Final Great Giveaway!

The Beauty of Different Giveaway

This will be my last giveaway this month and it's the one I'm most excited about. I started the giveaways as a celebration and thank you for the past year of blogging. It seems fitting that I give away the book written by my friend Karen, without whom I would have never known about blogging & all of you.

Karen has written the most wonderful book, called The Beauty of Different: Observations of a Confident Misfit. It is substantial (both in subject matter and heft). It is beautiful, it is thoughtful, it is inspiring, it is something you need. I'm not just saying this because I'm in the book...although, that is pretty much one of the coolest things ever. I'm saying it because the book is truly worth it. I bought several copies and want to give one to you. I will also get Karen to sign it for you. There you have it, a GORGEOUS book, autographed just for you.

If this Beautiful book isn't enough, I'm also giving away several of my Favorite items from the past year. Plan on a few accessories, beauty products, maybe a snack or two. Just to thank you for being here and being part of my story.

The contest will remain open for one week, ending December 7 at approximately 11pm CT. Winner will be selected through a random drawing. I'll email the winner and post here once the winner has been notified. You will get an entry for the following:

1) Leave a comment on what you think is most beautiful, where you go to find beauty, how you see beauty, or what makes you different. You must leave your email address if it is not linked through your profile.
2) If you leave a comment AND commented on the Scotch Tape giveaway (now closed), you will get an extra entry.
3) You do NOT need to be a follower. If you are a follower (or become one), you will get an extra entry if you comment.

Thanks again for being here & Good Luck!
*The giveaway is now closed. Sarah is the winner and I couldn't be happier, she's been a great supporter and friend. Thanks again for your beautiful comments.*

Anthropologie Giveaway

*Giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering*

Friday Favorite Time!

To celebrate my first year of blogging, it's time for another giveaway...

It's Friday and time for me to once again share one of my favorites with you. If you know me, or remember my posts, you know that I LOVE Anthropologie. It's one of the few stores that I prefer to shop in rather than just order online. In fact, the picture above is from a display outside an Anthropologie store in Houston. When I thought about having blog giveaways, I knew I had to give away a gift card to Anthropologie. So, that's what I'm doing. Up for grabs is a $25 gift card to Anthropologie!

The contest will remain open for one week, ending December 3 at approximately 11 CT. Winner will be selected through a random drawing. I'll email the winner and post here once the winner has been notified. You will get an entry for the following:

1) Leave a comment. Any comment. You must leave your email address if it is not linked through your profile.
2) If you leave a comment AND commented on the Scotch Tape giveaway (when it was active), you will get an extra entry.
3) You do NOT need to be a follower. If you are a follower (or become one), you will get an extra entry if you comment.

Thanks. Have fun & good luck.
*Comments are now closed. The winner is Jen, who was commenter #1. I guess it pays to be first in my contests! I can promise you that the drawings have been entirely random. *

The Best Thanksgiving Recipe- Tamale Stuffing

First, do not be dissuaded by the pictures, this stuffing turns out beautiful. Wonderful. Crowd pleasing. Delicious. I originally got the recipe from the San Antonio Express many years ago; I believe it comes from Central Market.
Tamale Stuffing
24 cooked tamales (husks removed)- I've used every kind of tamale and it all tastes super yummy. My favorite is venison tamales.
4 cups shredded cheese (I use the Mexican blend)
28 oz tomatoes with diced green chiles
1/4- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I cut this way down from original 2 cups)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dark chile powder
kosher salt to taste
Steam tamales. In a large bowl (not kidding-large), combine all ingredients. Use a slotted spoon or fork to crumble the tamales and really combine everything. Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
I've been making this tamale "stuffing" for years at the holidays. It is really more of a tamale casserole stuffed with goodness. It spices up turkey quite nicely and gives your meal just a kick of spice, not too much, just right. Enjoy!

Hill Country Getaway - Part 2

We had a wonderful extended weekend in the Texas Hill Country. We all got to enjoy nature and relaxing with good friends, "camping" and "hunting" (my husband took my oldest daughter out one morning but they didn't see any deer at that time), we fed the deer, and I ran into a Texas animal trifecta- a deer, armadillo, and Longhorn-just roaming free! We enjoyed beautiful sunsets, and capped off our getaway with margaritas and s'mores last night. Some may wonder why we love going to the Texas Hill Country so much. These shots should give you an idea of the slower pace, the natural beauty and easy life out there. Plus, it's just one big photo op... my camera is still in the shop, these are point and shoot-pretty fantastic subjects!

I'd love to know what your favorite getaway is- is it urban so you can see shows and have fabulous meals & shopping, or more rural, or the beach?

Hill Country Getaway

Who knew what you all wanted was a Target giveaway?! Thanks so much for your response and remember, you have until Thursday to enter. I also have two more giveaways this month, so stay tuned. Since the holiday rush is about to start, we took this weekend to escape to the Texas Hill Country. We're staying at our friend's ranch property and enjoying sunsets like this; proof God Blessed Texas!

Friday Favorite- Target Giveaway!

