Four Tips for Wedding Planning Without the Stress

Who am I kidding? Wedding planning will always have stress involved. For me one of the scariest parts of planning is knowing that so many people from different facets of my life are all going to be together in one place vying for my attention.


I recently told a friend that wedding planning should be able to go on my resume because of the amount of information I have to decide on and communicate effectively with more than two parties.

To help survive the waves of stress during this planning season, I want to suggest a few points I’ve learned while planning our big day.

  1. The TickTick App

This app is hands down my go to app for writing down what I need to get done. I can assign individual tasks and set deadlines or write notes about the task, then mark it off when I’m done. The app allows you to color code information for quick access and easy organization. If you’re someone like me who wants to see every little detail laid out in front of you, believe me, you will really enjoy tinkering with this app. The best part, I might add, is that it’s free!

  1. May DesignsMay Design

Now I don’t like to spend money on something just for the sake of spending money. However, the ability to have all wedding information in one gorgeous little notebook that fits easily in my purse is something I deemed worthy of spending a few extra bucks on. May Designs has countless designs ready to present whatever your style is and provides a special wedding diary option for you to build a custom notebook that fits your needs.

The wedding diary features individual sections for planning and brainstorming, such as a budget plan, an area for you to jot down notes about things like the reception, wedding party, and ceremony, as well as a calendar for all your appointments and deadlines. This isn’t something everyone will want, but for me, it helped to know all my wedding information was in one place. Depending on customization (such adding a monogram on the front) the book runs from $18.00 to $23.00 before check out.

  1. A Clean Inbox

This might seem like a no-brainer, but after all the tips I’ve read about wedding planning I haven’t found this one addressed. Thus, I’ve decided it might be worth mentioning. Please for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t let your emails get away from you! Only just this week I had to go through the hoard of emails looming in my inbox ready to strike and search for the one email that confirmed I had told our reception venue a rehearsal time that they forget to pencil in. Please use folders to keep important information easily accessible. You’ll thank me for it when you need to prove a point and it doesn’t suck up hours of your life searching for an email you accidentally deleted.

  1. Advice

This advice is free and you can take it or leave it. I find that in moments of stress I have a lot of people around me who want to help – and offer – saying something along the lines of, “If there is anything I can do, please let me know!” While this is meant well, it isn’t really helpful to a stressed person.


Staying organized is the best way to stay on top of the wedding planning process. Keep all your information in one place. Don’t go to any meetings without the information you need. Use an app or notebook to make clear goals. However this organization looks for you embrace it and keep it handy because you never know when that luncheon with your Mother-in-law will turn into an inspiration transformation.

Do you have any good advice or experience with any of my tips? If so, please share in the comments. I love hearing from you guys.


What Self-Taught Can Do for You

I’m a curious person. Hence, why I chose to name this blog Pioneer Curiosity. I want to take a minute or two of your time and talk about a passion of mine; being self-taught.

I have taught myself how to do many things such as type on a computer, knit, embroider, and cook, but I want to take a deeper look at how being self-taught can change how you interact with the world. Maybe you are also the kind of person who picks up a tool and teaches yourself how to use it, or maybe you can’t stand the idea of jumping in without an education. Either way, being self-taught can help us all learn lessons. Let’s look at my top five.

1. CuriosityIdea

As I said before, the main thing that leads me to try new things and teach myself is the desire to know what I am capable of. If something interests me, I research it. I figure out where it comes from and then decide if I want to know more. Curiosity is the building block of what drives me to learn. If I don’t want to know more about it, I find it hard to continue learning. However, I find that if I do enough research, almost anything can peek my interest, it’s all about finding the right detail.

