Affordable Amazon Gifts for the Wellness Minded

Over the past year I've gotten some gifts from Amazon that I have absolutely loved and would highly recommend for your loved ones this holiday season. This list is for that busy, active, and inspired person on your list who you want to gift a moment of peace, mindfulness, beauty, and rest!
I've been planning this post for weeks and was freaking out earlier today thinking that it's too late and maybe these items wouldn't ship, but GOOD NEWS, I checked and they all still will arrive in time for Christmas!


Leaning into my artistic side

I'm definitely a variety over consistency person. I like to listen to a lot of different music, taste an array of flavors, and experience new places and things. Some days I dress preppy, somedays feminine, or bohemian, or casual, the list goes on. I describe this as an artsy look. 
I'm the same with my wardrobe- my style changes all the time. 


November Friday Favorites

It's been a few months since I've done a "Friday Favorites" post! Here it is in all it's glory, a highlight of my favorites from November! Teachers lovingly call this month "No School November", so I got to do lots of fun things this month.


Workout Leggings Connoisseur

You can wear pretty much any leggings to lounge, but which ones are good for actually working out?
As a fitness instructor and enthusiast, I am constantly checking out different brands for workout leggings. I wear them for teaching Jazzercise, running, strength training, yoga, walking, and hiking. In my experience I've learned that there are some key facets that determine the quality of leggings worn for exercising. As a self-proclaimed workout leggings connoisseur, I want to share my reviews with you today.

I will be reviewing 5 different brands of leggings in 4 categories:


I SURVIVED! A Tale of Grocery Shopping on Thanksgiving Week

It's Tuesday, it's payday, and we desperately need to go to grocery shopping.

With a tuition payment due out of pocket at the beginning of the month, we managed to pinch our pennies throughout the remaining weeks enough to not dig into our savings account. But it's been weird meals of whatever is left in the pantry and freezer, and we've hit the bottom of the snack box so that all that's left is a strange and squashed granola bar from last year. It's definitely time to go grocery shopping.

Daniel surprised me by making a menu plan and grocery list while I was out yesterday, primarily from his new favorite cookbook, "From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg's Kitchen" (it's by Snoop Dogg). The list includes 20 POUNDS OF POTATOES (written just like that in all caps on the grocery list), because Thanksgiving is coming up. 

We think going shopping on Tuesday is just far enough away from turkey day that it won't be too crazy. We say Armageddon will not yet have hit.

We are wrong.

Daniel devises a plan that he'll call me when he leaves work, I'll walk over to Fred Meyer, start the grocery shopping, and then he'll join when he comes into town. As I pass through the entryway I notice the grocery cart selection is slim. The cart I pick has a leftover child's sticker and donut napkin in the bottom. The Black Friday sock selection is already looming as I step into the store. I take a deep breath and turn Daniel's grocery list to the produce side and walk towards the bananas.

There is an atmosphere of quiet chaos as I roll my cart down the produce aisle, you can feel it's about to get crazy up in here. I'm hearing some strange music and I almost wonder if they're having a live band, but the live band sounds like it's a 6th grade beginning band Christmas concert. I realize it's over the loudspeaker and wonder why they're adding to the disorder of the grocery store on Thanksgiving week.

Daniel's reassuring presence joins me just as I've finished fretting over what lettuce to purchase for my Thanksgiving salad after learning about the romaine e. coli recall. We push through the aisles at a pretty solid pace. I keep running to find things and losing him, we call each other a few times. A manager runs about the store with a frantic smile and an "are you finding everything alright?". I accidentally grab the most dented container of butter, but I don't care because the key is to move through each aisle before the riots come in.

Our list is almost complete and Daniel's headed to the register to get our check-out started. I'm after our sneakiest remaining item: chili. Somehow, it's not by the beans. I head to the soup aisle, shooting the gap between two quickly moving carts like a road rage-aholic on I-5. Chili is not in the soup section. The frantically smiling manager passes me speed-walking 12 miles per hour and someone snatches up his chili-finding wisdom before I do.

