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Monday, June 30, 2014

Weekending: Country Music Steals My Heart

Weekends are made for memories and this past weekend I made some great ones! For those that follow my blog and haven't known me for awhile let me explain a little about my past. I am from a small town just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I moved off to college I moved to Edmond, Oklahoma which is just outside of Oklahoma City. After graduating college I got a full time job working in the marketing department for a local bank in Edmond. I continued to live in Edmond with my best friend and roommate, Melissa and puppy Bleeker. Honestly, hands down I think Edmond is the best city in Oklahoma. In fact, it is rated the number one best city to live here. Anyways, when I got married it was no secret that I was going to have to move back home outside of Tulsa and leave Edmond and all that it was for me. My husband owns two of his own  businesses and I at the time worked for the Edmond Chamber of Commerce so it was definitely easier to switch locations than it was for him. Plus, he doesn't share the same love for Edmond as I have so it wasn't even an option.
With that being said, I absolutely love every chance I get to go back to Edmond and see everyone and just be there.
This weekend was the OKC Fest which was a country music festival in downtown OKC. Saturday morning I loaded up and headed to OKC to have a fun girls day. My puppy that I had when I lived in Edmond now lives full time with my friend Melissa so it is always so wonderful to see my baby too.
Bleeker practicing doggie yoga, look at that form! ;)
This girl loves country music and even more loves country music live so I was so excited to be with great friends at the festival. Artists that performed were Lucas Hoge, Kix Brooks, Randy Rogers Band, Scotty McCreery and Lady Antebellum. There were a ton of people there and it was so fun!
I went with my sister in law Randi and best friend Melissa and her boyfriend and met up with some other friends while there. And props to my sister in law that is six months pregnant for being at an outdoor concert for nine hours and totally ok with it, trooper she is!
 My friend Jessica lives down close to Oklahoma City so it was great to see her as well as many other friends.
There was lots of really good food that I shouldn't have taken part in but did and only half regret it. We all had so much fun and I love that OKC put it together for the city. I look forward to it hopefully being an annual event and I will go again! 

I stayed the night with Melissa so Sunday after church we met up with our old roommate and close friend Becca for lunch. It was great to catch up and see her. One place I can't not stop at while in town is Café 7, if you are close to Oklahoma City people go eat there!
It was such a great weekend and I am so glad I got to share it with great people. As always, looking forward to my next visit to Edmond hopefully real soon! As of now, I am off work this week and kicked it off by detoxing from this weekend at the gym this morning.
 Today, I am linking up with B Loved Boston for her Weekending link up.
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Red, White & Blueberry

Happy Friday Ya'll! Since The Five on Friday is taking a Summer break I'm linking up with Hello! Happiness for her Fourth of July Recipe Link Up! 

I love to bake and I especially love to bake adorable holiday themed goodies. I plan to make lots of Fourth of July treats this week but first are Red, White and Blueberry muffins. Again, I know more raspberries but I couldn't help myself, these are tasty!

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups  buttermilk
1 cup  fresh raspberries
1 cup  fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line 18 regular muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer use the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower the speed to medium low and add eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

3. With the mixer on the lowest setting, alternate mixing in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.

4. Gently fold in the blueberries and raspberries.

5. Divide the batter up by scooping it evenly into the muffin tins, sprinkle with sugar.

6.Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the center muffins bounce back up when touched.

They are so yummy warm out of the oven or cooled off, just as great either way! The original recipe called for vanilla sugar on the top and I just used plain granulated sugar and I had no complaints.
Original recipe from Sophistimom.

