Everything Southern & So Cotton Pickin Cute

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I'm Wearing A Hapari Bikini In My 5o's #Giveaway

Disclosure: Hapari provided me with products for this article, as always all opinions are 100% my own.

Thanks to my friends at Hapari I'm enjoying a summer filled will lots of beach days.  And you'll get the chance to win your own Hapari shopping spree too!

You know the old saying "go BIG or go home".  Well here I am in full disclosure.  Me not hiding a thing.  This is probably the boldest thing I've done in years.  Me putting my 54 year old body, sans makeup, out here for my little corner of the blogging world to see.

That's me - yup, you've got to give me points for guts!  The picture above shows the Tummy Tuk bottoms up, but when I lay down, I want even more sun so I fold them down, that's just the way I roll, pun intended. :)

I want extra points for this picture.  You can see the change in tan line under my top, this is from where I was wearing my old Hapari tankini early this summer and rolling it up so I could tan my tummy.  You can also see tan lines from my shorts.  That tells me I need more beach time!

This year I decide to go with mismatch pieces for the first time and I love it. I can mix and match pieces for more fun looks.  And with Hapari's awesome sales, I was able to buy 3 bandeau bikini tops and the 1 Tummy Tuk bottom plus 2 cropped tanks to wear under my sheer or low cut tops. All that for only $107 with FREE shipping!!  Now that's what I call a deal. The Tummy Tuk is double lined, has a 2" supportive waistband and full back coverage. For young mommy chasing kids they make the perfect stay in place choice.  I really like the high cut on the thigh.

Why I chose to wear a bikini at 54

Let me tell you why I chose to put a bikini on this not perfect body.  A couple of years ago I decided that I was too old for a bikini and it was time to put my childish toys aside.  So I got myself a tankini, which is a nice enough choice but I hated it. I want the heat of the sun hitting my belly, flat or not.  It just took away from the whole sunbathing, swimming experience for me.  So I decided I'm not hiding and I'm enjoying instead. Am I happy with my body?  No, but it could be worse.  Plus wearing a 2-piece really does encourage you to work a little harder at getting in shape which ='s getting healthy.

When warm weather arrives my very first thought is "Let's head to the beach".  Sometimes that warm weather arrives as early as late February and I have to remind myself that it's cooler at the beach and the waters cold.  But by June we're in full beach mode.  Meaning swimsuit shopping has started.

I used to love to go swimsuit shopping!  The operative words being used to.  I mean really, do you know anyone over the age of 25 that enjoys shopping for a bathing suit?  Does anyone even use that word anymore?  I have a hard time saying swimsuit, sounds unnatural to me.

Shopping with Hapari

The days are gone of me running in a store grabbing the cutest pattern and smallest size I can find.  It takes a little, okay a lot more searching.  There's a lot more to cover and a lot more that needs lifting.  I love Hapari swimsuits for that exact reason.  Hapari is a quality company that uses a quality fabric, made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex.  The combination creates a swimsuit that pulls everything together and shapes the bulges to well, not bulge so much.

You'll find that Hapari has a large inventory to choose from which will accommodate every size and shape including plus size and maternity.  They don't stop with swimsuits, they also carry cover ups, sarongs, swim skirts and board shorts for women as well as tees. For girls who need a little enhancement they even have Illusions Silicone Breast Enhancers.  They even have the men covered, offering board and compression shorts for them as well.

The old adage is true, you get what you pay for.  Hapari is not the cheapest in price, and that's just fine with me because I'm getting a suit that does what it's supposed to do.  The fabric fits like a second skin.  All the tops have foam cups to provide just enough modesty, with a natural look.  These swimsuits are built to last, with proper care they'll still look great at the end of the summer season, wash after wash.

