Healthy Expectations

Hello, y’all! Lovely for you stop by! Excited it’s Friday? I am! This week has been a blur. A quick overnight night away, walking in a fashion show, and shooting has made for a busy week. Ready for some family time!

Today’s post is a recipe post, but I guarantee it’s a little different than what you’re expecting. You see, I had huge hopes for a candied apple post. After seeing some great recipes around the web, I wanted to make my own! For instances, the Delish “Apple Pops” video inspired me — actually, I thought, “Oh, that looks easy, I bet I can do that!”

After scheduling a time to shoot with my photographer and two trips to the store, it was finally time to make the apples.

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My photographer, Serena is super creative and worked on the apples with me. She had the great idea to sandwich two pieces of apple together instead of using a single slice. I thought that was genius!

First, Serena used a mandolin to slice the apple. Next, I melted the Reese’s peanut butter chips and added the melted peanut butter to a slice. After adding a couple spoonfuls, I added the craft stick and added the other apple slice. To ensure that the apple slices would stick together, Serena threw them in the freezer for a few minutes.

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And then things started to get weird…

After heating the caramel, I tried to drizzle the apples. Well, I wasn’t aware of just how hot caramel gets. OH MY! It burnt my finger and then hardened so quickly that I couldn’t drizzle the apples. So, I added the caramel back to the microwave, and tried to drizzle again. We quickly realized that the caramel was still too hard, so we re-heated it once again. Well, I suggested for Serena to drizzle the apples (she has much better technique) and I stepped behind the camera.

We somewhat got caramel on the apples, but not like we had imagined.

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Next, I wanted to add chocolate to the apples. After following the instructions, I somewhat managed to burn the chocolate. Are we sensing a pattern here? Ha! To loosen the chocolate, I added some coconut oil. Unfortunately, this was not successful.

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By this point, Serena and I had were laughing hysterically and had lost all seriousness. Although, the apples didn’t turn out as planned, we did have a few that looked pretty cute!

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s life, right? 

You think you cross your t’s and dot your i’s and things still fall apart. Or, you build something up in your head, only for it not to met your expectations. Even in the smallest moments, I can recognize that without God’s grace and healthy perspective, life would be much darker.

I realize making candied apples is not a major life obstacle. I’m still learning. At 30 years, I’m still learning that sometimes expectations can be misleading. While there is nothing wrong with expecting great things, it’s all about how you handle the outcome, especially when it’s not what you had in mind. 

When things don’t work out, sometimes you just have to laugh. I’m not perfect, this blog isn’t perfect, and that is a-ok. Serena and I tried something new and it didn’t go as smooth as we hoped. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t try again.


Is there something you are wanting to try? Have you stuck your neck out and didn’t see the result you wanted? Don’t give up. Pray, listen, and try again.                                                                 Life is too short not try new things.

Ya’ll have a beautiful weekend and try something new!

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

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Blogging 101 / What I’ve learned in 5 months of blogging

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Hey there, readers! I hope you had a relaxing and energizing weekend. Although Texas is warming up (again, blah!) Halloween and fun fall activities are around the corner. Can’t wait!

Today marks my 5 month anniversary blogging. I know, it hasn’t been a long time, but I feel like I have learned quite a bit in this short time. I’ve been wanting to share what I have learned so far in hopes of helping out a new blogger.

So, for today, I wanted to share the top 5 things that I have learned in my first 5 months. Oh, and it only seemed completely normal to title each section with a hashtag. Ha!

#Hashtagsdomatter

One of the first things I learned — those good ‘ol hashtags. When I first dove into IG was puzzled why people used them, their meaning, and how I would use them. Hashtags are sort of are the vehicle for your posts. For instances, you posts a super great picture (and your close friends love it too) and nothing happens. It sits there. The virtual crickets start and your frustration goes through the roof. Well, that’s where the hashtags come into play. When you add hashtags to your photos, this helps place your photo in front of the right people.

