2017 Reflection 

I accomplished a decent amount of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I’m proud of that. I have grown in a lot of areas of my life and am so thankful for every experience and person that God has brought into my life. A lot of excited changes happened this year and I know that there are even more to come in 2018.

As 2017 comes to a close, I thought this little Q & A would be a fun way to reflect on my experiences this year.

  1. What is something I accomplished this year that I am proud of?
    • I don’t know if this is something that would necessarily be considered an accomplishment, but it’s definitely an area I’ve grown in. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and making more friends. I’m naturally an introvert and I’ve never been good at making friends. Even throughout my 4 1/2 years of college I only had like one or two friends. Social anxiety is real, and sometimes I deal with that. But I’ve learned that it’s best to just be yourself and not try to act a certain way to please people or to try to get them to be your friend. I’ve made some good friends this year that are such sweet people and I thank God for bringing them into my life.
  2. What is something that happened this year that I think I will remember for the rest of my life?
    • Celebrating Christmas morning with my family in Nelson County with no power. Brendan and I got to my parents’ house at 9:15am only to find that they had lost power due to high winds. Despite the fact that there was no power, it was the best Christmas I have had in a long time! We all gathered around the Christmas tree in the living room and opened presents. The wood stove kept the house nice and cozy, so we were all happy. After we opened presents Dad hooked the generator up so that we could watch TV and have some running water. Jon fixed us some French press coffee on the wood stove and we had the coziest morning.
  3. What was the most challenging part of this year for me? 
    • Honestly, the most challenging part of 2017 was starting a new job in January. Working retail hasn’t been physically challenging, but it definitely has been mentally challenging. It was very hard for me to adjust to working indoors after working on a farm in the fresh open air – the first warm days of spring were extremely difficult. I spent the entire day at work longing to be outside in the sunshine, doing anything but standing around inside.
  4. In what area do I feel I made my biggest improvements? 
    • One of my goals for 2017 was to recycle more and become more mindful of the products I was using. Since the start of the year Brendan and I have been consistently using our reusable shopping bags, we recycle everything we can (I even carry my Starbucks cups back home with me so that I can recycle them), and we have now switched over to completely natural cleaning products. I really didn’t like the thought of having chemical based cleaning products in my home, so I did the necessary research and switched to natural, non-toxic products.
  5. If I could change one thing that happened this year what would it be?
    • I don’t usually like to answers these questions because I believe that everything happens for a reason. But…back in September Brendan and I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a vacation with his family. We planned it so that we would be celebrating my 24th birthday in Charleston and I was very excited about it. We both took off work for a week, got my friend Kateyln to watch Cheetah for us, and headed to Charleston for our first time. We got to Charleston on Tuesday September 5th and Brendan’s family was supposed to come and join us on Thursday September 7th. Well, Hurricane Irma was coming and so the whole vacation kind of fell apart – Brendan’s family never came, we stayed in 3 different places during our time we were there, and we spent most of our time driving from hotel to Airbnb to hotel, etc. And then we came back to Roanoke early, something I was totally against doing. It was a lot of money spent and a lot of disappointment. So if I could go back I would choose to stay in one hotel longer and make the most of our time there. But hey, it happened and we’ve learned a lot about planning and traveling from that situation.
  6. What are the three most important things I learned this year?
    • Be present in all things.
    • Your mindset can have a powerful hold on you whether positive or negative – thankfully we have the ability to change our mindsets.
    • Everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad.
  7. What three things did I do this year to help those around me?
    • At the beginning of the year I started volunteering with the Roanoke Community Garden Association – I went to one community work day event and wrote two posts for them on their new blog. Sadly, my time with them was short lived and it just didn’t work out.
    • I helped two of my friends edit some of their English essays for their college classes.
    • Worked extra hours at my job to help my managers out around the holidays.
  8. What was the nicest thing someone did for me this year?
    • Mom and Dad letting me come home when Brendan was traveling for work. I know that sounds simple and silly, but it really warmed my heart and meant the world to me. They always welcomed me back home with open arms, and let me stay for as long as I wanted to. And I really needed that, especially at the beginning of the year when Brendan was gone, I didn’t really have any friends yet, and I was still living in an apartment that faced a parking garage. Sometimes it’s the simple acts of kindness that mean the most and stick with us the longest.
  9. What was something that was hard for me at the start of the year that is easy now?
    • Working retail. My job, as I have mentioned before, can be mentally draining sometimes, and that’s probably the hardest part of work for me. It was also hard for me to accept the fact that I was working retail instead of working in my field of study – I felt as though I had settled and was just getting by. But, God has used this job to work in my life in many ways I never saw coming. I have made friends at work and my manager invited Brendan and me to come to her and her husband’s small group. So not only have I found friends through work, but I have found other believers to study God’s word with.
  10. Of the books I read this year, which was my favorite and why?
    • I read a lot of good books this year, mostly health and herbal related. But I’d have to say that my very favorite book that I read this year was WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. I liked this book because it teaches women that you don’t have to rely on birth control and synthetic hormones to regulate your cycle or to keep from getting pregnant. I love that this book teaches that there are natural solutions to regulating your cycle and getting in touch with your body. It was definitely an eye opening read and I would recommend it to every woman.
  11. Which person has made the biggest impact on my life this year? Why?
    •  My husband. Brendan always inspires me and motivates me to better myself. He inspires me with his work ethic, his willingness to serve others, his kind spirit, his patience towards me, he is always encouraging me to work toward my goals and to chase my dreams, and he supports me no matter what. 
  12. What could I have done to make this year better? 
    • Be more present and intentional in every area of my life.
  13. What three words best describe this year?
    • Growth, Intention, Contentment.
  14. Knowing what I know now, if I would travel back in time to the start of 2017, what advice would I give myself?  
    • Be kind to yourself.
  15. What are my most important goals for next year? 
    • Practice yoga weekly
    • Work out at least 3X a week
    • Read 25 books
    • Go on trash walks in Downtown Roanoke to help clean up the city
  16. How am I planning on achieving them? 
    • Taking part in yoga challenges, going to yoga classes and practicing at home
    • Going to the gym and working out at home
    • Reading at least 2 books a month
    • Cleaning up the trash and recyclables I see laying around my city. And I also intend to contact the city of Roanoke to ask if they could put in some public recycling along the streets so that people have that option to recycle instead of just throwing plastic and cardboard away.
  17. What should I do definitely next year
    • Be more mindful and present in every situation.

