Monday, July 25, 2011


For about a year and a half I have sporadically entered a few blog or other online giveaway contests. Last year I won a Cricut die-cut machine for scrapbooking that I donated to our Crop For A Cure silent auction to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I also won some other scrapbooking giveways that I donated to the crop. I was thrilled to win these wonderful items, but never really put any consistent effort into entering giveaways until several months ago. A few weeks ago I was notified from The Recipe Girl Blog that I won this Dansk/Lennox wooden salad bowl set valued at $143.00. Look at the size of it! It is simply gorgeous! Thank you Dansk/Lennox and Recipe Girl!
I have also been registering to win free samples from various vendors via blogs and facebook. In the past week and a half I received a travel size Crest toothpaste, rinse, and floss set, a sample box of Honey Nut Cheerios, a sample of Tide Stain Release, a full size Bayer Aspirin, a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine, a sample of a new Head and Shoulders shampoo, and a coupon for a full size Pantene shampoo. Other products are on their way! I have also been couponing and have scored some amazing deals at Staples, CVS, Rite Aid, Giant, and Walgreens. It takes a little time and effort, but the pay out has been more than I expected. I have linked many great sites to the left of this post that frequently post giveaways, contest, and coupon deals. I will keep adding to the list. Give it a try! Even if you can only spend 15 minutes a day, you can receive some great deals and freebies!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Our July Book/Recipe Club selection was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I heard about the book for over a year, but like some of our book club members, was reluctant to read it. It just didn't sound like something I would like. Was I ever WRONG! After reading the first book in the trilogy, I devoured the next two. I wasn't the only one who finished all three before our meeting.
Since I was the host, I decided to have some fun. I made parachutes (you have to read the book to understand why!), which contained our place setting, a book mark featuring "Rue's Lullaby," and fruit chews.
Found adorable woven placemats and a bow and arrow at the Dollar Tree to add to the theme. Read the book and you'll get the significance!
The food was amazing! This was a book that was easy to connect to recipes. We started the meal with quite a variety of appetizers. Spinach dip in a bread bowl . . .
A beach dip featuring shrimp and crabmeat (relates to another book in the trilogy).
And a goat cheese and apple tart. Oh my, were these amazing!
Take a look at this beautiful plate filled with fresh berries and nuts mix!
A hearty bread filled with golden raisins and other goodies was delish!
Our other sides included "Green Noodles", which were noodles with a yummy pesto sauce.
The roasted root vegetables were scrumptious . . .
And the main dish was a Parmesan encrusted orange chicken.
Ten of us ate, talked, ate, talked, ate, talked for several hours.
There was so much to discuss about the characters, the themes, the symbolism, and the overall plot. It was challenging not spoiling the next two books for those who had not yet read them!
Just look at this yummy plate of food! We even had a delightful Pink champagne, pink lemonade, vodka based drink called "The Effie" to wash it all down! Effie is a character in the book.
We had so much fun talking about the book and sharing why we made the various dishes that connect to or are inspired by the book.
Our desserts were amazing. A Hershey's chocolate cake made from scratch and in the background are cinnamon roll cookies. I could have eaten the whole cake and plate of cookies!
Next month we are tackling Olive Kitteridge. Can't wait to see what our book club members come up with for the food and I am sure the book conversation will be great!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation Memories

Each summer the entire family spends a week together in Virginia Beach. We rent a house and fill it with laughter, lots of kid noise, and just plain fun! Our week started out poolside.
And of course, we had to spend some time on the Sandbridge beach, a short walk from our house.
Jayce, the newest family member loved lounging in the pool. Last year at this time he was lounging in his mommy's tummy poolside!
Kari loved posing by the pool. What a cheeseball!
The afternoon of July 4th, we made cupcakes, which the kids had a blast decorating.
We created a display of their finished products.
Then it was time to eat the cupcakes and two of our crew were ready to dig in!
Dixon and Emme enjoyed every morsel, especially the icing!

All decked out in their fourth of July finery for our annual picture. Getting all eight kids looking at the camera and smiling is virtually impossible!
Little Jayce was loving the attention! We had planned on going to the beach for the fireworks show, but a horrific storm blew in and the fireworks were cancelled.
The sun came out the next day and Emme experienced sand for the first time.
Annisa took these great photos of the kids on the beach. Clara Grace . . .
Sasha Rose . . .
Karianna Joy . . .
Aidan James . . .
And Ryan finds a crab! They were everywhere!
A trip to Virginia Beach would not be complete without a visit to Handel's for
ice cream!
I actually had a little time to scrapbook a few pages. I love this one of Emme on the beach in her little tutu and wings!
It was a wonderful week together and these pictures and many more will keep those memories alive. Spending time with family creates cherished moments. Love to you all!