How do you find the right hashtags? When in IG, hit the magnifying class icon. This will bring up a page that has a toolbar at the top. Directly underneath that is a section that mention “Tags”. Tap on “Tags” and then enter a topic that you talk about, blog about, or are passionate about.

For me, I search for tags related to motherhood and style. If I put “Mom Style” into the toolbar, I’m giving the results of #momstyle and #momstylelife as the top two hashtags. These would be great choices. You will also noticed that there is a number underneath the hashtags. To state the obvious, the higher the number the more popular. I do not recommend using hashtags that only have a coupe hundred posts, unless is fits your account perfectly.

Another great way to search for hashtags, is to look at fellow bloggers that have the same style and/or message. I guarantee they will use hashtags that will benefit your profile! Check out their latest post and hashtags. This can open a new world of hashtags that will put your hard work in front of the right people.

#Staytrue

Let’s be honest, when you hope on IG, Facebook, or Twitter, there are perfect people. They have the perfect family, skin, jean size, etc. For me, sometimes this can really get to me. No, I’m no envious, but a feeling of inadequacy would sometimes creeps up. I think the root of the problem for me is that I’m putting myself out there for the whole world to see and sometimes I don’t get the response I hope for. In turn, this causes frustration to build up and I think, “Well, maybe if I was cuter I would get more likes,” or “Geez, I guess I need to posts new outfits everyday.” Is this true? NO. Absolutely not! That is the enemy lying to you. Please, don’t believe it. Yes, there are going to be perfect people out there, but no one else is you.

You are original. You have something special to share. You are enough.

And do you want to know what causes people to be successfully in blogging? They #staytrue to who they are, their messages, and don’t waver because of others.

You may have never had this problem. If not, a round of applause to you, my friend. Really! For me, my struggle comes and goes, but I’m making progress. Through out my months blogging, I have talked a lot about self love. I’m still on that journey, which includes me be comfortable sharing myself and standing by it. Progress, everyone. Progress.

#Applove

Alright, if you are new to the blogging world, I’m sharing my top two apps with you. I started using these months ago, and I feel like they helped me step up my game a bit.

First, VSCO. Have you ever seen the hashtag #vsco, #vscoeveryday, or #vscomom? If you are like me, I kept seeing these hashtags and wondering what that meant. Finally, I figured it out. VSCO is a free (yes, free!) app that not only edits your pictures, but will hold your IG feed. So, when you’re trying to set a theme for your Instagram, this is a very, very valuable tool. I can’t tell you how many times I have uploaded pictures to VSCO, looked at them on my feed (on that app), and thought, “Um, no, that fit in.” So, I delete it from the VSCO feed and try again. If you’re newer to blogging and IG, you have to get VSCO.

Next, Snapseed. Editing perfection! It took me some time, but I finally got the hang of editing. If you’re just starting out, don’t get frustrated. You will get it! Snapseed has every editing option and is easy to use. My favorite part? There is a brush tool that can enhances or decreases brightness, exposure, saturation, temperature, and can remove a random weed or flyway. Yes, they happen, ha!

Also, if you have an iPhone, Afterlight is said to be a great app. I just switched back to an iPhone, and plan on trying this app out too.

#Notenoughtime

Oh, the struggle. It’s real, and it’s not my friend. There is never enough time. Not just for blogging, but for life. I know everyone feels like this, so you can relate. But, back to blogging, I feel that someday I’m on my a-game, others I am not. My sweet photographer recently reminded of how powerful making lists are. Thank you, Serena! It is true. Writing things down and then checking them of your list is invigorating.

Besides making lists, I recommend planning your content. For a couple weeks ahead, write down what days you want to blog and what you’re going to blog about. Also, even planning your IG posts can beneficial. For me, I use a giant desk calendar, and write everything down with various colors. The different colors stand for different things. And yes, I just like the way it looks, ha!

