Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Full Figured and Fabulous Black Friday Blowout

I was a wee bit excited to share this post and could not wait!!! Here is a selection of all plus-size designers and stores that will be offering amazing Black Friday deals. Enjoy! 

Addition Elle: Up to 50% off select items
Ashley Stewart: 35% off entire online store through Thanksgiving, check site for Black Friday deals.
ASOS: 25% off party wear
Avenue: 50% off select coats and 40% off storewide
Bare Necessities: Buy one get one free 50% off plus take additional 20% off with code BPP20
BedHead Pajamas:Black Friday $69 or less
Big Girls Bras:  $20 off use coupon code 20black100
City Chic: currently all clearance buy one get one free  
Dorothy Perkins: Free standard shipping when you spend $50 with code DPSHIP50 Also having a mid season sale 50% off select items.
Eddy and Bri: taking around 33% off select items

eDressMe: designer dresses up to 80% off

Eloquii: sale up to 70%
Evans: Up to 40% off everything
Fashion To Figure: 7 days of black friday!
Forever 21+: 7 days of black friday then check their site on black friday for major deals!
Full Beauty: customer favorite bras up to 25% off
Hips and Curves: 50% off select items
Jessica London: 40% off your entire order use promo code JLCYBERTREAT
Jill Alexander Designs check shop for details
Kiyonna: 30% orders $150 or more use promo code GOBBLE30
Kmart: 30% off womens attire
Lane Bryant: buy one get one 50% off almost everything.
Macy’s: extra 20-40% off clearance, 15-50% off womens plus size attire.
Modcloth: Everyday till black friday a batch of new items goes on sale!
Penningtons: Check daily for details 15-50%
Qristyl Frazier Designs: Black Friday starts now! Use code BF20 to get everything 20% off site wide.
Rachel Pally: check daily for deals
Rafaella: take an additional 40% off your entire purchase
Sears: 50% off plus size clothing
Spanx Free Shipping and Returns with code: FSFR14 check daily for specials!

Sydneys Closet: check daily for deals from black friday to cyber monday

Torrid: check for updated sales from now till cyber monday
Woman Within: 40% off almost everything

Four Keys To Wisdom Part 2

Today we continue our study on “Solomon's Four Keys of Wisdom.” Last week I talked about the perseverance of the spider and how she would do anything to stay in the kings palace. This week we’ll look at the locusts ever changing personality and how they join together as a unity of one. While I was  researching today's bible verse I found a great sermon/devotional that I wanted to share from “Let God Be True.”

“God made the desert locust a special creature with a changing personality. It teaches you a valuable lesson about success and happiness in life. Ordinarily very reclusive and solitary, this animal minds its own business, ventures about only at night, and meets other locusts only for brief mating encounters. However, when the situation calls for it, they change dramatically in color and even more drastically in social behavior, becoming very friendly and group oriented, creating huge swarms for their mutual benefit.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He could talk in detail about things like trees and insects (I Kings 4:29-34). He knew all about the desert locust, and he used it to teach the value of joining together with others. God created you to be a social creature, and you will only maximize your potential by using the societies he created for you, which are family, school, marriage, church, friends, business, and nation. He also said, "Two are better than one … and a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Eccl 4:9-12). He gave four glorious advantages to using your societies to your advantage.

The wisdom to be learned is the advantage of numbers and unity. Society is better than individuality. Solomon taught, "Two are better than one … and a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Eccl 4:9-12). Every person with a decent spouse knows that marriage is certainly better than being single (Gen 2:18; Eccl 9:9). This fact is obvious to wise men, regardless of the modern babbling about the blessings and virtue of the single life.

There are four advantages to human society, or the gathering of individuals into a group (Eccl 4:9-12). First, they can share the rewards of labor and prosperity. Second, when one has difficulties, the others can help him. Third, their different abilities are synergistic and result in greater productivity. And fourth, they can defend against greater enemies.

Regardless of how you feel about others, you cannot do nearly as much or as well by yourself, as you can with the assistance of others. And you will be a whole lot happier in the exchange, for there is great pleasure in the group dynamics of saints, especially when assisted by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ps 133:1-3). Let God and the locusts be true!”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe Haul

Candied Yams 
I tried this recipe when I hosted my very first Thanksgiving dinner for twenty family members. Everyone was nervous they would not cook in time but I assure you they were quick and easy to make. Also very delicious. The only thing I added was a little nutmeg. I feel like cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg are staples during the Thanksgiving holiday. You can also cook sweet potatoes this way, drain and rinse then mash them or puree them for a sweet potato casserole. 

