To Be Brave


(Photograph by the lovely Yazi Davis Photography.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a heart rambling blog post. These typically go unplanned, and I wait til God leaves one on my heart. And He has. So here it goes.

The other day I was ill at work, and it was decided that a trip to the ER would be best, just to make sure I was okay. It wasn’t anything crazy, and why I was there is besides the point of this post. (But don’t worry, I am okay ☺️)

I will tell you that going to the doctor is one of my least favorite things in the world. Being in that ER waiting room (for 3 hours) sent my anxiety through the roof. Thankfully, Billy distracted me by pulling out his phone and putting on Netflix for me. Nothing better than a Gilmore Girls episode to lift my spirits.

I was eventually brought to a room where they were going to run some tests. The room was divided by a curtain, with another patient on the other side. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her yelling at the nurses, telling them they weren’t doing their jobs, among other unkind things.

I was already nervous about what sorts of tests were going to be done to me. The tension in the room increased as I heard her yell at any nurse or doctor who entered.

Whenever a nurse left the room, she started talking to Billy and I from behind the curtain. Telling her life story practically. And it was heart breaking, honestly.

A nurse entered. She’d yell at them.

Nurse left. She started talking to us again. She’d crack jokes, start crying, and then change the subject again.

“Crying helps, you know,” she said.

My heart sank. There was a moment. A moment where I felt like I should say something. Something about Jesus, and how He can mend every broken heart. That He saves us. My heart pounded.

Let me warn you, this is a sad story.

It’s actually embarrassing.

But it was an eye opening experience, so I feel led to share…

I didn’t say anything. I got scared.

“But I can’t even see her,” I thought.

“She might yell at me the way she yelled at the nurses,” I reasoned.

A nervous wreck from the events that had transpired through out the day, and honestly a little afraid of her, I said nothing. I let my fear take hold of me. I allowed my discomfort with the situation to dictate what God was telling me to do. I was a coward.

When I arrived at home after 6 hours at the hospital, I immediately broke down in tears. Overwhelmed with guilt by the missed opportunity to share Christ with someone who needed him so desperately.

Thankfully, I follow a God who loves. Who forgives. Who listens. He laid on my heart a valuable lesson: I need to be ready. Sharing the Gospel can be uncomfortable. It can be offensive. It can be inconvenient. But, I need to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow God’s call. His still small voice. I need to be brave.

Since that day, I’ve prayed. For her. And for courage. That each time I step out my front door, I’ll be ready to speak the truth of God’s gift of Salvation. That He sent His Son to die on the cross for each and every one of us. That He took on all our sin. That death could not hold Him, so He rose from the dead 3 days later. All so He could save us. All so we could spend forever with Him in heaven. And all we have to do is receive. Receive His free gift.

Sharing the truth of God’s love and grace may be inconvenient. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. But it will be good.

 

Pumpkin Face Mask


Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a skincare expert. I’m just a girl who loves pumpkins in the fall! Whenever making a diy mask or using a new skincare product, always apply a small amount to your arm before using to test how your skin will react.

There’s two things I’m currently all about right now: pumpkins and selfcare. There’s just something about fall: the way it looks, feels, tastes. I yearn for it more each passing year. And with that longing, my love for pumpkins grows. They really are a delight, aren’t they?

While amidst my favorite season, I’m also in a season of change in my life personally. This presents challenges at times, but I’m learning to take time to breathe in the fresh air, and lean in to my Savior.

So since pumpkins and selfcare are two things I am loving right now, I thought I’d combine the two! A pumpkin face mask! 🎃


As if I even needed another reason to love pumpkins, they happen to be really beneficial to your skin! Pumpkin smoothes and brightens your skin, contains acne fighting zinc, has lots of fatty acids and vitamin e, and contains antioxidants for radiant skin!

This simple mask only contains 3 ingredients, and is so fun and festive to use! Hmmm fall themed spa-night, anyone? 🍁😏

Pumpkin Face Mask

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB of canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients and stir in a small bowl.
  2. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse skin with cool water and blot dry.
  4. Enjoy hydrated, plump skin!

Note:

This recipe yields enough for two to three uses. Store covered in the fridge and use within a couple of days.

Light a candle, grab your favorite book or magazine (The Magnolia Journal), and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!


Bringing Back Print…With Artifact Uprising


Photographs. Real, tangible photographs. The kind that can send you straight back to another time, another place, another era…with just one touch.