If you decide to bake these, enjoy! Red, White & Blueberry Recipe

If you're interested in linking up with the group, here is what you do: Each one of us is sharing a Fourth of July themed recipe and link up with Hello! Happiness to join!
1. Post your recipe on your blog and link up by July 1
2. Entries will close and everybody will be matched up to another blogger's recipe on July 2
3. Then, recreate the recipe by making it your own and share your results of the swap by July 9

I'm so excited to see which recipe I get to try! Have a great weekend guys! 
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eating Local In Oklahoma - The Pecan Porch

This week my co-workers and I discovered this local gem to have lunch at one afternoon. The Pecan Porch is located in Catoosa, Oklahoma. My heart skips a beat for local southern bakery and delis and this was no exception. We pulled in and immediately I screeched, I was in love!

The Pecan Porch sets off the road behind a few trees giving it the true southern peaceful atmosphere.

Their menu is made up of a various sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, to-die-for desserts and much more. I am a sucker for chicken salad sandwiches so I ordered the chicken salad sandwich with a side of delicious homemade pasta salad. My meal came with my choice of cookie and I chose the strawberry shortcake that tasted like pure heaven right out of the oven. They also serve a cinnamon roll that is smothered in a thick creamy frosting that I don't think I will be able to pass up on my next visit.

We had a nice little picnic on a beautiful summer day. Not only is the food amazing but the atmosphere is great. There are so many things I love about eating locally but I really love that the food is almost always all homemade and you get the small family style atmosphere. If you are traveling through the Eastern part of Oklahoma you should stop in, even if its for just a glass of iced tea and a southern pecan pie bar.

My co-workers joked with me after about ten minutes of sitting down with my food while taking pictures and gushing over how much I loved the place I finally started eating....it doesn't take much to please me but The Pecan Porch really won me over. I will be returning and can not wait to stop for lunch on the way to pick blueberries soon!

This was not a paid review by Pecan Porch, I just truly loved it!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Must Haves

It is safe to say it is definitely summer here in the South! Oklahoma has really warmed up in the past couple of weeks and I have been dressing to stay as cool as possible. I thought I would share some of the things I am loving in my closet or hope to have in it soon! 

ONE: Maxi Dresses, I love them! I used to think I couldn't pull them off cause I'm sorta on the shorter side but I just pair them with wedges if they are too long and they're perfect. I love all sundresses but maxi dresses are really versatile and easy to turn from a day outfit to a more dressy for an evening out. Sandals in the afternoon for a casual wear and then throw on a pair of wedges and some accessories and you then are ready for date night!

TWO: Sunglass, I love them! I usually get 3 or 4 cheap pairs for the summer. Forever 21 has a great selection and so affordable. I typically lose three of the pairs in the lake each summer so I go cheap but still cute! Just got these floral aviators and love them!

THREE: Cute accessories, especially bangle bracelets. It is so easy to make a casual cool summer outfit super cute with a few accessories!

FOUR: It is no secret, I am just obsessed with anything raspberry flavored lately :)

FIVE: I have this H&M tank top in coral pink and black because I love it so much! Its really comfy and light so it is nice and breezy. I pair it with a tube top under it because it is a little low on the sides and see-through and usually wear a bright colored necklace.

SIX: I have a great leather weaved teal clutch that I have been loving this summer! I couldn't find it available online. It is bright, fun and easy to just grab and go.

SEVEN: These black dress shorts from Target are a staple in my wardrobe this summer. Great with a dressy tank top and heels and it is the perfect outfit for a fun night! Plus you can get them even cheaper by using Target's mobile coupon!

EIGHT: I don't own these yet but how adorable are they?! And I am definitely loving neon colors this season!

What are some of your summer favorites in your closet this year?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Apple Snickers Salad...Mind Blown!

