Holiday Roundup: Our Favorite Seasonal Posts

Stockings are hung by the chimney with care, presents are wrapped and nestled cozily under the tree, the kids are out of school, and their parents’ sanity is hanging by a thread (of tinsel, obviously). It’s Christmas Eve!! Would you like an early present? We thought so! Our gift to you this year is a holiday roundup of some of our favorite seasonal posts. We hope you enjoy!

The 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS

Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post is sure to light up the holidays for you and that special someone. A list of 12 holiday inspired date ideas, designed to bring you together during the most joyous season of the year. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at how much closer it makes you as a couple. Don’t worry, she threw some binge watching dates in as well. After all baby, it’s cold outside. (PS – these ideas are good all winter long!)

diy holiday dreamcatchers

One of our favorite things about the Holiday season is decorating! If you’re looking for a fun DIY project to do with your kiddos while they’re out of school, or just with your besties, Shelby has the perfect thing – Holiday dreamcatchers!

This is such a fun project, and we are so excited about it! So, grab some cocoa, slip into your comfy clothes, put on your favorite Christmas album, and get ready to craft the night away!

Making Christmas Memorable

This most wonderful time of the year happens to be Tera’s favorite (Going in her house anytime from November to February is a little like stepping into the North Pole). With a growing little family of her own, she wanted to be certain they were making Christmas memorable, while keeping their main focus on the true reason for the season. She created a list of simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, provide quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. Check it out!

Oak and Earth Holiday Roundup

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little roundup, and that you’ll try some of the ideas found within. This season is all about making memories with those you love, while always remembering the true reason for the season.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” – Luke 2:11

From our families to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

– Oak & Earth

Kancamagus New Hampshire Fall Autumn foliage

FALL in love with New Hampshire

At the beginning of October, I had the opportunity to travel to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to see my pen-pal of 15 years, Becca Cahan, get married. New England natives, Becca and her – then fiancé, now husband – Tom, wanted to get married amongst the gorgeous Fall foliage that New Hampshire is well-known for, and coincidentally, where they got engaged.

Jeff went with me on this adventure, and I have to say, adventure is definitely the right description. We flew into Boston on Friday, September 30th, rented a car, and drove straight to New Hampshire. Thanks to a series of weather-related delays, we were unable to attend the meet & greet that evening, but we arrived safely late that night and with plenty of time to recuperate before the wedding the next day.

We went to breakfast at the most adorable little diner and got a taste of the New England experience, which I very much enjoyed. After breakfast, we ventured out to get the lay of the land, as we didn’t have much time before we had to get ready for the wedding.

You guys. I fell in love.

I am now convinced I need to buy a picturesque little New England home, and temporarily move to New Hampshire every Fall. I have never seen colors like that before. It was simply spectacular. There really is no other word to describe it. No wait, I thought of some: breathtaking, mesmerizing, iridescent, awe-inducing, shocking, gorgeous, unreal, insane, absolutely beautiful.

From the foliage, to the mountains, to the wedding, to getting my feet back on the Appalachian Trail, it was an unforgettable and wonderful trip. Becca’s wedding was of course, a dream, and I was so happy and thankful to be there, apart of it, and apart of the gorgeous New Hampshire Fall; if only for just a moment.

Fall New Hampshire New England foliage

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White Mountains New Hampshire New England Crawford NotchNew Hampshire Mount Washington FallNew Hampshire Fall foliage White MountainsFall foliage barn New Hampshire New England

Fall foliage New Hampshire New England Kancamagus AutumnNew Hampshire Fall foliage Autumn fog White MountainsFall foliage White Mountains New Hampshire AutumnKancamagus Fall foliage Autumn New Hampshire

photo-oct-03-11-08-33-pmphoto-oct-02-9-31-43-pmNew Hampshire Kancamagus White Mountains Fall foliage autumn

Kancamagus New Hampshire Fall Autumn foliageKancamagus Fall Autumn foliage New Hampshire

Mount Washington Appalachian Trail New HampshireMount Washington Appalachian Trail New HampshireMount Washington New Hampshire Appalachian TrailMount Washington Cog Railway New Hampshire


Wedding New Hampshire Fall foliage Becca Cahan

Becca and I on her wedding day

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby


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5 Trendy Fall Fashion Looks

You’ve decked out every surface in your home with pumpkins, pinned all the latest Fall fashion trends and recipes, consumed approximately 36.5 Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and are counting down the days until Fall officially begins. Sure, it may still be 90 degrees out, but no one is going to stop you from wearing that perfect scarf you just snagged at your favorite local shop. It’s on. For all intents and purposes, Fall is here, and so are these 5 outfits to help you get on trend for fall fashion.

