BEAUTIFUL BUYS

The people who make these balms, serums and shampoos do amazing things for the planet and all its residents.

You want beauty products that work, of course. Other factors the sweeten the pot: formulas without harmful ingredients (because, duh); a sustainable manufacturing process, to lighten the beauty footprint; and brands that support inspiring initiatives. We found nine companies that help you look great and feel warm and fuzzy.

1. WHEN YOU BUY BURT’S BEES, YOU HELP…
GIVE BACK TO FRONTLINE WORKERS

When it comes to conservation, the makers of that little yellow tube are busy bees: They’ve reached an average of over 99 perscen natural origin for all their products; they responsibly source shea butter from West Africa – improving the livelihood of more than 14,000 women there; and they planted more than 15 million (with a b!) wildflower seeds to help restore the bee population. When Covid-19 hit, the ocmpnany donated $1.5 million in grants and products to frontline workers. We’re here for soothed lips and full hearts.

Shop Burt’s Bees products here.

2. WHEN YOU BUY KINSHIP, YOU HELP
CUT DOWN ON OCEAN-WASTE PLASTIC

We appreciate that this skin-care line uses plant-based ingredients and probities to enhance our completion. But we truly love then brand’s packaging, or lack thereof. There’s no cardboard box, no little wind of plastic film. The simple bottles for the Supermello Hydrating Gel Cream Moisturizer ($24), Insta Swipe Lemon Honey AHA Pads ($24 for 45), and Mint Mud Deep Pore Detox Mask ($23; love kinship.com) are made from plastic finished out of the Java Sea and rivers in Indonesia. Use your phones camera to scan the QR code on the bottle and see where exactly the plastic came from.

Shop their products here.

3. WHEN YOU BUY THE RIGHT TO SHOWER, YOU HELP…
PROVIDE SHOWERS TO PEOPLE WITHOUT HOMES

The colorful soaps and sulfate-free shower gels with names like hope, Joy and Strength (from $6) gives you all the feels – even beyond nourished skin. This Unilever brandlet devotes 30 percent of proceeds to nonprofit organizations that operate mobile shower units for unhoused people in the United States. To date, almost 30,000 residents of all’s Angeles, Dallas, the Bay Area, North Carolina and New York have been granted access to one of the most basic human needs – a shower.

Shop their products here.

4. WHEN YOU BUY FIRST AID BEAUTY, YOU HELP…
OFFER STUDENT DBT RELIEF FOR COLLEGE GRADS

Founder Lilli Gordon created this sensitive-skin-friendly collection after suffering from dryness and eczema. The deem-tested basics, like Pharma BHA Acne Spot Treatment Gel ($26), help solve such sin problems as mask. Even more stressful than chin zits? Student debt. Last year, the Fab Aid initiative ran a contest and paid off almost $1.3 million in student loans for 24 lucky women. Better yet: They’re doing it again this year.

Shop their products here.

5. WHEN YOU BUY TATCHA,
YOU HELP EDUCATE GIRLS

Green tea, rice and seaweed are the foundation of very product in this less-is-more skin line. Each product serves as a self-care ritual: The Dewy Skin Cream ($68) plumps pruner skin; the Violet-C Radiance Mask ($68) impacts a glow. Founder Victoria Tsai’s passion – the Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures program- is the real hero. Through Room to Read, a portion of each sale helps fund girls’ education in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka,Tanzania and Vietnam. I’m six years, the beans has paid for more than 5 million days of schooling.

Shop their products here.

6. WHEN YOU BUY ‘RAHUA,’ YOU HELP
PROTECT THE RAIN FOREST

Shampoo is only on your hair for a minute, but Arabia’s impact lasts way after your rinse. Refillable bottles cut down on plastic waste, while every bottle sold helps preserve one acre of the Amazon rain forest yearly, totalling 100,000 acres so far. Not to mention, the Classic Shampoo ($34) leaves hair gleaming.

