Mother's Day Gift Guide

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Know a sweet mama, whether she be your mom, your best friend, or your sister? Motherhood is a blessing and a full-time job; it should be celebrated for the gift that is, the hard work that goes into it, and the love it abundantly provides. Mamas are special people, and in honor of Mother's Day (just a week and half away!) I've put together some gift ideas to inspire you. 

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No matter if it's a specialty chocolate, a throw to cuddle up in, or a card, there are so many options out there for the moms in your life. Spoil her a little and give from the heart. Whenever I put a gift together, I try to think of that particular person and what they like. I want them to open the gift and know that I put a lot of love into it, while also showing them that I recognize their taste and style. I think that's one way you can love your people well. 

I hope this guide gives you a good starting place, if not the exact piece you were looking for! Click the numbers above to find the products I've shared. 

How will you be celebrating Mother's Day??

Snippets Of Life Lately

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Life around the Hill household has been busy! We've got husband wrapping up his first spring semester of graduate school, which means lots of projects and final exams. Add that to two full-time jobs (both of us), home chores, scheduled engagements, etc,, and you've got some crazy busy people. But we can't complain, this season of life will be coming to a close in just over a week and half, when the semester ends. And then bring on the beach!!

Let's talk about spring...we thought spring had sprung, but lately it's been chilly and windy around these parts. The two of us are looking forward to much warmer temps and time spent out on our deck grilling and hanging out with friends. While I haven't been crazy about all the rain April has seen, I do love all the flowers blooming from it. And with spring, there comes all the outdoor activities, like church league softball, and who doesn't love sitting with the gals, chatting, and spending time together while watching your husband play ball?! I've got to say, I love it! 

Spring has also inspired some new home decor, like accent pillows. Don't worry, I'm not adding to my loot of pillows, but instead recovering the ones I already have. The new pillows have really brought some brightness to our living room. I'd say DIY projects are perfect for this time of year! 

I hope your spring has been good, that in the business of life you've had time to relax and spend some quality time with your people! Keep scrolling to see who the winner of the Vine + Branches Giveaway is!!

And a BIG congrats to Mandy DeTurk Campbell!! You've won
the best-selling "Give Me Jesus" Vine + Branches sign!!
I'll be emailing you, so please look for it in your inbox!

Charlotte, Friends, Frisbee, & Coffee

Monday, April 27, 2015
Happy Monday, friends! This weekend was a special one. And for a few different reasons. There was a quick trip to Charlotte for a fun, impromptu, getaway trip, some shopping, and watching husband play ultimate frisbee (even if it was misting the entire time). But, my very favorite part came Friday night when I met one of my blog land friends in person for the first time! It's surreal to meet, get along with, and form a friendship with someone online, then to meet them in person and click just like you hoped you would. If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw all of the weekend unfold in photos, starting with our trip down to NC!

It's a Hill tradition to pick up Starbucks at the start of any road trip. This was no different, and we agreed on a splitting a venti coffee frappuccino.

One of my favorite parts of the trip to NC, is passing over Lake Norman. It's beautiful and makes me crave time on boat, floating along in the water. The only downside of passing over the lake, the traffic. It gets so backed up, but at least it gives you time to roll the windows down and take in the fresh air.

Nelle from Simply Love is a Charlotte gal, and when husband and I planned our little trip a few weeks back, the idea of meeting up with her dawned on me! She was game, and dinner details for Friday night were made. We (as in us and our husbands) met up in the NC Music Factory at Osso for Italian cuisine and good conversation. Side note and fun fact: Osso is the restaurant where Bachelorette Emily Maynard went on a one-on-one date with Ryan.

After dinner we headed to VBGB for a little more time together before parting ways. The Hills are now totally smitten with the Monacos, and we're looking forward to our next get together! If you've never read Nelle's blog, you need to and now!

Saturday we spent the entire day shopping. And yes, husband was such a good sport. Don't be fooled though, he may love Crate & Barrel almost as much as I do. I could spend hours in that store (and we might have). There's nothing I don't love about it.

After C&B, a trip to the mall, and a simple pizza lunch, we found ourselves at IKEA. We have never been into an IKEA, and wow what an experience. The downside, the 45 minutes we waited in line to check out with our things. It was a tad insane, but totally worth it. Would I visit an IKEA again on a weekend, probably not, but I'd definitely go back.

After our very long-line wait, we started for home. Charlotte isn't too far from us, making it an easy trip. And travel like that, always makes for good conversation time. Husband and I talked about everything. It was good.

