Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

I can't tell you how much fun I had taking pix of my sweet furry babes. I was kissed, crawled on, ran away from and then they knew there was no way out of it, so they finally gave in!

I laughed so hard but what I got was complete adorableness. My lab was the hardest to capture, he thought it was just a game and kept kissing me and waiting for a treat, then he would try to shake then kiss me again - precious!

I hope your new year is as much fun as I had capturing these sweet moments. Remember to have fun, enjoy life and make it your best year yet.

Shoot for your dreams and don't give up and "you will capture that moment" you've been believing and waiting so long for ... this is your year.


Happy 2014 to you!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Holy Taco!

We visited a place called, Holy Taco this weekend, and yes, it was holy! I had a shrimp taco with a blue corn tortilla that was out of this world (forgot to photograph it - I ate it so fast lol) My husband told the waiter they need to open up a place called the Righteous Burrito right beside it because it was so good :)

I thought this place was so darling from the outside in - the experience when you walk through the door was planned and thought out into Spanish perfection.

The cheese dip had just a little meat with charizo - delightful!

Just wanted to share, I thought the inspiration from the flower vases to the outside wall art took the customer to another world ... 

Life is all about enjoying the little things and I love it when others take their time to pay attention to the details to make our life experience a little more "divine."

(Jamie has on Express Hooded Leather Jacket)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Egg it On Recipe

I love eggs! And I love rye bread - so the two together are heaven to me.

I will never understand why people eat eggs without the yolk - the two were matched together in nature for a reason. I think both of them together are extremely healthy for you - not only is it healthy, but yummy too. So don't feel guilty when you eat the yolk, it's always been there :) If you were not meant to eat it, the egg would be filled with just egg whites! Plus, egg whites have always left me hungrier than just eating the whole egg.

Anyway, this recipe is so easy - eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

All you need is:

Rye bread
1 egg
Small pepper

I toast the bread. Then I fry the egg in just a splash of olive oil (normally about 3 minutes on each side) and season with kosher salt and pepper. I add the egg on top then add the fresh ingredients, feta, basil and pepper.

I always, always use cage-free eggs with naturally fed hens. This is so important to me! I can't stand the thought of animals that are not treated humanely. (I've been known to have sleepless nights of just the thought of unjustly treated animals!)

You can always leave out the cheese or add your favorite, feta just happens to be one of my favorite cheeses. You can also replace arugula for the basil or tomatoes for the peppers. It will taste just as good!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Easy Shrimp Pasta Recipe

This is so easy it's ridiculous.

I love pasta but I don't eat it very often. When I do, I love egg noodles. They are fast and easy.

For this you need:

Shrimp ( I have about 5 in this dish)
3/4 c egg noodles cooked
Few leaves of basil chopped
Grape tomatoes sliced

After noodles are cooked I add a splash of olive oil.
Add shrimp, tomatoes, basil on top and season with salt, pepper and parmesan.
Mix. Voila!

This just makes an individual dish, but you can cook the whole bag of noodles - all you have to do is just add more shrimp, basil and tomatoes to your liking + the seasoning and parmesan.

Winner, winner - easy dinner!

Dream until your dream comes true...

Merry Christmas! It comes and goes too fast. So fast that I forget to enjoy the moment sometimes.

So this year I wanted to do something a little different for a Christmas card, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love seeing everyone's beautiful face and adorable kids when I rip open a card up from my sweet friends! That's one of the best parts of Christmas time.

But I wanted to do something that was inspirational, thought-provoking and just a reminder that dreams can come true. 

I think it did just that. I did not expect the response I got from my Christmas card. I am overwhelmed by the compliments I have received! I am thankful for my sister, Diane Simmons of Divine Photography who gets me and my "particular" ways. I can be extremely picky when it comes to photographs and design (since I am a graphic designer, I can be the toughest critic of my work at times). I had a vision and man she brought it to life! I was thrilled when I saw the end product! She took the photo and I did the design (perfect team if you ask me!)

How did we get the dogs to cooperate is another question... well ... thank you Burger King! We bought cheeseburgers broke them up and spread them across the field. It was too funny and the dogs loved every minute of it. We walked back and forth about 20 times to get the right shot. But she made it happen. It's exactly what I envisioned. 

The cherry on top was that I got it printed through ZAZZLE on the gold metallic paper which really made the card shine and pop. I couldn't have been happier with the end result.

This year, don't be afraid to shoot for your wildest dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't have it or it's too far out of your reach.

One of the most important things you can do is write your dream down. Go grab a piece of paper or journal and write down things you would like to see happen this year. Don't quit believing, just keep your dreams before you all the time. In your purse, makeup bag, mirror or some type of reminder somewhere so you don't forget that you are worth having all your dreams come true.

This saying came to me early one morning and I have to design something as a reminder.