Shop their products here.

7. WHEN YOU BUY CLARINS, YOU HELP
IMPROVE HEALTH AND HYGIENE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

This French brand has earned legions of devotees, thanks in part to the splurge-worthy Double Serum (from $90). And the company’s efforts to beyond skin care: Partnering with the nonprofit Jardins du Monde, Clarins provides clean drinking water and creates medicinal-plant pharmacies in Madagascar and Burkina Faso.

Shop their products here.

8. WHEN YOU BUY EVERIST,
YOU HELP CONSERVE WATER

Turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth helps save water, but if you want to do more, consider waterless beauty products, like the new Shampoo Concentrate ($24; helloeverist.com) from the zero-waste line Everist. The ingredients are plant-based, and the package is recyclable, travel-friendly 100-milliliter aluminium tube that’s a third the size of a typical shampoo bottle (yet lasts as long). What does all that ass up to? A product that requires less packaging and carbon to ship. Just wet hair and hands and rub to lather. The they-thought-of-everything detail: Everest includes a cotton bag that holds 10 caps and emails you a shipping label so you can easily send the caps back to be recycled.

Shop their products here.

9. WHEN YOU BUY JONES ROAD, YOU HELP SUPPORT MAKEUP ARTISTS

Makeup mogul Bobbie Brown sold her namesake company in 2016 and is back with Jones Road, a line of multitasking products packed with good-for-you ingratiates. The Cool Gloss ($22) looks nice on lips and cheeks; the Sparkle Wash Shadow ($24; jonesroadbeauty.com) doubles as a high-lighter. If you’ve pared down your makeup during the pandemic, this line will give you a no-frills, five minute fresh face. what also make me swoon: Brown’s work to help creatives in the beauty industry during the Covid-19 crisis. Through the nonprofit Support Creatives, she mentors makeup artists, host training sessions around the world, and has provided scholarships so beauty pros can update their credentials.

Shop their products here.

If you have any other favorite (chemical and harm free) options in your daily makeup routine, please drop them in the comments below! I would love to chat!

XO,

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ENNEAGRAMS: THE REFORMER

Move over Myers-Briggs Personality Test; there’s a new kid in town – The Enneagram Test. I’ll have to admit that I am a little (ok, a lot) late on jumping on the enneagram train. I’ve heard my friends and other people often talking about what enneagram they are, what wing they might be and everything in between. With that being said, I wanted to see what the hype was truly about after all this time. Like Myers Briggs, the Enneagram test is meant to allow you more information on your personality and to build on what you already know. After I took a test just this week and discovered I was an Enneagram One, I have been reading nonstop.

Let me make it clear that I am no Enneagram expert by any means, but this is this blog will be a way as us to delve into what makes each type tick.

TYPE ONE IN BRIEF

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. We, as type ones, can be morally heroic.

Fun Fact: “Ennea” means “nine” in Greek.

FAMOUS TYPE ONES

Martha Stewart / Ruth Bader Ginsburg / Michelle Obama / Nelson Mandela / Tina Fey / Mahatma Gandhi / Captain “Sully” Sullenberger

  • Basic Fear: Being corrupt or evil, defective
  • Basic Desire: To have integrity, to be balanced
  • Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”
  • Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”

Key Motivations: Type ones want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.

9 ENNEAGRAM TYPES

I. THE REFORMER: The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
II: THE HELPER: The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
III. THE ACHIEVER: The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
IV. THE INDIVIDUALIST: The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
V. THE INVESTIGATOR: The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
VI. THE LOYALIST: The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
VII. THE ENTHUSIAST: The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
8. THE CHALLENGER: The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
9. THE PEACEMAKER: The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

TESTS

Below, I’ve listed just a few options that you can to find out what Enneagram you are if you haven’t previously.

If you are interested in reading more in depth about the history of Enneagrams or are wanting to get that perfect gift for that special Enneagram lover in your life, I have linked some books and cute products that will help you with just that!

