Thursday, November 27, 2014

/ / Top 5 Holiday Baking Essentials + A Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends! I hope you have a beautiful and restful Thanksgiving with family and good friends. Lamar and I are at a cabin on a lake with my side of the family. We will be spending the day watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, taking family Christmas card photos, and traveling to eat Thanksgiving lunch with his side of the family. Then we will be back at the cabin to finish the day off with a big meal with my family. Needless to say, I'm wearing my stretchy pants.

I've got quite a treat for you today, friend. I'm teaming up with a group of wonderful bloggers to bring you the chance to win a Williams Sonoma giftcard! I don't know about you, but I am pretty much baking every other day during the holiday season. It's so important to have quality items in your kitchen to hold up through lots of baking and cooking, so here are my top 5 baking essentials for the holidays...
Top 5 Baking Essentials
Copper Measuring Cups + Kitchen Aid Mixer + Large Cutting Board 
 Durable Oven Mitts + Rubber Spatulas

How would you like to jumpstart your holiday baking with some brand spankin' new kitchen equipment from Williams Sonoma? Yeah, I thought so. I've teamed up with these 9 lovely ladies to bring you a shot at winning a $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma! Be sure to stop by their blogs to say thank you! Good luck!

Giveaway will end at 11:59 pm EST on December 2nd. Open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another winner will be chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway What are your holiday baking essentials?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

/ / Thanksgiving Favorites

Tomorrow's the big day, people! Thanksgiving. Ah, the day of rest, relaxation, sampling copious amounts of delicious food, and being with family. Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays, second only to Christmas. Our family tradition is to spend the entire Thanksgiving week out of town--either the beach or at a cabin in the mountains. This year, we chose to stay a bit closer to home since my baby nephew is only 2 weeks old. We are at the cabin sipping good wine, resting, eating, and watching lots of movies. This is my favorite time of year. What is yours?

Over the years, I've realized in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving there are certain must-haves that I make sure to pack on our trip, and there are specific things that our family Thanksgiving just has to have. They are my favorite things, and they make my heart happy.

Thanksgiving Favorites

Stretchy leggings, for obvious reasons // Warm scarves to stay cozy // Delicious smelling candles // Plenty of red wine // Cozy slippers, which I stay in all day // My mom's famous southern dressing

I invited along my large ad sponsors (who happen to be some of my best blog friends!) to share one of their Thanksgiving favorites. Hayley, Cassie, and Brittany are such incredible bloggers and I'm constantly being inspired by their creative ideas. Check out their favorites and show them some love!

Hayley | A Beautiful Exchange
"Fall is one of my absolute favorite times of year. The crisp air, the excitement as the holidays quickly approach, and most of all--the fashion! I love the ability to mix, match, and layer different items that come together to make one cute outfit! This outfit has been one of my favorite for fall and would be great for Thanksgiving because of the mustard scarf and comfort!"

Cassie | Kent Heartstrings
"I love this decoration, because I am sucker for rustic charm. I feel like everyone turns country in their decorating around fall/thanksgiving time, and I just cannot get enough. This rustic wooden banner sign is perfect for any holiday or season, because it is so versatile..just change out the banner to fit in with each holiday...easy peasy. I made the backdrop blend in with my home and then the banner can be the shining piece that pops out and screams- holidays!"

Brittany | Happy is a Choice 
"My favorite fall recipe right now is these Flourless Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins. They are perfect for a quick on the go breakfast and are a healthy alternative to sugar loaded store bought muffins. Fall makes me crave baked goods and I love that these are all natural and good for me so I stay full all morning and don't hit a sugar crash later in the day."

Interested in joining my sponsorship team? Visit my sponsor page for details, and use code GIVETHANKS25 for 25% off any package! I'd love to have you!

What are some of your Thanksgiving favorites?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

/ / How to Create a Foraged Holiday Arrangement

Over the last few months, I've shared with you my passion for flowers. The instant I step foot in a Whole Foods or farmers market, I will make a mad dash to the floral area to check out what they have. You know, in case someone snatches up the most perfect flower in the bunch before I do! My dream job would be playing with flowers all day (aka, floral designer). Oh, how lovely life would be. Honestly, I find myself so close to the Lord when I'm playing with flowers and putting together arrangements. Never in my life did I imagine flowers to become such a significant part of my life. I feel like it's kind of a special something between me and God, and that it's difficult to explain to people without getting a sideways glance. I'll keep on dreaming, though, and praying for God to lead me and show me the meaning behind this new found passion. 

