Category Archives: Features

Trades of Hope

I love it when readers reach out to me, and I especially love it when they introduce me to new ways to help others.

So, when Beth–a mama of eight!!–contacted me, wondering if I’d heard of Trades of Hope, I hopped on over to check out their site and was excited to see the ways that they are empowering women in developing countries (and America too!) to escape poverty.

Beth asked me to pick out a few of my favorite pieces from their collections (they have everything from jewelry to stationery to bags to home decor and more), and these are just a few of the lovelies that caught my eye.

tohcollage

She was nice enough to send me the golden bombolulu earrings, which I thought looked nice on the screen but luuuuuuurve in person.

earrings

They are an ideal size to make a statement, have a nice weight (without being so heavy that they actually pull on your ear), and are the absolutely perfect shade of muted gold to go with pretty much everything.

earrings1

Plus, if gold is not your thing, they also come in silver.

I wore them to church on Sunday…

outfit

…and loved the touch of shimmer they added to a leather-heavy outfit.

outfit3

I also love how well they coordinate with my “M is for Mama” necklace.

earrings5

(It’s this one, in case you’re wondering: Tiny Gold Filled Custom Initial Necklace + Birth Month Charm – Personalized Dainty Disc)

But more than anything, I love that the mission of Trades of Hope is to bring hope and the love of Jesus to women who are mired in poverty and slavery.

“We work with the artisans themselves and organizations that are helping women in difficult circumstances. Some women have been rescued from sex slavery. Others are raising handicapped children alone. Some are in war torn countries and others have AIDS. These women have never had the chances we’ve had, yet they are just like us in so many ways. They love their families and hope and dream of a better life for them.”

I am excited that I can be part of something that is helping a mother just like me achieve even a few of the daily luxuries–clean water, healthy food, medical care and education for her kids–that I take for granted every day.

I’m also a fan of the fact that, in addition to providing employment to artisans around the world, Trades of Hope gives a portion of their profits to charities and organizations that provide practical necessities like chickens, goats, sewing machines, material, and more to families around the globe.

I watched this video and cried, so be warned that you might too. Not because it’s a tear-jerker–Ms. Florence is anything but melodramatic–but because of the simple gratitude in her words and the dignity with which she expresses her joy and pride in actually being paid for the work she does.

I encourage you to hop on over to the Trades of Hope website and take a look around to see if anything strikes your fancy.  (I just ordered this gorgeous bangle). I love pretty things, but pretty things with the potential to change lives? I adore that.

As Beth puts it:  “As young moms we are (in my case were) extremely busy but sometimes we need another concrete outlet for our desire to know our life matters–that we are affecting change in our culture. That’s how I feel about Trades of Hope. Through my purchases, hosting, and now joining, I know I am making a positive change and am still doing my first job at home.”

So cool!

You can learn more about the mission of Trades of Hope and Beth’s work with them on her Facebook page. If you have any questions about the products or the business side of thing, she would love to talk with you, and you can reach her at bushnellbunch{at}gmail{dot}com.

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#74}

Sorry about the late post, guys! Issues with the internets. Ugh.

Well, here we are at another Friday, and the summer is just flying by! This week has been full of pool time, VBS, long walks with friends, BODYCOMBAT launch, picnics, and whole lot of family togetherness, including my all-time favorite shot of the week:

kids  alby 

Ain’t it grand?

I’m off for another whirlwind day of errands and fun, but before I go (and we get this party started), here are a few fun features from last week’s party.

features 7-13

{From top left, going clockwise}

1. A DIY Photography Backdrop from The Blissful Bee

2. Hello Sunshine peplum skirt from Vintage Zest

3. Homemade Banana Pudding from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

4. A fun desk makeover from Create Inspire

And now it’s time 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 {#73} + A 4th of July Wrap-up

Well, if you’re here this morning, that means you’ve recovered from your ice cream + too-many-hotdogs induced coma after yesterday’s 4th of July indulgence (assuming you live here in America, that is). Bravo! I did very little actual cooking yesterday (although I did do three rounds of dishes; can we say, “Buy some disposable plates, Abbie?”), since Shaun is the grill-master around these parts. And I am already drooling over the thought of lunch with some of our grill-out leftovers (yes, I wake up in the morning and plan my lunch sometimes; totally normal, right?).

