Word of the Week: Trust // Lunar Lessons

Last night, I saw this post on Instagram:

Claire Baker Instagram This is Lifeblood Gibbous Moon

…From Claire Baker at This is Lifeblood, who by the way, is totally awesome and her work is totally life-affirming. Follow her on Insta as well for constant inspiration.

Since this screenshot isn’t very big, let me sum up what the Instagram contained. She posted a picture from Ezzie Spencer PhD, a woman who specializes in the study of moon cycles–“an ancient way to understand the rhythm of your life, your business, and your body.”

Bio from her website: “Dr. Ezzie Spencer advances women’s prosperity and wellbeing. Ezzie has degrees in law, history and a PhD in women’s wellbeing after sexual violence. She has been featured in Tiny Buddha, MindBodyGreen, elephant journal, several law reviews, and she has presented in Australian and international forums.”

She believes, along with many others, that the lunar cycle can be a powerful way to get in touch with spirit and become connected to your soul. As I found out through the Instagram, last night was a waxing gibbous moon, which signifies a yin phase–a time to “trust that the perfect intention is coming into form at the perfect time.” 

Yes, yes, it’s sounds so very hippie dippie. And I adore it. The more I read on moon phases, the more I grow to love it’s magical allure and connectivity. It almost sounds like a religion, but trust me, it’s far from it. For me, it’s simply just another way to get in touch with the “otherworldly” and feel more in sync with the natural world. It gives me the same effect as going on a walk through the trails by my house.

I believe that it can be a fun scale on which to set intentions, work towards goals, and even just sit in the still point and TRUST.

That long-winded spiel brings me to the point of this post. Wait, one more quick thing–this Word of the Week and Lunar Cycle thing may becoming a reoccurring theme on the blog. I may even start some sort of series out of this. After all, I am the insatiable WORD eater. Words are kinda a big deal here. And moon phases have become a significant interest as of late. I’d love to keep exploring them through this platform.

Ok, so, this post. TRUST = the word of the week (and this season of life, really). It all started after I left my class last night. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed about all the travel, moving, and job searching that’s coming up. It’s almost been a passive kind of stress–the kind that’s been sitting neatly packed away in the back of my mind, yet still giving me a constant feeling of unrest.

However, after last night, rest is settling over me as I begin to just simply trust. Trust the process, trust God, trust the universe. I’ve successfully finished my grad school classes for this semester–besides a get-together at my professor’s home next week. Graduation is next weekend and everything is prepared. Travel plans are set for next month. Most reassuringly, my professor gave me some good advice on the job search after class last night. I know what I need to do. I’ve done the work and I’m prepared to keep doing it. All I can do now is trust.

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As someone who feels much more comfortable with a plan and good idea of the future (don’t we all), keeping these quotes in mind is really important and helpful right now. I’m trying to let the unknown inspire me. I’m allowing space. I’m breathing in and breathing out and repeating in my mind: trust, trust, trust. 

 

WIAW // New Orleans Jazz Fest Edition

Hello friends and Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Thanks as always to Jen for starting this party!

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Over the weekend I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest with my momma. I was born in New Orleans and I’ve been going to Jazz Fest ever since I can remember–literally, I was probably swaying to music at the Gospel tent from my mother’s womb. We recently bought a house there (!!!) so driving the straight shot down to our place was easy and enjoyable as I listened to It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell on audiobook–amazing memoir, I highly recommend it. I drove down Thursday and left Sunday morning with so much music, food, beer, and quality momma time in between.

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Jazz Fest 1996

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Fast forward to 2015 and me falling in love with Hozier. Seriously y’all, I need an intervention.

Instead of doing the normal Tuesday re-cap, I’ve decided it would be more fun to re-cap what I ate in New Orleans instead. I’m really hoping this fits the criteria for WIAW and that I’m not breaking any rules… I wouldn’t think so because all I’m trying to do is celebrate and honor this food glorious food! I’ve broken it up into days and meals… Let’s do this!

Thursday

Noodle & Pie New Orleans // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com Noodle & Pie New Orleans // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com Noodle & Pie New Orleans Coconut Custard // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Dinner at Noodle & Pie on State Street (literally right next to our house). This restaurant is highly rated and for good reason! We had Chinese green onion pancakes with bone marrow butter (!!!) and ginger-miso dipping sauce to start. So damn tasty. I had marinated shrimp & Thai spicy green papaya salad to eat and we shared this coconut custard for dessert.

Friday

Jazz Fest New Orleans Crawfish Bread // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Jazz Fest New Orleans Hummus and Pita // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

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We had cheesy crawfish bread, hummus and pita, and spring rolls in the fest for lunch. That bread… No words.

New Orleans Jazz Fest Plum Street Sno-Balls // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com New Orleans Jazz Fest Mango Freeze // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Strawberry sno-cones and a mango freeze were our snacks of choice.

