2017 Goals Update

DG-2017 Goals Update

You guys. This year is absolutely flying by! With the realization that May is almost here also comes the reminder to get serious about my goals. As promised, I’m here to check in with an update on my goals for 2017. To be honest, I’m not as far along in these goals as I would like to be at this point in the year, but my mantra is “progress over perfection”. Hopefully, you read my 5 Goals for 2017 post at the end of last year. If not, here’s a quick recap & update of my top 5 goals this year:

    1. Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week – Exercise took a hit at the end of February/early March when we went on vacation. I wanted so badly to stick with it, but I got a little slack. Thankfully, I rediscovered my motivation and have been finding new ways to get those 30 minutes of exercise in. I walk with a few ladies from work several days a week and it has been a great way to stay accountable!
    2. Read 20 books – At this time, I’ve read 4 books. I’m in the middle of 2 others right now. I’m trying to balance nonfiction with fiction which may be why I’m reading at a slower pace than I would prefer. I plan to spend more time reading on the weekends.
    3. Try 10 new recipes – I must admit, I have not been pursuing this goal at all. Writing this post reminded me to hold myself accountable, so I planned a new recipe for one of our dinners this week!
    4. Practice photography – Other than taking photos for a few recent blog posts, I have not dedicated time to practicing my photography. I’m still looking for an e-course that can challenge me with creative photography. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!
    5. Listen – This may be the most difficult of all my goals. I do struggle to listen intently, so I have been practicing this with family, friends, and co-workers. It’s a process, no doubt!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this update and that it has inspired you to continue pursuing your goals!

Spring Wish List

Spring Wish List - Discovering GraceToday, I’m sharing a little spring wish list with a focus on two areas I’m trying to improve: skin care & style. One major task I have going on in my life right now is transitioning to non-toxic beauty and household cleaning products. I am doing a lot of research and trying to be budget-friendly, so the process is kind of arduous, but I am loving it! I have a tendency to want quick fixes, but I’m learning that slow & purposeful really does have so many benefits. 

Skin care

After reading this blog post from Ali over on Inspiralized.com, I was inspired to take the plunge and start swapping out my beauty and skin care products for non-toxic items. She encouraged her readers to download the Think Dirty app and check the toxicity levels of all their current products. Think Dirty is a product comparison app that rates toxicity from 0-10 (0 being least toxic, 10 being highly toxic). I was shocked to find several of my “natural” products were an 8 or 9! Once I evaluated the current state of things, I started determining the priority of items I needed to swap.

Style

I’ve also been simplifying my wardrobe lately and realizing my go-to styles and colors. This is helping me resist the urge to buy something unless it fits within the style guidelines I’ve created. I’m also researching ways to make more ethical purchases. This pushes me to save money and plan ahead to buy better quality items that will last longer. For years, I have bought cheap clothes and shoes that only last a season or two, at best. I want to simplify my wardrobe with quality purchases when I can.

The List

1. This book is at the top of my Amazon wish list & I plan to buy it later this week. I have heard many great things about it and I’m excited to learn more about natural skin care.

2. I have a love/hate relationship with Herbivore Botanicals. Such beautiful branding & packaging, but the price can be a bit overwhelming for the girl who usually spends less than $10 on products at Target! Like I said earlier, though, I am learning to value quality and I know these products are top of the line.

3. I have always been a fan of the Toms brand and I must say their sunglasses are so stylish! Bonus: For every purchase, Toms provides eye care for someone in need!

4. This book has been making waves recently and I can’t wait to dive in. My closet/style has needed some serious fine-tuning for years and I feel very inspired this season to work on it!

5. I just love a good leather sandle for spring & summer. These caught my eye & I’m using them as my warm weather shoe-muse!

I do hope as this non-toxic, ethical trend grows, we will see more affordable/accessible options that offer a great product without sacrificing quality. I would love to hear from you if you have recommendations for products or resources that can help with this transition!

DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets

DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets - Discovering GraceI must say that Easter is my favorite holiday. The season surrounding it is truly delightful. I love in spring how we, along with nature, shake off the weight of winter and blossom with renewed purpose and hope for what lies ahead. For me, the awakening that takes place during this season exemplifies the heart of Easter: the resurrection of Jesus. It is here where we discover the gift of grace in it’s purest form and celebration ensues!  

