DREAM HOUSE MUST HAVES

I have often pictured what what my dream house would look like. Before the days of saving “pins” for inspiration, I would flip through Home and Garden magazines to find ideas from the best houses. My “house” board on Pinterest is now bursting at the seems with hundreds of ideas I hope to bring to life one day in my own home. If money was no issue, here would be a few of my must-haves.

Laundry Room

Although I despise doing laundry, a designated space to do so would make it a little better, right? An ideal laundry room would include space to hang delicates for drying, adequate cabinet space to keep soap, detergent and other necessities, a sink to pretreat any stains and a counter to be able to fold laundry.

Mud Room

In my opinion, mud rooms are a such a missed opportunity in houses. At my parents’ house, their laundry and mud room is located off the garage. As a room to store your shoes, hang up jackets and keep any other belongings together, it keeps unwarranted dirt from being tracked into the main part of the house.

Open Kitchen Concept

I can imagine the smell of fresh cookies wafting through the air as we two up a night of great fellowship and even better company. A cup of coffee is brewing and all is right with the world. A walk-in pantry with shelving for optimum organization would also make this girl’s heart sing. Having an island for plenty of space to prepare meals and bar stools for additional seating would optimal use of space. A breakfast nook in the corner by the window and a coffee bar would add a nice touch for the caffeine lovers in our family. The general theme of my dream kitchen changes daily, but a sleek yet boho style seems to fit my taste here lately.

The kitchen at our apartment can only really fit one person comfortably and two without being able to move around much, so having any much more room will be an upgrade. With that being said, an open kitchen concept is important in the fact that I want for it to be a place where I enjoy cooking with Chandler without feeling cramped.

Bedrooms Upstairs

Having a two story house has always been a dream of mine. I grew up in one story house and loved going over to friend’s houses that had room to run up and down the stairs in a disorderly fashion. A master bedroom, one for each of our kids and a guest room would be my ideal setup. Any more than that is more space to clean. Let’s also not forget the walk-in closet in our master! My husband has twice the amount of clothes that I do, so we need to account for enough space.

Having our bedrooms upstairs would also allow us more to space to host and have more “livable” space downstairs.

Large Backyard

We currently live in an apartment with no backyard of our “own.” While we are thankful that there is no upkeep required of us currently, we would love to have a yard for children and pets have the freedom to roam freely, while also having a garden for fruits and vegetables. To have our own space to do with as we please would be such a nice feeling. A space to also host parties and family gatherings would be such a blessing for me. A back porch dimly lit with stringed lights, rocking chairs to sip coffee as the morning sun rises and a fire pit to roast marshmallows in the warm summer breeze would be such a great a dream come true.


A girl can dream, right? Depending on our budget and what part of Asheville has the best bang for buck, I know there are certain things we will have to compromise on. With that being said, I am excited to have a house of our own one day. I can’t wait to make it a safe haven for friends and family, as well as filling it with kids of our own. I pray that our home is a place where our friends feel welcome to take their shoes off and stay for awhile. I want it to be a home built firm on the promises of the Lord and a place where we forgive often, laugh freely and love mightily.


What were some of the non-negotiables for you when building and/or moving into a new house, townhouse etc?

XO,

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WEDDING TIPS AND TRICKS

Wedding days are full of bliss, giddiness, laughter, many tears and a lots of nerves wrapped up all into a few hours. Emotions are all over the place, as is to be expected. More than the endless hours of picking out colors schemes and bridesmaid dresses, the hundreds of hours DIYing our centerpieces and constantly chatting back and forth with vendors, our wedding day was more than everything than I ever dreamed of. My husband and I got married in August 2019 and it was truly one of the best days of my life.

HAVE A WEDDING COORDINATOR/PLANNER

This might sound like an obvious piece of advice, but having one designated person to be in charge of delegating and “running the show” behind the scenes is so important. Luckily for Chandler and I, our best man’s wife and one of our best friends was the real MVP. Brittany quickly took the reigns and did a phenomenal job in guiding the day just as we had envisioned. She helped to get people in places and have our “ducks in a row” at all times.

DAY OF WEDDING TIMELINE

For any of those who know me personally, you can testify to how much I love to have things in order at all times and compartmentalized by shape, color, etc. hehe I found a customizable timeline on Etsy that was an easy way to plug in the times of getting ready, pictures and the when to be at the venue, as well as contact information of our parents, vendors and our MOH/Best Man. I passed them in folders out to everyone in the wedding party and they raved about how much it helped them. It was a good way to help keep everyone in the loop for the day and to know what was next.

PRIORITIZE BUDGET

With most weddings, budgets dictate most of what makes the cut for the big day. For me, personally, I knew that photography and flowers were two of the most important pieces of our wedding day. Pictures were important in the fact that it was the one way to capture those memories to have forever. It was a concrete way of having something to look back on. In terms of our flowers, I have always “fangirled” over fresh floral arrangements. I knew that they wouldn’t last forever unless we had them dried, but it would also make for beautiful pictures. The bridesmaids and our families were also able to divvy up the flowers to take home, which they loved. We incorporated some faux flowers and succulents around the cupcake stand and in less visible places, but none of the guests could tell the difference. If a full spread of fresh flowers is too expensive, don’t stress. Although it’s okay to splurge on some aspects of your big day, there is no need to go in to debt for one day.

