Last Minute Gifts That Spark Joy!

I mentioned in our last post that we take gift giving pretty seriously around here... basically I LOVE seeking out the perfect thing that someone will love, ideally supporting a small business and not getting too caught up in the 'buy everything' feeling that often comes this time of year. Whether you're giving a little something special to your neighbor or looking for the perfect thing for your spouse, here are a few of my favorite things that spark joy (and will arrive before Christmas)!

 
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+ For the cook: An Instant pot and a great cookbook. I love cookbooks and cooking out of pen and paper books! Some favorites: My New Roots (plant-based), It's All Good or It's All Easy by my girl Gwyneth Paltrow, Against All Grain or anything by Danielle Walker,  and Whole 30 Fast & Easy
+ For her: A copy of Hello Glow + a cozy pair of slippers 
+ For a friend, neighbor, sister: A pretty journal and a good book. Maybe Present Over Perfect or anything by Shauna Niequist, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechener, or Cultivate by Lara Casey
+ For him: a pair of work gloves with touch screen fingertips
+ For the coffee lover: a coffee subscription + a Chemex or French Press
+ For her: a subscription to the Magnolia Journal + fun coffee mugs for curling up to read with a mug of tea or coffee
+ For the wine connoisseur: A subscription to Winc  + pretty wine glasses (I also love these for a more casual style) to share (or not!)

Share any of your favorites in the comments. I love reading them! Happy gift giving + Merry Christmas!! 

A Simple Christmas: Want, Need, Wear, Read

 
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It seems like every year the Christmas season gets more and more hectic, and we have to be more and more intentional about chasing the slow. Between aunts and uncles and grandparents there are a lot of gifts going around (which is amazing!!), and we as parents want to make sure that Elliot grows up treasuring all of them. So one of the ways that we have decided to keep Christmas simple is with intentional gift giving. We buy something he wants, something he needs, something for him to wear and something for him to read. The concept is not ours originally, but we've been doing it for a few years now and really love it! 

 
 We've also been keeping our decorations on the simple side - lots of greenery + lights, adding glitter + ornaments to our vases + candles.

We've also been keeping our decorations on the simple side - lots of greenery + lights, adding glitter + ornaments to our vases + candles.

 

WANT: A Paw Patroller + a handmade wooden bow. We got him two toys this year since his need and wear are both clothes, ha! And we got a great deal on the Paw Patroller on Black Friday! 

NEED + WEAR: This category often overlaps for Elliot since he is growing so quickly! This year he's getting two outfits. A cute Nike one similar to this (he loves them for outdoor activities + play!) and a cute set of sweats (again, outdoor play. I can't keep that kid inside!). Often we buy shoes for one of the items in this category. These are our go-to, and I also love these.

READ: This year we are giving him 'Little Excavator' because he loves construction equipment and this book is about 'Little E'. We snagged it at his preschool's book fair, so some of the proceeds benefitted his school. Winning!! Some of our other favorites include Iggy Peck, Architect and the other two books in the series. My beautiful friend Jodi Kendall wrote 'The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City', which I LOVE for older children and am reading to Elliot a little at a time. 

 
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I LOVE packing stockings too! We keep it simple + fun and add things we need, so in Elliot's stocking we are putting a small lego set, a wooden spelling puzzlenontoxic finger paint, socks + undies, Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, toothbrush + his favorite toothpaste.

What are your favorite Christmas gifting traditions? How do you keep things simple but fun? 

Snow Day

 
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We received a tiny Christmas miracle this year in Atlanta - snow in December! I grew up dreaming of snowy white Christmas and watching movies with beautiful glistening snow, and while the Christmas season is festive around these parts, it is never snowy. We may get some snow (or ice!) in February, but it rarely hangs around for long. Last week however, we were gifted some December snow! 

 
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We drove up to my sister in law's house to build snowmen and throw snowballs with Elliot's cousins. This was really his first time playing in the snow, and despite being ill prepared with regard to waterproof clothes, he loved it! I think his favorite part may have been throwing snowballs at me... 

 
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Thoughts on Underpinnings

A little while back I posted on Facebook asking for recommendations for under things, ideally organic, sustainably made under things. And the response I got was pretty sad. It seems that most of my lady friends don't actually own undergarments that they love. So I set out on a search of my own. 

One friend recommended Aerie products, another mentioned Patagonia, so I started there. And after a little online digging, I also found PACT Organic, and decided to give their items a try. I judged the items based on fit, style, comfort and perceived longevity, and here are my results.

