About Me

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

Reason #56 that I love Fall....PUMPKIN WAFFLES!  I made these the other morning for Sunday morning breakfast and they were a huge hit!  I love the fact that they have whole wheat flour in them to make them extra filling.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup white whole wheat flour (such as King Arthur)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, and  butter.  Stir salt, baking soda, cinnamon and flour into wet mixture until smooth.  Coat waffle iron with non stick cooking spray.  Cook waffles for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown.
Be sure to coat the waffle iron on every batch.  This recipe likes to stick to the iron.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CVS Deals Week of October 27 - November 2

This week I spent a total of $24.70 (including tax) out of pocket, saved $48.08 (67%) and received $4 back in ECB's. 
Tide laundry detergent -on sale for $5.94 and I used two $2 coupons and
received $1 back in ECB's.
A&W Root Beer - on sale for 99 cents and I used 30 cents coupon
Cover Girl Mascara - on sale 2/$15 and I used $4 coupon and $4 CVS coupon
Colgate Toothpaste - $3.49 and I used 50 cents coupon
Colgate Spin Toothbrush - $5.99 and I used $2 coupon, $4 CVS coupon, and received $2 back in ECB's.
Anniversary Card - $3.99
Children's Vitamins - $16.79 and I used a $3 coupon and a $3 CVS coupon

A Field Trip to Happy Cow Creamery

We went on a field trip to Happy Cow Creamery yesterday with some of our friends.  It was a perfectly sunny Fall day and we had a blast learning about cows.
Inside this building is LOTS of yummy goodness!  Their chocolate milk and cottage cheese doesn't last very long at our house.
These are all the Mama cows that are going to have a baby very soon.  There was one Mama cow that looked like she was ready to drop her baby any minute! 
All ready for the Trolley Tour of the fields
 What makes Happy Cows happy?  Green grass every month of the year, of course!

Chocolate milk samples
I love his eyes in this picture.  They look identical to my Mom's.
Yummy Chocolate Milk!

 He's a cow milking pro now!

 This girl totally cracked me up yesterday.  She held her nose almost the entire morning because the cows were stinky!  

After the Happy Cow tour, we went to a park nearby for playtime and lunch.

I LOVE this picture!  It totally shows that Moms can have playground fun too! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Weekend Recap

Wow!  I can't believe it's already Monday.  I'm very tired and ready to just crawl back into bed.  We had a pretty busy weekend and a full week ahead!
On Friday, we had 5 year old "J" come to live with us.  Bradley is very excited to have a big brother and the house has been full of lots of noise.  On Friday night, I went through Judgement House Masquerade with some friends at my church.  Then it was early bedtime since the Red Sox weren't playing on Friday night. 
On Saturday, we took a drive up to the mountains to Caeasars Head and Table Rock.  We stopped at the Pumpkintown Mountain Opry Restaurant for lunch.  Their turkey subs are delicious!  And J was quite impressed with their peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
Saturday afternoon and evening were full of disappointments with the TN losing to AL and the Red Sox losing to the Cardinals.  I went to bed very tired and very sad.
I made pumpkin waffles (recipe to come) for breakfast on Sunday and we went to church.  I caught up on some sleep Sunday afternoon and then we took the boys to a church up the road for Trunk or Treat.  J was Spiderman and Bradley was Mickey Mouse.  They are loaded up on candy and it's just the beginning of Halloween week!  Another baseball game on Sunday night but with a much better ending!  Go Red Sox!
Here's the pictures from the weekend:

Perfect Fall weather for playing in the backyard!

I love the beautiful Fall colors!

Gorgeous drive in the mountains.

In the beginning God created the world...what an amazing Creator!

Caesars Head

It was 38 degrees on Saturday morning!
Spiderman and Mickey Mouse

He is serious about filling his bucket up with candy!

Suckers are his favorite!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This chocolate chip banana bread is a winner!  Super easy, super moist, and super delicious!  The only thing I regret is not taking a picture of it's awesomeness.  But I was pretty distracted with watching the Red Sox in the World Series last night. 
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, bananas, and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Beat in cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and flour until thoroughly mixed.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Forever In My Heart

