Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New House!

We bought a new house this week! SO excited! After touring over 70 houses in person over the last 8 months, I walked into this one, called Shane and said I found our new home. I found it the day after it listed, and there were a few offers on it already, but in the end, we got it. {sinister laugh here} We picked up the keys last night and started moving in. I only got a few pics, but I'm sure there will be lots more in the coming months.

It isn't perfect. The kitchen needs to be upgraded, the backyard needs some attention and there is an extreme lack of crown molding and color - but all can be fixed. And Shane is chomping at the bit to get to all his new projects. The floor plan is great. Lots of closet space. Lots of light. Great neighborhood. And there is the most amazing playroom. A lot better than what we are using now :) Imagine, not having toys in the living room.

Of course there is the issue that Shane and I will be sharing a closet for the first time in 8 years. I'm worried about that. We're both clothes addicts. But Shane gets his shirts pressed and has them organized in color. His shoes are lined up military fashion. My closet looks like the hours after a Filene's Basement Wedding Dress sale. Only a lot more yellow.

But all those little things aside, we have a new house! Now, any suggestions on design blogs? Cause I need help.

These aren't the best, but I only had my camera phone at night.

YAY! I'm going to paint everything yellow!
(Just kidding)
Mom - Click on the photos to make them bigger.


Winner of the Minted Journal is Elle Sees.
NEW winner of the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 12 is Jennae.

Congrats! Leave a comment here, then email me and I will get you your prizes!

Don't forget to enter to win the Baby's Bundle Giveaway and the Shabby Apple giveaway!

(Petunia Blooms finally got some more of the yo-yo hair clips in stock! FYI)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Minted Cyber Monday Alert! And Flash giveaway!!!

I finally got my photos back from the photographer and am working on ordering my holiday cards from Minted. Just found out that Minted is having a fantastic Cyber Monday deal!:

  • Minted will be offering free backers + shipping on all holiday cards for the entire day—an amazing deal!
  • They will also randomly pick one holiday card order per hour and make it free for that customer – to qualify, a customer must place a holiday card order on 11/28. 
  • They will also randomly pick one holiday card order per hour and buy a classroom’s worth of children new Minted notebooks for that customer – to qualify for this, a customer must place a holiday card order on 11/28 and post a link to the:
WOW! Get those Thanksgiving photos uploaded and get your cards ordered on Monday!

Some of the versions I'm playing around with:
(They will look a little strange since they haven't been finalized yet. A designer does that.)

Who says you have to have a photo card? 
These yellow and gray peace van non photo cards are darling!!!

Need a fast gift? Check out the personalized journals!

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving a free personalized journal from Minted! Ends Monday at Midnight.

To enter: Tell me in a comment below your favorite Christmas tradition, or who you would make this cool journal for. You know there's someone on your list who would love this!

US addresses only please.

Don't forget to enter to win: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Baby's Bundle Giveaway

I first discovered The Baby's Bundle back in 2009 when I was preparing for the birth of my second baby. Someone gave me a darling gift that I traced back to this delightful online shop. I then placed another order of my own. The Baby's Bundle is a baby shower mecca. Everything you need to pamper a baby and mom- to-be is at your finger tips. The selection reminds me very much of some of the great baby boutiques you can find in NYC. But here, you don't have to deal with snobby store clerks and the prices are better :)

Some of my favorite items:

All wrapped up and ready to go. 
You could just ship straight from the site to a friend for Christmas.

Can never get too many of these!

I don't know how I would have the heart to pull this apart!

Perfect to have on hand for that unexpected baby shower.

The jewel of the Baby's Bundle gifts, the softest blanket imaginable. It will be the blanket you always reach for.

Now they have them in adult sizes too! This would be the perfect gift for a stylish college girl, or nice mommy blogger....(hint hint)

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving a $30 gift certificate to spend at The Baby's Bundle!

To enter:
Head over to The Baby's Bundle and them come back here and tell me what you love!

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on December 2nd. Good luck!
US addresses only

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shabby Apple Giveaway

It's time again for a Shabby Apple Giveaway! Shabby Apple has the most stylish and modest women's dresses on the web. This round, Shabby Apple wants to supply one of you something perfect for your holiday vacation. If your plans include a beachy trip, head over to the South Pacific line. (I have the North Shore dress and I love it!) Heading to the desert? Try the Inca Trail line. New York City? (Or a big Christmas party?) I love the Tinsel Town line. Off to Europe? Check out the Roamin Holiday line. Since I'm in the mood for a little European traveling, I decided to pick a dress from that line to giveaway. I have a photo of myself in this same spot in Italy. And if you saw what I was wearing you would shutter. Just think...men's jeans, boots and baggie hoodie. I have since then reformed my ways.