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If you haven taken the Enneagram test, what are you and what have you learned about yourself after taking it, if anything? If you haven’t, what is stopping you? Let’s chat in the comments!

XO,

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2021 GIRL SCOUT LINEUP

There is nothing quite like pulling into the parking lot of a supermarket and spying a table of Girl Scouts selling tableful of cookies with their happy smiles and vests full of patches. It’s like Christmas in springtime. Never have we welcomed solicitation more. Girl Scout Cookies are the most delightful and they are all calorie free, right? Or so I continue to tell myself… The only thing that could possibly make Girl Scout cookie season better is paring them with wine and/or craft beer as it is the perfect cross between childhood nostalgia and adulthood bad habits.

I’ll be the first to admit that I will break out into full sprint to see girls in their little green vests to stock pile on cookies. I, too, was a Girl Scout and understand the excitement that cookie season brings. 🍪 In this blog, I will share with you about each of the cookies and just a few of my personal favorite cookie and wine pairings.

CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIPS (GF)

The caramel chocolate chip cookies have a hint of rich caramel, semisweet chocolate chips and a hint of sea salt in each chewy bite. These cookies are offered in select markets and are gluten-free for those of you are intolerant.

CARAMEL DELIGHTS (SAMOAS)

Caramel Delights, previously known as Samoas, are a caramel and toasted coconut-covered cookie that are absolutely to die for. These have been one of my favorites from the very beginning and have said the test of time.

GIRL SCOUT S’MORES

The S’mores cookies are crispy graham cookie double dipped in yummy crème icing and finished with a scrumptious chocolatey coating. These are a great option for those of you who like sitting by the campfire and indulging your sweet tough with a good s’more.

LEMONADES

As tangy lemon-icing-topped shortbread cookies, the lemonades are a great summer cookie that are light and have a refreshing fruity taste.

PEANUT BUTTER PATTIES (TAGALONGS)

Peanut Butter Patties, also lovingly known as Tagalongs, are a rich peanut butter inside covered with a sweet chocolatey outside. These are another one of my favorites and I could probably eat a whole box in one sitting.

SHORTBREADS

The Shortbreads are a traditional shortbread cookies made in the shape of the Girl Scout trefoil. If you are looking for more of a simplistic cookie, this is your best option. This cookie is also good with a cold glass of milk!

THIN MINTS

Thin Mints are the record-breaking mint cookies covered in a dark chocolate coating. These are the most popular for a reason! The freshness of the mint and the power of the dark chocolate compliment each other very nicely.

PSA: Thin Mints hold up really well in the freezer all year long, so stock up while you can!

TOAST-YAY

Toast-yay Cookies are available in select areas now! Each delightful, toast-shaped cookie is full of French toast flavor and flair and stamped with the trusted Girl Scouts’ signature trefoil on top. These cookies are indeed every millennials dream of French Toast Crunch Cereal in cookie form.

COOKIES & WINE PAIRING

SAMOAS & ROSÉ

Coconut, caramel and chocolate make up these delectable chewy treats. So what better wine than an equally tasty and complex wine? I would personally choose a Bubbly Brut Rose for its blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which pairs nicely with the chocolate whereas the Chardonnay in the blend pairs well with the coconut.”

TAGALONGS & CABERNET SAVIOUGN

This cookie packs a bunch of peanut butter and chocolate. To match its bold flavors, it needs a wine that can stand on its own. Cabernet Sauvignon is bold, has a velvety texture and jammy fruit flavors. These jammy flavors perfectly complement the flavors in peanut butter and chocolate cookies.”

THIN MINTS & MALBEC

If you’re a Thin Mint lover, I recommend pairing the Girl Scout’s signature cookie with a rich and juicy Malbec, which boasts “hints of cocoa in the aromas and flavors,” making it a perfect match for the chocolate mint goodie.

