Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nature's Miracles

Have you ever thought about the life cycle of a lady bug?  Until recently, I hadn't either.  This thought occurred while standing under a tree in Greenville.  I was with a friend and she noticed a bunch of odd looking bugs.  They looked similar to a ladybug (redish tent, black spots) but they were furry almost.  We did a little research and soon discovered that they were in fact ladybugs, only they had not yet turned into what we are used to seeing.  Sometimes its nice to stop and take a moment to appreciate what nature is doing.

The Egg.  As most insects, the lady bug does hatch from an egg.  What we saw were very small black spots and they were attached to leaves.  It would have been very easy to miss... I found that they are usually a pale yellow color, althought that's not what we saw.  Maybe the eggs we discovered were old?!  It takes 3-5 days for the eggs to not very long at all.

The baby.  I've had tiny lady bugs land on me before and of course I always refer to them as the 'baby'.  Those tiny lady bugs are just that...they are small.  Actual baby lady bugs do not resemble their 'adult' nature at all.  It's actually pretty gross if you ask me.  They are scary and if something like this landed on me, I would not believe that luck was coming my way...nor would I think of it as a lady.

The life cycle of a lady bug makes me think a lot of captipellars, while they are young they spend their time eatting...and eatting...and eatting.  They do this for about 2-3 weeks.

The Pupa.  After filling up their long ugly bellies, they attach themselves to a leaf and pupate.  This would be like the cacoon.  They stay inside a 'shell like' home for about a week.  These are the little bugs we came across in Greenville.  These little guys sparked our curiousity.
There were a lot of them on the leaves and with a little time to kill, we started looking for them.  Don't they resemble the lady bug were used to?  The fur I was talking about early is what's closest to the leaf.  It may be hard to see in this picture.

The Lady bug.  Once the lady bug removes itself from the shell, it may be different alterations of red and in some cases more of a yellow color.  The shell will still stay on the leaf.  The lady bug is a fond insect once it's an adult...but somehow I won't ever be able to think of them the same.

What little things in nature are miracle enough?  The pattern of frost on your window?  The veins of a leaf?  A blade of grass?  The life cycle of an insect?  List them in the comment box below.

Monday, June 18, 2012

No need to BLUSH ladies!

I know what your's about time she moved onto something else...I don't think I can handle much more featurettes.  The good news is, this is the last of them for a while.  The great thing about this website, is that before I get married, or buy a house, or have a baby...I will visit this website often.  It's a tool I can use as a single women or a married women; a gypsy or a homemaker; an independant women or a mother.  This website piggy-backs off of The Knot, The Nest, and The Bump but offers a wide range of everything fashion.  The older I get, the more fasinatied I become with make-up, clothes, and accessories.  I try new things and invent others.  This website features all sorts of geniune ideas about high-tailed fashion.  Be sure to visit The Blush for today's obessions!!

Maxi dresses under $100

I love maxi dresses.  It's one of those dresses that fits all sorts of people. If your worried about length you can either alter it or strap on a pair of HIGH heels.  You can wear it to a wedding or over a bathing suit at the beach.  Love them!!

Goddess Daydream Maxi Dress found at for $64

Quiz Cream, Pink, and Aqua Floral Print Maxi Dress found at for $85
Blurred Ikat Animal Print Maxi Dress found at for $79.50

Bar III Dress, One-Shoulder Ombre Belted Maxi found at at $69

Stencil Print Maxi Dress found at at $72

Sassy New Nail Colors for the Summer

Wooden Shoe Like to Know by OPI for $8.50

Action by Essie for $8

Dayglow by Orly for $8.50

Rory by Zoya for $8
Covet by Urban Decay for $28 (they say you have to try the Emerald Green)
What every 30-something women needs to know...

