Be The Little White Cloud.

The weather here in South Florida is beautiful lately. I just love that time just before dusk, as the sky takes on a personality of its own. The shades strewn across the sky are vibrant, colorful, and perfected. It’s as if God himself took up a paintbrush and said, “Let there be color.”

On one such evening around dusk — as a matter of fact, it was two nights ago –I was driving home from getting my daughter a birthday present. I had the windows down, driving along slowly down the street, enjoying the beautiful 74 degrees outside. It was so peaceful and I wanted to stay locked in that moment for a little while.

I glanced up at the sky and made an observation. One half of the sky was bright, sunny, and vibrant, like it hadn’t a care in the world. The clouds were white and pillowy, and the sky itself was the deepest blue. On the other side of the sky, everything was gray as it usually is this time of year. Thunderstorms and rain storms abound throughout these months in South West Florida. Nothing major to see here. However; one single thing stood out to me. There was this one small, bright cloud contrasting against all of the scary gray and darkness. It just hung out there in the sky, as if it didn’t notice the trouble brewing just behind it. It wasn’t afraid of the storm. It just existed right there as it was, as it wanted to. Set apart. Brave. Content. Happy.

It was beautiful.

To me, it was the perfect example of the mother, wife, and person I want to be.

This world is filled with darkness, and hate, and unhappy people. It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity. It’s everywhere we turn.

If you turn on the nightly news, its filled with hate, terror, sadness, and destruction. There is war and famine. People are running for their lives. There are fires burning, volcanoes erupting. Earthquakes are occuring at an alarming rate. Murder is on the rise.

In a world filled with so much darkness, I want to be that cloud. That bright, white light against the backdrop of terror and destruction. I want to be happiness, and safety and a beacon of hope. I want my family and my husband to look to me for solidarity and safety and happiness when this world crushes their spirit or leaves them hoping for a better day.

I want to be that little white cloud. I want to stand up for myself and those I love. I want to fight back against everything that says I can’t, and show everyone that I can. I want to be brave and shine the light that lives within me, because I have so much light to give.

It’s funny how such a small, insignificant thing as a cloud could provide so much inspiration on a simple drive home from a store on a weekend afternoon. But it did. And I am so thankful I took the time to just look up.

Out With the Old, In With the New

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Another year has come and gone. Within the past year, so many things have transpired. Life has seen more share of downs than ups. At the end of the day, one thing’s for certain: I am 100% ready for 2017 to come to a close, and so ready for 2018 to make its appearance.

It is with that I say to you, I wish you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year filled with love, laughter, peace and joy. May you be and stay in good health, and may your families do the same.

I hope 2018 is everyone’s best year yet!

XO

-S

He Gave Me a Leaf.

Today has been a pretty depressing day for me, and I’ve spent the entire morning crying. It’s just one of those days.

Meanwhile, my toddler is outside playing with daddy, and he runs in the house to me and hands me a shriveled and crunchy brown leaf. I immediately cried. This is the first thing he’s ever found and given me from outside. Most kids usually pick flowers. He picked a leaf. But he was proud of it, and so am I.

It’s incredible how such a small gesture could warm my heart so. It’s amazing how a teeny, insignificant little leaf could make me feel so many emotions, and pull at my heart strings.

If I would have seen it laying on the ground, it would have been like any other leaf. Meaningless, and one of many. I probably would have stepped on it without an afterthought. But because it came from him, that changed everything.

I am going to do my best to keep this little leaf safe forever. I want to have it when I’m old and remember my sweet, beautiful boy running to me with a smile on his face to bring me this leaf. I never want to lose this memory.

He gave me a leaf, and he stole my heart.

Human Trafficking: A Nightmarish Reality

Last night, as I was sitting and watching The Hunt with John Walsh (incredible show, by the way – I highly recommend it for those of you who haven’t seen it — and if you don’t know his story, his son was the little boy ‘Adam Walsh’ who ‘Code Adam’ at WalMart was created after – read the heart wrenching story by purchasing his book No Mercy) I was deeply saddened as the episode was about Human Trafficking and child prostitution. It made me want to learn more about how prevalent it is in my area, and what I found blew my mind.

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Amazon Fresh – Free Trial Offer!

Hey everyone! I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about something I firmly believe in: fresh, wholesome real foods that don’t cost an arm and a leg to purchase. What could be better than real food that will keep your belly full, make you feel great, and is inexpensive? Well, I’ll tell you what could be better. Farm fresh food delivered straight to your door monthly – with a FREE trial option – and from a trusted source, to boot?

Enter Amazon Fresh.