We had a very short term placement last night.  These babies were beautiful with killer chocolate brown eyes.  Mike and I both fell in love with them in just a matter of minutes.  As I was cuddling with them last night before bed, my heart was just aching for them.  I kept claiming God's promises of how He will take care of His children.  I know something good will come out of this situation and He has perfect plans for these sweet babies.  It's so ironic that I found this poem that was given to us at our last Foster Parent Appreciation Day.  It was such a beautiful poem I had saved it and found it yesterday when I was cleaning out a filing cabinet.  It is such a beautiful picture of why the world needs foster parents.  Even though I only knew these babies for about 15 hours, I'll never forget them.  They will always have a special place in my heart. 
Forever In My Heart
Although I'm not their parent
I care for them each day,
I cuddle, sing and read to them
And watch them as they play
I see each new accomplishment,
I help them grow and learn.
I understand their language,
I listen with concern.
They come to me for comfort,
And I kiss away their tears.
They proudly show their work to me,
I give the loudest cheers!
No, I'm not their parent,
But my role is just as strong.
I nurture them and keep them safe,
Though maybe not for long.
I know someday the time will come,
When we will have to part.
But I know each child I care for,
Is forever in my heart!
~~Author Unknown~~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ingles Grocery Trip Sales Week of October 20 - 26

I kept the total under $50 which was great.  It helped that I didn't have to buy any meat this week.  I was able to stock up on some tomato sauce, diced & crushed tomatoes which was a great deal with BOGO.  I was also able to stock up on butter with the sale 2/$5 on Land of Lakes.  Organic applesauce was another BOGO.  Eight O'clock coffee is on sale BOGO and with my $1 coupon it made the total $2.24 for the bag.  The Campbell's soup was on sale for 10/$10.  I picked up 3 microwavable bowls and used $1.50/3 coupon making my final total 50 cents each. The pepperoni and the biscuits were the only 2 items not on sale.  Sometimes it's nice to have high quality pepperoni for pizza so that will be a special treat for supper tonight!  Then my sister sent me a picture of monkey bread she made the other morning so that had me craving it.  So monkey bread will be on our breakfast menu later this week!  Two splurges that will be well worth it. 
My total was $48.42 and I saved $38.89.

Your Favorite Name is Father

This song was sung at our church this past Sunday morning.  What a beautiful and comforting message it has.  There are so many descriptive, powerful words you can use to describe God and yet the most simple one, His favorite is....Father.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Kiko

It is Kiko's 1st birthday today at the Greenville Zoo!  Bradley and I had so much fun going to the zoo for Kiko's birthday party!  And Bradley picked out his own little Kiko in the gift shop.  He's been loving on that little giraffe all morning.  And for those who know Bradley, you know he doesn't love stuffed animals.
Kiko's birthday cake!

Bradley pretty much inhaled the cake!

Happy Birthday Kiko! 

 Loving on his own little Kiko.
Bradley and Kiko riding the bear.

Bradley was so excited to introduce Kiko to Mouse!

And this picture really doesn't go with the birthday theme...but we always see something crazy every time we go to the zoo.  This time it was this massive Boa Snake that was climbing the wall and then all of a sudden dropped to the floor.  You can see the blurred part where it was dropping as I was taking the picture.  It was crazy!

Homemade Playdough Using Corn Starch and Conditioner

Bradley and I made another batch of playdough using a new recipe.  I loved how easy it was to make with just two ingredients; corn starch and conditioner.  But I liked the consistency of the other playdough recipe we used better.  This recipe is kind of trial and error.  It's 2 parts corn starch to 1 part conditioner.  I started off with 1 cup of corn starch and 1/2 cup of conditioner.  But I ended up having to add just a little more conditioner to it.  I also added 4 drops of green food coloring to make the playdough green.  I think Bradley has more fun with the process of making the playdough than he does actually playing with it. 
Two ingredients:  Corn Starch and Conditioner
Be extra careful stirring because corn starch can go everywhere very easily. 

All ready to play with!

 He's very proud of his new playdough!

Bi-Lo Grocery Trip

I love when I get Bi-Lo coupons that can be combined with the manufacturers coupons.  I spent $16.61 and saved 19.53 yesterday afternoon.  After I got home, I realized the cashier forgot to take three $1 coupons off.  UGH! I used the self check out and she was very busy with 2 other customers so she was distracted while scanning my coupons.  This is the 2nd time this has happened so I think I'll stop using the self checkout when I have coupons.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

OH. MY. GOODNESS.  These cookies are incredibly yummy!  SERIOUSLY.
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.  Stir in peanut butter chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees.  They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling. 
Pour a glass of milk and try to keep from eating more than one cookie.  It's pretty much impossible.  My attempt failed.