This is probably the last blog post you will see form me for a while, as I plan on taking some time to redesign and organize my blog. I also just want to take the time to think about the content I want to post and to be more intentional about each and every post.

 

I hope your year was wonderful! Bring on 2018.

October Feels – Apartment Decorations

October is one of my favorite months of the year. This year, Autumn has been my favorite season and I love the change and transformation that occurs during this time. We’re finally starting to have some cooler weather here in South West Virginia and I have welcomed it with open arms. Sweaters, boots, and scarves are what I’m most comfortable in. And of course, let’s not forget about the beauty of pumpkin flavored everything!

As October is quickly coming to a close, I realize that I still haven’t gotten to go to a pumpkin patch and I still have quite a few Halloween movies on my list that I would like to watch. But one thing I was on top of this year was decorating Brendan and my apartment to fit the chaining season.

I started shopping for Autumn/Halloween decorations on September 1st (no joke), the day Target put out their Halloween dollar bin items. I waited until the first day of Autumn to put up the rest of my decorations. I have very much enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of our little apartment this month and I love coming home to all of the decorations.

When I was younger I always dreamed of what it would be like to have my own place and to decorate it however I liked. It brings me so much happiness to be able to do that now.

Here’s a little peak into my apartment and the festive decorations I have out.

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Not pictured are cozy orange lights on my bookshelf, a banner above our windows that says “Happy Halloween”, a pumpkin welcome mat outside our door, and more mini ceramic pumpkins. Do you decorate for Autumn/Halloween?

 

What’s Going On With My Body?

These past two weeks have been something. Has anybody felt a shift in their mood or their health? Because I know I sure have.

Some people have said they felt a shift after the eclipse happened, and others have told me it’s because Mercury is in retrograde (I had to look it up). I don’t know if I believe in all of the astrology hoopla, but I know that I do get antsy and feel a hormonal shift with the changing seasons.

About two weeks ago (August 15th to be exact) I started feeling unnecessarily moody and anxious. I couldn’t really place my finger on anything that was different or out of the norm for my daily schedule that I should be stressed about, so I just kind of let it slide without a thought.

But that week my work schedule changed and I went from working 2 days a week to 4 days. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me it can be mentally tiring. That same week we attended a summer outing for Brendan’s work, and since I don’t always like social gatherings that might have made me feel a little on edge.

Anyway, it was that Thursday night (August 17) that a rash started to appear on my body.

My neck and eyes started itching and I thought it might be an allergic reaction to something. Besides the mild itching and inflammation there were no other symptoms, so Brendan gave me some of his allergy medicine and we went to bed hoping the itch would be gone in the morning.

Well, it didn’t go away and it only got worse as the weekend and week progressed. Friday night I was also fighting an anxiety attack, so that weekend was just a big mess.

The rash ended up spreading all over my body – neck, chest, arms, torso, legs, etc. Thankfully my face stayed clear!

 

This was just the beginning stages of the rash. I didn’t take pictures once it got worse.
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I sent a picture of the rash to my mom, and she thought that it looked like it could be poison ivy. I used to get poison ivy as a kid and there were a couple of times I had to go to the doctor because it spread to my face. But I haven’t had a rash from poison ivy since I was 15, and I couldn’t think of where I would have gotten it from. Besides, this rash looked more like hives to me – small red bumps all over my body, not blisters like I usually get with poison ivy.