Every year I make a dream board or add to the one I already have. It's a great way to keep your dreams in front of your face! I will share what I do in a couple days. I am going to do something new and design a "dream mirror."

So, what dream are you shooting for? Don't give up! I don't care if it's letting go of that "impossible" 50 lbs., a dream job you love, a new car or a mate. Keep your dream alive!

Have I had my dreams come true? Yes. We put a black Toyota Tundra on our dream board and that's exactly what my husband drives today. I wanted to make royalties off of my designs - I didn't know how, but I wrote it down and that's exactly what happened. ZAZZLE "found me" and I now make royalties off my creations. They are so many more things I could share! But you get the point. 

This works. It works if you don't let go of it and say "that'll never work for me." All you have to do is say, "it will work for me." Somehow, some way your dreams will find you. That's what they were meant to do.

So this coming year ... dream until your dreams come true...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Show me the money!

Have you ever heard the saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?"

I thought about this and it sounds so practical that we miss the lesson here. It's impossible to skip that first mile, that's where the whole journey begins.

Same lesson relates to money, let's just say "A journey to a millions dollars begins with one penny." You can't have a million dollars without that first penny.

I had read a story where a guy needed money, he was desperate. Someone told him he needed to respect a penny just as much as he would a $1000 dollars. That's just some good truth right there!

He was given the advice to watch for every cent that came across his path, whether it a penny, nickel, quarter or a dollar - put it in a jar and watch how much it will grow. Eventually, he received the money he needed! Awesome.

This story inspired me, I decided to do the same! I was digging around my house for a jar and came across this flower vase and thought how perfect it was to "watch my money grow."  I had a flower clip in my bathroom I bought from Forever 21 (I love beautiful gift wrapping and I used these flowers as the bows on top presents - I will demonstrate later).

So this New Year remember, YOU RECEIVE WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. So why not grab you a jar and watch your money grow! This is a perfect way to start off your New Year!

I know I've already started ... it's simple. easy. exciting. 

Do it with your hubby, kids, friends - whoever! This is a great, fun way to show kids how to save and for you to save up for those leather boots, new coat or whatever floats your boat :)

I wi$h you tons of blessings in this New Year!


UPDATE 1.7.14

I saw an experiment where someone wrote on a jar of rice, thank you, grateful, love.

So I did the same thing on the side of this jar, I wrote "thank you, Jesus, grateful, multiply millions, love and taped it on the side.

Well the very next day, I found $10 in the grocery isle. Not significant? But I never, ever find money.

Later on that same day - someone called who was interested in buying a house we own that we've been trying to sell for 2 + years! Just got off the phone with him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


The longer I live, the more I realize ... enjoy the moment. 

You only get one life. One. You don't get nine. You get one.

I was at a family dinner tonight and I looked around and I had this thought... enjoy the moment Jill, you don't get another one. You never get another one.

What moment in your life is giving you stress when you should be enjoying it? Stress is USELESS.

Enjoying is what life is all about. I'm thankful I have a beautiful family, amazing friends and an amazing God who reminds me of this.

If there is only one thing you can enjoy in your life... then do just that, enjoy.


Inexpensive Makeup Magic

It's holiday season and there are a few things I don't leave home without! You will always find these in my makeup bag.

They are fairly inexpensive products that work their beauty magic like a charm!
  • POREfessional by benefit is one of the best products I have bought ever, by far! It goes on so smooth and fills in pores like silk. It truly works.
  • Erase paste is a fantastic under eye brightener. This product will make you giddy! It makes under eyes circles totally disappear, love!
  • Express "CARAMEL DROP" lip gloss is my all time fav. I have bought countless tubes of expensive and inexpensive glosses and this one is the best! It goes on smoothly and is not sticky. Makes your lips look luscious and yummy. Looks great over any lipstick. ( My mom bought be 5 tubes this Christmas because she knows I like to have one in my makeup bag, purse, home, glove compartment and a spare )
  • Rocket Volume Express - lengthens and thickens my lashes perfectly!
  • Elf NEARLY NUDE is one of the cheapest and best matte lipsticks I have found.
  • Loreal Voluminous Smoldering Black Eyeliner... put it on and brush over with an eyeshadow brush and you will have gorgeous eyes!
  • MAC HONEY LOVE matte lipstick. Slightly pink and slightly nude, perfect mix for the perfect lip.
  • Tarte "PEACEFUL" blush. It's coral yet pink, it gives you lovely, glowing cheeks.

If I had to pick one that you had to have ... that's hard! It's either Porefessional or Erase Paste!

What's your fav products that work their beauty magic for you?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Million Dollar Baby

Man! What a day. I woke up in a really good mood. I woke up happy. It was 75 degrees in my hometown today and it's December 21! That's just crazy...

