Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Giveaway: Invitations by Dawn holiday photo cards $100 gift code!

Last year as my husband and I celebrated our First Christmas as Mr. and Mrs., we entrusted our holiday cards to Invitations by Dawn with a design from their holiday collection I was able to personalize on their website to perfectly reflect our personalities. We couldn't have been more happier with our cards and we received countless compliments from family and friends on our unique and attention-getting holiday card design.
Here is a look at "Our First Christmas" card from last year. We loved the statement-making quality of their "Bright Joy" design's front cover, which showcased our official wedding portrait.

The card opened to reveal another layer of the card and more favorite wedding pictures.

The inside of the card was the unique design we wished for, with our custom holiday message to loved ones surrounded by favorite wedding pictures.

When it came time to plan this year's holiday card for our Second Christmas as husband and wife, Invitations by Dawn's outstanding job with last year's card made them our choice.

This year’s collection is full of exclusive designs just for engaged and newlywed couples, but they also have great designs for families and single adults, as well.

The collection includes unique cards – folded, die-cut, petite, storylines and more. There is a price point for everyone's budget. They are having a fantastic Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale on their website from now until Monday with 40% off their holiday cards and free shipping.

Our cards that I custom designed with their easy and fun design tools on their website for our 2012 holiday cards are now on their way to our house to be lovingly hand-addressed to each recipient by me. I will not disclose the design I chose this year *yet* but I will share with you some of my favorites from the Invitations by Dawn - 2012 Holiday Collection.

I am a huge fan of The Beatles' music and even incorporated a Beatles love song into our wedding ceremony music, so I'm crazy about the eye-catching "All You Need Is Love" card design

What a fun and romantic design this is for an engaged couple or newlyweds to sport some bling on their cards!

I love that they offer designs to fit so many different personalities. This beautiful design is a more traditional choice for a couple to convey the romance of their First Christmas

What a fun statement card this design makes that can easily be made into a memorable ornament for your family and friends!

Here is what their designers have to say about their inspirations creating this year's line: “When planning this year’s holiday collection we wanted to do something different to stand out from the crowded photo card market. We took a look at our customer and knew what to do - create a fresh collection of photo cards that let her show off her engagement or wedding. The team couldn’t have done a better job creating this collection. From sweet and sentimental to witty and modern, you’ll find a holiday card that will let your love shine!”

Thanks to the amazing Invitations By Dawn, one of YOU will win a $100 gift code to be used toward your own custom holiday photo cards!

To enter, take a look at their 2012 holiday cards collection here and then leave me a comment below letting me know one of your favorite designs or even more than one favorite, if you care to share. Entries will close Sunday night, November 25 at 10:00 pm EST. Winner will be announced on the blog immediately. Good luck!

FTC Disclaimer: I received 2012 holiday cards from Invitations By Dawn and a $100 gift code giveaway prize for one of my readers in exchange for this blog post. I was not financially compensated by Invitations By Dawn for writing this post. All opinions stated in this blog post are my own.

Change Up Your Leftover Holiday Turkey! "Southern Fried Bride’s Ranchero Wagonwheel Turkey Salad"

Looking for a new way to change up leftover Thanksgiving turkey for dinner time? Try my southwest-inspired take on leftover turkey and see if this dish adds some variety to your dinner table. In the pasta aisle, look past the usual macaroni and try changing up your meal with a different kind of pasta. I love the texture of pinwheel pasta and it is in a comparable price range. Get ready to go on a south of the border flavor journey.

"Southern Fried Bride’s Ranchero Wagonwheel Turkey Salad"
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey

1 (16 ouz.) package pinwheel pasta

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup light ranch dressing

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons parsley

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

In large saucepan, prepare pinwheel pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse. Drain and place pasta back into pot. In separate mixing bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, chili powder and parsley until well blended. Pour mixture over pasta and stir well. Mix in turkey, tomatoes, black beans and onions. Transfer into serving bowl. Garnish, if desired, with sprinkle of parsley. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! My Mother's Thanksgiving Prayer

Of my many blessings to be thankful for on this day set aside in the United States to reflect on thankfulness, one of my foremost is the gift of being MY mother's daughter. I don't choose to think of it as I was a young woman who at age 26, had to lose my soulmate mother. I choose to think of it as I was appointed by the Heavenly Father to be given 26 cherished years with an amazing mother I wouldn't trade for 100 years with any other mother.
My mother was a gifted writer and she wrote this prayer nearly a decade and a half ago to say as the prayer at her work's Thanksgiving dinner. After her death in the summer of 2001, I found a typewritten copy of this prayer with her original signature and it is a treasure of mine. That year an area newsaper published her prayer in their Thanksgiving edition. A friend of ours was so touched by the poem that she created me a special colored print with the prayer and I display it in my dining room every autumn. That friend passed away earlier this year, making the message in this prayer even more meaningful to me. My mother's sentiments in this prayer are still so appropriate for the times we are living in and I want to share this with each and every one of you with my wishes for you and your families to have a Happy Thanksgiving!