If it was an allergic reaction to something, I couldn’t figure out what I would be having a reaction to. As far as I know I’m not allergic to anything, and I hadn’t tried any new foods or used any new health or beauty products.

The only thing that I thought likely to be the culprit was a natural flea/tick spray that we bought for Cheetah (my cat). The only ingredient in the spray I thought might have caused irritation was the sodium sulfate in it. But even that seemed unlikely.

Now, if you know me you know that I avoid going to the doctor at all costs. Like, it has to be a state of emergency for me to willingly go. I just really didn’t want to have sit in a waiting room where I could end up catching something else for hours only to have the doctor tell me that it was poison ivy/hives and have them give me a steroid. While a steroid might have helped by decreasing the inflammation it would have also reduced the activity of my immune system, and I didn’t want to risk catching something else because my immune system was weakened.

So, I set out to do my research on natural holistic ways to cure poison ivy/hives.

On Sunday (August 20th), Brendan and I did a little shopping to get a few things to hopefully help bring healing to my body. Luckily, I’ve been working on stocking my natural medicine cabinet this year and already had a decent amount of things on hand.

I bought the Be Gone Poison Ivy just in case, the Nettle tea to help with allergies, and the Taza chocolate just because 🙂

I tried just about everything for this rash. I used cut up cucumbers to rub on the rash, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Essential Oils, an oatmeal bath, baking soda, aloe vera gel, homemade calendula salve, etc. And while all of these things helped in their own way, I quickly realized that this rash was going to have to run it’s course.

Soothing Lavender Oatmeal Bath

We did eventually buy some Benadryl for me to take to see if the antihistamine would help. I really didn’t want to take it because the Walmart brand we first looked at had gelatin in it (that was a big no-go) and the Benadryl brand has D&C red no. 27 aluminum lake and other useless synthetic chemicals and dyes in it. But at that point I figured taking a couple of pills wouldn’t do too much damage to my body.

I honestly hate the fact that you can’t easily find medicines that don’t include some kind of chemical or dye in them. I was reading that most of the time D&C red no. 27 aluminum lake is used simply to add color. Do we really need a Benadryl to be bright pink? No, we don’t. And we don’t need to be ingesting aluminum either.

Anyway, I took the Benadryl on Wednesday night (August 23rd) and then again before work on Thursday morning. The Benadryl made me feel drowsy, light headed, and a little dizzy. I felt ‘bleh’ all day.

I showed one of my co-workers my rash (she is getting her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in infectious diseases) because I figured she could give me advice on what it was and if I should go to a doctor or not. She said she thought it looked a lot like a stress rash and said she had had one similar herself.

My rash ended up improving by Friday (August 25th), a week after it had first appeared. The burning inflammation and itching subsided and started to dry up and I started feeling a lot better.

Whether or not the rash was caused by stress, it certainly brought my attention to the fact that I need to be taking care of myself, both physically and mentally.

Even though the rash was a bit painful and inconvenient (especially because I had to wear long sleeves and and jeans at work to cover it up, which irritated it more), I learned a lot about poison ivy, hives, and stress from all of the research that I did. I also learned the importance of being patient and in tune with my body. So I don’t look at this as a bad thing.

While I am thankful for modern medicine and the doctors that we have today, I feel that too many people overuse medicines like antibiotics and steroids. It would be wonderful to see more people taking the time to get to know their body and how it works and responds to the world around it, so that they could better take care of themselves instead of running to the doctor at the first sign of something as simple as a cold.

Here is a more detailed list of some of the items I used to try and bring healing to my rash naturally:

  • Cucumber – I placed these on my eyelids and rubbed them on my arms for a soothing affect.
  • Witch Hazel – I applied Witch Hazel daily all over my body. Witch Hazel is an astringent and is soothing and can promote healing.
  • Tea Tree Oil – My grandma taught me about the amazing benefits of Tea Tree Oil years ago. She always used it to help stop the itch from bug bites. I used this all over my body (sparingly on and near my face), and while it did sting at first it brought great relief from the itching.
  • Lavender Oil – I used this the same way I did the Tea Tree Oil. I liked using the Lavender Oil at night to help me feel more relaxed and at ease at bed time.
  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar – Seriously, what can’t ACV do?! I applied the Raw ACV with a cotton ball all over my body to help soothe the itch and inflammation and to help draw out toxins. And even though it was a bit strong and smelly, it felt wonderful and took the itch away.
  • Baking Soda – I dissolved baking soda in a bath to help draw out toxins.
  • Oatmeal Bath – I placed some organic oats in a tea towel, tied it up, and let the faucet run over them to create a nice soothing milky bath.
  • Nettle Tea – I don’t know if the tea helped or not, but Nettle is known to help with allergies, so I thought I’d give it a try. Plus, it tastes good!
  • Aloe Vera Gel – Aloe Vera is great for soothing skin and easing inflammation.
  • Cold Compress – During the last days I had the rash they burned more than itched, so a cold compress felt wonderful.
  • Homemade Calendula Salve – I made this salve for bug bites, but it’s also great for cuts and turns out it helps with rashes too.