TAKE TIME TO EAT

As most brides are a big ball of nerves before their wedding, eating was the last thing on my mind. With that being said, my sweet mom had Chick-fil-A catered in and also had a sweet mimosa bar for light refreshments while getting ready the morning of. How fitting is it that my husband and I actually met at Chick-fil-A? (#chickfilationships) On the flip side, make sure to take time during the reception to eat when your guests eat. As tempting as it is to mingle and catch up with your hundreds of guests, do yourself a favor and sit down to eat. The guests can wait. Experience the chaos that is and enjoy the first meal of your marriage together, uninterrupted. Once we were introduced back into the reception as “husband and wife” and after the first dances were finished, it was actually our DJ who was one that made sure we didn’t stray too far away before getting our food.

As cliche as it sounds, everyone is right when they say that your wedding day goes by sooo quickly. Chandler and I talk all the time about how the time escaped us both in the blink of an eye. The year of planning and stressing over every little detail, payed off and our day was exceeded everything we dreamed of but we were driving off in our “get-away” car before we knew it. Enjoy your day and cherish every moment. Take a moment to really stand back and take it in. Every person in that room is there to celebrate with you and your spouse and it makes it all the difference. I truly will cherish every memory of that day.

If you are reading this and are a part of the wedding planning industry in any way, I commend you big time. You bend over backwards to grant the bride and groom’s every wish and do such a great job to keep us comfortable during the planning process and on wedding day. You rock!


What pieces of advice would you give newly engaged couples? What would you prioritize first in the planning process?

30 THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH BY 30 Pt. 1

Turning another year older always makes me reminiscent over everything I have accomplished and the many things I hope to do. Although I truly believe that “age is just a number,” there are thirty things that I am setting out to do before I hit ominous dirty thirty in 2023. Anybody else right there with me?! Entering into a new decade will have challenges of its own, but I know that I will be ready for whatever happens!

This might be a lengthier post, but stay with me as I dive head first into half of the things that I hope to before the next decade hits. I plan to post later this week of my second half of goals, make sure to stay tuned. Here’s to getting these all accomplished (and more) in the next three years.

#1: Take a class to learn a skill

Baking has been a hobby for me in years past. I haven’t done the best job in branching out to try new recipes but I plan to sign up for a class to learn new tips and tricks in the cooking/baking world.

#2: Have a house to call our own

We first started a savings account from the money we got from our wedding almost a year and a half ago. From that point on, any spare “change” we’ve saved up has went into the house fund. We just renewed our lease at our apartment to give us more time to save, but our goal is to have a house in the greater Asheville area by early 2022.

#3: Go to the Kentucky Derby (5/22)

All depending on how the virus plays out, my husband and I have every intent of going to the Derby in May. We were able to see Churchill Downs on our anniversary trip in August and this girl fell madly in love with the horse racing world. Fingers crossed we can make the trip!🤞🏼

*WE ARE GOING TO THE DERBY, Y’ALL! I bought my husband tickets for Christmas and I am PUMPED!

#4: Complete a weekly juice cleanse

Juice cleanses can be pretty penny, but you get what you pay for. They are a good way to help restore your gut and to reset the your body of the harmful //. Clean Juice has a daily and weekly option that are both fully customizable to your tastes.

#5: Have 300 followers on Alex in Asheville

This goal quite frankly scares me if I’m being completely honest. Since I stared blogging some six months ago, I had no earthly idea I would even be to the point where I am now. It has been a safe space for me and has already given me a great community of fellow bloggers. These people put their heart and soul into their writings and it definitely inspires this “newcomer.”

With that being said, I want to make it a priority to grow my audience and to find my niche of fellow writers. Follow along in my journey!

#6: Learn how to knit and crochet

My mom has always said that I have knack for the tedious things. She’s not all wrong, folks. With that being said, I would love to take the time to knit pieces like hats or blankets for those who might need them. I feel like it would be something soothing to do at home curled up on the couch.

#7: Plant a tree

I am planning to save this for when Chandler and I do actually buy a house with a yard and the adequate space to do so. Every intent is to plant a tree for Chandler and I as a couple and for each of our kids when they’re born.

#8: Travel to Asia

This has been a dream of mine for some have time now. I have been fortune enough to have traveled internationally to four different countries, with the exception of Haiti twice. However, going to an Asian country has been the ultimate travel dream of mine! I am lucky enough to have friends who also love to travel, so we hope to plan a trip relatively soon.

#9: Start a family

As an obvious goal for most young couples, Chandler and I plan to start family within the next few years. We plan to only have two kids, but we’ll see where we end up.

#10: Upkeep a garden (9/21)

Before the winter came quickly and rudely uprooted all of my hard work, I had a thriving (in some sense of the word) herb garden on the porch of our 900 square foot apartment. We repurposed one of the troughs we had custom built for our wedding, which makes it quite a special piece to me! I was able to cut fresh basil, parsley, cilantro and mint to cook and garnish our meals with!

