsible decision of paying our house off, so that we could live like no one else later?  What if we had not decided to make all those trips here because that would not have been "living like no one else?"  What if we had liquidated all of our belongings and instead used the money to pay double payments on our house instead of moving here?  

What if we had continued to plan our lives around smart financial decisions?  We had been a slave to money and debt all those years and our logic was if we could pay off all the debt, we would be free.  But free to do what?  Save our money to buy the things we wanted with cash?  Is slavery to cash much different than slavery to credit?  In the end it is the same chains that bind us, we have just shined them up a bit because we are "debt free".  Smart financial planning tells you to save and save and save so that someday you will be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Sounds a lot like the man in Luke 12:18 that said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. 20 But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."  As all these thought ran through our heads we decided to stop living for a tomorrow that might never come.  We realized that we had put a lot of faith into our ability to prosper and make a bright future for our family.  So we finally put our faith where it belongs, into the loving hands of our Lord and Savior.

What if we had continued on our path to debt free prosperity and physical security?  This is what I know.  We would have not followed the steps of Jesus.  Our hearts truly would not have known the brokenness, that you just don't see in the United States.  We would have never met the people here who we love dearly.  We would have never made the relationships with people here and been able to share the Gospel with them.  Lots of people would have never heard the Gospel.  Tons of people would not have a Bible to read.  I do NOT at all say these things in anyway to glorify anything about us.  If we had let our heads lead us and continued to overlook where Jesus was trying to lead us, we would have not been able to spread that seed.  Instead we would be storing and stashing every penny into our mortgage and possibly that IRA fund we don't have, planning to live like no one else later.  A "Later" that may never happen.

James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  

I don't believe in living above your means, running your life on credit, mortgaging 1/2 your income.  I think there is a balance, a balance that can only be truly measured by the word of God.  Some will say to listen to your heart over your mind and others will say the opposite.  But lets face it, both our heart and our head can lead us astray.  We have to use both our hearts and our minds to know which direction to go, which choices to make.

Luke 10:27. And he answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. 28 And he said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.

When our entire existence is focused on GOD and what HE wants us to do with our lives, that is when we will stop making choices that are based on selfish desires.

Proverbs 16:9. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Jeremiah 10:23. I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

Today marks one year since we moved to Costa Rica.  We had no idea what the future held one year ago, and still don't know what the future holds.  All we know is today.  We pray about the uncertainties and for His will.  We pray daily for HIS plan.  His plan is the certain thing in life.  Their are so many uncertain things in our lives but the one thing that is certain is that He gave his life for us, the Lord paved a way for us.  It is our choice whether we follow.  


~ This post is a join effort from David and I ~

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Who Is the "Itsy Bitsy" Bringing Glory To?

Scenario 1:
Kids are running crazy through the house.  You just stepped out of shower.  Doorbell has been ringing.    Nobody can hear it because they are playing crazy LOUD.  You are expecting a parent of a child that is at your house playing.  Frantic to get something on and answer the door.  Bra and panties on, you head to the front door to greet child's parent.  Child's parent is his Dad.

Scenario 2:
Saturday night you hosted dinner at your house.  You plate everyone's salad, remove lasagna from oven, slice the bread, fill the drinks, and serve.  Oh yeah, you are hosting dinner in your bra and panties.  Dinner is served.  Let's sit around the table and have a nice conversation...while you chill in your bra and panties.  Time for dessert.  Everyone still sitting at the table while you serve dessert walking around in your bra and panties.   

Call me crazy, but these scenarios I just painted are happening everyday during these summer months.   Change the 1st one to kids are playing in sprinkler and you are in backyard and walk through house to answer door in a bikini.  All I did was change the location to the backyard from the bathroom and interchanged the word bikini {reality...they are the same thing}.  And in scenario 2, location is on your back deck with friends and interchange bikini for undergarments.   So, the bikini has a different name than bra and panties, but they are one and the same.  Actually, I take that back, I have seen some swimsuits that offer pretty much no coverage.

You are at the beach enjoying God's beautiful creations and soaking in all the rays....in your panties and bra...with hundreds of other people...and GOD.  Yeah, he is there too.  

"Am I a God at hand declares the Lord, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord.  Do I not fill heaven and earth?  declares the Lord." ~Jeremiah 23:23-24

I am pretty sure most of you have seen this video or have at least seen it floating around Facebook.  This lady goes into the history of the bikini.  Pretty interesting facts.  

