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!

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Vegan Week Victories

As many of you know, starting November 1st I decided to give up dairy products and go vegan for a week as a way to cleanse and restart for the new month. This was my second time going vegan for a week and it has been amazing. It went so well that I decided to continue on with it! I’m not sure when I’ll end up eating something with dairy in it again, but for now I don’t feel the need to.

Today I thought I’d share a little bit about the meals I’ve been eating and how I’m feeling overall.

While I did do a little bit of meal prep for my vegan week, I honestly didn’t make a bunch of fancy vegan meals. My husband won’t eat most of the vegan meals I fix, so I didn’t want to make huge quantities for myself.

For my breakfasts I had lots of avocado toast, oatmeal, and I even made up a batch of vegan waffles. And of course I had to have my coffee! Instead of drinking it with creamer like I usually do, I used almond coconut milk and a little bit of raw sugar. After a week I finally got used to it!

I don’t eat a whole lot throughout the day, so I just had some Go Macro bars, 1915 Bolthouse Farms juices, and hot teas on hand to have for lunch/snacks.

For dinners I made a huge batch of vegan Chili Mac n Cheese (Brendan actually ate it too) last Wednesday that lasted throughout the week, and I also made vegan Cauliflower Sauce Mac n Cheese for the first time. It definitely didn’t taste like normal mac n cheese, but with some practice I think I will get better at making vegan meals like that.

I ended up eating more vegan “junk food” than I had planned on. Brendan and I had Chipotle o Friday night and then Dominos pizza on Sunday night. And yes, it is possible to eat vegan at Dominos. After doing a little research, we found out that their thin crust does not have any whey in it. So, I ordered a thin crust pizza with extra sauce, spinach, and roasted red peppers. I had them hold the cheese and I just sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top.

I need to focus on incorporating more fruits and veggies into my meals, but besides that it hasn’t been very difficult to eat like this. The hardest things for me were giving up my coffee creamer and raw honey that I use in my hot teas. Besides that, I haven’t felt deprived at all.

Now, let’s focus on how I’m feeling physically.

I lost a lot of weight leading up to my wedding back in May. I felt fit, happy, and healthy. But once the stress of the wedding and moving into our new apartment was over with I ended up gaining all the weight back (and more). I tried working out every single day and using My Fitness Pal to track every single thing that I ate to lose the weight. None of that worked and I was left feeling frustrated, fat, and very unsatisfied. I stopped counting calories near the end of August and I slowly started to feel better. However, I was still not making any progress with my weight.

It wasn’t until going vegan for a week that I actually started to lose weight! I eat relatively healthy for the most part, but seeing the affects that giving up dairy products had on my body is amazing. I’ve lost about 3.5 lbs. in the last couple weeks without trying.

Weight aside, I think the real victory for me is the fact that I haven’t felt bloated or nauseaus this entire week. Recently, I had been going to bed every night with a bloated tummy. It didn’t really seem to matter how much or how little I ate, I would always be left feeling icky. I was turning to Apple Cider Vinegar water every night before bed to help ease my stomach. I think it might be safe to say that I might be a little lactose intolerant.

On top of eating a vegan diet, I have been going to the gym a couple times a week and also working out at home. While I believe exercise is important, I think that a healthy weight starts in the kitchen. Seriously, I see a difference in my abs just since going vegan.

It’s not always easy, but everyday I try to focus on how I’m feeling physically and mentally rather than focusing on the number on the scale. I always feel my best when I know I’m nourishing my body.

If any of you have considered going vegan for a week, I strongly urge you to do so! It may not be easy at first, but your body will thank you for it. 🙂

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Day 4: 30 Days of Lists Challenge

Today has been a slow, easy Sunday. All I’ve really felt like doing is reading, drinking coffee, journaling and watching documentaries on Netflix! But I think it’s important to have some down time and just focus on what your body needs. 

Continuing with the 30 Days of Lists Challenge and finding that today’s list is easy-peasy for me to write! 

