Gift Guide for Teachers

Christmas is the perfect chance to show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them. As a teacher, I know just how special it is to me when a child runs up to me grinning ear to ear with a present for me in their hands. They’re always so eager for me to open it in front of them and see my reaction. I’ve received all kinds of gifts in my short time teaching…gift cards to the movie theater where Greg and I could have a date night (popcorn included of course.) I’ve received ornaments that I now hang on my tree every year.  I’ve even received stuffed animals from a child’s personal collection of toys that they brought me, just because they wanted me to have something of theirs.

Don’t get me wrong, teacher’s don’t expect gifts from every student…I know I certainly don’t. However for the families that are capable of providing a small gift for your teacher I hope this gift guide helps you with deciding what to get!

  • Faux Fur Slippers Everyone loves to relax when they get home from work, especially teachers! These faux fur slippers from Pottery Barn are the perfect gift for any teacher AND right now they are on sale for $20!!
  • Coffee Travel Mug If your child’s teacher is a coffee drinker, then a cute travel mug would be PERFECT for them! On occasion I can sit down and drink some coffee in the morning, but more often than not I’m taking it to go with me. It’s basically become another outfit accessory! Stick a ten dollar Starbucks gift card in one of these adorable Etsy mugs and this gift will make a teacher literally jump for joy!
  • Body Butter This body butter is by far better than ANY lotion I’ve ever used! My hands feel 10x smoother after I use it and it doesn’t leave me with that yucky feeling that I’ve just rubbed a bunch of chemicals on my skin.
  • Water Bottle It’s no secret that teacher’s don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Having a cute, durable water bottle will make remembering to drink enough water throughout the day a lot easier!
  • Lush Gift Set So I may be biased with this one, but I adore everything lush. They have tons of Christmas gift sets for under $20, and this one has 2 of my favorite products in it!
  • Bath Salts Nothing is more relaxing than a hot bath…so why not add some bath salts into the game? Great for detoxing and relaxing after a long day of grading!
  • Letter Board Okay I have one in my classroom and I LOVE it! Such a cute, easy way to decorate for any occasion throughout the year or to write a quote you think your students’ would benefit from. I have this exact same one and it’s been amazing!
  • A Book for the Classroom Nothing is more sweet than when a current student gives you a book for your classroom library! A good read aloud can hang around for years and years and dozens of students’ can benefit from it! This particular book is a new favorite of mine, it is so cute and funny! Any elementary school teacher would LOVE to have this in their classroom library!
  • Pom Beanie I am definitely a fan of the pom beanie trend! When we go outside to recess in the winter…it’s cold! We aren’t running around staying warm like the kids are, so having something on our head to keep us cozy would be awesome! PLUS this adorable beanie can be matched up with any color pom!!
  • Marble Monogrammed Cheeseboard  Okay now this is what cheeseboards are made of. It’s timeless, functional, and not to mention gorgeous! Select one with their last name initial, and there you have it! Currently on sale for just $26!!

Saltz Medical Spa: Himalayan Salt Cave






Okay so if you’re anything like me you’re reading the title of this blog and thinking, what’s a Himalayan salt cave? Before my recent visit to one, I had no idea what that meant! I had heard of people going to salt caves before but I had no idea why or what that really event entailed.

Growing up in Upstate South Carolina I feel like the only time I’ve ever heard of people going to a salt cave was if they went on a spa weekend up to Asheville or traveled to some other far away city. Well I have news for ya, we have our own salt cave right under our noses!

Saltz Medical Spa is located in Greer, and lays right off Pelham Road. At the spa you can get all of your classic spa treatments like pedicures and massages, but what makes them so special is their salt cave! The Himalayan Salt Cave is located in a custom-built room and is filled with handpicked Himalayan salt crystals. When you’re in the cave you can lay   back in a zero gravity chair, sipping on some vino or water, breathing in all pharmaceutical grade salt produced by a halogenerator. The salt cave is supposed to reduce stress, congestion, acne and ease the affects of asthma and allergies after just one visit!