We celebrated with Shaun’s family coming over in the first half of the day and mine in the second, so the day was brimming with fun and activity. We ate both our meals on our new patio and enjoyed the breezes and the crazy-low temperatures for July (I don’t know what the actual low was, but at some point I had a 5-year-old sitting on my lap, and I remember thinking, “If he moves, I’m actually going to be cold.” Insanity).

My brother gets married outside in two weeks, and we’re hoping the unseasonably cool temps stick around, but we’re all a little too Texan to be naive enough to count on it.

Speaking of my bro, here’s a fun shot of my him and his bride-to-be—fun because it shows them “practicing” future parenthood on our twins (whom they both love to hold; Hannah even changes diapers without being asked). And fun, also, because Shae looks a bit like a constipated goat, and the fact that I can share such a priceless image with you proves that life really does come full circle sometimes. Believe me, he deserves it for all the times he embarrassed his little sister growing up.

shae and hannah twins 

In other Independence Day news:

4thcollage

{From top left}

I looked down yesterday morning and discovered that I had subconsciously dressed myself in patriotic P.J.s. If I wake up Thanksgiving morning wearing big buckled shoes, I’ll know I have a problem.

Simon (aka: The Terror of all Small Living Things) caught a tiny lizard (look at its size in relation to his 5-year-old fingers), which was his encore performance after catching the smallest frog I’ve ever seen. (I forgot to take a picture, but it was smaller than most beetles). 

Ezra took a lie-down after he “drank too much” (I don’t think either of those cups are his, but the resulting pic is still hilarious).

Della grabbed my nursing wrap after I finished feeding the twins, put it on backwards, and said, “Wook, Mama! I a supah-heewoe!” I’m pretty sure Marvel Comics needs a new character called The Milk Maid.

How was your 4th of July? We didn’t see any fireworks (yet), so you’ll have to tell me about yours! Deal?

Oh, and before we party, you reeeeeeally need to check out this beautiful house tour from Honey Comb Creative Co. that It’s Overflowing shared at last week’s party. Tons of eye-candy in a very small space (900 square feet!).

honeycombhome

Gorgeous, no?

Speaking of which, I’d love to see what creative goodness you’ve been up to this week.

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 {#72} + The Declare Conference + RIP, Google Reader

Good morning! It’s FRIDAY, but in my case, that pales in comparison to the fact that I’m only one day away from getting my husband back from his work trip.  Now that’s a reason to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrations, have you heard of the Declare Conference? It’s a Dallas-based blog conferencewith a heart to equip women with encouragement, support & community as they seek to know God and make Him known.”

There will be chocolate and coffee, yummy food and great prizes, laughter and good conversation, and great sessions on a variety of blogging topics, led by absolutely fantastic speakers…including the least fantastic of all, I’m sure: ME!

Yup, that’s right. Little ol’ me will be leading the DIY blogging session on Saturday, August 10 in the afternoon, but the conference actually starts on Friday, August 9. If you’re in the Dallas area (or feel like a road trip), why don’t you join us at Declare? I’d love to meet you!

DeclareConference.com

 (Oh, and this is super-cool: if you’re looking to get published, there will be a literary agent there to review your work).

If you have other questions, head on over to the FAQ page and see if that answers them for you. Otherwise, email me, and I’ll do my absolute best to find the answer for you if I don’t know it already!

And if you’re already going, email me that too so we can connect! Maybe even attach a picture so I’ll know you when I see you.

And one last thing: please don’t tell the twins. They’re only crawling now, but if they hear that Mama is abandoning them for two whole days, I’m afraid they might figure out how to tie me to the bed while I’m sleeping.

