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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ingles, CVS, and Earth Fare Sales Week of January 26- February 1st

Bradley and I ran some errands this morning to CVS, Earth Fare and Ingles.  I was so excited to have my grocery list and coupons organized.  All 3 trips took just 1 1/2 hours including driving time and Earth Fare is about 15 minutes away.  Having CVS & Ingles basically in my back yard makes 15 minutes to Earth Fare seem like forever.....yes I know I'm spoiled for those of you who live out in the boonies!  Bradley cracks me up with the way he gets excited about each store.  CVS has the cool car buggy, Earth Fare has a little grocery cart that he can push, and he gets a free cookie at Ingles.  That kid is so smart and reminds me of all his special stuff at each store!
$17.36 at Earth Fare for Ground Chuck, Hummus, Bananas and Apples
I'm not a huge fan of Hummus but it was free with $10 purchase so I figured this would give me a good chance to try eating it again.

$22.60 at CVS with savings of $42.88 and I received $14.50 back in ECB's!

Bradley loves to photo bomb these pictures!  A total of $58.81 was spent at Ingles with a savings of $34.99.  A couple items I had to purchase were for the Super Bowl party at church on Sunday night.  I was so excited with the Harvest Farms chicken tenders on sale for $3.98/lb and Hebrew National hot dogs for 2/$6.
A total of $98.77 was spent today on all our grocery/household items and I was super excited to keep it under $100 today.  I had Mimi pick up our milk, butter, and cheese products at Happy Cow earlier this week which totaled $45.33.  So I kept it all under $150 this week which is my goal.  Switching over to organic & hormone free, real food products has increased our budget a little but if I can keep it under $150, I'm right on target.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Purex Crystals Product Review and Giveaway

 I'm so excited to be reviewing Purex Crystals and giving away coupons for a free bottle!  I received these Purex Crystals one week ago and the bottle is almost gone.  That's how much laundry I do at my house.  I loved these crystals for more than just giving our laundry a long lasting freshness.  The fresh fragrance just made me happy in general.  And since we've been home bound the last 36 hours due to snow/ice, I needed something to bring along some happiness.  My laundry room smelled of flowers and sunshine when using this product.  Seriously.  My favorite load of laundry to use this on was Bradley's blankets.  Even a two year old realized the difference in the way his blankets smelled! 
I also loved how it smelled on Mike's white undershirts.  I will usually wash a load of white undershirts in hot water with bleach and I'm not very fond of the bleach smell that lingers afterward.  I loved how these Purex Crystals took the bleach smell away and replaced it with yummy Fresh Mountain Breeze Freshness!  This product is super easy to use.  Just throw one capful in your washer before the start of the wash.  Purex Crystals comes in four
awesome scents:  Fresh Mountain Breeze, Lavender Blossom, Tropical Splash,
and Fresh Spring Water.
Leave a comment about how many loads of laundry you do in a day or a week and you will be entered for a chance to win your own bottle of Purex Crystals!  Two winners will be chosen on Friday, February 14th.  Good luck!

**The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze exchange for a product review.  However, all opinions expressed here are my own.**

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I feel like I'm constantly saying "my new favorite cookie".  I just keep finding these incredible recipes that turn out fabulous on the first try.  I love this cookie because it's not loaded heavy with oatmeal, just one cup.  It really is a perfect cookie!
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal (it can be old fashioned or quick)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat well.  Add the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips, and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the  chocolate chips.  Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Try to only eat one.

