Christmas Decor Ideas

I’m quite the homebody. I love a quiet day spent at home, tea in hand. This season, I’ve enjoyed decking the halls in our new apartment home. πŸŽ„

My philosophy when it comes to decorating for the seasons, is bringing the outside in. I try to implement this strategy in as many ways as I creatively can. It’s certainly a budget friendly motto to live by!

Here’s some festive Christmas decor ideas that’ll warm your heart just as much as a cup of hot cocoa.

1. Homemade Potpourri

My, does this make for a pretty display! And the smell? Ah! Delightful! All I did here was dry some oranges in the oven, arrange them in a bowl with some fresh cranberries, a cinnamon stick, and a sprig of our fresh Christmas tree! Some fresh cloves would be a fragrant addition as well. I think I’ve made myself a new tradition right here!

2. Set the Scene

Display your favorite Christmas reads! This gives off that lived-in Christmasy home. I always like to take off the paper sleeves on my books. More often than not, there is a gorgeous book underneath!

3. Christmas in a Jar

Perhaps the easiest Christmas decor to accomplish! All you need is a large mason jar, some red ribbon, and some Christmas tree branches! I don’t put the branches in water, but let them dry instead. This prevents mold from building up in there.

4. Orange Slice Ornaments

I dried some extra orange slices to make ornaments! Simply string them with some twine, and hang them on a branch with a light behind it. Natural stained glass! I can see myself making these with my future kiddos one day.

5. Mantle Arrangements

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a mantle. More like an IKEA tv shelf, but let’s pretend, shall we? Here I took more Christmas tree branches, added some pine cones, a few berries, and some battery operated fairy lights! Magical.

6. Remember the Reason

Don’t forget to add some Christmas cheer to your kitchen! How lovely is this nativity? It was my grandma’s years ago. (Thanks, Grandma!) I love its simplicity. A beautiful reminder of what Christmas is all about–the birth of our Savior!

I hope you feel inspired to think outside the box when you decorate this season! Wishing you and yours a very, merry Christmas!

Dinner in 30: Easy Paella Recipe

I think the underlying hesitancy to cook is: busyness. An hour of prep. A half hour to cook. And an hour of countless dirty pots and pans. I recognize this need and the demand for easy, healthy, flavorful meals that nourish and satisfy you and your family. That’s why my new goal is to create a series of recipes that will be classified as: Dinner in 30. Healthy, unique, meal ideas that take around 30 minutes from start to finish.

This easy paella recipe is the definition of simplicity. Minimal ingredients, and only requires one pot and one pan. The use of chicken sausage keeps things simple, since chicken sausage is bought already fully cooked. All you must do is chop it and brown it. πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

Here is this lovely recipe, that has become a weeknight staple in The Brown Abode.

Easy Paella Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz bag of yellow rice (with saffron)
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag.
  2. While the rice is cooking, brown the chicken sausage in a large skillet.
  3. SautΓ© the onion and pepper.
  4. Then add the peas and black beans.
  5. When rice is cooked, add to the large skillet and toss.
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Note:

I like to use Vigo yellow rice. It has the seasonings already in it. Β Saffron is a very important component of traditional paella, but it can be very expensive if you buy it on its own. It is definitely worth buying rice that already has saffron in it.

Gift Idea :: For Him

We love him. Dad. Husband. Grandpa. Boyfriend. So lovable, yet so hard to shop for.

Gifting for men can be mind boggling. You want to find something special, but something he will actually use. Something that won’t go out of style, yet not too generic.

Let’s keep this simple, shall we?

Get him a JORD Wood Watch.

It’s a unique twist on a classic. Quality and timeless. A statement piece. In fact, I’m confident these watches could easily become heirloom keepsakes to be passed down through the years.

Because of their wood design, these unique watches aren’t overly heavy or clunky. Beautifully crafted and exquisite attention to detail, each watch comes housed in a stunning cedar wood box.

My husband loves the earthy, masculine vibe of his wooden watch. He is wearing the Hyde Kosso & Gray. This particular timepiece stands out for its intentional minimalism.

“I like the simplistic aesthetic of the watch face. It’s clean and sleek,” says Billy.

