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Friday, July 31, 2015

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies.


{via}


Y'all. These cookies. I can't even type because I'm eating my 4th one. For breakfast. 

I kid not.

They are THAT good! 

These Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies are loaded to the brim with goodies...semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, and cocoa nibs. Before you even think about omitting the cocoa nibs, just don't. Run to Whole Paycheck Whole Foods and grab you some. Or order them online here, at Amazon. (Those are the exact brand I used.) The cocoa nibs don't add any sweetness, but they add this fantastic crunch to the cookie that MAKES the cookie! Trust me. 

I used 2 different methods since I didn't have the cookie scoop that the recipe called for: a small scoop, which made the cookies turn out thin and very chewy - definitely smaller than the picture above. Then I used this method on "How to Scoop the Perfect Cookie" and those turned out as big as the picture above but still thin and chewy...which is ok with me, because this makes them heavenly! 

Make them and see for yourself... You will love them!

AMAZING MOCHA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
recipe adapted from here

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tbs espresso powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened 
1 c granulated sugar
1 c firmly packed brown sugar 
2 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee or coffee extract (I used coffee)
1 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 1/2 c milk chocolate chips
1 c cocoa nibs
1 tbs sea salt (I love Maldon!)


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and coffee extract, beating to combine. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks, chocolate morsels, and cocoa nibs.
  4. Using a 1 3/4-inch spring-loaded scoop, scoop dough onto prepared pans 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days.




Here are some other cookie recipes I love:
Orange Chocolate Chippers
Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
No-Bake Biscoff Cookies
Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies 
Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Salads.

{Watermelon + Feta Cheese + Jalapeno + Mint + Lime Juice}

My friends and family all know that I am not a big salad eater. Especially as a meal on its own. I just don't get excited about salad for a meal, when there's so many other more exciting and healthy options out there. My tune changes in the summer, though! Throwing light and delicious fresh produce together becomes one of my favorite things to do! Here are some of my favorite salad recipes for summer...enjoy them on their own, paired with a piece of grilled chicken (using this recipe), or as a side dish. I would love to hear what your favorite summer salads are, in the comments! Enjoy!

-The one pictured above is my current fave: watermelon, feta cheese, jalapeno, fresh mint, and lime juice. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Also good if you had thinly sliced red onion! Another version of this salad that I make a lot is the Blueberry Watermelon and Feta Salad.  

-Heirloom Tomato Salad w/Fresh Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Pecans - This is the salad that is pictured below. It happens to be my favorite summer salad, hands down! I've made this too many times to count! You don't have to get fancy and use heirloom tomatoes, although it is beautiful when you do. Use any ripe tomato that you have, and it will turn out delicious! 

- Tomato Avocado Cucumber Chick Pea Salad with Feta and Greek Lemon Dressing - This is a new recipe that I've just discovered, but I can tell it will be a staple! I love the fresh, bright flavors of this salad! I served it at a get together I had last weekend, and everyone loved it... even the non chick pea lovers! Here's a tip: If you plan to make and save this for later, or make a big batch and eat it throughout the week, don't add the avocados until you are ready to serve. 

-Grilled Peach Salad w/Buffalo Mozzarella and Arugula - I've blogged about this little gem before! It's a summer favorite for my family! It's so easy to put together and looks very impressive on a large platter for a get together! 

- Peach & Tomato Salad from the New York Times 101 Simple Salads post. (You guys must read that post! Many great salad ideas are shared!) I've made this salad so many times since reading that post. It's just so simple, yet tasty! I 

-I know most of you are pressed for time in the morning. I am always running late, so here's a quick summer salad recipe that I make for myself a lot: half a can of chick peas (rinsed and drained), big handful of cherry tomatoes (cut in half), half a cucumber (chopped). It's so good just like that...and very healthy! Depending on how much time I have, I will also add chopped red onion, squeeze of lemon, a couple shakes of balsamic vinegar, and a little feta cheese. It's takes 2 minutes to throw together and doesn't require any cooking! You have fresh veggies and protein in the chick peas for a well-rounded meal! That same salad is great if you have left over grilled chicken to sub for the chick peas! 

**One other little tip I wanted to share: I've been adding fresh herbs to my salads this summer, and it makes SUCH a difference! My favorites to add are mint and basil! 










Sunday, June 7, 2015

Honey Almond Coconut Oil Granola

{My Sunday morning view}


I feel like I am always saying this…. but sorry for my long blogging absence! I always feel so badly when I fall off the face of the blogging world, I really do! I've kept up with my Gratitude Project in the "Notes" app on my iPhone, and I will be continuing that very soon here on my blog. I was craving an acai bowl this morning, and I wanted granola on top of it, so I whipped up this delicious little dime of a recipe! It's good and healthy, too, so don't feel bad grabbing handfuls of this once it has cooled off like I did! I also love this on top of Greek yogurt! Enjoy the recipe, and let me know if you make it! Happy Cooking!






Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered or diced almonds
1 cup raw cashews, chopped (Just ran my knife through them for a rough chop)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened but you can use whatever you like!) 

1-2 tbs chia seeds (optional)1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used Maldon… it's my favorite!) 
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries or apricots (you can get creative here… I used cranberries) 

Sprinkle of cinnamon 


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Combine the oats, nuts, coconut, chia seeds (if using), and whatever dried fruit you are using.  In a smaller bowl, combine maple syrup, honey, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures, and pour onto 2 baking sheets covered in parchment paper. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and let cool.

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Protein Bars.


In my quest to eat healthy, the thing that always trips me up is what to have for an afternoon snack. I try to stick with something full of protein, for sure. When I found this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Protein Bars, I knew I had to try them! The original recipe was a little dry, so I added almond milk to make it just perfect! I absolutely love these bars for a quick, take-anywhere snack! Here is the recipe:

APPLE CINNAMON PROTEIN BARS

  1. Spray an 8x8 Pyrex dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine protein powder, almond meal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk together and set aside.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine egg whites, stevia or honey, almond milk, cottage cheese and vanilla. Whisk until well incorporated and then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix again.
  3. Fold in grated apple and mix until combined.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins, until completely done. Test to see if they are done by sticking a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, they are done! If there is wet batter on the toothpick, stick them back in the oven for a few minutes. It always takes mine 30-35 mins to get completely done. To stop the top from browning as much, cover with foil. There are 64 calories and 8 grams of protein per square!

I have another variation that I will share later! SO GOOD! This is my new favorite afternoon or pre-workout snack! Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Gratitude Project.


{Happy Easter!}


1. My Grandmother's 92nd Birthday -    92. Just stop and think about that number for a second…The number "92" has a lot behind it. In my grandmother's case, she has a lot of life-well-lived behind that number. She has a lot of wonderful, special memories behind that number. And most importantly, she has created a legacy in those 92 years that will live on for generations to come! I'm so thankful for her, and for the immense amount of love she shows me on a daily basis! I'm grateful she taught me how to make biscotti. I'm grateful she taught me how to sew on a button. I'm grateful for all the things she taught my mother because now I'm learning those things, too. I'm grateful that she calls my voicemail and leaves sweet voicemails ending with "Love, Mom." Just like you would when you write a letter. So cute! I'm grateful for many more things regarding her and our relationship, and thank the Lord for blessing her (and us) with 92 years on this earth!

2. Easter - This is a given, of course, but I wanted to mention what a blessed day I had! For starters, it was beautiful outside! Our church service just blew me away. The music was incredibly moving, which is my favorite part of worship, and the message hit me to my core. What an overwhelming amazing gift we were given on that day! Now THAT is something to be grateful for!

3. The color green - As in grass, trees, and all the beautiful things sprouting up from the ground now that Spring is here! This might seem random, but it is indeed something I am grateful to see and experience on a daily basis. In 2012, we spent February - April in Arizona. Spring was in full-force when we arrived, but all I saw was brown. Brown houses, brown rooftops, brown yards (most people have loose rocks in their front yards). I saw very little springtime color that spring…. Until I arrived in Tennessee a week into April. A friend picked me up from the airport, and on the way home I couldn't get over how green everything was! It was EVERYWHERE! I couldn't believe how something I usually take for granted - and something so simple - was that beautiful to see! My friend looked at me like I was crazy, because of course, this beauty had been unfolding around her all month long. She was used to it. You don't remember how beautiful spring can be when you're gone for so long. This year, I look out my car window while driving and see vibrant green everywhere I look. It's the little things in life, but this "little" thing is all around us. And I happen to be very grateful to see and experience it!

4. Opening Day of Baseball - I would not be being true to myself -or this blog- if I did not add this one today. Today, April 6th, is MLB's Opening Day. As you can imagine, the past 24 hours have been emotional ones in our house. One year ago, I would NOT have been able to add this to a "Gratitude Project" list. Truth be told (and where else than my very own blog can I be 100% truthful, bad or good)  I am just now able to be comfortable adding it today…but still have a long way to go until I'm truly THERE. That being said, I am grateful for days like today because of what it gave my husband… and indirectly, what it gave me. My friend posted a "Happy Opening Day" quote on Facebook page, and I will leave that below for you to read. It sums up how my husband felt about playing baseball, and I guess the purpose of adding this to the list today is how grateful I am not for baseball itself but for the opportunities it gives people… mostly importantly, the opportunity it gave my husband to have a lifelong dream come TRUE!





Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Gratitude Project.







{My view this past Sunday!}

Sorry I'm a day late with this post, but better late than never... right??

1. Weather above 70 degrees! I know I've already mentioned nice weather on here, but WOW... I would be crazy if I didn't mention the gorgeous weather we had on Sunday! I spent the majority of the day outside with friends, and it could not have been a more perfect day! I was in constant praise to the good Lord for blessing us with a day like this after cold snowy weather, followed by what seemed like nonstop rain. My mood was light, and there was a smile on my face the whole day. I am so, so happy to see the first signs of Spring and good weather coming our way!

2. My Bed - Last night, after a long day and a hard workout, I all but ran to my bed right after dinner. Maybe it was because I was so tired, but I melted into the sheets and really noticed how wonderful my bed is. I stopped for a moment to say a quick "thank you prayer" that I even have a bed...and that it is so gloriously comfortable. I know many people in this world do not have a soft, warm place to lay their head at night, and I am truly grateful that I do. When my mind is in a place of gratitude, I become grateful for the smallest things. Things I might not even think I need to be thankful for... but I am. My bed is one of them because it is a place I feel safe, calm, and rested.

3. Golf - I cannot believe I just wrote that. If you know my husband, DO NOT tell him I said that!! HA!  He thinks I am not too fond of golf, and the truth is...I'm not, but not in the way you're thinking. Chris loves to play golf. "Love" might not even be a strong enough word for it. He would do it all day every day if someone would pay him let him. In an attempt to spend more time with him, I tried to learn a couple of years ago. I am a realist, though, so let's just say the game of golf isn't for me. However, I am thankful for golf because it has led him to make many, many great friends. In turn, I have met several of those friends and their wives or significant others, and they have become my friends, as well. You really get to know someone riding alongside them for 18 holes, and I am thankful God has placed so many amazing people in the cart next to him. Having moved here from CA, he didn't have a big base of friends, so it's been a great way for him to make lifelong friendships...and get me a couple in the process, too!


Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Favorites: Smoothies.

One of my favorite things to make is a healthy smoothie. You can get creative and throw just about anything you have in the blender, which helps clean out your fridge and freezer AND keeps you healthy on the go! They are great for a quick make-and-go breakfast in the morning (especially if you're the type of person who always runs late), afternoon snack, or my favorite…a pre or post workout snack.

My secret is that I keep a variety of frozen fruits and veggies in my freezer at all times. That way when the urge for a smoothie hits, I'm always prepared! I always have frozen bananas in a big zip lock bag. This is a big help to me when I'm in a hurry and wanting to make a protein shake or smoothie. Bananas are great for texture and help add a natural sweetness to the smoothie. I buy a big bunch of bananas, let them get rip, peel them, and then cut them in half before freezing. I also have frozen blueberries, strawberries, mango, and pineapple at all times.

Another tip? I freeze my greens! Back in the baseball days, when I would leave for weeks at a time, I would hate for the greens left in the refrigerator to go to waste. I would end up throwing them in the freezer to use later, and they always kept so well! I wouldn't cook with them again, but using them frozen was perfect for smoothies. So now, I always keep a bag of spinach, kale, and romaine in the freezer. That way I know I always have fresh greens ready to go! This is always a great thing to do if you notice any of your produce starting to go bad and know you won't use it in time… just stick it in the freezer!

Here are some of my favorite recipes:


Decadent Dark Chocolate Chia Seed Smoothie
*Good for breakfast, dessert, or post workout*
- 1 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
- 2 c kale or spinach (fresh or frozen)
- half a banana (you can use the whole banana if you want more sweetness)
- 4 dates, pitted 
- 2 tbs chia seeds
- 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Dark Chocolate)
- 1 c Ice
-Optional: 1 packet of Truvia 
-Optional: Chocolate Protein Powder (I like added this post workout)


****************************************************************************

Berry Mint Kiss 
From Goop:
-1 c coconut water
-1 c almond milk
-1 c frozen pineapple 
-1 c frozen blueberries 
-1/2 c fresh mint leaves 
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1 tbs coconut oil 
-4-6 drops of stevia (optional)

******************************************************************************

Chocolate PB Smoothie 
-1 c unsweetened almond milk
-2 c spinach
-half frozen banana (can use a whole one here, too)
-1/2 Bartlett pear
-2 tbs natural peanut butter
-2 tbs unsweetened cocoa 
-1 c ice
Optional: Add chocolate protein powder
Blend everything until smooth. 