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving the Bacciami dress from Shabby Apple! 

To enter:

Become a Shabby Apple Facebook Fan and let me know in a comment you've done so.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on November 30th. Good luck!
US addresses only

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Very Simple Thanksgiving

I was supposed to have an Etsy giveaway today, but the store owner had to postpone when she suddenly sold out of her entire inventory. Don't you feel bad for her?  :) Anyway, it gives me a chance to post a Thanksgiving post. Man, the holidays are almost here!

By the way, if you're new to my blog I don't usually post this often. Only in November. And since Halo Anniversary came out this week, I'm a Halo Widow anyway.


So getting back to Thanksgiving. There is a time to really go all out on a Thanksgiving dish. That time is when you're invited to a big dinner and you've been asked to bring one or two items. Then there's the time when easy and simple is the rule, and that's when you are cooking everything yourself. Of the ten years Shane and I have been married, I've made the entire Thanksgiving feast entirely myself probably half the time. That's about 5 years we've had Thanksgiving with just the two of us, or with the kids when they came along. Shane would help if I asked him, but I never do. I just have him keep the kids out of the kitchen. I've learned that when you're cooking that many dishes in one day, you have to keep expectations in check and keep it simple.

We don't have plans to spend Thanksgiving with family this year, so when my Mother-in-law, Mary, decided to come visit last week, I decided we would celebrate a little early. We just picked a random Tuesday, she watched the kids and I cooked. Shane came home from work to a full Thanksgiving feast.

My first suggestion for keeping Thanksgiving easy is using a turkey breast instead of a whole bird. Saves time and room in the fridge. We prefer the white meat anyway. This year I went with a turkey breast roast from costco and it was delicious and moist. (It's bigger than this photo makes it seem. We had leftovers for several days.) I used this Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast recipe from Ina Garten and it was amazing. This won't make gravy, but remember, I'm keeping this easy. Buy the gravy in the jar and add some of the juice thats left in the pan.

Next, roast a veggie. Carrots are one of my favorites since they are always on hand and get sweet and caramelized. And it's so fast. I threw in some fennel in this dish too. You can use Ina's recipe here, but watch the time. I think she cooks them too long.

Yum. Mashed potatoes. No simplifying this dish, (i.e. no freeze dried potatoes).

I like Paula Dean's recipe for this. Though instead of sour cream, I replaced the milk with cream.

BEST Thanksgiving day investment? The Potato Ricer. You will never have lumps in your potatoes again. I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20.

Oh, and add lots of extra butter to the top of your hot potatoes.

I always make a Green Bean Casserole for Shane. It's tasty and takes like 2 minutes to prepare. This is the only time I actually prefer a canned veggie.

For the stuffing (which is the best part of Thanksgiving in my opinion), I never use a recipe anymore. 
Last year I showed you how I put mine together. This year, I had the foresight to double a cornbread recipe a month before so I had the cornbread in the freezer ready to go. And I also changed it up by adding two eggs to the dish. It made it much more "dressing" like. It was actually delicious that way, and much more Southern. 

Easy sweet potato casserole.

Boil 7 or 8 unpeeled sweet potatos until soft. Let cool until able to handle, and take off peels. Mash together and add a cube of butter. Add about a 1/2 cup brown sugar and a handful of chopped walnuts. You may want more sugar depending on your taste. Maybe a bit of cinnamon. Stir until butter melts. Spread in a pan and cover with marshmallows. Cook at whatever temp the turkey is cooking on until the marshmallows are brown.

Collin gets a nice dairy free version of everything in case you were wondering.
Nothing about food allergies is simple. :( 

There we go. Instead of cranberry compote, we use the canned stuff. No homemade rolls, we got the pull apart ones in the freezer. Homemade pumpkin pie? Why, when you can get a great one at Costco for $6!

Lydia took care of place cards.

She and grammy set the table.

Collin keep singing the happy birthday song and trying to blow out the candles.


An entire Thanksgiving dinner in about three hours and we had leftovers for days.

Thanks Grammy for making our early Thanksgiving wonderful.


The winner of the La Vie Celeste Giveaway is Jenny
The EA SPORTS Madden NFL 12 Giveaway winner is Heather
The Autumn Ray Threads Giveaway winner is Erin
The Lullabies for Getty CD giveaway winner is Mel

Congrats ladies! Leave a comment here, and then email me!

Don't forget to enter to win the Petunia Blooms Giveaway and the Sound + Sleep Sound Therapy System Giveaway. More giveaways next week too!

