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Life is beautiful whether you're soaking in sunshine or caught in a thunderstorm. I take the beauty of life for granted too often. I have a supportive husband who I don't want to live life without, a beautiful son who is always reminding me of the simple things that really matter, and an independent daughter who is teaching me to throw schedules out the window and live in the moment. My day is made when free samples fill my mailbox. I love discovering a new product and sharing it with others. I'm addicted to coupons and every penny counts. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your success stories with me as well.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our Weekend Recap

The stomach bug hit our house this weekend.  And it chose me early Saturday morning.  I was pretty much near the toilet or in the fetal position all day on Saturday.  I've had several friends that warned me it was brutal this year and they are right.  I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy.  So far, I'm the only one that got sick.  Mike and the kids have stayed healthy which I'm so thankful for.  It made me nervous to think that my little kids might have to experience the intense stomach pain.  Mike was a very patient nurse, short order cook, and SuperDad the entire weekend and it reminded me of how blessed I am to have married him.  I was pretty much useless and if I wasn't near the toilet, I was on the couch binge watching Gilmore Girls.  

I didn't take any pictures this weekend since the storage on my phone is full and I haven't been able to download the pictures from it onto my computer.  Our computer is in the repair shop, our laptop that I'm using now has been sketchy, and we had to order a new boiler heating system today.  I'm not saying all this to grumble and complain.  It's just a reminder that adulting can be hard.  Weekends don't always go as planned.  But a positive attitude and the way we look at things can change everything.  I focused on choosing to be positive instead of being frustrated that I wasn't in control of the situations that happened this weekend.  I love this quote below:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen Book Review

No More Pretending.  No More Performing.  No More Fighting to Prove Yourself.  Nothing to Prove is a book about giving yourself freedom from the self-induced pressure by trying so hard to be enough.  Jennie walks us through her experience as she struggled with feeling inadequate and insecure.  She encourages you to make it your goal to know and love Jesus and then watching what He does in and through you.

I wish Jennie had written this book 10 years ago.  If I could go back in time, and redo things, trying so hard would be on the top of my list.  I've always hated rocking the boat, strived to make people happy and to prove myself.  I wasted a lot of precious time by pretending to be someone I wasn't and didn't even want to be.

Nothing to Prove is a breath of fresh air, encouraging us to become more real and honest to one another.  Jennie reminds us that we will never be enough but our hope is that Jesus is.

To read more about Nothing to Prove or more about the author, Jennie Allen, please click here.  This book will be available for purchase on January 31, 2017.  To pre-order your copy, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book by being a member of Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Weekend Recap

I feel like it's been months since I've posted one of our weekend recaps.  I think we have finally adjusted with our schedule that changed when I went back to work.  We are in a routine now and when we stick with it, things go smoothly.  There were no official plans on the calendar this weekend which is rare but nice.

Friday night began with family movie night watching The Secret Life of Pets.  Mike and Bradley loved it while Savannah and I were bored with it.

We slept in on Saturday morning and then I made a homemade buttermilk pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  It was a very relaxed morning while we all did our own thing whether it was watching tv, reading books, or playing with toys.  I even took a short cat nap!  I made a big pot of chili in the afternoon and we played several games of Golf (the card game) while Savannah took her afternoon nap.  We went to the Saturday night service at church and then a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home.  Mike and I ended the night with a movie once the kids were in bed.  Two movies in one weekend is a very rare thing for us!

On Sunday morning we woke up to about 2 inches of snow and very, very cold temperatures.  Mike made omelets for breakfast and then we were out of the house by 9 am.  We had several errands to run first and then we picked up some coffee and donuts and headed to go sledding at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.  It was a gorgeous morning with full sunshine despite the temperature only being 12 degrees.  This was our official first sledding experience in Maine!  It was a blast and Bradley and I didn't want to leave.  We stopped at the hair salon on the way home and both Bradley and Mike got haircuts.  Then it was an afternoon of shoveling the driveway, picking up fallen limbs outside, and inside household chores.  Baths for the kids, packing bags and lunches for school and daycare, and menu planning ended our fantastic weekend! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Croutons & Bacon

If you like potato soup, you're gonna love this creamy cauliflower soup!  I'd like to think it is healthier than potato soup since everyone knows cauliflower is better for you than potatoes, but I'm pretty sure healthy went right out the window when I added the sour cream, cheese, croutons and bacon bits.  Healthy or not, this was my first time making cauliflower soup, it turned out delicious and everyone ate a full bowl!

1 head of fresh cauliflower, cut into small floret size pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 block Monterey Jack cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Bacon & Croutons (optional)

Heat olive oil and garlic in frying pan and saute the onions until soft. In a large pot, add chicken broth, milk, cauliflower, and sauteed onions.  Cover pot with a lid and cook on medium low heat until cauliflower is fork tender.  Blend with an immersion blender until soup is creamy.  Add sour cream and cheese and simmer for 10 minutes.  