Day 4: Favorite animals 

  • Dogs (Pomeranians and Huskies are my favorites) 
  • Cats 
  • Any and EVERY kind of baby animal 
  • Chickens 
  • Cows
  • Goats

I could probably keep this list going and going. Basically, I love most all animals (especially mammals). Insects are a different story haha. However, I try to be kind to all creatures, great and small. ❤ Ever since I was little I have loved all animals and my family and I have had a LOT of different pets over the years. We have had dogs, lots (and lots) of cats, parakeets, hamsters, geese, goats, chickens, a lizard, a rabbit, etc.

For the longest time my family thought that I would grow up to be a veterinarian and they called me “Elly May” after Elly May on the show The Beverly Hillbillies. And while my love for animals hasn’t changed, I realized that being a veterinarian wasn’t my calling in life! lol

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What are some of your favorite animals? 🙂 

Happy September!

Hello September, nice to see you!

I thought it would be fun to do something different on the blog this month, so starting today I will be posting a different list everyday as part of a 30 Days of Lists Challenge. Here are some of the topics I will be talking about (and listing off) over the course of the month:

30 Days of Lists Challenge

  1. Favorite sounds
  2. Things that complete my life
  3. Activities I’d do if I was brave
  4. Favorite animals
  5. Fears
  6. Pet Peeves
  7. Reasons to be happy
  8. Random quirks of mine
  9. Favorite songs
  10. Odd facts I know
  11. Things I miss
  12. Places I want to travel to
  13. Modes of transportation I want to take
  14. I want to learn how to…
  15. Events I want to time travel to
  16. Halloween costume ideas
  17. Other lives I’d want to live if I had nine lives
  18. Favorite scents
  19. Guilty pleasures 
  20. Favorite words
  21. Favorite Bible verses
  22. People I want to meet
  23. Favorite patterns 
  24. Food that I dislike 
  25. Words that I hate
  26. Stuff I’m allergic to 
  27. Obsessions 
  28. Favorites plants 
  29. Things I’m looking forward to
  30. Highlights of this month

 

My hopes are that this challenge will encourage me to post on my blog daily, as well as be a way for my readers to get to know me better. 

So here it goes!

Day 1: Favorite sounds

Rain

Coffee percolating

Frogs chirping in the spring

Crickets Chirping in the fall

Traffic in the city

Leaves rustling in the breeze

Kitty purrs

My husband’s voice

Thunder

Book pages turning

 

Hopefully you guys will be seeing a lot more posts from me this month! Now I’m off to go check things off my to-do list for the day and get started on my goals for the month of September. Have a great day everyone! 

 

 

Make Your Own Sunshine

Is it just me, or does summer seem to be slipping right on by? Summer is my happy place. I learned to appreciate summer a lot more when I started college – knowing that summer would be my gateway to freedom from school helped motivate me to push through all of the tests and papers. Now that I’m done with college, summer still seems to emanate freedom for me. But this year, summer has been a bit different.

I’m used to summer out in the country, where I have unlimited access to the great outdoors, fresh air, sunshine and a lot of bug bites! However, this year I’m getting to experience summer in the city, which if you didn’t already know, is a lot different than summer in the country. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy adjustment moving to Roanoke. Not that I’m unhappy – I actually love living in an apartment with my husband – it’s just different. Instead of being surrounded by green grass and animals, I’m surrounded by tall buildings, lots of cars and people. It’s actually a refreshing change, believe it or not. But I have found myself missing summers at my parents’ house.

I’ve come to realize that I tend to dwell on the past, sometimes too often. And you know what I’ve discovered? It’s great to cherish memories of time spent with the people you love and the places you’ve been, but it’s not healthy to spend all of your time and energy wishing you could relive those moments. Sure, there are times when we wish we could go back to how things used to be, or just spend a little bit more time in a certain stage of life. But the truth is, you’ll make yourself unhappy if you focus on the past instead of living in the present.

These past couple of weeks have been difficult for me for various reasons. I can be really hard on myself and I haven’t had a very positive outlook recently. I think a lot of major life changes just happened at once and it’s taking me time to get used to. Brendan and I have been living in our apartment for a little over a month now, so getting married and moving into a place of our own was a pretty big life event. And with that comes the adjustment of making our apartment feel like home, finding our way around a new city and adapting to Brendan’s work schedule.

