The Pick: Week 8 + Friday Favorites

Friday, February 27, 2015
I'm thankful for Friday, for the start to the weekend and restful time with husband. This week has been a rough one, and it's also a week full of so much love. Like all my weeks I have my favorite moments and things. This week is no different and I've got some good ones to share with you :)

But before I jump into them, I want to make you aware that the URL for this blog has changed! So if you have it bookmarked, be sure to change it! It's now www.hillcollectionblog.com 

And if you want to be updated every time I publish a new post, 'like' my Facebook page!


[one] I've said it once and I'll say it again, if it's cold outside there should be snow. Well, Mother Nature finally answered and has been dumping snow since last Monday. And while I've welcomed this granted wish, I'm also SO ready for warmer days and springtime. So what's my favorite in all of that?? It was getting snowed in with family over the weekend, just hanging out and making these super stunning snow people.

[two] Speaking of springtime, I shared my favorite spring items from Target on Monday. I can't wait to get my hands of some of these beauts! Like that pouf, which needs to be paired with the chair in my bedroom, ASAP! And those jars are begging for some flowers!

[three] Broccoli cheddar soup from Panera is definitely one of my favorites! And my dad made a special lunch delivery to me this week with this cup of soup, a wild berry smoothie, and a chocolate chip cookie. 

[four] Krispy Kreme so very delicious donuts! I haven't had a Krispy Kreme donut in forever. It's been years at the least. And when I mentioned that I really wanted some earlier in the week, husband delivered. Along with some super wonderful smelling hyacinths. The perfect pair!

[five] This blueberry crumble is nothing short of scrumptious. Plus it's super simple to make, and I shared the recipe for it yesterday. Now you know exactly what you'll be baking this weekend! Ready. Set. Bake!

Last but not least, if you're a blogger, you love snail mail, and you love to spread some cheer, then join Rachel and I for the Spring Cheer Exchange! Today is the last day to sign up, and we want YOU!

follow my weekend adventures on Instagram @astleigh_hill

And now it's that time of the post where I ask you to join me in sharing a favorite too. Link-up with me for The Pick, by grabbing the URL of your favorite post from this week. I ask that you comment on some of the other posts linked-up, and that you most definitely comment on the blogger that linked-up just before you. Because growing your blogging community and supporting one another is one of the biggest perks of being a blogger!



Blueberry Crumble

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Last week I shared a photo of a blueberry crumble I whipped together for House Group. I had never made this particular dessert before, and like I typically do, I try new recipes out for the first time on friends. My fingers are always crossed that they'll love it! This go around the crumble was gone by the end of the night and I take it that they liked it... a lot.

Whenever I figure out a new and delicious recipe, I can't wait to share it. Because who doesn't love a tested, tried and true recipe?! This blueberry crumble is so easy to make, is completely homemade, and will win over the hearts of those eating it!

  • What You'll Need
    • Crust & Crumble
      • 1 stick butter
      • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
      • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not the quick cook or instant)
      • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
      • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    • Blueberry Filling
      • 1 pint fresh blueberries
      • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
      • 2 TBSP lemon juice
      • 2 TSP cornstarch 

  • What You'll Do
    • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a large round baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside
    • To make the crust and crumble, melt the butter in a large microwave bowl. Then stir in the flour, oats, and sugars. Mix until well combine and the mixture has formed crumble pieces. 
    • Measure out one cup of the crumble and set aside. Put the remaining crumble mixture into the parchment paper-lined pan. Pack the mixture into the pan until even and smooth. Set aside.
    • For the blueberry filling, add the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a bowl. Gently mix together.
    • Distribute the blueberry filling evenly over the crust.
    • Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the top of the filling. Squeeze the mixture in your hands before sprinkling to create more clumps. 
    • Bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool, then carefully lift the parchment paper out of the pan and set the blueberry crumble (still on the parchment paper) on a cutting board to serve. You can serve hot or room temperature. Cut like a pizza.



p.s. If you're a blogger, don't forget to check out the Spring Cheer Exchange! The sign up closes THIS FRIDAY, and we want YOU to join us for spreading some snail mail cheer! Send me an email with any questions or to sign up!!  hillcollectionblog@gmail.com


Weekend Recap || Snow On Snow

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Last week it snowed, snowed, and snowed some more. Just when we thought the snow was over, it snowed again on Saturday. As in all day long, dumping a whole lot more snow. We had ventured out in the morning to celebrate our nephews' third birthday and ended up staying all day, all night, and halfway into Sunday. So what did we do?

