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.

 

 

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.

 

Winter Wellness

Recently my blog posts have been focused on health, wellness, and nutrition. Health is something that has become increasingly important to me over the last 5 years and I have come to realize that I have a fiery passion for all things to do with nutrition and holistic healing.

As my blog continues to grow and develop, I want to do more series focused on health and wellness – whether that be my journey to veganism, holistic healing, or nutrition. If you visited my blog recently, you might have seen my series titled “Vegan Views” where I share my thoughts on a plant based diet, animal equality, and other issues related to a vegan lifestyle. Well, today I am excited to share a new series with you called “Winter Wellness”. Here I will be sharing my tips for naturally strengthening your immune system to help ward off the cold and flu this winter.

I will start by saying that by no means am I a professional when it comes to nutrition or holistic medicine – that’s not what I studied in college. However, I have done some research, read a lot of books on health and wellness, and am simply sharing what I have found works for me.

Today I wanted to share some of my “must-haves” that I always keep on hand to keep sickness at bay during the long cold winter months.

The last time I had the flu was in 2012 and the last time I had a cold was 2014 (knock on wood?). I have never gotten the flu vaccine and since I started putting more focus on my health and what I put into my body, I have realized that I am sick less often.

I didn’t really start caring about my health until my freshman year of college, but even then I didn’t always put my health first. With classes and homework assignments, I was lucky to have time to dash over to the dining hall to get something to eat. Since I had poor sleep habits, didn’t eat the healthiest, and was surrounded by roommates and classmates, I did unfortunately get sick a few times during the course of my college career.

My grandma has always been a big advocate for natural vitamins and herbal supplements. So she kept me informed and stocked up on what I needed to keep my immune system strong while I was in school. My roommates always laughed at me for having a drawer full of supplements, but there were a couple of times when they came to me when they were sick asking what they should take to make them feel better. Sadly, they didn’t realize the importance of strengthening their immune systems B E F O R E they got sick.

I do take a few different supplements, however I think it is of the utmost importance to eat a variety of different fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains, to make sure you are getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. I take supplements because sometimes I still fall short on the vitamins my body needs, and also because it packs an extra punch when the cold weather comes around.

Here’s a quick list of what I typically keep on hand during cold and flu season!

  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Ginger Aid Tea (Traditional Medicinal)
  • Echinacea Tea (Traditional Medicinal)
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Kombucha Tea
  • Lemons
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red Pepper
  • Sauerkraut
  • Raw Almonds
  • Raw Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Wheat Germ
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Ground Cinnamon

Supplements: 

  • Probiotic
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

By no means does this list include all of the foods, supplements, spices, and teas you should keep on hand for cold and flu season. This is just what I happen to have right now and foods I typically lean toward eating. I also take a ginger shot weekly to help give my immune system a boost, and I drink plenty of cold pressed juices to get all of the benefits of the fruits and veggies that I need.

These foods contain antioxidants, vitamin C, Probiotics, anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin A, vitamin K, and B vitamins just to name a few. While I could go into more detail about the health benefits of each item on my list, that would be quite the long post. So, if you are interested in learning more specifically about each item, you can do some of your own research :). I may try and do more posts in the future that include more detail about the health benefits of these foods.

What are some of the must-haves you keep in your pantry for winter wellness?

 

 

 

 

 

Not Your Mom’s Vegan Baked Potato Soup

When I decided to go vegan in November I was sad at the thought of not being able to eat my mom’s baked potato soup again. I loved it when she would make this soup on cold winter evenings – rich, hardy, and so creamy, it was the perfect dinner to warm the heart and the soul. I gave up meat 5 years ago, so I was used to cooking for myself when I still lived with my parents. But this was one of the only meals of my mom’s that I still ate and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give it up.

The other day I had a craving for a nice big bowl of that potato soup, so I decided to take my mom’s recipe and adapt it to a vegan version! I was a little hesitant to try it at first since I can’t stand vegan cheeses (or at least the few I’ve tried), but I was actually pleasantly surprised with the way it turned out. Did it taste exactly like my mom’s? No. But it did taste very similar and it’s good enough for me to have and not feel guilty about putting dairy into my body.

The thing I’m learning about vegan foods is that you can’t expect it to taste exactly like the non-vegan version. The goal is to try to make the dish taste as similar as possible, but make it your own. And that’s the key: treat it as it’s own separate dish! I usually avoid fake meats and cheeses because they gross me out and to me that defeats the purpose of why I went vegan (for my health) because these foods are so overly processed. But sometimes you just need some good comfort food, and I’m very happy to have this recipe on hand.

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Not Your Mom’s Vegan Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup Earth Balance butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk (I used cashew)

2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 green onions, chopped

3/4 cup of Daiya shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Tofutti dairy free sour cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Chopped green onion for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, melt vegan butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in cheese, sour cream, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.
  5. Serve with green onion garnish and a side of locally baked fresh bread. Enjoy!

Also, I just realized that 3 years ago today I started my blog! Yay! 🙂

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!