Wednesday, July 31, 2013

House+Shop Updates {photo gallery wall}

::A house update...
*I have been wanting to make a photo wall foreeeevvvveeeerrrr and finally had the time to do it this summer with the help of my handy husband. I already had the frames bought because I used them at our wedding to display pictures of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day so it was all about finding the right pieces to put in them and figuring out how/where to hang them.

I wanted the wall to be a mixture of artwork and pictures and I wanted it to be fun and eclectic so the first piece I knew I had to use was a caricature of Drew and I. After I chose that one the rest were easy to pick. I laid them all out on the floor and moved them around to see what arrangement I liked best.
Outside frames are from Kohl's, Middle frame is from Michael's, Renner frame was gifted
When it came to actually hanging the pictures, I used tips from Young House Love of course. They recommend cutting out paper in the sizes of your frames and hanging them up in the way you want them to be hung. Then they are easy to move around if needed.
After I had the placement right my husband worked on hanging them making sure they were level and equally spaced out. I'm not a whiz when it comes to math so I left that to him!
Here's an up close look at some Italian artwork from my sister in laws travels that I incorporated into our photo wall. What, you didn't know I liked cats?  
And here is the photo wall completed!! I love it!

::Shop update...
I sent out a few banners from my shop to be reviewed and photographed and the lovely Kristen featured two of my banners on her blog, Ella Claire a few weeks ago. Here is a sneak peak at my newest creation. I adore Polka dots!

Have you made any updates to your house lately? I'd love to hear about them!
Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday.

*Today is the last day to enter to win a necklace from Noonday Collection! Click here to enter.
*Tomorrow is the first Hello, Goodbye Link-up!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad {recipe}

Anyone else just get a kick of the word couscous? Well even if you don't think the word is as funny as I do, you will love this recipe for Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad. Add it to your summer menu asap!

What you will need:
  • 6 oz whole wheat pearl couscous
  • 3/4 lb thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1-1/2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook asparagus until tender (about 3 minutes). Remove asparagus with a slotted spoon and let drain in a collander. Add the couscous to the same pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.

When asparagus has cooled chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Drain couscous and rinse under cold water and place in large bowl.

Add the chopped asparagus, tomatoes, red onion, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper to the bowl. Serve room temperature or chilled.

I got the original recipe from here.

*You have 2 days left to enter to win a necklace from the Noonday Collection. Click here to enter!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My weekend in instagram 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

This weekend was absolutely beautiful that I left my camera in it's case all weekend and just soaked it up. The weather felt more like fall than summer and it made me so happy! Here's my weekend via instagram...

5. I got a new to me mountain bike and my husband and I took our bikes for a spin ending at the Whippy Dip to treat ourselves to some ice cream.
4. Another Whole Foods Wine Tasting followed by seeing Despicable Me 2. Drew and I laughed out loud multiple times.

3. Celebrated my dear friend Andrea's birthday with pizza and homemade spice cake. I also tried and liked coffee for the first time and no you don't need to know how much sugar and creamer I added.
2. Had a scrapbooking and Panera date with my friend Alison.
1. A church picnic followed by some deep conversation with my family on our back porch. My brain hurt after that so I had to go home and bake. I made mini chocolate chip cheesecakes and they were divine. I'll share the recipe later this week!
I hope each of you had an amazing weekend! And if you need a blog post idea for this week you can join me in my first link-up on Thursday! I'm going to do a Hello, Goodbye link-up where I say goodbye to one month and hello to another. See this post for inspiration and link-up with me on Thursday August 1st if your little heart desires!

Linking up with Sami today!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Homemade Creamsicles! {recipe}

Happy Friday! I am in denial that my summer break is almost over so I have a delicious summer treat to share with you today to help keep summer alive and kicking.
I have been drooling over these Creamsicles from Elsie and Emma's blog A Beautiful Mess and even made making them part of my Summer Bucket List. Whelp, I finally made them and you HAVE to make them too. They are easy, fresh and so delicious. The perfect cool down after a hot summer day.

