Photography: Monarch Caterpillar and Chrysalis

I’ve been so busy lately, and I completely forgot to blog yesterday until the evening, so I’m posting on a Tuesday. (but hey it’s still Monday for my American readers…)

A few days ago Jared noticed that on a swan plant in our driveway there are several caterpillars and chrysalises! I’d seen a few before, but now there are 5 chrysalises and about the same number of caterpillars.

Once some of the butterflies come out of the chrysalises, I’ll try and take some photos if they’ll stay in one spot for a few minutes!

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At my family’s house in the States, I don’t remember ever seeing a monarch caterpillar, but we would get these fuzzy orange and black striped ones. One year, I don’t know what happened, but there were THOUSANDS of them all over! You couldn’t walk across our front deck, or anywhere for that matter, without stepping on a caterpillar or five. No more running around barefoot outside, cause, ew! I think we even found a few in the house.

I try not to think about caterpillars too much, because I *hate* larvae, and worms… not earthworms, but any other kind. Seriously I think I have a phobia because I have had some major freak outs… when I was a kid, my siblings and I liked caterpillars, yet as I grow older and realize that they’re basically maggots for butterflies- EWwwwww yeah I’d rather retain the fuzzy memories from my childhood. And the caterpillars we had then, they didn’t even turn into butterflies. I think they turned into moths.

Anyways, that’s enough of my caterpillar talk. What animal grosses you out? A lot of people hate spiders and snakes, but I actually love snakes- probably because I grew up where we didn’t have any poisonous snakes- and while I don’t like spiders, they don’t terrify me- also probably important to note that we only had a few poisonous spiders where I grew up, the main ones being black widow and brown recluse. I think I saw a black widow spider once, and that’s it. I don’t even know what a brown recluse looks like, now that I think of it. I should probably know that… I don’t like spiders, but they don’t scare me like larvae do. Seriously I’m making myself uncomfortable just talking about them. Gross…

Okay well that would be an odd note to end on, so let’s brighten it up a little. Do you have many butterflies where you live?

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Happy Birthday Jared!

Jared’s birthday is today! He’s working this morning but he’s planning to come home early, and we’re having his family over this evening. If you read Wednesday’s blog post, you already saw these photos but I have to post them again because CUTENESS!!!

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Look at what a cute kid he was! Pretty sure when we have children they’re going to be adorable!

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I’m not going to get too sappy but I do want to take a few minutes and brag on this guy. First of all you should know how smart he was in school! He got so many trophies and awards in high school. He earned his Bachelor’s at North Tec with distinction and academic excellence. Now he works as a general manager at his parents’ construction company and he’s so good at it. Since he started a year ago, he’s had to learn a lot about being a manager and about construction but he’s done so well. One thing I love about him is that he is so hardworking and determined. He’s always sweet to me and puts me before himself. He loves refereeing rugby and he does a great job teaching the kids’ class at church on Sundays. He also has the best laugh, which is a family trait. Watch a funny movie with the Cutforths and their laughs are just contagious!

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I’m so thankful for this man, and our life together! Happy birthday my Jared!

Weekly Menu

Hi guys! I know that Wednesdays I normally post a video on my YouTube channel, but today I’ll be in Auckland for most of the day, and yesterday I was really busy running errands and didn’t get a chance to film anything.

Since I actually planned out our meals for the week for once, I thought I’d share them with you! For lunch we usually do sandwiches or leftovers.

M: Crockpot Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks, rice, steamed veggies, salad. The chicken was so easy and so good too! Just throw some thawed chicken and some barbecue sauce in the crockpot on high for 3-4 hours and you’re good to go.

T: Sweet Chili Chicken, fried rice, salad. I have more drumsticks that I need to use soon, so I minced up a few cloves of garlic and a small onion, threw it in a pan with the drumsticks, and poured some sweet chili sauce and garlic salt on. Bake at around 400F (200C) for 30-45 minutes or until done, and there you go!

W: Chili con Carne, rice, steamed veggies. I bought a recipe base for chili con carne, so all I need to do is add a capsicum, mince (ground beef), a can of beans, and small ingredients like oil, and follow the directions on the package!

Th: Leftovers. Whenever I meal plan, I always end up skipping a few of the meals I had planned for one reason or another. This time I made sure to plan a day for leftovers, or if there are none, whatever I can whip up real quick.

