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!

Saturday – Breathe Easy

Today was exactly the type of day I needed. It’s Saturday, and it’s the first Saturday I’ve had off since I started my new job. After a hectic week dealing with Valentine’s Day in the world of retail, I needed a day to unwind, start fresh, spend time out in nature, and simply let go.

This morning I slept in until 9 a.m., I had some homemade vegan vanilla chai pancakes, read a little bit of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles (loving it so far), showered, and then got ready to go on a long walk on the Greenway with Brendan. It was 70 degrees today and it felt more like mid-March instead of February.

I’ve been on a few walks through the park downtown recently, but it was so nice to get away from downtown and be more submerged in nature. Granted, there were more people around than I would have preferred, so it wasn’t as peaceful of a walk as it could have been. But it was still nice to get outside, soak up some rays from the sun, sip some homemade green juice, and just forget about all of the stress of everyday life.

Green juice: Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Cilantro, Celery, Grapefruit, Lemon, Ginger. 

We ended up walking to Black Dog Salvage in Grandin and looking around there for a little while. It was our first time going and there was so much to look at.

I want to have an area in my house like this! 
And like this – I need this space for my yoga practice. So peaceful. 


We ended up walking a little over 3 miles and it felt amazing. Even though I didn’t really work my body very hard, it felt like it was such a better workout than going to the gym. I was able to breathe in the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of nature instead of having music blasting through my ear buds. I need all of the fresh air, vitamin D, and green juice I can get these days since it seems like literally everyone is sick with either the flu or the norovirus. Why? Why do people always get so sick this time of year and just accept the fact that sickness will occur? I fight it with everything I have in me – that’s why I try to nourish my body with everything it needs to fight off any cold, flu, or virus that may come my way. But I’m getting off topic. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t (not on this post anyway).

Sculpture in the park on the Greenway. 

I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated when we got back home. I decided to do some hooping and then yoga while I was feeling all the positive vibes. The fresh air gave me an appetite for something homemade and healthy, so I had some of my left over vegan butternut squash curry and jasmine rice for dinner. Perfection.

Vegan Butternut Squash Curry.

I plan on spending the rest of this beautiful evening doing a few chores and watching a movie with my man. Four years ago today is the day Brendan told me he loved me for the first time (I said “I love you too”). I remember feeling such a rush of butterflies and excitement that night, and I just couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. He was the first guy to tell me he loved me, and I’m so thankful that I got to marry him. ❤

My love. 

Looking forward to another beautiful day off work tomorrow! Happy Saturday everyone!