Fall Photo Shoot!

This weekend I attended an amazing photography workshop (thanks to Lindsey!) I had such a blast learning from Courtney and snapping photos of the gorgeous, Seven Meadows Winery. I got to meet and learn from an amazing group of ladies and capture the darling, Shannon + Tyler. Check out their sweet wedding here! Sorry in advance for the number of pictures in this post! So much beauty, I couldn’t stop! Here’s everything through my amateur lens… 

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Thanks for reading picture books with me! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! XO 

My Heart is Full.

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I don’t do impromptu posts much anymore, but, I felt it on my little heart today to share some good news. My heart is full & here’s why: 

Next weekend is the anniversary of the day Kyle asked me to be his bride. Ps. six-ish months left until I get to be his wife! Eeek! Lucky doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. Anyways, when I think back to that day, I recall an overwhelming certainty that I could never love a person more. Welp, here’s proof that God grows hearts ya’ll. I have more respect, admiration, trust, honor, and adoration for Kyle now, a year later, than the day he asked me to marry him. In fact, not just more, but multiplied. Speaking of math, can I get an amen from all my pals out there who think reading Numbers is all the “math” God really intended for us? Ok. Alright. Yes, I did come up with that myself. Calm down, I love you math brains too, I don’t know what I’d do without ya’ll! 

More seriously though, ignorant bliss shielded me from the trials in store for us in the coming months after our engagement. As a child, I faced a rare and life threatening illness for several years. I don’t know how or why I was healed, but He decided I have more to do here before calling me home. Anyone will tell you, I was an incredibly carefree kid despite the circumstances (peace I owe to Jesus, of course).  All that to say, never in my life have I questioned God’s plan. However, I will admit openly that there have been times this past year, when I did.

Never did I imagine being diagnosed with severe, chronic, depression as a young, vibrant, blessed, healthy, soon to be married lady.  I am more than willing to discuss that further, but, there is still a lot I don’t understand about it. But, I will tell you this; one thing has remained constant. The Grace of our savior. This trial, more than loss, more than grieving, more than physical pain or weakness, taught me how deeply I depend on Christ. I have nothing and am nothing, without Him. 

I decided to share this with you with an open heart because of a passage in the New Testament.  In his letter to Timothy, Paul writes about thankfulness: “How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for choosing me as one of his messengers, and giving me the strength to be faithful to him. Even though I do not deserve it. God had mercy on me because I didn’t know what I was doing, because I didn’t know Christ. Oh, how kind our Lord was for he showed me how to trust him and become full of Christ Jesus. How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and I was the greatest of them all. God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus, could use me as an example to show everyone how patient he is with even the worst of sinners, so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life.” 

God’s called me to grow strong in my weaknesses. He’s called me to be vulnerable and to share with you because it’s a testament of His love for you. If you, like me, have received the humble gift of fragility, do not be ashamed. It is not a punishment. I understand and appreciate weakness, and vulnerability in others more than I ever have. My heart is overflowing by the grace of our Savior. Everyday, I depend on Jesus to get me through. Trials, like this one, have been a blessing because they have developed my ability to trust Him rather than trusting myself. I must become less, He must become more. 

I’m going to speak for Kyle here and say that we are grateful for this trial. My struggle has allowed God into our relationship more than ever before. Every day, every minute, we depend on Him. Our phone calls are mostly prayers, our talks are mostly about today’s Bible study. God’s been using Kyle to grow my faith in ways I am so grateful for. Which, is why I can confidently say, God uses everything for good.

Growing strong in my weakness has also allowed me to be more confident, creative, and grateful than ever before. I’ve taken risks, pursued dreams and made decisions with more gusto. If not for my weakness, if not for my vulnerability, I would not have my faith, the strength of Jesus, or the  Christ-like love and leadership of my soon to be husband. 

Whatever you’re facing. God’s using it for good my friend. Rejoice. He’s using you for good. 

Abba, Father, how great Your love. How great Your mercy. How greatly You fill me with life everlasting. You’re all I need. 

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You make me lie down in green pastures. You make me want for nothing. You fill my hunger with honey from your sweet word. I will love You. You are my Shepherd. You are my Jesus. You are my Lord. 

Fall Look-Book: Harvest Picnic

My friends! Happy weekend! I hope today’s post inspires you to grab some pals and enjoy a cozy picnic al fresco! Is it just me or does eating outside make food taste 12093832 times better? Besides, why should summer picnics take all the glory? Fall is my favorite time of year, actually, for everything; including, but not limited to, picnics. I collaborated with amazing photographer,  Lindsey Marie for this post. You can check out her blog right here.  Enjoy the look-book we put together and scroll to the bottom for my menu, outfit details, tips, tricks and ideas for a perfect picnic! Bon Appetit!