 I pass a tower of cranberry sauce and remember we are supposed to pick that up for a Friendsgiving on Saturday. As I'm pausing to ponder if our friends will prefer the actual berry shaped sauce, or the sauce shaped like a can, while also feeling guilty that I'm not going to make cranberry sauce from scratch, Daniel calls. Crap, I think, he must be finishing up checking out. He's just reminding me we need cornbread too. I tell him about the cranberry sauce dilemma and grab both, and miraculously, as I hold two cans of cranberries in one hand and my phone with the other, I see the chili just in front of me. I grab a can and make a mad dash for the register, snagging some cornbread mix on my way. I meet Daniel at the register just in time. We pay and push our heavily laden cart out the door, passing the singing and santa hat wearing bellringer at the door.

Twenty minutes later, we've brought our groceries up our three flights of stairs and unloaded them. We sigh and say "good job" to one another. We survived. As silly as it is, some of the moments the strength of our partnership is most obvious is when we conquer tasks like a big, ol grocery haul on Armageddon Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. And may the odds be ever in your favor at the grocery store.


Try-on Session: Fred Meyer's new clothing line Dip

Have you seen Fred Meyer/Kroger's new clothing line Dip? I've been intrigued ever since it hit the shelves late this summer. The line is insanely affordable and has a lot of trendy pieces and wardrobe staples. I squeezed in a try-on session before grocery shopping last week, because sometimes ya gotta do something fun for an incentive before wandering the grocery aisles. 


Songs & Stories: You Have Come Into My Heart

I wrote this song about seven years ago, and I don't think I've written anything since that better captures a huge piece of my heart: the part where God makes his love known to me and lets me live in his love.

God reaches out to my creative spirit and speaks to my soul through nature, through music, through relationships, writing, feelings, moments, and words. I see him constantly pursue me through these things. This song captures the way Jesus has pursued me my entire life, and especially in the last nine years that I've been trusting him.

I had a lot of fun recording this song. It's a lot of fun to be a one-woman-band and there are 9 separate audio tracks in this song. 2 guitar tracks, 1 mandolin, 3 vocal tracks, and 3 percussive tracks- tambourine, snaps, and claps. I hope you hear and enjoy all of them, and that this song of my soul inspires your soul.

You Have Come Into My Heart

As I walk this earth, as I stand and fall
There's a burning in my heart for something true
And I feel it there, just beyond my reach
There's a love that can fill this empty room

Oh Lord, you nourish my soul
Oh Lord, you pursue my heart
Oh Lord, you captivate my spirit
Oh Lord, you have come into my heart, and made it your own
an I am deeply yours

As I hear these words, as I forget the truth
There's a love that pulls me in, drawing me near
As trials and dangers hurt, as wounds and scars are born
You step in and save me from my pain

Oh Lord, you nourish my soul
Oh Lord, you pursue my heart
Oh Lord, you captivate my spirit
Oh Lord, you have come into my heart, and made it your own
an I am deeply yours, I am deeply yours

You rescue me, you step in and you fight for me
You save me, you will always be the one to make me safe
You wipe my tears, you comfort and take away my fears
You hold me in your arms so dear, I look into your eyes

Oh Lord, you nourish my soul
Oh Lord, you pursue my heart
Oh Lord, you captivate my spirit
Oh Lord, you have come into my heart, and made it your own
an I am deeply yours, I am deeply yours


Favorite Old Navy Fall Blouses

Do you love an Old Navy run as much as I do? It's become a major go-to for me, and I'm really loving their blouses this season. 


what to wear with crazy leggings {to not look crazy}

Leggings are seriously in and seem to be here to stay. The fun, patterned leggings that are so on-trend remind me of running around the neighborhood in my striped and polka dot leggings when I was a kid. I remember in second grade scraping my knee and gashing a hole in my new leggings and crying "they were supposed to last!". In 4th grade I had purple leggings with yellow flowers and a matching fabric headband I wore nearly everyday. 
All in all I find leggings to be practical, comfortable, whimsical, and stylish. There are so many gorgeous and fun patterns out there and I want to share some tips for what to wear with your crazy leggings, but not look like a crazy person. All of the leggings featured in this post are from LuLaRoe, which is absolutely my go-to for leggings, especially the fun ones! 


Favorites from the Fruit Loop

The beautiful fall foliage of the Columbia River Gorge hosts the Fruit Loop. Fruit stands, tasting rooms, and u-pick farms in the Hood River area form this loop of fall perfection. I enjoyed a trip around part of the Fruit Loop with family this weekend, here's a few of my favorite Fruit Loop features and stops.


