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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Week of March 31 - April 4

We have a lot going on this week getting ready for our annual extended family & friends garage sale this coming Saturday.  We also have door repairs being made which will require strangers in my house for a day.  And it's pollen season which means my allergies are out of control right now.  Lots of tiredness and headaches which doesn't help with wanting to make elaborate meals.  So we are keeping it simple this week and eating light!
Cereal x 2
Yogurt & Bananas
Buttermilk Pancakes
Egg & Cheese Biscuits
Leftovers x 3
Applegate Deli Turkey and Happy Cow Cheese Curds
PB & J Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Sloppy Joes
Chicken Nachos
Grilled Chicken Bites & Grilled Veggies
Homemade Pizza

Candy Crush vs Alone Time with God

I'm a Candy Crush Fan.  I'm not an addict but I do play a lot of Candy Crush in a day.  When I wake up early in the morning and I'm not ready to get out of bed, Candy Crush is saying Good Morning to me.  A mid-morning break of coffee and Candy Crush can be just what I need on some stressful mornings. When the boys lay down for a nap and I need to put my feet up, Candy Crush is waiting for me.  And I definitely have to play all five of my Candy Crush lives before going to bed.  Ok, so maybe I am a Candy Crush addict.  I have made this silly game a priority in my life. 
And yet I find excuses on why I don't have time to have alone time with God.  Why is it easier for me to waste time on Candy Crush, Facebook, Mommy Blogs, or Recipe and Coupon Saving websites? Is it because I don't find the Bible entertaining enough?  Is it because I don't want to be convicted of my sins?  Is it because I don't want read about why I must forgive?  Is it just because I've let my relationship with Jesus Christ slip away and I don't want to "take time" to get it back? 
Have you ever had a friendship that slowly drifted in two different directions?  Throughout the drifting you realized that you really didn't need that relationship so you just let it go.  I'm learning that my relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life and I don't want to just let it go.  I'm craving alone time with my Jesus and I want to read more of Him, learn more about His unfailing grace, and talk my heart out to Him.  There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother...Proverbs 18:24.  And that friend is Jesus.  I need Him in my life.  Goodbye Candy Crush and all my other time wasters.  I've finally realized what needs to be the priority in my life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ingles, Earth Fare, and CVS Grocery Sales Week of March 23 - 29

I was home bound most of the week since Bradley started potty training this week.  I'm proud to say that he is doing MUCH better than he was the first two days.  And I'm very proud of myself for not throwing in the towel after day 2.   Anyway I stayed under my $150 weekly budget and my total spent was $143.43.  I have to pick up two ingredients tomorrow for dessert on Sunday night for Growth Group but that will only cost $3 so I'll still be under budget.  Maybe staying home all week wasn't so bad after all!
Ingles Trip #1 - I had so much fun on this trip.  The boys were in great moods (could have been due to getting their free cookie) and I had my list and coupons all organized.  I was in and out within about 20 minutes.  My total was $38.13 and I saved $38.98!!
Ingles Trip #2 - I didn't get a chance to take a picture.  I bought one loaf of La Brea Bakery bread for sandwiches, 5 pound bag of organic potatoes, 3 organic sweet onions, and 4 packages of Amish Country cheese.  My total was $25.29 and I saved $1.56.
Earth Fare - I was very excited about their chicken breast on sale for $2.99/lb.  I picked up their limit...6 pounds.  It was my first time buying Rudi's Organic bread and I'm in love!  It was so delicious and it has 24 grams of whole grains per slice!  I spent a total of $51.64 and saved $19.46.
CVS - I spent a total of $28.37 and saved $57.72!  I was very happy with the savings but so sad I didn't buy any items qualifying for ECB's.  So I'll have to start all over with my ECB's on my next shopping trip.  I'm caught up on laundry products for awhile with their BOG2 sale on both the All detergent and Snuggle fabric softener.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Horsecreek Honey Farms & Limestone Farms

I'm all about buying food from local farmers.  Not only is the food so much better than what you buy in a grocery store, but it's so much fun building relationships  and supporting local farmers.   I've been a huge fan of Limestone Farms for several years now. Farmer Chris and his wife Teri are some of the sweetest, down to earth people you will ever meet.   Their chickens can produce the most delicious eggs!  I purchased a pound of veal stew meat last Saturday and it was my first time trying veal.  I loved how tender it was!  I made their recipe for veal stew this past weekend it was delicious!  Pour a big scoopful over jasmine rice and it's a perfect meal.  For Greenville locals:  you can purchase their eggs from Whole Foods on Woodruff Road or from The Grain Loft.  You can purchase their veal from Swamp Rabbit CafĂ© & Grocery. 
I was also recently introduced to Horsecreek Honey Farms through The Grain Loft.  I bought some vanilla infused honey and I wish I could send everyone a sample of it.  I've never had honey that was so smooth and sweet.  The vanilla added an amazing flavor to the honey. A spoonful of honey helps with any sugar cravings that only a "Mama going through the toddler potty training stage" needs!  I'm going to try using it in some cinnamon rolls later this week instead of sugar!  You can purchase their honey in several local places.  Click here to see the listings.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's How You Live - My Song for Today

