The Pick: Week 21

Friday, May 29, 2015
TGIF! Don't you love a four-day work week?! I wish it would become the standard. I'll keep dreaming till it happens. I must say I've been counting down the days until this weekend. You see, it  kicks off our family vacation, and I couldn't be happier for some time in the sun, sleeping in, and kicking my feet up. A little escape is just what I need. Husband and I have been prepping all know buying the necessary snack foods for the trip down, pulling out the bathing suits and beach towels, and cleaning the fridge out. You know we've been doing all things beach prep. 

I must say this week was a fun one for me. Husband and I have been reveling in the excitement of our baby news being out. It's just been the best to share our sweet babe with everyone. Even now, neither of us can believe the blessing we've been given. In the good, bad, and ugly God is good. He's always good, and this season of life has certainly shown us that.

And did I mention how good it feels to let this tiny bump out?! Sucking in just doesn't cut it anymore. At times it looks like I've just overeaten, and I'm sure there will be those who think the same thing as I pass by. But, I love this little belly so much, and I'm so joyful to be sporting it, even if it does look like I ate a large pizza all by myself :)

As for the photo of the cherries, well I just love them. And you can only enjoy them this time of year. Let's just say you'll find cherries in my fridge all summer long! I hope you and yours have one fabulous weekend! 

 follow along with our vacation excursion 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)

And don't forget to 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!

Blueberry Lemon Bars

Thursday, May 28, 2015
If you know me, you know I can't say no to dessert. My sweet tooth loves a baked good! So when two other ladies and I were prepping for a small baby shower several weeks ago, I was happy to volunteer to make the dessert. One request from one of the mamas-to-be (we were showering three expectant gals) for dessert was something that included lemon and blueberry. So to Pinterest I went. Nothing really sparked my imagination, and in the midst of being heavily nauseous and exhausted (welcome to the 7th week of  pregnancy), I just couldn't get my creative wheels turning to come up with an original recipe. 

Fortunately, Shay at Mix and Match Mama posted just what I needed, a recipe for blueberry lemon bars. Not only did they look incredible, but they seemed easy to make. And that's just what this tired self needed! With just a couple of tweaks, the recipe turned out to be just as simple to make as it was to read the ingredients list. And the bars take no time to whip up. Perfect for a planned get together or an impromptu gathering, these bars are perfect for the spring an summer months!

  • What You'll Need
    • 1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 pint blueberries
    • 1 large lemon 
    • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (you'll only use 1/2 the can)

  • What You'll Do
    • Preheat the oven to 350°. Then grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
    • In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir or blend until smooth. 
    • Pour half of the batter into the pan. Using a plastic icing spatula spread the thin layer out completely, making sure there are no holes in the batter. 
    • Next, pour your washed blueberries and half the can of sweetened condensed milk into a bowl. Mix well. 
    • Zest the entire lemon and add that to the blueberry mixture. Again stir well. Pour this mixture over the first layer of batter. Spread out smoothly. 
    • Dollop the remaining batter over top of the blueberry mixture. (See picture below)
    • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bars have set in the center. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool for a bit before slicing into them and serving. 

These bars were a HUGE hit at the shower! Not a single one was left and I had a bunch of inquiries for the recipe. If you're looking for a winning dessert that takes little effort, this is it! Happy Thursday!! xo

Strawberry Fields

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The bump is out of the bag! And it feels SO good! Husband and I are lucky to get to share it with our people and community. You all had the kindest words for us and made our day so darn special. Thank you for that! Hitting the 'publish' button on yesterday's post was super exciting for me, and it made this pregnancy feel so real. I am fully feeling the world of excitement around me for what is to come! I can't begin to tell you how much joy it fills me with. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to sharing this pregnancy journey here! 

Now for some delicious strawberries! On Saturday, husband and started the day off with cinnamon rolls (and again on Monday) then packed into the car with my sister and mom to drive the hour and five minute trip to the strawberry fields. We've kind of decided it's one of our Memorial Day weekend traditions. Since last year's trip was so fun, there was no question going this year too. 

We picked to our hearts' content, filling our buckets rather quickly. I didn't make any plans for making anything with these strawberries because husband always gobbles them up too fast. Maybe one day I'll make something with fresh strawberries, but for now I'm happy to see husband enjoy them so much. 

Aren't they beautiful? There's something about fresh fruit straight from the source. I feel like heaven will be like that...full of fruits and vegetables that we get to enjoy right away in their freshest state. Sounds lovely, right?

I'd say our adventure was a huge success. We walked away with a ton of strawberries and some memories made. What more could you ask for. If you're in the area you should definitely check out Scott's Strawberry Farm. See ya'll back here tomorrow! 

p.s. How awesome is it that we're already mid-way through the work week, yet we've only worked one full day?! Three-day weekend rules! 

An Announcement!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This may make my very favorite post of all time! If you haven't hit 'play' on the film above, I'm about to spoil the ending for you...