2. Discipline

When it comes to learning how to play guitar or knit and there is no teacher there to keep me accountable, I’ll tell you right now, it’s tempting to give up. I know that not everyone has the discipline to continue improving their skill. This push-forward-and-continue attitude is something a self-taught person knows well and uses in every avenue of his or her life. Maybe it sounds foreign to you, or maybe it sounds inspiring. Either way, you can turn yourself into a person who likes self-discipline, but even better than that, if you remain curious about what you’re learning, the discipline will hardly feel like work.

3. Control over knowledge

When I teach myself a skill I have complete and total control over what I’m learning. For my whole life someone in some room has been deciding what subjects I need to know, and given me books full of what I should know within the context of that subject. While this is necessary to some extent, being self-taught is exciting because I am finally Grow Quotegiven the ability to learn about whatever interests me. This is my opportunity to fall back in love with learning.
The other exciting aspect is that this same level of interest can be used and applied to the information I have to learn. For example, I’m in a class which I have to take to graduate; however, by making connections between the information I’m learning and the details that interest me I can make the class more interesting. This takes practice, but it’s what I find necessary to continue enjoying college. I hope that after your last level of schooling whether it was high school, college, grad school, or earning your Ph.D., you spent or will spend more time learning something new. When you have your passion or interest in your own hands, it’s your opportunity to learn the way you would like to, and decide when you study what. This is a valuable time not to be taken for granted. After all, if you don’t love to learn, how do you plan to inspire and encourage the next generation?

4. Not Afraid to Try

I ask my nieces and nephews to try new things all the time. Sometimes they do in excitement, and sometimes they are just plain stubborn. This fear of trying new things, especially when you’re afraid you’ll look silly is something all of us struggle with. However, I think it’s a curse we should all free ourselves from. If I had to count the amount of times I’ve tried new things and felt uncomfortable or embarrassed, I wouldn’t know where to start or end. This uncomfortable feeling however is something that creates growth. You learn a new skill set or lesson each time you put yourself out there. And the more often you do it, the less you’ll feel uncomfortable. You also might start attracting others to you who put themselves out there with you. Being alone and embarrassed is much harder than doing new things with your friends.

5. Vision

BrainVision is something that I don’t see very often among my age group. I don’t want to give into the idea that people my age are lemmings just following the crowd, because I don’t think that’s true. Maybe for some, but not all. Instead, I would like to address fear. The fear of messing up especially when things haven’t gone the way you wanted them to in the past can make anyone stop and rethink taking another step forward. However, people who teach themselves how to do things know that mistakes are just part of learning and moving forward. It’s that vision that after twenty or thirty mistakes there will be a successful knit sweater or gorgeous curtains that keep the visionary working. Maybe you think you have to be called to be a visionary, but I’m not so sure. Yes, it comes easier for some people…but I don’t think that’s an excuse to stop yourself from setting out with a goal or dream and knowing that every step you take gets you closer to reaching it.

So have you taught yourself anything? And have you experienced anything from your time learning a new skill? Do you have some other lessons you’ve learned or are you pretty much on the same track as me?

Please share in the comment section. I look forward to learning more.



Four Tribe Building Tips

businessSo you’re an artist, a thinker, a doer, a business man (or woman), a dreamer, advocate or maybe you just want to dabble in something you like. Any way you want to describe yourself, you’re capable of being more than a bystander. Did you know that?

In this blog post I want to share four tips about how you can start collecting the pieces of who you aspire to be; and meet others along the way who can share in this dream of identity.

Let’s begin with the basics.

1. Is it a hobby or a calling?

When it comes to setting out on this journey of tribe building it’s important to figure out the basic rule. What are you trying to accomplish?

If you want a few more people to buy what ever you’re selling, how serious are the stakes? Is this a hobby you do for fun and don’t want to put much time into? If so, maybe you should leave it at that and not worry about expanding your tribe.

However, if you’re serious about what you’re doing and want to see growth in how many people you’re reaching or you need to find some like minded individuals who can share in your triumphs, then you’ll want to keep reading.

