Category Archives: Feature Friday

Twins: A Year in Review

Confession: I’ve been an absolutely no-good, awful, downright pathetic blogger this week.

Why?

Because the twins turned 1-year-old on Tuesday, and I didn’t make a single peep about it here. Or much of anywhere else, unless you count this grainy pic I tossed up on Instagram and Facebook.

twins sick birthday

I’m actually pretty embarrassed.

But here’s the thing: they were under the weather earlier this week (they’re better now), and both had fevers on their actual birthday. Believe me, if it sounds sad for a 1-year-old to be sick on her birthday, it truly is doubly sad when it’s twins (double your pleasure…double your pain). And I didn’t do much blogging that day for obvious reasons. Hence: no fanfare whatsoever for quite a momentous landmark.

I mean…seriously. 1 year ago, I gave birth to TWINS. At home. With no pain meds. (And it was my best birth yet).

twins newborn pic

(Ack! They’re so tiny. It makes my heart squeeeeeze)

And then I figured out how to feed both of them (they’re still nursing in case you’re just dying to know).

And I got kind of used to this:

twins screaming

We even managed to all get dressed at once and take pictures of it (I’m not going to say the process didn’t involve a mild nervous breakdown…or three).

twins family pic

They got cuter…

twins sleeper cuteness

(and quite advanced…see Nola waving hi?)

…and cuter…

twins funny faces

And I got pretty darn good at holding them both at the same time.

twins held together

And then I mastered the art of grocery shopping with twins in my basket and a 7-year-old pushing another cart into my ankles behind me. And I got new crow’s feet and a slight crick in my neck from smiling and nodding at the 478 occurrences of, “You have your hands full,” and, “Bless your heart,” every time we went anywhere in public.

twins shopping

And they just kept growing…

twins 4 months

And Growing…

TWINS SIX MONTHS

…and GROWING!

twins 9 months

They even tried their hands at a little blogging:

twins blogging

And you know what?

The process—this whole keeping-twins+3-other-kids-alive-for-a-whole-year business—it’s been amazing. Yes, some days are crazy hard. Or at least as hard as they can be for a mama with a grocery store 15 minutes away (they sell chocolate, after all), a supportive husband, a mama who takes her three oldest for a day every single weekend (oh yes, she does), and some of the sweetest kids on the planet. But mostly, it’s fantastic. I kind of want to make a t-shirt that says: “Everybody needs a set of twins. They make life more fun. (And harder too).” But that’s a bit longwinded for a t-shirt design, and I think anyone who hasn’t experienced it might think I was nuts (not that they’d be wrong). So, I guess I’ll just restrain myself to blabbering about it here to you guys. Because a whole lot of y’all have been here from the beginning, and I think you know what I mean.

To say that God has been gracious to our family is to that say that the sun is bright. It’s such a vague, weak little facsimile of the truth. As hectic and wild as much of this year has been, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more aware of His abundant blessing and love for me, a girl who doesn’t deserve a shred of it and who fails more times than she can count, every. single. day.

Praise God that his mercies are new every morning!

I don’t know what the future holds, but this I can tell you:

Today is very good indeed.

twins birthday dresses

{I dressed my poor little feverish girls up in their birthday duds and took a—very fuzzy—picture for posterity. Some of them came out better than this, but I just love their long-suffering expressions here. They do a good job of humoring their goofy mama}.

And now I’m off to craft some various something-or-others for their party tomorrow and make a cake that I’m not entirely sure is even going to work out (but I guarantee it’ll taste good).

There’s no linky party today (sorry, guys!), but I hope you all have an absolutely LOVELY weekend!

Pssst…I’ll probably be posting sneak peaks of the party details all weekend on Instagram if you want to follow along.