Going back to the tree idea, I want space enough at our “one day” house to have vegetables, fruits and flowers in one big garden! Dream big, right?

* It’s not the to level I want it just yet, but I am learning to propagate plants and keep those alive. Yay me!

#11: Make French Macaroons

I feel like this will be one to give me quite a run for my money, but making macaroons sounds ever so sophisticated. It would be as if I was back in Québec City with a gelato in one hand and macaroons in the other. A coworker from back home brought in homemade macaroons and they were the //.

This could also be the class I take to master a skill! (#1)

#12: Read a book per month

This isn’t necessarily a hard goal, but it’s consciously making time to read every night. I’ve always loved to read and would like to knock out those books that have been on my list for some time.

#13: Flip a piece of furniture

We currently have two pieces that I plan to “flip” once we buy our new house and I decide on what theme I’m going for. DIYing furniture is such a satisfying thing to watch and very cost effective.

#14: Take a picture or video every day for a month

There are so many great apps to use for this, but I have found 1SE, which stands for One Second Everday. It’s a simple way to take videos and cut them down to one second, as I’m sure you inferred. You can do a month, six months, a year or any variation of time. I have seen friends who have done different videos and it is a unique montage of memories to look back on.

#15: Travel to the West Coast

The farthest west I’ve been is to the Lone Star State three years ago for work, but I would love to visit any part of the west coast. We have family that lives out on Bainbridge Island, WA and I have heard nothing but wonderful things about the Washington and Oregon area. My husband has been there once before over a decade ago, so I would love to experience it together!

Thank you for sticking with me through the first part of my “Thirty before 30” bucket-list challenge! I hope to be able to do most, if not all of these things before I turn thirty. If not, I have a great place to start and will continue to check things off as I go.

DIY CHRISTMAS GIFT PRESENTATION

Public Service Announcement: We are ten days out from Christmas, y’all. Saying that out loud makes my mind race, my heart skip a beat and make me feel like I’m in a state of state of sheer panic. I feel like it was just last month that I was sipping wine beachside and riding around the island on bicycles with my family.

We all know firsthand how quickly the costs of buying presents for friends and family can add up. I feel like my husband and I were pretty prepared throughout the year to pick up gifts here and there, but there is always a mad rush to finish off those checklists last minute. With that being said, anywhere you can save a dime here and there helps to lighten the load for everyone.

I will go over different ways to make easy DIY gift tags and alternate wrapping paper options that will have your loved ones drooling. You might even surprise yourself at how easy and time efficient these can be.

I have always considered myself to be a “crafty” person. Growing up, I could sit for hours coloring, drawing, or painting whatever I could get my hands on. The amount of times I roped my mom into taking me to a craft store was well in the hundreds. (poor Kim) Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a crafter or a DIYer, its okay to start somewhere! It is 2020 after all. Most of these ideas are “fool proof,” but don’t be afraid if they don’t come out exactly as you had planned. Often times, the best aren’t always perfect.

Brown Shipping Paper

Seeing this idea for the first time a few years back, I have found that brown shipping paper works really well when it comes to seamless, yet alternative wrapping paper. There are thousands of options to “dress it up” and make your presents look like you took them to get professionally wrapped. You can buy a role at any office store like Office Depot or Office Supply for well under $5. In years past, I have hand drawn people’s names right on the package and they turned out beautifully. I will have to admit that my calligraphy has got quite a bit better since I first started.

Dried Oranges

Dried oranges tied with ribbon against the brown wrapping paper makes for a breathtaking contrast. I typically go for a white ribbon or burlap twine ( buffalo plaid ribbon if I’m feeling bold), but experiment with whatever will match your “vibe.” Making dried oranges are very simple and quick, so experiment with this whenever you have a few minutes of free time. Pick up a bag of oranges during your next grocery shopping outing and get to baking. Make sure to cut your oranges in thin pieces and lay them flat on a baking sheet.

I’ve also found that doing both naval oranges and blood oranges are cool way to have a variation of color. In my DIY Christmas Decor blog, I also talked about how to make a fresh strand of garland out of these beauties.

Dried or Fresh Flowers

Dried flowers make for a beautiful, yet simple way to also dress up your gifts. If you are wanting to truly DIY these yourself and have them ready in time for Christmas, it would be in your best interest to start yesterday. The best approach I’ve found to dry these beauties has been to tie them at the bottom of the bouquet with string and to hang them upside down in a dark area. They do take a few days to completely dry out, so be patient with them. Although some flowers naturally hold their shape better than others, some sources have also have also said that spraying hairspray over the flowers help to preserve them. A few strands of fresh Eucalyptus or Lavender also smell heavenly while getting the same general gist of the dried flowers.