OKAY…

Onto other business. Did you know that Google reader is going away? Like soon. As in Monday. Gone. Do you follow me on Google reader? If so, would you do me the favor of joining me on Facebook (the most fun way to follow—I think—because I post a lot of things there that never quite make it here AND that’s where all the best pictures of the twins are…yes, I know, I’m shameless) so you don’t miss a post? Or you can choose any other method of following along like Bloglovin or Google Friend Connect (although, that’s probably going away soon too) or email subscription (my posts—and nothing else from me—will come straight to your inbox)…or simply click on over to the blog each day in your browser (I don’t make hardly any money from this blog—none, if you factor in my expenses/time spent—but actually visiting my page and clicking on it does generate a teensy bit of revenue, so I certainly won’t object if you choose that route; I always type the address of all my favorite blogs in my browser so they get credit for my visit).

In any case, my point is this: I like you, and I want you to stick around. So, if on Monday, you wonder why my post didn’t show up in your reader (or your reader’s not working at all, which is more likely), remember this post and stop on over in person to see what we’ve been up to. I’ll be here. :)

Probably nibbling on one these:

Peanut-Butter-Banana-Popsicles-A-Pretty-Life1

Don’t these Peanut Butter Banana Creamsicles  A Pretty Life linked up to last week’s party look absolutely scrumptious? (I love the striped straw idea!).

Mmmm…Summer!

And NOW, the moment all you party animals have been waiting for! 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).

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#71}

Good morning, everybody, and Happy Friday!

This week has been chock-full of fun stuff like play dates, Bible study, soccer practice, exercise classes, and even a dinner date with girlfriends (after which, we headed to Walmart, because we needed a few things each, and ended up wandering around practically every section for far too long because—hey—none of us had small children with us at that moment {I had the twins, but “babies” and “small children” are very different things}, and, as it turns out, Walmart is not actually pure, unadulterated torture if you’re not being asked for a snack every three seconds or telling someone not to lick the floor every five).

And you know I’ve been busy living when I didn’t stop to take a picture of practically any of it. (If you just rolled your eyes, I know how you feel; I always feel a little gypped when I read a blog that tells rather than shows what’s been going on). But that’s life right now. And it’s good. I promise to do better next week in the pictorial documentation department, but for the moment, I’m just going to borrow someone else’s picture from last week’s link-up to show you…

home office reveal.

Because this home office reveal from Meredith and Gwyneth is just fantastically amazing (yup, that good). Make sure you head on over and check it out! You can even blame me if you end up losing a chunk of your morning drooling over all the thoughtful (many of them DIY) details Meredith (with Gwyneth, the New Yorkie’s help, of course), has added to the space.

And now, it’s time for me to go find out why the twins are yodeling in their crib (they couldn’t be hungry; I distinctly remember feeding them yesterday), and it’s time for YOU to show off your awesomeness!

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 {#67}

I mentioned on Monday that this was going to be a big week in the exercise department for me because of how many classes I needed to cover for other instructors on vacation.

Welp. Yesterday, I taught 3 classes, starting with BODYCOMBAT at 5:45 AM. The members said that they got a little scared when they saw me coming. Let’s just say I’m not very, ahem, low-key in my teaching style (y’all saw my expressions here, right?). But, much to my delight, I managed to contract some sort of crud on Wednesday, which almost completely robbed me of my voice—especially the high registers. #SARCASM. If I tried to holler like I normally do, I ended up sounding like a yodeler who’d gotten goosed right in the middle of a performance. So, basically my partial-laryngitis forced me to tone it down…which was probably a good thing for me and for the participants of 5:45 AM Combat.

As you can see from this post’s existence, I survived. But I got home at about 7:30 last night so hungry that I’m not sure I tasted one bite of the large plate of chicken and rice I inhaled. And I still wanted more. I also smelled (and looked, perhaps?) like a water-buffalo who hadn’t actually encountered any water in 6 months.

Which means that my #30daystohappyhubby (Husband Encouragement Challenge) update should probably have gone something like: “I’m so grateful for a husband who still gives me hugs when I am reeking with essence of unbathed water buffalo and shoveling my food in like a field hand with a five minute lunch break.”