 
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+ Aerie: While these were hands down the most stylish of underpinnings, I found the fit to be on the small side and felt that they wouldn't hold up well with daily wear. I also prefer organic cotton when it comes to things of the undergarment nature, so I decided that as cute as they are, the Aerie bottoms aren't for me.

+ Patagonia: quality and sustainability boxes were checked for sure, but I didn't love the fit and the appearance they had on the body. I tried this style and this one, and they felt and looked quite a bit like wearing a bathing suit bottom. 

+ PACT Organic: these were the ones I kept! I love the organic cotton, and the fit was pretty spot on, although I plan to go one size up with my next order for a little wiggle room (and babies, let's be honest.) The price was fair ($22 for two pair), and the style was more what I wanted. I ended up ordering boxers for my husband and boxer briefs for my son and was happy with those as well, and I plan to try their camisoles as my Target ones are needing replacement. I love their commitment to sustainability, fair wages and work environments, and pesticide-free organic cotton, especially for items coming so close to sensitive areas of our bodies. We will definitely be adding some PACT items to the holiday stockings this year! 

 
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There are a couple other companies I want to try:
+ Organic Basics: I'm asking Santa for a starter set - organic cotton underpinnings for both top and bottom as well as organic t-shirts to wear under sweaters to extend their life (more on that soon!) 

+ Naja: Seemingly the perfect pairing between pretty + ethical... because every lady needs something a little special, am I right?? Another request for Santa ;) 

Do you have any favorites when it comes to underpinnings? Share them in the comments below! 

Healthy Living, Young Living + iTovi

After being in vacation mode for most of the summer, I’m feeling the need for a reset so I’m jumping in on the September Whole 30, and focusing on intentional self-care for the next thirty days. Part of that for me is supplements, emotional support, and essential oils. That’s why we broke out our iTOVi scanner last night to get a feel for how to best support our bodies right now. The iTOVi works based on frequencies and bioimpedance to show areas that may need a little extra TLC.

I’ll admit, I was super skeptical about the theory of frequencies until I started looking into it more. Has your spouse, child or loved one ever walked into the room and you immediately feel your emotional state change? Have you ever gone to a concert or large sporting event and immediately felt the rush of energy in the stadium? It’s because we all carry energy around as a frequency.

 
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Your heart is a complex electromagnet that works by constantly emitting electronic frequencies to tell your body to pump blood, bring in oxygen, get rid of carbon dioxide. "The heart muscle itself, because of its electrical activity, creates its own endogenous EMFs" (electromagnetic frequencies)." In fact every living thing has a frequency. A healthy human body operates around 62-72MHz, and as our frequency lowers as our bodies work harder to maintain balance. How do we help our bodies maintain that balance? With plants! We can consume them or apply them in the form of oils. One of my go-to oils is lavender, which has a frequency of 118MHz!

“Every biological or nonbiological thing has a unique energy signature that vibrates at certain frequencies. A frequency is the number of times a wave repeats itself within a second, called an oscillation. iTOVi has measured and recorded each unique frequency of essential oils and supplements for each product company. Through the electrodes on the iTOVi scanner, these frequencies are sent into the skin, inducing a measurable response from the body.

"The scan report is the heart of the iTOVi experience. Each report is personalized to you the moment you are scanned. Products are then sorted from the top down by which ones your body had the strongest response." - iTovi website. You can read more of the research here and some of the science behind how it works here.

 
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After scanning, I started back on Mindwise (an amazing Vitamin D, healthy fat supplement that supports healthy adrenals and this mama mind!), Endoflex Vitality (endocrine system support), and SuperC (a healthier alternative to EmergenC). I also started using Purification oil over the liver, Release over my heart, and we have been diffusing Orange + Gathering. While using these emotionally supporting oils, I'm focusing on releasing control, being fully present, and practicing the discipilne of rest. (For more on emotions + oils, I love this book.) If you've been following along on Instagram you've seen that I also started back on one of my favorite workout programs last month, so I'll be continuing that as well. 

Your health is really a complex circle of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and when any one area is out of balance, we feel it in all others. Finding balance is a constant journey, but one that has gotten much easier for us with our essential oils and our iTOVi scanner.


