April 30, 2017

Fleur de St. Louis' First Month: Ce que j'ai appris (what I've learned)

A month ago I started this journey to pursue my passion, to begin something that has been my desire for some time now. It is amazing to me how much one month of following my dream has taught me, and how many doors it has opened already. Today's post is a reflection as much as it is a jumping off point for what's to come. Here's what I've learned:
  • It is possible to have a deeper connection with your community. Taking this leap has encouraged me to step out more. Whether it is a trip to the farmer's market, a stop at a pop-up pâtisserie, or a local book talk, I have found myself taking more advantage of what my city has to offer. I am connecting with lots of people doing incredible, innovative things. Those connections move beyond my physical community. Through this online community, I've connected with favorite bloggers and authors. I've also discovered new people creating work that inspires. 
  • You can feel like you are on vacation in your own city. Sometimes you take things for granted in the place where you live. My day au café, au musée was very reminiscent of a day I would spend on a trip visiting another city. I will now make a conscious effort to feel more of that right here at home.
  • I love to write. I've always known writing was a strength, but I've never really done much of it outside of school. The opportunity to write for this blog has shown a light on yet another passion. 
  • I'm interested in photography. I take pictures of everything, all the time, predominantly with my iPhone. My boyfriend recently invested in a nice camera for our European travels this summer. It was in the apartment for a while before I was finally drawn to pick it up. I have A LOT to learn, but the process of finding the right lighting, composition, etc. is something I'm really enjoying. 
  • Language skills really do come with practice. The community I have found through blogging has inspired me to focus more on my goal of bettering my French. I would love to gain a level of comfort that has me dreaming in perfect French one day. I now have hope that that day will come. 
  • Your voice and perspective are important and unique. This blog started for me. That's important. If you don't love what you do and feel passionate about what you do, neither will anyone else. Of course, I do always have in mind the way my favorite blogs have inspired me and I had a goal. I thought if I could reach one person the way the women I look to have reached me, I would feel I had accomplished something. One comment from a reader in Minnesota made me feel I had done just that. Thank you, citycottage up in Minneapolis! I'm so glad I could share some inspiration with you.
  • Continuous growth is an amazing thing. As I scroll back through my first month of posts, it's incredible to already see an evolution. The amazing thing is how natural it has been. All it took was beginning, and so much has unfolded.
  • Slowing down is OK and necessary. This blog has given me an incredible energy. I'm constantly thinking of ideas, creating new things, going, going, going. I want to blog, read, dabble in photography, speak French, bullet journal, travel... and these things all bring me so much joy. But no one can do it all, and everyone needs to make deliberate time for rest. It's a balance that makes everything work together. That said, I will be taking a short break from the blog to honor that need for rest, but I will be back Wednesday with more wellness tips. :)
I can’t wait to see what else might blossom from this blogging adventure! Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, subscribed, and followed along on Instagram. It means a lot to me, and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 29, 2017

Bonjour BuJo (n°6): Setting Up the Future (& Birthday) Log

Rainy Saturdays call for time to slow down. With the Gilmore Girls keeping me company, I'm wrapped up in my favorite soft blanket and journaling away. In case you are spending your Saturday similarly, I wanted to get the next step in the BuJo set up series up on the blog. 

My goal today was to share my future log, but then a happy accident occurred. As I finished drawing out my future log spreads (intended for pages 1-4), I realized I had accidentally skipped pages 1-2. Now my future log was on pages 3-6 and I had two hanging pages. I told you, these things happen constantly. No worries, though, because there is always a creative solution. I had been wanting to include a birthday log in this journal anyway, so rather than place it after the future log I used those two blank pages and placed it before. Problem solved, and now you get a bonus BuJo feature! 

(Future Log)

The future log is not something that all journalers have found useful. I, however, used this tool regularly in my first journal and knew I would want to incorporate it again. The purpose of the future log is to have a space where you can jot down events & important dates that are occurring in the future. This is handy because the bullet journal is created as you go. When I'm creating pages for June but make a hair appointment for August, I want to be able to get that date down so I won't forget later. The future log is just the spot. 

(Future Log - This cute washi was purchased at Hobby Lobby.)

