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.

 

 

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!

End of the Month Reflection

As I sit in front of the computer this evening reflecting on the past couple of weeks, I find it hard to believe that we are well on our way into 2017. Is it just me, or does it feel like New Years Day was just a few days ago? This month has been so full of change, happiness, and positive energy – just the start to the new year I was hoping for. I hope that the month of January has been as lovely for the rest of you as well.

I wanted to devote some time today to looking back at my goals and habits that I set for myself at the beginning of the month and assess how well I stuck to them.

I definitely met some of my goals – getting a job, recycling more, and doing yoga more often – but I ended up slipping on some of my healthy habits I was trying to establish. I started the month off strong doing 15 minutes of yoga in the morning and at night, I was journaling everyday, and making headway on my reading list. But then I started my new job and my routine got thrown out of wack, and I’m sad to say that I haven’t worked very hard on getting back where I was. So I think the month of February will be a great opportunity to do this.

During the month of February I want to get more serious about my yoga practice and dedicate more time to it daily. I want to start incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet because, believe it or not, even though I’m vegan I definitely don’t eat all of the plants I should. I want to go to bed earlier so that I have more time in the mornings to read my Bible, do yoga, and eat breakfast before going to work. And I also want to write more – I want to journal, blog, and write letters and articles more regularly. These are just a few of my goals + habits though.

On another note, Roanoke continues to grow on me. Meeting new people and really learning more about the community is giving me a deeper appreciation for this city. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I’ll have more to share with you about how I am getting involved in this beautiful little community and how I want to serve and make a difference.

Roanoke really has so much potential and I am excited to see it grow and thrive in the years to come. How awesome it is to be placed here right now at this time of growth and development and to know that I have the opportunity to help progress that change. I know God has me here for a reason and I pray that He will help show and guide me to the areas I can be of service.

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And with that I say so long January! You’ve been grand.

 

The Greatest Adventure is What Lies Ahead

Happy Tuesday!

My goal for my blog this year is to post once a week, and so far I’ve missed the mark.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted on here in a while is because I’ve been busy trying to accomplish some of my new year’s goals I set for myself – two of those being getting a job and getting involved in the local community.

Within the past couple of weeks God has so graciously blessed me with a part-time job, an offer to write an article for a local magazine, and an opportunity to volunteer in my local community. How amazing is that?

Brendan and I moved to Roanoke in June last year and it has been quite the struggle looking for a job. First of all, I was a little nervous about moving to a new city and looking for a job. I wasn’t at all familiar with the area, and I knew that jobs in my field were scarce. I looked for some local writing jobs, but could never find much. I did apply for a few retail/food service jobs, but if I’m being honest, I really, REALLY didn’t want to work somewhere like that.

I tried not to be close minded, but I just genuinely didn’t feel ready to get a job and start working. Brendan was so sweet and never rushed me, or made me feel like I needed to get a job right away (I was so thankful for his full-time job and that we were able to live off of one income). But there was this part of me that felt guilty for not wanting to get a job just yet. I felt guilty for staying home and doing everyday chores like dishes, laundry, sweeping, grocery shopping, and cooking. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to help out. And I hated when people would ask me (or ask Brendan) what I was doing and if I had a job yet.

“Yet” – I hated hearing that word. It was as if these people were thinking “What is this girl doing with her time if she doesn’t have a job?”. It made me feel belittled and useless and there were times that I cried because of it. Believe it or not, I am rarely bored, even if I’m just at home by myself – I know how to occupy my time and I don’t feel the need to constantly be planning outings with friends just to fill the void. I’m not afraid of alone time, in fact I need alone time to recharge.

But back to the whole job thing. I felt like I needed to get a job because I didn’t want people asking me about it anymore. Which is really a terrible reason to get a job. I know it may sound kind of hippie, but I just wasn’t getting the feeling that any of the jobs I applied for were the right ones for me. I wanted to trust that God had the right job out there for me, and I would just know it when I saw it. I knew some people would roll their eyes at that – I didn’t want to use that as an excuse to not get a job, but that’s honestly how I felt deep down.

And I was right. The new year was right around the corner and I had this new surge of motivation and inspiration. I was determined to find a job and get to work. Little did I know I would find that job within the first week of the year. And I knew I should pursue it because it just felt right and I wasn’t dreading it.

So, within the past couple of weeks I started a new part-time retail job at a chocolate shop (kind of ironic because I don’t really like chocolate and most all of the chocolates they sell are not vegan), I have been writing a magazine article, and I also met with a lady in charge of the community gardens in the Roanoke area and talked about areas that I can get involved in and volunteer at the gardens.

My planner went from empty to filled almost overnight, and I’m totally okay with that. I want to get involved and make a difference in community.

To be honest (I’m trying to be very honest about my feelings in this post), there was this part of me that was still holding onto the city of Lynchburg. Over the course of my 4 1/2 years of college, I came to really love the city of Lynchburg. I loved the people, the local businesses, and the familiarity of it all. But that was the problem, it had become too familiar and I was stuck in my comfort zone. When I first moved to Lynchburg I hated living there. It wasn’t until I invested myself into the community that I really grew to love and appreciate the little Lynchburg bubble. And even though I tried to deny it, I knew it was time to break free of that bubble and have a fresh start in a new city.