*******************************************************************************

Pineapple Mojito Smoothie
Serves 2 
-2 c kale 
-2 c coconut water 
-3 c pineapple 
-1/4 c fresh mint leaves 
-Juice of 1 lime 

*******************************************************************************

Green Protein Smoothie
-2 cups baby spinach
-1 cup water
-1.5 cups pineapple, frozen
-1/2 small banana, frozen
-1/2 cup Greek yogurt
-2 tsp honey
-Blend spinach and water first then add everything else. 

*******************************************************************************

Here are some other ones I love:


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Gratitude Project.


{From my mother's surprise 60th Birthday this past weekend!}

{The theme was "Cooking Up a 60th" so we had this cake made for the occasion!}

{We pulled it off!}

{Birthday girl with The Harper side!}

{Birthday girl with The Osborne side!}

{Mom & her sweet college roommates}


1. My mother's birthday! On Saturday my sweet mother turned 60! My dad and I planned a surprise party for her, which we pulled off beautifully, if I do say so myself! So the #1 thing I am grateful for this week is my mother and her 60 years on this earth. It's such a comforting feeling to be surrounded by people who love your mother so much, and that's exactly how Saturday night's party was. I am grateful beyond words for her and everything she has taught me, given me, and done for me. She is truly the most generous, faithful, and selfless women I have ever known! I feel blessed to have had such a shining example of a mother, wife, and friend. When I open my mouth to speak, when I look in the mirror every day, and when I meet people who knew her as a child and young woman, I am reminded that, thankfully, I AM MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER!

2. My sensitivity - I am very sensitive. People who know me well (or anyone that attended my wedding or bridal showers) know how sensitive and emotional I am. I was reminded of that this weekend at my mother's birthday party. We did a little "roast" on her that evening, and since there's hardly anything to "roast" her about, it ended up being a sweet and emotional tribute to her. Of course, I said something. And of course... I cried. No surprise there. I used to be very embarrassed of that quality and hated that I couldn't talk about anything near and dear to me without becoming a red-faced puddle of tears. Even as a young girl, I couldn't get up and speak about my parents or family without crying. At church every Mother's and Father's Day, kids could get up and read letters they wrote to their parents. When I was younger, I would always write a "thank you" letter to my parents and get up in front of the whole congregation and read them. One after the other, kids would get up and nicely (and audibly) read the touching letters to their mother or father. Then I came up to the podium…. and cried my way through my letters. Every. Single. Year. It embarrassed me until I got older and realized it is just WHO I AM. My grandfather was very emotional his whole life, always speaking from the heart and shedding a few tears in the process. As a result, my mother is also very emotional. There wasn't a morning growing up that she didn't cry after reading our devotional around the breakfast table. I guess all those mornings rubbed off on me, because now I, too, am emotional. At 32 years old, I am finally ok with that. I know that, if I'm speaking from the heart, to -or about-  those I love…I will cry. I will cry reading and writing birthday cards. I will cry thanking those that have done something special for me. I will cry at movies…and corny Super Bowl commercials. I will cry telling someone how much they mean to me. I will cry reading devotions or touching stories. I will also cry writing this blog post. Because like I said… It's just who I am, and I am very grateful for that.

3. Positive affirmation - I'm human. Of course, I love positive affirmation. I am specifically talking about positive affirmation in terms of my blog and this "Gratitude Project" series I'm doing. I've gotten several texts and emails from friends telling me how much they enjoy it and how it's made them more aware of things in their lives that they are grateful for. I'm thankful for people who go out of their way to tell me those things, because it makes me feel like I'm making a small difference in this world. I draw a lot of inspiration from those around me, so I hope I can do that for others, as well.

4. Safe travels home to West TN - This might seem like a given, but I am so grateful for safety and traveling grace on our trips home to West TN. We've been home a lot since the holidays, and the trip this weekend was particularly nerve-racking due to all the pot-holes and road damage on the Interstate. I think there are still nail marks on the passenger seat in my husband's car because I was so nervous going home this past weekend!! I'm grateful for safe travels on those special trips home!


{via}

{I felt this quote was a perfect one in honor of my mom (and my dad, too!) for her birthday week.}



Friday, February 27, 2015

LLIA Favorites: Eye Shadow

It's no secret that I love makeup. I remember when Sephora first opened,  I was in college, and it was an online website only at that time. (I'm aging myself, I realize this) My dad would see my debit card statements and ask, "Lindsay…what is Se….phor….a?" GULP. I love it all! A few weeks ago, I shared my favorite blushes. I got some requests to do a post on my favorite eye shadows, and this post is one that I am SO excited about! Besides lipsticks, eye shadows are my favorite thing to buy experiment with! Read below to see my all-time favorites, and please share your favorites with me in the comment section!