The future log begins the month your journal begins. Because I will be starting to use this journal in June, my future log starts with June and runs through January. I set it up for eight months in my first journal and that was just about perfect (I ended up squeezing in one more month). I went with eight months again here. I was inspired by a layout I saw on Pinterest and decided to carry out the color scheme & theme I had use on the rest of my "set up" pages. Schemes & themes keep me from getting lost in all of the possibilities. I will talk more about this when we set up our monthly and daily spreads. I'm not exactly sure what I will do with the "notes" section, but I like how it visually balanced out the layout. If I don't use it, I won't include it next time. It's that simple. 

(Birthday Log)

And now to make those two blank pages look like they had an intended purpose all along! They made the perfect home for this simple but handy birthday spread (which uses a Create 365 stamp set purchased at Michael's and Versa Magic ink). I love doing small, fun things for my family and friends to make their birthdays extra special. This will help me keep track of all of those very special dates. (The cake stamp pictured is from a set I found in the dollar bin at Target.) 

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday, rain or shine. Whatever you are doing, I hope it is exactly what you needed. :) Happy journaling, and please share your layouts and designs with me. I would love to see! You can tag your photos with #fdstlbujosetupseries on Instagram. Thank you for reading and sharing!

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 28, 2017

Francophile Friday (n°3): Coco Chanel, La Fournette, and the New Paris

Bonjour and happy Friday! What do Coco Chanel, La Fournette, and the New Paris have in common? While they all have an obvious French connection, these three things were also a part of my quick "24 hour" Chicago getaway this past weekend. Chicago is a city that my boyfriend and I visit whenever we have an opportunity. It's amazing that in the same amount of time that you can binge watch your favorite series on Netflix, you can also step into your car and get out with the Willis Tower saluting you, Lake Michigan's breeze surrounding you in a warm embrace. Ah, Chicago! 

This particular weekend was inspired by an event I learned of via one of my regular blogs, Every Day Parisian (she's got great tips for experiencing Paris, Chicago style). Lindsey Tramuta was speaking about her new book, The New Paris, at one of my favorite Chicago bookstores (more on this charming spot ahead) on Sunday afternoon. This gave us an open afternoon, evening, and morning to do what we love: explore the city. We've done most of the tourist staples, so our favorite part is wandering and getting a taste of the unique charms in each neighborhood. 

(As we wandered, I started to notice fleur de lis. I began snapping photos, and I think this fleur de lis hunt will become a part of all future travels.)

Our first stop out of the car was a pizza lunch in Old Town. Walking from the "L" to lunch, many storefronts caught my eye, so I was eager to venture inside. Judy Maxwell Home had me at hello. This modern spin on the classic general store was filled with quirky gifts, each catching the eye more than the last. I purchased a set of finger duck feet for my niece and was about to exit when the sweetest little book caught my eye (if you ever visit this shop, explore fully before heading to the register). I picked up Coco Chanel: An Illustrated Biography and was instantly charmed. As I approached the counter (again) with excitement, the cashier raved about the owner's eye for unique products... that owner who happens to be Joan Cusack! She wasn't in, but I look forward to a possible meeting on a future visit. Just a few hours in, and the city was already revealing countless treasures. 

Sunday morning began with another Every Day Parisian suggested stop, La Fournette. My mission was to have the most Parisian coffee and croissant experience possible. Mission accomplished. Upon entering this cozy pâtisserie, we were greeted with a chorus of "Bonjours!". It was then that I realized they weren't simply saying "bonjour", but conversing in beautiful, beautiful French. You may recall from a few posts back that I had missed an opportunity to practice my French conversational skills with native speakers. I was not going to let that happen again. I loved the way deux croissants and deux petits cafés rolled off of my tongue. After savoring our buttery, flaky delights, I made one more stop to the counter to ask for Parisian travel tips. My ability to converse surprised and delighted me. I can tell my skills are improving! As if these things weren't treasures enough, we exited the shop to find a group of French fromageurs handing out delectable cheese samples. This city never ceases to amaze. 