Paper Tags

With making your own paper tags, there are endless opportunities in what you can do to make your own. Craft Stores, like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, have paper cutting tools that come in squares, rectangles, circles and stars. Buy a few shapes to be able change up your options. Pick up a few sheets of cardstock and sit down to start cutting. As another easy and quick option, invest in a watercolor set to draw simple trees or stars on white card-stock. Remember to keep things simple and light! Punch a hole in the top and tie with ribbon. Wallah! If you have a Cricut like myself, then you know how many hundreds of thousands of options there are when it comes to making your own tags. I remember the hours I spent two Christmases ago making tags and I was sooo pleased with how they turned out.

If you have DIYed any tags or wrapping paper in the past? If so, I would love to see what creations you came up with. Drop any pictures you have in the comments below. If not, what is your biggest fear in holding you back?

HOW TO: CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Are you wanting to steal the show at your next family gathering? Impress everyone with a show-stopping holiday charcuterie board!

In order to build the ideal charcuterie board, I will walk you step by step through the basics of the must-haves to get started.

Let me also preface with saying that Charcuterie boards have been a favorite appetizer of mine for some time now. Although these spreads often look daunting and overly priced, they are actually quite simple and can be quite cost effective. They often involve different types of meat, cheese and nuts/olives, but you there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Use in season fruits and veggies to make it easy on yourself and add a few special touches for holidays. For example, a Christmas charcuterie board could have sprigs of thyme and cranberries scattered about. A Valentine’s Day charcuterie board could have a small bowl of conversation hearts, red cinnamon gummy bears, and LOTS of chocolate.

My mom put together a “s’mores” board as a dessert to enjoy by the fire for my birthday in August and was a huge hit.

Ingredients placed in the shape of a Christmas tree

1. CUTTING BOARD

Picking out the size of your board is the first big step in creating your ideal spread. Take time to do your research, but buy a board that feels like it will be big enough to hold an adequate amount of food. The Target dollar section has had small cutting boards for sale in the dollar section in the past, but check out Etsy for more personalized options. There are circular ones, square ones with handles or ones that have hidden compartments to store “refills.” It’s amazing to see what’s all possible!

2. INGREDIENTS

I’m stating the obvious, but the kind of charcuterie board you’re planning to do dictates the type of ingredients you’ll need to pick up. Like I previously mentioned, a typical board has hard and soft cheeses, deli meats, nuts and olives but long gone are the days where Charcuterie is “restricted” to just that. They have long evolved since those early days of “just” meats and cheeses.

3. RAMEKINS

I have found small ramekins to be extremely useful when holding dips, spreads or candies on your charcuterie board. You can find these at your local dollar store or somewhere like Target and/or Walmart. If you’re a traditionalist like me, I go for the white but use a pop of color if that fits your fancy. My recommendation is buying four or five matching ones at a time to have readily available. If you have honey or different kids of dips or spreads, make sure to have the appropriate utensils ready. Cutting knives for cheese and a honey comb to drizzle over fruit is kinda important.

Have fun and be creative with your charcuterie board. There are no rights or wrongs in this process. Let your creative side shine and build to impress. Think outside of the typical board because the possibilities are truly endless!

What are some of your favorite charcuterie boards? What are ones you’ve been wanting to test out?

THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP

Taking a road trip can be thrilling, humbling and gratifying all at once. It satisfies your adventurous spirit while also showing you how small you are in this world. Although flying by plane or riding by train both have their own perks, driving by car or RV gives you a totally different sense of freedom. It allows you to see the beautiful scenery, changes of landscape and leisure of traveling at your own pace. If you are planning to take a road trip in the future, remember that there are no “rights” or “wrongs” in this journey. Make it everything you’ve dreamed of. A road trip can also be two hours across state lines or across the country over the course of months. Remember to have your snacks handy, your travel playlist ready to hit play and your mind ready to experience everything on the open road. Remember to allow for time to “get lost.” As a minute-by-minute by planner, some of my most memorable moments have come from being off the beaten path.

Taking road trips in the past, there is nothing better than the heart-to-heart conversations it has brought about and the jam sessions that keep the car rocking.

Well into our dating, engaged and married life, my husband and I have taken many road trips together. We have traveled to Nashville for the CMA Fest, Washington D.C. for a P!nk concert and Atlanta many times for Braves games. We were also the crazies that made the twelve hour drive the day after we got married to hop our cruise boat in Fort Lauderdale. In between the few times we stopped to get food or gas, I was passed out in the passenger seat. Just ask my husband. Some co-pilot I was…

One of my favorite road trips that comes to mind happened to be during my junior year of college. It was midway the fall semester and one of my friends had just moved to Baton Rouge. She was there for a two year assignment with Teach for America and wanted to show off her new town. Two other friends of mine and I bravely embarked on the the twelve hour trek from Columbia, SC to Louisiana all in a days time. Luckily, we the three of us divided the driving time and made the load a little less daunting. We also stopped in New Orleans on the way in and stayed at a low-key sketch hostile, but it was one of my those unplanned moments that made for great conversation later on.

