Forest Bathing // Shinrin-Yoku

Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”. Forest bathing is fairly self explanatory; just take a relaxing walk under the forest canopy, breath deeply, and soak in all the health benefits. It’s a popular preventative health care practice in Japan. I’ve always noticed a significant positive shift in my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state after spending some quality time in nature but I’ve never really understood exactly what attributed to that. Vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are all fabulous benefits of getting outside but there are many other scientifically proven benefits to forest bathing. Some of these benefits include: improved mood, reduced stress, increased energy, reduced blood pressure, and accelerated recovery. One of the most impressive benefits is boosted immune function. Trees emit organic compounds that actually support our natural killer cells (cancer killing cells) and decrease our stress hormone levels. Literally forest healing! How fricking cool is that?! Nature is so incredible and so powerful. I enjoy forest bathing with my husband and dog! I take conscious, deep breaths and touch the forest floor and fallen leaves. One of my favorite things to do is to just stop and listen to the silence of nature, it’s beautiful. Get curious- touch, smell, listen, observe, and bathe in the forest.

10 Things: Fall Edition

1. This is my first “10 things” blog post and I am going to start doing them seasonally! I think they’re a great way to catch up and share little life details that otherwise wouldn’t make it into a blog post. There is magic in the mundane! I also love reading other bloggers “10 things” posts so that’s kind of what inspired me.

2. This is my first time experiencing fall in Virginia/on the East Coast and let me tell y’all, it’s the real deal. Summer has always been my favorite season but fall is a close second. It’s been somewhat of a late and dry fall but the Blue Ridge Mountains are covered in deep, dramatic hues of yellow, orange, and red. It’s such a beautiful, romantic time of the year.

3. Apple picking. And apple cider donuts. Enough said. Check out my previous post.

4. I’m really stoked for Halloween this year! There are tons of kids in our neighborhood so I’m excited to hand out candy to all the cute little trick or treaters. We never got trick or treaters when we lived in Boulder so it’ll be fun for us. And our next door neighbor is having a Halloween party!

5. We are still in the process of decorating our house and I don’t know if we will ever be “finished” haha but I’m really enjoying the process of finding our personal home style as a family- minimalist, clean, cozy, modern, and organic (aka lots of indoor plants).

6. My not-so-new favorite Netflix show is Friends. Jennifer Aniston is goals. I think everyone can agree on that! Tyler and I recently watched all 10 seasons.

7. I’m grateful that we will be spending Thanksgiving here in Richmond this year. I’ve traveled home to Louisiana every Thanksgiving for the past 6 years (except 1 year) and it’s nice that we can just stay here, be with family, and relax. It’s one of my favorite holidays but it’s also probably the most expensive and stressful holiday to travel. We plan on making a bunch of vegan dishes! It’s all about the sides.

8. I started a new job last month as a recruiting consultant. High five to adulting & paychecks!

9. We have been thriving and loving eating a whole foods plant based diet. I never feel deprived because we make so many delicious plant based meals at home. I feel amazing and more in tune with my body than ever. This is legitimately how humans are designed to eat for optimal health. Plus I’m not contributing to any animal cruelty! Now that it’s gotten cooler we are making more soups, stews, and warming foods.

10. Tyler, Waldo, and I escaped to the mountains this weekend and it was so rejuvenating. Much needed time as a family in nature. We cooked, hiked, and just unplugged. Here are some photos from our weekend!

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Apple Picking

Apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard had me feeling all the fall vibes this weekend! It was foggy, chilly, and a little muddy up on the mountain but oh so beautiful and mystical. We picked plenty of Fuji apples for eating (they’re our favorite) and Granny Smiths for baking an apple pie. It was so fun to pick them fresh off the trees and snack on them. Although apple picking is such quintessential fall activity, it was actually my first time ever doing it. I love planning little day dates for the weekend so that we get to spend time together doing something fun in nature. It’s always so rewarding and rejuvenating! Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

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Plant Based Family

Tyler and I recently made the decision to become plant based vegans. We are super stoked to be on this health journey together! We made this decision after a lot of research, experimentation, thought, and consideration so it was definitely not on a whim. We are feeling better than ever and it’s only been a week so far! We have been eating in abundance and are having so much fun in the kitchen cooking plant based meals. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet.

