Mocktails & More {Refreshing Spring Drinks}

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There is nothing quite like sipping on a cool, refreshing, chilled drink on a warm spring afternoon! Hosting is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love having my girl friends over for tea, coffee, brunch, and pretty much anything edible. A really fun way to open up your home this spring season is to do a refreshing drink bar!

Los Angeles has already been in the 80s and 90s this spring, so offering a cold drink to guests is much appreciated. No matter what size you home is, you can easily throw together a refreshing drink bar! There are so many options, which makes this hosting experience so much fun! You could have a lemonade bar, an iced tea bar, or combine a few of your favorites!

Just the other day, my friend Emily went all out for Easter and set up the most incredible spring drink bar! This girl is no joke. She had infused water, lemonade, sprite and other drink mixers, and more!

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As if it couldn’t get any cuter and tastier, Emily set out fresh fruit to place in our lemonade, along with fresh lavender, rosemary, and thyme from her garden. {Oh-and she also outdid herself by making frozen raspberry ice cubes!}

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For hosting a spring drink bar in your home, start with your favorite pitchers and glasses! I love using mason jars and colorful straws.

Below are some of my favorite spring drink recipes. If you are hosting in the evening, simply call your event the “mocktail bar”…enjoy!

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Childlike Faith {At Every Age}

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One of my favorite things is to be at church, sitting in the pew, and watching a baby in the pew in front of me. Yesterday, I got just that kind of seat.

This little baby boy had such a huge smile on his face…such a radiating joy. His tiny hands would wave to me, and he would wiggle around with no fear, because he knew his father was holding onto him.

Watching the trust and faith that children have in their fathers is so beautiful. Looking at this little baby boy brought me an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy. He challenged me to have a deeper faith in my Father.

Psalm 116:6 says:

“The LORD protects the childlike and simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.”

Having childlike faith does not mean being immature, it simply means to be someone who trusts and loves the Father…believing wholly that He will protect, that He has saved, and that He sees you as His favorite child.

I don’t know what your relationship is like with your father here on earth, and I am fully aware that many people struggle with trusting a Heavenly Father when they have had such disfunction, hurt, and brokenness already.

I used to struggle so much with trusting God, because my family situation with my biological father has been far from perfect. From a very young age, my reality was one of divorced parents, tears, pain, heartbreak, confusion, and deep frustration. So when I tried to understand, let alone accept, God’s perfect love as my Father, it wasn’t an overnight process. While I love studying His word, watching debates, and better understanding theology, I can tell you that no amount of knowledge or education can help me to better grasp His unconditional love…because honestly, it’s unthinkable. It’s indescribable.

What brought me closer to God was childlike faith…humbling myself before Him…wrestling with Him…accepting my doubts…and holding onto Him like the baby in church held onto his father…fully trusting and believing that I am valuable to my Father and that He will always protect me because He does deeply love me.

For me, childlike faith is what keeps me joyful in all circumstances…it’s what brings me peace in the midst of chaos. Because when I try to be in control and have all of the answers, the pressure is overwhelming.

What circumstances and experiences are holding you back from His perfect love today? What is keeping you from childlike faith? What could you let go of in order to have more peace and joy in your life?

Vegan Tapas Night!

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“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

The reason I love cooking, preparing fun meals, and having people in my home, is not out of necessity. Isn’t it amazing that while we need good to live, it is so much more than filling up and sustaining our bodies?

Food is creative, beautiful, unique, versatile, exciting, and has a way of bringing people together.

As a creative spirit, I enjoy nothing more than preparing something new. This past weekend, my husband and I had friends over to our home who are vegan. While some may have seen this as an obstacle, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to try something different. Challenge accepted.

We decided to prepare a vegan tapas meal, which included:

-Pita bread
-Hummus
-Avocado salsa
-Green olives
-Roasted almonds with tamari
-Dried mango
-Marinated peppers
-Kale chips

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God is so creative. Just look at the color, vibrance, and life in this meal! And the best part is, it’s so easy!

I made homemade kale chips, which is so simple. Just grab a bunch of kale {I go for the thicker, larger leaves}, wash them, and place them in a bowl. Toss with some sea salt to taste, and two tablespoons of olive oil.

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Spread your kale out evenly on a baking sheet, or two depending on how many chips you’re making, and bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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There is great value in meeting in homes, breaking bread, sharing meals, and living in community with one another. Spring is the perfect time for a light vegan tapas meal. Try something new, be vegan for a day, explore the culture and color of food, sit on the floor, and enjoy the flavors that life puts on your plate!