We...

played games, sang 'Happy Birthday', watched two excited boys unwrap gifts, and ate delicious ice cream cake. When two little brothers went down for naps, two big brothers went out to play in the snow. And what happens when you put two woodworking engineers together? You get a sled (see below), which was actually quite impressive. My SIL and I stayed indoors by the fire talking until our husbands returned from the 'slopes'. Then there was coke snow floats and some caramel chocolate popcorn (crazy good) indulging. 

Sunday we woke to no church, making it a slow and easy morning with pancakes, snowman building, and sledding. By late afternoon husband and I were home and napping. I'd say it was a perfect family weekend, even with all that snow :)




Favorite Things From Target || Spring Edition

Monday, February 23, 2015
If it's a lazy weekend morning, a non-productive evening, or the last pit stop on our date night, you can often find husband and me at Target. We love that place....well, maybe I love that place and because husband loves me he obliges to such frequent visits. The two of us do have the best time there, just browsing around and dreaming up our perfect home's spaces. More often than not we won't make any purchase, but just love gathering ideas and making sure to budget for the items we I just can't live without

While there you can bet your pennies that we're browsing the end sections of the home decor section trying to catch a deal. And often we do! Like the lamp we got last week for a $13 and some cents versus the full price of $44. Yes, we're those people and we own it. 

Target is a great place to find knickknacks and some really great pieces. A lot of the items in our home come from the store, and it is one of our favorites. Because who does't love a place where you can find some super great clothing, home decor, and food all at once?! 

So today I'm linking up with Erika and Andrea to share some of my favorite things from Target. On my list are some of my must haves for spring and I'm dying to purchase. The bunnies are already sitting on my console table ready to be arranged for Easter decor! 






The Pick: Week 7 + Friday Favorites

Friday, February 20, 2015
Sweet Friday, how I am so excited to see you! This week has been snowy and cold. We're talking eight inches of snow and single digit temperatures (dipping into the negatives with the wind chill factored in). I've been hunkered down inside for the entire week. No joke. And I am ready to stretch my legs and get out. Oh wait, more snow is coming tomorrow (I kid you not). But at least it will be the weekend and I'll get to cozy up with husband.

But enough about Virginia weather! How has your week been? And what were some of your favorites?? Here are a few of mine...

[one] Sunday started out with some cleaning. Well actually it started out with church followed up with some grocery store shopping. But, once home the cleaning commenced. I love starting the week out with a clean house. Before we knew it House Group was headed our way.

[two] Baking is one of my favorites, and because we were hosting House Group at our place on Sunday, we made the snack, which was this Blueberry Crumble. So good! I'll be sharing this recipe next week, and it's so simple that you don't want to miss it! #sundaysweremadeforbaking

[three] On Monday the snow started, and little by little it accumulated to eight inches. Then it snowed more on Tuesday. And if you want to see the pretty snow falling here's a little video I caught. 

[four] Coffee and snow go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not mixed together of course ;) Well unless of course I'm feeling a frappuccino! 

[five] A new favorite addition to one of my walls is this magazine/utility rack that husband made. And if you want to make one for yourself (it would be great in a child's room) then you should check out the how-to!

[six] With these way below freezing nights, husband and I have been keeping cozy inside once work is over. The fireplace goes on, and so does HGTV. Who else love Property Brothers??

[seven] Fresh flowers all around my home. I shared the story behind this bouquet on Monday, and I keep wishing that all these pretty florals would live forever. I guess I'll just have to get more flowers :)

[eight] Brunch at the Social House on Valentine's day was so much fun, especially the atmosphere of this house-turned-restaurant.


[nine] If you haven't already guessed it...I. Love. Desserts. Sweets. It's my weakness and my love language. And like I mentioned before, baking is my thing, especially when it's something new like combining two favorites. Hello chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake! Yes, it's incredible and you need to go grab my recipe and make these bars this weekend!