Amazon Fresh is a new way to fresh food. I don’t know about all of you, but I grew up in the city and didn’t have access to local farms, and farmers markets were few and far between. Since I’ve lived in Florida, it seems I have far better access to farm fresh food and organic farm fresh food, as an added bonus. Many people don’t live in close enough proximity to a local farmers market to be able to indulge in some of the freshest food available – and that’s why I believe this program would be perfect for them.

I’m sure you’ve heard of brands like Hello Fresh that deliver fresh food to your door. This service is actually super convenient, and the quality of their food is amazing to be completely honest with you. But, it is a bit pricey to feed a family on their food boxes. I was thinking to myself, “If only there were a cheaper option, this would be a great service for families!” (Disclaimer: If you click the link above, and sign up for Hello Fresh, you will get $40 off your first order. I also get referral points as I am an affiliate. We both win!)

After some research, I found Amazon Fresh. I browsed around and I was really surprised by how awesome this service is – and it’s only $14.99/month! That’s pretty incredible.

The only downside to this service is that it is not available in all areas as of yet, but from what I hear, they are adding new locations all the time.

So, if you love convenience and fresh food on the cheap, sign up for a free trial. What do you have to lose? If you don’t want anything more than the freebies, just cancel after the first shipment and you aren’t obligated for anything more! Easy peasy.  My favorite way to do this is to put a cancel date in my phone’s calendar, set a notification, and ensure that I actually cancel the subscription when the notification goes off.

I hope you’ll check these two services out and let me know what you think!

XO

-S

Coffee Talk: My Top 3 Brewing Systems and Why

Hey everybody. I hope you are all well!

Happy Thanksgiving! I know I’m a day early, but chances are highly likely you won’t find me online tomorrow. I will barely have time to pee, I’m so sure. So, I’m saying it now.

Today, I want to talk about one of my absolute favorite things to ever come into existence. Granted, it existed long before I was even imagined, created, or born. It’s been making life beautiful since way back in the 10th century! It wakes me up, peps me up, and gets me through the day whilst chasing after an ever-moving toddler. It provides me a few glorious minutes of peace, solitude, and happiness no matter what’s transpiring around me. It lights the path to happy thoughts and happy places. Yes, friends, such a miraculous, perfect, and amazing concoction really exists – and it’s perfectly legal! I’m talking about coffee, people! Yes, coffee. That magical little word. The word warms my heart almost as much as a cup of the wonderful liquid itself.

Coffee is something that I personally just cannot do without. When we were bracing for Hurricane Irma in Southwest Florida, I knew I just had to prepare to be without power and my lovely Keurig for at least a few days (I knew it would be longer, but I was cutting LCEC some slack). I brewed as many K-Cups as my very large thermos and other containers could muster, and I was ready to weather the storm. Come what may, I had my coffee and that was all that mattered. I could starve for all I cared, so long as I had my coffee. (Disclaimer: This goes without saying for any and everyone who knows me, however, not everybody knows me and even some of those who think they do, don’t. So, obviously I had tons of canned goods for the kids and they were also well taken care of, for those of you who are raising an eyebrow or entertaining the idea that, because I said ‘I could starve’ I was also referencing my children, yeah – you can shove that idea straight back up your ass, and shame on you for thinking such things!)

Now, I am partial to my Keurig brewing system mainly because I adore the one cup system. There’s no waste, I get to enjoy incredible gourmet coffee at the push of a button, and it’s piping hot and fresh the minute I want it. Also, I’ve been a Keurig user (religiously, might I add) for the past 10 years without fail.

However…being the coffee connoisseur that I am, it’s only fair and right that I would look into other systems that are just as capable – if not more capable – than my beloved Keurig. Here are my top 3 brewing systems in order of my favorites – but, keep in mind, these are all fantastic systems and if you adore gourmet coffee as much as I do, you are going to want to check these out!

Keurig K575 Single Serve Programmable K-Cup Coffee Maker with 12 oz Brew Size and Hot Water on Demand, Platinum — $159.99 + Free Shipping

Here’s some info, taken directly from Amazon:

  • WHAT’S IN THE BOX: 6 K-Cup pods and a water filter handle + 2 filters to help your beverages taste their best.
  • LARGE 80oz WATER RESERVOIR: Allows you to brew 10+ cups more before having to refill, saving you time and simplifying your morning routine. The water reservoir is removable, making it easy to refill whenever you need to, and on the K575, you can choose from several different nightlight colors to illuminate your kitchen at night.
  • MULTIPLE K-CUP POD BREW SIZES: (4, 6, 8, 10, 12 oz.). Brews a Carafe (22, 26, or 30oz) using K-Carafe pods, to give you more coffee when you need it. (Carafe sold separately)
  • STRENGTH CONTROL: A strength control setting allows you to brew a bolder cup using any K-Cup pod brew size. Plus, five temperature settings allow you to enjoy your favorite beverage at your desired temperature. HOT WATER ON DEMAND: Press the hot water on demand button and select your desired brew size in order to dispense hot water.
  • EXTRA-LARGE COLOR TOUCH SCREEN: A digital clock makes it easy to brew a fresh, great tasting cup in under a minute. Plus, program your brewer to turn on or off automatically at set times, so that it is ready to go when you want it, and turns off to conserve energy.

