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Fashion

Stripes and Sunshine

September 14, 2015

DRESS_3

Dress_2

Dress_1I sort of wrote off Old Navy years ago because I had bad experiences with the quality and fit of their clothes. Everything felt a little, well, cheap. But lately you guys? Old Navy is giving me plenty of reasons to re-consider. I mentioned a while back that I was having a little bit of a style crisis now that I’m a mom. My new work-from-home schedule means I don’t have to be quite as dressed up each day, but I’ve found that putting myself together each day helps with productivity and puts my mind in the work mentality.

For me a great dress needs to hold it’s structure and wear well (even multiple times before washing) without bagging or looking sloppy. It also needs to be made of a material that’s thick enough to be flattering but stretch and give a little to work for mom life, running errands and sitting comfortably at a desk. This dress has it all. It’s incredibly affordable (it’s $18 right now!) and comes in a bunch of colors. I purchased this striped version and then went back and purchased it in black and grey as well because I love it so much! Plus, with the longer sleeves, I can see myself wearing it well into fall with tights and boots.

Dress: Old Navy || Bag: Valentina from TJ Maxx a couple years ago ||
Sandals: Nordstrom Rack (covered in paint from home renovation!)

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Social Media Accountability

May 27, 2015

Social Media Accountability Post

I’ve been blogging for quite a few years now. When I first started posting recipes to the web from my college dorm room the world of blogging was quite different than it is today. There was no Instagram, blog Facebook pages weren’t a thing, Snapchat didn’t exist and Twitter was still in its early days. Over the years I’ve met a number of bloggers and online “friends” that I’ve followed on social media for years. Some have turned into real-life friends and others have left me incredibly disappointed when I realize they are nothing like the online personas they’ve created.

I get it, I really do. I’m naturally more introverted, and blogging and social media make it easier for me to express and share my true thoughts and opinions, probably more so than I would be inclined to do in “real life.” But there is a difference between being more extroverted online vs. creating an online persona that isn’t reflective of who you truly are.

While I was at dinner with one of my best girlfriends last month I asked her if she felt who I was online was the same person as the one I put out on the internet. She’s the type of friend I trust to tell me the truth and speak honestly into my life, both in good times and bad, and I believe that if I needed a dose of truth serum that she would provide it to me.

Our conversation got me thinking that perhaps if we want to live a life that’s responsible and honest online it might be worthwhile to have a “social media accountability” friend who calls us all out when they notice that we’re not being true to ourselves. I’m not advocating that our social media accounts need to be filled with pictures of dirty dishes, messy houses or depressingly honest Instagram posts. I don’t think anyone really wants to see a steady stream of filth or discouraging messages in their social media on the regular, but I am advocating for honesty and authenticity, whatever that might look like to you.

Lately I’ve been asking myself a simple question before posting: “Would my close friends and family members say this post is genuine to who they know me to be?” If the answer is “no” then I’ve tried hard to edit or eliminate what I’m about to share. Certainly I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I’m working at it every day.

A couple other “filters” I’ve been putting my posts through:

-What is the purpose of the post I’m about to share? Is it to draw attention to myself or prop/lift myself up in some way? Am I trying to make myself feel better or get compliments?

-Is what I’m sharing genuine and honest? Is this really how I feel, or am I sharing it because I think it will be “share worthy” on the web?

-Would this post or picture be an encouragement to others or would it tear someone down? Would it cause another person to stumble or falter in some way?

What other “filters” do you use when sharing thing online? Is it something you think about or consider before posting?

Madison

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Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Pecans

January 13, 2015

Ultimate Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies | Espresso and Cream

Many times I sit down to write and blog post without really thinking about what exactly I’m writing about. The words flow easily about the recipe I’m going to share with you, the flavor or texture or usefulness of the recipe at hand. It’s easy to fall into a lull of writing about food without really writing about anything at all. Does anyone really need me to wax poetic for four paragraphs about chocolate chip cookies?

Lately I’ve felt a pull towards different types of blogs than those that I’ve loved in the past. I’m drawn to the writing of women who are ultimately inspiring in the way they share vulnerability and failure without falling down the rabbit hole of negativity and hopelessness.

