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Random Acts of Kindness wrap up

I gave myself until the end of January to complete my 30 acts of kindness from when I turned 30 last January.  I’ve completed my list, but the kindness lives on.  I’ve signed up to do a few regular volunteer gigs, such as working at my local food pantry and helping out with Garbage to Garden‘s volunteer needs.

First 10 acts

Second set of 10

The remaining 10 acts are below:

21.  Donated jars of applesauce to Wayside Food Bank via Whole Foods Market during the holidays.

22.  Wrapped presents for Make-a-Wish foundation with my mom.
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23.  Donated a gift to iBec (the creator of my business site Lola Studios) for Toys for Tots.

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24.  My mother-in-law Cissie donated money toward layaway items at Renys in my name.

25.  Gave my parking space to a man that parked in front of me near a hydrant and gave him my parking slip with an hour’s worth of money left on it.

26.  Donated money towards a local child’s kidney transplant.

27.  Donated containers of coffee to Preble Street via a Yelp event at Flatbread.

28.  Wrote a thank you note to the person that was the reason for me moving to Maine for my internship and finding my husband and the life I now have.

29.  Volunteered at my local food pantry.

30. Donated bags of clothes to a family that recently lost their home to a fire.

That wraps up my 30 Random acts of kindness for the 31st year of my life.  This has been such a fun, easy, and rewarding experience. It takes so little effort to help others and a little really goes a long way.  I will continue to embrace these ideas in 2014 and in the rest of my life.

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Second Update to 30 Acts!

Here is the first post from when we started and the first update.  To bring you up to speed, this is what we’ve done so far:

1. Thank you notes to North Yarmouth Fire and Police stations

2.  Cookies to Prince Public library

3. Donation to Animal Refuge League via Coinstar

4. Five lotto tickets to moms and seniors at Hannaford

5. Returned shopping carts in the parking lot

6. Money to people at laundromat

7. Paid for coffees at Dunkin Donuts

8.  Paid for coffees at The Royal Bean

9.  Cookies to Merrill Memorial library in Yarmouth

10.  Cookies to Yarmouth Town Hall

and today’s update:

11.  My mother-in-law, Cissie, contributed to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter in my name for this cause.

12.  I dropped off a car load of bottles and cans to Cans for a Cure hosted by Q97.9.  A special thanks for the help with can donations to my husband and my office at StockFood!

13. I also donated $50 to them to meet their goal of 500,000 bottles and cans.  I called up to help them finish up on their last day.

14.  I purchased coffee sacks from Others! to use for future projects.  All proceeds go to the Kenyan Water Project.

15. One of my past clients who did senior portraits with me via Lola Studios did a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness and raised money to buy Headwraps.  I participated and got my nails done up for my Storm Trooper costume.  She is still raising money through the end of the year for the Tree of Life.

16.  I bought a water bottle from LUSH that gives $5 per bottle to the Wellington Water Watchers.

17.  I wrote a letter to a friend I’ve known since kindergarten.  Our mothers shared a hospital room in January 1983- we were born two days apart.

18. Alex and I went to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital as Batman and Robin for their Halloween parade and passed out coloring books and crayons.

19. Clothes to Goodwill

20. $5 to Stand up for Cancer at Cumberland Farms

Ten more to go in less than a month!  My mom will be here soon and we’ll be wrapping gifts for the Make-a-Wish Foundation! Can’t Wait!

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Thanksgiving in the Carolinas

This year I went to visit my Dad in North Carolina- I was literally flying solo. Sans my hubby who stayed with his parents and our pup this year.  I missed having him around, but it was nice to have some quality time with my Dad. I don’t get to see him very much during the year especially after moving to Maine.

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We made a Thanksgiving spread for two.  It was a lot of food for two people, but it was the preparations and tradition that made it special for us. We have our favorite dishes we like to see each year.  If you caught my blog about my vegan diet- I did excuse myself from it for Thanksgiving day especially since I was preparing the bird.

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I made these fun turkey name cards a few years ago when I lived in Brooklyn. I found them in Martha Stewart Living.