If you know a Girl Scout personally or see a booth set up in the next couple of weeks, take time to support them. They each set individual goals and work so hard to achieve those. These are young girls with big dreams and are work extremely hard in doing so.

If you are you unsure of where to buy cookies, help support a coworker’s daughter of mine! Jaiden is based out of the Asheville, NC area, but they CAN ship to you nationwide! Check out her link and buy a box or a even case! Individual boxes are only $5.

XO,

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30 THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH BY 30 Pt. 2

Hiya! Welcome to the second, and final, part of my “30 Things to Accomplish by 30” Series! Check out my previous blog for the first half of this series. I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!

#16: READ 20 BOOKS IN A YEAR

This doesn’t seem like a big feat, but I am setting this goal for myself to be more intentional of reading at least one book a month. It can be a longer fictional read or a shorter devotional, but I want to push myself to read many things and to read things outside of the norm.

#17: TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY AS A COUPLE

Chandler and I have traveled bookoodles together as a couple, but not yet internationally. Before we have kids and add more responsibility to the mix, it is my goal to travel abroad with Chandler. We have both traveled outside of the US independent of each other and have been on a cruise to the Bahamas, but not yet on an extended trip. We just recently made this a “joint” goal and know it won’t be a small feat by any means, but I know it would be a great experience to see the world together.

SIDE NOTE: We were scheduled to visit Cuba for our honeymoon last year, but the country was shut down just two months before we left…

#18: HAVE A NO FRIVOLOUS SPENDING WEEK

Y’all. I can tell you that will be a hard. Other than the usual gas stop, grocery run and other basic necessities, I overspend in ways that I shouldn’t. Coffee before work and eating out can add up veryyy quickly. Because of that, I want to be more cognisant in how and what I spend my money on. Investing or saving for our house and/or retirement is such an important thing that I feel people my age struggle with a lot.

#19: INVEST IN STOCKS

If I’m being honest, I am completely lost when it comes to investing and stocks as a whole, but that’s okay! Going into a new year, I want to make moves that might scare me, but are financially “responsible” and could set me out on a good foot.

#20: TAKE MASTERS CLASSES

I’ve always enjoyed school and learning in any kind of capacity. My masters would more than likely be an MBA, but I would love to start somewhere. I plan to look into options at the local community college just to see if this is something I would be interested in pursuing full-time.

#21: EMBRACE CHANGE (7/21)

ALERT: This will be a continuous goal for me. I have never been who has enjoyed change and have loved to know what was coming next, but the greatest joys have been from the unexpected. When my husband told me about the potential of moving us to Asheville, this girl panicked hardcore. I brushed it off and tried to keep myself from thinking about it too much. Once we had officially moved here and had settled into our routine, I have never loved a change in my life more.

*Again – this is something that I will never perfect, but I am getting better at. We moved for the SECOND time in two years this July, which was a stresser for the books.

#22: FIND MY “DREAM” JOB

I understand that this is a very vague goal, but I am hoping to find a “field” in which I enjoy. Finding something that fits my //. My time in food service is quickly coming to an end and I have loved the disciple and people skills it has taught me, but seven years is enough for this girl.

#23: TAKE A POTTERY CLASS

I’ve always loved crafts and considered myself somewhat of a creative person, but making pottery is a whole other realm of skill. I remember taking a basic pottery class as a Girl Scout growing up and loved every minute of it. I’m assuming the pandemic will make it harder to schedule times as class sizes will be smaller, but I look forward to trying something new in the future and being able to have something to show for my hard work.

#24: SEND MORE SNAIL MAIL (12/21)

Snail mail is always such a treat for me! Sending and receiving mail, other than bills if we’re being honest, is such a lost “art.” With that being said, I want to be more intentional with writing out cards for special occasions or “just because.”

After all, my husband does work a card shop…

*I want this to be a more continuous thing, but I did send out Christmas cards to friends and family this year!