I remember going over to my Nonna and Nonno’s house as a child and spending hours looking through boxes of photos. My tiny fingers perused the photos with admiration. Their adventures in Italy made me dream. Their stories of moving to the United States fascinated me. Pictures of my mom and aunt growing up warmed my heart. (And made me laugh.)

It’s amazing how a simple photo can freeze a moment.

We live in the era of smartphones. We are taking pictures constantly, and with ease. Which is awesome. And yet, we are seldom printing these photos. They are at the mercy of our camera rolls. Lost in infinite scrolling.

This is honestly heartbreaking. There is a rather large chunk of my life that I have little to no tangible photos. If I had continued down this path, I would have very little to show for my kids one day.

Unfortunately, there’s something so utterly unappealing about drug store prints. The quality is rubbish and this takes away from the art of the photo. And I think this is why people don’t bother printing their photos anymore. Because the quality is so low. I was taking beautiful photos, yet I had no beautiful way of bringing them to life.

Then one day, I was introduced to Artifact Uprising.


Beautiful, thick prints. Matte finish. With an eggshell texture. A classic white border. Rich color. Timeless and quality. From the moment I held an Artifact Uprising photo in my hands, I was hooked. And a new habit was formed: ordering prints.

I think all it really takes is seeing these photos in person for yourself. My husband has a few prints on display on his desk at work. His coworkers were instantly intrigued, and one of them even ordered some for himself. That’s the power of displaying the everyday.

Bringing back print is something I am quite passionate about. Getting a box of Artifact Uprising prints in the mail is a little like Christmas. They come housed in a lovely box that allows you to label the collection. I am now in the regular habit of getting my pictures off of my camera roll and into my home.


My heart beats so greatly for the #bringbackprint movement, that I’d like for you to experience these divine keepsakes for yourself. Now through October 9, 2017, you can use my code JULIA10 to receive 10 free everyday prints, any size, excluding shipping. Everyone is a winner with this one! Get started HERE.

If you choose to order your ten free prints, please reach out to me and tell me how you love them! It would certainly make my day!

Remember the soccer game. The anniversary trip. The late night icecream run. The selfie you took by that funny looking statue. Get it all off your phone and IRL. ✌🏼

I hope I’ve inspired you to bring your Instagram feed to life. To display the everyday. To #bringbackprint

*This post is in collaboration with Artifact Uprising.


Fall Decor Ideas


What a fun occasion it is to unearth your fall decor items from the closet, and warm up your home with autumnal delight. Fall decorating is all about bringing the outside in. I like to incorporate as many natural, real elements as possible. To mention a few: acorns, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, apples, and if you live up north: real leaves. 

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to spice up my home for the fall season!

1. Mini Pumpkins


While they serve little culinary purpose, mini pumpkins are my favorite fall decorative piece. Each one is uniquely cute. Once the season is over, you can toss them out, so you needn’t store them. An apartment must. 

2. Leaf Garland 

A classic. It does wonders to brighten a room. An added bonus: intertwine them with some twinkle lights! 

3. Wreath


I made this lovely wreath a few years ago, and it’s still going strong! Wreaths look lovely over your bed, hung from your mantle, or of course on your front door. Smaller faux florals look more real. Try to find ones that look “wild” and “freshly picked.” 

4. Faux Leaf Arrangements


These were the leftovers from my wreath. The bottle used to contain some sort of lemonade or green tea. I love repurposed glass jars/bottles. Free decor, y’all. 

5. Eucalyptus 


Eucalyptus. Give it to me all year round. Smells good. Looks good. And it’s real. Want it to last longer? Don’t put it in water and let it dry. It won’t get moldy this way. Also, how cute is this eucalyptus/apple arrangement I created for my sister’s bridal shower last fall?! 😍

6. Dried Babysbreath

While babysbreath is in season in the spring, it can look very appropriate for fall if you let it dry. Leave it out of water, and it will turn a light brown. Looks very earthy and whimsical. Cost effective and also another real decor item.

Wishing you a very happy fall! May your home be cozy and your coffee be pumpkin-y. Stay tuned for more Fall content on The Youthful. 🌻

September Favorites

Here we are. September has arrived and I’m ready to be swept away by cozy turtlenecks, warm sips of pumpkin lattes, crisp air, crunchy leaves, camping, smoky bonfires, suspenseful movies, evening walks, and delicious aromas coming from my kitchen. 🍁

With a few more weeks left before fall, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been quite taken with lately. Perhaps this will be a fun new feature of the blog!

