Cupcakes and Sunshine: September 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Life as of Lately...

Happy Monday Y'all!

I would say that Mondays are one of my favorite days of the week. They are in close competition with peaceful, relaxing Sundays. Except Mondays aren't very peaceful or relaxing, but refreshing and new and hopeful for the days of the week ahead! 

I don't really have much to say for today because I feel like most of my Mondays are the same.
Wake up, class, back home, homework/organize, go back to class, homework/organize, food, workout/yoga, sleep. Repeat every Monday.

But I'd thought I'd give you a little update of life as of lately...currently:

Currently drinking: Honest Peach White Tea. I'm obsessed. I love them. They aren't too sugary and are full of antioxidants. I'm a big, big fan.

Currently planning: My days/weeks ahead. My planner has almost every line filled for this week. And it's only Monday! I'm a bit Type A when it comes to planning. Actually, my roommates would probably tell you I'm a lot Type A when it comes to planning. Every detail and date has its own color, its own sticker, its own place in the agenda. You can call it Type A, I call it pretty planning :)

Currently Snacking on: New KIND Honey Mustard Strong bars. Okay y'all. These are DELICIOUS. Before I knew about these, I would snack on those honey mustard pretzels that you find on the chip isle that are full of added chemicals and fat and sodium and yuck. They were good, but I felt so gross  and blehhh after eating them. And then KIND Strong bars walked into my life. They are ridiculously healthy, full or protein, and all natural to boot. go get yourself some!

Currently Thinking about: Spring break of this year. I know it is not even October, but I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to go on a mission trip to NYC with CRU ministries this upcoming spring break. So, so pumped about it!

Currently Organizing: the food I have in my pantry. I made a list of all the meals and snacks I can make without going to the store for the next week. I LOVE grocery shopping! I think it is my favorite hobby. But sometimes I over-buy and really need to sit back and see what ingredients I have to whip something up without shopping. It's kind-of like a little grocery challenge too. I would have never known that chickpeas and cheese were such a match made in heaven if I didn't pull out the random ingredients I had in my pantry, throw together a chickpea quesadilla, and experiment with them.

Currently having fun with: My birthday wishlist. I LOVE lists. I have a pack of 3x5 index cards sitting right next to me at all times to write down my to-do lists, grocery lists, wishlists. My roommates even pinned a to-do list I had made on our kitchen corkboard because they thought it was so funny. I have been working on a fun little birthday list (which I will post later this week!) since I'll be 21 in a couple of days. (Crazy, right?)

Ashley Brooke Design's Mugs are on the list....

^^^HOW CUTE is this mug?! I would definitely be channeling my inner-Beyonce' with this one.

and this one is absolutely darling as well:

And this one:

I want them all!

Happy Monday friends! I hope your "currentlys" are also joyful and refreshing like this Monday has been! (even though it's a tad bit dreary out).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites {9/26}

Happppy Friday!

I can't believe Friday is already here. It's been a busy week of meetings and travels, but a good one at that! I'm ready for the weekend, but first...a few of my weekly favorites:

1. If you follow me on Instagram (<---) then you already know that I may have stopped by Trader Joe's and picked up a few of my favorite pumpkin-flavored things. My good friend Kelsie sent me a text and said she was wanting to buy all things pumpkin. (hello pumpkin Oreos!) I sent her one right back with a picture of these in my hand!

 2. THESE PANTS from Target. Quite possibly the most comfortable pants I've ever purchased. I wore them with a black tank, cardigan, and flats.

 3. FALL CANDLES: I'm obsessed. And I'm burning through the two I picked up this week waaaayy too quickly. SOS I need to get my hands on more of these!

4. And this video is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen! Adorable, just adorable: 
5.  Bread and Wine: this book is wonderful! and THE perfect fall read. It has been so great for my Jesus-loving, food-craving soul. (and OH! Check out my new quilt...I needed some change, and it had to make it to my Friday favorites list as well!) 

6. My Mini Apple Pie Caramel Apples recipe. I'm SO excited it is finally caramel apple season! I've been waiting all year to bring these back into rotation. 

and that's all for my Friday favorites today, I hope you have a fantastic Friday! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Easy, Breezy DIY Fall Wreath

Goodmorning friends! How's your Tuesday morning going so far?

