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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, December 23, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

Savannah came three days too late for making the Christmas letter this year.  I've got to give her an A+ for her effort in trying though!

Ashley Lay Genovese

Dear Family & Friends,

It’s hard to believe we have lived in Maine for a whole year and are happily surviving. We have grown to love this beautiful state. We are spoiled with the closeness of the ocean and believe it or not we are looking forward to the snow arriving. We still have a little bit of our Southern accents but “soda” and “wicked” have become more natural for us to say.

As if adjusting to a new state, new job, different culture, etc. wasn’t enough of an adventure, we found out that Ashley was pregnant on Mother’s Day weekend. It was a happy surprise and Savannah Ashley is expected to arrive just in time for a tax deduction on December 31st.

Bradley is now 4 ½ years old and is very excited to be a big brother. He went to preschool from January – June earlier this year and loved every minute of it. He has made lot of new friends through preschool, church and other groups and has become a social butterfly. The ocean is still his favorite place to go and all he needs is a shovel and bucket to make him happy.

Ashley has had a rough pregnancy from the very start but is thankful she can now see the end in sight. She loved every minute of being a hostess and bed & breakfast manager for all our friends and family who visited us throughout the year. She started a new hobby of refinishing furniture and found quite the deals at yard sales during the summer. The most exciting project was an antique dresser and toddler rocking chair for Savannah’s nursery.

Mike has brought his Scottrade branch from 25th out of twenty-five branches to consistently perform in the top five in the region and has worked hard at being a good leader in the office. He is very thankful for a job that gives him some flexibility and will allow him to take plenty of time off once the new baby arrives. He is learning to become a handyman around the house and YouTube videos have become his book of instructions. He had a colonoscopy back in March which confirmed the Crohn’s is still in remission which we are thankful for.

Our Christmas prayer for 2016 is that we will accept the gift of peace that God has given us. He promises us this in John 14:27 which says “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” No matter what happens in the world or in your home in 2016, remember God already knows and has promised us peace.

Merry Christmas! We love you all so very much.

Mike, Ashley & Bradley

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

She's Here....introducing Savannah Ashley Genovese

Savannah Ashley Genovese is here!  She arrived on Tuesday, December 15 at 8:24 am weighing 7.1 pounds and measuring 20.5 inches in length.  Her arrival was an unexpected surprise and she was born within 10 minutes of making it to the hospital.  Mike is very thankful that he didn't have to deliver her in the car and I'm just thankful delivery was quick since there wasn't time for an epidural or pain medication.  Mike has the next two weeks off and we are very excited about this time we have together to adjust to being a family of four!








Monday, December 14, 2015

My First AdoramaPix Metal Print



I ordered my first metal print from AdoramaPix and I can't tell you how pleased I am with the quality of this print!  I wasn't sure how it would turn out with it being metal but it really is incredible.  A picture of the metal print doesn't do it justice...you have to see it in person!  It's very well made, the colors are vibrant and beautiful, and most importantly it's easy to hang!  


AdoramaPix offers so many options for your photo needs.  Be sure to take advantage of their free shipping on all orders of $39 or more!

*Disclosure - I received a free metal print in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own. 
 

Our Weekend Recap

And another weekend is over.  It's crazy to think that three weekends from now we will be holding baby Savannah!  We accomplished a lot on Friday night and Saturday despite being admitted to the hospital on Friday morning for some monitoring of the baby. Thankfully she is okay but she is making it very clear to us that she is going to do things her way and on her timing.  Christmas cookies and caramel popcorn were made and delivered to our neighbors, Christmas cards were mailed, and we went shopping for a rocker for the baby's room.  It was unsuccessful due to the insane price stores wanted for rockers, but we still had fun getting out and enjoying the 50 degree weather.

Bradley was all about supervising me while I made the cookies.
 
 Mike's job was stuffing envelopes and putting the stamp and return address label on.  If you get a card from us, make sure to tell him what an incredible job he did!  :)

Christmas goodies all ready to deliver to our neighbors.

 Bradley helped me test out some of the rockers.  He was so sweet and cuddly!
 
 He thought this huge bear was really cool but was scared to death 
of a large stuffed caterpillar on the other side of the room.


Sunday was a super relaxing day!  I overdid it on Friday and Saturday so I stayed home while Mike and Bradley went to church.  After lunch we all relaxed by either reading books or quietly resting.  Then we headed to go look at Christmas lights on Sunday night.  I don't think that Northerners decorate as much as Southerners do but we still managed to find one nice neighborhood that had plenty of lights to enjoy.  

 I can't say enough about how great this book is!  
I'm reading it for the second time and still learning so much!
Some of the Christmas lights we saw.  I love the lights wrapped on the tree trunks.  Mike and I will definitely have to do that next year.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Weekend Recap

 I am tired.  Almost 36 weeks pregnant and this baby can come any day now.  The weekend wore me out even though we didn't do much.  I'm pretty sure I could go to bed right now and sleep the rest of the day.

On Friday night, we had family game night and played Uno, Jenga, and Candy Land with Bradley.  The smart little booger won 4 games and was very proud of himself.




We had a relaxing Saturday morning and then cleaned the basement (it's like a garage, becomes very messy and disorganized quickly) and finished laundry.  Then we headed out to Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt, washed and vacuumed my car, and then bought some new windshield wipers.  We came home long enough to grab some supper and then headed back out to church for the Saturday evening service.
 
 Bradley is always begging Daddy to wrestle with him!

 Frozen yogurt with these two handsome guys!

Mike showed Bradley how to change the windshield wipers and Bradley did a great job!