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For dinner, we picked up Whole Foods to cleanse us from the beer and sugar at the fest. I loaded up my plate with salmon and avocado rolls, sweet potato wedges, grilled lemon broccoli, butternut squash, and coconut corn.

Saturday

New Orleans Toast // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Avocado and egg toast at Toast for breakfast. This place is adorable and I am obsessed with the menu!

New Orleans Jazz Fest Oysters // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com New Orleans Jazz Fest Crawfish Roll // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Half-dozen raw oysters on the half shell and a creamy crawfish roll for lunch.

New Orleans Reginelli's // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com New Orleans Reginelli's // www.theinsatiablewordeater.com

Hummus plate to state and a huge chicken salad with goat cheese, apples, and tomatoes at Reginelli’s for dinner.

Overall, an amazing weekend for food and music in my favorite city! Happy Wednesday and happy EATS!

Anyone reading this also from New Orleans and/or been to Jazz Fest?!

The Haps

Oh hello there. It’s been a while.

I wanted to do a quick blog post to give y’all a run-down of my recent haps (happenings–abbrevs for life) and assure you that I am still here. Because I’m sure you were very worried.

SO, after hearing amazing things about Bluehost for quite a while now, building a media kit, and emailing with Lee from Fit Foodie Finds and The Blogger Project I FINALLY switched over and became self-hosted. It took a while to work out the technical kinks and transfer my content from wordpress.COM to .ORG. Computer-y stuff tends to stump me and it took many tech support live chats to figure it all out. As you can see, my blog is looking a little different. I switched to a different theme through wordpress.org and I’m still in the process of making it look as pretty as possible. For now, it works.

The site switch combined with leaving town for Jazzfest made for a brief blog break, but now I’m back at it! I’m hoping to post a WIAW (Jazzfest-style) tomorrow to share the amaaaazing eats I enjoyed while in New Orleans. It feels good to be back on the blog and I’m super excited to continue learning and connecting. I never knew how technical and business-like blogging could be… But I kind of love it. Still, above all, I’m in this for the love of writing, sharing my story, and connecting with YOU.

Kelsey did a “Lately I’ve been…” post today and it inspired me to do the same, so credit goes to her. Check out her new blog! It’s wonderful. I hope this acts as a little update and look into my life!

Lately I’ve been…

Making / an extra effort to see my best friends as much as possible… It’s really starting to hit me that I’m leaving in less than a month. The feels are real.

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Free concert in the Grove at Ole Miss on Sunday after I got back from NOLA. Iron & Wine was great but lying in the grass with my best friends was better.

Cooking / mostly potatoes if we’re talkin’ oven… I’m in a total food rut when it comes to cooking new things and getting creative in the kitchen. I’m wrapping up my last couple weeks here and it’s the end of the month which means on a budget and cleaning out the pantry. However, a cooking demo at Jazzfest and reading It Was Me All Along really inspired me to expand my cooking and baking skills… Once I’m settled in Pensacola, it’s HAPPENING.

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It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. I listened to the audiobook on my way to New Orleans. This is an amazing memoir. I highly recommend reading about it and checking it out if you’re interested. It is an INCREDIBLY inspiring story.

Drinking / a whole lot of lemon water and La Croix as I detox from the abundant libations of Jazzfest.

Reading / Body Parts by Jere Hoar (for class) and The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (for pleasure).

Wanting / a snack after I publish this post. I’m thinking popcorn and chocolate chips or a big, juicy gala apple with cinnamon.

Looking / for a freaking job. Teaching positions, hurry up and become available!

Playing / too much and working too little. Oh well, might as well enjoy while I can.

Wishing / my allergies didn’t hate me so much. I got a steroid shot in my butt today and bought some Flonase because the Claritin and Mucinex just weren’t cutting it anymore. Sinuses, you’re aren’t cute.

Waiting / patiently and staying in the present moment during this time of complete and utter transition and change… I know God has some pretty great things in store. All I can do is work hard and trust in His abundance and promise.

Wondering / where I’ll be living and working three months from now #lol

Smelling / like my Dr. Bronner’s body wash and Pantene shampoo, probably.

Wearing / a grey hoodie from Target, Lululemon capri leggings, soft green v-neck t-shirt, and crew socks. Ultimate comfort.

Following / Andrew Hozier Byrne on Instagram as of today. I spent about 20 minutes looking through and liking every single picture. I’ve never had a celebrity crush of this magnitude and it’s absolutely crushing me. Literally, I have dreams about him dedicating awards to me and singing to me. Also, speaking of Instagram, FOLLOW ME! I love Insta.

Feeling / excited/nervous/bittersweet/hopeful.

Bookmarking / lots of blogging resources and tips as I try to figure this shiz out.

