Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My favorite posts I've written

One of the challenges I had in my 101 challenge list was to keep a running collection of favorite blog posts I've written.  I'm not sure why I wanted to do this back when I wrote my challenge list, but I'm glad I did.  I had a fun time roving through my published posts, remember the stories I wrote, and reliving the passion when I had these great topics to write about.  It's been a good retrospective, and it's shown me a bit more of where I've been and of how I'd like to use my space in the future.

Here's my list of favorites, and I hope to add to this list later on!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Recommended from July (whith whisky chocolate chip cookies)

I've been keeping track of links to share like I used to, but for a while, I'll be running a big Recommended post each month instead of each week.  Hopefully three weeks absence will make the heart grow fonder when a new Recommended post rolls out!

via Bon Appétit

First, a recipe!  I highly recommend these chocolate chip cookies made with whiskey and rye.  A friend of mine made them, and they blew me away!  These are in my top 3 favorite cookies I've ever tasted, no lie.  I haven't made them myself yet, but I hope that when I do, they turn out just as good!

An amazing story of a man harnessing the seas in an entirely new way to provide for the future.

A funny bit for your weekend: Kittens vs Thugs

I love this idea for chore dates!  Maybe it's just my get-things-done nature, but I really do think this would be fun.

Great encouragements on being a Girl Boss collected by Joanna from Cup of Jo -- This quote is my favorites:
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” — Marissa Mayer

I love this series from Cup of Jo about parenting around the world.  You may have seen it, it's pretty popular, but it's always worth another look, in my opinion.

Tips on how to make your clothes last longer (and save $$).

Shut the front door.  There's an otter preserve in California where you can swim with otters!  Here's a video.  Time to move to the West Coast!

Did you know that King Tut's sword was made with the metal from a meteorite??

The adorable frustrations that come with being a baby panda zoo keeper

Hope you have a great weekend!  See you again in August!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Little Ways to Make a Big Difference

Little ways to make a big difference :: blog post
With the summer heat bringing in a little bit of the doldrums, I wanted to drum up some ideas for small ways to stir some goodness into your life or the lives of those around you.  I also would love to hear what you think should be added to the list.  Please comment below!

  • Write good reviews for good places or tell someone about where to eat the best local ribs.  Read some inspiration here.
  • Use the candles, lotions, and fancy cookies or coffee you've been saving for a special occasion.  Make today special!
  • Instead of taking your phone to the bathroom (I'm not the only one, right?) keep a book you've been trying to finish on the bathroom counter.
  • Look at the ingredients in your processed foods and cut out anything with trans fat.  There are lots of ways to eat healthy, but trans fat is a pretty easy place to start.  (Also, avoid drinking your calories.)
  • Pay it forward at the coffee shop.  Maybe use the drive through if you're nervous.
  • Use the stationery you have laying around and write a letter to someone you've been wanting to get back in touch with.
  • Actually floss.  Turns out is does amazing work at disrupting the bacteria making its home between your teeth.
  • Refrain from angry or emotionally charged electronic conversations.  Some conversations are best held in person (or not at all, depending on the situation).
  • Take an hour or two to help a friend move.  Many hands make light work, and they will appreciate it a ton!
  • Eat less tuna and salmon (and maybe meat in general) to help reduce, even just a little bit, the environmental impact your food has on our planet.
  • When you appreciate someone, tell them.  Give more compliments.  Even to strangers.
  • Bring flowers with you when visiting a friend, just for the heck of it.
  • Send pictures of yourself to your mom.
  • If you think of something you should do, if you can get the task done in 5 minutes, do it right then.
  • Wear your prettiest underwear, just for you.
  • Practice wanting less and consuming less and try to send less to our landfills.
  • Comment on the blog posts you read.  Let the author know you're there.  :)
  • Take time to spend on loving and enjoying yourself.
What would you add?  What things make you happy that you think we should try?  What small things have you seen make a difference for you or others?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The importance of self care

The importance of self card :: blog post

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."
~ Bené Brown

This spring, I went through an incredibly stressful time, and I wanted to share a little about what I've learned in case it has the chance to speak to you, too.

