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Life is good, I take it for granted too often. I have a fabulous, supportive husband and a beautiful son who is always teaching me the simplicity of life. My day is made when 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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Menu Week of December 22 - 26

I have it so easy this week with only having 7 meals to take care of and 2 of them will be takeout food!  Our other meals will be with relatives or at restaurants.  I might have a hard time going back to cooking full time next week!

Sausage Biscuits

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Baked Spaghetti, Caesar Salad, and Garlic Bread
Chinese Take-Out (our yearly tradition)

Our Weekend Recap

We had a relaxing weekend and got a lot accomplished!  We started our Friday night off  with Bradley playing with a new toy sent to him by some dear friends.  "Bentley" is so cool and this will keep us from having to buy a real dog anytime soon!  Thank you Dana and Jennifer for your sweet gift.  


On Saturday morning, Mike finished the closet in the guest bedroom.  He had to install a shelf and shave off the door because it wouldn't close properly.  We went to the beach that afternoon to get some fresh air.  It was 31 degrees but still gorgeous!  I love the fact that we live 20 minutes from the ocean.  On Saturday night, Mike and Bradley installed a new garbage disposal in the kitchen sink while I watched a movie, Miss Potter.  

Sunday was my favorite day of the weekend! The children sang Joy to the World at church and it was Bradley's first time in a choir to sing on stage.  He was so scared but so cute! I went grocery shopping and Mike finished building Bradley's train table for Christmas.  Let me take a minute to just say how incredible my husband is!  He is a jack of all trades and I'm so very thankful for him.  

I also made some coconut bonbons and vanilla dipped pretzels for the upcoming week.  Let's just say the candy tastes a lot better than it looks.  We ended our weekend with making homemade pizza to go and driving around looking at Christmas lights.  It was a great way to end our weekend!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Genovese Family Christmas Letter 2014

Dear Family & Friends,

Merry Christmas from snowy Maine!  We never dreamed this time last year that we would be living here.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” 

God started making us restless in April.  We weren’t sure what the reason was but we knew He was stirring our hearts for something outside our comfort zone.  Our family started praying and searching for what that next step would be.  Portland, Maine became our heart’s desire and God clearly led the path for us to make the move from SC to Maine in August.  He provided a job for Mike in South Portland, He sold our home in SC within 10 days, He provided moving costs and temporary housing for two months, and He provided us with a house in Gorham, Maine. 

Mike is now working as a branch manager for Scottrade.  This is a new position for him but he loves the challenges and successes of managing a team.  He completed two new licenses for his career and continues to finish his Bachelors degree through Western Governors University.  He has also been very busy doing numerous projects in our new home.  He is quickly realizing that he will be using a snow blower more often than a lawn mower.

Ashley had a busy summer babysitting, getting our house ready to sell, and packing.  She was able to go on a road trip to visit relatives in TN, IL, MD, and CT while heading up to Maine.  Our moving truck was delayed for a week so she was able to clean and paint the house before our belongings arrived.  She is adapting to the new weather here in Maine and learning that boots are more practical than flip flops.

Bradley turned 3 in June and is blowing our minds with his vocabulary.  We now have to talk in code if it’s something we don’t want him to hear.  He is always ready to build something with his Legos and he’s a natural with puzzles.  He loves his new playground at the ocean and his new back yard full of snow.

We continued to be foster parents earlier this year in SC but took a summer break while getting ready for our move to Maine. We don’t know if fostering is something we will continue with in Maine but our hearts are open if that is where God leads. 

As we think about all that has happened within the last 6 months, it’s obvious that Jeremiah 29:11 is truth.  God had plans for us and even though it was something way outside our comfort zone, He provided funds for the move, safety through all the traveling, and hope as we adjust to this new life in Maine.  Our prayer for your family in 2015 is that you will be sensitive to God’s plans for your life.  Be ready, open, and trust that He knows best.

With much love,

Mike, Ashley, & Bradley

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Groceries Week of December 14-20

Smiling Hill Farm - my total was $7.92 and I returned two extra pint jugs which gave me a small discount.

Shaw's - my total was $158.01 and I saved $46.60.  I now have enough stickers to redeem for a free lasagna pan. I was also able to get some cash back through Checkout 51 and Snap from a few items I purchased.  My favorite deal was King Arthur flour on sale for $2.99.  I've never bought that brand of flour so cheap before.  A lot of little extras were added because I didn't have my menu, grocery list or coupons organized.  Another distraction was my coupons falling everywhere.  I had placed them in a Ziploc bag (my binder is currently lost) and somehow they kept dropping and I was leaving a trail of coupons in the store.  A very nice employee kept picking them up for me and found me two different times giving me coupons I had dropped various places on the floor.  He said it was like I was leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind...definitely not the most organized moment of my life.

My total spent this week was $165.93 which is over my weekly budget.  :(  

My Song For the Day - "Your Grace Still Amazes Me"

We took Bradley to a library event last night where the kids could come in their pajamas, drink hot chocolate, and listen to The Polar Express being read.  We were very excited about this activity and we were going to drive around afterwards to look at Christmas lights.  Bradley ended up misbehaving very badly at the library which resulted in an early bedtime for him last night.  It downright sucked because our entire evening was ruined.  My husband posted this on Facebook last night and it blew me away how he responded to our change of plans for the night. 

