Life Circumstances and the Call to Live Sustainably

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Photo by: milkandhannahphoto
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Photo by: milkandhannahphoto

After six long months of wedding planning, my husband and I are finally married. We said “I do,” danced as a married couple, and cut the cake. And just like that it was over. The whole experience was beautiful and redeeming. In hindsight, I would have much rather eloped in the english countryside and had an intimate and woodsy reception afterwards. Yet afternoon tea, bunting flags and whimsical calligraphy table numbers tied the rustic/vintage theme together nicely; certainly nothing to scoff at. The only thing we kept telling ourselves was, “We’ll be married and that’s all that matters.” In the end, we got some pretty pictures and I enjoyed walking around in that adored Jenny Yoo dress.

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Photo by: milkandhannahphoto

Planning a wedding yourself and without the help of a wedding coordinator means having very little time to engage in the activities you are passionate about. And for me that includes writing. So that is my excuse for my 6 month hiatus and I must say it is a pretty good one. If you think of something better, let me know.

I actually thought a lot about food in the months leading up to our wedding. Mostly because that period of time was the worst I think I had ever eaten in my life. I was in limbo, stuck between two lives. I lived with my parents but I also spent a lot of time with my husband. I found it very difficult buying groceries for one so I was at the mercy of whatever my parents had to eat or whatever my husband had to eat (which consequently wasn’t very much). I often found myself going through Starbucks in the morning, drinking copious amounts of coffee and by the afternoon if I didn’t pack a lunch, I was forced to buy fast food. For dinner, it was a last minute scramble to the grocery store. Do I pick up something pre made or fix up something quick and easy? As someone who aspires live the agrarian lifestyle to its fullest, this was a very difficult time for me. But it was my reality.

Things are much smoother now that we’re married. We actually have food in the house and we eat out far less often. It sustained me knowing there would be an end to the sporadic eating patterns I found myself in. If there wasn’t an end in sight I know I would have to change things – and fast. But now that we’re settling in, I’m finding what it means to be content. We don’t have a garden yet, but we will get to it next year. We’ve all gone vegan or vegetarian only to come right back to normalcy months later. We all know what it’s like to fail to live up to the call to live in harmony with the planet. Things happen. Life happens.

From now on, I’m not going to be led by the influence of others. I’m going to do what feels right for me and for our family. I’m going to work up to that agrarian lifestyle, instead of jumping headfirst into something that could collapse later. I’m going to live expectantly but realistically at the same time.

The key to living sustainably is a gradual change in lifestyle, just like anything else. I’m not saying total sustainability is unattainable for the average american household, but it must be approached slowly and steadily, with trial and error, and with much sacrifice in order to make this way of life stick.

Recognize where you’re at in your walk of life, but never let it limit you from reaching your potential.

– Adele

A Duchess’s Tale | Living A Life of Purpose

Here I am back from a long reprieve from writing. And now that I am back I’ve realized how much I missed it. On occasion a writer must go on the impulse of a thought. Thoughts are fleeting and so they might escape unless they be written down. So this is not what I usually write about, but I hope you’ll find it relevant nonetheless.

Late last week I was struck by the dedication of two women in history. Naturally, not being able to get it off the brain, I had to write about it. On a Friday evening I found myself watching The Duchess, staring Kiera Knightley. Instead of escaping into the great abyss that is the television, I found myself thinking about important issues. Great way to unwind on a Friday, huh?

The duchess is a true account (with some embellishments) of the life of the duchess of Devonshire, England. She marries at a very young age the duke of Devonshire; who, despite his great wealth and want of connection, seems to only care about securing his heir to the throne. After several failed attempts to have a boy, the duke begins to look elsewhere. He ends up marrying the duchess’s best friend and the three of them live together until her death.

It’s tempting for a girl alone and with a bottle of wine in hand to scream at the TV because of this nonsense. But my words would fall on deaf ears. There is no happy ending, no justice done. Times were different then. Women were utterly and completely dependent on men, and men could do whatever they wanted.

Now, is this some feminist rant? Hardly. What struck me was her determination and resilience despite the culture in which she lived. The duchess was smart, opinionated, she was a fashion icon, and she was involved in politics. I was also reminded of Jane Austen throughout this movie. She is not only one of the classics that inspired me to write, but she saw way beyond her time and became a woman’s rights activist in her own way.

