Tag Archives | Gratitude

Being 31 & Becoming 32

Being 31 & Becoming 32

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
(Max DePree)

I don’t remember turning 31. I don’t remember how it felt or what I was thinking. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I had a lot on my mind and on my to-do list. But I’ll always remember the gift my husband gave me.

He doesn’t know much about music. Actually, I think he prefers silence. I’m the one who runs the playlists in our house. So imagine my surprise when he gave me an envelope filled with concert tickets! On our pre-baby music tour we saw Delta Rae, Ben Folds, Leon Bridges, and Florence and the Machine. And one sweaty night in June, a week from my due date, we made it through four songs at Old Crow Medicine Show before I called it a birthday completely celebrated.

Looking back on 31, it was a year completely celebrated.

In April we had HypnoBirthing classes, maternity photos, and a home visit with our doula. We had new furniture delivered and worked hard to make our new house feel like home. May was full of love and family and friends. We traveled to my husband’s hometown in Ohio for baby showers and Mother’s Day. My dad and brother were in Austin over Memorial Day weekend. I settled into the final months of my pregnancy.

My due date, June 25th, was one of my favorite days of 31. My husband and I spent it together, doing things we love. We went for a long walk around Town Lake and had lunch at True Food Kitchen. We went to dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, G’Raj Mahal. At the very last minute, we bought the only 2 tickets available to see Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper speak that night. The seats we scored were front and center and perfect.

On June 30th, when I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant, my husband and I called a family meeting. We let our baby know it was time for him to join us. He was fully cooked and we’d done everything we could to prepare for his arrival. We were ready and excited to meet him. Like magic, we welcomed our sweet babe into the world the following morning.

The next two months, July and August, were a haze of cuddles, hormones, burp cloths, and reheated coffee. We had family in town from Ohio, California, North Carolina, and Arizona. It was comforting to have family close, but I struggled to navigate the newness of motherhood with a rotating schedule of guests.

Looking back, September was the only month from 31 where we had nothing scheduled. It was when we established our routine as a family of three. I started to find my way. I got more comfortable with leaving the house and began to connect with other mamas.

October brought our first adventures. We started the month by taking our baby to the Austin City Limits music festival. It was a huge learning experience, marked with sunshine, sweat, tears and small triumphs. The year before, on the last day of ACL, we found out I was pregnant. This year, Baby O turned 100 days old while the festival rocked on.

The rest of 31 is a story of travel. Between November and January we went to Dallas, Raleigh, Charlotte, LA, Napa, Ohio, and Arizona, all with our baby in tow. We started 2017 with a two week trip to Japan and on my 32nd birthday we flew to Ohio.

I’m already 1/12 of the way into 32 and have spent this past month thinking about the year ahead. How do I want to feel when I’m writing about being 32 and becoming 33? What changes, challenges and growth will I face? What wonders and magic will I encounter?

One thing is clear… I am craving stillness. Quiet. Simplicity. In the chaos of motherhood, my heart has cried out for calm.

I know it’s my responsibility to cultivate that calm for myself, my child, my marriage, my home. It’s hard to imagine us slowing, but I can pursue simple joys through the craziness. I can take a deep breath when I forget to breathe. I can care for my body when I am tired and hungry. I can soothe my soul when I’m feeling lost. I can write when my heart needs a voice.

Cheers to being 32 and becoming 33! I am grateful to have this space to reflect, dream, and share my journey. Thank you for being here with me.

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Being 30 & Becoming 31

Image - Becoming 31 | kaileenelise.com

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
(Max DePree)

Today is my 31st birthday! When I think about being 30, I can’t help but feel proud. Every age is significant, but last year covered a lot of ground, both physically through travel and emotionally through big, life-changing decisions.

In terms of travel, 30 began with a trip to LA and Napa to celebrate the start of a new decade. It was our first trip to LA and we had a great time before heading up north to one of my favorite places on earth. My grandparents have lived in Napa (St. Helena, specifically) for years and back when I lived in San Francisco I would drive 75 miles every weekend to visit them. Their place in St. Helena is nothing short of magical and spending time with them makes me feel so loved. As a special treat, we sprung for a limo one day to go wine tasting, which was a highlight for everyone involved!