I sure do hope you have a magnificent weekend. We'll be celebrating our sweet nephews' birthday, spending time with friends, and keeping warm!


follow along with me on Instagram @astleigh_hill
and if you want to be notified of all my new posts, you can now find me on Facebook!


And now it's that time of the post where I ask you to join me in sharing a favorite too. Link-up with me for The Pick, by grabbing the URL of your favorite post from this week. I ask that you comment on some of the other posts linked-up, and that you most definitely comment on the blogger that linked-up just before you. Because growing your blogging community and supporting one another is one of the biggest perks of being a blogger!


Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Dessert is always appropriate. As a matter of fact, dessert is always a must. And I'll stand by that statement forever. I really enjoy looking for new desserts and ways to make twists on classics.  So this time, I decided what better way to enjoy a sweet treat, than by combining some favorites. Like chocolate chip cookies + cheesecake to make one delicious dessert!

And then it happened and it was better than I imagined! And now you need to try it for yourself!!

  • What You'll Need
    • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 5 TBSP butter, melted
    • 8 oz cream cheese
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 TSP vanilla extract
    • 1 large tube of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough

  • What You'll Do
    • Preheat the oven to 325°.
    • Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, leaving overhang.
    • Mix the melted butter and the graham cracker crumbs, until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 7 minutes.Then remove from the oven and set aside. Do not turn the oven off.
    • While the crust is cooling, whip together the softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Then add the egg and vanilla and whip together until well incorporated. 
    • Pour the cheesecake batter onto the prepared crust. Carefully spread it out evenly.
    • Open the  cookie dough and pinch off large chunks, then roll into a ball in your hand. Now flatten it in your palms, and place the dough on top of the cheesecake batter. Repeat this process until you have completely covered the top of the cheesecake layer. 
    • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cookie dough  is golden brown and looks firm.
    • Remove from the oven and let cool. Then using the overhanging parchment paper, gently pull the bars out. Now cut and enjoy!
    • You can store these in the fridge for up to 5 days. 


I hope you week has been blissful, and if you're feeling the freeze from the arctic blast that you have been cozy and warm! I'm thinking these would be the perfect treat for all the snow days happening. Really, this is the perfect dessert for any kind of weather!

p.s. If you're a blogger and you love snail mail and some spreading cheer, then sign up for the Spring Cheer Exchange!! 


Snippets Of Life Lately

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
It has been nothing but super cold temperatures and snow here in Virginia. I've welcomed the snow days, the midday cat naps, and the extra time with husband on weekdays that we wouldn't normally get otherwise. 

The past two days have had me reflecting on 2015 and all that's happened in the last month and half. (I still can't believe we are halfway through February). It's been an incredible year so far and I'm thankful for all the memories we've already made. So I decided that I would share some photos of moments that have happened since late January through yesterday...you know some snippets of life lately according to my iPhone. 


and if you want to see more snippets, find me on instagram @astleigh_hill

Magazine/Utility Rack DIY

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
There has been a blank space on the wall in our dining (which also happens to be right next to our kitchen) since we moved in over a year ago. Husband and I have also been brainstorming a method for collecting all of our receipts in one place...a place that's convenient because we both know walking upstairs to the office after getting home from work is just too much to ask. The struggle is real, ya'll. 

Then it dawned on us to use the extra pallet board pieces we have hanging around in our garage. And from that our magazine/utility rack was created. Husband is the handyman behind the building process, and together we decided how we wanted it to look. Remember, it needs to house our receipts!

I think the rack turned out perfect, and I think the wall appreciates its new accessory. And I love having the space to display my magazines and some fresh flowers.

So now I thought I'd share how you can make your own! This rack would be great for a child's room to store books and little toys, or how we used it. The possibilities are limitless. 

Husband started out by cutting all the wood pieces he needed, then sanding them all down, which really brought out the natural wood grain (see below).

I told you, isn't that grain beautiful?? We ended up staining it in the end because the out sides of the magazine rack didn't boast the pretty grain. And although hesitant to stain it, we went for it, and I love it even more.

But back to putting this magazine rack together! Husband used a nail gun and wood glue to assemble it. He also had a drop saw for cutting the pieces, and he kept a hammer and pliers handy in case any of the nails needed some flattening/fixing. 