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#84} + A Pop-up Sale

Good morning, all you lovely people! Just in case your Friday is not starting out exactly the way you hoped it would, and you’re feeling a bit down, always remember that you could have walked around a grocery store with a basketful of children…like this:

ripped pants

Yes, that is my derriere, and yes, that is a very large rip in my shorts. I would love to tell you that I discovered it before I traipsed all over Brookshire’s with the kids, but I can’t. So, instead, I’ll tell you that I’m very grateful that my kids are too little to be (very) embarrassed by their mother and too oblivious to have noticed (because your 5-year-old suddenly hollering, “MAMA! I can see your un.der.wear!” in a crowded shopping area is never a good thing). I would also love to tell you that we drew less attention than usual, but after Wednesday’s rant public service announcement, I’m guessing you know that’s just wishful thinking. In fact, I remember thinking, “Wow! There are waaaay more people here than usual today.” Face palm.

This particular outing was a little different, though, because it involved an encounter with a fellow mom of five (with her last two being twin girls) who informed me that once the twins start walking, it’s a whole new ball game (I do believe her exact words were: “They make you live right!”) and a fun conversation with a mom of 11-week-old triplets who seemed totally chill and happy (and didn’t even have a baby pooch!).

All in all, it was one of the more enjoyable (if I can dare to use such a word for grocery shopping with 5 children) shopping trips in recent history…except that it ended with my husband saying, “You haven’t gone anywhere recently, have you? Because you have a major rip in your pants, and I can see the pattern on your undies.”

Pure, unadulterated awesomeness right there, folks.

Anyhoo…not sure how to segue from that little anecdote to our next order of business other than to say that the jeans I’m selling today do NOT have rips in them.

Of course, it’s not just jeans. I’m cleaning out some closets as part of Project Elephant (you can see my first two completed projects here and here and join in the challenge any time! We show off our accomplishments each Monday) so I thought I’d take the opportunity to post a few items as I go, in case y’all are interested in snagging a good deal! I’ll be adding more items throughout the day, so keep checking back in because everything is on a first-come, first-serve basis.  If you see something you like, just email me at shopabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and whoever claims it first will get it!

Here’s the first item, just in time for fall!

jcpenney bag jcpenney bag2_thumb[1]

BRAND: A.N.A.

SIZE: Large

CONDITION: Very good

MORE INFO: Genuine Leather. This bag is crazy soft and incredibly durable and holds a ton. It shows very little wear. I tried to take a picture of the slight scuffing in that bottom picture, but it’s so faint that it didn’t photograph well.

I didn’t get a good picture of them, but it has tassels on the sides as well.

PRICE: $10

SHIPPING: $7

Stay tuned for more great deals throughout the weekend!

And now, it’s PARTY TIME!!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#83} + a $50 Novica GIVEAWAY

Hello lovelies! I’m sure you already know what day it is, but just in case…

IT’S FRIDAY!!!

First up, before I forget (again), the winner of last week’s Yancy Not Nancy CD/DVD giveaway is:

Heather Coddington

Check your email, lady, and get excited because your kids are going to LOVE you!

So, I mentioned how I’m not the best Pinterester in the world in yesterday’s Real Family Rules post (did you see ours? we’re a mess!).

But then I saw this:

pinterest free shot wedding

And I thought, “Well now, I do believe I could spend lots of time on Pinterest to plan a free second wedding.” Heck, I see married women doing it all the time. Maybe they know something I don’t? I just start a 10th Anniversary Vow Renewal board and cross my fingers that the Pinterest money fairies have our anniversary date on their calendar. Riiiiiiiight.

In fact, I think I’ve got a few ideas for you to get some free bling for that perfect Pinterest wedding…

Maybe something a little like this?

novicacollage

moonstone earrings/gold vermeil pearl dangle earrings/Gold vermeil chrysoprase flower earrings/pearl and chalcedony flower necklace

All of those pretty pieces are from Novica, and they also have a great selection of Long Dresses and Skirts.

You could get any one (in some cases two!) of these with your $50 gift certificate if you win. Woot! If you’re not the in market for bling, Novica also carries bags, home decor, and a plethora of other fun, stylish finds.

Simply fill out the easy Rafflecopter form below and cross your fingers. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, and a quick reminder to keep chomping away at your Project Elephant tasks. I’ll be showing you round 2 on Monday.

