New Year : Out with the old- In with the new :

Alaynasparklers

what was your best memory from 2017?

  • A cruise to the Caribbean that my family and my sister’s family went on.

what was a big milestone or moment from this past year?

  • I turned 16 and got my license!

what did God teach you in 2017?

  • I learned a lot about God’s character and His involvement in my life. He taught me that He is with me, even when I feel so far from Him, and I question His goodness. I learned that even the most trying and seemingly useless struggles have a purpose in God’s plan for me. I feel that He has taught me so much that I can’t possible write it all down! 🙂

who really influenced your life during 2017?

  • It sounds crazy, but I was influenced so much by watching both Cambria Joy and Sarah from Sarah’s Day on YouTube. I truly believe God has used them both in a unique way in my life to inspire and influence me.

what is a main takeaway for you from 2017?

  • I feel that I am moving forward from 2017, taking away a simple truth, and that is the fact that I want to have fun with my mission for God! I want to carry with me the idea that anything and everything I do can be a love offering to God. I want to use my passions to glorify and live my best life for Him.

what is something you want to capitalize on in 2018?

  • I want to carry insane joy, happiness, and adventure into 2018 and send it hard! I want to have fun in my mission for Jesus, and be more full of Him than ever before. I want 2018 to truly be a significant year. ❤

 

I love moving forward with ideas, plans, and hopes for the new year, but sometimes reflecting can be hard. Especially when you feel like you haven’t grown in the areas you wish you had. But guess what? You aren’t alone.

For years I made New Year’s resolutions, and I would say that all of them involved, like most people, some kind of fitness goal. I would make all kinds of plans and lists. I would research all that I needed to know, get, and eat to make my goal happen. These types of goals always consumed me and my time, and every year I was disappointed by my lack of progress.

So whatever your goals have been, if you haven’t succeeded like you wanted to, don’t be discouraged.

What I have learned is when I keep an open mind about things, God is much more able to use things to help and grow me. I have also learned that perspective changes things. Maybe your goal(s) fell flat on its face, but what can you learn from that to help you in moving forward? Maybe your goal(s) went differently than you expected. What is God trying to show you?

I had three resolutions last year. They were to get fit, grow closer to Jesus, and live life to the fullest. In a lot of ways they were pretty general, but God used each of those goals in ways I never would have expected.

  1. Getting Fit

Last year, getting fit to me, meant probably dropping 10lbs. and being thin. Instead, God really showed me what it means to be balanced. I am so happy because balance was really what I wanted all long, but I was afraid to relinquish control. Once I stopped obsessing and started being intuitive, I started to thoroughly love the gym and focusing on being strong. My relationship with food changed and I no longer felt like I ever needed to deprive myself.

2. Growing Closer to Jesus

God really did grow me closer to Him, but it was in an unexpected way. He helped me overcome one of my greatest internal struggles, and He taught me so much about Himself in the process. He showed me that even when I question His goodness, He is there beside of me. He showed me that everything in my life, even the seemingly useless things have a purpose in His plan for me. My word for the year was VISION, and God really showed me so much in 2017. I feel so much clearer than ever before about my calling, even while not understanding the details.

3. Living Life to the Fullest

I honestly don’t remember my exact thoughts when I wrote this one down, but I probably considered myself living life to the fullest by trying new things, making meaningful decisions, ect. But what I learned is that my mission for God, the passions I have, and the way I want to live life differently with insane fun- they don’t have to be separate, they shouldn’t be separate from one another. I struggled with this one because I thought that if I was serving God and having fun in the process that meant I wasn’t doing it right. That’s just not true. If we are filled with Christ, then His joy will be inevitable in our lives. That joy, the happiness we choose, the adventures we have with God, that is like a beacon of hope to the world around us who have no reason or purpose for living. If God is my reason for living, then I have a reason to celebrate. God doesn’t want straight faced, unhappy Christians, He wants people who will make a dent in the universe by living for Him and having fun with their missions. Get high on the Holy Spirit.

 

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“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

My pastor said it perfectly, “assess the past, don’t obsess.”

Sometimes assessing brings us joy for the victories and sometimes pain for the failures and shortcomings. What is important is not how you succeeded or failed but how you move forward. Let how you want to improve be motivating and not frustrating. Commit it to the Lord and live determined!

I leave you with a favorite quote of mine.

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I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s, and I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you! ❤

 

 

Works Cited:
F. Scott Fitzgerald Quote: “Live A Life You’re Proud Of.” The daily quotes, 2015, thedailyquotes.com/live-a-life-youre-proud-of/.

 

About Me

 

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Hello! My name is Sophie Buchanan.

If you have read the “Welcome to My Blog” post then you know what this blog is all about. But maybe you are wondering about me!

If so, then here are a few things about myself:

1. I am a follower of Jesus and accepted Jesus as my Savior in 2008

2. I am seventeen years old

3. I am homeschooled

4. I live in North Carolina

5. I love living a holistic and natural approach to life

6. I love fitness

7. I am planning on majoring in some type of holistic field

8. I LOVE traveling

9. My dream is to have a family one day

10. I have the best family-  (my parents, two sisters, and a brother)

 

 

 

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.

 

August:: 10 Things

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It’s the middle of August. I actually can’t believe how fast this year has flown by. When I start thinking about it, it makes me want to take a little more time to enjoy each moment. The past few days I’ve spent time with my sisters and my niece at my older sister’s house. These are the times that I will cherish forever! Because there is nothing like the bond of sisters!

