About Me

My photo

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 hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your stories with me as well.

Friday, December 31, 2010

And the Winner is.......

CONGRATULATIONS Maygan!!  You are the $10 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway Winner!!

Please check your email for further instructions.

Thanks to all who participated!  Stay posted for next month's giveaway!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quick and Easy way to make your home smell wonderful

We have all been sick for the last 24 hours.  Ty and I have caught a stomach bug and my husband has a terrible cold.  Needless to say our house is starting to smell like a bunch of sick people and I really needed something to freshen it up.  Here's a quick and easy way to make your home smell wonderful without buying an expensive room spray.

One lemon
Tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water
Squeeze the lemon into a small saucepan and cut in thirds.  Combine cinnamon and water into saucepan.  Turn stove on medium and let the mixture start steaming.  In a matter of minutes, your house will have a wonderful lemon cinnamon smell to it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cleaning out the Medicine Cabinet

I hope I'm not the only one out there with a very disorganized medicine cabinet.  You open the cabinet to find some medicine and bottles fall out, everything is everywhere so you can't find the medicine you are looking for.  So today, I decided to organize the medicine cabinet.  Something about starting a New Year gets me in the mood to organize!  I want everything cleaned and in  place for a fresh start to a new year.  Organizing the medicine cabinet also allows you to read each label and toss out expired medicine.

Instead of just re-sorting the medicine and putting it neatly back on the shelves, I decided to group the medicines together and put them in plastic shoebox containers with labels. 

Here are some before and after pictures:

Before the organization

I took everything out to see what I had, group them together for particular needs, and throw out expired medicine.
The Final Results!  Containers are grouped into categories such as pain relievers, vitamins, first aid, antacids, etc.

Deals at CVS this week

There are a couple really good deals at CVS this week.  I purchased the following this morning:

  • Charmin 12 pack double Basic toilet paper
  • Pantene Shampoo
  • Pantene Conditioner
  • Tide Laundry Detergent
  • Tone Body Wash
  • Cover Girl Mascara
  • Colgate Total toothpaste
  • Excedrin migraine
I spent a total of $23.03 (including tax) and saved a total of $29.93.  I also received $9 extra care bucks back to be used on my next purchase.

Some of the best sales this week were:

Tide laundry detergent on sale for $5.97 and receive $1 in ECB.  Use $1 coupon in Sunday's paper and final cost is $3.97.

Pantene products on sale for 2/$6.97 and receive $2 in ECB.  Use $3 coupon in Sunday's paper and final cost is 2/$1.97.

Tone Body wash on sale for $3.88 and receive $3 in ECB.  Final cost is 88 cents.

Charmin toilet paper on sale for $4.99 and receive $1 ECB.  I had a $1 coupon so my final cost was $2.99 for 12 double rolls which equal 24 rolls.

Colgate Toothpaste on sale for $2.99 and receive $2 ECB.  I had $1 coupon from ALL You magazine so my final cost was FREE!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches only $1 at Dickey's on Monday's!!

Every Monday now through January 31st, you can purchase a pulled pork sandwich from Dickey's for only one buck!  These are normally priced at $4 each.  Limit of two sandwiches per customer.  Click here to find a location near you.

Buy One Get One Free Little Caesar's Pizza

I've never seen a deal like this!  Buy one pizza at Little Caesar's and get one FREE!  Two pizzas for five bucks!  Can't get better than that!!  Go here to sign up and receive your coupon.  Offer only valid through December 28th.  Thanks moneysavingmom!

LUVS Diapers 204 count size 3 diapers for $17.50

I normally prefer Huggies or Pampers diapers but there was such a great sale on Amazon.com for LUVS diapers that I couldn't pass up this deal.  They have their 204 count, size 3 diapers on sale for $35.00.  Use the Subscribe and Save option to save an additional 30%.  If you have an additional 20% coupon located in Parents and Baby Talk magazine, this will bring your total to $17.50 with free two day shipping.  You can't beat that for diapers delivered to your door for under $20!

Don't forget if you use the Subscribe and Save option, to cancel the membership once your item has been shipped or you will continue to receive these diapers each month.  Membership is free and you can cancel at anytime.