Finalement, a trip to Read It & Eat for Lindsey Tramuta's book talk (The New Paris). A quick note about Read It & Eat, this book store is dedicated to all books food related. If you are a foodie it is a dream come true! Lindsey's talk centered around all of the new that now coexists with the classic, old Paris we conjure up in our minds. An American expat who has been living in Paris with her French husband, Lindsey's perspective was insightful. She described Paris' traditionally risk averse culture, and how recent generations have begun moving in the direction of global cultural influences and creativity. While trendy coffee shops and Japanese inspired pastries may not evoke the stereotypical Parisian scene, the new is still heavily rooted in the Parisian mindset that life is for living and loving. Even with the new, the French still value quality over quantity. They still invest in highly talented creators who are the best in their craft. The new is appearing, but the old heritage remains preserved. Lindsey's descriptions have me eager to wander the 10th and 11th arrondissements, experiencing the new with the old. I can't wait to share my experiences with you. 

As much as I loved hearing about all things Paris, I also took so much away from Lindsey's personal journey. She explained that it was never her ambition to write a book, that this "beautiful mess" evolved out of her lifelong love of French language and culture. By following her passion and launching her blog, opportunities unfolded for Lindsey that she never imagined. I left this talk more encouraged than ever. Lindsey even wrote a sweet note in my book: "Allez. Pursue that blog. Bon courage!" Pursue this passion I will. Just typing about this wonderful weekend proves that the unexpected is already revealing itself. I cannot wait to see what else might be in store. 

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 27, 2017

Bonjour BuJo (n°5): Setting Up the Index

Bonjour fellow bullet journalers! I hope you enjoyed creating your keys. :)

Today we move to the next step of bullet journal set up, the index. If you went with the Leuchtturm1917 journal, this step won't apply to you as your journal has a built in Index. You are already set up and ready to go! For anyone working with a Moleskine like me or any other plain journal, a little set up will be necessary but will also take you a long way. 

The index is just that - a place to keep track of the location of various calendars, monthly plans, daily plans, lists, etc. in your journal. Every page in the journal (beginning after the index) is numbered. I love numbering by hand, but again my Leuchtturm friends have another box already checked with pre numbered pages! You record the contents of the page and its number or number range here. Below is a photo of the index in my first bullet journal - very simple. I set aside four pages and labeled each index across the top. It looks like I will only end up using two pages, but it's better to have extra space than not enough. You can see that I distinguished the start of a new month with colored boxes. Along the way, I also put little symbols to the left of pages I found myself referring to often. There's that evolution again. :) 

This time around, I wanted to change the index up a bit (though I am going to stick with four pages). I was talking to a friend at lunch last week who asked me if I'd ever seen the two column index. This version includes a column for calendar related pages (ones you are less likely to go back to) and another for collection pages (lists, etc. that you might refer to often - more on this to come!). After scrolling through my Pinterest board for inspiration, I discovered that I had in fact pinned this very design. It felt like a sign that it was worth trying. I really loved the sea green, black and gold theme used in my key and chose to carry that through to my index. This was totally a personal preference - you can design this in any way you'd like! I love the little globes (washi tape purchased at Hobby Lobby). You can tell my European travels are on my mind... 

I'm excited to see how the two column index works for me and I will let you know if I recommend it! Whichever route you take, the index is an important piece of your journal. Because a bullet journal flows fairly freely, things end up where they end up. Having a quick reference makes journal use incredibly efficient and friendly. 

Happy index creation! I would love to see photos of what you create! Tag me on Instagram. You can hashtag your images #fdstlbujosetupseries. I'm always looking for new inspiration. :) 

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 26, 2017

Uncovering Your Inner Badass with Jen Sincero

"It's meant to be if you desire it."
-Jen Sincero

It's Wednesday and I am finally getting a chance to slow down and reflect on the events of the week. Monday, I had an awesome opportunity to go hear author Jen Sincero speak here in St. Louis. I wanted to take the time to share what I gained from that experience with you. 

It was really difficult for me to use the word badass in the title of this post (it didn't feel like something I would say), but it's also hard for me to embody what I learned from Jen Sincero without saying it. She really is all about uncovering your inner badass. Sincero is author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, and You Are a Badass at Making Money: Mastering the Mindset of Wealth. I'll admit that before a friend invited me to this event I wasn't familiar with Jen Sincero or these yellow and green books.  I was, however, interested in the following:

*Spending time with a great friend and making more human connections 
*Taking advantage of awesome events in my city
*Expanding my knowledge of books
*Taking in new ideas & food for thought 

This event did not disappoint. Jen is a captivating speaker and storyteller. From the moment she stepped on stage, I was engaged and laughing out loud. As I continued to laugh and listen, I found myself reaching for my little black notebook because much of what Jen was saying resonated with me deeply.  What was truly amazing was that a talk centered around money had me thinking about much, much more. Here are a few highlights from the book talk and what they meant to me:

"What you focus on you create more of."