And then I'm taking some time off....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Petunia Blooms Giveaway

There is something so nice about receiving a gift that is just plain pretty. Maybe that's just me, but I love gifts from friends that are feminine and sweet. Something that I want to have on display, even when I'm not using it. Etsy Shop Petunia Blooms is full of just that kind of thing. Something for the best friend, sister, mother, teacher or daughter on your Christmas list. Everything from Petunia Bloom is hand-stitched and the owner can even customize for you.

Some of my favorites:

Lots of cool fabric options available. 

Yes Mom, this is where I got you that Mother's Day pin last year. The one I like to borrow :)

I want the ruffled pouch for me and the bow for Lydia
(And I'm thinking that bow could be a pretty cool bowtie for Collin too.....)

How darling would this be to clip on a wrapped winter gift this year?

A pair on bobby pins or....

I told you. Sweet.

Whether you are shopping for someone 4 or 94, every girl needs a place to put her treasures.

Did I mention the owner, Jacky, is a brand new bride? Of course everything she makes is happy :)
I promise, any gift from Petunia Blooms will insight a smile.

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving a $30 gift certificate to Petunia Blooms!

To enter:

Head over to Petunia Blooms, then come back here and let me know your favorite item.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on November 28th. Good luck!
US addresses only

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SOUND+SLEEP Adaptive Sound Therapy System Giveaway (YAY!!!)

If you have ever had problems sleeping, or know someone that does, this is for you.

You may remember that I suffer from insomnia. Probably because I mention it a lot. Lack of sleep is kind of like chronic pain. You never get used to it. It never gets easier. My doctor gave me sleeping pills with strict orders I had to sleep for 8 hours straight while under their influence. No interruptions. Um, that wasn't going to happen. I have little kids who throw up in the night and have bad dreams. And the side effects of sleeping pills worried me.

A friend recommend the SOUND + SLEEP Adaptive Therapy System a while back, so I thought I would try it out. Oh, I just wish I had discovered this system years ago. SOUND+SLEEP Adaptive Sound™ Therapy System is a drug-free treatment for sleep disorders that boasts sleep as its only side-effect. SOUND+SLEEP is a sound machine designed to help you sleep naturally. A leading consumer magazine found “Sound machines … worked almost as well as (prescription) drugs.” They also concluded that sound machines were more effective than over-the-counter drugs or supplements.

This system has 10 different "SoundStories" to choose from. Click here to hear them all. The sounds are unbelievable crisp and calming. But that is just the beginning. Each SoundStory has three levels of "richness". Each level increases the diversity of sounds you hear. When sleeping to the sounds of rainfall, you keep it to the minimum richness, a simple rain. But increase the richness to add occasional wind and lighting. 

Not only that, but you can change the SoundStories to be adaptive. Its built-in computer and microphone continuously “listen” for intruding noises such as barking dogs, automobiles, overhead airplanes, or loud roommates. In Adaptive Mode, SOUND+SLEEP dynamically adds sounds to the SoundStory and automatically adjusts volume to offer superior sound masking or neutralizing capabilities.

Think sleeping next to a snorer! Your sweetie starts snoring, the sound masking gets stronger.

I'm sleeping better than I have in years. I have a little routine. First I settle into bed and put on the "Fireplace" SoundStory. It sounds exactly like I'm resting next to a crackling wood fire. Even Shane comes to bed earlier to enjoy it.  Sometimes I listen to the rainfall or ocean when the mood hits. After about 30 minutes of reading or just listening, I can feel my body moving into sleep mode and I change the SoundStory to white noise (I use the lower pitch "brown noise" to be specific). Usually I'm asleep within minutes. It used to take me hours. When I do wake up in the night, I fall right back to sleep. It's amazing.  

I've used lots of white noise machines in the past, but nothing gave me the results as this system. I could not be more thrilled with it. 

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving their own SOUND + SLEEP Adaptive Therapy System!!!

To enter:
Head over to Sound + Sleep Adaptive Therapy System site and them come back here and tell me which SoundStory you prefer and who you would win this system for.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on November 28th. Good luck!
US addresses only

The winner of the Karen Kane Giveaway is Stacy. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Couch to 5K - first three weeks

Well, I've completed weeks 1-3 in the Couch to 5K program. I'm so excited that some of you are doing it with me! When I'm running, sometimes I imagine we're all running together and talking about our hopes and dreams. I mean, no I don't. That would be weird.

Week one was pretty good. It is a very gradual program and the first week is pretty easy. My regular Zumba classes have helped with my endurance. It wasn't fun though. Running feels jolting and I was gasping by the end of each minute long jog. I did it though.