Taking down the Christmas Tree

As much as I love putting up the Christmas tree, I love taking it down too.  There's something about packing each ornament and wondering what our next Christmas will be like.  I love the feeling of having all the ornaments and decorations packed away neatly and secure ready to be stored in the attic for another year.   You can also go through your Christmas decorations and anything you didn't use this year, put in a box to sell at your next garage sale.  A great way to cut down on clutter and hoarding.  LOL 
It's also a great time to get some deep cleaning done before the furniture gets rearranged.  I've always been one to rearrange rooms.  Growing up, I would change my bedroom furniture around about every six months.  I still do the same thing now.  There's something about changing furniture that makes it look like you have moved into an entire new room.  So today, I'll be doing some deep cleaning (the house can get pretty dirty with two Golden Retrievers) and rearranging the family room furniture.  In the meantime, here are some pictures from the snow we had yesterday.  We had a whopping total of 2 3/4 inches of snow.

I love how Sasha is smacking Zoey in the face with her tail!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Paula Deen's Hash Brown Casserole Recipe

I love Paula Deen!  I will admit that I've never seen someone use so much butter in their cooking but I guess that's what makes her recipes so yummy!  Here is one that I will be making tomorrow for Christmas brunch.  Very simple and extremely delicious!  

Hash Brown Casserole by Paula Deen
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cups frozen shredded hash browns
1 pound sausage, mild, hot, or sage
2 1/4 cups whole milk
8 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread, crusts removed
2 cups grated Cheddar
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Spray a deep 13x9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the onion and saute over medium-low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the hash browns and break apart.  Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

In a second frying pan, saute the sausage, breaking apart large clumps.  When the sausage is cooked through, remove it from pan.
n a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and mustard, briskly to blend.

To assemble, spread the onions and hash browns evenly at the bottom of the greased dish.  Place the bread cubes evenly on top of hash browns.  With a slotted spoon distribute sausage as the third layer.  Pour the milk and egg mixture over these layers.  Add Parmesan as the next layer, while then adding the Cheddar.

*Cook's Note:  Save a few tablespoons of cheddar for the last 10 minutes of baking, where you can add a fresh topping of melted cheddar.

Bake the casserole, uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and and golden brown.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Oranges are one of my favorite fruits especially if it is a nice juicy one!  My grandparents lived in Florida many years ago and they had grapefruits and orange trees in their backyard.  Every morning we would go out back and pick grapefruits and oranges.  Grandma would make us freshly squeezed orange juice and we would eat a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar.  It was a sad day when they moved from Florida to Illinois.  

Here are some fun facts about oranges:
  • A medium orange has 3 grams of fiber, a day's worth of Vitamin C and other nutrients
  • Pick oranges that feel firm and heavy for their size.  They don't have to be all orange, a little green on the peel will be ok.
  • Navel oranges are best for snacking and juicing
  • Blood oranges are beautiful in salads with their dramatic red interior
  • Clementines oranges are small and easy to peel
  • Mandarin oranges are just right  for an after lunch treat
(Thanks to ALL You magazine for these fun facts)

Deals at Ingles

There were a couple great deals at Ingles this week.  I had to get some other items also but here was my grocery shopping trip for the week.  Remember that Ingles doubles coupons 50 cents or less.

I spent $44.31 for 39 items and saved $42.97 with a total yearly savings of $897.00.

Some of the best deals at Ingles I picked up at Ingles this week were:

Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables on sale for $1.00 - use 50 cents coupon and they are free after coupon.

College Inn Broth BOGO - use $1.00/2 coupon to make it 89 cents each.

Swanson Chicken Broth on sale for 60 cents - use 50 cents/5 coupon to make them 40 cents each. 

Green Giant Box vegetables on sale for $1.00 - use 50 cents/2 to get each box for 50 cents.

Bisquick on sale for $1.50 - use 50 cents coupon to get box for 50 cents.

Welch's grape juice on sale for $3.50 - use $1.00 coupon to get it for $2.50

General Mills Cereal on sale 3 for $6 - use $1/2 to get it for $1.50 each.

Herbal Essences Products on sale for $2.50 - Use $1.00 coupon to get it for $1.50

Aussie Products on sale for $2.50 - Use $1.00 coupon to get it for $1.50

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Trip to CVS

I made a quick trip to CVS this afternoon and bought the following:

Two bags of Hershey's Miniatures (candy for Mike's office)
One bag of Reese's peanut butter cups
One box of Garnier HerbaShine hair color (going to try and color my hair for the first time by myself)
One bottle of Pantene Shampoo
One bottle of Pantene Conditioner
One bottle of Advil Liqui-gels

I spent a total of $5.18 and saved $27.26 and received $4.00 back in ECB's.
How did I do it?  I used buy one get one free coupon for the Pantene products, buy two bags of candy and get one free coupon, one free coupon for the Advil, and one free coupon for the hair color.  Both the Pantene and Hershey's candy had ECB's.