Isn't our existence to glorify God in all that we do?  

Who are we glorifying when we expose our entire body for everyone to see? 

What is the purpose?  To show off the body you have worked for?  

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body." 
~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Does walking around in a bikini {same as your undergarments} glorify God?  Be honest!

Would you disciple someone and share the Gospel with them over coffee in your panties and bra?  How weird would that be?  Why is it okay to move from the coffee bar setting to the beach, and now all of a sudden it is okay to wear the neon printed, waterproof undergarments?  Would you sit with a couple and give biblical marriage advice in your underwear?  Would you stress the importance of purity to your daughter and her priceless value and shop for her bikini....then finish the conversation while sitting at the pool where everyone can take view of her physical assets?  Think about it.

What are we doing?  What are we teaching these young impressionable girls and boys too?  Why has society, Christians, accepted this as okay?  

"So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." ~ Romans 14:12

Modesty is not just a matter of what we wear, but the intent of our hearts as well.  Honestly some could walk around in a potato sack and still not be modest.  Our actions must be modest, our speech must be modest, and our hearts serving the Lord and serving those around us.  Who are we serving when the bikini is donned?  Who are we glorifying?  


Maybe you agree with me.  Maybe these words and videos caused you to think.  Maybe they made you angry.  Whatever the emotion this post evokes in you, I pray that is causes you to seek His word, His wisdom, and His truth and what we can do to bring Him the most glory.

Sugar Rush

I have been asked for this recipe so many times, that I have decided to just share it here.  Then I can just reference to this link....no more retyping it and resending it more times than I can remember.

I cannot take the credit for this recipe.  This is the recipe my mom and Lesa Avaritt always use.  They have been eaten, or devoured by many.  They will put you into a diabetic coma in mere seconds.  

They are so EASY.  Non-laborous.  They do not take half the day to make.  PERFECT!!


2 C warm water
1/2 C oil
5 T sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 egg
4 C self-rising flour {don't have any, no worries I use this recipe.}

Place warm water in mixing bowl and add yeast.  No need to let it set.  I just do this first and then get my other ingredients together.  I then add my oil, sugar, and beaten egg.  Then add all of the flour.  Don't worry, the dough will be thinner than you think it should for a yeast dough.  I mix very well with a wooden spoon.  Cover bowl with saran wrap and place in fridge over night.  

In the morning, flour a pastry mat very heavily.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Dump dough on the mat, add more flour to knead with.  I knead it for 2-3 minutes.  Roll out into a rectangle.  Melt 3/4 stick butter.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the butter.  I don't measure this, I just always have cinnamon and sugar already mixed together and on hand.  I then sprinkle a little brown sugar on the dough too.  Roll the rectangle up.  I then make my roll pieces by using a string of unflavored dental floss.  It works so much better than attempting to use a knife.  I use the Pampered Chef Jelly Roll pan, and it is the perfect size.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.  I remove them from oven and let them cool 10-15 minutes before frosting them.  And, again, I have no recipe for my frosting.  This is approximate and you may need to add more water or powdered sugar until you have the consistency you like.  I prefer more of a frosting than a glaze.  If you make a runny glaze, to me, it just makes the cinnamon rolls doughy...not my thing.  

3 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla {I always use Mexican vanilla}
1 TB melted butter
5 TB water {I honestly have no idea, just start here, and I never add more than a TB at a time}
*another yummy version is to whip in a TB or 2 of softened cream cheese*

I mix by hand or with a hand mixer.  I like it to be the consistancy of toothpaste.  Frost.  Eat.  Go back to sleep!!!

I am good after about 3 bites, but David thinks you need 3 or 4 of them...he will surely go into a coma one day from eating these.....reason 101 why I do not make these very often.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Celebrating Life

Many of you know where my passion lies in regards to the orphans in this world.  Once you are truly awakened by the complete and shattering brokenness of the orphan, your life really is never the same.

I have laid awake many a nights brainstorming for a "BIG" plan that would enable me to be a better voice for the orphan.  A plan that would make the most impact.  A plan that would help the most children.  A plan that would make the most difference.  In the end, all I can do is act.  I can act small, act big, act financially, act in prayer.  But the simple fact is I HAVE to do something, because doing nothing is not a voice for the orphans.  And God is pretty clear on the role, we as Christians, are to play in their lives.  Pretty simple, we are to be a part of their lives.  We are to care.  

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." ~ James 1:27

And when I make my acts "pure and undefiled," I am blessed beyond measure.  I am blessed with cuteness like this, smiles that stay with you forever.  

I am so excited to be baking sweetness for these children for one of the local Children's Homes here in Atenas.  My art and creating in the kitchen to celebrate life = PERFECT for me.  I will keep you posted with their celebrations throughout the year.  This sweet boy turned 5 last week and celebrated Sunday.  I figured a 5 year old boy would love to dig into some butter cake, topped with chocolate buttercream, with some Oreo dirt, and construction signs.  

Right now I know so many people who are in the beginning, middle, and end of the adoption process, and starting the lifelong journey of loving those little ones.  There are so many, too many to list, THANK YOU LORD, but I ask that you pray for them, for anyone who is in this journey or thinking about entering this journey.  They need it.  That precious child needs it.  And, we, the parents need it.  

Everyday I am amazed at the blessings I have witnessed through adoption.  The webs that have been intermingled, friendships and lifelong bonds created, just bring me speechless.  I have been so blessed by this amazing thing called ADOPTION.  

A little over two years ago, an old childhood friend was in Chick Fil A in Little Rock and saw my mom.  She and my mom talked.  She told me her and her husband were thinking about adopting.  We exchanged many facebook messages.  She prayed for us throughout our adoption with Leia.  They soon started their journey to their Peruvian Princess.  And, she wrote a book.  WOW!!   She recorded their brokenness, their love, and the harsh reality of so many children in the world.  

{Picture used by Calley's permission}

If you are curious about adoption, what it does to your heart, and how it can turn it inside out and then be mended with a gift sent from the Lord, then read this book.  All proceeds go to the construction of The Jessica House in Iquitos, Peru.  You can purchase her book here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

King of the Day

Olivia thought Daddy needed a crown to celebrate his day.  A quick little search on Pinterest, and we were printing out a crown for to color and assemble.  She insisted Daddy had to wear it all day long, starting at 7:30 Sunday morning. 

They love surprises, although, I am convinced that it just is not completely possible with children to maintain complete surprises.  They just can't handle it, and leak information intentionally and unintentionally!!

The kids loved preparing for Daddy's Day.  They spent most of the day Saturday making all of their things for Daddy.  They each made a book for Daddy telling and illustrating everything they love to do with Daddy and what he loves to do with them.  Then they each had a page of questions about Daddy that they had to answer and I filled it out for them.  That one was super cute.  Leia said he is 3 years old and his favorite food is carrots and raisins!!  Ha!!! Maybe if he were on the brink of starvation.  

I don't think he was starving Sunday.  He had his all time favorite of homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Perfectly grilled burgers for lunch.  And finished off with homemade ice cream and cupcakes (not his favorite, but I had some left from another thing I was baking for, and I was crunched for time).  

{LOVE HIM!!!  I say he is a pretty hot KING!}

They could not sit down and eat their breakfast until Daddy had read and looked at all of their stuff they made.  They were loving him reading their sweet and funny words.  

 Her smile says volumes here, but I wish I had been able to capture her constant giggling that was just cute beyond words when Daddy was reading her book and all of her answers about Daddy.

Daddy's GIRLS

Cupcakes made by everyone and assembled by ALL!
They loved this part!
Anything that happens in the kitchen
they LOVE!!

Enjoying SWEETS with their SWEET Daddy.

This awesome Daddy spent his afternoon {4 hours} playing Legos.  Building and creating, not just toys, but deepening relationships with impressionable little ones.  And they LOVED it!!!

I don't know how I would do it without this man.  He is our rock.  He is my best friend.  Love him to the moon and back a million, gazillion orbits.  I can only pray that my girls find a man to marry just like their father.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Strawberries N Cream

You don't know David very well if you don't know that he loves ice cream and would love to consume it every night after the kids are in bed.  I am not a fan of ice cream and never have been.  I hate milk!  I dislike milk so much that I drain it off every bite of cereal, on the rare occasion when I do eat cereal.

Like anything else in this country ice cream is expensive.  David would probably skimp on milk and bread and splurge for the ice cream and say that you were getting a higher caloric intake, and that making it a better buy.  It is expensive and very sub par.  It puts the Wal-Mart great value stuff  in the Ben and Jerry's category.  The cows here are just pitiful, and I would assume do not have much cream on the top of their milk.  So, that makes for some icy ice cream, that is not so creamy.

Thanks to my mom for giving me a small 1.5qt electric ice cream maker.  I had it stored in our garage in Benton for several years and never used it.  When we were moving down here, we sold tons of stuff, but for some reason that was one of the few things I kept...even though I had never used it.