#Pinterestpinterestpinterest

New to blogging? Want traffic? Dig into Pinterest. I recommend Board Booster or Tailwind. For me, I use Board Booster. You pick your most used (and related to your blog) boards and secretly pin to them. Then, Board Booster automate pins for you, so you don’t have to manually do it. Let me put it this way — the more pins you pin, you will attract more traffic to your Pinterest account and blog. So wonderful! 

I’m still digging into these, but I’m excited to see what results they bring. I’m still learning everyday! Who uses the programs? Everyone. No really,everyone. The big wigs you see on Pinterest and Instagram that have thousands of followers use either Board Booster or Tailwind for their Pinterest. I guarantee it.

Pinterest is a search engine, can help you generate traffic, help you make affiliate income. Basically, you want your material on people’s boards.

In the future, I plan to do a blog post catered to Pinterest. But, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me. I’m not a wiz at it, but I have learned several tips along the way.

Currently, I’m taking Pinterest to Profits from Mckinzie Bean and it’s fabulous. Y’all, check her out. She’s a Pinterest genius! 

Interested in trying out the course too? Wanting to dive deeper into Pinterest and gain even more knowledge? Pinterest to Profits is where it’s at!

I’ve enjoyed her in-depth perspective with easy how-to videos. She really takes the confusion out of things! Also, compared to other courses, Pinterest to Profits is moderately priced. A bang of your buck, for sure! Click below to sign up now.  

Pinterest to Profits


Like I’ve said, I’m still a newbie. I get frustrated and overwhelmed everyday. But, I love this blog, and I want it to work. I strive to reach people, create community, and have some fun experiences along the way.

Feel the same? Email me! Let’s connect! Blogging is all about community. I have met some amazing ladies along the way and their support has meant the world.

Now, get to bloggin’, y’all! You got this!

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

What’s in your diaper bag?

Hey, hey! It’s the best day of the week! I hope you have had a great week, and have an even better weekend planned. I currently have a baby in my lap who is coming down with a fever. Oh my, my kiddos! My heart is breaking for them. If you’re dealing with sick babies, sending prayers for a quick recovery.

Speaking of kiddos, today I’m sharing my diaper bag essentials. If I could show y’all what my diaper bag (not to mention me — total hot mess!) looked like for my first outing after having my son, you would you get a really good laugh in. Seriously! My mom walked into my house and said, “Tori, do you need all of this?” I frantically replied, “Yes!” We left the house and hour and half later. An hour and a half. Being a new mom is no joke! I totally sympathize and appreciate new moms, and that’s what motivated this post. With the help of my sweet photographer, I wanted to share the items that are necessary versus the things you “think” you will need in your bag. For instances, a burp cloth is a staple item, not a finger nail file. Let’s face it, you just brought a new human into the world, the last thing on your mind is your nails.

Also, I’m sharing two fabulous items from one of my sorority sister’s baby line called Yellow Button Baby. I have known her since 2005 and she’s a doll! I’m showcasing her super soft, double sided baby blanket and bib. Both are machine washable and in colorful patterns. In fact, the bib is a brand new pattern for her fall collection. Check out Yellow Button Baby and pick up a few essentials for baby!

Enter thegalnextdoor at checkout to receive 15% off of your order!

Now, time for my favorite diaper bag items.

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Pacifiers

Oh, the Wubba Nub. These infant passies are perfect for not only soothing baby, but for keeping little hands busy. Available with many different animals, these passies are great for the new mom! Although, my kiddos didn’t use the Wubba Nub, I have met countless moms who swear by them. I tried to introduce them, but by the time my kids would take a passie, they were passed the infant stage. So, we use the MAM pacifiers. My daughter is enjoying one as we speak!

Both are great, both will soothe baby! 

Toys

Also, we can’t forget about the toys. I overloaded my bag with toys. Like, a new toy for every hour I was going to be out. Eek! Overload. What I’ve come to realize, is kids that don’t need that many toys. 1-2 is great, but more than that is just going to take up space in your bag. Not to mention, observing their surroundings can be fun and help them develop.

