Don’t just bloom, THRIVE where you’re planted

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Have you ever felt that there is more in this life, that there is something more to it than just high school, college, work, and retirement? Like maybe, just maybe there’s a greater purpose, a deeper meaning, or something beyond the typical.

I definitely feel this way often. One of my greatest fears is looking back on my life with regret, not for all the things I did, but for all the things I didn’t do.

Take a minute and think about where you’re at in your life right at this moment.

Really consider it for just a second.

What are your dreams? What is something you aspire to do that seems daunting or even impossible? Now how are you right now in your life preparing yourself to achieve your God-given dreams and passions?

At different times in my life I’ve reflected and felt different things. I’ve been both satisfied and frustrated.

Right now I’m caught somewhere in the middle. I have no reason to complain. God has blessed me immeasurably, but I also feel this frustration that I want to do more.

I’m a dreamer, a planner, and I aspire to do big things. I have so many ideas and dreams. I’m also an all or nothing person. So if I’m in, I’m going to be all in. When it comes to life, I easily get frustrated trying to do it “perfectly”. Buuttt as we all know, life is not perfect 🙂 And that’s ok.

In this life I am coming to realize that it’s really not about me. It’s about Jesus. And when I’m weak, He is strong. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. AMEEEN, enough said.

But I’ll keep going because maybe you’re struggling with where your life is at too, and maybe you have big plans, dreams, and aspirations too.

Guess what? They are gifts from God! He wants you and me to shoot big. I mean Jesus sent it pretty hard by defeating death and raising from the dead!!

So here is an idea to grapple with. What if we didn’t just bloom, but we THRIVED right where God has planted us. Sometimes I get so caught up in all the doing that I forget that I am in high school and I’m where I’m at for a reason. I believe that instead of just accepting where you’re at and simply being, thriving where God has planted you is the idea of embracing where God has you and making the most of it.

I believe it begins with accepting where you’re at right now because God truly has you where you’re at for a reason. The next step is asking God for help and guidance for where you’re wanting to move and improve. Tell him your desires, tell him your frustrations, and ask for His will to be carried out in your life. Because in the heart of God’s will is his very best for you. So if in doubt of where you need to go, just pray for His will, and if you know where you want to be, then continue to pray for God’s will!

❤ I want you to know that you can thrive and you can do colossal things in this life for the glory of God in His strength! Don’t settle with just blooming. A flower can bloom and then wilt and die if not properly watered, fed, and nourished. Be a flower that blooms and thrives by nourishing and feeding your soul with God, His Word, and the people He places in your life. He has given you passions and dreams for a reason! Don’t settle with a mundane life or being told that you can’t. There are no limits to what you can do or how you can be used with God equipping you.

So pray for the right open doors and opportunities, and then share your aspirations with other like-minded believers! If you don’t have any, pray for the right people to be put in your path.

I mainly want you to understand and take away the idea that you can use right where you’re at as a breeding ground for your dreams and goals. Whatever you want to do, if God is calling you to it, go for it! Don’t just wait until you “get older”. If you have a knack for photography, use it! If your niche is graphic design, do it! If you’re a leader- then lead, if you’re a baker- then bake, a musician- then play, a blogger- then blog! You get the idea.

God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, especially when it’s in the details and plans He has for our lives. So aim high, dream big, trust the Lord and watch Him work in your life.

Here is a quote that is so true. I love it and I hope it encourages you!

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Abingdon, Virginia

Well, it has been quite a long time since I last posted. School and other things filled my schedule, making some things take a temporary backseat. No worries, however, because I’m back and ready to make your heart happy with fall inspiration. Fall really is one of my favorite times of year. I say one because the Christmas season is also a favorite of mine. I enjoy flowers and sunshine during the other half of the year but not like I enjoy the fall and winter months. Autumn ushers in my favorite scents, foods, drinks, clothes, weather, and outings.

Two weeks ago I was blessed to go on a beautiful vacation with my family to Virginia. I used to believe Virginia a boring state not so long ago, but Abingdon changed my mind for the better. It’s a quaint, historic town filled with antique shops, delicious eats, biking, and peaceful, rolling hills. We stayed at one of the gorgeous cottages at The Creeper’s End Lodging. Its name comes from the simple fact that it’s a hop and a skip away from the end of the famous Creeper bike trail.

Day 1: Our vacation started Wednesday, and like any good vacation should, we started our road trip with Starbucks- #standard! Our next stop was the Sunrise Grille, a lovely restaurant in Boone, North Carolina. Honestly, it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had: Ezekiel bread, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, plus hash browns. The food really was one of the best parts for me, and this was only the beginning! We literally experienced so much delicious food!