Image Target

It's no secret that I love Target. To celebrate my first year blogging, I'm holding a giveaway a week this month. This week's giveaway is a $25 gift card to one of my favorite stores, Target. You can get anything and everything at Target, why not get it for free?! It should be helpful for getting a jump start on holiday shopping, or just stocking up on toilet paper.

To enter:
1) Leave a comment with your contact information (if not linked to your profile)
2) If you entered last week's Scotch Tape giveaway, you have an automatic entry in this contest
3) Being a follower is NOT required, but if you comment and are a follower, I'll give you another entry.
The contest will stay open until Thursday November 25th (Thanksgiving), winner will be announced Friday.
That's it. I wanted to share a gift card to one of my Friday (EVERYDAY!) Favorites. Happy weekend everyone!
Comments are now closed. The winner is Shel-who was the first commenter! Congratulations, Shel. Thanks!

Love Thursday-Home

Our girls have been enjoying playing with bath crayons I picked p the other day. They've been quite busy...not sure how clean they are getting, but they are having fun. My four year old, M, drew the heart and then wrote the word "Home" the other day. When I asked her how she thought of those two things, she replied "We have lots of love in our home." Yes, yes we do. What a great reminder for Love Thursday.
*Those drops are colored drops from the crayons, not blood. Forgive the picture quality, my camera is still in the shop so all photos are coming off my phone.*

Houston Aeros Family Fun

My family recently attended a Houston Aeros game with a bunch of other Houston bloggers and their families. It was a fun way to introduce my family to blogging and have a fun family night at the same time. T, me, and Sarah- Photo from T

We spent part of a fun evening with a few good friends, and lots of new ones. I say part of because there was, inevitably, a meltdown. Other than the meltdown, it was really fun to take the girls to a professional sporting event. The Aeros game was our kind of game since it isn't as expensive, loud, or as crowded as other sports venues. We'll definitely take the girls back for an Aeros game, just this time during the afternoon and not after a long day at school. The Aeros were so nice to all of the bloggers and Jamie and Christina really went the extra mile to make the event a success--meltdowns notwithstanding!

I want to thank the Houston Aeros and all the other sponsors who made the night possible. *I was not paid for this post, my words are my own. I received free tickets to attend the Aeros game and a really useful bag full of after-school snacks.*

Love Thursday- Veterans' Day edition

I come from a military family. There are Colonels, Majors, and all sorts of other ranks all over my family tree. I married a veteran, who has military service members stacked throughout his family as well. For my family, Veteran’s Day is a true holiday. I am thankful that my parents brought us up with a deep and abiding love of country. We were taught that service to others and service to your country are duties of the highest order. I grew up watching military families sacrifice. I saw friends lose their fathers, wives lose their husbands, and parents lose precious time with their children. In the last several years, my family members have served this country in Afghanistan, Iraq, and all points in between. Too many Americans forget what our military does. Too many of us forget those who laid down their lives for our safety and freedom. Not just those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, but all the service men and women who stopped living their lives to answer the call of duty on a TDY or combat assignment.

I am fiercely proud of the service of my family members. Believe me when I tell you that I could write and write about the impact the military has had on my life. I say these things so you will understand the meaning behind my Love Thursday. This Love Thursday I celebrate the love of our military families- the deep and abiding sense of duty and service of our men and women who proudly wear the uniform, the love of the families left behind, and the willingness to make sacrifices. Happy Love Thursday and Happy Veterans' Day.

Scotch Tape Prepare and Create Giveaway

Thanks to Scotch(R) Double Sided Tape for sponsoring my writing about crafts. Add your comment below to be entered for a chance to win free sample rolls to help with your upcoming holiday needs.

We all know Scotch tape is useful around the house, especially with a 4 and 6 year old who think a craft project involves an entire roll of tape, markers, and sheet of paper. Rather than share my girls' "art projects," we decided to make something together with a Fall theme.

We used several different kinds of cardstock, Scotch double sided tape, and a very basic tree trunk. I gotz mad drawing skillz, yo!
We've all made hand print turkeys and leaves in school. There's a reason why we keep going to the classic hand print, because it's cute and your kids will only voluntarily participate in the cute for so long. While my kids still think it's fun, we were using their hand prints! Once the hand prints were cut, I used double sided tape to secure to the cardstock, popped it in a frame. And, voila! Instant decor. The final product is pictured above. You can go the extra mile and use paint to add thumbprint leaves on the trees or add things you are thankful for on the branches. We had a busy weekend, so we were lucky to get this done. I really liked using the Scotch double sided tape for a project like this because scrapbook tape is really too lightweight and glue always bunches up the paper. *Scotch should really start marketing to scrapbookers because the Scotch double sided tape is WAY stronger than scrapbook tape. Much better.* We also used the double sided tape to decorate the girls' art center and make a ton of cards.

Here's your chance to win a little tape and be prepared for holiday wrapping, or 6 year old art projects involving an entire roll of tape...whatever you need in your house. The contest will run through Saturday, November 13. I will select 2 winners to receive 5 rolls of tape each. To enter just leave a comment on this blog post. Easy peasy-free tape squeezy. Oh, and every entry in this contest gains an extra entry in the other November giveaways I'm running from some of my favorite places like Anthropologie and Target!