Opening / up my heart and letting things come as they may.

Tell me what you’re reading and bookmarking this week! I’m always up for recommendations. 

Curly Hair and Media Kits

18 days until I walk across the stage in the Grove (I’ve already received my diploma, but my mom really wanted me to officially walk).

23 days until I leave for New Orleans and then, a couple days later, for California.

And a little over a month until I drive away from Oxford for good with bittersweet emotions and joyful anticipation in my heart–headed towards Pensacola, Florida, my old and new home.

Time has really been on my mind lately. Specially, the here and now. I’m trying so very hard to live within each 24-hour period, not regretting the past or fretting over the future. I have my rare moments of panic over the job/living situation, but thankfully they’re just that–rare. Most of the time, I’m really hopeful and just downright excited for my life. As for right now, I’m making the most of my time in Oxford with my beautiful friends. I love this town so much.

Today, I took the best Pure Barre class. Man, can I just say again how much I love that workout? I have my off classes, but today just really felt good. I felt strong and like I exhausted every muscle in my body. It was amazing. I love the community there as well–the teachers are so friendly and they always call me by name.

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Sticky socks swag.

This past weekend, I sported curls in this thick mane, so that was a fun and rare experience. My friends and I went to a party then headed to the bars until closing. This isn’t something I do on the regular but I guess I wanted to have one last college town rager before leaving. Ha. I definitely went a little too far… I woke up to an empty bag of crispy m&m’s on my floor, overwhelming nausea, and an entirely sore body (might have had something to do with riding a mechanical bull three times). SUCCESS?! Oh, and I lost my Fitbit somehow. Pretty sad about that.

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Mirror selfie because curly hair may never happen again, my friend Kiley, and a fitting portrait of me at a party–the girl in the corner who holds a puppy and daydreams. Thank you Lain for capturing this.

In other news, I’m mostly just finishing up my grad school classes for this semester (transferring my credits to a school in Pensacola) and slowly beginning the process of sorting through/packing up my stuff. And I have a lot of stuff. I’m using this move as an opportunity to purge unnecessary crap and SIMPLIFY. I’m going to leave for Pensacola with the least amount of things possible. My books, teaching resources, clothes, technology, toiletries, and a select amount of decorative items. That’s all I need. Yeah, it’s probably going to end up being a lot. Oh well. At least I’m trying.

Before I go, I wanna link up some articles I’ve really loved lately. This is a random Tuesday post so stick with me here:

The Art of Motherfuckitude: Cheryl Strayed’s Advice to an Aspiring Writer on Faith and Humility 

Writers–read this. Cheryl Strayed rocks my world.

Glennon Melton Doyle blew me away once again this morning with this post on the meaning of PAIN. 

Lee of Fit Foodie Finds and Davida of The Healthy Maven launched their new website today: The Blogger Project! I’m so excited to join this blogging community and sharpen my own blogging skills as I learn from the SHEuncovered experiment.

I purchased a media kit (15% off until Tuesday using TBPLaunch! Thank you Lee and Davida!) and I’m currently working through the tutorials. I’m excited to develop this blog and really put my mission out into the world. My goal is to connect with as many people as I can and just keep writing! I’m in this for the community and opportunities to share my story while in turn learning about other people’s.

Well, that’s all I’ve got! I hope y’all are having a beautiful Tuesday! It’s sunny and 68 degrees in Northern Mississippi today and I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop with my best friend Natalie. I’m leaving for Jazzfest in New Orleans Thursday morning and I can’t wait. Good beer, really good food, and constant music. In my favorite city and birthplace. Happy Riley.

Bloggers, do you have a media kit? If so, how has it benefitted you?

Tell me what’s going on in YOUR life! Anything exciting coming up?!

Thinking Out Loud // 4.16.15

Happy Thursday! I’ll never work out exactly why, but Thursdays are always my favorite day of the week. SO CHEERS TO THAT!

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Thursdays are pretty cool in the blog world too–thanks to Amanda. You the real MVP, girlfriend. Let’s do this thing.

1. First and most importantly, another HUGE thank you to Robyn at the Real Life RD. I feel so thankful and abundantly loved. She featured my story (focused on my relationship with food) on her blog yesterday and the feedback has blown me away–both from people I don’t know and family/friends. I feel so encouraged to keep writing and share my ongoing story in all of its beautiful, messy truth. I feel like I’m finally dipping my feet into this community and I’m so excited to see where it takes me. I love connecting with y’all and discovering new friendships that I may not have ever had the opportunity to cultivate!

