olive june: 2014

new year's eve inspiration

i saw a quote yesterday that said, "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with… choose them wisely.." i absolutely love this. i am so honored to spend the majority of my time with loving, funny, and people in charlotte who would do anything in the world for me- people who have become family to me. 
are you proud of the people you surround yourself with on a regular basis?
 if not, how do you plan to change this in 2015?

speaking of… here is some new years eve inspiration for you! 
what was your favorite part of 2014? 

any exciting plans tonight? i would love to hear… 
happy new years eve!!

lemon-ricotta pancakes with caramelized apples


  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  2. 2 crisp red or pink apples, preferably Honeycrisp—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  3. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  10. 3 large eggs, separated
  11. 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  12. Warm pure maple syrup, for serving

last saturday morning my family made these fantastic pancakes- thanks to my sister and her husband. they have incredible recipes that we always love trying… bassey {the best cooking teacher around} helped walk me through the process- they were delicious- like really good- so i thought i would share with you all… the recipe is from food & wine magazine's awesome website
  1. In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the apples, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender and golden, about 5 minutes; keep warm.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks, ricotta and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of lemon zest. Whisk the mix into the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  3. In a clean, large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold them into the batter.
  4. Preheat a griddle and grease it with butter. Scoop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes over moderately high heat until bubbles appear on the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the pancakes are risen and golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to plates, spoon the warm apples on top and serve with warm maple syrup.
    what are your favorite pancakes? 

a gratitude project {volume two}

hi! it feels good to be back i signed off for awhile to focus on unpacking our new home and decided to just be 'present' at home in ohio for the holidays. however, i missed you all and have so much to share. welcome to the second month of my new gratitude project- so very excited to have you here! here is a re-cap of my vision for the project: i read once that the key to living a happy and fulfilled life is to reflect and to show gratitude. so i told myself that i would take in moments throughout my day and would document these moments through photos. it really amazed me how i started to notice things that i never would have noticed before. now i try to take at least one photo every day of something that i am grateful for. simple things that are ways to celebrate the good in my life - the everyday celebrations. i feel spiritually and physically stronger because of this task and would love to encourage you all to do the same-- to discover more about the power of gratitude in your life. our blogging community has also helped to inspire me to be more grateful. almost all of the bloggers i follow express gratitude regularly. 

…this got me thinking… 
what if we all come together near the end of each month {on the 29} and share our month through photos- sharing the simple moments where we took a step back and were grateful. i am hoping that this little project/link-up will bring strength, encouragement, and joy to others. i would love to see what inspires you most on a daily basis. 
i plan to use #simplylovegratitudeproject as a hashtag for the project. 
please join me! 
 i would love to have you. 
next link-up will be thursday, january 29
*i plan to feature certain blogs each month- along with some giveaways for bloggers who join in on the fun*
this photo above is my 'most grateful' for december 
last saturday my brother, sister, mr. monaco, and my sister's husband {my new big brother} decided to spend the afternoon at my grandma's farmhouse. my siblings, cousins, and i grew up playing on this farm- countless hours of exploring. we loved it so much and have all seen it go from a bustling atmosphere to a deserted land- now so serene. the animals and farm equipment have been sold, the barns {we loved playing and building homes/forts in the haymow… throwing all the straw down to jump into it} have been torn down, the fields are now calm… yet in my mind, i always picture our childhood days of constant play. my grandparents both worked so hard; i still carry this around with me. it was such a special day- being able to show bassey and mr. monaco around her treasured and humble homestead. we spent the afternoon playing dominoes around her kitchen table- eating her traditional snacks- just like old times. i will always treasure this time spent together; this afternoon as an adult on the farm… because 'oh, to be a kid on a farm.' 
traveling back to charlotte yesterday 
through the west virginia mountains with such a grateful heart
my parents are traveling down today to spend the week with us- helping around our new home and just enjoying time together. please pray for safe travels for them...
a christmas eve table
this christmas was a very special one
our family experienced a lot of highs and lows this year 
and in this, you start to realize that the only thing that really matters during this magical time of year is spending time together- we are so blessed and enjoyed many moments {and some tears, too} over this christmas together- i love my family so much. so giving, loving, fun, and always there.
my big brother and i - the best big brother in the world.
brown paper packages for my family and a morning spa day with my giving mom last week at home
my new 'foxy lady' tights from anthropologie - i have been eyeing these down and was so excited to get them for christmas… simply adore.
beyond grateful for our new home- willow. 
we LOVE everything about the new nest
so excited to share so much with you all...
december 19 was a bittersweet day as we moved into our new home
we also had to say goodbye to our precious cat, pierre, who passed on october 5 at our old place. 
we buried him here- next to this angel and miss him every single day. 
we decided to bury him here because this was his home and he loved it there. 
it is still so raw and difficult- we just loved him so much and hate the way he went.
i snapped this photo to always remember him- so grateful for the nine years i had with him.  
last tuesday, i was able to spend the evening with my very best friends from kindergarten to now in my hometown. we went to dinner and had wine at my parent's house
we laughed so hard our sides hurt… i loved every moment with them.
thank you all for being the kindest, most selfless, and genuine girls i know.
overall, it was such a lovely week-
surrounded by people who ask- so genuinely- about your new home, blog, charlotte- your life.
you don't notice how much people don't do this in the city until you come back 
{of course my close friends do…}
but it's such an awesome feeling
people you know care about you so much- will never judge you- and will always be right by your side.
i was also able to enjoy a beautiful and memorable trip to charleston, south carolina this month 
with our wonderful eighth grade class- love my students so much this year.
i always enjoy this trip
we spend one day in the city and one on a barrier island/eco tour
more photos coming soon!
you're next! 
the details:
please feel free to link-up between now and next monday, january 5
also, please grab the button under the tab, gratitude project, at the top and link back up to simply love
i am also linking up with sweet emily {i have fallen head over heels in love with her and her blog over the past few months} over at ember gray
Grateful Heart Linkup w/ Ember Grey
thank you again for joining me and i would love for you to spread the word- there can never be too much gratitude. a huge thank you to the beautiful, talented, and lovely jenna at dearest love for doing so this week!
i truly appreciate it! 
what are you grateful for?

