Delilah Dior Dominica
A woman's journey exploring her passion for Faith, fashion and travel.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude in Writing

I am a journal keeper. I have journaled nearly every day for the past eight years, allowing me to step fully into a place and time in my past through my own words. These journals are for myself and The Lord and I am so grateful that on sleepy nights and rushed mornings, I still took time to put pen to paper. To remember.

These journals have gifted me with many things, but one of the greatest joys I claim through these books is gratitude. Reading words of heartache and loneliness, sifting through paragraphs of isolation and disobedience, I can truly see the story God is writing in my life. The equation has been proven over and over again in those journals: I diligently seek Him in prayer -- He is faithful. Wherever there was darkness, light was only a few pages away.

So when I'm feeling lost or lonely, if ever I begin to wonder what my place is in this world, I can look back and remember that I serve a God who answers prayer. My life is a result of prayers prayed over me and through me. The answer may not always be what I wanted to hear, but it is always for my good and His glory.

Last night, this baby inside my womb nudged and tumbled through the better part of the sleeping hours. I was kept awake by the ever increasing pain and pressure of growing a child that only has eight more weeks of cooking to do. I'm carrying the child that I prayed for.

My husband wakes up with me in the night, my tossing and turning like an alarm clock for his protective heart. He massages my back and prays over me, waits for me to return from bathroom trips to tuck me back in and encourages me to breathe out the stress and breathe in peace. Every night, I get to sleep with the husband I prayed for.

We'll eat Thanksgiving dinner with the Pastor we prayed for, surrounded by the friends we prayed for. We'll watch the game that have my husband the career we prayed for and Skype with the loved ones we prayed for. Tonight, I'll return to the home I prayed for and thank The Lord for the life I prayed for. 

And I'll wake up in the morning, pull out my pen, and write in my journal so I never forget that 2014 brought everything I dreamed of, and more than I prayed for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

30 Week Update

Well, friends, here we are! It's time for the Fall post of my pregnancy updates. Last time I checked in, we were on the last leg of Summer and this baby had been cooking for 21 weeks. If you ever think time is passing too slowly-get pregnant and line up your due-date with the end of the Holiday season. Phew...double whammy time-stealer. Same dress, same spot, nine weeks later.

How far along: 30 Weeks.

Total weight gain: 23 pounds.

Maternity clothes: I still have yet to find the perfect maternity jeans. (Any suggestions?!) I have one pair of Paige Maternity Boyfriend Jeans but they're way too big. Wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans with the hair-tie trick is becoming a challenge. I can't help but picture the rubber band popping off and hitting someone in the eye one of these days. Simple maternity tees from Gap and Old Navy have been a daily go-to. 

Sleep: On one hand, I'm so thankful that we have an incredibly active baby. My belly looks like a waterbed just about all day long. This does, however, pose some challenges when night time rolls around. Between bathroom breaks and baby's ninja moves I'm usually up for a two to three hour chunk every night. Hubs has started waking up with me to rub my back and keep me company. We'll have a date (telling stories, wondering out loud what life with baby will be like, reminiscing...) until I fall back asleep.

Currently Missing: My energy. Energy, energy, wherefore art thou energy. The second trimester sweet spot came and went too soon. Weeks into my third trimester I'm realizing that rest is absolutely essential for these next couple months. Slacking on sleep and water intake shows up in every area of life these days.

Movement: I am amazed at all the different shapes my belly takes on in the course of a day. I feel like I have a hand-held electric massager trapped in my stomach. My husband and I often find ourselves stopping everything just to stare in awe at what God has done, wondering who this little love is and what they could possibly be doing in there. We really can't get enough of it.

Cravings: Still none. My food aversions aren't as strong (finally!) and my meals are all pretty much the same with the exception of this past week. (House full of people, phenomenal baby shower food, too many leftovers.) My every day diet is made up of yogurt, granola, string cheese, ezekiel bread, eggs, ground beef, trail mix, chicken sausage and gluten free graham crackers. (I'm not gluten free...I just love them.)