This weekend I had a party to attend that was a potluck. I knew I wanted to use a new recipe, something that I wouldn't have to bake and heat up my house with the oven for and something fun. Searched my Pinterest, of course, scrolling through and bam Snickers Apple Salad. What?! Apple and snickers together?! Ok sounds yummy, cool and well fun!
This recipe was so easy to throw together and what better way to celebrate the first day of summer?
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
6 Snickers candy bars
4 -6 granny smith apples (or whatever apple you like, but wouldn’t recommend a soft variety)
Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until thoroughly blended.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Cut Snickers into bite size chunks and add to cream cheese mixture.
Chop the apples into chunks and stir.
Chill 1 hour before serving.
Chilling for a long period of time (such as overnight) will result in a runny salad.
Recipe from Food.com
I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to the cream cheese mix to help keep my apples from turning and also to help with the runniness. I used 5 apples and 6 candy bars and I think next time I will use one more candy bar or cut them into smaller pieces to up the chocolate per bite ratio ;) I, of course, was running late so I was only able to chill it for about 30 minutes and it was still delicious!
"Apples AND snickers?!" ..."What is exactly in this?" This is mostly what I heard when I first arrived with it. Well, I left with almost an empty bowl  and got lots and lots of compliments. Success, cheers to the beginning of summer!
You can find the recipe here on my Pinterest: Apple Snickers Salad

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Five On Friday

Yay, It's Friday Ya'll! I am so ready for a fun weekend including lots of time in the sun celebrating the start of Summer tomorrow! But first...let me share my top five favorite things this week by linking up with these lovely ladies {the good life}, A.Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm and Hello! Happiness.

ONE: {Lavender Lemonade Candle}

I have a big love for candles and this beaut is one of my faves! One of my best friends got this for me for my birthday and I can't get enough of it! I'm all about our house smelling fresh so lemon is one of my favorites, especially for the summer. And I love lavender anytime of the year and in any form or fashion.

Lavender Lemonade Candle

TWO: {theSkimm}

theSkimm is a skimmed up version of the top news stories daily. The newsletter comes to you everyday by email and is short and to the point. I don't always have time to read more than just a headline of the news or catch part of the ten o'clock newscast but I love to stay in the know. TheSkimm is perfect because I can read it in just a few short minutes and be briefed on all major news headliners and it's free! I signed up after reading another blogger's post and have been lovin' it since.

THREE: {Smoothie Yumminess}

I think I have a new favorite smoothie recipe about every other week ha but this one is so good! It's simple and tastes like a yummy dessert since I left out the normal spinach or kale that I usually throw in.

 Strawberry, Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 and half frozen bananas
Handful of frozen strawberries
1 heaping spoonful of PB2
2 tbs Flax Seed
Handful of ice cubes
It is so refreshing and yummy, enjoy!
FOUR: {Tiny Basketball}
My niece, Jada is eight and had first basketball ever this week and it was adorable. Most of the kids on her team were like her and have never played basketball and it was seriously so cute to watch them scramble back and forth down the court. I might be a little competitive and a tad mouthy and possibly yelled "Stupid Kid!!" at a boy from the opposing team.... but poor Jada he just kept stealing the ball from her. Oops! They lost but she had fun and didn't want to quit so that's a win!
 FOUR: {Bless Your Heart and the USA}
Seriously, how adorable is this tank?! I am swooning over it big time! I would already have it on the way to my doorstep for the Fourth but I am holding back because it is such a loose fit tank. Has anyone seen this on a fitted tank? It is so cute but I am afraid it wouldn't fit just right. Ahh I'm torn! 