Sunday morning was a little different than our norm. Instead of church, husband had an ultimate Frisbee game. I tagged along this time to watch him. The misting wasn't the best, but being wrapped up in a blanket in my beach chair and sipping Starbucks made up for that. Husband left that game covered in mud (rain makes perfect sliding weather, people), and tired. I'd say it was a good time. 

The rest of the day looked a little like husband in the lab (yay, grad school), me sewing pillow covers, and time with House Group. We finished out our weekend with a dinner picnic in bed. 

I hope you have a fabulous week!! And if you haven't, go enter the Vine + Branches Giveaway, where you could win Caroline's best-selling "Give Me Jesus" sign!! The giveaway closes at midnight today, and the winner will be announced tomorrow!!

The Pick: Week 16 + Friday Favorites

Friday, April 24, 2015
Woohoo, it's Friday!!! And husband and I are headed to Charlotte for no good reason. Don't you just love quick, impromptu trips?! I do, and I'm so excited we're taking a little break from life to head to the Carolinas for a laid back weekend and dinner with one of my favorite blogging gals! Are you curious, who I'm meeting?! Stay tuned next week to see who I'll be dining with tonight! 

Can you tell I'm in a good mood? Because I certainly am! This week flew by, and it was just a darn good week in and of itself. I hope your week was just as fabulous, and if not that your weekend makes up for it :)

Now for rounding up the favorites from this week...

[one] This is my new favorite motto, and what a better reminder than this Vine + Branches sign?! I have loved looking at this sweet saying every morning as I get ready. 

[two] Dining downtown in our quaint little town is the best, especially when the temperatures are just right and your people are joining you.

[three] A fresh table setting and flowers never hurt. I love a new look and fresh scents! If only flowers lived forever. Am I right, or am I right??

[four] My new gallery wall in the dining room is the bee's knees! Soon enough I'll be sharing some tutorials for my gallery walls and how I put them together. Plus, I'll be sharing my dining room on my Home Tour series! And if you run, or just click THIS link then you can enter the giveaway for the "Give me Jesus" sign by Vine + Branches!

[five] God's goodness has amazed me to my core this week. His faithfulness has no limits nor boundaries. I love that in the downpour on Monday, He sent His sweet promise in a way I could see it. How good is it that we can have such a close relationship with Him?!

[six] A cup of joe, especially from Starbucks is always a favorite! Not to mention look at those succulents! We still need to build a box for them, but in the meantime they're adorning the top of our outdoor table. One day we'll get that 'to-do' done!

[seven] Sometimes there's nothing I love more than warm weather, windows down, open fields full of lush green grass, and longer days. Spring is the best, don't you agree?! Except for those pesky allergies. And ya'll I'm normally struck with crazy bad allergies, but they haven't hit this year. I'm not sure if it's from all the rain washing the fresh pollen away, if the pollen just hasn't come out in full force, or if it's my lucky year! Either way, I'll pray for your allergies and you pray mine never show up :)

[eight] My guilty pleasure is watching Bravo. I know, I know. But I can't help it. Anywho, Southern Charm's opening music is my favorite, and I love the sound. So I found the entire song and then ended up purchasing it on iTunes. I think this will put a little pep in your step to kick of the weekend. Tell me you don't like it :)

to follow my weekend adventures, follow me on Instagram @astleigh_hill
and to stay up to date with my blog posts, like the blog's Facebook page
or subscribe via email to be updated every time I post (see the sidebar)

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!

And before you link-up, head to Monday's post and enter to win Vine + Branches best-selling "Give Me Jesus" sign!! The giveaway ends Monday at midnight!

My Everyday Beauty Picks

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I don't wear a ton of makeup, and I'm also not keen on going out in public without makeup. I like it in moderation, something that won't take a ton of time to apply, but also makes me feel put together for the day. 

I started my little beauty routine in eighth grade, perfecting it in the years since. I still make a terrible mess putting mascara on (ask anyone who has seen me apply it), insist on using an eyelash curler, and I've finally found a way to tame my crazy eyebrows! Once you figure out what works best for you, make-up doesn't seem so daunting. Below are my everyday beauty picks. They're the supplies that get applied to my face each morning, with the exception of the eyeshadow, that is always changing. 

1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 

I basically fell into my beauty routine, and I'm always interested in different tips when it comes to applying makeup. I made it up as I went, and have settled into my own system for applying these products. 