Speaking of gifts, it’s no secret that I love gift-giving! There is something so special about gathering items and creating the perfect gift for someone I love. Since Easter is fast-approaching, I thought it would be fun to make some “grown up” Easter baskets. I decided to make two baskets with different themes: food & spa.DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets - Discovering Grace

DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets - Discovering GraceTraditionally, Easter baskets are filled to the brim with assorted candies and chocolates and they are usually brightly colored. However, I wanted to go in a softer, simpler direction with style. For the food basket, I chose sparkling wine, cheese, crackers, and chocolate (duh!). The spa basket contains sparkling rosé, chocolate, my DIY bath soak , and a lovely candle.

Supplies:
  • baskets (I got mine at World Market)
  • gift filler
  • various goodies to fit your theme (wine, chocolate, candles, etc.)

DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets - Discovering GraceI absolutely adore the packaging on those Mast chocolate bars! Swoon.DIY Grown Up Easter Baskets - Discovering GraceYou can customize these gift baskets in so many ways! For example, I think a gardening themed basket would also make a great gift this season for those with a green thumb. I hope this post inspires you to make some baskets for your friends and family members!
Happy Easter!

Matcha Mule – A New Twist on a Classic Sip

Discovering Grace - Matcha MuleI’d like to start this post by sharing a fact about myself: I very rarely do/buy something simply because it’s trendy or popular. In fact, I often avoid trying things for that reason. However, I am also a firm believer that everyone should be confident in their likes/dislikes. Sometimes I like something that’s super trendy and that is okay. One trend I’ve noticed a lot lately and am totally on board with is matcha!

I was first introduced when I worked as a barista at Starbucks and have loved it ever since. In case you aren’t familiar, matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea. Matcha contains a very high concentration of antioxidants, boosts metabolism, and naturally detoxifies the body. Those are just a few of the many health benefits! As you might have guessed, the powder is a bright green color which I think adds fun to the experience!Discovering Grace - Matcha MuleWith St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I thought it might be fun to use matcha in a fun cocktail creation. This may seem counterintuitive to all those health benefits I mentioned, but I think adding it to a cocktail will balance everything out. I decided to do a twist on my favorite cocktail, the Moscow Mule.

I love how light + refreshing this drink is and the matcha adds just a hint of flavor and a bold color to celebrate the holiday. Bonus: this could easily make a delicious mocktail for those who don’t drink alcohol! I am Irish through and through, so I definitely plan to celebrate my heritage on St. Patty’s Day!  If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! 

Matcha Mule, serves 1

Ingredients
  • 1 – 1.5 oz. vodka
  • .5 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz. ginger beer
  • 1 tsp. matcha (cold brew)
  • lime wheel and/or mint sprig for garnish

Discovering Grace - Matcha Mule

Instructions
  1. To make cold brew matcha add 1 tsp. matcha powder to 6 oz. cold water. Shake until matcha is dissolved.
  2. Pour lime juice into glass or copper mug.
  3. Add enough ice (I prefer crushed) to fill glass.
  4. Pour vodka and ginger beer over ice.
  5. Add matcha – I used 4 teaspoons of cold brew matcha to get the color I liked. Add more or less depending on preference.
  6. Stir gently.
  7. Add a lime wheel or sprig of mint for garnish.
  8. Enjoy!

Discovering Grace - Matcha Mule

Discovering Grace - Matcha Mule

DIY Bath Soak Valentine’s Gift

You guys, Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching and I have the perfect DIY gift for you and your friends! Since Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year, it makes sense to skip the crowded restaurants and opt for an in-home spa experience instead. I can think of no better way to relax after a long day at work than a peaceful bath – glass of wine optional.

I’ve been on a mission for months to rid my house of chemical-laden products. However, the natural and chemical-free products can often be a bit more expensive. I decided I could make my own versions of some of my favorite products with just a few ingredients (most of which I already had on-hand). This bath soak is all-natural and an ideal gift for Valentine’s Day!

For the bath soak, I used:

  • 1 cup himalayan salt
  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 10 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 10 drops wild orange essential oil
  • glass bottles (I got mine at Michaels)

Ylang Ylang essential oil is commonly used for its antidepressant properties which reduce anxiety and stress. Wild Orange essential oil is known for its pleasant smell and ability to uplift your mood. Himalayan salt has many health benefits, but one I find particularly helpful is the promotion of stable pH balance. Plus, it definitely doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty & pink! Lastly, epsom salt is always helpful in soothing sore muscles and other aches/pains. This combination is sure to provide you with a wonderful, stress-free evening. 

Instructions:

First, I combined both salts in a bowl and mixed together well. Then I added the essential oils and mixed in with the salts to disperse the oil. Lastly, I portioned out the perfect amount for each bottle which has enough contents for two baths, added my gift tag, and voila! So easy and so beautiful!