                                     A Thanksgiving Prayer For You...From Me

 by Jan Woodard-Morgan
Kind Heavenly Father I humbly thank God for my life, it is such a precious gift-for His mercy and loving kindness, for the ability to help others-hopefully with a Smile, for the knowledge that illness gives-every morning when we wake to see another day-we should give thanks to God immediately, and learning how to make the best of a situation, if God be for us, who can be against us, for the power of speech in these great United States, for any blessing that may have slipped my memory. May the spirit of Thanksgiving be catching to those around me. May we give abundant thanks for the things we do have and certainly for some of the things we DO NOT have...and most of all- for my co-workers who have become my family...I thank God for each and every one. HAPPY TURKEY DAY!!!    
What are some of the things YOU are thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Recipe Corner: "Southern Fried Bride's Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting"

"Southern Fried Bride's Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting"
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup sweet potatoes, mashed
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or coat with cooking spray. In large bowl, add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until well combined. Set aside. In separate bowl, add butter and sugar. Cream together 2 minutes. Add egg, sweet potatoes, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add dry flour mixture in thirds until all of dry mixture has been added.  Divide batter evenly between the baking cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until  golden brown in color and spring back when lightly pressed in the enter. Cool for three minutes in  pan, then place cupcakes on wire rack to cool completely. Frost with "Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting" or enjoy without frosting.
"Southern Fried Bride's Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting"
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
In large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes, until frosting has a light and fluffy consistency. If mixture becomes stiff, add additional 1 tablespoon of milk.

"Sweet Potato Bread with Marshmallow Glaze"

This recipe is one of the fun ways I have changed up traditional sweet potatoes and marshmallows on our holiday dinner table this year. This dish was a staple in our home when I was growing up and we always had marshmallows and pecans on our sweet potatoes, a tradition which I carry on as an adult in my home. I made a sweet potato bread with a marshmallow glaze. One of my Grandma Cleva's dear friends recently gifted with a bottle of Rodelle pure vanilla extract and I absolutely loved the quality and taste of this extract in my marshmallow frosting recipe. This makes a wonderful dessert and is perfect for a breakfast bread or fun holiday snack.

"Southern Fried Bride's Sweet Potato Bread with Marshmallow Glaze"

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
1/4 cup nonfat or 2% milk
1 cup sweet potatoes, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9 x 5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine  egg, milk and applesauce. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture in thirds until all of dry mix has been added. Stir in mashed sweet potatoes. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Glaze, if desired, with marshmallow glaze. Enjoy!
"Southern Fried Bride's Marshmallow Glaze"

4 oz. light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1/2 tsp. Rodelle pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In mixing bowl, add cream cheese, marshmallow creme, vanilla and powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until mixture has a glaze consistency. Add powdered sugar and mix until well-combined. Pour glaze over sweet potato bread and garnish, if desired with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 teaspoons chopped pecans. Slice and enjoy!

Recipe Corner: "Bountiful Zucchini Squash Quiche"

Are you making squash for Thanksgiving? This is a fun way to change up traditional squash on the holiday dinner table. I made an easy zucchini squash quiche that also is a perfect way to make use of leftover squash after holiday feasting. This recipe can be eaten immediately and does not have to be refrigerated overnight. It is great for breakfast, brunch, side dish and also for a fun meatless spin on lunch or dinner. It tastes great straight from the oven to the dinner table.

"Southern Fried Bride's Bountiful Zucchini Squash Quiche"

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (I used a whole wheat crust) 

5 egg whites

1/2 cup yellow squash, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup zucchini squash, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup shredded 2% cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake pie crust according to package directions. Line rim of crust with aluminum foil to avoid burnt crust edges. Remove baked pie crust from oven and place on cooling rack. In large bowl, whisk egg whites until well beaten. Stir in squash and cheese. Mix well. Add parsley and paprika. Stir until well-combined. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake 40-45 minutes or until quiche is golden brown in color. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Treat Two Day Free Card Campaign 2012

Treat is Shutterfly’s exciting new greeting card brand and according to the company, they are an easy way for people to create and send one-of-a-kind greeting cards. Treat cards are perfect for all kinds of occasions, including holidays, birthdays, weddings, thank yous and every occasion in between, including just because. It’s a fun and easy way to brighten the day of someone special in your life.
With the holiday season upon us, Treat is spreading cheer and spirit by giving people the chance to create a FREE personalized greeting card for someone special on their website today and tomorrow! You can let someone know you're thinking of them in a unique way with a custom card from Treat and you can even add a picture or pictures.
Whether it's saying thanks, wishing a friend or family member a happy birthday, or simply sharing the holiday cheer with a just because card, Treat lets you create a one-of-a-kind card that is sure to impress the recipient.

My husband and I chose to create an extra-special Christmas card for our Grandma Ruth, my husband's paternal grandmother who lives in New Jersey. She is 94 and such a blessing in our lives.