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Many Thanks From Haiti

My trip to help and love the Haitians was all possible not only because of God but because of so many wonderful people in my life. I want to personally say "Thank You" to each of you that helped sponsor my trip or by donating towards the children's needs. The support I received was overwhelming and a huge blessing.
When I announced I was going to Haiti and that I would be accepting any donations for children's socks and underwear I immediately had donations pouring in. I love the amazing people in my life that are so giving and caring, thank you guys! This is just what was donated to myself alone. This does not include what the others in the team brought. Thank you again to everyone that donated!
Sorry for the poor picture quality.
It is truly amazing what God can do! Donations came from all over the place! Before I had even started this blog I had "met" Bri: Swashbuckle & Flow by participating in a blog Christmas ornament exchange last year. When I posted a pic on my Instagram of a donation I received she emailed me wanting more information. I told her I was taking the kids socks and underwear because they were in severe need of them. Without hesitation she emailed right back and asked if it would be ok if she had her little ones color pictures to send with their donation for the kids. Absolutely!! So I received socks and underwear all the way from Minnesota to Oklahoma to take to Haiti. I received the package and tears of happiness just flowed. I loved the blogging world before I was even a part of it! Thanks Bri!!!
The girls I chose to give the pictures to. I told them the story of the kids from Minnesota coloring them just for them. They started asking lots of questions about Minnesota and the United States.
We were asked to bring socks and underwear because of the extreme amount of children that have been sexually abused. Without underwear a lot feel vulnerable and unprotected. Heartbreaking.
Once we were there we were able to separate all of the donations at the CAD orphanage for the girls and boys. The kids were sent in by age. This was by far the most touching experience for me personally while in Haiti. I will be honest and say it was nothing like what I expected. The girls would try to pick different packages of underwear and socks. They preferred the thick plain white crew cut boy socks over the colorful girl socks that we all thought they'd want. I was a little taken back by this and thought...how could they not be just so appreciative?!
After passing out the items we were told that the kids have mostly only owned ONE pair of socks and TWO pairs of underwear their ENTIRE lives. This hit me hard, really hard. No wonder the girls were trying to pick packages with more panties in them and thicker socks that would last longer.
We had enough to give eighty-one children an entire package of socks and underwear! We actually had more than enough and were able to leave some to be given out later. How amazing is that?! God is so good!
After the kids went through the line we had several of our team members outside to say a prayer for each one. Side note, Miss Ruby pictured below is 76 years old and was such a trooper on the trip!! You would've never guessed she was 76! Such an awesome woman of God!
These two little girls were right beside me the whole week. I wanted to literally give them both everything I owned. It was an incredible experience being able to provide the very small necessities to them.  
I am a very emotional woman and I prayed for months before the trip that I wouldn't just cry the entire time I was there.  I did pretty well until it was time to give out the donations. It was a very special moment.
Afterwards all the kids disappeared and we thought they went to maybe put the stuff on but they came back and they had all gone to hide the items. Talk about giving me a reality check and suddenly I appreciated everything I have so much more. The amount of things I own is absurd after I experienced this.
Thanks again to everyone that supported, donated and prayed for me and my team members. This is one experience that I will never forget nor that will never leave my heart!
"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what is good is it?" James 2:15-16
For more information on sponsoring an orphan in Haiti visit Chasing Eden
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Haitian Experience Showing God's Love

I have so many stories, moments and unexplainable experiences from Haiti. It is going to be really hard to fit in what all our team experienced and worked on in the week we were there. The week seemed so short but we tried to accomplish and help the most we could in the short time period.
There were fourteen of us in the team that went to Haiti. When the organization greeted us at the airport we soon learned that we would all be riding in the back of this truck everywhere we traveled for the week.

We then rode an hour and forty five minutes to the base where we would be staying for the week. The round room on the far right upstairs is where we stayed. 

The view was absolutely breathtaking from base. This was looking out from the top balcony.

The first afternoon we were there we went and visited a village. The village was primarily families not orphans. When we arrived the kids started running from all directions to meet us. They speak Creole in Haiti which is a combination of Spanish and French. Since there was somewhat of a language bearer we had several translators with us each day. At this village we played games, sang songs, acted out bible stories, pumped water from their well for them and just loved on the kids.
Pumping the water during the week was definitely a workout!

I was amazed by this seven month pregnant woman that brought us her five gallon bucket to fill with water. Once we were done she literally just picked it up and put it on top of her head and walked off. A five gallon bucket full of water, no hands and on top of her head all while its 90 plus degrees outside AND seven months pregnant. We wanted to offer to carry it but were told the women in Haiti are usually the ones that work and provide and that this is something that is completely normal to her. Amazing.