1. Brown Tote

I typically use two purses: one is a purse I use strictly for work. The other is used for weekend fun. I purchased this tote as a work purse, but I’ve been loving it so much, I’ve been using it constantly! It’s large enough to fit a laptop, a small umbrella, and even that fresh eucalyptus from the market. At a great price, I’m happy with the quality so far. I’ve been seeing this style tote everywhere lately. Figures Target would come out with an affordable option!

2. Oka-B Flip Flops

These flip flops (courtesy of Oka-B) are perfect for “Florida Fall.” The black combined with the leopard detail doesn’t look too summery, but instead rather cozy. I love these paired with some rolled up jeans and a cardigan. Effortless. Keep your eyes peeled for these flip flops in their fall collection!

3. The Magnolia Journal

I read this magazine like a book: from cover to cover. This magazine always leaves me inspired and motivated. Amazing design ideas, beautiful (tear-jerking) stories, and recipes that have you reaching for your grocery list. Each issue is better than the last. I can’t recommend it enough! The Fall issue is on newsstands now!

4. Sips By Tea Subscription

Calling all tea lovers! Sips by is a monthly tea subscription box. If you know me, this is seriously a match made in heaven. With some natural light and a cup of tea, I’m in my happy place. The subscription has you fill out a profile so they can select teas from around the world, specifically catered to your tastes. This is also a great way to get a little adventurous and try new types of tea!

5. Rifle Paper Co. Recipe Box

This darling recipe box could easily become a family keepsake. It’s as pretty as it is practical! There are also a few other patterns to choose from. I find a daily little joy, reaching for a well loved recipe from this box, and adding a new favorite to the collection.

A Trip to Trader Joe’s 

Aaaaahhh Trader Joe’s.

You know…going to Trader Joe’s feels less like an errand, and more of an event. In fact, you could make a whole girl’s night or date night out of it. Start in the flower section (they have the best, fresh florals) and work your way up each aisle, picking up whatever strikes your fancy. Take home your unique goodies, have a “tasting”, and watch some Netflix. Bam. Consider your Saturday night planned. 👌🏼

I typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, and then get fun speciality items at Trader Joe’s. But this past week, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I bought a week’s worth of food soley at Trader Joe’s. Not only was it a delicious success, but we came in well under budget. Win! 

Even though Trader Joe’s is a relatively small market, it is fully stocked with unique foods. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it. But once you start perusing the aisles, you’ll find yourself reaching for item after item. Curiosity and adventure fill the shelves. I’m really quite obsessed.

Sooooo how about I cease the rambling and oodling, and simply share my favorite Trader Joe’s goodies that you need on your grocery list.

1. Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

Deliciously moist, I tend to crave these! With coffee or tea, you’ll feel like you’re at a coffee shop right in your own abode. 


2. Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

This pizza is hands down the best frozen pizza ever! It legit tastes like it’s from a restaurant. They don’t skimp on the veggies and the crust is just the right thickness. Why am I not surprised that this pizza is imported from Italy? 🇮🇹 

3. Organic Popping Corn

I love making homemade popcorn on the stove. These kernels make for crispy snacking and numerous batches of the favorite movie night treat. I make mine with olive oil, and no butter. A sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese is all you need. #healthysnack

4. Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Slices

Ohmygoodness. These are a delight! They’re great when you need a bite of chocolate! They’re rather refreshing too! Find these in the frozen dessert aisle. 

5. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread

This is Billy and I’s latest obsession. I know, we are a little late to the game. But, seriously. Bread that tastes good, and isn’t loaded with sugar. Protein? It’s got 3 grams per slice. Fiber? 2 grams per slice. It’s based off of the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9. You can find this at Trader Joe’s in the bread section, or at other natural food stores.


6. Eucalyptus 

No trip to Trader Joe’s is complete without some fresh eucalyptus. I simply can’t help myself. Fragrant and beautiful. Arrange some in a large jar, or hang a bundle from your shower head for some aroma therapy during your shower. 

That’s all for now, folks! I could go on endlessly, but I thought I’d keep this list concise. 

Remember, fall is just around the corner! Trader Joe’s will soon have pumpkin everythang! They’re pumpkin spice flavored coffee is a personal fav. The wait will be hard, but it will be worth it. 🍁

Walking in Hope

| Shop shoes here, similar shorts (same brand) here, and similar top (same brand) here. |

(About the Outfit:: Comfy shorts are my new favorite thing. Paired with this flouncy crop top, this outfit has a relaxed, airy look. The sandals, courtesy of  Oka-B, are my new favorites! They’re flexible, have amazing arch support, and are rainy day friendly!)

