Good morning, friends and HAPPY SEPTEMBER! Can you believe it? It’s almost time for hot beverages and a whole latte more #caffeinecrazy (see what I did there?)! I am so excited to launch my first-ever brand-new products, starting with the ONLY mug and iced coffee tumbler specifically designed to bring you some #caffeinecrazy. 
They are available NOW in my new shop

Pop on over and grab one before they sell out! The mugs in particular are going fast. They are SO STINKIN’ CUTE if I may so myself, and ultra-cheery. 

Bad News, the Good News, and Easter

Just a silly little late-night couch selfie from my phone! Not very flattering of me, but I love his smile and sparkly eyes. So much love here.

So I don’t know how to start this. I don’t know how to breathe or be or live anymore. My amazing boyfriend, Jason Cuadro, suddenly passed away 2 weeks ago from a pulmonary embolism. We were getting ready to go to church on a Sunday morning. It is so weird to say this. It is so weird that this is my story now. I don’t know how a person continues on without all of that love, so very much love, in their life. I guess I will have to learn.
So this is the bad news. The very, very, very bad news.
The worst news.

I guess something like this is what you wear to your boyfriend’s funeral. To the death of your future as you knew it. A black dress, black tights, black shoes, a black veil. And I think you carry his teddy bear and I think you smile sometimes because there are only so many tears for a day, only so many tears for a moment, before you run dry and after that I guess you smile a little with sad eyes and unbelief in your heart so you don’t die even more inside, too. And because for some reason someone is taking a picture of you at a funeral and that’s just so weird. I don’t know.

But Easter. 
But God. 
Easter has been speaking to my heart. Easter has been soaking into me. 
The good news.
God is still God, still God on the throne when Jesus was on the Cross. Still God on the throne when Jesus was in the grave on Saturday. Still God on the throne, today, when my heart is a black hole and the future looks like endless night, HE IS STILL GOD. I believe that. I wholeheartedly believe that. 
If it were not for Easter, and if it were not for that hope that I have, that I know my Jason had, we would be hopeless. We would be without cause to hope.  I cannot imagine going through a loss like this without the assurance that we serve a LIVING God, and thereby, we WILL see each other again, some glorious day. Some grand, glorious day, when we are all home.
I guess even when it snows on Easter, and your eyes are still puffy and the only thing you want is a hand to hold in yours and to hear his voice, you still put on your giant vintage daisy earrings and go to church.

Still wear the Easter skirt he picked out for you weeks ago, because you know he would have wanted to see you in it. Still make the wreath you bought the supplies for the night before he died, when you finally have a little bit of grit to get out of bed after 2 weeks, because you know it would make him smile. 
“Because HE lives, I can face tomorrow.” 
and I guess you just keep trusting. Because God knew this was a part of my story from the beginning of time. And God was gracious enough to give me 2 years of the most amazing love ever known. For that, I can be grateful. To leave that love in death, to leave that love in anxiety and fear and to crawl into a hole like I want to would be to say it was all counterfeit.

For that, I can go on, carrying the love and life for both of us, forward. 
Into light. 
with all my love and sorrow, 

Get Your Craftsy On!

Have ya’ll heard of Craftsy? I’ve told you about them before 🙂 I love their simple-to-follow but really informative online classes and the prices are great. Even better? Their free digital e-guides that you can download at any time! These are all at least a $4.99 value, for free. Grab ’em all!

It’s the time of year for cabin fever which means it’s time to learn something new or dive deeper into a favorite or forgotten hobby. Let’s talk about this free doughnut recipes class. Or watercolor. Or SUCCESS with container gardening, which cracks me up, because they don’t just say “container gardening”…it’s SUCCESS WITH, which is a class I need, given my perpetually brown thumb.

Check them out here:

eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
Cake Decorating
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at HomePaper CraftseGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
eGuide: Beginner’s Guide to the World of Watercolor
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

Happy craftsy-ing! 

Rain + Red Lipstick + Christmas-ing

This has pretty much been my uniform lately: jeggings + flannel + cozy cowl + pretty makeup = foolproof. Between the rain, snow and sleet it has been a pretty mucky few weeks.
But no matter, nothing some red lipstick, a polka dot umbrella, and a second cup of coffee can’t fix. It’s Christmastime!
I sent out my Christmas cards this week!