First Snow of 2014

And.....we got snow yesterday.  J got out of school at noon yesterday and schools are closed all day today.  The boys were excited to play out in the snow until they realized how cold it is.  They lasted all of 10 minutes outside and then they were begging to come back inside.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Can Do All Things....Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

I'm tired.  I'm tired of punishing.  I'm tired of feeling helpless.  I'm tired of saying no.  I'm tired of not being able to fix problems.  I'm tired of not being able to change someone. 
Rewind.  I'm tired of not being able to change someone?  It is impossible for me to change someone.  Only God can change someone, so why do I think it's my responsibility?  It's my responsibility to be praying for this person.  I need to be praying that the Holy Spirit will be softening his little heart and he will want to choose right over wrong.  I need to pray that God will transform this little child.  And praying has been at the bottom of my list.  I'm too busy figuring out solutions and new punishments to make my plan work.  And I've been failing miserably the last 3 months.
God, please change my mindset.  Help me to lean on You for strength.  Help me to start praying for this child that You love so very much.  Help me to look at him the way You look at him....with grace and mercy.  I need strength that only You can give me.
Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Weekend Recap

We had a VERY busy weekend but it was also a LOT of fun!  We had two birthday parties on Saturday.  The first was at the Greenville Children's Museum.  I love that place!  It's one of those places where I don't want to be a responsible adult watching my kids...I just want to play!  The second birthday party was at Peach Bowl Lanes.  The boys have only been bowling once before so they were very excited to go again.  They had a great time and Bradley was extremely adorable with his tiny bowling shoes and four pound bowling ball.  Take out pizza from Wedgy's for supper, an early bed time for the boys, and Mike and I ended our Saturday watching Parenthood
Mike and I had the 2's and 3's in church nursery on Sunday with a total of 8 little munchkins.  It was a busy morning!  A special soup lunch for the church ladies after morning service, a quick afternoon nap, and then Growth Group at the house last night and before we knew it, we were setting our alarm clocks for Monday morning.  Why must the weekends go by so fast?
Bradley was so proud of his bowling ball!
Watching the ball roll VERY slowly to the pins.

J driving the race car at the Children's Museum 

The best part about birthday parties....CUPCAKES!!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Wow!  I love this cake!  I made it twice last week and the second time came out even better than the first.  And I promise that we are not oinkers and eating all this cake by ourselves.  We each had one piece from each cake and the rest was given to extended family and friends.  This cake is extremely moist and fudgy.  Make sure to have a tall glass of milk ready to go with your piece or pieces of cake.
1 cup butter
1 cup very hot water
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons of cocoa
6 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound box of powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add hot water, and stir for 30 seconds until well blended.
Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture.
Pour into a 9x13 greased baking dish and bake at 350-degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
While cake is baking, make the icing. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.
Bradley is all about this chocolate cake!

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Glass of Milk

It is so easy for me to find something to complain about.  It's something that unfortunately comes way too natural for me.  I'm the person that sees the glass of milk halfway empty rather than halfway full.  This week I found a lot to complain about and was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  I read this status on Facebook this morning and immediately became so ashamed of my attitude this week.
From a staff member at our children's home: Whirlwind of emotions today. One child's grief is so strong he is now in the hospital. A 12 yr old fell into my arms... crying on her birthday b/c her mom ignored her during her visit. She made her own birthday cake to take to her visit b/c she knew her mom would not bring her one. The other girls surprised her with a party when she got back to the cottage. Another child saw the man who molested her. Now she is screaming in her sleep again. Another 6 yr old girl ran to me crying b/c she found out yesterday she is not going home. She had several nightmares and was crying out in her sleep. She let me hold her for a little while and then wanted her Ms. Jessie to pray with her as she went back to bed. It's been a difficult day for so many today. Even a sweet caseworker broke down in tears b/c sometimes it is too much to handle. I feel like I have been running from crisis to crisis putting bandaids on brokenness. My arms are not big enough to hold all of my babies. But dear Father, that does not matter b/c yours are big enough to hold the whole world. Please hold my babies tight. Calm their nightmares and give them peace. Help them to dream great dreams and think great thoughts because you are a Great God! Help my coworkers and my DSS family as we are trying our best to fight the good fight. Sweet Abba, we are so tired and completely helpless without you! Thank you for the Angel Army surrounding Miracle Hill Children's Home. You are our Shield. Our Protector. Our Strength.
Wow!  A status like this made my heart ache for this person dealing with this type of day.   I cried thinking of these innocent children that didn't choose these circumstances they are in.  It made me forget about all my petty problems this past week and I immediately began to think of the goodness of God in my life.  It's amazing how one Facebook status can change my heart and cause me to now see my glass of milk halfway full.

