Wishing you a restful weekend

Happy Friday my dears! I'm so glad it's the weekend. It's been a fairly busy week, and I'm so looking forward to a really low-key couple of days. My plans include sleeping in, cleaning + organizing + laundry, hitting the gym for a couple good workouts, cooking (going to make a giant pan of roasted vegetables), and working on a couple of writing projects.

Also, as several of you have done recently, I think I'm going to try to do a partial technology detox this weekend. I sort of feel like my brain needs a break from the computer. But I look forward to catching up with all of you next week!

I hope all of you lovelies have a wonderful and restful weekend!

Image via Love Your Chaos.

CHANEL N°5 film

With the not-so-lovely weather that has set it sights on the DC area today, I'm taking refuge in my warmest sweater, lots of hot tea, and little bits of beauty. I know this was released awhile ago, but I just recently saw it for the first time and it so completely affirmed my love for Audrey Tautou that I just had to share it with you all. It was shot by French Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet who actually directed Audrey in the 'Amelie' (one of my all-time favorite films). So beautiful and romantic, n'est-ce pas?

And, one of my favorite photos of the lovely Audrey...just because.

Image via Vi.sualize.us (original source unknown).


Crafting a more tranquil morning routine

So...this week I've been on a quest to reform my morning routine, which has been in decline for some time. What used to be a leisurely two hours comprised of Morning Pages, yoga, tea, and a hot bath has become a 45-minute mad dash for the door. Partially, this is due to our commute (which means that I have to wake up earlier than I used to) and therefore, sleep has become a precious commodity. However, this week I've beenmaking a conscious effort to to make my mornings a bit more tranquil. I've been packing my lunch and gym bag the night before, choosing the next day's outfit before I go to sleep, and just generally trying to relax (and take deep breaths!) - even when I realize we needed to be out the door ten minutes ago and I've yet to brush my teeth. I've even been managing to drink a giant glass of water with fresh lemon upon waking, and for the past couple days, I've forced myself to actually sit down and eat something (usually multi-grain toast with some raw almond butter or natural fruit preserves) before running out the door. I've definitely noticed that, when my mornings are peaceful, I feel more calm and centered throughout the entire day. I would love to get back into doing my Morning Pages and at least a few minutes of yoga, but when the alarm goes off, I have such a hard time deciding between that and a few extra minutes of sleep...

What is your morning routine like? How do you make your mornings more tranquil?

Image via End of March.


Tuesday evening dinner party

Tonight we had our friends Leanna and Adam over for dinner.

Leanna is one of those women that you meet and instantly feel like she could be your best friend. She is sweet, funny, and seriously one of the most stylish ladies ever. She walked in wearing this killer cobalt blue pea coat and we totally bonded over our shared love of cobalt blue. (Have I told you it's my new obsession?)

Adam and Jason have been best friends since 6th grade. (He's going to be best man at our wedding.) Adam is one of the funniest and most down-to-earth guys I've ever met. He's also a super talented singer-songwriter.

We feasted on a multi-grain baguette with olive oil + sea salt for dipping, sun-dried tomatoes, and Brie (though I didn't eat any Brie).

I think these sun-dried tomatoes (marinated in olive oil + herbs) are my new favorite food. I ate them with the baguette slices and they were sooo delicious.

Silly me - I forgot to take any pictures of our actual dinner. We ate whole wheat linguine with artichoke, spinach, and shrimp in a garlic/lemon/white wine sauce. I think we're going to have to make these little dinner parties a regular tradition.

P.S. I highly recommend having a dinner party on a Tuesday evening. It's quite a lovely way to perk up the middle of the week.

Photos taken by moi.


Blogger with Heart: Stephanie of Heart-Piercing Life

For any new readers,Bloggers with Heart is a series of interviews with bloggers whose voices resonate with authenticity, sparkle, and soul. You can read past interviews here.

I am so excited to share this Blogger with Heart interview with y'all. It was only in the past few months that I "met" Stephanie, who blogs over at Heart-Piercing Life. Yet through her blog and twitter, I have quickly come to feel that I've known her for years. Her musings on creativity, personal growth, and wellness constantly inspire me to push myself in these areas. And, if you know Stephanie, you'll know what I mean when I say this girl simply radiates warmth. Her big heart and generous spirit just leap right off the screen. Plus, she's got talent in spades - check out her lovely Etsy shop, Heart-Piercing Cards. Sunny personality, serious crafting skills, killer hair...and did I mention killer hair? I know you'll agree that Stephanie is a total gem and a true Blogger with Heart. (I'm especially loving her answer to question 13...yup, pretty sure that's my new life mantra!)