By the way, for the year I've saved $1,042.44 at CVS.  I love me some CVS deals!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Owls are out and birds are in

This past year owls were the hot item on clothes and accessories. This next year, it's all about birds! Here's a sneak peak at some cute items that will be the "thing" to buy this next year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

20% entire purchase at Gymboree.com

Gymboree has a great sale going on right now with 50% off and an additional 20% off select items. Use coupon code 11MZ2N4GM386329 for another 20% off your entire purchase. Shipping is a flat rate $5. I saw some really adorable shorts orginally $24.75 on clearance for $2.39. Coupon expires January 31, 2011.

20% off entire purchase at Crazy8.com

There is a 60% sale going on at crazy8.com and use coupon code 11CL7PTQXK89749 to receive an additional 20% off your entire purchase. Shipping is a flat rate of $5. This code expires on January 31, 20011.

Our trip to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

Yesterday our family took a trip to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We had toured the house back in the Spring and for an extra $20 were able to upgrade our tickets to season passes. We live about an hour away so it's not too far to get away for a day trip. We've been up there several times this year to walk on the hiking trails, picnic lunches, and we've even taken both of our Golden Retrievers for a day. They are very pet-friendly at the Biltmore and your animals can go just about anywhere other than the actual estate and the food court area. We've heard about how gorgeous the estate is decorated at Christmastime so yesterday we made a trip up there. And yes, it was very gorgeous! My favorite room was the Banquet Hall where there was a 35 foot real Fraser Fir decorated just beautifully! I found out that they actually had to take it down at the end of November and put a new one up in December because they die so quickly. That's a lot of decorations to be hung twice. I'm not sure I would like that job. The entire Estate was filled with beautiful Christmas trees, poinsettias, Christmas wreaths, and the smell of lemon and cinnamon in the air. I believe there were 18 Christmas trees, hundreds of poinsettias and wreaths, and zillions of decorations on the trees. Everything was so elegant. If you tour the Biltmore, I definitely recommend purchasing the audio tour. There is a $10 cost per audio but it's well worth the history you learn from it. So many things you wouldn't of known with just walking through the house. It takes about an hour to walk through the house. There are a lot of steps to take but they have benches and chairs throughout the Estate where you can sit and take a breather if needed. We got there right before 800 school children came in so we were able to get in and out of the house without any large crowds.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hot Cheesy Spinach Dip

I'm not a huge spinach lover but my husband is so he was my taste tester on this recipe. You should of seen his face when he took his first bite. He LOVED it and so did everyone else at the party. Here's the recipe:

One 10 ounce package of frozen spinach
1 lb Velveeta
1/4 cup of chopped jalapenos
1/2 cup milk
2 ounce diced pimento, drained
1 medium tomato

Dry spinach between paper towels. Combine cheese, milk, jalapenos, and pimento in double boiler. When melted add spinach and tomato.

Free Yoplait Yogurt

Go here and complete the information to receive a coupon for a free cup of Yoplait Original Serve Yogurt. Raspberry is my favorite...what's yours?