Bonus, Hapari seems to always have a sale going on.  There are the deal of the day sales, where you find a new suit on sale each day.  And how 'bout this whoopaloosa of a sale, 60% OFF!!!  It includes NEW & SALE merchandise!  Plus, if that's not enough there's also FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100. WOW - that's a good deal!  Shopping with Hapari is so easy and before you know it, their products are delivered right to your door.  The excellent customer service is just icing on the cake. Don't miss it go to Hapari now by clicking HERE.

Win a Gift Code

Of course I'm not going to send you away without a chance to win a $100 gift code to use on any item of your choosing at Hapari.com.

Entering is simple, just fill out the #GiveawayTools form at the bottom of this post.  This giveaway will end on July 20, 2104 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected.

You can still see how great my Hapari red tankini looked after 2 years in this photo.  So do like I'm doing this summer.  I'm leaving my body image issues behind and enjoying my freedom.  I hope you do too.

Hugs Y'all...


As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
~ Philippians 1:20

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We are Happy from Ouagadougou - Just Because

My soul SOARS when I see the unabashed abandon that people have when they groove to Pharrell's song!!!!!  I love the little kids.  I could watch their smiling faces all day long and I pray that they never learn to be guarded with their emotions.  Ha - Pharrell makes it sound so easy, as you know most of us don't sound like him - no matter how we sound in our head.

Crystal from Love Many Things or Straight On Till Morning, I'm not sure what her blog name really is, my newest favorite blog.  My bad. my newest favorite blog.

Now, how can you not be happy after seeing that.  Find happiness where you are planted.  It's there you just have to look for it.

Have a HaPpY :) day y'all...

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
~Psalm 68:3

Pollo Tropical - Bartram Park - #PolloTropical #Giveaway

Disclosure:  I received a press kit including free meal passes to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Don't worry...Be Happy
...that's a life lesson I can live by.  

Bob Marley was on to something.  Lifes too short - find things that make you happy and ride them like a wave.

Neil and I went to the grand opening of Pollo Tropical in Bartram Park last Friday.  Just walking inside you get the feeling that your troubles stay outside the door.  The restaurant has that relaxed Caribbean vibe that leaves you happy!  It sort of reminds me of a theme restaurant at Disney World.  A mini vacation of sorts.

There was a Calypso band to get you in the mood and a prize wheel to spin, because who doesn't get in a party mood when prizes are involved.

Those citrus flavors make the food like a bite of sunshine and sea! There are so many fresh choices like citrus-marinated chicken along with Caribbean-inspired soups, salads, wraps, fried yuca, sweet plantains and slow-cooked black beans. Oh' and the Mango tea is my new obsession!

Pollo Tropical is different than any other restaurant I've been too.  The main reason of course is the delicious tropical inspired food but it's also a mix of fast/casual.  In-other-words, the hostess seats you with a number at your table, then you proceed to the counter to order.  You're given a cup to get the drink of your choice and they bring the meal to your table when it's ready. You eat on real plates with real utensils and they clean up when you're finished, just like a casual - not fast food restaurant should.
Another big plus - No Tipping!
See what I mean a mix of casual dining and fast food.  The decor features planked walls, ceiling fans, bamboo & wicker styled furniture, tiled floors plus fun colorful artwork.  It's a decidedly Miami or Caribbean feel.

I love the freshness of the food. Especially the bold and tangy flavors that come from the savory island spices, mixed herbs and citrus that are blended into rubs and marinades to season their chicken, pork and beef dishes.

Speaking of chicken, Pollo Tropical's chicken is hormone free, steroid free and never frozen.  A variety of vegetarian dishes make this restaurant a good choice for everyone. They feature made from scratch cooking, fresh salsa bars, drive-thru service and catering. In other words they've got you covered.

We choose the "Create Your Own Family Meal" which includes 1 whole chicken, 4 rolls & sweet plantains.  We also added 2 Caesar salads. It feeds 3-4 easily.  We were so full and seeing that we had another meal left for us to eat at home, we thought that was a great deal for around $21.  The only advice for Pollo Tropical is: Please warm the rolls.  Other than that is was wonderful.

