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'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, September 30, 2013

CVS Trip Week of September 30 - October 5

So my trip to CVS was totally worth dragging a hyper 2 1/2 year old boy into a busy store at 4:30 pm.  I spent a total of $11.77 out of pockets, saved $51.54 and received $12 back in ECB's.  That's like them paying me 23 cents to buy all of the following:


I think we are stocked up on shampoo and conditioner for several months!  And I'm super excited about the Snickers for Halloween trick or treaters.  And I was able to use several coupons that expired today.  I always feel wasteful when I have to throw away expired coupons so it was a great feeling using these at the deadline.

My Weekend Recap

I'm not even sure how I can describe my weekend other than absolute perfection.  I met 3 girlfriends at Fort Bluff Camp in Dayton, TN for Seasons of Life Conference "CafĂ© Chocolat".  The last time we saw each other was 15 years ago when we were staff workers at the camp.  It was amazing how we were able to just pick up where we left off.  The conference itself was incredible but to experience it with these 3 sweet ladies was just the icing on the cake.  Reba Bowman with Dare for More Ministries and Candice Farmer with Enough Grace Ministries were the key speakers and they both did a phenomenal job teaching us more about God's grace.  I'm so blessed to call both of these ladies my friends and I'm so proud of how God has used both of them with their ministries.  I came home so refreshed spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend:
 
  We ate at Ayala's which was the same restaurant we used to go to almost
every Friday night 15 years ago.

A relaxing morning on the porch catching up with stories from the last 15 years.

Fort Bluff Camp has the most amazing views from the bluff. 
 It truly is my favorite mountain!

My old golf cart from 15 years ago still works!

I love these sweet ladies!

 Hiking down to Heaven's Keyhole
 

 We made it minus Jennifer.  She was too nervous about snakes which is
shocking that we actually didn't see one. 
 
 I loved looking at these beautiful trees!
 
 Mindy and Kathryn had to put up with me whining about spider webs and the possibility of seeing snakes during the entire hike.  I'm such a baby!
 
 
 My sweet Helen who is seriously the greatest cook ever and has worked faithfully at the camp for so many years!
 
A huge thank you to my mother-in-law for watching Bradley on Thursday, to my sweet friend Jeannie for watching Bradley on Friday, and my fabulous hubby for watching Bradley on Saturday.  I couldn't have had this beautiful weekend without all of your help!
 

 
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Importance of Drama-Free Friends


 
I've never been the type to have a BFF.  I just find the whole concept of a BFF elementary age silliness.  But I am all about surrounding myself with positive and honest friends.  I love the quote above because this past year I have found it so true. I'm the person that has the
B personality and will try to make everyone happy.  But it's E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G and
 I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E.  This past year, I've learned that life is easier when you get rid of friendships that drain you.  I have had friends where it seems their friendship was always about competition.  I've had friends who were just moochers.  I've even had friends that just used me for my position and could care less about me.  How can those people be making my life better?  They weren't and it was time to move on.
 
There's nothing sweeter than having friends that truly care about you.  I absolutely love getting a text from a friend that just says I love you...hope you have a great day!  No strings attached.  It completely makes my day when I get a card in the mail from a friend telling me she's thankful for me.  I love knowing I can text one of my friends asking her to pray for me and she will.  It's not the superficial "praying for ya" comment.  "Praying for ya" has turned into as normal as asking "How are you".  It's just something to say but you don't really mean it.  But that's an entire blog post for another day.
 
Proverbs 17:22 says "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:  but a broken spirit drieth the bones."  How great is it to be able to laugh (I'm talking a deep belly laugh that makes your sides hurt) with friends? 
 
Acts 20:35b says "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  How awesome is it to give something to your friends because you want to and not because you are expecting a gift in return?  Do you give to others expecting to get something in return?.
 
Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Have you ever had a friend who was constantly negative?  They had nothing nice to say and the world was always falling apart in tiny pieces all around them.   How refreshing is it to have a positive friend; one that finds the cup half full rather than half empty?
 
Proverbs 11:13 says "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret."  Are you the type of person that your friends know that they can talk to you and "what is said in the room stays in the room"?  How easy is it to say "it's not gossip, it's just a prayer request" as an excuse to tell others?
 
So what kind of friend are you?  Are you the friend that people want to have in their life or people are trying to weed out?  Are you the giver in the friendship or the moocher?  Is there a "friend" in your life that is bringing you down?  It's time to move on from that friendship.  Life is more beautiful with drama-free friends.
 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Our First Cruise

Mike and I went on our first cruise last week.  We flew into Boston on Friday the 13th to board the Norwegian Dawn and we spent 7 days on the boat.  We visited Portland Maine, Halifax Canada, Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island, Gaspe, and La Saguanay Canada.  My favorite stop was by far Charlottetown and driving to Prince Edward Island.  I'm a huge Anne of Green Gables fan so this day was so special for me!  A HUGE thank you to Mimi and PopPop for taking incredible care of Bradley while we were away!  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip:













 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bradley & Dirt

I know boys love dirt but do they love dirt as much as Bradley?  This boy can't stay away from it!  This morning I was replanting some of my house plants and watering all of them.  I was making a pretty big mess and Bradley couldn't resist joining in.
 