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Downtown Lynchburg – home to some of the cutest shops and cafes. This city will always hold a special place in my heart. 

So even though I’ve been living in Roanoke since June last year, I’m just now allowing myself to let go of Lynchburg an immerse myself in this place they call the Star City. I don’t know why I tend to resist change (sometimes unknowingly), but I’m working on not dwelling on the past. From here on, I want to really put my energy into the present and and learn to be at peace with where I’m at instead of looking back to the past. J.R.R. Tolkien once said “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead”, and I’m learning to believe that.

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Downtown Roanoke – My new home. 
Sorry for rambling on, I just had a lot of thoughts I wanted to get out and share. Have a great day! 🙂

2017 Goals and Intentions

Hello 2017!

Yesterday was a wonderful start to the year for me. Brendan and I visited a new church, we went to a family Christmas/New Year’s party, and then went to my parent’s house to do Christmas presents with them.

Since I was out all day yesterday, I decided that today is the day I am really going to start focusing on my goals and intentions for 2017. I started my morning with reading my Bible, checking notifications on my phone, 15 minutes of yoga, finishing off a bottle of water, drank a ginger “flu” shot, and now I’m sitting down with my cup of coffee while I write this post.

One of my goals this month is to establish a healthy morning and night time routine. I am guilty of taking forever to get out of bed, then drinking my morning coffee while ignoring my water and mindlessly surfing the web. And I tend to do the same thing after dinner, snacking and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth.

I’d really like my mornings to start by spending time in God’s word, 15 minutes of yoga, and then drinking plenty of water while I read or blog. And then at night I’d like to spend my evenings journaling, 15 minutes of yoga, and then bed. One thing I know for sure I need to work on is being more mindful of when I am checking my phone. I spend way to much time on my phone and not enough time reading, writing, blogging, and doing anything else creative.

A N Y W A Y …

I have a much longer list of goals for 2017 than I have in years past. And as the days go on I’m sure more will come to mind that I will add to the list. But I wanted to share with you the goals I have written out now – I’ve heard that sharing your goals with others helps keep you accountable. So here it goes!

 

2 0 1 7  G O A L S  + I N T E N T I O N S 

  1. Practice more yoga (daily if possible)
  2. Buy less, Waste less, Recycle more
  3. Shop local more often (Farmers Market/Co-op)
  4. Get involved in the local community
  5. Wear less makeup
  6. Incorporate more natural beauty products
  7. Journal almost daily
  8. Blog Weekly
  9. Read 45 books
  10. Get a job
  11. Waste less food
  12. Meal plan/prep
  13. Find a home church
  14. Take a yoga class
  15. Check out library books > Buy books
  16. Write letters to people more often
  17. Look into taking nutrition/health classes

In addition to these goals for the year, I’m also going to continue with writing out goals and healthy habits for myself each month. That way I have smaller goals to work on that are more attainable and less daunting.

I am feeling so motivated and inspired to make a change in 2017. So I’m going to let go of the things that have been holding me back and I am going to start taking the steps I need to in order to be the person that I want to be.

Let’s fill 2017 with love, laughter, positive vibes, and change!

Year in Review: 2016

This year has been a whirlwind of milestones – graduation, getting married, moving to a new city, my husband’s new job, getting a kitten, and going vegan to name a few. While these were all joyous moments for me, I had my fair share of stress and suffering. But don’t we all?

Before I go any further with my year in review, I want to say that I am so tired of hearing people say that 2016 has been a terrible year. I’ve been hearing people say they are ready to put this year in the past and never mention it again. Really? While there have been some devastatingly heartbreaking events this year, the year itself is N O T bad. I would encourage you to focus on all of the good that happened in 2016 rather than dwell on the bad. A negative attitude will get you no where and accomplish nothing in life. Don’t be fooled into thinking that things will instantly get better in the new year. Just like losing weight and getting in shape, it takes hard work and dedication to make a change. So let’s learn from the mistakes of 2016 and move forward to a more positive and uplifting 2017.

In order of events, here are some of my highlights from 2016:

  1. Getting to live with my Maw for the first half of the year – Growing up I always thought it would be fun to live with my grandmother. And it just so happened that I needed a place to live while I worked in Lynchburg and my Maw so graciously let me live with her for a year. God really blessed me during that year and I will always treasure the time I had living with Maw.15801304_1291306717575341_47967898_n
  2. Working as Editorial Assistant for Lynchburg Living and Lynchburg Business Magazines – Right at the start of the year I had the opportunity to work part-time as the Editorial Assistant for two local magazines while the Managing Editor was on maternity leave. It was a wonderful two month experience and just the right amount of work while I was also juggling wedding planning.
  3. Furthering my yoga practice – During the course of the year I completed three yoga challenges and even won a prize for the first challenge I did! These challenges helped get me into a routine and encouraged me to do yoga on the daily.
  4. Premarital counseling – Brendan and I did premarital counseling from February-May this year through Thomas Road Baptist Church. I was a little skeptical about it at first and thought it would be a bunch of mushy gushy stuff, but it turned out to be an awesome experience for the both of us. Not only did we lay it all out on the table and learn more about one another, we learned what marriage is really about that it takes a lot of faith and hard work to make a marriage great. So thankful for Pastor Jay and the time he invested into us.
  5. Bridal shower – On April 23 my Aunt Sarah threw me a wonderful Bridal shower and her new house. It was such a sweet time with friends and family and totally helped ease some of the wedding planning stress. 15820778_1291307190908627_387934203_o
  6. Bachelorette Party – My maid of honor Krista planned the sweetest and most thoughtful Bachelorette party for me on May 7. Since I’m not into the party-scene and alcohol drinking, we spent the afternoon at the cutest Irish tea shop where we had tea, finger sandwiches, and desserts. Then we went to do some pottery painting and ended the evening with dinner at Isabella’s Italian restaurant. So thankful to have that time with my girls. 15820555_1291307377575275_2008136560_o
  7. Graduation – I technically graduated from Liberty University in December 2015, but on May 14th this year I was able to attend my commencement ceremony. And the best part? I was able to be with Brendan who was also graduating. Both of our families were there and we were all able to celebrate together. It really made those 4 1/2 years of studying worth it. 15800964_1291307520908594_1669025728_n
  8. My Wedding Day ❤ – On May 21 I got to marry the love of my life and have my dream wedding! Yes there were a couple of hiccups here and there, but I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Even though it was calling for rain, we had some blue skies and were able to have the ceremony outside in the garden of Oak Ridge Estate, just as I had envisioned. It was a beautiful, God honoring day filled with friends and family to help us celebrate. Truly the best day of my life. 15801169_1291307894241890_1048087388_n
  9. Honeymoon in New York City – Brendan and I spent 5 glorious days in my very favorite city for our honeymoon! I’ve always known that I didn’t want to spend my honeymoon at the beach or on a cruise, and we both love cities so much that New York City just made sense. I couldn’t think of a more romantic place to spend with my love. We were able to go to the top of the Empire State Building, see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, go to the top of the One World Trade Center, spend an afternoon in Central Park, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, etc. The only downside was that I got food poisoning on our last full day in the city and I spend the day in bed. But hey, I’m focusing on the positive here. I survived and Brendan took good care of me. What a wonderful husband. ❤ 15820129_1291307777575235_1810800617_n
  10. Moving to a new city and into our very first apartment together – On June 1st Brendan and I moved to a new city and into our very first apartment together in Roanoke. I got the downtown apartment I had been dreaming about and we had fun exploring the city this summer.15785554_1291308680908478_692262730_o
  11. Birthday Getaway to Richmond – For my birthday this year Brendan took me to Richmond for the weekend on a little getaway. While our time there was short, it was honestly one of the best birthdays I’ve had in years.
  12. Adopting Cheetah – Mom and Dad always have a lot of kittens at their house, and this summer there was a very special little orange tabby that I had my eye on. Brendan and I debated whether we should wait to get a kitten, but once we saw Cheetah I knew that we needed to bring him to live with us. Adopting Cheetah has taken a lot of adjustment, sometimes he’s downright annoying, but we are so thankful to have this little fur ball in our lives.15857231_1291309717575041_748629662_o
  13. Going Vegan – I’ve been vegetarian for 5 years now and have been feeling the pull towards veganism for quite some time now. On November 1st, World Vegan Day, I decided to go vegan for a week to see if I could do it and how my body would react. It’s now the end of December and I’m still vegan. While I’m not perfect, I want to try my very best to stay on a plant based diet and adopt an overall plant based lifestyle. Right now I’m going strong and don’t want to turn back!
  14. Traveling to Georgia – In mid November Brendan and I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia (my first time) to visit our friends Brady and Lora. Brady and Lora got married just a few days after we did and moved to Georgie in May. Brady is now the youth pastor of church in Georgia and we were able to see his ordination when we visited. What a blessing these friends are and I am so proud of everything they are doing for the Lord. 15824602_1291309580908388_645042082_o
  15. First Christmas together – And last but not least, Brendan and I were finally able to be together on Christmas as we celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple with Brendan’s family n Delaware. We had a wonderful few days spent with his family, and we were even able to bring Cheetah along with us! 15820736_1291310160908330_1489587202_o

I know for some 2016 has been a very trying year. I had my ups and down as well, but through it all God has been so good to me and my family. We have had great health and so many blessings to celebrate. My prayer for 2017 is that we would all show love and kindness to one another, treat others as we would want to be treated, and focus on all of the good and positive things in our lives. Don’t fall into a pessimistic attitude where all you can focus on is the bad and the negative in this world. Remember, we live on a fallen planet full of sinners and that’s why we all so desperately need Jesus. He is the Light of the world. Right from the start, I want to place 2017 into God’s hands and have Him strengthen me and guide me.

I will be posting my goals and intentions for the new year on the blog later this week. I would love to hear what some of your New Year’s resolutions are! 🙂

Goodbye 2016, you’ve been grand!

Until next year my lovelies ❤