PACKING LIST

More than anything else, an organized packing list helps in preparing for an upcoming road trip. I tend make a list ahead of time with as many things written down so I check things off as I throw them in the suitcase later on. Depending on the destination of your road trip and the time of year can all dictate what makes the cut. Like in the picture below, I categorize my list by clothing, toiletries, technology must-haves, essentials and miscellaneous. From there, I subcategorize under each of those headings to what will fit best my needs for the trip. As a precautionary measure, do some research into the weather so you will be more prepared. If you are traveling up north during the winter, tank tops and Chacos probably shouldn’t make the list. When I traveled to New York for a late Christmas and New Years trip a few years back, I packed for cuteness over comfortably. I payed for my mistakes big time.

CAR PLAYLIST

For most people, a playlist is a pretty important part of any road trip. Whether you are going two hours away or twenty, a car playlist makes all of the difference in helping to pass the time. Unless you have friends like mine who can create conversation for the majority of a twelve hour trip, it’s best to have a playlist to fill the down time in conversation. I personally use Apple Music to create my pre-planned playlist but there many other apps to choose from like Spotify, who will shuffle music off of artists and genres what you like. If you are looking to keep your options open, try playing podcasts or audio books.

PROPER DRIVING ETIQUETTE

This might be a pretty obvious rule, but having proper driving etiquette is pretty important on a road trip. If it’s a shorter trip and someone is particularly willing to make the entire drive, let them. (hint my husband) Sometimes it pays to be a bad driver. hehe Like our twelve hour drive to Louisiana, rotating every couple of hours helps to keep everyone alert and rested. Having an co-pilot riding shotgun, someone napping and another “on deck” to drive has been the best the best system I have found that works.

TRAVELING APPS

▪️Wanderlog

Wanderlog is a travel app that excels in helping you find inspiration for your road trips. While you may use other apps to help give you ideas for trips, Wanderlog is an actionable platform to give structure to your dream vacation. Use Wanderlog to discover things that you want to do and save the locations to Google Maps for when you get to a certain city.

I love the structure that Wanderlog’s platform provides. While it’s great for all levels of planning, I like narrowing my trip down to a few destinations and then using Wanderlog to sculpt out a trip in each one of those destinations. I can craft an itinerary by adding the must-see attractions that I want to do, and then have a separate section for restaurants I want to try or hotels and hostels that I want to stay at. While other planning apps feel like you’re just daydreaming, Wanderlog provides an actually productive planning platform.

You can also collaborate with your friends for one cohesive list. If you’re planning a group trip, you can all add your ideas and bucket list destinations to the itinerary. With this app, you can add as many stops as you’d like to your itinerary for free. It’s a great planning app for personalizing and perfecting your holidays.

▪️ TripScout

This app is another great source of organization when it comes to having all of your ideas in one place. You can add Guidebooks for each trip with the dates that you plan to be in that city.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

POLAROID CAMERA & JOURNAL

I do not leave for any road trip without my Polaroid camera or journal. I got my camera a few years back during a Black Friday deal and it has been such a great way to have tangible instantaneous pictures. You can put them in a Scrapbook or string them up on your wall as a great way to display them.

I have always been one to enjoy putting pen to paper. Although putting my thoughts here on my blog is my ultimate goal, there is nothing like writing, drawing or journaling about your trip. I’d you haven’t before, grab a notebook or sketchbook and give it a try!

Above all else, enjoy your journey and allow yourself to get lost. Road trips are meant for exploring the unknown and it is okay to not always not what’s next.

Happy traveling! 🗺

MY CHRISTMAS DAY ROUTINE

Christmas is quickly approaching, y’all! Since I was a little girl, I have been enchanted by the magic and suspense surrounding the holidays. Christmas is a time when friends and family, near and far, come together to reflect on the year that’s past, but also look forward to a new year with excitement and expectation. Christmas is a time of singing carols loudly for all to hear, decking out the house from top to bottom and watching embarrassing amounts of Hallmark movies while drinking hot chocolate by the fire. It is a time to reflect by the shadows of the dimly lit tree or watch the snow fall peacefully outside your kitchen window.

I’ve been blessed with many great Christmas memories growing up and will always cherish what it has meant for our family. I know this year might put a damper on many family’s travel plans, but remember the magic behind the season. Below are some of my favorite Christmas Eve/Day traditions from childhood until now. Enjoy!

+ Christmas Eve

My parents started this game night tradition a few years back and it quickly grew to be a family favorite. On December 23 each year, my extended family comes together to play Christmas Bingo and Dirty Santa. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and often times neighbors/family friends are begging to get in on the action. My great-grandmother also passed down her Bingo cage with fifty year-old cards and bright red chips, which makes this game that much more special. My dad, who is often the “caller” (bless his heart), will often shout out a B quickly followed by a “Bethlehem!” or N for “Nativity!” We’ve got creative in how we play over the years, but we all have a blast! My parents also have a basket of prizes to chose from, which are small but often fought over.

+ Christmas Bingo & Dirty Santa

Dirty Santa is another thrilling game of strategy and will. Check out my other blog to see the ins and outs of Dirty Santa.

Growing up, Christmas Eve was always another chaotic, yet fun packed night my grandmother’s house. Now that she’s much older and isn’t in a place to do so, my parents have graciously taken over the reigns with hosting the holidays at their home. For Christmas Eve, the extended family comes over for another night of eating, chatting and opening presents. We’ve always enjoyed the fellowship of this holiday and celebrating the gift of togetherness.

