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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, January 28, 2015

Our First Blizzard

Bradley and I experienced our very first blizzard yesterday and it was the first one in at least 20 years for Mike.  I will admit that after watching the news on Monday night, I was REALLY nervous.  I could only remember the chaos and extreme cabin fever we experienced in South Carolina when we had 5 inches of snow.  I couldn't even imagine getting 24 inches of snow or more.  I had a hard time sleeping on Monday night, constantly getting up and looking out the window.

  Our snowfall total in Gorham was 30 inches!  The wind was wicked strong and the snow was blowing all over the place.  Some of the snow drifts are easily 3-4 feet deep.  

Despite the massive amount of snow we had on Tuesday, our driveway was cleared by 9:30 this morning, the roads looks great, and Mike went back to work at noon today.  AMAZING!  The North definitely handles Winter a lot different than the South does.  And I'm loving it. 

He was so excited to start digging us out.

He quickly realized it's a lot harder than it looks as he starts 
sinking in his first snow drift.

Mike used the snow blower to make a little path for Bradley.




He loved it and it was so cute to watch him walk on his little trail!


Those rosy cheeks are just asking to be smooched!

The huge pile of snow at our front door.

Clearing the driveway was a big task!  

I really did help clear 2/3 of this driveway.  I actually love using the snow blower and it's a better workout than running for 30 minutes on the treadmill.

Still smiling even after cleaning up 30 inches of snow!










Purex Power Shot Review & GIVEAWAY

Introducing the all NEW Purex PowerShot coming in February!!!


I'm so excited about this new detergent coming from Purex.  It will officially hit shelves in February which is just a couple days away!  Purex PowerShot is the only bottle that will automatically dispense the right amount of detergent into your washer.  One flip for regular loads and two flips for large or extra dirty loads.  

My three year old son is in the stage where helping Mama is awesome. This bottle makes it easy enough for him to help without me freaking out over the mess of him overfilling laundry caps.  I love this cute video of him and his excitement over....LAUNDRY!



I can't wait for you all to try this out so I'm offering a free product coupon for one free bottle of the new Purex PowerShot detergent.  Two winners will be chosen on February 10th.  All you have to do is leave a comment and your name will be entered into the drawing.  Good luck!  Also, don't forget about the chance to win a new Whirlpool washer and dryer set!  You can find out more details here.  

**The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex PowerShot detergent in exchange for a product review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett Book Review


This book came in the mail yesterday.  Perfect timing for our blizzard today!  Mike and I have enjoyed the snowy morning reading books by the fireplace.

In Tommy's book "The Power of a Half Hour" he encourages us to turn our fleeting minutes into defining moments.  We all get the same 24 hours each day, yet some people are able to achieve much greater things in their 24 hours than others do.  I love one of Tommy's last sentences which says "If you accept the fact that God created us to be agents of transformation and realize that every day He gives us opportunities to change the world in little but meaningful ways, then the half hours that you have to work with can produce great outcomes."

This book has 30 chapters which makes it great for taking half an hour each day and reading one chapter.  Unless you're like me and you're stuck in a blizzard with lots of extra time on your hands.  :)  In the back of the book, there are daily action plans which help you reflect on the chapter you read and what your plan/action steps are with what you just learned.

Tommy does a great job outlining how we can seize the power of a half hour and make a difference in areas such as impact, purpose & goals, faith, character, dreams, relationships, and advancing God's kingdom.

You can learn more about "The Power of a Half Hour" by clicking here.

**Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Our Weekend Recap

We had about 5 inches of snow fall on Saturday.  It really was a perfect snow day for us. 

Bradley's favorite breakfast - buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes

I love that he loves the old school cartoons!

We taught Bradley how to play Skip-bo.  It's a great way for him to learn his numbers!

Sledding time!

The snow has a magical way of making you feel like a little kid again!

We went for a nice long walk.  There's nothing like the sound of crunching in the snow!

Unfortunately we don't have much of a hill in our backyard.  
Mike was scooting across the yard rather than sliding.

Homemade hot cocoa is a MUST for after playing in the snow.

Bradley helped make the pizza on Saturday night.  He was so particular about the cheese being sprinkled on just right.

Of course we couldn't end a snow day without a game of Monopoly.  And Mike won!

Sunday lunch at Sebago Brewing Company.  I love that they offer 100% grass fed burgers!  And their sweet potatoes fries are perfect.

A quick trip into Lowes.  This has become our second home!

 I learned how to roof rake!