Genovese Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
Another year usually brings new things to talk about and 2010 has proved to be one of the most eventful we have ever had.
As many will remember we were blessed to parent a little boy last year, MJ, who quickly became a huge part of our family. He was with us for just over a year and it was bittersweet when he left to be reunited with his Grandma in March. We were happy that he would be with family, but our home felt empty without him. Just a few months later, however, God brought another beautiful child into our life. We were able to bring Ty home directly from the hospital when he was only 5 days old and it was such a great experience that we will always remember. He has definitely stolen our hearts.
Ashley resigned her job at Pouchee in July and became a stay at home Mom with Ty. She isn’t one to be idle so she started an organization for children coming into foster care. New Beginnings has provided over 100 duffel bags full of clothes for foster children in just a little over 5 months. Ashley sorts through the donations, washes all the clothes, and packs them in duffel bags along with other essential supplies like diapers, baby wipes etc. She had a nice surprise a couple months ago when she was awarded $2,000 from Jenny Jones, the national talk show host, to be used for purchasing items for these bags. You can check out her story at www.jennysheroes.com. She also joined the board of directors of the Greenville County Foster Parent Association (GCFPA) where she is actively involved.
Mike is in his 5th year as an Upward Basketball coach. He has his largest team ever with nine 4th – 6th grade boys which has been a fun challenge as well. Recently he joined the board of directors for the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation which exist to help fund the child adoption efforts of the South Carolina Heart Gallery.
Our big trip this year was to Lubec, Maine in September to visit Mike’s parents who moved there in July. It was Ashley’s first trip to Lubec and she was a little nervous about being at what she referred to as “the end of the world”. Mike had a lot of fun showing Ashley around his childhood memories and meeting people that he hadn’t seen in 20 years. Ashley grew to love the area and adopted a new favorite candy bar called Toffee Crisp which sadly is only sold in Canada, but gives us yet another reason to visit Lubec, which borders Canada’s Campobello Island.
And finally, the biggest surprise of the year for us was to find out that Ashley is pregnant. Baby Genovese is due on June 11, 2011 and we will find out in February whether we will be blessed with a boy or girl.
In I Samuel 16:7b we read…”Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Our prayer for your family in 2011 is that you will come as you are to the Christ who humbly arrived in a barn 2000 years ago, wrapped in rags as He lay with animals. Allow Him to begin a work inside you that He will see as beautiful.
Merry Christmas! We love you!
Mike & Ashley Genovese

(We had to crop our family Christmas picture because of DSS rules of not allowing pictures of foster children on the Internet.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So many recipes...

Can you tell that I've been cooking and baking lately? I've been posting a lot of different recipes to share with you. I will only post recipes on my blog that I have actually tried and like. I just finished catering a Christmas party for my husband's work clients and it was a huge success. My menu consisted of the following:

Chicken Bacon Wraps
Meatballs with an amazing homemade sauce that I whipped together at the last minute
Spinach and Bacon Quiches (I cheated and bought those from Costco)

Super Sausage Dip
Spinach Cheese Dip
French Onion Dip
Spicy Ranch Dip
Ranch Dip

Ham Cheese Ball and Crackers

Peppermint Oreo Cookies
Coconut and Cherry Bonbons
Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Everything was a hit and it's a huge compliment when people go up for 2nd's and 3'rds and then ask for your recipe. I was completely exhausted by the end and I'm still recovering from all that work but overall, it was a lot of fun trying new recipes. I'll post the spinach cheese dip recipe tomorrow along with the coconut and cherry bonbons.

Super Sausage Dip from Taste of Home

This is an awesome dip that is very simple to make and soooo yummy! Perfect at your next party!

  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream

  • In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion, and pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Stir in tomatoes and chilies. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add cream cheese; stir until melted. Stir in sour cream. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 5 cups

Free Samples at Maggie Moo's Ice Cream & Treatery (today only from 3pm - 7pm)

Maggie Moo's is my favorite ice cream shop! I can't even begin to describe how smooth, flavorful, and delicious their ice cream is! Today from 3-7 pm, bring a non-perishable food item and they will give you some free samples of their ice cream products! All donations are given to Harvest Hope.

This food drive for Harvest Hope is for Maggie Moo's on Augusta Street in Greenville, SC but it won't hurt to check with your local store to see if they are offering the same event.

Two Truths and a Lie

This is a great get-to-know-you icebreaker game for groups of six or more people. Have everyone write two truths and one lie about themselves on a 3x5 card. Put the cards in a bucket or hat and pass it around the room. Each person draws one card and reads it. Everyone has to try and guess which person the card is about and which statement is the lie.

For instance my card would say:

1. I ran away from home when I was in 5th grade.
2. I have had a nose job.
3. I fell off a fire truck one summer.

#2 is a lie and #1 and #3 are both truths.

This is a lot of fun especially if you are trying to get to know each other better. This would be a great game this Christmas if you are getting together with relatives you haven't seen in awhile. A great way to catch up on the latest news. You could change the rules so they have to write two truths and one lie of something that happened to them in the past year.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

Are you headed to a party in the next couple days that you need to make an appetizer for? If so, I have the perfect appetizer that is very easy to make and will disappear at the party within minutes! These sweet chicken bacon wraps are so delicious! A big thank you to my friend, Serah, for introducing me to this recipe!