I truly believe a JORD Wood Watch would make a memorable gift under your tree this year. You know, where his face lights up when he opens it, kind of memorable. JORD even offers custom engravings if you want to take the sentimental factor to a whole new level.

Gift him with something truly special and unique. Every time he glances at his wrist, you’ll be the reason he can’t help but smile.

C O U P O N C O D E

Now until December 15, 2017, you can get 25% off any wood watch. Simply go toΒ this link, fill out the simple form, and you will be emailed the coupon code. Christmas shopping made easy!

(Shopping for Mom or sis? JORD Wood Watches has a gorgeous selection of women’s wooden watches that you can shop here.)

*This blog post is in collaboration with JORD Wood Watches. All opinions are my own.

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Luxury Wooden Watch

Youthful Faith

Faith came a lot easier as a child. Heights didn’t bother me as they do now. I’d gleefully perch a lizard on my shoulder. Now I can’t stand the sight of them. If I was told something, I would believe it. Without question.

I really like grapes. I always have. When I was little, I recall my dad telling me if I kept eating so many grapes, a grape vine would grow inside my belly. And I believed him.

Then, somewhere along the lines, that blissful, unwavering faith dissipated. As I grew older, I took life’s blows a little harder. Worry and doubt lurked on every corner. “Anxious” became a word I used to describe myself.

Jesus wants us to come before Him as children. With reckless abandon. Faith without hesitancy. Childlike faith. Or as I like to call it, “Youthful Faith.” When I was a teacher’s aide, I was blessed to witness this childlike faith lived out daily. It’s amazing how we adults can learn so much from God’s precious children.

As an adult, having youthful faith goes against my nature. I want to swim through my mess and try to fix things myself. Then, I find myself washed up on shore, breathless and drenched with defeat.

I love this quote by Oswald Chambers: “Faith is absolute trust in God—trust that could never imagine He would forsake us.”

And that’s just it. God will NEVER leave me nor forsake me. I can KNOW that.

My Nonno (that’s Italian for “grandpa”) was an amazing example of youthful faith. Every night he kneeled by his bed and prayed. And believed in the power of prayer. On his death bed, he had absolutely no fear. He said, “I am going to the place He has prepared for me.” And he said so with joy and confident anticipation. THAT is youthful faith!

When I first started blogging, I originally named my blog “The Young Wife”, because I was married at 21. A little while after, the name “The Youthful” came to me, and I felt the Lord telling me to change my blog’s name. It’s funny because “The Young Wife” had everything to do with age, while “The Youthful” has nothing to do with age and everything with attitude. Since renaming the blog, God has revealed new depths of its meaning: My name (Julia) means “youthful.” My goal is to live joyously and simply, seeking adventure along the way. And recently, the concept of “Youthful Faith” hit me. God is in alllllll the details, friends.

I am encouraged that I don’t have to “adult” my way through tough situations. I can cry out to my Heavenly Daddy, and KNOW that He will provide. That He will take care of me. That He will give me peace. That He will carry me through.

Whether you’re on top of a glorious mountain, or down in the depths of the valley, trust the Father. I encourage you, my spiritual siblings, to live a life of Youthful Faith.

(Walking in faith with these darling (comfortable) sandals, courtesy of Oka-B.)

Fall Makeup Look

Even on Florida’s warmer days, I can still indulge in some fall-inspired makeup. There’s just something about a deep lipstick that makes me feel truly autumnal. Festive, if you will.

While I will note the exact products I used to create this look, I am a firm believer that you can use similar shades and products and put together an equally lovely look. Perhaps even more cost effective!

So let’s get started. 🍁

F A C E

To start, I used Tarte Creaseless Concealer to touch up any blemishes. A little goes a long way with this product. I like to stipple it on, this way I don’t wipe the product right off. Try to find a color similar to your skin tone for best results. I also used a small amount on my eyelids to serve as a primer.

Next, I applied Bare Minerals Correcting Concealer in Light 1 under my eyes. For under eye concealer, you always want to choose a color that is lighter than your skin tone. That’ll brighten you up, babe. ✨

For foundation, I use Bare Minerals Matte Foundation in Soft Medium 11. Love. I have oily skin, so the matte finish helps combat that. However, if you have dry skin, I would recommend using the regular formula.