Symptoms: Round ligament pain still going strong. Also, it turns out herniated discs and pregnancy aren't best friends either. Trouble sleeping, grinding hips and leg cramps also make the list this month.

Looking forward to: Our Maternity photos next week and heading back to Canada the following week! It'll be our last time in the house before we bring a baby there. Those kind of thoughts melt my heart.

Exercise: I still love my Prenatal Yoga class once a week. Tracy Anderson has been a go-to for strength training and my love and I brave the cold nearly every day to walk a couple miles in the neighborhood. I've also added squats to my daily routine to get ready for labor.

Favorite moments this week: My family threw me the most incredible Baby Shower I've ever seen this past weekend. We had fifteen people spend the weekend here helping decorate, cook, set-up, and host. My heart was just bubbling over with pure gratitude. I am so blessed to be surrounded by the women God has blessed me with, and also by my husband who was the true MVP of the weekend. Whether he was picking up my friends from NYC at 1:30am, dropping family at the airport at 4am, blowing up an endless supply of blow-up mattresses, surprising me with the most perfect baby-shower dress when I had nothing to wear, making sure I got enough water and sleep...this guy. I smile every time I remember he's mine forever.

Next time I'm updating you all there will likely be snow on the ground, this dress will probably be a bad idea and we will be on full blown baby watch!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Accepting Changing Seasons

When I stepped outside yesterday, I had to pull my jacket sleeves down over my fingers and tuck my face into my collar. Somehow, without me really realizing it, the season had changed. Of course I knew it was Autumn-there are pumpkins everywhere and much to my dismay, the back-to-school items Have been put on clearance to make room for trick-or-treat buckets and Twizzlers. The calendar declared it Autumn a long time ago, but the weather stubbornly ignored the date and kept on beaming summer. Fall is my favorite time of year without a doubt, and yet no matter how much I'm looking forward to all that these months bring-every time I feel a change of seasons I mourn the loss of the last one. You see, this summer changed my life as Summers often do. I have been given a gift that I grow closer to opening with each passing day. With this gift in my belly, I have watched the end of spring, the start of summer, and yesterday - to my surprise - the chill of an Autumn in full swing.

Just as the air is changing outside, the winds are also changing inside. A season is ending. A season of a quiet home, spontaneous matinee movie trips, laying in bed laughing and whispering until Saturday mornings become Saturday afternoons. It has been the most beautiful season of my life. Building our oneness through millions of conversations and no words at all, perfecting our routine and watching the fruits of our labor grow a friendship sweeter than I could have imagined. I am aware that these days are special- they're the kind of days that fill up scrapbooks. I'm growing life for the first time and just a wife for the last time.

Last night, my husband brought home a pizza after a long day of work. I cooked up some veggies. I went for a walk in the last of the evening sun and crunched all the fallen leaves. He took a nap with a book on his chest. We scrolled through On Demand until we settled on a movie that we both hadn't seen. Snuggled up on the corner of the couch with a blanket and some Tums, we halfway watched and halfway tuned out. We wandered to bed where we read and talked until we fell asleep. Oh my heart. How these nights fill my soul. And with every twitch and jab of my belly I am made aware that I am being prepared to love something with just as much of my heart, but for now I can't imagine saying goodbye to this season.

When my husband looks over at me and sees a certain expression on my face, he reminds me that each new season only gets better than the one before it. I think back on the month after I got engaged and try my hardest to slip back into that skin for a moment. My husband and I were eating dinner and as I waited for my rack of ribs to arrive, I looked down at my ring catching the light.  Before too long, I burst into tears. I remember blubbering "Everything is going to change. My childhood is over. I'm not going to be a Singletary anymore. This is my last summer as just me." You name it, I cried over it. My poor husband-to-be stared at me with a helpless blank face, unsure of what to say but sure there was no consoling me. I look back on that moment and I'm filled with warmth from head to toe- if only I knew then what I know now. How sad would life be if we only knew one season?