When you get into a negative space, it seems to continue to grow. I've been there. I think most of us probably have. I loved this quote from Jen because it reminded me that when that negative space is growing, it is because we are allowing it to. By focusing on the negative, we actually create more negativity. What's so powerful about this is that it means we have more control than we think we do. By consciously putting more energy into the positive, the creative, the passion projects... we create more positivity, more creativity, more passion. I know which energy I'll be working to foster in my life. :) 


"Risk is way better than the risk of living a life unlived."

Often times the thing that prevents us from pursuing a passion is doubt. It took me months to finally launch Fleur de St. Louis because I questioned so much. What do I have to offer that others haven't already offered? What makes my voice matter? Will anything even come of this? Will doing this make me happier or will it just be another thing to keep up with? Doubt held me back until I realized I had no reason to hold myself back. The answer to those questions could very well have turned out to be "nothing" and "no". But believing that means putting energy into the negative. The only plausible option was to just begin, because I desired it. And as Jen said, what you desire is meant to be. You just have to let go of fear & doubt and allow that desire to unfold before your eyes. 


"Get out there... you have no idea what's waiting for you."

Which leads me to this final point. There is no way of knowing what is waiting. Just as I quoted Shannon Ables in my very first post, "the reality that can appear before your eyes has the capability of being something you never imagined in your mind's eye or perhaps brushed aside as utterly impossible." When you start something, it is possible that nothing ever comes of it. But it is equally possible that it turns into something incredible that you never imagined. I'd rather bank on that second possibility, because as Jen stated perfectly...

"It's your one and only life. Why not just go for it?"

I'm willing to bet you have a desire inside of you. If you haven't already, why not give it a chance and take a risk so that it has the opportunity to bloom into something that allows you to live your fullest, happiest life? Just some food for thought. I will be thinking on this one too, and I've added Jen's books to my "to be read" list. I know there are more laughs and inspiration in store. 

Warm wishes from me to you,

Wellness Wednesday (n°3): Le Yoga with Adriene

Happy Wednesday, readers! I hope this post finds you well. If you've been following along the Fleur de St. Louis journey, you've probably noticed that I often mention yoga as a major source of both my physical and mental wellness. Yoga has been a part of my life since college. I started doing yoga predominantly as a form of exercise. I'll be honest, at first I tried to flow through the instructor's poses even if I felt discomfort. I would constantly glance around the room, checking my neighbor's posture, comparing my strength and flexibility to those around me. This part didn't always feel so good. But then came Savasana (corpse pose). This final resting pose closes out the practice and allows you to breathe and meditate while the earth has your back (literally). It was then I realized that while yoga has incredible physical benefits, it was the spiritual and mindful side of practice that I craved in my life most. 

I have tried many things along the way from yoga classes at the gym, to classes in the park, to local studios around town. I am lucky to have finally stumbled upon the studio that truly gives a sense of home away from home, but that wasn't always the case for me and may not be the case for you. Home (whether literal or emotional) provides, in my opinion, the best backdrop for your yoga practice. It is at home where you feel free to be you, where you don't feel the slightest sense of judgement or comparison, where you can truly let go. That said, even if you are ready to begin your home yoga adventure, you may not be sure of where to start. I know I wasn't. 

This is where Yoga with Adriene (YWA) comes in. I don't remember exactly how I found out about YWA but I am oh so grateful that I did. You can get a very clear sense of what YWA is all about by simply listening to Adriene's powerful suggestion to "find what feels good". She truly embodies this warm, welcoming, individualized approach in all that she does. Whether you are a beginner looking to solidify your yoga foundations before attempting a public class, someone seeking calm, someone looking for a sense of community... YWA has something to offer you. And did I mention that a very large majority of her content is FREE?! It's truly amazing. 