A few weeks after Napa, I traveled to Las Vegas for a best friend’s bachelorette party. Vegas isn’t for everyone, but I went to college in Sin City and happen to feel very at home amongst the glitz and gambling. I had a blast, and more importantly, my bestie got to spend a few days with all her favorite gals in celebration of her final days of singledom.

In May, my Mister and I spent all but one week out of town… visiting with friends & family and working in Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Ohio. We stayed put in June, then went back to North Carolina for 4th of July weekend at my dad’s lake house. In August, one of my close friends came to visit us in Austin, then we went to celebrate my husband’s birthday in Pensacola, Florida with one of his oldest friends. I also went out to Arizona for Happy Living (a health & wellness company that my father and I started in 2014)… and got the chance to spend time with my other grandparents while I was out there.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, we were all around and back again. My Mister’s parents came to visit and we showed them all our favorite Austin spots. A few days later we took off for our 3rd trip to Europe. This time we stayed in London, Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam. The whole trip was wonderful, but we especially loved our time in Amsterdam. When we got back to Austin, we had a few days to unpack and reset before going to our friends’ wedding in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Their big day was magical and such a wonderful reminder of what it means to create, build, and share a life with the person you love most in the world.

Things slowed down the tiniest bit when we got back from that trip. We spent our first weekend home at the Austin City Limits musical festival (our 2nd one) and early on that Sunday morning I took a pregnancy test because I was feeling a little weird. We were shocked and elated when the test was positive… and spent the rest of the day listening to music in the hot Texas sun, asking each other, “Is this really happening?”

In the midst of my early pregnancy, we had the opportunity to take a trip to Australia (for work) and Fiji (for play). We had a week in Sydney and a few less days in Melbourne. I was sick for most of the trip with a really bad head cold and nothing tasted good. Aside from those minor issues, we had a wonderful time Down Under, especially in the beach towns and in Melbourne. Fiji was a total dream. Our resort (the InterContinental) was perfection, the weather was wonderful, and the days we spent lying around doing nothing were very restorative.

A week after we got home from Fiji, we made our way to Ohio for the holidays, stopped in Arizona for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party, and made it back to Austin to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends. The time we spent with family over the holidays was made even sweeter because we were able share the news about my pregnancy in person!

2015 came swiftly to a close and had me thinking about the changes ahead. Becoming a mama is something that I have wanted and dreamed about since I was a little girl. For as long as I can remember, my aspirations were to become an Olympic swimmer and a mother. All the jobs I had growing up revolved around children and I even got my degree in Elementary Education because I love kids so much. I always thought I’d be a young mom and when that didn’t happen, my career became the focus. When my Mister and I started dating 8 years ago, our relationship, jobs and travel adventures were the main priorities.

So 2016 started with a fresh perspective. We decided it was best for us if I ended my full time work with Happy Living to spend my time and energy on our growing family. We bought our first home, just outside downtown, and have been busy settling in. My Mister’s mom came to visit a few weeks ago and we just got back from our babymoon in Hawaii.

I am so happy to be on the other side of 30. I never really gave turning 31 much thought until a few weeks ago. Now that my birthday is here, I am thrilled to celebrate where I’ve been and the life I have today. Becoming 31 means a lot to me and my wish is to have a happy, healthy and brave year. It is sure to be filled with trials, adventures, new experiences, and challenges, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the best yet!

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Good Eats & Gratitude – Recipe Lust List

image :: eggplant risotto

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
(Harriet Van Horne)

image :: asparagus fries

In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns,
we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal.
(Julia Child)

image :: pomegranate + kale orzo

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
(Virginia Woolf)

Hello lovelies! How is your week wrapping up? I’m recovering from a wonderfully eventful Saturday. I went for a 6-mile run in the morning and then enjoyed a night out in Chapel Hill with my Mister and some friends. Today I’m planning to do my Barre3 DVD, go to the grocery store, and treat myself with a trip to the mall.

I have spent a ton of time in the kitchen since completing Whole Living’s cleanse last month. I am trying to find the space between maintaining my focus and making smart choices while living this busy, social and (sometimes) stressful life. It’s a process.