And now it’s time to link up!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

Oh, and don’t forget to follow along with all these other fun happenings:

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#82} + a Yancy Not Nancy GIVEAWAY!

Good morning, everybody! First up, have you read my Project Elephant post yet? Because I will take as many fellow passengers on that crazy train as I can get on board!

five days five ways | because every day is different

 

 

So…

Today marks the end of our first week of school, but the beginning of my homeschooling journey this year (I homeschool my boys on Mondays and Fridays; the other three days are spent at a tiny Christian private school where Ezra and Simon make up 7% of the student population). Yesterday, I took a trip to our local Christian bookstore for a few last minute school supplies (aka: distractions for the almost-3-year-old who insists that she’s starting “schwool” too). And then, Della, the twins, and I ran errands in “town” all. day. long. The twins and their car seats were filthy from a constant supply of bribes snacks. Della teetered on the brink of a meltdown every time we entered a new store, and she spotted yet another brightly packaged doo-dad she couldn’t have (“I carry it, Mama, okay? I take it home wiff me. Pweeeeeease?” Ugh. Heart of stone, right here, people).

But, ultimately, we survived. And here’s a large part of the reason why:

little praise party

That would be Little Praise Party: Happy Day Everyday by Yancy Not Nancy. It’s a cd chock full of happy, sing-along kids’ worship that works as an awesome distraction and mood-lifter for tired toddlers and fussy babies. (Not to mention frazzled mamas).

I met Yancy at Declare, where she led us in a mini-worship session one evening. I’ve led worship myself in some capacity since I was 15-years-old, so, as much as I’d love to just be able to lose myself in the words, I often find myself fighting to turn off the portion of my brain that’s (over)analyzing the technical aspects of what’s going on. Hooray, then, that Yancy’s voice is so smooth and spot-on-key that I briefly thought she might be lip-synching (she wasn’t)! I was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy her peppy brand of kid rock, all the while thinking, “Della would love this.” HOORAY again that she was nice enough to send a Little Praise Party cd home with me for the munchkins.

We pretty much haven’t taken Happy Day Everyday out of my van’s cd player since we got home, and just as I suspected, my little Della-Lou is a huge fan. But the boys and the twins are right behind her, and it’s an absolute blast to see the three oldest clapping and waving and air-guitaring to their fave: “Hosanna Rock.” Even better is hearing Della singing, “Evybody pwaise da Woooord, evybody pwaise da Wooord” as she putters around playing with her dolls. 

Happy Day Everyday is full of singable, upbeat songs with God-honoring lyrics like: “Everybody praise the Lord” (in case you needed a translation), “Jesus died for you and me, but on day 3, Jesus rose again. Jesus is alive,” “Love, love, love one another and be kind,” and “Go into all the world.” There are even several fun holiday songs (the boys practically shout when they sing: “Happy, Happy, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”).

So, why the Yancy Not Nancy plug? Well, we love our Happy Day Everyday cd so much that I asked if she would give one away to you guys too.

And guess what? She said yes! Not only that, but she’s including a fun Little Praise Party: Happy Day Everyday DVD so your kids can sing/dance along with the fun animated videos that accompany her songs.

Yancy’s music ministry isn’t just limited to kid-friendly songs, and her kid-friendliness is not just limited to music. She also has a slew of preschool resources beyond the worship cds that you can tap into to entertain and teach your kiddos about Jesus. There’s even a Little Praise Party APP in there where you can watch all of her preschool videos!

So, let’s get to this giveaway, shall we?

Just fill out the easy Rafflecopter giveaway form below, and if you win, have fun watching your kids bee bop to great, God-centered music that won’t make you want to bang your head against the car window after five minutes (I find myself humming several of the songs as I do laundry and dishes throughout the day).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now, it’s time for you to PAR-TAY!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#81} + A last summer hurrah!

At the beginning of this week, I said to Ezra and Simon:

“Guess WHAT, boys?”

They could tell by my tone of voice that it was going to be good, so they trained their little laser-beam eyes on me and said in unison, “WHAT?”