Truly, I have dreaded change for as long as I can remember. Not fear-dread. I am not necessarily afraid of what will happen when change comes I just don't want to face the fact that things will one day not be as they are now. Even when I was little, I used to sit on my bedroom floor crying because my dad would be eighty. Mind you, he was probably 43 at the time... But he Would be eighty one day and I didn't like it. Same went for completing another year of school, family vacation ending and the arrival and passing of each holiday. I realize this is my natural bend; both a symptom and side effect of my passionate heart. I am learning, though, that I would rather hang onto the coat-tails of each passing season for as long as possible, acknowledging each coming and going, than to wake up one day and not even have realized a whole season had passed me by.

It has become my mission for these last few months before bringing a child into the world to be fully present in this time. Not mourning the loss of something that isn't gone and not living in the reality of something that isn't yet here. I will savor each random trip to Target together, every evening filled with nothing but Musiq Soulchild and Scrabble and the sacredness of our Sunday afternoons. When the time comes to welcome a new life into our home and hearts, I will be ready. For now, today is supposed to be uncharacteristically warm for this season and as much as I'm looking forward to all that Autumn brings, I'll be sure to savor the last few moments of summer air.

Monday, September 29, 2014

When God Closes a Door...

A year ago today, I paid to have my dream website made. A year later, I have nothing to show for it. Well, that's not completely true; I have a deeper understanding of God's will for me and a killer mood board. Let's backtrack.

After graduating college with a sparkling degree in Fine Art I decided that my dream job would be to write, spread the gospel, create artwork and share how the Lord is working in my life. At first I was convinced the two opposing worlds of art and my faith would need to be kept separate to thrive, but after much time in prayer I realized that I am called to keep the two united. I set out with a summer game plan of choosing a catchy Brand Name and color scheme, writing a business plan and selecting a graphic designer to work their magic for my website. After plenty of research and hunting, I found my dream designer. There has never been a truer Cinderella moment (you know, the whole sliding-her-foot-into-the-glass-slipper-to-find-a-perfect-fit part) than this one- this woman was perfect for the job. She had a stunning portfolio and her own personal blog was what I had in mind all along. Halleluja! On this exact day one year ago, after much professional jibber jabber, I signed a contract and handed over my ideas, my vision and of course, my money. We set a February launch date. February came and went.

When my husband and I decided to spend a few months of the Spring in Europe I knew exactly what needed to be done from a business standpoint for the success of my plan. The website would need to launch in February so I that I would have a solid two months to grow my reader base. I started planning the trip in December, spending part of every day researching and preparing. This trip was supposed to "catapult my brand" and "increase traffic." Needless to say, when the February deadline passed, I was upset. When the March deadline passed, I was intolerant. When the "We leave for Europe tomorrow" deadline passed I was harbouring a deep darkness that shouldn't exist in anyone. The dark clouds didn't roll in because my website wasn't executed, but because my plan wasn't executed. Without going into all the messy details, I was scammed. I was strung along for months after this designer romanced me with excuses and dilemmas until one day in early May she completely disappeared.

Each day I expected to wake up to an inbox full of apologies, explanations, and the website I had worked so hard on and waited not so patiently for. When that didn't happen, I kind of lost it. Over and over again. Disappointment crept in every crevice of my being, followed swiftly by doubt, self-pity, anger and bitterness. I had been playing the tit-for-tat game so intently that I began to hurt at the success of my peers. I stopped looking at blogs and limited social media in order to guard my heart against comparison and still found a way to wallow in the fact that God would "let this happen".