Pictured here is a "collection" page in my bullet journal where I started listing my favorite YWA videos, as well as any videos that peaked my interest to try in the future. While the calming videos are the ones I turn to most, I am going to outline several suggested videos and links below in hopes that you can find something through YWA to meet your specific interests and needs. 

Solidifying Foundations:

Even the most experienced yogi can benefit from Adriene's beginner and foundation videos. She really breaks down each pose so that you are not (like I once was) just going through the motions. I love that she takes the time to help you understand the way your body should feel in poses and postures. Here are a few that you would be sure to encounter in any public class:

Seeking Calm:

As I mentioned above, this is what I love most about YWA. When I feel nervous, stressed, anxious, or I am simply seeking a quality night's sleep, I turn to Adriene's videos. Below are links to my top favorites:

Searching for a Sense of Community: 

YWA has a very strong and active community. You can connect through Adriene's site, social media, video comments, etc. One of my favorite things about YWA is that she offers a variety of series. One of the very first ways I got involved with the YWA community was through her 30 Days of Yoga. She even has printable calendars available to help you follow along. There is something about knowing that you are part of a community getting on the mat every day (whether near or far) that feels really powerful. 


And now a francophile bonus (just for fun), here's a link to Talk in French's list of 36 French words and phrases related to yoga. My yoga teacher talks about doing one yoga class in each place she travels to, and how much it gives her a sense of the community and culture. Maybe I will find myself in a yoga class in Paris this summer. That would be magnifique

I hope you found something here that spoke to you. I hope that the Yoga with Adriene community provides you with tools to help you live your best life as it has provided for me. I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments. :)

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 24, 2017

Bonjour BuJo (n°4): Setting Up the Key

Bonjour readers! A few of you have expressed interest in this BuJo "set up" series and your voices have been heard! A fresh new journal makes you giddy to get started, and I am going to do my best to roll out this "set up" series at a pace that doesn't rush you, but that also gives you what you need when you need it. The series will feature BuJo foundations and by summer, you should have tools to run wild with a fun summer project! Before we get rolling on this series, a few things to keep it mind:

*Make your journal your own. Your journal will not be quite like anyone else's journal, as the bullet journal is specifically meant to suit your needs. I am here to provide a jumping off point and hopefully you will find a few ideas/designs that resonate with you, but I am by no means the knower of all things BuJo. Search the web, get on Instagram, check out Pinterest, and talk to other journalers as you discover what works for you. You can view my Pinterest inspiration board here. It has taken me about eight months, and I have finally begun to figure out what works for me (though my needs are honestly ever changing and my journal is still evolving).

*It won't be perfect and that is OK! There are pages you are going to be really darn proud of, and pages you will want to turn faster than you can blink, never looking back. (Dramatic, right? But I know you get me.) Don't lose sight of the bullet journal's essential purpose: to streamline. Streamline your calendar, planners, journals, lists, etc. You want to increase productivity and stimulate creativity - but this should be a positive experience! There WILL be crooked washi tape and misspelled words, but ultimately this process should bring a sense of focus. If the beautifying part isn't your thing - that's OK! If you want to try to add some embellishment but feel inexperienced, just try it out! You will learn and grow as you go. I tell my students that mistakes make learning happen every day ... sometimes that's hard advice to take myself, but it's so true!

Now let's get to the fun part. :)

The key is the very first page in your journal. Here, you set up the icons and symbols you will use as you make plans, create lists, set goals, find inspiration, show gratitude, etc. In my first journal I kept my key fairly simple, and I will stick to this as I begin my second journal. There are inspiration photos out there with too many icons and symbols to count. Remember, you want to streamline. If it gets too complicated, it will no longer be a useful tool. Simple is good! 

(My journal keys. Left is my new journal, right is my first journal.)

You can see that I didn't make many changes this time around, except I removed two icons because I just didn't use them regularly. I like simple designs and I'm a fan of white space, though I may end up going back and adding something above my laurel wreath eventually. That's the beauty. It can unfold in time. And a note on inspiration - the frame around my first key was inspired by the frame that hangs on Monica and Rachel's apartment door in Friends. I think I was Netflix binging at the time... :)

Update: I made my new key minutes before adding this photo to the post. Some of the gold gel pen ink has already smudged onto the adjacent white page. I told you, these things WILL happen. I had my "cringe" moment, and then I shrugged it off. It's best to just roll with it!