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.
*Comments are now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. Pam and Alana won the rolls of tape and will now be ready for the holidays! Check back this month for more giveaways. Thanks Scotch Tape.*

The Best Pumpkin Bread-Welcome Fall

This weekend I welcomed one of my favorite recipes back to our kitchen, Pumpkin Bread. I know some people don't like pumpkin bread (I don't know HOW that is possible). To those who say you don't like pumpkin bread, just try this one. It is so good. My girls clapped their hands when I was making this Sunday afternoon. The picture doesn't do it justice; blame it on the way too early dark and flash. In real life it is just oozy yummy brown and golden and smells like Fall.
Recipe is adapted from Rebecca Rather's "The Pastry Queen" (A great cookbook with Texas flair.) The recipe makes two loaves or 36 muffins
Eddie's Autumn Pumpkin Bread with Pecan Streusel Topping
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces (could also use chocolate chips)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 (15oz) can pure pumpkin
1 cup water
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
*1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
*1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
*1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
*1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
* I use 5-6 tsp of pumpkin pie spice instead
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Coke and broccoli not part of the ingredient list!

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans, or muffin tins. You can chop and toast the nuts if you like. I've found that it gives the bread extra flavor, but isn't necessary. I've also used walnuts in place of pecans and it tastes just fine. Whisk the oil and sugar together. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and water until combined. Stir in flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Divide the batter into the tins or loaf pans.

Make the topping: Melt butter, stir in sugar, cinnamon, and about a 1/2 cup of nuts. Sprinkle over the top of each loaf or muffin.

Bake loaves for one hour, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean. Bake muffins for 30-35 minutes.


Friday Favorite- Vintage Clothing

All images Xtabay

My heart stops when I see the perfect thing-for me, for a gift, the perfect hairstyle, etc. Earlier this week I found and promptly got lost in a wonderful vintage store Xtabay, where I found gorgeous dresses, accessories, even wedding gowns like the ones here:

The problem? Xtabay is in Portland. Oh no. I'll just have to stalk them from afar and keep visiting my local vintage stores looking for a great find. At least until I can find a reason to travel to Portland! Have you found any great vintage shops? I'm always looking for fun vintage finds, lay them on me!
Xtabay vintage my Friday Favorite.

Love Thursday- Mommy Lessons

Chris posted a great list of lessons she's learned from being a mother at AlphaMom. I think it's a great exercise, to step back and evaluate what we are doing as parents, lessons learned, and to remember what is really important. What better way to show Love than to reflect on where we love the most-our family. Since I've been a mom for a little over 6 years, I figured I'd start with 6 Things I've Learned from Being a Mom. Feel free to add your own.

1) This too shall pass. It doesn't seem like it now. But, it will.
2) Just when I think I've got a handle on something, the wheel will fall off.
3) Life is too short not to sparkle. So, glitter it up. But, keep a dustbuster on hand for the glitter pick-up.
4) Chores can wait until after bed-time. Take the time to play and read with them now.
5) Listen to the silly songs. Encourage the silly. They like the silly.
6) Children learn by example, only show them what you want them to learn.

Happy Love Thursday.

Shabby Apple Fun

All images Shabby Apple

Bloggy Business
This month marks my first year of blogging. I've learned so much this past year, with much more yet to learn. This month I'm trying a few new blogging ventures, including giveaways and even a sponsored contest. I also hope to move to a new blogging platform by the end of the year, so changes are afoot! There's quite a bit of debate going on about bloggers working with marketers. Our blogs are our platforms. I believe that we should cultivate our spaces to be representative of what we feel is most important-whether you talk about politics, photography, etc. I have a full-time career that took me years to obtain and from which I derive a great sense of accomplishment. I do not want to give that career up. For that reason, I joined the Clever Girls Collective (see sidebar) to help me find the right kind of blogging opportunities. Blogging is my hobby, not my job. Any sponsored opportunities or contests will be ones which I have thought about and meet my standards in that I either use the product or strongly believe in the product/line/brand. I will continue to post my unpaid and un-endorsed Friday Favorites. I just thought you should know. Also, expect more crafts, fashion, decor this month but no football b/c Oh my God, it has been terrible lately! Just kidding, you can find my football summaries over at Draft Day Suit.
This is an UNPAID and UNSPONSORED post. Also, there's nothing to win. Yet, but come back in a few days for something else.

Shabby Apple Dressing
I love giving shopping/fashion advice to my friends. I have an unused Groupon for Shabby Apple burning a hole in my pocket, so I thought it might be fun to get your opinion on how I should spend it.
I don't necessarily have a specific event in mind, but I do want a dress that can transition well from work to other events. I love dresses with feminine detailing like ruffles, pleats, belts, but I don't like looking to "twee" or young. I have these Shabby Apple dresses and love them.

So, which of the following would you choose?
Option A:
El Capitan- I need a Navy dress

Option B:
Trapeze-a fun fall dress. How cute would this be with brown boots?!

Option C
Gray Fox- I really need a Navy dress
Option D
Tiery Eyed- Who doesn't need another LBD? I think it looks like it would travel like a dream.