 MAC's All That Glitters Shadow - Let me start be saying this: This shadow DOES NOT have any glitter in it. I have no idea why they named the shadow that, but I can assure you, this is not some glittery eye shadow you used circa 1985. It is the most beautiful peachy-nude shade with a bit of a sheen to it, which gives the eyes/skin this incredible glow! It is my ALL.TIME.FAVORITE! I get SO many compliments when I wear this eye shadow! It's the perfect nude for any skin type, and it looks good all year long, whether I have a tan or not. All That Glitters is one of my holy-grail products, for sure! This is the shadow I use pretty much on a daily basis, along with black liner and mascara. I tend to run late a lot all the time, and this shadow is so easy to swipe on and go! I do use an eye shadow base/primer to ensure the color stays on all day. Another reason I love using a primer is to make sure the color goes on the eye exactly how it looks in the pot. 


Top to Bottom: Maybelline Color Tattoo Pot in Barely Branded; MAC Rubenesque; MAC Painterly

My favorite eye shadow bases/primers are MAC's Paint Pot in Painterly, Bare Study, and Rubenesque. I've recently discovered a cheaper alternative for MAC's Bare Study: Maybelline Color Tattoo Pot in Barely Branded. It's the one I use the most now. Looks great under any eye shadow! I also love Urban Decay's Eye Shadow Primer Potion.


MAC's Amber Lights Shadow - This is another must-have eye shadow for me! I love the beautiful coppery/bronze color alone or mixed with MAC's Coppering shadow for a more bold metallic eye! This shadow is pretty on anyone, but it looks especially good on blue eyes. Orange is opposite blue on the color wheel, so it makes blue eyes pop! {Tip: If you want to find colors to compliment your eyes, look at the color wheel and see what is directly across from your eye color!}


{My Woodwinked is almost gone, so I found this picture online here.}

MAC's Woodwinked Shadow - Besides All That Glitters shadow, this shadow is the one I use the most. I loooooove it! The makeup artist that did my wedding makeup used this on me, and I fell in love with the soft bronze color! It's so easy to wear! It looks like a nude bronze shadow, if that makes sense. It's not overwhelming or hard to wear at all. I love putting Maybelline Color Tattoo pot in "Bad to the Bronze" on first, then putting Woodwinked over it and lining my eyes with MAC Teddy Eye Liner. So pretty and easy... and lasts all day! That paint pot is another must-have for me. It looks good all alone, too, for days you want to have a little color on the eyes. This is another eye shadow look that I throw on when I'm running late because it requires no thought, and you don't have to be precise when putting on the eye liner! 


{I couldn't get a good picture of the actual color, so I found this one online here. There's also a great swatch of Tan next to MAC's Woodwinked and All That Glitters on that site, if you want to see them next to each other!}

MAC "Tan" Pigment: I use this beautiful rose gold pigment all year long, but it looks especially good during the summer when I have a tan! I love this color all over the lid, worn alone, with just mascara! I also wear it a lot with Bobbi Brown's shadows in "Toast" and "Camel" in the crease. When doing this look, I put the Tan pigment all over, then put "Toast" in the crease, then layer "Camel" on top of it. (see colors below) 


{Bobbi Brown eye shadows. L to R: Bone, Toast, Camel}
{These are great everyday colors, too! Use "Bone" as a brow highlight!}


{MAC Shadows L to R: Folie, Saddle, and Antiqued}

These shadows are proof I use colors other than nude and bronze! I love these all on their own or mixed! My favorite look to do with these 3 shadows:
1. Put an eye shadow base down. (I use MAC's Constructivist or Maybelline's Bad to the Bronze)
2. With a flat eye shadow brush, pat Folie all over the lid, up to the crease. But no higher than that!
3. Take a fluffy eye shadow brush and put Saddle in the crease and buff it out really well.
4. With the same flat eye shadow brush as before, gently tap Folie just in the center of the eye lid.
5. Line your eyes with any liner in brown and black! Add mascara!


{Left: MAC's Coppering; Right: MAC's Mythology}

I just had to include these two. I don't wear them alone, but mixed with other things, they look great! For example, as I mentioned above, I love mixing "Coppering" with "Amber Lights" all over the lid with no eye liner! (Looks good with black liner, too, but I like to keep it simple..ish… haha) I've recently been loving to layer "Mythology" over my "All That Glitters."It is SO pretty and just takes the nude color to the next level. 



