It is my 30th birthday today!! Gosh, that happened quickly. The past decade has been a ride, to say the least. A lot of good, tough, exciting, challenging and fun has happened over the last ten years. Just a few highlights:
I traveled abroad with the Univ. of Oklahoma among several other memorable trips
I graduated college with a degree in Graphic Design
I met Blake Elliott
I opened Taylor Elliott Designs
I married Blake Elliott!!
We got our two labradors, Charlie and Toby
I ran a half marathon
I left my 8-5 to pursue TED full time and have worked so hard to grow it
I had products featured in People Magazine and HGTV Magazine
My mom got a kidney transplant (!!)
Harrison Blake Elliott joined our family
The highlights seem to shine bright when I think about the last ten years. While I am deeply proud of the highlights, I have also grown to be proud of the not so shiny bits and pieces, too. A lot of strength and character were built during the harder times. I'll be honest, my early 20's weren't easy for me. I seemed to struggle in many areas: knowing what I wanted, what I wanted to be when I "grew up" and relationships. I didn't love school, I dabbled in a lot of things trying to figure out what I was good at and I tried a lot of different jobs, too. Nothing really seemed to fit and I felt like I was constantly searching for my place, with both relationships and my career path. I put a lot of pressure on my young 22 year old self to have it figured out. I wish I could go back and give myself a hug because that was a big expectation and standard to put on myself. If you've found yourself in a similar situation, be gentle and patient with yourself.
One of the most distinct details that stands out is how present God was during the last ten years--I don't think I realized his presence at the time--but looking back, I feel like everything happened for a reason, things ended up falling into place and He ultimately led me to Blake and together we have our beautiful baby boy. My world. The reason why I am telling you this is because the journey is just as important as the destination. The journey is beautiful and while sometimes there are bumps in the road, God is faithful. As I look back at closed doors, it's because God had a better door for me. He may not have opened the door right away after closing another door, but every single time He did open a new door and His doors have always been way better than mine. To translate, God's plans are always better than the plans we have for ourselves.
I wanted to share 30 things I'd tell my 20 year old self with the hope that sharing my story and the things I have learned encourages you in someway today:
1. It's okay if you don't have everything figured out the day you graduate from college or even if you don't have it figured out 10, 15 or 20 years after college. Work hard and pursue your passions and you'll figure it out. Just don't give up.
2. Though college was fun, you'll find that post college is even more fun! And starting a family is even more fun than that...
3. Darling, you are just too darn hard on yourself. You're doing great. Be a little more gentle and kind to yourself.
4. You're going to feel directionless and lost sometimes, especially when you're trying to figure out who you are. That is okay. Welcome those feelings and let them make you stronger.
5. A "no" might feel like a rejection but really it's a blessing in disguise. Both in relationships and career. God is shutting a door to open a better one. Trust Him.
6. Sometimes relationships don't work out, personally and professionally. Try your hardest not to burn bridges. It is better to not carry that weight on your shoulders.
7. When you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. So, it's okay to say no. And learn to not feel guilty about it.
8. The impressive things will often times be made up of a lot of unimpressive things.
9. You're going to have bad jobs, bad bosses and just general uninteresting jobs. It isn't going to be a waste of time and it isn't going to be for nothing. You'll learn from those experiences and those experiences will be beneficial to you in some way.
10. You are not destined to have a mediocre job, marriage or life. These things take a lot of really hard work and dedication. But it'll be so worth it.
11. There are a lot of "shoulds" tossed around in life. If something doesn't feel right to you, listen to your gut and let that "gut feeling" be your answer.
12. If someone consistently makes you feel less than or is feeding you negative thoughts, give yourself permission to reevaluate the importance of the relationship.
13. Wear sunscreen, always.
14. God made you unique and different. Boldly and bravely be you.
15. If something is important to you, you must fight hard for it and never give up.
16. Sleep is very important. It's easy to skimp on sleep when you've got a lot to do but the work you'll produce (and your overall mood) will be so much better after rest!
17. If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
18. Don't be a negative Nancy, no-one likes her. And in return don't let someone else's negative comments get to you or hinder you from pursuing your dreams.
19. Choose kindness, always. You never know who is quietly struggling or fighting some sort of battle.
20. People might not remember the things you say but they'll remember how you made them feel.
21. Keep your word, always.
22. Be an "includer". It hurts to be left out so don't ever make anyone feel that way.
23. You can do anything you set your mind to (my mom constantly told us this growing up and she's right).
24. Don't be afraid to speak up, your thoughts matter: in a relationship, in business, etc. If you don't ask or speak up, you will most definitely never get what you want.
