Style on a Budget: Summer Date Night

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Summer is the perfect time for cotton, cool colors, and change! The 90 degree weather inspired me to get a new short ombre hairstyle! Take a look at this week’s style-on-a-budget tips for an affordable, fashionable date night.

Get My Look:
Light blue cotton dress: Target
Tan wedges: Charlotte Russe
Bracelets: Made from acai berries
Necklace: Gold tomahawk from my Mimi
Makeup: BB cream, bronzer, mascara, and lip shimmer
Hair: Blow dry and spritz with some seal salt texturizing spray
Manicure: Essie’s sand tropaz
Pedicure: Essie’s wicked

Keep it simple, light, fresh, and cool this weekend with your summer style. Remember: it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to look lovely.

4 Summer Decorating Tips {On a Budget!}

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It’s still 90 degrees in LA, and summer is clearly still holding on. The fun thing about summer is decorating in a way that breaths life into the home. It is completely possible to make a home beautiful no matter what size it is or what’s in your bank account! With the changing seasons, you don’t have to make any big, drastic decor transformations to enjoy where you live. I find that swapping out simple details can help my tiny home flow from season to season.

Today, I’m sharing some of my summer home favorites with you. These easy budget tips can help refresh and rejuvenate your humble abode.

1. The coffee table book.
Go through your book shelf and find a book that fits better for summertime. I currently have Kinfolk’s volume nine on our coffee table (see photo at the top of this article). This book has some really fun beachy photos, casual weekend ideas, perfect summer recipes, and more. Having a simple book on display can help set the tone. (Kinfolk is resting on a wicker/beachy place mat that I got for $2 at target.)

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2. What’s on display?
If you have a shelf, counter, or side table, fill it with the items you already have that feel like summer. Right now, we are displaying the blanket from our Mexico honeymoon, sunglasses (also from Mexico), and my Mimi’s beachy tea set with seagulls on it.

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3. Try a DIY.
Crafts are not only fun, but a great way to affordably add a new piece to your home. I took an old wine bottle, painted it turquoise, and used a hot glue gun to wrap some thick twine around the bottom. This is a great way to make a simple summer time vase.

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4. The office.
Don’t forget to give your work space a little love, too! I like my desk minimalist and clean. I simply added a cut of burlap to go across my black desk, giving it a touch of summer fun. I also displayed my “Secret Garden” coloring book, a fresh lavender candle, and a colorful photo of my husband and I.

Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, friends. I hope you are feeling inspired and ready to cultivate beauty in your lovely summer home!

Let It Go!

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Today, I went to get my haircut and a slight ombre color. Nothing too drastic, just a little lighter. Those who know me know that my hair grows fast, and that every couple years, I cut and donate my hair.

I showed photo examples of what I was going for to the stylist, and explained that I wanted it just a touch longer than the shoulders. Clearly, you saw the photo at the top of this post, so you know what actually happened.

I’m not going to lie, I cried a little bit when I realized I wouldn’t be able to put my hair in my everyday messy bun for a while. Where was my hair?!

My hair has never been this short or this light. Was this planned? No, not necessarily. I asked for “a little past shoulder length.” But my hair grows fast, and I was able to donate 11 inches so that a child somewhere in need will have hair.

God has slowly been teaching me how to walk what I talk as an identity girl. As the founder of this ministry and online magazine, I felt a bit embarrassed by how distraught I was over this hairdo.

Hair grows back…
Life goes on…
We are still beautiful no matter what kind of hair day we are having…
And change is okay.

I swear I could hear “Let It Go” in my head when I realized how short he chopped my locks. God is good, and we are wonderfully made in all styles and seasons.

{Take a look at my before and after hair transformation below.}

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Simple Summer Spaghetti

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Summer is the perfect time to grab those fresh herbs and crisp veggies and throw together an easy meal that is colorful and flavorful! Today, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes for a lighter spaghetti option during these warm summer nights. This fresh dinner will make your kitchen look like a garden!

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Simple Summer Spaghetti

{This recipe is not only delicious, but it is easy and SO affordable!}

Ingredients:
1 large fresh tomato
6 fresh basil leaves
A touch of minced garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box of your favorite spaghetti noodles

Directions:
-Boil and strain your pasta.
-Dice your tomato, garlic, and 4 of the basil leaves.
-Mix your diced tomato, garlic, and basil in a bowl with the olive oil.
-Add pasta to this mixture and combine completely.
-Add your salt and pepper to taste.
-Place your simple spaghetti in two bowls to serve, and top each dish with one remaining basil leaf.

