Friday, November 30, 2012

My Old Navy Steal

Go ahead and say it - I'm cheap
I love to shop, but I hate to spend money.  And despite the fact that I want to stay on top of trends and look at least a little bit fashionable, I really really hate to spend money on clothes.  I usually keep my closet full by shopping at garage sales in the summer, and accepting hand-me-downs from my fashion-plate sister-in-law all year round.  And I almost never set foot in a mall (if I really want to splurge, I head to Target).

Case in point: the outfit I wore today.

The shirt and watch are hand-me-downs.  I've got on $10 Forever 21 jeans, $7 Sears clearance boots, $4 Target earrings and a bracelet I made myself. 

So I have to say an enormous thank you to Crowdtap for allowing me to occasionally indulge my urge for a brand-new brand-name splurge - without breaking the bank! This has been my 4th Crowdtap sample opportunity at Old Navy and I had a blast!  I've been dying to try out some of the new lines that Old Navy introduced this winter, so I was beyond thrilled to receive the chance to try out an Old Navy sweater for free!!

The selection at the store was overwhelmingly large - everything from simple cardigans to sparkling pullovers.  Here are a few of my favorites:
Mommy/daughter matchy-matchy in stripes (these are so soft!)
It's hard to tell, but those grey stripes glitter!  A fantastic party cardi.
 This is the sweater I finally chose.  Chunky, cozy, and cute!
I really loved the fit and style of this sweater (also in black).  The sparkle makes it party-perfect, but also made it a little scratchy.  I'm really sensitive about material, so I had to pass (sad).
See it shine?
Here's the sweater my friend chose (shouldn't she be a model?) - a real 'statement piece' as she put it.  I loved this one, too, but it's a little overwhelming on a petite.  

And of course, I can never resist falling for the ol' marketing ploy- go for the free sweater and leave with a bag full of other clothes.  In my defense, I've been looking all over for a sweater dress.  At Target, I was swimming in the Extra Smalls (and I'm really not that tiny), so I definitely snapped up this purple beauty when it fit so well. 

I also loved this cowl neck sweater-dress (it would be great for the office), but it wasn't so flattering on me. 

And while I was there, of course, I browsed the clearance aisle.  I was shocked at the great deals I found!  Camis and shorts for as low as $1.50, shirts less than $5!  All in all I left the store with all these clothes for only $34!  Even stingy ol' me can live with that deal!

Want to score amazing deals like this yourself?  First, run (don't walk) to Old Navy and check out their newest lines (and hottest sales!), then sign yourself up for Crowdtap.  In just a few months you could be qualifying for amazing sample opportunities, too!

(Disclaimer: Clearly, I was compensated for this review with a free product.  However, I never recommend products I don't wholeheartedly love, and all opinions expressed are my own.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stuff I Love: Dark Chocolate Dream

I am an unabashed chocoholic.  I've always been particularly fond of dark chocolate, but really any chocolate is better than no chocolate.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered just how many common chocolates contain milk.  Even the dark chocolates.  As if giving up cheese isn't hard enough, I was afraid I'd have to give up chocolate, too!  Eventually, I found some 70% and darker chocolate bars that were dairy-free (Green and Black, Chocolove and Endangered Species make some very nice ones), but every now and then I have a craving for a slightly lighter chocolate - something not quite so intense.  I've also really missed rice-crunchy chocolates, since Hershey's Crackle isn't gluten-free.

Then, in my local grocery store's organic section, I stumbled on Dark Chocolate Dream's Rice Crunch chocolate.  Granted, at around $3/ 3-oz. bar this chocolate is pretty expensive - but in my humble opinion, it is totally worth it.  This is the kind of chocolate you savor, eating it one little square at a time.  Despite being certified gluten-and-dairy-free, it is incredibly creamy and yet crispy at the same time.  It's much lighter than the dark chocolates I'm accustomed to, but in no way waxy like some milk-chocolates can be. 