We are adopting this lifestyle primarily for health reasons. We both want to live long healthy lives full of vitality and free of health issues. We are so fortunate that we are both healthy young adults without any health problems but we want to ensure that for our future so that we can thrive, not just survive. Our bodies are temples so we should power them with the best possible fuel, which are plants. Plants are the most nutrient dense food on the planet and our bodies are biologically designed to eat them. Plants are also wondrously not calorie dense so there are no caloric restrictions when eating a plant based diet because there’s no way you can get fat by eating plants. That’s pretty cool if you ask me! Some people think being a vegan is extreme but it has been truly freeing to eat until completely satisfied without feeling guilty.

A plant based vegan diet has proven in many studies to prevent, and even reverse, cancer and disease, the two things that are killing our population more than anything else. Processed meat is classified as a group 1 carcinogen, just as smoking cigarettes are. That’s crazy!! Most people probably don’t realize that their diet is doing the most damage to their bodies. There is truly no reason to consume animal products and there is nothing that you need from them that you can’t get from plants, even adequate protein!

Another reason to go vegan is for ethical reasons. I’m not going to dive into this too much but we want to be socially and environmentally responsible. I personally do not want to promote animal cruelty or industrial agriculture. One of my favorite quotes is, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian” by Paul McCartney. It’s very hard to watch but educating yourself will make you realize there is an awful lot of suffering that occurs to produce food products that we are really not meant to eat. It’s actually making our population fat and sick. Voting with your dollar is the most effective way to make a change and promote what you stand for.

We initially took steps towards clean eating back at the beginning of 2016 by adapting the paleo diet, which I shared here on the blog. We both lost weight/toned up however, we didn’t feel better on the inside and didn’t feel truly nourished. It was really not sustainable eating a very high protein and low carbohydrate diet. You don’t feel well. The carb flu is real and not fun. We are enjoying eating a diet rich in plant based carbohydrates! We also realistically do not need nearly that much protein, no one does. Bottom line, paleo may work for some people but it did not work for us and we knew it was not a healthy long term lifestyle for us. The health of internal organs is much more important than the size of your waist. However, loosing weight on a vegan diet is just an added bonus! I’ve actually read about many former paleo people going vegan because of similar reasons to what I stated. It’s always good to become an expert on yourself and learn what works best for you and try things out for yourself because everyone is different.

Check out What The Health and Forks Over Knives on Netflix, The China Study book, and of course there is a ton of great information on the word wide web. A few of my favorite vegan bloggers Ellen Fisher, Earthy Andy, and Oh She Glows. Serious Eats also has a really awesome vegan recipes section. There are so many resources out there to educate yourself on why a plant based diet is truly optimal for health and wellness!

We will definitely be posting some of our favorite vegan recipes on the blog, and maybe even some cooking videos! Here are a few photos of some vegan dinners we have enjoyed.

vegan sushi
vegan vermicelli with a side of kimchi
local pawpaws- they’re like a mango, banana, and citrus had a baby DELICIOUS
vegan ramen

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This post is long overdue but better late than never! Tyler and I rented an Airbnb in southwestern Colorado about 2 weeks before we got married as a little pre-wedding getaway! Our Airbnb was an awesome, remote cabin in Cimarron, Colorado on multiple acres in the mountains. We knew the chaos and excitement of all the wedding festivities were going to start up soon so we figured it would be good for us to have a mini vacay. We both went on our separate bachelor/bachelorette trips but we wanted to go somewhere as a family (Waldo included, of course) before we officially tied the knot! I highly suggest doing this with your spouse just to ground yourselves and relax before your big day. We made campfires and s’mores every night and just enjoyed being in nature together. Waldo had a blast running around in the woods. It’s such a beautiful and underrated area of Colorado!

One day we explored the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This was my 5th National Park! Forewarning, if you are afraid of heights or get vertigo easily, this is not the national park for you haha. All the lookout points along the main park road were literally right on edge of the cliffs looking straight down and some of them even hanging out and over into the canyon. The canyon is deep, steep, and vast carved out by the Gunnison River. It was truly breathtaking! Our favorite spots were Chasm View and Painted Wall. This was by far the biggest, most beautiful canyon I’ve ever seen!

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Earth + Ocean Inspired Skincare

I first discovered OSEA Malibu skincare products at the Halele’a Spa at the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. I instantly fell in love with the glass packaging, plant based ingredients, natural scents, and luxurious textures. OSEA products are made with quality ingredients such as seaweed, plants, flowers, salts, botanicals, and essential oils. So much goodness!

I don’t know about y’all but every time I go to the beach my skin just looks and feels healthier. One of my favorite parts about using OSEA products is getting that same effect at home! Seaweed is the foundation of most all their products. The organic proprietary seaweed trio is rich in bioavailable vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It’s important to nourish your body using natural ingredients from the Earth + Ocean.

I am admittedly very picky about what I put on my skin and I believe everyone should be! My primary concern is using non-toxic products and my secondary concern is efficacy so I am happy to find such an awesome company that is in line with these values. I have been using the Ocean Cleanser, Atmosphere Protection Cream, and the Red Algae Mask for about 2 weeks now and I am loving the results! The Ocean Cleanser is so refreshing and balancing. The Atmosphere Protection Cream is the perfect moisturizer because it’s light yet hydrating (so thankful for humidity because now I don’t have to glob on heavy creams). The Red Algae Mask is purifying without drying and can be used once or twice weekly. These are the products recommended for my skin type (normal/combination) however, OSEA does have oily/blemish prone, age defying, and dry skin products to address your specific skin concerns.

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We Moved to Virginia!

In late July, we started a new adventure and moved to Richmond, Virginia! We will miss Colorado and always reminisce on all the wonderful memories we have from our time living in Boulder. I lived there for about 6 years and Tyler for about 5. We both had the BEST college experience at CU Boulder. We made such amazing friends, had SO much fun, took full advantage of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and went out with a bang by getting married at Chautauqua. But it was time for a new adventure for this little family!

Boulder is very much a college town, which makes it such a blast, but we eventually grew out of that party scene, especially as a young married couple. We also both really missed the South. Richmond is Tyler’s hometown and where most of his family lives. This was definitely an attractive factor because family is important to us. Tyler’s family is so awesome and I’m blessed to call them my family now! We thought long and hard about our decision to move and made the choice very intentionally, considering all factors.

Richmond is a really cool/hip, charming, sleepy Southern city with so much to do! You get the best of both worlds because it’s an hour to the Blue Ridge Mountains and 2 hours to the beach. We are living in a great house in a precious neighborhood and we are loving it! There are cute little neighborhood grocery stores, restaurants, and old pharmacies. The weather is also another underrated factor we considered, Virginia truly has 4 beautiful seasons. It’s the dead heat of summer right now and it’s honestly pleasant (plus I love the humidity). It’s truly the perfect place for us to start our lives together and we look forward to all our adventures on the East Coast!

Here are some beautiful pictures that Tyler took at Pippin Hill Vineyard and Farm when the limelight hydrangeas were in full bloom. Virginia is so dreamy y’all. I’m falling more and more in love with Richmond and the Blue Ridge Mountains!

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Kaua’i Paradise

The last of our pictures from our honeymoon in Kauai!! I fell in love with this island. We already want to go back to do more and see more of its wonder! These are miscellaneous pictures that we took throughout the trip. Here is a little mini travel guide of things we recommend doing in paradise!

Kauai To Do: 

  • HIKE the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast to Hanakapiai Beach (4 miles roundtrip)
  • SNORKEL at Tunnels Beach, Ke’e Beach, & on the Na Pali Coast
  • BOAT with Na Pali Experience along the Na Pali Coast into the sea caves
  • SWIM at Hanalei Bay Beach (and jump off the pier!) & Queen’s Bath
  • EAT as much seafood, fresh fruit, & sushi as possible but a few of our favorites were Trucking Delicious, Sushi Girl, The Dolphin, St. Regis Makana Terrace, Wishing Well Shaved Ice, Kauai Bread Co., Shaved Ice Paradise, & Foodland (they have tons of yummy local stuff and their poke is delicious)
  • DRINK fresh coconuts from fruit stands, Kauai Juice Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Aloha Maid canned drinks, Aloha Juice Bar, & Koloa Rum
  • LUAU at Smith Family Garden in the Wailua River State Park
  • MEET locals at Ha’ena Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Pavilion, Hanalei Pier, & Hanalei Farmer’s Market
  • PACK as light as possible, only the essentials (no closed toed shoes!)
  • RENT a jeep, snorkel gear, & surf or SUP boards
The prettiest church ever in Hanalei. They have a ceremony in Hawaiian every Sunday.
In a red ginger forest fairyland. Pure bliss!

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