Because *I LOVE YOU* Giveaway




I've been wanting to do a giveaway since I reached 3000 followers and I was trying to come up with the perfect thing.

I am doing this giveaway BECAUSE.OF.YOU!!!!!

I treasure each and every comment! You encourage me! You inspire me! You make me cry tears of happiness! I'm not over exaggerating! I really, really mean it. 

I absolutely T*R*E*A*S*U*R*E all the friendships I have made here in this community. 

So, so many of you have sent me gifts, diapers, food, money, the list goes on and on when I was down in the dumps so badly I wasn't sure we'd survive and I will NEVER be able to thank you enough but I really wanted to be able to do a really nice giveaway for you that I could afford. 

So I'll hush up now and let you know what I'm giving you!!!!

Well this is it!

This is an original {BESO HANDBAG}
Made brand new in California from Vintage Fabric. Johanna Pentagos searches long and hard to find her gorgeous fabrics and they are of very limited quantity so once it's gone, it's gone. So these bags are one of a kind. 

It is lined with a beautiful faux turquoise sued and has 4 pockets on the outside of the bag and 3 on the inside including a zipper pocket.

I used to be a rep for Johanna but because I had to go back to work full, full time I didn't have time to do trunk shows anymore. So this giveaway is sponsored by me as I did pay for the bag at a discounted price but please be respectful of her gorgeous craftsmanship and head over to her {SHOP}

This bag is BRAND NEW. I have only used it to showcase at shows otherwise it has never been worn and it worth $112.00 

HANDMADE. VINTAGE. ONE. OF. A. KIND.

Because I love you! 


To Enter please simply fill out the Rafflecopter!!!! GOOD LUCK and thank you for following!!! 

I LOVE MY READERS AND AM SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU!!!!!



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*snipits* of J-O-Y in My Everyday



My son......asleep in our bed.
 I just lie there staring at him sometimes wondering what in the world I did to deserve him.

When I was VERY pregnant with Ginger we decided that 3 bedrooms wasn't going to be enough because my husband always needs a studio to work out of  for his music. We remodeled the garage into a really nice music studio. 
I didn't decorate it but I managed all the work, workers, ordering of supplies, hanging of the sound proof professional theater drape......etc. 

I think it's actually quiet warm and inviting.

Lately these 2 have been asking to take bubble baths constantly! They are so cute. Little Milton promptly applies a bubble beard to himself and then Ginger.

These soft baked chocolate chip cookies are killing me I tell you. I can't seem to go a single week without baking another HUGE batch.

My little girl, my beautiful, beautiful girl! 

My friend Heather from {MENU MAMA} sent me some essential oils to help with A LOT of my pregnancy  ailments and I am so grateful. Thank you Heather!

My son, my first born, my heart.

My Chi flat iron that I cannot live without and my new found love for hot rollers. Yes, they actually work. The last time I tried these was in the eighties and now they actually come in only jumbo so you don't end up with horrid looking Annie hair. 

L*O*V*E these. SO HAPPY!!!!!

Notes to my husband!



A couple months ago we started preparing for the new baby by getting the "big kids" room in order so we could move Ginger out of the nursery, if you can call them big kids at 3 and 23 months:) 
So they both got twin size beds, we just skipped the whole toddler bed step!!! Tonight will be Ginger's first night in her hew big girl twin bed. Let's pray she stays in it and LOVES being close to her big brother! 

Yes, once in a while it does exist and I am so grateful for it!!!! 
MIRACLES.MIRACLES. and more MIRACLES.


I just want to say that although we are going through a hard time we have and are continuing to receive SO, SO, SO many blessings that I am again speechless.

 I have a day where I think maybe we won't make it and then the next day 200 diapers show up on my doorstep! 

So, all I can keep saying is how grateful and thankful we are. We truly need these things and somehow they are coming to us. 
God is so good!

So even through the darkest of times there is always light, sometimes we just have to look harder than others. 
Today I am walking around with a V*E*R*Y* grateful heart! 

THANK YOU!!!! 


RANDOM QUESTION:

If any of you ever receive messages from girls under the age of 18 what do you do? 

For some reason I am VERY weary to respond yet I don't want to seem uncaring or not understanding and I certainly don't want to drive them away if they have reached out to me but it terrifies me to be honest. I just feel like the blog world is a very adult world and it concerns me that they are contacting me????? I don't know why.....crazy over protective mom in me I guess.