The change in sleep patterns has been hard on my body too. I’ve recently gained some weight and have been feeling such low self-esteem. If you know me at all, you know that my weight and body image has been a big issue for me for the past few years. To make a long story short (I may do a separate post sometime that goes into more detail), I lost a lot of weight leading up to and right after my wedding. With all of the wedding planning, packing and moving, I had lost quite a bit of weight and was at an all-time low for myself. I hadn’t weighed so little since I was 15 years-old. However, I am short and have a small frame, so I wasn’t dangerously underweight. I actually felt good about my body and felt energized and healthy. But once we got moved into our apartment and my busy schedule came to a screeching halt, I ended up gaining the weight back. I know I’m no where near being overweight, but I just hate knowing that I gained weight. And it doesn’t help that I strayed away from my workout routine and have lost what muscle I had.

I KNOW that I should focus on how my body feels and not the number on the scale, but that’s still a challenge for me. I’ve spent so much time worrying about my weight and it’s affected my overall mood. Not good. So this past weekend, I made a point to make sure I start focusing on how my body feels instead of letting the number on the scale control my mood. I’ve been to the gym three times this week, went on walks through the city with Brendan and ate foods that nourished my body. I’ve been choosing to be happy with myself, and while that may not always be easy to do, it has been so freeing. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to take care of my body and treat it the way God wants me to. Hopefully I’m taking steps in the right direction.

At this point I still don’t have a job, which in some ways is nice and others not so much. It’s been nice having free time to get our apartment organized, practicing meal prep, learning how to grocery shop and cook for two (Brendan and I are almost complete opposites when it comes to meal time) and also just having time to read, journal and blog like I’m doing now. On the other hand, sometimes I think I have TOO much free time. I’m the type of person that thrives on a busy schedule. Sure, there might be times when I have a meltdown and just wish things would slow down, but at least I know I’m being productive and getting things accomplished. I like making to-do lists, I like seeing appointments and events written on my calendar and I work well under pressure (I guess I got that from writing for my college’s newspaper). So to go from having a hectic schedule full of wedding planning details at the beginning of the year, to just figuring out what I should buy from the grocery store next week, is a drastic change of pace.

I was honestly a little scared of searching for a job when we first moved here – I was worried that it might be TOO much for me to adjust to all at once. But now that we are comfortably settled in our new apartment, I think I’m ready to take the hunt more seriously. God has been good and has helped provide us with all that we need working with just one income. But I know it would be a great help for me to find a job, and it would also be good to put my free time to good use. Sometimes I like to dream about how nice it would be to do blogging as my full-time job, and maybe some gardening or something on the side. But for now, I’ll just keep taking the baby steps necessary to work my way up. I know that God has a job in mind for me, even if I don’t know what it is yet, and I know that He has blessed me with this time of not having a job for a reason.

The lesson to be learned here is that life requires a positive mindset for you to truly be happy. And the only person that can change that mindset is YOU! Happiness is a choice, so  go for a walk outside, journal about your feelings, go grab coffee with a friend, whatever it is that gives you clarity of thought and brings you peace. You have the power to make your own sunshine, so get out and do it!

4th of July Weekend

Tuesday seems to be the new Monday for me. All day long I’ve had this feeling that it’s just the beginning of the week – I guess that’s because I’m still getting used to Brendan’s new work schedule. He now works second shift on Tuesday-Saturday. So this past week I’ve been trying to get settled into a new routine. I’ve got some vegan banana bread in the oven now and I’m washing a load of laundry, so while I have some down time I thought I’d write a “catch-up” post.

This past Saturday my brother Jon came to stay the night with me and Brendan in Roanoke. Since Brendan was still at work, Jon picked up a pizza, some Talenti gelato and a couple of movies from Red Box so we could have a movie night. It was nice to have some company over – not to mention Jon makes the best cup of coffee, and we all know how much I love coffee! We waited up for Brendan to get home from work and then decided to watch another movie. So we may or may not have stayed up until 3 a.m.! Hey, we’re all young, and you only live once, right?

