October 2014 Goals

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Today I was going to blog about Pete's Cider Mill we hosted on Saturday in honor of his birthday. Then I looked at my photos and realized that I took photos of the food only. Yep, apparently I got so distracted that I forgot about taking photos of the people that were there. So, I am opting to switch up today's post and save you from a million photos of food. You can see that stuff on my food blog! And just so you know, I'll be posting a lot of the recipes from the Cider Mill party over there throughout the month! (Check out all the apple recipes going on this week!)

So back to October. It is my hands down favorite month of the year. There's a reason husband and I married during this month, and why I get so darn enthusiastic about fall. While the start of September unofficially marks the start of my favorite season, it isn't until October that I really feel like autumn has arrived. I save this month for pumpkin picking, driving around to see all the color-kissed leaves, the flannel, the plaid, and of course Halloween. 

October is the most beautiful month of all and I'd live in perpetual Octobers if such a thing existed. Anne of Green Gables said it most perfectly, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." I knew there was a reason I loved those movies so much as a child. Maybe tomorrow calls for me to pull out those VHS tapes; I bet husband would love that. Sounds like I need some girlfriends over for a movie night.

Simply put, I can't find a thing wrong with October and all its loveliness. I am so smitten with it. This month I have a lot I want to do and accomplish. I don't want to waste a single day of October. And with my new motto, #itsgoodnow, I am making sure to live for the present, which means making every moment special in its own way. I'm up for the challenge. And to keep my accountable I'm posting my goals here. So that come November, I can share with you what I kept to. And I want you to ask! 

October Goals

[one] Head to the pumpkin patch with friends. I LOVE pumpkin patches; really, what isn't there to love about them. There are a ton of pumpkins scattered all about, plus gourds, fresh treats, hot cider, etc. I love enjoying this type of thing with a group of people; it just makes it more festive! 

[two] Plan a Halloween party and host it. Last year husband and I threw our first Halloween bash and we loved it so much that we decided to make it an annual thing. We've already got some plans in the works, but now we just need to finalize them and get everything together. 

[three] Speaking of Halloween parties, I need to get our outfits together. We already know what we are going to be, it's just about collecting the necessary materials and items. Last year we went as Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam.

[four] Watch all sorts of Halloween movies. However, this does not include the scary and terrifying type. Those movies and I just don't mix well. I'm more of a Hocus Pocus kind of gal. I also want to invite people over for Halloween movie nights. I'll aim for at least two, but I'm hoping for more than that. 

[five] Make and eat pumpkin everything! I'll be sharing a week of pumpkin recipes on Flour Darling this month to share with you what I've been whipping up in the kitchen!

[six] Get my office make-over completed. It's only been several months of this. By mid-month I hope to have our home office ready and perfect. See the before, here.

[seven] Read at least one book. It's been so long since I have cozied up in a chair to read for fun. I need to start making that happen again. So this month I'm going to aim high! Do you have any recommendations for good fall books??

[eight] Find the perfect plaid blanket in my price range. I would love to have one by mid-month for our family photos so if you have any suggestions as to where I should look, please spill!!

[nine] Drive around and look at the leaves. We must have scarves, vests, and apple cider to accompany us. Bringing friends along would be fun too!

[ten] Get in the bed by 10:30 every night. Maybe 10 on good nights. This girl needs some more sleep and zzz's. So I'm going to try my best to make it happen. This means making a better weeknight schedule for the Hill household. It will be good for us, I'm sure!

[eleven] Get outside more and enjoy the cool temperatures and crisp air. There are so many activities to partake in around the burgs and we just don't take advantage of them. So I want us to get down to the farmer's market, get to more outdoor sports games, walk through our neighborhood, sit on our front porch, and invite people over to hang out by the fire (s'more included). 


I think this list of eleven is a good place for me to start! I'm looking forward to making them all happen and I'll fill you in at the start of November on how well I did. 

What are some goals for your October?? Share with me, because there might have been something I didn't think about and I'm not wanting to miss out on a single thing!

Weekend Recap: Quick Edition

Monday, September 29, 2014
This weekend was fast, but full in the best kind of way. It was one of those weekends that left me feeling refreshed instead of depleted. And that's a good way to start off a Monday!

