Hey Y’all, It’s #CookoutWeek!

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

So, it’s summer. And you know what that means: picnic, barbecues, camping, parties, and of course, cookouts.

{In full disclosure, I don’t do a lot of grilling myself. And most of it’s inside on a grill pan. We live in an apartment, our grill is up some stairs, down some stairs, etc. Plus it’s not working this summer anyway. But I love to eat what other people grill!}

Cookouts aren’t just about grilling, though, are they? I mean, I’m basically there for deviled eggs. Do you have any cookout obsessions?


This week I’m taking part in a fun round-up called #CookoutWeek, thanks to some great sponsors and the ladies at The Pintertest Kitchen. I had a good time back during #Choctoberfest, so I thought it was well-worth the recipe-creating investment to participate!

So along with about 50 of my blogging buddies, I’m talking about #CookoutWeek, and we even have a sponsored giveaway you can enter.

It’s super easy to enter, and one lucky winner will get:

It’s pretty much everything you need to host an awesome cookout this summer. It’s a prize pack worth over $300! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful sponsors listed above, who have made #CookoutWeek possible.

Enter now:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check back throughout the week with all of the bloggers participating to get some yummy #CookoutWeek recipes. Here’s the full list of participating bloggers:

The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Day in the Life on the Farmaddicted 2 recipesAimee Broussard & Co.Amy’s Cooking AdventuresAngels Home Sweet HomesteadBakin’ and EggcerptsBalancing MotherhoodBody RebootedCheese Curd In ParadiseCindy’s Recipes and WritingsCook With 5 KidsCook. Craft. Love.Cookaholic WifeCricket’s ConfectionsCrumb: A Food BlogEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Everyday EileenFairyburgerFood ParsedGet the Good Stuff!Goodie GodmotherHezzi-D’s Books and CooksHome in the Finger LakesJennifer CooksJessie WeaverKate’s Recipe BoxLife on FoodLittle House Big AlaskaLittle Scratch KitchenMaking MiraclesMoore or Less CookingRhubarb and HoneySavvy In The KitchenSeduction in the KitchenSimple Food 365Style IslandThanks for Cookin’!The Food Hunter’s Guide To CuisineThe Hungary Buddha Eats the WorldThe Spiffy CookieThe Weekday GourmetThis is How I CookTramplingroseVintage KittyWest Via Midwest

I’m looking forward to sharing with you about True Made Foods and the delicious recipe I made with their Veracha sauce later this week. Stay tuned!

Staying Anchored in Troubled Times (with a giveaway!)

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

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you probably know a little bit about our foreclosure story. If not, and you have half an hour, you can listen to me talk about it on Amy J. Bennett’s Feathers podcast.

For me, that was hand-down the hardest couple years of my life. Dealing with a lot of unknowns, being separated from my husband, the constant stress of trying to sell a house, then not selling it. And those really hard times are when you come face-to-face with your faith. You find out whether it’s something you can really cling to or something maybe you didn’t actually believe deep down.

Is it an anchor? Or just a wave, rolling by?

#AnchoredHope by Kayla Aimee

During those years, I found that God was indeed my anchor.

I don’t want to compare our foreclosure to what my sweet friend Kayla Aimee talks about in her new book Anchored. Her struggle was one of life and death: the tiny life of her daughter Scarlette, who was born at 24 weeks gestation. But I think Kayla would agree with me: when the truly awful times hit, you find out what you really believe.

With her signature hilarious writing full of 90s references that make me grin, Kayla tells the very serious story of her pregnancy, going into labor at 24 weeks, and the six months her daughter spent in the NICU. She talks about the emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial burdens of having a micropreemie, while reflecting the joy and fighting spirit of a first-time mother.

I have not had a baby in the NICU, but I still laughed and cried through this beautiful book. I think this quote gives you some insight into Kayla’s lovely, unique style (and it was one of my favorites in the book).

quote from #AnchoredHope by Kayla Aimee

Many times we learn way more from the stories we didn’t want than from the Happily Ever Afters. Don’t you think?