This is as close to my Grandmas recipe that I can get. For those of you that see the liver and are going "Ewwwww!" Let me tell you a little story. Often when making the plain and liver stuffing, I forget to label the pans. When it's time to eat, no one can tell the difference so they end up eating the liver stuffing. (When they had sworn never to eat liver.) The liver provides this wonderful rich smooth texture that blends nicely with the bread and vegetables. 

Homemade Stuffing
30 Slices White Bread, lightly toasted           2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter                                   2 teaspoons of sage
1 large onion, finely chopped                     1 teaspoon garlic or garlic powder
2 stalks celery, finely chopped 
1 pint chicken livers (optional) 
   salt and pepper to taste 
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Allow the toasted bread to sit approximately 24 hours, until hard. 

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

3. Crush the bread into crumbs with a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a large bowl. 

4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat., Stir in the onion, garlic if fresh, celery and chicken livers slowly cook until soft and no pink in middle for livers.  Remove from heat and drain. Finely chop livers. 

5. Mix the eggs and chicken broth into the bread crumbs. The mixture should be moist, but not mushy. Use water, if necessary, to attain desired consistency. Mix in the onion, celery, sage, garlic, salt and pepper. 

6.  Press the mixture into the baking dish. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the top is brown and crisp. (This recipe freezes well so you can make it ahead of time and bake when ready to serve.) 

Old Fashioned Collard Greens

This recipe is exactly how my grandparents cooked collard greens. Although my Grandma Charlie would cook with bacon grease instead. If your wanting to be super healthy during the holiday season just simmer the collards in some low fat chicken broth and oil. 

1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2  pounds ham hocks (or add bacon grease) 
4 pounds collard greens, rinsed and trimmed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the water and the ham hock in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to very low and simmer covered for 30 minutes. 

2. Add the collards then simmer covered for about 2 hours , stirring occasionally. 

3. Add the vegetable oil and simmer covered for 30 minutes. 

4. Drain collards and begin to chop within bowl till your desired consistency. 

Green Bean Casserole 

I found this recipe on All Recipes and served it for my family, they LOVED IT. I promise I will never post recipes I haven't tried or they aren't simply delicious. With that said this is one of my go to recipes so enjoy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dream Closet: Business Couture

Happy Friday Everyone! This weeks dream closet is dedicated to our 9-5 working woman. Who wants to add a little designing flare to her everyday business attire. Today I'm pulling from Jibri they bring the perfect physical report for the full figured and business savvy woman.

While perusing through their online Etsy store I was reminded of  my favorite 80's TV show and movie; Designing Woman and 9-5 with an undertone of today's executive woman. I find their designs not only appealing but inspirational for the confidant fashionista.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Favorite Things: Secret Six

Today I have treat for you. While, most of you come here for the food, faith, and fashion; I am also a colossal nerd and love comic books. So in honor of my mini-honeymoon with my husband at NC Comic-con, I am going to write about my favorite comic book.  Just to make those of you who are not aware, I don't care much for those sissy heroes but am in love with the diabolical villains. Who so often steal the story out from under the feet of those heroes. More specifically I love stories of villains that come together to form a team for a common interest. The team I am talking about is the Secret Six. This is a team of a rotating  roster of villains that are highly trained mercenaries, with only one goal in mind, getting paid. This team began in 1968 and closed in 1969 after nearly every member died but was reestablished two more times in 2006 and 2008.  This motley crew of villains received their orders from a mysterious figured code name Mockingbird. Who is this Mockingbird? None of them know but all assume it is one of the other five members. All together this is one of my favorite teams and in total span three volumes and forty-nine issues.  Ranked 4th best comic of the decade and houses some of my favorite villains

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wedding: My Favorite Tips

Hi everyone, I wanted to apologize for my lack of post on Monday and Tuesday.  So much has occurred from getting married to my grandfather coming home from the nursing home. Today I wanted to share some pictures and my favorite tips. Over the next few Wednesdays I will cover all things wedding. Enjoy!

