Wednesday, October 31, 2012

100 Followers Giveaway!

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Thank you, Merci, Danke, Grazie
I don't know how to say thank you to every single one of you, so a giveaway will have to suffice. 
I hope you're as excited to win as I am to give! 

A big thank you to the lovely Laura from Bits of Splendor for adding an item from her shop to the giveaway. 
{Her shop has the most adorable and affordable pieces. Think handmade Christmas. I want it all, seriously!} 
Please go visit her and say hello!

Here's what's up for grabs:

1// Large Ad Space on This Beautiful Life
2// Coral Rosebud Earrings from the Splendor Shop
3// $10.00 Target Gift Card
4// $10.00 Starbucks Gift Card
5// Essie Turquoise & Caicos polish

One winner will be announced Thursday, November 8th, one week from today! 
To enter please use Rafflecopter, below. {Sometimes it needs a minute to load.}

Have fun! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To all 101 of my Beautiful Followers

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Late last night I reached my goal of 100 followers!

The Mr. and I high-fived. 

You made my heart so happy. 

Look for the giveaway up on the blog tomorrow. 

I have some great things in store for you lovely women!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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One of my ultimate favorite cookie recipes is Williams Sonoma's recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I give it 5 stars. Here's why: the outside of the cookie is this crispy, crackly, powdered sugar layer, but when you get to the inside it's gooey like a brownie. It's the best of both worlds.
Last night the Mr. and I whipped up a batch together while we danced in the kitchen. Good times had by all! 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened*
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets. 

Put powdered sugar in a small bowl and set aside. 

In a medium bowl stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Set aside. 

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy {about 3 minutes}. Add one egg and beat until blended. Add the other egg and the vanilla, beating until blended. 

Add the flour mixture and beat on low, just until blended. 

Scoop a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Roll the ball into the powdered sugar until covered. Repeat until all the cookie dough is gone. Place the balls onto the greased baking sheet 2 inches apart. 

Bake until the cookies are crackled and puffed, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. 


*Butter softening trick: If you're like me and you decide last minute you want to bake a batch of cookies, then chances are your butter is in your fridge, hard. If you don't want to let it soften by sitting out on the counter {it takes too long after all} then I have just the method for you. I put the stick of butter in its wrapper onto a plate, then into the microwave. I set the power level to 2 and microwave for 10 seconds at a time, turning the stick after every 10 seconds. It usually only takes about 30 seconds total and it's nice and soft throughout, not half melted half soft.

{recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma}

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Cara Box {the best of fall}

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As soon as Kaitlyn announced she was starting something called a Cara Box I was immediately intrigued. The theme of Cara Box is to make friends, receive gifts, share encouragement
I wanted in! 

If you want to be a part of Cara Box click on the button to learn more.

Cara Box

For October's Cara Box I was partnered with Jen from Dexter Morgan's Mama. Go say hi {and see what I sent her}! 

She sent me a box full of goodies.

1// Journal 
2// Swizzle Straw Cup
3// Handmade Card 
4// Sally Hansen Polish {Commander in Chic}
5// Sally Hansen Polish {Black Platinum}
6// Sally Hansen Polish {Haute Chocolate}
7// Maybelline Lip Gloss {Berry Dazzle}
8// Chocolate Face Mask
9// Cucumber Face Mask

See what I mean? She loaded me up with all sorts of things, perfect for fall. Thanks Jen!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Letters

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Dear Friday's Letters, the only reason you are happening today is because my dear Mr. begged me to write them. And I do mean begged. The proof is in the above photo {he is the white, I am the blue}. Dear High Five for Friday, I enjoyed linking up with you for the first time today! Dear upcoming giveaway, I am so excited about the things I have in the works for you. Who is going to be my 100th follower so we can get this show on the road? Dear Chiropractor, I can't wait to see you in t-minus 2 hours. Once you feel these shoulders, thick with tension, I'm sure you're going to demand I get in ASAP for a massage. Fine by me. Dear God, your letter is one I look forward to all week long. This week has been r-o-u-g-h, rough. Thank you for holding my hand, walking through the valley with me, and bringing me out on top. Remind me that I am making a difference and that all I do in Your name is worth it. Deep down I know it is, but the reminder is nice sometimes. Also, thanks for never leaving me.