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What’s Your Weakness?

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As I was doing my usual Pinterest scroll the other night, I stumbled upon the t-shirt above, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I really related to that feeling of exhaustion before there is even reason for the exhaustion.

The ironic part of this article is that I am currently sipping on a hot cup of yogi lemon ginger tea {delicious}, and the label on my tea bag reads:

“Share your strengths, not your weaknesses.”

Now, while I understand the motto of not being negative, I like to be real and authentic with you all. Perfection is not relatable, and it’s not a reality. We all go through suffering, difficulties, and weaknesses. So today, friends, I will share my weaknesses with you, despite what my tea tells me to do.

I have always been anemic {primarily iron deficient anemia}, and it has been something I have learned to live with. Some days are easier than others. Recently, however, my anemia has been harder to handle than ever {and I am also battling a chronic pain condition}. My body has felt weaker than ever. No matter how healthy I eat, how many vitamins and supplements I take, or how much sleep I get, I wake up feeling exhausted. I am fatigued all day. While I love hiking and doing yoga, now a simple walk with my dog leaves me feeling light headed and breathing heavily. It’s hard to be productive, social, or get any real work accomplished. Some days, I can’t even eat normally or keep food down.

And yes, as I sit here, I already want to take a nap tomorrow.

The frustrating part of anemia and chronic pain is that it’s not always something that manifests outwardly or where people can tell that you’re sick. It’s hard for people to sympathize or relate when they don’t understand or even see it. But the beauty is that God sees and cares.

One of my favorite verses for when I’m feeling alone in my struggles is Psalm 56:8, which says:

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”

While I don’t believe in dwelling on our pain and struggles {because it becomes unhealthy, pessimistic negativity}, we are not benefiting ourselves or others by pretending to be perfect.

Yesterday, our pastor at Central Avenue Church in Glendale, gave an amazing sermon for Palm Sunday about the beauty and importance of Jesus crying out to God, suffering, and feeling weak.

God doesn’t ignore our pain or drown out the sound of our cries. And even the King of Kings didn’t feel the need to put up a facade or pretend that pain simply did not exist.

As I apply makeup to the pale face and dark under-eye circles that my anemia has given me, I am reminded that Jesus suffered and sacrificed it all so that I didn’t have to be perfect. He gave it all so that I could find freedom out of my brokenness. He laid down his life so that I would see beauty come out of my flaws.

We do not have to dwell on our weaknesses. Sharing your weaknesses or knowing what they are doesn’t even mean liking or embracing them. You don’t have to hold onto them. But when you hold them up, with a humble faith-filled heart, God will shine through your weakness. In our weakness, He is strong.

There is something therapeutic about opening up and not hiding our weaknesses, because they are a part of who we are. We are all human! If you want prayer today for any weakness in your life, simply leave a comment below.

What’s your weakness?

Style-On-A-Budget: The Springtime Fedora

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Big, small, tan, caramel, brown…finding the right fedora for you is a springtime necessity!

Hats are one of my absolute favorite accessories. They are so easy to throw on to hide a bad hair day, they make getting ready simple, and fedoras will make a huge fashion statement this spring.

Today, I don’t have anything deep to share with you. Just a simple feminine truth that spring is more beautiful in a world where there are cappuccinos and fedoras.

A couple days ago, my husband took me on a brunch date where I had the most delectable, large, frothy cappuccino in a charming mug. It’s the little things, friends.

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My brunch date look was effortless. We were hungry, and still a bit sleepy, so we just wanted to roll out of bed and out the door. I had no time to waste on doing my hair.

The tinted moisturizer went on, along with one of my favorite Princess Vera Wang tops, and then it was time to wear my new fedora.

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The simple fedora I’m wearing was in the dollar section at Target. Having style this spring can be natural, easy, and cost effective! You don’t have to break the bank to stay trendy this season.

Rock a fedora like you’re a celebrity. Sip on a cappuccino like you’re a writer. Brunch like you’re on vacation. Enjoy spring like it’s going out of style.

My 4 Spring Beauty Must-Haves {Under $10!}

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“He has made everything beautiful in his time.”
-Ecclesiastes 3:11

Scripture tells us that there is a season for all things, and it is exciting and adventurous to find beauty in each and every season!

Spring is the time to be clean, fresh, natural, and effortless! If you have read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of saving money without missing out on the abundant life we have been blessed with. Today, I am sharing my budget beauty secrets with you!