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
1 (1 pound) package sliced bacon
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir brown sugar and chili powder together.
Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon. Roll chicken and bacon into brown sugar and chili powder mixture and secure with a wooden toothpick.
Coat a broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken on broiler pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until bacon is crisp.

Makes 12-15 appetizer servings. For more flavor, roll chicken into mixture first and then wrap with bacon and roll in mixture again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cream Cheese Pound Cake by Taste of Home

I found this delicious recipe from Taste of Home for Cream Cheese Pound Cake. It was very easy to make and turned out perfect my first time which I was very thankful for since it was my first time ever making a pound cake. I will definitely be making this often!

3 sticks of butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; beat into creamed mixture until blended.

Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch fluted tube or Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1-1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with confectioners' sugar, berries of your choice, and whipped cream if desired. Yield: 16 servings

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Baking Day

Bridgette from Blessings Multiplied came over on Saturday afternoon and we baked Christmas goodies for about 8 hours. It was a very long afternoon and evening but so much fun! We completed 12 of our 16 recipes which I thought was great since we only had one oven to work with. Bridgette has twin girls and Brina was a great little helper in the kitchen. Both of our husbands our XBOX fanatics so they were happy to play Halo Reach all night long. Hope you enjoy the pictures! You can check out Bridgette's blog for more pictures and details of all we baked.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let the Christmas baking begin!

I'm so excited because tomorrow I'm getting together with Bridgette from Blessings Multiplied and we are going to have a huge baking party! We both put together Christmas goodies for our neighbors so this year we decided to bake all of these goodies together. So tomorrow afternoon my kitchen will be filled with lots of yummy smells! Here's our list of what we are going to try and accomplish tomorrow:

Homemade peppermint oreos
Puppy chow
Bon Bons
Cinnamon Rolls
Chocolate Pretzels/Snowmen
Chocolate Crackle Tops
Cinnamon Stars
Super Chocolate Cookies
Sour Spirals
Peanut Butter and Candy Cane Cookie Cups
Oreo Truffles
Orange Dreamsicle Cookies
Berry Shortbread Dreams
Cocoa Mix
Sugar Cookies/Bears
Cheerio Christmas Trees

I'll post pictures on Monday!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Presents Fully Charged is coming to Greenville, SC

Mike and I LOVE Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey. We have gone every year for at least the past four years. We even went the year we took a break from fostering and didn't have any children. We were just big kids ourselves and wanted to go to the circus! They will be in Greenville, SC from February 2nd - Sunday February 6th. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday, December 17th but preferred customers (which is anyone reading this blog) can order their tickets now and use code Z4963 to receive an additional 20% off their ticket price. This offer does not include circus celebrity, front row, or VIP seating. But it will apply to the Wednesday night special pricing of $13.00 each! You can purchase tickets here. You can also call 1-800-745-3000 to purchase the tickets over the phone. Code expires on Thursday, December 16th. We purchased these tickets a couple years ago for my sister-in-law's family Christmas present and they loved it! So this might make a great, affordable family Christmas present for someone on your list.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

$10 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway

This month I'm going to be giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card. There is nothing like being cold and heading to Starbucks to warm up with one of their Peppermint Mocha drinks. MMMmmmm. In order to be entered into this giveaway, you must be a follower of my blog. To receive a second entry, leave a comment of your favorite drink at Starbucks.

Good luck! Winner will be announced on Friday, December 31st.

Catering Chaos

Once a month, I am in charge of making lunch for Mike's coffee club at work. Apparently his coffee club doesn't just mean coffee and a light snack. It means a full course lunch, which normally isn't a big deal. I love coming up with new ideas, cooking, and baking. But today was just not my day for catering this lunch. It started off rough with me waking up with a headache, backache, and my left leg completely numb. I'm glad I made the peppermint oreos yesterday or they would be without a dessert today. So I start off with making the french onion dip for the chips and then start on the meatballs. First mistake was making a new recipe without trying it first. But it was a recipe from Giada at Home and she has never failed me before so I just new these little meatball sandies would be perfect. I was very, very wrong. The first batch came out and when I tasted them, I couldn't even finish eating it. I knew I didn't have a lot of time to come up with a new menu so I decided to make my own meatball sauce to try and give the meatballs more flavor. So I mix who knows how much BBQ sauce and Ketchup together and poured over the meatballs and put in the crockpot to keep warm. About 30 minutes later after the meatballs had soaked in their new sauce, I tried another one. Wasn't too bad but still not out of this world meatball. So plan B begins. Chicken and egg salad sandwiches will have to be made. If people start gagging on the meatballs, they can always eat the chicken and egg salad sandwiches. By this time I realize I only have about 30 minutes before I have to leave the house and I still haven't gotten dressed and I have to run by Sonic to pick up the ice and sweet tea. Major panic time. I basically just slap the chicken and egg salad onto the bread and throw them onto a platter. Good thing it's a Southern Living at Home platter because anything you throw on one of those platters automatically comes out looking gorgeous. So my morning was very chaotic, meatballs didn't turn out the way I wanted them, and the entire menu just wasn't perfection. Maybe I should of just went with ordering the Panera Bread soup this month.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Oreos