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2. I’ve been sick since Monday, and today, I finally woke up feeling a little more like myself. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning/early afternoon were rough (both physically and mentally), so I am extremely relieved and happy to be feeling better. I really wasn’t that sick–just a sinus infection–but something about that combined with the out-of-nowhere anxiety/low mood really got me down for a while. I went to Pure Barre this morning and didn’t have much energy but I made it through so YAY! Here’s to laying out in the sun today and hopefully getting in a nice, long walk.

3. I finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides yesterday. We talked about it in class for hours and I left loving it even more. It was the last book for that class and I must say we went out on an epic note. Such an important and beautifully written story. It is truly an American epic–heart wrenching, hilarious and everything you could want in a freakin’ novel. Multiple plot lines, complex characters, Greek mythology, breathtaking prose. UGH. *heart face emoji* In a social sense, the book really shines as well. Gender identity is so interesting to me and I enjoyed learning more about intersexuals through Calliope/Cal’s character. I honestly cannot begin to explain this book–it’s 500 pages and divided into four sections. It took him nine years to write. Just trust me when I say you must check it out. I’m starting The Marriage Plot today–for pleasure, not school.

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4. One of my go-to lunches the past couple weeks has been this mashed chickpea and avocado sandwich. So easy, so tasty, so full of nutrients. Anything sandwiched between two pieces of bread usually works for me, but this rocks extra hard. I throw some goat cheese on top and a smear of hummus on the second piece of bread before smashing it all together and shoving it in my mouth hole. <3

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5. I’ve been re-watching The Office these past couple weeks. Literally, whenever I’ve had a spare moment, it’s been spent with Michael Scott and company on Netflix. I have zero regrets and I credit it for much of my happiness as of late. Seeing this moment for the 5 millionth time… Makes it all worth it.

I feel like I must leave it at that because I can’t think of anything happier. Have an amazing day!

I Feel God In This Chili’s Tonight

Friday night, just hours after I published this post, the universe returned my virtual hug. A miracle occurred at the Oxford Chili’s.

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While this may seem like a joke, I am being 99% serious. The Office reference just happens to be very fitting.

Friday was hard and wonderful and sad and joyous. My little sister spent the night Thursday, so Friday morning, I woke up and made us breakfast. We ate in bed together, looked at old pictures and videos of our dad, laughed a little, and cried a lot. She went to lunch with a friend and I made my way to Rowan Oak. I packed a sandwich, my journal, and a pen. The essentials. I walked around the grounds a little bit and finally settled on a huge, beautiful, sprawling Southern Magnolia tree. There was a small hollow in the tree which reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird so naturally it felt right. I got comfortable at the base of the trunk and scarfed down my sandwich before opening my journal in my lap. I wanted to write a letter to my dad. It felt like the closest thing to actually talking to him and I figured I could just get it all out, burn the letter, and “let go”… whatever that means. The words weren’t coming though. I took out the picture I kept tucked in my journal and stared at it for a while. I took a photo of the photo. I instagrammed the photo. I stared at people walking by. I looked up at the sky. I asked for words from the Universe. I put pen to paper.

“Dear dad…”

I told him what the past four years looked like for me, but the words felt stiff and like I was writing a distant pen pal. After a couple minutes, however, I wrote a sentence that surprised me. I got angry. Finally, feeling something, I let the pen fly. At the end, I told him, above all, I missed him and I loved him.

The letter is still sitting in my room.

The rest of the day included a massage (so wonderful), a walk and sushi dinner with my sister, and (finally to the point of this post…) 2 for 1 drinks at the Chili’s bar with my best friends Kiley and Natalie.

We wanted casual beers and I was not feeling up to going to a bar. We also didn’t want to stay home, so Chili’s it was. Naturally. *insert crying laughing emoji*

So the three of us were sitting at the Chili’s bar. I was feeling emotional (more than normal, ha) and one of my friends had something going on that was making her a little upset as well. We had some deep talks and Natalie gave me the sweetest card that had me almost to the point of ugly crying. I’m pretty sure we cried at least three times while also laughing hysterically immediately after. We were in our own little, emotional world at the Chili’s bar and had no idea most of the people surrounding us were taking this all in. It was probably very amusing.

Two women in particular, sitting catty-corner to us, seemed to observing the situation closely. After being there for about 45 minutes, ordering several beers and a couple appetizers, the two women got our attention saying, “Girls, do you like margaritas?” We said yes, of course, in questioning tones. They then proceeded to tell us that they were buying us a round. We objected at first but they were adamant, so we gave in. When life offers you a free margarita, you take it.

Since they so kindly bought us drinks, we started talking to the women, both middle aged and dressed in fashionable clothing. We found out that one of the women, Cindy, had a daughter at Ole Miss in nursing school. Cindy told us that she was from Pontotoc and owned a clothing boutique called True Blue. Her fashion sense and outgoing, friendly demeanor suddenly made sense. We told her a little about ourselves and conversed politely for a while.

