Thoughts For Friday + The Pick: Week 30

Friday, July 31, 2015
Ants in my pants over here!! Oh yeah, and happy Friday! We've finally made it to the one day mark before sharing our gender news with our nearest and dearest. It's been the #hardestkeptsecret all week long as we go on with our lives like we don't what we're having (but, really we do). Husband and I have been watching every word we say when it comes to talking about the baby with others, never slipping a pronoun that would give it all away.

We're both over here rejoicing about using pronouns, who would have guessed we'd be so excited about grammar?! Anywho, tomorrow is simply going to be the best! And because I don't think there's any way I could keep this secret from social media after the party, find me on Instagram to see the reveal in photos!

Oh yes, and one more thing....there will be a giveaway on Monday that you don't want to miss!

via \\ via \\ via \\ via 

T H I N K I N G  > Today's the last day of July, say what?! I can't believe how quickly summer is moving. Don't get me wrong though, I'm all about welcoming fall!

P O N D E R I N G > When I'll ever get my Pinterest boards all organized and tidied up! Lately, I've started a new board for men's wear to inspire husband and I for fall clothes for him. And I'm starting to pin to my wardrobe board. Although I feel kind of clueless as to where to get maternity fall fashions in my style for a good price. Any recommendations?? 

N E E D I N G > A vacation. Thank goodness, we're headed for a final summer vacay in just a couple of weeks!

D O I N G > Making a grocery list for the food and ingredients we need to grab for the gender reveal party tomorrow. All the details coming to the blog next week.

D R E A M I N G > About cooler weather. I'm not a hot-weather kind of gal, and I prefer sixty degree temperatures any day. Virginia has been hanging out in the upper 80's lower 90's, and quite frankly my dear, I'm over it.

S W O O N I N G > Over the fall garland I scored this week. Husband is such a gem for agreeing to go ahead and get it while it's still July :)

So long to another week, and hello to another weekend! I hope you've got some stellar plans, whether that involves being adventures or doing something super relaxing. I'm partying this weekend and I'll be sharing all about it next week. See you here on Monday, lovelies! xo

find out if Baby Hill is a boy or a girl this weekend on Instagram @astleigh_hill
and stay up to date with posts by liking the blog's Facebook page
or subscribe via email to be updated every time I post (see the sidebar)

Lastly, 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.

Paper Rosettes DIY

Thursday, July 30, 2015
We all know the Hills are hosting a gender reveal party for our little nugget this weekend (because I can't stop talking about it!). We opted to go the DIY route for all of our décor, which was a choice based largely on saving money and creating the exact look that I envisioned. I have to say that it really worked out the way I wanted, and today I thought I'd share a simple craft that really adds a lot of character to your space. Let's make some paper rosettes! 

All you'll need is a a stack of card stock paper, hot glue, and scissors. I found the blue and pink card stock at Michaels. And to make the number of rosettes that we did, we used both stacks in their entirety. Depending upon your quantity, you will use more or less card stock. 

Before we start into the "how to", the most important piece of advice I can give you about making regular size rosettes is that for every one you make, you will use 4 pieces of paper. Don't try to use less because your rosette will look quite silly. If you want to use more for a tighter looking rosette, be my guest!

So you'll begin the craft by folding the paper accordion style. You can fold horizontally or vertically, either way works and you'll get a different look. You can also fold to whatever width you prefer. I typically stuck to about an inch. 

Once you have it completely folded (as shown in the above photo), you will fold it in half, aligning the edges to have a 'perfect' center fold (see the following two photos).

You will make four of these 'v' shaped accordions before you begin hot gluing. Once you have them completed, you will hot glue down the middle of each 'v', pressing firmly together to ensure good stick. Then hot glue the 'v's' together one at a time. In doing this, make sure that all of them are facing the same direction. You can do this by looking at the center of the 'v' to verify that the fold is shown.

As you hot glue the rosette together, it will begin to take shape, and from the gif below, you can see how it fans out to create a beautiful rosette!

In making rosettes, there are about 4 different sizes you can make....large, medium, small, and tiny. To make a large, you will fold the paper accordion-style horizontally. To make a medium, fold the paper vertically. To create a small. you will cut the paper in half, then fold each half accordian-style (doesn't matter whether it's horizontal or vertical). In making the small size, you'll only need two pieces of paper since you're cutting them in halves. And for the tiny, you'll use one piece of paper, cutting it in half, then cutting each of those halves in half again. 