Last week we did a lot of pre-birthday festivities to celebrate husband's September 25th birthday. Those week-long celebrations ended in a culmination of friends, family, football, and brunch foods on Saturday at our house.Thank goodness for my sister who helped save the day on Friday evening. As a type-A, I'm typically on my game, with everything planned out to a 'T'. This time I wasn't and my brain wasn't functioning either. She stepped in to whip my house into shape for guests and a party. We got it done and my house looked like a fall oasis.

Saturday was a cider mill theme, with brunch foods all around, coffee, hot cider, and hot cocoa. In lieu of a birthday cake, we made a donut cake/tower. There were so many donuts, three dozen to be exact, from the best place on the planet to get them. Thanks, Carol Lee's for your perfect confections! The party turned out great and I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate my guy. I wish you all could swing by my house for a cup of hot cinna-apple cider and some leftover donuts! We'd turn the fireplace on and chat about life and our weekends on this rainy Monday! 

Sunday was a lazy, busy day for us. Yes, it's an oxymoron, but there's not a better description. We started the day with church, followed by a long drive throughout some neighborhoods surrounding our home. It was the kind of drive where you get to admire houses, check out all the changing leaves, and chat without disruption. I love random drives. On this particular adventure husband and I talked about life and the contentment we have been praying for and asking others to pray about for us. About how we feel it starting to settle into our lives, softening our hearts. I have felt so at peace since last Sunday, finding joy in the 'now'. See, I was fighting super hard against that contenment, creating so much unnecessary misery for myself. You can see more of my thoughts on it from this post last week

Husband and I also talked about starting a family, we revisited our thoughts on buying a home, and we discussed our most recent decision and pledge to sponsor a child in Africa. More about this unexpected blessing later this week!

We followed up that drive with lunch, a nap, and some Halloween decorating. I love a pop of Halloween décor amongst my fall decorations for the month of October. Our evening was rounded out with a concert by Shaun Groves, which spoke straight to my heart. 

So yes, this weekend was full of a whole gaggle of things, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm feeling ready to take on this week, which just so happens to be the last week of being newlyweds for husband and I (next Sunday is our first wedding anniversary, whoa!) I hope your Monday is looking up and your week is nothing short of amazing!!

Friday Favorites Ya'll

Friday, September 26, 2014
Yay for Fridays and weekends and celebrations! This week has been full of pre-birthday festivities for husband, and it's also been full of reflection for me, which has been good for my heart. I'm excited for the weekend and so looking forward to putting the final touches on our home for a birthday gathering here tomorrow morning! Per usual I am linking up for Friday Favorites and you should too! One of the top two from this week is my number one (see below). 

[one] It's officially fall and my heart is singing!! I love that I can say we are in a new season and I'm quite smitten with watching the world slowly start to change around me. The pops of colors in the trees make me completely giddy! Fallelujah!!!

[two] Making husband's favorite, his strawberry deluxe birthday cake, which only gets made once a year. You can see the recipe for it on this Flour Darling post from yesterday. 

[three] We kicked this week off with the perfect Fall evening watching the VT men's soccer game. Husband and I had so much cheering on the team and taking time to enjoy our small town. Plus we were within the first 200 people to arrive, and that meant walking away with fun VT themed tumblers. Did I mention the beautiful sky?? It was amazing and I found myself watching it more than the game until it completely got dark.

[four] A house group with so much insight and perspective. It has done a soul wonders.

[five] Realizing that #itisgoodnow and it's all explained in my post from Wednesday. This is one of those posts that I am going to insist you read. 

[six] Celebrating this incredible man of mine. I'd say his birthday was a success and the best part is that the celebrations still aren't over! 

[seven] Tiny marshmallows in my hot cocoa. Really, I can't think of anything better.

[eight] A Monday lunch date with a girlfriend. What's not to love about a break during the workday to catch up with a friend and chat over lunch from Panera?!

I hope you're having a terrific Friday and that your weekend is full of all your favorites! To see past Friday Favorites, head here!


Happy Birthday Husband!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014
On special days like today, I'm glad that I have this space to shout to the world how much my husband means to me and just how much he deserves to be celebrated. But, you're going to have bear with me because it's also going to get really cheesy over here. What's wrong with cheesy, though, right?!

Husband is all kinds of wonderful, straight to his core. He is an amazing man of God with a heart of gold. Really, it's gold. He challenges me daily to be my best person, gives me new perspective, and brightens my entire life. I'm so glad to have a day to celebrate this amazing man of mine, to rejoice in the day he made his first appearance. And have you seen him as small tot? Well, I hope our babes look just like him! 