He had his own little pot he was filling.
 
Because playing with dirt is awesome!
 
Seriously Mom...you have to keep taking pictures?
 
I bought his shirt off Ebay for under $5.  It's my favorite!
 
Really Bradley?  You have to drink the water draining from the pot? 


 Busted! 

And one more mess to clean up!  The life of raising a toddler.
 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

11 Years Ago Yet Seems Like Yesterday


11 Years Later and I'll still never forget.....

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Oh. My. Gosh.  One bite of this pie and you're going to fall in love.  Another reason I'm addicted to Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman.  She is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  And the only sad thing about this pie is that it disappeared so fast that I didn't have time to take a picture of it's awesomeness.
 
Ingredients
 
For Crust:
25 whole Oreos
4 tablespoons melted butter
 
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package (8 ounce) softened cream cheese
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 package (8 ounce) thawed Cool Whip
 
Directions
 
Crust:
Crush the Oreos until they are fine crumbs.  Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine.  Press into a pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
 
Filling:
Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Add in the thawed Cool Whip and beat mixture until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.  Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula.  Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What If We Were Real?

I'm keeping it real today.  I'm not SuperMom.  I don't like to clean.  I don't serve gourmet meals daily followed up with desserts I find off Pinterest.  I rarely get dressed in something other than worn out "play clothes".  I don't put makeup on every day.  I don't exercise every day.  I don't give my son a daily bath and put him in the clothes from Janie and Jack.  Ok, I will admit, he does have hair that totally rocks and I'm jealous of it every day but he's lucky it's naturally awesome and not because Mommy has to make it happen. 
 
This is what my house looked like today.  I went to bed with it looking this way and I actually left the house this morning without even attempting to clean it up.
 
 Our bathroom pretty much always looks this way.
 
 I never make the bed.
 
 I can't tell you how many times I step on Bradley's toys and don't bother to pick them up.
 
I'm not sure why I never close cabinet doors.  And yes, that crockpot should have been cleaned out 24 hours ago.
 
Now that my husband will probably kill me for posting these pictures and I'll have my Mother-in-law running across the street rescuing Bradley from this pig's pen.....Actually I'm extremely grateful for a husband who doesn't expect me to clean and cook all day long.  And my mother-in-law has graciously never said one thing about my house not being squeaky clean.  I'm very blessed with family that doesn't expect me to have it all together.  They love me for who I am.
 
I'm not sure why I'm even posting all this today other than for people to see that I don't have it all together.  I'm still learning every day on how to be a happy Mom, loving wife, and loyal friend.  I make mistakes hourly.  I'm human.
 
And so for my Mandisa moment....have I told you how much I love her songs?  You know why?  Because she is real.  She is honest with her heart.  And that beauty comes out in her songs and that is why I can relate with her so much.  One of these days I'm going to meet that fabulous woman and tell her thank you for making me have better days.  This song is called "What If We Were Real".  Listen to the words and soak up the message.  And for gosh sake be real today and not someone you aren't!
 
 

Our Weekend Recap (one day late)

So my computer is in a much better mood today so here is our weekend recap that should have been posted yesterday.
 
On Friday night we had Mimi and PopPop over for the Red Sox and Yankees baseball game.  The Genovese Family our ENORMOUS Red Sox fans.  I never realized how important baseball and Red Sox is in life until I married a Genovese.  It's actually quite a lot of fun and Bradley had already fallen in love with the game too.  He stayed up until 10:30 pm watching the game with all of us.

He loved cuddling with PopPop and watching the game. (and yes, Bradley is 2 and still drinking from a bottle....it's his one nightly ritual and I'm his Mom and I say it's adorable... please don't judge me)
 
Saturday was just perfect in my book.  We slept in until about 8 am and then went to the Greenville Zoo.  We were there at 9:15 am which was great timing because the crowds start to come in around 10 am.  The weather was perfect and we had a nice time saying "Good Morning" to all the animals.  Of course his favorite animal is still the turtle and he knows there are 3 turtles.  It's so much fun to watch him point and count!
 
 
After the zoo we went downtown to the Main Street Market.  Downtown Greenville is so beautiful and it's always fun to see all the vendors and the colorful fresh foods and unique crafts they have to sell.  The only thing I bought was a really cool houseplant....African something or another. 
 
 
After the market we finished went for a leisurely walk downtown and ended up at Ford's for lunch.  They seriously have the best Blackened Chicken salad. 
 

 
We headed home after lunch and got home just in time to watch the TN Vols vs Western KY football game.  I'm originally from TN which makes me a serious Vols fan.  Living in SC for over 10 years still hasn't converted me to a Clemson or Gamecock fan.  After the game we all took naps on the couch.  A little outside yard work on Saturday night and our perfect day was over.
 