If you live in Jacksonville I encourage you to stop by the new location in Bartram Park or any of the other 3 locations here.  We received great service along with our delicious food. If you're not in Jacksonville you can look for a location near you on their website here: http://pollotropical.com/locator/

Lucky for you, I'm giving away 1 FREE Create Your Own Family Meal with 2 sides and 1 Be Our Guest cards thanks to Pollo Tropical. But you'll have to hurry the #giveaway ends Wed 6/25 at 11:59 p.m. You can enter here: 
**Update - Giveaway has ended.  But I still enjoy comment love!!

Life's short, eat the good stuff now y'all...

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
~Proverbs 22:9

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Big Fat Juicy Tomato Event at Winn Dixie - #WDBlogger

This post was created in partnership with Winn Dixie. I have bene compensated in exchange for this post.

I bet you've never had a summer picnic or dined alfresco without tomatoes. Winn-Dixie knows that.  That's why they're celebrating the season of tomatoes with THE BIG FAT TOMATO EVENT.

Is it a vegetable?  Is it a fruit?  Actually it's Both, so that makes them double good!  And they're red which just conjures up thoughts of the 4th of July!  Tomatoes don't just taste good, they bring a punch of color to a plate of food for extra delicious eye appeal.

In honor of the often overlook fruit/vegetable I've come up with a couple of simple go to recipes for those busy summer days

My first step was to head to Winn-Dixie to take advantage of the great tomato deals. 

I not only picked up some fresh ripe on the vine tomatoes in the produce section, I headed over to the can goods and took advantage of the BOGO Free deals.  I not one to ever pass up free.  Looks like a lot of other people had the same idea.

Lucky me!  Even the grits were BOGO Free!! 

The 1st recipe is this Chilled Herbed Tomato Salad.  You'll cool off 10 degrees just by eating it.

This is the simplest recipe ever.

Now lets try something a little warmer.

Recipe #2 is a southern tradition - Southern Grilled Tomato Cheddar Grits.  We love our grits for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  This recipe is especially good when served with fried fish.

Grits are so filling not to mention inexpensive, yet you'll find them in the finest restaurants in the south.  Tomatoes add an extra zing and dress them up a bit too.

I like my recipes nice and easy and this is another example of that.

Tomatoes are delicious, nutritious and versatile. Their beautiful colors and lively flavors can be found in soups, salads, sauces and sandwiches all over the world. Tomatoes are kind of a big deal. And a fat and juicy deal, too. That’s why Winn-Dixie decided it was about time the tomato was honored with an event that’s equally as amazing.

This is the season for the Big Fat Juicy Tomato so get them while you can at your local Winn-Dixie.  Whether you like them fruity and sweet or tart and tangy, there's no substitute for ripe, juicy, in-season tomatoes.

  • Peak Tomato Season: June through September.
  • Look For: Fragrant tomatoes that are firm, richly colored and heavy for their size.
  • Store: In a single layer at room temperature. Use within a few days.
Check out this page for even more tomato facts: Winn-Dixie's Big Fat Juicy Tomato Event

Wishing y'all good eatin'...

Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you.  Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
~ Genesis 9:3

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grand Opening for new Pollo Tropical in #Jacksonville

Disclosure:  I received a press kit including a meal pass to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Pollo Tropical is opening it's fourth (4th) location in the Jacksonville area on Friday, June 20th. The newest location will be in Bartram Park at 13776 Old St. Augustine Road. Lucky for you there is a giveaway involved, you just have to keep reading to find out more.

You know the grand opening is going to be a great party just from the fun press package I received!

I can't believe I haven't been to one yet! Shocking since I love trying new foods, and Caribbean-inspired food sounds so tantalizing!  But never fear, I'm fixin' to get my jerk on. Just look how appetizing their dishes look.