I’m currently perched on my sofa with a cup of tea, my favorite quilt, and a bowl of oatmeal. The funny thing is–It’s actually 10 p.m. What can I say? I love me some oatmeal, not just for breakfast. Healthy dessert, y’all. Try it. 😉

I contemplated what to write this evening for a great while. Just about every idea ran through my head: recipes, the online shopping trend, which Disney princess I relate to the most (just kidding! But that would actually be really fun. 😏), and the list goes on. But the funny thing is, I can plan posts. And I do. (You should see the list of content I have planned for the fall!!!) However, the best blog posts are the unplanned. The messy spontaneous-can’t type fast enough-posts.

Today I’m talkin’ hope. 

There’s different phases of everyone’s journey. I’m in the particular season where change is foreseeable. Timing not so much. Details? Don’t have those either. It’s so tempting to try to figure it all out for myself. To plan. But you can’t plan what you don’t know.

And that’s where hope comes in. I learned a long time ago to stop making plans. It’s good to have goals and pencil in some plans, but bearing in mind that these are not set in stone. That I am not the author here. And thank goodness for that! The hope for the unknown is in God’s hands, and there’s no safer place I’d rather be.

The other day I was amidst a minor trial. It was short lived. Popped up unexpectedly. But a trial, nonetheless. Amidst the crazy, one of our cars needed repairs, so Billy had to drive me to work. He put the Christian radio station on. I never listen to the radio while I drive, so it was fun to start the morning with some encouragement by a pastor. I was sleepy, sipping my breakfast shake, and gazing out the window. When all the sudden the pastor’s sermon hit me right where I needed it. He was talkin’ about hope. I can’t remember his exact words, but they were something like this…

If your put your hope in your abilities, those can go away. If you put your hope in your education, that can one day mean nothing. If you put your hope in your income, that can dissolve. If you put your hope in relationships, they can fail you. The only thing that is certain is: we can put our hope in the Lord! He never changes!

A little lump formed in my throat, as I tried not to completely break down. I had peace that day, and it didn’t even make sense. That’s when you know it’s from the Lord. 😉 So thankful I can have hope in Him!

So today, I encourage you to stop worrying. Stop trying to orchestrate everything. Just start walking in hope. It’s an enjoyable walk, with a peaceful destination. 😉


Summer ’17 Recap

This was the post I was dreading all summer.

Because writing this post means summer is coming to a close and school is about to begin. (Any teachers/aides out there? #wereallinthistogether)

All jokes aside, this summer has honestly been the best of my life.

It wasn’t overly extravagant. In fact, it was rather simple and modest. Yet, it was a darling time of rest, reflection, growth, and gratitude. I am overwhelmingly thankful for this time spent off from work, and the time spent with Jesus, my hubby, and my sweet family.

There were many a quiet mornings that began with oatmeal and a cup of tea. Followed by afternoon sun showers that turned the sky into arrogant sunsets. Peaceful evenings accompanied by popcorn and a movie. This summer wasn’t without flaw, but it was precious and appreciated.

At the start of the summer, I shared a few Summer Priorities I had. Goals, if you will. Here’s a little recap of how that went:

1. Quiet time with the Lord

This is an area that needs constant cultivation. Time spent with the Lord can never reach a point of arrival. We can always grow more. And that’s beautiful. With that being said, I have been working on dedicating more devotional time with God. One of Billy’s friends told us about a Bible app called “Read Scripture”. It’s designed to help guide you through reading the Bible from start to finish– and understand it more. Look up the free app!

2. Fitness

I’ve enjoyed being a little more active this summer. Working out has become more habitual and less of a dread. For me personally, I’ve come to find that fitness is less about looking a certain way, and more about feeling a certain way. Focus less on physical goals, and more on simply making long term healthy habits. 

3. A Little Bit of Everything

Among my two larger goals, were a series of smaller goals. Like read more, floss more, etc. I conquered those as well! Although, I must say, having the accountability of this blog certainly helped.

In closing, here are a few snapshots from this summer. I can’t wait to order prints of these photographs. What were you thankful for this summer?