My latest obsession is finding new recipes. Here are a few gems on my Recipe Lust list:

Baked Asparagus Fries
Pomegranate + Kale Orzo
Triple Chocolate Black Bean Brownies
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Barbecue Chickpea Pizza
Orange Blossom Cupcake with Cashew Cream
Eggplant and Meyer Lemon Risotto
Farro Risotto with Acorn Squash and Kale
Apricot Coconut Energy Bars
Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Chili
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Shake 

Taking the time to prepare healthy and delicious meals is a gift I can give myself. It’s self-care wrapped in gratitude for this body and all it allows me to do. These last several weeks have been eyeopening — I am discovering a new hobby and realizing a new passion.

I am so grateful to have found such incredible inspiration through the blogs, magazines and books that resonate with where I am today. What recipes are on your to-make list? Do you have any favorite resources that motivate your healthy-living goals? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Image Credits:
Eggplant Risotto via Turntable Kitchen
Asparagus Fries via Spoon Fork Bacon
Pomegranate + Kale Orzo via Happyoks

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 4

Image :: 316/365 - Third World Baby

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.
(William Feather)

It can be awkward or downright scary to break free from comfort zones, but it can also be energizing to try something new. Making sweeping changes or small alterations to our lives lifts us out of ruts. New experiences have the potential to reveal pieces of ourselves that would otherwise go unnoticed. This how I feel about my experience with Whole Living’s 2012 Action Plan.

It was disorienting and difficult at times, but what I gained in return was worth every ounce of sacrifice. Eliminating processed food and drinks, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol from my diet for 4 weeks was eye-opening. I discovered juicing, learned a bunch of new recipes, and started working out regularly.

Week #4 Highlights:

  • Making it! I proved that I can achieve an ambitious goal I set for myself.
  • Five workouts strong. That’s two weeks in a row and I’m excited to keep it up.
  • Spa day celebration. On Sunday I indulged in a massage + mani pedi. Bliss!

Favorite Meals:

They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Over the next three weeks I hope to incorporate what I’ve learned into sustainable, healthy habits for my everyday life. Specifically, I’m planning to maintain a diet that is 90% vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and low in processed foods and added sugar.

Thanks to all of you who have shared your wisdom and support through these past few weeks. It definitely helped keep me motivated!

Whole Living Action Plan Recap Posts:
Week #1 / Week #2 / Week #3

Image Credit: 316/365 – Third World Baby via Helga Weber

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Shimmering Possibility

image :: Ambassador Summit 2011

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
(Rumi)

I recently attended a goal setting session at my local lululemon. I went with my friend and an open mind, hoping to learn something new. The event began with introductions, then a brief visualization of where we hope to find ourselves 10 years from now…

What would you dare to do if you knew you could not fail?
Describe what you see, hear, and feel in your ideal life.
Who is there? How do you spend your time?
Where do you spend your time?

My vision?

A chic and cozy apartment in a big city with my Mister and our two little ones. He’s off to work while I stay home to watch after the babies and manage my successful healthy & creative living empire. I write (articles, books, and my blog), teach yoga, eat all organic, and live my life with abundant love. I’m a leader within my community, make self-care a priority, and have plenty of time to enjoy my family.

I’m trying not to judge myself too harshly, but it kinda seems like I want it all.

After the visualization, the leaders provided instructions on creating S.M.A.R.T goals and gave us some time to brainstorm our visions, 10-year, 5-year and 1-year goals.

What are S.M.A.R.T. goals, you ask? There are variations, but this combo works for me:

Specific
Measurable
Affirmative
Realistic
Timely

Next, they opened the floor for participants to share. I immediately froze, looking intently at a spot on the wall, the back of my hand, and straight through the yoga mat under me. Anything to avoid getting called on! While I’m usually outgoing, I get shy about my goals.

My intentions and dreams have shifted a lot in the past few years. Time and experience will do that to a person. The good news is, our goals are in constant evolution — and it’s ok to change your mind.

I’ve been playing with this visioning concept since the event. Along with reading Style Statement, I find that I’m asking myself these questions:

Do I really want that? Why?
What would achieving that mean to me?
What would I do once I got there?

Dreaming big is scary — especially when we can’t see a path from where we are and where we hope to go. But that’s where the magic lies. In the shimmering possibility of dreams. There’s something delightful about not knowing.