It's a lot harder than it looks and the rake is so hard to lift and maneuver.


I was somewhat successful.  As much snow as it looks like that came down, there was still a lot left on the roof!









Menu Week of January 26 - 30

Ok, so I'll be experiencing my first blizzard in about 12 hours.  I'll be sleeping through the first part, but I almost feel like this is Christmas Eve.  Sort of...in a sick way.  I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to fall asleep tonight.  Up to 2 feet of snow is expected with 40 mph winds.  We already have 8 inches of snow on the ground right now so my mind can't process another 24 inches of snow coming.  I'm absolutely terrified of the word blizzard but secretly excited to see what a blizzard really means.  I'm messed up, I know.  Either way, snow days mean lots of baking and yummy warm foods to fill our bellies.  I'm thankful that I have a gas stove so even if we do lose power, I know I'll still have options to make our food.

Breakfast
Homemade Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Dunkin Donuts 
(I picked up some donuts this morning to have for tomorrow.  A special treat for tomorrow morning as we hunker down for our first blizzard)
Scrambled Eggs & Cheese
Banana Bread

Lunch
Bean & Cheese Burritos
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Applegate Turkey Hot Dogs
Leftovers x 2

Supper
Chicken, Broccoli, & Rice Casserole
Turkey Chili
Fried Chicken Bites with Rice & Veggies
Crockpot Chicken & Veggies
Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza


Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Song for the Day - Blessings by Laura Story

My head hurts from crying.  My heart hurts from missing friends.  This is my song for today.


It's not easy being the new person.  It's uncomfortable.  It's a vulnerable feeling.  It's hard.  As painful as this process is for me right now, I know God is making something beautiful out of me through this time.  

While reading a book today the question "What have you built your identity around?" really struck me hard.  For so long my identity has been built around a circle of friends, the fostering community, and work.  The next question was "Who are you if you lose all of this?"  Umm.....whoa.  By moving to Maine, I've lost all of those things that made my identity.  No wonder I'm feeling emotional, lost, and alone.

But then God gently reminds me that I'm a child of His first and foremost.  I'm a wife to the most patient man on this earth.  I'm a Mom to the most beautiful boy created.  And that's all that matters right now.  

Blessings are coming through rain drops and healing is coming from tears right now.  If moving to Maine is what it took for me to find my true identity in Christ, then the painful process of being the "newbie" will be okay.



Groceries Week of January 18 - 24

Whole Foods - this trip was insane.  We went on Saturday afternoon and there had to be at least 300 people in the store.  I was so distracted that I overspent.  If it wasn't so far away, I would take two items back just so I would be under budget this week.  My total spent was $95.30 and I saved $14.73.

Walmart - a quick trip for necessities.  Bradley lives off cottage cheese and yogurt.  My necessity is Bailey's French Vanilla creamer.  It's far from organic and has a ton of sugar but I've yet to fall in love with maple syrup and half & half in my coffee.  My total spent was $15.70.

Smiling Hill Farm - my total spent was $13.02.  I returned one extra half gallon jug which helped lower my total cost.


Yes To Carrots online order - I used the 25% online coupon code combined with free shipping to stock up on some personal hygiene products.  Two shampoos, two conditioners, one face wash, one face moisturizer, one intense hand cream, and one lip balm totaling $49.44.  I'm quickly falling in love with these products!

My grand total spent this week was $173.46 which is $23.46 over my budget.  But since I've been under budget the last 3 weeks in a row, I've racked up a credit of $29.11 which covers the overage this week.  It's really nice having a little flexibility especially when the shopping trip didn't go as I hoped or we just needed to stock up on some items.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Len Libby Candy Shops in Scarborough Maine


We finally met Lenny, the world's only life-sized chocolate moose.  This guy is made out of 1700 pounds of milk chocolate!  You can find him at Len Libby Candy Shops in Scarborough, Maine.  Len Libby's Candies is the third oldest business in Scarborough.  Their chocolatier shoppe is full of delicious, gorgeous, homemade chocolates that melt in your mouth.  The employees are so courteous and helpful when making your selection.  Mike and I each picked out three different pieces each and hands down the almond buttercrunch was our favorite.  Len Libby's also has a great variety of souvenirs, books, stuffed Moose animals, and toys for children.  There is a short video you can watch about how Lenny was made.  This place is definitely a must see if you are in the area.






Monday, January 19, 2015

Hallmark Hall of Fame - Away & Back Review


I was recently able to have a sneak peek of the new Hallmark movie "Away & Back" starring Jason Lee and Minka Kelly.  This movie will air on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, January 25 at 8/7c.