25. You control your money, it does not control you. Save, contribute to your 401k and donate when you are able to.
26. God has equipped you with everything you need to fulfill your dreams. Go get those dreams, girl!
27. Life is too short. Take the trip, eat the cake, buy the cute dress.
28. Gossip is not cool and it's hurtful. What Sally says about Suzy says more about Sally than it does about Suzy.
29. Give without expecting anything in return.
30. Love is a choice. And say I love you a lot. Your people need to know you love them every single day.
Thank you so much for reading along. I hope you found a tid bit of encouragement :) Have a blessed day. -Taylor
Meal planning. It's a very regular topic of conversation with friends. Meal planning seems confusing and mysterious at first but I assure you, it is a weeknight game changer! I have found a pretty simple routine for us and wanted to share it with you guys.
I didn't always like meal planning. Actually, for the first 5 years after I graduated college I would wonder up and down the grocery store aisles putting random food items in my cart. This was bad for two reasons. It was bad for my budget because I was putting whatever in my cart and the other reason it was bad is because I would get home and realize I didn't actually purchase anything to create a meal (whoops!), that was definitely a lack of planning on my part!
Through trial and error, I have learned to like meal planning. Meal planning is great for four reasons (and many more, I am sure)
1. Meal planning helps us not eat out as much because we always have a go-to meal planned and ingredients on hand.
2. Meal planning helps us intentionally eat healthier because I am in control of what we eat each week (sorry husband).
3. Meal planning also helps me spend less money at the store because I have a list and only put stuff in my cart that is on my list (that means no more cookies and cream pop tart impulse buys...)
4. We are BUSY and I know you are too. By taking 30 minutes to plan meals for the week, it keeps our evenings simple, organized and we never ever have that 5pm "omg whats for dinner?!?!?" freak out moment, I know you've been there too.
So let's dig into the details of meal planning!
1. First and foremost, set a weekly grocery budget. It might take a couple weeks of trial and error to nail down an exact weekly amount. If you tend to go a little spending crazy at the store, I recommend giving Dave Ramsey's Envelope System a try.
2. Gather the troops (and by troops I mean all your best recipes): Figure out some meals that your family enjoys eating. Surely you've got a stash somewhere, if not, thank goodness for Pinterest! I pin recipes like crazy to a board that I creatively named Food. When we find a great recipe, I immediately move the pinned recipe over to another board called Recipes We've Tried and Like. This board is a great resource when I am not feeling particularly adventurous with meals for the week.
3. The easiest way I have figured out how to organize myself is to create a menu to pin up on the fridge for all to see. From this menu, I make my grocery list. At the bottom of this post is a meal planning sheet + grocery list printable! Print it, fill in the information and pin it up on the fridge and cut off the grocery list! Easy Peasy!
Tip: I meal plan for Sunday dinner-Sunday lunch of the next week. I typically grocery shop Sunday afternoons so my meal planning covers me for every single meal throughout the week.
Another Tip: Sometimes we'll eat out on a whim leaving a meal that wasn't used during the week, we automatically roll that meal over to the next week. That means we have one less meal to plan and shop for and the food won't be just sitting in our pantry forever (hashtag thumbs up!)
Download my cute, colorful and FREE meal planning printable.
Be sure to comment with any questions on the blog or instagram @taylorelliottdesigns.
Happy New Year! Our new year's eve consisted of a bit of sparkle, leopard and big tassels. I love any reason to get dressed up and wear sequins. I felt a little bit like a disco ball in my top but I had a great time with my date enjoying a nice dinner while reflecting on what a great year 2015 was and what we hoped for in 2016.
We shared a lot of personal goals like: eat healthier, workout more, work on stuff around our new house but also a lot of professional goals, too. I love owning my own small business and cannot wait to see what is in store for Taylor Elliott Designs in 2016. I hope to see our products in more retail shops and boutiques and I also hope to come out with a variety of new products. I look forward to the challenge and the fun in it all. -Taylor
I always get the urge to bake more during the holidays. Sometimes I explore new recipes and sometimes I stick with my tried and true. The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls are tried and true for me (and my whole family!). They are that good. I think it's the maple frosting that takes them to the next level.
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman:
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Reserved) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
1 bag Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Melted Butter
1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
1/8 teaspoon Salt
For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)
Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.
Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.