During the spring season, I can get ready in less than ten minutes, using products that cost less than $10 each! In the photo below, I am wearing my 4 spring beauty must-haves:

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Steal My Budget Beauty Look:
-Tinted Moisturizer: Every girl needs to wear moisturizer. It is crucial and so helpful in these 90 degree Hollywood days. I use a natural, organic tinted moisturizer from Physicians Formula. It has a lovely lavender scent, which I love, since many tinted moisturizers reek of sunscreen. It gives me a smooth look and perfect light coverage while remaining fresh, natural, and SPF 15 safe! {$8}
-Color Stick: This all over color stick from ELF is amazing. Why? Well, to start out…it’s only $1! It’s light pink shimmer brings out the perfect spring time shine. ELF stands for: eyes, lips, face. I used this cover stick on my lips, on my eyelids, and on my cheek bones as well. {$1}
-Waterproof Mascara: I adore waterproof mascara. Why? Because it’s spring time, it’s 90 degrees, and no matter how how it gets, this stuff doesn’t run! I use Loreal 24 hour voluminous waterproof mascara, which was actually recommended to me by my amazing wedding makeup artist. {$8}
-Texturizing Hair Spray: I let my hair air dry naturally, and I lightly spritz “Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Seal Salt Texturizing Spray” to my locks. It creates a great natural, beachy look, and it’s so easy! {$8}

Do some spring cleaning in your hair and makeup drawer. Out with the old, in with the simplistic. Try my favorites and get ready for a spring day in 10 minutes on a budget!

What are some of your spring beauty must-haves? :)

The Secret To Becoming Courageous

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“Courage comes from a heart that is CONVINCED it is loved.” ― Beth Moore

My husband and I are lovers of heroes. There is nothing more exciting than getting swept away in a beautiful story about someone who has the courage to conquer and overcome. These stories are inspiring, but we often believe them to be pure fantasy. Many women in today’s film and television culture often portray women in a way that seems we have no value, worth, or self control. These stories make women look weak…but my God called us to be much more.

This makes me wonder…

Are we lacking courage because we are lacking love?

Having faith, courage, strength, dignity, and influence does not happen by accident. Living in Los Angeles, being a writer, actor, wife, chihuahua tamer, and homemaker, does not come without it’s challenges.

Many years of my life were spent battling my own demons. I would fight these inner thoughts, lies, sins, and challenges…and I won’t lie to you, friends…sometimes I felt defeated. Teenage years were spent in tears, crying out to God, wondering why I couldn’t just be strong like wonderwoman.

What was the secret? I always wondered. There must be one.

If you have ever read a book or watched a film about a hero, you will notice that they face challenges…stumble…fall…get injured…become frustrated…become exhausted…fight dragons…and sometimes get burned.

The biggest lie I ever believed was that because I faced challenges and made mistakes, I could never be used by God. It is because of my unique experiences that God can shine through me in ways I never could have imagined. Your past and present matter…your story matters. God values history…and He makes it part of His-story.

The truth is, friends, that there is a secret. The secret to becoming a courageous woman is being a loved woman. If you don’t know your worth, you can’t help others know theirs. If you do not understand the absolute, unfailing love that Jesus has for you, you will never understand that he isn’t waiting for you to become perfect so that he can use you. He wants to use you right now, exactly where you are.

It is true that God is a redeemer. However, part of becoming set free is accepting His love and combining it with our unique journeys…not trying to brainwash ourselves and attempt perfection. We have all heard the saying that we cannot love until we love ourselves. It goes deeper than that. I did not have the capacity to love others deeply and healthily until I knew how God loved me. I was not able to step out in faith, become a woman of influence, or have courage in my marriage, friendships, and daily life until I realized that God’s love is a hero’s fuel.

What’s keeping you from gaining this fuel today? Perhaps a relationship, insecurity, or lie is keeping you from God’s love. I want to challenge you to open your heart and hand those roadblocks over to God. I wasted years of my life believing that I wasn’t worthy of love. Jesus died for us to accept this gift…he died with courage to give us courage.

You are loved today.

What Standards Are Controlling Your Life?

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“The images bombarded me. They filled my mind with lies, these fantasies of what could be.

The perfect wife; that’s what I saw on Pinterest, Facebook, and in all these books I had been told to read. But the problem was, I simply could not live up to this idea of being the good wife.”

-An entry in my journal from a few days ago.

Ever since I got married, only a little more than a month ago, I had my heart and soul filled with high ideals. Thee ideals arose from good intentions. My husband is this incredible man; this dream guy that I can’t believe I get to be best friends with and do life with forever.