Making rosettes is simple, but it will take a bit of time depending on how many you are making. We are filling a wall with them to use as a backdrop to our food table. Thus, we spent a good chunk of time folding and hot gluing to get the look we wanted. Making all four different sizes really gave depth to the background, and I highly recommend it. If you're feeling extra ambitious, you could add buttons or other decorative pieces to the center of the rosettes. But, we were happy without that extra step.

Hanging the rosettes was the most challenging part. We pulled down our gallery wall and used the existing nails. By attaching string loops to the back of the rosettes we built the framework. Then we hot glued the smaller rosettes over top. If someone has a better way please share!

Our paper rosette wall was exactly what we wanted for the party, and I'm so looking forward to seeing the rest of the party details come together! T-minus two days, people! You'll get more of a look when I share all of the party details next week! But, for now here's a sneak peak :)

p.s. Trying to put into words how to make these paper rosettes was harder than I thought. Isn't that the case when trying to explain something simple and you go and make it all complicated?! So if there is something that just doesn't make sense or needs more clarification send me an email and I'll happily respond!

Bourbon Blueberry & Peach Cobbler

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Originally, I had no post to share with you today. But, I had an itch to browse through my archives to see what husband and I were up to this time last year (a favorite part of why I blog - because I get to look back). It just so happens that we had enjoyed a crazy good dessert, one that I (along with my family) fell hard for. So, I wanted to whip this recipe out and insist that you make it!

Twice last July, I made Food Network's recipe for a campfire cobbler. Instead of heating it over coals as they instruct, I baked it in my oven, and it turned out nothing short of amazing. As someone who is not a fan of bourbon, I was pleasantly surprised with the taste and how much I loved it. Because, honestly, it's a faint taste if any at all. The crumble topping didn't hurt, and was in fact my favorite part. Really, who doesn't love a good crumble?!

The first time I made this, we ate it with the recommended side of vanilla yogurt. Again, I was surprised with how delicious that was. Yogurt and cobbler don't sound like a winning pair, but it was such a nice combination of textures. The second time I made this (yes, it's good enough to make over and over again), we paired it with vanilla frozen yogurt. It was super that way too. You could keep pairing it with several different varieties of yogurt or frozen yogurt and it would still be a amazing. Maybe some different flavors about a lemon version?

Now that I've talked you into making this cobbler perfection, get to it! You're missing out until you take a bite, followed by eating the entire thing :)

  • What You'll Need 
    • For the filling
      • 5 peaches, sliced
      • 3/4 cup blueberries
      • 1/4 cup bourbon
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 2 TBSP cornstarch
      • 1 TSP cinnamon
      • 1/4 TSP grated lemon zest
      • 1 TSP fresh lemon juice
      • 1/2 TSP vanilla extract
    • For the topping
      • 1 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 cup old fashioned oats
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 1/2 TSP kosher salt
      • 1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
      • 2 TBSP heavy cream
      • Vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt for serving

  • What You'll Do
    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    • In a large bowl combine the sliced peaches, blueberries, bourbon, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.
    • In a second large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter cubes and cut into the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or your hands (I used my hands because it worked best).
    • Once the mixture is coarse and clumps when squeezed, add the heavy cream and mix until the dough comes together a bit more. 
    • Pour the filling into a pie dish. Spoon the topping mix evenly over the filling.
    • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. When the cobbler is done the fruit will be bubbling around the edges and the topping will be light and fluffy. 
    • Serve with a side of vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt. 

Oh Baby! || Week 18

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There's no way this grin is coming off of my face this week as I hold in the #hardestkeptsecret! Yesterday, husband and I found out the gender of our sweet babe, and oh my word how it makes all of this that much more real. Our dreams of this baby have become more specific, and in one instant our entire lives changed. It was the best! And don't worry, I'll let you in on the secret shortly, but first we're throwing a party to share the news with family and friends! Then it's your turn! So now's the time to cast your final baby Hill a girl or a boy?!

How far along? in my 18th week

Baby's Size: A sweet potato || about 5.6 inches and about 6.7 ounces 

Gender: We know! We know! But our lips are sealed for now! 

Baby Fact: Little one is yawning, hiccuping, sucking, and swallowing. Not to mention, baby is moving up a storm! Dance party in the womb, I tell you!

Weight Gain: Two pounds as of my doctor visit last week. 

Baby's Movement: I felt my sweet baby move a week ago today! I was laying half on my stomach/side, settling in for the night, when I felt a very consistent kicking. And since then I've felt more and more movement. It's an incredible feeling, and one I don't think I'll ever quite be able to describe. When we saw baby Hill on the ultrasound yesterday, he/she was moving and shaking. Really, baby was all over. There were some squats going on, lots of kicks, and some Jesus-praising arms in the air. So wild. I can't wait until the movements become strong enough for husband to feel too!