Fall fashion 2016Fall Fashion 2016Fall Fashion 2016Fall Fashion 2016Blazer: Banana Republic / Top: Occasions / Boots: Nordstrom by Jeffrey Campbell / Necklace: Belonged to my great, great Aunt Ruth


dsc_5349-2dsc_5454-2dsc_5414-2-2fall fashion 2016Hat and Tops: Target / Sweater: H&M / Boots: Free People by Bed|Stu / Watch: Michael Kors


Fall fashion 2016Fall Fashion 2016Fall Fashion 2016Fall fashion 2016Hat and Blanket Scarf: Target / Top: Occasions / Jacket: Loft / Boots: Nordstrom by Jeffrey Campbell / Watch: Michael Kors


Fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016Top: Occasions / Pants: Old Navy / Blazer: Banana Republic / Watch: Michael Kors / Earrings: Anthropologie / Boots: Dillards by Gianni Bini / Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016fall fashion 2016Top: Target / Blazer: Banana Republic / Watch: Michael Kors / Pants: Old Navy / Shoes: Nordstrom by Jeffrey Campbell


I love this season. The colors, the tastes, the sounds, the smells, the festivals… and of course, the fashion. It’s a great time of year to really play around with your style and try new things. All of these looks are very versatile, taking you from morning to evening with ease. Have fun checking out all of these items, and Happy Fall y’all!

As always, live healthy and love hard,

-Shelby


All photos by: Jeff Rose

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Whole 30 Approved Sweet Potato Toast

How would you like a Whole30 sweet potato toast or two?

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Hello Oak and Earthers. So nice to meet you! I’m Lyndi, and I work with the wonderful Shelby who invited me to stop by and say hi.

Hi.

Like any good guest, I thought it only proper I bring along a treat or two. It had to be extra special since this is an extra special site. Their photos and stories are inspiring, aren’t they? And… to be honest… a little bit intimidating. I follow their Instagram feed religiously and swoon over the gorgeous photos and the mood that is set. No way could I just bring you a bowl of eggs or a regular old cup of java.

No way. Today I wanted to do something extra special for you and for the Oak and Earth gals.

So, two things.

One, have you heard about the sweet potato toast craze? I’m seeing it all over the internet. Which really means Pinterest.

Two, did you know that the Oak and Earth gals are going #whole30 this month?

If you have been intrigued by either of these two areas, I can help with the first one. And I can actually help with the second one since these recipes for sweet potato toasts are both #whole30 compliant.

Please help me in deciding which one tastes better. I am at a loss. They are both over-the-top INSANELY DELICIOUS and I may or may not have taken bites back and forth trying to decide. Help, please?

sweet potato toast - sweet (c)nwafoodie

Sweet??

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SWEET STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 10 pistachios, coarsely crushed
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ banana
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove cardamom shell and crush seeds to a medium-fine consistency and set aside.sweet potato toast - cardamon crush
  5. Remove toast from oven and butter two slices with coconut oil.
  6. Spread almond butter over toast.
  7. Slice banana and place on almond butter.
  8. Sprinkle toast with cinnamon, cardamom, pistachios, and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

sweet potato toast - savory (c)nwafoodie

Or Savory???

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SAVORY STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 avocado
  • lime juice
  • ½ garlic, minced
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of dried cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions:

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove the meat from the avocado and mash coarsely with a fork.
  5. Remove toast from oven and spread avocado mash.
  6. Lightly sprinkle lime juice and evenly spread out minced garlic over avocado.
  7. Sprinkle toast with cumin and cilantro.
  8. Drizzle olive oil over toast and top with crushed pepper and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

So what do you think? Sweet or Savory? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Eat well, my friends.