“Since you start school next week, every day this week, we’re going to do something special and fun to celebrate the end of our summer.”

They looked at each as if they’d just won the candy lottery and, with much jumping and excitement, said, “We start SCHOOL next week? YAAAAAAAY!”

Face palm.

So, I scrapped the whole thing, and we started school a week early.

Just kidding. Despite their obvious lack of appreciation for my efforts to eke the last bit of sweat-tinged goodness out of summer, we plowed ahead with Operation End Summer Right.

We started out with a trip to the drive-in movie theater.

drivein

…where the weather for East Texas in August was downright pleasant (and the bugs did not swarm as much as they could have). Obviously, we had the place to ourselves, which is apparently what happens when you go on a Monday night that marks the end of everybody else’s first day of school.

Next up, we headed to the pool, where the twins were happy to be as long as I held both of them tight (I’m not sure I will ever recover from the hearing loss I suffer through every time I give them baths, so this was a victory).

 pool

Day 3 was ice cream. In the car. And, yes, I know I’m a foolish woman. I haven’t inspected the backseat too closely, but I think almost all of it ended up in their bellies rather than on the floorboards.

ice cream

Yesterday was our most recent day of fun, and it consisted of a trip to the zoo.

kids

It’s hard to tell whether Della is laughing or bawling here, but I think it’s the former. Also, did you notice the giraffe conga line in the background?

Speaking of giraffes…

giraffe

Hi there.

twins

Not sure why I thought that the trashcan was a great place for a photo op of the twins, but I figured you’d take what you can get of their cuteness, so here you go.

boys

{I love how the elephants got all close together and posed for the pic}

If the amount of photographic evidence of any single one of our outings is any indication, the zoo won the Most Fun award by a long shot. And that’s probably true. But all the pictures really mean is that Daddy was with us, which freed up Mama’s hands to snap away.

Which is how I managed to snag this keeper:

daddydella

Oh, that man. He just makes my heart happy. (I think Della agrees).

So, that’s been our party week so far! The weekend is chock-full of fun as well. But for now, enough about our party. Let’s get onto YOURS!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#80} + Family Lake Pictures

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!

Not sure why I got so excited there, except that there’s just something about getting back from a vacation and slogging though real life for a few days to make the weekend feel especially sweet.

Speaking of vacation, our lovely hostess Donna—who is a picture-taking fiend!—asked if we wanted to take a family picture or two down by the lake before we left for home. And I thought, “Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?” I love the concept of pretty family pictures, but the actual preparation for them is kind of brutal. Hair fixing and teeth brushing, outfit coordinating and shoe-finding. Not that I don’t do those same things every single day, but when you’re going to take a picture of it on purpose, it’s supposed to be, well, picture-worthy, which takes an I-CAN’T-FIND-MY-FLIP-FLIPS (again) meltdown to a whole new level.

But because this was just a casual “let’s go snap a few shots of your family down on our pretty pier” type of thing, I didn’t feel that stress. But you better believe that didn’t keep me from digging through our suitcase to see if I had accidentally brought us all coordinating clothing. Nobody was more shocked than I was to discover that…I had! Or at least close enough to look decent. So, we threw on our matchy-matchies, scarfed some dinner so we could keep the good light (yes, I know the order of that was not wise with small children {literally} in the picture, but I figured I could edit out any particularly egregious dinner stains on their shirts).

Then, we meandered on down to pier and “snapped a few shots” (more like 100). These are some of my faves:

IMG_5266

Best. Daddy. EVER.

IMG_5274 

“When can we go swimming?”

IMG_5278

Ezra is not my most-photographed kid, for sure. He’s such a handsome, sweet boy, but his little sisters’ cuteness and his brother’s dimples sometimes draw my camera’s lens their way more often than his big boy looks (oh, where did my baby go?). So, I was happy to find this framer in the mix. It’s so quintessentially Ezra. Man, I love that kid!

These next several made me laugh just because they show what a process it is to get 7 people (5 of whom have much more important things like dessert on their little minds) situated enough to get even one decent shot.