But somewhere in the midst of work, health issues, running my own ministry, and being a full time wife, I found myself deeply overwhelmed and failing.

Will there ever be enough hours in the day to do it all?

The answer is no.

My own disappointments at failures I set myself up to left me frustrated. My husband, sensing my frustration, reminded me that I can’t do it all…and that’s okay. He also reminded me that I need to allow myself grace.

This astounded me. Something so simple, yet so powerful.

I won’t always be able to be a full time wife, keep a perfect and spotless home, cook meals, make time for yoga, work hard, run a ministry, spend time with God, and make time for friends and alone time all in the same day. But I suddenly realized that neither my husband or God expected this of me.

God simply calls me to be loving, kind, patient, serving, and respectful.

My husband simply calls me to be his best friend.

The world, however, calls me to have a perfect body, a perfect home, a perfect career, and a perfect marriage at all times.

Who have I been listening to? What lies have filled my heart and contaminated my soul? This, my friends, is a serious spring cleaning.

I am cleaning my heart, mind, and soul of every lie and expectation that is not from the two men who love me most: The Lord and my husband.

As anxiety and pressure consumes you, I wonder if you could be set free if perhaps you would listen to a different voice…focus on the Father…hear from those who truly love you and want your best.

Like God, my husband reminded me that he wouldn’t love me less if dishes were left in the sink, if laundry waited an extra day, or if a shelf wasn’t dusted. His love is not conditional. My joy is more important to him than a spotless home.

This isn’t my post about how I have it all figured out. I am a work in progress and want to walk this out with you.

How could your heart change if you held yourself to a standard of grace rather than perfection?

Free Spring Date #1: The Raid-Your-Pantry-Picnic

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Hello, lovely friends of mine. It is 90 degrees here in Hollywood, and spring has officially sprung.

Sometimes in our fast paced world of technology, I think we lose our sense of adventure. With gorgeous sunny weather, and an entire world to explore, spring is the perfect time to try something new!

Throughout this month, I will be posting some of my favorite free spring date ideas! My husband and I have decided to save money and get creative by using what’s around us to have a beautiful, wonderful day.

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The first free spring date I have for you is the raid-your-pantry-picnic. All you need to start out with is a picnic basket!

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Next, raid your pantry! What leftovers do you have? Our usual picnic would be more of a cheese, fruit, and cracker sort of thing. But since we didn’t want to spend a dime on this date, we used leftovers from the fridge and pantry. This became super fun and creative, and gave our picnic a Mexican vibe.

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Find a beautiful park or hiking trail to host your free date in. And be adventurous! Nathan grabbed a walking stick to protect us from the mountain lions, and I attempted to climb a tree.

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Life doesn’t have to be mundane, and you don’t have to spend money to have a great time. These are things you can do with a best friend, family member, boyfriend, or husband!

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Style-On-A-Budget: The Double Date

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Oh, the double date. What could be better? Getting to enjoy a night out, awesome food, great conversation, all with my husband and best girl friend.

For the double-dinner-date, I wanted to play it casual-chic with an easy, effortless look. You can steal my look for your plans this weekend {perfect for a girls night or date night!}.

Steal My Style:
-Grey Tank: I actually got this tank top in the mens section of Forever 21. I love mens shirts because they aren’t so skin tight, and offer a more loose, carefree, comfy look! (And I believe it was only $4!)
-Skinny Jeans: Skinny jeans are a perfect compliment to the loose tank. I got my Levi’s at Kohl’s, but you can find them anywhere!
-Brown Wrap: Believe it or not, I met my husband wearing this brown wrap 4 years ago! I believe in having a cozy wrap in almost every color.
-Black Wedges: I got these wedges years ago from New York and Company. They are super comfy, and dress up my laid back style.
-Brown Skinny Belt: The husband actually got this belt for me. Points for him! It ties the color together with my brown wrap and brown hair!
-Gold Heart Arrow Necklace: Also from the husband…2 points for him.
-Classic Black Bag: My mom has always had a gift for picking out the most perfect purses! This one is Princess Vera Wang.

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Want more than just fashion tips? Let’s delve into the beauty world! There are a few other things I never leave for date night without putting on first!

My Beauty Favorites:
-Perfume: Ralph Lauren Romance
-Makeup: MAC mineralize skin finish natural powder, MAC eyeliner, and Loreal long-lasting lip color.

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Enjoy a girls night, date night, or double date night wearing your fashion and beauty must haves! What are some of your go-to makeup products?