Today, women don’t suffer as much from what I would call blatant discrimination. Although one could argue there’s discrimination against women in the workplace but that is not for me to discuss. No, we suffer more within. Insecurity, fear, and doubt are our vices. Even now as I write this, I realize I’ve gotten off the writing horse for a while and it’s hard to get back on again. Back to being vulnerable. But at the end of the day, I would rather be vulnerable than live in a safe bubble and never experience the world.

There’s a twinge of excitement within my bones when I realize my potential and that it’s within my grasp. The only person holding me back is myself. So whether you are man or woman, here’s to living a life of purpose.

– Adele

A Life Update | 2015

Christmas is over and the lights are being taken down, the tree disassembled, and all my hanging wreaths get the greens pulled out and the frames put in storage, waiting patiently for next year. As I wait for the Christmas sugar rush to subside and emerge out of my food coma, I am amazed at how quickly time passes. You have to buy presents, decorate, bake cookies, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, it’s all over. Even so, I hope your holidays were filled with laughter and love and that you gathered with the ones closest to you.

I struggled as I thought about how I was going to begin the new year with blogging. I had all this inspiration from fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that there seemed nothing comparable. I don’t even do new years resolutions (why do we set goals only once a year? We should be doing that all the time). And then something much more pressing came up. I got ENGAGED!!! My fiancé, who said he would never propose on Christmas day, did it on the impulse of the moment. It was perfect and unexpected (notice my nail polish chipping, but I don’t care)!

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So now I have this large and looming WEDDING in front of me that I need to plan. I’m so excited and nervous! For those of you who know my style, I’m going for outdoors and simple. I want it to be perfectly “us,” but like most other things in life, perfect is hard to come by. So it is what it is. We’ll be married and that’s all that matters! I would like to share the journey of planning with you, as much as I can.

As I look ahead to 2015, I’ve decided to take my blog in a little bit different direction. I have a desire to use my degree in Environmental Studies. Not because I feel I have to, but because I want this blog to help people. You will still see an overall theme of slow living and simplicity but with a new twist.

I am particularly passionate about food sustainability and knowing where our food is coming from. Healthy eating emerges from this, but it’s more about our rights to clean and safe food. If you would like to read more of my thoughts on this matter, you can go to one of my previous posts.

Slow living still plays a part in this because we want to slow down enough that we can say with assurance where this food came from. We need to make an effort to be more connected to our environment and the delicate balance of the food chain. Whether I am in the kitchen, tending to the garden, or at the supermarket, I want to show you how you can make sustainable choices in your everyday life. It’s easy and hard all at the same time; but it can be done. I also want to arm you with knowledge, being that knowledge is power. Then, you can come to your own conclusion based on the facts.

I am so excited for what 2015 has in store! I’m not a fan of resolutions but change is enough to liven things up! What about you? What things are you looking forward to in this new year?

How To Find Inspiration in Everyday Life

As a blogger, I feel my main job is to conjure up inspiration. Not only because it nourishes my soul, but because I know it’s beneficial to you all as well. Inspiration is sorely lacking in our culture due to its fast pace and cookie cutter routine. Occasionally we’ll catch glimpses of the sun and then it’s back into the clouds; work, emails, holidays, take the kids to school, etc. Needless to say, I find myself there sometimes – I’m there now. Being in the business of inspiration these days is hard. But I’m only human. Life isn’t one long Kinfolk magazine or Pinterest board, no matter how hard you try. Life gets real. If your tank runs on empty for a few days or a week, that’s okay. You’ll pick it up again soon enough. So how can you find daily inspiration in the midst of life’s chaos without going overboard?

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Let inspiration come to you

True inspiration presents itself when we least expect it (I feel like that must be a quote from somewhere). In other words, I think it should come about organically. It will come across authentic and true when it isn’t forced. You don’t want to get to the point where you are spinning your wheels, forcing you to throw in the towel. Unfortunately, inspiration doesn’t abide by your calendar and neither does life sometimes. I swear I made homemade pasta last night without a pasta roller and it was amazing but I was rushing to get it done and could not get pictures! Sometimes we just have to accept how things play out. (More on that homemade pasta later!) Appreciate those inspiring sunsets, baked goods, homemade pasta, and gathered friends for what they are. And appreciate those times when you feel no inspiration at all, because it’s perfectly normal. You’ll be happier and more content in the process.