Lyndi Fultz

 

Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well inspired by life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. She doesn’t think you have to live in the big city to be a foodie. All you have to do is explore your own backyard. Light-hearted and approachable, nwafoodie is conversational with a healthy and simplistic approach to eating well. You can also find her on Instagram.

 

http://nwafoodie.com

 

Berry Delicious Summer Treats: Ps – They’re Gluten Free!

With temperatures reaching closer and closer to the triple digits, it is finally, truly, feeling like summer. And what goes better with summer than perfectly sun-ripened berries? Answer: nothing.

If you have Celiac Disease, or are gluten intolerant, baked goods can seem like a far-off dream, and gluten-free desserts can often leave something to be desired, but it doesn’t have to be that way! So grab a fork, put on a pot of coffee, and prepare to dig in to these berry delicious, gluten-free, summer treats!

berry delicious

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Mixed Berry Cobbler

This recipe is originally from Bake or Break, but it wasn’t originally gluten-free. However, it was delicious! I had picked a bunch of fresh blackberries from my garden and wanted to make a cobbler, but couldn’t find a gluten-free one to suit me. I modified this recipe by using gluten-free all purpose King Arthur flour, and a little bit of extra butter, because gluten-free flour tends to be crumbly and drier than regular varieties. It turned out wonderfully!

I used a combination of blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries, but you can make it with any combination that suits your fancy! (Next time I’m adding raspberries!)


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups assorted berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose, gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9”x 6” rectangular or 8” round baking dish.
  2. Place the berries in prepared pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Mix in the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Drop the dough evenly on top of berries.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

Notes:

If you use any larger berries, such as strawberries, I recommend chopping them to blueberry-sized pieces.

For feeding a crowd, this recipe is easily doubled to be made in a 9”x 13” dish.

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Strawberry Shortcake

For some reason, I always feel like having strawberry shortcake on the 4th of July. The two are just inextricably linked to my mind. I guess it helps that strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit.

This recipe from King Arthur Flour was an easy way to satisfy my craving, and was already gluten-free, but unfortunately when I made it I didn’t happen to have any King Arthur Flour on hand! I couldn’t wait the 30 minutes it would have required to run to the store and back, so I substituted with Better Body gluten-free organic coconut flour! I have an obsession with all things coconut (any guesses what my next post is about?) so naturally I loved how this turned out; it complimented the strawberries perfectly! And coconut just seems summery, doesn’t it?

If you do use coconut flour, just remember to add a little coconut milk to balance the dryness I mentioned above.


Prep Time: 5 mins.

Bake Time: 10 mins. to 12 mins.

Yield: 8 to 10 shortcakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, OR Coconut Flour 
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to form a cohesive dough.
  4. Scoop the dough in 1 1/2-ounce balls onto the baking sheet. Use the palm of your hand to gently flatten each to about 2″ to 2 1/2″ diameter.
  5. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with cream, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.
  6. Bake the shortcakes for 10 to 12 minutes, until they’re risen and baked all the way through; break one open to make sure.
  7. Remove the shortcakes from the oven, split, and top with berries and whipped cream. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Notes:

This took me quite a bit longer than expected; approximately 30-45 minutes.

Don’t forget to add extra liquid, such as coconut milk, to balance with the coconut flour.


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Yum! Homemade whipped cream is the best!


What are some of your favorite summer treats? We want to hear about them, as well as what you guys have been up to this summer.  We would love for you to be apart of this Oak & Earth community.

Join us on our social media for more of our adventures in the kitchen, in the community, abroad, and everywhere in between. For some great accessories for outfitting your kitchen, try Sweet Water Decor! (This is an affiliate link – meaning if you purchase through it, we get some ca$h money! Thanks!)

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Fresh from the garden…

As always, live healthy, and love hard.

-Shelby

 

Down and Dirty Guide to: Essential Oils

A Beginners Guide To-

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Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about essential oils.

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in learning more about essential oils after listening to several friends and acquaintances rave about them. What were they? Why was I just now hearing about them? Were they just a fad? Why would I want to incorporate them in my life? Were they hippy mumbo jumbo?