See that pretty vintage-y card in the corner? I adore them. 
AND I have my first-ever Christmas tree this year. Isn’t it funny how grown-up things like that make us feel? But don’t worry, it’s not too grown-up, it’s red and white and all sorts of vintage-y and lovely. 
See the little fluffy bird on top of the Merry Christmas sign?! That might be my favorite part 🙂 

So now it’s back to hot-chocolate-drinking, present-making and Hallmark-movie-watching.

To the Merry Christmas-ing, my dears! 

Nuts & Bolts: Open Enrollment #benefitsmatter

Grab a cup of coffee! Let’s talk health insurance…

I like to occasionally talk about the more “Nuts & Bolts” aspects of life…frugal february, budgeting, and the like. So, along with Alfac, a Fortune 500 insurance company, I wanted to share some of my personal tips on how to get the most out of open enrollment season for health care plans. I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with the options and paperwork. It can be a tricky business to navigate, and Millenials are statistically less likely to be prepared. Here are a few of my tips (with my boyfriend’s help!) on how to save for and make a good decision during health care open enrollment time.

Low- vs. High-Deductible Plans
I know health care can be expensive no matter how you slice it, and it’s tempting to go for the cheapest monthly-cost plan. While this may be good for your budget in the short run, it could leave you high and dry should something come up (and that’s the point of insurance, right, in case something comes up?). I personally prefer to budget more each month, knowing that I’m well-covered and wouldn’t need to scramble to find several thousand dollars out-of-pocket for a higher-deductible plan at an already stressful time. If you do go for a higher-deductible plan, check out an HSA to go with it (see below).

Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s
It might seem dull, but it’s important to read the fine print of all the available plans. You’ll want to make sure your hospital of choice and the physician of your choice are “in-network,” meaning you won’t have to pay extra to visit them. Take a look at co-pays, prescription coverage and ER visit coverage. These will vary by plan, so find your priorities and try to balance them with your budget. For instance, if you have a lot of prescriptions, good coverage is important. If you have kids and envision ER visits in your future, good ER coverage is important, too. Of course, no insurance is perfect, but at least you’ll know you’re getting the best for your particular circumstance.

Consider an HSA
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a great way to supplement whatever health care plan you choose, particularly high-deductible plans and for people with families. The savings account (you generally set these up through your bank or your employer) allows you to set aside money for everyday medical expenses, everything from Band-Aids to eyeglasses. You get to keep this money and it can be incredibly useful to have socked away should you need to cover an expense that doesn’t meet your deductible.   If you put $25 a pay period (assuming a bi-weekly pay period) into your HSA, you’d have $2,600 at the end of the year to help meet medical expenses that might come up. Aflac’s post about how most of us are “One Emergency Away from Financial Data” shows the numbers and why an HSA may be a good idea. One emergency could greatly damage your credit and financial future.

Don’t Forget Incentives
Once you’ve chosen your plan, don’t forget to take advantage of incentives. Some plans will give you a discount if you don’t smoke, plan to quit smoking, get a dental or eye exam, commit to regular exercise, etc. It can be easy to forget about these, so don’t let them slip through your fingers! Also don’t forget to take advantage of free physicals or other health screenings your insurance might offer. Preventative care is best!

Now it’s time to go for a walk! Love me some crunchy leaves, the crisp fall air, and feeling of accomplishment for those pesky “grown-up” things like health insurance. Plus a walk is healthy for ya 😉 

Even if you’re young and healthy, I personally think insurance is an important investment. Health can so easily be taken for granted, but if it fails, you won’t want to be stressed about finances. So take your time this open enrollment season to take control of your health and future. And please note this is all based on my own experience and I am not a professional. Be sure to fully investigate your options before making a decision.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday Vlog

Finally another Friday vlog! Now, I know that the uninitiated might think this was a first take and that I should re-film it. But the truth of the matter is, this is at least the third take. So here we have it. 
Happy Friday!
What are YOU up to this weekend?

Happy Birthday, Prince George!

It is Prince George’s first birthday today!! 
photo by John Stillwell, found here
Happy Birthday handsome prince! 
I love the hint of red in his hair, his chubby cheeks and wide eyes. What a little charmer!

photo by John Stillwell, found here
Such a great family photo!
It is Prince George’s First Birthday! Oh it’s so very exciting because he’s just the most darling little thing ever and Kate with him…I swoon. Couldn’t be any cuter. 