My heart is aching for my dear friend today as she remembers what would have been her daughter's birthday today.  She lost her sweet daughter 5 years ago to cancer.  I can't help but think of this song "How You Live" by Point of Grace.  We don't know how long we will be on this earth.  James 4:14 says "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."  We need to enjoy every moment God has given us.  I don't really care how clean my house is today or if I'm following my meal schedule.  I'm just so thankful I have a little boy to hug today. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bradley's New Bike - Boys 12 Inch Schwinn Grit Bike

We bought a new bike for Bradley a couple of weeks ago and he learned to ride it all by himself last night!  He is so happy that he doesn't need us to push him anymore and he's really becoming more confident and pedaling faster.  We bought his bike off Amazon.  The price has changed since buying the bike.  There was a bigger discount on the bike a couple weeks ago so you might keep it in your watch list to see if the price drops again.  It's still a great bike and we are very happy with the quality.  I love the push handle on it and it was a lot easier to use than I thought it would be.  It made pushing him very easy and manageable...except when Bradley would put on the brake.  :)  I'm pretty sure Bradley would sleep with the bike and his helmet on if we'd let him. 
We had the perfect weather this weekend for riding bikes!

Riding in the house in pajamas is even fun!
Stopping a minute to draw with chalk on the driveway
Watching Barney on a bike is way cooler than sitting on the couch!

And breakfast tastes so much yummier with a helmet on and your bike by your side.

Menu Week of March 24 -28

Egg & Cheese Biscuits
Cinnamon Rolls
Sausage Biscuits
Cheesy Eggs & Sausage
Sloppy Joes
Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Chicken Salad & Crackers
Homemade Pizza
Dinner Out at Schlotzsky's Deli
(kids eat free on Tuesday and we have a foster parent training meeting that night which makes it easier to grab and go)
Hamburger Quiche
Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, & Veggies
Meatballs & Pasta

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun Friday Giveaway Winners and New Purex Crystals Giveaway!

Congratulations to Bridgette, Marilyn, and The Lady Prefers Paris for winning the Dial Deep Cleaning Hand Soap giveaway.  Please check your inbox for further instructions.
Even though yesterday was officially the first day of Spring, I feel like every day can be Spring with this fabulously fresh new scent from Purex CrystalsToday's giveaway is a  bottle of Purex Crystals in their limited edition, Fabulously Fresh scent!  And yes, I'm in love with the fabulously fresh scent! I wish there was a scratch and sniff feature on the computer for you to experience the "Spring is in the Air", "I love doing laundry", "Purex is awesome" smell.  I have sprinkled a capful in the load of towels washing right now and I love how it makes my entire laundry room smell fresh and clean!  All you have to do to win your own bottle of Purex Crystals Limited Edition Fabulously Fresh is leave a comment on what you love about Spring!  One winner will be chosen next Friday, March 28th.

**The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Crystals Limited Edition Fabulously Fresh Scent in exchange for a product review.  However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.**

What a Week! - Totally Skipped Blogging This Week!

Wow!   It's been a wicked long week.  It started with drama coming back in my life on Sunday.  The world would be a much more pleasant place if people would just realize drama needs to stay in the soap opera world so please move to Hollywood if that is what you thrive on.  Mike had a work meeting in Charleston on Tuesday so we headed there on Monday afternoon.  Normally I love going to Charleston but this time around it was not so fun.  It was rainy and very cold and Shane is teething.  It's a good thing he's a cute boy because his disposition is far from cute right now.  So Monday and Tuesday ended up being a huge disappointment and ended up causing more stress instead of a fun work trip.  On Wednesday, I received some news that made me pretty emotional and missing Mom more than ever.  It didn't help that I was overly tired and exhausted from long nights staying up with Shane.  Yesterday, I think our allergies caught up to us and we were all feeling pretty miserable.  After a great big pot of magical chicken soup last night and a long soak in the tub, I'm feeling more myself today.  Or it could just be that I know this week is over and I'm looking forward to extra family time tomorrow! 
Even though I had an extremely hard week (hard in my world), it doesn't even compare to what some of my friends are going through.  I found myself realizing that I made such a big deal of all my problems this week and I didn't even take time to thank God for giving me health, for giving me my family, my home, money to pay bills, etc.  I can get so wrapped up in "what's not going my way" that I easily forget God's goodness.  I was truly ashamed of my attitude when I went to deliver a meal this week to a friend who has breast cancer.  Her sweet spirit continues to shine through even though she's going through this trial, a trial that is WAY worse than anything I went through this week.  She reminded me of what is important in life and all this other stuff just doesn't matter.
My sweet husband brought me roses last night.  I'm still amazed how much he overlooks my faults and loves for me who I am.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Week of March 17-21

Can I just say that I'm very thankful I have a husband that doesn't expect gourmet meals when coming home from work? I don't need to have a 5 course meal to make him happy.  I love simplicity and having meals that don't require a lot of prep and cooking time makes it a lot easier on me!
Cereal and/or Yogurt x 2
Buttermilk Pancakes
Cheesy Eggs
Homemade Donuts
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Salad with Grilled Chicken
Homemade Mac & Cheese
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Roast Beef and Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Pizza
Chicken Fajitas
Shepherd's Pie

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bi-Lo, CVS, Earth Fare, and Ingles Sales Week of March 9 - 15

Whew!  I made a lot of grocery stops this week.  Earth Fare is still running a coupon special which really helps with our milk costs.  Both boys drink a LOT of milk so we have been going through about 3 gallons of milk each week.  Milk and water are our main beverages so I'm not going to compromise on my milk...Happy Cow milk is what we buy and I will pay $4.99 a gallon for it.  I'm a huge endorser of buying dairy from your local farm if you can.
 Earth Fare Trip #1 - I spent a total of $29.53 and saved $13.69.  Shane has really bad allergies and it's hard to find allergy medicine for children under the age of 2.  So I'm trying Newton homeopathics for kids right now and it seems to be helping.  It was $13.29 for 1 fluid ounce but you only give them 3 drops so it should last me awhile.  The chocolate ice cream was free with a $10 purchase so that was a special treat! 

Earth Fare Trip# 2 - my total was $55.96 and I saved $20.34.  After I got home, I realized they only took $7 off instead of $11 with their coupon promotion.  I hate that but $4 was not worth my time to buckle both boys back in the car and make another trip on the other side of town.  Next time I'm in the store, I'll ask if they will credit me the $4.  I was very excited to get 1/2 pound of organic coffee for free!  They were out of the free granola but I'd rather have the coffee anyway.  It's delicious coffee!
CVS Trip #1 - this trip was all diapers and wipes and I spent $24.08, saved $21.50 and received $10 back in ECB's.
CVS Trip #2 - I spent 23 cents out of pocket and saved $21.55.  But I totally blew this transaction by not using the $2 CVS coupon for the candy and I bought the wrong mascara.  There was one kind that would have given me back $6 in ECB's.  Oh well...life goes on and I'm not going to beat myself up over minor mistakes.
BiLo Trip #1 - this was a last minute stop on Sunday for three 2 Liters for Growth Group.  I spent $4.98 and saved 99 cents.  (I didn't have time to take a picture)
BiLo Trip #2 - BI-Lo had an awesome sale on K-cups earlier this week.  All brands were on sale for $5.99 and if you bought 5 boxes, you would receive $5 off your order.  Combining that sale with additional coupons, and I got these k-cups for a steal!  My total was $30.63 and I saved $47.44!!  It makes me feel like Super Woman when I save more than I spend!
Ingles - I should have probably have skipped this stop because it made my weekly grocery budget go over but I was in desperate need for creamer.  I hadn't drank coffee in 2 days because we had been out and I'm addicted to Bailey's French Vanilla.  Milk in coffee just doesn't cut it for me.  There were a couple other items that were on sale that I didn't have the will power to pass up.  My total spent was $12.98 and I saved $8.00.
I spent a total of $158.39 this week so I went over by $8.39. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Honesty here...I've eaten 3 cupcakes this morning and I've let Bradley eat 3 cupcakes.  I haven't been baking much lately (trying to cut out our sugar intake) and let's just say that we made up for the last month of no cupcakes.  These are sinfully delicious and very hard to resist.  So the remainder of the cupcakes were taken to our church staff and my husband's co-workers.  I HAD to get them out of the house.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 large egg whites
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and egg whites.  In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla.  Beat in half the milk-egg mixture and then beat in half of the dry ingredients until well mixed.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, and then the remaining dry ingredients.  Make sure batter is well mixed.  Spoon into your cupcake pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
(this helps keep the bright white color)
1 box powdered sugar
1/4 cup - 1/3 cup heavy cream
(this will all depend on how thick you want your icing)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bradley's New Swing Set