After I shower, clean my face, and my eyelashes have dried, I apply mascara. When I first started using mascara I thought that's how everyone did it, applying it first before all other things. Turns out not so much. I'm not sure I've met another gal who applies mascara first. Anyone, I've never changed this pattern because I make a crazy mess with mascara. Cue the q-tips! Using three q-tips I clean up my mess, leaving myself with full and lush lashes and no mess. 

My next step is to apply the face moisturizer. And once that is well rubbed in, I use just a tiny dab of the face primer under each eye. I have found that it gives a silky surface to apply the concealer, and rubbing the concealer in isn't such a job if I use the primer first. This is the only place I use both primer and concealer. 

You guessed it, after the primer comes the concealer. There's no dry time in between the two. After this, I will use the eyebrow gel to tidy up my brows and keep them in place all day. I love this particular eyebrow gel because it dries clear and doesn't flake. You do have to give a good 5 to 10 minutes for the gel to dry on your brows. So if you've got your hair to blow dry, do that first then fix your eyebrows. 

Next I apply whatever shade(s) of eyeshadow I'm feeling. I'm a neutral kind of gal, and nudes are my best friend when it comes to make-up. That goes for the eyeshadows as well. 

Blush is my second to last step. I apply a healthy amount to my cheeks and jawline. To do this, I make a pucker face to accentuate my cheekbones and jaw. Then I dab the brush again and add some to my chin, nose, and t-zone. If I ever apply too much for my liking, I just use my finger to gently rub some away. If that doesn't work, a tissue will. 

By the time my make-up is on and my hair is fixed, I can assume the mascara on my lashes is dry. That's when I use the eyelash curler to really turn my lashes up. If you ever try it this way, always be careful when taking the curler away from you lashes. Some may be slightly stuck, so gently wiggling the curler will free them without you pulling a lash or two out. Don't worry, I do this every morning, and I still have my lashes :)

Lastly, I will sometimes use a brown eyeliner if I really want to make my eyes stand out. If I ever do, I use a Covergirl eyeliner pencil and it does the trick!

And because makeup takes up such space, I found the best way to store it. I came across a couple of wooden makeup boxes in Target, and they beautifully hold all of my products. Before, I was using a basket to toss everything in, and that was total chaos. This way, I can see all of my makeup and I have easy access to it. 

I've never been a big wearer of lipsticks. However, I feel the need to be bold. I've tried out some covergirl lip balm and liked it. So leave me your recommendations for fun lipsticks and shades. This summer is going to be a bit brighter, and not because of the sun! Bring on some sassy lipstick!

p.s. If you want to know how I take my makeup off, then visit my skin routine post!

Last but, not least...if you haven't already, go enter the Vine + Branches Giveaway happening now on the blog! It closes Monday! 

Food For Thought

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is there a food or meal, that when you eat it, memories of a very specific occasion come flooding back? That's what my Grandmom's spaghetti does to me every. single. time. I think about a night she made it for dinner when I was little. I remember it being dark and raining outside. My Granddady has his cowboy hat on, along with his rain coat, and he's sitting in his spot at the kitchen table. The stove vent light is on and so is the vent fan. The steam from the cooking food is swirling around in the vent light as it wafts upward. The dining room table is set with the silverware and a plastic bottle of grated Parmesan cheese.

Each time I eat this spaghetti, that's the memory that runs on repeat through my mind. It's a simple and sweet memory of being with my grandparents, which is why I think I love having this particular meal. 

My grandmother has never passed her recipe down, because there really isn't one to pass along. She kind of made it up every time she cooked it. So that's what I do these days too. If you're looking for a twist on a classic, but one that still has the same great taste, then you should try this spaghetti!

When I'm in a rush I don't bother with homemade pasta sauce, so I grab a can of pasta sauce with Italian seasoning, then add my own seasonings, diced onion and a green bell pepper, and sliced button mushrooms. I let it simmer for about an hour on the stove top. When the sauce is almost done I put in some veggie spaghetti noodles to boil and cook. Then ladle the sauce over the noodles.. And just so you know, you can't get away with not topping the spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese, so that's a must too.

What's the food/meal that brings you memories??

p.s. Don't forget to enter the Vine + Branches Giveaway going on this week! You could win Caroline's best-selling "Give Me Jesus" sign!! 

Vine + Branches GIVEAWAY

Monday, April 20, 2015
It may be Monday, but I've got something to make the start to this week fabulous! I'm so excited to share a super talented gal with you and her beautiful handmade work. Really, be prepared to crush on some incredibly lovely art! 