I'm telling you, twenty-four has never looked quite so handsome. It suits you well sir! And for the next four months I'm glad to be back at the same age with you. I so hope you have a fantastic day, and I'm looking forward to a day full of festivities in honor of the best man I know. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, love!! I love you times infinity :) 

And to see this guy's annual birthday cake, head over to Flour Darling; we've been enjoying it all week long. Because every birthday should be celebrated all week long :)

It's Good Now

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Over three months ago I blogged a post about having an almost quarter life crisis and how that felt. It was putting a strain on my life and adding a lot of stress. The notion that right now is not important and that the future is really where I need to be looking has plagued me over the days, months, and weeks since that post. I keep finding myself thinking, "It will get better in the future. Things will be great when this and this happen."  
Turns out I've been lying to myself. While it's not bad to have dreams, goals, and aspirations, it is bad to neglect the blessings of life at the moment. And it's taken me months of agony, a house group conversation, an unexpected forwarded email, and a hashtag to make me realize that. 

To explain: Over the last few weeks I have found myself wishing time away and has it ever been fleeting. To a point that, this past weekend is all but a blur to me. There are so many to-do's on my list, so many daydreams of what the future could be, that I am getting lost outside of the moment. I'm just not enjoying what life looks like now. 

For instance, I have a huge desire to move away, to get out of town for a few years, if not for the long term. Because my eyes are set upon the day that might happen, I am not forming a community, sinking my roots in and letting them prosper. Husband and I are not taking advantage of the beautiful place we live, aiming to enjoy this short time of life in small town Virginia.

The truth of it all, is that we may never move. Or it may be years upon years before we do so. The plans that I am so strongly holding on to for our future are only written in pencil, while God's plans for us are firmly written out in ink. And I don't know what that looks like. 

So while asking for prayer during our Sunday night house group, I asked for prayers for contentment, to cherish time, and accept the place we are currently at. Just as we were about to move on to the next person, the wisest words were spoken about a simple hashtag that serves as a great reminder for loving, accepting, and welcoming the moment, #itsgoodnow. It gave me goosebumps. It was exactly what I needed to hear and it has been a strong voice in my head this week. 

For further confirmation, Monday morning greeted me with a forwarded email from another member of our house group. It so strongly resonated with the struggles I have been wrestling. Loren Thornburg wrote: 

Did it ever feel like God was moving in my life, like his hand was reaching down in that instant and resting upon my shoulder. I was so powerfully reminded that He's always there, I just have to be willing to listen. The Great I Am works in such unexpected and beautiful ways.

So, I'm working on my attitude about life now. About being aware of the blessings big and small that I have been missing because my mind is elsewhere. God will use this time in our life for His glory, to get us to where we are going. And with a Lord who calls me His own, I can rest assuredly in the path he has prepared for me. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's no surprise that I'm all about today, because haven't you heard, FALL IS OFFICIALLY HERE!! My joy abounds and I am thrilled to be at the start of my favorite season. A life with falls is a beautiful thing!

This morning started off seasonably cool at 47 degrees in Virginia and I giddily put on my quilted jacket and wrapped a knit infinity scarf snuggly around my neck. My boots are on too!

So cheers to a new season, when the leaves gradually turn shades of reds, oranges, and yellows, the air becomes crisp and chilly, fireplaces are cranked up, wool scarves reappear after seasons of neglect, plaid is everywhere, and a hot drink is always needed in hand. I can't quite contain the happiness and I'm okay with that! I'll exude fall all day long and for the remainder of the season. It is after all the best!

I hope you have some amazing fall festivities planned and that your fall is as cozy and crisp as its ever been! Fallelujah, welcome back my dear friend autumn!

p.s. Go to Google and check out their graphic for today; it will make you smile!

Mondays Should Be Optional

Monday, September 22, 2014
I think this is a fair way to sum up the start to each week. I always get to a Monday wondering where my weekend disappeared to. And then my mind roams to all the things I wish I would have accomplished before the weekend too quickly ended.

I guess if we didn't have Mondays, we'd have Tuesdays to start our weeks and we'd dislike those too. Maybe the compromise would be turning every weekend into a three-day thing and the start to the work week wouldn't feel so daunting. We'd love Mondays and feel ready to take on Tuesdays and a four-day work week. Yes, I like that idea very much! Astleigh for president ;)

Besides it being Monday, I'm actually excited for this week and everything it holds. Husband's birthday is on Thursday and we are celebrating all week long. I have surprises lined up throughout the next several days, birthday presents to wrap, and a Cider Mill birthday gathering to finish prepping for. 