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My top toy for my kiddos was the Sofie. I don’t know what kind of magic they put into these little squeaky giraffes, but they are kid magnet. For real. They are also perfect for teething! 

Yellow Button Baby — Toddler Blanket & Bib

Yellow Button Baby’s Travel Blanket is amazing! It’s handmade, machine washable, and super soft! Perfect for the mom on the go. And how cute is this pattern? YBB’s blankets are available in three sizes. This is the travel blanket and I love the portability!

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Yellow Button Baby’s toddler bib is perfect for a busy mom. It can be attached to the outside of your bag, is thin enough to roll up ( and not take up a bunch of room), and snaps behind baby’s neck. When your child can remove their own bib, things can get a little yucky. That’s one more reason I love this bib. I know my daughter can remove it mid-meal.

Made of quality fabrics, including cotton and bamboo, these bibs are colorful and can be personalized. How fun!

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This bib is so versatile — it snapped perfectly on to my diaper bag. Of course, with a yellow snap button!

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Feeding

Have you tried an EZ PZ mini matt? These are life changing. As soon as baby starts to pick up food, I recommend you get one! They are dishwasher safe, free of any harmful extras (ya know, like BPA and PVC), and promote self feeding. Plus, they are perfect for eating out.

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When I started to get out of the house more, especially with my son, I struggled with ways to carry my formula. Eventually, I found the Munchkin Formula Holder, but do I wish I one of the Mixie baby bottles. My photographer shared this fabulous product with me and I had to share it with y’all!

The Mixie bottle stores a serving of formula of in an extra compartment on the bottle of the bottle. You can fill the bottle with water before or when baby’s hunger strikes. Next, pop of the bottle of the bottle and shake. How genius is that?

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Diaper Ointment

Of course, Destin is always an essential. Blow outs and nasty diapers happen, that’s where this stuff comes into play. I also love A + D because of it’s waterproof consistency. unnamed-2

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Other Essentials

Some other great items that aren’t shown would be Infant Tylenol and Johnson & Johnson Cleaning Wipes. I’m constantly wiping my kiddos down. Germs everywhere, ha! 


I hope you find this informative and helpful. I’m my no means a mom genius –just simply sharing some of my favorite items in hopes of informing new moms. 

Feel like this would help a friend or family member? Share away! Motherhood is all about community. 

Have a great weekend y’all and I’ll see ya next week. 

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

* The Gal Next Door is a part of several Affiliate Marketing partnerships. I may make a percentage per click/purchase. All opinions are my own. Thank you! *

$100 Gift Card Giveaway // Poncho Perfection with The Shoe Closet

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Hi guys! How are things? I’m so excited for fall! I may have already enjoyed a couple Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but hasn’t everybody? SO yummy! The past two weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind for us. After a couple weeks of traveling, I’m diving back into the real world and loving on my babies. This momma miss her kiddos! 

As for today, I’m sharing another great look from The Shoe Closet. Also, don’t forget to enter for a chance to enter for a $100 gift card. Details below!

I adore today’s look not only because it’s comfortable, but because it speaks to my inner flower child. A poncho, flares, and platforms? I’ll take that! 

The poncho is made by Kerisma and at a steal of price — $65! The material has a nice weight and doesn’t not feel bulky. In fact, The Shoe Closet just received a new shipment of easy, solid sweaters that will carry through the season.

Paired with Hudson flares, Sam Eldelman platforms, and a fun tasseled Tory Burch bag, this look is perfect for football season. If there is a little chill in the air, layer a long sleeve tee, a white button up blouse, or a scarf to stay warm. 

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I also wanted to highlight THE new accessory to wear with any game day look. The Shoe Closet recently started carrying Erimish. Created by two sisters in Missouri, the Erimish bracelets are not only cute, but are perfectly priced. Choose 5 for $35 or $8 a piece. Currently, TSC is selling the Erimish Game Day Collection. Any team, any color, they’ve got it! What a chic way to support your favorite team. Check out The Shoe Closet’s IG account the keep up with their Erimish pieces. 