IMG_5281 IMG_5286 IMG_5297 IMG_5311 IMG_5314 IMG_5325 IMG_5344

Ah. Finally one where we’re {almost} all looking. The twins could not be convinced that the camera was worthy of their notice. (Also, if I hadn’t already known who I was holding in this short, I could not tell them apart to save my life from looking at it).

IMG_5374

Hey! 5 out of 7 looking and smiling. NOT bad!

Of course, once we’d tasted (marginal) success, we just had to keep going!

  IMG_5398 

I do believe this one’s getting framed.

IMG_5414 

And this one just might replace my long hair photo on the top right over there.

IMG_5488

How could I resist a shot with the twinnies?! {Nola, left, Evy, right}

Donna, who is nicer than most people ever dream of being, was trusting enough to let Della play with her camera as a distraction.

This was the result.

 IMG_5454  

I do believe we have a budding photographer on our hands. She snapped pictures of everything from her toes to the grass to the sky (I’m pretty sure there were at least 20 Della-eye-level shots of everybody’s hindquarters as well). She even has the brooding, artsy stare going on in this shot.

So, all in all, I’m going to call our impromptu family photo shoot a success. 

I just need to get my rear in gear and actually print some of these out for the frames! (I am terrible about that part).

Speaking of rears in gear…(was there ever a worse segue?)…are you ready to PAR-TAY?!!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

Oh, and don’t forget to follow along with all these other fun happenings:

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#79}

You know how, when you go to an amusement park, they have the big maps with the “You are HERE” signs.

Well…

lake

Okay, so we’re not there exactly, since that’s just a shot of Lake Livingston from the bridge as we crossed it. But we are enjoying a mini family vacation complete with junk food (POP TARTS!), fishing poles, and a trampoline.

Call it one last hurrah before school starts and summer comes to a very regrettable close.

How are you spending your last days of summer? Or have you already started school? (Someone wondered why we were skipping school when I posted this on our Facebook page, and I had to actually think hard about the date to make myself believe that it was actually late enough for anyone to already BE in school!)

And now, I’m off to eat a mint Oreo (or three…they’re SO good), and you’re here to party!

P.S. Thank you so so much for your sweet, heartfelt responses to yesterday’s post. Sometimes, I wish I were the only one who ever felt that way, but then again, it’s always nice to know you’re not alone.

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

Oh, and don’t forget to follow along with all these other fun happenings:

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#78}

Happy Friday, lovelies!

I’m off to Dallas today for The Declare Conference, where I’ll be presenting a breakout session called, “Making the Most of DIY Blogging.”

I’m nervous. But it has almost nothing to do with the presentation (which I feel pretty good about) and just about everything to do with the fact that I will be away from the twins for 36 hours—the longest separation so far—and they’ve been a little under the weather with an extra side of fussy this week. So, really, I’m more nervous for their daddy than anything. If you think of it, would you pray that they will behave and sleep and eat and do all the normal sweet, wonderful things they usually do this weekend? I would really appreciate it!

Of course, on the other hand, I’m excited. 36 kid-free hours to spend with other Christian women who share my love of writing and crafting and taking pictures and recording every last cute/hilarious/disgusting thing their kids do and then posting it for all the world to see? AWESOME.

It’s gonna be even better than this:

grocery shopping alone

{Which I did last week, and it was pretty fantastic, so this conference is really gonna rock!}

And now I must finish packing, and you must…

PARTY!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

Oh, and don’t forget to follow along with all these other fun happenings:

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest

and especially INSTAGRAM, where I will be posting lots of conference pics!

 

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#77} + A Potential Locks Chop

Good morning, lovely people!

First up, a confession: I’m feeling a little guilty for giving Emmeline, the DIY Tufted Ottoman, the boot. Sure, she’d seen better days. And her replacement, Frenchie, is still looking remarkably fresh and clean (with a little help from my Shout bottle, anyway). But still. As angry as Emmy (rightfully) was at me for shunting her to the side in favor of a store-bought version, I feel a smidge bad that she continues to bring me joy, even in her garage-storage exile (you’ll see how in a sec).