A visit to the salt cave is typically a 45-minute session to relax and enjoy all the benefits of salt therapy, but you can also book personal massages in the cave! For one 45-minute session in the salt cave you can pay $20, or you can join the Saltz for an exclusive membership of $110 monthly for unlimited access to the salt cave plus tons of other amazing benefits! You can also purchase Himalayan salt lamps from the spa so that you can take a little piece of relaxation with you to your own home!

Not sure of what to really expect from salt therapy I went in with an open mind. While I didn’t leave feeling those same physical affects you might after a deep tissue massage or facial, there were lots of things I noticed after my visit. I opted to go on a Wednesday evening, which is pretty much prime stress time for a teacher. I had been super broken out with acne all week just from the stress of getting back to the grind after the holidays. When I was in the salt cave I definitely felt relaxed, but it wasn’t until after I left that I realized how at ease my mind had really become while I was in there. I truly felt relaxed and the biggest plus for me, my skin felt like it had calmed down and the next day most of my breakouts were cleared up! I’m sure the affects vary for each person, but for this being my first visit I was super happy with the results and how lasting they were!

Girls night out, Christmas present, date night…a trip to the salt cave at Saltz Medical Spa seriously would make anyone in your life happy! The cave can fit up to 5 people, so it’s perfect to do with a group of people! No need to drive to the mountains to try out the benefits of salt therapy, just hop in your car and drive right up the road!

Thanksgiving Non-negotiables





Thanksgiving is a time where we give thanks for all of the important things in our life. Family members being able to come together, friendships we’ve made and maintained, new family members, jobs we’ve earned…it’s a time for us to focus on all of the good in our lives. It’s also a time that we look forward to because of all the delicious foods that we get to eat. Food that is literally prepared with love for hours upon hours by our relatives. For many people (me included) there are some Thanksgiving food staples that are simply non-negotiable. Food that seriously needs to be laid out on that table or you might shed a tear or two on the drive home.

Even last year I was missing Thanksgiving with my family because I was in Disney World with Greg’s family. I was over the moon to be in the happiest place on earth…but I would be lying if I weren’t a little sad to be missing out on dressing and macaroni and cheese. Even though I knew there were going to be tons of leftovers at my parents when I got home, it did feel a little weird to not be eating any traditional Thanksgiving food they day of. Well thank goodness for the Magic Kingdom because they actually had a Thanksgiving Dinner feast available on the day of. Even Mickey Mouse needs his turkey, dressing, and green beans at least once a year.

So in preparation of the big turkey day, I’ve rounded up some of my non-negotiable food recipes. Some are treasured family recipes that have been passed down to me and some are some personal recipes that I’ve learned over the years myself and started to add to the table. Enjoy and happy eating!

Grandma’s Cornbread Dressing

Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese

3 Ingredient Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

What I Look For in a Gym






What does one think about when they hear the word, “gym.” Maybe you think about lifting weights; switching up which day you work on legs and which day you work on arms. Maybe you think about going to run on the treadmill or riding the bike for thirty minutes. Or, maybe your mind even reverts back to elementary school when you would run pacers and practice stretches. Well for me, growing up I kind of thought about all of these ideas. My family has always been a member of a gym, I was on the swim team in middle school, and I took dance classes from the time I was 3 up through my senior year of high school. I felt like I was doing all the right things to be healthy because I was exercising.

It wasn’t until I graduated college that I realized I could no longer eat the way I always had and just walk it off.

Luckily, I didn’t have to search for a solution too long because my school that I work at had recently received a health and wellness grant. With this grant, they had a partnership with a local gym that allowed teachers to workout there at a discounted rate. Through my time being a member of this gym I have found out so many things about my body and quite frankly how to handle growing up…body wise.

Here’s the moral of the story; you won’t always have the metabolism or the body you did when you were sixteen…or when you’re twenty. You change as you get older, and if you don’t take action that change could be for the worse. So I have decided to grab my health by the shirt collar, and show em’ I mean business! It hasn’t been easy, and sometimes I really just wanna stop and take a nap and eat pizza…but I really have found with the right gym you actually want to get up and go.