Ok, so I just finished making these homemade peppermint oreos and OH MY GOSH, they are seriously the best cookie I've tasted in a very long time!

2 boxes of Devil's Food cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the cake mix, eggs, and oil. The batter will be very stiff. Roll batter into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten balls slightly with fingers. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter until completely blended. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and peppermint extract and mix until the icing is smooth.

Spread one cookie with icing and top with another cookie.

Ideas: You can add red or green food coloring to frosting. You can roll the edges of the cookie in sprinkles or crushed candy cane.

Monday, December 6, 2010

$10 off Cheryl's - no minimum purchase

Use coupon code TENFORME to receive $10 off your next purchase at Cheryl's. There is no minimum purchase and this coupon code expires on 12/25/10. Check out through Ebates to receive an additional 3% cash back.

What is your calling or mission in life?

So....I'm pregnant. Something I thought I never would say. Growing up I always said I would never get married and never have my own babies. I had a huge passion for all the children coming into foster care and just wanted to be a Mother to those children. God obviously had other plans for my life because He brought Mike into my life and now He's allowed me to be pregnant.

There are so many different thoughts going through my head about all of this. I'm very excited to see what the baby will look like and there's something special knowing that this baby will always be ours. But it doesn't change anything about the way I feel about all of our foster children. God gives each one of us a calling for some sort of mission in life. Whether your calling is on the mission field, in the Service defending our Country, Pastor or Priesthood, school teacher, or so many other occupations, Foster parenting is my mission in life. God obviously placed the calling in Mike's heart also and brought us together. I understand the majority of people will never understand the love we have for all of our children or how we feel like each one of them was our own whether it was for one week or one year. Just like I'll never understand how someone would give up his or her life fighting for our freedom. I'll never understand why a teacher would want to surround herself in a room full of little germ factories. Why would a surgeon want to cut people open and look at blood and organs all day? There are so many things in life we will never understand but it's ok because God gives each person a different understanding and calling.

As excited as we are about our new baby coming into our life in June 2011, it won't change the way we feel about our other children. We will continue to foster and continue to love each one of these children the same way. They have all been a part in each chapter of our lives and without them our life wouldn't be what it is today.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

I love Coconut Macaroons and I found a really easy recipe that is very good. You can tell I'm in the mood to bake this morning with all these candy/cookie recipes!

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
14 ounce bag of sweetened shredded coconut
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, cold water, and corn syrup to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl, combine the syrup with the coconut and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites and vanilla until foamy and thick. Stir into the coconut mixture. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto each of the 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, switching pans halfway through, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on racks.

Goin' Nuts Candy Bars (Peanut Lovers Only)

I just finished making these candy bars and they are definitely for a person who loves peanuts. I'm going to try dipping them in chocolate once they harden and see if I like it better. They are super easy to make. Overall, it's a good candy bar, I just prefer chocolate with my peanuts!

Here's the recipe:

One 10-ounce package of peanut butter chips, such as Reese's
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound roasted, salted peanuts (one quarter coarsely chopped)

1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Melt peanut butter chips, corn syrup, and butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir in 3/4 of whole peanuts. Let cool slightly.
2. Shape the mixture into a log and roll the candy logs into the chopped nuts. Let sit to harden.