After breakfast we spent the day in Boone and enjoyed ice cream in Blowing Rock. The second best meal of the day was after we arrived in Abingdon at Pecan 128. I had an orzo spinach salad, topped with chili rubbed salmon. To. Die. For. It was absolutely perfect in every way. Oh, and I might have had a slice of coconut cream pie…

Day 2: We spent our second day on the Creeper Trail, which was some much welcomed physical activity. Breakfast was fabulous! We ate at White Burch, which was right up my alley, offering raw, whole foods! I had a paleo smoothie- I know right?! Afterward, we hit the trail and had it mostly to ourselves. The trail span about 34 miles, but most bike only half. We chose to bike the second half for the first time, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful! The trail was peaceful and welcoming.

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The River Cafe was our lunch stop along the trail and it was adorable. We were greeted by the sweetest people, who kindly explained the menu and recommended their delicious chai tea latte:) All of their menu items are based off of what’s local and in-season. I had the special of the day, which was a creole plate filled with every kind of seafood imaginable and served with home-ade cornbread. Key lime pie was dessert and I couldn’t get enough! Every part of our stop here was wonderful, right down to the gazebo along the river.IMG_20171005_135632079.jpgIMG_20171005_131424494IMG_20171005_134127670img_20171005_143525810.jpg

Day 3: Friday we enjoyed White Burch… twice! what can I say? Why fix what’s not broken 😉 My breakfast was an absolutely amazing smoothie bowl and a coffee with coconut oil and grass-fed butter. After breakfast we walked around town and shopped in different stores. About lunch time we decided to go for it- we ate at an exquisite dessert restaurant called Anthony’s Desserts. It’s every sweet lover’s heaven! I had a seven layer type bar with a graham cracker crust- parfait! We ended Friday with a play at the famous Barter Theater and our third meal of the day at, you guessed it, the White Burch. I had the best flat bread pizza with veggies that I’ve ever had! Hands down. 🙂

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Day 4: Saturday was our final day in this charming town. We ate at Zazzy’s, which is a cafe style restaurant that also has their own coffee roastery. I had a crab quiche and it was wonderful! We then departed and drove to Wilksboro, where we went to the apple festival. My mom and I had caramel apples- oh for the love of caramel ❤ We then visited our favorite apple orchard and bought enough apples to feed an army, and ended the day with the best fried apple pies.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this peek into our family vacation! Nothing says fall like the mountains and coffee! I’m excited to see what this beautiful season has to offer! I pray your week has been blessed and that you get to enjoy all the pleasures autumn has to offer this year.

 

Smoothie Madness

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All hail the smoothie bowl.

Smoothies are one of my most favorite healthy drinks. I have a smoothie at least 5 or 6 times a week. One of my favorite things about them, are all the different flavors and recipes! Smoothies can be tailored to satisfy any taste-bud! Among my favorites are chocolate and peanut-butter smoothies, as well as, avocado matcha!

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Today, I wanted to inspire your smoothie to go to the next level- all hail the smoothie bowl! ❤ Smoothie bowls are perfect if you want a smoothie plus a crunch, and you can literally pile them high with as many or as few toppings as you like.

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The key to any smoothie bowl is your frozen fruit. What sets smoothie bowls apart is the consistency. Smoothies are liquid-y if you will, but smoothie bowls are thicker and also smooth. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that ice will give you the desired consistency, because it won’t. Too much ice will hinder you from having a smooth smoothie 😉

Frozen fruit, bananas in particular, is what will make your smoothie bowl perfect! It’s best to take a couple of bananas, freeze them, and just keep them on hand. Once you have a frozen banana, the rest is up to your imagination. You can make a chocolate, a chocolate peanut butter, a vanilla, a berry, or a green smoothie, and then add any toppings you like. For my smoothie bowls, I like to start out with a cup of almond milk, my plant protein powder, a little ice and the rest of my ingredients, and then blend. The less liquid the better. So if your blender begins to have trouble blending everything, just add around a tablespoon of water at a time until everything is blended.

My favorite thing about smoothie bowls is that they are loaded with nutrients, and, if made right, have a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Plus, there are a wide range a flavors.

>Down below are a list of suggested topping ideas!

Toppings:

  • berries
  • coconut flakes
  •  chia seeds
  • flax seeds
  • oats
  • buckwheat groats
  • granola
  • cinnamon
  • cocoa nibs
  • pepitas
  • sea salt
  • nut butter
  • nuts
  • honey
  • goji berries
  • hemp seeds
  • dried fruit

 

I hope you feel more inspired now with your smoothies! Adding them to your diet with the right toppings is a simple step to tastefully heighten your health! Enjoy ❤

 

Healthy Chocolate Cake?

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Chocolate? Um yes, please!