1. Wear foundation or tinted moisturizer (your skin loses its natural glow because of sun exposure)!  Wear primer!
2. Wear daily and nightly eye-cream
3. Find a few minutes a day to do what you love
4. Use more natural products and less chemically based products
5. Infest in Spanx and a tailor
6. Work more on the inside than what's on the outside...after all that is what lasts forever
7. Wear your hair in a playful ponytail every now and then
8. Remember to include plenty of vitamins, nutrients, and water in your diet
9. Stray from using eye-liner or mascara on the bottom lid (in may draw attention to fine lines)
10. Respect yourself and have confidence!
11. Remove make-up before you go to bed!
12. Thin brows are not in...let them grow lush and beautiful.  (ps this is news to me, my brows are still thin...*sigh*)
13. Be proactive in what you wear...
14. Mosturize that skin!
15. can excersize your skin just like you can your muscles.  Skip the botox and find out more from Cynthia Rowland.
16. Your best beauty accessory is your smile.

What to wear on a first date

Flirty Ballerina

Cute and Comfortable

Natural and Sexy

Just be yourself

What's your best 'first-date' outfit?  Leave your answer in the box below.

Monday, June 11, 2012

For glowing Mother's-To-Be

If you've taken a look at either The Knot or The Nest from my previous posts, you may have noticed the second sister website The Bump.  I've driven my closest friends crazy with my 'make-believe' life altering events.  I just can't stop while I'm ahead.  I've worn the imaginary veil and held the very thin key.  For the glowing mother's-to-be, I'm taking a few steps for you.  I can't promise I'll have all the inside scoops on pregnancy, but I'll list the few features I thought might be most promising!

Super Creative Baby Shower Ideas!

Showers. "This theme takes the shower in baby shower very literally."

Voting Ballad. "Don't know if it's a boy or a girl? Get guests involved in guessing baby's gender."

Bird Theme. "This is a sophisticated take on a classic motif like birds. Decorate with a birdcage perched in pretty branches."

Candles. "Luxe candles are a great favor for guests. You can buy some inexpensive ones in bulk."

Cupcake Toppers.  "We love these 'Eat Me' cupcake toppers.  They're easy to DIY.  Get some printed card stock and cut it into fun shapes; then glue another sheet of paper with fun sayings or illustrations onto the card stock."  Plus, it reminds me a little bit of Alice and Wonderland!!

Best Maternity Collections

A Pea in the Pod.  This well-known brand has its own collection of clothes created just for its store from designers such as Splendid, 7 for All Mankind, J Brand, BCBG and Lavish by Heidi Klum.
Japanese Weekend.  For easy-to-wear pieces with a trendy edge, check out this down-to-earth designer's maternity and nursing line.
Liz Lange Maternity.  Clothes that fit and flatter!
Breastfeeding as Baby Grows

This topic has been in controversery lately.  Some want to 'feed' their young a lot longer than others.  I noticed The Bump featured this topic and I wanted to take a look at it.  I wondered, more than anything, the minimum amount of time you should breastfeed your child.  After that point (and even before), it's really up to the mother to decide when it's time to pour from the carton.

The Bump says this, "there's no such thing as an 'extended' breastfeeding".  What that means is there's no requirement on how you nurture your child.  Most mom's breastfeed until the infant turns one, but other's do it until the infant is a toddler.  Apparently there's no right or wrong way.  Breast milk is good for nutrients, vitamins, and antibodies.  Some say it's good for bonding as well.  

The Bump had much more to offer regarding this subject.  Visit the website and find out about how much time it will take to do it, how much your baby is drinking, the distractions that will come, solid foods taking over, and introductions to new milks.

Most Popular Baby Names

Top ten baby boy names.  Jacob, Ethan, Daniel, Matthew, Alexander, Michael, Joshua, Christopher, William, Anthony

Top ten baby girl names.  Emma, Emily, Ava*, Sophia*, Elizabeth*, Isabella*, Madison*, Olivia*, Abigail, Chloe

The Bump also has popular baby names in other categories: African, Biblical, celebrity, English, Greek, Indian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Latin, Russian, Spanish, Unisex, and Welsh.

Having a baby seems like a miraculous adventure.  It's sure to make anyone happy.  Preparing for a new born and celebrating with family and close friends; choosing a name that has meaning and value; or learning better ways to keep your baby healthy and strong can put a smile on any new mother's or father's face.  Visit The Bump for all your baby needs.