Instead, I didn’t even do one because the graphic I tried to upload to Instagram was too big for their tiny little box, and then I got distracted and forgot to fix it, and then I got reeeeeeeally sleepy (gee, I wonder why) and went to bed instead.

So, I’ll put it on here:

good listener

This is my husband. He’s a good listener, and he has great advice. Which was especially awesome this week as I was stressing about (and therefore trying to ignore…because that’s what mature, balanced people do, right?) an issue that needed addressing. Ultimately, I followed his suggestion, and everything turned out great. But I’m just glad to have a husband who takes the time to hear me out and give wise counsel.

So, how are you guys?

Because, my goodness, I’m chatty today!

And hungry, too (yes, still).

Which is why I decided to feature a some yummy-looking recipes from last week’s party. With summer fast approaching, I can’t wait to give these a try:

Especially these Mini-Raspberry Pies from Sweet Southern Blue:

mini raspberry pies

and this Strawberry Spritzer from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

fruit spritzer

and these Lemon Blueberry Pancakes from Natasha in Oz

lemon blueberry pancakes

And, even though I don’t much care for coconut, I’d be willing to give this delicious-looking Coconut Fudge Poke Cake from Inside BruCrew Life a try!

Coconut-Fudge-Poke-Cake-title

I do love some good Mac, though, so this Four Cheese Macaroni from Night Owl Corner? I’m all over that.

four cheese macaroni

And this Avocado and Black Bean Chicken Salad from Domestic Bliss Squared.

avocadochicken

Alrighty then. I best get myself to the kitchen before I start licking my computer screen.

If you’ve been featured, feel free to grab a button from the sidebar!

And now it’s time to link up again! 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 {#66}

With Mother’s Day looming (I’m loving reading all your responses to what you’re most looking forward to this Sunday!), I think all mothers of small children need to take a moment to acknowledge something.

 

THIS is what we really want this Mother’s Day!

Here’s hoping we all get it.

Also, don’t forget about the super-fun TWO WINNER giveaway we have going on right now.

Earrings from Blue Nile. $50 shop credit to Shabby Apple, and $25 shop credit to Isaboo Designs!

GIVEAWAY COLLAGE

Also, don’t forget about our ongoing Shop My Closet for Good sale.

I added shoes this week and am hoping to move onto bags and accessories very soon (we’ll see how it goes).

And one final reminder—don’t forget that I’ll be hanging out on my computer TOMORROW morning at 10 (CST) with an update about the 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge and to chat with you via the comments about yours.

Of course, if I’m the only one here, I may end up trolling the internet for Mother’s Day sales, so either way, I’ll be okay. But I’d love to talk to you, so if you want to hop on and say hi, I’d love it!

OOOOOkay, since Mama Day is almost here, I thought I might showcase several fantastic ideas for last-minute gifts just in case you find yourself in a panic and aren’t sure what to do or make for your Mama this year.

How about:

1. 9 Delicious Mexican Inspired Recipes from A Pretty Life. For the mom who likes to throw her hands up in the air and shout ole! (I’m not the only one who does that, right?)

mexican recipes

2. A Silk Flower Corsage from I Gotta Create. Pretty, whimsical, and they won’t get all brown and wilty and make your flower water smell bad.

silk flower corsage

3. White Chocolate Maple Eclairs from Anyonita NIbbles. Because your mom will love you forever if you make these.

white chocolate eclairs

4. A Selection of Printable Mother’s Day Cards. You know, so you won’t get disinherited.

mother's day cards round up

5. A Simple-to-Make Infinity Scarf from Wendy Mac Designs. It’ll be like giving her a hug around the neck all year long.

infinity scarf

If you’ve been featured, feel free to grab a button from the sidebar!

And now it’s time to link up again! 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 {#65} + Thrifted or Grifted Results

Well, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging for so long on the results of Wednesday’s Thrifted or Grifted post, but even now, with the “big” reveal, I feel a little silly since I don’t even know what the poll results were.