 I made this little arrangement in celebration of my Nana's 85th birthday. I found these beautiful flowers at Whole Foods, while doing some last minute shopping for week at the cabin. I am always impressed by the florals at Whole Foods. They are fresh, keep for a long time, and reasonably priced. There are so many options for holiday centerpieces, but I think a stunning floral arrangement brings freshness to the table

This is definitely your pretty basic arrangement, and it costs less than twenty dollars. The reason why it's called a foraged arrangement, is because I took a little field trip into my back yard and clipped some sprigs that would add texture and wildness. The overall look to the arrangement is natural, wild, and whimsical--My favorite type of bouquet. :)

First, take your store-bought bouquet and separate the flowers and greens out into piles based on likeness. Add your yard clippings so you can get a good idea of which stems you want to begin with. Don't cut your stems yet, wait until you have an idea of where you want to place them in the vase. You definitely don't want the stems to be all the same length!  

Grab the vase you want your arrangement to be set in. I chose one of our wedding vases, which has a pretty wide mouth. Next time, I would try an even wider one. The wider the mouth, the more natural the stems will fall.  Start by placing your drapy greens in the vase, in somewhat of a V shape. They will fall naturally, but feel free to arrange them however you like.

Now add the more lush, full flowers in the center of the bouquet, close to the mouth of the vase. You will probably need to cut the stems down so you get your desired height. Take the daintier flowers, and let them fall in the direction of the drapy greens. 

There ya go, friends. Your very own homemade foraged holiday arrangement!

Are you planning on decorating your table for Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Would you ever make your own floral arrangement?

Monday, November 24, 2014

/ / Pinspiring Vol. 7

It's time for another Pinspiring! Each week, I find myself so inspired by the pins I see on Pinterest. Whether it's fashion ideas, recipes, or words of inspiration I always come across pins that get my creative juices flowing. Lately, though, I've been neglecting my little Pinterest account. I'll pin here and there, but it isn't often that I spend time just scrolling through my feed. However! Last week while I was waiting for my baby nephew to arrive, I finally had some time to get lost in a pinning frenzy. A few things I noticed about myself throughout my pinning spree...

I'm obsessed with all things flowers. What's new though?
Hangry-ness is real, people.

Here are some of the pins that warmed my heart...
DECOR | How beautiful are these florals? The colors are perfect for the Thanksgiving table. I like the idea of using a pumpkin as a vase, too. Never thought of that!

MAKE | My heart skipped a beat when I came across these beauties! Before I clicked on the link, I assumed this DIY would involve way too many steps and expensive materials. Wrong! This DIY only requires four materials--and most of them I bet you already have in your craft closet. Guess what I'll be making for family and friends this Christmas. These babies.

WANT | How adorable is this hot air balloon travel mug? As you probably know, I'm obsessed with hot air balloons, and I'm in need of a new travel mug. This is definitely on my wish list.

WORDS |  I don't pin too many quotes on Pinterest, but this one really inspired me. I am navigating some small steps in order to achieve some of my dreams, and it's not easy. Sometimes the small steps seem pointless and are frustrating. This changed my perspective a little bit, though. It's so important to gogh after your dreams, friends! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I've got a treat for you today! I've invited some of my amazing and inspiring sponsors to share two pins that are inspiring them this week. Check 'em out!

 "I have dreams of throwing backyard BBQs with all of our friends when we finally are in a home. This picnic table/ice chest project is one I can get behind. There's nothing better than celebrating with a group of friends, brisket in the smoker, and a cold beer in the hand. Flowers make me incredibly happy. Living in a small apartment with only a small enclosed patio, we are short on space and the number of plants we can fit in. These wall planters are a genius way to add color and life to our small home."

Follow Jaelan on Pinterest

"With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I've been looking for a couple new recipes to try out this time around. As soon as I laid eyes on this beer and bacon mac 'n cheese, my searching came to a halt. Beer, bacon and cheesy goodness all wrapped up into one? I'm sold. Hopefully it will taste as wonderful as it looks!These metallic playing cards from Anthropologie caught my eye the other day. Although I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping, I think that these would make a great stocking stuffer (if they weren't almost $20 - haha). I really can't help but want a set for myself."

