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Author: glondon

Hawaii Adventure

Hawaii Adventure

Aloha!

This post is WAY past due, but better late than never right? Back in June Chase and I took a trip to the beautiful state of Hawaii with his family! We flew into Oahu and stayed there for 3 1/2 days, then island hopped to Maui and stayed there for about 3 days. Here is a little photo travel diary of our trip!

Day 1:

Pearl Harbor

Luau-which is a must! It was really cool to learn about the Hawaiian culture and eat yummy food of course!

Day 2:

A day filled with exploring the North Shore and hanging out at the beach!

(We saw sea turtles–MADE my life!)

(The acai bowls are WAY better in Hawaii!!)

Day 3:

Not many pictures! Chase explored the island by riding bikes with his brother, while the girls went shopping!! This lemonade shop was SO cute! There were tons of different flavors to choose from. And look at the fun glass cup!

Day 4:

Island hopped to Maui!

The pork is AMAZING!

We got coffee every chance we could!

Day 5:

Chase and I got to spend the day snorkeling!!!

Day 6:

Haleakalā National Park

Day 7:

One final acai bowl and saying goodbye to the beach!

 

 

 

4 Ways To Decorate With Pumpkins

4 Ways To Decorate With Pumpkins

If you don’t already know this about me, I love to decorate! I’m obsessed with reading the latest HGTV magazine, scouring Pinterest for great DIY tips, and rewatching Fixer Upper over and over! Since it finally feels like Fall in North Carolina, I wanted to give y’all my top 4 ways to decorate your home with pumpkins!!

1. STACK ‘EM:

I’ve started seeing this trend all over social media! Go to your local farmers market or favorite pumpkin patch and search for flat pumpkins in various sizes and stack them on top of each other! This adds some height to your pumpkin collection. There are so many funky shaped pumpkins out there you can really get creative!

2. PURCHASE DIFFERENT COLORS

Not a fan of the typical pumpkin orange color? Does it clash with your decor? There are SO many different colors of pumpkins you can buy! I LOVE white pumpkins! Green is also a popular color! I am using white pumpkins on the mantle to go with my neutral color decor and then green and orange pumpkins on my dining table and by the front door!

3. PLACEMENT

Pumpkins look best in groups! Instead of having single pumpkins placed throughout your home, try having them grouped close together! I love things placed in threes, but you can’t go wrong with more!

4. USE GREENERY

I learned from my mom to make your table centerpiece complete just add a little greenery! What’s so great about this decorating tip is it’s free!! Just go outside and clip greenery from bushes and trees around your home and ta-da, instant decorating addition!! My all time favorite is sprigs of eucalyptus, which I put in a gravy dish in the photo below!

(Kona isn’t too sure about them!)

I hope these are tips you are able to use in your own home!

Wait! One last thing!!

Decorating isn’t complete without your house smelling WONDERFUL, right?! During the Fall I use two methods to have my home smelling all warm and cozy!

Number 1: I diffuse clove and orange essential oils in my diffuser!

Number 2: I put a pot of water on the stove with apple slices, the rind of an orange, clove, and cinnamon sticks. Then allow it to simmer throughout the day!

 

I would love to hear from you! How do you like to decorate with pumpkins?! What are your Fall decorating tips!

Gluten and Dairy Free Pretzel Bites

Gluten and Dairy Free Pretzel Bites

Need a yummy game day snack?! I got a great one for you! While scrolling through Pinterest (where MOST of my recipes come from) I found the pretzel bites recipe from the blog Fooduzzi and knew I had to try it! You can get the original recipe here.

I made a few changes, so here is my adapted recipe!

Prep: 20 minutes      Cook: 20 minutes    Makes about 30 pretzel bites

Ingredients:
• 1 packet instant dry yeast

• 1 and 1/2 cups warm water

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 Tbsp. raw sugar

• 3.5-4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour

• 9 cups water

• 2/3 cup baking soda

• For topping: “everything” bagel seasoning, salt, etc.

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I had to use two baking sheets)

2. Add yeast, water, salt, and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Using a hand mixer on the medium-low speed, slowly add your flour to the mixture until combined. The dough should come together and not be too sticky. (The original recipe uses a stand mixer with the dough attachment, but we only have a hand mixer and it worked just fine!)

3. Meanwhile, bring your water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

4. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and form into a flat circle. Cut into 2-inch strips, then cut each strip into 1 and 1/2 – 2 inch bites.

5. Take 5-10 bites and carefully drop them in your boiling baking soda water for 20-30 seconds. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place on your prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with desired toppings – I used salt. Continue this process until all of the bites are boiled and topped.

6. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until the pretzels are nice and golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Serve immediately – these get really dense and chewy after a few hours at room temperature.

These are seriously AH-mazing! They were easy to make and I love how few ingredients there were. I made them Sunday after church and my husband and I ate almost all of them in one sitting while we watched the Panthers play! Next time I want to try a new topping like cinnamon sugar! They would be a tasty sweet snack too!

Happy cooking!

xoxo,

Grace

How To Simplify Your Life with THE SIMPLIFIED PLANNER

How To Simplify Your Life with THE SIMPLIFIED PLANNER

Is your life crazy busy? Do you have a million things to remember to get done during the day? Then you are just like me. If I don’t write it down then it’s usually long gone. I’m the girl with post-it notes all over her desk.

One of my 2017 goals is to simplify. Simplify mentally, physically, and emotionally. I knew I needed to have one space to compile all of my lists and thoughts. Throughout the years I have tried various planners, and back in May I bought my first Simplified Planner. I can already tell you, this will not be my last. I absolutely love it! I’ve had my eye on Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner for a while, but didn’t know if the style and layout would be a good fit for me. Since changing jobs and working from home I wanted a fresh start. I needed something simple, easy to use, and ONE place to write everything down. No more post-it notes engulfing my desk!

I ordered the July 2017-July 2018 gold pineapple daily edition. Each month there is a monthly calendar spread. I use this space to write down any birthdays, appointments, and weekend plans. Then there is the daily spread. Each day has it’s own page, with an hourly schedule on one side and a to do list on the other. At the bottom of each page is a box for meals and a box for notes. That’s it! No extra fluff or frills!

The weekends have both Saturday and Sunday combined on a page. Sunday’s spread looks a little different because it includes a section called Sunday Prep. If you want to learn more about Sunday Prep, check out Emily Ley’s video! The pages are thick and a great quality. The cover is durable too. I love the way the daily is spiral bound so you can flip back the cover and previous pages when writing (great for us left handed peeps!)

How I Plan My Week:

Each Sunday I check my monthly spread and transfer any appointments or meetings to the corresponding day. I plan out the meals for the week, and begin writing out my daily to do lists. My goal is to simplify my life right?! Since each day has it’s own to do list, it’s much easier to break up my usually long weekly list into more manageable daily tasks. I can write down what I want to accomplish for each day of the week ahead of time and don’t have to worry about it until the day of! Clearing mental clutter! After doing this for three months now, I can tell it’s made a huge difference! I can’t complete a long to do list everyday! My expectations were set high and I was getting frustrated with myself. All I need is 3 or 4 tasks to focus on per day! Progress not perfection!

I love Emily Ley and what she stands for. Creating resources to make our lives easier and able to spend more time doing the things we love and being with people we love! You should also check our her book, Grace Not Perfection! It is an AWESOME read!

Now for those who are wondering, why spend all that money on a planner or do I have to use this specific one to get organized?! Absolutely not!! You don’t have to have the Simplified Planner to stay organized and live a simple life. Yes it is a great resource, but you can start right now making those life changes.

Here are 3 easy ways to simplify your tasks!

  1. Have ONE central location for your calendar and to do lists. That can be a planner, notebook, wall calendar, iCal, or phone! This helps prevent having your thoughts and lists scattered about!  
  2. SMALLER to do lists. Let me say this again SMALLER LISTS! This is a tough one, but you have to be realistic. Breaking up your to do list allows your day to become manageable. Each day have your top 3 things you want to accomplish before you go to sleep, complete those, and anything else you get done is icing on the cake!
  3. Lastly, post the FUN! In the Simplified Planner there is a space to write down a happy memory from the week. I love this! Record birthdays, anniversaries, special milestones, and fun adventures you are taking with loved ones! It is the reason why you are simplifying! 🙂

I could go on and on about how I have started simplifying my life! Leave a comment if you would like to see more posts like this! I would love to hear from you!

xoxo,

Grace

*Note: This is not a sponsored review of The Simplified Planner

Lavender Latte

Lavender Latte

Even though it is SO HOT outside, I still enjoy a warm drink in the morning to wake me up. We have lavender growing in our backyard and I wanted to use it in an easy recipe, so naturally I searched on Pinterest and found a lavender latte! It is a simple way to change up your daily coffee without having to spend a lot at a coffee shop! I adapted a few things to meet my dietary needs, but the original recipe is linked below.

