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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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Our Weekend Recap

Sleepless nights, sick kids, and change of plans was pretty much our weekend.  But that's life sometimes....you deal with it and move on.

We started off on a good note on Friday night with homemade pizza and watching the movie, Babe.  It was Bradley's first time watching it and he loved it. Bradley got "Boo'ed" on Friday night which was really exciting for him.  It's basically this fun game where you leave a goodie bag on a friend's porch.  They get to keep the goodies but have to make two more bags and secretly leave on someone else's porch.

 Homemade pizza and a movie on Friday night!

Brad loved getting "Boo'ed" on Friday night.

We had a birthday party on Saturday morning and then we ran some errands including picking up goodies for Brad's 'Boo" Bags to give away.  We ate lunch at Chipotle (another BOGO coupon) and then dropped off the "Boo" bags at two houses.  It was rainy and very cold so headed home and just hung out at the house for the rest of the day.  Bradley started going downhill from there and ended up waking up at midnight on Saturday night complaining of ear pain.  His pain tolerance is pretty high so for him to be crying I knew he had to be in pain. We put some olive oil in his ear, gave him some Motrin, and put the heating pad on his ear and he finally fell back into a very restless sleep.  It was a pretty long night.  There's nothing worse than to see your child in pain and not being able to take the pain away from them.

Savannah loves it when Bradley gets into her crib in the morning.

She loved this ride on toy at the birthday party.

 We love Chipotle especially for their BOGO coupons!

Bradley loved sneaking up to his friends house and delivering goodie bags.

Mike and I survived Sunday with lots of coffee.  Bradley still had ear pain and a low grade fever so I attempted to make him rest all day.  Savannah began her 3rd cold.  It's to be expected with her crawling everywhere and her hands touching all sorts of germs.  Despite the kids being sick and our plans being changed up, it was nice to just stay home and relax.  I caught up on a lot of book reading, coupon sorting and filing, listing items on Ebay, and planning my menu for this week.  Mike took off for a couple hours to get a haircut and his flu shot.  Kids were in bed by 7:15 pm and Mike and I had some time together before we had to say goodbye to the weekend.

Mama said there'd be days like this and boy was she right!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Shaken by Tim Tebow Book Review

Who are you when life is steady?  Who are you when storms come?   Shaken is an inspirational book that will encourage you to discover your true identity in God and not the world.  When we are willing to let God shape our identity, He will take whatever we have to offer and multiply it in ways and for a purpose that we cannot even begin to imagine.

One of the first verses Tim Tebow mentions is Psalm 16:8 which says "I have set the Lord continually before me;  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  It's very obvious that Tim has not only claimed that verse, but he also lives it.  Tim has been able to stay grounded in his faith despite disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny.  He has had his faith stretched and challenged and he has shown the world that no matter how many times he gets knocked down, he still holds onto God's promises.  He believes God always has a better plan and holds onto that truth and God's unfailing love.  

Near the end of the book Tim writes this beautifully about his mission in life.
"I want my life to speak louder than a world record.  I don't just want to leave a legacy on the field.  I want to live off the field in a way that outlives me.  I want my love for God and for others to shine greater than an incredible comeback moment, a heavy gold trophy, or a handful of favorable headlines."

Before reading this book, I didn't know much about Tim Tebow other than he was a great quarterback at one time for the FL Gators.  After reading Shaken, I have a better understanding of who Tim Tebow is and he's so much more than just a football player that has won a Heisman Trophy.  He's a role model that I would want my son to look up to.  He's a real person with a heart that wants others to know Jesus.  He has a kind, sensitive spirit for others especially people battling illnesses or those who can't fight for themselves.

Shaken will be on sale October 25th.  To read more about this book or to pre-order it, click here.  To read more about Tim Tebow, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of Shaken through Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.  All my thoughts expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

100 Days of Real Food Fast & Fabulous by Lisa Leake Review & Giveaway!!

I am SO excited about this giveaway!!  Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food is about to release her 2nd cookbook, Fast and Fabulous next Tuesday, October 25th.  I have already pre-ordered my copy but I was thrilled to be one of the bloggers that received an advanced copy to review AND giveaway!  I can't say enough positive things about Lisa's cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous.  It's filled with beautiful pictures of super easy, healthy, and wholesome dishes along with pictures of every day life with her family.  It's like she's welcoming you into her home to be a part of her life with this cookbook.

Not only is this cookbook full of fast and fabulous real food recipes, there are also supermarket staples and secrets, meal plans with shopping lists, food prep ideas, and a super simple way to search for her recipes that are gluten-free, dairy free, peanut/tree-nut free, and freezer friendly.