+ Christmas Day

Christmas Day is more of a relaxing time for my immediate family. Now that my siblings and I are all “grown” and two thirds of us aren’t living at home, we all crash at my parent’s house from the previous night’s shenanigans and sleep in until 8 or 9am. My parents, brothers and our spouses start with opening our stockings and then quickly move into unwrapping presents. We all sit sleepily in our matching pajamas and spend the morning reminiscing and talking absolutely what we’re most excited for. As a young girl, I remember spending hours playing with my new toys and eagerly showing them off to my grandmother when she came back over later that afternoon.

+ Hot Cocoa Bar

If you’re anything like me, hot chocolate is a classic staple of the winter months. It instantly warms your soul after a long day building snowmen and sledding for hours on end. A hot chocolate bar is a fairly easy way to enjoy traditional hot chocolate but also allows you to add your own flair. Creating a cocoa bar is also a great way to offer family fun without breaking the bank. Who could ever turn down a great cup of hot Cocoa?

For a Christmas work party a few years ago, I naively jumped headlong into putting a Hot Cocoa Bar together for the team. As my first time doing something of this magnitude, it was a good learning curve into what was a big hit and what wasn’t.

Hot Cocoa Bar Essentials

In order to get the best bang for your buck, make sure to buy in bulk. Costco and Sam’s Club both have a wide array of hot chocolate to choose from. Swiss Mix and Girhadeli are both popular options, but buy whatever fits your fancy. The individual packets of hot chocolate are also an easy, yet efficient and germ-free way to it portion out. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite Hot Cocoa bar necessities for the holidays.

  • Mason Jars
    Mason jars are a fun, but elegant way to put your hot chocolate toppings in. You can use ones that you’ve collected over the years or buy some from the local Dollar Tree. They also make cute drinking classes! It’s my true southerner upbringing speaking, I know!
  • Tags/Labels
    These aren’t necessarily a must, but tags make for an easy way to label each jar with what’s inside. You can make your own tags and labels, or find some to your liking on Pinterest or Etsy. #shopsmall
  • Hot Chocolate Packets
    As you all know, this is essentially the basis of your whole bar. 😂 Like I said previously, you can be creative with the types you buy.
  • Peppermint Sticks
  • Toffee Bits
  • Marshmallows
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Pretzels (Sticks or Pieces)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Marshmallow Fluff

There is something so cheerful about a cup of hot chocolate. I’m a big believer in creating happiness from within and this, to me, embodies simple joy. I’m happy to arm myself and my family with whatever small acts of love and endless amount of hot chocolate it takes to see us through.


What are some of your favorite Christmas Day traditions and memories growing up and now as an adult? I would love to hear from you and what resonates to you when thinking back on favorite holiday traditions.

2021 GOALS AND STEWARDSHIP

Y’all. We are less than two months from a new year. Let that sink in. Two months… I think one thing we can all agree on is that this year has been difficult. 2020 has brought pain, grief, loss and has thrown us headfirst into charting the unknown in dealing with a global pandemic. Life has been hard.

On the flip side, however, 2020 also has brought much joy and has also taught me more about myself. This year has taught me to more aware of others needs before my own. It has taught me to reflect more on what’s going on in the world and around me, to be more accountable for my own actions and to not be afraid of praying boldly before the Lord.

It has also brought me a move to Asheville, our one year wedding anniversary, adopting a kitten and new friendships.

As we enter into the last month of 2020, I have pondered and prayed upon what the next year will look like for me personally and for my marriage. I want this to be a year a year of exponential growth personally, spiritually and socially.

In order to take tangible steps in the right direction, I have often found myself writing out lists or drawing pictures. In order to incorporate both, I decided to try something new in bullet journaling my goals for the new year. I’ve also posted previously on creating a vision board, which is another great way to visualize your dreams.

Personal

Blogging

Blogging has quickly become a passion of mine and has been a safe place for me to process what is going on in the world around me, while providing me a place thousands of thoughts running through my own head. Above the likes and follows, I want my blog to be a place of inspiration for others and as a way to keep my many ramblings together in one place. With that being said, I do want to set goals for my blog for the new year.

GOAL: First of all, I want to be more cognisant of supporting fellow bloggers as there are thousands of bloggers who share incredible content and spend hours of time and effort in doing so. They deserve every follow, like and view they receive and then some. As more of a tangible goal for myself, however, I would like to grow my own following to >100 by the end of 2021 without sacrificing the integrity of my own content or the enjoyment of why I started blogging in the first place.

Reading

From the moment I learned how to pick up a book, reading has always been something I enjoyed. As life has progressed and “adulting” happened, reading hasn’t been a priority like it was in the past.

GOAL: Read 20 books. I want to also challenge myself in reading different genres than the normal fiction I tend to pick up at the book store.

*If you have any book recommendations, drop them in the comments below! I would love to hear some of your favorites!