What you need:
4-5 oranges freshly squeezed or 8 oz. orange juice
2 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Blend orange juice, ice cream and orange zest until batter is smooth. Fill popsicle molds 3/4 full leaving the top 1/4 empty for the whipping cream. Use a whisk or mixer with whisk attachment and whip the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Spoon whipped cream on to the top 1/4 of the popsicle mold.  Freeze overnight.

This recipe makes enough for about 8 popsicles depending on the kind of popsicle mold you use. I made 4 at a time and saved the extra batter to pour in again as we ate them.


*Don't forget to enter the Noonday Collection Giveaway on my blog to win yourself the lovely necklace below!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Noonday Collection {Giveaway!}

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Noonday Collection. Have you heard of the Noonday Collection? It's style (jewelry, gifts and accessories) that are all made with love and fashion and with a purpose! I was swooning looking at all their jewelry and you will be too! Then I read the mission of Noonday and it made me love it even more. The Noonday Collection exists to advocate for the orphan and to lift artisans around the world out of poverty! Noonday is about dignified job creation for men and women living in countries where oppression and poverty are high. Noonday also stands up for the orphan by fundraising for adoptions. Okay so now that you know what Noonday is you should be super excited because one of the necklaces from their collection could be yours! Yay! This fabulous necklace is called appropriately, the Funky Beaded Statement necklace. I love it!
This colorful necklace is made in Uganda by artisans who are now working for a fair wage and are given opportunity and hope! Once men and women who were scraping for their next meal, are now able to provide not only food for their families but other basic needs like a home and education! This is just one way Noonday is changing the world!
HIV positive women living in Ethiopia are able to purchase necessary medical supplies. Women in Guatemala are living lives of freedom. Orphans are getting homes. Lives are being changed.

I recently connected with Abigail Boyle who is a Noonday Ambassador! She recently fell in love with the mission of Noonday and became an Ambassador to share the purpose of Noonday. She lives in Florida with her husband and is so excited to be able to giveaway this beautiful necklace from Uganda! Abigail lived overseas for three years in South Korea. She worked for World Vision and spent a lot of time in nearby orphanages. It was then overseas the Lord showed her heart what it truly looks like to care for the oppressed, orphan, and widow. Through Noonday Abigail is able to live out her passion for God's heart, which I loved reading about!

Now how you can win this amazing necklace...

**Please make sure you Follow Nestful of Love on Bloglovin and/or GFC if you don't already!**
For 1 entry, check out Abigail's Noonday site and share in the comments an item you'd love to have!
For a 2nd entry, follow Abigail's Facebook page where she shares giveaways, styling tips, and all things Noonday! Let me know in the comments that you did.
For a 3rd entry, follow Abigail on Instagram and leave your instagram name in the comments.
4th entry, share this giveaway on your FB, twitter, or instagram and leave a comment saying you did.
And lastly, for a 5th entry, shop Noonday and share what you purchased! (With Abigail Boyle as your Ambassador)

Winner will be selected one week from today on Thursday, August 1st. Good luck!!

And if you're loving Noonday and want to be a part of this world changing story, shop Noonday! Another way to be a part is to become an Ambassador! More information can be found here! Don't forget to click on Abigail Boyle as your Ambassador!

Noonday Collection

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A winery and the biggest piece of cheesecake ever...

For our 4 year anniversary Drew and I checked out a local winery called Vinoklet in Colerain, which was on our Cincinnati Bucket List. The food was good, the wine was delicious and the views were incredible. I felt like Dorothy...."We're not in Ohio anymore, Toto."
After a delicious meal (which included a bottle of wine) we decided to spice things up and go somewhere else for dessert. We ended up at Grand Finale one of our favorite spots in the adorable village of Glendale. Usually when we go there we split a dessert, but we each got our own this time. Big mistake. I ordered their special of the night which was a piece of Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cheesecake and it was huge. I had to take half of it home, which was fine because I ate it for breakfast the next day.
We had a fantastic time laughing and reminiscing about the past and then planning ahead for our next year of marriage. 4 years down...forever to go. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cake Batter Martinis! {YUM}

My friend Courtney and I got together one summer evening and whipped up this amazing concoction. This is my favorite martini to date and I highly recommend you try it ASAP.

