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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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Super Easy Beef and Bean Enchiladas

My favorite thing about this recipe other than it being super yummy, is that it's extremely easy to make!  I made these for a friend last night and it made my night when she said her son went up for 3rds.  I love super simple and delicious recipes!
 
Ingredients
1 pound Ground Beef
Taco Seasoning
Refried Beans
Soft Flour Tortillas
Cheddar Cheese
Enchilada Sauce
 
Cook the beef in a large saucepan until browned.  Drain excess grease and add a couple teaspoons of taco seasoning.  Spoon refried beans and beef into tortilla.  Roll and place in baking dish.  Once all the tortillas are in the pan, pour a can of enchilada sauce over the top and cover with shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly on top.  This is a great recipe to double and put the extras in the freezer.
 
 

 
 

 
 




 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ingles Grocery Trip Sales Week of August 25-31

Can I just be honest and say that I'm tired of trying to keep my grocery bill under $100 each week?  I try so hard to be diligent about it but I've been failing a lot lately.  My biggest problem is not sticking to the list.  I always match the sales ad with the coupons I have and plan to only buy what is on my list.  But then I end up finding another advertised sale or a really great buy on meat and end up butchering my budget.  Please help!  Tell me some ways to keep from doing this.  Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!


I spent a total of 126.96 and saved $67.97.  I'm happy with the amount I saved because that shows I was using coupons and finding sale items but I'm not happy with the extra $26.97 I spent.  I stocked up on some 93% lean hamburger meat that was on sale and I also bought my first flank steak that was marked down.  My favorite sale was the BOGO on Delallo pasta and Sorrento cheese!  I'm thinking some yummy Italian dishes will be served for dinner this week.  The one special treat I picked up was a 6 pack of the IBC cream soda bottles on sale for $3.00.  Mike and I love cream soda and it always tastes so much better in these glass bottles!
 

CVS Trip Sales Week of August 25-31


I didn't see an incredible amount of deals at CVS this week or maybe it's just what was on sale, I didn't need.  Either way I spent $9.18 out of pocket and saved a total of $32.64 and received $1 back in ECB's.  My favorite deal was the Almay makeup.  It was on sale for buy one and get the 2nd one for 50% off.  I used a $5 off 2 coupon which made my total $12.68 for both items which normally would have cost $22.58.  The All detergent sale made me happy because I'm back into selling clothes on Ebay and I always make sure all the items I'm selling are freshly laundered.  That can become expensive when I don't find detergent on sale.  Don't forget to print out your coupon at the kiosk in the store to get the deal on the toilet paper!

Handmade Beaded Jewelry from Uganda


 My cousin and his wife had the awesome opportunity to go on a mission trip to Uganda last month.  Yesterday I received the most beautiful handmade beaded necklace as a "thank you" for supporting them on the trip.  It was such a kind gesture but what makes this so much more special is knowing how a simple necklace sale will support a widow or single mother for an entire month!  Every penny of the jewelry sold goes to help these widows and single mothers in Uganda.  You can read more about this ministry and order the jewelry here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Weekend Recap

 The weekend flew by for me!  We had a 4 family garage sale on Saturday with my in-laws.  So Friday night was busy organizing and pricing last minute items.  We were also babysitting a 2 year old boy overnight.  We pretty much crashed after the garage sale on Saturday afternoon and then played outside for the remaining of the day since the weather was seriously perfect.  Sunday was busy with church, a meeting after church, Mike had a budget and finance meeting at 2 pm and then his fantasy football party at 5:30 pm.  So Bradley and I took a nice long nap on Sunday, worked on Ebay, and enjoyed another gorgeous day of weather outside.  We couldn't have asked for better weather this weekend.  It was a beautiful change to the normal rainforest weather we usually have.  I didn't take many pictures this weekend.  I'm still trying to comprehend that it's actually Monday.

 It's unreal how much junk we can accumulate so fast!

 My adorable nephew making balloon animals for free.

 Mike made all 15 of us breakfast on Saturday morning!  
His sausage and cheese biscuits are out of this world delicious.

 I'm not sure why Bradley was so eager to count the money we made since all of it will be going to purchase fall flowers for our flower beds.