As with most things, I love how versatile this DIY is. You could combine any number of essential oils and herbs to create your perfect soak. I think lavender or eucalyptus would also make amazing options! Be sure to let me know in the comments if you give this DIY a try!

Guest Room Before + Inspiration

I love room makeovers. I feel giddy whenever I see the before + after of a space in someone’s home. The transformation of a space that highlights utility and beauty is always inspiring. If I’m honest, though, that giddy feeling is far too often replaced by jealousy. I find myself discontent because I can’t afford thousand-dollar area rugs or $300 planters from West Elm. Thankfully, my husband is always quick to remind me that I can cultivate a beautiful home in my own way, in my own time. This is such great advice because the longer I wait to decorate a space, the more refined and curated the vision becomes.

Over the years we’ve been able to furnish the main rooms of our apartments (living room, master bedroom, kitchen/dining). However, this is the first space where we finally have the budget/space to create a proper guest room.

Before

As you can see, our current setup has been seriously neglected. The “guest room” is made up of a bed frame, mattress, some exercise equipment, and a few odds & ends…not exactly my Pinterest dreams and not at all a welcoming space for guests. Seeing these photos is slightly embarrassing, but it also reminds me that I have a blank canvas to work with and that is exciting!

So, I made a mood board to collect all the decor inspiration in one place and create a cohesive theme for the room. Links to all the products are provided below.

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

My goal is to create a very relaxing/cozy vibe for our guests. I want to use a lot of neutrals with some soft pinks and blues to accent. Of course a room wouldn’t be complete without some plants and brass elements. Textures are really captivating me lately. I plan to incorporate baskets and a wall hanging made with yarn (maybe a DIY!).

I’m very excited to share the progress of our guest room with you in the coming weeks! This is my first major room makeover so I’d love any advice or tips you have! What are some of your favorite elements to add to a room?

5 Goals for 2017

Goals 2017

At the end of a year, most people make a list of resolutions or goals they hope to accomplish in the new year. Sometimes, it seems the same goal appears year after year (I’m looking at you “Eat healthy/lose weight/go to the gym more”) or perhaps you’ve discovered a new interest and plan to make time to explore it. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, I believe it is always important to make goals. Goals give us structure and help us aspire to be better versions of ourselves. Personal growth is a process I value greatly. However, I have a tendency toward vague and/or lofty goals with little accountability and follow-through.  My plan for 2017 is to make specific goals I know I can attain and share them with you here on the blog.

Is the suspense killing you yet?! Well, without further ado, here are my 5 goals for 2017:

  • Read 20 books. I read 13 books in 2016, so I definitely know I can stretch to 20 next year. Normally, I try to read new books exclusively, but I feel like re-reading a few of my favorites soon, so I’m allowing repeats this time. Any suggestions for reading material? I’m all ears!
  • Try 10 new recipes. It is far too easy for me to get stuck making the same meals week after week with little variety. This works well with a busy schedule, but I want to make an effort to try new and slightly more complex recipes in 2017. What are some of your go-to recipes?
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days/week. Regular/consistent exercise is a routine I’ve always struggled with, but I am determined to make a habit in 2017. This could be brisk walking, biking, or circuit training. As long as I carve out 30 intentional minutes, I’m good to go. What’s your favorite way to be active?
  • Practice photography. Since starting this blog, I’ve realized I lack confidence in my photography and get a little stressed out whenever I’m shooting for a post. I want to spend more time practicing and experimenting with different styles and techniques. I may try a 30-day challenge or take an e-course, but I know I will try to take as many photos as I can to increase my confidence.
  • Listen. I love to talk. I like to tell jokes and stories (admittedly, I try too hard) and sometimes I think my opinion/perspective is the most important. Unfortunately, I am not so great at listening and I tend to interrupt quite a bit. This year, I am going to actively practice listening to be a better wife, friend, and employee. I want the people in my life to feel valued, so I am choosing to listen well. 

Whew! It feels so good to share all of my goals with you. I’m definitely striving to foster my creativity in 2017 which I hope reflects in the content here. Sharing these goals creates a sense of accountability with you and I plan to post quarterly updates with my progress. As always, I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your goals/resolutions for 2017? Happy New Year!