For now, I’m focused on exploring my dreams and examining my hopes. I plan to use this worksheet to get specific about vision, 10-year, 5-year, and 1-year goals and will share more about the process when I do. Please share your thoughts on goal setting and dreaming big in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Image Credit: Ambassador Summit 2011 via lululemon athletica

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 3

image :: Blueberries

Each moment of our life, we either invoke or destroy our dreams.
(Stuart Wilde)

Hello, sweet friends. I hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying the last full week in January. 2012 is off to a delightful start — a perfect blend of focus and downtime, with lots of new discoveries. With just a week left, I’m working diligently on my goals for January. This iPhone wallpaper is a constant reminder of my focus for the month.

image :: iphone4_jan2012

My biggest challenge has been the reallocation of time. With the Whole Living Action Plan, I’m spending more time planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning dishes than ever before. It was a little tedious and foreign at first, but I’m getting the hang of things. And more importantly, I’m having a blast!

I’ve noticed an important shift this past week — a connection between healthy eating and wanting to workout. This is a new development I’m trying to cultivate. Eating clean reinforces my desire to get fit, and finishing a hard workout cements my hunger for nutritious food. I’m doing my best to recognize the tiny victory.

Week #3 Highlights:

  • Keeping my cool. I craved coffee, chocolate and red wine this week, but reisted. My resolve was not this strong a few months ago.
  • Working out 5 times. I also signed up for the Run Raleigh Half Marathon in April!
  • Poaching an egg. I can’t believe I have lived 26 years without poaching an egg! Using Smitten Kitchen’s instructions, I hatched a delicious poached egg on my first try.
  • Date night. On Saturday night, my Mister and I went to PF Chang’s for dinner. I order the steamed salmon off their gluten-free menu and it was delicious! Afterwards, we watched Ides of March and snuggled in bed. It was definitely a highlight of my week.

Favorite Meals:

There’s just one more week left in the #WLActionPlan and I have a massage scheduled on Sunday to celebrate. Next month will present a new set of challenges when I return to my social ways, but overall I’m looking forward to incorporating these changes into my everyday routine.

Have you successfully transitioned from a strict program to a more realistic daily routine? I’d love to know about your experience and any tips or recommendations you have!

Image Credit: Blueberries via Chris Nixon / S u l a v a k a s via Pörrö

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 2

image :: 164 / 365 - I've got the brightest star you'll ever find

Belief in yourself and in the possibility of success
is the most important requirement for living an extraordinary life.
Believe in belief.
Believe in yourself and the best of the world will come to you,
and you will be prepared to receive it. Don’t sell yourself short.
You do not require permission to be extraordinary.
(Richard Quick)

Hello, lovelies! I hope you’ve had a delightful weekend. Thanks so much to those of you who left helpful and supportive comments on my last few posts. It’s great to know that I’m not the only one craving solitude in January.

Since starting the Whole Living Action Plan last week, I’ve noticed how seldom I acknowledge daily victories. Small, quiet steps go ignored while I look towards the finish line and hold off on uncorking the metaphoric bubbly. Do you struggle with the same? Tiny triumphs are critical building blocks—each one a glittering, golden brick worth celebrating.

“You can do this. You are doing this,” I remind myself over and over. Changing patterns, adjusting priorities, and establishing new habits can be disorienting. Until we are practiced and comfortable in our new way of doing things, the old way just feels best. Maybe that’s one reason why so many people drop the ball on their resolutions.

I’ve held onto my intentions and stuck with the #WLActionPlan through this week, but not without sacrifice. I’m laying low and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And even though the alarm goes off at 5 am, I’m not relying on 3 cups of coffee and 2 shots of espresso to get me through the day. When my energy dips around 3 pm, I am no longer leaning on a bag of mini M&Ms to revive me.

Instead, I’m drinking tons of water and herbal DAVIDsTEA (which I love!) and snacking on kale chips or pomegranate seeds. A change is unfolding. I feel vibrant, happy and connected. This week I got back to working out, with 4 days of Barre3’s DVD in the mornings before work and 3.5 miles run/walk on Saturday. This morning, I went to the lululemon store in Raleigh for a goal-setting session followed by a complimentary yoga class.