High Five for Friday!

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This is my first time linking up with the positively stunning Lauren at From My Grey Desk. 
I'm excited to share my top 5 things from this week!

1// Seeing my Baked Pumpkin Donuts pin re-pinned all over Pinterest.
3// Reuniting with a friend. Two years is too long. 
4// Capturing the Fur Baby on camera {a usually impossible feat}.
5// Two-toned purple manicure, perfect for fall.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Goodbye Ugly, Hello Pretty

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When the Mr. and I got married I inherited a bunch of brand new furniture, furniture he picked out a year prior. He has pretty decent taste when it comes to decorating and furnishing a home, especially for a dude.

However, the one thing I have wanted to change since the day we said I do was our kitchen table chairs. A couple months ago we did just that. I don't know what took us so long. We had a blast working together on a project and it only took up a portion of a morning on a lazy Saturday.

Have you been thinking about recovering your kitchen or dining room table chairs? It is so simple. Here's what you'll need. 

DIY Chair Recovering

Staple gun and staples

We took one of the seats into the fabric store so the lady cutting the fabric could tell me exactly how much fabric to get. We were also able to borrow my Grandpa's staple gun which was a huge blessing. This project only cost us the price of material, which we bought half off at Hobby Lobby. I believe the grand total was somewhere in the ball park of $25.00. 
Once again I'm asking myself why we waited so long to do this. No more dingy, stained cream chairs. We love the finished product!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ravioli with Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

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It's no secret that autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. This year is no exception. I just can't seem to get off the fall recipes train.

We tried a new recipe this week and while I thought it was a recipe to add to our comfort food list, the Mr. didn't really enjoy it all that much. Actually, he was on the verge of gagging. Something to do with how thick the pasta sauce is and his memories of being fed baby food peas as a youngin'. 

I really couldn't help but laugh at how much of a disaster this meal was. I would however make it again for myself. You should give it a shot too, especially if you love squash. 


 Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

1 medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
salt and black pepper
5 cloves garlic, peel on
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim ends of squash and halve crosswise to separate bulb from neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor; puree. Add half and half and parmesan cheese, process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water; adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt.

Set the sauce aside and keep warm while you wait for your favorite pasta. In this case I used cheese ravioli. Once the pasta was cooked and drained I added the sauce and stirred over low heat until it was heated through. 


{Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart}

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I wanna hear from Y-O-U!

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This little blog of mine has been growing and growing. It makes my heart smile when I think about all the women I have touched and in turn how many of you have touched me! 

So, this morning I was thinking about saying a big THANK YOU for just being you, for encouraging me, for being the community of women you are. I appreciate every single one of you. 

When do I want to thank you? I want to do a huge giveaway when I reach 100 followers. As of today, I'm only 14 away. My question for you is what would you like to see in that giveaway? Free ad space?  A Starbucks gift card? Or perhaps one from Target? My favorite nail polish? An Etsy store credit? A darling scarf?

Talk to me ladies. Tell me what you would absolutely love to see in a giveaway hosted by me. In turn I promise to do my best to fulfill your requests!

Help spread the word so I can reach 100 followers that much quicker so we can get this giveaway started. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dinner + Dessert

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Remember I promised a post with not one, but two amazing recipes? Well here you go! 

Let's have dessert first, then dinner. Shall we? 

The first time I made this recipe was for Valentine's Day, a handful of years ago. Since then I've made it quite a few times, usually per request from the Mr. or one of my sweet friends who goes bonkers for it. 

Chocolate Bliss Cheesecake

18 Oreo cookies, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (8 ounces) Baker's semi sweet chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan. 

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Add chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low after each just until blended. Pour over crust. 

Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until center is almost set. Cool. 

Refrigerate 4 hours. 


{This cheesecake is absolutely exceptional by itself, but another yummy way to enjoy it is with the addition of sliced strawberries on top.}

{recipe adapted from Kraft}

Now, on to dinner. I mentioned this recipe once already, but wanted to share the recipe. It was a huge hit and the leftovers were equally as delicious!

