Mindful and Intentional

Kon-Mari is all the craze (thanks, Netflix). Minimalism is everywhere (thanks, Pinterest and Instagram). Thrifting is chic (as it should be!) and living slowly, mindfully, and purposefully is on trend (again, as it should be).

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may already know that I began this process myself by deleting about half the people I was “friends” with on Facebook and then deleting my Facebook app all together. I also made a new Twitter account and now follow mostly #CatholicTwitter accounts. I’ve been unfollowing a lot of accounts on Instagram and following those that bring joy and meaning to my life, and I try to be mindful about what I post on any of my own social media accounts.

There’s many reasons and benefits for all of this. I’m trying to live more minimally. Yes, I was one of those people that binge-watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix show. I began applying it to many areas of my life. Sparking joy should apply to ALL areas of our lives. We can declutter our homes, our minds, and our hearts. It’s literally good for us, healthy and healing.

There are several accounts I now follow on Instagram that have an emphasis on more mindful and intentional living. I will share them on my Instagram story for anyone that is interested!

They’ve also introduced me to a concept called slow fashion. I had honestly never heard of it, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. Fast fashion follows the practically weekly changes in fashion trends and supplies tons of options at low prices so consumers can, and will, buy more more more. WalMart and Target are big contenders here. The thing about fast fashion is that it’s not always ethical. What do I mean by that?

Well, I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one documentary about the working conditions of those who make garments for WalMart. When you really think about those prices, it makes sense. Those pair of shorts are just $12? But, how much does it actually cost to make them? I mean, just stroll over to the fabric department to see how much different fabrics cost. Plus thread. Plus buttons. Plus zippers. Plus time and energy put into cutting and sewing those shorts. Now how much do they cost?

Listen, I’m as much a bargain shopper as anyone else. I have a limited budget I can spend on clothes. My personal closet has several WalMart and Target items. This is a new concept to me. I also don’t want to seem like I’m talking down those that shop at these stores; they are legitimate options for those that have to shop on a tight budget. I’m slowly beginning to shift my perspective on how I shop and am not here to judge or tell anyone else how they should shop.

As a Christian, I see my calling to shop responsibly. Christians are called to care for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Since following accounts that have taught me more about slow fashion and shopping more ethically, I am now shifting gears in how I approach shopping.

As I am minimizing my wardrobe, I also see value in spending more on a higher quality item that will last a long time over stocking up on cheaper items that will need to be replaced more often. For example, I have two pairs of jeggings from WalMart that I love and wear often, but my first pair (less than 6 months old) is already beginning to fray in areas. Whereas my more expensive Victoria’s Secret leggings I’ve had for years are in great condition.

Shopping ethically on a budget can be difficult, but it’s not impossible, and it’s certainly worth it. I’m new to this, so I recommend this blog post from Just a Handmaiden. On her instagram, she has highlights for her OOTD and on her blog, she talks about modestly, slow fashion, and shopping ethically. (Like I said before, I will also share some other accounts in my Instagram stories).

A big step in my journey of living intentional is coming up in June. I will be participating in 30 Days to a Hobbit at Heart by Tea with Tolkien.

Here’s what that entails:

This summer will be a summer of self-improvement and growth. This first day is being celebrated with a blog post! (Yes, I may be in bed while writing it, but hey! It’s summer break AND it’s not even 9 AM yet!)

I plan to write more about this topic as I go on this journey. I will definitely write more about ethically shopping as I learn more about it. I also hope to write about my Hobbit journey at the end of June!

Please comment below to share your experiences. If you have recommendations for ethically sourced clothing stores, share those as well! Thanks!

Low Oxalate Roast

My husband has been prone to kidney stones for almost 10 years. After his last hospital trip, about a year ago, his doctor recommended he start a low oxalate diet. Most people probably haven’t even heard of oxalate, but it’s a compound found in most to all plant-based foods, in varying levels. Once in the body, it likes to bond to calcium and form crystals (aka kidney stones), but most people’s bodies prevent this through citric acid, which my husband’s body does not make on it’s own. Hence, the low oxalate diet.

This diet, as it turns out, is very restricting. It has been a bit of a challenge coming up with meals that he can eat and having variety in our diets. Most of the time, it’s ground turkey with taco seasoning.

The other day I tried out a roast and it turned out pretty good, so I thought I would share it here! I wasn’t originally planning on writing up a recipe, so I don’t have exact measurements. This also can obviously be adjusted to fit your personal tastes and dietary needs.

Some things you might find in a typical roast that my husband cannot have include carrots, celery, potatoes, and black pepper. See below for what I used instead and let me know how you like it if you try it!

1 cup organic mushroom broth

1 cup organic low-sodium beef broth

1 cup filtered water

1/3 cup coconut aminos

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 small sweet yellow onion

1-1.5 cups baby bella mushrooms

1 large chuck roast, seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and Jimmy Bland’s season rub*

Add broths, water, and coconut aminos to slow cooker and turn on low. Slice and add bell peppers and onion. Rinse and add mushrooms, then stir. Set large roast in the middle of the pot, season top with a big pinch of salt, a generous amount of garlic powder, and a generous amount of Jimmy’s spice rub. Carefully flip roast over and season the other side with just Jimmy’s rub.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Take roast out to pull apart with forks, then add back in.