$5 Panera Bread Gift Card Winner

 Congratulations to Esther on winning the $5 Panera Bread gift card giveaway!  Please check your email for further instructions. I hope you enjoy your Frozen Mocha!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our 24 Hours in Charleston

Mike had a work meeting in Charleston today so we went down last night and had an incredible 24 hours in Charleston.  We love Charleston so much and always have such a great time there.  We checked in at the hotel at 4 pm on Wednesday and headed straight for the pool.  It felt amazing after being in the car for almost 4 hours.  We went to Taco Boy for dinner; it was our first time and was recommended by our friends.  After dinner we walked down the Battery and let Bradley wade in the fountains.  It was a perfect evening! 
 
Gorgeous fluffy clouds on the way to Charleston!
 
Eating dinner at Taco Boy!
 
Our favorite place to go walking in Charleston.
 
Bradley is easily distracted when he hears an airplane.
 
Time to cool off with a quick run through the fountains!
 
I absolutely LOVE this picture of him running through the water.
 
Taking a small break to drink a peanut butter vanilla milkshake!
 
Must. Climb. The. Pile. Of. Cannon. Balls.
 
Because sitting on cannons are so much fun!
 
 
Who's redneck baby is running down the sidewalk shirtless and shoeless.
 
The perfect sunset to end a fabulous night!
 
Bradley and I got to play all day today while Mike was in meetings. We went to the South Carolina Aquarium first thing this morning.  It was Bradley's first time at an aquarium and he had a blast!  He kept running from exhibit to exhibit not knowing what to do with himself.  We saw a 4D Sea Monsters movie while we where there.  Then we went for a carriage ride and had a history lesson of Charleston.  Bradley loved the horses and being on a "ride".  He fell asleep within the last 5 minutes of the tour and stayed asleep while I walked through the Market and stopped at The Fudgery.  I had to buy Mike some cookies n cream fudge since it's his favorite!  Mike got finished with his meeting around 3 pm and we hit the road by 3:30 pm.  It was a long drive back home with lots of heavy rain and traffic. 
I'm so thankful we were able to get out of our normal weekly routine and make some more memories in Charleston.
 
He ran to the first aquarium he saw!
 
Completely mesmerized by the fish.
 
Waving to the sting ray.
 
The creepiest albino alligator ever!
 
Bradley is so fascinated with turtles. 
 
 
Another creepy fish!
 
He will probably want his own aquarium for Christmas this year.
 
Pretending to talk to Daddy on the boat's phone.
 
 
I love his hands!  He loved looking at the boats on the water.
 
 Carriage Ride Time!
 
 A fudge stop was a must!
 
 Completely wiped out after a day of fun! 




 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mama's Brag Moment

The other night we were letting Bradley ride his bike in the vacant parking lot and he totally cracked us up as he was cheering himself on.  "Go Bradley, Go Go Bradley!"    Yes, you have to watch this adorable video of the cutest boy ever who happens to be mine.

video

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ingles Grocery Trip Week of August 18-24

I'm so happy I kept my grocery bill well under $100 this week!  That makes up for last week for sure.  I spent a total of $51.66 and saved $32.98.

 
I think I should look into buying a cow.  We go through so much milk and it's only Bradley and me drinking it.  That's $9 worth of milk in the picture.  Surely a cow would be cheaper!  I bought 2 packages of Harvest Farms Organic, no Antibiotics chicken which was on sale.  I always appreciate a good sale on meat that is organic and free from antibiotics.  I bought 2 half gallons of Turkey Hill ice cream for $2 each.  This will make great milkshakes for a treat for our extended family during our garage sale on Saturday!  Bradley was happy with the sale on Yoplait yogurt.  And my husband will love me for the sale on Oreos.  Why do Oreos dunked in milk taste better than homemade cookies?