Other tips: You can also microwave the mixture for 1 minute instead of melting it on the stove. Try rolling the logs into other dry ingredients such as toasted coconut, Rice Krispies, or rainbow sprinkles.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Waffle Failure

Ok, so I'm very disappointed right now with my attempt at making homemade Belgian Waffles. I found a recipe online that sounded delicious and had great reviews. I've never made waffles with yeast before so was hoping for a really yummy, crispy, fluffy waffle. I received a Belgian Waffle maker for Christmas (we had an early Christmas at my Dad's house during Thanksgiving) and was so excited to try this new recipe. Well, it failed. Either that or it was me. The waffles ended up being very heavy, thick, and far from crispy. The recipe wasn't easiest either, it took about 30 minutes to make the batter and was more complicated than most recipes. I thought for sure because it was more complicated it would be more delicious. Oh well, I know not to make that recipe again. The Golden Girls love it when my recipes fail because that means they get to eat it. They don't care what it tastes like, most of the time they just swallow the food whole without chewing. LOL

So does anyone want to help me out with a yummy Belgian Waffle recipe? I really want to put my new waffle maker to use!

How Great You Are - Phillips, Craig, & Dean

This song is such a great reminder of how awesome our God is. We can never understand God, He is beyond our understanding. He is so great and we are so small but yet He cares for us like none other.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Joy To The World (A Christmas Prayer) - Nicholas Jonas / Operation Chris...

If you weren't able to participate in Operation Christmas Child this year, it's not too late to still make Christmas brighter for a child. Find a local orphanage or children's home in your area and drop off a couple presents for those children who desperately need to feel loved this Christmas.

Being a Good Neighbor

What kind of neighbor are you? Are you the type who knows everyone on your block and can say the name and ages of all their children? Or are you more like the person who scrambles inside the house so you don't have to talk to your neighbors, your neighbors barely know you exist. I'm a little bit of in between. I know all of my neighbors but not well enough to tell you anything more than their name and maybe just a little bit about them. I don't scramble inside, but I don't make a very good effort of being extra friendly. It's something I'm trying to work on right now.

I have three widowed ladies that live across and beside me. Each of these sweet ladies get very lonely and need someone to talk to. I will admit, there are times the last thing on my mind is to stand there and just listen to them talk about all their aches and pains. But I need to remind myself, they were my age at one time and one day I will be their age and I'm pretty sure I'll be telling someone about my own aches and pains.

Last night I made a huge pot of chicken and dumplings. So I decided to make each one of them their own bowl of mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, and a thick slice of homemade sourdough bread. I got Ty all bundled up and put him in the infant carrier on my back and we took a little walk over to each one of their homes to deliver the food. It completely made my night to see them all excited to get this bowl of food. One of the ladies says that she hardly ever cooks anymore because it's so time consuming and not worth the effort to just feed herself. The other lady was so excited because it was enough food that would last her both supper and lunch today. She cuddled with Ty for awhile and didn't want me to leave. I think she was ready to get out blankets and pillows for me to spend the night there with her. LOL It made me stop and realize how important it is to take care of our neighbors. So one of my goals for 2011 will be to take at least one meal each month over to these sweet ladies.

What about you? Is there something you do on a regular basis for your neighbors?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sale on Vicks at Walgreens this week

Do you have a cold or want to go ahead and stock up on some Vicks medicine? This is the week at Walgreens to do it. Buy 2 Vicks products at $5 each and receive $5 back in Jingle Cash. Use two $1.50 coupons from the 10/31 or 11/28 P&G insert and your total cost will be $1.00 each after coupons and Jingle Cash. You can further sweeten the deal with a free box of Puffs Kleenex. Use the coupon buy 2 Vicks products and get a free box of Puffs from the 10/31 P&G insert. I just scored this deal this morning!

Try Cheryl's Cookies for Free

I've sent Cheryl's cookies to a couple of my friends and relatives for special occasions and have received great feedback from them on how delicious the cookies were. I've never tried them myself and now might be a good time since they are offering free cookies. There is a shipping and handling charge of $6.95. They will also give you a $10 reward card to use towards your next purchase. See below for more details:

Try our customer favorites for FREE!*
You only pay shipping and handling charges of $6.95.

Limit one per customer!

BONUS OFFER – You will receive a $10 Reward Card towards your next Cheryl's purchase. $21.99* in TOTAL SAVINGS!

We’ve included 6 of our most popular flavors: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar, snickerdoodle, chocolate chocolate chip and our FAMOUS buttercream frosted cookie. Each of our soft and chewy, individually wrapped cookies are made from the finest ingredients - sweet creamery butter, whole rolled oats, plump juicy raisins and rich chocolate chips.