Changing my priorities has meant less time with my Mister—and certainly less time for flipping through magazines, painting my nails, and general lounging around. The upside is that I’m in a much better mood and am excited (instead of feeling guilty) when I do find some time to chill.

Week #2 Highlights:

  • Listening to my body. This process has brought me a new level of awareness when it comes to hunger and mood. I’m learning to cope with the ups and downs of the day without sugary snacks or surges of caffeine.
  • Getting a new package from DAVIDsTEA in the mail! So far my favorites are Forever Nuts, Licorice Twist, Jessie’s Tea and Organic Peppermint Amour.
  • Losing a little weight. The number on the scale has dropped some and my clothes are starting to feel a bit too big… I can see a shopping trip for new jeans in my future.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I bought Mindy Kaling’s audiobook to listen to on my commute (she reads it herself—so cool!). It’s funny, inspiring and down-to-earth.

Favorite Meals:

I’m grateful to be in a place (emotionally, financially and otherwise) that allows me to pursue these dietary and fitness changes. Just a few months ago, this would have been too much to take on. It’s as if the stage was set and ready for me to step up. It’s an incredible feeling. Even though I think I could do this on my own, my Mister has been a huge help. He even got up with me this morning to hit up Whole Foods at 7 am so I could get all my grocery shopping done before yoga (I’m a slow shopper and he helps me stay on task).

I’m looking forward to seeing where week #3 will take me. I hope you find yourself happy, healthy and fulfilled this week. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, I recommend doing something that lights you up. Go to a local tea shop, buy an inspiring magazine, get a manicure, or do some yoga. I’ll be working to do the same!

Image Credit: 164 / 365 – I’ve got the brightest star you’ll ever find via Noukka Signe

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Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 1

image :: simply breakfast grapefruit

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words await another voice.
(T.S. Eliot)

The new year is a perfect time to implement new eating habits. There’s momentum from New Year’s resolutions, plus the inevitable post-holiday hangover. When parties, festivities and visits with family are in full-swing, we eat more holiday comfort food than any other time. Have enough peppermint martinis, pieces of pie and Christmas cookies—and your body will practically beg for healthier foods!

Each year I want to feel better, work out more, and lose weight. Despite these intentions, I settle into my routine of mildly nutritious habits by mid-March. Even though I’m grateful for where I am today, 2011 was a rough year in many regards. I put my health and wellness on the back-burner, knowing that I would need a major overhaul at some point.

I’ve reached that point.

Growing up, I was a serious athlete. I competed on a national level and earned a scholarship to swim in college. That experience armed me with a certain kind of knowledge, a self-awareness and understanding of what it means to care for one’s body. I got plenty of sleep, stayed hydrated, lifted weights, and avoided junk food, alcohol, coffee and soda. I pushed myself—and appreciated what my mind & body were able to achieve.

Fast-forward to today. I’m a sedentary office-dweller with a commute. I leave for work at 7 in the morning and arrive back home at 7 in the evening. My level of exercise is moderate under the best circumstances. Even with a 95% vegetarian diet, there are plenty of gaps in my attempt at healthy-living. After a long day at the office, my favorite dinner has become chips & salsa, 2 glasses of red wine and dark chocolate.

I’m not lacking the knowledge to live a healthier, more fulfilling life, I’ve just been missing the direction and focus that’s required. Something clicked when I stumbled across Whole Living Magazine’s 2012 Action Plan a few weeks ago. An entire month dedicated to clean eating, new recipes and wellness? I wanted to start immediately!

If you’re intrigued and looking for a way to jump-start your new year, I recommend reviewing the entire plan. It’s an amazing resource for recipes and motivation.

It resonates deeply and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s an established flow from one week to the next, with plenty of options along the way. The meals are colorful and tasty. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. I’m more dedicated to this than anything I’ve attempted in a long time. This is me living, breathing, and practicing wellness in 2012.

#WLActionPlan Week #1 Highlights:

  • Giving up processed food and drinks, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Sleeping between 7-9 hours each night!
  • Journaling more regularly, including my first entry of 2012.

Favorite Meals:

This week I’ve realized how important it is to be ready.

Things happen that we’re not expecting. We sometimes drop the ball. Even with the best of intentions, we don’t care or give our best effort to everything—and that is 100% ok. That’s just called life. Maybe I had to go through the past few years of ups, downs and failed resolutions to appreciate where I am and to know that I’ve finally reached that point.