DIY Minimal Wall Clock Makeover

So, I have a confession to make. I am kind of obsessed with wall clocks. Whenever I’m in Target, I linger on the aisle with all the clocks and try to picture each of my favorites in different rooms around my house. I’ve also seen some really beautiful and simple modern clock options on West Elm and Crate & Barrel. Though I love some of these options, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for a DIY project. So, I set out to find a clock at a local thrift store and make my own DIY version.

This project is one of the simplest and most affordable DIYs to-date. Since I already had the spray paint I wanted to use, I only had to pay for the clock which ended up being $3 at Goodwill. You will likely need to replace the batteries with fresh ones, so that could add to your total cost, but we also had extra batteries at home.

 Supplies:

-Clock (I found mine at Goodwill, but you could always buy an inexpensive option somewhere else depending on the size you want and your budget)

-Spray paint ( I chose matte black and rose gold, but the possibilities/combinations are endless)

-Batteries

Process:

Step 1 (not pictured): Clean the clock. Since this was a used, thrift store find, it had accumulated a bit of dust and grime. It’s always good to make sure you get rid of as much dust/dirt as possible prior to spray painting. A spritz of glass cleaner did the trick and cleaned it right up!

Step 2: Take the clock apart and separate the pieces into 2 areas (one for each color of paint).

[Please pardon my very fancy “spray paint osb”…this is real life :)]

Step 3: Paint all parts with designated color choice.

Step 4: Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 5. Put clock parts together.

Step 6: Hang & admire!

I am thrilled with the result! The minimal look really appeals to my love for all things modern/Scandinavian! My favorite thing about this project is how simple and versatile it is! You could choose any colors or patterns to fit your home decor style.  I have a feeling I will repeat this project again with a bit of a twist. Be sure to send me a photo if you recreate this project!

Friendsgiving 2016

It seems that Friendsgiving has become an increasingly popular holiday to celebrate over the past few years and I won’t complain. Close friends, delicious food, pretty decorations…what’s not to love? Plus, I am a firm believer in using any reason to have a party!

While I am a huge fan of all holidays, Thanksgiving is always a season where I intentionally take time to reflect on the previous year and each relationship or growth opportunity I am grateful for. This year has been exceptionally full of changes and growth both for me and my closest friends. This is likely one of the last times that the 10 of us will celebrate a holiday before embarking on the journey of parenthood, so I felt it was especially important to gather this year. I decided we should have a Friendsgiving celebration for reflection as well as anticipation.

Friendsgiving 2016 TablescapeOne of my favorite aspects of any party is the tablescape. Friendsgiving was no exception. After perusing Pinterest for a couple of weeks, I created my place settings and decor using inspiration from a few of my favorite fall tablescape looks. To accommodate 10 people, we needed to put 2, 6’ tables end to end. I knew I wanted neutral tablecloths so that every accent would stand out. After going to about 6 different stores, I ended up finding the light gray fabric tablecloths at Party City. They were an extremely affordable option ($10 each), especially since I knew the cloth wouldn’t be a focal point. For napkins, I wanted cloth in a mustard yellow. I found a pack of 12 at Home Goods for $14.

Friendsgiving 2016 Place setting

For plates, I decided to use our white, everyday set from IKEA. White is perfect as a blank canvas and doesn’t distract from the other elements I wanted to display. As it turns out, Party City provided the solution to another problem I had: gold cutlery. I currently have 6 sets of gold flatware from Target, but I needed 10 for Friendsgiving. While I hope to acquire more sets over time, the holiday budget is tight, so I opted for sturdy, plastic gold cutlery. Several of my guests actually asked me where I bought my gold cutlery when they first arrived and saw the table! I was so happy that the plastic, budget-friendly option (32 forks, knives, & spoons for $25) achieved the “real” look for less.

Friendsgiving 2016 Place setting - Tara

Friendsgiving 2016 Tablescape detailsI debated long and hard about place cards. There are so many creative options for fall! I chose magnolia leaves because we have 3 huge magnolia trees in the center of our neighborhood and I love incorporating natural elements. I used a gold paint pen for the names. Rather than create a single centerpiece, I made a live runner of eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s (duh) with pomegranates and my vintage brass candlestick collection. I absolutely love how it turned out! I wish I could leave it decorated like this forever.

Here you can see some extra elements from our celebration like the bar cart, turkey, & cheese boards.

Friendsgiving 2016 TurkeyFriendsgiving 2016 Bar CartFriendsgiving 2016 Cheese BoardI can honestly say it was one of the best nights of my life! Once again, I was reminded how life-giving friendship is, particularly when food & laugher are in abundance. I hope you all take time this season to celebrate and make memories with the ones you love.