Chocolate is among my favorite foods, especially when it involves peanut butter! However, health is also a top priority to me, and most cakes, pastries, and other goodies on the Little Debbie aisle involve loads of sugar, artificial ingredients, and preservatives. Not exactly healthy! But part of a healthy lifestyle involves balance. Yes, it’s difficult. If you’re like me, food is a big part of most of the plans and gatherings I have with family and friends. And let’s be real, most days around the mid-afternoon, when energy levels are low from a long day and the coffee buzz has warn off, a sweet craving usually makes its appearance. For me I have learned to use fruit as a yummy, refreshing dessert on most days. However, every now and then you want something more. So today, I have a delicious cake for when you want a little something chocolaty! And best of all… it’s dairy and refined sugar free!

The ganache recipe is from Sweet Laurel Bakery featured on The Chalkboard, and the cake and icing recipe is from Hellobee.

Also, a BIG thanks to my sweet older sis for letting me borrow her fabulous camera- it was a dream!

Now to the recipe 🙂

Makes a small 2 layer 8″ cake                                                                                                     >>It’s is important to note that this cake doesn’t rise very high, so two layers is more like one really thick layer.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

1 1/4 c whole spelt flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 c maple syrup or honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

 

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
1/3 c honey

 

Ganache Ingredients:

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk

 

Recipe Instructions:

1.) Beginning with the cake, heat your oven to 350° and grease two round 8″ inch pans.

2.)Next, add in the spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt in a bowl and combine with a spoon or wisk.

3.) In another bowl, mash the bananas well and then add in the melted butter, syrup (or honey), egg, and vanilla. Make sure to mix well. You might want to use a hand mixer to make sure you don’t have any banana clumps.

4.) Once wet ingredients are mixed, add in the dry ingredients, and mix again.

5.) Pour the batter in the pans, and place them in the oven side by side for around 25 minutes. I would set a timer for 20 minutes and then check it every couple minutes after that.

6.) For the cream cheese frosting, place your room temperature cream cheese in a bowl and mix. Then add in your peanut butter and honey and mix until everything is well-combined and smooth.

7.) To make this to-die-for ganache, begin by placing your chocolate and coconut oil in a sauce pan over low to medium heat and let it melt.

8.) Once the chocolate is completely melted, add in the maple syrup and stir together. Then add in the almond butter, and stir well with a spoon. After you have stirred it thoroughly, you can either allow it to sit or pour it.

  • If you are going to drizzle or pour it over something, then you will need to do so shortly after making it, as it becomes thicker the longer it sits. However, if you are going to use it as a filling or to pipe, definitely give it time to sit and stiffen- maybe 20 to 30 minutes.

9.) After the cake has baked and cooled, pour, and using a spatula, smooth a thick layer of ganache on one of the chocolate cake layers. Then place the other cake on top. To keep the cake even, you might want to shave off any “humps” or “lumps” on the tops of the cake layers. Also, if you pour the ganache while it is still “liquidy”, I would recommend putting it in the fridge for 8-10 minutes so the cake doesn’t ooze ganache or slide around 🙂

10.) Next, is the cream cheese icing. Simply use the spatula to ice the whole cake.

11.) To decorate I used banana slices, a dollop of the icing, and sprinkled some whole bucket-wheat groats on top for a crunch! Feel free to decorate anyway you would like. You could pipe roses or even add some coconut!

I hope you enjoy this cake recipe! Happy healthy baking and eating!

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The Mountain Waits.

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Mountains. Oh how I love them! I can remember being little and thinking that summer was supposed to be my favorite season and the beach my favorite place. I can remember thinking, “who could like the mountains?” Wow. Times have changed 🙂

I couldn’t imagine a world without the mountains. They bring me such joy. I love being in the mountains and walking through quaint towns, driving through the picturesque country, hiking on trails, camping, visiting local coffee shops. The mountains are therapeutic for me. They make me breathe a little deeper, think a little more, and smile.

About two weeks ago my family went to Blowing Rock, and I might or might not have had a pumpkin spice latte… I know you may role your eyes, but fall is my favorite season and the weather simply warranted one. I also might add that it was one of the best I’ve ever had! We ate at an adorable restaurant called the Foggy Rock Eatery, drank coffee from the Camp Coffee Roasters, visited and bought candy from the Mast General Store, we ate ice cream at Kilwins, and we walked through down town Blowing Rock. It was my kinda day, and not just because it was in the mountains, but also because we mainly ate in some form at every stop! 🙂

Just being there threw me into “fall” gear, much to my family and friend’s demise. It made me think about pumpkins and apples… I won’t get started because I might not be able to stop. hehe But it truly made me happy.

I opened my devotional a few days afterward, and it made me smile when I read it. It’s a perfect metaphor of the mountains in a spiritual sense.  Continue reading “The Mountain Waits.”

Welcome Summer

Happy Summer!

