Sharing my latest tea blend, made specifically to the request of my friend Katrina Ariel. This tea blends a variety of herbs to support feminine mental and physical health, with energetic focus on fostering patience and peace without the traditional use of chamomile.
My first experience brewing a sun tea, working entirely at the whims of my imagination. This tea blend incorporates celestial pattern influence, herbal medicine, color therapy, and intentional craft. Give this recipe a shot at home!
This morning, I awoke in the moody dawn light to a strong rain pounding on our metal roof.
I’d gratefully awaited this rain that wasn’t expected until next week, and new the morning would be especially lovely. I was not disappointed, and it was as if in the few minutes before the rain tapered off and I dressed to run outside that new flowers sprouted in my impromptu ‘garden.’
Read one for a detailed exploration of my unruly wild natives patch!
At the recommendation of a friend, I gave All The Birds in the Sky a read - and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Written by trans author Charlie Jane and published in the fast-growing speculative-fiction genre, this sci-fi/fantasy mash-up gave me plenty of think about and many moments to enjoy. However, I'm completely honest in my review and share my reasons for opinion in this post.
Riding on another stellar recommendation from Didi, Monkey King, Faeire Queen by Zen Cho opened up another small pocket of the literary scene I'd long-forgotten from my childhood: Speculative Fiction. My story review is short and sweet but comprehensive, highlighting the important themes, narrative elements, and historical ties this story seamlessly interweaves.
My first spring living outside the seasonless realm (Florida) has been a glorious experience. Blossoming daffodils, bird symphonies, and these stunning white flowering trees! I've created a collection of photos depicting the Bradford Pears in my neighborhood and included a short poem written for the Spring equinox.
A tea crafted by ratio, scalable to any recipe size.
Dreamweaver is a floral, heavy tea that assists the Sandman in weighing you down for deep, restful sleep. Comprised of a collection of herbs, leaves, and flowers with varying properties, the primary effect of this brew is a smooth and seamless dream experience.
As someone who struggles with sleep, I find that there is not one cause but a slew of factors that can be remedied with herbs. A few common sleep disrupters:
Created by Lee Vosburgh and co-hosted by Caroline Joy, both of respective insta-fame for their curated wardrobes and crisp photos, this ‘challenge’ invites participants to curate an experimental capsule for just ten days. This season’s challenge start’s January 19, 2018 - I simply started early so I could choose my pieces and photograph them for the project. I implore you to give this a try if you’ve ever been curious about capsule wardrobes!
Read on for my reflections on this season's 10 x 10 capsule challenge.
Words don't always come out the way I intend and this has consequences. In this post, I share my experience of dealing with these consequences in a situation I never expected to encounter. Sometimes, we make mistakes. We make messes we can't clean up. And, we have to move on with grace.
As I begin this exploration of grace, I made two collections of my current understanding and perspective of grace. Words first, then images. I invite you to create one or both of these collections in relationship to your own year’s theme. Visit them often, seek opportunities to exemplify them in your daily life. Get to know your theme and form a relationship with it, make it your own. Make it yourself. Read on to see and experience the origin of my journey with grace.
It’s tempting to let my goals live quietly in the solitude of my journal, with only my eyes to see and judge them. This holiday/planning season has been by far my most productive. I churned out blog posts ahead of time, got most of my Christmas presents bought and wrapped more than a week before the holiday (but not all of them), and outlined a variety of planning activities from my experience than anyone can implement for a killer new year.
Read on for my full 2018 goals list + a little remix of what a yearlong goal really means.
For the first 100 days of 2018, I will pursue grace in all forms, explore its origins and exemplifications, and learn to embody it in my daily life. I have chosen the first seven of fourteen ways in which I will do this, and as I discover more about grace itself, the next seven will emerge.
Read on for details on the 100 Days of... project, how to participate, and what I'll be doing for the first 100 days of 2018.
This may be the first time I admit this but here we go: I'm a sporadic creative. If I don't set myself up for success, I will inevitably fail. Some mornings I wake up completely unable to make decisions, comprehensively organize projects, or manage communications. On these mornings I make mistakes. I miss deadlines. Calls that were supposed to take place get missed and apology emails go out after I've already let someone down.
