Over The Weekend

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The good news, we made it past Monday! The bad news, it's only Tuesday. Who's calling out for the weekend?? Last weekend started off with a little extra sleeping. Thank the heavens for time to sleep in, and oh how I'd love for more opportunities to catch some extra zzz's. Raise your hand if you're with me!

The struggle was real, and getting out of bed wasn't a major priority. We were slow to rise, eat breakfast, and ready for the day. But, we're firm believers that the weekend is about relaxing and tossing the schedule out of the window. By late morning we were on our way, and it looked like a trip to The Bread Basket in Floyd, a local country bakery and deli, where husband and I grabbed made-to-order sandwiches, a jar of black bean & corn salsa, chips, a mini pie to split, and candy. 

When all this candy is staring you in the face and the prices are great, how do you turn it down? You don't; you let yourself indulge for once and just go for it. 

Lucky for me, husband doesn't like these banana candies, which is perfectly okay with me. In a bag of runts, these along with the pink ones are my favorites. So to have just a bag of the banana flavored makes me terribly happy. And selfishly I don't even have to share them! 

Too bad husband loves coffee too, because I'd love to keep this bag of coffee and cream espresso beans all to myself. They are SO good! I have never had coffee beans that are so darn amazing. I think it must be the cream. #coffeedreamsaremadeofthese

After we got back home, husband focused on some grad school work, and I went to work on making pillows. Until the sewing machine had a meltdown, which caused me to have a meltdown. I've discovered just how fragile I am over the little things in the last month, and this was one of those times. The sewing machine not working did me in (plus a couple of other small things) and left me feeling unreasonably upset. Husband came to the rescue and planned the evening around comfort things. Bless him. First it was a trip to Target (yes, ya'll I love that place enough for it to be a comfort activity), pizza from Papa John's for dinner, followed by a movie at the new movie theater in town. 

This theater took us back to our Maryland days and dates to the Alamo Drafthouse for movies. We're really excited to visit this theater a lot and take advantage of it! 

As Sundays go, first there was church followed by a trip to the grocery store, tidying up around the house, a quick lunch, and then a trip to Starbucks where we settled in to work. Husband again chomped away at school work while I plunged head long into all things blog. And I have some exciting things in the works! 

Sometimes I think there's nothing better than a little coffee date with my guy. Even if we are working separately we still get to share a cup of joe, sit across from one another, and play footsie under the table :)

When we arrived home that evening around 6ish, I noticed the budding trees for the first time. It made my heart soar to see spring so tangibly. And I can't wait for the trees to be full of lush green leaves! Who doesn't love watching Mother Nature awake from her winter sleep?! 

I hope your weekend was lovely, even if there were hiccups. Mine turned out wonderfully, even if a sewing machine got in the way for just a bit. I guess it goes to say that you can always turn a bad day around....especially if you have a super sweet husband! 

Spring Nail Polishes

Monday, March 30, 2015

Let's start this week off bright, shall we?! How about with nail polish colors perfect for springtime?? I love the change of seasons from winter to spring for lots of reasons...the grass turns green, the snow goes away, the temperatures warm up, and the colors get brighter. I love transitioning from the darker colors of colder days to the brighter colors of sunshine days. 

Because I'm changing the color of my nails regularly, I like to have a good assortment of colors to pick from. I like to span from brights nudes to robust reds this time of year. And when I welcome back my summertime tan, I bring in even brighter pops of colors for nails. But, for now let's get on to my favorite polish colors for spring.

This brand of polish is such a great find at Target! There are plenty of colors to pick from, and the price is on point for a quick nail polish pick-up when you haven't been saving your pennies to splurge on Essie or OPI. When I spotted this polish I went for Rose Dust, Easy Going, and Lavender. They even sound like spring, don't they?

When I do feel like splurging, I do it on  polish colors that I just can't live without. OPI's Lucky Lucky Lavender is one of those. It's the perfect combo of purple and pink, and it looks good on your nails any time of year (yes, even when you want to go bold in the winter). OPI has great nude colors. Bubble Bath (not pictured) is one of my favorite nudes, but I'm also a huge fan of Tickle My France-y.