#25: START A “PAY IT FORWARD”

To me, paying it forward can be a small, but mighty way to make someone’s day so much better. A week before Christmas, we had 27 CARS in a row pay it forward. How amazing? It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but is just something that lets people know you care. Buying somebody’s coffee at Starbucks or food at Chick-fil-A is a small gesture that speaks volumes.

Goal: Pay it forward 1x a month

#26: START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Let’s be honest – there is so much to be thankful for and we often overlook even the smallest of blessings. Whether it be once a day or every couple of days, I want to take more time every day in being cognizant of what the Lord has blessed me with. It can be a small everyday thing or something completely new and big, but keeping gratitude on the forefront of mind is the ultimate end goal here.

#27: LISTEN TO A PODCAST

Podcasts are no new concept, but I haven’t ever jumped on the “bandwagon.” My dad has always been one to listen to audiobooks on tape, but it was never my cup of tea. As I’ve gotten older and had more solo trips across town and out of state, I feel like it would be great way to listen to things to sermons, podcasts or books, likewise.

#28: LEARN GRAPHIC DESIGN & PROCREATE

For those of you who don’t know, Procreate is an iPad/iPhone app that gives you the space to create word and graphics from scratch. Below are ones that I’ve had made as gifts and they are #goals. 😍

This would be such a new concept for me, but something I feel like I’d enjoy. Graphic Design is such a neat trade in that it gives you the space and creativity to create whatever you are dreaming up. Some of the full-time graphic designers I know are some of the most insanely talented people I’ve ever met.

Visit Madison at her Facebook page if you’re wanting art done!

#29: LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

I’ve never been a health conscious person, if i’m being completely honest. I am willing to try anything once, so “healthier” foods aren’t necessarily the issue. With that being said, I am making it my goal to establish a better pattern of finding time to establish a workout routine and to cook meals that are simple and easy.

#30: BE INTENTIONAL

This goal applies to all aspects of life. I aim to do a better job at actively hearing than passively listening. I want to spend more time in the Lord’s word and applying what He has to say. I want to lend a helping hand to those more in need. The intent of being intentional will be one of my 2021 goals.

Thanks for sticking around for all thirty of my “goals” before 30! I hope this year is your best yet and you accomplish everything you set out to do.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS, SHORT-TERM OR LONG-TERM? LET’S CHAT IN THE COMMENTS!

MY YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020

2020 has been a “dumpster fire” of a year if we’ve ever seen one. It has been exhausting, unpredictable and quite frankly, hellish. With that being said, however, I want to remember how this year taught me how in pressure comes growth. After the dark comes light. In the quiet comes clarity. It is okay to survive one day at a time. It is more important to be in the moment than worrying about tomorrow. Things are replaceable but memories with those you love are not. Trust the Lord and trust His process.

Below is just a brief recount of my 2020 in hindsight.

JANUARY

January started out in a bang for both Chandler and I. Chandler stepped into his role full-time as Store Manager for Hallmark here in Asheville, NC. I accepted a full-time role at Chick-fil-A (for the third time) and we were commuting for the first two weeks. Let just me say – getting up at 4am and not getting back home until after 9pm is not ideal.

I also flew to New Jersey late January to see one of my best friends from college. We had a blast celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown, eating our weight in ice cream and galavanting around Times Square.

FEBRUARY

February was the last “calm” before the storm.

Chandler and I took a weekend trip to Pawleys Island with his family and it was such a sweet weekend playing board games, cooking dinner together and hunting for the best finds at thrift stores.

Chandler and I were also still getting acclimated to new home here in Asheville. We had many date nights, explored the amazing brewery scene around town and met many people who helped us get acclimated.

MARCH

The world as we knew it was flipped on its head literally overnight. The first onslaught of the pandemic hit and businesses were being shut down left and right, workers being furloughed and families were left scrambling to make ends meet.

Chandler worked from home for a period of time and absolutely hated it. “House husband” status was clearly not his calling. 😂

APRIL

We celebrated Chandler’s last year of his twenties in late April!