I think this week will be pretty phenomenal and I'm looking forward to the promises it holds! Now just to get through this Monday (thank goodness for lunch with a girlfriend!) and then on to the rest of this great week! 

I hope your Monday has been looking up from the start! If not, treat yourself to some coffee or chocolate, that's bound to turn any Monday around :) Besides, the best thing about this Monday, is that it will bring fall in, at 10:29 PM on the dot! And for that, I'll love today!

And for a hot and hearty meal, check out Flour Darling today for the turkey burger crock-pot chili!

Happy Friday Favorites

Friday, September 19, 2014
When am I not glad to see a Friday?! But, really. I love Fridays at 4:00 PM, the time that officially marks the start to the weekend. There's this wonderful feeling waking up Friday mornings knowing that if you choose, you can sleep in, stay in pajamas way too long, or lounge the next day. On Fridays I live for that.

This past week flew by for me even when it felt slow. Oxymoron isn't it?? Maybe it was the fullness of what the Hills have going on that makes this week feel like a blur. Like always, I'm linking up with some fabulous bloggers to bring you my Friday Favorites!

[one] We went apple picking last weekend. It was the perfect fall adventure, and it has officially been inducted into Hill traditions. I really can't wait for this when we're toting little babes with us. If anything says fall, it's cider and apple picking. 

[two] Speaking of fall, its official start is just four days away! Fall-elujah!! I started the countdown to Autumn at a week out. 

[three] The nights have been so chilly in Virginia and I can't get enough. Our windows are open and I'm cuddled up in a blanket non-stop. So cranking the fireplace on after a summer and spring without it has definitely been a favorite of mine this week. It's just so darn cozy sitting there, watching a show next to husband who is working on homework, with our pumpkins glowing. I'm ecstatic for more fireplace use in the coming months!

[four] I got a really fun DIY book in the mail this week and I'm so looking forward to putting my feet up this weekend and going through it. I'll let you know what I think of it!

[five] I sat for a glorious couple of hours in a salon on Wednesday and had fresh color put in my hair for a fall ombré look. Then I had three inches cut off. Three inches doesn't sound like a whole lot when your hair was long to begin with, but I'm noticing the difference, especially when I run my fingers through it and I run out of hair before I thought I would. It feels nice to have a change-up, though; my hair certainly needed it! (My before & after, above).

[six] My Stabilo pens came in and I can't stop using them! They are exactly the pens I've been wanting, but had no idea of the brand name. Husband reassured me that if I use their ink all up, we can certainly buy more :)

[seven] I have been baking up an apple storm in my kitchen since our visit to the apple orchard. And I love it! The aromas wafting through the house are phenomenal!! You can see the apple crisp crumble recipe on my food blog, Flour Darling. There will be more coming soon! 

[eight] I found some of the best party supplies for husband's upcoming cider mill birthday festivities. I'm talking straws with leaves printed on them; yes, they're the cutest straws I have EVER seen. I get so giddy thinking about the party prep and décor! 

[nine] Coffee in the middle of the day, after building the base to our console table is perfection. Husband and I sat on the couch and enjoyed a cup on Sunday after woodworking for several hours. Sundays were meant for that kind of thing. 

[ten] A cold front is moving through this weekend! Enough said!! Temperatures in the low 70's are going to be bliss! The high today is 66° *swoon*.

This weekend is going to be superb, with some homemade apple butter making, crock pot meals churning out the best smells, more woodworking, party prep, and a whole lot husband time. I hope you have the best kind of weekend doing the best kinds of things! For more Friday Favorites, head here

The Diary of a Real Housewife

Choosing An Ombré

Thursday, September 18, 2014
You know that early morning moment when you're conditioning your hair and your fingers run out of hair sooner than you thought. Then you remember that you have just been to the salon and three inches of your hair is now gone. That was me this morning. It also dawned on me that I had also had my hair colored, which left me excited for styling my hair today. So, I thought I'd share how I go about selecting my perfect ombré.

I fell in love with ombré coloring a little over a year ago. As someone who had never professionally had her hair dyed I was pretty reluctant to have my hair colored. The disasters that resulted from boxed color jobs had slightly ruined me. But, I took the plunge June 2013 and went with a simple ombré that brought out the natural highlights my hair was already sporting from time in the sun. It hooked me.