For Lavender Latte
  • 8 ounces strong coffee
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (they used half and half)
  • 2 Tablespoons Lavender Syrup (recipe below)
  • Dried Lavender for garnish
For Lavender Syrup
  • ¼ cup dried lavender
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons water
INSTRUCTIONS:
To make the Lavender Syrup
  1. Add ½ cup water and ¼ cup lavender to a sauce pan, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 3 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Strain out flowers and discard.
  2. In a clean saucepan, add ½ cup of sugar and 3 Tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then stir in lavender liquid. Whisk until fully combined, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to storage container and keep in the fridge.
To make the Lavender Latte
  1. Place milk into a microwave safe jar and heat for about 30 seconds, until warm. Tightly screw lid onto jar and shake for a few seconds, until milk is foamy. I used a mason jar with a plastic lid and it worked well!
  2. Place 2 tablespoons of lavender syrup in a mug. Pour hot, strong coffee over syrup. Top with foamy milk. Garnish with dried lavender.

 

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Grace

A Fabulous Fourth

A Fabulous Fourth

I love celebrating holidays. It’s something about traditions, being with friends and family, and yummy food that makes my heart happy. The 4th of July brings on so many traditions: grilling out, wearing festive clothes, fun desserts, patriotic music, parades, and watching fireworks just to name a few. Since having our own house, I have learned I enjoy hosting! Decorating the house, getting cute plates and cups, cooking, and planning is my cup of tea!

This year Chase and I invited two friends over to celebrate. We grilled out, played with the pup, then headed to see fireworks! We ate yummy burgers, corn on the cob, watermelon, and baked beans. For dessert I made a brownie topped with cool whip, strawberries and blueberries. It was amazing! The fireworks were magnificent, probably some of the best I’ve ever seen. My favorite part was just hanging out with our friends and spending time together. Starting holiday traditions with Chase has been so much fun! What are some of your favorite 4th of July traditions?!

  

 

xoxo,

Grace

Easy Blueberry Cobbler

Easy Blueberry Cobbler

I’m back!! So sorry that I’ve been MIA for a while! It has been crazy with taking care of the pup, finishing the school year, a family vacation, and a fun project that will be announced soon!! 😀

My parents have had their blueberry bushes for a few years now and this year there has been gallons and gallons of delicious berries! I received a huge bag from my mom the other day and was trying to figure out a fun recipe to use them in, when I started searching Pinterest. I found this easy blueberry cobbler recipe that is gluten-free and decided to adapt it to be dairy-free as well. It is the perfect summer dessert! Chase says it’s even better with vanilla ice cream on top (I would have to agree)!

Gluten and Dairy Free Blueberry Cobbler (adapted from recipe in link above):

1 stick of butter, melted (I used Earth Balance dairy free butter)
1 1/4 cup sugar (I actually used about 1 cup total-the blueberries were sweet enough!)
1 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.  Whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar (I did 1/2 cup), and baking powder. Stir in milk, vanilla and then the melted butter. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the blueberries (I did the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar). Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden. Top each serving with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

(It’s kind of messy when you scoop it out-but oh so yummy!) 🙂

Enjoy!!

xoxo,

Grace

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stop and Smell the Roses

I’ve been around gardeners my whole life. The first person who contributed to my new found interest in gardening was my granddad. If I were to describe him in a few words it would be choir director and gardener. He loves plants. Going to my grandparents house in Cary there were always new flowers blooming, a giant magnolia tree for us to climb, and birds at the many feeders hanging in the trees. It felt like an oasis. Their porch was filled with so many flowers and potted plants. He even had a mini greenhouse and what I would call a “tending to new sprouts” room in their basement. I remember the smell of that room; musty dirt. Is that even a real smell?? He would show me how to cut flowers, how to plant them, and what the many different types were. My sister, cousins, and I would help (willing or not) in the many outdoor chores they had lined up for us when we visited. The best part of all of this was….my granddad always wore dress pants! Most people assume the typical gardener wears jeans, overalls, or boots…not him! But that is my granddad; he always dresses up no matter the occasion.

The second person that taught me a lot about gardening was my dad. Growing up, and even now, on any beautiful day you would find him outside. We lived on 5 acres with beautiful pastures and throughout my childhood we grew lots of fun things: corn, sunflowers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, green beans, tomatoes, watermelon, squash, lettuce, tulips, roses and SO much more. He can tell you though, I never really enjoyed helping. My sister and I would play outside or do our own thing, but never were interested in pulling weeds, preparing the soil in the spring, or any of the “work and waiting”. I just wanted the end result…the veggies or beautiful flowers.