Old Invitation Song Becomes My New Favorite

 
I grew up in a church that sang from a hymnbook with a lot of old songs.  I normally didn't even think about what I was singing, I just sang because it was part of the agenda at church.  It's completely different than the way I worship at church now.  We sang this song at church the other day and it hit me how beautiful this song is.  I remembered singing it when I was younger but it was just your typical invitation song as you watched people go to the altar.  Like it was just meant to occupy time as people prayed.  As I sang these words on Sunday, it wasn't just a song to occupy time.  It really spoke to me of how great God's love for us.  He wants us to come to Him broken, wounded, desperate, empty, and guilty.  His son, Jesus shed His blood to rescue us from all of that.  As you listen to this song, soak in the words and worship along thanking God for His love to us.  I love the extra chorus Travis Cottrell added to this song:
 
I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb
I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I'm welcomed with open arms,
Praise God, just as I am!!
 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rain, Fresh Bread, Candles, and Babies

 

 
It's a rainy Monday morning and I'm feeling very blessed to be a SAHM today!  It's not often that I have these moments.  I'm babysitting the sweetest newborn today for my friend who is also a foster parent.  I wish I could post a picture of his adorable self but for security reasons I can't.  But I can show you the delicious blueberry peach bread I just pulled out of the oven, the yummy candle that makes my house smell like a cupcake bakery, and the rain that is making all of us relaxed and in the mood to cuddle.
 



Blueberry Peach Bread Recipe

My sweet neighbor gave me some fresh peaches the other day and I had picked up some blueberries at the grocery store so it was perfect timing to try this recipe.  I think the only thing I would do differently next time is to blend the peaches instead of dicing them.  I'm not a huge fan of biting into a diced peach.  It must just be a texture thing for me.
 
 
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 cup diced peaches (peeled)
 
Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar and then add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries and peaches.  Bake for 1 hour or until the top is lightly browned.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Our Weekend Recap

We had a great weekend babysitting twin girls of our dear friends.  They went on a long overdue anniversary weekend getaway and the girls got to stay with us.  Bradley loved having "big sisters" all weekend.  The girls call us Uncle Mike and Aunt Ashley which I love to hear!  We stayed very busy and it was a great feeling to have our house full of children! 
 
On Friday afternoon we went to the zoo, park, and library.  On Friday night, we went over to Mimi's and PopPop's for dinner.  They made delicious hamburgers and hotdogs for us with all the yummy sides!  We took the kids to a vacant parking lot up the street and let them ride their bikes.  The girls went to bed watching one of the movies they picked out at the library earlier that day.  They love movies about horses!

Headed to the zoo on Friday afternoon.  Brina is a great big helper!
 
Checking out the giraffes.
 
 Trying to find the tiny frogs hiding under the rocks.

Bradley wasn't too sure about everyone sitting on the bear.
 
Bradley tried so hard to keep up with the girls at the park!

The girls were great bike riders!
 

 Bradley loves riding his bike!
 
Uh Oh!
 
 
 Finishing the day by watching a movie in bed.
 
On Saturday morning I made homemade waffles and sausage.  The girls thought it was so fun to eat their waffles on a stick!  After breakfast we went on a "Parkathon".  We would go to one park and spend 30 minutes and then get in the car to find another park.  We visited a total of 4 parks in about 2 1/2 hours.  On Saturday night, PopPop and Mimi came over to our house for dinner.  After baths and another movie it was bed time for everyone.
 
Waffles on a stick and sausage for breakfast!
 
 Our first park stop in Duncan!
 
Who can swing the highest?
 
Bradley was so excited to go to the 2nd park!
 
Who can reach it first?
 
 
Karlie ready to begin the obstacle course.
 
 
Karlie completing the balance beam!
 
Brina showing off her strong muscles!
 
Double the slide, double the fun!
 
Bradley made it to the top!
 
I can't tell you how many times Bradley tried to get in the water!
 
Our 3rd park we went to was a wooden park with lots of fun hiding spots!
 
They played together so nicely all weekend!
 
The twins LOVED the tire swing! 
 

Having fun in the train!
 
Karlie balancing at the 4th park!
 
Mike and Karlie on the modern seesaw!

 Completely wiped out after the 3rd park!
 
On Sunday, Brina and I stayed home from church because we both were sick the night before.  We relaxed and watched lots of cartoons.  The girls went home Sunday afternoon. Mike, Bradley and I ran a couple of errands, finished some household chores that evening while watching the Red Sox Game on TV and another weekend is over.