If you’d like to win a copy of Anchored and this beautiful print from Gracelaced, just leave me a comment telling me why you’d like to read this book. 

I did receive a copy of Anchored and some gifts from Kayla and B&H, but I have not been compensated nor was I required to write this! 

Plus-Size Maternity Style with SimplyBe (GIVEAWAY!)

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

You know the best part of being a blogger? Having a company you truly love already contact you out of the blue and ask to give you free stuff.

That’s what happened with me and SimplyBe! I’ve been obsessed with their adorable, British, plus-size clothes for well over a year (introduced to them by my college roomie and friend Erin). Here I am in a Joe Browns dress last year at Easter.

Easter family

I’m not sure I even knew SimplyBe had maternity clothes, though. The selection isn’t huge, but they do have some great basics. From their maternity line, I ordered cotton-linen blend black pants. They are very comfortable and versatile. Here I’m wearing them with a sweater from Motherhood, some ancient Nine West shoes, and earrings my best friend got at a local shop, I think.

Jessie in SimplyBe maternity pants

(Please forgive my expressions. BOTH of my children were screaming bloody murder.)

I think the best part about being plus-size and pregnant is that a lot of normal plus-size clothes can pass for maternity, depending on their cut. I veer away from empire-waist styles when I’m not pregnant, mostly so people won’t ask me if I am. But with good length, a cute shirt can work all the way until 9 months!

This Joe Browns shirt had me at first glance. Because it’s long, I can wear it now and probably after the baby’s born, although I would probably style it with a jean jacket or cardigan for non-maternity to streamline some of the volume.

Here I’m wearing it with my favorite straight-leg maternity jeans and the PERFECT maternity shoes, Teva Makena ballet flats. They have the support of a tennis shoe and I don’t have to wear socks.

Joe Browns blouse

Here’s another outfit I’ve worn a few times and really liked. The Joe Browns tunic is lightweight and comfy.

Maternity Easy Style


Ooh, I almost forgot the icing on the cake! I ordered these fantastic Viva La Diva slippers to wear in the hospital and at home. I pretty much live in my slippers post-partum, and these are SO cozy and cute.

Viva La Diva Suede Moccasins

That pretty much sums up my maternity style: easy, comfortable, versatile. I’m a stay-at-home mom with two young kids already, so I need to be able to get around. My “style” when I was pregnant with Libbie and working was completely different!

And now, for the giveaway!! SimplyBe has oodles of clothes, all in sizes 10-28, but they also have great shoes, accessories, and jewelry. They are always having awesome deals via e-mail – often 40-50% off. You may need to be careful about sizing – Joe Browns, for instance, definitely runs at least one size big.

One winner can choose up to $50 of in-stock merchandise from SimplyBe.com. Use Rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$50 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway from #flatoutpizza

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


Remember my Flatout Pizza Party from last week? Want to make some flatbread pizzas of your own?

Today I’m giving away a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart and a great Flatout gift package, all wrapped up in a nice, zippered, reusable bag.

To enter, leave a comment with your favorite pizza toppings. For an extra entry, subscribe to Vanderbilt Wife via e-mail or RSS feed and leave me a comment telling me you did.

Thank you to theMotherhood, Wal-Mart, and Flatout Bread for sponsoring this giveaway. US mailing addresses only, please. Winner will be chosen on Thursday, November 1, 2012.

The Last Pork Night with #Publix4Pork

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

It’s been four weeks of pork here in the Vanderbilt household! We have had more fun with this campaign than I ever expected. For four weeks, we’ve cooked a giant meal with two pork entrees and fed our friends.

Last night, our friends L and C offered to have us to their apartment instead so I didn’t have to clean. What a blessing! Especially since I think I made a new record number of dirty dishes preparing the meal.

We feasted on a green salad, Beer-Braised Pork Cutlets, Cranberry-Balsamic Pork Cutlets, Asparagus and Green Beans in Citrus Oil, wilted slaw, Quinoa “Mac and Cheese,” and brownies.