Have any of you ever had a stress rash/hives? I’d love to know if you have any tips on holistic healing and keeping stress at bay!

 

 

Last Summer

This time last year I was struggling with something that a lot of young women can relate to – body image and anxiety.

During the beginning of 2016 I was feeling beautiful and confident in my own skin. I was working out more regularly and I had lost weight leading up to my wedding day.

Between work, graduation, and wedding planning there were times when I was simply too busy to sit down and eat a real meal. Juices and smoothies became my go-to for lunches when I was out running errands. I ended up losing weight, but I was also feeling fit and healthy.

After our wedding, that all changed.

The week after our wedding was spent packing and getting ready to move into our new apartment. Again, there wasn’t much time to sit down and have big meals, so we were always eating quick bites on the go.

Once we had moved into our apartment and I had unpacked everything and got our little apartment all set up, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself and all of the free time I now had.

The days seemed to stretch out ahead of me with countless empty hours while Brendan was at work. I didn’t know how to fill these long lapses of time while Brendan was away, so I started watching television. Having television to watch was a treat for me since I didn’t have cable when I lived with my grandma the previous year.

Televison became my constant companion. I always left some show streaming all day long, whether I was actually giving it my full attention or not. It was comforting to me to have some background noise of human interaction on.

I was excited to be married and living in a new city with Brendan. But I was also scared and lonely, and this resulted in me feeling depressed and very anxious all of the time.

I started to feel so alone and craving time and interaction with other people (rare for an introvert like me). It didn’t help that our small apartment got little to no sunlight due to the fact that our windows faced a parking garage. I never knew if it was sunny outside or not.

My mood quickly began to reflect the view I saw outside that window – dark, cold, gray, and ugly. I built up walls and literally made a prison for myself. For some reason I was scared to go outside in this unfamiliar city without Brendan by my side. I cry a little on the inside every time I think of how I isolated myself.

I craved going back home and visiting my family. I felt safe and comfortable there, and it was nice to have others to talk to.

I remember being excited to go to the dentist and be around other people. My hygienist complemented my hair, and I thought about that all day long and how good it made me feel.

I eventually found my way back to journaling and blogging and that helped me with getting my feelings and frustrations out. It also helped me to understand myself a little bit better.

I started going to Starbucks to sit outside in the sun to read and write. But this didn’t cure me of all of my woes.

July came and my body image came to an all-time low. I gained weight after the wedding and I began to hate my body and beat myself up for eating more than I had earlier in the year. I took up going to the gym to work out. I felt better at first. I started going to the gym at least 5 times a week and would work out at least 2 hours while I was there. It gave me something to do and helped the hours go by while Brendan was at work (4 p.m. – 12 a.m.).

I began to develop more muscle and as a result I weighed more. This crushed me. I couldn’t shake the number on the scale and the fact that my pants fit tighter. I had also become obsessed with tracking calories again and how many steps I was getting.

This immediately took me back to when I was a teenager, counting every single calorie and on the verge of an eating disorder.

I started regularly having anxiety attacks and would break down crying in Brendan’s arms. I hated looking in the mirror and I wanted to wear clothes that would hide my body.

One evening that really sticks out to me was at the end of August (2016).

Brendan and I had decided to go to Liberty University for a movie night they were having as a way to kick off the new school year, and I was feeling so defeated with my body that evening. Everything I tried on I hated – I felt bloated, fat, and disgusting. The worst part was that I knew we would end up seeing some of Brendan’s former co-workers on campus and I didn’t want them to see me looking the way I did.

Isn’t it stupid?! In my mind I thought I needed to be thinner and prettier, and I felt like I didn’t deserve Brendan. In reality, I’m sure nobody would have even noticed that I had gained a few pounds. I cried before we left our apartment that evening, and we almost didn’t go because of me.

When September rolled around I knew that I couldn’t go on like that much longer. I decided to stop weighing myself everyday and stop looking in the mirror to constantly pick myself apart. I also stopped wearing my Fitbit, gave up tracking calories on MyFitnessPal, and cut down my gym time to just 3 times a week.

And with these changes I felt the shackles loosen and fall off.

Of course, it didn’t happen over night. After a few weeks I started to realize that I wasn’t focusing on the reflection in the mirror anymore and I was actually starting to enjoy my food again.

I’d say it took anywhere from a month to a month and a half for me to start really feeling better. It took hard work and dedication, a change in my mindset, and the support of my husband.