F: Fettuccini Alfredo, garlic bread rolls, salad, carrot cake. Friday is Jared’s birthday, and I am making the BEST fettuccini alfredo! I found this recipe several months ago, and I don’t make it often just because it calls for parmesan, cream cheese, and cream, none of which I usually buy, but it is to die for and Jared loves it, so I knew I had to make it for his birthday! When I asked him what cake he wanted, he said carrot cake, so while I’m cooking dinner right now (Tuesday night) I hopped on the computer to find a recipe, and ended up starting this blog post instead, but hey I’m not disappointed.

Saturday and Sunday are left blank because I have moved recipes around and changed days a few times, so I was left with blank spots for those two days. It’s really easy to make a quick soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, or cheesy pasta, so I’ll think of something when it gets closer.

Speaking of which, that just reminded me that I recently learned how to make the BEST mac ‘n cheese! I never actually use macaroni noodles because I prefer the penne or spirals, but that’s beside the point. I used to just cook my noodles, add some cheese, butter, a splash of milk, and seasoning, and that’s it. BUT NO. This way only takes a few more minutes and is super easy. Get the recipe here, and trust me you will not regret it! It makes it about 70x better. The recipe says cheese is optional but just use cheese. Let’s be honest when is cheese ever optional…

Andddd in honor of Jared’s birthday on Friday, I have to share these photos!

Jared Collage

Super Mom and Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all of you who entered my giveaway over these past few days. I’m happy to announce the random winner is Annabethany! Congratulations!

Since yesterday was Mother’s Day here in New Zealand, and today is Mother’s Day in the States, I want to take a few moments to appreciate my mom. She really is the best. I have so many amazing memories of my mom.

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She’s basically Super Mom. Fourteen kids she’s raised, and still is raising. I love this picture above because it really captures my mom. Holding two babies in her arms while doing an activity or schoolwork with us older kids. She likely had a load of laundry going and dinner cooking. No big deal to her. That’s just everyday life. Somehow my mom managed to homeschool all of my siblings and I, some of us for our entire education and some for parts. Can you imagine homeschooling ten kids at a time?! Or more? I’m not even sure how many of us were homeschooling at the same time. Now some of my siblings are in school and some are homeschooled, so on top of that my mom is also keeping track of after school activities like plays and band practice and performances, and sports. Not to mention appointments for a variety of things (I bet you’ve never taken six kids to the dentist at once). Plus she’s on call as a birth photographer, and does family, newborn, and lifestyle sessions as well… And we can’t forget the daily things like keeping everyone fed (even though she hates cooking), cleaning the house, doing endless loads of laundry…

The first time I really appreciated how much laundry my mom does was a few years ago while my family went on vacation at the Oregon coast. Judah and I were both too busy with school and work to go, so we stayed at home. Mom gave me the job of catching up on the laundry while everyone else was gone.

Now let me give you a little backstory. Sometimes in my family’s house we joke about the ‘laundry fairy’ or the ‘cleaning fairy’ or the ‘dishes fairy’ basically any kind of fairy that could do housework. If somebody’s complaining about folding laundry my mom will say ‘Who’s going to do it, the laundry fairy?’ When my sisters and I didn’t want to clean our room, she’d say, ‘What, do you think the cleaning fairy is going to come do it?’

Well, as I did load after load of laundry I realized that my mom is the laundry fairy. And every the cleaning fairy and the dishes fairy and… Fourteen kids, two parents, that’s a lot of laundry right? Even now that there’s ‘just’ nine of my siblings at home, that’s still a lot of laundry. Well, that means that there should always be laundry going. And I didn’t realize before that week of catching up on laundry, how much work it is just to make sure that the laundry is constantly going. Switch the wet laundry to the dryer. Start a new load. Fold the freshly dried load. Repeat every hour.

Now that I have my own house, I can appreciate my mom even more. Sure, my siblings have their daily chores, and I did too growing up, but if the person who’s supposed to do the dishes is gone, who does them? A lot of times, it’s mom. Who does the organizing, who supervises and participates in Saturday cleanup? Mom. The older I get the more I realize how amazing my mom is.

Housework, kids’ activities, appointments, photography business, and more- how in the world does my mom have time to throw awesome parties, or enjoy reading, hiking, knitting? I have no idea, but somehow she does it, and she’s amazing at it.