Ok, we can’t forget about $100 gift card!! 

How to enter? Head to The Shoe Closet! After grabbing something super stylish, mention this post to put your name in the mix. Can’t make into the store? Give The Shoe Closet a call at (940) 322-6300. With purchase, mention The Gal Next Door to be entered to win the $100 gift card. They can help you with sizing or any questions you may have over the phone.

The contest will end Friday, October 7th. Do not miss it! 

I can’t wait to see what lucky reader wins the gift card. With the holidays coming up, a hefty $100 gift card couldn’t come at a better time! 

Y’all take care and I’ll see ya soon.

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

Why You Need to Shop at BP

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Hey, hey! How are things? I’m currently in catch up mode from being away for several days. I had such an amazing time celebrating one of my sweet friend’s engagement. A girl’s trip doesn’t happen very often, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Again, huge thanks to my hubby, mom, and mother in law for helping with the kids.

For today, I wanted to share one of my favorite places to shop. In fact, while on the trip, the girls and I frequently talked about BP and all of the great pieces they have. Not to mention, killer prices! So, I thought why not round up some of my favorite fall staple items to share with you guys.

First up, let’s talk about fall dresses. You may live somewhere that is cooler already, but here in Texas it’s not quite that cool yet. I’m loving the transitional dresses at BP right now. In fact, I just picked up the off-the-shoulder dress included in this collage. It’s super soft, versatile, and in the perfect shade of green.

Blush Dress                                       Green Dress 

Fall calls for versatile pants and jeans. I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked on dark denim. The dark denim jeans in this collage are only $29! Yes, please! 

Faux Leather Leggings        Denim Skinnies        Olive Leggings 

Sweaters, cardigans, and long sleeve tees are essentials when the weather dips. This oxblood cardigan is on-trend and can add a little kick to any look. 

Oxblood Cardigan           Long Sleeve Top         Knit Sweater 

Ok, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve been scoring killer shade from BP for quite some time. And guess what? They’re $12! A trendy pair of shades can totally elevate your look without killing your budget. 

Blue Tint Shades                            Brown Shades

Layering a look can be easy and affordable. And of course, layers for fall!  BP is the place to pick up a few items to carry you through the season. 

Olive Green Jacket     Black Hat     Leopard Scarf     Tasseled Bag      Booties    Belt 

Click any link above to shop directly! What is your favorite spot to shop for fall? 

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

 

It’s All In The Spaghetti

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Hey, y’all! Whew, another week is in the books. I know you’re ready for the weekend. I’m currently packing my bag and will be hitting the road soon. I will be spending the weekend/early part of next week in…ha, just kidding. You’ll have to catch me on IG and/or Snapchat @toriparmer to see what I’m up to. It involves a plane ride, cooler weather, and several of my girls! Oh, and of course, one special bride-to-be! Congrats Lauren!

I need to give a shout out to my incredible, ultra-sweet husband. Thank you for this time to spend with friends. I will really miss you and the kids. In fact, you’re at work and they’re at school, and I already miss you guys. Also, to my parents and in-laws, thank you too! You’re graciousness and love is so appreciated. Thank you for helping Patrick and I!

Ok, now to my post. I’m so excited to share you a sweet and more private view of my world. Below you will see my mom and I cooking spaghetti. Pretty normal, huh? Well, yes, but not really. They say memories are made in the kitchen and I couldn’t agree more. I have watched my mom make spaghetti for as long as I can remember. The moments that we’ve shared while she was cooking (or I was helping) are near and dear to my heart. Whether it was a weekend day meal after a day at school, what she had waiting when I came home for a visit during college, or what my family of four eats now, my mom’s spaghetti is so special. In fact, it’s the first meal that my parents, Patrick, and I enjoyed together. Talk about memories!