You guys, when the Lord closes a door, don't claw at it. Don't pace back and forth, checking to see if the doorway has reopened all day long. And above all, do not escape  through the window. When the Lord closes a door, sit in the room and try to figure out why He has you there.  I know that being scammed by this graphic designer didn't put a padlock on the door to my dreams. Yes, I could have hired someone else to create my website in the meantime. Yes, I could have even created the website myself by now. I could have thousands of readers, a strong fan base for my artwork and some killer social media platforms. I know, however, that the Lord doesn't close doors to test our skills on whittling our own way out. He has temporarily sealed that door to say, "wait." When we start carving an opening in something the Lord has closed we enter dangerous territory- whether we are aware of it or not we are declaring that our way is better than His way. That our plans for ourselves are much more important and far greater than His plan for us. I can assure you that this is false, friends. Sure I'd love to have a beautiful website right now and a brand new blog. I still believe that one day I will, but right now I'm sitting Indian Style in the room the Lord has me in, vowing only to leave through the opening He creates. 

Can I let you in on a secret? When we stop trying to kick the door down with every ounce of our strength, sometimes we will realize we're happy it's closed. We never would have closed it ourselves, but there is a peace deep within us at the fact of not being able to walk through it. This fact hit me one day in Capri when I was sitting in an impossibly fluffy bed, eating Capri Cake and listening to the ocean hit the rocks just outside the window. Closing my eyes, I whispered to myself "I would not want to be responsible for a blog right now."

And I'm that teeny moment of honesty, I was able to step in to a deeply satisfying peace with a heart reminded of The Lords love for me.

See, Before I even laid eyes on those two pink lines on an Italian pregnancy test stick my heart had shifted. The responsibilities of generating enough content for a blog began to suffocate me. I wanted to experience things just for the experience- not for comments or page visits. I found myself leaving my camera behind, which is something so uncharacteristic of me. (My husband would lug it around and snap photos, assuring me that one day I'd want to be able to look back on our days on snow capped mountains in Switzerland and nights walking through Florence with gelato.  I'm so thankful for that guy.) I didn't want to have to set up a photo or style the moment and was, instead, fully content just to be living it. I became very protective of our experiences and uninterested in the outside world. This alien behavior finally made sense to both us once I found out I was pregnant. Believe it or not, this baby changed my heart even before it changed my cup size.

So here I am, website-less. Every time I'm asked where someone can buy my artwork or when I'll have a website, I smile to myself. The answer is truly one that only God knows and I finally find perfect peace in that answer. One day I will be styling my food before I eat it again, painting beautiful dresses and photographing outfits I didn't really wear that day. Until then, I will enjoy knowing I am so far from my own plan and yet right in the middle of His. And the verse that keeps rolling around in my head has given me the truest perspective time and time again when my plan doesn't quite work out: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Decorate the room you're in, learn to love it and understand just why He has you there. Before you know it, one day you might look to your left and see an open door. For now, give your feet a rest. Stop trying to break down a door the Lord has closed. Instead, trust Him when He says

 "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
 “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so my ways are higher than your ways
 and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
 Isaiah 55:8-9

A full post on Capri is coming soon, but here are some photos behind the reason I decided that taking a blogging break to fully be present in each moment wouldn't be so bad after all.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

21 Week Update

Hi, friends! I just crossed over the halfway mark and the other day my husband looked at me and said, "do you realize you have more days behind you than ahead of you in this pregnancy?" I can say I feel as though I've been pregnant for both a million years and ten minutes, though that's how all of life's greatest joys tend to be.

I decided I'd like to do this little questionnaire and take photos (in the same dress) once every season. Though there are already fallen leaves on our walking path, this will be my Summer post!

How far along: 21 Weeks

Total weight gain: 15 pounds! That was a scary weigh in...

Maternity clothes: I don't technically need them yet, but I have snuck a few maternity jeans into the wardrobe as my skinny jeans are becoming less and less friendly. Being in my late second and third trimester in the winter months will certainly be a styling challenge.

