All Dressed Up and Going Somewhere (with eShakti)

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Thank you, eShakti, for sending me a dress. No other compensation was received for this post.

Cutomized dress from eShakti |

I don’t dress up very often.

I might put on a dress for church – mostly because I like very feminine clothes – but I’m just as likely to wear jeans and boots to Sunday service. My husband and I don’t go out very often, but when we do, it’s the same casual dresses and skirts. And that’s fine.

But now I need somewhere fancy to go.

eShakti, a company I’ve worked with before, e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to participate in their “Look as Good as You Feel, Feel as Good as You Look” campaign. I’ve said no to almost every sponsor the last year or so, but I really do adore eShakti and what they do. They offer affordable, really amazingly well-made, gorgeous clothes that are customized to you (and me)!

I have a very, very hard time shopping for dresses. My chest is very large, my waist is short, I am on the shorter side (5’3″), and right now I’m teetering on the plus size/not plus edge. I absolutely have no problem with my size and shape – it’s me! – but my body type does make it harder to find clothes that fit well and make me feel great. I’ve also lost about 25 pounds this year, so my clothes are starting not to fit, and I want to replace them with pieces I adore.

The exact dress I chose doesn’t appear to be available any longer, but it was very similar to this Leaf Wool Embellished Tulle Layer Poplin Dress ($59.95). I love the greenish underlay, which is one of my favorite colors. I have green eyes, so wearing green definitely makes them pop.

I know I don’t love cap sleeves on me, though, so I asked to have the sleeves altered to elbow-length. I submitted that change along with my measurements rather than a size to eShakti, and they sent this dress right to my door! The customization is $9.95 per garment, which I think is very reasonable to have something made to measurements. The shipping time is 13-17 days, so if you order something now, you can still have it in plenty of time for Christmas parties and New Year’s fetes.

The feel of the fabric, the little snap pieces that allow me to hang up this boatneck easily, and the gorgeous packaging all come together to make me feel like a princess going to a ball.

I truly do not work with very many companies, but I vouch for eShakti 100%. If I do lose more weight, I intend to have this dress altered, too (but I bet it will cost me more than $10!).

Where should I go in my new party dress?

Ja-Vie Flats: Jelly Shoes for Grown-Ups! (GIVEAWAY)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Ja-Vie sent me some flats to review in order to facilitate my post. No other compensation was received.

You all may know that my feet are pretty finicky. It probably has something to do with my grumpy back; I have a bulging disc that has gone as far as herniating in the past. I have to be really careful about what shoes I wear, because the wrong ones can put me in bed for several days.

I never wear heels and rarely even wedges. Most of my shoes are very supportive, and I have to just pass up style unless I want to pay $100+. But occasionally I sneak in a pair of flimsy flats, because I like to look cute! Who doesn’t? I was noticing lately, though, that my cheap-o flats were basically disintegrating. Not to mention they make my chiropractor mad at me. 😉


I was pretty enamored, then, when I came across Ja-Vie Flats on another blog. Cute flats that actually have some support? Sign me up! I stalked Ja-Vie on Twitter and asked if they would PLEASE send some some of their adorable shoes to try out and to share with you!

I picked the Shimmering Black pattern, because I wanted something that would go with basically everything in my wardrobe, although I was really tempted by the Hibiscus/Parrot Green combo, too. I’ve been wearing them for about six weeks now, and I have to tell you, I am pretty sold! Here’s why.

  • They are grown-up jelly shoes, and I am a late 80s/early 90s child. Unlike jelly shoes, though, they don’t get gross if my feet sweat because they are lined. But if I step in a puddle, it doesn’t ruin my shoe! Score! There are great treads on the bottoms, so I don’t slip around like I do in some other flats.
  • They have some support on the arch, heel, and ball of the feet. It’s not enough that I would walk around Disney World in these shoes, but it is enough for my everyday activities, definitely.
  • You can remove the soles and machine-wash the shoes. Gotta love that.
  • They can be dressed up or down. I’ve worn mine with jeans and dresses, to church or to run to the grocery store. I am a stay-at-home mom, but I think these shoes can appeal to women working outside the home, too. They are perfect with summery dresses or skirts, or dress up khakis and jeans a little bit.

And I have to say – they will be great pregnancy shoes! 