B R O W S

I used Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Granite to fill my brows. This could really be a blog post all on its own, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Don’t color your brows like a kid with a crayon! I see this all too often. Keep it soft where your eyebrows are closest to your nose, and gradually get darker as you fill them in. I essentially “underline” and “overline” my brows with a clean line, and fill any sparse areas. Always blend!

E Y E S

Start by using a matte cream color across your entire lid. Pack it on with a fluffy eyeshadow brush to achieve a more opaque finish.

Next, use a medium brown/copper in your crease and outer corner of your eye. Use a dark, chocolatey brown to form a “V” on the outer corner as well. Now blend away! I use a soft eyeshadow brush to blend, but you could also use a cotton swab. Remember—the more you blend, the softer, more natural it will look. Finish with a touch of gold eyeshadow in your inner corner and your brow bone.

For that fierce Egyptian eye that I love so much, I used my most beloved Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black. On my lower lash line I used a brown eyeliner from Sephora to soften the look.

Next, curl dem lashes! I love the Tarte eyelash curler. It’s worth the investment. Finish with Tarte Gifted Mascara.

D E T A I L S

I did a quick contour here using Tarte Matte Bronzer in Hotel Heiress. (Can you tell I love Tarte?!) Then, using that same gold eyeshadow we used earlier, I put some on my finger and used it to highlight my cheekbones, the tip of my nose, and my Cupid’s bow (that’s the top part of your lip.) I find using my finger instead of a brush brings out the pigment more.

L I P S

A deep lipstick is what makes this look scream “fall!” The shade is by Mac Cosmetics in the color Diva. It’s a tad drying, so I typically put on some lip balm before applying the lipstick. When using a dark lip color, I recommend using a lip liner to prevent the color from bleeding.

I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial and found it blissfully helpful! Makeup is an art–enjoy the process!

Fate? or something Greater?

As I went to take a small nap one afternoon, I gazed out my window. Words starting coming to mind. Lots of them. Almost poetic in nature. I lifted my head and wrote whatever came to me. Here’s what I wrote.

Deep down humanity knows they come from something Greater. In their lame attempt to explain what only is defined by God, they created “fate” in His place. We hate what is wrong, what is immoral. But what makes something wrong? Something immoral? We all yearn so desperately for love. Yet what is love and why do we want it? In our hearts we feel things. Know things. Things that have been created in our nature by God. And yet, this world explains them away. Oh how they miss such fulfillment in life. The depth of their being could be so much more. And what a grave tragedy it is to deny God.

You credit your favor in life to chance? Fate? Coincidence? In that case, you think far too little of the good in your life. The realization that Someone, that cares so deeply for you, takes the time to orchestrate all the blessings you have acquired, makes the good fortune in your life so much more meaningful…so much more grand. We are so little, yet a big Creator gives so much.

Or do you credit your success to your hard work and talent? Where do you think you received the talent and means to perform so highly? Chance? …It all leads back to the Creator. Step down from your pedestal and stop fighting what you know deep down to be true. We were created by a God, through whom all blessings flow. Stop resisting and get to know your Maker. He is a truly remarkable, personal, loving Father.

The more intimately I converse with Him through prayer…the more I hear Him through the Bible…the more deeply I enter relations with Him…the more I see Him move.

Things I’ve Learned From Being a Teacher’s Aide


I’ve worked with kids since I was 18. In my 6 years of summer camps, aftercare, and being a teacher’s aide, I’ve tucked away precious lessons and sweet memories. As this chapter closes and I move on to the next, I am thankful for the morsels of experience I can carry with me. I truly believe that there are lessons to be learned everywhere. All we must do is slow down and observe. Look a little closer. Hug a little tighter. Love a little more.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from my past three and a half years as a teacher’s aide.