If you have a backyard, patio, or courtyard area, this is the perfect meal to serve al fresco. Bon appetit!

Happy Anniversary {17 years of having a dad!}

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On this day 17 years ago, I got a Dad. I was the maid of honor for the most beautiful bride in the whole world-my mama. It was definitely one of the happiest days of my life (just take a look at my crazy happy face).

My Mimi spent hours the night before putting my hair into tiny braids so that I would have long, lovely waves for the wedding day. So much detail went into my handmade dress and headband, and my mother’s gorgeous handmade gown. Each intricate moment of that day was surely a gift from God.

I’m so thankful that this man chose to be my dad…taking away my feelings of fatherlessness and abandonment. My dad gave me a small picture of what God’s love looks like: to be loved, chosen, adopted, valued, and taken care of always.

On their wedding day, I was so nervous that I almost fainted prior to walking down the aisle. I took my maid of honor job so seriously, that I barely smiled as I walked. That wasn’t all, either. I stuck my finger in their wedding cake {which was the first time my new dad ever disciplined me}. My brother {the best man} put the ring box on his nose and ran around to show all of the guests. And while I’m sure we weren’t exactly the best behaved wedding party, I’m so glad my parents allowed us to be a part of their special day.

I am extremely grateful that my parents have stayed together through it all…through some of the most difficult seasons and circumstances.
Happy 17th anniversary to my amazing parents! I’m so proud of you!

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Style-on-a-Budget: Summer Nights

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It has been 97 degrees over here in sunny Los Angeles, which in my opinion is about 20 degrees too hot. Sometimes in this kind of heat, it’s exhausting to think about putting effort into fashion. However, when the summer nights cool down just a tad (you know, to 88 ish), I love to get dressed up in a casual-chic summer way.

Steal my look:
Shirt: H&M
Shorts: Cotton On
Wedges: Steve Madden

Hair:
In the summer time, it’s hot enough that I just let my hair air dry. I go for a natural look and simply add a touch of organic lavender lotion to get rid of any fly aways.

Makeup:
-Garnier oil free BB cream
-ELF all over color stick on my cheeks and lips
-ELF black mineral eyeliner
-Loreal black voluminous mascara

Manicure:
My current mani is Essie’s sand tropez. It’s a nice nude color that’s classic and goes with everything!

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Stay stylish and find some A/C this summer! XO,

Rachael

The God of Love.

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“He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, so,

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us.

-How He Loves Us, David Crowder Band

Lately, I have been reflecting on God’s love for me. Growing up, I knew God…I believed that He existed, but I only knew pieces and parts of Him, much like an acquaintance you’d see once or twice a year.

I knew the God of the law…the creator of the universe…the father of Jesus. I suppose I even knew that God was powerful, but I didn’t understand all of the ways He used His great strength.

I didn’t know the God of love…the God of mercy…the God of grace…the God of forgiveness. As I have come to know this loving God, this God who pours out compassion for me no matter how many times I stray or fail, I am amazed and humbled.

“God didn’t lose his temper and do away with us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.”
-Ephesians 2:4-5

For most of my life, I was afraid to get too close to God because I didn’t want Him to see all of my flaws (I know, He is God, He sees them anyway). I felt like I would be so overwhelmed with guilt, shame, judgement, condemnation, if I were to enter into relationship with a God who expected me to be perfect. And who was I kidding-I was already far from perfection.

But when I realized that God knew my imperfections, met me right where I was, and loved me still, I was brought to my knees. The best way I can express myself is through the line in the song above that says:

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us.”

I want you to know today that no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or how far you’ve strayed, you are never unloved by God. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to change and grow into mature women and make different choices sometimes, but His grace is sufficient in our times of failure.

The God of love is always present with you. His heart breaks for your sadness. He rejoices with your joys. Never forget in the midst of life that God loves you…all the time…everyday…every minute. It is life changing to realize that God loves us.

{Photo credit: Emily Magers Photography}

4 Step Natural Makeup {For $20!}

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Summer is the perfect time to show off your natural beauty! My everyday beauty regime is perfect, because it is quick, easy, affordable, and GOOD for my skin.

