Southern Swap Blog Hop: Advent

I am joining up with several sweet southern bloggers for the Southern Swap Blog Hop with Charmed Bliss!
 There is a giveaway that goes along with the Blog Hop that you can enter!  Here are the rules for the giveaway! Just leave a comment (and then visit some of the other blogs and leave a comment…you can enter on all 9 blogs!).  You can win, and then Keisha (my guest poster) and me can win too!  The prize is a Starbucks gift card, cup, and coffee!  Win, win, win!
 So, today I am hosting Keisha from Big Pitt Stop. Keisha and I go way back. 🙂  She worked at Ouachita when I was a student there.  She is awesomely talented and crafty (she helped us make some costumes when I was a Tiger Tunes hostess).  She is also an inspiration as a cancer survivor and she dedicates her life to raising money and helping others.  Love this lady! So here is Keisha with some thoughts on Advent!
The last couple years I’ve been really intrigued by the concept of Advent and the many different ways people have made it part of their holiday tradition.
Growing up, we didn’t really do an intentional Advent celebration.  I remember years of focus on the 4 Sundays leading between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I don’t know that we actually lit the 4 pink candles.  We for sure didn’t have the little Christmas shaped things with drawers that pull out and have little trinkets in them.  Of course our days were filled with doing things like looking at lights, making hot chocolate, practicing for a church play, making cookies, wrapping presents, etc. (my mom celebrates Christmas big…we are Texan after all…and we do things BIG).  But, I don’t know that any of it was specifically intentional. (hold on to that word)  
2 years ago, a friend of mine and I had a conversation about Advent.  Our focus quickly shifted to “reading” and preparing our hearts for the season ahead.  I think she is the one who really dropped this “idea” or “concept” of Advent in my mind.  She grew up in a home where they read scripture, verses, and devotionals daily through the holiday season.  Her mom was intentional about making sure the focus was right during the holiday.   
A quick Google search provides these top 5 sites on the topic of Advent:
The second or third week of December last year through the magic of social media, I found myself landing at the Advent Conspiracy.  I was extra curious because of this ongoing wrestling with the concept of advent.  And to see it paired with the word “conspiracy”, I was struck by the juxtaposition of these 2 atypical words.  For me, advent (as I had become to be exposed it) was a light an airy concept of preparing the heart for the holiday season. So, seeing that married with the word conspiracy that typically carries a negative connotation of intentional deceit, I was curious to see if someone was pushing a political agenda or a pragmatic attack on the church.   So, I clicked through on the link.  
Instead, my heart, mind, thoughts, and ideas all converged into one magical, life-altering moment.  Do it…watch this video, and then keep reading…
Did you see it?  Did you get it? Watch it again….
Now, since I’m a “guest” today, I’m going to spare my soap box moment that my readers over at Big Pitt Stop encounter.  But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave you with out a punch line.
That was my challenge to myself this year.  I’m not pushing an agenda or trying to make you feel bad (giving presents is my favorite thing I do all year…I like to consider myself a pretty good gift giver) but I am challenging you to think. 
I recently moved and as a single, 30 year old woman, I found myself stressing if I would really be able to fit all of my “things” into a 26 foot truck to drive across the state of Arkansas.  Once I moved my 4 bedroom home with a full basement into a 2 bedroom duplex, I quickly realized that there were a lot of “things” I was using to fill voids in my life.  So, I’ve again challenged myself to the idea of
·    Spending less
·    Giving more
·    Worshiping fully
·    Loving all
Advent is a new tradition in my life.  It’s the way my heart celebrates Christmas.  It’s the reason I get excited when this and this arrive in my mailbox.
So, today, on the second day of December let me challenge you to this.  Be intentional.  Spend time with those you love.  Give more. More time. More gifts. More intention.  Above all, be a blessing.
~~Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.  Ephesians 3:20 ~~
Thank you Keisha!  A great reminder to make Christmas more about CHRIST. I’m guest posting over at All Things Girl today!  Check it out! Thanks for reading!