Why? Well, I left it up so you could see for yourself there in the left-hand upper corner. Do you see what I see? (do you see what I seeeeeee?)

16 votes. Okay, folks, we average more like 250-300 votes. Plus, at some point on Wednesday, it said 70. Then it said 22. Then it was back up to 60. And then back down to 35. And then it ended at 16.

So, apparently, the poll widget had a really bad day. A really bad, really confused day.

Which means that I have no idea which outfit y’all thought was 100% thrifted (unless I go by the general consensus from the comments, and that was A).

So, I’ll just tell you:

thrifted or grifted collage 

Top: Old Navy/Goodwill, $3
Skirt: Charlotte Russe/GW, $4
Shoes: Wet Seal/GW, $5
Earrings: GW, $2
Belt: Merona/GW, $0 (came with some pants)
TOTAL: $14
Top: Gap, $10
Skirt: Forever 21, $17
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction, $12
Earrings: ???
Belt: Came with skirt
TOTAL: $39

Both of those pictures crack me up because I look like I’m busting a move in the thrifted outfit, and I’m giving the toothiest, fakest-looking grin ever in the grifted one.

I guess no matter what I wear, where I got it, or what I paid for it, I can still be a goofball.

So…were you right?  Even if you were, I guess we’ll never know whether you were in the majority. (Apparently, I’ll need to sweet-talk Paula the Poll Widget next time to make sure she doesn’t go all haywire on me again).

Oh, and how is everyone doing on your 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge?

It took me a while to pray through everybody’s name the other day, there were so many of you! Yay!

(Click on over if you don’t know what I’m talking about; there’s still time to join in!). I don’t think I included the link to the email reminder sign-up yet, so if you want to get the challenges sent straight to your inbox, you can sign up here.

It’s going great over here! Of course, it’s only been two days, but after Day 1, Shaun brought home these:

gerbera daisies

I thought maybe he was doing his own version of the challenge in response to my post, but it just turns out he was being extra thoughtful for no good reason (or maybe in response to my schmoopiness??!) because he hadn’t even read my post yet, and I hadn’t told him I was going to do it.

Either way, I love them!

Speaking of other things I enjoy, how about a peak at some fantastic features from last week’s party?

featurescollage5-3

Clockwise from top left corner:

1. Strawberries and Cream Trifle from Silver Boxes

2. Sheet Music Flower from Simply Chic Treasures

3. Southern Screen Porch Tour from Our Southern Home

4. Decorative Picture Frame from Two Girls and a Glue Gun

5. Playroom progress from The Cul-De-Sac

6. Easy Homemade Fruit Roll-ups from Free Time Frolics

7. Zucchini and Onion Pie from The Pin Junkie

8. Teal Buffet from Create Inspire

If you’ve been featured, feel free to grab a button from the sidebar!

And now it’s time to link up again! 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 {#63}

There has been a nasty fever circulating amongst the various groups of people we regularly come in contact with—school, church, gym, friends (most of whom we know from the school, church, or gym). Sometimes, it feels like we’re playing Tag! as every few days or so, one of my own children or the child of a friend turns up sick with “the fever.”

So far, it has sunk its mean little claws into every single one of my children at some point or another in the past 4 weeks. Good thing it decided to spread it out so we could enjoy being sick for a good long while, huh? #sarcasm

At the moment, Della is its victim of choice. The thing is, other than a fever, the only symptoms it seems to produce are lethargy, loss of appetite, and an increase in politeness (Della is currently nestled against my side downing copious amount of watery apple juice, followed up with numerous tiny, ladylike belches, each of which she punctuates with a conscientious, “Scoo me”). So that basically means that every week, I’ve gotten a new little “slug” who only wants to lie on the couch (and, in Della’s case, watch “Cin-weh-wah”) for a couple of days. And that means that very little is required of me except multiple water refills, book-reading, snuggles, and vigilant knowledge of where the remote control is.