Key creation, while only requiring one page, will be a big part of your daily journal use. If you aren't sure what icons you will want, start with the basics: to do, completed, delayed, cancelled, and notes. You can always leave some extra white space and go back and add if you find you need another icon later. The adaptability of the bullet journal is, in my opinion, one if it's greatest qualities. 

Happy bullet journaling! Get rolling on those keys.
Warm wishes from me to you,

April 21, 2017

Francophile Friday (n°2): Coffee Break French

Bonjour, and happy Friday! Today's Francophile Friday is for language learners or anyone trying to follow through with a goal. 

In 2017 I have really been focusing on three main goals:

1. Exercise (or I like to say "move mindfully") every day.
2. Make time to read every day.
3. Study the French language (even if it's just un petit peu) every day. 

I chose these goals because they felt manageable, and because these specific goals aligned perfectly with my intentions to feel well, continuously learn, and pursue my passions. 

I've found that the first two goals have fit into my lifestyle fairly naturally. I walk my errands whenever I can and a attend yoga class 1-2 times per week. I love to read while sipping my morning coffee and before I fall asleep at night. But the French language goal I quickly realized was going to require a little more thought and effort. (By the way, I don't always get all of these things done every day. When I do, I feel incredible, but I also don't beat myself up if I don't. Every day is the vision and I maintain that vision, but I am also real about the fact that sometimes life just happens.) 

I leave for a three week European adventure two months from Monday, and this adventure includes 5 nights in my beloved Paris. My dream and reason for studying the French language (now for almost nine years in total) is to travel to France and truly feel a part of the culture. How better to do that than to parler français

I attend a French class at the Alliance Française de St. Louis every Tuesday, and usually devote two or three afternoons to mes devoirs, but that still leaves about half the week sans français. I know that the best way to learn is to practice - to speak, to listen, to read. These things won't happen naturally here in St. Louis, Missouri unless I really dedicate myself. With two months to go, what better time than now? 

Starting Monday, I am going to begin incorporating a wonderful language learning podcast, Coffee Break French (there is also a Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese version), into my every day routine. I love the podcast route because it removes most opportunities to make excuses. I can listen when I'm getting ready in the morning, as I am driving to and from work, as I am on my afternoon walk, as I am prepping dinner... I know I can make this work with my daily routine (as long as I am intentional). 

Coffee Break French features engaging host Mark and fellow French language learner, Anna. Listening provides opportunities to pick up new vocabulary, brush up on grammar, hear proper pronunciation, practice listening skills, and even speak (if you aren't self conscious about looking a little silly while you are essentially talking to yourself ;-)...)

As I have several years of studying under my belt, I don't plan to begin with season 1, episode 1 (though a good review never hurts). After scanning the episode content with my current level in mind, I have decided to begin with season 2, episode 21. I should be able to finish season 2 (beginners - I want some review to polish my skills) and season 3 (intermediate) by the time we board the plane in June. I will keep you posted on my progress. It's time to commence!

Are you a language learner? How do you make intentional time to study and learn a second language? I would love to hear about your journey in the comments. 

Des souhaits chaleureux de moi à vous,

April 20, 2017

Petits Moments: Inviting Rest In

Sometimes it's in the petits moments of life, the little moments, 
when we learn the greatest lessons.

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy for me both at work, and in my creative & personal life. I've gone hard trying to be the best teacher I can be. On top of that, I want to dedicate time to exercise, wellness (yoga, mediation, reading, etc.), creative projects (like journaling), travel planning, French language learning, and my newest endeavor: this blog. I also want to dedicate time to my family and friends. All of these things are bringing me immense happiness and energizing me in a way I haven't felt in a long time. But expending that new found energy is also paired with a need for quality rest. 

Yesterday afternoon I arrived home from school eager to work on designs for a new project, read several books, and brainstorm ideas for the blog. I was several pages into one of my newest library books, Rest, when my eyes fluttered shut. I couldn't resist it. My body was telling me that it required rest to process ideas and restore energy, and I needed to listen to it. I woke up 2 hours later feeling well rested and ready to pick up where I'd left off.

