Grateful and giving thanks has taken on a completely new meaning for me this year as we approach Thanksgiving, which is why I really wanted to share with you today’s Grateful Giveaway.
As many of my regular readers know, Hurricane Sandy wreaked a bit of havoc on my parent’s primary home located on the Jersey Shore, and many of their neighbor’s homes. Hearing pain, hurt, and uncertainty in my parent’s voices has been incredibly challenging.
The ocean water rushed through the first floor of their home, and reached water levels of at least 4 feet. They have had to throw out all the contents of the first floor of their home, and will have to do a tremendous amount of work to further demolish and sanitize the home before they can even think about rebuilding.
They have had 2 work and clean up days allowed so far at their home, and there is so much work ahead to rebuild and restore. So far, they have emptied out their possessions and cleaned as much of the mud and sand from the home that they can. The next steps will be ripping up the floors, cutting down the walls, and sanitizing the home to protect it from any mold issues. They were lucky because out of the 24 homes on the street, most likely only 10 will even have the possibility to rebuild, and they are one of them.
As I think about what we are grateful for, I have to say that the biggest thing which comes to my mind is friends. Personally, I have been overwhelmed by my own friends who have reached out to offer their time and resources to help my parents. My parents have been incredibly fortunate as well to have had similar offers, but there are two of their friends who have really stood out the most. One couple, Neil and Kathy, opened their home to them (they live about 15 minutes from my parents home, which allows them to go back and forth to their home more easily), they got them the tools they needed to do the initial work, they lent them a car (their own car was ruined in the storm) and the husband went to the home to help my father do the initial work of emptying the home. They have been the “rock” that my parents have needed, and they are so fortunate to have them so close to them.
Kathy has recently launched a jewelry line on Etsy called Bree Vintage Creations. There is very little that I can do to thank Neil and Kathy for all that they have done for my parents, but I would like to highlight Kathy’s new business and share some of the beauty that she hand-makes. Kathy create beautiful jewelry out of vintage stamps, antique book pages and antique gems or beads she has found at estate sales and thrift shops.
Today, we are having a giveaway for two of Kathy’s necklaces – we are giving away two because the hope is that you will enjoy one, and you will share the other with a treasured friend. Someone who is your rock.
No purchase necessary. Winner will receive the necklaces pictured above. Must be 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Entries are due 11:59pm EST on Sunday, November 25th. If you do not follow the rules of the contest, your entry will not be valid.
Only residents of the US are eligible to win. Odds of winning depends on the number of entries received.
Winners will be chosen by a random number generator through Rafflecopter. Winners will be notified by e-mail within 72 hours, if we do not receive a response, we will select another winner. This giveaway is sponsored by Mastering Mommy Brain and Bree Vintage Designs. Mastering Mommy Brain did not receive compensation for this giveaway.
I cannot believe that we are so close to Thanksgiving. With Sandy and the Snowstorm, I feel like the end of October and November flew by. I guess I should get in at least one Thanksgiving recipe though! I am excited to share my Winter Squash and Apple Soup Recipe, which is a great alternative to making a bunch of appetizers on Thanksgiving Day.
Two years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving. It is the only time I have hosted, and the circumstances were not the best. My mom had received news that her cancer spread and she was going to need more extensive surgery. We were supposed to travel to my in-laws that year, but instead, we decided to host and be with my parents. The decision came about 30 hours before dinner was supposed to be on the table. I am a planner, 30 hours notice? Panic attack!
I had visions of the great meals from my childhood – Huge turkey, 2 kinds of stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, 3 kinds of potatoes (mashed, roasted, sweet potatoes), carrots, green been casserole, biscuits, a lasagna, apple pie, and a pumpkin pie (with homemade whipped cream of course). Oh and yes, I said lasagna? I have no idea why…but it was always on our thanksgiving table. In the planning of my meal, I replicated my moms menu, plus a couple other recipes I found in my last-minute searching. I went to the grocery store, came home, and realized I forgot about appetizers. AH! My husband made me look at all the food that I was going to make for 4 adults and one toddler, and I came to my senses that an appetizer was not needed. At 3 in the morning though, I woke up and knew he was wrong – we needed something to kick off the meal (did I mention I was pregnant at the time? Crazy Crazy!). I went down to the kitchen, saw what I had and my eyes fell on this guy (and his friend). The leftovers from my farm share.
I could do something with him, right?
And so transpired my recipe for….
Winter Squash and Apple Soup
3 small acorn/winter squashes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cups of apple juice
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 tsps lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup skim milk
1. Cook the squash by cutting in half, and cooking in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour. this will vary based on the size of your squash.
2. In a large saucepan, cook the onion and carrot in the apple juice and chicken bouillon cube for about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in the lemon juice, ginger, and pepper.
3. Using either an immersion blender or a blender, mix together the hot liquid and the squash, (scooped out!). If you use a food processor, just be aware of the liquid levels!