What you need to make this amazing concoction:
(Makes 1 Martini)
For the drink:
*1 1/2 oz. Vodka (Pinnacle Cake)
*1/2 oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
*1 oz. Amaretto
*1 tsp. vanilla cake batter (powder from boxed mix)
*1 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream

For the glass: (because drinking out of an adorable glass is much more fun)
*Vanilla Frosting
*Assorted Sprinkles
Use your finger and scoop out vanilla frosting to rim your glass. Pour sprinkles out on a plate and carefully place rim in sprinkles. Combine all drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass and slurp up the goodness! Then come back and thank me.
Original recipe found here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Colorado Tourist: Garden of the Gods

If you've missed any of my posts as your Colorado Tour Guide you can catch up here:
Stop#1: Downtown Denver
Stop #2: Spruce Mountain Ranch
Stop#3: Pike's Peak

Stop#4: Garden of the Gods
If you are ever close to Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is a MUST see. It is a registered National Natural landmark that is and forever will be free to the public. It has some of the most amazing views and some of the coolest rock formations you will ever see. If you do go, I'd recommend visiting the Visitor's center first to find a trail that you can see the most from. When we first drove in the park I just wanted to stop and stare, but my husband was dead set on getting a map first and I'm so glad he did because we saw a lot more from where we ended up.
Great view of Pikes Peak from the visitor's center
I loved all the Red Rock formations. I couldn't get enough!

This rock is called Balanced Rock for obvious reasons
My husband is the only person who would actually be excited about this sign. He loves snakes!
Just inside the Garden of the Gods entrance
 And yes...we love Colorado!

Last stop: Rocky Mountain National Park brought to you by my husband!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A few things helping to make me feel pretty (oh so pretty)

one: Bare Minerals blush. This blush is a two in one (compatible) and I love it. It has a pink ice blush on one side and a bronzer on the other side. You can use them both together or individually. Jessica Simpson calls this kind of thing a "Twofer"...two for one.
two: Beehive Necklace from Charming Charlie. I love the look of this necklace because it looks like a beehive. It came in a set with matching earrings.
three: Peach Kiss Baby Lips by Maybelline. My sweet friend Courtney made me a pampering kit for my birthday and this was in the kit. All I have to say is thank you Courtney. This is now going to be a regular purchase of mine!
four: Headbands from Charlotte Russe. I had been looking everywhere for inexpensive headbands with a little bling and walking into Charlotte Russe and seeing these made me a happy girl.

Another thing that is helping my look lately is the HANAair Professional Hair Dryer. I was recently contacted by Misikko to test out their HANAair Professional Hair Dryer who claims to have the best blow dryers so I was happy to test that out for myself. My former hair dryer was the cheapest Revlon hair dryer that money could buy, but it did the job...or so I thought. If you can't already tell, my hair is super thick and curly and it usually takes me at least 25 minutes to dry it completely followed by having to flat iron it and then add some curl with my curling iron...quite a long process, which is why I usually just let my hair air dry.

I tested out this hair dryer and was excited at how quickly I was able to dry my hair. It took me under 15 minutes to dry my hair! Other things I liked about the hair dryer:
-Long cord, which I find handy when I want to walk around while drying my hair
-Light weight
-3 heat settings
-Left my hair feeling smooth
-Left my hair with less frizz than my old hair dryer

The packaging of this hair dryer was another perk. I felt like I was receiving the royal treatment when I opened the box and found chocolates, a new hair brush, a heat proof pouch and much more. I'm so excited to replace my old hair dryer with this one! If you are in the market for a new hair dryer this one did not disappoint. Check out the Misikko facebook page for hair advice and giveaways of their most popular products.

What is helping make you feel pretty lately??

*While I did receive this product for free, as always my opinions are my own!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Being intentional in your marriage

Our 4 year anniversary was yesterday (see my letter to my husband here) and I just can't believe how quickly time has gone by. Time flies when you're married and having fun I guess.