What is Pollo Tropical

Pollo Tropical is a Caribbean-inspired fast-casual concept known for its fresh, flame-grilled chicken marinated int a proprietary blend of tropical fruit juices and spices, as well as authentic, made-from-scratch side dishes, soups, salads and wraps.  My mouth's watering just thinking about it, what about yours?  These aren't your average fast food restaurants. We're talking made-from-scratch y'all, yet ready quick enough for drive thru service.

More on the grand opening

You know anything to do with Pollo Tropical is going to be fun right?  I mean that's what the Caribbean is all about.  This won't be any stodgy, boring old grand opening, there's going to be plenty of fun with Calypso music, robosurfers and local officials who will herald in the opening.

The opening celebration kicks off at 10am with a presentation by company leaders and local officials before the music starts and doors open to the public at 10:30.  A robosurfer contest on a simulated surfing machine will take place at 12:30pm, in which media personalities will compete for first, second and third place prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $500 and $250, to benefit their charity of choice.  See, what did I tell you!  And that's not all. The first 100 guests will receive a coupon for a free Create Your Own Family Meal redeemable on a future visit.  One guest will win Free Chicken for a Year, which includes 52 Be Our Guest cards redeemable for any sandwich or wrap combo, small TropiChop or quarter chicken with two sides. Plus there will be spin-and-win prizes. The grand opening festivities will continue through 9 p.m.

The new Bartram Park location will help better serve the Jacksonville community with their uniquely tropical twist on fresh, healthy, hand-prepared foods.  The new 3,800-square-foot restaurant will seat 90 guests and be open daily from 10:20 a.m. to midnight.

The grand opening sounds like it's going to be a whole lot of fun, so if you're in the Jacksonville area, I hope to see you there.  If you can't make it to the grand opening you can also receive a coupon for either a buy one, get one free quarter chicken with two sides or a $3 off a family meal by signing up for the Pollo Reward$ loyalty program.   I can't wait to come back with pictures to share with y'all.

Win a meal

And you know we're not done yet right.  Thanks to the wonderful folks at Pollo Tropical I'm giving away 1 FREE Create Your Own Family Meal with 2 sides and 1 Be Our Guest cards.  Que the confetti drop, now it's a real celebration.  Enter by following the simple instructions on the Giveaway Tools form below.  Be sure to do the mandatory entry or the others won't count.  Giveaway ends 6/27/14 @ 11:59 p.m. EST.

Life's Better Under The Palm - See y'all there...

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:7

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Me and Cyndi Lauper

Lately, I've just said I don't give a good flip.

I've been feeling like I want to get my Cyndi Lauper on.  Not the young Cyndi above.  I'm talking about full out crazy lady Cyndi from 2013. The one who says all the things I never do.  The one who knows, no one pays her bills and it's all about having fun even when you're 61!  Oh' I hope I grow up to be Cyndi.  Oh' that's right she's ALWAYS been that way.  Still it's good to be Cyndi especially when you're 61!  I've got that soul buried in me too but no one ever told my voice.

Some days I literally want to get in the car and run away.  Did anyone do anything to crap on my day?  No, not necessarily. Sometimes, it's just a matter of wanting to have fun. Sometimes it's just a matter of wanting to hit the open road with nothing but my own thoughts in my head and the time to reflect without a care about anyone else.  Sometimes it's just a kick to cut loose!

Well on a particular day last week someone did crap on my day.  Neil & I grabbed a quick breakfast at a fast food restaurant and the dude at the register gave me a discount. A DISCOUNT!!!!  Say what?  Don't get me wrong I'm all about saving money but there was an issue here.  He only discounted one meal and it was MINE!  Big mistake buddy - I'm the younger of the two.   Seven years younger to be exact.

I could go crazy on your head for that.

Have you ever seen a woman jump across a counter and beat someone senseless.  I have, right then in there in my head.  I could picture me all over that boy.  Not a very dignified sight.  Oh' I held it all together, all the way till I got to the table and it sunk in a little further and I burst into tears right there in front of Neil.  Neil looked utterly lost and I could see it in his face, he knew this was a biggie.  No brushing it off, he could see I was wounded. And I could see the tenderness in his eyes. Poor guy.