Follow Jessica on Pinterest

"I love these pins because they both have to do with the holidays. Homemade gift wrap to me is so special because not only did you put the effort into giving someone a gift but you also took some extra effort to wrap it beautifully. This table scape also brings in my favorite part of the holidays which is eating and being with the people who are the most important in our lives. Good food and a beautiful table just makes the holidays that much more special."

Follow Amanda on Pinterest

Interested in joining my sponsorship team? Visit my sponsor page for details, and use code HELLOLOVE for 20% off any package! I'd love to have you!

What is inspiring you today? What are your favorite kinds of pins?

Friday, November 21, 2014

/ / A Week at the Cabin

Once the school day is over with, my week-long Thanksgiving week at the cabin begins! Each Thanksgiving, my family either travels to the beach or the mountains. It's one of my favorite traditions! This year we are going to north Georgia to spend the week in a cabin on the lake. There will be lots of resting, endless cups of coffee, and baby snuggles. It's going to be so lovely. Oh, and these are just some of the things I'm looking forward to this week at the cabin...

Yes, I'm fully embracing the idea of waking up each morning with such simple to-do's on the brain. It's been a long few months, and for a while there it seemed as if Thanksgiving week would never get here. Now, it's finally here and I'm so grateful.

BAKE   maple glazed cinnamon rolls
WEAR  slouchy tunic, leggings, cozy scarves
READ  Bread & Wine, Gone Girl
SIP       rosemary grapefruit cocktail

Along with these fun little gems, I do plan on actually being somewhat productive. Okay, that's a lie. I don't. But, I do plan on doing some writing, walks around the lake, cooking meals for my family, and oh yes--watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Eep.

Don't leave yet! Let me introduce you to my friend Brittany of Happy is a Choice. I've been reading her lovely blog for about a year now, and let me tell you--her sweet spirit is so contagious! Her photos from her recent anniversary trip to Hawaii are speaking directly to my traveling heart. She's a good one, y'all. Show her some love!

Connect with Brittany: Bloglovin  |  Pinterest   | Twitter

So tell me, what is your favorite way to spend Thanksgiving vacation? What are your plans?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

/ / Pumpkin Chai Cookies | Recipe

I made these little delicious wonders a couple of years ago, and have been thinking of them ever since. They are always the cookie I remember at random moments and think to myself, "Man, I really need to make those again". But then I always forget to pick up chai tea at the store. Oh, the horror, I know! Finally, I had the necessary ingredients on hand after I was battling a cold and the pantry was stocked with tea. Weird fact about me: I only drink hot tea when I'm really sick. SO, I made a batch of these yummy pumpkin chai tea cookies and all was well in the world.

These are the perfect breakfast cookie, in my opinion. They aren't overly sweet, and the spices from the chai tea brings out the flavor of the pumpkin so nicely. So whip these up real quick (it took me less than 30 minutes to make these!), grab a big cup of coffee, and enjoy.

Click the recipe card below to print! 
    Recipe adapted from All Recipes

Before you go, I want to introduce you to one of my new blog friends, Cassie of Kent Heartstrings. She is so incredibly sweet, and her amazing DIYs have stolen my heart. I mean, how amazing is this leather tassel necklace? If you need any creative inspiration, this blog is made for you! Meet Cassie!


What have you been baking lately? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

/ / Week's End

This weekend was incredible. My nephew decided it was finally time to come into this world! I had the honor of taking birth photos, which turned out to be such an emotional and touching experience for me. As I edit and sift through the photos, I find myself in tears. I am one proud sister and aunt, y'all!

Welcome to this world, Killian Patrick! I love every bit of your 9 pound 6 ounce self.  You've stolen my heart completely.

I took over 450 photos during the 17 hour labor, so I can't wait for Thanksgiving break to roll around (starts this Friday!!) so I can edit and organize them. I'm not a photographer, but I am really digging documentary-style birth photos. Would you ever consider having a photographer document your birth story?

Other than welcoming my new nephew into this world, Lamar and I took some Christmas photos, which was really fun. It reminded us of our engagement shoot from many moons ago. :) My new friend, Christina, took professional shots of us, but while we were waiting we got a few snapped of us by our friend Katie. I do love this man of mine. :)
After our photo sesh, we high-tailed it back to the hospital to hold Killian before visiting hours were up. The doctors eventually had to come and kick us out. :) Yesterday, they were finally were able to leave the hospital and settle into their home with their new little one. Today I'm praising God for a healthy baby and mama! God is good all of the time!

How was your weekend? What are you praising God for today?