*I love the way Jess and Rachel write about faith, motherhood and anxiety, depression and the whole of life experiences. The way they bravely share their faith and passion for Jesus pushes me to share my faith more openly.
*My adoration for Shanna’s understated and beautiful way of looking at the world continues to grow with every post. I’m so thankful for her friendship over the years, even if it’s just been of the digital/e-mail variety.
*The way Laken writes about family life, motherhood and personal growth always leaves me feeling inspired and uplifted; her site always feels, to me, like the blog equivalent of Anthropologie for some reason.
*I wish every single day that Heather and I could sit and work together and drink coffee and talk like old friends. Another e-mail blog friend, I feel her warm spirit come across in every post, almost like a virtual hug.

Anyway, I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off course, but what I really mean to say is that I’m so thankful for those who are willing to share their lives online. Sometimes I wonder if having “blog friends” is strange or if I should just spend more time devoted to those friendships that I have in real life. But the beauty of the blog world is that chances are there is someone going through something similar to what you’re going through, whether it be a painful and trying time or a time of extreme joy.

I’m so thankful there are women who have written their stories for the world to read so that I can follow along, a few steps behind, and feel a little more prepared for what’s ahead. I’m thankful for those who are writing out their own crazy stories in the thick of it so that I can read what they’re going through and know that I’m not alone.

If you’ve made it this far down the page, thank you for reading my ramblings! I have nothing to really wrap this post together with except to say that I made cookies. Really, really good cookies, if I do say so myself. They’re perfect in the way that they’re crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center. They’re packed with chocolate chunks and candied pecans and have just the right amount of salt so as not to overwhelm you with sweet. Make them. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies (1) | Espresso and Cream

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ sticks butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup chopped candied pecans (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, corn starch and salt. Stir until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and candied pecans by hand until incorporated.
  5. Spoon dough by heaping tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheet, placing dough balls about 2 inches apart. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and slightly soft looking in the center of the cookies. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.

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Influence Conference 2014

September 30, 2014

photo (36)

Last weekend I attended the 2014 Influence Conference in Indianapolis. The driving idea behind Influence is to make your online life more meaningful and intentional through the sharing of your faith, the words you use and the mindset behind what you share on things like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.I’m still unpacking my thoughts and re-reading my notes from the two days I spent at Influence. I’m sure that a lot of what I learned at the conference will continue to impact my writing for months to come, but I wanted to share some immediate take-aways while the conference was still fresh in my mind.

1. There is value in doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable.
I’ve said it before, but I’m a closet introvert. I enjoy giving presentations at work and love making television appearances, but I find large conferences and group interactions entirely overwhelming. It’s hard for me to go, go, go without taking some down time for myself to decompress and process, and I find it difficult to constantly put myself out there and meet dozens of new people.

My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid conferences all together and avoid feeling uncomfortable, but in the days following Influence I’ve realized there is much value in being out of your comfort zone now and again. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sign up for dozens of conferences a year, but Influence made me realize that carefully-chosen, intentional opportunities are important for my own growth.

2. Time spent online doesn’t have to be wasted time. 
Sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online. There’s time spent on the computer at work (unavoidable) and the time I spend blogging. Add the time I spend scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest to the list and it really adds up. Influence got me thinking about being more intentional with my time online, thinking twice about the negative Tweet I’m tempted to send out or what type of affirmation I’m seeking from a photo I share on Instagram. I’m not saying everything I share needs to be happy and rosy, but there’s a fine line between being real and being just plain negative.

3. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they’re dealing with. 
When I arrived at check-in for Influence, I immediately noticed the shiny, well-dressed and put-together nature of all the attendees. But as the weekend went on and I heard the women in attendance share their stories, I was reminded, yet again, that no one has it all together. I know this. You know this. How is it so easy to forget? It was a reminder to me not to be too quick to judge or assume someone has it all together just because they’re wearing a cute outfit and have fresh highlights.

4. God wants me to be me, not someone else. 
As I watched the extroverted, bold women lip synching and dancing on stage at the opening black and white party, I started to get down on myself for being on the quiet, introverted side. Extroverts put themselves out there and boldly share God’s word! They’re the life of the party, the people everyone wants to be around, the first to jump in with something to say. I am not that person. I’m 27 years old and sometimes I still forget that God created me with a specific purpose, and that includes my quiet spirit. Instead of trying to be something I think I should be, I’m working on focusing on being more of who I truly am.

I left so incredibly inspired (and exhausted!) after attending Influence! It was such a blessing to meet so many wonderful, creative and inspiring women. I’m already looking forward to attending next year with a baby in tow! If you’re interested in signing up for Influence, tickets are already on sale here.

Madison