Songs & Stories: Keeps Me Safe

Since finishing grad school last spring, I've had more spare time and find myself returning to a major love of mine: music. Writing songs allows me to express and process my life and the world in a way that compares with nothing else. As I rekindle my passion for music, I want to share my songs and the stories behind them.

Today we live in a world that feels deeply unpredictable. We get caught up in the minute details of life and spend much of our time focusing on productivity. When faced with the unexpected, we reach for something to hold onto. 
On the tail-end of summer 2015, Daniel and I went camping at Rimrock Lake outside Naches, Washington with our friends Katie and Justin. The trip was planned months in advance and the weather had been seasonably beautiful. On the day we were to leave, we woke up to high winds. In fact, as Daniel and I walked out of Walmart with grocery bags full of camping supplies, our styrofoam cooler lifted out of the cart and flew back into the store!


How to mix up your blouse and jeans

A good blouse and pair of jeans can be awesomely versatile. From weekend outings to workwear, layers and accessories can really mix up the look so that your favorite blouse and jeans combo can be repeated again and again while still looking fresh. 


tips for going back to normal life when dealing with grief or depression

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I've had this post brewing in my mind for a bit.  A friend on Facebook shared her experience in a post, and it inspired me to get this post out there.

Mental Health is widely not talked about. We don't know how to deal with it in our society and culture. When I've struggled with depression or grief, I know my friends and family are trying their best but I still often find myself frustrated with our lack of skills around it, and not knowing how to cope with it myself. I want to be transparent and honest about mental health to help destroy that concept, and help those who are suffering and those who love someone who's suffering.

Sometimes when dealing with a mental/emotional struggle, we need to sit on the couch and cry and rest for a week. In other times, getting back to regular life is the most helpful thing for getting us to a healthy place again. I've realized some strategies that have helped me return to regular life in those fragile days, and thought I'd share them today.
These tips might be written in a weird tone that is sarcastic, humorous, and wholehearted all at once, but often that's how grief/depression is.

1. Find music that doesn't give you all the feels. I am a very music sensitive person and music that is too feely, sad, or hopeful can really set me off. Finding some music that doesn't make me emotional and just keeps me going throughout the workday is key. My favorites for this need are the Movie Musicals station on Pandora, Taylor Swift's most recent albums, and hits from the 2000's.

2. Let go of restrictions. If you are pretty restrictive in your life over how many Starbucks runs you make per week, how much Netflix you binge, how clean you keep your desk, or how often you yell the F word in your head, try to let that go for a little bit. You are showing great self-control just by going back to normal life. Let the other things slide and let those little things bring you the joy they can. For me, Starbucks runs and retail therapy are aplenty when I'm just trying to get by. Sometimes being fabulous is the best momentary cure for being sad.


Maxi Skirt Tips for Shorties

Maxi skirts are such an elegant and pretty look, and for a long time I thought I couldn't wear them because I'm short (I'm about 5'3"). I've come to find that with some strategic choices and styling, full length skirts can look gorgeous even without a statuesque frame. 


nights like this.

    It's Friday night. We meet a couple we're friends with at a bar. It's a little dive-y, but perfect at the same time. There's definitely a karaoke scene at this bar. You can tell this is what these singers do every Friday, and they are feeling it tonight. We jump up and sing a few rock ballads. The bar applauds.
    Between stories and laughs a few rounds of drinks pass through our table. An IPA. Ginger whiskey. Old Fashioned. Vodka soda. As we squeeze between people at the bar to close our tabs, we have a happy buzz, and we slow dance to the karaoke song just for a moment. 

    We walk down the street in the cool air, the karaoke regulars smoking outside wish us a good night. Somewhere in our wanderings we decide to go to a viewpoint of the river. The stars are shining. We run through the sprinklers in our path, we pass construction workers repairing roads by moonlight. When we make it to the viewpoint we linger and look at what we can of the dark river, buzzing and rattling come from the surrounding mill.

    As we walk back, we decide we want some chicken nuggets. The nearest fast food is closed so we drive a couple miles to the next town, because the 'want' has quickly turned into a 'need'. The dining room is closed so we park and eat our fourth meal together in the car. We drive our friends back to their car parked in front of the bar, and we see the patrons filtering out. It's well past midnight. Twinkling lights are shining in the trees. The night is that temperature where you almost want a jacket, but not quite.

    Most nights I take my vitamin and read in bed and am asleep by 9:15. But now, it is Friday night, and I am young, and alive, and free.