1. Why do you blog?

The combination of personal pleasure and shared expression keeps me writing. Though I must say, I started off blogging for one reason (myself) and it has gently evolved into something more. While I may be a blogger with heart, thankyouverymuchanaliese, I am really just your everyday person. My hair is just probably a bit bigger than yours.

2. How do you come up with ideas for posts?

Bus rides. Long days. Sunshine. Bicycles. Everything I do and touch and see and smell inspires me. (I seriously have animal senses!) I try to keep my blog deep, inspiring, and relevant. Most of my blog posts are written as a way to archive my days. Whether it be an event, a remarkable meal, or an art project, I want to use my blog to capture the true essence of the experience. Ultimately, I aim to communicate my experiences authentically, but I do try and share what I share with a smile and whispers of love. We all need more love.

3. What does "Heart-Piercing Life" mean to you?

This is such a good question, because honestly, I have no record of what I was thinking when I conceived that name for my blog. However, after years of writing from the heart and making art from that central place, it just makes sense.

I sold my handmade paper goods, Heart Piercing Cards, at a craft fair over 4th of July weekend, and this young girl, maybe a 10 year old, was shopping with her grandmother. She was really hip. Her grandmother purchased a card and the girl looked me straight in the eyes and said: “I like your stuff. The Heart Piercing Cards. I get it.”

That really took me aback. If this ten year old girl could “get” living from your heart, from that sacred space deep within your chest, even when that means it isn’t all mountaintop experiences, and expressing that life with authenticity, than I could, too.

The mountains, the valleys, and celebrating every step; that’s what Heart Piercing Life is all about.

4. What is the best thing about blogging?

It’s a serious toss up between the outlet and the community. Recently, I have had the pleasure of meeting many inspiring women through blogging (and twitter)… That sense of an online community is new for me, AND I LOVE IT! However, I’ve just been blogging to blog for 2+ years (thankgodforarchives!), so that outlet piece is really important to me, too. I need somewhere to write about what is holding me and some way to send my thoughts out into the Universe.

5. What is the hardest part about blogging?

Finding the balance. Sometimes I really want to TELL ALL, or say what I really need to say. However, I also want to be perceived as a force for love & positivity…so telling all can be done in a way that builds you up or in a way that breaks you down. I choose UP.

I have always been a purveyor of this principal: what you do in the dark you should be able to speak about in the light. When shame builds force, it can be extremely dangerous. So I try to display my courage right alongside my questions. But that balance isn’t always easy to find.

6. What does the blogging community mean to you?

Shared wisdom. Hope notes. Support. Encouragement. Sisterhood. Borderless friendship. Serious inspiration. Gentle Reminders. Challenge. Artistic insight.

7. Your creative spirit and big heart are so apparent in your posts. How do you cultivate such a positive outlook on life?

In the recent past, I’ve been practicing positivity, but when I was a little girl, I was a firecracker for sure. My grandmother’s maiden name is Lala and I’d like to think I was spunky from the start. The creativity has been cultivated over many years. Confidence hasn’t been my strong suite as an adult, but I’m gaining some momentum these days…declaring my strengths and counting myself blessed to know my vulnerabilities. I lean towards sunshine, positivity & grace, because, um, what’s the alternative? Didn’t think so!

8. Which bloggers inspire you and why?

When I set out for inspiration, I end up at these fountains… I’m always reading:

* Brook at Inchmark: she pairs up creative ideas with real heart, and a solid love for her family & good design.

* kaileenelise: she is consistently posting some of the best content I read.

* sarah Ahearn’s blog: mixed media artist with a sweet, soft way.

* sophie blackall’s missed connections blog her illustrations are TO die for

* tea&tulips a lovely blog that assists in the discovery of small delights!

* elsa more’s style blog: the hidden seed her outfits make me want to be cuter & more daring fashion-wise.

* melita at gussying up the tuttle keeps me zen & in a peaceful place. i love that about her writing.

* Kristen gardner’s photography blog: her photography captures the essence of love & togetherness & wonder.