So what is this magical place that has made me actually excited to get up early on a Friday during my summer break and sweat my butt off? Well, it’s Element Strength and Fitness in Landrum, SC. Element is a boutique gym that opened in 2014 and is co-owned by Sonya Culbreth and Jennifer Willis. Both owners have been in the fitness industry for several years now, and have such lively passion that the majority of their instructors are previous clients that are now turned experts.

Then comes the question, why them? Why don’t I just use the “gym” (I use that term loosely) that is located in my apartment complex? Or why not join one of the many chain gyms that are located within one mile of where I live? Well, one reason is camaraderie. The very definition of the word meaning trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together, is exactly what you feel when you’re at Element. I started off going to group fitness classes there with co-workers, and as people’s schedule’s change I realized I’m one of the last people from my school who still attend classes there. Even though I don’t have the same people I started with there by my side, I’ve found literally two dozen more who I can call by name and shake my booty with any day of the week. Trust me, when you spend time doing enough squats with a person you begin to form a bond with them. I mean we all honestly feel like a small family when we are together. We ask about life events, celebrate birthdays, inspire, and encourage one another on a daily basis. Now, I did love my indoor track at the YMCA back home but I can tell you I never had that kind of relationship with even a fraction of the members, let alone the instructors.

Another aspect of Element that has continuously kept me coming back is the accountability. I know the word accountability can either be sour or sweet. Sometimes accountability is just a nice way to say that someone is bugging you until the point of annoyance. That has never been my experience at Element. I typically go to some of the same group classes with the same instructors, so when they ask me if I’m coming to class on Tuesday I view it more as a friend asking me the next time they’re gonna see me. They know when you have things going on and they’re always willing to sign you up for a class or do whatever they need to to help keep you on track with what your goals are.

Now, I’ve mentioned that I attend group fitness classes at Element and you might be over there thinking ‘Uh…what’s that mean.’ Well, Element offers Element Fit (dance/cardio + strength), PiYo (yoga + pilates), Pound, BCX Boot camp Training, Butts and Guts (self explanatory), and XT Blast (circuit training). Such a HUGE variety of classes that could cater to the person who has never worked out a day in their life and the person who works out religiously. The variety of workouts available to me on a weekly basis is such a huge plus for me, because I can get very bored doing the same routine over and over again. But more than that…my body gets bored. I enjoy having a variety so that I can challenge myself and work on different aspects of body. Just as an example, I had never done a burpee a day in my life before some of these group classes…and I still wouldn’t call myself the burpee queen but I can do a round of burpees for two minutes without crying and that’s more than I could probably say a year ago. Cardio is always great and gets all those good endorphins going, but some of the strength and training classes that I’ve tried through Element have made me feel like a stronger and more capable woman than I ever use to feel.

One of my last absolute favorite things about Element is the flexibility they have with their clients. In addition to all of these wonderful classes, there are also several opportunities to book a personal training session with some of the instructors to work on what you need. They always show modifications for all moves you do in a class and they always give you great feedback if they want you to try to go lower in your squats or change your form in something. A lot of the aspect of being in a healthy gym is working on the whole transformation; inside and outside. It’s great if you can do 10 pushups in thirty seconds…but not everyone can. They help you find out what works best for YOU and then meet you exactly where you need to be. There are no judgments passed on anyone because everyone is capable is working on being the best that they can be. That type of adjustment is exactly what everyone needs in a workout because no two people have the exact same body type, so they don’t need the exact same expectations put on them.

Now I know I’ve talked on and on about all the great things I get to experience in my gym…but I’m aware that not everyone lives in Landrum. Good news, you don’t have to! Element is also available to everyone, anywhere online! Online you can find a variety of exercise videos that are exactly what you would see in some of the fitness classes plus two types of nutrition plans; Element 7 and Element Prime. Sonya and Jennifer are always willing to learn and listen to what other nutrition experts are saying so both of these plans are not one exact formula. They have gathered real information that they are truly passionate about sharing. No pills, potions, or strict diet plans-just real food that works for real people. Both of these ladies are always willing to keep it real with you, and they would never tell you “never” about anything. They just want to help you gain knowledge about how to lead a balanced, healthy lifestyle and break the everyday cycle of bad choices.

