life curation · relaxation

Welcome to 2022!

We made it!

I hope your New Year Day was fantastic! If it wasn’t everthing that you’d hoped, just take heart in the fact that it’s only one day out of 365: you are able to create even better experiences in the year to come!

As for me, I had a chance to bring in my New Year Day in the BEST way: re-reading one of my favorite books (Rejuvenate! It’s Never Too Late by Eartha Kitt), journaling in one notebook, working on my vision journal, and sipping my favorite wine. I set some intentions and savored the moment when the clock turned 12.

I didn’t go out of my home because there’s no need to take a risk with my health unnecessarily, and it wasn’t like I had many friends in town, anyway. But I was happy to spend this day enjoying my personal space, and I feel that the experience of bringing in the new year in a space you enjoy is a great way to set the tone for the year.

I also started working on future blog posts (which, honestly, is what I do on most weekends, so long as I’m not too busy). I have a lot to share in the upcoming year and organizing my thoughts beforehand will help me tremendously with ensuring that those ideas are shared in the most effective way.

I had a wonderful and peaceful entrance into the new year, and I’m excited for all the incredible experiences that will find their way to me in the months to come. On a side note, I find it no coincidence that this is my 777th post: a good omen if ever there was one!

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health · life curation · luxury · relaxation

Luxury Is Your Birthright

After spending some time listening to those amazing audiobooks last month (you can see my June book list here), I felt like I was buzzing. It’s been quite some time since I felt limitless and excited about the possibilities that lay before me. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the pandemic easing up and life getting back to some semblance of normal. Or, maybe it’s because my fibromyalgia hasn’t been giving me any major issues recently (yay for being flare-free!). On the other hand, it could be the fact that it’s starting to consistently feel like summertime here in Virginia, and the sunny days and warm temps do wonders for my mood.

Whatever the reason, I was already feeling pretty good. But these books absolutely upleveled my mood from good to great. In addition to general mood-lifting, the audiobooks I enjoyed reminded me of the power of my conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the fact that I am entitled to live a beautiful life, and that can include luxuries that enhance my experience here on earth.

However, listening to these books also made me think about an incident that occurred earlier this year, which I will regale you with in a moment. To preface, a few months ago, I was thinking about living luxuriously and how to create a more opulent home environment, but I was plagued with a lot of guilt. I love nice things, but in the middle of a global health crisis, it felt silly to desire my normal luxury purchases. And, when I did shop, my purchased amounted to nothing more than retail therapy, because I was under a lot of stress and needed pretty, shiny distractions.

The source of my stress was directly connected to my home environment. Two of my elderly relatives started living in my home during the pandemic, and, despite having adequate space, an abundance of food, and all of the electronics needed to keep us occupied, the environment still felt tense and unhappy. The spirit of discontent was heavy in my home, and it was weighing on me.

My relatives were ready to go back to their home. And they were being unpleasant in my home, in order to communicate their desire to leave. However, their home needed several repairs, as well as fumigation and deep cleaning, before they could moved. I was unsure how long it would take until all of those tasks could be accomplished, so I couldn’t provide them with a definite return date. That uncertainty stressed me out even more than the unpleasant behavior that I was witnessing daily.

Now, on to the incident that the books brought to mind: in the midst of this extremely stressful home situation, my good friend Kalifia mentioned to me that I should get away for a couple of days. But, on short notice, I figured that I couldn’t go very far. This part was true – going far wasn’t really an option – but it was only one side of what she proposed. She emphasized to me that, even if I couldn’t go very far away from home, I could still take a few days to get away.

I couldn’t argue with her logic. I needed a break, and it was within my budget. But I felt bad about taking a mini-break: I could have used the money for something else, I could have stayed at home in order to help take care of my elderly family members, I could have used the time to clean up a bit more and catch up on chores, etc.,. The reasons to say “no” were numerous. But there was only one reason to say “yes”, and, fortunately for me, it was louder than all of the “no”s combined. The “yes” simply said,

You need this.

Despite my guilt and hesitance, I decided to book a room at a lovely hotel about 20 minutes from my home. I checked in a few days later, and I laid around in the room and enjoyed the silence. The following day, I shopped at an upscale mall near the hotel, then I returned back to my room. I ordered food delivery each day, and I ate whatever I wanted. It felt ridiculous, self-indulgent, and positively unnecessary. Except, I needed every moment of it. Those days away from home restored me. It was a luxury, but it was crucial to helping me feel like myself again.

Do you ever feel that you don’t deserve the best that life has to offer? Does it ever feel like you need to EARN the luxurious parts of life? Do you feel foolish whenever you reach out for luxury? If you have, then let me assure you: luxury is your right. Actually, it’s your birthright: when you were born, you came entitled to the best that life has to offer. You are entitled to live a life that feels good to you, leaving you with beautiful, satisfying memories to comfort you as you age and eventually expire.

It took me reaching the end of my rope before I reconnected to my entitlement to happiness, peace, joy, and, yes, luxury. The beautiful thing about luxury is that we get to define it for ourselves. My definition doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is forgetting that I’m always entitled to feeling luxurious based on my definition.

