April 2, 2014

To my future daughter...

I recently got to catch up with a long-time friend over coffee...  It was so fun to reminisce about everything from summer camp shenanigans to favorite memories at youth group.  Truthfully though, in addition to the many sweet memories that this conversation brought about, it also reminded me of a few hard "growing up" moments, which at the time, were so very rough and raw- things like the B in chemistry that ruined my straight-A streak, or the broken heart that I had after finding out that the boy that I had a huge crush on, liked my friend.  All seem so trivial now after years have passed.  Laughable in fact... God has healed those old sorrows with time and reminders of where my true worth and confidence are found.  But I still remember how important these middle school and high school "crises" felt at the time...

It got me thinking... what do I wish I could tell my 15 year old self?  Or rather, what advice or guidance would I give if I have a daughter of my own someday?  Here are just a few things that came to mind.  The things that my parents and church mentors taught me along the way that have shaped me and made me the person who I am today. : )

1.) Dreams:  My prayer is that you would dream BIG.  Don’t wait until your senior year of college to search for what you love to do.  Start now.  Begin to discover what it is that you are truly passionate about.  Explore things that interest you.  It takes time and intentionality to pin point your gifts and passions, but this is all part of the adventure.  Pray that God would give you wisdom about how to use your gifts to serve Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Prov. 3:5-6
2.) True Identity:  It is very easy to find our identity in things that do not last.. things like achievement, money, outward appearance, and reputation.  While these things might provide temporary satisfaction, they will not provide lasting fulfillment.  When they are taken away, we are left empty.  Instead, aim to root your identity in the woman that Christ made you to be.  You are His beautiful, perfect creation and He made you with unique gifts, talents, and personality to worship him with.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
3.) Stay Focused:  There are a lot of things in this life that will compete for your attention.  Friendships, hobbies, technology, school, boys… to name just a few.  All good things if prioritized correctly.  Entire days, weeks, even years can fly by where we forget to be intentional about investing our time and effort into things that actually matter.  God calls us to seek Him first.  If our hearts and minds are focused on God, He will give us the strength and time to complete what He has in store for us each day.  Ask God to help you prioritize your life according to His will.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matt. 6:33-34
4.) Knowing Him:  I also pray that above all else, you would pursue a personal relationship with Jesus all your life.  That you wouldn't settle to just know about Him- but that you would accept His invitation to know him personally.  That you would know God’s unconditional love for you and be filled with love and grace.  Accepting this invitation is by far the most important decision you will ever make.

March 17, 2014

Cooking: Healthy Granola

Wanted to share with ya'll one of my very favorite recipes for granola.  In my book, it is a winner for three reasons: 1.) 99.9% of the time, I already have all the ingredients in my pantry 2.)  it is super quick to make 3.)  just the right amount of sweet and salty.  You sold?  Here we go!

What you will need:

1 cup oats
2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
*Feel free to add in a tablespoon or two of things like: coconut, seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, etc.  Just be sure to slightly increase the amount of peanut butter and honey if you do... 

Preheat oven at 325 degrees (you can also use your toaster oven instead!).  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.  Combine peanut butter and honey in a bowl and microwave until peanut butter melts (approx. 20 seconds).  Stir cinnamon and vanilla into the melted mixture.  

Add oats (and any other goodies) and stir until the oats are completely covered in the peanut buttery goodness.  Then spread out mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes until granola is slightly toasted.  Let cool.

Store in air tight mason jar.  A perfect topping for yogurt or an acai bowl!

Bon App├ętit!

*Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine.

October 10, 2013

Fall Cravings: Grilled Cheese (all grown-up)

I am so excited for the new fall season that is upon us.  As the temperature drops, I find myself craving some of the comfort foods that I grew up with.  One of my favorites is the grilled cheese sandwich- the quintessential comfort food for fall.  It is a childhood favorite that can effortlessly be elevated to gourmet status.

Restaurants from coast to coast are putting a refined twist on the classic grilled cheese sandwich.  From NY’s Little Muenster, which offers the Heirloom Tomato Grilled Cheese {with herbed goat, heirloom tomatoes, and parmesan crust} to LA’s Joan's on Third, which serves up a unique grilled cheese {with raisin bread, melted goat cheese, and fig preserves}.

I am also looking forward to cooking up some of my own grilled cheese sandwiches at home.  The following recipes have me inspired and ready for fall cooking.  Plus, I also love the idea of having a gourmet grilled cheese bar at the next party we throw. The possibilities are truly endless.