As stated, I am very partial to my Keurig. This is the exact model I have, in the exact color. I received mine as a Christmas gift last year and I’ve used it thousands of times at this point. I normally brew 2 cups per day for myself, and my husband brews one before he leaves home in the morning. So, this baby can withstand lots of use and will last for an incredibly long time as long as you take good care of it.

Before I received this particular machine, I had another Keurig that I received as a gift from my mom and it lasted me 7 years! These machines might seem a bit expensive up front, but they are most definitely built to last. I promise you, if you are an avid coffee drinker you must purchase this product for yourself. And Christmas is coming up  – this would be the perfect brewing system for that busy friend or family member who’s always on the go and always needs their cup of joe!

Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer System with Glass Carafe (CF091) — $143.99  + Free Shipping

51vBrV9o+ZLAs above, here is some info taken directly from Amazon regarding this brewer:

  • Pod free single serve and carafe coffee system
  • Custom Brews: Classic, Rich, or Over Ice; or Signature Brews: Specialty and Cafe Forte
  • Custom Brew Sizes: Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug, XL Multi-Serve, Half Carafe, and Full Carafe
  • Built-In frother to brew, froth and drink-all in your favorite mug
  • Advanced Thermal Flavor Extraction Technology and Auto-iQ One-Touch Intelligence

This machine is rated 4.5/5 stars, so it’s a safe bet to make a purchase! I don’t personally own one, but I have used a demo Ninja Bar and I fell in love with it! I seriously want one for Christmas and I’m gonna put it on my list for Santa this year! I love the fact that it does so much more than just brew a simple cup of coffee – but I also love the fact that if all I want is a simple cup of coffee, it turns out to be a damn good one. And if I feel like drinking my weight in coffee, this machine damn near does that with it’s incredible XL sized coffee setting! Fancy a iced coffee? Yep…this one makes those, too. It pretty much does it all except drink it for you.

Nescafe Alegria 510 Brewer – 2.11 quart – Black, Chrome, Cream – Plastic — $156.58 + $14.24 Shipping

Info from Amazon:

Hassle-free, countertop coffee solution offers five different cafe-style coffee beverages at the simple touch of a button. Five beverages include black coffee, long espresso, cappuccino, latte and espresso. Small footprint fits neatly into the smallest work spaces. Modern and stylish design will delight your customers and employees. The Alegria 510 uses one type of coffee, the Alegria 510 coffee. Cappuccinos and lattes are made as the machine warms and froths Coffee-Mate or fresh milk directly in the cup. Creamer is warmed and frothed directly in the cup and never comes in contact with the machine so it requires limited maintenance and cleaning. Brewing one beverage at a time ensures the freshness of every cup. Machine design includes a pourover, 2 liter water tank capacity with 110-volt electrical capacity.

This  machine is rated 4/5 stars, and I personally love the new age design, quick brew time, and fantastic tasting coffee that it provides every time. I adore the fact that this machine can make everything from a cup of coffee, to your favorite cappuccino or latte. I think this is going to be huge this Christmas. If you’re into tech gear and want to have the newest, best coffee machine on the market and impress your friends and family, this machine is the one for you! Newly released, it’s already snagging rave reviews.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this post and have gained some knowledge about the best coffee brewing systems  money can buy. If you don’t yet have a single cup brewer but are in the market, I highly recommend any one of these three. Also, remember – Christmas is coming, and these would make an absolutely amazing gift for your closest friends and family members.

Until next time!

-S

I’ve Opened Up Shop: My Two New Etsy Stores!

I am beyond excited to announce that I’ve opened up my first ever and brand spanking new Etsy stores – and I wanted my followers to be the first to hear about it! I’ve got two stores, with plans on opening a third and final store, to begin doing things I love more often and to share some of those things with the world.

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The first store I opened is called MemoryOnACanvasShop. It’s a store I created out of my love for photo canvases. I began making them for myself to display in my own home, and then making and giving them as gifts once I got a bit better, and now, I am thrilled to be able to make them for others! I can create custom canvases with whatever photos you would like to display in an artistic, beautiful manner. I can also customize the edge color, make the edge of the canvas clean looking or messy edges for a rustic and vintage look as you can see in the pictures below.

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