Crispy Chicken with Creamy Italian Sauce and Bowtie Pasta

3 chicken breasts
5 cups Corn Flakes
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (12 ounces) bowtie noodles

1 container Philadelphia Cooking Cream, Italian Cheese and Herb flavor
2 cans cream of chicken
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk

Crush the Corn Flakes into crumbs, set aside.

In a small bowl add the salt and flour. Stir to combine. 

Place the flour mixture, milk, and crushed Corn Flakes each into their own separate shallow dish. 

Place chicken breasts in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and seal. Pound with a meat mallet (or a rubber mallet if you lack one, like we do).

Using a kitchen shears cut the chicken into smaller strips. 

Dredge the chicken in flour, making sure to cover both sides well. Place the floured chicken onto a small cookie sheet and set it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. 

Start cooking the pasta. 

Remove the chicken from the freezer and dredge each piece in the milk, then immediately in the Corn Flakes. Be sure both sides are covered well. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. 

Carefully lay each piece of chicken into the hot oil. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook, covered for about 7 more minutes. 

Place cooked chicken in tin foil to keep it warm, until the pasta is ready.

Using the same pan add the chicken broth, Philadelphia Cooking Cream, cream of chicken, and milk. Whisk until combined. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the sauce is warm. Add the cooked pasta, stirring until the sauce is well distributed. 

Serve the chicken strips over the pasta. 


{recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up!}

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Letters

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 Dear weekend, you are gonna be good. You are full of friends, family, football, shopping, delicious food, and a one night getaway. I am so pumped! Dear Fur Baby, be good on your sleepover. This includes sleeping well, eating well, and playing nice. Oh, and not chasing squirrels. Got it? Dear Mr., I am so excited to soak up every single minute of our weekend together. I just love hanging out with you. Dear friends, next week I will be sharing a post for you entitled Dinner + Dessert. You are not going to want to miss these two amazing recipes! Dear God, yesterday's post pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today. Thanks for all you do. Really, truly, thanks!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

If I Can...

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Last night as we were driving home from youth group in the pouring rain I was thinking about the all ways God has been using me. He has placed me directly in front of young women who are looking for someone to care about them, someone to listen to their thoughts, and someone to believe in them. It's hard for me to believe I get to be the person these girls turn to. I know I've said it before, but I'm so honored God is using me. I'm just clay in His hands and my prayer is that He molds me into the woman He wants me to be, to in turn help other young women.  

I was making a mental list in my head of all the ways I hope God can use my little life to make a difference in these girl's lives. I wanted to write it down as a reminder to myself that He can use me to be and do all of these things; only through Him.

If I can touch a life...

If I can be a light...

If I can be the person they call...

If I can be the one they confide in...

If I can be the one to pull them out of the darkness that is depression...

If I can be there when no one else wants to take the time...

If I can convince them their life is valued...

If I can hold them when they're crying...

If I can tell them they're beautiful...

If I can be there just to listen...

If I can share the joy that is inside me...

If I can teach them...

If I can reach them...

Then I'm doing what I know God has called me to do. Then I'm right where He wants me. And that's right where I want to be. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

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I'm loving Shabby Apple's earring collection. When I think of Shabby Apple the first thing that comes to mind is clothing, particularity feminine dresses. I was browsing their website only to discover some very pretty {and exceptionally affordable} earrings that are now on my Christmas wish list. 

{click on the Shabby Apple button to check them out}

Dresses from Shabby Apple

 I'm loving my DIY ombré nails. Thanks to Ariel's post, I learned how to do it using just one color!


 I'm loving my mama's new hobby; pie baking. I'm her biggest fan and the best pie taster around.

I'm loving my new polish colors and pedicure lotion from Julep. I'm even more in love that it cost me a penny. Remember the deal I told you about? I hope you scored a set for yourself. 

I'm loving last night's scrumptious meal. We tried a new recipe and boy oh boy am I glad we did! Introducing Crispy Chicken with Creamy Italian Sauce and Bowtie Pasta. Recipe anyone?