Maternity Clothes: Yes, indeedy. The bump is growing bigger by the week and needs the extra room that maternity clothes offer.

Sleep: It's been interesting in the last week. I don't feel like I'm hitting my REM cycle at night. Hopefully, that will change. And let's not forget the bathroom breaks in the middle of the night/sometime early morning (I never look at the clock to check).

Symptoms: Headaches and heartburn, check. Occasionally, there's some lightheadedness.

Cravings: Water is high on my priority list. And recently I've had quite the affinity for chewy candy....think airheads, chewy sweetarts, etc. 

Miss Anything? Fitting into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

Best Moment This Week: Finding out babe's gender and seeing his/her sweet self on the ultrasound!

Worst Moment This Week: Trying to keep the gender secret! I didn't expect it to be so hard! 

Looking Forward To: Our gender reveal party on Saturday!

How's Husband? He's over the moon. Both of us are. Husband is just so sweet with all of this, and I love seeing the pregnancy through his eyes. He may not be carrying our baby, but he's just as involved with the whole process and tries to make sure he's meeting my needs in all of these changes. He really is going to be the best daddy!

In case you missed: 

Cranberry Pistachio Bark

Monday, July 27, 2015
Can we all take a moment to oggle over the goodness that is sweets?! This weekend husband and I kept it low key. Part of the no-agenda weekend involved some sweet and short time in the kitchen. And that resulted in this Cranberry Pistachio Bark for two! 

No need to keep you waiting, let's dive right into this easy and simple recipe, which happens to be perfect for when that sweet tooth is calling. 

  • What You'll Need
    • 4.4 oz Lindt white chocolate bar
    • 1/4 cup de-shelled pistachios
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • What You'll Do
    • Line a small dish with wax paper. Set it aside.
    • Start by taking the pistachios out of their shells and measuring out the amount you need. Then chop them up. I did this in a food processor. If you do use a food processor, make sure not to turn the nuts to dust. 
    • Break the white chocolate up into pieces, then microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH in a microwave safe bowl. Stir. Put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Stir and repeat this process until the chocolate has melted. 
    • Add in almost all of the pistachios and cranberries, leaving some set aside to sprinkle the top with.
    • Stir the chocolate, nuts, and cranberries well. Then spoon into the prepared dish. Spread the chocolate mixture out evenly.
    • With the remaining pistachios and cranberries, sprinkle the top of the chocolate.
    • Cover the dish with a lid and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
    • Once the chocolate has set, remove it from the dish, peel back the wax paper, and break into the desired pieces.
    • Enjoy and store in the fridge. 

**This recipe is for two people. Double the recipe accordingly. 

With minimal time spent in the kitchen, you end up with a tasty treat giving you just the right smoothness and crunch! I hope you find your Monday going swell! At this moment, it's safe to say that husband and I are over the moon. Can you guess why?! ;)

Thoughts For Friday + The Pick: Week 29

Friday, July 24, 2015
Sleepy is my middle name friends! This week has been one very tiring stretch of seven days, and I'm not too sure what's to blame. Maybe baby is growing?? Either way, I've fought sleep all week long, and when I can squeeze a nap in or am down for the night, I still can't seem to get enough energy stored up. It's insanity I tell you. 

I'll be kicking this weekend off with a prenatal massage (hallelujah!), followed up with a date with husband (hard to believe those are limited; t-minus 5 months!), and plans to sleep in tomorrow morning because this weekend has no agenda. 

Do you know what makes this weekend extra special?? It's the last weekend we won't know if we're expecting a son or a daughter! I can't believe we've gotten to this point in the pregnancy already, but husband and I are thrilled to find out the news so soon. What do you think we're having??

via \\ via \\ via \\ via 

T H I N K I N G  > About fall fabrics to recover my pillows in. Like I shared in yesterday's post, I've decided to make covers for the pillows on my bed; and now I've decided to make some for those in my living room as well. And yesterday I feel hard for some plaid flannel I found at the local fabric store. Husband and I are going back to day to make some selections, and I can't wait!  

P O N D E R I N G > If this babe is a boy or a girl! We find out next week and it's going to change life forever, in the best kind of way! 

N E E D I N G > A good mani and pedi!

D O I N G > Baking this weekend is on the agenda. I haven't' baked in what feels like eons. I'm very much looking forward to my time in the kitchen.