On Sunday, Jon, Brendan and I packed up and headed to my parents house for the day. Since there was a greater chance of rain on Monday (the 4th of July), my parents decided that it would be better to celebrate Independence Day early. Coming back home for a visit is so relaxing for me – I love being able to go outside and enjoy the fresh country air and summer sun. I’ve been very blessed to visit Mom and Dad several times over the past few weeks. Now that I’m married and living away from home, I’m learning how special and important it is to spend time with family.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun celebrating the 4th of July. Dad and Brendan bought fireworks to give us our own personal show, my brothers made a bon fire so we could roast marshmallows and make s’mores and we all went to the Dairy Isle to get ice cream together! The only downside was that my brother Michael’s Pomeranian, Rocky, was having an anxiety attack all day long because of the fireworks. Poor baby. ❤  I had a bit more sugar and caffeine than I’m used to, so I was a bit giggly toward the end of the night. I enjoyed sitting on the swing with my Mom and my sister Alli watching the fireworks and laughing about anything and everything! I haven’t felt so carefree and relaxed in a long time.

Brendan was off work yesterday, and since we were both worn out from Sunday’s festivities, we decided to take it easy and simply enjoy each other’s company. We slept in until 10:30 a.m. (I promise I don’t usually sleep that late!), and then just spent the rest of the morning watching Smallville. I was obsessed with Smallville when I was younger, but only watched through the 5th season. So, last year Brendan and I decided to watch through the entire series. We are currently on the 5th season now and loving it! Better late than never, right?

When 3 p.m. rolled around I was starting to feel a change of scenery, so we each grabbed a book (and Brendan’s iPad mini) and headed to Starbucks to hang out for the rest of the afternoon. I actually got a good bit of reading done, which makes me wonder why I don’t go hang out at Starbucks more often.

Brendan wanted to get Cookout for dinner, so we went through the drive thru and then brought our dinner back home so we could be comfy and watch TV while we ate. We ended up watching Cops while we waited for the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks show. 🙂

While it was a super fun and relaxing weekend, I was left feeling like I needed a fresh start today! Slowly, but surely, I’m trying to get back in the habit of working out regularly and eating more vegan meals. Obviously the cheese quesadilla and fries I had from Cookout yesterday were far from being healthy or vegan, but I’m getting back on track and finding new inspiration from other bloggers and Instagramers that I follow. I may not be as tech savvy as some people, but I will say that I do enjoy social media and some of the awesome people I have connected with through Instagram.

Now that my banana bread is done and my clothes need to be dried, I think it’s time to call it a night. I plan on having another post up soon that goes more in depth on how I’ve been adjusting to my new schedule and apartment living. 🙂

 

 

 

At Long Last

To say it has been a while since I’ve blogged is a vast understatement. My last post was over a year ago and so much has happened in my life since then. To bring everyone up to speed on where I’m at in life since my last blog post:

  • I interned with Lynchburg Living and Lynchburg Business magazines last summer
  • I spent last summer and the fall semester working at the Liberty University Morris Campus Farm
  • I finished my undergrad at Liberty University majoring in Print Journalism and minoring in photography and writing
  • I worked part-time for two months (January-February) as the editorial assistant for Lynchburg Living and Lynchburg Business magazines
  • The months of March-May were spent in a frenzy of wedding planning, yoga practice and working out to try to get that perfect “wedding body” ;), attending my bridal shower, bachelorette party and Commencement ceremony, etc.
  • On May 21 (a month ago already!) Brendan and I finally tied the knot – and it was such a magical day! I can honestly say it was my fairy tale wedding 🙂
  • Brendan and I spent 5 days in my very favorite city – New York City – for our honeymoon
  • And then on June 1st, Brendan and I moved into our very first apartment together in Downtown Roanoke!

Looking at this list of all that has been going on in my life makes me somewhat regret the fact that I didn’t blog for the past year. There was clearly a lot that I could have written about (and still can). But, it was nice to actually spend that time immersed in what I was doing instead of just sitting around writing about it.

I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging for quite sometime now, but just couldn’t find the motivation to sit down and actually begin a post. I’ve played around with the idea of starting a new blog just so I could have a fresh start. I’ve also thought about sticking to a specific theme or subject, such as healthy eating or wedding preparation, but there are just so many aspects of my life that I would like to share that I don’t want to confine myself to one thing.

So, here I sit, fumbling with what I’m going to start writing posts about. I think once I learn to discipline myself to sit down and write for at least an hour a day without any distractions (easier said than done), ideas will naturally start flowing. But for now, this post will have to do. I think it’s a step in the right direction!

It’s good to be back in the world of blogging!