Husband and I have kept our lips sealed for what seems like forever, but today we finally get to share our very best news. News we didn't think we would get to share this soon. News that has filled our hearts with so much joy. News that has shown us God's amazing sovereignty and faithfulness. Come December, we'll be growing from a family of two to a family of three as we welcome a sweet babe! Us. The two of us. We are expecting (well I'm the pregnant one), and it feels like the greatest gift has been bestowed upon us. If you can't tell, we're over the moon!

After our miscarriage with our first pregnancy, I feared so much when it came to starting our family. Would we struggle to become pregnant again? Would we miscarry again? Would be ridden with anxiety the entire pregnancy? There were so many questions and worries. And God knew that, He always knows. Even the fears I didn't express out loud, He knew, because He knows my heart. 

You may or may not know that after a miscarriage there is a chunk of recovery time. We waited through it, enjoying our time as just us two and eating all the things I couldn't while pregnant. Bring on Mexican cheese dip, subs loaded with sandwich meats, Starbucks drinks full of caffeine, and so on. Once we found peace in our miscarriage, we were able to move forward, to trust in God's will for our lives, and forage ahead. 

Fast forward to April 18, a Saturday morning unladen with plans. My intuition had been hinting at something being off. That my body wasn't where it should be in the sixth week after the miscarriage. While I didn't think I could possibly be pregnant, I wanted to rule it out. It didn't help that I woke Saturday morning with a very distinct dream I had at some point in the night or early morning. A dream where husband and I had a baby boy in December. After sharing my dream with husband, he felt certain we should grab a pregnancy know just to be sure. 

So we did. I took the test, and we waited three minutes. To burn the time quickly, we made the bed. And when the time was right, I suggested husband look at the test first. If you can only imagine our utter shock. What?! Us, expecting a baby?? It felt like a dream and also like the twilight zone. How in the world was I pregnant?

The Lord is GOOD. He walked through the deepest valley with us, never forsaking us, and showing up in unexpected ways. He heard my quiet cries, knew the heartache I was baring. His time is everything, and even in the bad, the Lord brings about good for His glory.

Husband and I coped with the fact that 2015 wasn't the year we would have a baby. We accepted it, and started making new plans for a very different year. But, our great, big, awesome God, knew otherwise. He knew better. And it turns out we will have a sweet babe at the close of this year. How amazing, absolutely amazing?!

Sweet baby Hill, we can't wait to meet you! You're our miracle and a testament to God's faithfulness.

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 25, 2015
The title says it all, but I just want to tell you again, Happy Memorial Day! How fortunate are we to celebrate today and revel in our freedom because of all those who have served our great nation and continue to do so?! We are blessed by each and every service man and woman and today's festivities and celebrations should be in honor of their sacrifices. Although I'm proud every day, it's days like today that make me especially proud to be an American, to call this country home. 

You'll find me on the lake today, but here is what our weekend has looked like so far... and play this song while you scroll through the photos. Because this is the song and the singer's voice (thanks to my childhood) that runs through my head when I'm feeling patriotic. It's on repeat today, and after you listen to it, you'll have it on repeat too :) 

Again, Happy Memorial Day, I hope you're having a wonderful day! 
See you back here tomorrow! xo

The Pick: Week 20

Friday, May 22, 2015

Woohoo, a three day weekend!!! I'm so looking forward to some down time and some planned time over this extended weekend. The last five days have wiped me out, and I welcome this break wholeheartedly! It's going to be fabulous, and we're kicking it off right with a cookout with our people tonight. For the rest of the weekend, we're hoping to go strawberry picking, cruise along the lake in a boat with family, and enjoy another cookout with House Group. Who knows what else we'll get into; I think we'll just make it up as it comes!!

I do hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend, filled with lots of fun and love! And you can't enjoy this weekend without a very special thank you to all of those who have served and are serving our nation. Happy Memorial Day to you!! xo 

 follow my weekend fun on Instagram @astleigh_hill
or husbands's Instagram @frisbeeinflannel 
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)

And don't forget to 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!

Building A Gallery Wall

Thursday, May 21, 2015
I think it's safe to say that most people love photos. Love looking at them, capturing them, and displaying them. I fall into this category, and am constantly looking for different ways to display my photos. 

A few years ago I fell in love with the gallery wall concept. A unique way to jumble a whole lot of photos, frames, and other accent pieces. So today I'm sharing how I put both of my gallery walls together, and I'm including downloads of the measurements for each set of frames!

When we first moved into our place there was a large blank wall that was begging for some pretty to cheer it up. That's when my first gallery wall started taking shape. It took me months to track down all the frames and accents for it, but I loved watching my wall grow as I added piece by piece. Have I mentioned that one of the fun parts of a gallery wall is that it never really stops growing. Well until you run out of wall space, that is. But, until then there's always a space and a place to keep building onto. This was the case for my gallery wall in the family room. 

I still see pockets for new frames to go, it's just a matter of convincing husband that those pockets really do exist ;) But I do love how it is currently curated, and I love that it can be finished for now or added to whenever.