Brad had a tough night and earned an early bed time which didn't settle well with him. It hurt me to see him upset but even more so the fact that the discipline robbed us of time together. It was the best thing to do to help him understand consequences but it felt awful. After putting him in bed I went downstairs to the basement to build part of his Christmas present. While working on the present it hit me how God must feel about His children when our sin gets in the way of communicating with Him. If I, an imperfect father, still found a joy in building Brad his Christmas present even while he was in the middle of throwing a fit that was literally hurting me inside, how much more does our Father, God, still love us when when we hurt Him. I can imagine God working behind the scenes in the middle of our every failure already building or orchestrating our next blessing.‪#‎godsgracestillamazesme‬

I'm so thankful that God is teaching us together how to have a real relationship with Him.  Mike's post had me singing this song all morning.  It's such a beautiful song with pure, healing, comforting words.  Please take a moment to listen, worship, and thank God for extending His grace to us over and over again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Broken Pieces

We finished this puzzle last week.  It took us about 10 hours throughout the week to complete.  When I bought Mike the puzzle, I also bought the mat to go underneath the puzzle so it could be transported without breaking.  I went to move the puzzle today and instead of rolling the mat up the way it was designed for, I decided to just carry the puzzle laying in the mat.  And you can see the results....not good.  I seriously just wanted to cry.  I couldn't help but be upset with myself for carrying the puzzle the way I wanted to, and not taking the time to follow the directions.

And of course, God gently reminded me of how stubborn I can be going through life.  I want things done my way. Looking back, if I would have just shown more grace to that person, bridges wouldn't have been burned.  If I had just had more patience, feelings would have never been crushed.  If I had just said no, I would have never found myself in sticky situations.  So many times I'll try to figure it out the hard way and if I had only taken a few extra minutes to ask God for direction, life wouldn't have been so complicated.

Luke 9:23 says Then He said to them all "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me".  It must be a daily commitment to choose love over hate.  To choose patience over frustration.  To choose good over evil.    To choose forgiveness over bitterness.  To choose mercy over revenge.  To choose happiness over depression.  

The beauty of this broken puzzle is that it can easily be fixed.  And so can I.  God isn't finished with me yet.  There will be good days and broken days...but He is with me picking up my broken pieces, continually loving me, and showing me there's so much more to life if I just live His way.

Norwex EnviroCloth Review

Now that our family is on track with eating healthier, it's time to start on another area of our life....household cleaning products.  I was so excited to have a chance to review Norwex Envirocloth!  When I first heard about the cleaning cloth, I wasn't sold on the idea.  What made me a believer in this incredible product was actually USING it!  The first time I wiped my kitchen counter, I was completely sold on the product. 

Norwex focuses on cleaning without chemicals.  Over 80,000 chemicals have been created in the last 50 years.  That's a LOT of chemicals!  An average household will spend $600-$800 a year on chemical products.  Or if you are like me, around $100-$200 thanks to CVS deals and bucks!  

The other day I was cleaning our bathrooms and I was using just an ordinary off-brand bathtub cleaner.  The smell of the chemical was so strong that I instantly had a headache and had to open the windows to air out the house.  That bottle of bathtub cleaner is now in the garbage...which means I just threw away $3.

I was sent the EnviroCloth and the Kids EnviroCloth to try.  These cloths simply lift particles away from the surface and into the cloth.  A regular wet dish towel in the sink can start to stink in just 24 hours.  I just threw a washcloth away last week due to that problem.  That won't happen with Norwex EnviCloth.  The Norwex Microsilver in the cloth goes to work with self-purification properties against mold, fungi, and bacterial odor within 24 hours so it's ready to be used again.  And it's true.  After every use of cleaning, I'll rinse the cloth and hang it over my kitchen spout.  There is no foul smell to the cloth 24, 36, 0r 48 hours later.

While using the EnviroCloth, I never used any cleaners. And I still had fabulous results.  The kitchen counter has seriously never felt so clean.  

Like most kids, Bradley hates having his face washed.  But when using the Kids EnviroCloth, he didn't mind it.  The microfibers are like splitting one single strand of hair 200 times...it's that soft.   Yesterday I asked Bradley to go wash his hands.  He said "can I just use my washcloth?"  Even he can feel the difference in these Norwex cloths!

I love the look of stainless steel but I hate the way every fingerprint can show up on the refrigerator.  Normally I would grab my roll of paper towels and Windex.  Instead I tried just using my damp Norwex Envirocloth.  No words are necessary when you have before and after pictures!

I was blown away with all the products Norwex carries.  I only tried 2 products and fell in love with them.  I can't wait to add more of their great cloths to my collection.....hint for my Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and whatever day you want to give me a gift day!  They have a variety of basic packages available which make great starter kits.

**I was given a sample of Norwex Envirocloths in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed here are my own.