So I felt a bit braver this past March and decided to lighten things up a bit for the spring and summer months, making more of a noticeable difference in my hair. I walked out of the salon that day with a blonde ombré swirled throughout the ends of my hair. That one took me awhile to fully embrace, because this brunette has never been anywhere close to being a blonde. But, it grew on me and I loved having a visible contrast in my hair.

They say the third time is a charm, so I once again went for another round of ombré coloring yesterday to spruce up my look. Make it more fall, more appropriate for the next two seasons. This is the color I have wanted to try from the beginning. It's what I've eyed, but have been too nervous to do.

Shades of chestnut, that was my goal. And that ladies, is the first step toward choosing an ombré. You have to know the color combo you want to go with. Whether it be blonde, red, brunette, etc, that's where you start.

Then you must research. Find a photo that accurately shows the 'look' you are going for. This is going to be the biggest help when working with your hair stylist. Remember this post from a while ago? I went with the dark brown and warm chestnut that Nikki Reed is sporting. Pinterest, is your friend, ladies.

And that brings me to the next and MOST important part, find an exceptional hair stylist. Not only one that is a color extraordinaire, but one that is happy to talk to you about what you're looking for, explain the process, and make knowledgeable suggestions. This is truly the key to getting an ombré you're going to love. Fortunate for me, I found Charmaine and she does wonders!

^^ And for fun, here is my "Before" (on the left) and "After" selfies from my Instagram yesterday. It's always fun sharing before and after photos to really capture the difference. Reveals are just too good not to do. Thanks again to Charmaine for a really great ombré that spruces up my look and get me ready for these chilly and cold months ahead!^^

Apple Picking

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
So if you follow me on Instagram, then you know that husband and I headed to Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville on Saturday. We decided to start a new fall tradition, apple picking. I am most excited for this tradition when we have babes to bring along! Oh, the sweetness!

But, back to Saturday. We had such a fun time on our mini adventure, starting the morning off right with a stop at Starbucks for breakfast. Of course, I had to go with a caramel apple spice; it was the obvious choice. And instead of my normal grande, I went venti. Yes, I did.  It set the mood just perfectly and warmed my bones for the chilly air.

^^Husband and I decided that one day when we are living in our dream home, we want an orchard in our backyard. Just a handful of fruit trees. I think it would be the best thing ever. And he agrees. So we made a plan and we're sticking to it. ^^

^^Apples have to be one of the most beautiful things, with their vibrant colors and striking patterns.  I would keep them in my home just for decoration if they wouldn't spoil. ^^

^^ On this particular trip, we picked golden delicious apples. And were they ever so tasty! These are the freshest apples I have ever had. Now, I'd say I'm spoiled. See, this is why we need a miniature orchard in our backyard one day. You're just not the same after plucking an apple straight from the tree and enjoying its crispness. ^^

^^ These purple flowers grow on the apple trees. I would have never guess such a thing, but sure enough they do. It was a pop of color amongst all the greens of the trees and apples. ^^

^^ I almost opted to wear my moccasins into the orchard, and boy am I glad that I didn't. It was so wet and muddy and it would have ruined them. Rainboots are always necessary for adventures like this. Always. ^^

^^ The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful! You could see a bit of Charlottesville below. And the fog really added to the cozy, fall feeling. I'm the kind of person that loves the fog, well unless I have to drive in it. But, on this particular day it was great! ^^

^^ I could buy gallons of apple cider. Seriously. I love this stuff and you can only get it this time of the year. I need to figure out how to make my own. Which now gives me an idea for what to do with all these apples! ^^

^^ We ended up with 51 apples. Our bags didn't seem that full, but ya'll that's a lot of apples. Now they're all piled high in two wooden bowls on my countertop. I think they're beautiful sitting there, and if they wouldn't go bad I would leave them there. The green is really nice in my kitchen. Alas, I'm using every last apple for a dessert, drink, or some type of meal. My first recipe with these hand-picked apples was an apple crisp crumble. And oh my word is it amazing! You can get the recipe on my food blog, Flour Darling. Don't take chances and not make this! It's too good to pass up! ^^

Our quick Saturday trip was wonderful. We are definitely going back, if not within this year, then next. It was the perfect day trip to make a very fall-like day feel like perfection. I can't wait to share this new Hill tradition with little Hills. And until then, I can't wait for another apple picking adventure! If you have any apple recipes, please share! I've got a lot of apples to use up!