We bought Bradley a swing set this past weekend and Mike spent 5 hours on Saturday putting it together.  Bradley was adorable watching Mike put the swing set together and waiting patiently.  The swing set we picked out fits Bradley perfectly.  He can do everything it offers and he's already trying to find ways to climb from the swing to the slide without touching the ground.  That kid is a daredevil!  And thanks to sales and coupons at Toys r Us, we saved $90 on this swing set!
Bradley couldn't wait for Daddy to open the box.
He cracked me up as he was pulling pieces out of the box while eating a slice of cheese!

He wouldn't let go of his toy hammer and saw while pulling the pieces out of the box.

The box became an awesome "boat" as soon as everything was taken out.

My awesome husband hard at work! 

The slide was the first part assembled.

And the swing was second.

As soon as Bradley's baby swing was put up for Shane,
he decided he wanted to swing in it again.

These boys love their new swing set!




Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Week of March 10-14

Our week is pretty much laid back week with most of our evenings free.  As much as I hate having to lose an hour of sleep yesterday, I'm ready for our family walks after supper. 
Nature's Path Organic Toaster Pastries
Cheesy Eggs
Leftover pizza from Growth Group
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Hot Dogs
Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Pinto Beans & Cornbread
Buttermilk Pancakes & Bacon
Special Dinner out using Christmas gift cards
Baked Ziti with meat

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fun Friday Giveaway - Dial Deep Cleaning Hand Soap

Move over Bath & Body Works...introducing Dial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap in three fabulous scents:  water blossoms, coconut lime verbena and yellow raspberry & black sugar. 
I never knew how much hand soap we would go through until having kids.  They are always putting their hands where they don't belong.  Why is toilet water so appealing?  The dirt inside my potted plants are just calling the kids names.  The garbage can must be hiding those toys the boys are always looking for.  The list never ends.  The boys probably dream of me saying "Go wash your hands". 
I was excited to try this new deep cleansing hand soap from Dial.  The fragrances are pleasantly soft and not overpowering.  I love the fresh colors that brighten up my bathroom.  The soap has these awesome little micro scrubbers that cleanses deeply while moisturizing your skin. I was very happy with the results of this new soap from Dial!
Would you like to try some for yourself?  All you have to do is leave a comment on which scent you would you like to try and you will automatically be entered in the giveaway!  Three Winners will be chosen on Friday, March 21st.
**The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap in exchange for a product review.  However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.**

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal

My sister, Heather gave me this recipe for homemade Grape Nuts.  Yes, I'm one of those weird people that like the crunchy cereal.  My husband actually loves Grape Nuts Ice cream...I had never heard of it until I went up North for a vacation.  Anyway, this recipe turned out pretty well.  I don't know if I like it better than the boxed version but it was fun knowing I could make my own version. It does have a whole cup of sugar in it so I would love to know if you could substitute honey instead or just add half the amount of sugar.  This is also a great recipe to try new flavors by adding your own cinnamon, vanilla, almonds, etc.   I tried the vanilla which I really liked. Have fun and be creative!
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix all the ingredients together.  Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  (You will definitely want to use the parchment paper)  I used two cookies sheets and it worked out a lot better than the one.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Allow cake to cool.  You can either use a blender or food processor to break cake into small pieces or by hand.  I chose my baby food blender which took awhile but still worked out great in the end.  Places pieces back on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour.  You will want to stir the mixture every 15 minutes.  If you like your cereal extra crunchy allow it to bake longer.

Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Bars using Einkorn Flour

I bought my first 10 pound bag of Einkorn Flour a couple weeks ago.  To be honest, I've had a hard time making a successful loaf of bread.  But I'm going to keep trying until I've mastered it.  In the meantime I was very successful at making these yummy pumpkin bars
2 cups einkorn flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup organic powdered sugar
In a large bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, honey and pumpkin puree.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Menu Week of March 3-7

Life just became a little more busy with a 14 month old boy being placed in our home this past weekend.  It's a good thing I already had a menu in place to make things easier for me!
Banana Bread & Yogurt
Blueberry Bagels & Cream Cheese
Cheesy Eggs
Buttermilk Pancakes
Egg & Cheese Burritos
Chicken Nuggets
Homemade Mac & Cheese
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Baked Ziti & Garlic Rolls (without meat)
Cheeseburgers & Fries
 (special birthday dinner for my mother-in-law)
Taco Salad
Chili Dogs