This was a deep, emotional stress that shook many foundations  I've built my life upon, and it tore through my soul and actually my body, as well.  During the worst week of this tempest, my stomach felt sick, and my face broke out with the worst zits I've had since high school.  Thankfully, I was already in the process of seeking help through counseling, but this was a time when the cruciality of self-care was brought to the very front of my mind.  It wasn't the breakout on my face that caught my attention, but it was my counselor and friends telling me to do nice things for myself when I began to realize that I could do more to care for my soul, and that I should do more.  While I am blessed to have many people around me to love me, none of them has the same responsibility I have to myself.

It's very easy, I think especially for those of us who were taught that selfishness is wrong, to believe that it's not good or right to place so much emphasis on ourselves.  Take a moment to think, though, about what happens when you aren't cared for and when your needs become neglected.  What about when that happens over and over?  Is that transformation for the better?  While there is so much good that has come to this world through selflessness, your needs matter, too.

Now think of what the transformation would look like if you were given the time, care, and love you do need.  If you had boundaries around the part of life to you that matter the most.  If instead of harboring frustration and stress when you agree to handle something for a friend, you told them no.  Saying yes to one thing (peace of mind, for example) means saying no to something else (that extra project at work), and especially when you're first getting started in standing up for yourself, it will not feel fun.  But as Bene Brown has said, "Choose discomfort over resentment."  You are worth fighting for, your needs are worth defending, and and trust me, it's worth it.

Recognizing, respecting, and caring for your needs is all self care is.  These needs can be as basic as sleep, good food, and safety or more complex like emotional and mental health.  Routine self care, for me, includes firmly defending my bedtime, saying no to things I'm invited to but don't want to attend, keeping at least one evening a week to myself and whatever I want to do, and making sure I have sexy times with my husband and cuddle times with my dog on the regular.  I'd also like to add consistent exercise to the list at some point; I've been lax about taking care of that part of me.

When I need to go hard core with my self care (like during this spring), this involves as much time outdoors as I can manage.  Visiting parks and walking my dog help me clear my mind and bring goodness back into my life when I've gone off the deep end.

I want to tell some of my story so that it might reflect some light onto yours.  I believe everyone needs self care, and it's important to recognize what that looks for you.  You are different from me, and what settles your heart will be unique to your heart.  Parts of my husband's version of self care are solitude, video games, and reading.  What might help bring you calm?

I want to give a few more suggestions that might help job some ideas for how to care for yourself. 

The Quiet Place Project is an amazingly therapeutic online space where you can express anything on your mind and watch it fall into the starry sky.  I've visited this website twice, and I'm always amazed at how freeing it is to speak into this anonymous void. is a meditation app that can take you to a peaceful place in seconds.

Here are some lovely ideas for how to use self care to combat anxiety from Me & Orla.  (I love this list.)

I highly recommend reading this post about self care in the context of motherhood.  The author does a  great job of describing different situations and examples of where self care is absent and what the outcomes are.

Whether you're in a stressful place right now or if you currently have everything together, I encourage you and challenge you to some up with at least 3 things you can do to start tending to your soul regularly.  Build these habits now, because I promise you'll need them later.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Living Luxuriously

Living in luxury (on a budget)

I couple weeks ago, I came home in the middle of a dreary, wet, and dark June afternoon.  After having such lovely weather for so long, I wasn't feeling the gloomy atmosphere.  I was also feeling chilled and even though it was nearly summer, it sounded like a good idea to warm myself up with some rich hot chocolate I had leftover from last winter.

For some reason, I had the idea to serve myself with the Chinese tea set my BFF Millie got me for Christmas last year.  Why not, right?  Sure it may have been meant for fancy tea, but why not make the hot chocolate fancy?