So if you’ve been on the fence about getting a hold of your own health and where to get started, no need to wait any longer. Get out of your comfort zone, and into your element!


Wanna know more? Check out their website and youtube page below!

Greenville Staycation











Whether it’s time, money, or a special occasion-life doesn’t always allow you to escape on your dream, exotic vacation. While Hawaii, New York, or a cruise all sound like ideal location for a relaxing getaway, sometimes if you look in your own back yard you can find all the relaxation you need. A ‘staycation’ is the perfect plan for anyone looking for some fun and freedom from the everyday workweek.

Living in Greenville, I sometimes take for granted some of the amazing things that make Greenville so appealing to everyone that visits. So, for my birthday weekend a staycation was exactly what the doctor ordered! Rather than traveling out of town, I decided to spend some time re-exploring this city that I love so much.

Where I stayed

         While I live in Greenville County, I don’t live in the most accessible part of the city. So, having a staycation is the perfect chance to get to experience Greenville from a completely different perspective.

When I think of staying in a hotel in Greenville, there is only one hotel that comes to mind; The Westin Poinsett. It is the epitome of sophistication and relaxation and everything you are wanting in a hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, it is the prime spot for a weekend getaway.

The amenities offered to guests are as far and wide as your needs require. An easily accessible parking garage, transportation around downtown, restaurant & lounge, gym…you name it and they have it! Not to mention the staff is so warm and welcoming from the moment you walk in to the second you check out. There is absolutely no other place I would have wanted to rest my bags during my staycation, then the Westin.

Where I ate

         Greenville’s variety of cuisine is hands down one of my absolute favorite things about the city. Just when I think the food can’t get any better, here comes a new restaurant that blows me away. During my staycation I went to some of my go-to spots downtown.

Gringos– To cater to all my Mexican cravings, Gringos is the place to go. Amazing food, the best drinks, and such a relaxed environment. Gringos is the kind of place where you can go with friends after work, and end up sitting on the porch for hours just hanging out. Plus…they have one of the best happy hours in all of downtown, and who doesn’t love $3 queso?

Sidewall– This is not your every day, ordinary pizzeria. Sidewall has such a unique variety of pies to choose from, my absolute FAVORITE is their spicy Italian-if you enjoy spicy food this is the pizza your taste buds have been waiting on. Aside from their delicious, fresh made pizza they also have homemade ice cream that is made daily…just saying.

Diner 24– Even though this diner has only been open a few short months, it has already become one a downtown hotpot. Tons of classic diner favorites like meatloaf, burgers, and French toast are offered all day long. That’s right, this diner is open 24 hours; hence the name Diner 24! This kind of joint is exactly what Greenville has needed and it the perfect place for everyone to get their grub on!

What I did

         There’s SO much fun stuff to do in Greenville- everything from breweries, to boutique bowling alleys, shopping, the zoo…seriously the list goes on and on! In planning my staycation, I definitely wanted to do something fun and different, but also relaxing! I decided to do two very different, but both very exciting things!

AO-The Space– If there is anyone out there who genuinely does not enjoy being pampered, they haven’t been going to the right places! Located right outside downtown Greenville is a day spa with vibrant workers and nothing but the best service. Even though the Space has only been around for a little over a year, it is continuing to grow rapidly into Greenville’s one stop shop, spa! They currently offer hair salon services, a variety of massages, facials, spray tans, and lash extensions. Within the next few months they will offer manicures and pedicures as well sell their own distilled essential oils, says owner Jessica Kelley. An all woman owned and operated spa, selling and serving only the best organic products really makes the Space stand out amongst all the other spas. While on my staycation I was able to get good and relaxed enjoying one of the spas newest services, a hydrodermabrasion facial!

Jack N’ Diane’s–         Greenville’s one and only dueling piano bar! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar you have seriously been missing out on a whole lot of fun! Not only is it great live music, but it is the perfect spot to go for a special occasion! They are constantly engaging with the crowd and providing the best combo of entertainment and comedy with their shows. During my staycation it was actually their four-year anniversary of being in Greenville, so there were lots prizes and laughs for everyone!