Custom Dress Made Just for Me! (and a GIVEAWAY!)

So a while back, I was approached by   I had never heard of them, so I was a bit skeptical.  I did some research, and found out eShakti is a women’s clothing company that specializes in custom fit clothing.  They have some super cute clothing that changes with each season.  They offered me a free dress to review and share their story with all of you!  I spent several lunch hours at work browsing their site.  They have super cute stuff.  Some dressy, some casual.  GREAT stuff!  And here is the cool part, many dresses you can totally customize!  
eShakti allows you to custom size your dress, meaning that you can choose standard sizes (like 10, 12, 14) or you can give them your measurements and they make the dress to fit you.  I did this, and my dress fits like a glove!  But not only that, but since they are making the dress just for you, you can customize it.  You can add sleeves, remove pockets or embellishments, change the hem length, or change the neckline.  I chose this dress, but chose to make it knee length and remove the sleeves.  Looking back now, I sort of wish I had chosen 3/4 sleeves for this dress now that it is cold….so I wouldn’t have to layer it.  
My dress fits great!  Here it is….
Front.. (LOVE the design on the front…so flattering)
The only issue I had (and it would be solved with a black bra…) is that the arm whole is a little bigger than I prefer because you can see a sliver of bra under my arm.
And the back.  I wasn’t standing up totally straight, so it is a bit bunchy.  Sorry.
Hello giant dancer’s calves! 
This is how I styled the dress for church…with a cardigan and leopard belt.
eShakti got the dress to me super fast.  After I submitted my order, I got the dress in like a week.  If you are needing a holiday dress, why not get one custom made for you?  The prices aren’t any more than buying a dress at Dillards or Dress Barn (two places I normally buy nice dresses).  If you have a hard-to-fit shape, or desire special stuff (longer hem, longer sleeves, etc), they can get you just what you need.

And here is the AWESOME news!  eShakti has given me TWO $25 Gift Cards to give away to some of my readers!  Just enter in the Rafflecopter below!  You can leave a comment, follow me on Twitter, tweet, or tell me your favorite style to enter!  Contest will end November 26, 2012.  Winner will be notified via email.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Congrats Katherine! You are the winner of my chalboard menu giveaway!

Thanks for playing everyone!

(and I feel like my blog giveaway good vibes keep going…yesterday I won some cards from Tiny Prints from! Woohoo!)

See you on the flipside of the weekend!

Giveaway Time!

Ok, so ever since I started the blog, I have had a little internal goal set for myself: get 50 followers. I told myself that if I could reach 50 followers I would have a giveaway. What would I giveaway? I didn’t have the slightest clue. But I do know that I have been watching my followers count slowly climb and have been so excited to do a giveaway!
So last week, I hit 50 followers! Woohoo! (PS. Thanks to all of you crazies who find my life interesting! Bless your hearts for sticking with me!)

To add to all this, this week I won a fun thing from a blog giveaway….and this makes the 3rd thing I’ve won on blogging giveaways (super fancy face wash, a Scentsy, and now a Vera Bradley coupon organizer) so I really want to pay-it-forward now.

So, I want to giveaway something fun, that most of us wouldn’t buy for ourselves….an adorable Menu sign! Perfect for everyday or for entertaining! I have one that says “Fiesta” and I LOVE it!(and not only am I giving this precious menu sign away, I am helping out a local business! This puppy is from my new favorite place in Fort Smith- Creative Kitchen!)

So how to enter? Be sure to leave me your email so I can get ahold of you if you win!
Three ways:

1. Be a follower of my blog and comment on this post that you are a follower.

2. Blog about this giveaway, and put the link to your blog in the comments.
3. Tweet or FB about this giveaway and tell me about it in the comments.

Woohoo! I will draw for a winner at noon on July 22! Thanks for entering!

PS. If you are new here…welcome! Get to know me by clicking around the page links at the top or reading through old posts.