MAY

I got a “DIY” haircut for the first time! Most hair salons were closed and this girl was quickly getting tired of her long hair, so a coworker gladly offered! She admitted to watching a YouTube video on cutting hair, but I definitely recommend getting a spur of the moment hair cut at least once in your life!

Our “dinner group” friends from Charleston also scheduled a long weekend to Lake Lure, NC for Memorial Day. This weekend was full of pontoon rides, shopping downtown and throwing apples off of the second story balcony.

I also got a new car! #debtforever I traded in my 2000 Toyota 4-Runner and bought a new 2020 CR-V. Who knew new cars had this many features? As much as I loved my ol’ reliable, I am so glad that this car will last me another twenty years (fingers crossed) and has all of the new safety features.

JUNE

Summer is officially here!

Some of my best friends came to visit here in Asheville! I got to play tour guide and show them around the great ‘Land of the Sky.’ We floated down the French Broad River, ate our way through the and walked to brunch nearby one morning. It was so, so good for the soul.

Another dear friend of mine had her bachelorette weekend in Black Mountain, NC. It was a great way to reconnect with friends I hasn’t seen in a while!

JULY

July was relatively “slow” month in our neck of the woods. Chandler and I worked long hours and kept our heads down in figuring out our schedules and what worked best for us.

My family took a trip to Hilton Head over the week of July 4th and it was a much needed break for the both of us. Although Chandler couldn’t come down for the entire week, we had such a great time putting together puzzles, riding bikes around the island, taking naps and enjoying sunset hour on the beach.

AUGUST

August was a big month for Chandler and I both.

We took our anniversary trip to Louisville, KY in early August. We had originally planned out a long weekend trip to Chicago to see the Braves in action and Hanson (the musical), but the pandemic hit and nothing as we knew it was according to plan… In Louisville, we took a tour of Churchill Downs, drank our weight in Bourbon and had a great time exploring a new city.

We celebrated our official one-year wedding anniversary on August 3! Marriage is sanctifying, humbling and gratifying, but oh so sweet. Being married to Chandler has been such a great joy and being his wife is one of my most treasured titles. Here’s to year 2!

August was also a very trying time for me. Reid, who was a my middle school youth pastor, long time family friend and mentor, lost his year long battle with a brain tumor on August 17th. Reid was a giant of a man and was someone who genuinely made everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room. Some days feels more real than others and I am left questioning why he was

After Reid’s death, I have learned to grasp truly just how permanent death really is and how it discriminates against no one. Life is fragile and mustn’t be taken for granted… #RGIR

I also celebrated my 27th birthday in mid-August. Chandler took me out for dinner and scheduled a backstage tour of a local brewery, which was such a neat experience. He made it the most perfect night!

SEPTEMBER

In September, we adopted our kitten, Belmont! I had been pestering Chandler about the thought of adopting an animal for some time and he was finally at the point of caving. We knew a puppy wasn’t in the picture with our crazy schedules and apartment living, so he entertained the idea of a cat. The humane society was waiving adoption fees at the time and I quickly ran to check out what pets were available. Belmont had just been rolled out into the main adoption room and had not made it to his own ‘cage’ before I spotted him from across the room. He was two months old at the time and was (still is) the sweetest and spunkiest kitten there ever was!

OCTOBER

October is one of my favorite months! It’s the true start of fall here in the deep south. Chandler and I went pumpkin/apple picking, baked lots of sweet treats and watched Hocus Pocus one too many times.

NOVEMBER

November brought a trip to my ol’ college stomping grounds in Columbia to see another best friend of mine. Kelsey and I went mural chasing, getting lost in old book stores, strolling down Main Street’s Farmer’s Market and tailgating with our fellow Gamecocks at the A&M game. Thank you, Lord, for weekends like these.