Another favorite, and a friendly-to-you-wallet polish is Covergirl's selection. This red and pinkish white are my tops picks. The Ever Reddy is the exact bright red I have been wanting, and Forever Frosted is a nice subtle nude color with just enough pink to pop on your nails. 

Essie...they have great colors! If I could I'd one of each, but my wallet (nor my husband) would thank me for that. So I splurge on my must-haves. Like the ones above and below. Tart Deco (several years ago), Double Breasted Jacket, and Bobbing for Baubles (several seasons ago) are some of those favorites. Shades of orange, reds, and blues are made for spring!

And every good nail polish needs a trusty base and top coat. Revlon's Mutli Care Base + Top Coat has been the best. It keeps my nails looking fresh for longer, and keeps the chipping at bay! 

To see how I do an at-home gel nail using all of these spring polishes, stop back by on April 16th for the Every Girl Link-Up. And if you've got some nail painting tips and tricks then do share and link-up with us on that date! 

The Pick: Week 12 + Friday Favorites

Friday, March 27, 2015
Who's beaming because it's Friday?! This week has been a whirlwind to say the least and I'm so looking forward to the restfulness of the weekend. We've got nothing planned, no agenda, no time to keep track of. I need it, and if anything I hope our weekend is full of coffee just like last weekend. Because that, my friends, is one of the things that makes this gal happy.

So as I finish out this week, I'm wrapping up my favorites...starting with coffee (where's my coffee emoji?)

[one] Coffee. It's obvious, I love it. Husband and I kicked Saturday morning off with a trip to Starbucks for breakfast before our family outing.

[two] I grabbed some fun fabric to make pillows with while at Schoolhouse Fabric. Imagine a schoolhouse, three stories tall, full of fabric. No, this is not a dream. It really does exist. And I was too busy enjoying an awesome lunch to take any photos of the country store on my phone, but I did have my camera clicking away; and you can see those photos HERE.

[three] Evening sunshine in the spring. It's glorious and I can't get enough.

[four] And what's the perfect thing to cook up in all that evening sunshine?? Yes, shish kabobs. How delicious do these look? I'll just tell you...they were amazing!

[five] Fresh squeezed lemonade is one of my absolute favorites. Husband was the sweetest and made me some, just because he knew how much I wanted it. That's real love for you :)

[six] Shocker, more coffee! We received a latte maker from a family friend as one of our wedding gifts. We've been in love with it from the first latte. Sunday afternoon was made for a latte, sweats, and kicking your feet up. Who agrees??

[seven] I absolutely love Better Homes and Gardens. From their bright, seasonally beautiful covers to the inside spreads, they've got me. Every page I turn I am more and more convinced that I'd love to live within their pages...or rather the homes featured on their pages. 

[eight] I've decorated for Easter and I adore these wooden eggs I found at TJMaxx. They made the perfect garland for my dining room.

[nine] Sometimes I just need to be centered. And that's when I'm thankful for a God I can turn to and share my heavy burden with. On Monday I was able to stop and enjoy His truth during lunch. Quiet time with the Lord is a definite favorite.

[ten] I love a good sunset. One that fills the skies with lots of bold color. Pulling into our neighborhood is always one of the best spots to catch a very dramatic sun and its setting colors. 

[eleven] On this particular morning I had my cup of joe on the rocks. Iced coffee is always a good idea, especially when it's sitting next to beautiful Rifle Paper Co. notebook.

[twelve] Have you had enough coffee yet? Yeah, me neither! Husband knows my heart and he knows when this gal needs to get out of the house and be loved on at a coffee shop. So he set up a coffee date for us one afternoon, where we could enjoy the warmer temperatures and uninterrupted time together. In this season of life, it's the little things like this that make my days brighter. 

[thirteen] A good DIY is always a favorite. And this Easter egg garland is definitely one of my top DIYs. I adore the color combo!