TD Saturday Market– If only the Saturday farmer’s market could be open year round…my life would be so much better. This amazing farmer’s market is located right on Main Street and operates from May-October. Here you can find everything from produce, fresh fish, beauty products, and even some breakfast from some great local venders. Of course I love to get produce there, but a few of my favorite things there include the pepperoni bread from Great Harvest, salted caramel iced latte from West End coffee, and the frittata of the day from Soby’s.

Spending my birthday weekend re-exploring this city that I love was exactly what I needed. The chance to relax, eat some good food, and have fun with my friends was the best present I could have received. So, the next time you’re looking to get away…look no further than where you already are! You never know what new experiences lay ahead!

Summer Road trip


Seven states, six days, two girls.

That was the premise of my best friend I’s little road trip to visit some of our friends this summer Basically we were going from Greenville, SC to Nashville, TN to Auburn, AL, to Fairhope, AL to New Orleans, LA…and back.

Planning this road trip out we realize we weren’t taking necessarily an easy path by going more northern then driving farther down south and back up. However, visiting friends for different reasons just so happened to all work out that week so rather than rescheduling separate road trips another time we just decided to combine them all in one!

So naturally, I grabbed my headscarf and was ready to channel my inner Romy and Michele/Crossroads persona. Packing clothes for this trip was a struggle to say the least. I clearly didn’t want to be lugging around a 40lb suitcase to every place we were staying…but a girl needs to have options. I tried to pack a good combination of basics and fun pieces that I could interchange with one another throughout the trip, but traveling with your best friend and her suitcase also came in handy throughout outfit changes too.

Suitcases packed to the brim, snacks and drinks to last us through a small snowstorm, and a tank full of gas started us on our journey. Rather than giving you a play by play of every little detail, I’m gonna give some highlights of each place we stayed, what we did there, and where we ate.

First stop…. Nashville.

         One of our good friends had just moved to Franklin, TN (right outside Nashville) the week of our road trip. Moving five hours away from home definitely calls for celebration in your new city! This wasn’t our first trip to Nashville or Franklin, so while there we did some of our favorite things as well as tried some new things! Here are some of our favorite stops while in Nashville…

Hattie B’s- Nashville hot chicken at its finest. This was actually my first experience eating true Nashville hot chicken and I LOVED it! I actually got the medium and it tasted like great fried chicken with a kick, so I think I definitely could have bumped it to the hot. (Better safe than sorry, right?) So basically what you do at Hattie B’s is wait in line to order and then you’ll order based off of what type of meat you want. I ordered the small white which includes a breast and wing and each meal comes with 2 sides, bread, and a pickle. I got the fries and cole slaw and both were amazing! The line can be overwhelming; so a little tip-you can call your order in and pick it up without having to wait in the line!



Pinewood Social- Whoever thought of building a place that has a bowling alley + swimming pool + coffee shop + bar + restaurant is simply a genius. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to partake in any of the fun activities while at Pinewood but I did eat probably one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten in my life while there. Hands down Pinewood Social has the coolest ambiance of almost any place I have been. It truly is a place to go and socialize with friends both old and new!




Acme- Classic Broadway bar with the absolute BEST view of Nashville. This multi-story bar has a little bit of something for everyone! Live music on one floor, swanky couches and dim lighting on another, and a gorgeous rooftop!


 Next stop…Auburn.

         Okay, so Auburn definitely isn’t unfamiliar territory for us. Those of you that know me know that my friend that I was traveling with, Taylor, lived in Auburn for two years, our other friend and her husband attended Auburn University, and my boyfriend is from Auburn. In terms of our road trip, Auburn was more or less a stop along the way so we wouldn’t be driving forever. It actually worked out perfectly in our plan because my boyfriend was home visiting friends and family while we were driving through so we got to stay with his family. Even though we just stopped by for the night, I still got to fit in a few of my favorite places while there. (Don’t judge the amount of restaurants that are on this list for a 24-hour stay…midnight snacks are a real thing.)

Arigato– My favorite place to grab sushi whenever I’m in Auburn! The thing that is so funny, but also awesome about Arigato’s is that it’s basically happy hour everyday because all of their sushi is always half priced!