This $12 beauty has become a new favorite for me! I saw a girl with cool eye shadow one day at the mall, over Christmas. So naturally, I tracked her down and asked her what she had on. She told me about this amazing palette she got on Amazon! The colors are beautiful and richly pigmented! You can create so many different eye looks with this single palette. Instead of going on out buying individual colors, try this instead! You won't be disappointed!  


MY FAVORITE EYELINERS: 

BROWNS:
MAC's "Teddy"
MAC's "Coffee"
MAC's "Costa Riche"

BLACKS:
My fave: L'Oreal Extra Intense eye liner in Carbon Black (super black, stays all day, blends easily!)
Urban Decay's 24/7 eyeliner in "Perversion" (I used to use this one but the above L'Oreal one is even better and cheaper!)
MAC's Fluidline in Blacktrack (This used to be my go-to gel eyeliner, until I found the Maybelline one. Both are great…Maybelline is just cheaper!)
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black

BRONZE:
Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes in 10L Bronze (my favorite eye liner! I use this mostly on my bottom lid and rims for a pop of bronze. I use this a lot when I'm wearing the "All That Glitters" eye shadow with black liner.)


If you want to see better/other pictures of the colors I mentioned in this post, just google the names. There are TONS of pictures and tutorials using these colors and many more. Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Coconut Bliss Balls



I cannot, for the life of me, remember where I got the recipe for these yummy Coconut Bliss Balls! I am always emailing myself recipes and screen shots of things I want to make. I usually add the source of the recipe on the emails, but evidently I was too excited about making these bad boys to include that info. So to whoever made this recipe… THANK YOU! Well-done! I have a serious sweet tooth, and these are the perfect thing for after dinner or a mid-afternoon snack. If you make these, let me know how you like them!


COCONUT BLISS BALLS
Yields 13-16 balls

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raw organic almonds
1 cup fresh Medjool dates (8 dates), pitted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Dark)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt
Optional: chia seeds, cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, diced dried cherries 
(I used 1-2 tbs of chia seeds)

Place almonds, cacao and shredded coconut into a high-speed blender or food processor. Process on high until ingredients are similar to a flour consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on medium to high until fully messed into the dry ingredients. Pour mixture into a bowl. Spoon a tablespoon worth of the mixture in between your hands and roll to form a ball. Mixture will stick together, just keep squeezing and rolling! Repeat until all the mix is used. Roll the balls in extra coconut flakes. Place in the freezer for 1 hour and serve.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Gratitude Project.

{Outdoor lunch in Vegas last week}

What a crazy and fun week this has been! Turning 32…Valentines Day double date with my parents at a winery in West TN…flying to Vegas a day early so we could beat the snow…a snow-filled week in Nashville… Glad to see the snow LEAVE! As a TN native, I can say with complete confidence: snow  isn't something we can deal with  for longer than a day. If it comes and stays, it's a madhouse here. Luckily I missed a lot of that by being in Vegas! Here are the things I am grateful for this week…

1. VEGAS SUNSHINE: When I walked off the plane in Vegas last Sunday, I acted like I hadn't seen sunshine in months. Well, it's probably because I hadn't….  
During my whole trip, I was in a constant state of gratitude for sunshine and the 70 degree weather! The picture above was a day that we enjoyed a 2-hour lunch outside just because it was so beautiful! We couldn't bring ourselves to leave, even though we were done eating. Due to the baseball lifestyle, we were usually gone to FL or AZ by the beginning of February. So I kind of "forgot" how long and cold these couple of months can be. Being here in TN this whole winter,  I was reminded that it's just down-right COLD here during January and February. I was so happy and grateful for sunshine and flip-flops last week! It made such a difference in my mood! Needless to say, I am very ready for spring! 

2. Baseball Friends - I was never the "new kid" in school. I started school in the same town - and with the same people - that I graduated. So the concept of "new kid" was foreign to me… Until I married a baseball player. I hadn't thought too much about that part of my life lately, until a friend from our baseball days posted a picture with me in it for #throwbackthursday. The picture captured 4 friends, smiling widely, at a baseball game. Friends that were complete strangers just weeks before that picture was taken. If you put the baseball world under a microscope, you will find that it's bizarre, hard, and trying. You will also find that it's extremely fun and rewarding. That is because of the people we meet and the friends we make. Each season (and sometimes multiple times during a season), there's a new team and new people to meet. Everyone at some point is "the new kid." I am incredibly thankful for all of the amazing friends I met during that time. Girls that I still keep in contact with today, be it through phone calls, texts, emails, Christmas cards, or even getting together in person when possible! I love each of them for reasons tough to convey on a little ol' blog. God put such amazing women in my life during each baseball season, and even when I was "the new kid," I didn't feel like it for long because of those amazing women from all over this great country.