So, really, this is a just a service announcement to all Mamas that if your children absolutely must be sick, try to make sure its this particular virus. You may not be able to leave the house for a while, and you’ll have to endure sad faces like this one:

sadface

But as long as you’ve got the ingredients handy for a chocolate shake when everyone’s appetite  returns (and, no, the twins did not get one, unless you count the mama-milk version), you’ll be a-okay.

In other news, I shared a tutorial for an easy gathered flower headband (and showed off lots of cute pics of the twins), shared about why I wear an “M’ necklace, even though I don’t have one in my name, and showed you the 5 makeup items I use every day (thanks for all your awesome feedback on the concealer question by the way).

week

And in still other, much more exciting, news, our Texas-sized giveaway is ending tonight, which means you’ve still got time to enter!!!

Texas Spring Mega Giveaway

(you can click to be taken to the giveaway)

And now it’s time to see what you guys have been up to!

But first a quick peek at my faves from last week’s party:

feature collage419

Clockwise from the top left:

1. Dining Room Makeover from Suburbs Mama

2. Mini Luscious Lemon Pies from Shaken Together

3. Bright and Airy Spring Living Room from Meeha Meeha

4. Washi Tape Glasses Case Makeover from Ann Kay Home

5. Vintage Purse Makeover from The Thinking Closet

6. Sewing Room Makeover from The Seasoned Homemaker

7. Burnt Red Dresser Redo from Picked and Painted

8. Eclectic House Tour from It’s Overflowing

And now it’s time to link up this week’s goodies!

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#60}

Happy Good Friday, everyone!

HE IS RISEN!

(Okay, so I’m supposed to save that for Sunday, but I get a little excited).

So…

This has been the week of happy mail.

There was Wednesday’s necklace, then yesterday’s Keurig, which got me so worked up that I wrote a poem about it…even though I’m not a coffee drinker at all (a revelation that you all took with grace and forbearance; I was worried about feathers and pitchforks and tar).

And then, there was this:

twin dresses

That would be the adorable dresses for my twincesses (I totally stole that from a fellow twin-mama reader), which showed up in my mailbox a few days ago. They’re from a reader-friend who had wanted to get the twins something, and when she saw these and what color they were, she knew they were just right. As a side note: can I just say that the amount of feedback I get on how much I rave about shades of blue-green is kind of funny? (I have people in the blogosphere and “real life” say things like, “And then I thought, ‘Who’s always going on about teal and turquoise again?’ Oh yeah, Abbie”). Apparently, I come across as a woman obsessed. Which is pretty accurate, actually.

The best of part of this story (as if it needed anything beyond, “Someone sent me dresses for the twins out of the {green} blue!!!) is that I had wanted those specific dresses for the twins but couldn’t find two in one size. I am continually in awe of God’s attention to detail, folks. The fact that he can comfort the widow and the fatherless and the hurting while simultaneously prodding someone to send me the perfect dresses for my girls…Yup, my mind is officially blown.

So, back to the happy mail. There’s more. I can’t show you the rest yet today, but I’ll give you a teaser for next Wardrobe Wednesday: my Easter dress came in the mail yesterday, and I had to sign for it. Ooooooh. Yeah. It’s that good. : )

Speaking of good, so are y’all!

There were loads of fantastic links from last week’s party, but this week ended up being more hectic than I had anticipated, so I didn’t get a chance to put together all of my features. However, I did want to make sure that you checked out this dreamy nursery over at Imperfectly Polished.

nursery

Jessie’s attention to detail (all on a budget) is just fantastic (fabric-lined drawers = swoon!). And everything about the room is soothing and feminine without being in-your-face girly. LOVE!

Before I give you the link for this week’s party, though, I bet some of you are a wee bit interested in knowing who won our Helzberg earrings giveaway.

And the winner is:

winner

Congrats, Esther! Look for an email from me.

And now it’s time to party! I’d love it if you’d do me the favor of grabbing the party button from the left sidebar (or a text link back is good too!).

Oh, and you can always find me around these parts too:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

And now, it’s time to link up!

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