DECEMBER

December was a typical ending to the end of 2020. Christmas allowed for lots of baking, endless movie marathons and light show sightings, but had such a different feel than in years past. My mom was diagnosed with COVID the week before Christmas and left us scrambling for alternate plans. We were still able to celebrate with the in-laws Christmas weekend and enjoyed time eating, laughing and opening presents. We plan to celebrate with my family on New Years Eve weekend, which will be so nice to see everybody!

We also visited the Biltmore Estate for the first time since living here in Asheville and officially became Pass Holders. Woop Woop!

Although I look forward to a new year and new starts, 2020 brought invaluable lessons that will never go away. I have lost, won, failed, fought, cried, loved and laughed, but refused to fold. To the friends and family who have been by my side through the year’s many “highs and lows,” thank you. Thank you for making this year a lot more tolerable and being open to hear me vent, talk about my minuscule problems and pray for me.

In 2021, remember to keep your head up and to stand tall. Ask for help. Show grace and be patient. Know that there are better days ahead. Hope comes in the morning.

HOW WAS YOUR 2020? HAVE A FAVORITE MEMORY? DO YOU HAVE RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR? LET’S CHAT IN THE COMMENTS!

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?

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.

BEST FALL INSPIRED COFFEE

Let me preface this blog with saying that I didn’t drink coffee at the beginning of 2020. When I moved to Asheville in January for my husband’s job, a coworker of mine worked her magic and changed my life in the best way, or so I like to think. Now, I am obsessed with coffee. I have lots of ground to make up in terms of knowing all of the “ins and outs” of coffee, but here we are. This time of year is when the hundreds of seasonal drinks grace our stores across the nation. I walked into Starbucks at their holiday “premiere” two weeks ago and it was heavenly, to say the least. Christmas music was blasting, employees were decked out in festive gear from head to toe, garland was strung from the countertop and I got a free Christmas travel coffee cup with my purchase. His mercies are new every morning! 😂

I know better than anybody that coffee adds up quickly. We are in the day and age where it feels like 90% of millennials have mobile apps that you can order food ahead of time. You can reload “funds” in the blink of an eye and not think twice about it. In turn, DoorDash and UberEats exist because of this generation. Alas, I regress.

If you’re trying to save a little money, however, you can start by making your own coffee at home that taste [almost] the same but are much easier on your wallet.

If you are treating yourself to a coffee out, check out my personal favorites!

Dunkin’ Donuts

Like I said earlier, I never touched coffee until about February. My dad has always been a frequent flyer of Dunkin’ since I can remember, because #truenother. With that being said, Dunkin’ is now my go-to “pick-me-up” coffee of choice. Their Pumpkin Iced Macchiato and Gingerbread Iced Lattes are heavenly.

Farewell (AVL, NC)

Farewell is a local coffee shop here in Asheville. When I stumbled on this shop last winter, I instantly fell in love. Their new french toast flavoring doesn’t seem like a “traditional” seasonal flavor, but // to me.

Krispy Kreme

For those of you who have been blessed enough to see a Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” sign at some point in your life, you know how delightful their donuts are. The pumpkin cake donut and the maple glazed donut are both so good. I’ll admit that Krispy Kreme isn’t necessarily my top coffee choice, but they still have some decent iced and hot options available to go with those “melt in your mouth” fat pills. Their caramel mocha latté is //.

Starbucks

For you basic white girls out there, Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSL) and Peppermint Mochas are always a highly sought out drink at Starbucks this time of year. Nine times out of ten, I request my Peppermint Mocha or PSLs iced. There is something about an iced coffee that hits differently. However, a hot Creme Brûlée Latte on a rainy day is a nice change of pace.

Starbucks also has a long line of other drinks that are worthy of trying this holiday season.

If you are looking to spice up your coffee scene at home, International Delights has a handful of creamers, like Frosted Sugar Cookie, Caramel Waffle Cookie, and Pumpkin Pie Spice that are like Christmas in a cup. Keurig also has a handful of options that are easy to plug in your coffee maker for a grab-and-go kind of morning.