3. Men & Women Who Serve Our Country: Last night when watching the Oscars, I was really hoping American Snipper would win for Best Picture. Not because the other movies weren't great. Not because the actors in the other movies didn't give incredibly moving performances. But because American Snipper shows the reality of what it's like to truly serve our country (over and over and over again) and the horrors & sacrifices that go along with doing so. I saw the movie and was extremely moved by the bravery of Chris Kyle and ALL the military men and women who serve. I cannot begin to image leaving your spouse, your family, and your home to go to war. It takes bravery beyond belief to serve our country, and last night I was so grateful we have men and women who are doing that right now for YOU and for ME.


{The picture my friend posted of our baseball days in Seattle.}




Monday, February 9, 2015

The Gratitude Project.

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1. Another Birthday - I am so incredibly grateful, thankful, blessed.... you name it!..... that I am here another year on this earth to celebrate turning 32 years old! Birthdays are a true blessing, even though some of us jokingly dread getting older and all that it comes with it. HA! I'm grateful this birthday finds me healthy and able to celebrate with the ones I love. Here's to many more!

2. My In-Laws - There are MANY times throughout my week that I stop and think "My husband is amazing!" A lot of that is because of such wonderful guidance from his parents. Having played baseball in the major leagues, one would have to know that A LOT of time and energy went into helping him get there. Countless hours in the car driving him to and from practice & games....even more hours in the stands watching him play (hello, that's a sacrifice in itself because games last FOR-EV-ER in my opinion!)...constantly encouraging him....instilling in him that dreams DO come true, and anything is possible with hard work and dedication. I love that my husband believes he can do anything he sets is mind to, even the seemingly impossible. I love that he is a good, faithful, generous, goofy man that loves me like crazy and helps me in every way possible. I am grateful he had parents that made him that way because I get to reap the amazing benefits.

3. AAA - Before marrying my husband, I never had AAA. My parents didn't either. I thought it was a waste of money, and when the bill came every year, I would wonder why we pay for this service year after year and never use it.. Recently, after driving back from West TN and getting in late one night, I heard a rush of air coming from one of my tires. I reached my hand down to possibly feel where the air was coming from and felt a huge gash in one of my tires! Of course, Chris wasn't home so I had to deal with it all by myself. (Gasp!) I quickly remember we had AAA, and within an hour my spare tire was put on and all was well. In that moment, late at night, I was grateful for AAA...and grateful we continued to pay that "useless" bill year after year. Trust me, I will be jumping at the chance to get that bill every year from now on! I'm grateful for services like that and people who come to my house late at night to find a helpless woman in need of a tire change!


Monday, February 2, 2015

The Gratitude Project.




1. Girl Time - This past weekend one of my best friends came to town to visit. She needed a little getaway. I don't have 2 children like she does, but I think I was looking forward to her visiting just as much as she was! Maybe for different reasons, haha! I'm thankful for her and our friendship that has lasted close to 15 years! She is super busy, like most women with children and a job, but she still makes the time for herself and for the people she loves. She's one of the kindest people I've ever met, and I am thankful to have met her years ago on a small pageant stage in West Tennessee.

2. My Business, Sidney Clark Designs - About a year ago, I started a business with my mother and aunt. I had been wanting to do it for a long time, but the baseball lifestyle and all the traveling didn't bode well for an online clothing business. Once Chris retired, we promptly started the business and haven't looked back. As all of the spring clothes start to arrive, my entryway is filled with boxes, papers, and pretty clothing. It gets me so excited to see it all, but mostly I am grateful for this opportunity because it has been a bright spot in my everyday life this past year. I really love doing this and helping women dress and feel good about themselves. This business and its timing has been an amazing blessing to me, this past year and every day since.

3. Grandparents - On February 5th, it will have been one year since I lost my grandfather. There has not been one single day this whole year that has gone by that I have not thought about him. And missed him. Thinking about that fact, though, I am incredibly grateful that I got to have 30 years with all 4 of my grandparents! What a blessing! I don't know many people my age that can say that, and it's not something I take lightly. I'm grateful I can still enjoy them in my adult years, and I really enjoy learning about the people they were before they had kids. I encourage you to spend time with your grandparents because as we all know, they will not always be here with you. I cherish those times and memories!




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl Recipes.

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Happy Saturday friends! I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes with you guys that would be perfect for tomorrow's Super Bowl festivities! Enjoy!


Super Bowl Soup

Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread - SO good! The guys loved this when I made it last year!

Ham & Cheese Sliders (Always popular!)