Zaxby's and Basketball

My friend, Jeannie gave me an Attractions Coupon book for Christmas and it's awesome!  I love this book for two reasons:  there are some incredible coupons in it and it also gives us a reason to try new places!  Last night we ate at Zaxby's and used two coupons from the book.  Both Mike and I ordered separately so we could use both coupons (yes, we are cheap like that) and our family of four ate for a grand total of $6.97.  And we even had some food leftover that the boys couldn't finish.
After supper we went to Mike's basketball game with the church league.  I'm so glad I didn't have to buy tickets for the boys because they spent more time watching Dora the Explorer on the iPhones than they did watching Daddy play ball. 
Mike and his Dad taking a couple of shots before the game.
The gym they played at last night was gorgeous!  These pictures were just off my phone but Mike's Dad took some great ones with his professional camera.

Every time the buzzer would go off, Bradley would plug his ears.

I love this picture!  Bradley was so cute watching the game...for about 2 minutes. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

CVS Deals Week of Janaury 19th - 25th

I was extra thankful for the sale on Tide laundry detergent this week at CVS.  I was almost out and that's not a good thing with two boys who love to play in dirt.

The Tide detergent was on sale for $11.94 each and you when you buy two, you receive $5 back in ECB's.  I also used a $3/2 manufacturer's coupon.
Palmolive Dish Soap was on sale for 99 cents.  I used one 50 cents coupon and one 25 cents coupon combined with a 25 cents CVS coupon.
Revlon PhotoReady powder was $13.79 with $4 back in ECB's.  I also used a  $2.00 manufacturer's coupon.
Colgate Toothbrush was on sale for $2.99 with $1 back in ECB's.  I also used $1.00 manufacturer's coupon.
I paid a total of $21.88 out of pocket, saved $32.56 and received $10 back in ECB's.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Krispy Kreme Child

PopPop and Mimi took Bradley to Krispy Kreme last weekend while Mike and I were away on our getaway.  PopPop took the most beautiful pictures of Bradley!  He is an incredible photographer and he's able to capture every ounce of adorableness that Bradley has!
Watching the donuts get dunked in the glaze.

Oh. My. Goodness.  I just want to kiss his face!

He found a way to eat the hot donut without picking it up.  Smart Kid!

 This picture captured his killer eyelashes!

Yummy!  Both the donut and Bradley!


Gluten-Free Corn Bread Recipe

 I made some chili and cornbread the other night for a group of our friends.  One of our friends is gluten free so I found this great recipe for Gluten Free Corn Bread.  I thought the taste was great....the texture was a little different than normal cornbread.  This will definitely be a keeper recipe for the next time I need cornbread that is gluten-free.
2 cups ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons honey
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, butter, buttermilk, and honey together.  Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees.  Shorter bake time if you are using a muffin pan rather than a skillet or baking dish.

I loved the way it looked in the basket!  I mixed the gluten-free cornbread with regular cornbread muffins, small and large.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cades Cove

I can't even begin to describe how much Cades Cove means to me.  It's full of wonderful memories of my beautiful Mother and her love for this place.  Mike and I went there while we were on our weekend getaway and had one of our best visits ever.  There was only about 30 cars in the park so it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves.  We even saw a Mama bear and her two cubs AFTER the gift store clerk told us that we wouldn't see any bears until March.  We saw so many deer and turkey and it was such a beautiful day making new memories.  I love looking at these pictures but you still can't capture the incredible beauty as being there in person.  Cades Cove will always hold a special place in my heart.