9. What else is inspiring you right now?

Holistic, responsible wellness; my boyfriend’s handsome, classic style; Austin, Texas; my gratitude journal; all things spring!

10. What advice would you give to someone just getting started as a blogger?

Don’t ever hesitate to express what you’re authentically experiencing. If you love food, write about it. If you love trees, tell us all you know. Hang on to your stories, tell them as honestly as you know how to, and applaud the people who, by sharing theirs, inspired you to do the same. That goes for new bloggers and the rest of us, too!

11. Five by five. Tell us your five favorite: books, movies, albums, foods, and simple pleasures in life.

Books: Fortunes (Jen Lee), I Thought It was Just Me (Bréne Brown, PhD), Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard), Gilead (Marilynne Robinson) and Dream Work (Mary Oliver).

Movies: Tristan & Isolde; WALL-E; Persepolis; The Visitor; Elizabeth.

Albums: The Tallest Man on Earth; Regina Spektor; Vampire Weekend; The Be Good Tanyas; Iron & Wine (those are artists, not albums! sorry!)

Foods: Miche (a French country loaf); Kale; Coconut; Organic Apples; Salmon

Simple Pleasures: back-scratching, dark chocolate, fresh air, good jeans, bike riding.

12. If you had the opportunity to create "the perfect space" space for blogging and other creative pursuits, what would yours look like? (How would it be decorated, what objects would surround you, how would it sound, feel, smell, etc.?)

O-la-la, I am so craving a change of living space and have had PLENTY of time to dream about its details! I would have the perfect combination of art space and work space. I would upgrade to a MacBook Pro and my work space would be clutter free! My art space, while organized, would be granted the permission to be as cluttered as (temporarily) need be! Paul (my beau) always says: “You have to make a great mess to make greatness.”

The space would be naturally lit, with inspiring prints and soft turquoise painted walls. Antiqued wooden furniture with white and resin desk accessories. I would always have a Lucia soy candle burning, music playing, and a huge bottle of water nearby. Hot tea & dark chocolate, too!

13. In five words or less: what is the meaning of life?

Don’t hold back your gold.

Stephanie lives in Louisville, KY and works at the University. She is pursuing a career in wellness coaching, and makes fanciful handmade paper goods on the side. She is currently on a quest to live out her golden year.

Thanks, Stephanie, for sharing your thoughts with us! You rock!

Photo of Stephanie by Brooklyn-based photographer Victoria Wall.


Wishing you a magical weekend

What are you lovelies up to this weekend?

I'm really excited because my mom will be visiting from Chicago. We are going to do all sorts of fun wedding stuff together, like (hopefully) finding shoes! We have been doing most of the coordinating via email and telephone, so it will be fun to actually do things together in person. I can't wait.

Tonight Jason, my sister, my mom and I are going out for some yummy Mexican food. I'm so looking forward to some chips and guacamole!

I hope you have a delightful weekend.

P.S. I'm thrilled to be featured as Naturally Nina's Blog of the Week. If you don't know Nina, definitely stop by and say hello. Reading her blog feels just like chatting with your best gal pal. I am super honored that she chose me for her Blog of the Week. Thanks Nina!

Image via Florizel.


Eco-friendly favors

As far as brides go, I think I fall squarely within the more laid-back camp. As mightily as I try, I just can't bring myself to obsess over table linens, hairstyles, or seating arrangements. I suppose I do care about these things to an extent - just not with the fervor that everyone seems to expect.

One thing that I do feel strongly about, however, is reducing the footprint that my wedding festivities leave on the earth. To that end, we are trying to incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable elements wherever possible. The reception dinner menu will use local and organic ingredients and a local brewery will provide the refreshments. My mom and a friend of hers will be doing the flower arrangements, using flowers purchased wholesale from a local gardener. We are minimizing the use of paper products in various ways (for example: drawing the seating chart on a large chalkboard instead of using escort cards and place cards).

As the wedding draws near, I have been researching eco-friendly favor options. Below are a few of my favorites that I thought I'd share. If you had or are planning a "green" wedding, I would love to hear your ideas!

Organic Tea
At $11 each, this certified organic tea (shown here in Mind Fields flavor) is a bit expensive for a favor, but you could divide the tea leaves into small muslin bags tied and tie them up with a pretty ribbon. You could also purchase a sampler for each guest, which, at $3.95 is a more reasonable favor option. From Republic of Tea.