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Picnic Tips & Tricks

  1.  Keep your menu light and travel friendly. Consider foods that won’t get squished in a backpack and ingredients that hold up well at room temperature. I opted for hardy bread, a veggie based sandwich, bottled Perrier and hand pies. They’re not messy and hold up really well without refrigeration.
  2. Make use of your Thermos! Whether it’s for a tasty soup, refreshing sweet tea or fruit infused water. It’s an underdog that takes the win every time. 
  3. Don’t make everything yourself. The beauty of the picnic is that it’s simple. You don’t have to clean your house, or worry about whether extra guests might show. Whether it’s a date or a casual lunch, ask your guests to bring a thing or two. It will make them really happy to help out and will take a whole lot off your shoulders. *literally & figuratively
  4. Prepare your picnic arsenal beforehand. I recommend a few staples to make picnicking a whole lot more fun. No. 1 is a chic picnic basket. As long as you’re not hiking very far, this puppy is a must. It protects and holds food really well and doubles as a table & cute photo prop. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so there’s that too. Check your local thrift/antique stores. I think it goes without saying, but be sure to pack soft blankets & towels to sit on and cuddle up in as well. Music (portable speaker) and games are a must too. Think frisbees, bocce ball, flower crowns & the like.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out Lindsey!

Outfit:

 

Chocolate Chunk Heath Bar Cookies

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 It’s Friday. The sun is shining part-way through the clouds. I’m swaddled in a blanket cocoon with a cookie on my keyboard. Aaaaand it’s eight AM. Can you say “living the dream” or should I just sing it at the top of my lungs?  

No but seriously, here’s the deal: in case you haven’t wandered into Target lately, the holidays are quickly approaching. This Christmas, more than anything, I want you to be queen at the cookie swap party. In fact, my entire career is focused on it this week. Here’s what I’ve come up with: chocolate chip cookies with a  surprise ingredient, Heath Bars.  Earth shattering? Yes I know. Listen honey, don’t underestimate the Heath Bar or the chocolate chip cookie, let alone their love child. It’s nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

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 Hey, another thing, I see some pretty intimidating “process pics” lately of bloggers whipping up recipes and capturing the step by step in beautifully styled photographs. If your kitchen/life looks like mine in the “process” of whipping up a masterpiece. Holla at yo home girl. 

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 Shout out to my old friend, Hamilton! Halfway through, I realized I had gone into autopilot and mixed the batter together the “old fashioned way” HA!

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Chocolate Chunk Heath Bar Cookies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks) Shh just do it.
  2. 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  4. 4 large eggs
  5. 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
  6. 3 cups bread flour
  7. 1 tablespoon salt
  8. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  10. 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  11. 1 lb bar Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate bar, chopped.
  12. 1/2 bag milk chocolate chips
  13. 1 bag bits of Heath Bar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, a bit at a time and fold to combine. Over stimulating the gluten will cause the cookies to have a bread-like texture.
  5. Add vanilla, chocolate(s) and Heath bits; mix until just combined.
  6. Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 10 minutes.
  8. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Homegrown Hostess http://www.homegrownhostess.com/

 

 

Simple & Natural Thanksgiving Table

Hey lovelies! Today I have a simple and natural thanksgiving “tablescape” to share with you! It’s super chic and unbelievably easy (inexpensive) to assemble. I love this because it’s like a neutral pallet to place your feast upon. I learned from my mom that you should never light scented candles during a dinner party because all the smells can become overwhelming for guests. Plus, it takes away from the wafting smell of home-cooked dinner! I used the fresh scent of lemon, neutral candles, and herbs used in the dinner for this table. If you follow Style Me Pretty religiously the way I do, you’ll notice that a lot of their table stylists have been going for the no frills, simple, natural elegance that will keep your guests focused on family, friends, and the fabulous food for this holiday season. Not to mention, gold, fresh greens, and mismatched vintage silverware is so the apple to my pie. 

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 I started with a natural fiber tablecloth that I found at HomeGoods and a bunch of fresh clippings from my lemon tree. It’s probably the easiest centerpiece I’ve ever put together. No concern for perfection, I layered the branches down the center of the table and nestled little white pumpkins & glass votives in randomly. I really wanted it to look like I didn’t fuss much with it. Well, because, I didn’t. 

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 Next, I set the table using gold chargers and cream and gold trimmed china. It’s my mom’s and stone cold tradition that we dine using this china for holiday meals. I love it because the pattern/style she chose is incredibly timeless. Using twine and fresh herbs from my garden, I created place card/favor combo’s for each guest. Since our home is out in the “country” compared to where the rest of our family lives, they appreciate going back to the city with garden fresh goodies anytime they visit. Rosemary & thyme are two of my favorite spices for Thanksgiving cooking so I thought they’d be fitting for the occasion and would compliment the meal well. 

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 I finished off the table in a traditional “dinner party” setting : water glass, wine glass (mason jar),  linen napkin with hints of gold, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, spoon, from left to right. Or you could just save yourself the confusion and see my slightly blurry picture above. Sorry, I’m still learning this photography stuff:) 

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 Lastly, I decided I wanted to use a contrasting napkin for the heads of the table. I just haven’t found the right ones yet!

What do you think? Gold? Green? Subtle pattern? 

What are your thoughts about challenging the traditional rustic, autumnal color scheme for Thanksgiving? 

So thankful for all of you today & all days! 

XOXO