Remember last year when we were all still anxiously waiting and I dressed like “off-duty Kate” in honor of the occasion? Here’s my outfit. I still love Kate’s off-duty/mama duty outfits (and secret footage of her being adorable with George!). I’ve loved following along with the adorable family their first year.
Here he is at 8 months, our first official look at him, stunning in a little monogrammed sweater with his family and Lupo, in a photo taken by Kate’s dad that just doesn’t even look real.
So today I will have a special tea in honor of Prince George and, of course, dress in honor of Duchess Kate again (though I really prefer to call her Princess Kate, I know, I know!) and wear my polka-dot Cath Kidston bracelet that my friend got me while she was in England when Prince George was born!

And of course my other friend who was also in England at the time brought me that beautiful Welcome Baby tin! So pretty. While you enjoy your tea in honor of Prince George today, enjoy reading this fantastic Vanity Fair recap of his first year. 

Rose Tulsi tea with local honey and gluten-free ladyfingers. 
Will you be doing anything fun to celebrate today?

Happy Birthday, George! 


There’s so much to tell you in this post!

First of all, I’m an Auntie for real! It’s so exciting to welcome Avery Kate to the world, the first daughter of my brother and his wife, Stephanie! Isn’t Miss Avery cute??? My brother and Steph ain’t too bad lookin’ either 😉 Love you guys!

{yeah. I’m related to them. #boom} 

Stephanie just so happens to be the amazing photographer/baker/writer behind Girl vs. Dough. Be prepared to drool once you head over there. But you should definitely head over there today becauseI’m sharing an amazzzzzing recipe. I’m more than happy to bake delicious things so they can snuggle Avery extra for me.


Caramel Apple Crumb Cake. Say no more. I swoon thinking about this cake. Even the smell of it is highly intoxicating, not to mention its depth of crumbs and caramel-y goodness. Oooo, you need to make this! Just in case that photo doesn’t get your mouth drooling, how about a video of the caramel drizzle:

Yeah, that oughtta do it.
I present to you: Caramel Apple Crumb Cake. #makeitnow
Now Stephanie doesn’t sit still for long! While pregnant with Miss Avery she also created her eCookbook Quick Bread Love. Woahhhhhhh are there some good-sounding recipes in here, ya’ll! Let me further entice you: Coconut-Chai Tres-Leches Muffins? Yes please. Or perhaps Roasted Blueberry-Basil Corn Bread for those of you with a salty tooth. That’s just the beginning. There are 30 tasty recipes in all, plus Steph’s tips and tricks. 
Quick Bread Love eCookbook
*affiliate link 🙂 
I can guarantee you’ll find something you canNOT live without in this e-cookbook of Stephanie’s! 
So there you have it: #allthelove. Baby love, family love, caramel-apple love, and Quick Bread Love. 
So much love!

Lemon Bars with Almond Crust


Gooooooooooood Monday morning! How are you on this beautiful, fresh start to a new week? How about some cheerful, bright-yellow, deliciously summery lemon bars to whet your palate? (Also, I am in love with this photo. It looks like a snowglobe and I could look at it for hours. And yes, they really ARE that yellow in real life, thanks to the technique of using a baked lemon curd on top of the crust…more about that in the link below!)

You can find my delicious recipe for gluten-free lemon bars with an almond crust over on Big Girls, Small Kitchen today. Don’t mind me while I eat one with my tea for breakfast-dessert #duh.

Sunshine-y gluten-free lemon bars with an almond crust for breakfast? Yes, please! —–> Tweet This!
Bonus? You can use the topping as a plain-old lemon curd to slather on muffins, scones, waffles, crepes, a spoon straight out of the jar…#justsayin.  

Reese’s Eggs on Big Girls Small Kitchen


New recipe for Big Girls Small Kitchen (BGSK) today: Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs! Anyone would be more than lucky to get these tucked into an Easter basket (and I definitely just ate one for breakfast, so there’s that). Click here for the recipe!

Unless you follow me on Facebook, I haven’t been sharing these amazing recipes with you, and for that, I offer my apologies. Here are a few of my favorite delicious (gluten-free!) recipes I’ve had the pleasure of creating for Cara over at the wonderful BGSK.

Here are some of my favorites!

Starting from the top, going clockwise: