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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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Onion, and Garlic

I never liked Brussel Sprouts...until now.  I actually never tasted one until yesterday so I'm not sure how I came to the conclusion that I didn't like Brussel Sprouts.  But I'm trying to be braver with trying new vegetables this year and I surprised myself with how much I actually love these little guys.  Mike has always loved Brussel Sprouts and he said the ones I made last night were the best he's ever eaten.  They were like candy if vegetables could taste like candy.  These are so simple to make and I'm confident I will be eating a lot more of these.  

One pound fresh Brussel Sprouts
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 small onion, diced 
1 Tablespoon fresh minced garlic
4 pieces of crispy bacon, broken into pieces
Salt & pepper

Cut the brown ends off each brussel sprout and remove any yellowing leaf.  Place them on cookie sheet and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Add diced onion, garlic, and bacon pieces and mix together.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Farm Rich Snacks & Appetizers Review

We were so excited to try Farm Rich Jalapeno Peppers since these types of snacks are a rare treat in our house.  I was very impressed with how quickly it provided a filling snack for everyone in just a matter of minutes.  Farm Rich offers five different variety of snacks and appetizers that are easy to make and full of real, hearty ingredients.  We tried both the jalapeno poppers and the pizza roll-ups.  Both snacks were a simple "throw on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven" that were ready in about 15 minutes.  We all agreed that these tasted crispy and fresh and were very filling.  #GotItFree #FarmRich

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our Weekend Recap

I really don't want this weekend to end.  We have gotten so much accomplished along with having loads of fun that I truly don't want Monday to come.

I finished most all the laundry on Saturday which is a huge success in itself.  All of our paperwork for taxes is in order so as soon as we receive one more W-2 we can file our taxes.  We, well actually I, binged watched several episodes of Gilmore Girls.  My co-worker got me hooked on the series so I blame her for all the time consumed trying to catch up on the episodes.  Bradley and I made a trip to the library where the roles are now reversed and he's picking out books to read to me.  It's so exciting to see him in this new stage of life.  We went to church on Saturday night and had just a beautiful night of worship.

We woke up on Sunday morning itching to go on a road trip.  After a couple of searches on google, I found a lighthouse that we've never been to that was less than 2 hours away.  I made a quick breakfast of egg & bacon biscuits and we were on the road by 9:30 am.  Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is located in Bristol and it is a really quaint lighthouse with gorgeous ocean views.  If it had been just a little warmer (it was 38 degrees), we would have stayed all morning.  We then headed to Fort William Henry but stopped at The Cupboard Cafe on the way.  We almost drove right by this cafe and Mike was pretty skeptical about eating there.  But I'm so glad I went with my instincts and insisted we eat there because it was phenomenal!  And the owner was just an angel.  Truly one of our best experiences we've ever had eating out.  Fort William Henry was a lot of fun to visit with more beautiful views.  I'm going to sound really strange saying this but one of my favorite things about this place was the graveyard.  It was so beautiful right on the edge of the ocean.  Graves that were so old and full of so many brave people.  We came home and Mike made homemade pizza for supper while I worked on my menu and grocery list.  I'm loving the new online ordering for Hannafords and I can pick up my groceries right after work tomorrow!  Our weekend ends with watching the Patriots/Steelers game.  Go Patriots! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn Book Review

In this book, The Kindness Challenge, Shaunti shares how kindness can change any relationship and transform our culture She shows us ways we can show kindness even when we don't feel like it. She gives us practical ways to persevere when kindness is tough.  She reminds us that small actions really do make a big difference.

Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with this book.  I was quite bored at times and felt like Shaunti went off on quite a few rabbit trails with all her extensive research.  I had a hard time staying focused in this book.  However, if you are someone that has relationships in your life that need improvement, stick with the book and Shaunti will walk you through ways that kindness can transform you and your troubled relationship.

To read more about The Kindness Challenge and Shaunti Feldhahn, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review by being a member of Blogging for Books.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our Weekend Recap

The stomach bug hit our house this weekend.  And it chose me early Saturday morning.  I was pretty much near the toilet or in the fetal position all day on Saturday.  I've had several friends that warned me it was brutal this year and they are right.  I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy.  So far, I'm the only one that got sick.  Mike and the kids have stayed healthy which I'm so thankful for.  It made me nervous to think that my little kids might have to experience the intense stomach pain.  Mike was a very patient nurse, short order cook, and SuperDad the entire weekend and it reminded me of how blessed I am to have married him.  I was pretty much useless and if I wasn't near the toilet, I was on the couch binge watching Gilmore Girls.  

I didn't take any pictures this weekend since the storage on my phone is full and I haven't been able to download the pictures from it onto my computer.  Our computer is in the repair shop, our laptop that I'm using now has been sketchy, and we had to order a new boiler heating system today.  I'm not saying all this to grumble and complain.  It's just a reminder that adulting can be hard.  Weekends don't always go as planned.  But a positive attitude and the way we look at things can change everything.  I focused on choosing to be positive instead of being frustrated that I wasn't in control of the situations that happened this weekend.  I love this quote below:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen Book Review

No More Pretending.  No More Performing.  No More Fighting to Prove Yourself.  Nothing to Prove is a book about giving yourself freedom from the self-induced pressure by trying so hard to be enough.  Jennie walks us through her experience as she struggled with feeling inadequate and insecure.  She encourages you to make it your goal to know and love Jesus and then watching what He does in and through you.

I wish Jennie had written this book 10 years ago.  If I could go back in time, and redo things, trying so hard would be on the top of my list.  I've always hated rocking the boat, strived to make people happy and to prove myself.  I wasted a lot of precious time by pretending to be someone I wasn't and didn't even want to be.

Nothing to Prove is a breath of fresh air, encouraging us to become more real and honest to one another.  Jennie reminds us that we will never be enough but our hope is that Jesus is.

To read more about Nothing to Prove or more about the author, Jennie Allen, please click here.  This book will be available for purchase on January 31, 2017.  To pre-order your copy, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book by being a member of Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Weekend Recap

I feel like it's been months since I've posted one of our weekend recaps.  I think we have finally adjusted with our schedule that changed when I went back to work.  We are in a routine now and when we stick with it, things go smoothly.  There were no official plans on the calendar this weekend which is rare but nice.

Friday night began with family movie night watching The Secret Life of Pets.  Mike and Bradley loved it while Savannah and I were bored with it.

We slept in on Saturday morning and then I made a homemade buttermilk pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  It was a very relaxed morning while we all did our own thing whether it was watching tv, reading books, or playing with toys.  I even took a short cat nap!  I made a big pot of chili in the afternoon and we played several games of Golf (the card game) while Savannah took her afternoon nap.  We went to the Saturday night service at church and then a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home.  Mike and I ended the night with a movie once the kids were in bed.  Two movies in one weekend is a very rare thing for us!

On Sunday morning we woke up to about 2 inches of snow and very, very cold temperatures.  Mike made omelets for breakfast and then we were out of the house by 9 am.  We had several errands to run first and then we picked up some coffee and donuts and headed to go sledding at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.  It was a gorgeous morning with full sunshine despite the temperature only being 12 degrees.  This was our official first sledding experience in Maine!  It was a blast and Bradley and I didn't want to leave.  We stopped at the hair salon on the way home and both Bradley and Mike got haircuts.  Then it was an afternoon of shoveling the driveway, picking up fallen limbs outside, and inside household chores.  Baths for the kids, packing bags and lunches for school and daycare, and menu planning ended our fantastic weekend! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Croutons & Bacon

If you like potato soup, you're gonna love this creamy cauliflower soup!  I'd like to think it is healthier than potato soup since everyone knows cauliflower is better for you than potatoes, but I'm pretty sure healthy went right out the window when I added the sour cream, cheese, croutons and bacon bits.  Healthy or not, this was my first time making cauliflower soup, it turned out delicious and everyone ate a full bowl!

1 head of fresh cauliflower, cut into small floret size pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 block Monterey Jack cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Bacon & Croutons (optional)

Heat olive oil and garlic in frying pan and saute the onions until soft. In a large pot, add chicken broth, milk, cauliflower, and sauteed onions.  Cover pot with a lid and cook on medium low heat until cauliflower is fork tender.  Blend with an immersion blender until soup is creamy.  Add sour cream and cheese and simmer for 10 minutes.  

There is nothing like homemade croutons and they are so simple to make.  Buy a loaf of crusty bread from your local grocery store bakery.  Cut into bite size pieces.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add bread pieces.  Toast for about 10 minutes flipping periodically.