[fourteen] Some nights just call for Sonic. I have discovered their mini blasts, and it's my new go-to sweet treat.

[fifteen] I love grapefruit. From its taste to its colors. They're beautiful and make my breakfast happier.

[sixteen] We love having friends over for dinner, just because. You don't always need to have a reason to set a time to get together. We're thankful for friends who feel the same way. Also those who love a good meal all about Mexican cuisine! 

[seventeen] Ellie Holcomb's new album is taking my thoughts and putting them into songs. I have been listening to her music for days, especially this one. It's been my go-to song right now, and brings me a lot of comfort as I walk through the journey of miscarriage.

Cheers to the weekend! I hope you have a fabulous one with the ones you love! 

to follow my weekend adventures, follow me on Instagram @astleigh_hill
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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 blog 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!

Making It Through Week Four

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today's post was not scheduled, it was not the one I had planned. But, as a blogger, I vowed to be true to myself, to not put up a false image of my life, to not downplay my faith, nor create a fake facade through this blog. From the start I knew that if I was going to be sharing my life with others in a public forum, then I wanted to be able to do so in the most genuine way; to open myself up for connections and for friendships based on my reality and not the highlight reel of my life. I do put my best forward as a blogger (of course I want my house clean and tidy before posting photos of it on here), but I also want to share the hardships, challenges, and grittiness of life. I think that's when we really connect with one another, when we're able to be vulnerable. So today is one of those days for me.

While I'm sure there are readers who feel uncomfortable reading about miscarriage, it has been consuming my heart for weeks now and writing about it is therapy for me. It does me good to put words to my thoughts, to send it out so that anyone going through the same thing can find someone to identify with. Today felt right to share a little more of my experiences with miscarriage, because it's not just a single event in your life, but a journey. 

This week started out particularly hard for me. Monday was the date I had so brightly highlighted in my planner as the day we would announce our pregnancy to everyone. It would be the beginning of my bump updates, sharing weekly photos of a growing belly, and the freedom to just be pregnant and no longer keep it a secret. I would finally get to hit the "publish" button on posts documenting the early weeks of pregnancy that I have saved in my drafts folder of this blog. Monday meant a milestone for us. And husband and I were thrilled for this day, to shout our good news from the mountaintop, or rather from this blog. 

As this past Monday approached, I thought I would be able to handle it fine. That I had grieved enough to conquer this hurtle. I also had an appointment with my doctor for my last round of blood work to make sure the HCG hormones (the pregnancy hormones) had cleared my body. On my short drive to the doctor's office, it sank in that medically this pregnancy was coming to a close with the last "to-do" checked off. As I sat in the chair, face turned away from the nurse and the needle, I felt all kinds of emotions wash over me. My experience with this doctor's office had been rough, it had been cold, and lacking all kinds of compassion from the start. And here I was ending this part of the journey with a nurse who seemed to have no care for what I was going through. She had been the same nurse to take my blood during our pre-conception counseling and when we found out we were pregnant. She knew why I was there, yet she said nothing. She drew my blood, got the vile she needed, unwrapped the band from arm and simply said, "you're done." It was all I could do to get my jacket on and get out of that place before I lost it. 

The rest of that day continued on in a similar fashion. I would be okay and then another unexpected wave of emotions would hit. It was so evident that while medically I was done with this miscarriage, that emotionally I was not. Like I said, it's a journey and grieving has no timeline. So I settled into my day, knowing there would be tears and heartache, but also knowing that God would see me through it. And He did. 

Tuesday started off with puffy eyes, but a sense of renewal. I've come to discover that everyday is a stepping stone. I have been so fortunate to not only hold the Lord's hand through this, but also my friends' and family's. It's made all the difference in my healing. And while I know that it's not over yet, I'm getting to a place where I'm okay with that. I know that I will always think about my sweet baby in heaven. For the rest of my days I will wonder what our baby would have looked like, sounded like, been like. Do husband and I have a girl or a boy waiting to meet us in heaven? In all my questions and all my doubts, I have found so much comfort in knowing that God's plan for our lives is sovereign. That as much as we love our baby, He loves him or her so much more than we ever could. And they're together in heaven. Isn't that beautiful?