There is nothing like homemade croutons and they are so simple to make.  Buy a loaf of crusty bread from your local grocery store bakery.  Cut into bite size pieces.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add bread pieces.  Toast for about 10 minutes flipping periodically.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Savannah Turns One Year Old!

And just like that, my baby girl turns one year old!  Savannah darling, this has been the fastest year and the slowest year all in one.  You have given me anxiety attacks, turned our world upside down (not necessarily in a good way), and tested our patience in ways beyond words can describe.  And yet you have taught me how to love deeper, focus on the positive moments, and find more compassion within myself.  I'm learning to appreciate the stubborn streak you have because it means you won't give up easy.  Your high maintenance personality means that you know what you want and you will fight hard to get it which will  help you succeed later in life.  Your grumpiness makes me appreciate your smiles so much more.  My dear Savannah, this first year has been such an adventure that I can only imagine what the next year will bring.  I love you with all my heart, dear daughter of mine!

Crying photos are pretty much your specialty.

You love this shirt from Auntie Shannon.

Such disappointment when I told you there were no more presents.

You're a little chef in training and love to be in the kitchen with me.

You were very proud of yourself for figuring out how to open these containers.

Obviously you're not a fan of the snow.

You love your noodles and can eat them like a pro!

You're not fond of sledding either.

Your pigtails just add to the cuteness of your expression.

 Italian food and messes are some of your happiest moments in life.

The ever so "I'm innocent" look.

Sink baths are the best!

I pretty much cried too when I saw this mess.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tough As They Come by SSG Travis Mills Book Review

Wow!  I have a hard time putting in words what I'm feeling right now after reading this book.   SSG Travis Mills is my hero.  Tough As They Come is a story of endurance, heroism, patriotism, unconditional love, and inspiration that will make you rethink your "bad day".  Just reading about U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills's day to day life while in combat is enough to make you appreciate our freedom in a whole new way.  Travis does an amazing job with drawing you into his life without making you feel sorry for him.  This young man has been through more than I could ever imagine and yet he displays such a sweet attitude despite it all.  I love how he even starts the book telling us that he doesn't value his service in the military above anyone else's.  He didn't serve better or harder than anyone else.  He is just grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our country.  Travis helps us see the big picture of what all our brave service men and women go through every day fighting for our country.  I hold so much respect for his wife, Kelsey.  Her loyalty and unconditional love speaks volumes and I also consider her my hero.  One of my favorite parts is at the end of the book where Travis defines success.  He defines it as "To live in freedom.  To go forward.  To love your family.  To make something of your life.  To never give up.  To never quit.

To order your own copy of Tough As They Come, please click here.  To read more about SSG Travis Mills and his organization, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of Tough As They Come by being a member of Blogging for Books.  This copy was provided to me in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Visit to Charmingfare Farm

We recently visited Charmingfare Farm in Candia, New Hampshire for their Lighted Winter Wonderland event.  This event is held every Friday and Saturday from now until Christmas Eve.  The Lighted Winter Wonderland features a horse drawn ride that takes you thru the woods and pasture where you will see various holiday displays and Christmas lights until you reach the "North Pole".  At the North Pole you are greeted by holiday costumed characters such as The Gingerbread Man, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and others.  Santa and his reindeer are waiting for the you in the barn where each child has a chance to talk to him and have their picture taken with him.  When you are finished visiting the North Pole, a tractor train ride will take you back to the entrance where you can warm up by the bonfire or check out some of the friendly animals in the barn.  The whole experience should take you anywhere from 60-90 minutes.  Dress warmly and wear boots.

Our experience with this event was just ok.  Check-in was easy enough but we weren't given any instructions on where to go once we walked outside. We didn't see any staff so we just followed the path to the barns we saw.  We saw a bunch of Christmas lights in the distance so we just started making our way up there.  Once we arrived, we realized we had walked up the back road to The North Pole and had totally skipped the horse drawn ride.  There was an employee that was extremely helpful and helped us get on the tractor train ride back to the entrance so we could start over.  The line for the horse drawn ride was rather long but I was impressed with how quickly the wait went.  They have a total of four horse drawn wagon rides and each wagon holds about 16-20 people.  The ride up to the North Pole is about 20 minutes and you will see Christmas lights and holiday displays along the way.  It was 34 degrees the night we went so make sure you are bundled up.  Bringing a blanket would actually be a good idea especially for the horse drawn ride.  There is hot chocolate and smores available for purchase once you get to the North Pole.  I was little confused about that because I thought the hot chocolate was a part of the ticket price but I was wrong. The North Pole wasn't as magical as I thought it would be.  Our favorite part was actually seeing all the animals in the barn and being able to pet most of them.  I'm not sure it was worth the 90 minute drive for us and I'm not entirely sure it's worth the $25 ticket price if you are local.  I heard several people say they found a deal on Groupon so I would check that route first before buying online on their website.  If I had paid $25 for each of us, I would have been disappointed in the value I received.  

 **Disclosure - I received free tickets in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.