Sky Bar– Anytime anyone asks me what to do in Auburn I ALWAYS tell them Sky Bar! Sky Bar is practically as much a landmark as the trees are. While it can get pretty packed out during game day weekends, it’s just like any other bar during the week. They always have their first floor open, which you can listen to live music, watch the game, or play trivia at. Then they have a back section where the big dance floor is, and then a rooftop overlooking downtown Auburn!

Momma Goldberg’s– Another Auburn classic. Sub-style sandwiches, soups, salads, and nachos. My go-to meal: Momma’s Love all the way + Momma’s Nachos with cool ranch Doritos.

 Crepe Myrtle-I only discovered Crepe Myrtle a few months ago but I’m obsessed with everything about it. The place is part produce stand-part bakery/deli. It has the cutest décor and such great, fresh food! I’ve gotten a few different crepes when I’ve gone and have loved everything I’ve ever got! Their fresh squeezed orange juice that they can in mason jars is a MUST…and if you get to eat outside you’ll get a friendly visit from some of the chickens!

 Next stop…Fairhope.

          Never heard of Fairhope, Alabama? That’s okay because I hadn’t either before our friend, Brittany, and her husband moved there a little over a year ago. Fairhope is located about thirty miles away from Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Shores. That being said there are TONS of amazing things to eat, do, and explore in Fairhope and the surrounding area. During this particular trip we traveled to a place I had been dying to go to in a neighboring town and got to experience something new in Fairhope for breakfast!

Lambert’s Cafe– I’m pretty sure I died and was reborn on my first visit to Lambert’s, home of the throwed rolls. I’ve seen Lambert’s on a number of food network shows so when I figured out that there was one thirty miles away from where Brittany lived I absolutely had to go. Not gonna lie the wait was long…like two hours long…but it was totally worth it. The deal with Lambert’s goes way beyond them throwing rolls at you. Whatever entrée you order you get to pick 2 sides + there are 5 different “pass around” sides that they continually bring around and give you as much as you want. When I say that I ate chicken fried steak + mashed potatoes and gravy + creamed corn + turnip greens + steamed cabbage + fried okra + black eyed peas + roll (s) with molasses and honey…I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. It was magical and miserable all at once, and yes I waddled out holding an enormous to-go box.



Warehouse Bakery and Donuts- The cutest breakfast spot with literally something for everyone. Coffee, breakfast bowls, pastries, pies, biscuits…you want it, chances are they have it. Fun fact: Allison Williams ate there while filming Get Out.

 Last stop…New Orleans

         Ah the Big Easy….a place known for it’s intriguing culture, addictive food, and a good time. I’ve been to NOLA one other time, but this was my first time being able to actually spend the night there. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know as well as I do that you can visit this city ten times over and still not skim the surface of everything this city has to over. We tried our best this trip to try to explore more of the city and do a few new things…but some things in New Orleans you just have to do each time. (I’m talking to you, beignets.)


Harrah’s– Okay, so before this trip the only gambling I had done was buying a one dollar scratch off from the gas station. Going to a casino for the first time was very exciting, but after advice from friends I went in knowing I was not going to spend more than $20….and I lost all $20. All the same, it was SO fun and something a little bit different than the same old same old!

Hotel Monteleone (Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge)– Okay this place was seriously SO unique! The entire bar is a carousel that takes about 10 minutes to make one full rotation. Other than the carousel, the whole piano bar area is so swanky and Sauvé, and just classic NOLA.


W.I.N.O.– A quant self-serve wine bar. They have an enormous selection of automated machines that you use your “tasting card” to select the amount you want and pour. Try a little of this, and then a little of that! They also offer a light menu of tapas!

Café Du Monde- I’ve written about getting beignets from here before, but I will say it again; the ONLY place to get your beignet and café au lait fix.


Ritz Carlton- I’ve been to a Ritz Carlton to eat before, but never have I ever had the pleasure of staying in one myself before this trip. The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans exceeded my expectations by a million miles. The service was impeccable and the hotel is walking distance of everything in the French Quarter! Definitely recommend the splurge for your next trip!


