Monday, May 21, 2018

What to Pack for a Tropical Vacation

Less than two weeks from now, I'll be sitting in sunny Cancun, enjoying piña coladas in the pool with friends. I know - I can't wait! I'm officially in countdown mode, which means I'm deciding which items I want to bring - especially clothing. While planning outfits, I realized I had 12 must-pack items. Today, I'm sharing those with you in case you have a tropical vacation coming up. Enjoy!

1. A flowy jumpsuit.
2. Mix-and-match bikini.
3. A versatile beach bag.
4. A romper cover-up.
5. Any-occasion jean shorts.
6. A sun-protecting baseball cap.
7. An adorable one piece suit.
8. A floral off-the-shoulder dress.
9. A summer-ready romper.
10. Thick heeled sandals.
11. Everyday sunglasses.
12. A floral blouse.

More of my favorites below!

JUMPSUITS

BIKINIS

BEACH BAGS

COVER-UPS

SHORTS

DRESSES

BASEBALL CAPS

ONE PIECE SUITS

ROMPERS

HEELS

SUNGLASSES
Nude / Glitter / Pink

BLOUSES
Tied / Blue / Pink

Looking forward to my Mexican vacation!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Recipe // Chocolate Chip Espresso Bars

This may be one of my favorite desserts I've ever made. Combining coffee and chocolate chips seems to be the magic combination. I originally found this dessert on my go-to recipe website, Betty Crocker, and knew I just had to make it for National Chocolate Chip Day. I hope you enjoy it as much as my office did. ;)


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake mix
⅓ cup butter, softened
2 egg whites
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 whole eggs
1 cup powered sugar
1.5 teaspoons coffee powder
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

HOW TO MAKE IT:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Beat cake mix, butter, and egg whites until crumbly.
3. Press mixture into ungreased 13x9 pan.
4. Beat cream cheese and whole eggs until smooth.
5. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and coffee powder.
6. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
7. Spread mixture over crust.
8. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until set.
9. Cool completely and then cut into bars.


Have a wonderful National Chocolate Chip Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fun Activities to do with Mom this Mother's Day


This Mother's Day is going to be a little different than last year. To celebrate my mom last year, my sister and I booked a Paint Nite for the three of us, which was so fun! This year, it happens to be the University of Illinois' graduation weekend, so we're celebrating my sister's fiancé as he graduates. Although we won't be taking her out for an activity this year, I put together a fun list of things to do with her when we celebrate later in the month. Below are my top nine things to do with mom this Mother's Day.


GET DRESSED UP - There's always something fun about getting gussied up to go out.

FAMILY BIKE RIDE - Get outside and enjoy this gorgeous spring weather we've been having.

TOUR A MUSEUM OR GALLERY - Explore your artsy side together.


TAKE AN ART CLASS - Why not learn pottery or go to a paint nite?

HAVE A PICNIC - Find a park with a beautiful view to enjoy your meal.

BAKING PARTY - Learn one of mom's favorite recipes while spending time together.


WATCH OLD HOME VIDEOS - Give mom all the feels with some flashback moments.

CHOCOLATE TASTING - Try different kinds of your favorite sweet treat.

TEA PARTY - Enjoy tiny sandwiches and hot tea together.


Have a wonderful time celebrating Mom this weekend!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Recipe // Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

National Lemonade Day calls for lemonade cupcakes! I initially found this recipe on Your Cup of Cake and just had to try it. I made a couple of tweaks to make the recipe super simple; the result - a super tasty lemonade cupcake with fresh raspberry frosting.


WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR THE CUPCAKES:
1 box Betty Crocker super moist white cake mix
3 eggs
⅓ cup oil
1 cup milk
3 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

HOW TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners.
2. Zest your 3 lemons.
3. Mix cake mix, eggs, oil, milk, and lemon juice.
4. Add in lemon zest (be sure to save 1 teaspoon for your frosting).
5. Add batter to cupcake pan (I found that 2 tablespoons each works perfectly).
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR THE FROSTING:
1 can Betty Crocker whipped white icing
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup pureed fresh raspberries
fresh raspberries

HOW TO MAKE THE FROSTING:
1. Blend raspberries to create puree.
2. Mix puree and lemon zest with frosting.
3. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
4. Top with fresh raspberries.

 

Happy National Lemonade Day everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

My Prayer for this Season of Life

Prayer is such a big piece in developing your relationship with God. It gives time to speak to Him directly, allowing you to share your innermost feelings with Him. Today is the National Day of Prayer, so I encourage you to set some time aside to speak to Him. Allow yourself to dive into your relationship and connect.

Today, I'm sharing my prayer for this season of life.


Dearest Lord,

Thank you for allowing us to connect with you on such a personal level. You're the Almighty, but still take time to speak to us individually. Your love pours out into each facet of our lives, and this is just one example of that.

Lord, there are a lot of changes that are slowly hitting my family in the coming months. I'm moving to the city and out of my parents' house in the summer, which means my parents will return to empty nesters. It'll be an adjustment for all of us, but I know it will be hardest on my mom. Please be with her as we go forward with these changes, reminding her that I'm still close to home. The other big change revolves around Bethany and her fiancé. They are in the midst of planning their lives together, with a lot of things still up in the air. The uncertainty is so hard on them, so please continue to remind them that it's all in your hands and everything will work out as it should.

Lord, I am forever grateful for the friends that you've placed in my life. Despite moving so often, you've allowed me to foster friendships that will last a lifetime. We are all hitting different stages of life at different times - some are married, some parents, some starting new adventures, and some in stages of consistency. Despite all of this, we've remained close. Please allow that to continue, giving us opportunities to support and care for one another. Please also allow me to continue to foster the new friendships that are developing in my life. I'm so lucky to have found this group and can't wait to see how you use them in my life.