If you would like to create a free card during this two day event on Monday 11/19 and Tuesday 11/20, visit their website here and enter code TREATBLOGR at checkout for your free card. The card will then be sent to you to give or mail to the recipient. If you would like for them to mail it directly to the recipient, you will have to pay a postage fee at checkout. Because it is an ecommerce website, you will need to enter your credit/debit card number at checkout, but you will not be charged for the free card.

Did you personalize a card? I'd love to know which card you chose!

Disclaimer: I received a 20 Treat cards credit in exchange for this blog post. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day and Shutterfly's "Thank The Troops" Mission

As we observe another Veterans Day here in this great nation, I honor the memory of my beloved late maternal grandfather A.D. Woodard, Army veteran, WWII. As a young child, I was fascinated with his stories of being a WWII soldier far away from home. In the days before he met the love of his life, my Grandma Cleva, he was a young bachelor soldier serving in Europe and his loving sisters at home, Christine, Irene and Ledean, determined to send him some homemade treats in the mail across those many, many miles. I will always remember he told me that by the time the package made it to him, the treats were often in a pile of crumbs from the wear and tear of being mailed so many miles, but he said those crumbs tasted so good because they were sent with love from home. I was reminded of this story when Shutterfly contacted me to share about their American soldiers project. 

Today, there are over 1.5 million American troops serving all around the world. This holiday season, many of them will be overseas and away from their families. In a day and age where technology has made sending notes and packages to our heroes serving our nation so much easier, the Shutterfly company has an amazing mission: they would like to send a thank you card to every American hero and they would love your help and support in this great cause. By going to the "Thank the Troops" tab on their Facebook page, you can select a card from their 4 designs:

You can add your personal message or photo, and Shutterfly will print it and send your card at no cost to you! You can go directly to their "Thank The Troops" Facebook app here.

Disclaimer: Shutterfly provided me with a $50 discount code in exchange for sharing this program with my readers. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Food Bloggers For Sandy: Light n' Lively Chicken Pot Pie #FBS4Sandy

I joined the many who have been sending thoughts and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Sandy's wrath, but it has also been especially heartbreaking for me as an Oklahoma girl turned New Yorker with relatives in New Jersey and loved ones all along the East Coast. Here in northern NY, we received Sandy fallout weather of incredibly strong winds. Growing up in Oklahoma, I was all to familiar with strong winds that often came with storm and tornado warning weather. I truly had never been through anything like what my husband and I went through the night Sandy struck here on the East Coast. I am thankful to report that my husband and I are safe with no damage to our home and my in-laws in NY and NJ are all safe. So many here in this state and along the coast cannot report this same news to their friends and loved ones because their lives, homes, cars and belongings have been ravaged by Sandy's aftermath. I prayed non-stop for my loved ones in the path of this storm until they were all accounted for.
When fellow food bloggers Barb at Creative Culinary and Jenn at Jenn Cuisine  organized "Food Bloggers for Sandy", I was proud to join in this effort. Today each of us involved in this project are sharing a favorite comfort food recipe on our blog in support of those in the Northeast impacted by Hurricane Sandy, as well as sharing a direct link to the American Red Cross "Hurricane Sandy" donation website for those who would like to make a financial donation. I hope this effort manages, in some small way, to wrap the arms of the food blogging community around those who are in such need. 

For my comfort food recipe, I am sharing a favorite in my household that is a speedy and lightened-up version of a classic Southern favorite: chicken pot pie. A great way to make use of leftover chicken.

"Southern Fried Bride's Light n' Lively Chicken Pot Pie"

 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or leftover boneless, skinless chicken), cooked and chopped

1 (10.5 oz.) can reduced sodium cream of chicken soup

1 cup skim milk

1 (15 oz.) can "no salt added" mixed vegetables, drained

1 can "no salt added" sliced mushrooms, drained

1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
Thaw frozen pie crust or place thawed crust at room temperature according to package directions in advance of preparing dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, add soup and milk. Stir until well-combined. Add chicken, mixed vegetables and mushrooms. Stir mixture well. Pour mixture into pan. Place unbaked pie crust on safe cutting surface and using a knife, pizza cutter or scallop-edged pastry wheel, cut crust dough into approximately 3/4 inch-wide strips from top to bottom. Place strips evenly apart from top to bottom. Seal edges of pie crust into pan. Place remaining strips evenly across the width of the pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown in color. Remove from oven and allow to cool on heat-safe surface before serving. Enjoy!
The American Red Cross is near and dear to both mine and my husband's hearts. My husband was a Red Cross volunteer in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Since the beginning of the Sandy relief effort:
  • More than 5,900 Red Cross workers have been assigned to operations from Virginia to Rhode Island, with the majority in Greater New York and throughout New Jersey.
  • The Red Cross has provided more than 61,000 overnight shelter stays in more than 250 Red Cross shelters.
  • More than 3.2 million meals and snacks have been served.
  • The Red Cross has distributed more than 121,000 relief items such as clean-up kits and hygiene kits.
If you would like to make a financial donation, clicking on the link below will take you directly to the American Red Cross "Hurricane Sandy" donation website. You can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.