I set out on a quest to discover all of these things, and like any normal human, I turned to Google for answers. I immediately realized it was going to be very difficult to discern fact from fiction and to get the answers I was looking for about oils. There is just so much (often contradictory) info out there. I longed for a simple, broken-down, absolute beginner’s guide to oils.

And so a year and a half later, I’m writing one.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices, as well as in aromatherapy. They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in plants. Some come from the seeds, others come from the flowers, roots, bark, etc. They are extracted through various methods, such as steam distillation and cold pressing, and in this potent form are much more powerful than the plants from which they were extracted.

Put simply – essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts.

When I say they have “long been used…” I mean LONG. Although essential oils have only gained more popularity in the Western world recently, oils have been in use since (at least) the times of ancient Egypt. Essential oils were also popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. There is even mention of essential oils in the Bible.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what essential oils are. . .

WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

I know what you’re thinking; if essential oils have been around for so long, why have they only become popular in the West recently?

I think it is fair to say that in the past decade there has been a definite push toward a more natural, toxin-free, and sustainable lifestyle. Being derived from plants, essential oils definitely fall into this category.

Oils are reputed to be a natural remedy for many common ailments such as headaches, inflammation, viruses, bacterial infection, skin issues, and much more, as well as boosting the immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more.

You can also clean with essential oils, and they smell amazing when diffused (more on this below!)

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HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, how should you use essential oils starting out?

Some of the first oils I bought were:

  • lavender
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • eucalyptus

I had done a little research, and it seemed that these oils were used frequently in different recipes that caught my interest. When I say “recipes,” I simply mean combining different oils to suite different purposes. You can diffuse your oils, blend them with together for topical application, use them in steam inhalation, or put them to use in homemade face wash or cleaning products! There are so many possibilities.

After personally testing many different recipes, here are some of my favorite blends that I make in 10mL roller bottles. Other than diffusing, this is how I most often use my oils, and I would not hesitate in recommending these to beginners. When making these concoctions, you will need a carrier oil, which will vary based on what you are using it for and personal preference. For more on carrier oils, try here.

Headache/Pain Relief Roller

  • 10 drops copaiba
  • 10 drops panaway (blend)
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops lavender
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on wherever the pain is. (You could also make this in a cream with coconut oil as the carrier oil – I love coconut oil.)

Seasonal Relief/Immunity Roller

  • 5 drops thieves (blend)
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 10 drops lemon
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 5 drops R.C. (blend)
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on over your sinuses, on your chest, or on your feet for sweet relief.

Skin Blemish/Wound Salve/Anti-Aging

  • 5 drops lemon or purification (blend) or tea tree or copaiba*
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

If it has to do with your skin, this is your best friend. I’ve rolled this on everything from wrinkles to bug bites to scratches to blemishes. (* – I use a couple drops of each)

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Finally, I think my favorite use for essential oils is diffusing. Some of my personal favorite combinations are:

  1. Lavender + Cedarwood + Citrus — for sleeping
  2. Purification (blend) — for making my space smell enticingly clean and odor free
  3. R.C. (blend) — for breathing easily
  4. Tea Tree + Eucalyptus + Peppermint — for calming and focus
  5. Thieves (blend) + R.C. (blend) — for combating a cold/sinus congestion

One of the great thing about oils is that as you learn more about them, you begin to understand how they compliment one another, and what works and doesn’t work for you.

And there you have it! My down-and-dirty, absolute beginner’s guide to essential oils.

If you have questions, comments, essential oil recipes/uses, or anything else, please comment below! I would love to hear from you! (Even and especially if it is to correct me or make this post better!)

Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and find me on Snapchat at shelby.briley!

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Photo by: Jeff Rose

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby


Further reading:

The New American Herbal – Stephen Orr

Herbs; An A-Z Guide Gardening, Cooking & Health – Reader’s Digest

hello oils.

 

 

 

Pin & Thread Co. Giveaway!

Wow! How can it already be May? Is anyone else freaked out by this? Anyway…

We have a VERY exciting post for you guys today! We have collaborated with one of our favorite local crafters, Sarah Hoover of Pin & Thread Co. to bring your our very first GIVEAWAY!!! 