Until now I guess I never really appreciated all the things they taught me. Now being 25 and owning a home has changed some things. I’ve decided to take up gardening this spring. Our porch is starting to transform into our own mini oasis. I’ve planted herbs, vegetables, and flowers in pots and our garden beds. I know my granddad and dad are proud and excited.

I have realized now it is not about the “end result” with gardening. Don’t get me wrong I am super excited to have vegetables to eat that I personally grew!!! But I am learning it is about the process; the journey; the experience.

(Our raised garden beds with lots of fun veggies; planting zinnias in the last bed in the near future)

I think this is relevant in our lives as well. So many of us race through life to get to “the best age”, “the best time”, “retirement”, “marriage”, “kids”, whatever you are wishing and reaching for and we lose track of the present. I know I do. We need to be in the now, even if it is not perfect or we stumble a few times. Because we will. Who knows if any of the plants will stay alive, but I am excited to tend to them, try something new, and enjoy the process.

Enjoy your now. Stop and smell the roses!

(The beautiful roses by our mailbox)

xoxo,

Grace

Freedom or Fear?

Freedom or Fear?

Recently I read an Instagram post from Life Lived Beautifully (@llbshop; go follow her, she is awesome!! I got my new Give Me Jesus journal from her shop) that really jumped out at me. The first line read,

“Are you walking in freedom or fear”

Wow. It then went on to say,

“If you’re caught in anxiety, fearful of the uncertain and worried about the future, rest in these truths…”

 

That’s me!!! God you are speaking to me! I am walking in fear. Wow, that is tough to swallow. I’ve always been an anxious person; I don’t like the unknown and I worry about irrational things. This post really struck me. I don’t like walking in fear. I want to walk in freedom. She then lists these truths:

-” Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)

-We’ve been given a spirit of adoption and freedom, not one of slavery to fear (Romans 8:15)

-It is for freedom that we’ve been set free, we are no longer slaves (Galatians 5:1)

-We can cast all anxiety on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)

-We can be honest before God when we are anxious and share those concerns openly. His peace covers us in return (Philippians 4:4-7)”

 

If you have heard the song “No Longer Slaves”, by Bethel Music, these words might have sounded familiar. I’ve been listening to Bethel Music a lot recently and love that song, but until now it never really resonated with me. Reading this post and hearing that song…now I feel like God is directly speaking to me. It is amazing how that works. I cannot change overnight, but knowing I can live in freedom sounds so refreshing! You can too! Open up to God freely and His perfect love will cast out fear. My prayer is this post opens up your heart and speaks to you. Many of us are fearful to something…why worry when we have our Lord.

xoxo,

Grace

P.S. Sorry I have been absent! This little guy has been taking up my time 🙂

DIY: Painting Your Fireplace White

DIY: Painting Your Fireplace White

I’ve been channeling my inner Joanna Gaines since moving into our new house. A few weeks ago I took on the project of painting our fireplace! When Chase and I were house hunting one of my “must-haves” was a fireplace. I love decorating a mantle, and sitting by the fire in the winter. To match our style and home furnishing, I knew I wanted to paint the brick white to give it a more modern farmhouse look. After doing some research I decided to follow Better Homes and Garden‘s post on how to paint a fireplace. It took me around 3 days (on and off) to complete the whole project, but it was well worth it!!

Step 1: Prep your workspace. Put down drop cloths and painters tape around fireplace perimeter. Cover the inside of your fireplace as well.

Step 2: Vacuum bricks to get off any initial dirt and dust.

Step 3: Use a wire brush to clean the bricks of any stuck on soot and dust that would not allow the paint to adhere properly.

Step 4: Vacuum once more to get the excess soot and dust from the bricks after using your wire brush

Step 5: Clean the bricks with TSP, which is a heavy duty cleaner. Let it dry completely before priming. Below is the TSP I used.

Step 6: Use a thick roller for textured surfaces to prime the fireplace with a stain-blocking oil based primer. This was the “not fun” part. It took a while to get all the brick covered. Be aware that it will splatter because it is a thinner paint. I just did one coat.

Step 7: Next the paint!! I used 2 coats of the Olympic Home Interior Latex Paint-Satin. With the hard to reach spots that the roller couldn’t get I used a small paint brush.

Step 8: Lastly I waited until the brick was completely dry and pulled the painters tape up and put new tape around the trim. We decided to paint the trim and mantle a dark grey for a bigger contrast! Ta da!!!

I absolutely love the way it turned out!

xoxo,

Grace