Seed Packet
These cute packets contain certified organic seeds for your choice of herbs (choose between parsley, dill, and basil). The packet reads "Savor every moment with herbs!" So cute. Also available in yellow, blue, orange, or yellow. $1.49 each from Wedding Things.

Gift Tree
What could be more green than encouraging your guests to plant a tree? Each one comes in its own clear recyclable plastic tube complete with planting and care instructions. The trees can be planted outdoors or grown for months indoors. You can even create a custom label. There are three packaging options (tubed, individually mailed, or bagged), starting at $2.00 each. From the Arbor Day Foundation.

Organic Chocolate Bar
This chocolate bar features the Karner Blue Butterfly on the outside of the 30% post-consumer paper wrapper, along with information about this endangered species on the inside. You can choose from among a number of endangered species, but I personally love the vibrant blue color of the butterfly bar. Made from ethically traded, shade-grown, organic-certified chocolate (it's also vegan and gluten-free). $3.99 each, from Endangered Species Chocolate.

Herb Garden Kit
Not only is this herb garden kit adorable, it's also super eco-friendly with its 100% biodegradable bowl (made of rice hulls - not plastic!) and certified organic seeds. Choose from among a variety of herbs, including crowd-pleasers like basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, and dill. The only drawback is that, at $18 a pop, they're a bit expensive for favors. However, they would make great bridesmaid gifts or shower favors. From Olive Barn.

All images were found on the respective company's websites.


The most you can do

As my Mondo Beyondo class concludes, I'm feeling exhilarated by new ideas, exciting possibilities, and - most of all - the dreams I've articulated for myself. I'm also feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. Reading over the journal I've kept throughout the class, I'm struck by the sheer amount and variety of things that interest and inspire me. Things I've never really considered before, but that somehow made their way out of my subconscious mind and into my journal throughout the process. It's a little disorienting, for example, to see the words I want to to learn how to arrange flowers written in my own handwriting. Really? I think to myself. Is that what I want? I'm not sure. It came from somewhere though.

These pages filled with seemingly random tidbits, notes, and half-finished sentences feel significant in a way I can't put my finger on. But I think, in part, it's this: I'm noticing recurring themes - things that seem to pop up, in various forms, over and over again. Things like art + being surrounded by beauty, connecting with nature, creativity, family + community, food + cooking, adventure + travel, and holistic health/wellness. I already knew that these things were important to me in some general and undefined way, so the categories themselves aren't all that revelatory. But to be confronted with *specific* long-buried or never-before-articulated hopes and dreams (such as one of my adventure + travel dreams: become an Outward Bound instructor) is an incredible and slightly terrifying feeling. Talk about an "aha moment." You mean it's totally within my power to identify and pursue the things that are important to me? No one's going to give me permission? No one's going to do it for me? Nothing's stopping me?!?! WHAT?!?!?!?

Ahem. (Like I said...pretty exhilarating stuff.)

I keep coming back to this quote from the oh-so-wise Barbara Kingsolver:

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope."

I want to do the most.

Image via Chris Everard.


The Happiness Project

I picked up Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project over the weekend, and proceeded to read the entire book in one sitting (pausing intermittently for food and Olympics-watching). For those of you who aren't familiar with Gretchen Rubin (who, in addition to authoring the book, also muses about happiness over at The Happiness Project blog), here's an excerpt from a review that I think summarizes the book pretty accurately.

“A cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and seamlessly buttressed by insights from sources as diverse as psychological scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, Gretchen Rubin has written a book that readers will revisit again and again as they seek to fulfill their own dreams for happiness.”
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

I think the thing that most surprised me is that, despite being about happiness (obviously), The Happiness Project doesn't read like a self-help book at all. Instead, Rubin takes a critical approach to happiness by testing various theories about what makes us happy (for example: scheduling time for play) and measuring the results. She doesn't preach or try to persuade. She simply chronicles what does and doesn't work for her over the course of a year. I found it fascinating from a sociological point of view (some of her conclusions are pretty counter-intuitive), and her straightforward and often humorous writing style kept me engaged.

At the end of her project, Rubin found herself with what she termed "Four Splendid Truths," which summarize her findings:

1. To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
2. One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
3. The days are long, but the years are short.
4. You're not happy unless you think you're happy.

Have you read The Happiness Project? What did you think?


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