What do you do? HELP!!!!! 
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5 Things *Confessional*


Confession #1.

 Sometimes when I run out of deodorant and I'm too lazy or we're too broke to go to the store to buy more, I just use my husband's Old Spice. 

Nope, not kidding!

I've been doing it for 10 years. I didn't think anything of it until a couple months ago my husband F-I-N-A-L-L-Y (after 10 years) realized it and was so aghast that he dropped what he was doing, went to the drug store and bought me more feminine deodorant right there and then.

Funny, how opposite we are. I couldn't have cared less but to him it was an atrocity.

Gotta love being married

Confession #2.

When I am really being manic about my baking addiction. I will plan out elaborate baking projects while the kids are napping which is of course the most ridiculous thing you can do because they wake at the drop of a pin. 

So I can often be found creaming butter in a closet or on the porch in the snow with no shoes on to avoid waking the children with my baking madness. 


Confession #3.

Sometimes I iron my blouses with my flat iron (hair straightener).

YUP. 
I worked in fine dining restaurants for 12 years. That means I had to wear, what we servers would call, "The Monkey Suit" every night which consisted of a crisp, pressed white button down, tie and black slacks. 

I Ironed a white button down with perfectly creased sleeves  5 days a week for 12 years and now I'm tired of it. 
I strongly dislike ironing, however, I do happen to be very good at it. 
So I  guess if my hubsand's ever lucky enough that I am feeling super sweet and iron his Sunday Best for him he looks like a million bucks!!!!



Confession #4.

My husband and I are horrible food snobs. 

We once went on a cruise and just about the entire experience was ruined purely because of the experience with the food. 
I suppose both of us working in restaurants for years and years doesn't bode well when you know exactly where the food is coming from, how long it's been on that boat and that all 29 restaurants in the ship are serving the exact same frozen cardboard chicken just with a different sauce poured out of a can on top of it. 
Sorry, if your a cruise lover but I will tell you it was NOT our cup of tea. I think by the end I was eating strictly bananas, yogurt and dry cereal.

Confession #5.
I once went 28 days without washing myself AT.ALL. 
No shower, No tub.
I think I took one or two very minimal sponge baths with about 1 cup of water and no soap. SAD!!!! 

Yup.......it's actually not nearly as bad as it seems, after about a week or so, Your body odor doesn't get any worse. Sorry, I know WAY too much information but just in case you ever want to go live in a mountain for a month, now you'll know what to expect stench wize:)

Now I didn't do this just for the fun of it. 
I did an intensive Outward Bound course where I lived in the Australian outback for over a month with nothing but a tarp and a sleeping bag.

IT.WAS.AMAZING.

Changed my life for sure!!!! 

Besides it's not THAT foreign to me, read about  MY ROOTS {HERE}
Wrap: {EVY'S TREE}
T-Shirt: Forever 21
Leggings: Motherhood
Belt: J Crew
Boots: Minnotonka Mokasins
You all must think I am the WEIRDEST human being on the planet by now. 

I should probably stop confessing so much:)

linking with Casey Wiegand



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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Mothering





This Post Happened over a year ago! 


Good SunDay!

 This is a guest post I did about a year and a half ago for another blogger but never shared it here. I was just going through my drafts and found it and L*O*V*E*D it because I am not having the easiest time right now 8 months pregnant with a 3 year old and a 22 month old so this was REALLY, REALLY refreshing and just what I needed to remember why I LO*V*E being a mama and it's the best thing in the entire world!!!!!!
Reflection is good!!!! 






Why? 

Because it has changed my life in every way I can possibly imagine!!!!

I have two children. Milton is 2 and Ginger is 11 months. They are 13 months apart. I was literally pregnant for 2 years straight. That is a post all unto itself. 






Lets start with 
THE GOOD:

I have realized that I have COMPLETELY changed and I mean completely. The moment I laid eyes on my sweet baby boy my whole universe changed, everything inside me changed. Suddenly there was no way I could ever find anything to complain about or be grumpy about. I was over filled with JOY and GRATITUDE. It was amazing. It literally happened in a single instant. The way I acted my entire 30 years of life completely changed in a split second. Now, I find myself updating my facebook status everyday about how grateful I am and ordering T-shirts that say things like "YES!!" and "LOVE IS FREE". I'm just happy, truly happy! I think I drive my husband crazy half the time with my ridiculously happy outlook on everything!!! HA!!!
 