When you’re serious about what you’re doing, you’ll automatically gravitate toward successful people whom you see living out your aspirations. These are the people you want to know better. Always remember that you will emulate who you spend time with.

I’m not telling you to drop all of your friends who aren’t quite as successful as you. But please don’t lower your standards to anything but the best of what you believe you can achieve. Once you have figured out what your standard is, move on to step two.

2. Sharing is caring

Now that you have an idea of where this passion of yours is going, you need to remember one of the first rules you ever learned. That’s right, sharing is caring. What do I mean by this statement?

Well, say you’re wanting to start your own yarn business (haha, yes, it’s a dream). You already know you want to specialize in high quality organic fibers, but you have no one to turn to for support or reassurance. Let’s say at a farmers market you stumble across a woman who invites you to a Facebook page specifically for other yarn shops around your state. The last thing you should do is throw advertisements about yourself all over this welcoming page.

Instead, you need to promote the businesses that mean something to you. You should share as much encouragement and enthusiasm as you wish to receive. In doing this, you will make other people want to boost you up and show your talents to their friends. This isn’t the game of Life that you played as a kid where the stakes were high and life choices were cut throat. (As much as it may feel that way at times).


This kind of tribe building actually works a lot like the successful shield bearers of old who did not use their own shield to protect their body, but instead fought protecting the person next to them. In being an advocate for the person next to you, you encourage a system of advocacy where other people see your actions and become inspired. Isn’t that the kind of support you’ve been looking for?

3. Get out there

Once you’ve taken good measures to secure friendships and establish yourself, there is only one thing you can do to lose it all faster than a toupee in a hurricane. That one thing: staying at home and cutting off all ties.

You need to get out there and meet people. Now, in my case as a writer, that means attended at least one conference a year.

This is the conference I have chosen to attend this year.

Getting to know other people who aspire to the same level of greatness as you is a must. If you’re working hard and making connections someone is bound to notice. And where does that get you?

The better question is: Where doesn’t that get you? There is always someone out there looking for a hard worker who has connections and knows their stuff (or craft). So don’t twiddle your thumbs, get out there and network!

4. Don’t be plastic

If there is one thing I know and appreciate about my generation known as the “dreaded millennials,” it’s that we can smell a fake smile and cheap advertising from a mile away. Gone are the days of parlor tricks and wishy-washy relationships. No one wants to buy into that anymore.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t some level of “fake it till you make it” — if we all had such incredible confidence from the get-go it would be a little concerning — but more often than not, when it comes to selling yourself or your idea it’s about building meaningful relationships.

So the next time you tell someone you’ll call them back, do it. And say what you mean, not what you think the person wants to hear. Remaining honest and standing strong in your convictions might take you a little longer than the schmoozer you’re comparing yourself to, but in the end you’ll be surrounded by a tribe that is stronger because you decided not to be a sell out. At the end of the day all you really need is to know you worked hard and remained honest, everything else will smooth itself out in time.




A Good Editor is Hard to Find (or Maybe Not)

type-writerIt has been my experience that all writers need a second set of eyes to look over their work. Perfection is a result that is rarely achieved by one person alone. But how is a writer to find this perfection when up to his or her eyeballs in words?

Herein lies the need for a good, no, a great editor. Lucky for me junior year I moved into a new dorm and am now rooming with a fellow Professional Writing student and editor. Her name is Taylor Puitz. (I’m going to be shameless and tell you to go check out her blog)

Taylor is my go to reader, and great friend. My writing since rooming with her has dramatically improved; mostly from her interest and eagerness to remind me of classic grammar mistakes and simple corrections.

Having an editor doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer. You still can take credit for your concept and hours of laborious work. An editor in no way takes away from your writing. However, I do have a few simple tips about what makes a great editor and how you as the writer should care for and treat your editor.

1. An editor is in no way a crutch to lean on every second of your writing career. If you are leaning too heavily, you will know based on the amount of times your editor rolls his or her eyes or states the phrase, “Well you could look it up”.


