Thursday, April 27, 2017

April Favorites

Happy Thursday! This week I wanted to share with you a few things that I have been loving during the month of April. Enjoy!

Teavana Defense Wellness Tea
I completely forgot I had this tea in my cupboard until I got sick with a cold this month. I am so happy I dug it out from behind all my other tea, though! Made with a white tea base, citrus flavors as well as notes of cinnamon and ginger, this tea is heavenly. I've been trying to drink it sparingly, but I am sadly almost out. The next time I am near a Teavana I am definitely going to pick up more! 

Double Moss Stitch
Lately I've been trying to improve my knitting skills by trying out simple patterns. My current project is a scarf for my boyfriend and I decided to try out the double moss stitch. Holy cow, is this pattern beautiful! I think I might just knit everything in a double moss stitch now. It is the perfect amount of pattern, yet still subtle, for an everyday wear winter scarf. I can only imagine how nice it would be as a comfy blanket. Next project, maybe?

Gomukhasana (cow face pose)
This month I have been incorporating Gomukhasana into a lot of my yoga practices. I just can't get enough of it! I love the intense stretch in my hips and my shoulders. Depending on the day I will skip the arms and focus on stretching out my neck with some gentle neck circles. It is the perfect all around stretch after a long day! 

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I have been so engrossed in reading this book lately that I have stopped reading everything else. Having seen all the movies multiple times I know the overarching story line, so nothing is really a surprise. However, the attention to detail that Tolkien paid to everything makes the experience of reading the book much more captivating. It is a dense book so it is taking me longer than I expected to read it, but I am loving every second of it. 

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Small Steps

As soon as I saw this quote I knew it was going to be my Sunday post. Until recently I felt like the only steps I was taking in my life were small steps. I wanted so badly for all the moving parts in my life to become more tangible. However, all the things I was doing seemed so insignificant. I was sending all the right emails and doing all the right research, but nothing was tangible yet. 

Finally, after weeks of stress and work, my small steps are becoming big steps. I have chosen my grad school program and have gotten this blog up and running again exactly the way I wanted, just to name a few. If it wasn't for all those small steps I took, I wouldn't be here. So let's all take the small steps. Let's make the moves that seem insignificant, because I promise, they are making a difference! 

What small steps are you taking?

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

I have been wanting to read Eat, Pray, Love for a long time, but it was one of those books that always slipped my mind when I was looking for something new. The memoir, by Elizabeth Gilbert, is about discovering herself and finding peace within after an incredibly difficult divorce. She sets the book up in three sections; Italy discusses pleasure, India digs into devotion, and Indonesia explores the balance between the two. I  loved this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has ever felt a little lost in their lives. 

The separation of location and concept in Eat, Pray, Love made it easier to understand and follow what Gilbert was discussing.The first section, about Italy and pleasure, was a bit slow starting. Chapters 2-9 are fully devoted to the background of the story; minor details about Gilbert's divorce, how she got to her breaking point, and why she decided to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia. While all necessary for understanding the memoir, at points I found myself just waiting for her to go to Italy and start experiencing pleasure.
When she did get to Italy I was fully satisfied. Large meals of pizza and pasta, slow walks to gelato stands, and long evenings discussing life with good friends marked her time in Italy. Gilbert's time in Italy started to lighten her mood; the reader witnesses her letting go of some anxiety and pain on the surface and allowing herself to freely enjoy what she wants to enjoy. However, the more she relaxes and enjoys herself the more her deep rooted pain starts to come to the surface. She leaves Italy feeling more calm but not truly happy yet. 

Gilbert's next stop is India, to spend four months at an Ashram, a monastery for Indian religions. This is the point in the memoir where we see Gilbert making her biggest steps forward and dealing with her biggest fears and wounds. Her schedule is rigorous; long hours of yoga, meditation, and study now mark her days. Her body and mind become stronger. Surrounded by a strict routine and new friends finding their own peace at the Ashram, Gilbert was able to come to terms with the events of her past, accept them, and start to move forward again. This section was my favorite section; Gilbert discusses the most difficult issues of her trip in a way that is relatable and enlightening. 

The final stop on the journey is Indonesia. Here Gilbert planned to find the balance between the pleasure she had enjoyed in Italy and the devotion she had discovered in India. She met up with a medicine man she had met years before, rented a house, and spent her days between work and play. Helping the medicine man provided a spiritual outlet and a large learning opportunity, while spending time with her new friends provided fun and relaxation. In Indonesia the reader sees Gilbert find peace. She is whole and independent, more than she has been in years. When she meets a new man and starts dating again it only shows how far she has come; she still spends time on the things which are important to her, while learning to let go and follow where life leads her. The final section of the book does a great job of tying everything together without seeking to teach the reader. Gilbert lets the reader witness her transformation without trying to outline a step-by-step plan for balance. 

Overall, Eat, Pray, Love is a wonderful book. I enjoyed reading it and found valuable insights into pleasure, devotion, and balance. Gilbert is funny, heartfelt, and honest throughout the book, not holding back details that might be embarrassing or difficult to discuss. Watching Gilbert rediscover peace while coming to a better understanding of herself was fascinating and inspiring. I was motivated to make more time to explore these concepts in my own life, though on a much smaller scale. I gave this book 4/5 starts on goodreads and would definitely recommend it!

What do you want to see me review in the future?

P.S. The tea of the day is peppermint tea ^_^

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Me Time

Happy Sunday! This past week I've been thinking a lot about self care and taking time for ourselves. With our busy schedules each day it is easy to get swamped and forget to take some time to relax. This week I started to feel the stress of this; I was so caught up in everything I had to accomplish that I began to feel overwhelmed. This weekend I took some much needed me time. I have spent my weekend reading, drinking lots of tea, and doing restorative yoga.

What do you do when you start to feel overwhelmed by your daily schedule? 

P.S. the tea of the day is Teavana Peach Tranquility ^_^

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Starved Rock State Park

Happy Thursday! This past weekend my parents came to visit me from Minnesota, and Saturday we spent the day hiking around Starved Rock State Park. About an hour and a half southwest of Chicago on the Illinois River, the park is a wonderful place for a day trip. Here are some pictures I took while we were hiking around! 

Above: Starved Rock, the namesake of the park.

Wildcat Canyon, by far our favorite canyon of the park!

I highly recommend checking out Starved Rock if you are every in the area! Check out their website here to see more info.

P.S. the tea of the day is Teavana Defense Wellness Tea ^_^