Having children was a revelation for me. Immediately I thought to myself, "what was I doing my life before I had kids?" For me having children has been the single most important, amazing, life altering experience I've ever had. Suddenly I knew my purpose. I knew what I was always meant to do. I was full. All those unanswered questions  about what I should really be doing with my life were answered in an instant. I WAS MEANT TO BE A MOTHER. period.

I feel like my life just only truly began with the birth of my kids.  I love it. I love my life. I love that God gave me these beautiful little beings who changed me forever in the best way I can imagine. They gave me the true meaning of my life. They let me experience the true meaning of real joy.





THE BAD:

Honestly there isn't that much. For me the bad is having to work full time and that time I have to spend away from children. It literally breaks my heart every single night when I walk out that door for work. If I could, I would be a stay at home mother in an instant. Unfortunately, financially right now it's not possible for us. I am very thankful that my husband stays home with them while they are still young and we do not send them to daycare. VERY GRATEFUL!

When they are sick it's bad. It kills me to see them suffer. I would give both arms and legs to heal my babies pain. 


THE UGLY:

  I was a big advocate for natural childbirth for myself and thankfully I was able to have them both 100% drug free. That being said, boy was I in for the shock of my life when I went into full fledged labor. There is no way to possibly explain the intensity of the pain to anyone unless they have gone through it themselves. I was in labor with my son for 17 hours and by the time he was crowning I was SURE I was dying. I was begging the docs to cut  me. I laugh about it now but holy moly....all I can say it that is one hell of an experience. 

So with my daughter, I started getting really bad anxiety at about 6 months pregnant because of the pain. I knew how bad it was going to hurt but luckily she came out 2 hours and 16 minuets after my first contraction so it was more manageable but still hurt just as bad. 
So, the natural birthing process for me was amazing but not as touchy, feely and wonderful as I thought it would be. When my son came out I was so exhausted and in so much pain I could hardly even look at him. 

I think because I became a nurse I am used to dealing with much more disgusting things than my kids could ever bring on:)  

A few weeks ago they both had the stomach flu at the same time and I have never been so exhausted in all my life. I was literally running to wash all the crib sheets in the  house as fast as possible because they both still sleep in a crib and they were projectile vomiting everywhere. ALL OVER ME, THE CARPET, THE CRIBS...EVERYWHERE. 

It was definitely ugly!!!! 






THE FUNNY:

For me this is mainly the state in which my house and my mind are left on a daily basis. My house literally looks like a bomb went off in it 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 
DO I clean? 
Of course. In fact CONSTANTLY!!! It is never ending. I am loading dirty dishes in and they are talking them out as I'm doing it. There is no hope in this department so I just have to laugh and I warn every guests that ever comes here about the MESS that children bring. 

I laugh when I find a dirty diaper rolled up in my jacket pocket and 4 smashed crackers. I felt like with the first baby I really had it together. I was organized; on top of it and now It's just survival!!!! So there are many comical moments.




Honestly these children have made me the person I have always wanted to be; strived to be.

They are my everything; hands down the most important thing I have ever done and will ever do!!!! 

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Gnocchi Butternut Squash, Mushroom, Sage and Parmesan in iPhone pics



I told you I couldn't stay away long:)


There is a first time for everything and this is my VERY first time posting an entire recipe with photos only from my itouch. Normally I would like to think I take much better photographs with my real camera but this was an impromptu meal and lets face it I was probably exhausted and had one toddler hanging off each leg so this is what I came up with!!!!

However, it was SOOOOO   D*E*L*I*C*I*O*U*S!!!!!!!! 
I originally go the idea for this combination of flavors from the wonderful blog {A Clove of Garlic, A Pinch of Salt}I think her recipe was for tortellini but I decided to substitute homemade Gnocchi!!!

OHHHHHH and it was GOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!