Yep …


Photo Credit: Show Me a Smile Photography

I love a great flat that is comfortable, cute, and does not require me to wear socks or tie anything when I am a big and pregnant. So I am sure I am going to get tons and tons of use out of my lovely Ja-Vie Flats over the next 6 months!


Want to win a pair of these flats for yourself? You know you do! Enter using Rafflecopter below.

If the widget won’t load, go to this link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Best Tips and Tricks for Jamberry Nails

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Disclosure: I am not a Jamberry nails consultant, they are just a product I love! I have a friend who is, so I did set up a party in case anyone wanted to buy some – but she did not ask me to do this.


I talk to people a lot about Jamberry nails – probably because I am wearing them pretty often. Most of the time this is what I hear: “Oh, I tried them once and it was too hard.”

(In the case you don’t know what Jamberry nails are: the nails are “wraps” AKA stickers that adhere to your nails. Tons of fun patterns, and they last a long time if you do them right.)

My first time applying them didn’t go awesome, either. It took me a loooong time, and I had some issues with the nails peeling off once I had them on, too. I had to replace a few during the 9 days I wore my first “Jamicure.”

Jamberry nails

That’s a picture of the first Jams I ever tried. My nails were SHORT. My cuticles were icky. But I adored this pattern. Sadly it was a monthly special and they don’t make it now.

Even my friends who are consultants or Jamberry lovers seem to have issues. My friend Dawn (the consultant here) says it’s hard to get them on her toes. My friend Carrie loves them on her toes but not her fingernails.

My favorite thing about my Jams is that they keep me from biting my nails and chewing on my cuticles. I love that my nails are longer now and look nicer.

So after a solid six months of wearing Jamberry nails pretty often, here are my best tips and tricks for you. I wear them mostly on my fingers, although I have done a couple pedicures, too.

Jamberry nails Marsala in Bloom
Marsala in Bloom

  1. Follow the instructions. I realize this seems like common sense, but sometimes I’m not great at rule-following. Basically, make sure you actually wipe down your nails with an alcohol wipe or vinegar, push back your cuticles, and heat the Jam properly, then heat your nail afterward. If you need help, there are plenty of YouTube videos showing how to apply.
  2. Wash your hands with blue Dawn before starting. The same stuff that gets grease spots out of your shirt and can strip your cloth diapers will also remove the oils from your nails, helping the Jams to adhere well.
  3. Wipe your nails with white vinegar. Even with the dish soap, I found I was having trouble getting the metallic or shiny nails to stay on. (Like Gala, one of my favorites!) The white vinegar really helps prep your nails. I just put some on a paper towel and wipe it right onto my nails before application.
  4. Use a flat iron for heat. This is my own crazy invention, but it totally works. As long as you’re careful not to burn yourself. You are supposed to heat the nails before they go on your finger and then again to smooth them out after they are on. Most people use a hair dryer for this, but I don’t use a blowdryer on my hair, so I would have to dig one up. Plus I am not sure I am coordinated enough to hold the hair dryer and the nail at the same time. And I have heard some people having trouble with the nail folding over, etc., when it is blown. So I use a flat iron as my heat source. It is stable, very hot, and works great for me. (One of my Facebook friends says she uses a rice sock for that second heat. That will give you pretty direct heat. Good idea!)
  5. Clip, don’t file. The Jamberry instructions will tell you to file the nail down once you have the Jam on it. I find that can bend back the Jam and it just doesn’t work well for me. I cut off the rest of the Jamberry with nail scissors, then clip off the end, usually including a tiny bit of nail. This gives it a clean edge that won’t catch on things or push back.
  6. Speaking of … use good nail scissors. My mom gave me this Jamberry nail care kit, and the nail scissors that come in it are heavy duty. The ones I got from the dollar store are really flimsy and do not work well at all in comparison. So make sure you have good scissors and an orange stick/cuticle pusher thingy.
  7. It’s better to go too small than too big. When the Jamberry hits skin, it will peel back eventually, causing the whole Jam to come off. That is a pain. It’s better to pick Jams that are slightly small for your nail bed and have them not touch any skin. Trust me: no one will be able to tell that there is a sliver of nail on each side of your Jam.
  8. I won’t tell anyone if you use your fingers to put them on. Touching the sticky adhesive will get oils from your fingers on it, and that’s not good. But I cut mine too long on purpose, and then if I need to touch the upper part (that won’t go on my nail) to adjust it, I can. Usually applying to my left hand, I just cut, heat, and apply the Jam using nail scissors so I don’t touch them. But sometimes on my right (applying with my non-dominant hand), I just need a little more help adjusting the position. So as long as you’re not touching the part that goes on your actual nail, it’s OK.