First, let me tell you what I did... I have had the wild hair-brained idea to start taking crazy pictures of my little terrier, Maui, so I went to a local party store and went roaming around looking for little hats to put him in... I came across some buttercream mints that said, "it's a boy!" on them. That made me crave buttermints! I never eat buttermints, what the heck?! I was going to go to the dollar store so I decided to just purchase my items and leave without the mints.

I arrive at the dollar store and found some cute stuff for Maui ... then I came across some chocolate million dollar bars ... I had to buy everyone in my family one. I am all about THINKING BIG! "Think big and you will get BIG results! What you think about, you bring about." That's the entrepreneur in me for sure! Back to my point, I came across the same dang butter mints that say "it's a boy!" on them, I grab them and just stared at them - then I put them down and found a regular bag, checked out and left.

As soon as I pulled out, not even 30 seconds later I get a call from one of my friends freaking out a little. She said, "Come over ... now." I said, "What's wrong?" ... "I'm pregnant!"

I'm thinking what the-he-double-ell ... I just came across those "it's a boy" mints twice in a row! 

I whipped the car in the other direction and went by her house. She hopped in the car, we went to K-mart to get another test to double-check. As I am waiting .... here come a flock of about 30 sea gulls in the parking lot. I mean, I am not even at the beach and I never venture out to K-mart, ever! I live in Tennessee and we don't house cute little beachy birds around here! I am taking snapshots, while my friend is telling me to hurry so she can take a second test, lol. I stared at these sweet birds and it felt like summer and sounded like the beach - this is a little bit of heaven to me since the beach runs through my veins.

We get back to her house, it's positive and here we go! Tears, laughter, hugs, kisses and just utter shock.

Then I told her the buttermint story and she was floored (just as much as I was!)

{ Maui w/ his new hat, just had to post this adorableness even though it's not New Years yet! }

Life has a way of bringing you sweet little surprises when you least expect it. Today it was the sweet buttermints foretelling the news of a pregnant friend and the sounds of the ocean on the first day of winter. Can't wait to see if this baby is a boy too! That would be just wild. And let me say, omg, this just came to me - maybe that's why I found the million dollar bars ... are they fortelling my future?? God, I pray so...

{ sweet sounds of the ocean with a K-mart backdrop, lol }

Friday, December 20, 2013

That's a fact JACK!

We went to a local restaurant to eat lunch (love supporting local) anyway, Jack's City Grill is one of our favs! It was so crowded from Christmas shoppers, we decided to sit at the bar and eat. 

I love the decor here, it's so eclectic, funky, colorful and there is always something fun to look at. There's glitter, crystals, lights, pretty little dangling things  ... name it! This is great inspiration for designing a room or party. 

The food is delish. I had the shrimp fajita salad with water and lemon and I felt like it was summer again. Jamie had the cheese quesadillas - if you are ever in Johnson City, TN - you have to check it out, you won't be disappointed... I always snap pictures when I'm here ... check them out... 

My shrimp salad was so good and I used the salsa for the dressing instead of ranch or blue cheese. Actually I hate ranch ... but I love lemon or salsa to replace for salad dressing - even though I do splurge and have blue cheese every so often - gotta live a little! 

The floor below us was even painted ... "that's a fact jack!" This place feels like a funky, cozy corner of the world.

The more you read my blog, the more you will know I am a TRUE believer that life speaks to you in ways if you take a minute to soak in your surroundings ... maybe it's telling me I need a new little black dress { LOL }. I'm always down for shopping { that's a fact jack! } oooh bad joke, had to do it!

{ And yes, I just shopped! Next door is that amazing shoe place Beatty's that has every brand known to man, I just had to go check it out and bought an amazing pair of leather boots for $29 bucks! I also added extra pix later when it wasn't so crowded. }

Anyway, what's your favorite brand for the perfect black dress? Would love to know...


Go Bananas! Recipe

This is yummy ice cream at it's finest! Actually, it's not icecream at all! It's frozen bananas with peanut butter whipped up. Can you say ... hooked for days on this stuff! It tastes just like ice cream without all the dairy and sugars = perfection.

1 chopped frozen banana
1 tsp of organic peanut butter
Hand mixer or magic bullet { do not use a blender, you will have banana soup! }
Granola is optional

Add peanut butter and blend banana until smooth or slightly chunky.

Voila! your soon to be favorite treat.

I love my hand held CuisinArt hand mixer. It's perfect to make small portions like this. I like using organic peanut butter that doesn't have added salt or preservatives. And you can add granola to give it a crunch. You won't believe your tastebuds! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beautiful future...

This thought came to me tonight as I was designing. I made the IPL logo front and backwards + the blog banner ... then it came to me out of the silent blue - I should "see my past as beautiful as my future."

This was so profound to me, I had to design an image for it. I took this shot in Myrtle Beach this summer while driving down the road, I thought it was perfect for this life-giving quote.

