holiday

A Merry Little Christmas

 
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I truly love the Christmas season - the lights, the family focus, giving gifts, making cocoa. I know many people that feel the pressure of society to make it bigger and better and perfect every year, but when we focus on simplicity + genuine anticipation of the season, then we find the joy and awe of Christmas. For us it's keeping gifting simple + intentional, carving out time for rest (watching movies together, snuggling on the couch reading books, wintry walks in the park, family dates to see the lights), keeping an advent tradition with our little ones, and making lots of time for family.

 
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Every year we spend Christmas Eve with my family, and it's one of my favorite days of the year. My mom's house is decorated with lots of color, whimsy and farmhouse touches, and she always go the extra mile to make things special. (See her lovely, festive sangria below!) I love being in that house - the one where I grew up - and it's so special to me for Elliot to open presents right where I did as a child! He gets to see his cousins (who adore him), open presents and play outside. We exchange gifts for the kids, then do adult white elephant, which is always fun! My family has great taste, so we always end up with something thoughtful that we love! 

 
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The only thing I love just a tiny bit more is Christmas breakfast. Everyone comes in pjs, sips coffee + eats a big breakfast together - eggs, cinnamon rolls, bacon + sausage, grits, fruit, the works! This year we had the honor of hosting since Elliot is the youngest grandchild, and it was the best morning.

 
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Every year my mother buys me, my sister and herself a pair of Christmas leggings, and we wear them for Christmas breakfast! She also give us each a new pair of the softest pajamas + cute, cozy slippers!

 
 
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The rest of our day was spent at home, playing outside, exploring new toys, reading new books, spending all day in our pjs. No toys were put away in their bins and instead rested under the tree when not in use. We built a fire, made a gluten-free pizza, and just sat on the floor together. It was probably my favorite day of the entire year. Simple, intentional. No rushing around, no commitments, nowhere to be but home.  

 
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I hope you had the most wonderful Christmas (or other holiday that you celebrate!) with the ones you love! What is your favorite holiday tradition with your family?? 

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!! 

Healthy Holiday: Five Tips

In this season of parties, treats and homemade goodies, it is often difficult to think about healthy choices, when in fact this is probably the most crucial time of year to make sure we feed our bodies appropriately. It is more the onslaught of refined sugars that dispose us to colds than it is the cold weather. But I digress. I believe that life is about balance, so here are a few of my tips for having a healthy holiday without feeling like you're missing out. 

1. If you're attending an event with no healthy, whole food choices, eat a vegetable and nutrient-dense dinner before you go. Think quality protein, some good fat & lot of vegetables. That way you will be full and satisfied and less likely to make poor decisions on an empty stomach.

2. Decide in advance if you are going to allow yourself a treat, and limit yourself to that treat only.*  We eat really clean 99% of the time, but we allow for kicking up our heels and indulging a bit as well. So if I know my mom is making her award-winning homemade peach ice cream, I make sure I'm feeding my body lots of nutritious things before I head over. I know I'll have a little bowl, and I limit myself to just that. (NOTE: For me specifically, any indulgences are gluten-free. I know that gluten causes me bad headaches, and even the best pumpkin pie just isn't worth it.)

3. Instead of adding sugary, flavored creamer to your coffee, choose whole milk or, even better, drink it black, especially if it is paired with a slice of pie. Also, don't drink caffeine after noon. If you opt for coffee in the afternoon, make sure to choose decaf.

4. Walk it off. Take a walk before a meal, a party, or at the beginning of the day. Take a walk when you get home from a gathering. Especially take a walk if you over-indulged. It will not only help you physically, but it will improve your mental state and lower glucose levels. Make it a tradition to have a family walk on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Do some yoga, pilates, a barre class, a met con, just do something! Whatever and whenever you do it, just get out there and move! 

5. Don't forget about sleep. Especially this time of year when our schedules get hectic, make sure to get good rest. Choose a dark, cool environment and comfortable clothes. Bonus points for waking up without an alarm. We try to allow ourselves this at least on the weekends, but even that little bit of extra rest can do wonders for your body + mind!

Here's to a healthy + happy holiday!