1.  Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich | from A Cup of Joe

2.  Grilled Figs and Cheese | from 80 Breakfasts

3.  Emeril's Kicked-Up Tuna Melts | from Martha Stewart

October 1, 2013

5 Ways to Sense the Fall Season

After the heat of summer, fall is a welcomed breath of fresh air and a time of transition.  As the leaves change and the temperature drops, we aim to stay up to date with the most cutting edge technology, music, and fashion- while still taking time to embrace the classic fragrances and tastes of the season.  Here are 5 of our favorite ways to welcome the new autumn season.  

1.  Touch 
Get into touch with the latest technology for your new iPhone 5s.  With so many iPhone apps out there, it can be hard to know which ones are worth downloading.  Luckily, iMore has taken the guesswork out of app shopping with its recent post on the best new apps for the iPhone 5s.

2.  Taste
It seems as though "pumpkin flavored anything" has stolen the stage of fall cooking.  Whether pumpkin just isn't your thing, or you simply want to pace your pumpkin consumption this season, cooking with apples is a wonderful alternative, with flavors equally reminiscent of fall.  On A Beautiful Mess Elsie and Emma share a delicious recipe for puff pastry covered Baked Apples.

3.  Hear
After a summer of road trip mixtapes on replay, we are usually ready for a little music library update come fall.  This year, Billboard has compiled a list of the 52 hottest new albums for the fall season, making it easy to find some new jams.

4.  Smell
There is nothing more nostalgic about fall than the smell of homemade pies cooking in the oven.  Fear not though.  You do not have to bake everyday to experience these delightful fall aromas.  Instead, check out Free People's solutions for making your home smell like fall with ingredients that you probably already have in your spice cabinet.

5.  See
Before you hit the stores for your fall shopping, make sure to check out Harper's Bazaar's recap of fashion trends from NYFW Fall 2013.  Their recap of trends (grays, leather, and big coats- to name just a few) are great to keep in mind as you shop to update your wardrobe for the new season.  

Whatever you do, we hope that you will
take just a little time to truly enjoy this new season!

September 10, 2013

DIY: Thermal Lunch Tote UpCycle

In an attempt to eat healthy and save money, I almost always pack a sack lunch when I will be on campus or at work during meal time.  I love the practicality of a thermal bag, but lets be real, it's not the cutest thing to be toting around everyday.  So, in an attempt to show my Pepsi lunch bag a little love, I decided to clothe it in a durable striped canvas fabric.  The finished result has a very organic, natural look and is super durable.  If you're interested in how I created this lunch pail upcycle, keep reading...

First I used a seam ripper to deconstruct all the sewn together pieces of the tote.  I then used Modge Podge to glue the new fabric to the old panel pieces, leaving a .5" border of fabric around the edges.  I then hand sewed each of the panels together with upholstery thread, folding in the excess fabric into each stitch.  I continued to reconstruct the bag, adding a braided hemp handle and a velcro closure.  

Bonus: {Tips from a avid lunch packer}

1.  Try preparing your lunch the night before.  I promise it will make for a much smoother morning.
2. Almonds, veggies and hummus, cheese sticks and crackers, or a piece of fruit all make great snacks.
3.  Don't forget the drink! Pack a water bottle (my favorite) or a tea bag for a little energy boost later in the day.  (tip: you can order an almost free cup of hot water to go with your tea bag from most coffee shops)
4.  It's okay to treat yourself.  Go ahead, pack a little dark chocolate or some other sweet treat.  Just remember to do it in moderation, and most importantly, remember to ENJOY it!

What's in your lunch?

September 6, 2013

DIY: Cards

Mini Cards with Handmade Envelopes

Each summer I make a bunch of cards that I can use throughout the year for birthdays, thank yous, greetings, etc.  My mom has several boxes full of cards that she has collected over the years.  I like to take the really outdated (not-so-cute) ones and recover them with scrapbook paper.  [Tip: I use Mod Podge as glue because it doesn't ripple like Elmer's Glue and is stronger than glue sticks.]  Normally, I keep embellishments to a minimum and the design pretty simple so that I can later add appropriately themed ornaments based on the occasion.  Can't wait to give away my cards this year!

Inspired by Pinterest
Inspired by Pinterest.

Happy Friday!

August 22, 2013

Hillary's Rave Faves

1.  Cooking, eating, and talking about Greek food:  After trying Georges Greek Cafe last month I am so totally hooked on Greek food.  I am loving the fresh crispness of a Greek salad with feta cheese, olives, red onions, and an olive oil dressing.  Yummy!