I never really told anyone else besides Brendan that I was struggling. Body image and anxiety can be a difficult thing to talk about and trying to explain it to people can be even harder.

Those were some very dark days for me, and it hurts me to think about how I beat myself up so much. It hurts to write about it too, but I feel like it’s important for me to share where I’ve been.

Thankfully I am in a much better place now – body, mind, and spirit.

I didn’t write this post because I want people to feel sorry for me. I wrote it in the hopes that it might help somebody else out there that is dealing with something similar.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to not always feel okay. Television and social media are always showing us these beautiful little snapshots of people’s lives, and we don’t always see what’s going on on the inside. The important thing to remember is that we’re all human and none of us will ever lead a perfect life.

Learn to listen to your body and its needs. Surround yourself with a support system – even if it’s just one person you can confide in. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourself because you are worth it!

 

 

Weekend Recap (Aug. 4-6)

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a simple weekend recap on the blog. Last weekend (August 4-6) was so refreshing so I thought I’d share a bit about it.

One of Brendan and my intentions for the month of August is to have a date night at least once a week. We already spend a lot of time together, but we wanted to focus on spending some quality time together outside of our apartment. Friday was the night we planned to have date night.

During the summer Brendan gets off work a little earlier on Fridays, so we were able to head out for dinner around 5:30 p.m. We chose Olive Garden for our dinner destination.

For dinner I ordered whole wheat linguine with traditional marinara sauce, salad (with no dressing or croutons) and, of course, breadsticks. Since going vegan in November last year, I’ve learned different things you can order from chain restaurants that are vegan friendly. I was surprised and happy to find out that the breadsticks at Olive Garden are vegan!


After dinner we decided to walk around downtown for a bit to get some exercise before going for dessert.

A storm ended up rolling in just as we were walking back to our apartment. So we watched and waited it out from our apartment before walking to get dessert.

We had dessert in downtown Roanoke at Altus Chocolate’s newest location. Altus Chocolate is a charming local artisan chocolate shop/cafe that originated in downtown Lynchburg. Their story is so inspiring and I love that the idea for the shop was conceived after the owners watched the movie “Chocolat”.

Altus Chocolate has been around for about five years now, but since I’m not a big chocolate person I never went when I was living in Lynchburg. When I heard that they were opening up a new location in downtown Roanoke, I was delighted and knew that we would have to go check it out.

Brendan and I had a wonderful experience at Altus Chocolate – the employees were very helpful and friendly, the desserts were rich, flavorful, and pure, and the atmosphere was charming (I especially loved the French inspired music).

I ordered the Rich Hot Chocolate and had it made with coconut milk and no whipped cream, and I also got one of their vegan Coconut Cranberry Macaroons. Brendan got a chocolate chip cookie. The chocolates are a bit on the expensive side, but they are handmade by the staff with the highest quality ingredients. I love the fact that they have dairy-free and vegan options for people like me!

Photo by Brendan
Photo by Brendan


I would definitely recommend a trip to Altus Chocolate if you are in the Lynchburg or Roanoke area and are looking for an authentic chocolate treat. I can’t wait to go back and try some of their coffee.

I am currently reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris, so I thought it was very fitting for me to sit a read a chapter while I was at Altus Chocolate.

Nothing too exciting happened on Saturday (August 5). I spent the whole day working, so didn’t feel like doing a whole lot that evening. Brendan and I ended up getting dinner to go and enjoyed a nice cozy evening in our apartment.

Sunday (August 6) was a gorgeous day filled with spontaneous adventures. After church Brendan and I came back to the apartment and went over all of the chores and different things we wanted to get done that day. But the weather was so nice, we both decided that it would be fun to grab some food and then go on a little drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Well, our little drive ended up taking us all the way past the Peaks of Otter and into Lynchburg. And I didn’t mind one bit. I decided to let go and just enjoy wherever the day would take us.

By the time we go to Lynchburg it was about 2:45-3 p.m. and we were in need of a pick-me-up, so we decided to go to Starbucks. And since we had both brought a book along with us we sat outside in the sunshine and read for a little bit before moving on with our adventures.

Next we ended up driving over to Riverside Park near Rivermont. Brendan and I had never been to Riverside Park before. I can’t believe I lived in Lynchburg for 5 years and there are still so many places that I never explored. The trails were nice in this park and we even came along some pieces of Lynchburg history as well.

Brendan was especially excited about this steam engine we found in Riverside Park.

As we were walking down one of the trails, we stumbled upon the big train trestle over the James River. This is the same train trestle that has seen so many lives taken over the years, including the life of Liberty University student Jon Gregoire. I had never seen the trestle in person, only pictures of it. There was such an eerie hush that hung in the air. We paused for a moment there in silence, remembering those who have lost their lives at that spot.


After the park, we headed to Rivermont Pizza for some dinner. Rivermont pizza is one of our favorite places to eat in Lynchburg. The food has been excellent every time we’ve gone.