Our Weekend Recap

Food, Football, and Baseball with Friends & Family make a Fabulous Weekend!
We started our weekend with a night in the cornfields with our sweet friends, Preston and Melissa.  We went to The MAiZE in Enoree, SC on Friday night.  They have two options of corn mazes.  One was haunted and the other was family friendly.  Of course, we had to choose the haunted.  I guess you feel like you get your money's worth when you get scared?  It was a lot of fun, no one peed their pants, and we all came out alive!
 My bumblebee flashlight scared all the monsters away.
We made it out alive! 

A great night!
On Saturday, it was all about TV and food.  The TN Vols vs SC Gamecocks started at noon.  We had 21 (11 kids and 10 adults) people over for a football party which meant LOTS of yummy food.  The Vols won 23-21 and it was a nail biter game.  You have to watch this video for some incredible plays by both teams.
TN Vols are #1 in our world!
After the game we went for a drive and walk while the TV had a break. 
Bradley was all about riding on Mike's shoulders rather than the stroller.
Then it was baseball time with Red Sox vs Tigers and we needed to win this game to go into the World Series.  And the Red Sox showed out and we won the game 5-2.  Bradley was such a dedicated fan and stayed up for almost the entire game. 
He finally crashed about 11 pm.
We had a great service at RBC on Sunday morning.  You can watch our service live every Sunday at 10:30 am or you can watch previous services by clicking here.  We had a lazy afternoon and Bradley and I stayed home while Mike went to Growth Group.  I'm fighting a sore throat which I'm sure is due to lack of sleep.  We were all in bed by 8 pm last night.  Late nights start back up again on Wednesday night so we might as well get in as much beauty sleep as we can for now!
The late night on Saturday made for grouchy pictures for Bradley on Sunday.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Feeding Large Groups - Homemade Sloppy Joes

Our family loves to host, entertain, have parties, whatever you want to call it.  We normally have something big going on at our house at least once every other month.  Whether it's just a group of friends for card games, football or baseball game parties, late night bonfires, or birthday celebrations....there's always some reason to have friends over!
Sloppy Joes is a quick and easy recipe and it feeds a lot of people.  It can also keep warm in the crockpot and it's easy to serve.  Please note that this recipe makes enough to serve 25-30 people.  This isn't a normal family of 4 dinner meal.  Unless you are wanting to freeze the remaining and have Sloppy Joes once a week for the next 5 weeks.  But I have a feeling your family might hate you for that.  At least mine would. 
8 pounds of lean ground beef
3 peppers (red, yellow, orange), diced
2 large onions, diced
32 ounces of ketchup
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
5 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
Kaiser Rolls or my personal favorite is Nature's Own Butter Buns
Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium high heat.  Drain and return to large pot.
  Saute peppers, onions, and minced garlic in 3 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat until softened. 
Add to pot of cooked ground beef.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  Simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. 
Spoon a heaping amount of meat on bottom bun and top with the other half.  Buns can be toasted with butter for extra flavor.
This recipe can also be made the night before and reheated in the crockpot on warm or low setting for about an hour until ready to serve.  You can easily add more or less spices depending on how you like it.  It's very easily adaptable and you can't really mess it up.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Homemade Whoopie Pies

I was first introduced to Whoopie Pies when Mike and I went to Boston for a week vacation about 5 years ago.  I fell in love with the first bite!
I introduced Whoopie Pies to my family when we went on a cruise last month.  We stopped in Portland Maine and I was so excited to see a local bakery making fresh ones. 
My sister has always been more dramatic than I am so her expression totally sells the
awesomeness of Whoopie Pies!
My absolute favorite place to order Whoopie Pies is from Wicked Whoopies!  I can't even describe how incredible these pies are.  I actually ordered them instead of a birthday cake a couple years ago for my 30th birthday. 
So I found a recipe for homemade Whoopie Pies and I knew I had to give it a try.  I'll be honest and say it wasn't anything close as to Wicked Whoopies but they weren't bad.  I don't have a Whoopie Pie pan so I just used a large cupcake pan and put a spoonful of batter in each cup.  It worked okay but I'm sure the correct pan will make them look more like the original Whoopie Pie.
Whoopie Pie Recipe Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow crème
Directions for Cookies
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy.  Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and finish beating for 1 minute.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk beginning and ending with flour.  Add batter to the pans spreading evenly until level.  Bake at 350 degrees or 11-13 minutes.  Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.
Directions for Filling
In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Fold in marshmallow crème until well mixed.  Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the filling onto flat side of cookie.  Sandwich with a second cookie.  Refrigerate pies in an airtight container up to 4 days.  Let stand at room temperature before serving.

Winner of the Hallmark Get Carded Challenge

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Vickie Morgan
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