At times our culture can make overworking feel like the norm. Even when the work you are doing is rooted in passion and elevating both your mood and your energy, there is still a need to find balance between that work and rest. I'm looking forward to thinking more about how to invite quality rest into my life as I continue reading Alex Soojug-Kim Pang's book. 

Warm wishes from me to you.
May you consider inviting a little rest into your life today and every day,

April 19, 2017

Wellness Wednesday (n°2): La Lavande

Lavender, one of my favorite flowering plants and aromas, is often associated with France. But my love for lavender goes beyond it's French connection. I have loved the scent of lavender for a long time, likely because my mom has been growing lavender in her herb garden and drying it for home decoration for many years. While I always enjoyed pinching the dried buds between my fingertips, releasing a burst of calming fragrance, it wasn't until my mom and I visited a local lavender farm in Eureka, MO* that I truly understood what an incredible plant lavender is. 

Lavender has many uses and benefits. It is said to relieve pain, reduce stress, alleviate anxiety & depression, and help you sleep among other things. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also serve as a decongestant and reduce head aches. (Read more about the uses of lavender here.)

When I started taking yoga classes at my local studio, Yoga in Demun, I noticed the use of lavender to create an atmosphere of calm and relaxation. From oils to diffusers to eye pillows, lavender was an essential part of the yoga experience. I have also experienced lavender aromatherapy during a massage.

A very wise woman recently encouraged me to think about the power of smell when considering wellness. Scent has a powerful association with our memories. As lavender is attached to beautiful memories with my mom, the calming feeling of a yoga class, and the total relaxation of a massage, it is a scent I wanted to bring into my life often. Lavender brings me instant calm, and this is something we can all welcome more of into our busy, busy lives. 

Here are some of my favorite lavender products that I enjoy every day:

*Lavender home & body mist - I spray a little on my pillow before bed to help settle into a relaxing sleep.

*Lavender eye pillow - I place this over my eyes during Savasana (yoga's final resting pose), and also as I am falling asleep at night.  I also love to set this on my chest while I read. I enjoy the light pressure and the distance from the nose softens the scent.

*Lavender essential oil and diffuser - Perfect for filling any room with the scent of lavender. I especially love it in my room at night. The diffuser also lights up in fun colors. :) 

*Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea - Awesome for taking five at work or right before bed - really perfect any time. 

*L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Bath & Shower Gel - I use a little in the shower and take a few deep breaths, enjoying the scent. 

*EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream, Lavender Jasmine - great scent, smooth and moisturizing feel

*Dove Advanced Care Deodorant in Lavender Fresh or Jason Calming Lavender Deodorant Stick for a natural option  

*Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, Lavender - Because lavender has antibacterial properties, I use this to clean my make up brushes. You can find a mini size in the travel toiletries section at Target that is perfect for this. 

*J.R. Watkins Natural All Purpose Cleaner, Lavender - Even cleaning can be a soothing experience! 

*Bath & Body Works French Lavender 3-Wick Candle - A friend introduced this to me and the scent is incredible. A trip to Bath & Body Works will be happening for me soon! 


I hope some of these lavender products will help invite a little calm into your life each and every day. 

Do you have any favorite lavender products? What other scents bring you calm? I would love to hear your responses in the comments!

Warm wishes and calm thoughts from me to you,

*Winding Brooke Estates in Eureka, MO was a beautiful lavender farm with a lovely shop where you could purchase many lavender gifts and goods. Unfortunately, due to Missouri weather conditions the Estate is no longer operating as it once was. Currently the owners are manufacturing products in Austin, Texas and looking into possibilities of farming lavender in Texas. You can still purchase their products from their new company name, Pure Botanicals LLC

April 17, 2017

Mes Livres de Chevet: The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Today I am launching a new series on the blog, Mes Livres de Chevet. About a week ago I was sitting in my French class talking about books with my classmates. I was describing the stack of books to be read next to my bed, and my instructor replied, "Oh! Ton livre de chevet!". This translates to "your bedside book" in English, and it is a phrase the French use to express that a particular book is their favorite. I just love how different languages have such charming phrases that perfectly express what you want to communicate.

Through this series, I will feature and review my favorite reads in hopes that you too will find some new livres de chevet, some new favorites. I took the liberty of making this plural because to choose one livre de chevet would be a very tall order! 