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Gingham Style

| Shop dress here and shoes here. |

This feminine summer beauty was a birthday gift from my hubby this past June. I think it’s truly adorable and it’s so fun wearing a dress he surprised me with! It has affectionately been named “My Birthday Dress.” 

I love gingham. I think it’s so classic. I especially love the cut of this dress. The square neckline gives it that extra timeless look. It’s lightweight, yet fully lined. Since it’s very breathable, I’ve been really enjoying wearing it on these hot summer days!

I truly adore a lovely little summer dress. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this dress for many summers to come. This one reminds me of my birthday, iced coffee dates downtown, and the 4th of July spent in Georgia. It’s fun to make memories in certain outfits. It brings those memories back when you wear it. ❤️

If you like this dress, you can view it here and see the other colors it comes in!

Everything (But) Plastic

Disclosure: The products featured in this post were gifted to me by EverythingButPlastic.com. All opinions are my own.

It all started with a conversation.

It was Father’s Day. We were all gathered around the table at an Italian restaurant. When my cousin (Will) and his fiancé (Shaleece) ordered their drinks “with no straw”, I naively chuckled to myself, thinking it was some funny quirk they had.  Their request for “no straw” started a conversation—a conversation I’m really glad we had.

They went on to explain the tragic plastic problem going on in the world. For example, did you know that Americans use 500 million straws each day? Yet, the problem extends far beyond just drinking straws. Plastic bags. Food packaging. Water bottles. Tooth brushes. Cups. Plasticware. The list goes on and on. It’s almost impossible to escape it. Here’s a few facts to help you wrap your mind around this problem:

  • Every piece of plastic that has been created is still on our planet in some capacity.
  • 50% of the plastic we use is single use plastic.
  • 1 million plastic bags are being used every minute.
  • On the surface of the ocean, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

Plastic is killing sea creatures. Dolphins. Whales. Sea turtles. Fish. Seabirds. We love to enjoy God’s beautiful and detailed creation, yet we are hurting the very creatures we love to admire.

Plastic is hurting us. BPA and other plastic chemicals are causing major health complications.

What can be done?

While recycling is a good practice to have, it is not a total solution for the massive problem that is plastic. There is simply too much plastic being produced. Recycling can’t keep up.

Make new (plastic free) habits. While plastic seems to be in every direction we look, plastic free living is being made possible. That’s where Shaleece and Will come in.

EverythingButPlastic

Shaleece and Will started a company called EverythingButPlastic.com, where plastic-free products are put all in one place.  Finding non plastic products with no plastic packaging can be extremely difficult. EverythingButPlastic.com serves as a solution. They sell everything from plastic free food wraps to dental floss. You can check out their amazing products here.

I was so stoked to try out a few of their products for myself!

1. Meli Wraps

I’m kind of obsessed with these. Made with organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin, and plant oils, these wraps bend and mold around your food or over a plate. Each package includes a small, medium, and large wrap. They are a reusable solution to plastic wrap. You can wash them and reuse them for up to a year. And they smell like honey. 🍯❤️ Needless to say, I’m sold.

2. Tall Kitchen Bags

The plastic bag is such a huge problem. These plastic-free kitchen bags are a huge game changer. They are made from GMO-free potato starch and are completely compostable.  I found these bags to be strong enough to hold a lot of food waste. Impressed.

3. Brush Naked Bamboo Toothbrush

I am loving this toothbrush. Not only does the bamboo make this toothbrush aesthetically pleasing in your bathroom, it gets the job done. I’ve had bamboo toothbrushes before, but I always felt like they were too harsh on my gums. The plant based bristles on this toothbrush are really gentle.

4. Dental Lace

This floss is yet another great solution. It comes in a glass tube and the floss itself is made from natural mulberry silk. I also liked that it still has the minty flavor that I like. I do typically use floss picks, versus traditional floss, so I’d be very interested in perhaps a bamboo floss pick.

Shaleece and Will recommend watching “A Plastic Ocean”. You can view it on Netflix. I watched it, and it completely opened my eyes to a problem I thought very little about. Ever since I watched it, I haven’t stopped thinking about this issue. It stuck with me, and that’s what starts change.

I encourage you to spread the word. People don’t realize how great the problem at hand is. If they knew that birds and sea creatures were dying from eating plastic, they would be more likely to make a lifestyle change.

If you’d like more information, feel free to reach out in the comments below. Be sure to check out the huge selection of plastic free products at EverythingButPlastic.com.

Let’s take care of God’s creation and the bodies He gave us!

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