Since my older sister is pretty laid back, I have been able to catch up on some sleep and just relax these past few days. Today, we woke up and decided to be active and went for a walk downtown. My sisters and I love seeing older homes, and I especially love their charm. I’ve decided my dream home needs lots of windows! We also got to enjoy random conversations about whatever came to mind.

It was also nice to be outside even though the heat is always a staunch friend this time of year. Also, the shots I took for today’s post were from outside around my sister’s house. Nature is beautiful.

So if your wondering, I decided to try posting something new! Basically it’s a list of 10 random things about me or things going on in my life. Barefoot Blonde does these types of posts, so I thought I would give it a try! She has an awesome blog, so definitely check her out: www.barefootblonde.com/.

 

1. Grow my hair out      

To me summer screams long locks of curly, wavy hair, and I so badly miss my own long flowy hair and milk-maid braids! So I decided after my last hair cut to grow it out. I just randomly had this urge to have long hair, and now I’m trying to figure out what makes hair grow faster… 🙂

2.  Permanently stop dieting- listen to my body- balance

This is a struggle I’ve dealt with for a long time. I’m an all or nothing person. So when I used to “diet,” I would diet all the way and restrict myself, which ended up causing me to binge eat every weekend and “start fresh” each Monday. So I’ve decided enough is enough and I want peace in my life, including peace in how I eat and exercise. I love being healthy, and I love the way exercising makes me feel, so I want that to be my motivation and not a perfect body. I’m also wanting to get more in tune with my body and listen to its needs, all while learning to enjoy treats without feeling guilty- AKA balance!

3.  Redecorating my room

Currently my room is a disaster… but I’m sorta ok with it since I’m currently redecorating and trying to get rid of some things! So I’m in the middle of updating and maturing my space. I’m transitioning from bright colors to lots of white and neutrals like gray, and I’m also using lots of wood. I’m also adding a few colors like a rosy pink, a deep green, and mint. I’m actually excited about it except for the small amount of stress that comes from all the decisions! So my current mottoes are ‘slow and steady’ + ‘only one thing at a time.’ My favorite thing about my room so far, just might be my new IKEA white, trestle desk. Seriously, IKEA is the place to shop cute, inexpensive furniture!

4. Favorite tv series

My favorite tv series right now is Person of Interest. I’m hooked, my family’s hooked, even some of my friends are hooked. It’s so good, and it makes me secretly want to fight someone. Plus I discovered that I love Jim Caviezel- nothing better than finding out your favorite actor is actually a normal person in real life and a Christian!

5. New favorite face product

Recently, I have struggled with break outs on my face. I tried everything I could think of, while trying to keep it natural. I bought a face scrubber, I tried apple cider vinegar, turmeric, home-aide face-masks, I did a 10 day sugar, gluten, and dairy cleanse, and I tried a natural foundation. I even tried different natural cleansers. I was just about to break and try Pro-Active, something I have fought for a while, when my cousin recommended Shea Moisture. It’s a natural brand for acne and so far I LOVE it. It’s extremely gentle on my skin, and I’ve seen an improvement since using it. Hopefully, it’ll continue to work!

6. Coffee mug

So I needed another coffee mug like I needed a whole in my head, but I wanted a special mug for my desk when I do my devotions and school work. I ended up getting one from Target, and I love it! I call it my heavy duty school mug for intense studying since its super tall, like twice the height of a normal mug. It’s white and has cute dimensional polka dots all over it.

7. Commitment- go to bed earlier

Getting beauty rest is definitely an over-looked health need. Since the beginning of the summer, I developed a bad habit of going to bed at 11:30 or later, but I want to commit to getting more sleep, especially when school begins!

8. Good reads

Good books are like gold. Currently, I’m working on reading some books that I would highly recommend. The first two are great Christian reads and the second two are good reads for buffing up on your history. Especially Of Plymouth Plantations, because it contains essential knowledge of the history of America’s foundation- the depths of God’s involvement in America’s foundation and in the people who founded America is remarkable!

  1. When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
  2. Your Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
  3. Of Plymouth Plantations by William Bradford
  4. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

9.  Homemade hot chocolate

You will probably find this recipe in a later post but I thought I would include it. Last night I wanted something sweet, but I had all ready had ice cream and  was wanting something slightly healthier. So I had this random idea to make hot chocolate using some of my coconut sugar and it was so good! Like the best I’ve ever made and I think better than a mix! I basically started out with almond milk in a small pot and heated it with two stevia packets, a spoonful of coconut sugar, a sprinkle of sea salt, around two tablespoons of cocoa powder, some vanilla, and a teaspoon of coconut oil. Ya, it was delicious if I do say so myself!

10. One thing I’m looking forward to

I think by the sounds of my new “heavy duty” mug, you can guess I love coffee. I love it not because of the buzz, because quite frankly, I’ve never felt a buzz from coffee, but because of the taste and smell. It’s just a ritual for me to have a cup, and it makes me look forward to the mornings. Since, hopefully I will be getting my license in the next month, I’m looking forward to my many dates at the coffee shop during the school year- just me and my school books! Well, it’s not the school books I’m looking forward to, but I’m very excited about me and the coffee! I’m thinking I’ll need some nerd glasses to complete the look!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you for reading! Cheers to the month of August! It means fall is right around the corner!

Psalm 118:24

“This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”                                                                                                                                          

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.”