Lord, moving can be stressful. Although we're not moving for another few months, the planning has started. Please allow us to have a seamless transition. There's four of us coming together to live for the first time, so there will be a time of adjustment. Please help us to find the best place to start our lives in Chicago. Give us clarity on where to put down roots, helping us move from the suburbs to the city.

Lord, I am so thankful that you led me to the job that I'm in. There were a lot of questions about where you wanted me, but I know that this was it. Please allow me to work hard and take chances. I want to thrive in my role, but I can only do that with your help. I want to glorify You in everything I do, so please give me opportunities to let you shine through my job.

Lord, you gave me the strangest of bodies, however, this body led me to you. Through all of the doctor appointments, tests, and medication changes, you guided me. I will forever be grateful for this illness for allowing your grace to shine through it. Although I've been feeling better for the past few months, every now and again I have days where everything hits and I'm transported back to the beginning. Please help me take care of my body. I'm hoping that working out and eating better will allow my medication to work in a more consistent manner. I want to feel my best, with less nausea each day. Please keep my body strong as I work to put my health first.

Lord, thank you for all of the changes that are happening right now. Between starting a new job and moving, my sister getting married, and so many little things happening, it could be a very stressful time. But thankfully, I have you. You're continually there for me to lean on and express myself to. How lucky am I to have that? Please help me to glorify your kingdom in everything I do, from the little things to the big things.

In your loving name,
Amen

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Currently // April to May

This month, I'm trying out a new format for my Monthly To Do List. It's going to be a little more personal, as opposed to just a basic list. I want to keep you updated on what's happening in my life on a monthly basis, so this will be a nice way to tell you what's happening in my life currently.

APRIL RECAP

April was a great month. I was really busy, but, thankfully, had one weekend where I had nothing going on. As much as I love being busy, there was something so nice about having that one weekend of nothing. I watched TV, relaxed outside, and went for a run. It was a very "me" weekend, which was amazing. The other weekends were busy! The first day of the month was Easter, so I started April celebrating my Savior's resurrection (and a visit from the Easter Bunny). I then jetted off on my first business trip in my new role to New York City. I spent the week there bonding with my team, seeing a Yankees' game and Broadway show, and enjoying the city. Other highlights from the month include seeing my sister three weekends in a row (which was the best!), seeing the Shen Yun show with my family, attending my church's first 20-30 Something Women's Group, taking a day to Chicago, "Joining the Pact" to never drink and drive, and completing not one, but two!, 5Ks.

CATCHING UP ON LAVENDER ELIZABETH'S APRIL

  1. My March Recap & April To Dos A recap of my March and a look into my April plans
  2. Trip Recap: New York City See how I spent my week in NYC
  3. Yellow Shopping Finds All of my favorite yellow pieces to shop right now
  4. Chicago Hotspot // Eataly A look into one of Chicago's favorite places: Eataly
  5. Recipe: Super Simple Cheeseball Learn how to make my mom's go-to party recipe
  6. 20 Fun Activities to do with your Girlfriends A complete list of unique things to do with friends
  7. Bible Verses // God is your Rock Bible verses for when you need a reminder that God is forever your Rock
  8. Fashion Finds // Striped Spring Dresses My favorite striped dresses perfect for spring
  9. What I'm Loving this Month // April My favorite things in April

COMING UP THIS MONTH


May 5-6: begin packing up my Urbana apartment
May 12: attend Kenneth (sister's fiancé)'s college graduation
May 13: celebrate Mother's Day
May 15-17: travel to my company's headquarters to host a 3-day connect week for our rotational program
May 19: explore Chicago neighborhoods to determine where we want to live
May 20: attend my church's 20-30 Something Women's Group
May 26-29: my best friends from college are coming to town for the long weekend
May 31-June 4: head to Cancun for an Adult Spring Break

Along with the above, I have a couple of items on my to-do list:
  1. Do a 30-day prayer challenge.
  2. Continue to work out.
  3. Buy some cute clothes for Mexico.

Have a wonderful May everyone!

Monday, April 30, 2018

What I'm Loving this Month // April

Today, I'm starting a new monthly series featuring what I'm loving each month. This can include food, activities, fashion, tv, etc. - it's whatever I've been enjoying for the past 30 days. First up: April!


American Idol and Will & Grace
It may not be everyone's opinion, but I'm loving Katy Perry. I never realized how knowledgeable she was, plus, she's freaking funny. Just totally herself and unapologetically so. I've also been watching Will & Grace's first eight seasons on Hulu. I only have the series finale left, so I'm about to start the new series!

Pixel Art
This is an app I downloaded from an Instagram ad, believe-it-or-not - and I love it! It's color by number, so super simple to use. It's my go-to app for relaxation right now.

Working Out
This month, I've consistently been working out at least 3 times a week and I'm loving it. I used to be a competitive dancer, so it's nice to be getting back into shape. My muscles are slowly realizing what it means to work again and I can feel myself getting stronger.

Champion for Target Workout Attire
This is practically all I wear when I work out. I have their leggings, runners, sports bras, and shirts. They're comfortable, cute, and reasonably priced.

Going to the Movies
This month, I've gone to the movies almost once a week. I saw Love, Simon, Chappaquiddick, and I Feel Pretty. Up until this month, I hadn't been to the movies in ages and I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Spring Nail Colors
It's finally warming up here in the Midwest, which means the spring nail polishes are coming out! This month, I've had my nails painted Thanks a WindMillion by OPI and Look at my Bow! by OPI.

Windy Cindy Blogger Collective
I recently stumbled upon this Instagram account that showcases Chicago bloggers. I'm loving connecting with other bloggers in my area!

Tell me: what are you loving this month?