Ingredients for gnocchi:
2 large russet potatoes
1 egg beaten
1/2-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for squash and sauce:
one small spaghetti squash cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 a package of baby bellas and 2 heaping hand fulls shitakes (substitute any mushrooms you like)
1/4 cup whole sage leaves
1/8 cup olive oil for tossing veggies in
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Recipe for Gnocchi:
Bake potatoes @400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Remove and cool. Next cut the potatoes in half and scoop the insides into a bowl. Now add the salt, egg and flour (start with a 1/2 cup and add more as needed) The dough ball should not be sticky. Add flour until manageable. Knead for a few minuets, separate into 4 sections and roll into a thin tube on a floured surface.  when the roll is about about 1/2 inch thick stop and slice. You may texturize your gnocchi with a gnocchi paddle or a fork. This will help the sauce stick to the dumplings better but it's not necessary. I chose not to for this batch. 
Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook gnocchi 2-3 minuets. Cook it in small batches. You should have about 3-4 batches. As soon as the gnocchi floats to the top of the water scoop it out with a handheld strainer so you can reuse the same water for all the batches. 

Recipe For Squash and sauce:

Place cubes squash, mushrooms, sage and olive oil with a taste of salt and pepper in a oven safe dish and back at 425 for 25 minutes until squash is tender. Meanwhile have 4 quarts of water salted and boiling. Remove and place into a larger sauce pan. Heat butter and toss in veggies. Now cook your gnocchi and as they finishing batches throw them directly into the squash mixture. Once the gnocchi is completely cooked and added then add the Parmesan, mix and serve. 




Hope your enjoying your weekend friends!!!!! 
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Picking up the Pieces: Part I



My number one New years resolution was to try to be more consistent and deliberate with my faith, rather than living like a crazy hap hazard lunatic bound for a crash landing.

I am sharing my story with you in hopes that it will help someone struggling in a similar situation or that it will shed light on a subject, depression, that leave many confused, misunderstood and completely in the dark. 

I have always been very honest on this blog and I plan to continue to be. I am going to attempt to tell you a little about my story lately.

About 6 weeks ago, I took three weeks off from blogging, the longest I have ever taken, because I had a full blown nervous breakdown. You can read about it {here}. Since then I have been a fragile little being, holding on to the edge of life's cliff trying to keep it together for my family. And now I am so eager to pick up the pieces of my broken spirit.

So bare with me a moment while I explain something about myself. Ever since I can remember I have had A LOT of trouble balancing anything in  my life. I would say finding balance in any one area of my life is probably and has always been my greatest life long struggle. That constant out of balance state is what drives my extreme highs and lows, hence my resolution to incorporate faith daily so that I don't tend up on my  knees begging for mercy because I thought I could manage EVERY.SINGLE.THING. on my own.

From a pretty young age I was VERY independent. I think it was a combination from my strong willed personality and being a product of a broken home.  There weren't that many adults around to rely on too much anyway and I was quiet happy, so I thought, on my own from a younger age. 
So , I did everything on my own, I cooked, cleaned, I worked 2 jobs,  changed tires, changed oil, moved furniture, mowed lawns, you name it; Nothing would stop me. Not my age, not my gender, nothing! If only I could bottle my will power and sell it, I would make millions I tell you!!! I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to which is a great characteristic if you know how to use it right.

From the ages of 8 to 24 that's how I lived, like a crazed kamikaze super human that thought she could do anything. Never, taking time out for myself, considering my feelings, my own needs or what kind of disaster I was leaving in my wake. 

So around age 24-25 I had my first real depressive breakdown that FLOORED me, left me unable to function completely. Of course this was totally foreign to me because my entire life I had ALWAYS just toughed it out, white knuckled my way through EVERYTHING and I mean everything. There were many, many times when I was suffering with depression and surely needed professional help but just never sought it because I thought I was tougher than that! 

Finally 15 years of white knuckling it all came crashing down on my head and I was left broken, in pieces, not even knowing where to begin or which piece to pick up first. 

So my journey with depression and how to deal with it officially began. I finally sought professional help. It helped a lot but my life has still been a roller coaster to say the least. I don't know any other way to live than with an "all or nothing" attitude. I simply just don't know how. SO things get really good (so they seem) and then things get really bad (so they seem) because I have no consideration for what happens in between. 

So my resolution is to find a way to moderate this by incorporating faith every single day whether I feel like I need it or not so I don't end up in desperation alley. 