2.  Meg Jay's book and TED Talk:  If you anywhere between 18 and 27 and feel a little lost in this world whenever you think about your career path or becoming an adult in the "real world," then you HAVE to read this book and watch this youtube video.  It will help you to pinpoint your goals and will demystify the pivotal years ahead. 

3.  Speaking of TED Talks: You've probably heard of them but if you haven't... TED talks are 5 to 25 minute lectures (available for viewing here) that various people give about a topic of interest to them.  Some of them you will totally disagree with, some of them you will enjoy, and some of them will change you.  Here are a few of my favorites:

4.  Closet Cleaning: I love to thrift store shop to find unique pieces to experiment with my wardrobe.  As a result, though, I now have a closet over stuffed with pieces that were bought on a whim (it's only 50 cents, how could I not get it?!).  But these items don't necessarily fit or feel quite right.  I am now determined to curate my closet to just have the things I know I will wear and feel good in.  Last summer I updated to all uniform hangers and it really makes a huge difference and visually makes a closet look more inviting.  Now it's time to weed out the excess (and stop buying for a while).  This video really helped motivate me let go of the items that I know deep down I won't wear.  Goodwill donation center, here I come!

5.  The idea and practice of sharing meals with loved ones:  I love cooking and food but it is so much sweeter when shared with others.  I am dying to read Bread and Wine (by Shawna Niequist)!

August 18, 2013

DIY: Braided Hemp with Beads Necklace

Who new that a red beaded necklace could become such a staple?! After tinkering around my craft closet the other day, I got inspired and decided to whip up this this simple necklace.  I have found that it goes with about 75% of the things in my closet and is the perfect accessory for spicing up a plain outfit.  I love the juxtaposition of the rough brown hemp with the slick bright beads.  Very eclectic and (dare I say) Anthropologie-esque.  

July 3, 2013

A Change of Pace.

This summer.  Going into this summer, I pretty much has no idea what I would be doing with my time.  Starting in December I eagerly sought out opportunities to fill these three months of break.  Internships.  Jobs.  Study abroad programs.  I applied, interviewed, and furiously researched all of these possibilities.  It's not that I didn't trust what the Lord had for my summer, I just wanted to make sure that I was doing my part and not just waiting around for something to drop in my lap out of nowhere.  At least that is what I kept telling myself...  Month by month, as summer approached, doors began closing one by one.  God had a something else in mind.  It became super clear the things that God didn't want me to be doing with my summer, but that didn't give me any assurance of what I should be doing with my summer.  

And here we are.  Virtually non of my big plans solidified.  I am living in my same LA apartment working a mere 10 hours a week at my campus job.  In my free time I go on hikes with my friends, go to bible study, I read, have extended quiet times, craft, cook, I swim, I take naps on occasion, watch the occasional TV show (in moderation, of course!).  I am savoring this time of rest.  After a long year of hard work at school and work, this is exactly what I needed in this season.  Had you told me that this is what I would be doing this summer, I would have probably cringed thinking that it was a wasted summer, not getting me any farther in my career.  What I am actually finding, however, is something far more valuable.  I am falling deeper in love with my Savior.  I am learning who He has created me to be.  Learning to rely on him to direct my paths.  What a majestic and powerful God that we serve?!

I am so very thankful that he closed all those doors.  That he has blessed me with this time of rest.  I don't deserve it but I am thankful for it.  As I go into a year of unknowns, I am more excited than ever to cling to my Savior who provides and loves me abundantly.  

Did I mention I got to go on a family vacation to Alberta, Canada? It was so incredibly beautiful there in the Rocky Mountains!  This picture is from Lake Louise.  Absolutely Stunning.  I will be back for sure!

July 2, 2013

Lemonade Stand.

Today when I was driving home from the grocery store I noticed some kids, who had set up a little lemonade stand down the street from my apt.  I wanted to stop but there were cars behind me so I just kept going.  When I got to my parking spot, I got out, grabbed my groceries (only one bag... shopping as a single person is easy hehe), and meandered down the street to buy me a nice cold cup of lemon juice and support these budding entrepreneurs.  Asked these young gentlemen, "so how's business today?"  The little one on the right looks up at me and says, "it's go'in alright."  I payed for my cup and was on my way.  It's the little things in life....

Stopping to smell the roses (or to buy lemonade)...