Serve over rice, riced cauliflower, noodles, or potatoes.

*A friend of my dad’s named Jimmy used to make the best spice rub ever. It’s kind of a family secret for having the most delicious and tender meat ever. Substitute with your go-to rub or your favorite blend of spices.

April Showers Bring New Opportunities

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been absent for a while. A LOT has been going on. I’m finally here to fill you in.

My husband and I are making an extra effort to focus on our health and spending QUALITY time together. We have been meal prepping and exercising more. It has already made a noticeable difference. I’m less stressed about what we are going to eat, there’s less binge-snacking and binge-watching, and we’re spending more time TALKING and less time staring at screens. I’m loving what it is doing for our bodies, minds, and relationship.

I also made a HUGE leap out of my comfort zone. I am by no means a social butterfly. I’m not chatty, I don’t make videos of myself, I don’t have a huge group of friends, I don’t party every weekend. But there was something tugging at my heart for a while. I spent months overthinking as I do with everything, but I finally took a big step at the beginning of the month.

I became an Independent Stylist for Color Street! For me, this is a big deal. I’ve never been a part of an independent sales kind of company. This company focuses on one-to-one contact and relationships. So, what is Color Street? What do they sell? And why should I buy their products?

Great questions. Color Street is a new company (as in less than a year!), and it is thriving! It is constantly growing. They make and sell nail polish strips. Maybe you’ve heard of them. But what makes theirs special? Well, first of all, they are NOT wraps. They require no fancy tools, no heat, no glue. They are made with 100% real nail polish, no adhesives. They are also almost 100% dry and super easy to apply! There are over 2 dozen designs, including nail art and glitter! Each set comes with 8 different sizes (16 total strips), nail prep pads, a cuticle stick, and an adorable mini nail file. They also have french tip styles, which are always buy 1 get 1 free. All of their other styles are by 3 get 1 free.

Color Street stylists make connections and sales through nail bars. These parties can be held in person or virtually through Facebook. The awesome thing about a Facebook party is that hosts can more easily get friends to participate because they can join the party from literally anywhere as long as they have access to Facebook.

I just had my launch party last night, on Facebook. Unfortunately, I haven’t had quite the interaction I had hoped for. I am still waiting on sales. I am trying to not be discouraged, though. I am continuing to attempt to engage Facebook friends and family members through my Facebook business page and my VIP group. I am hoping once I start sending out samples, more people will get interested.

No one ever said starting a business would be easy. I’m doing my best to stay motivated. I hope April continues to bring opportunities for my husband and me. Speaking of which, he is currently in the process of possibly making a career change. Fingers crossed April brings us good news!

Hopefully this month will also bring more posts! I will try to get back into the habit of posting B&W photos!

Thanks for reading!

In Reflection: 2017

I know it’s cliché, but I keep feeling pulled to writing about this past year. I mean, who doesn’t spend Dec. 31st in reflection? For me, this whole month has really been full of reflection. I’ve reunited with old friends and even begun a new tradition of Friday night Game Nights with them. This weekend my high school class had their five-year reunion, which was an interesting experience. It’s always strange gathering with people you haven’t seen in a while, then add alcohol and a dark bar basement, and you get a loud, crowded, crazy night. It was a good time and definitely had my husband and I reflecting.

According to the world of the internet, my opinion of 2017 may be an unpopular one. When I look back on this year, I overall feel pretty great about it. What did 2017 hold for me? First of all, my dear husband. We were married at the beginning of 2017. We had a wonderful honeymoon to the Lake of the Ozarks, then Honeymoon 2.0 in May to Florida. Also in May 2017, after one of the toughest semesters of our college careers, we both graduated with our bachelor’s degrees. Then August came around and we both were given great opportunities to start new jobs. In November we moved closer to where we work, our own space to really grow closer as a couple. We’ve been working hard at our jobs, on our relationship, and on ourselves. I personally had a great 2017. It presented many, many challenges, but we’ve overcome them all. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Here’s to a year of happiness, health, and blessings. I hope everyone else has a great new year as well!

Thanksgiving

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I didn’t get a chance to post last week because Wednesday I was home sick, and then, well – Thanksgiving! A lot has happened.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving I had the amazing opportunity to photograph a baptism service. I witnessed 13 people make a commitment to their church and to Jesus, and got to witness some beautiful testimonies. It was a beautiful way to start the Thanksgiving week.

Monday and Tuesday I went to work as normal. Wednesday I stayed home sick and (FINALLY!!) had internet installed at our new apartment. Since we have wi-fi up and running, I will be able to start posting some photo blogs. I’m really excited to start sharing my photography. I will also be able to write some more in-depth posts, since I can write from my computer instead of my phone.

I know it’s silly, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I really am thankful to have wi-fi! I am thankful to have this blog and for those that read it. I am thankful and excited for the future of this blog. I will try to post some photos soon!

Until I can post again, please enjoy these pictures of the turkey I made! This was the first year I ever made a turkey and I am so thankful for how amazing it turned out. Life tip: Stuff your turkey with citrus fruits and cook it in an oven bag, it will be amazing.