  1. Bandaids have magical healing powers. Even if you can’t see a scratch, give the kid a bandaid.
  2. Kids will do anything for a piece of candy. Even just one skittle.
  3. The power of a sugar high over a child is no joke.
  4. Kids are brutally honest. “I don’t like your hair like that.” “Oh okay, thanks.”
  5. Kids genuinely care. If I was ever out sick one day, I’d have kids asking how I was feeling for a week or so after.
  6. Four square is serious business. And if they ever hit me with the ball, I was “interference!”
  7. Childlike faith is a truly beautiful thing. They believe with such reckless abandon. Unwavering, blissful, steady faith.Β 
  8. Watching a child break down walls–brick by brick, begin to trust, and flourish is one of the most heartwarming things to witness.
  9. The Bible doesn’t need to be watered down for kids. In fact, the more meat they learn from it, the more of the Bible they yearn for. Seeing them get excited in Bible class is so inspiring and uplifting.
  10. Copy machines have a mind of their own and they definitely aren’t people pleasers.
  11. Working at a school is like working with family.Β 
  12. Teachers work so hard. Not only do they pour into a child’s education, but their inner struggles as well. It’s been an honor to work along side the very best, loving, invested teachers.
  13. Rainy days= bad days at a school. No recess = no sanity.
  14. The teacher’s lounge is a sacred refuge. With donuts. Lots of donuts.
  15. I’ve learned a lot about discipline and resolving conflicts—valuable, fruitful lessons I can apply to parenthood one day.
  16. It has been an honor to work with children of all different personalities, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  17. Kids see the world through different spectacles. They’re not afraid to get dirty, dig, and be free—a trait I need to embrace more.
  18. Sometimes you impact a child, and sometimes they impact you.
  19. When a teacher’s aide enters the room, teachers look at you like a paramedic about to save the day.
  20. In a world saturated with technology, it’s refreshing to see that reading a child a book still deeply affects them. Sitting criss-cross-applesauce, with their mouths slightly open, their gaze in awe and anticipation—they are entranced by the power of a good book.
  21. Speaking of technology, I’ve learned that it is not only unnecessary, but harmful in excess to a child’s imagination. (This is merely my opinion.) Nothing makes my heart soar more than seeing a child play house, drawing treasure maps, building things…being uniquely and creatively, them.
  22. Children aren’t afraid. They climb to the top of the play structure with ease. No looking down. No second guessing. They just climb. And that’s where I’m at right now. I needn’t look down, but rather look up.

As I tread unwandered trails, I hold fast to the fact that the Lord has always come through. He always provides. In His perfect timing. And He sprinkles the path with blessings and lessons. A truly beautiful journey indeed.

Dressing Fall in Florida


Fall certainly knows how to cozy its way into our hearts. Pumpkin patches, warm and spicy drinks, and the beloved sweater weather.Β 

Oh wait, it’s 90 degrees where I live. *facepalm*

To my fellow Floridians and residents of warmer climates, this blog post was written with love, for you! How to feel festive and autumnal, without risking heat exhaustion.

🍁 🍁 🍁

There’s two elements I want to focus on:

Color and Texture.

While I can’t exactly break out my turtleneck just yet, dressing in fall colors certainly gives me all the Fall vibes.

Think cranberry, caramel, mustard yellow, olive green, orange, different shades of brown, gray, and black.

Pictured below is the perfect example of me wearing a cool, breezy dress in a very “fall” appropriate color.


When it comes to texture, think knit, sweater-like, fuzzy, and cozy.

Pictured below is this darling sweater vest. Gives off that cozy vibe, but still leaves plenty of breathing room.


Now, how you accessorize in the fall can be of equal importance.

Since wearing a beanie isn’t exactly an option right now, I love a wide brimmed felt hat. Makes me feel like a little lady. Hehe.


Boots are just too warm right now. And honestly, it’s almost embarrassing to wear them in 90 degree weather. I like to lean towards ballet flats (How cute are theseΒ pictured below (courtesy of Oka-B)Β in the port wine color?!), loafers and mules, and ankle boots.


I hope I was able to give you some fresh, festive, Florida, fall fashion! (I love me some alliteration! 😜) If I inspired you in any way, use the hashtag #theyouthfultribe in your photo. I’d love to see what you’re sharing and wearing. Here’s to hoping we can wear actual sweaters sometime this season! Β πŸπŸŒ»πŸ‚

To Be Brave


(Photograph by the lovelyΒ Yazi Davis Photography.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a heart rambling blog post. These typically go unplanned, and I wait til God leaves one on my heart. And He has. So here it goes.