What would you name your children and why?  If you have children, why did you choose their names?  Leave your comment in the box below.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building the nest

Do you remember the three things I listed about what generally is someone's happiest day?  A little review....
"the day I bought my first home"
"the day I married the love of my life"

"the day I saw my baby boy/girl for the first time"

It just so happens that The Knot (the website that perfected wedding planning) also has a sister website called The Nest.  I had so much fun pretending to be a bride, I thought I would step into the mind of a potential home owner.

As I did before, I'm only going to review my favorite features as each website has SO much to offer.

Summer Inspired Rooms

What's a house without a fabulously decorated room?!

"Cottage Modern Guest Bedroom: The greens and blues keep this guest bedroom fresh while also inviting in inspiration from the colors of the sea."

"Writer's Retreat on the Dunes - Breakfast Room: A Russian satellite spy photo of Chicago from the 1950’s hangs over a table and chairs from the same era, offering a slice of Americana with breakfast."

"Seaside Bathroom: A beautiful Malibu, California, weekend house gets a seaside makeover courtesy of interior designer Kerry Joyce, who lined the room with shallow shelving to display starfish and shells. The walls are painted a pale aqua by Donald Kaufman Color."

"Funky Sitting Room: Create your own charming corner chat room boasting with modern style. Paint wicker chairs a bright shade of aqua and add cushions in funky black and white polka dots and stripes."

Or go neutral. What's so great about a room like this is that you can turn it from a summer inspired room into more of a cold weather abode.  I love a room like this, and the green is such a great color!

Scrumptious Grilled Recipes

I have discovered the world of hosting.  Sometimes it can be hard work, but it's rewarding.  It's nice to surprise your guests with a new receipe.  I find receipes from many different places, so The Nest has sparked my interest.

Comme Ca Burger   
9 oz. of best ground beef you can find (Prime Angus recommended)
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
a dash of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 oz sliced iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 oz sliced onion
2 slices cheddar cheese
One bun
1000 island or a similar mayonnaise-based dressing of their choice.
1. Mix chili powder and cayenne into the burger. Season both sides of the patty with salt and pepper.
2. Sear the meat on the grill over high heat for about 1 ½ minutes until the meat has a nice dark brown color but not burnt.
3. Place on hot side of the grill to the side of the hot coals for about five minutes for medium rare and then let it rest for 3-4 minutes to the side of the heat. Just before serving, put two slices of cheese on the burger and place it in the oven or covered grill to melt.
4. Dress lettuce and onion with 1000 island.
5. Place on bun, add lettuce and onion and serve.

North Carolina Eastern-Style Chopped or Pulled ’Cue   
Makes: at least 10 servings
One small (1 1/2- to 2-pound) bag hickory wood chips
One 10-pound bag charcoal briquets
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
One 9- to 10-pound pork shoulder butt (all skin and fat left on)

1. In a pan of water, soak 6 handfuls of the chips for 45 minutes.
2. Open one bottom and one top vent on a kettle grill, place an aluminum drip pan in the bottom of the grill, stack charcoal briquets evenly around the pan (not in the center), and ignite the coals. When the coals are ashen (30 to 45 minutes), sprinkle 2 handfuls of the soaked chips evenly over the hot coals. Place the grate on the grill about 6 inches over the coals.
3. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the vinegars, sugar, red pepper, Tabasco, salt, and pepper and stir till the sugar is dissolved and the sauce well blended. When the coals are ready on the grill, position the butt fat side up on the grate over indirect heat, mop it with the sauce, close the lid, and cook for 3 hours, mopping the meat every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as they burn up. Turn the butt over, close the lid, and cook till the meat is very tender, 2 to 3 hours longer, mopping every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as needed.

Shrimp Sausage Kabobs
Makes: 4 servings
8 bamboo skewers
1 pound large shrimp (26–30 size), peeled and deveined
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 3/4-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into roughly 1-inch squares
Spray cooking oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One hour before grilling, soak the bamboo skewers in warm water.