Most spaghetti taste the same, excepts for my mom’s. I’m not kidding, I’ve told her a million times that she needs to bottle the sauce and sell it!

First, my mom browns pork and ground beef, then adds the sauce, and then the seasonings. Of course, she doesn’t have a recipe—such a pro. We have to wait to cook the paste so that it doesn’t stick. Trust me, she’s very particular about this.
She has a secret ingredient that sets her sauce apart from the rest. While I wish I could share, she has sworn me to secrecy.

I won’t tell mom, don’t worry!

I so look forward to sharing the same experiences with my kiddos. Maybe one day they will bring their future husband/wife to eat a plate of Nana’s spaghetti. Ok, now that’s got this momma teary-eyed.

Do you have a special family recipe? I would love to hear your story!

Have a beautiful weekend, y’all!

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO

Navy Takeover with The Shoe Closet

Hey there! How is everyone? The past weekend was rough, yet sweet for us. My son came down with some a yucky infection this past week. Needless to say, this momma was super worried about her baby chick. All is well now! As a parent, doesn’t it feel like your world stops when your kiddo(s) are sick? On the other hand, my husband and I celebrated out 6th anniversary. Oh, how I love him so much. I think I’ll keep him! 

Today, I’m so excited to be sharing two looks from The Shoe Closet. Like I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I have teamed up with The Shoe Closet to share some of their fall/winter pieces through out September and October. Located in Wichita Falls, Tx, The Shoe Closet is a premier boutique that carries clothing, accessories, and footwear. With brands like Show Me Your Mumu, Parker, and Jeffrey Campbell, The Shoe Closet is the place to shop for the freshest and on-trend pieces.

Make sure you read this entire post. There might be a little surprise waiting for you at the bottom!

Today at TGND, it’s all about navy. I’ve always been such a fan of the color and Fall ’16 is navy’s time to shine. Said to be the color of sophistication, elegance, and power, navy is where it’s at.

Navy is the new black.

First up, let’s talk about the navy dress by Milly. Oh my! I instantly feel in love with the fabric (super soft and stretchy) and detailed sleeves of this Milly dress. Paired with the Stuart Weitzman block heel booties and B. Stellar necklace, this look is on fire!

For me, versatility is always key, and this dress is just that. Add pumps and a clutch or a cardigan and booties, this LND (yes, I’m making a new acronym) is the perfect fall go-to. I’m a curvy girl and I totally felt confident wearing this fitted style. I’m still working on my confidence, but I’m determined to be 100% in love with my body. Why not embrace it?

The B. Stellar necklace is 14k gold choker and chain adorn with a clear quartz. The stone is said to block negative energy and give balance. Oh, and the best part? B. Stellar is located in Dallas. I love nothing more than representing Texas-made products! You can find many more pieces at The Shoe Closet.

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Next up, a very sleek and modern jumpsuit by Trina Turk. The asymmetrical fabric is super flattering and add an instantly “cool” factor! This jeweled long necklace gives just the right amount of sparkle. Have an event coming up? I would highly suggest reaching for a jumpsuit. They have a fresh, yet timeless feel that can make any woman feel amazing.

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Ok, as promised, I’ll share the surprise. The Shoe Closet is currently offering a chance to win a $100 gift card! Trust me, you want to be in the running for this. Especially with the cooler temps around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about transintioning your closet. A gift card is the perfect jumpstart to your fall wardrobe.

How to enter? Head to The Shoe Closet! After grabbing something super stylish, mention this post to put your name in the mix. Can’t make into the store? Give The Shoe Closet a call at (940) 322-6300. With purchase, mention The Gal Next Door to be entered to win the $100 gift card. They can help you with sizing or any questions you may have over the phone.

The contest will end Friday, October 7th.

Now, hurry and get your name in the running to win! I hope you guys have lovely week! Later this week, I’ll be sharing a sweet moment with one of my favorite people, my sweet momma.

❤︎❤︎❤︎

XO