Long story short, my Kroger private selection hot chocolate tasted magnificent coming from the prettiest tea cups I own.  I also decided to leave my tea set out of its box from now own.  It's so beautiful, why not display it so I can actually see and enjoy it?

I hope this encourages you to think of some ways you can add unconventional luxury to your life, too!  Are there things you do now to bring more joy and fanciness to your day?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What's Your Relationship With Your Blog?

Let's talk about blogging.
Let's both grab a cup of tea, or if we're feeling fancy, a cappuccino and talk about our blogs.  I'm curious about why you post, how often you post, what do you like about your blog, what do you not like?  Do you feel a sense of obligation toward your blog?  Or enjoyment?  Or calm?

My own blog relationship has been all over the map since I started ten years ago.  At first, it was an online journal of sorts where I called out for attention in the most passive aggressive way.  Later, I was able to use it as a platform to share stories about teaching and living in Korea.  I loved the conversations those stories would stir, and the posts were very fun to write.  Upon returning to America, I decided to try a more generic approach to appeal to a greater audience.  I've always had a dream of being famous, and I thought maybe I could strike gold like so many other bloggers have.  While I always made sure to post about things that I genuinely found interesting, after a while, the content I was producing didn't seem that important.  Since then, I've had a shift in my goals and perspectives, which, as I look at it, seems rather complex.

Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes said it best. 
"I wanted to read something that acknowledged that fact that all of us are multifaceted. [...]  So every day I try (with varying degrees of success) to create a space like that."

See, in the last year or two, I've found myself wanting to writ about highly charged topics like racism, acts of terrorism, and how I believe Christians (of which I am one) should react to these things.  These are heavy things to talk about, and I don't want the scope of my blog to limit me from speaking about them.  I also want to feel free to rave about all my beautiful indoor plants, delicious recipes I've come across, and other things I'm learning about.  I don't want to feel constrained to either side of the spectrum.  In fact, I've decided that it's okay to cover all of the spectrum!  I'm multifaceted, you're multifaceted, and this blog is going to remain multifaceted, too.

So, this is me claiming further ownership over my blog.  We've been through ups and downs, contention and joy, and all of that is okay.  It will morph as I morph, and I'm starting to think that's actually pretty cool.

What about you?  What motivates you to write?  Is there anything you would change or anything you wouldn't change at all?  I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Last Week in Atlanta : Free ASO Concert

 Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of getting to attend my very first performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra!  The best part was, as fun as dressing up and being all fancy is, I was barefoot, taking pictures, and snacking on cheese!  Thanks to a big Atlanta collaboration, the ASO gave their (free) performance at Piedmont Park, and everyone was invited!

My friend Cary is my go-to person when it comes to knowing what's going on in Atlanta.  She has already invited me to way too many events than I could ever accept, but I'm really glad I was able to make it to this one.  I used to visit the Chattanooga Symphony often in college because the events were required for my music minor.  I always love listening to beautiful music played well, and the ASO's Performance in the Park was no exception.  I'd had a very busy week last week, and I thought that I might have to head home early from the concert just so I could get some extra rest, but turns out listening to lovely live music was just what I needed!  I stayed all the way through the encore and had a great time.

Look at how many people were there!  I'm pretty sure this picture covered maybe half of the entire audience.  It was so delightful to see how many people had come out to enjoy the performance!  There were kids dancing to the music, people who stopped by after their workout in the park, and even some folks with their dogs on the outskirts of the crowd (because they technically weren't allowed).  I wonder how many people there were listening to a symphony for the first time ever! 

Last year, the ASO gave 4 free performances in the summer, but required guests to RSVP, which meant a smaller number of folks could attend.  This year, they decided to hold one free concert but have the guest list be unlimited.  I'm hoping they'll keep up the unlimited plan for next year, and I think you should keep an eye out for them, too!