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We always have a great time walking around town and we were lucky to catch the gingerbread display at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst.  The pastry chefs make remarkable replicas of the prominent buildings around town including, the Carolina itself.

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We also had a chance to have lunch at the country club in Pinehurst.  I hopped back on my vegan bandwagon with this amazing portobello and grilled veggie sandwich on foccacia bread.  It even had a long toothpick with a tee at the end.

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Happy Holidays!

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Batman and Robin visit The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital

Today Alex and I dressed up as Batman and Robin and visited The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital for their Halloween parade.  The kids go on a parade route through the hospital and collect candy and other treats.

We passed out crayons and coloring books.

Everyone was excited to see Batman and Robin…

even the big kids.  This is us with Mullet Man.

Batman even got a picture with Barbara Bush!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Second Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting!

Last year was so much fun that we had to round up the team again and grab a new flight of beers to try.

This year’s six contestants were:

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Chatoe Rogue Harvest Pumpkin Patch Ale, Southern Tier Imperial Pumking, Waschusett Imperial Pumpkin, and Unita Punk’n.

When we did this last year, we did a blind taste test.  This year I decided to scrap that because I want to know what beer I’m drinking.

Here are the judges’ notes:

Southern Tier Imperial Pumking-

Steve- 3- Taste lots of pumpkin

Alex- 3- Liquid pumpkin taste

Lauren- 2- Odd aftertaste

Unita Punk’n-

S- 2- Not as much alcohol. Organic. Wind, and solar powered

A- 2.5- A strange taste, but good to environment

L- 3- Strong body

Chatoe Rogue Harvest Pumpkin Patch Ale-

S- 4- Yummy

A- 3.5- Tripped my trigger a little bit

L- 4- Sweet flavor

Waschusett Imperial Pumpkin-

S -5- Nice aftertaste

A-4- Aftertaste is nice

L-4.5- Sweet and pumpkin-y!

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale-

  S- 4- No comment

A- Tastes like a dog and fish who just ate a pumpkin

L- 5- Strong flavor overall, spicy

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin-

S- 5- Winner!

A- 4.5 – Busted my biscuit!

L- 5- Awesome- great spice!

It was also Steve’s birthday recently so we couldn’t let him leave without a little surprise pumpkin cake!

Walter didn’t want to miss out on the action either, but sadly he’s under aged for this event.

Happy pumpkin season!

Random Acts of Kindness Update!

Saturday my mother in law, Cissie, and I finally set out to do our 30 random acts of kindness.  It was so wonderful to see the responses from everyone- there’s nothing like it.  Watching them go from skeptical, to thankful, to overwhelmed is really something.

We started at the fire and rescue in North Yarmouth where a local landmark had been lost to a tragic fire.  We went to deliver them cookies and a note of gratitude.  No one was there- so we just left the note.  I’ll have to pop by another time with the cookies.

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Next we did the same for the Prince Public library and caught the ladies just as they were on their way out.  They were very appreciative.  Then we ventured out to the Hannaford and donated about $12 to the Animal Refuge League via the Coinstar machine they have.

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This is a really nifty device because they normally charge 9% to change your coins to cash, but if you donate the money it all goes to the charity.

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Cissie then gave out five Lotto tickets to mothers with children and an older gentleman.  One woman with two very “vocal” children gave Cissie a hug as her smile grew bigger.  That was a special sight.

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Our next stop was to the laundromat where everyone seemed to be finishing up, but we left some change for each person there to compensate for some of what they’d just spent.  We visited the Dunkin Donuts next door and I caught a lady before she paid for her coffee and told her that I’d like to buy it for her.  She was caught off guard, but once she realized I was serious she was so thankful and said she had chills from the shock of it all.  She said was headed to the grocery store and wanted to pay the kindness forward.

We visited another coffee shop up the street, The Royal Bean, and did the same thing.  The woman was so shocked.  I told her that I was inspired to do 30 random acts of kindness for my 30th birthday.  She said that she would do the same on her next birthday.

We also visited another library with cookies and dropped off some cookies with a note at the Yarmouth Town Hall.