This summer Drew and I have been more intentional about making time for each other and being intentional with our time. Instead of waking up and going straight for the tv remote or our laptops, we decided to make a new house technology before 10 am. This may not seem like a big deal, but we had gotten in our summer routine (since we are both teachers and off work) of waking up an flicking on the tv. right away. So in our extra technology free time we decided to sit out on our back porch, do a devotional and just talk.

We had been looking forever for a good book on marriage, but have yet to find one that struck our fancy that we hadn't already read so we used a plan on YouVersion and we loved it. To help guide some of our conversation we started asking each other these questions from Today's Letters once a week to check in.

1. How did you feel loved this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in intimacy this week?
5. How can I pray for you this week? 

It can be so easy to just coexist with one another, but it is so important to go beyond that in your marriage and be intentional in the things you do and say to one another.

Be intentional in spending quality time together
Be intentional in giving each other compliments
Be intentional in praying together
Be intentional in taking care of yourself (exercising, eating right, putting on lipstick) for your husband
Be intentional in putting your husband's needs first (this doesn't mean you don't have a say, marriage is about give and take)
Be intentional in making each other laugh
Be intentional in taking time to surprise each other (love notes in lunches, randomly doing the laundry when that's not your usual "thing", giving your spouse the night off from cooking/cleaning, etc.)
Be intentional in encouraging one another

Ephesians 9:9-10 (MESSAGE)
"Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift...Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!" 

Going into year number 4, I want to relish each and every day with the man I love most!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

4 years as a WIFE!

Today Drew and I have been married for 4 years. Holy cow people. So today my post is dedicated to my sweet husband.

Dear Drew,
I really can't believe that I've been your WIFE for 4 years now. In the 4 years we have been married I have grown to love you even more than my little heart ever thought possible. You know me and love me despite my many flaws and I can never thank you enough for that.
I love being your co-captain in all our adventures. Whether it's hiking in the Rocky Mountains or playing Mario Party on the couch with a frozen pizza, everything is an adventure with you. I know we have so many more amazing adventures to come!
I love the traditions we have made in our 4 years together. Chipotle Mondays, Tacky Sweater Parties, Derby Parties, Christmas mornings and birthday pancakes are a few of my favorites.
I love doing projects with you. You are always so patient with me and always willing to undertake one of my crazy pinterest projects or house renovations. I love making our house a home together.
Whenever I'm a grumpster, you know how to turn my day around. Whenever I'm discouraged, you find a way to uplift me. Whenever I'm ready for an adventure, you jump on board!  I love our little family so much and I promise to never take for granted that I have the honor of being your wife forever and always. Thanks for making me the happiest girl in the world. I love you!
Love, Your Allie Girl
I posted this video last year, but I love it and will probably post it every year. A sneak peak at our wedding day 4 years day of my life!
Allison and Drew's Wedding Day from Jeff Hill Video on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Colorado Tourist: Pike's Peak

I've been sharing all my Colorado adventures on the blog making me your personal Colorado tour guide. Our first stop was Downtown Denver, then Spruce Mountain Ranch. Now on to stop #3.

Stop #3: Colorado Springs
We decided to try the Pike's Peak Cog Railway which took us up to the top of Pike's Peak (elevation 14,110 feet!) It was an hour and a half to the top of the peak, but our friendly railway conductor and the gorgeous views made the trip go by quickly. When you get to the peak you are able to get out, grab a donut, visit the gift shop, climb on the rocks and take pictures outside of the cars before piling back in and heading back down the mountain. I would highly recommend this as a means to get to the top of the Peak. You can drive up yourself, but the roads are windy and there aren't any guard rails.
If you ever make it to the top of Pike's Peak you have to buy one of their World Famous Donuts! YUM!
When you make it back to the base of the mountain be sure to visit some of the amazing shops in Manitou Springs. There are also some adorable candy and ice cream shops and delicious food.
I would recommend sitting outside on the Veranda at The Cliff House or eating at Adam's Mountain Cafe.
Pike's Peak...we will be back!

Next stop: Garden of the Gods (my favorite stop!)