Sleep: Much better since I switched to the side of the bed closer to the bathroom. Somehow taking five less steps each time has made all the difference. (Plus, I always crept over to his side of the bed anyway.)

Currently Missing: My full appetite-especially sweets. I've been living off of the same meals for months now due to a very limited appetite. Sweets have been complete turn off, but my eyes want a doughnut and s'mores!

Movement: All. day. long. I feel like I have a little secret buddy with me all the time, dancing up a storm in there. Last week my husband was able to feel the baby kicking and moving for the first time and that has been so special. We spend great parts of the day singing and talking to this belly, waiting for them to kick his hand.

Cravings: None currently. Well, I mentally crave s'mores 24/7 but my stomach wants nothing to do with them.

Symptoms: Round ligament pain. If I weren't pregnant I would swear I've pulled every muscle that exists between my shoulders and hips. Phew.

Looking forward to: Two of my sisters sneaking in a visit before the baby shower in a couple months!

Exercise: Prenatal yoga once a week, walking nearly every day and doing the Tracey Anderson Pregnancy Project DVD two or three times a week.

Favorite moments this week: Getting everything in place to start our mini kitchen renovation and buying the crib and changing table! The more together the house feels, the calmer I am about bringing this angel into it.

Next time you see this dress, these trees will be bright red. Autumn, I'm ready for you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Easy Tips for a Fit Pregnancy

Fitness has always been a large part of my life. It wasn't necessarily a passion at first, but a necessity. I played a different sport every season for most of my childhood and stuck with volleyball through my college years. I had always dreamed of having thin, gangly limbs and a slender frame but God had other plans for this frame of mine. Thanks to my dad, I am built more like She-Hulk than the damsel in distress. My body craves muscle, and without it things tend to go south.

Before getting pregnant I had a great low body fat percentage, was working out five days week and gained all my nutrients from a gluten free, nearly carbohydrate free diet. I was made up of protein, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. That's it. Fast forward to the first trimester and all this stomach of mine could keep down was crackers, extra fizzy ginger ale and bread (thankfully we were in Europe where bread is practically currency!) Soon after my appetite left, my energy followed. On the days I could actually get out of bed, my husband and I would take a short walk around our hotel or apartment and back to bed I went. My muscle mass begun to fade and my new pregnancy body- widened rib cage, expanded hips, water retention everywhere- set in.

I am thrilled to say that today, at 19 weeks pregnant, I have never loved my body more. Sure I can say that being rock solid with curves in the right places feels wonderful, and hormones plus human nature can create a self-image storm at times, but there is something about this belly and this soft frame that reminds me my body is not my own. Everything I eat, every time I rest, every choice of activity over inactivity is to nurture this little life inside me.

Since I have had my energy slowly returning, less food aversions and more control over my appetite, I have found a method of staying healthy while pregnant that is golden for me. Of course, every pregnancy is different. Our fitness levels at the start of pregnancy greatly determines our exercising while pregnant. Some women are nauseous (I'm so sorry!) for their entire 40 weeks. Some women are able to continue exercising and eating whatever they like with little change right from the first trimester on (If that was you, don't tell me. We can't be friends). But these are the things that have worked for me and I hope they bring a joy to your pregnancy that they have brought to mine.

Drink water with tons of ice in it.  For whatever reason, in these past few months water has become kind of gross for the first time in my life. I am typically a water guzzler, but drinking a full glass was enough to make me gag sometimes. I have found that the ice helps me to drink as much water as I should be to care for this little bean. Also, nearly frozen Gatorade during a walk or workout keeps my energy up.