Jamberry nails
Gala, Glitz, and Fizzy Grape – I get tons of compliments when I wear Gala, the chevron ones. So fun!

Junior Jamberry
Libbie in retired Jamberry Juniors (her “Elsa nails”). It’s harder to do hers because she hates me to push down her cuticles, but they still look cute

Valentine Jamberry NailsRetired “Love Spell” set that I adored

So now that you have all my tricks, I would encourage you to try Jamberry nails (again, if you have before)! Honestly, it takes a couple tries before you get the hang of it. I think it was probably my fourth time that I felt like I was doing an OK job. But the nails are so much cheaper than going to get a manicure, they last a long time (usually 7-10 days for me on my fingers), and they are just plain fun.

If you have any questions, send them my way! If I can’t answer them, my friend Dawn the consultant can.

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Grain-Free Chili Ranch Chicken Bites

Note: This post is sponsored by Naturally Fresh® and The Motherhood, and I was compensated for my time and recipe development. All opinions, pictures, and experiences are my own, and I hope you enjoy them. As always, money earned through sponsored posts will be donated, and I thank you greatly for giving me that ability! 

Party food. It’s basically the best, right? I am positive I could live on dips, maybe with a stuffed jalapeno and chicken wing thrown in there. And there is no time for party food like the Super Bowl.

I have zero interest in football. This morning I had a Trivia Crack question about who played in the 2014 Super Bowl, and I had no idea. I went to a party on campus. I swear! I cooked amazing chicken chili, which won a cook-off. But I had no idea who played in the game.

Naturally Fresh and The Motherhood asked if I would develop a Super Bowl snack recipe using one of their dressings. When I read that their dressings and dips have no preservatives or artificial colors or flavorings, I was sold! I hopped down to Publix and found a jar in the refrigerated section, near salads. Imagine that – the Ranch dressing is made with actual buttermilk that needs to be refrigerated.

I was impressed with the ingredients list, especially how low sugar is on the list; and I recognized all the ingredients on the label. I’ve been experimenting with making my own Paleo mayonnaise, mostly so I can make Ranch dressing. But so far that has been a disaster. And I am not eating dairy-free, so I’d much rather grab a nice jar of Ranch that I know tastes good than do battle with my immersion blender and have a kitchen splattered with olive oil again.

Ranch chicken bites


Since I am trying to eat grain-free right now, I decided to make a little chicken nugget that fits my diet. The chicken is marinated in Ranch dressing and spices, a technique I’ve used for years to make great pork chops. These are then breaded with almond meal and fried in palm oil shortening (or whatever you want to use for deep frying – it’s an oil I feel comfortable using).

I thought these were delicious, but I wasn’t sure if I could sell my kids on the gluten-free breading. Libbie happened to come by when I was trying them, though, and was ecstatic to be a taste-tester. And she LOVED them. Woohoo! These may be a good lunchbox staple, too.

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

Yield: about 40 chicken bites

Grain-Free Chili-Ranch Chicken Bites

Delicious fried chicken nuggets take on a new flavor profile after being marinated in Ranch dressing and coated with almond meal.


  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 c. Naturally Fresh® Classic Ranch dressing, plus more for dipping
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • oil for deep frying - I used palm oil shortening
  • salt for sprinkling


Toss cubed chicken with the Ranch dressing, chili powder, and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Set up three bowls for coating chicken. In the first, put coconut flour. In the second, beat the egg. In the third, mix almond meal, salt, and pepper.

Heat shortening or oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Your oil should be about 1 inch deep. Test to see if oil is ready by using the end of a wooden spoon. If bubbles form around it, it is hot enough. Watch your oil and keep it fairly low. If too hot, the almond meal will easily burn.

Coat chicken pieces in coconut flour, then egg, then almond meal. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until chicken feels firm, flipping in the oil once. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate, and immediately sprinkle lightly with salt. Fry in batches, being careful not to overcrowd chicken.

Serve with extra Ranch dressing for dipping.


Cutting chicken while it is partially frozen will make it easier to get even cubes. For a spicier nugget, you can add some cayenne to the marinade or to the almond coating.