Prepare enough coals for a hot charcoal fire, or preheat your gas grill on high for 10 minutes with the lid closed.
While the coals are heating up, thread the shrimp, smoked sausage, and red pepper squares onto the skewers, making sure not to crowd them too closely.
When the coals are ready or the gas grill is hot, spray the kabobs liberally with cooking oil and place them on the grill.
Cook for 3 minutes. Spray the kabobs again with oil, turn, and grill for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the shrimp are just cooked through.
Transfer the skewers to a platter. Drizzle with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Grilled Sicilian Caponata
2 large eggplants
1 large zucchini
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium sweet onions, like Vidalia or Maui, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, or 3 cups canned Italian chopped tomatoes,undrained
1 tablespoon capers, drained
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup small green olives such as Picholine, drained and pitted
Kosher salt to taste
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped just before using.

Preheat a gas grill or build a charcoal fire for direct grilling.
Cut the eggplants and zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut the halves lengthwise into slices 1⁄2 inch thick. Brush with the some of the oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place the slices on the cooking grate over direct medium heat and grill until tender and well marked, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large, deep, heavy pot like a Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat, then add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, capers, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, the red pepper, sea salt, and olives and simmer for 15 minutes. While the tomato mixture is cooking, dice the grilled eggplant and zucchini, then add to the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, another 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix the remaining 1⁄4 cup oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar together and stir into the vegetable mixture.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar and salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm or cold. This will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Grilled Steak With Cracked Peppercorns   
Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes

4 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 Porterhouse steaks (or other cut of choice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lemon wedges (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to broil (the oven should be good and hot before you put the steak in the oven). For easy clean-up, line the toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil. (Check your manufacturer's instructions, however, for any cautions against the use of aluminum foil in your toaster oven.)
Crush the peppercorns and salt in a mortar using a pestle. Rub both sides of the steak with the olive oil and press the peppercorn mixture into the steaks. Place the steak on the prepared tray. Place the steak under the broiler and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until the steak reaches medium doneness. (The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the steak you have chosen and the degree of doneness you prefer.) Remove from the oven, transfer to plates, and serve immediately with lemon. 

Renting your first home?  Renters problems and solutions.

Unwanted guests.  The Nest says to take a good look at your lease.  It may mention infestations...rodents or bugs.  That's something you'll want to pay attention to.  If your lease doesn't mention them, check your state's rental laws.  It may help in preparing you for any problems.

 Broken Appliances. The first thing you should do if appliances start doing crazy things, is speak to your landlord.  Early and often!!  It's a good lesson to learn.  The Nest says that most landlords have a "duty to repair", which requires them to keep things running.  Be sure to document which appliances start knocking and what exactly is happening with them.  Note the date you notify your landlord.  If your landlord doesn't respond within an appropriate amount of time, speak to someone at your local housing officials.  Be sure to read your lease beforehand, you need to know if your responsible, as the renter, to do repairs. 

Damage.  Okay, so sometimes accidents happen.  You gave the landlord a security deposit for a reason.  Fix it if it's small but if it's a bigger problem you should notify your landlord.  The landlord will probably decide on wether you should repair the damages or wether they will deduct the cost from your security deposit.  Or you'll just get kicked out.  Hey...The Nest said it was a possibility.

Foreclosure.  There isn't much of a solution with this.  But a silverlining... your entitled to a certain amount of time to move out... on average, 90 days (3 months). 

Needing to move back before your lease is up.  This is one of those things that calls for landlord permission.  It may be mentioned in the rental contract...check to be sure! 

Unliviable and neglient landlord.  You have the choice to move out as you please.  Breaking a lease is not uncommon, but each state has different laws.  Check these before you start packing!!

Okay, so owning your own home is a lot more work than planning a wedding.  A lot of the responsibility falls on you, unless your renting.  The best part about having a house though, is creating your own utopia.  Choosing the color paint and style of each room can make it all worth it.  Host a party and cook up something on the grill and your bound to forget about a broken appliance that needs fixing.

Whether your getting married or buying a home, life is going to give you things to worry about.  Your job is to work around that and to make the most of it.  That's how we do happiness!!

What part of your home do you love the most?