Reading this cookbook gave me motivation to get back to cooking with using simple and wholesome ingredients.  Lisa makes these recipes so easy with ingredients that are available at your local grocery store.  Not one recipe overwhelmed me or made me think that I couldn't prepare the dish.  We entertain a lot at our house so I loved the chapter on snacks and appetizers.  She even has a chapter on special treats so we can indulge in our sweet tooth cravings without compromising on unhealthy ingredients. 

Since Fall is here and the nights are getting a lot colder, we have started eating more soups, stews, and chili!  You can guarantee that Lisa's White Chicken Chili will be on our menu a lot this Fall and Winter.  I'm so excited that this is one of the recipes I can share with you even before the cookbook is released!  

White Chicken Chili

Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cook time: Less than 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 jalapeño, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
11/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
Two 15-ounce cans white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, store bought or homemade (page 103)
1/4 cup heavy cream
TOPPINGS: Chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, and/or corn tortilla strips

Whether you call this dish a chili or hearty chicken and bean stew, it’s definitely a winner. The first time I made it for my kids, they asked me so many times what it was called, but by the end of the meal they cared much more about getting second helpings than remembering the name! If you have time be sure to double the recipe and store in the fridge or freezer, because, like most soups and stews, the leftovers are amazing.

1. In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside (add more olive oil if the pot starts to dry out), 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Toss the minced garlic and spices into the pot and turn a few times to coat the chicken evenly. Add the corn, beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 20 minutes.
4. Break up some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon to help thicken the chili. Stir in the cream, garnish with the desired toppings, and serve!

LISA’S TIP: This dish is also great with leftover cooked chicken. Just skip step 2 and add the cooked chicken with the garlic and spices in step 3.

Now here's your chance at winning your own copy of 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous!  Enter below and one person will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, October 25th.  Giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, October 24th.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Our Weekend Recap

Gosh, why do these weekends keep going by so fast?  We have some friends that are moving up North in a couple of weeks so a bunch of us got together for supper on Friday night.  All of our kids get along so well and we are going to miss seeing them on a weekly basis.

We had ZERO plans on Saturday morning since there is a two week break from our marriage oneness class.  It was extra nice to sleep in (does sleeping in until 7 am count?) and have a relaxing morning with no place to be.  After lunch we went outside and raked some leaves and mowed one last time this year.  We went to church on Saturday night and had another great message on Bless This Home.  I love the current series we are working thru.

 These 3 can rock the bedheads!

 A relaxing morning included lots of Lego time.

 Watching their parents clean up the yard.

 This is our 3rd time raking the back yard.  The leaves are relentless here.  

 Best part about raking are the leaf piles!

 BBQ chicken pizza on the grill for lunch!

This kid loves his tire swing.

Another relaxing morning on Sunday.  Mike went for a 5 mile run which I'm so proud of him for.  He's been getting up at 5 am every morning and exercising and his distance keeps increasing.   Five miles is very impressive!  We went to Chipotle for lunch, then to Kettle Cove for some ocean therapy, and finished our afternoon at Sam's Club to pick up a few items.  Apparently I didn't get enough ocean therapy because I was a grouch on Sunday night.  Sunday night blues I suppose so I went for a walk and found such a peaceful pond just a short walk from our house.  The kids are both coming down with colds so they were in bed by 7 pm and Mike and I finished our night with reading some new books we picked up at our library book sale.  One side note about our local library book sale.  It's amazing!  They have it twice a year and it's a pay what you want book sale.  How incredible is that?!  And they have a TON of books.  I went on Friday and Mike went on Saturday morning.  We have a nice size book pile to keep us busy this Winter.

Thanks to a BOGO coupon our family of 4 ate for under $14. 

These kids have no idea how blessed they are to have the ocean as their playground. 

 Hunting for sea glass is so relaxing and rewarding for me!

 We came across this jellyfish.  Mike helped it back into the water and underneath it was a beautiful piece of green sea glass.

 Bradley loves walking on the rocks with his Daddy!

This Maine girl makes my heart happy!

I could look for sea glass all day long.

 Shopping at Sam's Club

Such a peaceful & calm pond within walking distance from my house.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Savannah is 10 Months!

Wowsers!  Savannah dear, you are 10 months old today.  While it almost seems impossible that it's already been 10 months, there are times that I feel like you are 10 months old going on 10 years old.  Your maturity already is incredible.  There are moments we are talking as a family, and you have to put in your two cents worth.  And I truly believe you understand what we are saying and are trying so hard to communicate back to us.  You know how to flirt with men which will definitely be a problem as you get older.  Your ability to find the tiniest specks on the floor make me think a detective work could be in your future.  And your teeth...they don't want give you a break.  You are working on number nine and ten right now and they are so close to popping out.  