The beer-braised cutlets won the vote 3 to 1 on which pork was the favorite. I love dill anything – pickles, potato salad, etc – and the dill in this really made it. It isn’t the prettiest dish ever (especially in my old, stained Corningware), but the taste was excellent – especially alongside L’s lovely wilted slaw with celery seed. It all made my German tastebuds very happy.

Mr. V did like the Cranberry-Balsamic Cutlets better, though. They are even less pretty than the beer-braised ones, but very tender and tasty. I could drink balsamic vinegar, so anything with it usually makes me happy.

The theme for this week was Healthy Comfort Foods, and I believe both of these dishes certainly fit that bill. They are hearty and flavorful without being deep-fried or highly caloric.


Cranberry-Balsamic Pork Cutlets


  • 1 lb. pork cutlets or boneless pork chops
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3T flour
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. cranberry relish (see below)
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar


Pound cutlets between piece of plastic wrap to thin out and tenderize. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place cutlets in skillet. Cook for three minutes on each side.

Whisk remaining ingredients together (flour through vinegar). After pork is browned, pour mixture into skillet. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, until sauce is thickened.

Cranberry Relish

To make cranberry relish, pulse about 2/3 cup fresh cranberries, the juice and zest of half an orange, and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor or blender. Use 1/2 cup for recipe and any additional relish for garnish. Alternately, use store-bought relish or cranberry sauce.



It’s the last week to enter to win the wonderful prize package:

  • coupons for $40 of fresh pork
  • a meat thermometer
  • a reusable bag
  • a pedometer
  • and a nice reusable water bottle!

To enter, just comment on this post with a favorite pork recipe of yours!

One winner will be chosen from all comments on my #publix4pork posts. You can comment once on all entries, for up to four entries! Winner will be chosen Monday, February 20.

Thank you to the Pork Board and theMotherhood for sponsoring this series of posts. I received coupons, a gift card, and a stipend for my time and groceries, but all opinions are my own.

From Blah to Awe: A Book Review (and Giveaway!)

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

I have finally given into the trend of digital reading. I can’t lie: I love the feel of a paperback in my hands. I love real ink. I love not looking at a screen.

But for Christmas, I asked my husband to get me a Kindle.

The convenience of an e-reader is just not something you can argue against. Books take up a lot of space. And there are so many e-books available for free! Just this week I got five books for zero dollars, and borrowed one I really wanted to read from the library.

But there are still some books you need to have a real copy of. From Blah to Awe by Jenna Lucado Bishop is one of those.

From Blah to Awe (how DO you shorten that title? Just Blah?) is aimed at teen girls who want to rev up their faith. I think if you’ve been a Christian for more than three weeks you’ve probably been there: thinking, “Is it really supposed to be like this? Why aren’t I more excited about God and living out His will?” I know as an adult and mother I wonder how to reconcile the day-to-day parenting stuff with the being-a-servant-of-God stuff; and as a teen it was just on a different scale—how did I balance homework and crushes with Jesus and missions?

Jenna Bishop LucadoJenna—the daughter of Max Lucado, if you didn’t catch that—has a passion for guiding teens into an exciting life with God. From Blah to Awe is written conversationally. It’s a super-easy read and full of stories of teen girls who have done awe-inspiring things for God. Jenna intertwines her own story with humor and some creative writing pieces.

The reason you need a physical copy of the book is because it is one-third journal. Each chapter has multiple short journaling sections with questions to answer. These are the kinds of questions with no right or wrong answers, just some thought-provoking topics.

As soon as I finished the book, I was thinking of some teen girls in my life I would love to read it. The younger a woman can realize that life with God is amazing and doesn’t have to be boring at all, the more time she has to live effectively and out loud for Christ.

If you’d like this book for yourself or to gift to a young lady in your life, it might be your lucky day! I’m giving away one copy thanks to Thomas Nelson, Jenna’s publisher.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me who you would give the book to (or why you want it, if it’s you!).

For one extra entry, you can share this post (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and let me know that you did. Only one extra entry per person. Please leave an additional comment letting me know where you shared it and a link, if possible.

One winner will be selected at random Sunday, February 19.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of the book for myself and one for giveaway. No other compensation was received for this post, and all opinions are my own.