My life circumstances since a fairly young age have been less than ideal, at this point it is hard to tell what came first, the less ideal circumstances, that I had no control over, or the ones I did but the combination of the both left me a walking disaster. Things calmed down significantly after my husband and I lost everything we owned in Hurricane Katrina, I started nursing school, we bought a house, got married and things seemed like they were going to straighten right out. 
WRONG! 

I have noticed, that now even when there is no chaos is my life, I create it. Granted my life has been very chaotic the last year or so with many heard ships and difficult situations but had none of that occurred, I would probably still be in the same place. I suppose it's all I know and so I thrive on it in some awful way. I want it to stop. I want to live, a normal, simple, balanced life. I suppose we all do, right?

So this is the beginning of me trying to pick up the pieces of a broken spirit.

My friend {Casey Wiegand} recommended a book to me. The book is called, A Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas. 
The second chapter of the book is titled "Broken" and let me tell you I sobbed my whole way through that chapter. It SPOKE to me in a way that I could truly understand and IT.WAS.ME. 
Exactly me!!!!!

This quote spoke to my core, 

"When  life is overwhelming and burdens become more than one human can bear....When your circumstances are unrelenting, or the consequences that have come to you heap higher and higher......When tragedy sneaks into your life to ambush you like a stalker, or the world bangs down the door and says,'Let me teach you a few lessons".....When there is just too much and you almost can't breathe..then people break. Hearts break and the will is broken and dreams shatter and the spirit is crushed."

I thought this was said so perfectly, it was said with just the right amount of description to  realty capture the feeling of truly being "broken" without having to go into details. 

As part of my quest to live a better, more balanced life I have begun to seek a greater relationship in my faith. I am reading, as mentioned above "A Beautiful Offering" by Angela Thomas and I am also reading "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young which is a daily devotional book. My husband and I happened to receive it as a gift, I recently formed a great relationship with Alissa from Rags to Stitches and she is also reading it and encouraging her readers to have a little study group about it so I'm really excited to have a little support in that way. 

All I know is that I am such a loving, compassionate and passionate person, there MUST be an easier, no-kamikaze way to life and find more balance for me and my children.

I hope you know this is in no way a negative thing. I want to share my story with you so that I can help you to understand where I am coming from and why. Also I hope maybe some of you can relate to me. 
Thank you for listening. 

This was part I of my story, my struggle, I look forward to sharing more and sharing how I am balancing my life as I go, hopefully with great success!

And I might just take the weekend off but we'll see. You know I can't stay away too long:)



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*Pregnancy Style*

Good Morning everyone. I have a special treat for you today!!! 
My friend and fellow preggo Marion from Marionberry Style is here today showing us you don't always have to look dumpy and frumpy when largely pregnant. In fact, I couldn't look this good on my best day not pregnant! Please welcome her with open arms. I have been following Marion for years now and her style is impeccable!!!!! 

Hi everyone!
My name is Marion and I write a personal style blog called Marionberry Style.  I am currently 9 months pregnant...which makes getting dressed somewhat challenging! 

Hanna asked me to share a few looks I've pulled together over the past few months, so here are a few of my favorites from 5 months on!

   
Month 5 is really where I first started "showing."  It was good in that I no longer simply looked like I just ate a huge dinner.  But it was bad in that I had to learn how to dress without using my "go-to" closet staples...they just no longer fit!


Month 6 felt a lot like Month 5.

 
What can I say about Month 7 except I totally "popped!"  My husband looked at me one day and exclaimed with glee, "Oh my gosh...you're huge!"  Normally this would hurt my feelings...but it was kinda true!  Plus we have been wanting a little one for so long now that hearing him say these words just made me feel blessed :)


And here I am...smack dab in month 8. 

I know, I know...I am still wearing heels.  Since I don't fit into much else, I have held tight to my heels and handbags!  

Thank you Hanna for welcoming me on your blog!
xo - Marion

*thirty* weeks

Jeans: Joe's Maternity
Tank: Forever 21 Extra Long
Cardigan: {EVY'S TREE}
Flats: Forever 21


All I want to say how grateful I am today, grateful for my husband and my children, grateful for so many supportive and wonderful woman I have met through this blog, grateful for my mother, my sister and all other extended family, grateful for this beautiful baby inside me, grateful to have the opportunity to grow in my faith! 

JUST.PLAIN.GRATEFUL.


And to top it off my husband and son came home with these this morning when I totally did not deserve them. 

GRATEFUL!!!!!!

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