Eventually, as the drinks dwindled and it got later, they had to go. I guess we made quite an impression on the two women with our crying and laughing. Maybe we just reminded them of their own daughters. Either way, Cindy told the bartender that she was paying for everything–between the three of us, we had 6 beers, one glass of wine, three margaritas, and two appetizers. She wanted to pay for it all, plus whatever they had ordered. We objected more forcibly this time but they wouldn’t have it. We thanked them what seemed like a million times. I even teared up a little and told them they had no idea how much we needed that kindness today. It meant so much. After paying, she took out a pen and wrote on the back of the receipt, “Riley, Kiley, and Natalie 25% off True Blue” and signed her name. She told us to bring it in if we ever found ourselves in her store. We thanked her again, not believing her kindness and generosity.

They said goodbye and we thought they had left, but five minutes later, Cindy walked by and gave us another hug. Cindy took out her phone and showed us pictures of her three daughters. I guess being around us made her miss them. She pointed at each one, describing their personalities and telling us their nicknames. I could tell how much she loved each of them in deep, different, and unique ways. When she pointed at the oldest daughter she said, “She lost her father 11 years ago.” She pointed at the middle daughter and said, “She was about 9 when he died.” She went on to tell us the younger one’s age when he died. Now, I don’t know what compelled Cindy to let us know this information, but she said it very distinctly and like it was completely normal conversation.

My heart stopped and I put my hand on her shoulder. I said, “Cindy, I have to stop you. Today is the anniversary of my father’s death.”

She immediately started to rub my back and asked me how long it had been. I told her four years. She went on to tell me that it gets a little more bearable with each passing year. Even so, she hasn’t dated one man in the 11 years since her husband passed away. She said he was the one love of her life and she isn’t ready to let anyone else in. I cried to her and expanded my heart in hopes that she would feel the love and compassion I had for her in that moment.

I told her thank you again. Thank you for the kindness we all need so desperately. Thank you for the hug from a mother when my own was so far away. Thank you for the empathy, understanding, and words of comfort. The universe had returned my virtual hug. I had opened my eyes and I had witnessed a miracle, however small or large one might consider it. Thank you, Cindy.

After they walked out for the final time, I looked to my left at Kiley and then to my right at Natalie. With a somber expression, I whispered to them,

“I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.”

We laughed with knowledge in our hearts that no statement had ever been so true.

IV

IV. 4. Four. 

It’s been four years since I woke up to my friend Christina knocking on my freshman dorm room door telling me I needed to call my mom in her room. It’s been four years since my mom said into the phone, “Dad was in a plane crash,” and four years since I answered “Well, is he okay?”

“Sweetie, he’s dead,” were the words that ripped my heart out of my chest. Four hours later, I found out that my step-mom Laura and her sister-in-law Jacky were also gone. That day set me on a path I never thought I’d take and a journey I’ll be on for the rest of my life.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the number four. There are the four gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The four elements–air, fire, earth, and water. The fours seasons–winter, spring, summer, and fall. The four directions–north, east, south, and west. There’s the cycle of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension, leading to our consequent hope and salvation. The cross has four ends. L-o-v-e has four letters. April is the fourth month. Ideally, we graduate from high school in four years and then from college in another four. Four marks endings, beginnings, and the constant ebb and flow of life.

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In the middle of a compass, there is a fixed center. In the midst of all the seasons, there is our Earth. In the center of the Earth, there is the axis and the core. The core radiates solid light, burning as bright as the surface of the sun. We also have a core burning bright, white light in the center of our souls. The core is Love and Love = God. The universe evolves and our lives change without notice and at a constant pace, but this one fact remains.

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Four years ago, I got thrown way off center. Way off from a center that I hardly recognized was there. But hindsight is 20/20, and over these past four years, I realize that I have found my way back closer and closer to the core of myself that was there all along. As T.S. Eliot puts it, I’m discovering “the still point of the turning world.”

On this day, more than any other day, I am trying to be still. I’m sitting in the pain and letting God’s love swallow it whole. I’m letting His love, which flows eternally and abundantly, all the time, fill my core with light that shines brighter than any darkness that loss, anger, or regret may threaten.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

As I sit in absence of my dad, my heart feels like it might actually swell out of my chest. Nothing can take away the pure and raw longing to have him back. I miss him so much that it brings me to my knees. But just as Love cannot exist without fear, pain cannot exist without Peace. Just as strongly as I feel the pain in my chest, I feel peace washing over me. I feel the peace of surrendering to something bigger than myself. I feel peace in not knowing why things happen because I understand that one day I will, and for now, I can just keep doing my best. I feel peace knowing that my dad, Laura, and Jacky have returned fully and completely to “the still point” of this broken world.