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Sarah got started with embroidery/sewing in high school when she, like many, took a beginners sewing class. She really enjoyed learning to sew, but hadn’t done it in awhile until a little over a year ago, when her husband Josh (after some heavy hinting on her part) bought her a sewing machine!

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In her own words:

I started with making pillows. Last June, I taught myself the back stitch (very simple) and started doing embroidery. I was following a few people on Instagram that really inspired me to want to learn (@gulushthreads, @mytrashandtreasure, @emptydotroom). I was sewing a lot of pillows and we were running out of room to keep them so I ended up switching to banners after awhile. I had had a few friends and family members request pillows and embroideries back in August so I decided to make a little business out of it, that’s how I came up with pin and thread co. Sewing can also turn into an expensive hobby so I figured if I could sell a few things here and there that might help even things out. But it has mostly been, throughout the last year, a creative outlet for me.

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We’ve wanted to do a giveaway for awhile but wanted it to be something really special, and we couldn’t be happier with this banner! It is all the things we love: earthy, simple, locally made, a message we feel strongly about, and a spring/floral theme! Sarah did an AMAZING job and we are SO excited to give this beautiful banner to one of you lovely readers!

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So now you’re probably all wondering, how the heck do I get my hands on this thing?! Well.. I’m glad you asked.

To enter this contest giveaway, simply follow our Instagram, @OakandEarth, follow @PinandThreadCo, and like the giveaway image on both feeds. (We will be checking, so please don’t forget any steps!) For extra entries you can tag friends in the comments (one friend per comment please!) and each person you tag will give you an entry! You can also re-post the giveaway image. Just make sure you tag us (@OakandEarth ) in the post!

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So there you have it! Go! Hurry! Enter! Contest ends May 27th!

As always, live healthy, love hard, and bloom where you’re planted.

-Shelby

Me & My Big Ideas Happy Planners

What a whirlwind life has been lately…

For those of you who have been keeping up with me here on Oak & Earth, you will know 2016 has been a hard one for me thus far. So, you can imagine my excitement when I recently was informed I’d been chosen for an amazing new position at Kendal King Group! My official job title is, “Project Coordinator,” for a new-ish division of the company called Soapbox Insights & Influence.

The really great thing about it is that THEY asked ME to interview! They saw some of my blogging/social media work and apparently thought I could bring fresh perspective to the table. I don’t know about you guys, but I have NEVER had something fall in my lap like that before. After what feels like an awful lot of setbacks and disappointments, I can honestly say this came exactly when I needed it.

So of course, I took this opportunity to buy a new planner I’d been lusting after for weeks from Me & My Big Ideas. Its called a Happy Planner and I chose the “Botanical Garden” design for obvious reasons (Duh – it’s gorgeous). One doesn’t just start a new job without a fancy new planner, right? Right.

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Now that I have it in my hands, I wanted to give you guys my take on it. Hopefully, if you’re in the market for a new planner yourself, this will be a good reference for you.

I chose the “Botanical Garden” design because it had the floral elements that I love, but also had a lot of metallic accents giving it that bit of pizazz that I find myself quite drawn to.

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I love that at the beginning of each month, there are these (I’ll call them) memorabilia pages. I will easily be able to flip back, and reference what my life looked like during any given month – what my goals were, what I was reading, where I traveled, etc. – I think that’s just ingenious. Life is busy. Sometimes we simply don’t have time to journal about it all. Plus, how gorgeous is that page design?

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Two words for you guys. Disc system. Thats right – you can remove and add pages to your Happy Planner with this innovative disc system. Which is great, because they have tons of options for customizing your Happy Planner. And the discs come in different colors too.

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I also purchased the coordinating washi tape and I am so happy with it. Not only is it beautiful and goes perfectly with my planner, but I love being able to use it on other things too! For some reason it makes my whole life feel more organized.. I have especially liked using it to label the essential oil rollers that I make. (Speaking of which – look for my DIY essential oil roller recipes, coming soon!)