Not only that, but mom is an amazing advocate for her children. When Apollo was a baby and the doctor’s couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him (and didn’t really try that hard, to begin with), my mom thoroughly researched what it could be. She read every book on every possibility, and finally thanks to the suggestion of a blog reader she pushed the doctors to check for a double aortic arch- and that’s what they found. It didn’t stop there. My mom became an expert on heart defects, and when Apollo had to get a feeding tube placed, she mastered that as well.

With my other siblings with special needs too, my mom has done her absolute best and learned everything about the issues my siblings have. It is not easy being my mom. Not easy doing all she does everyday, especially when at times people don’t believe in or won’t accommodate my siblings’ special needs. But she does it, every day, and when it’s too hard, that’s when she grows stronger. I can say without a doubt that my mom is the strongest person I know. I want to be like her.

Mom, I love you, and you’re my inspiration and my hero!

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Photo by Kim Gasper at http://www.kimgasper.com

Younique Lip Stain Giveaway!

Giveaway Closed {Winner: Annabethany}

Yay, I’m so excited!!! Today I get to give you a lip stain by Younique in the color shy! Now I’m so sorry but I’m poor and shipping internationally costs an arm and a leg even for a tiny package… So this giveaway is only for NZ and Australia. I really appreciate all my readers and hopefully in the future I can do an international giveaway.

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Younique Stiff Upper Lip in the color Shy

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post! Giveaway ends Sunday May 13 at 11:59pm (New Zealand time) and the winner will be announced on Monday May 14. Make sure that when you comment you use an email address that you check regularly so that I can contact you if you do win!

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Watch my video to see my review of this lip stain (I’m wearing the color sucker-punched here) and my comparison of this and the LipSense lip stains.

Have you tried Younique Stiff Upper Lip, or LipSense? I really like them both! To choose a favorite I’d have to say Younique because I was so impressed with how smoothly it goes on and how easy it is to reapply! LipSense can be quite drying and is harder to reapply because it starts to flake a bit and then once you reapply it, it can look a little patchy. It also costs more initially because you should get the gloss and the lip stick remover as well, but there are more colors than Younique.

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If you’re in NZ or Australia, don’t forget to leave a comment (with an email address you use!) to enter the giveaway by Sunday May 13 at 11:59pm! Winner will be announced Monday!

My New Dress and Eyeshadow Palette!

Hi guys! I hope that your weeks is going better than mine; what is it with Mondays always being the day I find out some bad news?! Anyway, it’s fine, just the joys of life. I’m looking forward to the rest of this week, especially Thursday because I’m getting a HAIRCUT! My hair is soooo long in case you hadn’t noticed, because it’s been 2 1/2 years since I cut it. So if all goes well I’ll share a photo of my new hair here on Friday!

On Wednesday I’ll be posting about the Younique lip stain, and my video will be about that as well. Don’t forget I’ll giving away one of Younique’s lip stains as well, so be sure to check in on Wednesday so you can enter the giveaway! You can read more about the lip stain on Wednesday, but I’ll give you a spoiler: the lip stain is amazing and I really love it!

Remember Friday’s blog post how I shared about the new dress I got? I wore it on Sunday so I got some photos of it. Seriously I loveeee it! So comfortable, stylish, and girly!

 

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OH and important news! To me anyways… I finally got a replacement of my amazing bb cream.

Yeah you probably expected my important news would be more important than that, but I have been using a bb cream that’s not the right color and that looks awful on my skin for weeks, so I am so happy!

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Just above; the NYX bb cream. It’s perfect for me, honestly! It’s moisturizing, so it doesn’t look cakey when it’s on, like the Rimmel bb cream 9-in-one that is also supposed to moisturize but doesn’t… I’m sure it’s great for some people, but it’s awful for my skin. This NYX stuff is the bomb!

When I was trying to find that picture in my camera roll, I remembered these photos I’d taken as well, when I got my BYS Cosmetics eyeshadow palette and was playing around with it!

I am definitely not an expert, but I watch a lot of makeup videos on Instagram and YouTube, so, you know, getting there. 😉 This palette by BYS is called Festival, and it’s filled with bright colors! (Also, all those people who are great at makeup have much nicer cameras for photographing their looks than just an iPhone 6. I guess I have a nice camera too but I’m still figuring out how to take photos of myself with it.) I haven’t tried anything else by BYS (random thought; I have no idea what BYS stands for) but this eyeshadow palette is gorgeous, and everything else in their shop is now on my wishlist, because it’s good quality and affordable. AND PS the lip stain I’m wearing in this photo is by Younique!