The other day I was ill at work, and it was decided that a trip to the ER would be best, just to make sure I was okay. It wasn’t anything crazy, and why I was there is besides the point of this post. (But don’t worry, I am okay ☺️)

I will tell you that going to the doctor is one of my least favorite things in the world. Being in that ER waiting room (for 3 hours) sent my anxiety through the roof. Thankfully, Billy distracted me by pulling out his phone and putting on Netflix for me. Nothing better than a Gilmore Girls episode to lift my spirits.

I was eventually brought to a room where they were going to run some tests. The room was divided by a curtain, with another patient on the other side. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her yelling at the nurses, telling them they weren’t doing their jobs, among other unkind things.

I was already nervous about what sorts of tests were going to be done to me. The tension in the room increased as I heard her yell at any nurse or doctor who entered.

Whenever a nurse left the room, she started talking to Billy and I from behind the curtain. Telling her life story practically. And it was heart breaking, honestly.

A nurse entered. She’d yell at them.

Nurse left. She started talking to us again. She’d crack jokes, start crying, and then change the subject again.

“Crying helps, you know,” she said.

My heart sank. There was a moment. A moment where I felt like I should say something. Something about Jesus, and how He can mend every broken heart. That He saves us. My heart pounded.

Let me warn you, this is a sad story.

It’s actually embarrassing.

But it was an eye opening experience, so I feel led to share…

I didn’t say anything. I got scared.

“But I can’t even see her,” I thought.

“She might yell at me the way she yelled at the nurses,” I reasoned.

A nervous wreck from the events that had transpired through out the day, and honestly a little afraid of her, I said nothing. I let my fear take hold of me. I allowed my discomfort with the situation to dictate what God was telling me to do. I was a coward.

When I arrived at home after 6 hours at the hospital, I immediately broke down in tears. Overwhelmed with guilt by the missed opportunity to share Christ with someone who needed him so desperately.

Thankfully, I follow a God who loves. Who forgives. Who listens. He laid on my heart a valuable lesson: I need to be ready. Sharing the Gospel can be uncomfortable. It can be offensive. It can be inconvenient. But, I need to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow God’s call. His still small voice. I need to be brave.

Since that day, I’ve prayed. For her. And for courage. That each time I step out my front door, I’ll be ready to speak the truth of God’s gift of Salvation. That He sent His Son to die on the cross for each and every one of us. That He took on all our sin. That death could not hold Him, so He rose from the dead 3 days later. All so He could save us. All so we could spend forever with Him in heaven. And all we have to do is receive. Receive His free gift.

Sharing the truth of God’s love and grace may be inconvenient. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. But it will be good.

Β 

Pumpkin Face Mask


Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a skincare expert. I’m just a girl who loves pumpkins in the fall! Whenever making a diy mask or using a new skincare product, always apply a small amount to your arm before using to test how your skin will react.

There’s two things I’m currently all about right now: pumpkins and selfcare. There’s just something about fall: the way it looks, feels, tastes. I yearn for it more each passing year. And with that longing, my love for pumpkins grows. They really are a delight, aren’t they?

While amidst my favorite season, I’m also in a season of change in my life personally. This presents challenges at times, but I’m learning to take time to breathe in the fresh air, and lean in to my Savior.

So since pumpkins and selfcare are two things I am loving right now, I thought I’d combine the two! A pumpkin face mask! πŸŽƒ


As if I even needed another reason to love pumpkins, they happen to be really beneficial to your skin! Pumpkin smoothes and brightens your skin, contains acne fighting zinc, has lots of fatty acids and vitamin e, and contains antioxidants for radiant skin!

This simple mask only contains 3 ingredients, and is so fun and festive to use! Hmmm fall themed spa-night, anyone? 🍁😏

Pumpkin Face Mask

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB of canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients and stir in a small bowl.
  2. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse skin with cool water and blot dry.
  4. Enjoy hydrated, plump skin!

Note:

This recipe yields enough for two to three uses. Store covered in the fridge and use within a couple of days.

Light a candle, grab your favorite book or magazine (The Magnolia Journal), and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!