*Disclaimer: I don't think this approach works for everyone. For some people it is better to completely forgo any indulgences. The whole thing about food is that it is a very individualized process, and you have to know yourself and what works best for you.

Golden Drop Holiday Gathering

Last week I hosted a little holiday gathering for my sweet, amazing oils community, and it was so fun! My wonderful mama came over to help me decorate, trim the tree, arrange fresh greenery + camilla buds, and make some yummy snacks.

We made the most delicious wassail (recipe courtesy of my friend Lesley), listened to my favorite holiday album, and made some oily things. I was also able to break out my shiny new Zyto scanner, which is such a great tool for our health. Every time I scan it is right on target for what I need. Love having that tool available to help my people! Overall, it was such a sweet night of fellowship, and I honestly treasured every moment!

And in case you are interested, here are the recipes for the items we made.

Breathe Easy Roller:
10 drops RC
10 drops lemon
Top with desired carrier oil

Relaxing Bath Salts
1/4 cup epsom salts
1 tsp baking soda (option to prevent caking)
5-7 drops desired essential oil
*We used lavender, peace & calming, stress away and believe. 

Our Little Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mostly because it is the perfect excuse to be off of work and hang out with family and friends. We spent the day at my parents' house, and it was such a great time. The boys played outside in the gorgeous sunshine, we ate amazing food (my mom is such a great cook!) and had plenty of leftovers, and we were able to just be together. The fellowship was just so wonderful. I love stopping and listening to my people, hearing about the ins and outs of their life, knowing what makes them tick. We are so richly blessed! 

A few pictures from the day.... 

This kid is SO fun right now. I say it at every stage, but my favorite stage of childhood is now ;)

This kid is SO fun right now. I say it at every stage, but my favorite stage of childhood is now ;)

This picture of E with his older cousin melts my heart! He adores the 'big boys', and they love him right back. He is also enamored with my sweet niece and loves to play with her!

This picture of E with his older cousin melts my heart! He adores the 'big boys', and they love him right back. He is also enamored with my sweet niece and loves to play with her!

I snagged a jar of my mom's homemade pickles, so so good! 

I snagged a jar of my mom's homemade pickles, so so good! 

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just two days away. This fall as simply flown by, and I am really looking forward to some time with my people. There are countless things in my life for which I am grateful, and I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy holiday! 

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A few of my favorite things, Thanksgiving edition:

+ This table. Foraged branches + berries? Enough said. 

+ We stopped using scented candles a long time ago and rely on our essential oils for making our home smell nice. Also love these smudge sticks via Gardenista. You can even put a few drops of oils on pinecones or other kindling for a fragrant + uplifting fire.

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+ A great roundup of paleo and whole foods recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner. Specifically, this sweet potato casserole

+ Pumpkin pie is my favorite holiday indulgence, but the traditional recipe leaves me feeling less than stellar. I am making this maple-walnut pumpkin pie for the first time this year, and it sounds so amazing! 

Fourth of July

With so much going on in our country and so much going on in our life as a family, the freedom of Independence Day feels especially sweet this year. This year our celebrations will be low-key, which is honestly just what we need. A few friends, lots of time outside (with plenty of outdoor spray and sunscreen!), a family day trip, simple decorations, sparklers galore, and lots of good food, some healthy and some treats. Here are some of my favorites for a simple, but festive Fourth of July. 

An almond matcha superfood smoothie to start the day right and get in some greens!

pineapple + flower centerpiece. Colorful, festive, smells divine. I love it! Carve out the fruit from the inside and grill it or add it to some homemade guacamole, then save the exterior for the perfect party vase. 

This grilled potato and cannelloni bean salad would be a great side to pair with burgers or Bbq and a big green salad. I would use dried beans that you soaked and cooked instead of canned. 

These paleo chia and almond chocolate parfaits would be a delicious, simple desert and look great when layered in individual mason jars. I also can't get enough blueberries this time of year!

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Summer and peaches are synonymous here in the South, and this peach gin fizz would make a great signature cocktail for a small gathering.  Also, more blueberries! 

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We love games, and backyard Twister sounds so fun! Find more backyard games here. And what Fourth of July celebration would be complete without sparklers and a good BBqsauce?