Get to the heart of what inspires you

Why do you do what you do? For me, I post recipes and DIY tutorials because it represents a life of simplicity and of slowing down. If you are to be intentional about something, you must find the motivation behind why you’re doing it; it is the key driver to all that you do.

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Inspiration comes in big and small packages

There’s a common misconception that in order for something to be inspiring, it must be a burst of light, great epiphany type of moment. My favorite inspiring moments are the ones that are so small, only I can see it. Like it’s a well kept secret only I can understand. Just the other day as I was leaving work, in the hills behind the shop I saw an albino deer silhouetted against the dark green trees. It was a beautiful sight (and I would have captured it with my camera had it not been so far away!). Sometimes it’s not about trying to capture the moment but savoring the moment with awe and reverence (but that’s besides the point, had to say it though). I stood there, the cool, crisp air whispering through the trees and I relished the quiet of that moment, actually happy that I couldn’t document it.

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Inspiration is everywhere

If you live in say, Europe, New England, the Pacific Northwest, or Tennessee (to name a few) you most likely don’t suffer from a lack of inspiration where you live. But I live in Ohio. Lancaster, Ohio to be exact. Where’s that? Yeah, that’s usually what most people say. It’s right between Columbus and Athens. Columbus – Buckeye central also home of the Short North and the North Market. Athens – hippie central that is home to Donkey Coffee, Casa Nueva, and Ohio University (an incredibly beautiful campus) where I graduated from college.

But there’s not much I can say about Lancaster. We have a Chipotle, a Starbucks, and a nice bike path that people can get mugged on. But I’m learning to appreciate where I’m at. It’s true, I’d rather be in an idyllic location like Europe or Tennessee in the states tucked away in a cabin writing out the remainder of my days. But there is uniqueness waiting to be found around every corner, interpreted, and brought to life.

So how do you find inspiration in your everyday life? You let it come to you and you let life happen. Don’t think about it so much and it will come easy. Appreciate where you’re at in life and make the most of it. Document, create, bake, photograph, live.

A Tribute to Bluegrass

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I want to take this time to toast a long-forgotten American pastime: bluegrass. As I was waiting for my next post inspiration, I realized I was listening to it (specifically, I was listening to the Tillers who are fantastic by the way). Listening to bluegrass just sort of makes you forget all your problems for the moment. The banjo and the fiddle transport you to a familiar yet unknown world. It’s a time that often gets overlooked but is rich in cultural history. I think about the old American West where times were simpler but drought, famine, and disaster was abundant. They needed songs to lift their spirits as we do today.

My taste in music has changed a lot over time, as is the case for most people. I remember as a young girl listening to the Spice Girls and N’Sync (don’t judge me, it was the 90s). Then it was R&B and hip hop during the junior high and early high school years (I realize I’m being very vulnerable with you right now). Later, I began listening to heavier stuff, you know the kind where they scream a lot? From there it mellowed out a lot and I began listening to indie / folk music like the Avett Brothers, Alexi Murdoch, and the Album Leaf to name a few. Now, it’s bluegrass.

I owe my love of bluegrass to Andrew and his talented musician friends who decided to get together and start something different. At first, I was skeptical. So was Andrew for a little while. Like I said, my taste in music has changed dramatically. I never dreamed bluegrass would be at the forefront. I will say I think bluegrass is an acquired taste – like coffee or beer. But after attending numerous practices and show upon show, it began to grow on me.

I know very little about bluegrass and its roots (only because I haven’t yet taken the time to do some research). With my limited knowledge I do know of some big names like Bill Monroe and John Hartford. But nestled here in the Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio, we enjoy local bands, local friends, and local venues.

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I would have to say besides the music, my favorite part to this has been the friendships. Bluegrass brings people together. There’s a certain amount of camaraderie in the crowd when we throw all our preconceived notions aside and dance (or maybe that’s the beer, could be ;))!

Most of all, I like bluegrass because it’s simple. And musically, it’s good listening. None of this vulgar bump and grind stuff and maybe my dog died so I’m going to sing a sad song about it. We’re singing about the good ol’ days, a train going down the tracks, or the hills of Tennessee. It’s simple and it’s wholesome. For a girl who would love nothing more than to be shut up in a cabin with her thoughts and a pen and paper (and maybe a hot tub for added luxury), it works. Bluegrass fits in just fine with the simple life.