 
On Sunday, we had an incredible service at RBC!  Refocus was the theme and it was exciting to see our new logo introduced, pictures of our RBC families on the stairwells and hallways and just feel the general excitement of knowing that God has great plans for our church.  I'm mostly excited about the new Growth Groups we are going to be starting next week!  Mike and I have had been in two Growth Groups in the last year and the changes it can make in your personal spiritual life is incredible.  I'm anxious to see what God is going to do in our life this year!  Mike had a meeting on Sunday afternoon.  I got some inside chores accomplished and Bradley took a nice long nap.  Mike washed the cars on Sunday night and I did some weeding in the flower beds and yard.  And by 9 pm, we were all in bed.
 
Thank you God for another beautiful weekend with my family.  I'm so blessed!
 
 


Monday, September 9, 2013

BI-LO, CVS, and Ingles Sales Week of September 8th-14th

We are eating mostly from the fridge, pantry, and freezer again this week.  I'm trying not to buy many groceries and just using up what we already have on hand.  Last week, I only made one stop at Whole Foods for milk, eggs, and potatoes.  I spent $25 and some change. 

 Today I spent $15.77 at Ingles and saved $17.52.  My favorite deal was the Green Giant boxed vegetables on sale 10/$10.  There were $1/3 peelies on the boxes so I bought 6 boxes of vegetables paying 67 cents per box.  I had a coupon for a free bottle of CoffeeMate Natural bliss.  They only had chocolate available so I'm not sure how Mike is going to love that with his coffee in the morning but hey, it was free!  I also picked up Yoplait yogurt that was on sale and California grapes for Bradley's snacks this week.  Prego spaghetti sauce is on sale
2/$4 and I used a 40 cents/2 coupon which doubled.  Add a half gallon of Born Free milk and that was everything I needed at Ingles.

 At CVS, I bought 4 bottles of Tide laundry detergent that were on sale for $5.94 each.  When you spend $20, you receive $5 back in ECB's.  I used $3.00/3 coupon, 50 cents/1 coupon, and a $3/$15 CVS coupon.  My total was $18.30 and I saved $18.60 and received $5 back in ECB's. 
 
And at BI-LO, I spent $23.55 and saved $24.09.  My favorite deal was the boneless turkey breast on sale for $6.99.  I bought a box of stuffing and we will be having "Thanksgiving dinner" for supper tonight!  ChiChi's enchilada sauce was on sale for $1 and I had $1 coupon making the sauce free.  I also picked up 2 jars of salsa on sale for 2/$4 and with $1 coupon, these were $1.50 a jar.  Juicy Juice was on sale for $1.64 and I also had a $1 coupon.  It's very rare that I buy juice but at $1.14, it's a nice treat for Mike.  Bradley and I would rather drink milk than juice.  Another one of my favorite deals were Hefty sandwich bags on sale for 2/$3.  I used $1.25/2 coupon and an additional $1 BI-LO coupon which made my total 38 cents per box!  A couple boxes of cereal, bananas, bread and onions and my shopping trip is complete at BI-LO.  My sweet husband put away all the groceries from BI-LO before I was able to get a picture.
 
I was so happy that I saved more than I spent at all 3 of these stores.  My grand total of spending this week was $57.62 and a savings of $60.21!  Definitely under the $100 weekly budget and I've stocked up on some great items that were on sale. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Labor Day Weekend Recap


It was great to have a three day Holiday weekend with my family!  The biggest project we accomplished was installing outdoor sensor flood lights on the house.  Thanks to PopPop and Mike for all their hard work making it happen. We took care of the 2's and 3's in nursery on Sunday morning and had quite the morning with 7 little munchkins.  On Sunday night we had seven couples over for appetizers and desserts.  It was fun catching up with old friends and making new ones.  A cheerful heart does good like medicine.  I'm so thankful for incredible friends that encourage, uplift, and make you laugh.  Bradley had pictures taken on Monday morning at JCPenny Portraits.  Patti did a fantastic job despite him wanting to do anything but sit still and smile for the camera.  I was so happy with the way they came out that I spent entirely too much on those pictures.  Some extra sleeping in time, afternoon naps, dinner with PopPop and Mimi, and reading book after book (we hit 30 books on Monday) to Bradley ended our fantastic Labor Day weekend.
 
The only picture taken all weekend was this one on Sunday morning before church.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe

So I can be a food channel junkie.  My new favorite is Ree Drummond otherwise known as The Pioneer Woman.  So far everything I've made of hers has been fantastic!  And so far my favorite recipe of hers has been Sigrid's Carrot Cake.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  This is seriously the best carrot cake I've ever eaten.  It's plain and simple.  I don't like carrot cakes with extra ingredients like raisins, pineapples, and pecans. And this is totally the cake for those who like it plain and simple.  Although I did make one change to her recipe which was swapping out the vegetable oil for butter.  You can't go wrong with butter.
Ingredients for the Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 whole eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl.  In another bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Add to the first mixture and combine.  Then add carrots and mix well.  Pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan for 50 minutes.  Cool completely.
Ingredients for the Icing
1 stick regular butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped finely (optional)
In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese.  Add sugar and vanilla and blend, then mix in the nuts.  Spread on cooled carrot cake.
Try not to eat the entire cake in one setting....seriously.