santa, i know him!

merry christmas to you
wishing you a very merry day! 
safe travels, good health, and lots of love.

a floral gift topper - home for the holidays

it is SO good to be back here sharing with you all… it's been a very eventful week: we purchased our new home on the 15, my class trip to charleston, south carolina was the 17/18, we moved on the 19, and drove to ohio late on the 22. i love this special place; the heartland of america- my hometown. my heart always feel complete surrounded by the friendly and down to earth people here. last night i got to spend time with my most dearest friends- from kindergarten to now. we enjoyed dinner, wine, and lots of laughs. i miss them all the time. overall, what a great week. i can't wait to share photos and updates with you all… 
merry christmas from my family to yours. 
enjoy time with your loved ones
during the most wonderful time of the year. 
if you are looking for a fun gift topper, i thought i would share one i created last week:

 supplies you will need:
- a styrofoam ball that is slightly smaller than the size of your gift package
- a knife
- silk flowers. you can either use leftovers from previous projects or you can purchase at michael's {i used discounted christmas flowers - 60% off}
- hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
- spray paint in the color of your choice. i decided to do white.
step 1: to begin, take the knife and cut the styrofoam ball in half. or you can purchase one that is already cut in half  {this is what i did}
step 2: next, place a generous amount of hot glue onto the stem of a lace flower and attach it to the rounded side of a styrofoam ball half. repeat gluing flowers onto the ball until the styrofoam is no longer visible.
step 3: for step three, place your flower-covered styrofoam ball on newspaper outside. then apply a coat of spray paint to all surfaces of the flowers. painting tip: first, make sure that you spray the paint at a lot of different angles to ensure total coverage of each flower. second, you will probably want to apply at least five quick coats to really get a brilliant white color. make sure the paint completely dries in between each coat.
step 4: for the final step, apply hot glue to the flat side of the flower-covered styrofoam ball half and secure it to the top of the gift package. finished!
merry christmas eve to you
christmas eve has always been my favorite
this is when santa came and it was always so magical 
usually snow, lace socks and party dresses, quality time with all of our grandparents 
and then {besides last year} i have spent every christmas day with my mom's family
they are amazing and i can't wait to celebrate with them tomorrow.
esp. my 85 year old sweet, sweet grandma
talk soon friends and enjoy your holiday!

december crushes

*i love everything about this post and this blog- dreamy whites*
jewel tones:
a paper christmas tree:
these ornaments from etsy:

{what are you crushing on?}