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We on Earth can only catch glimpses of what’s to come. We can experience little moments of Heaven on Earth–through opening our eyes to the miracles that happen every day, opening our hearts to the love that will never leave us, and through giving back that very love in any way we can.

To keep faith, to stay centered and grounded, when everything is falling apart around you–that is true strength. That is when you know you’ve touched the still point of the turning world. Today, I am trying to sit in that still point. As this day comes and goes and the ebb and flow of life continues to carry me forward, I want to both stay in motion and grounded. My intention on this anniversary is to continue growing and attempting to match my inner self to my outward actions.

I am so grateful for the love I feel today from God, my friends, and my family. I am sending it back. I know that so many others all over the world are feeling the very same heart swelling pain I am. We are broken people in a broken world and our only hope is each other. We can’t do this life alone.

*virtual hug to the entire universe*

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My dad, Taylor King Pickett, as a little boy in Mobile, Alabama.

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Me, as a smushed, red newborn, in my Faja’s hands.

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Thanksgiving 2010 with Laura.

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My high school graduation.

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WIAW #6 // whole foods NOLA

What’s up, blog world? I hope y’all enjoyed my little survey last week. Looking back, I already want to tweak a million answers. I am so fickle.

I hope you all had a happy and healthy Easter full of laughter, love, and light! Easter is always one of my favorite days of the year. The 40 days of Lent aren’t always easy as we reflect and take a hard look at ourselves and the world around us. But in the end, we arrive on Sunday morning filled with hope and seeing with new eyes. On Sunday, the preacher talked about how we live in a Good Friday world, but we can try to see with Easter Eyes. We don’t know a lot, but we do know that we are Loved and there’s nothing we can do to separate ourselves from that Love. “With eyes of faith we can begin to see him alive in our world.” I’ve learned that when I open myself up to miracles, I see them everywhere I look.

We spend Easter weekend in New Orleans (we recently bought a house there! eek!) every year and it’s always nice to return to the church I attended as a small child–St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian.

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My best friend Kiley came along this year and I loved being able to show her my family’s version of the city we know and love. It was a good weekend. The best part of our new house? Besides the prime location right off of Magazine Street, it would have to be the fact that it’s walking distance from Whole Foods (and several Zagat rated restaurants). EVERY FOODIE’S DREAM! We went there one afternoon to grab a quick bite for lunch, and afterwards, I filled up the cart with some things to bring back to Mississippi.

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I tried my very best to capture all my meals yesterday, but I was hit with a searing headache after dinner that sent me to bed, so I forgot about everything after dinner. Anyways, yesterday’s eats feature a couple of the things I bought at WF. Happy Food Day! Linking up to Jen and a big thank you to Arman for hosting this week!

breakfast

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Egg white oats (surprise!) mixed with the plumpest strawberries, banana, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. I topped them with this crunchy NuttZo nut butter (filled with about a million things) that I bought at WF and some roasted coconut chips my mom brought me from TJ’s. Roasted coconut chips might as well be crack.

snack/second breakfast

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Mid-morning, I threw back about a hundred handfuls of this dry roasted edamame.

lunch

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Lunch was BOMB. I threw some pre-cut sweet potato rounds coated with turmeric in the oven and topped them with goat cheese crumbles and a runny egg. Check out that yolk porn though. I put the sweet potatoes over a bed of spinach/bok choy/chard sauteed with salt, pepper, and more turmeric. Post-lunch? A couple squares of Endangered Species dark chocolate.

Note: I just started using turmeric. I’ve been reading about its benefits for a while now, so I picked some up on that WF’s run. So far, it’s pretty tasty on eggs and veggies, but I’m excited to try it in the turkey burgers I’m making tonight.

afternoon snackage

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I went to Pure Barre shortly after lunch, so I didn’t really need a snack, but I popped a Medjool date anyways. So, dates are kinda a big deal in the food blog world, but I had NEVER bought them before. Oh. My. God. It is true that they are indeed nature’s candy. Sweeter than any cake or ice cream or candy bar that I’ve ever had. Talk about a sweet tooth cure. I stuffed one with coconut peanut butter yesterday and holy shit. Medjool dates? Game changer.

Post-Pure Barre, I made a green smoothie with Vega protein powder, frozen banana, cashew milk, cinnamon, and ice cubes. Forgot to take a picture, so there’s the powder I use!

dinner

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I had every intention of making turkey burgers to go along with the potato, but I was way too hungry when I got home. Story of my life. Instead, I made a egg white omelette with goat cheese and turmeric. The potato you see is a Japanese Yam and they are my absolute favorite. We don’t have them at our Kroger here, so I brought a couple back from NOLA and baked them up for the week. I re-heated it and topped it with melty coconut peanut butter. It was dreamy.