Before we headed back home to Roanoke, we made a quick stop to see my brother Jon and his new apartment in Lynchburg. He’s in a nice spot in town and I can tell he’s loving it already. Lynchburg really is a great city and I love going back for a visit every chance I get.

We got back home around 9:30 p.m. It was such a fun, rejuvenating day. Sometimes it’s important to leave the dirty dishes in the sink and the laundry unfolded to get out and explore!

 

August Goals + Intentions

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but I felt that it was important for me to post about my goals and intentions for the month of August.

With summer quickly coming to an end, I’m looking back to the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and realizing that I have a lot left that I want to accomplish. For me, I’m more likely to get things done when I write out monthly, weekly, and even daily goals – looking at my goals and intentions through this lens makes them feel less daunting and more attainable.

My list of intentions for the month of August is looking a bit lengthy at this point, but I’m not going to let that deter me. An area that I really want to bring more focus to this month is reading and writing. With work and life in general, I just haven’t put as much time and energy into it as I would like. And I want to change that.

I’m looking back to my 14-15 year old self for inspiration on reading. Back then I was going to the library weekly, reading a chapter a day of several books – one of the classics, Shakespeare, some history, etc. And let’s not forget that I finished the entire Harry Potter series in exactly 31 days. I was a reading machine.

And then I’m also looking to my 18 year old self for writing inspiration. I was spending hours in the morning writing – journaling, writing letters, fiction writing, and even dabbling a bit in poetry. I was challenging myself and writing in styles that were out of my comfort zone. I definitely wrote a lot in school (I did study journalism after all), but I rarely did writing for myself.

This month I’m looking to change that. I want to write for myself, whether that’s journaling or writing fiction. And I want to get into a daily habit of it.

Here is a list of my August Goals + Intentions:

August Goals + Intentions

Monthly:

  • Finish hanging wall art/shelves
  • Transplant plants to pots
  • Write more – journal, letters, short stories
  • Take Unit 1 quiz for Herb Course
  • Incorporate dry brushing into my health routine
  • Form a night time routine
  • Make 20 homemade cards
  • Finish reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Weekly:

  • Stick to meal plans
  • Oil pulling 3x a week
  • Brush w/ activated charcoal 3x a week
  • Gym/workout 3x a week
  • Read a book from the library every two weeks

Daily:

  • Read the Bible
  • Journal for 5 minutes
  • Go on a walk
  • Read a chapter of a book

What are your goals and intentions for this month?

DIY Mother’s Day Gift “Basket”

Hello and Happy First Day of June!

This post from Mother’s Day is a bit overdue. With traveling and going on vacation for Brendan and my one year anniversary I just haven’t had the time to write. But, better late than never right?

I had so much fun putting this gift “basket” (jar, really) together for my mom this Mother’s Day. I wanted to give her something that was pampering but also practical for everyday use. Like me, Mom is into essential oils, natural face soaps, tea, and lovely candles. I wanted to include a few treats in this gift that she normally wouldn’t buy for herself (such as essential oils). While I put this together for Mother’s Day, you can make this for any occasion you want! So here’s a little peek at what I decided to include in Mom’s gift.

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Jar from Marshall’s 
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The smell from the candle, soap, essential oils, and tea was heavenly. 

I actually found a lot of these goodies at T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s. Surprisingly, they have a great selection of natural health and beauty products. I have seen some of these brands at natural/health food stores, so I trust that they are good quality. I have used some of these brands before, like the Eucalyptus soap by PlantLife and the Cooling Eucalyptus candle by DW Home and I really liked them.

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I also tried my hand at making some homemade Bug Bite Salve. Again, I wanted this gift to be pampering as well as practical, so instead of making some body scrub that I knew my mom probably wouldn’t use I decided to make this bug bite salve. Mom loves to spend her time outdoors, so I knew this would come in handy. I bought the tin and most of the ingredients I needed to make the salve from Health Nut Nutrition located in Lynchburg, which is one of my very favorite natural health stores.

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While I had never used this brand before, I loved this little aromatherapy roller set from Tisserand Aromatherapy. Each roller has a special blend of essential oils to help you de-stress, give you energy, and aides in a restful night’s sleep. I bought this set from T.J. Maxx.

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I also decided to include some dried chamomile flowers (from Health Nut Nutrition) so that mom could make a fresh cup of hot, relaxing chamomile tea. I found the adorable muslin sachet from my local Co-op and then just included a little index card with instructions on how to prepare the tea.

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Earlier this year I took a free online course through Herbal Academy which introduced me to herbs and learning how to draw plant monographs. It included a bunch of wonderful resources and free print outs, such as this Tea Meditation practice. This Tea Meditation encourages you to sit with a cup of herbal tea, taste the rich flavors and complicated flavors and take time to relish in the moment. Then, take a moment to journal about how drinking the tea makes you feel – what does it taste like? Do you feel the tea working in certain parts of your body?, etc. Since Mom loves a good cup of tea and journaling, I figured this was the perfect thing to include. In addition to the chamomile flowers, I also included some of our favorite teas from Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea.