I’m thankful for remembering who I am and what I deserve. I’m even more thankful that I can use my birthright to inform the decisions that I make, and I am determined to consistently make choices that honor this.

How do you define luxury? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

beauty · life curation · luxury

Getting Crafty: Planning to Make Bath Bombs

Since we’re all stuck in the house for the indefinite future, I figured this would be a great time to explore some of the curiosities I’ve had for a while. One of those curiosities involves those neat little fizzy bath bombs. I knew that these were frighteningly simple to make, but I’ve never had the ingredients to make my own. Until now.

Untitled design (11)

First, I looked up some basic recipes to see which ingredients and tools I need. I’m using this recipe from Our Oily House as a guide, because it has great reviews and looked simple enough. I went ahead and invested in a few supplies so that I can start making my own bath bombs at home. I went to Amazon and picked up a mold:

I also got some citric acid:

I ordered some epsom salt as well, but then I found a more affordable salt at a local store, so I’ll be returning that to Amazon this week. I already had baking soda, essential oils, cornstarch, and coconut oil, so once the rest of my order is received, I’ll be ready to experiment.

I can’t wait to share my fizzy goodies with you all! I’m so excited to try this!

 

 

(post features affiliate links)

art · life curation

My (Not So) New Hobby – Painting!

During my time away, I had a chance to resume one of my interests: painting! There is something so therapeutic about applying paint to a canvas . . . The brushstrokes, the blending of color, the magic of taking a concept and turning it into a tangible work of art. I love to paint and I can’t wait until I have more time to devote to my craft. Until then, here are a couple of pieces that I’ve created:

Me with a piece I completed earlier this year: I premiered it in Los Angeles in June 2019

Recent piece in progress

I’m so eager to see where this curiosity leads me. I would love to continue developing my skill, take a few classes, and work with some new techniques and materials. This hobby relaxes me and gives me a much needed creative outlet, so I’m sure I’ll have more paintings to share in the future!

 

 

art · life curation

Trying My Hand At Painting . . .

Happy, happy, happy Friday! I am so happy to see this week finally come to an end. It hasn’t been a stressful week but I haven’t had as much downtime as I usually enjoy. As a result, I’m far more exhausted than normal. But with the weekend upon us, I’m looking forward to getting some glorious rest!

A few weeks ago, I stopped by Barnes & Noble and walked around for nostalgia’s sake. I can’t tell you how many days and evenings I spent in this bookstore, just inhaling the scent of paper and possibilities . . .  On my way out, I saw an art kit and picked it up. I found myself wanting to buy it, which is funny, because I’ve gone to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby who knows how many times, and I’ve never been moved to buy painting supplies. Following inspiration, I decided to buy the kit.

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My new art kit – such a bargain!

I’ve always been creative, but painting is a whole new world for me. And before anyone thinks that I’m trying to be Monet or Picasso, trust me, those aren’t my aspirations. At all LOL! However, I do think that practicing my hand at painting will give me a deeper appreciation for the art and skill involved with creating some of the masterpieces that I love so well. So, I figured I’d start painting a bit when I have downtime again. I also think this will be a good thing to do while listening to some soothing music or even a podcast (because I’m always trying to multitask. . . )

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Inside of the kit

After taking so many online classes and participating in umpteen webinar trainings to maintain one of my certifications, I figured it was time to enjoy an activity that doesn’t feel like “school”. It’s time to do something strictly for the pleasure of it, and that allows me to “learn” in a different way. So, painting seems like a good idea. I’ll post my “masterpieces” as I complete them. Here’s hoping that I can start painting and sharing my finished works in October and November.

That’s all for today. I hope you all have a great Friday, and I’ll check in tomorrow. Take care!

 

travel

Upcoming Travel Plans – September and October 2018

You all may recall a few weeks ago, when I mentioned that I was planning a trip to Charlotte to visit my family. However, that trip was supposed to happen this past weekend . . . the same weekend that Florence decided to pay the Carolinas a visit. As a result, I had to cancel my plans and reschedule. It looks like I am all set to travel to Charlotte at the end of the month, which works better for my overall schedule.

However, that is going to be a small trip, and it’s not the trip that I’m most excited about (though I’m always excited to spend time with family!) No, what I’m really excited about is that I’m going on a cruise in October! I generally go on a family cruise every other year, and this is the year that we’re due for another family vacay. So we’ll be cruising to the Caribbean and spending 7 days on the water together with a few thousand strangers LOL!

cruise

I’m usually not too excited about cruises, because I’ve done a lot of them and they tend to become indistinguishable from one another. But I’m more excited about it this time for a few reasons. Firstly, we’re going to Honduras, which I’ve never been to before. I’m always more excited about visiting a new country than I am about cruising in general. Secondly, this is the first cruise I’ve been on with my favorite cousin in about 4 years (she skipped the cruise we took in 2016). Finally, there’s something so soothing about being on the water: I can really think clearly when I’m sailing. So, I know that this cruise won’t be any different: I’m looking forward to using that time to relax and think through some things.

Those are the trips I have planned for the next 6 weeks. I’ll post travel updates as the dates get nearer: there’s always so much prep involved with these things (though that part is always fun to me!).

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!)

allfreedownload

(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.