My husband and three year old son watched the movie with me.  Bradley loved the swans and scenery footage.  I love that Hallmark offers wholesome, family friendly movies and I don't have to worry about language, sex scenes, or violence with my 3 year old.

Away & Back is about a 10 year old girl, Frankie, and Ginny (Minka Kelly) the ornithologist, who are both passionate about saving swans.  Will they be able to convince Jack (Jason Lee) how important these swans are?  Will Ginny let down her guard and fall in love with Jack?  You can find out on Sunday, January 25th by watching Away & Back on the Hallmark Channel at 8/7c.

You can also share the movie trailer with your friends and have a chance to win a trip to a national park of your choice!

Menu Week of January 19 - 23

I've been missing Great Harvest Bread Company from back in SC, BUT I found a new bakery over the weekend.  I'm so happy!!  Big Sky Bread has a huge variety of breads and I love the fact that they mill organic wheat berries right into flour, fresh every day!  And they have several varieties that stick with the 5 ingredients or less rule.  How awesome is that?!

Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs & Applegate Sausage Links
Homemade Biscuits & Jelly
Waffles
Blackberry Muffins
Fried Eggs & Whole Wheat Toast

Lunch
Leftovers x 3
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches 
Egg Salad Sandwiches

Supper
Hot Turkey & Cheese Rolls
Supper @ Small Group
Beef Stew & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Refried Beans with Cheese & Mexican Rice
Spaghetti (without meat) & Garlic Bread

Our Weekend Recap

It was a great weekend despite Bradley and I both having colds and not feeling 100%.  We started Friday off with watching a new Hallmark movie, "Away & Back" that will air next Sunday, January 25th on the Hallmark Channel.  


We did a LOT on Saturday.  It was super cold but the sun was out and we all needed to get out and soak up some Vitamin D.   We picked up sandwiches at Mamie's Farmhouse and then headed to the ocean.   Feeding the seagulls was my favorite part of the day. We let Bradley have a few minutes on the playground and sliding down into a pile of snow at the bottom of the slide was the best part for him.  We had a relaxing night of board games and finishing a puzzle.

This will be my new favorite place to grab sandwiches!


Absolute gorgeousness!  Look at the size of those Whoopie Pies!  
Panera Bread has nothing on Mamie's Farmhouse!!

I never knew the ocean could be so gorgeous even in 15 degree weather!

So cold but so beautiful!
 
In just a matter of seconds, we went from 2 seagulls to at least 20.
They sure know how to spread the word that food is being handed out.

I was completely oblivious to this seagull right behind me.


Cutest boy ever!!

Every kid should experience sliding down into snow.


He would have done this two dozen times if it hadn't been so cold.

On Sunday, we went to church and then came back home for lunch and naps.  We took Bradley to the movies to see Paddington later that afternoon.  He loved the movie and now we have to find him a Paddington Bear.  Bradley and Mike stayed up to watch the football game on Sunday night.  I love when my husband takes time to give one on one time to Bradley.  It means the world to Bradley but it melts my heart to see Mike taking the time to be an awesome Dad!



Cheesin' before church!

Bradley was so into the movie!






Friday, January 16, 2015

Life with a capital L by Matt Heard Book Review


Wow!  What an incredible book, Life with a Capital L.  Matt Heard does a phenomenal job communicating ten key areas where everyday life can become extraordinary Life.  God intends our life to be much so more than a to do list, being in survival mode, or just trying to make it day by day.  Matt shares so many positive, encouraging thoughts on God's grace, His love, His desire to show us how we can live life everywhere.  

This book came at such a great time in my life.  I had just finished reading Grace is Free by Marci Preheim a couple weeks ago.  That helped me understand God's grace in a whole new way.  Then following it up with Life with a Capital L, allowed me to really grasp how I need to start living my life with purpose.  

God has been showing me what grace really means.  I grew up in legalistic, fundamental churches where grace was something you hoped God would extend to you if you completed x y and z.  I'm realizing there is a huge difference in legalistic obedience and life-giving obedience.  Matt puts it perfectly when he writes "legalistic obedience is a debilitating attempt to get God to love me, earn His favor, impress others, and bolster my religious pride."  "Life-giving obedience is a response to the favor of God that I've already received through Christ.  Obedience to God's instruction, not human rules, enables me to experience Life."  

I encourage anyone who struggles with really understanding God's grace and what your purpose in life is to read this book.  

**Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.  The opinions expressed here are my own.