NOLA bites

Before I sign off, I want to leave y’all with some of the meals we ate in New Orleans. NOLA has some of the best food in the country and I have every intention of trying as much of it as possible. As you probably know, New Orleans is known for their po-boys, seafood, gumbo, daiquiris, and all things Creole. However, there is so much more. My mom posted this list on my Facebook wall yesterday and I’m thinking we should just check them off as we try them. Deal, mom? (my biggest reader, HA)

One day, I want to collaborate with my mom and do a huge post on all things New Orleans, food and otherwise. We’ve gathered quite a wealth of information over my 22 years and her 50-something ;)

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5 lbs of crawfish to start and oysters on the half-shell for my dinner at Frankie and Johnny’s. Plus a pitcher of Blue Moon.

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The dessert platter at Chappy’s included devil’s food cake with raspberry glaze, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, coconut cake with caramel sauce, and warm bread pudding with praline sauce. Dead. For my meal, I had a filet with creamed zucchini on the side.

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Last but not least, Easter brunch at High Hat (this restaurant is on the list I mentioned earlier). I had corned beef hash with two fried eggs over easy and rye toast. My friend Kiley had a fried shrimp po-boy with PIMENTO MAC & CHEESE on the side.

I’m going to leave it at pimento mac & cheese.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

I’m going to shake things up a little and do a survey that I saw on Jordan’s blog.

I’ve always been a fan of both reading and doing surveys because (1) who doesn’t like to talk about themselves, let’s be honest, (2) I like learning about other people’s lives and stories, and (3) I get a high off organized lists. Yup.

This survey in particular appeals to me because if you know me, you know one of my most used phrases is “This is my favorite [insert thing here] EVER!!!” When excited, I tend to get hyperbolic and dramatic. What can I say? I really like stuff. I’m a nerd. Which makes me think of this John Green quote which is like the most perfect thing ever:

“[Nerds are] unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it . . when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

Amazing.

So, I’m going to stop rambling now and get on with this list. I warn you, IT’S LONG. And many of these answers are subject to change at any time. In this moment, however, here are a few of my favorite things. That was an intentional Sound of Music reference because it’s one of my favorites and, fun fact, I used to have a stuffed bunny that sang that song when you pressed a button on it’s foot.

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Place: Montreat, North Carolina, the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island, Alabama, and the Whirlpool trails in Oxford… Yeah, okay, I think that’s it. My thin places. I love being outside surrounded by nature. It’s when I feel most like myself and connected to the world around me. #treehugger

Person: My mother, by far. She’s always there and willing to drop everything for me, which is something I will be forever grateful for. She’s the calm presence in my hectic mind and will always be my greatest role model. She is the center of everything and I love her so much.

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Color: It was any shade of blue for the longest time, but since December, I’ve been obsessed with purple. Give me all the purple things. (hint, hint)

Food: Growing up, it was angel hair pasta with butter and parmesan cheese or cheddar spinach quiche, but in the past couple years, I’ve become obsessed with sweet potatoes, oatmeal, nut butter, bananas, avocado… Y’all already know. One common theme is that they’re all whole, plant foods and make me feel wonderful. In restaurants, I love a good salmon dish or SUSHI. 

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Breakfast from last week. Egg white oats mixed with strawberries and banana. Topped with EarthBalance coconut peanut butter. That stuff is nut butter GOLD.

Smell: Bonfire or a good quality vanilla candle. Warm, sultry scents appeal to me the most. They make me feel cozy and happy and all things wonderful.

Book: Okay, this will probably be the hardest question. I can’t pick one. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my go-to answer. I also love Wish You Well by David Baldacci. As for YA, I’m a huge John Green fan and love everything he’s ever written, especially Looking for Alaska. 

Movie: Almost Famous. Said with zero hesitation. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it (on Netflix) then email me (see contact info on blog) and we will discuss it all day.

Music artist: Too hard too hard too hard!!! I’m just gunna say Avett Brothers because I think they’re wonderful people.

Genre of music: Folky, alternative stuff with good lyrics appeals to me the most… And any song that has a good hook. I’m all about the hooks. #lame

Genre of literature: I can’t just pick one. But I love memoirs, realistic fiction, epics, and dystopian. I also have a huge soft spot for young adult literature.

Magazine: I don’t read magazines much anymore but I used to be a huge fan of Nylon and Glamour. 

Texture: Anything silky smooth. A soft dog, a cashmere blanket, you get the picture… Clearly I haven’t given much thought to my favorite textures.

Time of day: Definitely mornings. I have a morning routine of waking up, stretching, washing my face, making coffee/breakfast, and checking blogs. It’s my sacred alone time and sets me up for a good day. And it involves coffee and breakfast AKA the only meal that really matters.

Day of the week: Monday or Thursday. One is a fresh start and one is the day before the weekend–it holds exciting possibilities that have yet to disappoint.

