September’s “Check It Out” List

After three months of no posts, I feel this one is long over due. The truth is, even though I had a truly remarkable time in Asia, I had some things happened that I can’t put into words yet. So I just avoided writing, but I’m back now – hopefully… fingers crossed. 😉

So, in honor of the FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF AUTUMN, I decided the best comeback post would celebrate all things “PUMPKIN SPICE“. After all, I am a single white girl, fall is approaching and this.. is what we do. Pumpkin Spice… EVERYTHING. Okay, not everything, but almost everything. And yes, some of you out there who have avoided this addiction are going to judge me. I know this fact and I’m perfectly okay with it.

Side note: I’m pretty sure the outside temp is still somewhere between 85-93 degrees thus taking away from what should be a day of flannel shirts, boots and hot lattes… but I’ll take autumn whichever way I can.

For this Ode to Autumn, I’m gonna give you a few of my favorites, along with some items I recently indulged in… I’ve done some research though and there are still tons of “pumpkin spice” products making their way out on the market and I have yet to try them all. I can only speak to the items I have tried, but know that I will continue to test out items because, why not? So here they are, in no particular order.

Burt’s Bees – Pumpkin Spice – Moisturizing Lip Balm

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This one, although promising did not produce the actual pumpkin flavor that I was hoping for. It still offers the usual awesome quality of Burt’s Bees products, so no complaints there but I probably won’t eagerly wait for this item each year. If you haven’t, give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Pumpkin Spice – Cheerios

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Now I am not normally a fan of Cheerios, so I was definitely not expecting much from these, but I was pleasantly surprised. I may be crazy, but they actually taste like pumpkin spice – now its a faint flavor, but its there. I definitely went back for more of these.

Quaker – Pumpkin Spice – Instant Oatmeal

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This one was a suggestion from my friend, Brenda. And while It does combine two things I love, oatmeal and pumpkin spice, the flavor wasn’t near as strong as I would have liked. Nice attempt, Quaker, but please make that flavor a little stronger.

International Delight – Pumpkin Pie Spice – Coffee Creamer

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This one definitely fulfilled its brand name. A cup of coffee with a hint of their Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer is absolutely delightful! The only thing that could have made it better would be if I was drinking it next to a bonfire instead of sitting with the AC cranked… but this is Oklahoma.

719 Walnut Avenue – Pumpkin Waffles – Candle

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This candle was one I stumbled upon at my local Walmart, 2 years ago. From the moment I lit the candle, it was love at first smell. It was like Pumpkin Spice on steroids and it lasted quite a while. The bad news is, I have searched and couldn’t find this candle anymore. I also searched online and didn’t have any luck. I figured they had discontinued it and I was dealing with the loss, when I stumbled upon this candle.

Main Stays – Pecan Pumpkin Cake – Candle

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Now this candle is more pink than I would like, and the graphic design was way more appealing on the Pumpkin Waffles candle, but this baby smells almost exactly the same! It was literally a Heaven scent replacement! Did you see what I did there? Heaven “scent” instead of “sent”. Go ahead – smile, you know it was cute. And in the end, my house smells like pumpkin Heaven!

J.R.R. Tolkien’s – Unfinished Tales

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Okay, this item isn’t technically flavored or scented in anything close to pumpkin spice, but nothing goes better with a house full of pumpkin spice, than a little Tolkien and since “Unfinished Tales” happens to be my current reading material, and… it has orange on the cover, I felt fully justified in adding it to this post. Plus its Tolkien, you never go wrong with his material. 

Get it, read it and while your at it, light a candle and brew some coffee. Sit back relax and enjoy the best time of the year – PUMPKIN SPICE!

I hope you enjoyed sharing in some of my favorites. Comment below and let me know what items you’ve discovered and which ones we should avoid. Anyone tried Pumpkin Spice Shampoo?

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God, Dogs & Cheerios: When Late Night Snacks Lead To Life Lessons.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we watch others receive the goodness of God in their lives? And we wait for the same goodness to appear in our lives, in exactly the same way. Only to end up missing out on the gifts God is giving to us because our gifts look different.

I don’t think I had ever really gave it much thought, until last night…

I’ve found that God speaks to people in different ways, ways that will touch their hearts and help them truly grasp what He’s saying. In my life, God speaks to me in various ways but one of my favorites, is through my boys (my dogs), Prince and Picasso. And sometimes it’s in the things I find myself saying to my dogs – without even realizing it. (Okay, yes. I do talk to my dogs. I am that woman and I’m okay with it.)

Let me set the stage for you…

It’s late last night and I’m studying. I tend to be a late night snacker, a habit that I’m trying to break, but last night I failed. Fortunately for you (and me), or I would have missed this little moment where God spoke to me. I’ll work on my snacking habits another night.

Back to the story… So I get up from my desk and head into the kitchen. Now my house is silent, so of course any noise in the kitchen causes the boys to come running to make sure they don’t miss an opportunity for food. I swear they can be comatose and still hear plastic packaging from a mile away.

So I pull out a box of cheerios; plain, non-flavored, heart healthy, blah, blah, blah, cheerios… definitely nothing to write home about. I’m a sucker for puppy eyes, so before I pour myself some, I get out two small handfuls and set them on the floor in front of each of my dogs. The boys quickly begin to consume their portions. That is until I begin to pour mine. As soon as I start pouring mine, Picasso immediately stops eating and makes his way towards me. Now some of y’all will think that I read way too much into the situation, but you don’t know Picasso. This is the only dog I know that will turn down food in hopes of “better food”. That’s exactly what was happening.

What I said next was what stopped me in my tracks.

“Picasso, you’re eating the exact same thing. Mine just looks different because it’s in a bowl. And while you’re hoping to get some of my cheerios, you’re missing out on yours.” (By this time Prince, my other dog, was happily devouring Picasso’s portion too.) Picasso was too focused on what I was getting and because of it, he missed his chance to enjoy the gift that was right in front of him.

Let me paint it for you like this (and give you a hypothetical human based scenario). Your friend, Karen, receives a job promotion, which comes with a pretty large raise. You’re happy for Karen. The only problem is you’ve believed for a job promotion for yourself and you haven’t received it. And the truth is, you really need God to step in and make a way in your finances. The bills are stacking up and without a miracle you won’t be able to pay all of them this month. You don’t just want a promotion and a raise. You truly need it. You watch Karen’s life waiting for God to work the same miracle in yours. Only to miss the miracle already happening, when you received a check in the mail you didn’t expect. A check that not only paid for the bills you thought you couldn’t pay, but also gave you the extra funds to go out and buy those new shoes you wanted.

You received cheerios. They just looked different from the cheerios that you saw Karen receive.

The goodness of God comes in all shapes and forms. And God’s goodness in my life may look completely different than it does in your life. But cheerios are cheerios. Whether it comes in a handful placed on the floor or poured in a bowl, God’s goodness is still God’s goodness.

I know what I am about to say will sound crazy, but those cheerios really got me thinking. I started thinking about my life and the times I’ve missed miracles that were happening because I was watching others’ lives. In this day and age where everyone’s highlights are on display across various social media platforms, it’s easy to find ourselves envious of others and more focused on the good we see happening in their lives. I know at times I have been guilty of this. My story though, is different from everyone else’s. It’s unique, written and designed only for me. And I want to walk out my journey. Go through my hardships and watch God’s faithfulness bring me through.

I want to receive my cheerios – no matter what form they come in. And I’m thankful for them all.

Romans 8:28 (AMP) And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature