health · life curation · relaxation

Take a Moment to Feel the Sun

The sun is such a blessing. I feel very connected with sun energy, and I embrace the times where I can go outside and simply feel the sun on my skin. My good friend Diana mentioned more than once that I need to intentionally connect with sun energy, and that’s why I’m devoting this post to her. I’m listening, chica. I’m choosing to regularly connect with this incredible energy source.

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Enjoy the sunshine

This life-sustaining ball of fire continues to remind me of all of the good things about life. Delicious fresh fruit and vegetables grow because THE SUN IS. My skin grows to a deeper chocolate hue every summer because THE SUN IS. Time and all things that we use to measure the span of our lives is possible because THE SUN IS.

So, if you can, take a moment, step outside and feel the sun. Let the rays kiss your skin and serve as a reminder that every day is magical. And then, embrace the other magic that shows up for you: it surrounds you, and it is waiting for you to see it.

art · life curation · reading list · relaxation

What I’ve Been Working On. . .

Let’s just take a moment to smile at the fact that we’ve made it to April. How blessed are we to see a new month and to know that things will only get better from here!

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I know that I’ve taken a couple of mini-hiatuses from the blog. As you all know, I’ve been nurturing my body after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year, but I haven’t allowed my diagnosis to stop me from pursuing my passions. At the beginning, this diagnosis felt like a hard stop: I had to relearn so many things and find a new normal.

I’ve had to adjust the pace at which I work toward my goals, but I am happy to report that, as I get better, I have more energy to work on the things that delight me. I still struggle with chronic pain, fatigue, and the mental fog that comes along with fibro, but those symptoms are not as pronounced as they used to be, which is such a blessing!

One of the biggest projects that has given me joy in the past year has been my publishing company, Bronze Butterfly Books. This precious project has allowed me to channel my creativity into designing beautiful notebooks and journals. I would love if you check out my website and let me know what you think.

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The bookstore is open!

I’ll have more special things coming from the book shop in the weeks to come. Thank you all for your continued love, support, and good vibes. Have a great day!

 

health · life curation · relaxation

NOW is the Time to Make Self Care a Priority

In light of current events, I have more free time and energy to devote to this blog. And now, more than ever, I’ve been called to resume my posting and offer encouragement and advice.

Our world has changed drastically in the past five months. I recall tutoring ESL students from China and they mentioned the effects of COVID-19 in its infancy. In a way, I was aware of the virus earlier than many of my family and friends, due to my students that provided me an inside view of what life in quarantine is like.

In the US, many of us are experiencing quarantines and mandatory shelter-in-place while we brace ourselves for the impact of the virus. This is a drastic change from life as we knew it, and the store shortages, sudden school closures, economic instability and unexpected loss of employment are devastating for many.

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I cannot emphasize enough that NOW is the time to invest more in your self care. If you are able to read this post, you’re likely more fortunate and privileged than you realized. Investing in taking care of yourself in small (or significant) ways can do wonders for reducing your stress levels (stress negatively impacts the immune system, which you need to be at peak performance during this time). It also helps you to relax so that you can come up with solutions to your problems or, at least, to simply appreciate the good things that are already present in your life.

I don’t write this to sound dismissive and flippant: certainly plugging “self care” when people are suffering around the world may not come across as the most politically correct position to take at this time. However, I’m an advocate for self care in its minutest forms: that can mean doing some deep breathing to help calm your nerves, or stretches in the morning to loosen the tension that your body is holding, or even reminding yourself to drink more water (hydration is important).

Please continue to take care of yourselves, and I look forward to sharing more with you all tomorrow. Goodbye for now!

relaxation · travel

Review: TownePlace Suites Hotel in Cary, NC

 

I’ve been to Raleigh numerous times, but when I visit, I stay in Cary, a small incorporated town bordering the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Every time I visit, I stay at the TownePlace Suites, a cozy aparthotel that meets all of my needs.

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Quiet? Check!

Conveniently located? Check!

Reasonably priced? Check!

Ample amenities? Check!

Eligible for reward points? Check!

I always love my stays here and I’ve raved about it each and every time. However, I wasn’t blogging when I’ve visited previously. So now that I’ve had a recent visit, I can finally share this information with you all!

Instead of adding a bunch of photos, you can check out this video room tour. I stayed in the studio-style suite with an “office” (it had a desk area). If you’re ever in the area, I can’t recommend this hotel enough!

food · relaxation

A Brief Guide to Hot Tea

As National Hot Tea Month draws to a close, I’m a little sad. I’ve shared all of my hot tea pics with you all on Instagram, I’ve made a post about tea on this blog, and now I need to find some new content for February! However, given the big trip I’m taking in a couple of weeks (more about that coming soon!), I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of writing fodder.

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My tea and coffee-inspired painting that I did when I went to a Creativity Workshop at Blue Bee Cider a couple of weeks ago

 To close out the month, I want to share some of my tea drinking tips with you all. These are just a few of my observations, but I’d love for you all to weigh in with any tea tips that you may have!

 –          Have a dedicated tea cup. There’s something so soothing about the ceremony of using a dedicated tea cup (or, in my case, a tea mug) to drink your beverage. If you associate tea drinking with relaxation, then the very sight of your tea cup will put you at ease. Since I drink lots of tea, I have three cups that I use. I enjoy each of them.

–          Know that there is a tea for everyone. Even if you aren’t a fan of black tea, there are so many varieties, with so many flavors, that it’s pretty impossible to conclude that there is NO tea that you enjoy. Keep trying, and don’t be afraid to reach out to tea professionals to learn more about the available tea options.

–          Carefully follow the instructions on your tea packaging. This is especially crucial for expensive teas. If the instructions say to steep for 3 – 5 minutes, don’t cut that time short (you’ll end up with a weak tea) nor exceed it (you’ll have an overpowering and likely bitter beverage at the end). Certain teas are best enjoyed when using very hot water, as opposed to boiling water. So pay attention to the instructions and follow them!

–          Feel free to dress up your teas. Honey, lemon, cream, sugar: add whatever you like. However, NEVER mix cream and lemon – the combination will curdle in your cup (yuck!)

–          Listen to your body and only drink teas that make you feel good. I used to like a tea that was designed as a detox (more about that in the next tip). However, it’d leave me feeling faint when I drank it. I had to cut it out, even though I enjoyed it. Likewise, some of my favorite teas can only be enjoyed before 12 PM, because I’m very caffeine-sensitive and drinking caffeinated tea at a later hour will keep me awake all night. Listening to my body and adjusting accordingly was a wise move for me, and I advise that you all do it, too.

–          Drop any notion that a tea will help you lose fat or “detox” your body. I know celebrities are constantly selling tea and other beverages designed to help people shed weight quickly. Don’t fall for the hype. You may temporarily lose water weight or even speed up your metabolism a bit, but the best way to lose weight or detox is a healthy diet full of high quality, well-prepared foods and exercise that both safely increases your heart rate and effectively strengthens the muscles.

–          Visit a tea room. This is on my to-do list for the year. Every friend of mine that has done it highly recommends it. The owners of these tea rooms are genteel, knowledgeable and friendly. They are a great resource for learning about tea and how to pair tea with foods. A visit to a tea room is also a great reason to get dressed up and spend time with friends!

That’s it for me, beloveds! I look forward to chatting with you all soon!

life curation · relaxation

All About Tea . . .

Have you all been following me on Instagram? If so, then you’ve seen that I’ve been posting daily tea pictures ever since I found out that January is National Hot Tea Month (Southern Season said so!)

I’m a tea enthusiast so I’ve been having a ball with the tea theme. I’ve been challenging myself to post a different tea every day (only one day missed, and not because I didn’t drink tea, but because I simply forgot to take a picture!) And, since I’m also a tea hoarder, it looks like I’ll be able to get through the month of January with no tea duplicates (and no, I didn’t have to purchase any new tea to make it happen!)

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(photo from All Free Download)

Did you all know there are tea consultants that you can employ to help you with selecting tea? Yes, there are experts that write about, teach about and work within the complex and beautiful world of tea. One of my personal favorite tea consultants is Jo Johnson, though, I didn’t learn about Jo through tea organizations or events. I saw her in this incredible video that discusses aging. Every woman in the video is striking, beautiful and vibrant, but there’s something about Jo’s presence that pierces your soul and holds your imagination captive. She *looks* like the kind of woman that floats around in her workshop, dispensing custom blended teas while chatting about adventures during her younger years and sharing invaluable life lessons.

Jo’s expertise allows her to instruct her clients on how to best pair different teas with appropriate foods, and she has the credentials to prove her capabilities. She also connects “avid tea enthusiasts with buyers & sellers of unique product offerings”. So if you’re looking for a rare and special tea, she’s the one to contact. You can visit her website here:

A Gift of Tea

I hope you all join in on the National Hot Tea Month festivities! After all, it only comes once a year!

Until tomorrow, take care.

food · relaxation

Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

After having a long and draining work week, I was ready to kick off my weekend and enjoy the holiday. To celebrate, I made one of my favorite treats, a cup of hot chocolate.

But, I don’t make any old hot chocolate. I dress mine up considerably, so that it’s the kind of sumptuous treat that I savor slowly as I forget whatever stresses me. It’s perfect for unwinding at the end of a demanding week (like I mentioned) or for cuddling by the fireplace on a snowy evening. It’s an exquisite way to end your day, no matter the occasion.

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Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Bronzed Butterfly’s Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

  • 1 pack Swiss Miss regular hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • 1/4 (3 mini bars) Hershey Chocolate Bar (my preferred one is the Special Dark, but the milk chocolate works fine, too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter flavored extract
  • 2 Rolo candies
  • 6-8 oz hot water (almost boiling)
  • (optional) 1 oz rum or vodka (I used Smirnoff vanilla vodka in mine)

Combine  hot chocolate powder, butter extract, and 1 crumbled mini Hershey’s bar in a cup. Add 1/3 hot water and stir until all solid ingredients are mixed. Add Rolo candies and the remaining crumbled mini Hershey’s bars and add 1/3 more hot water, and stir until all ingredients are melted. Add remaining hot water and stir again. If adding optional ingredient, stir in last.

life curation · relaxation

Currently Listening To …

I was JUST talking about my love of Oprah yesterday (in my Words of Wisdom post). So it should be no surprise that I’m currently listening to pretty much every episode of the SuperSoul Conversations podcast (I listen on iTunes, but it’s also available on iHeartRadio, Podbean and Podbay .

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I love being able to listen to SuperSoul Sunday without having to be physically located by a television set. I also love that I can have little bits of inspiration everywhere that I go.

My current fave episodes are the ones with Phil Jackson, Iyanla Vanzant and former Vice President Joe Biden. I’ve listened to each of them more than once, as I try to glean all of the wisdom that they offered.

 Do you all have any favorite podcasts? Let me know all about them in the comments below!

festivals · relaxation

Weekend Shenanigans

Happy Friday, sweethearts! Yes, another weekend is upon us, and I, for one, am ecstatic! It’s been a hectic week and I’m ready to leap headfirst into the weekend! Also, Monday is a holiday (Columbus Day), so I’ll have an extended weekend. Let’s all do a dance for having an extra day off!

As it turns out, this weekend is extremely popular for Virginia festivals: I counted six festivals in Richmond and the surrounding areas. I have so many options: I don’t know where to start! If you’re in the area, the Richmond Times Dispatch has a list of all of the October festivals going on this weekend.

Saturday evening, I’ll be checking into a hotel and enjoying a change of scenery. I won’t be venturing far, but it will be nice to relax in a space that isn’t so stimulating. As much as I love my loaded-down bookshelves, I enjoy taking a break from looking at them LOL!

Aside from this weekend’s festivals, I should have enough time to get deep into the October book selection and work on the next post in the Preparing for 2018 series. I may even have enough time to squeeze in another vintage movie. The last time I watched an old movie, I saw “Gang Smashers” (I can’t wait to tell you all about that one! It’ll be in another post, pinkie swear!). But I still have to watch “Sepia Cinderella” and “Hell’s Angels“, so maybe this weekend will be a good time to squeeze in another movie.

For now, enjoy a couple of screenshots of the gorgeous Nina Mae McKinney in “Gang Smashers“. And be sure to get out and ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND! These are the perfect fall weekends that we’ll be longing for when winter comes. So SAVOR them, and have some fun!

 

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Nina Mae McKinney in “Gang Smashers”

 

 

 

 

 

food · relaxation

Vegan Pea Soup Recipe

As the seasons change, I find myself reaching for more comfort: less light and airy experiences, more warm, full-bodied pleasures. This desire for comfort comes in all forms, from clothing I wear, to conversations with friends, to foods I choose to eat.

It occurred to me that I was reaching my “comfort” period when I stumbled across a bag of frozen peas and decided to whip up a batch of pea soup. I love how light yet filling this soup is: it really is a perfect meal for the fall. I ate it with garlic knots and a small glass of white wine on the side. To me, the lightness of peas – a summer vegetable – contrasts well with the heartier feel of this soup. Some people add mint to their version but I choose to omit mint: that herb feels very “summery” to me, and that wasn’t the feel I was going for.

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I don’t frequently post recipes, but I think this one is worth the share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Pea Soup Recipe

  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • Top of one leek, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable spread (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt, pepper and dried chives to taste
  • Vegan sour cream (as garnish)

Melt vegetable spread in a medium pot, then add leek tops and onions. Saute for five minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add vegetable broth and water, and bring to a boil. Add bag of peas, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow soup to cool for at least 15 – 20 minutes.

Pour cooked peas and broth into a blender, and blend on low until smooth. If the soup has cooled down too much, return to pot and reheat over low heat. Pour soup into serving bowls and sprinkle black pepper, salt and dried chives onto each serving. If desired, put a dollop of vegan sour cream on top of each bowl.

Serves 4