Going on this road trip was both exhausting and exhilarating. Staying in different cities and a different bed for only a night or two can be super tiring on oneself, but traveling with one of my best friends to visit some of our other best friends really does bring people closer together. We belted some of our favorite musicals, listened to the entire S-Town podcast (if you haven’t, you HAVE to listen to it), and honestly just talked. I honestly feel like going on a road trip even if it’s a short one is something everyone needs to experience at least once.






Fresh Picked Lavender 101



In the fall you go apple picking, in the summer you go Lavender picking. Okay no, not really. During the summer most people go pick strawberries, blueberries, or basically any type of berry. However, the summer is also the time to pick lavender! Now there aren’t lavender fields in every town but they also aren’t as scarce as one might think. Many regions have lavender festivals and some local places have a ‘U-Pick’ time period. Luckily, there is a lavender farm about ten minutes from my home so when they announced they were hosting another picking event I was ready to buy my ticket!

Many people think lavender is just a great scent for things like perfume, laundry detergent, or lotion. But lavender is so much more than a scent that smells good. The essential oils extracted from lavender are known to have very calming affects on people. Lavender also, surprisingly, tastes really good and refreshing. Drinks, sweets, even meat-it has a great flavor and can be used in so many different ways.

So, with that being said, after you’ve picked your lavender (or bought the pre-picked bundles; no judgment) you might be wondering what the heck to do with it. Well I’ve laid out how to care for your fresh lavender, some arts and crafts ideas, and some of my favorite lavender recipes.

Caring for your lavender

            Basically it comes down to if you want to keep your lavender fresh or if you want to dry it. If you want your lavender fresh you’ll want to keep it in a small amount of water, change the water DAILY, and the lavender should stay fresh for 1-2 weeks. If you’re wanting to dry your lavender (best for crafts and culinary) it’s really quite simple. Your bundle should already be tied in a rubber band. Next step is to hang your bundle upside down in a dark space. Personally, I used my closet and tied a ribbon to the rubber band and tied the ribbon to a hanger towards the bottom of my closet. Since what you’re essentially drying out is the buds, you’ll want to keep a towel under the bundle to catch the buds that fall. After you leave the bundle this way for 10-14 days. Now depending on what exactly you want to do with your lavender will depend on what to do next. If you want to use your lavender for cooking then you will need to gently pick all the buds off and keep them in a brown or dark blue glass container. As long as you keep the buds in the container in a dry/dark place they should be good for 5-10 years! Just put them in a grinder when you plan on using them.


Arts & Crafts

            One of my favorite seasonal decorations is a good ole wreath. Buying a fancy wreath with all the bells and whistles can be some serious $$$ so I enjoy making my own with what I have/what’s on sale. About a year ago I got a plain vine wreath at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 in October. I had used it as just a plain wreath for Fall-but with all my new lavender…I thought I would fix it up. Personally, I waited until it was dried out before I used it but basically I just took the dried lavender (stems and all) and worked them through the vines of the wreath. Don’t be afraid to be generous, the more lavender you add the better! The great thing about this wreath is that every time I walk in the door I get a big whiff of lavender and it is the perfect way to come home after a long day.

Another super easy craft idea is making sachets out of your lavender. Just take the dry buds off the stems and put them in a cotton drawstring bag. These are so easy to make and really just allow the fragrance from the lavender to keep a space smelling great. These are great for putting in your car, your dresser drawers, or even in your linen closet!




            Everything from sweets to drinks, you name it and there is a lavender recipe for it. Below I’ve listed a variety of some of my favorite lavender recipes to try out!

Lavender Martini

¼ cup Lavender Syrup (listed below)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 lemon peels

¼ cup of vodka

1/3 cup of champagne

Pour lavender syrup, lemon juice, and vodka in a shaker and shake well. Distribute between two martini glasses. Top each glass with champagne and a lemon peel!

Lavender Simple Syrup: Boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender buds and 1 small strip of lemon zest. Steep for about twenty minutes and strain the contents into a small container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate!