I asked for lots of recipes from people, searched the Internet, tried several different things, and never came up with anything that was that great...part of the reason being that I could not get some of the main ingredients here.  Aunt Vickie sent me her recipe that she uses, and I used it for my base, changed some things, and came up with a recipe that we love.  And I don't even like ice cream.  I can pass it up with no hesitation.   But since coming up with this for David and the kids, let's just say I have had to lengthen my exercise sessions.

{sorry for the poor photo..grabbed this with the iPod one night}

Vanilla Ice Cream
{this is for a 1.5 qt}

1 C heavy whipping cream
1 egg
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Milk {see instructions}

Mix egg and sugar together with whisk very well...like a really long time until you think your arm is going to fall off.  Then mix in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt.  Add enough milk {I use 2%} for your mixture to equal 4 cups.  Pour in frozen canister and start.  I let it run about 45 minutes.  I normally try to make it in the morning, so that I can put in a plastic bowl, place in the freezer, and harden like store bought.

I personally love mine with fresh strawberries, but it is good all alone, or even better with oozy gooey warm brownies, cake, cookies...you know anything that will require excessive sweating to get rid of what you just consumed.  

{I made this for our neighbors the other night and they were loving it!!  They had no idea you could make ice cream like that.  Their version of homemade ice cream was shaved ice, red syrup {it is called sirope} that tastes very much like cough syrup poured over the shaved ice and then topped with powdered milk.....yes powdered milk.  Imagine me trying to gag that one down.  Reminder, I HATE milk...strong, very strong gag reflex with MILK!  They have asked us to purchase one of these ice cream makers from the states and have someone bring it when they come to see us.  Yay!  That way I won't have to eat Cough Syrup frozen with powdered milk.}

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mother's Day 1 of 2

I was showered with lots of love and pampering for Mother's Day a few weeks ago.  My hubby scheduled me for a one hour massage the day before Mother's Day.  He took the kiddos to soccer and sent me to get a massage.  Love those massages!!  That is one thing that is cheaper in Costa Rica!!!!!  You can get a one hour massage for $24 pretty much anywhere in the country.

I was awakened Sunday morning by little knocks on the door from Leia.  Everyone burst into tell me Happy Mother's Day and told me breakfast was being served.  I walked to the table and this is what was waiting for me.  My hubby had prepared homemade chocolate chip muffins.  My setting was complete with handmade cards from all the kids and a personalized napkin, compliments of Olivia.  The muffins were exceptionally yummy.  While we were eating breakfast David pulled out his iPod and starting playing recordings that each of the kids had done for me about why they love me.  LOVED!!!  Pretty sure this was one of the best Mother's Days I have had.  Just loved each of their little speeches that they recorded for me.

All my babies on Mother's Day May 2013

{P.S.  I say Mother's Day 1 of 2, because Mother's Day here in Costa Rica is August...hehe!}

Thursday, June 6, 2013

For Fun

I laugh every time we stop at the food court in Escazu {a little piece of America...complete with a real highway and a mall - a very, very expensive mall, but a great food court with the all American artery clogging foods.}

What kind of name is "Rice n Smile?"  It just cracks me up.  With a name like that you are just compelled to go and see what they have.  I think it might be rice pudding...coagulated goodness with some rice chunks and funky flavors.  

"Bimbo" is everywhere.  That is the only brand of bread you can buy unless it is from a bakery.  It is just one of those names that makes me smile every time I see it.  We don't have Hostess here, we have Bimbo.

While Mom was here visiting a few weeks ago I needed to run an errand in another town.  This is the one town where I can navigate to, not that I can get anywhere there, but PriceSmart and two other neighboring buildings {all next door to each other on the same side of the road}.  We made it half way there and the clutch decided to go out on the van while I am on the freeway, a freeway that has no shoulder whatsoever.  There is no where to turn around, and at this point we are 2/3 of the way there anyways.  I manage to get to an exit in 2nd gear on the freeway, pulled off, and parked in an open lot by a bus stop.  I called David {this was not the first call} and let him know where we were and he said he had called the mechanic.  Our mechanic was going to go by our house and pick him and all of the kids up and come to where we were at.  It feels like it is a 100 degrees.  I said okay and Mom and I sat in the van with doors open.  I practiced Spanish via the Ipod for what seemed like forever.  By this time, we are sweating bullets, have drank the water in the one cup Mom brought and have eaten the very small protein bar she had smashed and melted in her purse.  Now we need a potty break and my mother is a camel if you are not aware and needs to consume large amounts of liquids.