Image Credit: Simply Breakfast via Jen Causey

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Good Eats & Gratitude

image :: utensils

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
(St. Francis de Sales)

Today is the introduction of a new project called Good Eats & Gratitude. An exercise steeped in mindfulness, a series of posts recognizing what feeds us. Musings on two elements that are vital to a happy existence — food nourishes the body, gratitude nourishes the soul.

Good Eats. Recipes to try, restaurant highlights, insights on eating well.
Gratitude. Kind people, inspired ideas, breathtaking moments.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving this year, just me and my Mister. I signed up to run an 8K Turkey Trot. The weather was gorgeous and there was a big crowd. I listened to an awesome playlist and ran faster than expected. It was a great way to start the day.

We went all out. Cooking a full meal and planning to eat leftovers for a few days. There were family traditions like deviled eggs, spicy green beans, and his grandma’s mashed potatoes. There were also a few recipes I wanted to try.

image :: Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing

One of the most delicious components of the meal was the Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing from What’s Gaby Cooking. Her blog post sold me—she said it was so good that she made it 3 times last year before Thanksgiving day! It was everything I could ever want in a stuffing: fresh herbs, delicious mushrooms, and perfect as leftovers.

image :: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

As another side, I made Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat, Live, Run. Jenna posted about these in October and I wanted to make them ever since. These are such a delicious treat, a perfect mix of healthy crunch and colorful sweetness. Even if you’re not a huge brussels sprouts fan, I recommend giving these a try. I’ve already made them again since!

image :: cardamom & cream cheese squares

I also made Oh Joy!’s Cardamom & Cream Cheese Squares for dessert because as Joy puts it, “These squares are a combination of sorts—half no-bake cheesecake and half pumpkin pie—with a touch of cardamom. They’re great for dessert or even as a mid-afternoon snack.” She was right, we enjoyed them for dessert and a few afternoon snacks.

image :: I'll Give You All I Can...

This was our fourth Thanksgiving together.

Somehow it seems to get better each year. The night before we planned our timeline—when to start prepping things, etc. It was a game plan for ultimate oven management. We sat down for dinner 10 minutes earlier than scheduled… a Thanksgiving victory!

I have so much gratitude for my Mister. For his family and friends. For the choices he’s made and the man he is today. For the paths our lives took to get us here, and what we have accomplished together.

Image Credit: utensils via limonada // Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing via What’s Gaby Cooking // Caramelized Brussels Sprouts via me // Cardamom & Cream Cheese Squares via Oh Joy! // I’ll Give You What I Can via Brandon Christopher Warren

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Sparkle Swapped

Youth

If we look at the world with a love of life,
the world will reveal its beauty to us.
(Daisaku Ikeda)

Hello friends, happy Wednesday to you!

I hosted a Sparkle Swap in September, with the hopes of bringing cheer to fellow bloggers. 25 participants signed up to send 4 unique gifts — a bit of sparkle, a treat that soothes, something sweet, and a surprise.

After delays, international shipping issues and general pre-holiday mayhem, I am finally getting around to sharing a recap post. A handful of lovely bloggers wrote about the swap. Take a peek below at the gorgeous and thoughtful packages these ladies sent! Click on the photos to read their posts.

Elisse → Sharni

Elisee - Sharni

Sharni → Katie

Sharni - Katie

Erin → Carrie

Erin - Carrie

Kristin → Kathy

Kristin - Kathy

Sarah → Jamie

Sarah - Jamie

Jamie → Danielle

Jamie - Danielle

Danielle → Monique

Danielle - Monique

Monique  → Ashley

Monique - Ashley

Cassie → Leesh

Cassie - Leesh

Heather →  Micaela

Heather - Micaela

Micaela → Ginna

Micaela - Ginna

There were some people who never received their gifts, and others who ended up sending two because the first was lost in the mail. Some people really enjoyed the experience, and I have a sinking suspicion that a few were disappointed.

The truth about gift swaps is that you never know what will happen.

In America, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. It’s become one of my favorite holidays because of the focus on gratitude and love. I hope the Sparkle Swap brought cheer, gratitude, love and sparkle to those who participated!

Image Credit: Youth via Chris JL

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