To save on costs I buy these bars in bulk and save them for special occasions when I'm really craving a treat.  Not a fan of crispy chocolate?  No problem!  Dark Chocolate Dream (made by the same company that brought you Rice Dream and Soy Dream) comes in several other varieties as well (including Almond and Raspberry).

So what are you waiting for?  Give it a try - you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recipe Of The Week: Honey Glazed Apple French Toast

On a cold winter morning, I love a hot breakfast.  However, we've been stuck in a bit of a pancake rut, lately.  Daddy to the rescue!  My husband was inspired by our big pile of Honeycrisps one morning and whipped up this delicious breakfast.  We all gobbled it right down!

Honey Glazed Apple French Toast

1 large honeycrisp apple, cut in thin slices
3 tsp honey
1/2 tbsp butter

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon

6 slices whole-grain bread (or 6-8 slices Gluten Free bread, such as Udi's)

In small skillet, melt butter.  Add apple and honey and cook until apple is soft.

In shallow bowl, combine eggs, milk and cinnamon.  Beat well.

Heat non-stick skillet.  Dredge bread slices in egg mixture.  Cook in non-stick skillet until both sides are golden and egg is set.

Top with 1/6 of the apples and serve.   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Of The Week: Berenstain Bears Old-Fashioned Christmas

We've been reading Christmas books since Halloween.  Our library has a HUGE selection of Christmas books and for some reason I feel obligated to read them all every year.  Which means starting early.  This year, there was a special treat waiting for us.  We LOVE the Berenstain Bears.  We read one of their books almost every day, and the kids are constantly begging to watch the tv show. 

This holiday, there is a brand new Berenstain Bears Christmas book!  When we came across Berenstain Bears Old-Fashioned Christmas we were elated.  Fond as we are of the old classics, we couldn't wait to open up this new treasure.  And we weren't disappointed.  Not only is the book filled with a classic tale of Bear Family hi-jinx, it also includes lots of Christmas tutorials - the words to a couple classic songs, instructions for making ornaments and treats for woodland animals, designs for decorating Gingerbread Bears and more!

If you're a fan of the Bear Family, or of Christmas - head right out and find yourself a copy of Old-Fashioned Christmas.  We can't wait to get started on those crafts - and maybe throw in a verse of two of Twelve Days Of Christmas while we're at it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Business Saturday!

It's Small Business Saturday! 

And in honor of this event, both my shops are celebrating!  Between now and Monday, any order placed at either

Will come with a FREE surprise gift!!  
No coupon code required.

So run on over and have a look around, cause everyone loves free stuff :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shabby Apple Sale!

It's no secret that I'm addicted to Shabby Apple.  I LOVE their vintage style clothes.  And rumor has it that most of you are pretty enthralled with them, too.  So, I have some great news!!  Shabby Apple is having a great Black Friday sale!  Here are the details:

You can save 20% off EVERYTHING on our site with code JOYFULSEASON at checkout.  Yes, you read right, EVERYTHING!  Sale ends 11/30/2012.
Plus, keep your eyes on our Facebook page for even more deals happening this week. 
Coupon code goes live Friday - so make your list and head on over on Black Friday!
Dresses from Shabby Apple

Recipe Of The Week: Spicy Red Beans

You may have heard me mention lately that I'm dealing with a lot of food sensitivities at the moment.  Long story short, I was feeling sluggish and cranky and just not myself - for two years.  After lots of testing and "oh, you're fine, how about some Prozac?" I finally found a Functional Medicine doctor who took one look at my paperwork and said "Let's check your food sensitivities."
We did and I wound up being moderately to severely sensitive to 35 different foods!  Odds are, there's just one or two culprits that have so badly messed up my system that I'm now hypersensitive to everything.  But while I'm waiting for my insides to heal, I have to swear off all 35 foods - including gluten, dairy, celery, honey, cinnamon, garlic, thyme, sage, bay leaves, avocados, beef and so much more! 