There is always a store, on every corner, and every other house front.  I call David and ask him where he is at, they should have been here by now, over an hour has passed.  He is still waiting on mechanic to pick him up.  I let him know that we are going to go find something to drink and a bathroom and to call me when he leaves.  Mom and I walk and walk and walk.  I ask some school girls where the closest place to by cokes and she told me just ahead and on the right.  Just ahead, several more blocks.  There are always stores everywhere.  We walked forever and finally found a little store front.  To my amazement he had a very clean bathroom complete with toilet paper {a rare find}.  We managed to get drinks but no snacks.  It wasn't hard to pass up the yellow colored pastries in packages that looked like they had been packaged several decades ago.  We got back to the car, and I still have not heard from David.  It has been a couple hours now, and it is after noon and very, very, very hot.  I called him and told him we were just going to lock up the van, catch the bus the rest of the way to where we needed to go, finish the errand, get something to eat, and then catch the bus back to where we were parked.  He said okay and would call me when he got to the van.

So, Mom had her first Tico bus experience...hot, and windows not open, and will not open.  She just laughed and said she always gets in these pickles with me.  We made it to our intended destination, completed errand, ate lunch, and David was finally picked up by the mechanic and brought to the van.  The mechanic said he could drive it back home...it won't shift from second gear.  I was amazed that this was even feasible.  I literally crawled to the spot where we parked.  I didn't think I was going to get in a parked position.  Lots of laughs about this one, and a major accomplishment that I was able to give David instructions as to where I was at, catch a bus to another town, and navigate without him.  In case you did not know I am completely geographically challenged.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunshine In My Soul

A couple of weeks ago when we had visitors from the states we planned an after church get together for everyone to stay and enjoy one another's fellowship.  Saturday was a day of prepping in the kitchen, making lots of sandwiches, washing and cutting veggies, and of coarse baking something sweet and finger licking good.

Thought we would throw a little extra sunshine on a beautiful Lord's day with something a bit sweet.  I pretty much love anything lemon and did a little experimenting and came up with this recipe for Lemon Cupcakes and a frosting that was just right.  They were a hit.  Even David liked them, and he normally is a solo chocolate dessert lover.  But I am slowly expanding his horizons with food.

Lemon Cupcakes
1 yellow cake mix {do not follow box instructions}
1 C peach nectar juice or apricot nectar 
2 sticks butter, melted {do not substitute for margarine}
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.  Mix all the ingredients above with a mixer.  Fill 24 lined muffin cups.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
1/2 C shortening
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
6 1/4 C powdered sugar
5 1/2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T vanilla {I use Mexican vanilla for everything}
2 pinches of salt
2 T milk
2 drops yellow food coloring, optional {I did not use but the butter here in Costa Rica is literally the color of canary yellow, very bright.}

Cream shortening, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.  Then slowly add powdered sugar 1/2 C at a time while whipping in stand mixer, alternating with the milk.  You can add more milk or powdered sugar if you prefer a different consistency.  But this was exactly the measurements I used {I actually wrote this one down as I did it, so I would not have to guess next time}.  Then pipe the frosting on cupcakes.  Since we are living in a very humid climate, with no A/C, it is best for me to pipe day of eating them.  I bake them day before and pipe them day of consumption.

Let me know if you try these out.  The cakes were perfect consistency, a mixture of moist and dense, but not a brick {I shall share with you about queso bricks in Costa Rica sometime}.

She draws lots of love and attention from everyone.

After church

Line 'em up

Capturing moments like these bring the most wonderful "SUNSHINE IN MY SOUL!"
Those can't be planned but just caught.  

 Felicia and Marta enjoying Sunday fellowship with one another.

Michelle, Lorena, & Alejandro

Margarita {I have NEVER seen her without this SMILE.

Lorena & Alejandro

Innocent and bright SUNSHINE!
{Left: Julito, Margarita, and Louis Packard}

Michelle and Leia are usually inseparable.  Love it!!!

What gatherings are all about...

One of my rays of SUNSHINE everyday...complete with chip crumbs.

Monday, June 3, 2013

He is Mine

Some Sunday morning snapshots with my love taken by our 8 year old daughter.  With a little Photoshop, I thought they turned out great.  Love Him!!!!!!!

I love him more everyday!