D R E A M I N G > I've got fall on the brain, ain't (sorry for using that word, Mama) no if, ands, or buts about it. And I find myself decorating my home in my head for the best season of all. You better believe that I'll be fall-orizing by mid-August. And I'm falling hard (pun intended) for a rust orange + turquoises combo.  #noshame   #fallismyjam

S W O O N I N G > Over the new baby clothes I scored a couple of weeks ago while Gap was having a great sale. They are all gender-neutral pieces, and I'm so looking forward to a sweet, chunky baby being in them!

I hope your weekend is as relaxed and laid-back as ours is going to be! See you all on Monday with my weekend baking recipe! Leave your thoughts on baby Hill being a boy or a girl in the comments!! xo

 follow along with our weekend on Instagram @astleigh_hill
and stay up to date with posts by liking the blog's Facebook page
or subscribe via email to be updated every time I post (see the sidebar)

Lastly, 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.

Home Tour || The Master Bedroom & Bath

Thursday, July 23, 2015
And so the home tour continues, this time in one of our favorite spots, the master suite! This space really reflects our style, and in putting it all together, we knew we wanted it to be our cozy oasis. This room has changed the most since we first moved in. We upgraded from a queen bed to king (best decision ever!), swapped out my college dresser for two new dressers (poor husband had to use the dresser in the guest room until then), and bits of accent décor have rotated in and out. 

We're super happy with how the space is currently and love sitting up here with our windows open. One recent swap we made, was to tuck our duvet away and use a quilt. We went this route for a couple of reasons....first so we didn't wear our duvet out because we love it and it's going on two years old....second because we wanted something lighter in the warmer months. 

We've been really pleased with the quilt and its lightness. Choosing navy fit into our already existing color palette, and would also be great for matching new colors we may introduce. Such as in the fall, when I plan to make some temporary pillow covers to cover our current pillows. Because we all know I'm obsessed with fall, and this year, I'm bringing the fall love to the master!

The master will stay as is with the exception of new pillow coverings and a shelf we are going to build and mount under the television (you know to hide the cords and and have a place for the DVD player). So welcome to our master suite, have a look around! 

My large frame is in need of a big print, but I can't commit to anything in particular. Maybe I'll make something and change it seasonally. I'm still not quite sure. In the smaller frame is a Bible verse that brought us a lot of comfort during our miscarriage. It's a sweet reminder of our first baby as well as the love and faithfulness of the Lord. 

This little nook in the corner of the room is one of my favorite spots. I'm on the hunt for a new ottoman to put here, and think I've found it. The only trouble is getting husband to agree to it :) 

With our new dressers, there is new space for decorative accents, and you better believe that I'm all about that. I'll be changing these out seasonally too, adding the flair of the holidays too. 

So if you've been a reader here long enough, then you know I've got a thing for accent pillows. Like I mentioned before I'll be recovering some of these for a fall look. I'm thinking this weekend will be good for some fabric scouting. 

Our master suite also boasts a bathroom and walk-in closet. While the bathroom is small, it's such a luxury having a bathroom in our room. We're content with it, and are thankful for our own bathroom space that doesn't get shared. We've been fortunate to find extra storage for the space that fits, and all in all husband and I have made the little space really work for us. 

That's our master suite in a nutshell! We've turned it into our little space with a comfy and cozy vibe. If there is anything you see and want to know where it's from just send me an email [] or leave a comment and I'll get back to you!

And you can see the other parts of the home tour series here:

Oh Baby! || Week 17

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ya'll I'm getting antsy to meet this baby! And I've still got over half of this pregnancy left! A new thing this week is starting our baby registry, and that's been a lot of fun! We're also finding it a bit daunting, hoping not to leave something off of the list. What were your must have items??

How far along? in my 17th week

Baby's Size: An onion || about 5.1 inches and about 5.9 ounces (baby is starting to put on some weight!)

Gender: Next week at this time I'll know!! But, I won't be telling quite yet. Not until after our gender reveal party with family and friends. Husband and I have no preference on gender, truth be told. We just want a healthy babe! But just so you know, I think it's a boy. 

Baby Fact: Our little babe can hear us and all the other things going on around him/her. 

Weight Gain: I've dropped a pound. After today's appointment with the baby doctor, I'll have a better idea of how my scale reads compared to theirs. 

Baby's Movement: Still nothing for certain. Occasionally, I question what that random feeling in my belly is, but nothing has made feel like I've definitely felt this little one's movements yet.  