The most important thing about our skin is taking great care of it. I used to think that piling on tons of makeup was the key to looking flawless, but I learned that when I treat my skin well, I can go minimal with makeup (which looks better, feels better, and is much more cost effective).

Today, I’m sharing my tips for affordable, natural makeup that allows you to leave the house in under 10 minutes!

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That’s all you need, ladies! The great thing about exfoliating and using SPF/BB cream is that your skin will continue to correct and become even healthier with your consistency. Love the skin you’re in, and have a happy, beautiful summer.

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{Photo credit: Emily Magers}

5 Simple Gifts {To Be Thankful For}

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{Photo credit: Maureen Price}

Last week, my friend Maureen, who is a fabulous photographer, came over to use my husband and I as models for a project she is working on. She snapped that candid photo above while I was checking my email and petting my sweet chihuahua, Abby.

My heart was filled with joy when she sent me this photo, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Photography is amazing, because it can capture so much. A photo can freeze a moment in time, although many of these are posed, planned moments (such as school pictures or wedding photos). The reason I love this particular picture so much is because Maureen captured a candid, real, authentic, unplanned moment in time…my real life.

Recently, my husband and I were talking about how our generation and culture complain so often…we are so discontent…always seeking and wanting more. A picture really is worth a thousand words. As I looked at this simple, candid photograph, I was overwhelmed by the blessings in my life…the gifts right within the walls of my humble abode.

Today, I am going to share just 5 of the simple gifts I am thankful for in my life that were captured in the photo:

1. Home.
While our first place as a married couple is tiny, it is cozy…charming…warm…and it is truly home. We are so blessed to have a lovely, safe place to come home to everyday. A place where we work, eat, laugh, host, and worship.

2. Marriage.
While my husband didn’t make it into this picture, my wedding bouquet did. At 23 years old, I am lucky to have married the most incredible, godly, talented, handsome man. I never take Nathan for granted, or all that he does for me. He loves me so well.

3. Beautiful Creation.
We have big windows with a view of the mountains, where I can see the tree in our courtyard, watch flowers bloom, and feel the warmth of the sun. My heart and soul are filled with joy, as everyday I can look out my window and see God’s creation.

4. My Chihuahua.
Five years ago when I moved to LA, I adopted Abby the chihuahua, and she is truly a gift from God. She isn’t helpful, doesn’t know any cool tricks, and she doesn’t really serve a purpose other than to love me and make me laugh. I am so thankful for this tiny gift that I get to nurture.

5. Technology.
It is easy for our generation to overlook and take for granted the incredible opportunities we have now because of technology. With my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, I can work from anywhere and stay in touch with family across the country. It is truly a blessing.

Take a photo today of your “normal life” and what you’re thankful for, post it on instagram, and use the hashtag #5SimpleGifts. Be sure to tag me at @rachaelleeclarkson so I can see your blessings!

Xo,
Rachael

Weekend Lemon Blueberry Cake

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I’m sharing one of my favorite baking recipes on Identity Girls today, so I thought it would only be fair to share it here on my personal blog as well! Lemon cake is my favorite flavor…fresh, sweet, and delicious. I absolutely love baking, and came across a recipe I loved in Kinfolk for “Weekend Lemon Cake.”

Since July is national blueberry month (yes, us bakers celebrate such things), I decided to put my own spin on the Kinfolk recipe and change it up with a few of my favorite additions. I changed the recipe a lot, but that tends to happen with creative types in the kitchen! Keep this recipe handy and give it a try this weekend. It’s perfect to take to a potluck, dinner party, brunch, or to simply snack on yourself!

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Weekend Lemon Blueberry Cake {With Vanilla/Lemon Glaze}

Ingredients:

For the cake…
8 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons coconut oil (you can also use unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the glaze…
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons vanilla

Directions:

For the cake…
1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a 9×5 baking pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, sour cream, 1 cup of blueberries, and lemon zest until combined.
4. Sift the cake flour and baking powder, then stir into the other mixture.
5. Pour batter into your baking pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Decrease oven temperature to 280 degrees, and continue baking until cake tester inserted comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes longer.
7. Let your cake cool completely, about 30 minutes.

For the glaze…
1. In a medium sauce pan, whisk your confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla on low heat until combined and melted.
2. Quickly pour your glaze over the cake (it will harden very fast).
3. Place the rest of your fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup, on top of the glaze.

I hope you enjoy this delicious cake, and have a wonderful national blueberry month!