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the skim milk, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
You can serve this in either a bowl, or the “shell” of the squash, with a dollop of sour cream on top.
To freeze: simply transfer the cooled soup to a freezer friendly container. To reheat, thaw and then heat in a saucepan.
Are you getting ready for the Holidays??? I just wrote up my list of people to buy for and am getting ready to make my way through and find goodies for all of my friends and family. I am not doing the Black Friday Shopping (especially not with companies that are opening on Thanksgiving – BLECH), and will be trying to support as many small businesses as possible this holiday season.
As I thought about some of my favorite companies and places I could not wait to buy from, I figured I should share my Holiday Gift Finds here as well. I have talked about some of these companies in the past, and some are pretty new, but these companies are small businesses, most are mom-owned companies, and they are companies that I have interacted with at least once (usually many more times!) in the past. They sell beautiful, unique products. They are my goto’s, and all on my product love-list, and I am sure that you will feel that way too. If there is a business that you know and love, that would make a great holiday gift, please feel free to list it in the comments below as well!
Now…one more item is not quite ready, but is a must for your holiday shopping list. I have written a children’s book, which will be ready for purchase in early December. I am super (duper) excited about this, and will share the details with you all very soon. Keep your eyes peeled on my website and FaceBook page for more information, including details on how to order!
While you are on the kikibOnan Etsy site, I highly recommend the reusable snack bags. This is a great packaging idea if you are giving a gift card gift. Why spend the money on a gift bag or wrapping paper? I use these bags for honestly, everything. Snacks, crayons, first aid items…addicted!
More than a Cupcake
Tina at More than a Cupcake came up with a great idea for DIY print at home Christmas Tags ($8). I LOVE this idea, because this is what I will be using for all the “Santa” gifts in our house. My super-observant son who was 3 last year said “mommy – you and santa have the same wrapping paper”, so I am totally on my game this year. By using these tags, there is no paper trail and no chance my son will see me reuse tags. There is also no chance I will run out, and have to run to the store on Christmas eve, because I can reprint at home – so darn easy!
My Sleeping Beauty
Eva creates personalized, unique gifts – such adorable items for any occasion, but my favorites are her Chrismas items! Eva is on Etsy and FaceBook, and is the creator of my son’s favorite holiday decoration, the Christmas Light Present Box ($22.00). She also made me the blog ornament above for me – such a great idea for someone who has their own business, blog, or a milestone.
AM Evangelista Jewelry
For anyone who has been on my site for a while, you know my obsession with Ann Marie’s Jewelry. This woman has major talent. I have already ordered several of her necklaces for my gifts this year. Her necklaces are beautiful, her turnaround is fast, and her packaging is perfect. I love the idea of her key chains for a smaller gift that you need to get as well. The necklaces vary in price based on the disk size, chain,and any add ons, so I recommend checking out the Etsy site to see what you like! She also has smaller items, such as this key chain ($18)
Chivas Goat Milk Soap and Skin Care
I have been in love with this mother/daughter owned company for years. Every year, Donna and Lauren’s Sweet Nothings goat milk facial cream ($24) and lavender Oatmeal soap ($9.00) is in my stocking. I bought several soaps for my kids teachers last year as well (they are always washing their hands, as you can imagine!), and the teacher said it was her absolute favorite gift. Love! You can find Chivas both at their website or on Facebook.
Another thing you know about me if you have been on this site is this mom loves her wineI first saw Word Couture a couple of years ago at a craft fair. I ordered one for all of my friends that year, and it has been a favorite engagement or “just because” gift ever since. Love their holiday “Ho Ho Ho” ($25) and their monogram wine bottle ($25). There are a ton more options for fantastic gift ideas on their website as well. .
(This is actually a Grandpa and Grandma owned business!)
I am starting to have panic attacks about the amount of plastic toys which will be entering my house come Christmas…plastic noisy toys are the ones that give me some major heart palpitations. My son has received an item from Grandpa’s Wooden Toys every year since he was born. He is a huge fan of the bi-plane ($18) . If your little girl is into the American Girl dolls, there is also a line of furniture, which is perfect for the dolls, but at a better price! Love their table and chair set ($55).
My little girl LOVES playing dress up (while running around holding a dinosaur and roaring, of course)…and tutus are her favorite. She puts on a tutu, and starts saying “Pretty Mommy, so pretty.” Maria’s Tutus, which can be found on FaceBook are simply precious, and really do make any girl feel like a little princess. The owner is incredibly creative, will make custom orders, and is just an awesome lady! This Christmas shabby chic tutu, which my little one will be sporting, is $18.
I adore pretty much every item that Neada carries at the Olivia Bloom. You can check out Olivia Bloom products both on her website and her FaceBook page (sales and promos are posted!). If you are shopping for a boy, there are cr-azy sales on her boy line as it is being discontinued. Definitely check it out – the style and quality is just awesome. I actually had tears when I read that the boy line was stopping because there is just NO where to buy stylish boy clothes. Ok…so first, buy the 3D boxing glove tee ($14), which is my son’s favorite, for any little boy on your shopping list. Then…check out the super cute Natasha Cat bag ($15.99). This will be under the tree for my little girl – animals and purses combined…I know it will make her day!
This page started showing up all over my news feed in FaceBook, and I was instantly drawn to the vibrant colors and fun products. Their website is filled with fabulous treasures and the FaceBook page announces new products, shares deals, and has some fantastic giveaways. I have never been a fancy phone case ($44) girl, but was totally won over by navy blue, chevron, and a monogram. Her site has tons of options to choose from as well, and would be a great gift! I also love the beach towels ($55) and love to give gifts that can be used in the summer…its almost like you relive Christmas when you pull it out a couple of months later!
I hope you like the list above, and that it helps give you a kick-start on your holiday shopping. Can’t wait to hear your feedback, and of course, your ideas as well!
Note to readers: kikibOnan, More than a Cupcake, My Sleeping Beauty, AM Evangelista, and the Richmond Thrifter are sponsors of Mastering Mommy Brain. Where I have purchased the items from any store, I am providing my most honest reviews of these products.
In case you missed it, yesterday was a big day on MMB – I was the featured blogger on SITS (you can check out the write-up here). Super exciting and nerve-racking. It is one thing to invite family and friends to look at your site, it is another to let on other bloggers and people who know what they are doing so much more than this girl. Of course – my mommy brain almost made a huge site screw up, and almost affected my big day!
So, our alarm went off at 5 am as it does everyday. My husband went off to the shower, and I ran downstairs to put the ice packs in lunch boxes, do a final check on work/lunch bags, get dinner ready in the crock pot…and finally…check out how my blog looked on the SITS page. I pulled up the site, and had a goofy grin on my face because there it was – my site! I then clicked through to my site, and realized, um…the links were not working.
Right. Welcome all of you people to my site, so glad that you can’t even get to my page to see what I have written. AHHHHHHH….fitting, right? I mean, we all know what happened with my BlogHer Mommy Brain Moment - this seems to be what I do.
My brain was still a bit foggy, but all of a sudden, I remembered how last month, I started playing around with the back-end of my site, because I was reading these articles about SEO and how google would find your page better if you changed your permalinks (for my non-blogging friends…the link to the site).
It was a simple click in “settings” to make the change, and I thought would change all links going forward, but I very quickly learned yesterday, nope, it affected every link on my page that was possibly out there. To be honest, my site numbers were a little off the last month. I kept blaming FaceBook and the darn interest groups for a hit to my readership, but no…it was me and my mommy brain.
So, after a quick post on my Connecticut Bloggers page and some googling of solutions while drying my hair, I had 3 minute to make a site fix before I got the kids dressed and ready to walk out the door, I was good to go. All permalinks had been fixed, and anyone visiting the SITS page after 6:30 am was going to see my blog just fine.
If any other bloggers get the urge to change to change your permalinks…have no fear, it can be done, safely!
I installed the plugin “Permalink Finder”. It will do a search of your site, and return the best match to the person searching, so they don’t get a “page note found” error. It will also give you a summary of the errors that were found, so you can fix any broken links within your own site. Easy peasy…phew!!!
For my regular readers…I am excited to share that today is a BIG day here at MMB. For the last year I have read an amazing site about all things blogging. It has given me guidance, inspiration, and exposure to many awesome bloggers. Whenever I open up SITS, I feel like I have an “aha” moment and quickly jot ideas down in my blogging notebook. Now….they also have featured bloggers, and today is Mastering Mommy Brain’s SITS Day! WHOA!!!
Big old happy dance here in my house…and let’s be thankful it is in behind closed doors, because after seeing my moves in the Zumba class mirrors recently it is confirmed…EEK, Mama has NO moves…
For those of you who are visiting through SITS, welcome, welcome!!!!
A bit about Mastering Mommy Brain (nicknamed MMB by my early readers)…I had a HUGE desire to create this site because I felt that as a mom, when I would look around I would feel like everyone else looked like they had it together about a million times more than I do. Facebook, Pinterest, the grocery store…there were these perfect moms…and then there was me The mom who gets lost in parking lots, screws up house painting jobs, and forgets doctors appointments.
I have tried to develop a site where we can share our mom successes and our challenges, and have some laughs along the way. There are a couple of themed days on the site….
Mama’s Manic Mondays: Tips for a busy household and managing life
Mommy Brain Wednesdays: Sharing a mid-week laugh either from my life or a reader’s
Celebrate Mom Thursdays: Anything MOM – we deserve to take a day to celebrate ourselves, our worries, our hopes, and our dreams
One for the Freezer, One for the Table Fridays: Recipes that fit busy lives – you can easily make one for a meal today, and freeze the rest to enjoy at a later time
I hope that you will join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, RSS or through email (link on the right hand side of the page).
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