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Here’s another look I did the next day, and did you notice I’m finally a bit more comfortable with winged eyeliner? I know I’m still not great at it; but I’m slowly getting it figured out! And this lip stain is also by Younique, so you’ll see this photo again on Wednesday. 😉

Next is not my best, but I figured, why not share it since I spent ages doing it and took it off right after taking these photos which turned out awful since it was dark outside…

For this I used my ELF eyeshadow palette, which I hardly use because I find that *I whisper* it’s terrible to blend. It was still fun making this look though, so I’ll keep it around cause I hate throwing things away that I might someday use… ha ha. (No I’m not a hoarder; I’ve watched the tv show and that is enough to keep my hoarding tendencies at a sane level)

I often scroll through the Instagram explore feed watching makeup tutorials, so I can’t really name any specific account that I follow there. However, my favorite YouTubers are Denitslava and Kristin Johns. Kristin’s channel is vlogs as well, so not just makeup, but her makeup is great and she is super sweet!

Here is Kristin’s channel, and here is Denitslava’s.

Are you into makeup? I have to say, I only started learning makeup about three years ago, and a lot of learning (for me anyways) is trial and error… sometimes I wish I started wearing makeup at like 13 so I got the embarrassing I-don’t-have-a-clue-what-I’m-doing stage out of the way while everything else embarrassed me too. Well, it is what it is, but here’s my tip for learning makeup: practice, and be patient. And watch lots of tutorials online 😉

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Hi guys! Stay tuned because next week’s video is going to be about Younique’s lip stain, and I’ll be comparing it to the LipSense lip stains as well! PLUS guys I get to give you one of Younique’s lip stains, so check in on Wednesday and be sure to enter the giveaway!

This week has been, well, no walk in the park. I mean hey, life is incredibly interesting, so that’s good, at least. Today Jared’s grandma invited me to her house for morning tea, as she and granddad are celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary! It was great to get see grandma and granddad, as well as meet granddad’s siblings. It was such a nice morning and I love this family that I married into!

Yesterday was quite the day, let me tell you about it. I had an appointment at 11:45 to get my hair cut. I spent the morning tidying up and cleaning the house, since someone was coming around later. That was all good, I left the house beautiful and spotless. Well, I was almost at the hair place when Jared called me asking about the house key, because he needed to get inside. So I had to turn around, go home and give him the key, and then continue on my way to my appointment. I called to let them know I was running late, but by the time I showed up it was so late that there wasn’t time to do it. I wasn’t entirely surprised, and of course it was totally my fault so I wasn’t upset.

We rescheduled for next week, and I texted Jared and told him I was on my way home. He called me and told me to go shopping and buy something, so I got a gorgeous dress from Postie! It was so sweet of him, and the dress I got is just perfect! Really guys, my husband is so sweet. Now, I’m not someone who you’d probably like to go shopping with. You’ll understand why in a minute. I went to Postie, and looked around, and they have lots of great things! There were some incredibly soft shirts and sweaters. I wandered around, looked at everything, tried on a few things, but didn’t find anything that I LOVED. So I went to the Warehouse and looked around there, but there wasn’t really anything I liked there… so I went back to Postie, tried on a few more things, and finally tried on a couple dresses. The first one I tried on I loved immediately! It was so soft, comfortable, and beautiful! The other two were great too but didn’t fit me as well, and I went with the first one. I love it so much! I’ll take a photo of myself actually wearing it later, but here’s a screenshot of it on the website.

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I haven’t shopped a lot at Postie, because I don’t really go shopping a lot now, but last year I got this simple gray cardigan there. I had been wanting a gray cardigan for ages and finally decided to find one, and I was surprised how picky I am and how many different cardigans there are. Postie is where I found the right one, and it’s a staple for me! Seriously, it goes with anything (well except other grays that are too warm). When I first came to NZ it took a while to figure out what brands/places are nice and which ones are cheap, I’m still figuring it out to be honest. But I’ve found Postie is great!

The prices are really good too, I’m trying to think what US store to compare it to and, you might totally disagree with this, but it makes me think of Old Navy, a bit. Similar prices, including the sale racks, and they keep up with current styles, without going for every single trend and fab. Anyways I really like Postie! I also tried on a few sweatshirts that were unbelievably soft. I’m serious. If you want a soft, warm, cozy sweater- Postie is the place to go. The warehouse had some really soft ones too, but theirs weren’t really my style.

Where are your favorite places to shop?