  1. Write down your wedding budget and double that number. Honestly we had a $1000 budget at the beginning then we easily surpassed that after buying my dress, food, and  covering various expenses.
  2. I had a lot of people willing to help make our wedding a success. I stuck to my guns because I wanted everyone to have an opportunity to help out. I focused on what their talents and skills were and from there I assigned task.
  3. Going along with #2,when picking your bridal party make sure you pick folks that are going to be there for you when times get critical or hectic. During my rehearsal I had a panic attack (b/c I have social anxiety) and my bridesmaids with my parents and fiance’ worked together to get me back to the hotel room and relax. Also just keeping me focused.
  4. A lot of people are going to want to put their input in regarding your day. Just know they love you and just want to help out. Know when to set healthy loving boundaries and that your wedding day is all about you and your husband.

  5. Try and make your centerpieces from scratch as much as you can. If you're not that crafty have someone in your wedding party or family that is. My in-laws are very crafty along with a few of my bridesmaids.
  6. Order your table clothes online it’s cheaper than having to rent them. Use placemats instead of overlays sometimes that comes out cheaper. I had burlap placemats that cost 100 bucks for 70.
  7. Utilize Facebook's wedding yardsale groups for buying or selling.
  8. If you are a plus-sized bride make sure you get a photographer that knows how to photograph you and you feel comfortable around. Shout out to Morris Productions they were amazing an amazing team and  fueled each others creativity.  
  9. Buy your flowers online, I know your thinking how in the world but I ordered these amazing dried lavender and wheat flowers from Etsy. Instead of paying over a $1000 I paid $240 and received 600 stems of lavender, 7 bridesmaid bouquets and my bouquet. They smelled amazing and fit my vintage theme.  Also I got my babies breath from Lowes foods for $42. (12 bushels)
  10. If you have no money for your honeymoon wait till after the reception and if need be book your honeymoon for a later date.
  11. If you don't have a wedding planner delegate someone to be the official announcer to help guide wedding guest and plan your walk down the aisle. TRUST ME!!! Also let all parties know about this individual ahead of time. (Preacher, Wedding Party, Family..ect)

  12. Be prepared for your timeline from engagement to wedding to be skewed. We had a had a lot of circumstances happen that were out of our control. From designing the engagement ring to engagement photos.
  13. Engagement photos, we were supposed to have them professionally done then I got sick, Matthew could not get off work, then we had no more free time. So my bridesmaid took the photos and I used PicMonkey to photoshop and edit. It worked and I think they came out pretty good.
  14. Be prepared for more guest to come. We sent our RSVP’s with stamps, yet over half of our guest list did not respond back. I thought maybe...40 would come if that and we ended up with 55-60 guest overall
  15. If you have introverted family members on both sides of your family, do some assigned seating. I wanted our families to mingle and not just sit with folks they already knew. I'm happy they were able to get to know one another. Although be prepared for people not to follow assigned seating. At the end of the day you will be happy you're married and have the love of your life sitting next to you.
  16. Find a church you really don't have to decorate to much. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dream Closet: Country Rustic

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Hi everyone! I hope you enjoy today's dream closet. Sorry I'm keeping it short because I will be getting married on Saturday. As you read this I will be running around greeting family and friends and about to say "I Do!" I shopped  at Modcloth, Eshakti, DSW, Wilson Leather, and Torrid for today's collection. What is your favorite rustic style? Post images on GRB's Twitter account (gracefullyru) or tag me on Instagram at Gracefully Rugged. If you would like to give me ideas on the next Dream Closet send me an email or message me on Facebook. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Favorite Fashion Designers/Stores for Fall/Winter 2014

I’m very excited about this post and enjoyed researching my favorite designers at Full Figured Fashion Week. Also I wanted to share stores that creteil to the full figured and fabulous. Please check back next Thursday, hopefully I will have list, with links to all plus size stores having sales on Black Friday

Favorite Fashion Designers for Fall/Winter 2014

Jibri Online $$$

Poppy and Bloom $$$

Curvalicious Clothes

Eshakti $$ (Mass Customization On All Items)


