Friday, October 31, 2014

/ / Favorite Fall Recipes

Happy Friday! I'm so thankful that the weekend is finally here. I'm starting to feel a little sickly, so rest and chicken soup will be so lovely. And maybe I will bake up something delicious to celebrate the spooky weekend. We are going to a costume party on Saturday night and I still haven't picked out my outfit. It definitely needs to be something that costs minimal dollars. Any ideas?

This weekend it's supposed to be pretty dang cold, which I'm really excited about. The cold always puts me in the mood to bake, so I though I'd put together a little comfort food board of sorts. I asked my incredibly talented and beautiful large ad sponsors to join me in sharing some of our favorite fall recipes! The ones they chose are perfection. Guess who's making apple crisp this weekend?? This girl.

From top left: Madison's Apple Crisp, My Sangria and Apple Pies
Bottom: Taylor's Fall Harvest Roasted Veggie, Martha Kate's Pecan Apple Crisp

Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do | Apple Crisp
"Apple crisp is probably one of my favorites all year, but during the fall I love making it even more because of the in-season apples! This year I went to an apple orchard to pick my own apples and then made a crisp with them! It was so fun to get the farm to table experience making one of my absolute favorite recipes."
View Madison's recipe here.

Taylor of Anticipation  | Fall Harvest Roasted Veggie
"Fresh picked roasted vegetables have that certain snap to them - especially in the sweet autumn when they have been newly harvested. I love roasting a medley of spiced veggies for a lot of reasons: they're guilt-free, they make a beautiful presentation (look at those colors!) and it's minimal prep time. All you need is a cutting board, a roasting pan, an oven, olive oil,  and a little bit of spice!" 
View Taylor's Recipe here. 

Martha Kate of Seasons with the Strattons | Pecan Apple Crisp
"I just love this Pecan Apple Crisp because it is has all my favorite fall flavors! It is a great spin on the traditional apple crisp with the addition of pecans. The pecans add a great flavor and crunch! Serve it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!"
View Martha Kate's Recipe here.

I love that there is a delicious and sweet apple theme going on, and then Taylor brings us back to earth with such a bright, fresh harvest veggie dish. Gotta have balance, right?

What is your favorite fall recipe? What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

/ / How to Throw a Wine Tasting Party

Last weekend, I had a few friends over to partake in a little wine tasting party! I've never thrown a wine-tasting party until now, but it's been on my list of parties to throw for a while. In high school and early college I used to have an annual cookie swap party, but I think this may replace it. It's such a fun idea for a girls night, and by the end of the party you know a lot more about your taste in wine. 

So you want to throw a wine tasting party? Here's what you need to know:


Send out invitations (Tiny Prints has great options for all kinds of events, and it's where I found mine!) about a month ahead of time. You could also do an evite, but I think there is something special about sending out paper invitations every once-in-a-while. It's such a dying art! Plus, how pretty are these gold invitatons? I couldn't pass them up. 

On the invitations, I specified which color of wine I wanted each person to bring. Half of the invitations asked to bring two bottles of red, while the others asked for white. That way there is a good mix!


Did you notice on the invitations I asked for each person to bring two of their favorite bottles? One of the bottles is for tasting, and the other bottle goes into the wine lottery. During the tasting, the guests are taking notes on their favorites. Then everyone votes for first and second place. The two winners get to split the wine lottery and go home happy. :) 

I decided to do a mystery wine tasting, so we wrapped the wine bottles in giant brown paper bags. We put the number on the front and either an "R" or a "W" on the bottom corner so we could try all of the reds at one time and the whites next. We aren't fancy wine tasters or anything, but one of the girls shared the tip of how to taste wines: swirl, sniff, sip. 

When it was time for the wine tasting to begin, I let everyone try the wines at their own pace. They filled out a little wine tasting card (that I made in a snap with Google Docs) as they sipped their way through the wines. At the end, they voted for their top two favorites!


I decided to go simple and just have good cheese, fruit, nuts, and a dessert. Tiny Prints provided the cutest gift labels and tags that I used as cheese labels and cup decorations. I think they added a festive touch! 

I made some really yummy peanut butter popcorn that disappeared really quickly! It was so delicious, so I'll have to share the recipe soon. 


The two winners were my good friends Jessie and Kristi! Jessie brought The Naked Grape Moscato and Kristi brought Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc. When I tasted these two, I could have promised that they were from a local vineyard! The Naked Grape was my personal favorite. :) These girls each went home with 5 or 6 bottles from the wine lottery. Score!

If you decide to plan a wine tasting party, let me know and I'll send you the wine tasting sheet document!

Have you ever hosted a wine tasting party? Would you ever? What are your favorite types of parties to host?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

/ / The Great Christmas Exchange 2014 | A Giveaway!

Raise your hand if you're ready for a Christmas gift swap! I know, I know, I know. It's not even November yet! That being said, December is only five Wednesdays away (yes, five!) , so it's time to start thinking about Christmas. Have you participated in the Great Christmas Exchange before? Two of my favorites, Beth of Oak & Oats and Samantha of Elah Tree host this fun swap each year. It's a gift swap where you are matched up with someone, you get to know them a little bit, and you send a gift! You don't have to be a blogger to sign up and participate, and everyone is welcome to join in. I love giving gifts and surprises, so this is right up my alley! Let the holiday cheer begin!

If you're interested in signing up, head on over the Beth or Samantha's blogs (you totally should check out both of theirs--they write beautifully!).

Well, to celebrate the launch of this year's exchange, we've got a little giveaway going on! We want to help pay for someone's participation in the exchange and also pitch in to help with all their other holiday shopping! I've joined in with several other of our bloggy besties who are participating in the campaign to give you the chance to walk away with $125 in PayPal cash! It is easy, just sign up for the exchange and then use the rafflecopter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Will you be signing up for the Christmas Exchange? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

/ / Pinspiring Vol. 6

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. By the end of the pinning sesh, I just want to go to my craft closet and make something pretty. Does that really ever happen? No. But the desire is there, so that's something right!?

Anyways, this is my sixth installment of Pinspiring, and each time it just gets better and better. Especially since I invited some of my favorite blog friends to join me! Make sure you check out which pins of theirs have brought them the most inspiration this week. They are good, y'all!

As for the items that have brought me the most warm fuzzies, here goes:

FLORALS | How pretty is this little wild flower diary? It's simple, pretty, and makes me so happy. It would make me the happiest person alive if this was what I was paid to do. Pick flowers, know their name, and take photos. Oh, the life. 

WEAR |  This chunky, long sweater is calling my name. It's starting to be pretty cool in the mornings and evenings, so this would be the perfect sweater to wrap up in while sipping hot chocolate. 

WORDS |  This print really caught my eye the other day. It's simple, yet moving. Is this from a worship song? Does anyone know?

WEDDING | I'm so in love with these wedding invitations! The colors, the calligraphy, the patterns. Swoon. Where do people find those pretty, vintage stamps? 

EAT |  My mouth is watering just looking at these cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins. They would go so perfectly with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. Yep, that's definitely happening this weekend. (Yes, I'm already looking forward to the weekend.)

Like I said, I've invited my regular ad sponsors to share what is pinspiring them this week. Check 'em out!

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, October 24, 2014

/ / Coffee Date | Highs & Lows

Happy Friday! I'm excited to kick off the weekend with a little virtual coffee date with you! It's been so fun doing this the last few months, and each time you guys share such beautiful, inspiration, and fun updates on life. I so wish we could meet up in real life for coffee (some of us did finally get to meet that the Renew Retreat last week--yay!), but until then I'll keep hosting this date twice a month for us to come together, build community, and share hearts. So grab your coffee, hot tea, or smoothie and let's get to chatting!

Two years ago today, Lamar stole me from my workplace, drove me an hour north of Atlanta, and took me on a hot air balloon ride.At around 3,000 feet he asked me to be his wife! I'm so thankful for those beautiful memories of us sailing up into the sky, celebrating our new life together, gathering leaves from the treetops, landing in someone's side-yard, and calling all of our friends and family with the exciting news. And good for you, we got it all on video! For your viewing pleasure...our proposal!

Ahhh, the warm fuzzies! :) I'm so glad Lamar made sure to capture the proposal on video. I thought he was just recording it so that we could watch our ballooning adventure and show our family. Turns out there was a much bigger reason. You can read our proposal story here.