Aim to go for a walk every day. Walking around the neighborhood is a little ritual my husband and I have always enjoyed, but designating our daily walks as one on one time to talk about baby or anything on our minds has become the best part of the day. The walk doesn't have to be long (it usually revolves around how much water I've had and how quickly I'll have to rush home for the restroom) but just getting a bit of movement in really helps so much with my energy and mood.

forcing my nauseous self to get out of bed in Switzerland to go for a walk
Try Prenatal Yoga. I am not a yoga person. My husband is some sort of yoga ninja and absolutely loves it while I, however, am not patient enough to hold poses like that by choice. I decided to give Prenatal Yoga a try after reading about just how much the stretches and poses help with child birth. The actual yoga part of it still isn't my very favorite, but being in a room surrounded by women at different stages of their pregnancy is so special. Once or twice a week is more than enough for me.

Embrace the smoothie. I have had a hard time lately getting in as much green food as I'd like. Unless it's a pickle. Or a grape. Pickles and grapes do not a strong, healthy baby make. Throwing everything I lacked that day in the Vitamix lets me know I've done my best to nourish myself without to torture of forkfuls of spinach. (Tip: Pregnancy can be tough enough on digestion as it is. I learned the hard way: enjoy your smoothie in the morning, not the evening.)

Find a workout that doesn't require a gym. I still make it to the gym a couple times a week for cardio and weight training, but I have all but completely lost interest in that place. The smells and the whole environment is just off-putting these days. I have found that the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project DVD series is exactly what I'm looking for in a workout and I'm able to do it at home. This means two things: I don't have to put real clothes on and I don't have to leave the house. Yes, she wears a less than full-coverage unitard and a full face of red carpet makeup. Yes the dance moves can be a little awkward, but I assure you…this workout is no joke. I feel every area that needs attention being targeted. (I'm talking to you, upper arms.)

Give yourself grace. A couple months ago, my girlfriend and I were talking about the changing body in pregnancy. This woman is a professional volleyball player, a phenomenal woman of God and was eight months pregnant with her first child. (Her son was born a few ago!) She told me something that has helped me tremendously in this time. She said "Jill, of course it's hard to see a body you work so hard for grow and stretch in ways you couldn't imagine, but I meditated on the fact that this is the child I prayed for. God has given me the grace to carry this baby and it is my joy to do it." That changed everything for me.

I'd love to hear any advice on how you ladies stay fit during pregnancy and motherhood!

Friday, August 1, 2014

First Trimester Essentials

Hello, friends! Happy August! Since we last spoke, I have:

- traveled to five countries
- visited fourteen cities
- attended two weddings
- spent a total of seventeen days at home
- hosted 20 people for a week in our home
- started growing a human being

The last one is by far the most exciting! We are just thrilled and growing into a further understanding of how great God is. Without going too far into detail, my husband and I chose to leave our family planning completely up to the Lord without any interference from us. With that decision made, however, we always expressed in prayer and to each other that we would love to wait 3 years to start a family. It sounds strange, but my husband and I had complete peace in the fact that our desires had been lined up with His will. We planned a two month trip to Europe to celebrate three years of marriage and, in typical God fashion, on the morning of our 3 year anniversary, I found out that I was indeed pregnant. God is so faithful!

Now, at fifteen weeks pregnant and past the haze of trimester one, I have some takeaways that I hope help you whether you're hoping to become pregnant, can't see the end of Week 10, or just need a little bit of entertainment. Without further ado...drum-roll First Trimester Essentials.