He based the lengths of each piece of pallet wood off of a magazine. We wanted to make sure a magazine would fit (not snuggly) into the top two sections. You could pick any length.

He determined the spacing between the top and bottom shelf by making sure his hand could easily fit into the gap. You know to grab all those receipts ;)

Husband worked piece by piece, first using wood glue and following up with the nail gun. He started by attaching the back slats to the sides. Then he added the shelves and middle divider. Finally he place the two front slats, to create pockets on the shelves.

It's as simple as it looks. And here is the rack pre-stained. We combined some of our stains to make our signature gray stain. It came together quite well, and now we have a place to display our current magazines, and two slots to keep the receipts stored until husband inputs them into our monthly budget, and for coupons (the bottom right). 

The magazine rack now hangs in out dining room/kitchen. It's been the perfect wall filler, and has been so great for keeping us organized with receipts and coupons. Plus it keeps our magazines, especially those with recipes, in arms reach when we're meal planning for the week. 

If you've got a spare pallet and some tools, you should definitely try your hand at this! 


Valentine's Wrap-Up || XOXO

Monday, February 16, 2015
Valentine's weekend was pretty darn perfect. I'll save you all the sappiness I could write, and instead I'll download a weekend's worth of photos. Be warned there are quite a few photos, so if you love some pictures keep scrolling! 

On Friday I shared a photo of these flowers on my Instagram and the tradition husband and I have in regards to bouquets. If you didn't catch it there, then I'll catch you up: We rarely purchase pre-arranged flowers. And instead we head out together and husband lets me collect all the florals that I love and envision together. Then I arrange them (a favorite of mine) just to my liking. And then I have this perfect bouquet from my favorite fellow, with a bit of twist. I love making little traditions with that guy. 


Friday kicked off our Valentine's fun. First with my flowers and then with a little flower delivery to someone special. 

We rounded out the evening with a pit stop by Redbox, a swing by Target for some Valentine's candy (we went with Fun Dip, Swedish Fish, and a Nerd Rope), and lastly we stopped at the movie theater to grab a large wild cherry freezie. Then we came back home, husband popped popcorn, and we curled up in bed with our snacks and watched our rented movie. 

Saturday we woke up with no agenda, but with brunch as our goal. Social House is a new restaurant in town, and that's where we ended up. It was nothing short of perfection, nestled in the heart of downtown. The inside of this old house turned restaurant was full of 40's charm, and the music drifting through the room was some of my favorites...there was "Moon River", Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams. The atmosphere was made for Valentine's Day. And it didn't' hurt that husband and I were the first patrons there, and the only ones there for a good bit of time, leaving us the whole place to ourselves. 

Just take a look at this sweet restaurant...





I went with Brunch Your Way, and husband opted for Fried Chicken & French Toast. We love ordering two different meals and then sharing. It's a win win, especially if the food is incredible, which this was!


After brunch we headed to the local bakery, and picked up three desserts. One for me, one for husband, and one for my sister who joined us for dinner that night.

After the bakery, we went to Starbucks (you would have never guessed, would you?!) and then drove around some of my favorite neighborhoods. Driving around for fun and just chatting is one of my favorite things to do with husband. 

We arrived home around 2:00 and nestled in on the couch, turned the fireplace on, and kicked our feet up. I ended up napping for a bit, which was glorious, and by the time I woke up, it was close to time for my sister to show up.

When my sister arrived (with glass bottled Orange Crush and Root Beer and a movie in tow), we all selected our picks for Chinese takeout. We ran to pick the food up, then settled in for dinner and a movie.

After dinner we paused the movie for a little chocolate-covered-strawberry-making. Because, let's be honest, you can never have too many sweet treats, especially on Valentine's Day!




Of course we also devoured our bakery treats too! This Valentine's Day was hands down my favorite of all time. I loved how low-key it was. The simplicity, the slow time with husband was the best. And it was nice to spend our evening relaxing, movie watching, and devouring Chinese takeout with my little sister. Really, how does it get better?

I need a rewind button for this weekend. ASAP! Do you know where I can find one?? I hope you had a lovely Valentine's too! xoxo