Captain Rodney's Dip (my #1 requested appetizer...everyone loves this!)

Sweet BBQ Meatballs (super easy; follow this recipe or do what I do: one jar of grape jelly and one jar of cocktail sauce for every bag of frozen meatballs used...easy and so tasty!)

Pecan, Brown Sugar, and Kahlua Baked Brie (My favorite!)

White Pizza Dip (I'm trying this recipe out this year!)

Beer Cheese Buffalo Chicken Dip

Drunken Salami

Sausage Crescent Bites

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Wings

Hot Corn Dip


Don't forget about the sweets!

Kahlua Brownies

Salted Fudge Brownies (These are a classic in our house!)

Cowboy Bark (the copycat recipe from Trader Joe's)

Scotcheroos

Better Than Sex Chex Mix (Oh la la!)

My Favorite Trail Mix (I love putting out something like this so people can grab a hand-full when they walk by! It always disappears!)

No-Bake Biscoff Cookies (Chris' favorite)

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Gratitude Project.



1. FaceTime - If it seems odd that I'm listing this one first, let me explain. I met Chris, my now-husband, in July 2007. From that day on, until right this moment, we have spent huge amounts of time apart. Sometimes I'm talking different countries! If it weren't for FaceTime, the distance apart would be even more tough! There were times both in 2011 and 2012 that I went 3+ months without seeing him! FaceTime allowed us to not only talk to each other but see each other's faces, expressions, and smiles. It might not seem like something to be thankful for, but when you're thousands of miles apart from each other on a regular basis, it's become something I am incredibly grateful for. Thanks Steve Jobs! ;)

2. Whole Wheat Bread - When my mom used to make my lunches in middle school, I would get so embarrassed when I would pull out my "brown" bread sandwich. Everyone else had a white bread sandwich, but mine was different. When you're in the 5th grade, the LAST thing you want to be is different…that includes what you bring for lunch! (What a change from then until now!) Everyone else had glorious Twinkies and Ding Dongs, and I had a homemade brownie. I thought I was missing out… Until I hit adulthood. I realize now that my mother had homemade snacks for me that were lovingly made and tucked inside my lunchbox for me to find that day. I am grateful for the time she took to make those delicious goodies and for the healthy "brown" bread I had, because it laid the foundation for me to be healthy as an adult. Now I love that "brown" whole-wheat bread and wouldn't have it any other way!

3. Neighbors - While I was home this past weekend, one of my parent's neighbors stopped by with a meal she had made for my mother. As I mentioned before, my mother hasn't been feeling well and hasn't been her usual self lately. Usually one to have an elaborate, home cooked meal every night, she just hasn't had the energy to do so as often. Her neighbor, our friend, knew that and took the time to make a delicious meal for her to enjoy. It was such a blessing to spend time with my mom the whole afternoon, knowing there was a delicious meal already waiting for her/us that evening. Not only was my mom grateful for that love gift, I was, too. I'm grateful that she has such wonderful neighbors that she can call "friends."

4. My Pageant Days - Last night, as I was watching the Miss Universe pageant, I couldn't help but be reminded of my own pageant days. I competed for 4 years, and during that time, I gained so much more than I ever could have imagined! I got a best friend out of the deal (that ended up introducing me to my future husband!), many friends that I still keep up with today, confidence, poise, and interview skills to rival the President's! My parents always kept me in check, saying as long as I did my best, that is all that mattered. I won some… and lost even more, but I am grateful for what my years in pageants taught me: (1.) You win some, you loose some.  (2.) If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  (3.) It's what's on the inside that counts.  Pretty good life-lessons from "beauty pageants," huh?

5. My Husband's Attitude - My husband pulled up to get me at work one day a couple of weeks ago. We were going somewhere where we only needed one car, and he took me to and from work that day. There is a big window in the front of the building, and as he pulled up to get me, he had a huge smile on his face, grandly waving to a couple of us inside. Things have been tough for him this past year, and my friend turned to me and said, "Wow. Look at his smile. He has such a good, positive attitude about life. That's so special, especially after all he's been through." That made me so emotional, because she's right! He has such an incredibly positive outlook on life, and he always seems to be happy. The thing is… 99% of the time, he IS truly happy! Life can certainly challenge us sometimes, and I'm grateful to be married to someone who sees the good and fun in life when it's not so "good" and "fun."

{19 years old…With my parents at the 1st pageant I won that took me to Miss Tennessee}

{Miss TN 2006, with my best friend Erica, right after being called into the Top 10!}

{Backstage at Miss Tennessee, with ladies I still call friends!}

{Evening Gown Competition}

{Absolutely love this. Via}