I'll be honest, I felt pretty rotten for two whole days.  I had me a good old fashioned pity party.  And I didn't feel better until I saw this video of C.L.

My girl is tearin' it up with the Memphis blues and I'm diggin' me some Charlie Musselwhite too. He's has got it goin' on!  So take that you 20 something year old punk! You can't have this kind of soul until you've lived a little bit.  Turn it up,  don't hold back it's the only way to let loose.

Cyndi's got some cross between Bride of Frankenstein and Tammy Faye goin' on but that's okay cause this woman is feelin' everything that matters and everybody's feeling it with her.  Get It Girl!!  If you can go to the White House and say I don't give a flip and just give 'em you, let loose and let your freak flag fly, then you're livin life and not dreamin' about it.

Crazy doesn't have to look pretty, it just has to be fun.  I'm a crazy genius y'all and I'm not quitin' till the sun goes down and I'm buried in the ground.

Color outside the lines y'all, it's a heck of a lot more fun...

P.S.  If you're thinking of hitting the road you might want to enter my Ryan's, Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet giveaway here so you'll have something good to eat while you're gone.  Just sayin'....

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
~ Romans 8:11

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Family Game Night #Giveaway with #Ryans, HomeTown Buffet., Old Country Buffet & Hasbro

Throughout the month of June, Ryan's, HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet are partnering with Hasbro again for an exclusive Family Night promotion.

Every Thursday night in June from 5 -8 pm., families who dine at any of the restaurants will receive a themed activity sheet which includes a coupon for a 10% product discount from www.HasbroToyShop.com. 

The activities include tie-ins to family-favorite board games like Trouble, Sorry, Battleship and Operation. Who doesn't love those classic games?

I think June is the time of year that's all about fun.  The kids are out of school and families are finding fun ways to keep everyone occupied.  It's not about big family get togethers like Thanksgiving & Christmas.  It's all about mom & dad time with the kids and memories get made that last a life time.  Dinner out and board game nights are great ways to spend time together.

One lucky Cotton Pickin Cute reader is going to win their own Family Game Night package, that includes two (2) of Hasbro's best loved board games - SORRYTROUBLE plus four (4) GUEST PASSES to the any restaurant listed below:
  • Ryan's Buffet
  • HomeTown Buffet
  • Old Country Buffet
  • Fire Mountain Buffet 
  • Country Buffet
How's that for a fun time? We love the delicious food at Ryans and go every chance we get.

If you'd like to win this fun prize pack valued at over $60.00 just follow the instructions on the Giveaway Tools form below.

Play hard & have fun y'all...

Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.
~ 2 Timothy 2:5

Daddy I Miss You - Son I love You - Happy Fathers Day

When it comes to dads we all think we had the best.  I have to tell you, in my eyes and heart I know I had the best.  I honestly couldn't imagine a better dad.  No father could make his girls feel more loved every single day of their lives than our daddy did.

Our daddy had personality plus.  He never knew a stranger and anyone who met him felt happier after talking to him.  He'd give you the last penny in his pocket, or all the time you needed.  Daddy was that guy!   The guy everyone knew and everyone liked.  He was well respected for being a good father and family man.  I miss my daddy every
day.  Rarely does one go by where I don't think about him.

Now on Father's Day I think of my own son as much as I do my daddy.  I'm proud of the father he's become too.  His children are just as crazy about their dad as my sister and I were about ours.  Happy Father's Day Ty.

Then there's Neil who loves Ty as if he was his own child and  is so proud of being a grandfather to Zach and Ki'a.  A father wants the best for his children. I love you for worrying and always wanting the best for them.

I love these 3 men more than words can say.

Hugs Y'all...

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
~Psalm 103:13