The quotes found on the bottom of the (oh-so-spacious) weekly layouts are wonderful. I’m a sucker for a good quote – throw in a nice floral design and I’m sold!

Probably the only thing I don’t love about this planner is that it starts in July. But, it’s an 18-month planner so thats always nice.

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So there you have it! With a great design, super functional layout, and awesome fun features, I can say that I am a happy planner!

*Note* – This is NOT a sponsored post. I was not paid to or asked to write it. I simply wanted to give my honest opinions about a product I am currently using, in hopes that it would help other consumers.

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby

PS: Grab a mug from Sweet Water Decor and enjoy a cuppa while laying out all your sweet plans!

Life in the Ozarks: Spring Update

Spring and Autumn have always been my favorite seasons. Some of the things I love the most about Spring are the rise in temperatures, the abundance of daylight, and all of the new life – especially the flowers!

This year has been pretty rough.. so I was very grateful to get some much needed downtime this past weekend. Some friends and I stayed at an amazing cabin in the Ozarks and really had the opportunity to appreciate all the beauty the natural state has to offer this time of year. We were NOT disappointed.

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The beautiful cabin of a family friend, nestled in the Ozark Mountains

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The cabin was made from refurbished wood, sourced from several different buildings, and was absolutely beautiful

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I’m a sucker for a good porch… Just add coffee!

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We explored a new area of Lost Valley and Jeff was not enthused.. Kidding! He is the biggest nature lover of them all! He was just helping me test my new lens! (Which i am in love with)

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Last sunset at the cabin

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Sometimes it is crucial to take a step back out of your busy life, unplug, and just rest. I hope you all take the opportunity to get out, and do some exploring of your own this Spring! If you need a quick reference, try my guide to hiking the Ozarks.

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. – Thoreau

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in your mail box? Do you remember a time when you had to wait weeks instead of seconds to hear from someone? With the advent of email, texting, and instant messaging came the swift decline of what is now affectionately (for me anyway) referred to as “snail mail”. While modern forms of communication and social media undeniably have their perks, there is something about old fashioned mail that is incomparable.

Mailing a letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. You pick out the stationary or card and pen. You spend time writing out your thoughts and questions, stories and sentiments. You touch the paper with your hands. You seal the envelope. You place it in your mail box, and they retrieve it from theirs. They open the letter you sealed. They touch the same paper. They read the words you wrote by hand. There is an intimacy there that texting can never come close to.

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I picked up this stationary, dip pen, and wax seal kit at a little shop in Florence, Italy

For those of you who have been following along with us for awhile, you might recall that I have a pen-pal, Becca, whom I have been corresponding with for the past 15 years. In fact, the last piece of mail I’ve received was a “Save-the-Date” to her wedding. Becca and I started writing when we were in 5th grade, but didn’t meet until we were 21. I was studying abroad in Scotland at the time, and she came to visit me from her home in New England. Becca and I have both experienced and been through so much since we began writing all those years ago, and she has been such a blessing to me. I never would have had the pleasure of knowing her, had it not been for handwritten letters. (Becca is also an amazingly talented illustrator and you should definitely check out her work here!)

Another thing I love about letters is that they are a legacy. They don’t disappear with the click of a button. They are a written history to be treasured and passed down through generations. I have letters from my great grandparents and grandparents, many of whom have now passed, and I deeply treasure the words they left behind. Seeing the handwriting of someone you can no longer speak to is almost like them being there with you for a moment as you read.

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In the fast-paced world of 2016, NOW is the time to slow down… and start writing letters. To help you get started, I’ve created this Pinterest board with lots of letter writing/snail mail inspiration! I also encourage you to go out and buy some stationary! Letter writing is an art, and writing on beautiful stationary is an easy way to “pretty up” your missives. Some of my favorite places to pick up something special are Rifle Paper Co., Studio Oh!, and locally, Shindig Paperie!

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Some of the stationary I’ve amassed

Do you love letters? Are you passionate about snail mail? Comment below and tell us why! Share memories of your favorite letter-writing/receiving experiences. We can’t wait to connect with you! Maybe you’ll even wind up with your own pen-pal.

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby

PS: Grab a mug from Sweet Water Decor, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and get writing!!

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