Look at the moon and it seems as if all the lights below were mimicking it. Life has such beauty but most of the time we miss it for all the hoopla we deal with on a daily basis.

So tonight, sleep easy - knowing the past has woven a beautiful future for you.


Sweet Pea Recipe

I love peas so much, that I used to eat them everyday even twice a day sometimes. It's the perfect snack or even a lunchtime meal. You can ask anyone in my family, if I eat peas - I have to have them with parmesan! If you are trying to get your kids to eat peas, parmesan might do the trick!

Bowl of peas (microwave or steam for 3 min) then season with salt & pepper
Sauté half an onion in olive oil till golden brown
Add fresh ground parmesan

I don't use butter because of the olive oil, but you can use spray butter which tastes amazing. You can even sauté the onions in water if you don't want the oil - that tastes just as good! 

I used Fresh Market peas, I could spend my days in The Fresh Market ... it's like a home away from home. 


Live a Little!

Call me crazy, but I just got a BMX bike and I am super-excited! It reminds me of being a kid.

We got the last two that were left - we rode around the bike's shop parking lot and it felt exhilarating.  I couldn't wait to purchase it! Your whole body is engaged while riding these little things, that's why I love it.

I saw a picture of a girl on one and I was like, yep, I gotta have it! So my husband decided to get one with me so we could have some fun together. As soon as we got home  - we rode around the neighborhood. Felt so free! I get way bored with the normal workouts and I thought this would spice it up a little bit. 

I snapped a few shots of my cute hubby riding around on his, mine's on the bottom. 


{  just to let you know, i took my bike out at 9 pm, so cold, but it felt so good ... rode up my driveway and the chain broke! ugh! taking it back tomorrow to get it fixed!! }

In case anyone was curious, my husband is wearing Billabong (rust red treadstone) plaid,  RVCA Ball Point Black tee, G-Star Raw Jeans (Travis wash) - I got all of these from Zappos. Beanie is from Express and Sanuk slip-ons.

Be free today ...

I wanted to post one of my favorites outfits I've been wearing this holiday season. I am so in love with Free People clothing right now. I just had to post this! I just bought this leather jacket, which is extremely comfortable and the added details make it such a beautiful jacket (such as the diagonal zippers on the cuff) I have had so many compliments on it and people always grab my arm wanting to feel it! The adorable lacy dress is from Free People too ... it is flowy and so bohemian, in love. I wear it with black leggings and the outfit makes me happy. The leather boots, MIA brand, are from a local shoe store that I can hear the choir of Angels singing when I open the door. It has every shoe you can think of for the most amazing prices for high end brands! The bracelet is from Waxing Poetic, check out their jewelry if you haven't yet! You will be hooked! It has a dangling clover charm that I adore.  

My mother in law gave me this bracelet for my birthday this year. It has special meaning to it which makes it even more valuable to me. I had a beagle of 16 years who was the love of my life. Her name was Chloe but I always called her "Little Clovers." She was my love, comfort, cuddler and was there for me during a time in my life when I needed her most. I always say, "When I needed someone, God sent me a dog." That dog was her ... even though she is gone, she is in my heart forever. I have little pieces of jewelry with clovers on them to keep her with me. This bracelet is gorgeous! It looks so vintage, upscale and goes with any outfit! Dress it up or dress it down ... you will always see this bracelet on my wrist. 

Another side note, I love how life (God) speaks to you that make things so special. I was trying to add the "It's a Paradise Life" watermark to this image and it wasn't working. Getting frustrated, I decided to use the initials instead. As I put it together, it's actually my mom's initials! That thrilled me ... it's life's way of letting you know you are on the right path. I just saw a guy lastnight, Joe Castillo, he was on America's Got Talent. He makes sand art and it's so amazing the stories he tells through the sand. Anyway, before Joe ever got started, his son told him to watch a youtube video of a guy making sand art and told him he should be doing that. As an artist, Joe thought it was cool, but brushed it aside. The very next day he said he went to Lowes. As he was walking down the isle, a huge sand bag busted and blocked his way. He began to notice how people had made designs in the sand with their feet and so he decided to do the same. He never looked back, he started doing sand art and eventually America's Got Talent contacted him! It's a beautiful story.

I had no idea this post was going in this direction. I was just going to post an outfit! Anway, how is life speaking to you today? Watch for those clues along the way ... it's exciting to see how they reveal themselves. Eventually, I will tell the story about how I got my chocolate lab Knox ... amazing. Anyway, here is my Little Clover below, what a sweetheart.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tomato, Feta & Basil Salad Recipe

Handful of sliced grape tomatoes
Slice of feta chopped
Basil chopped
3 La Panzanella crackers

This is a lunch I eat often. I love it, it's so satisfying and I splash it with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Sometimes I will add arugula to give it that extra peppery flavor and if I am feeling a little more hungry than usual. Enjoy.