If you want to know more about this band I started talking about earlier, they are called the Hocking River String Band. Originating out of the Hocking Hills area, they are excellent musicians who know how to put on a good show! I’ve never danced my hardest with any other band! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. It starts to feel like a family after a while. You can visit their Facebook page, or search for them on instagram (hockingriverstringband). You can also find their music on iTunes and Spotify!

The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!
The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!

If you live in Ohio and you’re in the Columbus, OH or Athens, OH areas, Hocking River String Band hosts a bluegrass festival in the Hocking Hills. The Duck Creek Log Jam festival is one of the most laid back festivals I’ve been to. Camp out for the weekend and you can expect good music, good food, a relaxing atmosphere, and beer that is always flowing. If you want to know more or want to reserve your spot for the spring campout you can visit their official page.

So here’s to you bluegrass! May you never lose that spark of simplicity and authenticity!

The Pursuit of Simplicity

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I was reminded this morning of a quote by Yvon Chouinard.

“Going back to a simpler life is not a step backward.”

How often I have to remind myself of that, daily even. In our world of 9 to 5 desk jobs, stuffy board meetings, etc. it’s tempting to think that’s all there is. And if you encounter the corporate world, they will wonder why you are doing what you love to do and will persuade you in another direction – as if they own your life.

I’ll be honest, I have my doubts. The influence from corporate life is insurmountable. Going back to a simpler life feels like a step backward. But that’s how I know I’m doing the right thing. When you do something for yourself, you will doubt and you will receive push back. But that’s all the more reason to press on.

So no matter what your calling is (maybe it is the 9-5 desk job), here are some ways you can push through the criticisms and enjoy life as it’s meant to be lived.

Trust in the Lord with this new endeavor

This is a huge one, guys. Anything I do: cooking, my ability to write or style a table is because God has blessed me with these abilities. It’s not really about me at all, it’s about Him. Making sure my heart is in the right place and giving glory to Him is what’s most important. The bottom line: I would rather risk it all and have a deeper relationship with God in the process than be safe and be far away from Him.

Listen to your critics AND your fans

This reminds me of something Michael Scott said (he was a very influential thinker), “Don’t listen to your critics, listen to your fans.” I don’t think that’s entirely true because your critics shape you just as well as your fans. But I’ll tell you something, doing something you love and having people appreciate that is more reward than money. I have had too many interviews with no call backs, or no interviews at all after turning in an application that I thought was very well done. Hopes and dreams are crushed because a couple people make a decision about someone’s worth. Take that with a grain of salt, but move on and create your worth in this world.

Never give up

Okay, I know this is super cliché but it rings true! If Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have given up on their dreams where would we be? (I wouldn’t be telling you this now that’s for sure, and a whole host of other things) Though I don’t intend to be the next Steve Jobs, no matter how big or small your dreams are, pursue them with everything you’ve got. Look guys, we’re only given one life. And that life is WAY too short to waste it away being somewhere you don’t want to be. (Of course there are obligations and seasons but that is a post for another time)

What are some of your dreams and how are you pursuing them? I would love to hear from you!

Mornings Like These

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Do you ever have mornings like these? Nothing to do, nowhere to be, save for enjoying the beauty of your own home. I had a morning like this. It got bright as the sun rose, highlighting the fall colors on the trees. But something inside of me knew it was cold out. So I stayed inside and began my morning ritual – coffee and local eggs, which I opted to bake in my cast iron skillet. The new dining room table was looking beautiful adorned with florals, the light creating sharp contrast on this bitter cold morning – a rustic look which I adore.

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coffee and farm fresh eggs

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It’s important that we have mornings like these once in a while, and dare I say often, if possible. The reason I love mornings so much is because it’s a fresh start to a new day. And how you start your day is how you intend to end it. When we slow down our mornings, we slow down our entire day. And by that I mean being more mindful, creative, and careful about what we do and say. Our days become full of meaning rather than walking through life blindly.

I implore you to take a day or a few days to slow down your mornings. Drink a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise. If you can’t watch the sun rise, get up earlier (still have coffee) and take some time to reflect, pray, and meditate. You might be surprised how much better your day ends up!

How do you like to start your day? Comment below!