I'm loving Heather's mug I made her. She was the sweetest giveaway winner to work with. I could feel her excitement through the emails we exchanged. Cheers to many hot cocoas, ciders, and cups of coffee Heather! 


 {linking up with This Kind of Love}

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Streusel

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This past weekend I was craving pumpkin. Pumpkin anything. I found a recipe for pumpkin pancakes and my mind was made up! Then I stumbled across a recipe that added cinnamon streusel. Hook. Line. Sinker. 

Let it be known that the Mr. isn't a fan of pumpkin. He's weird. However, I forced him to try a bite of these pancakes. Guess who ate a plateful? That's right. He loved them. So even if you're weird and you don't like pumpkin, give these a try.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did! 

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Streusel

For the cinnamon streusel:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

For the pancakes:
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin 
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Combine all cinnamon streusel ingredients. Use a pastry blender to mix ingredients together until it resembles a crumble mixture. Set aside. 

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until combined.

Using 1/3 cup of batter, drop onto a hot griddle that has been greased. Add 2 tablespoons of cinnamon streusel on top of pancake. When pancakes appear ready flip over and cover generously with cinnamon streusel. Cook for another couple minutes or until golden brown. 

Serve with warm maple syrup. 


{recipe adapted from two peas & their pod}

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jesus in Disguise

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Yesterday the Mr. had the privilege of speaking at our church. To say I was proud would be the understatement of the century. 

His speaking has been on the calendar for quite awhile. As the day approached I know he was feeling ready, but also a little nervous about how he would do. Saturday night he was up late perfecting the message he felt God gave him to share. I prayed he would be able to manage a good night's rest. 

Sunday morning rolled around and he was ready to hit the ground running. I could feel the excitement stirring in him. He was out the door before I was fully awake so I had the morning alone to pray for him and the service. 

As I ironed my black dress pants from Express I remember silently asking myself, "how did we get here"? How has God taken a young man from Bible school and transformed him into a confident speaker of the word? How has God taken my heart and molded it into the young woman I am today, with a heart for His heart? I stood there truly amazed at His goodness, His faithfulness, and His love for us; that He would use us. He chose us. The hiss of the steaming, hot iron snapped at me and I quickly finished my ironing, smiling at the thought of His incomprehensible love.

I remember sitting in the front row listening to each word he spoke. Even though I was aware of his message, titled Jesus In Disguise, I clung to every word. It was a message directly from God's heart, spoken through my humble husband. 

Jesus In Disguise. I'm sure you've heard the song on the radio. If you haven't I hope you take a couple minutes to listen to it {below}. It's a remarkably convicting song that is meant to encourage us to live our lives serving and loving people who are Jesus, in disguise. When we serve and love others we are doing unto Him. It's such a simple truth that we tend to forget the importance of Jesus in disguise in our daily lives.

The Mr.'s message spoke so loudly to me. I'm certain I'll never forget it nor the impact I feel it made on our congregation.

To our family, you'll never know how much it meant to the Mr. {and I} that you were there to support and encourage him. 
Thank you!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday's Letters

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Dear Friday, you are my favorite day. I love when the week draws to a close. Considering this has been one long week I'm extra grateful for you. Dear weekend, please be relaxing as well as productive. Pretty please don't give in to the forecast of 90% chance of rain Saturday and 70% chance of rain Sunday. Dear perfect pair of boots, I know you're out there. Come find me. Dear Macbook, you are officially a need, no longer a want, a need. Dear Chiropractor, I've been lazy and haven't gone to you in a few weeks. I regret this decision terribly, as I can feel the affects. So thankful I'll be seeing you today at 11:45! Dear Mr., that means I'll be seeing you too, same time, same place. I love seeing you in action at your workplace. You are stinkin' cute and make me so proud! Dear God, I always save the last letter for you; it's my favorite one to write. I met with some pretty sweet, young women this week who poured their hearts out to me. I left feeling so blessed that you would entrust me to mentor them and encourage them. Thank you for trusting me with their spiritual lives. I am so honored that you picked me {and the Mr.} to be a part of Youth Ministry.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's Over...