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

This will more of a “challenge” for me than the others in that I have never been really conscious of what I eat, which has caught up with me in my late twenties and also having a slow metabolism. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating healthy, but more about being conscious about not eating “mindlessly.” I also work full time at Chick-fil-A, which does not help AT ALL with having a balanced diet. We all know those nugs and waffle fries with Polynesian sauce hit a little differently. However, today is a new day to create new habits!

GOAL: Plan out meals for the week and be better about cooking ahead of time. A majority of weight gain for me comes from eating out of boredom and not having healthy snacks readily available, so this will definitely be a challenge for me. On the flip side, meal prepping will also help in saving me money by not eating out as much!

Travel

My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in our dating life and well into our marriage. With the global pandemic putting most of our travel plans on hold, this year hasn’t been the greatest for checking places off of our list. With that being said, it has allowed us to dream for the future and has kept our bucket list growing.

GOAL: Travel to five new places in new year. I also want to travel internationally with Chandler at least once before we have kids.

**Bonus: We already have a weekend getaway trip to Dahlonega, GA booked for January, so that is a plus.
We are also hoping to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby in May. Fingers crossed!


Spiritual

Get plugged in to a local church.

Growing up in the church, I have understood from an early age the importance of being surrounded by a solid body of believers. A christian community is so important, especially in this day and age. Pre-Covid days, my husband and I visited a local church and really enjoyed the setup of its service. Once the virus hit and churches were quickly shut down, we weren’t able to really find that our niche. I am very thankful for technology in that we were still able watch sermons from the comfort of our home and still be connected to weekly scripture teaching. Now that churches are opening up again, we have made it a goal to get plugged in.

GOAL: Find a church that aims to teach scripture in its truest form and keeps the Lord at the forefront, always. We honestly haven’t done the best in making church together a priority in the past, so I want 2021 to be a spiritual awakening for my husband and I, allowing us to grow together in the Word as a married couple and also individually. I want to join a small group that keeps us accountable in our sin and to do life with weekly.


Social

Join a service group.

Now that I have been in Asheville for almost a full year, I feel like its the right time to invest more of myself into a group who aims to meet the needs of those who are less fortunate. Since my mom joined the Junior League of Spartanburg two years ago, I have watched her enjoy all aspects of the JL in grant writing, organizing food drives and so much more.

GOAL: Be invested into a group that invests its time and resources back into the local community. As someone who has has grown up with food on the table, a roof over my head and given countless ways to succeed, I want to help do the same for those who might not have the same opportunities readily available.

Above all else, 2020 has taught me to not take the small moments or the ones you love for granted. Difficult times affect everyone. Life doesn’t discriminate against social class, race or gender. Life is tough and can be relentless. Covet those who you love and make it a priority to let them know how much you care, as the smallest acts of kindness often mean the most. People appreciate being “seen” and knowing that they matter. Be intentional in all things and love your neighbor. This year has also taught me that in each day you wake up, you were placed on this Earth for a reason. Make every minute count and aim to make an impact for good. Do not waste the precious time the Lord has given you. More so than anything else, I aim to be more vulnerable. I aim to be a safe space for those who are hurting or need to talk. I aim to not put off for tomorrow what I can do today. We are not guaranteed the next moment, so why wait? Life is too short to simply go through the motions.


Stewardship

At the beginning of each new year, I typically find a word to claim as my mantra. Stewardship was what came to mind randomly during a busy day at work. By definition, stewardship means “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

My previous operator at Chick-fil-A was really the first one I heard use this word regularly. I honestly cringed every time he mentioned it. I subconsciously knew I was not doing a good job with what I was being freely given.

In the last few months, however, I have caught myself pondering what it truly means to be a good steward. For me, being a good steward means a lot of different things. Personally, I want to be a better steward of my money by better investing in various aspects of my future and saving. I want to be a better steward of my tongue by speaking uplifting truth and not speaking in haste. I want to be a better steward in my walk with Christ and allowing him to //. The Lord has entrusted me with much and there is no reason I should take that lightly.

QOTD: Have you thought of any goals for the new year? If so, what are they? I’d love to hear what you’ve set for yourself and how you plan to keep yourself accountable.

CHRISTMAS ESSENTIAL OIL BLENDS

In this blog, I have compiled a list of holiday essential oil blend favorites that have been wafting through my house these last few weeks.

If you aren’t currently a part of the YL world and would like to join me on this oily journey, feel free to message me and I will more than happy to get a sample in your hands or more info on how to get a Premium Starter Kit (PSK) of your own. The Young Living nation is a supportive community built on thousands of like-minded people across the globe who live every day //

DIFFUSER BLENDS

Young Living currently has three different diffusers to choose from where you invest in your Premium Starter Kit for the first time. The Aria is the diffuser pictured above and creates a breathtaking mist that creates a wafts ever so //. To guarantee your diffuser is working adequately, fill it to the fill line inside with water and add in the appropriate amount of drops of each Essential Oil per your recipe. These diffusers can also change colors for whatever mood you’re in at that moment.