This week wouldn't be complete without the results from my blood work, which came back Wednesday morning. A nurse called to tell me that my HCG hormones had hit one. Medically that's great, and my body is doing what it should to recover well from miscarriage. But my first reaction was to be mad that after I had been so upset on Monday how could I still have a trace of being pregnant left. Hadn't I coped with the medical part of my journey being over? Yet here I was with just a little bit left. I shared my results with husband that evening, and told him that I was irritated and mad that the hormones just hadn't hit zero. From the floor where he was sitting he looked up at me and said, "Astleigh, what if that's God saying we will be pregnant and have a baby one day? What if that's Him giving us hope?" Turning my eyes to God changed everything. More than anything I have learned so much about God's mercy, His grace, His love, and His faithfulness during this trial and heavy burden. Miscarriage is the worst and most difficult experience of my life, but through it I can boldly say that even in the hardness and sadness God is so good. 

How To: Fancy Cupcake Icing

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Confession time: I'm a perfectionist. Truer than true, I'm a type A, perfectionist with over-achieving ambitions. But, I have my moments when my over-achieving, perfectionist walls come down and I feel like taking a simpler route. Last Thursday was one of those times; I decided that instead of making an extravagant dessert, simple cupcakes would satisfy my baking urge. After all, the box and the can of icing were already in my pantry. 

So I whipped up your standard, but ever so cheerfully-spring cupcakes. They were easy, and sure enough my baking craving was taken care of. Then my over-achieving, perfectionist of a self appeared, and I decided that spreading the icing over the cupcakes, as I've always done when baking from-the-box cupcakes, just wouldn't do. 

I came up with the perfect (I would use that word, wouldn't I?) way to finish up my treats with an over-achieving flair that really didn't take all that much effort. 

Ya'll, it's so easy to give your cupcakes a professional look while using a can of icing. All you do is scoop all of the icing into a zip-lock baggie. Seal it tightly, then snip off a small bit of one of the corners. Essentially you're now ready to "pipe" the icing onto your cupcakes.

Starting on the outside of a cupcake, gently squeeze the bag, and move the cupcake circularly, until you have piped icing all the way into the center. 

And just like that your cupcakes not only look professional, but even homemade! And when the icing also comes with sprinkles, it's double the win! So if you're in a hurry, need to whip up a dessert quickly, or just want to bake but don't have a ton of time, this is the way to do it! Your cupcakes will look fabulous! 

**if you do pipe the icing on, you'll need at least two cans of icing; with this method you use much more icing than if you just spread it on. 

Do you have any baking tips?? I'd love to hear them if so! I'm always in the market for a new baking trick!

p.s. Bloggers, don't forget to subscribe to the Every Girl Link-Up email for reminders about the next link-up! Just email your name and blog to: everygirllinkup@gmail.com

Easter Egg Garland DIY

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
This year I knew I wanted some egg garland for Easter. I started searching early on, but never found anything that was a) in my budget or b) my style. So I decided to make exactly what I was looking for. And it all started at Michaels

To make this rustic looking Easter egg garland all you need is fake eggs (pick eggs that are soft, not hard), floral wire, and vine garland. All of it can be found at Michaels.

Clip the wire to a desired length. it doesn't have to be long. Then stick it into the bottom side of the egg. Then you'll place the egg on the vine where you desire. Using the wire, secure the egg to the vine. It's as simple as that!

A note on this branch. It was double this length, so husband cut it in half for me. I used the other half in the dining room for a different kind of egg garland. And you can see a sneak peak of that in my Instagram photo from yesterday. I'll be sharing the rest next Thursday for the Easter Touches Every Girl Link-Up!

Catch the rest of my Easter décor next week! I hope you find some inspiration from this super simple DIY. It adds just the right pop of Easter and color without being over the top. Just how I like it!