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The 30 Day Challenge that is.

I am proud to say I completed it successfully. AND I learned some valuable information along the way.

Valuable Lesson # 1: give myself more credit
I thought going into this I would make a few mistakes, snitch a little something here or there and call it good. I surprised myself. I turned down candy and desserts on a daily basis.

Valuable Lesson # 2: sometimes tasks can be easier than expected
I was certain that September was going to be a rough month. While some days were harder than others, the truth is it was easier to give up sweets than I thought it would be.

Valuable Lesson # 3: don't do it alone; having a buddy system is key
My sweet, sweet Mr. was supposed to join me in the challenge, but he didn't quite make it. He accepted cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy whenever they were presented to him. Boy did I give him the stink eye. So, I had to turn to my trusty friend who also decided to do the challenge. We would send encouraging text messages to each other or call to say, "I turned down" this or that or, "12 more days". We would also rely on each other when we wanted to quit or how about the time I called her to tell her I accidentally put an Andes candy in my mouth, but then spit it out. We had fun keeping each other on track.

Valuable Lesson # 4: the longer I went without sweets the less my body craved them
I went from walking into the kitchen to find something sweet {not because I was hungry, but because I was bored or looking to fill a sweet tooth}, to not even thinking about sweets. The less I had them the less I wanted them.

Now what?
The challenge end date has come and gone I can say I haven't had a desire to go back to the way things were before the challenge. I have self control like I've never had before and it's a decision I make to exercise it daily. I make a choice now, do I really want that cookie? Usually the answer is no and I walk away from it. 
I have had a sliver of pumpkin pie, it was actually the first sweet I said yes to after the challenge was over. Other than that I can't say I've had anything else sweet related. I am so proud of myself and my accomplishment {as well as my sweet friend}.

The reward!
If you remember, our reward for successfully completing the challenge was a shopping trip. We made it happen this past weekend. My friend and I were each on the hunt for specific items; another pair of skinny jeans, leather boots, and whatever else we deemed a need as we walked from store to store. 

The good news is we are going shopping again next weekend, the bad news is it's because we didn't find anything on our mental lists. I did end up buying a long sleeve tee from 2 colors. I explained to the Mr. that any girl will tell you, when you find a staple clothing item you like, buy multiples. I also restocked my eyeliner supply, bought a pair of earrings {I love this whole, big world of accessories that is available to my newly pierced ears}, and filled up my Gloria Jean's love tank. It was a fun time had by all.

If you get anything out of this novel, get this. Self control is crucial. Do what you can to make sure you have control over areas in your life you struggle in. I hope you are pleasantly surprised at what you can do when you put your mind to it. I know I was. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Inside our Home {Autumn Decor}

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I've mentioned a few times that posting our fall decor has been on my to-do list. Well, today it's happening. Crossing that baby off my list!

I love everything fall! From homemade cider to cozy sweaters, snuggling under the blankets, frost on the grass in the mornings, hours spent inside coffee shops, pumpkin pie, hikes through the woods, crunchy leaves, fall inspired nail polish, slipper socks...the list could go on and on. 

At the top of my list of things I love about fall is decor. Decorating is my hobby. DIY crafting and decorating together is my passion. 
Here's what I did this fall in our home {it changes a little from year to year}.

 autumn pennant banner|handmade
metallic pumpkin| local pumpkin farmer, painted silver with a little gold glitter and topped with a bow
wreath|$4 thrift store find
framed fall printable|handmade {pictured below}
harvest wheat|Shopko a couple years ago
wicker pumpkin|Target a couple years ago {available again this year in the $1 section for $2.50}

white pumpkins|local pumpkin farmer, twine wrapped stems for extra charm
tall, wooden pumpkin|local craft barn
plate + easel|gift
place mat|gift


 wreath|home improvement store two years ago


pumpkin|Target a few years ago

acorns|Shopko a couple years ago
giant pumpkin|Kohl's a couple years ago
pumpkin frame|local craft barn
glass apothecary jar filled with fall gourds|TJMAXX + Target, both a couple years ago

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