Highlights of my week...

This week has been conference week, which I figured would be insanely stressful. I was really dreading this week, but it has turned out to be a great week! Praise God!

Last night, Lamar, my sister, and I went to the Fest of Ale at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. We tried some seasonal brews, listened to good music, and explored the gardens. I've been wanting to go for a couple of years now, and finally made the time! I'll share photos next week. Until then, check out my grams!

Last weekend, I traveled to Tennessee to spend the weekend with 14 amazing blog friends for the Renew Retreat! It was such a beautiful weekend of relaxation, bear-sightings, and coffee (and lots of it). Photos coming soon!

Lowlights of the week...

Although this week has been good, I've still been in such a funk. The desires of my heart aren't lining up with where I currently am in life, but I'm continuing to learn more about myself through situations that God brings to to. I'm excited (and honestly a bit nervous) to see what the near future holds. Change and taking risks is scary!

Now it's your turn!

1. What are your highs and lows from the week? Comment below!
2. Link up one post from this week that gives a glimpse into your life lately. This could be a coffee date, highs and lows, recent update, etc. Make sure it's a link to your post and not your blog URL.
3. Important: Comment on the blog that linked up before you. This linkup us about building community, so this step is important. Feel free to comment on more than just one!
4. Share about the coffee date via social media using the hashtag #coffeedatefriday

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

/ / Etsy Swap | Fall 2014

Hooray for the Etsy Swap reveal! I'm so excited to finally share the package I sent as well as the amazing gift I received. When Amy sent me my mission last month, I squeeled when I was given one of my favorites, Meg of Rivers and Roads! I immediately began stalking her Etsy Favorites and picked out a few little goodies just for her. I also picked up some fun postcards and pens from the dollar section of Target. Whoop!
For Meg: Scenic Postcards from One Canoe Two // Gold Tinsel Twine from Thatch and Thistle Co // "HEY" Postcards and Pens from Target

When I first recieved my Etsy Swap in the mail, I was so confused. I first saw the Stitch Fix box and thought, "I knowwww I didn't order one this month!" Then I got closer and saw the cutest little notes all over the box. Surprise!

Then...I opened it.

Y'ALL. I was spoiled. Hayley of Roots & Whim sent me the most amazing package of soap, a tumbler, a sweet postcard, and a delicious smelling candle. How did I get so lucky? Right when I opened the package, the glorious smells of the pumpkin candle and rosemary soap smacked me in the face (in a good way). I wish there was a way to include the smell in this post! Ha.

  See? Spoiled! I am blown away by Hayley's generosity and thoughtfulness. In her note, she introduced herself (we've never heard of each other before this swap!), and said she bought the soap and the postcard from a local shop in Colorado. I feel so special that I have some local goods from her town. The soap smells amazing! I love rosemary and mint, so it's perfect. What I love most about the Etsy swap is connecting with other bloggers, surprising them with goodies, and getting to know them more. Before this swap, I had never discovered Hayley's beautiful and creative blog. Now, a connection is made and a friendship is being built. Blogging is such a fun adventure! Thanks so much, Hayley, for the amazing gift. I have the candle burning right now and it's deliciouuuuuus. 

 Mason Jar Tumbler  | Purdy Things
Hagrid's Pumpkin Patch Candle | From the Page
Rosemary Mint Soap + Postcard | I heart Denver

Connect with Hayley: Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Have you joined in the Etsy Swap? You should head over to Meg and Amy's blogs to check out more swaps. They are such amazing hosts, and I'm thankful that they thought this project up and continue to host it a couple of times a year! Would you join in next time?

Monday, October 20, 2014

/ / Things I'm Passionate About

Happy Monday, y'all! I can't believe how quickly this weekend went by. I spent the weekend in the mountains with some amazing blog friends at the Renew Retreat. We rested, explored Gatlinburg, played games, and took lots and lots of photos. It was so much fun, and I can't wait to share a recap of the weekend!

I've been talking (er, typing) a lot about dreams and passions lately on this blog, but I have yet to really go into detail. I've realized in the last year how important it is to pay attention to the passions that the Lord lays on my heart, instead of brushing them under the rug and using the excuse that I don't have time to pursue them. Honestly, most of the reason I don't pursue every one of my passions is fear. Fear of failure, fear of taking risks. And as an educator who teaches children to take risks every day, I'm embarassed to say that I haven't been practicing what I've been preaching.

It has been one of the most difficult years of my life as I have been experiencing immense transition, change, stress, and disappointment with my job. I realize that God is teaching me during this seasons, so I'm trying to pay close attention. So that when this season comes to a close, I know what steps to take and which direction to go. I don't believe that God calls us to just one passion in life, or one calling. I think there can be multiple callings, and I've believed that for a few years. Now is the time that God is really teaching me about them, though. It's exciting, nerve-wrecking, and scary to know that God may bring me to do something completely different with my life next year or the year after.
Anyways, let's talk about some of the passions God has laid on our hearts. I'll go first, then I want you to share yours in the comments below!

CHILDREN |  Children have always been a passion of mine. I knew I was going to be a 2nd grade teacher before I even left elementary school. There wasn't a question in my mind whether or not to go into teaching when I reached college. God was right though, I would teach 2nd grade and have been for four years now. He is so faithful, and I think it's so crazy and awesome that God spoke to me at such a young age. He specifically told me 2nd grade, and in case you aren't familiar with teaching, you can rarely choose the grade you are placed in. You just get whatever the schools have available at the time of hire. So the fact that I have been placed in 2nd grade for all of my four years of teaching is such a confirming message from the Lord. Now, the question is: What else about children, God? Besides teaching, how does this passion fit into my life?

FLOWERS | Floral design, bouquet making, and simply looking at flowers makes me so giddy and happy. I know, I'm weird. This passion of mine is about two years old, and has become more intense with time. It has gone from just enjoying making arrangements for our home, to wanting to pursue a side job as a floral designer. Now, if I could just get some training, connect with other designers, and figure out how this could bring glory to the Lord, then I'd be set.

CREATING | Painting, pottery, and crafting has always been so much fun for me, but it is the one passion I rarely make time for. I can't seem to justify spending money or much time on this area. That being said, whenever I create it gives me such an amazing feeling and I feel closer to the Lord. I love to just find a quiet room, turn up the worship music, and escape. It's so good for the soul.

COOKING + BAKING | I have loved working in the kitchen since I was about 11, when my uncle gave me a kitchen set for Christmas. It included pots, pans, baking sheets, spatulas, and little gadgets. It was probably the best gift I've been given! Since I've been married, it is even more fun. I love to cook for Lamar and play around with new dishes. I think it would be a lot of fun to be a recipe tester (did you know that's a thing?) or food blogger. Who knows!?

I've invited one of my super sweet sponsors, Martha Kate of Seasons with the Strattons over to share some of her passions! I just love her blog and her heart, and I know you will too!

MISSIONS | ​One my biggest passions is the Rafiki Orphanage in Ghana, Africa where some of my favorite kids I've ever met live. God reveled my passion for Rafiki my sophomore year of college when I went on a mission trip to Ghana.  The Lord captured my heart for the sweet kids living at Rafiki and their heartbreaking stories.  

COOKING | Spending time in my kitchen creating meals has become one of my new found passions. I've always loved to cook.  My mom was really good about letting my sisters and me help her cook growing up.  But recently, I have found a new found passion for creating things in the kitchen.

How do these passions fit into your every day life?
My passion for Rafiki is hard to fit in to my every day life since I can't be there daily, but the root of my heart for Rafiki comes from my love for kids.  Right now, I am living out my passion for kids by teaching preschool at our church. Thankfully, eating is a daily part of life so I get to use my passion for cooking pretty much daily.  I'm learning to not be afraid to be creative in the kitchen and not focus on perfection.  

 What is the most challenging part about pursing your passions and dreams?
The most challenging part of pursuing my passion for Rafiki is living a world away from Africa.  I started writing a blog for Rafiki so I can pursue this passion from the US and bring awareness to the precious kids at Rafiki. The hardest part in pursing my passion for cooking is learning to slow down and enjoy my time in the kitchen rather than rushing through what could be just another task.  I'm learning to savor my time in the kitchen creating meals for my little family of two.

Connect with Martha Kate: BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

So tell me, what are you passions? How do they fit into your every day life?