1. Sleep Mask: One thing to not underestimate in the first few weeks of pregnancy is our ability to lose interest in anything that doesn't involve closed eyes, fetal position and drool. The first trimester sleep struggle is real, y'all. I have always struggled with napping and sleeping in general, but anything from walking to a restaurant, eating a meal or just existing would send me looking for the nearest bed. My eye mask was a life saver in those extra bright hotel rooms.
2. Bible App: Guys, the thing about pregnancy is that it is such a sacred and incredible time hidden inside a pretty big challenge there at the beginning. Nausea, exhaustion, serious hormone surges, emotional question marks…it takes a whole lot of strength to stay positive in those times. In moments when I found myself weak or fearful over all the scary things these books say, I was so grateful to be able to turn to the Word and fill myself with truth. This truth is most comforting at all times: I can do all things through HIM who gives me strength.
3. Bralette: I was prepared, and excited, to have to go up a few bra sizes. What no one prepared me for was the pain that came with that "new development." Life's simple joys, including a good hug and strong water pressure, became excruciating. I promise it goes away, but for the few weeks that an under wire simply wouldn't do I was so thankful for pretty bralettes. (And, lets be honest, old sports bras.)
4. This man: As dramatic as it sounds, I truly don't know how I would have survived the first trimester without my guy. Since we found out about this beautiful baby smack dab in the middle of a two month Eurovacation, I didn't have the comforts of home, my own cooking, my girlfriends or family or even my midwives to settle me. Every outburst into unexplainable, over dramatized tears, every "is this cramping normal" "I think I ate a cheese on the no-no list" "what if my child is as awful a teenager as I was" was patiently and sweetly met by this man. When I truly couldn't leave the bed for the majority of the day, this man ventured through whatever foreign city we were in to find a protein my stomach would approve of. When he had to enjoy our prepaid excursions alone he gladly lugged around my DSLR camera so I was able to see exactly what he saw and experience it as well. He ate his meals on the floor, in the bathroom and even nearly under the bed when my super-sonic smell couldn't quite handle his curry/greek salad/barbecue. God has so richly blessed us in the gift of great husbands and my heart is bubbling over with love for this one.
5. Saltines: And for the MVP of my entire first trimester: Saltines. With the salt scraped off. Every day. For three weeks. I've accepted the fact that my child might come out a saltine... It's a little bit inevitable.
6. Mints: Just trust me.
7. Ginger Tea: I have been a huge Ginger Tea fan for years, but never have I sung their praises more than in the first trimester. Ginger has kung-fu powers against an upset stomach and when it seemed like nothing would work, having a pouch of tea with me at all times truly made all the difference.
8. My journal: Journaling scriptures, feelings, thoughts and dreams has been a crucial time each day for me. This is a time I want to remember vividly; my very first pregnancy, nurturing and growing our first born child. Being able to look back on those miserable days in bed in Switzerland, Ireland and London brings a smile to my face as it helps to remind me that "Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Of course every pregnancy and every woman is different, but these are the items that made the praise journal over those long weeks.

I ask for your grace and understanding as I adjust to this new phase of life. As soon as I found out about this little life inside me, I became more protective and shifted in a way I didn't expect. The over-sharer part of me seems to have disappeared for now. I'm not sure what sharing will look like for me in this process. I am so thankful for the millions of mothers out there who shared everything throughout their pregnancies- they gave me hope and insight that I desperately needed some days. I hope to inspire and to go exactly where the Lord leads me. Thank you for stepping into this journey with me!

Monday, May 5, 2014

On to Capri

Our Time in Rome has come to an end. We are already a little blue about leaving this city, but knowing that in a few hours we'll be on a hydrofoil crashing through the waves of Capri makes the goodbye a little more bearable. We were sure to shovel in some extra gelato for good measure. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Roma Part 1

Ciao from Roma! When my husband and I started planning this big Euro trip, we knew we wanted to spend at least a week in Rome. We had both been once before, but this vast empire is just too incredible to only see once. We decided it would be best to stay in an apartment for our eight-day stay so we could cook some meals and certainly save on expenses. Our first few days have been the equivalent of pressing “slow motion” on our lives. 

 Since we are still somewhat on Virginia time, we wake up around noon, go for a run and explore while facing the shocked looks of everyone around us (we realized after a few days that exercise is just simply not part of the culture here. We have to work off the gelato, pasta and pizza in advance!) Then we pull out our map and decide where we want to walk. I wrote a large list of restaurants I wanted us to visit so we always know where we can grab a good meal without falling into the tourist trap, and then we wander the day away. Most restaurants and cafes close in the afternoon and don’t open again until 7 or 8pm when dinner starts here in Italy. Gulping down Coca Cola (don’t judge me, it’s my vacation favorite!) and twirling noodles around silver forks at 10pm has become a favorite part of our day. Then we walk some more, usually deciding that we can’t go without gelato shortly before midnight.