Chocolate Lavender Brownies

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds

3 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cups + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder

3 sticks unsalted butter

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Place lavender buds and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a grinder and finely grind the mixture. Put the lavender mixture in a large bowl and add flour, cocoa, salt, espresso/coffee powder, and the remaining sugar. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, soften butter until almost melted. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Make a well opening in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix well using a wooden spoon and add in the nuts if using. Pour mixture into the baking dish and smooth out. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out of the center mostly clean.


Lavender Honey Marinade

½ cup honey

¼ cup dried culinary lavender buds (finely ground in a spice grinder)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh tangerine juice

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl mix together the honey, lavender, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, tangerine juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

In a gallon sized Ziploc bag, put chicken or shrimp. Pour marinade in Ziploc bag, making sure to push all the air out before closing completely. Make sure the marinade is distributed evenly over the meat, and place refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (The longer you refrigerate, the more the marinade will be absorbed into the meat) Remove meat from bag and grill or bake. Pour remaining marinade from bag on top of meat halfway through cooking to ensure extra flavor.






Why I Still Call my Hometown, Home


“Where are you from?” It’s a common question you’re bound to get asked at some point in your lifetime. You’re asked it your freshman year at college, you’re asked it the first day at your new job, and your asked it when you are off on vacation and meet someone new for the first time.

The question I now have for you is: What do you say?

As someone who moved away after I graduated from college it’s very tempting to want to call my new place “home.” The city has so much life, so much art and things to do and amazing food. It’s a city known for being a great place to live…but that’s the thing. It’s the place where I live-but it’s still not my home.

Growing up I almost felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. What else was out there? What more could I see and do? I wanted better food, fancier affairs, and more to see. I have that now, but I find myself more than ever missing my hometown.

With all that being said and done, I’ve mustered up 8 reasons as to why I still call my hometown home.

  1. Back roads

I’m telling you right now that I can get anywhere in my hometown in fifteen minutes or less, and I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket (in my hometown…) No “hoping” onto 285, 385, 485 or any interstate or highway period. Just knowing where I’m going and five different routes to get there. It’s that back road life, baby.

  1. Comfort Food

I’ve eaten beignets in New Orleans and pizza in New York and I’ve loved every scrumptious bite. But here’s the thing-there’s still nothing like the food you get when you are home. It’s the food of your childhood and the food you ate before prom and the food you ate with your best friends. It’s just simply food that brings you comfort. Like seriously, even the Chick-fil-A tastes better when I’m home.

  1. Memory Lane

There’s just something about being somewhere that holds memories for you. Your hometown is where you met your best friends, had your first kiss, your first heartbreak, and held Saturday yard sales with your friends when you were too lazy to get a job. (Guilty!) Every corner of town holds a special memory, and serves as one giant scrapbook.

  1. Familiar Faces

Yes, it’s exciting to meet new people and expand your horizons. However, I would be lying if I didn’t love going to a restaurant and running into people I know when I’m home. Everyone loves to feel like a big fish in a small pond every now and again.

  1. The Rumor Mill

We live in the south, gossip is inevitable and it’s so much more exciting hearing about what’s going on in your hometown rather than hearing about complete strangers. Not saying everything is about he said she said, but even the little changes throughout the town. For example, my hometown is getting a sushi restaurant downtown, FINALLY! Pretty sure that article had over 5,000 shares on Facebook.

  1. Family

If you are lucky like me, your family lived in your hometown before you were born and they still live there even after you’ve moved away. Having family somewhere ensures a connection to that place, and it’s always nice to have a place to stay when your home.

  1. Alma Mater

Okay so my hometown definitely isn’t a ‘College Town’, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a college in our town. I actually attended a private university that is nestled right by downtown. That means that I attended pre-school through my four years of college all within ten miles.

  1. Where the Heart Is

Through young love and family loss-your hometown is where your heart is. It’s where you conquer your fears and find your strength. It’s drenched in your tears and forever echoes with the laughter from your childhood. Your home is where you find yourself, and sometimes its good to be able to go back to that.

Traveling is what I love to do. I love seeing new places and meeting new people every chance I get. Overall, I’m glad that I moved out of my hometown. It’s what I needed to do for me in order to grow into the person I needed to be. Even with all that said-my hometown will always be the place that I am proud to call home.