Maternity Clothes: Gap had a great sale going, so I snagged some pieces that were at a great price. I'm slowly transitioning into more maternity wear as the belly gets bigger. 

Sleep: It's not too bad this week. Potty breaks are still an every night ritual.

Symptoms: Headaches and heartburn are lingering, but that's what I've got Tylenol and TUMS for! Stretching in my belly is also causing me some discomfort on occasion. 

Cravings: Still crazy thirsty over here! Another addition to my cravings has been Lay's baked bbq chips. Carbonated beverages is still high on the list, along with icy treats.

Miss Anything? Laying on my belly is just about out of the question. And I really love laying on my belly at night.  

Best Moment This Week: It will be getting to hear baby's heartbeat at our doctor appointment this morning. 

Worst Moment This Week: Nothing really to report here. Life has been good and the second trimester is treating me swell!   

Looking Forward To: Knowing if our sweet babe is a girl or a boy! I can't believe we've made it to this point, and in less than a week the rest of our lives will change!! Will the Hills be having a daughter or a son?!

How's Husband? Now that baby can hear, he has been talking a lot more to him/her. And he is just as excited to find out the gender too. Husband thinks boy as well. So needless to say if this sweet babe is a girl, we'll both be surprised and pleasantly so!

In case you missed: 

Not Your Mama's Zucchini Cake

Monday, July 20, 2015
What better way to welcome Monday than with dessert! Today I'm sharing a homemade favorite that I've been making during the summer for years. But, I can't share this recipe without telling a little story first....

The summer that husband I met, I made this chocolate zucchini cake with a chocolate coffee drizzle and brought it to work as a treat to share with co-workers. I might have mostly brought it to impress him, but that's beside the point especially since it didn't work. When I handed him a slice of my cake (remind you I was quite proud of it), he took the first bite and followed it up with, "This isn't how my mom makes it."

I kid you not, those were his exact words. Later (months later) he cleared it up by explaining his mother's version of a zucchini dessert was more like zucchini bread without the chocolate. Husband insisted though, that he loved my version. Clearly, I forgave him, we married, lived happily ever after, and every single time I make this cake I remind him of this story :) 

Baking has always been one of my passions. Every summer my aunt grows a garden with excessively large zucchini, which my parents end up inheriting. That's how the tradition of making this Chocolate Zucchini Cake with a Chocolate Coffee Drizzle began. 

  • What You'll Need
    • For the Cake
      • 2 cups grated zucchini (peel it first)
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
      • 1 3/4 cup sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 1/2 cup oil
      • 1 TSP vanilla
      • 1 stick of butter
      • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
      • 4 TBSP cocoa powder 
      • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 TSP baking powder
      • 1 TSP baking soda
      • 1 TSP salt

    • For the Drizzle
      • 1/2 a stick of butter
      • 1 cup powdered sugar
      • 1 TSP vanilla
      • 2 TSP cocoa powder
      • 1 TSP ground coffee
      • 1-2 TSP milk

  • What You'll Do
    • For the Cake
      • Start off by making homemade buttermilk. Combine the milk and lemon juice, stir well, and set aside for 15 minutes. 
      • While waiting for the buttermilk, peel the zucchini and then grate it until you have two cups worth. Set aside.
      • In a saucepan on the stove top, melt the butter. Once it has melted, add the chocolate chips and stir.
      • When the chocolate chips have completely melted, add the cocoa powder and stir until well combined. Take off the stove top and set aside to cool until slightly warm. 
      • In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix together and then add the warm chocolate sauce.
      • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir well, then add to the wet mixture. 
      • Once the batter is well combined, fold in the zucchini. You can add nuts if you prefer at this step as well. 
      • Grease a pan (I used a large circular pan, but you can use a bundt too) by spraying it with cooking grease, then making sure the surface is floured. 
      • Bake the cake at 325° for 50 to 60 minutes. 
      • Check the cake to make sure it is cooked through by inserting a toothpick. Begin doing this around the 40 minute mark. Take it out before it becomes dry. 
      • Let the cake cool and then drizzle with the chocolate coffee mixture.

    • For the Drizzle
      • Melt the butter in a small bowl. 
      • Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined. 
      • Next add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Stir well.
      • Add the coffee grounds and again make sure to mix until thoroughly combined.
      • Add the milk little by little, until you reach the right consistency. You should be able to pick your spoon up out of the mixture and have a smooth (but not too runny) drizzle cascading down. 

And there you have it, a Chocolate Zucchini Cake that's certainly not your mama's! What kind of goodies do you make from garden fresh zucchini??