What is your favorite fall time coffee? I’d love to hear about your cup-o-joe “go-to’s” (store bought or homemade).

II: Chick-fil-A

You might be thinking the same thing I was when this idea came to mind. Chick-fil-A, Alex? Really? Do you not have anything else to be thankful for?

Chick-fil-A was my first official job. It was the job I had post-college for two-and-half years as a manager. It was the job where I met my husband and it was in front of our entire team when he proposed. Chick-fil-A was the job I got to travel cross-country to do Grand Openings with. It was my first (and current) job after we moved here to Asheville. Chick-fil-A has been a part of my life for seven years and seen a lot of my life’s ups and downs.

Looking back, this job has been more of a safety net than I ever realized.

Although any job has its highs and lows, CFA will always hold a special place in my heart. Having that experience on my resume has opened doors for other opportunities I didn’t know were possible.

Will this be my forever job? Probably not. I will be sad when it comes time to hang up this grease stained uniform forever, but I know it has taught me so many invaluable lessons. It taught me to be more coachable and to also look for chances to coach others. It has grown my ability to see the bigger picture and to multi-task or die trying. It has taught me endless amounts of patience to deal with the general public and how to say “My Pleasure” without second thought.

Chick-fil-A has given me relationships that are near to my heart and has provided me people who push me to be a better version of myself, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Thank you, Chick-fil-A, for the endless opportunities I would’ve otherwise missed out on. Although jobs aren’t everything, you have given me a lot in return.

Do it for Truett, y’all.

REVIEW: The Lying Game

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Rating: ✰✰✰


NO SPOILERS HERE!

From the New York Times bestselling author of “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and “The Woman in Cabin 10,” Ruth Ware’s “The Lying Game” is a book full of twists and turns that leave you wanting more.

My husband originally bought me Ware’s “The Woman in Cabin 10” as a birthday gift last year and I was immediately hooked with the cover to cover suspense. Between Ware’s writing style, I knew was in for a treat when reading the rest of her books. I am a sucker for a good suspense novel, so I knew “The Lying Game” would be right up my alley.

From the minute I picked up this book, I was instantly hooked. Any break I had after work or during my days off, I found myself curled up with this book dying to find out what happened next. Although “The Lying Game” holds slower pace than most of her other books, it is still definitely a must-read!

THE LYING GAME reads like a grown-up version of the hit TV show Pretty Little Liars (a personal favorite of mine in college). Readers meet four friends: Isa (our narrator), Kate, Fatima, and Thea. The girls all attend the same boarding school, Salten, and instantly become best friends. Kate was the free-will teenager, Fatima the smart and cautious friend, Isa the reserved level-head and Thea the rebel.

During their time together at Salten, the four girls created their own “lying game.” The rules of the lying game are clear: no lying to each other ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out.

During their time at boarding school, this group thick as thieves always find themselves back at Kate’s house every weekend. They constantly check themselves out of school and dredge through fields and mud to that beloved house on the water. There, they fall in love with the reach and Kate’s dad, who treats them like his own. They are also introduced to Luc, who is like a brother to Kate and Ambrose’s other child.

After being expelled during their senior year due to the mysterious nature surrounding the death of the school’s art teacher and Kate’s dad, Ambrose, the girls slowly drift apart and live their separate lives. Although they go their separate ways, the four girls vow to keep this deadly secret between themselves at all costs.

As this story unravels, you learn that the three girls secretly deal with this notion that Kate killed her own father, but are constantly grappling with what her motive could’ve been.

After seventeen years apart, a text message arrives in the wee hours of the morning: I need you. Dropping everything and rushing back to the house at the Reach, the three girls come to Kate’s aid and try to put together pieces of the puzzle in what really happened to Ambrose.

Through their journey back together, they find answers that they never saw coming.

Do yourself a favor and check this book out, or any of Ruth Ware’s for that matter. You’re in for a real treat.

Thanks for stopping by!
Alex in Asheville