One of my favorite things about this city is that there is truly beauty in every detail. The food is so fresh, the people are genuinely happy to see you and there are structures so breathtaking you will be left grasping for air the longer you look. The week has been pretty magical so far.

We’re headed off to the Colosseum and I’m looking forward to brushing up on my Italian today! There has been a whole lot of “Como si dice: doing on over here. Until next time, Arrivederci!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Color Crush: Orange & Grapefruit

Next up on the Citrus Color Crush list are Orange and Grapefruit. Pink and orange together used to seem a little too Lisa Frank for me, (anybody else picturing their unicorn bedazzled binders?) but lately I have warmed up to the duo. As usual, I recommend adding in both orange and grapefruit as a compliment to a neutral outfit, but sometimes a pink and orange dress is just necessary!




Monday, April 21, 2014

Color Crush: Lemon

(Image via: Modern Hepburn

Although I am admittedly a lover of neutrals, when spring and summer roll around I can't help but add in some unexpected accessories. Citrus extras are the perfect accent to a neutral outfit, especially since small changes like swapping flats for dancing shoes can take the look from day to night. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Citrus Cravings: Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts

Ladies. It's that time of year.

That time where we somehow by a force unknown (a force that I wish existed in the Winter...) pushes us to reach for fruit instead of cupcakes.

Okay. Maybe not instead of cupcakes.

But we're certainly reaching for more fruit.

When Spring hits, I suddenly cannot get enough citrus in my life. Next week I'll be sharing how to incorporate citruis inspired peices into your wardrobe, but this week I have to share how to incorporate it in the kitchen.

In a doughnut.

I was nursing a serious craving for lemon at the exact same moment a doughnut craving hit. Luckily, Pinterest was invented for moments like this. I scrolled like a mad woman until I came across a recipe I pinned months ago: Lemon Poppyseed Doughnuts by the Novice Chef. Within two hours, I was pulling these babies out of the oven:

They were light, refreshing, lemony and so delicious. I only made a few changes to the recipe.

1. I used a full sized doughnut tray, which gave me about 9 doughnuts.
2. The icing was a little too lemony for my taste so I iced half of the doughnuts in a thin layer of plain glaze. Those were my favorites.
3. I exchanged All-Purpose flour for Cup4Cup flour to make these bad boys gluten free.

These would be a perfect addition to Easter Brunch so run, don't walk, to the kitchen and make these as soon as possible. I promise you won't regret it! 

Original Recipe Here

 p.s. zested lemons are so stinkin' gorgeous.

All photography by Jill Atogwe

Monday, March 10, 2014

Anthropologie Illustrations: Get the Look

This past weekend, Anthropologie in Reston, VA held a Birthday party for all March birthdays. Although I only work there a couple days a week as Personal Stylist, I take great pride in the brand. A few of us working at the store were in charge of party planning and it was a complete success, If I do say so myself! One of the most exciting parts of the party for me was illustrating some new Spring merchandise. Being able to tie in two of my greatest passions- Personal Styling and Fashion Illustration- was a momentous moment for me. I thought I'd share the illustrations throughout the week so I can give you a chance to shop their looks.

  Here is a peek into the party. We had a s'mores bar (which we hovered over the entire evening...) Delicious blood orange cocktails, macaroons and a cheese tray for guests to snack on. We created a backdrop of tissue paper to acts as a photo booth wall and snapped our guests with a Polaroid camera for instant gratification.

My friend Colleen and I whittled some paper flowers together in preparation for the Happy Birthday sign. I must say, it was so much easier than I expected! I sense a tutorial coming...

Celebrating the women of our store and making them feel beautiful is always the goal, so this night was really something to remember.