It has been such a blessing that I don't have to be anywhere until 10:30am on Tuesdays. Since I'm an early riser, it gives me lots of time to eat breakfast sloooowly, soak up the sweet fall morning, and sip warm tea at my own pace. I dipped wheat bread slices in an egg and milk mixture, sprinkled them generously with cinnamon, toasted the bread in a bit of butter, added a pat of peanutbutter, and covered the french toast in maple syrup. It's been a very, very good morning.

While eating breakfast, I read a few chapters in my new favorite read, Bread and Wine-by Shauna Niequist, and it has done so much for my Jesus-loving, food-craving soul. I really, really recommend it.

Afterwards, I hung our new fall wreath on the front door in between finishing off my last sips of tea.

And I thought you might would like to know how to make an easy fall wreath as well! Remember last week when I told you about my favorite mantels and fall decor? Well I made a wreath and was SO surprised with how easy and fun it was to create.

Pick up a grapevine wreath from your local craft store (I went to Michael's and it was $4.99 plus I had a 40% off coupon!), two spools of ribbon (around $2.99 each I do believe), and your favorite flowers (.79 cents each from Michael's as well!) and a hot glue gun. That's IT! All you need!

Snip the tops off of your flowers, hot glue to the bottom half of the wreath, tie your ribbon into a bow, hot glue onto wreath...and TADA! Easiest, sweetest fall wreath! And an inexpensive wreath too!

Happy Tuesday morning! I hope you are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the cooler weather today :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites: Fall Mantel Addition

Happy Friday, friends! I woke up early this morning and went on a nice little jog around Athens because I can finally feel the cooler fall weather. I'm giddy. I really, really am! I have all of my fall candles picked out at Bath and Body Works that I'm going to pick up later on this weekend, my favorite pumpkin foods and fall products (blog post coming later on this one!), and I even picked out an autumn leaves scentsy plug-in for my car. (this is how I rewarded myself after I went to the car wash and vacuumed it out. Clean car=fall scentsy!)

Fall is my favorite season for SO many reasons. Starting off birthday is in the fall! When the crunchy leaves start falling, I start getting my birthday-is-coming party dance on!

Second of all, the fall baked goods. Pumpkin muffins, apple pie a la mode, cinnamon sugar waffles...need I say more?

And thirdly, I loooove fall decorations. I walked into TJ Maxx yesterday and had to hold myself back from purchasing all things pumpkin and adorable for the house. It was a tough one y'all. I managed to have a bit of self-control though so that I could look on Pinterest and find some fun ideas before making any purchases. We have a faux-mantle in our house that I can't WAIT to decorate. So I decided to show off some of my favorite fall mantles that I have found on the internet this week:

1.This mantel pinned from Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites! It's so simple, yet so home-y and warm. I LOVE the white pumpkins. And that this mantel would work all season long until Thanksgiving.

2. This unique mantel is one of my favorites as well. I love the artsy wreath and the yellow chevron touches.

3. LOVE this fall-themed chalkboard atop a mantel. And the candycorn in a decorative vase?! Love. love. love. So stinkin' cute!

4. I do prefer fall decor over Halloween themed decor because you can use fall decor throughout the entire season, but I thought this Halloween mantel was adorable!

love that striped canvas. And the polkadot pumpkins, of course!

5.  This site offers all kinds of crafts and great ideas for decorating your fall mantel. My favorite are those white pumpkins! Can't get enough of them. And the DIY Love Potion bottles are pretty cute as well!

6. And I know this final favorite isn't a mantel, but I am obsessed with fall wreaths and I am hoping to make one this weekend!

I found this one on Etsy, and I just think it needs to welcome guests into our front door, don't you think? I would like to replace the "Happy Thanksgiving" with "Happy Fall Y'all!" for a seasonal touch!

Question of the Day: How are you decorating for Fall?

Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Baking Essentials for baking (sweet) essentials

As you probably know, I like to bake a lot! I love mixing up different ingredients and combining them together to make special treats. And I love the smile on everyone's faces once they've received my sweet desserts. Treats just make everyone happy! Lately, I've been on a cookie craze. I've made at least 16 dozen cookies in the past two weeks. (this isn't an exaggeration!)

I have made at least three batches of Sally's Baking Addiction Cake Batter Chocolate Chip cookies...

Everyone just loves them! And they are my favorite cookie to send in the mail for celebrations and care packages. I also made her Inside Out Chocolate Chip Cookies recently.

And THESE incredible Chewy Chocolate cookies are incredible! They remind me of the Chewy cookies I used to get at the Great American Cookies in the mall.

I LOVE baking, but I think I would be nowhere without my favorite baking essentials.

Here are a few of my favorite baking essentials that I just couldn't bake without!

1. Parchment Paper: Parchment paper is a LIFE saver. Simply line your cookie or brownie pan before baking and you have almost zero mess to clean up afterwards. I'm telling you, you need to invest in some parchment paper before you take one more step closer to your kitchen!

Parchment Paper from Amazon (but I buy mine at my local grocery store)

2. Cookie Scoop: I just recently purchased two new cookie scoops and they are the best thing since sliced bread, I'm telling ya! I found mine at Bed, Bath, & Beyond (and you can find coupons HERE), but I think you could use different sized ice-cream scoopers as well. They make for perfectly sized cookies and muffins so that everything bakes evenly in the oven. I have a small one for small cookies/mini muffins and a medium size scoop for larger treats.

Blueberry Muffins Recipe

3. Muffin Cup liners: Pretty muffin cup liners make me SO happy! Some people collect jewelry, some people collect nick-knacks. I collect muffin cup liners. I have a stock pile for every season. Bring on the stripes and the polkadots and the zigzag and holiday themed liners! these are some snazzy cheetah print ones...

My Pineapple Zucchini Muffins

4. Donut Pan: I think you should stop what you are doing and run to your local Target or Michaels or TJ Maxx and grab yourself a donut pan right now!

Wilton Non-stick 6-Cavity Donut Pan from Amazon

 I haven't used mine recently, but I can not WAIT to whip it out and make my favorite baked lemonade donuts. (I have had people beg for these!)

My Baked Lemonade Donuts Recipe

I have also seen many apple-cider donut recipes floating around the internet. How perfect would those be for fall!?

5. Sprinkles: WHAT in the world would I do without sprinkles? I definitely couldn't make my favorite Cake batter cookies.

Or my roommate, Sydney's, favorite Salted Chocolate Saltine Toffee  Bark.

(which she has requested as the next treat I should make. hopping on that Syd!) Sprinkles make recipes so much fun. And are a definite essential in the kitchen.

And there ya have it! My favorite five baking essentials! Happy Thursday, friends!

Question of the Day: What would you add to the baking essentials list? 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This and That

FRIENDS! Happy Friday! I know I say this every Friday... but the weeks have just keep FLYING BY! So fast. And so is the school year! Has it really already been 4 weeks since it began!?

I would just like to start off by saying... you know those days when you have SO much to say that you end up not saying anything at all? My recent MIA on the blog has been because of this. This week has been PACKED full of adventures and projects and new ideas and applications and new recipes (AHEM...lots of cookie baking). I've been so worried that I'd forget to blog about something, that I just didn't blog at all. It doesn't make sense. But that's how it worked out. Problem fixed now- weekly update time!

The week started off with a visit to see Oprah...

Yes. THE Oprah.

as in Oprah Winfrey...

at the Life You Want Tour in Atlanta. Her stories were so inspiring as she described how she found purpose in her life. She detailed how to find purpose in your own life and how to hold on to what you believe. It was absolutely incredible.

Afterwards, we stayed at my roommate's house in Alpharetta where we ate at many delicious places including Mittie's Cafe Tea Room:

and we shared these delicious sandwiches between ourselves...

(turkey bacon avocado wrap^^) 

(grilled salmon sandwich with pasta salad^^)

and of course, they had a variety of southern desserts:

I wanted to eat them ALL. 