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And finally, I finished off the gift “basket” with some fun packaging! I found the cute bag at Marshall’s and the sparkly tissue paper from T.J. Maxx.

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I had so much fun shopping for my Mom and putting this little gift together! Hopefully this will bring you some inspiration for your next DIY gift basket. Have a lovely day everyone.

 

 

Earth Day 2017

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendall Berry 


Happy Earth Day!

A few years ago Earth Day meant nothing to me, it was simply just another one of those holidays that nobody seemed to really care about. It wasn’t until I worked at my college’s Campus Garden/Farm in 2015 that I really started to understand more about taking care of the environment. At the Liberty University Morris Campus Farm I learned about the lost art of sustainable gardening/farming, I learned about the importance of honey bees and the roll they play in nature, I learned about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemical weed killers, I learned to compost, and I became more aware of how much plastic we all use and how important it is to recycle.


Everybody knows that it’s good to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, but how many people actually practice this? It pains me to see people throwing away recyclables everyday like plastic food containers, paper, cardboard, and glass bottles. I understand that some people may not have close access to recycling, but most do. In all honesty, I think most recyclables are thrown away out of sheer laziness. It’s not hard to get a couple of extra bins to place in the kitchen next to your trash can so that you can recycle paper and plastic.

Growing up, my family never recycled and I always told myself that when I got married and had a place of my own I would recycle. My grandmother recycles and she has been a great example for me. She doesn’t have a compost bin, but she does take her fruit and veggie scraps, as well as her coffee grounds, and puts them outside under her bushes for “fertilizer”. Not only does this cut back on trash and what goes to a landfill, it also provides plants with some extra nourishment.

Littering is another thing that I can’t believe people still do. We all know it’s bad for the environment, and who wants that junk laying around the streets or in parks anyway?! But, many people will still toss cigarette butts out their car windows, leave beer caps and plastics bottle lying around, etc.

This year one of my goals has been to waste less and recycle more. I started following some Instagrammers last year who try and lead a zero waste lifestyle and that really inspired me to do better about the products that I buy and what I consume. Do you ever stop and think about how much of the foods we buy come in packages that can’t be recycled? Chips, Granola bars, meats, cheeses, and even fruits and veggies. Sad isn’t it? One way to cut back on waste from packaging is to buy whole fruits and veggies instead of pre-diced or canned ones.

While I’m definitely not living a zero waste lifestyle, I’ve come such a long way and am so much more aware of the waste I create now. I’m trying my very best to cut out plastic wherever I can, stop wasting food, and recycle everything that I can. Here are a few ways  that Brendan and I have worked on cutting back on waste this year:

  • We have recycling bins for both plastic and paper/card board in our apartment. We also recycle glass bottles, cans, and plastic grocery bags. I know some cities don’t recycle glass bottles, but our city recycling accepts glass bottles and I am so thankful for that. And Kroger has a special bin where you can return and recycle your plastic grocery bags, so I take the few we end up getting there.
  • We make sure we recycle everything we can from every room in our apartment. Anything from cans, plastic food containers, glass bottles, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, empty floss containers, shampoo and soap bottles, tissue boxes, etc. I feel like most people neglect the bathroom when it comes to recycling and that’s something that needs to change.
  • Sadly since we live in the city we don’t have access to well water. So instead of buying bottled water, we use a Brita pitcher that filters our water.
  • I love coffee. A lot! So I unfortunately end up with a lot of Starbucks paper and plastic cups. None of the Starbucks in my area have recycling in store, so I always make sure I bring my cups back home with me so that I know they get recycled. To some this may seem like a pain, but it’s an extra step I am willing to take to cut back on waste.
  • Since last year I have been making my own deodorant and storing it in a glass jar instead of buying it from the store.
  • We started using reusable shopping bags when we get our groceries.
  • I use glass jars and stainless steal straws for my water, smoothies, juices, and teas.

I definitely have a lot of room for improvement, but I’m happy with how far I’ve come and how I continue to strive toward creating less waste and taking care of the environment. Here are a few things that I would like to do in order to better take care of the environment:

  • Start carrying a usable glass or stainless steal cup for when I get coffee (I already use glass bottles for my water, juices, smoothies, and teas).
  • Make my own homemade toothpaste, face scrubs, lip balms, and lotions.
  • Start an apartment compost worm bin to cut back on food scrap waste.
  • Start buying foods from the bulk section at the local Co-op. 


What are some ways you’ve cut back on waste? It’s time we step up and take care of the beautiful creation that God has so richly blessed us with.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Spring Fever

Spring has finally graced us with her presence and has touched every plant and tree in sight. My spring fever has hit hard this year and I have been spending every second that I can outdoors, deeply breathing in the delicious aromas of blossoms in the air and soaking in every ray of sunshine and moon beam that I possibly can.