Fashion To Figure

Simply Be

Ashley Stewart


City Chic

Love Culture

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

10 things You Don't Know About Me

  1. Over the last 6 years I’ve dealt with several losses within my family, in the past year I’ve become more anxious and introverted. To turn my anxiety and grief into something positive I started cooking more. When I’m in the kitchen I can hyper focus on creating something my loved ones passed down to me or something completely foreign. During those moments all my anxiety fades away and the grief turns into memories or a delicious meal I can share with my family.
  2. I’m a school supply hoarder, the first step is admitting you have a problem right? During college I got so bad  my roommate and best friend Heather banned me from buying any more highlighters. Ever since I was a little girl I always got excited about the new school year mainly because of the school supplies. I had this delusion “I’ll keep myself highly organized” then by midterms it was organized chaos. Well more chaos.
  3. I only like to dress up when going out but my favorite articles of clothing as I like to call “comfy couture” are a college hoodie and yoga pants. Or if its really hot outside I love wearing my Star Wars T-Shirt with said yoga pants.  
  4. If I could get away with wearing dresses all day everyday with tights I would, I honestly think it stems from my fear of having a muffin top. I love how I look, feel, and matched with the right set of heels..I’m golden.
  5. I buy a lot of beauty products I’ll never use but say it would be a great thing to use. I typically have a few choice products that are my go to, that work and I can really depend on. Or I accidentally forget that I have the product then squeal with excitement randomly while organizing my makeup area.
  6. I am Batman…>.> I collect villain comics/story arcs I’m not particular if it’s Marvel or DC but so far my collection is more DC. My favorite villain group is the Secret Six and my favorite villains so far are Bane and Deadshot. Although when Bane and Batman fight I have a really hard time because I  love Batman. Which makes for an interesting read because I’m rooting for the villain but then I’m saying to myself “I’m so sorry Batman..I have failed you.”
  7. Whenever I receive voice-mails from family or friends I occasionally save them especially if they are rambling or just being themselves. I like capturing moments to look back on especially when I’m homesick or miss them even when I just need a laugh.

  8. When I have binged on a serious TV drama or I’ve had a rough day I like to watch children cartoons or movies. For example Tinker Bell, My Little Ponies, and please don’t judge me Strawberry Shortcake. I just need something to mellow my mind and I honestly love some of the messages the shows give.
  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Old School Monster Movies my favorite is GODZILLA and Swamp Thing is my all time favorite comic!
  10. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis in February currently I treat my condition holistically and with natural herbs. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Four Keys of Wisdom Part 1

Proverbs 30:24-28

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.”

Over the next four weeks I would like to study the “Four Attributes of Wisdom.” Within this scripture Solomon gives instruction through watching four creatures in their natural habitat.

Solomon said, “A wise person will seek to have the qualities that these four creatures have and if you obtain them then you will have wisdom” I can only imagine Solomon watching these four creatures evangelize to him in their natural setting. The spiders story is giving us an example of strength, persistence, and determination. I recall living in Wendell and the beautiful deck we had behind the house. Over the summer a rather large spider with beautiful outstretched legs and vibrant colors made home there. Her first attempt was over the doorway catching me by surprise as I flailed and kicked my way to safety. The next time, she set up camp around the corners of the deck. Every time her web was destroyed she would continually rebuild her home. The spider Solomon observed professed her will of determination and perseverance. The message of the spider is, “She takes hold with her hands and she will not be moved, she will not quite, and she will do whatever it takes to stay in the king's palace.”

Today we are living in a time where life can devastate you, leaving you with the option to flee from adversity, succumb to temptation, and feel further from the kingdom of God. However we need to learn from the spider how to rebuild even while being pulled apart.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fajita Soup

I remember when I first tried this recipe; my younger brother Nick was coming to visit and I wanted something  healthy and that everyone would enjoy. Nick had given up sodas, sweets, and fast food. He started working out and had lost a lot weight. I wanted to be a support system for him and celebrate all he had accomplished. I was hesitant at first but this recipe is amazing, you just toss all the ingredients in the slow-cooker and forget about it. I hope you enjoy this recipe. Share with me your variations and what you liked best! 

Slow Cooker Fajita Soup
1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded
6 c. chicken broth
4 lrg. Zucchini, sliced
1 (14oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 can of tomato paste
1 med. onion, chopped
1 4oz can El Paso Green Chilies 
1 clove garlic, minced
Homemade Taco Seasoning
¼ c. fresh snipped cilantro
Dash of habanero sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large crock pot combine chicken, chicken broth, zucchini, tomatoes with chilies, tomato paste, onion, green chilies, garlic, and seasoning. Cook for 6-8 hours medium-high. If you would like your zucchini a little more crunchy add them to your crock pot 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve. At the 6 hour mark you should easily be able to shred the chicken with no effort.

Freezing Directions:

You will need a one gallon freezer bag to simply add all your uncooked ingredients to the bag along with seasonings. When ready to eat remove from freezer and thaw for 24hrs. Once thawed add to your crock pot and set for 6-8 hours.