Blog: Peanut Butter Fingers or Cup of Jo. Julie at PBF was one of the first blogs I ever read and she is so relatable. I actually screamed out loud alone in my kitchen when she announced she was pregnant like we are best friends. Joanna at Cup of Jo posts really interesting and diverse content. I discover a lot of amazing articles and new facts from reading her blog. She also talks about her family and I just think they are the absolute coolest. A nerdy, authentic kind of cool.

Thing to do when bored: Netflix, read blogs, music, read books, read anything, listen to podcasts… The list goes on. I stay busy.

Celebrity: Amy Poehler and Taylor Swift. Yes, I admit the second one a little guiltily, although I don’t know why. I like her because she seems like a truly good girl and has never said or done anything that’s put her in a negative light. She radiates happiness and love, in my opinion. And her music is catchy as hell. As for Amy? She’s a strong, independent, loving, and FUNNY lady. My favorite type of lady. Read her book Yes, Please. It’s funny and meaningful and inspiring. Also, Leslie Knope.

Drink: La Croix sparkling water and wine. I am such a white girl in this moment. It’s sickening.

Precious stone: Turquoise! I love the color and the way the stone looks when worn as jewelry. Bohemian and rustic and it matches anything.

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Animal: Beluga whales, especially babies. They are so ugly it’s cute. When I was little, my dad used to play the guitar and sing to me, “Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea, you swim so wild and you swim so free…” It’s a memory I cherish deeply.

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Flower: Sunflower, because I always try to live towards the light ;) I am cheesy as hell.

Time in history: Gatsby era or the 70s. Mostly because I just adore The Great Gatsby and the clothes. As for the 70s, a part of me really wants to be a hippie. I like the simplicity and freedom and looooove, man.

Font: The teacher in me has to say Times New Roman. I am so wild.

TV show: In order… (1) Gilmore Girls (2) Parks and Rec (3) The Office. These people are my best friends.

Play: A Streetcar Named Desire.

Fruit: Banana without a doubt. I can’t remember the last time I went a day without eating one. Apples are a close second. Literally, one of my best friends calls me “Apple Girl.” Cute.

Vegetable: SWEET POTATO HANDS DOWN DUH. Broccoli comin’ up for a close second.

Store: Any bookstore (preferably locally owned), Anthropologie (I never buy anything though because too expensive), Urban Outfitters (see Anthropologie), and TARGET (affordable and they have everything).

Article of clothing you own: My Lululemon Wunder Under leggings, to be honest. Leggings > pants. Those things fit like a second skin and somehow make my butt look better than it is. I won’t mess with magic.

Fashion/style: Bohemian inspired, simplistic, laid-back. I like unique pieces as well as really simple, classic styles.

Workout: As of late, I’ve been really into barre. And I’ve always loved to run.

Quote: Oh God. I’m somebody who is super into quotes so this is HARD. So I’ll just say I don’t have a favorite and give you one I read today and loved:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner

^^^ why I teach.

Historical figure: That’s proooooobably gunna have to be Jesus. Yeah, I went there. If I said anything else that would be totally blasphemous, right?

Boy’s name: Haven’t given this one much thought, actually… Tobie, Jack, Oliver.

Girl’s name: Harper, Finley, Charley, Margo, Annie.

Ice cream flavor: I’m lactose intolerant but that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed my fair share of ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chocolate chip are my ultimate faves.

Season: Summer, all the way. I was born in July so I’m a summer baby. Sunshine and warmth makes me happy. I grew up in Florida too, so maybe I’m a little biased.

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By the water in Florida with my dada. 

Month of the year: July, October, December. Yeah, I’m having trouble just picking one favorite on most of these questions… Does that defeat the purpose?

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Memory: Probably being with my family at our house in Dauphin Island, Alabama back in the days when everyone was alive. I know that sounds really depressing but it’s true, haha.

Dessert: Chocolate ANYTHING… A melty, molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream rocks my socks off. Or apple pie, key lime pie, orrrr carrot cake… Okay, I like anything sweet.  

Language: English… What can I say? I’m an English major. I love the written word and the nuances of language. And English is all I know how to read…

Thing to learn about: Honestly, anything. I love school and I love learning and I know that sounds a little dorky but I AM A TEACHER. Of course I love to learn. Except math.

Thing about yourself: Even though it can feel like a double-edge sword sometimes, I like my innate ability to feel empathy and compassion. When the feels gets really feely, I remind myself that it’s always be better than apathy. There’s nothing more dangerous than apathy.

There ya have it, folks! 1, 703 words ALL. ABOUT. ME.

All you’ve ever wanted, right? Well, your dreams just came true. Bam.

This was basically a long ramble in list form, so I’m going to link up to Amanda! Have a wonderful Thursday, friends. Oh hey, Thursday. One of my favorite days of the week :)