Life: Unfiltered / Long Weekend

My little family took advantage of the long weekend to spend some quality time together in the mountains, and it was so refreshing.  It was simple, unfiltered, uncurated, and full of so many great moments. We spend lazy days wandering around in the warm, green woods, splashing in the cold river water, reading and dozing on the porch swing, and exploring all the tiny rocks, sticks and leaves in our path.. E was in heaven. He walked around the front porch for an hour, was easily occupied with any and every little thing on the ground, and surprisingly, loved splashing in the cold river. He was so excited he decided not to nap, which left me slightly harried, but it was a good lesson in parental adaptation, and the afternoon wore on with only a slight change of plans, and added pre-dinner stroll and an early bedtime. 

Husband and I spent the evening and mornings reading, chatting, planning and dreaming. We made some decisions and put things in motion to truly be able to achieve our dream. It feels good. I'm excited and optimistic.

As much as I love this internet community, sometimes I need to just step away and be surrounded with just my people, my boys. I feel like lately there has been a lot of pain, a lot of heavy surrounding me, and my heart truly breaks when I see the pain and loss of another. I carry that weight too much sometimes, so this weekend was a gentle reminder of my purpose. To extend the sacrificial, unending love of Christ to my husband, my son, and everyone I encounter. My attempt will be imperfect, yet His love is perfect. It is all we ever truly need. 

I am so incredibly grateful for this beautiful family of mine. 

Paleo Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate is one of my absolute favorite indulgences. When I was in college, my sweet mama used to come visit me during finals and sit up with me late into the night as I studied. She would always make us hot cocoa with cheese and crackers as a study snack, and I love those sweet memories. She has always been my biggest supporter.

But this post is about cocoa, so here is our favorite hot cocoa recipe adapted from one of my favorite paleo bloggers, Danielle Walker.

Paleo Peppermint Hot Cocoa:

2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 can coconut cream*

3 ounces dark chocolate (we used 80%)

2T cocoa powder

2T honey (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup but we didn't want it quite that sweet)

+4 drops Young Living peppermint oil -- you can also just add one drop into the individual cups if someone wants plain cocoa

Place the almond milk and coconut cream in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then whisk in the cocoa powder, honey and chocolate. Heat for about 5 minutes, stirring to ensure all the chocolate is melted and the cocoa is thick and creamy. Add peppermint oil to the mixture OR place in mugs and add one drop of peppermint oil directly to the individual mugs. Top with homemade peppermint marshmallows if desired!

Enjoy beside the fire with a cozy blanket and a good book!

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To learn more about essential oils or to purchase your own with a 24% discount, click here.


*You can buy coconut cream from Trader Joes or make your own by refrigerating a can of coconut milk upside down overnight. The cream and milk will separate, so when you flip the can over, the cream will be on the top. Scoop it out and save the milk for another recipe (makes a great smoothie addition). Use all the cream for this cocoa recipe.

Gifting

For whatever reason Christmas has completely snuck up on me this year, despite my love of buying gifts for the people in my lift. I am taking full advantage of Amazon Prime and online gift cards for quite a few on my list, and I wanted to share some of my favorite gift ideas. 

Hostess gifts:

+ Homemade body butter or bath salts

+ Potted plants: I'm a sucker for a Christmas cactus, but I also love fresh herbs like rosemary and sage as they are great for making scented kindling

+ Homemade reed diffuser

+ My all time favorite candle

For him:

+ A Leatherman multi-tool

+ A shipment of our favorite coffee or a coffee subscription

+ Minimalist boots for work and play

+ Matching father & son socks (from the littlest of course)

+ Bar accessories like these whiskey chilling stones
+ A set of foam rollers or resistance bands and lacrosse balls for mobility workouts.

For her:

+ Something special for everyday wear

+ A cozy throw and glam moccasins

+ A set of these amazing enamel plates and bowls

+ A Warby Parker gift card to use towards these amazing sunnies

+ An essential oils starter kit (best. gift. ever.) 

For baby boy:

+ A wagon to push and pull

+ Pajamas because they grow so fast

+ Joggers, leggings and leggings

+ Miniature minimalist shoes for learning to walk

+ Some of our favorite books: one, two, three

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Wishing you the merriest Christmas!