**My biggest tip when putting a wall together is to go for a variety of frames while keeping one common theme. For my living room the theme was black and metallic. As far as filling the frames, I try to find a variety of photos, a mix of color and black & white, and some patterns. Four of my frames have something other than a photo in them. I like to use prints, greeting cards, and wrapping paper to give texture and variance to a wall that could otherwise feel heavy. 

So I decided to re-create my gallery wall in a simplistic way to give you an idea of how I did it and what types of frames/photo sizes and spacings I went with. 

Click HERE to download my measurement sheet and print it out for reference. Keep in mind that when it comes to actually spacing these pieces out, I didn't measure. I simply laid everything out on the floor then had husband hang it on the wall. I spaced as I went, never once pulling out a measuring tape. I went by my eye. I included the measurements in case you're the type who prefers measuring. It just happens to work better for me to wing it :) 

I loved my first gallery wall so much that I decided on a second one. This time I went print heavy for some color in the dining room. All of the prints are from Minted, with the exception of the two prints under the blue circular accent. Those were free online. The "Give me Jesus" sign came from Vine + Branches, and the circular accent came from Target. 

My theme here was rustic, wood, grays, and whites. Being open to a combination of frames gives you so much more to work with. 

To get an idea of what I did with this gallery wall, I made another recreation of it so you could see all the measurements. Click HERE to download it and print it for reference. You can also click on this photo and the other gallery wall recreation photo to see the measurements bigger/clearer. 

I must say that gallery walls are a TON of fun! I love looking at mine everyday, and they really do bring so much character to our rooms. My next wall, if I can find the space, will include all white frames. I love a good clean look too! 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me or leave a comment below! Happy gallery wall building!! xo


Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Hi ya'll! Happy Wednesday!! Yesterday, my gal Nelle inspired me with her post and I immediately knew what I'd be sharing today on HC. So here's a little fun way for you to get to know me better... 

four nicknames  
Lesil, Bug, Leigh-Leigh, Beautiful (this is husband's doing)

four jobs i have had
lifeguard, office clerk, editor, and writer & designer

four movies i have watched more than once
Pitch Perfect, About Time, Father of the Bride (I & II), and Harry Potter

four things in my purse
chapstick, wallet, keys, and lotion (and that's just a quarter of it)

four five books i would recommend
The Time Traveler's Wife, Water for Elephants,
 Lineage of Grace, Redeeming Love, and The Antelope in the Living Room

four cars i have driven
a red, 1997 Jeep Cherokee, a Jeep Patriot, and a Nissan Altima (there's not a fourth!)

four places i have visited
Hawaii; Austin,Texas; Antigua; and Louisville, Kentucky

four places to visit
Greece, Maine, San Francisco, and Seattle (I could keep naming places)

four of my favorite foods
mashed potatoes (of the KFC kind), stuffed pasta, green chili enchiladas,
and Krispy Kreme apple pies (let's not talk about the calories in them)

four five favorite drinks
sweet tea, lemonade, pina coladas, coffee, and milkshakes

four tv shows i watch
The Real Housewives, Revenge, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing With The Stars

four places to shop
Target, World Market, LOFT, and Nordstrom


four things i am looking forward to in 2015
traveling/vacations, finding the perfect dining room table,
growing this blog of mine, & all things family

How about yourself?? Feel free to join me and share some fun and random things about yourself!

Supper Club || Patriots & Burgers

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Supper Club has been one of the best ideas! Between the three couples, we've come up with some incredibly fun themes and creative ways to make and display food. This month was no exception as we gathered around for our third Supper Club. This time it was hosted by the Everetts, and they did not disappoint! Pulling out a patriotic theme with all-American food (we grilled out, of course) the six of us enjoyed some time outside and an amazing burger bar! 

This time of year there is nothing like fresh fruit. Amanda nailed it with these flag-inspired fruit kebabs as our appetizers! And to drink we sipped on lemon-lime soda with frozen, fruit ice cubes. 

And here we are in all our seriousness and silliness. A crazy, growing gang! The Marones' baby gal will be joining us for Supper Club just shortly, and we can't wait to meet her!

Now back to that burger bar! Jonathan killed it on the grill. I mean check out those grill marks. But, I must say the burgers wouldn't have been much without all of Amanda's toppings! Those Everetts are grilling/burger pros. 

And let's go beyond just the food, and admire how it was all laid out. How cute are these star-trimmed metal buckets for everyone's fries?! I'm a detail-oriented gal and I truly appreciate the little touches. I think they make such a difference. 

I think it's fair to say that I couldn't get enough of this watermelon and blackberry salad. It's going to be a staple in this Hill house this summer. It's so fresh and light, perfect for hot and humid Virginia days. Simply refreshing! 

To wrap up our evening we all gathered in the living room, chatting, and eating these sweet, individual apple pies. In mason jars of course, because what else could be so American, so southern??

I can't say it enough...Supper Club is fabulous. What's better than your people and good grub?! Get one started already, friends! Summer time is going to be perfect for kicking off your own Supper Club goodness! 

Check out all of our past Supper Clubs for some inspiration for starting yours!