But when Michelle from Huffington Post contacted me and asked if she could feature Emmeline on their Huff Post Home page, you better believe my guilt wasn’t strong enough to make me say no! (I’ll just go out to the garage later and give Emmie a wipe down or something).

So, that was exciting!

Also exciting: that “potential locks chop” phrase in today’s blog title. Of course, it’s probably only exciting if you can figure out what in peaches it means.

Here’s a clue:

hair collage

Yup. I have a major yen to hack my hair off. And, while the hubs initial reaction was decidedly negative, when he realized I wasn’t talking about boy-short (because, yes, I have gone there before), he was considerably more in favor of the idea.

It’s actually Cassie’s fault that I got the urge in the first place after I saw this picture of her cute, tousled, angled bob:

cassie hair

And then, during our nightly viewing of The Mentalist (we’re a little bit obsessed), I got an eyeful of character, Lorelei Martin’s, pretty hairdo…

emm hair

…which Shaun approved of without reservations, and the hankering for a hair-chop grew.

So, what do y’all think? Take the plunge (or the snip, I suppose)? Or keep the length?

I’d love hear your thoughts!

I’d also love to see what you’ve been up to this week! Which means it’s time for you guys to link up your latest awesomeness in today’s party!

Don’t forget to grab a party button so others can join in the fun (or just include a text link-back).

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#76} + Thrifted or Grifted Results + A $50 Novica Giveaway

Welp, I had the best of intentions to reveal the Thrifted or Grifted results yesterday morning, but—by golly—life just got in the way. It’s almost like it doesn’t realize I have blog-readers to update sometimes.

Hopefully, I didn’t keep you on tenterhooks for too long, though, because I am doing the big reveal this morning. Are you ready?

58% of you were convinced (or, if the comments are any indication,  marginally, somewhat, sort of, kind of leaning toward) that Option B was 100% thrifted.

And you were…

results collage 7-25

Top: LOFT/Goodwill, $3
Jeans: American Rag/Goodwill, $4
Shoes: Mia/Goodwill, $3
TOTAL: $10
Top: Kohl’s (Lauren Conrad), $12
Jeans: Old Navy, $12
Shoes: Dillards (ooooooold), $7
TOTAL: $31

RIGHT! (golf claps, all around)

Why, yes, it does look like the grifted version of me is mocking the thrifted one (who doesn’t look happy about it), but honestly, if you looked at the breakdown of the outfit costs above, I don’t really know what she’s laughing about. Yes, they’re both cheap (because I don’t do expensive), but the thrifted version is considerably cheaper, (by  2/3).

Also, I found it interesting that several of you used the fact that the thrifted pants had slits (they were actually zippers) and their washed out color as an argument for their not being current, since the exact same jeans seem to be currently available at Macy’s.

In any case, the winner of the 5 free entries into our giveaway (TODAY!) is:

Susan, who said, “I think option B is thrifted! It’s very cute, but not quite as polished as A, and I feel like maybe I have seen you wear that top before? The top in option A looks very high end, with detail I think you might be willing to pay a little more for. You look adorable in both though! Thanks for caring enough about your little readers to do one of these posts, even though you must still be tired from all of your wedding festivities. : )”

I picked her comment because a) Dude, Susan. That is some serious attention to detail. I think she might poll her uncle’s cousin’s sister’s best friend if it came to that! and b) Susan was kind enough to thank me for doing something that I absolutely love doing already (well, the dressing up part’s just okay; but the interaction with you guys is a blast!).

So…what about this here giveaway I keep mentioning?

Well, today, you have the chance to win $50 to an awesome online company called Novica. They were nice enough to partner with me once before, and I am thrilled to give you another chance to win!

They have all kinds of unique, often hand-crafted items like this fun rug:

diamond rug

And this pretty pearl flower necklace:

pearl flower necklace

…either of which you could completely pay for with your $50 gift card if you win!

All you have to do to enter is fill out the easy Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And once you’ve entered the giveaway, you might as well link up your awesomeness at this week’s party!

HAPPY WEEKEND!

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