Read on for activities you can implement in your own life to "set and forget" the actions to take to bring make your 2018 priorities your reality!
In the clarity of the present, I’ve created a 2018 Holiday Bucket List so when September and October of the upcoming year start sliding rapidly by, I have a bold reminder of my commitment to making the most of the holiday season.
Read on for my list of 12 Holiday Bucket List traditions I'd like to bring with me into the new year.
If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up at six years old, I would have told you straight: a writer. I'd already written plenty of short stories, including an illustrated children's book about my cat that was published in spiralbound and distributed to local children's libraries. At twelve, I established my pen-name: A. G. Stephens, who would someday author a slew of Young Adult fantasy and dystopian novels akin to Harry Potter and Scott Westerfield's Uglies series.
Read on to learn about my journey to becoming a writer and what's up next.
If you haven't, here's the short version: During WWII, the US Government needed a place to establish a secure production colony for enriched uranium that would go into what would become the Atomic Bomb. Oak Ridge was created and its purpose was a secret to almost every single soul (of the many, many thousands) that lived there until the first bomb was announced and dropped. Oak Ridge is known as "The Secret City".
Read on for my complete review of Girls of the Atomic City by Denise Kiernan and to learn more about the mysterious establishment of Oak Ridge.
In my own perceived self-importance, I thought, "How superficial can you be, to just get high checking things off and never be done with anything?" I never claimed this was a nice thought!
Since I started using my Ink + Volt to-do list daily, I've seen a change in that. Without a "job" with a set schedule of clock in-clock out, how many hours I spend working each day is essentially up to me - which can be a positive or detrimental fact. I found that laying out what I needed to (and expected myself to) do each day was helpful creating my days and sharing expectations with others. These line items were typically informed by project plans (bus, business, education), commitments (chores, appointments, self-care), and begrudgingly: stuff that just popped up and seemed urgent.
Start with what type of tea to start your day. You can choose caffeine to get started straight away or start lighter with a white, oolong, or herbal to ease in. If none of those are your cup of tea, hot water with freshly squeezed lemon juice is the Ayurvedic morning tonic for the ages.
It's no secret that I'm a proponent of getting out of my brain and into some realm of reality: paper, computer, calendar, another person;
anything to get my thoughts one step closer to actualization.
It can get exhausting, the extensive gathering of information about what it is I hope to accomplish, what's already been done, who I might connect with, how much time I have, and so many more considerations. I've found it difficult to keep a planning "routine" as my life lacks structure and I am full of excuses. (Really, just the latter)
Wake up between 6:15 - 7:15 am, depending on what time I went to bed the night before and what commitments I have that day. If the bed is empty, make it. If not, move quietly through the house until my other half stirs. Brush teeth, wash face, and pull my hair back gently will clips or a headband to keep it stable throughout the morning. If necessary, I run a bit of Aveda's Smooth Infusion through my dry curls, extending their shelf life a few hours before the humidity hits.
I'm greeted by all the fur paws, Gallow - Hobo - Princess Tiger Lily - Mini Cooper, all "starving" in their own opinion but content to start their morning outside.
As a prominent food and travel journalist, Lindsey's perspectives on the named neo bistro evolution of dining in Paris and her commentary on subsequent industries: Desserts, Coffee, Cocktails; are without a need of introduction. However, the back third of the book, dedicated to: Shopping, Crafts, and her personal favorites left me hovering dangerously over a one-way ticket on Kayak.
Makers and business owners of all ages, ethnicities, and perspectives of those every in-between color the deep depths of the new Parisian class. These individualists have so much passion, a sense of daring (as opening a business in Paris isn't the easiest of endeavors), and dedication to celebrating their cultural roots down to the brand and packaging of their products and services.
Lindsey is an American with a decade of Parisian living under her belt, with seemingly no intent to turn back. Speaking with her briefly at her signing in New York City last month, she detailed how welcoming and generous the featured individuals were with their stories, and further debunked the widely-believed American rumor that this were an unkind community. On the contrary, The New Paris illustrates a new wave of welcoming, creative, and collaborative people.
I can't remember when I first heard of "slow living", but I'm sure I wasn't interested back then. I was addicted to the "fast life". I was judging my self-worth based on engagement and going out of the my way to create moments for my externally-derived expectations that weren't what I truly wanted for my life. It wasn't until I began to notice my health suffering that I truly took an interest in slow living.
No matter how healthy I ate, how active I was, or how much I accomplished, stress was derailing my potential and too frequently putting me on the bench.
It's not my intent to get rid of my clocks or to quit my social life, but doing a deep dive into slow living has caused a reevaluation of my priorities.
Visiting my dear friend Mari at her home in northern New Jersey inevitably resulted in a little playtime with her and her husband's Lamborghini Gallardo. We took it for a spin around the neighborhood while her husband followed us with his Phantom drone. Then, I packed my bags into it; they surprisingly fit! And we went to the train station, turning many heads along our leisurely Sunday drive.
Arriving at Stone Barns, the clouds looming overhead threatened to burst. We debated umbrellas, decided on only one and layered up against the wind. The tour was set for 90 minutes, the longest and most in-depth they offered, and would cover the entire grounds.
It promptly began to pour.
Our group started closer to ten, and without spoiling the ending for you, we finished with four. Our fearless leader Rene, the Director of Education, wore a rain jacket, no gloves, and braced herself to take the brunt of the storm to her front while we huddled with our backs to the wind. Her voice never wavered and her smile never diminished. I couldn't help but shiver, being a lowly Floridian so far out of her element wearing another man's boots and already soaked in her skinny jeans to the bone. Mari leans over to me,
After I booked my trip to NYC, Lindsey posted a graphic to her superb Instagram: @lostincheeseland the dates of her upcoming book signings. One happened to be at the famed Rizzoli Bookstore the weekend I'd be in NYC! Mari, being an even more avid literary-lover than myself, agreed to accompany me (and happened to be a great paparazzi for the whole event!).
Lindsey was spectacular.
The event was moderated by Esquire Food & Wine Editor Jeff Gordinierand the main discussion topics of the night were on the first section of the book, the new and developing food scene in Paris. Lindsey talks about how young entrepreneurs, fresh chefs, and individuals with mixed backgrounds are remixing the Parisian food scene, which had devolved to some degree in the past couple decades.
Before venturing into Maplewood, NJ for to meet a friend for breakfast, we briefly explored downtown Morristown, about 15 minutes from where I was staying with Mari. There, we found stunning blossoming trees, neighborhoods fully rebuilt since the hurricane, and a few hidden gems I photographed below.
The Artist Baker & Colly Flowers were connected, both micro-small but seemingly full with tables and communal space I could've enjoyed all day if we didn't have plans. Mari and I mused over how the multiple-concepts business idea is a dream of each of ours. A cafe - florist - bookstore or a coffee shop - stationary - local goods compendium were among our favorite ideas.
When I learned that Sara Bareilles would be starring Waitress, her broadway musical writing debut, I booked my ticket to NYC. The culmination of being a musical theatre nerd circa my teen-hood, a Sara Bareilles fan as long as iPods have been around, and having never seen a Broadway show before set the stage (ha) for my best trip to New York yet.
In this post, I also share details about my arrival to my friend Mari's lovely home, our journey into NYC, and the slow evening that awaited me at home.
There are a lot of blogs out there that are entirely about capsule wardrobes.
You can find innumerable tips and lists and videos all about the creation of a capsule wardrobe. However, going through it is messy - a list doesn't prepare you for that. For years, I was "trying" to minimize and simplify my wardrobe (for the psychological/performance enhancing benefits alone), be more conscious of my consumption (buying quality, choosing a classic to wear long-term, etc), and to be truly voting with my dollars. It's clear to me that I was expecting a list or a worksheet to tell me everything I needed to know, how to budget for it, how to let go of pieces you love but never wear, and how to allow myself to feel comfortable in my own skin.
This is how I'm starting to create my capsule wardrobe. I'll write posts along the way, share what worked, what didn't, and what I discovered.
In our own ways, 2016 was quite a year. Whether you're into astrology, politics, religion, finance, education, or the state of the human race - we had a lot going on last year. Lately, I've found it more difficult to keep my chin up and going into 2017, I metaphorically "cancelled" January so I could slow down and focus on healing. My new year technically starts February 1.