We stopped there for the day with our random acts and decided to do a few things on our own for the “cause.”  Here are a few we plan to do:

Write to an old friend we’ve lost touch with,  give a box of doggie treats an animal shelter, go to Walmart or Renys to pay off someone’s layaway toys for Christmas, tape change to a vending machine, dress up as Batman and Robin and visit the children’s hospital (that one will be for my husband and me to do), etc.

Hope you’re inspired to pay it forward!  It doesn’t have to be a day or event- just little acts here and there work wonders to brighten someone else’s day.

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Meet Walter- Our English/Frenchie Bulldog!

This week we welcome Walter Wrinkleton Lear to our family.  All dogs have to have a crazy middle name, right?  I think it was in the owner’s manual…my first dog was Benjamin Maxamillion Sheffield, so there you go.

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What a timely arrival, just as Will and Kate introduced George Alexander Louis to the world- we have brought home our little bundle as well.

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Walter has had a bit of a rough start- we picked him out before he arrived at the puppy place and got dibs on him upon meeting.  We needed to keep him at the puppy place for five days to quarantine him before he could come home.  The next day he got a cherry eye and then got another cherry eye two days later.  Luckily, his appointment was scheduled far enough out that he could have both taken care of during his surgery.

Now he is a little space man for the rest of the week with his cone, but he looks good as new.  The surgery never seemed to dampen his energy levels either.

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So now he’s almost been home with us for 24 hours and he’s adjusting wonderfully.  He and we all had a peaceful night- he went right to sleep as soon as the lights went out.  We’re very excited about our new addition and he already seems to fit right in.

Happy Saturday!

Lauren

Free Grilling Ebook Today ’til Monday!

Starting today “No Frills Grillin” will be available for free until midnight on Sunday.  Follow the link here to download from Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for ipad.

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Also take a look at my last post for the recipe I tested from the ebook.

Grilled Peaches with Ricotta and Honey Almond Sauce

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Happy Grillin’!

Lauren

Grilled Peaches and Ricotta Topped with Almond Honey Sauce

Our new ebook has just hit the digital bookshelves and is available exclusively at Amazon.  The publisher is icook2day and they are the sister agency to the company I work for-  StockFood.  The e-cookbook is called “No Frills Grillin’ “.  I decided to try the Grilled Peaches recipe for you here and you are welcome to try it out and send your review.

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Grilled Peaches and Ricotta topped with Honey Almond Sauce

Ingredients

6 ounces flaked almonds

6 tablespoons honey, divided

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

4 ripe peaches, rinsed and wiped dry

1 fresh lemon

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons sugar

Method

1. Prepare grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high heat.

2.  Cut the peaches in half and remove the stone.  Oil the grill grate and place the peach halves on the barbecue, cut side down.  Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, until peaches are soft. Watch carefully.

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3. Toast the almond flakes in a dry frying pan.

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Then place in a small bowl and combine with 4 tablespoons honey and almond extract, gently mix.  Set aside.

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4.  Meanwhile, rinse the lemon and rub dry; grate the zest.  Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice from the lemon.  Combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix until smooth and creamy.

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5.  Spoon half of the ricotta into 4 serving bowls.  Brush each peach half with the remaining honey, place one peach half cut side up on top of the ricotta cheese, top with the remaining peach half, followed by a generous spoonful of the remaining ricotta cheese.  Spoon the honey almond sauce over the top.  Serve warm.

*Note* I used our grill pan inside because our outdoor grill is not set up yet.  I would say you would only need about 5-7 minutes on the grill with this method.

Happy Grilling!

Lauren

Vino, Vida, Vici

I wined, I saw, I conquered!  Alex and I shared a lovely evening at home with friends and family while we hosted a Wine Shop at home event.  Renee Curtis was our wine educator for the evening and walked us through the subtleties and nuances of three sweet whites and three bold/spicy reds.  We paired these with a few interesting bites to change the palate.   Good times were had by all and we were happy to enjoy our “new to us” deck furniture donated by Alex’s wonderful parents.

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I also got to do a craft I’ve been saving for about a year now- Tiki wine bottles!  I got the design from Design Sponge.

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Cheers from the Lears!

Lauren

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