I have spent quite a few days at my parents’ house over the past few weeks while Brendan is away and traveling for work and it has brought me back to the sweet spring days of my childhood. My parents live in the farmhouse that my grandmother grew up in and there is no shortage of rolling fields, strong protective mountains, and eternal sunshine on that old hill.

Being able to wake up to the sound of birds chirping and sunbeams streaming in on your face is one of life’s simplest pleasures, but oh how it is good for the soul. When I visit my family I spend my days in a creative mindset – dreaming up all kinds of beautiful ideas that I want to put into action and stories that I can never seem to get down on paper.

Mother Dear and I usually share sweet conversation over mugs of coffee in the morning while everyone else is asleep or at work. Then we spend our afternoons and evenings bathing in the sun reading, drawing, and talking about anything and everything. Nights are usually spent outdoors around the fire pit or inside watching an old re-run of some worn out TV show.

For me, time stops when I am on that old hill. The stress of work melts away and I forget that I have adult responsibilities to tend to. I always believed that when you grew up and moved away from home that things changed and that the place you used to live in would never feel like home again. But I was greatly mistaken with that thought. While I know that my parent’s house is no longer where I live and I know that I have a little nest of my own with my husband and my kitty elsewhere, I feel that the word “home” will always slip gently from my lips when I think of my parents’ house.

Right now I love living in our little downtown apartment – it’s what I have been dreaming of for the past few years and I couldn’t be happier that I get to spend this time in the city with Brendan. But I am also looking forward to finding a beautiful little place one day that we can call our own and will be the site where Brendan and I will settle down, have babies, and call our home.

Not The Fresh Start I Was Hoping For

Sometimes days, or weeks in my case, don’t go as planned.

Last Sunday I was sad to see my 3 day weekend coming to an end, but I was looking forward to the fresh start that the new week and the new month of March were sure to bring. I was so ready to write out my goals for March, start a new yoga challenge, and get creative in the kitchen with my meal prepping.

Well, Monday morning I woke up feeling off balance and a little sick. Not sick with a cold or the flu, just kind of meh. I thought about calling off work, but it was too close to when my shift would start, so I went into work hoping I’d feel better as the day went on. I should have known that since I didn’t even feel like having my morning cup of coffee that things were not going to get better. Work was a struggle for me, but I struggled all the way through my shift. And then Brendan told me that he wasn’t feeling well either. And that night it hit us – food poisoning.

After a weekend of eating out to celebrate Brendan’s birthday with his parents, it’s no surprise that something made me sick. I always feel terrible if I eat out several times a week, let alone a couple of times in one day. My body just does not thrive on that kind of food. We think the cause of the food poisoning were the French fries we had on Sunday night. So, I guess I’ve learned my lesson about eating out too often. This was the very first time Brendan and I have gotten sick at the same time since we’ve known each other and the first time we have been sick since we’ve gotten married. I guess I’m thankful it wasn’t the flu though because literally everyone has been getting that. We both decided to call off work on Tuesday because we both felt terrible. We literally just laid around on the couch all day.

Brendan seems to have recovered more quickly than me. He also didn’t eat as many fries as I did, so maybe that’s why he wasn’t as sick. But I have been sick on and off again all week and I can’t remember the last time I have felt so bad. Since Sunday, I have lost 8 lbs, been able to eat very little, and haven’t really had any coffee this week (I have several cups of coffee every single day, so that’s a huge deal for me). The bottom line, food poisoning is no joke.

Thankfully, I am feeling much better today. I have the weekend off from work, my man is back in town after being gone for work, and I have the time to catch up on all of the things I had planned for earlier this week. Through all of this I have definitely learned not to take my health for granted. This is why I strive day in and day out to nourish my body by feeding it the clean, healthy options it needs and also why I try to move and get outside every single day. Since taking my health more seriously, I rarely get sick. But when something like food poisoning happens, I am reminded that taking care of myself is of the utmost importance and that the choices I make have consequences. I definitely won’t be getting French fries for quite some time.

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On a different note, here are some pictures from last weekends adventures with Brendan’s parents when they were in town visiting us. 🙂

Ms. Judy and Mr. Dan at the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke.  

First thunder storm of the year rolling in. Taken on the balcony of the Taubman Museum of Art.



Lunch at The Village Grille in Grandin (not the fries that made me sick). 

Brendan and me and Black Dog Salvage. 

Since this cow picture at Black Dog Salvage is way more than I can afford, I took a picture of it, featuring my almond milk latte.

Almond milk latte from Cups in Grandin.



Look at these gorgeous blooms in downtown Roanoke. 

I’m looking forward to this month and the warmer days that are on the way. Happy Saturday everyone!