Waiting at the bus stop for Bradley is one of your favorite things to do.  It's getting colder in the mornings but the cold doesn't even phase you.  You are definitely a Mainer!

You know how to put away some food!  Some of your favorites are mac & cheese, black olives, refried beans, tomatoes, and chicken.  You had your first chocolate chip cookie this month and I think that's the happiest you've ever been.  And eggs!  It took you 4 months to finally like eggs.  We have them just about every morning and I guess you decided you might as well learn to like them since they aren't going away.

Your facial expressions are unlike any other.  You make me laugh with how expressive your looks are.  There are so many times I say, "If looks could kill, I'd be dead right now."  One lady stopped me at the grocery store the other day and was telling me how cute you were.  Then she stopped and said "I can tell by her eyes though that she's very mischievous."  And she is absolutely correct.  You are one smart cookie and know exactly what you are doing.

Some of our happiest moments are when we are outdoors together.  Whether it's going for a hike in the woods, raking leaves in the backyard, or taking a walk in the stroller, you love the outdoors.  Getting dirty doesn't bother you in the least and you've had quite the diet of sticks, leaves, and dirt.  

Savannah Ashley, you my dear are everything to me.  Our bond is getting stronger every day.  The high maintenance child is still there and yet I'm learning to love that part about you the most.  It's what makes you Savannah.  I'm going to soak up these last two months of you being a baby.  Toddlerhood is going to come all too quickly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love Unending by Becky Thompson Book Review

Wow!  I couldn't put this book down.  Everything was neglected while I soaked up every word that Becky wrote.  Love Unending by Becky Thompson is a 21 day journey that takes you back to when you first fell in love with your husband.  Each chapter focuses on one area that helps us improve the way we love our husbands.  I've followed Becky's Blog for a couple years now but this is the first book I've read of hers.  She's also the author of Hope Unfolding which is now on my Christmas wish list.  Becky Thompson does an amazing job connecting to the reader and her words just flow gently and smooth without coming across harsh or criticizing.  I walked away from this book energized on how I can love Mike more without feeling like a complete failure the last 11 years of marriage.  This book will be on sale January 3, 2017 and I encourage you to pre-order the book or tell your husband it will make a great Christmas gift for you.  He will definitely benefit by buying this book for you!

**Disclosure - I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Our Weekend Recap

Bradley was out of school both Friday and Monday so we had a nice long 4 day weekend.  On Friday morning I took the kids to the library.  Bradley hasn't been to the library in at least 4 months so he was super excited to pick out books and play with all their cool toys.  We brought 22 books home and read 18 of them while Savannah took her morning nap.  Then we went outside to rake leaves and stack wood.  It was a gorgeous Fall day and the kids were so happy being outside, jumping in the leaves, and just being kids.  

On Saturday morning we had our Marriage Oneness class which focused on MONEY.  This can always be an interesting discussion.  After our class, we headed to the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire.  It's a gorgeous drive and the Fall colors were so vibrant and beautiful.  We stopped at Pub 32 in Lincoln for lunch.  They have the absolutely best pizza!  We did a little bit of hiking but never finished any of the trails.  Most of the ones we stopped at were over 3 miles long one way which was a little too much since it was getting late.  Spending the night on a mountain is not the sort of excitement I strive for.  

On Sunday I worked in the nursery for both services while Mike went to the early service.  Can I just say that our church serves the best pumpkin spice coffee??!!  I pretty much dream about that coffee and my mouth waters just thinking about it.  It rained all day on Sunday so we relaxed for awhile in the afternoon and then headed to the grocery store.  The kids went to bed at 7 pm and Mike and I finished our night with watching a movie.  It was SO NICE to have that time to ourselves!

Monday was probably my favorite day.  Mike took the day off from work so we started our day with taking a factory tour at Haven's Candies.  They offer a free tour once a year on Columbus Day which we are going to make our new tradition.  It was a fabulous tour and they were SO generous with samples!  We each brought home so much chocolate and caramel popcorn!  After the tour, we headed to Bradbury Mountain State Park where we hiked and ate a picnic lunch once we got to the peak.  Savannah did awesome in her backpack carrier.  This is the first time she's hasn't cried while being in it so it was a successful hike!  As we headed home we stopped at Wolf's Neck Farm where the farm is always open to visitors.  They are one of the farms that supplies milk for Stonyfield.  It was so much fun seeing the sheep, cows, rabbit, and my favorite...the baby calves.  They were so sweet that we all wanted to take one home.  We picked up Chinese takeout dinner, gave the kids a bath, and called it a fantastic day!