 
On Sunday, three of my friends and I met for brunch and a sweet baby shower for Savannah.  We talked for 3 1/2 hours and had no clue of the time.  It was a nice relaxing morning and I'm so thankful for their friendship.  I picked up Mike and Bradley after the brunch and we headed to Old Orchard Beach for their Christmas event downtown.  Of course Bradley didn't want anything to do with Santa but he loved playing some games outside and the trolley ride.  It was almost 50 degrees so we took a nice walk on the beach.  I don't want to jinx it, but it's crazy to think we don't have any snow yet.  
 
 Tallie's husband Scott made this for the brunch.  It was adorable and the fruit was so sweet it was like candy!  Yummy goodness to this pregnant mama!

 Sarah's Mom made these cute little baby shoe party favors filled with pink M&M's. 

 
 You're never too old to have your picture taken with Santa!

Bradley loved the ring toss game.
 
Trolley time!
 
 Family selfie

 An afternoon walk on the beach always puts everyone in happy moods!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gymboree Codes - Christmas shopping savings!


Here are several Gymboree codes that I won't be using.  Feel free to have them and if you use a code, please comment on the post so others will know which code has already been taken.  Gymboree has some great sales going on right now and combining the sales with the extra savings can get you some cheap Christmas presents!

Save 20% off entire purchase with code 11TKCVB61694491 - expires on 12/15/15
Save 20% off entire purchase with code 11F47QMCSN92090 - expires on 12/15/15
Save 20% off entire purchase with code 11477RDJK098969 - expires on 12/24/15
Save 20% off entire purchase with code 11PPLF1GN086804 - expires on 1/15/16

Save $25 off your purchase of $100 or more with code 1146WT9TMB97951 - expires on 12/24/16

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our Pallet Christmas Tree

 A friend had posted a picture on Facebook of a Christmas tree made out of a wooden pallet.  I told my father-in-law that I would love one of these and he shows up with one last week!  Bradley helped him paint the tree and then they went to The Christmas Tree store and picked out the lights and ornament for the top of the tree.  They made it looked beautiful and I love it.  Thank you so much Dad Genovese and Bradley!

 Painting the tree!

 Bradley loved doing this project with his Papa!

 Finished result is one awesome looking tree!

Be Somebody's Angel This Christmas

I love this song by Mandisa..."Somebody's Angel".  We can get so wrapped up this time of the year with the holiday parties, decorating, shopping, wrapping presents, baking, etc.  It's easy to be consumed with ourselves and our families and not want to make time for others.  But it's the most important time to show others what Christmas is about.  So take a moment, look around, and see who you can be an angel to.



This past Sunday I had a moment where I hoped I was somebody's angel.  Our family was at the Gorham Christmas parade and tree lighting and we were standing in line waiting for a horse and carriage ride.  There was a lady behind me that started a conversation with me and she told me how she was waiting for her ex-husband to bring her son to the parade.  Her son was 9 years old and he always looks forward to this event every year.  He was already 30 minutes late and she was afraid he would miss the entire event.  One of his favorite things was eating the donut munchkins they hand out since that's the only time he gets those.  Bradley started to get tired of waiting in line so I took him for a walk while Mike held our place in line.  I passed the booth where they were handing out the munchkins and grabbed a bag for Bradley.  We continued walking and all I could think of was that little boy who might miss out on his munchkins.  I told Bradley we needed to walk back and get another bag.  He asked why and I told him that we were going to make someone very happy.  As I walked back to the horse and carriage line and handed the bag of munchkins to the lady, I'll never forget the look on her face.  Something so simple, munchkins and you would have thought I handed her a bag of gold.  

To the sweet lady I met at the parade, I really hope your son made it to some of the event and I hope he enjoyed the munchkins.  But most of all I hope I was able to make your night a little brighter despite the disappointing situation. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Homemade Caramel Corn Recipe


I'm missing Mom a lot today.  It's just one of those times you need your Mama and a great big hug.  So I brought out one of her famous Christmas recipes...homemade caramel corn!  She only made this during the Christmas season and loved bagging it up and giving it to friends and family.  My house smells amazing right now and one bite of the caramel corn and all the memories of my beautiful Mother came flooding back!

Ingredients
Popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)

Directions
One of the beauties and frustrations of old recipes is not having exact amounts on some ingredients.  This is one of those recipes.  I have no idea how much popcorn my Mom used and of course I didn't measure anything out today.  I have a feeling it was around 4-5 cups.

I popped my own popcorn which uses 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3/4 cup corn kernels.  Heat all together over medium heat in a large covered pot.  Once corn stops popping, remove from heat.  Cook the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup on medium low heat for two minutes.  Add the baking soda and stir well.  The baking soda will make the color lighter and also make the mixture foam so be sure to use a 2 quart or larger saucepan.  Pour sauce over popped corn and peanuts and stir until it's all nicely coated.  Place on baking sheet or in baking dish and bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes.  Stir mixture every 12 minutes.  After 45 minutes of baking, remove and pour popcorn on wax paper.  Allow to cool and break apart as needed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Gift Idea for Children - Magazine Subscriptions from Redan Publishing


 
Redan Publishing sent me a nice variety of children's magazines last week.  These are more than just magazines.   Every page is full of colorful pictures, fantastic craft ideas, pull out posters, educational work pages, and adventurous stories. 


Redan Publishing offers a variety of character themed magazines such as Scooby-Doo, Peppa Pig, Spiderman, Disney Junior, Super Heroes, Frozen, Disney Princesses, and so much more.  


These magazines are $4.99 each or you can purchase a 1 year subscription (6 issues) for $27.50 or 2 years (12 issues) for $32.50. 

When I first saw the price, I thought the subscription was a little pricey but after spending 45 minutes in one magazine with Bradley, they are definitely worth every penny.  Bradley had so much fun listening to the stories, making crafts, and having fun learning his numbers and counting.  These magazines make education and learning fun for kids!

**Disclosure - I received complimentary magazines in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.