 
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If you want to get an iTovi scanner of your own, you can do so here. I love ours because it provides us with a road map for our health and is just so easy to use. It's super portable, works with your smartphone via Bluetooth and is easy to use with kiddos! Simply hold it against their back while they color or play. I love how empowered I feel as a mama with these tools! #winning

Book Review: Oola for Women

I've been a fan of the Oola principles since they released the "Infused" essential oil line with Young Living. As a full-time employee, full-time mom and entrepreneur, their mantra of focus on balancing faith, family, fitness, friends, finances, field and fun definitely grabbed my attention. And though my life has changed drastically since I read their original book, the Oola for Women was still as relevant. When one area of our lives slows down with responsibility, another inevitably ramps up, and all of us want that sense of balance. Hearing stories from other women (real women, some of who I actually know!) was encouraging and inspiring. (Psssst.... head over to Instagram to enter to win a copy of your very own!) 

The things that resonated the most with me were the Oola blocker and the Oola accelerators. I find my heart often needs a reset and reminder to let go of fear, anger, envy and self-sabotage and instead focus on love, gratitude, discipline, wisdom and passion. I also love a good pen and paper vision casting, writing out where I/we want to be, then working backwards to create practical, tangible steps towards achieving that big vision. "Goals are milestones to your dreams." Amen to that. Setting pen to paper to write out goals, big and small, makes them more real and more likely to be realized. 

So pour a glass of rose (or some kombucha if you're Whole 30-ing like me!), set up a warm bath with a lavender bath bomb and dive into this book. Really look at your life to find the sources of discontent, dream about what it is you want your life to look like, then write down practical steps to get there. Because creating that daily action plan will ultimately result in living the life of your dreams - your Oola life. 

Paint it Black (or White)

Ever since we moved into our home over five years ago I've been wanting to pain our oak trim white. It's one of those projects that no one really wants to tackle because it's just so huge, yet it would make such a dramatic difference in the look of our home. Well, a couple weeks ago I finally got my wish! We ended up hiring someone to do the work because #life, and I could not be happier. We also painted the built-in bookshelves in our living room which as really opened up the whole space.

I love the crisp contrast of black and white, and despite how common it's becoming, we love the modern farmhouse feel. Always have, always will! Next on our list for our living space is painting the interior doors (I vote black, my man says white but he will come around!) and the front door (mint green? turquoise?). Then we will tackle the windows. Deciding between painting the slats black or replacing the windows with full-pane. Our last project is wood floors! Here are some of my inspirations (find them all here!):

I love the giant glass door because our living room, dining room and foyer are open but lacking in natural light. However, I am a little concerned about having our front door be completely see-through.... 

The windows are another source of debate... black slats or full pane? We have full pane windows in our master, and they let in so much more light! But again, I love the contrast of the black and white. 

I'll definitely be mixing it up with our front door, and will most likely go with something more green like the top image. The exterior of our door is currently grey, so a little bit of color will help spruce up both the front porch and the entryway which now contains a vintage piano (that will shortly be painted white, ha!). More updates this summer! 

Bookshelf: Currently Reading

I love a good book, especially the hard bound, paper and ink type. There's something about the tangible pages, the time and work it took to create the content and compile it all in one place. While I love a good story or memoir, lately my reading choices have mostly been books on personal growth, relationships, leadership and motherhood. We are all trying to keep all the plates spinning with careers, families, relationships, health and all the extras that sometimes it can seem like too much. Reading is my escape and my sanity all at once. I'm super excited to start Oola for Women: How to Balance the 7 Key Areas of Life to Have Less Stress, More Purpose, and Reveal the Greatness within You (ummm who can't use that?!!) and review it for you guys soon! Until then, here are some current favorites on my bookshelf:


+ All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth: I'm a total Edie fan girl and I love that we both have a healthcare background (she was a family practice physician!) and love oils. Her story is a beautiful one that you will love to read. History, family, tragedy and redemption.

+ Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: If you follow along on Instagram you know I love me some Shauna. Her books are so honest and relatable, and it is just so refreshing. She says, "I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything."

+ Soup by Jon Gordon: This book is so insightful and critical for any type of team relationship - your family, marriage, church, business, small group. Who is stirring the pot matters ;) It is an easy read and is applicable to so many areas of our lives! Same another favorite by this author, The Energy Bus, these tools are applicable for every area and relationship. Think of it as a "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in a relatable, story format. 

What are you currently reading? Any good favorites for a beach trip?

Strawberry Einkorn Crumble

We have been following a wheat-free, largely plant-based diet for over ten years now, and anytime we made a treat, it was always gluten-free or paleo. When I heard about Einkorn flour, I was intrigued and decided to give it a try to see if it bothered me the way that traditional flour does. 