First up, a book that was recommended on Modern Mrs Darcy's podcast What Should I Read Next?: The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel.

If you love a sweet family story full of pastries with a Paris connection, you will instantly fall for this book like I did. The story follows a woman named Hope who has recently undergone a divorce and is struggling to find the finances necessary to sustain her Cape Cod family bakery. On top of that, her mother has passed from cancer, her preteen daughter is experiencing a rebellious phase, and her grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer's. As if there could be more, there's also a secret that could unlock the truth behind Hope's family history, the truth behind who she really is. At the moment when it seems everything has fallen apart, some pretty incredible things begin to fall together. 

This story isn't all pastries and Paris. Kristin Harmel weaves these elements in as she dives into the history of WWII in France, the presence of God, and the ultimate goodness in people. This book will break your heart at times, but in the end it will give you hope and remind you to always have the courage to "seize life's chances, before the years pass you by." 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. I can't wait to continue working through my "to be read" list in search of my next livre de chevet. Do you have a livre de chevet, a favorite book or books? I would love to hear about it in the comments! 

Warm wishes from me to you,

April 16, 2017

Bonjour BuJo (n°3): Design Inspiration

Last night was one of those Saturday nights were I lost track of the hour as I worked on some journal spreads for May. May is still two weeks away, and I am in no way wishing away April. I just love the promise of a clean spread, and when I see one I can't help myself but make it into something beautiful. My favorite spreads don't just appear like magic on the page. A lot of careful planning goes into the process. 

My first step is usually to consult my Pinterest board and scan the latest posts of my favorite BuJo Instagrammers (so many inspiring ones out there!). From there, I think about color scheme, embellishments, and overall layout. 

*Color Scheme:  Starting with a color scheme gives my spreads a more cohesive, finished feel. I know my black pens will always be a key player, so I begin by pulling shades from my drawer of colored pens and highlighters

*Embellishments: I might also grab a few rolls of washi tape that I feel fit the overall vibe I am going for. I've been playing with stamps and ink lately, so I will pull those items as well if I feel they will be a nice touch to the page. If I think I want some shine, I pick a metallic gel pen or two. 

*Overall Layout: This is where seeing images of other journalers' spreads really helps. I typically make weekly spreads ahead of time because I love to see my week at a glance, and my busy weeks don't always allow me time to work on spreads. Making the whole week at once ensures that I will be prepared for any plans that come up or ideas that pop into my head. When creating a layout, I consider what I will need to include. Spaces for daily plans and to dos are a must. For this spread, I also included a tracker (more to come on this) as I am working on exercising, reading, and studying French every day. I've also discovered a need for a special to do list for blog work. :) 

Here are some pictures that inspired the spread I created last night, along with my final product. You can see that I have taken inspiration from several places and pulled different elements to make the spread my own. 

(left: design inspiration + right: my final spread)

What inspires you when you BuJo? I would love any recommendations for blogs, Instagrammers, etc. Let me know in the comments!

Warm wishes and little inspiration from me to you,

April 15, 2017

Petits Moments: The Courage to Say "Bonjour"

Sometimes it's in the petits moments of life, the little moments, when we learn the greatest lessons. This past Friday as I was sitting and waiting to enter the latest exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum, my ears perked up. Coming from my left was the sound of a child speaking beautiful, fluent French. I tuned in, eager to test my comprehension skills against native speaking. The child was conversing with his mother and father, and while I missed some things (I'm not used to the fast pace), I was able to comprehend pieces of what they said. I was overcome with a desire to enter the conversation, as the opportunity to speak French with natives does not present itself every day. I struggled to find the courage. I kept trying to work up the courage, going over my introduction in my head:

"Enchanté et bienvenue à St. Louis! D'où venez-vous?" 

By the time I had prepared and felt at least somewhat confident, the family had wandered into another part of the museum. The moment had passed. Working on Fleur de St. Louis has given me a lot of courage when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone, but this petit moment showed me I still have a ways to go. The lesson: Next time I have the chance to speak French with natives I am going to be more confident in my abilities and seize the wonderful opportunity. 

Warm wishes from me to you.
May you also seize the opportunities small moments offer,

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