Sugar Cookie
+ 3 drops Cinnamon
+ 3 drops Stress Away
+ 2 drops Peppermint
+ 2 drops Lemon

Oh Christmas Tree
+ 4 drops Pine
+ 2 drops Spruce
+ 2 drops Cedarwood

Sleep in Heavenly Peace
+ 10 drops Peace & Calming
+ 5 drops Lavendar

Candy Cane
+ 5 drops Peppermint
+ 5 drops Stressaway

ROLL-ON BLENDS

Roll-ons are a great for on-the-go stick to have in your arsenal. Young Living offers V2, which is a carrier oil that you’ll need to top off your roll-on blends. You can also use fractioned coconut oil or Witch Hazel from you local supermarket. Amazon has plenty of sets available for sale. I also found roller bottles at my local Hobby Lobby that do the job.

*These bottles need to be glass as anything else will break down from the oils makeup.

Gingerbread House
+ 4 drops Ginger
+ 2 drops Cinnamon
+2 drops Nutmeg
+ 2 drops Clove

Hallmark Christmas
+ 3 drops Peppermint
+ 6 drops Christmas Spirit

Freshly Fallen Snow
+ 3 drops White Fir
+ 2 drops Cardamom
+ 1 drop Clove

To Grandmother’s House
+ 3 drops Pine
+ 3 drops Sacred Mountains
+ 3 drops Northern Lights Black Spruce

Mistletoe
+ 4 drops Pine
+ 3 drops Bergamot
+ 2 drops Peppermint

Please feel free to reach out to me if you are new to essential oils and would like more information on any aspect of the brand. I, too, was recently in your shoes. I attended an oils info class to amuse a friend/coworker of mine and never thought I would buy in to the culture and be that “oily” person. I eventually caved and bought my PSK in February. I immediately hit the ground running and I can truly attest to how much these oils have played a part of my every day health. There are oils for literately every need in your life – stress, muscle aches, sleeplessness and digestion. If there is ever a time when there are questions I can’t answer personally, I know people who can.

Let’s walk in this oily journey together! I can get these oils in your hands just in time for Christmas. It will be the gift that keeps giving and the best investment in your own health.

If you are already part of the YL family and have other go-to Christmas or roller blends, please share them in the comments below! I would love to hear some of your favorites! What are some of your other favorite DIY oily gifts ideas during the holidays?

WOMEN IN SCRIPTURE: The Woman at the Well

As my second segment in my Women in Scripture series, I chose to highlight on the woman at the well. As one of the most most read passages in the Bible, the woman at the well teaches is about us about how Jesus meets us where we are in our lives.

We are first introduced to the Samaritan woman at the well when she is mentioned in John 4. As Jesus travels through Samaria on the way to Galilee, he stops to rest. Most Jews avoided this route at all costs, but Jesus chose to walk this road to specifically seek this woman out. Tired from his journey, Jesus commands the woman to draw some water for Him to drink. The Samaritan woman quickly responds with, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” As a preface for those who are unsure of the context, Jews do not often share things in common with Samaritans. The response this woman gives Jesus is very fitting in that she is unsure of why he is approaching her.

Jesus broke three major cultural Jewish customs right off the bat. First off, he spoke to her despite the fact that she was a woman. Secondly, she was a Samaritan woman and the Jews traditionally despised Samaritans. For centuries, Jews and Samaritans rejected each other simply on the basis of race. Lastly, he asked her to fetch him a drink of water, although using her cup or jar would have made him ceremonially unclean.

Historically and culturally speaking, woman during this time period tended to draw water from the well during the early morning hours. Because she was drawing water at midday alone is more than likely because she was wanting to keep the shunning to a minimum. She has been been married five times previously and was living with a man that was not her husband. In addition to her being an “outsider,” we also see in scripture that she was an openly curious person. She felt comfortable enough to not only talk with Jesus but also ask Him particularly pointed questions.

After Jesus asked for a drink of water, He quickly reveals himself to this woman as the living water, which is something that is mentioned many times in Scripture. The woman craved this type of water He was speaking of, but was unsure of how to achieve it. In the flesh, she was only hoping for a water to quench her thirst to make her trips to the well lesser. In that moment, Jesus talks to this woman about her immorality and infidelity. He understands that she is shameful and afraid to admit full responsibility, but takes time to explain the importance of the true meaning of eternal life through Him. Jesus uses living water as a metaphor for the Spirit that meets people’s thirst for life in relationship with God (John 7:37-39). Jesus says that the spiritual water that he provides brings people eternal life (4:14).

The story of the woman at the well is a rich example of hard truth, redemption and acceptance. Jesus accepted her as He accepts us, too. He knows our past in its fullest and loves us despite our failures, flaws and very sinful nature. We, too, can be like the woman at the well. We can be too ashamed to admit to our wrongdoings before the Lord. However, the Lord uses ordinary people for extraordinary causes.

Be obedient and don’t be afraid the approach the Lord boldly, just like this woman did. Our sin is the very reason that the Lord went to the cross and died a gruesome death. Jesus’ mission on this earth was to reach all people. He came for the blacks, whites, Latinos, outcasts, unfaithful and poor. He came to live for us to experience an abundant joy and grace.