Another fun place we visited, which has quickly made its way to the "MY FAVORITE EATS" list, was BURGERFI. Y'all, this restaurant is fantastic. In every way. Let's start with their all-natural beef burgers, shall we? Mhhhmmm...

 and finish with m&m and Red Velvet FROZEN CONCRETES. 

Yep, you could flip these babies upsidedown and they still remained perfectly flawless in the cup!

Until we ate them. 
of course.

I want to go back! BurgerFi, if you are listening out there, PLEASE COME TO ATHENS, GEORGIA! We need you during study breaks and burger cravings and frozen-concretes-before-dinner-just-for-the-heck-of-it nights!

It's been a very busy week, but all the fun has balanced the crazy out and I have loved all the moments spent with friends and family and delicious treats too! 

Hope your Friday is fantastic!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Funny Story....and my GO-TO Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

Funny story...about how I started baking all-the-things pumpkin WAY before I was planning to do so. This morning, I met up with my good friend Carly at Starbucks to catch up on our week. We both planned on getting healthier choices. AKA avoiding the lemon iced pound cake (I KNOW), the chocolate croissants, and of course...their seasonal pumpkin bread.

and I think this is when things took a turn for the worst...or the really depends on your perspective- and I lost all self control of waiting for the RIGHT time to start baking pumpkin treats.

You see, I'm a HUGE seasonal this-and-that person. I'm all about pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread cookies, red and green M&Ms at Christmas... and don't even get me started on chocolate filled Easter eggs and sweettart bunnies.

But I really like waiting for the RIGHT time to get these things. I know pumpkin spice lattes have been released at Starbs, but since it is still 100 degrees outside and I feel like melting every time I step outside my front door, I was planning on foregoing the sweet drinks until a chill was in the air. It just isn't the RIGHT time, ya know?

But when I STEPPED INTO STARBS THIS MORNING...I started craving all things pumpkin instantly. It hit me. I had to have pumpkin. and I had to have it NOW. I blame the sweet smell of those lattes. I'm a marketer's dream, I tell ya!

I made a game plan with Carly...I told her I was going to sneak on over to Trader Joe's, grab a pumpkin-flavored Greek yogurt (yes they have it and it is pretty dang good!) and then head home before classes. That way, I still was sticking with my healthy choices and all. I walked into Trader Joe's, grabbed the pumpkin yogurt, and grabbed TWO CANS OF PUMPKIN as well...because I impulsively decided I NEEDED to bake pumpkin muffins TODAY.

I think today I have decided that it's always the RIGHT time for pumpkin muffins.

So there ya have it. A delicious new pumpkin muffin recipe for ya even if fall hasn't officially started. You should make them. impulsively. today. And the good news is...they are a bit lighter. So YAY for healthier choices!

Hope your Thursday is awesome, friends!

My Go-To Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

(makes 16 muffins)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup of pumpkin
1/4 cup of yogurt (I used pumpkin yogurt but any yogurt will work!)
1/4 cup of melted butter
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin cups/spray with non-stick cooking spray
2. Mix first 5 ingredients with blender
3. Slowly add dry ingredients
4. Mix in chocolate chips
5. Bake 15 minutes

Let me know if you try them out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Full Weekend!

Hello friends!

It is SEPTEMBER. I can't believe it. I really can't. Time has been flying! I'm starting to believe what everyone says about doesn't slow down once you've hit your 20s. However, I have been loving life and especially the people I have been spending it with!

This three-day weekend was one of the best weekends...

tailgating, snacking on delicious gameday food, dressing in red and black...

hugging sweet pups...

and then cheering on our Dawgs from Sanford Stadium!

It was hot, hot, hot but the Dawgs pulled for a GIANT win against Clemson (45-21!).

Friday night we  dressed in our brightest of neons and headed to a Phi Slam party and we danced until we couldn't dance anymore...

and Sunday and Monday (AMEN FOR THREE-DAY WEEKENDS) we relaxed, watched many Gilmore Girls episodes, ate just as many bowls of ice-cream, and caught up on work.

It was a full, but fun weekend. and I'm going to cherish all of these sweet memories. I hope your three-day weekend was full of fun as well. Happy Tuesday, friends!


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