Einkorn is the original “staff-of-life” grain, the oldest variety of wheat and dates back to the beginning of time. Even more natural that sprouted grains, Einkorn wheat's natural genetic code and low gluten levels make it naturally compatible with the human body compared to the modern hybrid wheat of today. Modern-day wheat has been modified and hybridized, making it more resilient, but changing the way the wheat fibers grow. These modifications make the wheat stalks harder to break, but that in turn makes it hard to digest and creates inflammation in the digestive system. Einkorn grain is easier to digest, so nutrients are better absorbed.

Turns out that both my husband and I do great with Einkorn flour. No headaches, no bloating, no discomfort that traditional flour typically produces. Plus, it tastes great and is toddler-approved! We love this fresh and easy berry crumble with Einkorn flour. The simple ingredients that fit together perfectly and taste just like summer! Plus, it came together in matter of minutes with the help of a three year old.

Strawberry Einkorn Crumble:
{Recipe adapted from this one by Tastes Lovely.}

Berry Filling Ingredients:
4 cups frozen, organic strawberries or mixed berries, not thawed
1-2 T organic granulated sugar (to taste - we like a slight tartness to ours, so we do 1T)
3 T Young Living Einkorn flour (or GF flour or all-purpose flour)
3 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
A pinch of salt

Oat Crumble Topping:
1 cup gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
Just under ½ cup organic brown sugar
6 T Young Living Einkorn flour (or GF flour or all-purpose flour)
4 T grass-fed butter, cold, cut into small cubes

How-to:
+ Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium size bowl, make the berry filling by combining all ingredients and tossing to combine. Set aside.
+ In a separate medium size bowl, make the oat crumble, then use your fingers to pinch the butter and incorporate it into the dry ingredients until evenly combined and crumbly.
+ Pour the berries into a pretty pie dish or a square baking dish, and top with the oat crumble.
+ Bake uncovered until the berry filling is bubbling, and the oat crumble is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

This would also be lovely with coconut whip on top! Simply refrigerate a can of coconut milk upside down in the refrigerator overnight. Remove, flip right side up, and open. The cream will be on top, so scoop it out and whip it with 1T organic vanilla extract + 1/2-1T organic honey or agave to taste. Whip until it is light and fluffy. And feel free to substitute whatever frozen berries or other fruit you have on hand. This is a perfect, simple but show-stopping dessert for your Easter gatherings, Mother's Day, to take to a summer cookout or just because! 

Gardening for the Soul

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I remember our gardens growing up... the smell of the dirt, the watering of the plants, the pulling of the radishes and beets. I remember my mom giving me a tiny pair of gloves and showing me how to place the plants in the ground. Those times in the garden with her are some of my sweetest memories. I feel at ease in the garden, and there is a sense of simplicity to the tasks that make even the most complicated things seem simpler. But I would argue that there's something about gardening that appeals to most everyone, even if we don't really have a green thumb. 

There's a positive energy that comes with connecting to creation, seeing growth right in front of you, making a tangible difference in your surroundings. Whether we recognize it or not, gardening touches part of our souls. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." But the benefits of playing in the dirt aren't just spiritual and emotional. Gardening is good for our bodies too! Here are a few reasons why I believe (and science suggests) that gardening is good for your body + soul:

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+ Stress relief: In a world where we are constantly pulled in a million directions with something always demanding our attention, the sights, smells, and sounds of the garden can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Our brains have a finite capacity for attention directed at cell phones, computers, etc.  and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. Luckily this fatigue appears to be reversible! We can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use when enjoying nature.

+ Improves depression symptoms: similar to the stress relief, time in nature allows our brains to disconnect from all the distractions, stress and screens trying to grab our attention and focus us on something tangible. I also believe it connects us back to creation, which brings us to a grounded place emotionally and naturally improves our mood. 

+ Good for the immune system. Playing in the dirt exposes us to good bacteria in our environment. Kind of like nature's probiotic if you will. ;) 

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+ It can be exercise: The days after we plant our garden are some of my sorest days! Hamstrings, triceps, biceps, abs oh my! It's because digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise! 

+ It's good for your brain! Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. 

+ Good nutrition is good for mind, body and soul! The vegetables, herbs and fruit grown in your backyard are ideally organic and are super fresh, so the nutrients, minerals and enzymes are still active. Feeding your body the best is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Be outside, grow your own food, connect to nature, relieve stress and anxiety, boost immunity and brain health and improve mood all at the same time? Sign me up. Honestly it sounds like a commercial for the perfect pharmaceutical medication, except with gardening there are no disclaimers or side effects. Just some good old fashioned dirt under your fingernails.