Caroline of Vine + Branches creates gorgeous signs that bring a special something to any wall or tabletop. The two of us connected about a month ago, and a collaboration felt like a must! Caroline is graciously giving away one of her 13x13 "in the morning when I rise give me Jesus (and coffee)" signs to a lucky someone! You're crazy about it, aren't you?!

Let me just say that I have been smitten with this sign from the moment I saw it. Who doesn't love rustic charm with the subtle quality of a chalkboard print?! Not only are the signs beautiful, but they are exceptionally well-made. Caroline's talent really shines in these pieces, and I love the craftsmanship and the unique quality of each sign. 

The wood border creates a nice contrast to the chalkboard-like center. It gives the sign a framed look, which really makes it pop off of the wall. 

When putting together my gallery wall, I knew I wanted a combination of prints and typography. The sign from Vine + Branches was the exact touch I was looking for. It completes my dining room gallery wall. 

Not only do I have one of Caroline's signs in my dining room, but I also have her "Shine like Crazy" sign in my bedroom. I LOVE the saying, and it turned out to be the exact touch I wanted for the top of my dresser. Like I mentioned earlier, these signs are great for hanging, and they're also great for adding beauty as a tabletop accent. The 13x13 size is just right, and draws the eye right in.

I love that this sign boasts a white center with black text; it's a beautiful contrast to the stained wood frame. Each of the signs at Vine + Branches is timeless and classic. Their simplicity is stunning, and the detail is spot on. Caroline offers a variety of signs in her shop, and she really nailed it with the sayings and style! 

Caroline is absolutely wonderful. Her signs were made to spruce up any wall, her shop is run smoothly, and the customer service is excellent. You should definitely head her way, and check out all of the signs at Vine +Branches!  

Now is your chance to enter this super sweet giveaway! There are several different ways to enter below. The more entries you submit, the greater your chances to win the 13x13 "in the morning when I rise give me Jesus (and coffee)" sign. This giveaway will close on April 27 at 11:59 p.m., and the winner will be announced on April 28! The winner's entries will be verified; if the entries are not valid, a new winner will be drawn at random. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The "Shine Like Crazy" sign was provided by Vine + Branches, but all images and opinions are my own. 
Thank you for supporting this blog!

The Pick: Week 15 + Friday Favorites

Friday, April 17, 2015
This week has been icky. Icky and weird. Between the rain and days that have been way off, I'm ready to say goodbye to this week. I don't think it helps that it's been a rainy, chilly, and dreary week. Spring where did you go? I'm praying for sunshine this weekend, and am hopeful the man upstairs will answer. I could use a good dose of vitamin D. How about yourself?

Even though this week had pits, there were also some peaks. And we should always look for the good, shouldn't we? So I'm doing just that and sharing the highs of the week with you. Today I'm keeping it short and sweet.

[one] Bright accents are everything. They can take a place from zero to fab in an instant. I have this rule...your big pieces, like furniture, should be fairly neutral. But as far as your accents and other d├ęcor are concerned, you can get as spunky and colorful as you like.

[two] Cactuses and succulents are my favorites. I'm not in possession of a green thumb to say, so these plants make my home cheerful and life easy. They also give me a pseudo green thumb. Not to mention they're beautiful plants and really brighten up a space. 

[three] A pretty salad always needs its picture taken. For dinner one night this week, husband and I tried out a new brand of packaged salad, and I fell in love. I can't remember the name, but the combo included kale, cabbage, some other greens, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and poppyseed dressing. SO good.

[four] I discovered Chick-fil-a vanilla iced coffee this week, and found a new love. It was delicious, and I fear that I will have to refrain myself from making even more frequent trips to Chick-fil-a than normal. Hello, their fries and chicken sandwiches are my favorite! But, really, if you haven't tried this iced coffee, get going already! Your life will never be the same :)

[five] Our home office is finally complete, and I love the oasis we've created in this space. I shared on Tuesday that I'm starting a Hour Tour series on the blog, where I'll be sharing different rooms of my home over the coming months. I kicked it off with our home office makeover! Such a fun reveal! And thank you all for your sweet comments! 

p.s. If you're looking for some super cute and FREE wall art, then you definitely need to visit that post because I share where I found the pieces hanging on my office wall!

[six] The lemon poppyseed kick is still going on. I just can't help it, that combo is too good. You can find my recipe for homemade lemon poppyseed french toast on Monday's post!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend with you and yours! Happy Friday! xo

to follow my weekend festivities, follow me on Instagram @astleigh_hill
and to stay up to date with my blog posts, like the blog's Facebook page

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!