Today is the first day of summer! Although, I would argue that it’s felt like summer for a few weeks now… hehe The sweltering sun is hard to ignore, and not exactly my favorite element of summer. I’m more of a fall, cool and crisp weathered gal. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sun. I just don’t love all of the heat and humidity.

However, the sun is actually one of those blessings I believe many of us take for granted. For instance, it shines faithfully each morning and sets each night. It provides us vitamin D and gives us that goddess glowing skin. And it offers the perfect weather for an afternoon swim or a barbecue. The sun is a a blessing God has given us, a gift actually! So even though summer isn’t my favorite season, I do love the sunshine and a few other elements about summer…

So I thought I would make a list of ideas for your summer bucket list! Last year I made a list of all that I wanted to do and try throughout the course of the summer. It was a neat way for me to make the most out of my summer. So if you find yourself bored or lacking ideas, use mine or make your own list!

 

  1. Read a new book
  2. Plant something- a garden , flower, herb, or succulent!
  3. Visit somewhere you’ve never been
  4. Try a Pinterest recipe
  5. Clean out a junk drawer/ organize your closet or room
  6. Try yoga
  7. Try a new workout class
  8. Make an Instagram-inspired smoothie bowl
  9. Go on a hike
  10. Go camping
  11. Watch a movie you’ve never seen before
  12. Form a morning/night routine
  13. Host a sleepover
  14. Make a homemade face mask
  15. Visit a local coffee shop
  16. Go to the farmer’s market
  17. Sign up for a 5K
  18. Try a new hairstyle
  19. Find a new DIY to try
  20. Go to a movie-in-the-park
  21. Write a story
  22. Buy a new devotional
  23. Try calligraphy
  24. Write down your dreams
  25. Listen to a podcast
  26. Send a card to someone
  27. Visit an antique shop
  28. Go to an amusement park
  29. Catch lightening bugs
  30. Go on walks
  31. Take pictures of nature
  32. Drink a cup of coffee
  33. Journal

 

There you have it! These are some ideas to help you create a bucket list of your own! You can make a list with as many or as few things as you want. Just remember to take a moment and enjoy the little things in life- like the sunshine! And enjoy this summer by making the most of it! ❤

~Sophie Buchanan

Do It Yourself- Frothy Coffee

Screenshot_2017-06-14-14-30-30My Coffee Obsession…

As long as I can remember, I have loved coffee! It’s one of those things for me that puts a smile on my face and makes my heart happy. In my opinion no event is complete without a cup of Joe. My sisters also have equal obsessions. Anytime were together, my mom actually gets annoyed and waits for the question, “Can we stop at Starbucks?” Haha Like I said, no trip is complete without some Joe!

However, coffee can be expensive. Grabbing one here and there adds up, especially if you regularly go to Starbucks. I’m honestly a lover of all coffee, and I haven’t met a cup that I’ve stuck my nose up at yet! hehe So as long as I have my stevia and they have almond milk, I’m a happy camper! I’ve even grown to like coffee occasionally black or as long is I at least have stevia, because unfortunately, most, but not all places offer almond milk.

Anyway, to cut down on costs, the economical choice would be to use a thermos or Tervis cup and make your coffee at home. Though, if your like me, and you like froth, coffee at home just isn’t quite the same. I actually tried putting my coffee once in a jar and shook it to achieve froth. All I got was some sad bubbles. I also tried boiling it, which resulted in simply hot almond milk. Then the other day, it hit me to blend my coffee! I’m actually not quite sure what prompted me to try it, but I did! And the result… was perfect! Something in the blending process actually creates a thick, creamy layer of froth, and unlike my other methods, it doesn’t dissolve.

The best part is that you can blend your coffee hot for a latte or cold for a frappe! You can even pour over ice! So if you love coffee, definitely give this recipe a try! It’s incredibly simple, and the creamers, milk, and sweeteners can all be modified to your liking for the perfect, made-at-home, cup of Joe 😉

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Recipe Instructions:

 Coffee (Hot or cold)
 Milk of choice (I like almond milk best)
 1 Tbsp. Creamer (*optional) (My favorite is either the vanilla or caramel 
 almond milk creamer by Silk 
1 Tsp. Coconut Oil (Adds to smoothness, but most importantly helps 
counteract the acidity in coffee (+) keeps you full!)
Sweetener (*optional)
Ice (If making a frappe)

 ~Simply pour all of your ingredients in your mixer and blend until a creamy appearance is achieved and a layer of froth appears. Then pour your coffee into your cup of choice and enjoy! *You don't have to be strategic when pouring your coffee into your cup. The froth natural sits at the top. Also, if making a frappe but using hot coffee, add extra ice. *Tip: If taking your coffee to-go, you can add a tablespoon or two of protein powder, which will keep you fuller and add more nutritional value ;) Screenshot_2017-06-14-14-30-41