We worked primarily with two different orphanages and two different villages during the week. We spent a large amount of our time at one orphanage named C.A.D. 
C.A.D. stands for Center Action Development and is an orphanage started for children who are considered to be in the worst of the worst situations in Haiti. To put it in perspective, child slavery is legal in Haiti. This orphanage is made up of children who are in such bad situations that the government sees the need for them to be in a special facility. To be able to enter the orphanage a child must be brought in by the police.
There are currently eighty-one children living at CAD. An additional twenty kids attend during the week and only for school.

One day at CAD was spent as working day for our team. We helped wash all of the children's clothes and bedding. The kids wear one outfit the entire week. They do not have washing machines or dryers at this orphanage. Washing machines are very expensive there and dryers as well but also use far too much electricity. For bedding some of the kids had a light throw blanket and others had a fleece throw blanket. No sheets or pillows. Once the clothes and blankets were washed and rinsed we were told to hang them on top of the roof to dry.

Another day we spent at CAD putting together a VBS. We had face paint, painted their nails, played games, read bible stories and sang songs. They really enjoyed this. One boy came back to have his face, arms, legs...head painted fourteen times! The boys even loved getting their nails painted. We used clear polish, no worries hehe.

They had so much fun with just the simplest things. My sister helped with games and she said they loved anything that was boys against girls. As simple as a baseball in pantyhose on their heads while trying to knock over a bottle was GREAT to them! I really learned a lot by seeing them be so content with literally the smallest things. Us Americans have a lot to be thankful for.

I was "Joseph" in our group that acted out the story of Joseph and his brothers. Below is me in my robe (towel) of many colors. ;)

Some of our team helped with their school work. They helped clean their classrooms in the school house as well as helped them with their math. We had a couple of home school moms in the group so that was really great and helpful!

This was the view from the school house. I know I did not have this kind of amazing view where I grew up and went to school as a child!

These kids were part of the twenty that came just for the school portion of CAD. The little boy with the wild hair was crazy! One afternoon he was on top of a tied up goat trying to ride it, he was a total mess but gave us lots of laughs!

This little boy asked me every single day we were at CAD if I was coming back the next day. Broke my little heart to have to say not tomorrow on the last day. 

I know this is already very long but I will try to shorten this part of our trip as much as I can. The other orphanage we worked with was Eve Rose's. Eve is a Haitian woman that was married and had twelve miscarriages. Her husband divorced her because she could not carry his children. She remarried shortly later and little did she know God had huge plans for and her husband. In January of 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti Eve took in orphaned children in hopes of finding their parents. She found all but four of them. God then gave those four children to Eve and her husband and for the first time they were parents. This is where her orphanage began to form. They began to take in children that were abused, "street children", dropped off by the police...they all have their own story. They now have thirty-one kids living with them, that all now have a mother and father! What amazing hope for these kids. Eve has a school and we were able to help her by painting one of the school houses one day.

Three of the evenings we were there we spent at Eve Rose's worshiping with her and her family.

This was one of the most amazing moments. Every. Single. Night they have worship for an hour. The kids of all ages are fully engaged and worship God with overflowing hearts.

When I signed up to join this team in Haiti I did not know a single person besides my sister. They are a part of my sister's church and I attend another church. I was not too worried about this but they immediately welcomed me with open arms like they knew me for years. I had a wonderful time getting to know each of them.

There is so much that I had to leave out to spare you from reading a novel. I know, this is could be considered a short novel so I guess a chapter book. But, I had a wonderful experience and wish that I could bring each of those loving beautiful children home to live in Oklahoma! God did amazing things through our group and I pray that we touched the lives of the children in more ways than one. 

It was an amazing experience in itself to be able to do it with my little sister, Caileigh right beside me the whole time. I am so glad God to put in on her heart to invite me and I am even more thankful that God opened doors that allowed me to go share his love.

I have one more post to share and it will include the most touching part of the trip along with my journey getting there for me. 

If you are still here...thanks for reading about my Haitian experience. Or at least a small part of it. If you are interested in sponsoring an orphan in Haiti contact Chasing Eden.

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