Week two was really hard. On the first run of the week, I was only 1 minute into my warmup walk and I developed the most intense side cramp I've ever felt. When I actually started to run, it was excruciating. It felt like a vic was crushing my rib cage. It lasted the entire run. The next run it happened again. I thought maybe it was the cold weather, but I developed the same cramp when rushing in the grocery store. Oo, not great. Shane said he thought it was just my body getting used to running. It happened again on my last run of the week, but not quite as intense.

When I started week three I was nervous. I had to run for 3 minute blocks and that seemed a big jump. I was happy to discover that I was able to do it and the pain was gone. In fact, to my surprise, I actually found myself wanting to get to the running part. I mean, don't get me wrong, by the end of the three minutes I was panting, but it's something.

This last week I decided to repeat week three. That's allowed if you feel like it. Mostly I'm just a little nervous for week four. There's a couple segments of 5 minutes of straight running. I don't think I've done that since I was 17. Oh wait, maybe not even then. I was supposed to run the mile in high school, but I got out of it by claiming "jet lag". And I'd been back from my international trip for well over a week. I honestly don't think my P.E. teacher knew what jet lag was....

Anyway. I'm running! Who would have thought? It kind of sucks, but I'm getting stronger and that's exciting.

Any words of wisdom to keep me going?

photo via pinterest

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Tonight I'm sitting by the fire with the smell of pumpkin muffins and mulling cider. It's perfect and chill outside. Still, when I saw this photo that my friend in Chattanooga took of the mountains where I used to live, I teared up a bit. I hear the South has had some of the most gorgeous leaves ever this season. Oh, I miss it. More than I thought possible.

Don't forget to enter last weeks giveaways!

Friday, November 11, 2011

La Vie Celeste Giveaway - $75 gift certificate

If you know me well, you know I'm very aware of my skin. I figure the better I treat it, the better it will look for the long run. My new obsession is the La Vie Celeste line. My skin hasn't looked this good in ten years. I'm really not kidding. The entire line was developed by Dr. Teri Dourmashkin, who holds a Doctorate in Health Education from Columbia University. Additionally, Dr. Dourmashkin is a certified Reiki Master. Her interest and research in natural, non-toxic skin care spans over 15 years. With a commitment to health and healing, Dr. Dourmashkin believes that healthy skin care is vitally important.

My first love is the La Vie Celeste Day & Night Restorative Face Cream. It's incredibly thick and luxurious. I've known with this dry climate I needed to move to a thick cream, but I've always shied away from creams like that. I don't like the greasy feeling of creams laying on top of my skin. The La Vie Celeste Face Cream disappears into my skin like magic. It leaves my face unbelievably soft. I don't know how it works, but I'm hoping Dr. Dourmashkin is working on thick hand cream next. Lydia keeps on telling my cheeks are as soft as Collin's. That is a huge compliment :) My smile lines are smaller and my skin feels tighter too. I have never loved a skin product so much. 

I first started using La Vie Celeste when I decided to keep the products on my face natural and gentle. The La Vie Celeste Restorative Mother Of Pearl Exfoliating Cleanser is wonderfully gentle and perfect for any skin type. It's a little spa moment in my routine. Reading the ingredients kind of makes me want to eat it :) Leaves my skin clean, but doesn't strip it of the good oils. Add the La Vie Celeste Eye Cream and you're on your way to brighter, softer, younger looking skin. Seriously. I'm not just saying that. My skin looks awesome. 

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving $75 in La Vie Celeste product!

To enter:

Head over to La Vie Celeste and then come back here and let me know what products interest you the most.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on November 18th. Good luck!
US addresses only

By the way, happy 11/11/11!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

EA SPORTS Madden NFL 12 Giveaway

Yay! I'm giving away something for the man in your life. You asked for it, so here you go. The newest in the Madden franchise, Madden NFL 12 from EA SPORTS!!! 

Let's be honest. I haven't played this game. Not planning on it. I don't do football. But from what I hear, it's pretty rad. And I know my husband wants a copy. Doubt he will wait until Christmas to buy it though. :)

"This is the Madden NFL that the hardcore football fans thought only existed in their dreams."
- Planet Xbox 360

I have a feeling this would be a huge hit on Christmas morning. What guy doesn't want the one of the coolest video games of the year in his stocking. "Dude, you'll never guess what my wife/mom/grandma got me!" Check out some of the features here

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving a copy of EA SPORTS Madden NFL 12 in either Xbox 360 or PS3!

To enter:

Leave a comment letting me know who you would love to surprise with a copy of Madden NFL 12 and if you want Xbox or PS3.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on November 18th. Good luck!
US addresses only

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