*Free cookie offer is exclusive of shipping, handling charges and taxes. Item can only be shipped within the continental United States and cannot be shipped to PO/APO/FPO boxes. No other purchase is required. Items subject to availability, delivery rules and times. Offer available online only for product #57141. Limit one item per customer. Offer valid while supplies last. Offers cannot be combined, are not available on all products and are subject to restrictions and limitations. $21.99 savings include $10 reward card savings on next purchase and $11.99 free gift value. Prices and charges are subject to change without notice. Void where prohibited.

And the Winner Is.......

Congratulations to Serah Roy for being November's winner of the $10 Panera Bread Gift Card. Thank you to all who participated and stay tuned for next month's giveaway!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My best Cyber Deal so far today...FREE WASHCLOTHS from Kohl's

Thanks to Moneysavingmom.com, I was able to score 2 packs of free washcloths from Kohl's today! I really needed washcloths for our guest bathroom and this deal was perfect! I used my $10 Kohl's cash in order to get this deal for free but even if you don't have Kohl's cash, it's still a great deal if you need washcloths. Check out the deal here.

$10 off The Popcorn Factory

Have a relative or friend that lives out of state? This deal from The Popcorn Factory would make a great Christmas present for them. I just purchased a sampler for my Grandpa who lives in Illinois. Enjoy $10 off your next purchase by using code TAKE10. And today only, get an additional 10% back when checking out through Ebates.

American Girl 50% off Sale (Today only)

I LOVED the American Girl books when I was younger. I recently bought my niece a Bitty Baby and another niece some American Girl books for Christmas. Today only they have a large variety of items 50% off. Check them out here. They have some hardback books for only $4.00! One of the best deals I saw was the Kit DVD originally $19.95 on sale for $5.00 today!

Free Shipping at Barnes & Noble (Today only)

Do you have someone on your Christmas list that enjoys reading? Today might be the day to buy their Christmas present. Today only, you can get free shipping at Barnes and Noble with no minimum purchase. They have a great variety of children books on sale for $1.78. Use code B3X4N4N for free shipping. You can also check out through Ebates for an additional 8% cash back.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

I'm going to take the rest of the week off from blogging. We are headed to Oak Ridge, TN to celebrate Thanksgiving with all of my side of the family. My brother arrived home safely from Afghanistan and will be bringing his fiance, Kate, with him. Between my two sisters, I have nine nieces and nephews so Dad's house will be filled with commotion!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Spend a few extra moments with your family members letting them know how thankful you are for them. Life is way too short. We are all very blessed people so be THANKFUL!


Monday, November 22, 2010

My three items for Thanksgiving dinner

This year our family will all be together at Dad's house in Oak Ridge, TN. He is taking care of ordering the ham and turkey and us girls are all each making a couple of side dishes. My side dishes will be sweet potato crunch, butterhorn rolls, and stuffing. I will be honest and tell you that the stuffing will be coming out of a Stove Top box. I grew up with Stove Top and I don't see any problem with continuing with tradition. LOL It's super easy to make and I actually love the taste better than homemade. The sweet potato crunch and butterhorn rolls will be homemade. The butterhorn rolls are my Grandma's recipe and I'll always remember the way her kitchen smelled when she pulled them out of the oven. The rolls melt in your mouth!

Here's the recipe:

2 cups milk, scalded
2 packages of yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
9 cups of flour

Add yeast to cooled milk. Mix shortening, sugar, and salt with mixer on slow. Add milk and yeast to shortening, sugar, and salt mixture. Add beaten eggs. Add 1/2 of flour and increase speed for two minutes. Stir in remaining flour by hand and knead dough. Put in bowl, cover, and let rise. After dough has risen, divide the dough in six parts. Roll each portion into a nine inch circle. Brush with butter. Cut each circle like a pizza so you should have about 6 triangle wedges. Start at wide end and roll. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Brush with butter while hot.

20 Piece Picnic Set for only $3.59!!!

I just finished ordering this 20 piece picnic set and my order total was only $3.59. It's so cute that now I'm ready for summer to be back so Mike and I can go on a picnic! This daisy set includes four plates, four knives, four forks, four tablespoons, and four teaspoons.

Here's how to get this great deal. Click here to go to the sale on WomenWithin. You can also check out through Ebates to receive an additional 3.0% cash back. Use coupon code
ww46998 for an additional 10% off and free shipping.