I was amazed at how many foods contain at least one of those ingredients - everything from conventional ketchups to deli meat to pickle relish - it's been crazy trying to shop and cook for this diet.  However, it has led me to a few recipe gems and I plan on sharing them with you!  (I'm working on an allergy-free Thanksgiving right now - keep yours eyes peeled for the results).  During detox, as I was scrambling to make plain ol' beans exciting, I threw together this recipe and was shocked at how good it tasted. So - enjoy!!

Spicy Red Beans

1 tsp olive oil
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cilantro
liberal dash cayenne pepper

In medium skillet, heat oil.  Add onion and pepper and sautee until onion is tender.  Add beans and spices and heat through.

Serves 2

*If you like things more flavorful or spicy, double all spices.

Cuisinart Smart Stick Stainless Steel Hand Blender & Chopper (Google Affiliate Ad)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hello January $200 giveaway opp!

$200 Amazon Giveaway
  • Event Date: January 4 - January 18
  • For companies/ non bloggers/business owners who are interested in sponsoring an event, please send me an email at: admin at divafabulosa dot com

Friday, November 16, 2012

On Giving

First of all, let me give you a preview of what's coming up soon:

  • 1 exciting project centering on beauty and what makes women beautiful (complete with a super special photo-shoot I'm in the process of planning)
  • 2 new allergy-friendly recipes (along with a brief synopsis of my recent food-sensitivity saga and how it's led me to better eating)
  • 3 awesome holiday book reviews to get you in the spirit of the season
  • 4 product reviews (and a couple giveaways as well!)
I hope you're as excited as I am - I'm busy getting these posts scheduled!

Now for the meat of what I wanted to talk about today. 

We all hear that the true spirit of Christmas is giving - so often that it's become a cliché.  And I've always been the sort who was more excited to watch my family members open the presents I'd carefully selected for them than I was to open the gifts they'd bought me.  But it's only been the last few years that I've really started to grasp a wider vision of what "giving" really means. 

One of my favorite Bible passages is Mark 12:44 about the widow who, though she only gave 2 coins, made the biggest contribution of all because she gave all she had.  From this passage I take two things:

1) I don't know the meaning of 'give till it hurts' - I've never in my life gone without so that I could give to someone else.  If I gave abundantly it was because I was abundantly rich.  If I felt that money was tight, I wouldn't give.  I find myself becoming a little more generous at the holidays, but nevertheless, however much I give, we still always have plenty of food on the table, heat in the house, clothes on our backs, and funds leftover for treats.  I have never given so much that I had to rely on God to cover the next week for me. 

2) Any amount of giving can have an enormous impact.  Right now Momastery has once again facilitated the annual Holiday Hands drive.  500 posts asking for donations are accepted and then fulfilled by generous souls around the country.  Some people are able to donate extravagantly - covering $1000 ultility bills, buying special-needs children new ipads, or sending large gift cards so a family can afford gifts.  Others can only spare a few dollars or the time it takes to hand-knit a warm hat for a cold baby.  But you know what?  The responses from the people who have been helped are equally effusive whether they've received a second-hand sweater or a full reprieve from debt.  It's absolutely true that every little bit helps.

So what have I learned about giving this holiday season? 

1) Giving more feels good!  We are preparing to move in a couple of months and I finally went through my closet and weeded out some of the old clothing that I hadn't worn in ages.  Some of it was a remainder of my eating-disorder years - clothes I really shouldn't ever fit into again, but for some reason hadn't been able to part with.  I halfheartedly bagged up a few of my least favorite items and put out an ad on Craigslist in their free section to see if any slender ladies might like a few gently worn pieces of clothing.  Let me tell you all - my inbox was flooded!  I had a response from a man who was out of work and couldn't afford to buy his wife new clothes.  He lamented that she was so thin that Good Will didn't even carry her size.  I had an email from a mother whose family had recently lost everything in a fire.  I had a reply from a man who 'knew a tiny lady who works really hard and could sure use some new things.'  Good heavens - how I could I say no to any of these people!

My closet is now much more sparse than it was last week.  But my heart is so much fuller.  One woman remarked that it "felt just like Christmas" when she opened her bag of clothes.  And you know what?  I don't miss a single thing I donated.  In fact, I can barely even remember what all I cleaned out. 

2) One woman's clutter is another family's treasure.  Now I'm searching through my whole house to see what else we can donate.  Surely my 2 year old doesn't need a whole closet full of clothes.  And no one has played with those baby toys in months.  I even had a woman who was thrilled to receive a $10 necklace from my shop because she didn't own a single piece of jewelry!  Granted, we have a lot of used items in our home that really are better suited for the trash.  But I'm frequently surprised by what people are grateful to have.  At our garage sale this summer a man was thrilled to come across a pile of stained and threadbare t-shirts in our 'free' box - he was a painter and hated to buy new t-shirts only to cover them in paint. 

I've still got a lot to learn about giving and generosity.  My greed glands often win out even when my rational mind tries to remind me that I could feed several starving children for the price of those new leopard print heels.  And I constantly struggle to remember that giving is important 365 days of the year - not just at the holidays when reminders are everywhere.  If anyone knows of a site like Holiday Hands where needs can be matched with donors - please let us know!

I want to challenge you to join me in my journey to greater giving.  Below please find some of the resources I've found most helpful in seeking to be charitable.  Please feel free to comment and let us know about your favorite charities or causes, too!  And remember - some of the greatest gifts - a smile, a 'thank-you,' a hug - are totally free! - post items you no longer need but want to rescue from the trash - Use their Free section to post items you no longer need
World Vision - Provides poverty relief for children worldwide
End Child Hunger - Hunger relief for children in America
Samaratain's Purse - Poverty relief and sponsorship for children worldwide
Dress for Success - Donate gently used office clothes

Book Of The Week: I Love You Through and Through

We are big readers at our house. Even baby sister (who is almost 2 already - holy cow!) won't go to bed without a story.  And a perennial favorite at our house has always been I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rosetti-Shustak.

As you can tell, this book has been well loved, oft read, and even occasionally chewed on.  My children have taken it to bed with them, toted it in the car, and snuggled it closely.  In fact, we've loved this book so much we're on our second copy (the first met an unfortunate end at the hands of a leaky sippy cup).

Not only does this book feature a tender story of how much a parent loves his/her child, but the pictures are darling and engaging.  The story is simple and easy for even an 18 month old to remember and follow along.  And it helps a child to learn about opposites (happy and sad, top and bottom, inside and outside) as well as body parts (eyes and ears, fingers and toes, nose and hair).  We like to mimic the emotions or point to the body parts as they are each named in the book - it's become a fun little bedtime game!

My daughter asks for this book before bed every single night and I am absolutely happy to oblige.  Unlike most of their stories, this is one book I never ever tire of.  

If you're looking for a good story to share with your young child, or if you need a great gift for a friend, be sure to check out I Love You Through and Through!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Moment Of Shameless Self Promotion

Ok guys, no beating around the bush - here's what's up.
I could use a little extra holiday cash.  And odds are, you could use a great gift for your girlfriend/wife/mother/sister/friend/self.  Win win!  I have TONS of items in my shop that are classy, classic and totally customizable. 

Have a friend with a young daughter?  How about this Mommy and Me bracelet set? 
 Or, consider a customized Birdnest necklace for Grandma (birds for her kids, eggs for the grandkids).
Attending a snazzy holiday party?  How about adding this silver Sparkle Bracelet to your ensemble?

 And over in Big Red Kite I've brought back the ornaments!  In addition to the ornaments shown we have an angel and a polar bear available.

Also, for the next couple of weeks, we'll have lots of unique one-of-a-kind pieces on clearance on the Facebook page.  The first person to comment with paypal gets the piece - so hurry over!  And check back daily as I'm adding new pieces all the time! 

You could score something like this pretty bracelet

or these delicate earrings

Got questions? Want to customize something from the ground up?  Feel free to shoot me an email!

And keep your eyes peeled on the blog - I've got several new recipes and holiday book reviews on the schedule!
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