Want some more gluten-free party food for your Super Bowl shindig? Try one of these!

Do you have a favorite Super Bowl party food? Anyone who leaves me a relevant comment will be entered to win a coupon for a free bottle of Naturally Ranch dressing. Woo! 

Jessie’s Magic Sleep Potion

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

mama's magic sleeping potion

I have always had a really hard time getting to sleep at night. I have a million things wrestling for attention in my head, and I can’t seem to convince them Mama needs some zzz’s. I will lay there and want to maim my husband for being able to fall asleep instantaneously. It is truly miserable!

I’ve never tried sleep aids, because I don’t do well with medicine. When I was in labor with Libbie, I went to the hospital and found I was only 2 centimeters. They gave me two Ambien and sent me home. I spent the rest of the night – IN LABOR – running into walls and going to sleep on the floor because the bed was too far. I am very sensitive to medications and I don’t trust I would wake up to a screaming child or the fire alarm or something if I were on sleep meds.

Researching an article for ParentLife, though, I came across this little recipe for a Honey-Milk bath with crushed lavender flowers. Well, I said to myself, that’s just silly! Why make a mess of crumbled, dried flowers when I have lavender oil right on my dresser?

That night I mixed up some milk, honey, and the lavender oil. And when I got out of my bath, I was too tired to read even one page of a book. I hit the pillow and fell asleep immediately and deeply. It. Was. Amazing.

I’ve tried it twice more and gotten pretty much the same results. For some reason, lavender oil alone in the bath does not seem to have the same effect on me. Something about the milk and honey is relaxing – and it’s good for your skin, in any case!

Jessie’s Magic Sleep Potion

Jessie’s Magic Sleep Potion


  • 3/4 c. whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2-3 T honey
  • 4 drops therapeutic grade lavender oil


Whisk ingredients together in a bowl or shake together in a jar. Add to hot bath, running container under hot water to make sure you get all the honey out. Relax for half an hour with a good book. Sleep!

I hope this helps you relax and sleep easier, too!

Disclaimers: I am not a doctor and not dispensing any medical advice! Just sharing what works for me. I am (very recently!) a Young Living distributor, and if you want to chat about the oils, let me know!

Let’s Pretend It’s Really Spring: Win a $50 Carter’s Gift Card for Your Little One’s Wardrobe!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

I participated in this program on behalf of Carter’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.


Is there an easier brand to love than Carter’s when you have little kids? I’m thinking no. We’ve always been thrilled with the quality of their sleepers, onesies, dresses, bibs, and more! I mourn the day Libbie grows out of Carter’s sizes (although now they’re going up to size 12! Woot!).

So you know when Carter’s offered me free money to go shop at their store – plus a gift card to give to you – I was all over that offer!

Carter's gift card giveaway

Right now is a pretty fantastic time to shop at Carter’s. Here’s why!

  • Their 50% off Baby and Kids Sale is going on, so pretty much everything is marked down! Plus there were some great clearance items.
  • On top of that, you can use the 20% off a purchase of $40 or more coupon below!
  • For every $40 you spend, you get a $10 reward certificate {the clerks at my Carter’s told me this is a special promotion because it’s usually $50}. And you can redeem those in the next month. Unlike some other places, you don’t have to spend $20 or $50 to use your $10 off – it’s just $10 off. Woohoo!
  • There are some adorable new collections (that were 25% off in store). Check out the Spring into Pink and Little Mate collections in a store near you.
  • These deals are good through March 4.

Carter's Spring Coupon

{click on coupon photo to open in a new window, then print}

I was really loving the items from the Mighty Cute collection. I have a thing for whales, apparently.


And here is what I found for my own kids to wear for Easter this year!


Joshua and David will be wearing these sweet oxford shirts with cuffs in yellow and mint green. We’ll use khakis we already have (which are probably Carter’s anyway!). Libbie’s chambray dress will match their cuffs and is so stinking adorable and girly! I love that Carter’s has stuff for LITTLE GIRLS, not teenager stuff shrunk to size 6.

So now that you’ve listened to all my ramblings, want to win a $50 Carter’s gift card for yourself? OF COURSE YOU DO! I am going to go old-school and say just leave me a comment! Tell me what you would buy with your gift card and who it would be for. For an extra entry, you can follow me on Facebook or Google Plus – just leave me another comment that you did so. The winner is Jay Dee! Congratulations!