A great editor does not just change and fix punctuation, but instead spends the time to show you what you’re doing wrong. Your editor will then ask that you hold onto that knowledge and don’t continue to make the same mistakes. This should build your writing, and keep you accountable to your craft.

2. Almost everyone knows a writer is not always worrying about periods and commas. There is a bigger overall theme happening which the writer will spend hours collecting and sorting into a readable form. This is part of the writing process, but it is also a breeding ground for mistakes. From the side character who disappears half way through the book, to the dreamy love interest’s eyes which started out brown but by chapter twelve have turned green. A second set of eyes can do wonders. Sometimes even your editor will need another person to look at what you write, which is why the more editors you can collect, the better off you’ll be.

type-writer-two3. Lastly I must mention the kind of editor you don’t want to befriend. He or she will know every grammar mistake known to man, but won’t be able to tell you anything without making you crawl into a ball and cry or want to attack them viciously with your pen. You want to find an editor who has honed his or her skills, but can calmly and kindly encourage you in your writing.

The doubled edged sword of this statement is that if no one is able to advise you, you might be looking at a dud piece of writing. There is a big difference between critique and failure. In this sense a good editor can be hard to find, but there are many out there, and it is your duty as a writer to grow. Happy hunting and good luck editing!

Four Tips to Help with the Separation

q-and-meThis upcoming March will mark three years of long distance for my husband Q and I. The main reason for this separation? The Air Force. Q and I decided from the beginning of our relationship that we would support and encourage each other to pursue our passions. Mine took me to college, and his took him to the Air Force. Both of these decisions have made phenomenal impression on us. We have been stretched and challenged in ways that we never would have encountered if one of us had given up a dreams for the other.

The road to this growth however has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. To be perfectly honest, one of the hardest aspects has been facing the daily response to living in such sacrifice. I think that’s because many people don’t think about sacrifice. Or maybe it’s because sacrifice is something human beings try to avoid for the most part.

Either way, I’m writing this blog post not to shame others and judge their level of sacrifice; but instead to give a little advice to others who are living in sacrifice. I want to tell you what I’ve learned. How you can kindly respond to those around you who just don’t get it. So listen up military spouses, or anyone working in public service. These tips are for you.

  1. Just say thank you


This sounds pretty simple, right? But when you’ve been bawling your eyes out all night because he just lost his Grandpa and you have no way of comforting him (since, you know, he’s across the ocean), and your coworkers turns to you the next morning and says, “Gosh, I don’t know how you do it. You make living apart look easy.” It’s hard to say thank you. It’s hard to take solace in the fact that you’re just living this out one day at a time, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. And saying thank you is one of those ways you keep going.

  1. Allow yourself to smile
This is a picture from when I moved myself into college. I was all alone, but I smiled through it. All will be well.

Sometimes I get really lonely. Sometimes I just want to be held and admired and forget all of the emptiness that’s left behind when he’s gone. The way I get over this? I go play with one of my nieces and nephews. I visit with a friend over a strong cup of tea. I find joy in someone else’s life. I volunteer myself to help a friend and really plug into their needs. It makes me feel less empty and reminds me that I have a lot to give. Now remember, this takes time and a lot of effort. Friendships that allow you to plug in without taking over are few and far between, but they are a must.

3. Don’t read into what they say… or don’t say

“I haven’t seen my boyfriend in three weeks. It’s killing isaac-wattsme.” I haven’t seen my husband in five months,and someone else hasn’t seen their husband in a year. So on and so on it goes. There is always someone who is living worse off than you. I learned a long time ago that comparing my troubles to another person’s
problems is not going to get me anywhere. Instead, I believe that every person has their level of difficulty and discomfort. None are to be compared, but all must be felt. It’s really easy to be offended, and it’s very easy to offend. So instead of making broad statements that end with “It’s killing me”, I say “It’s really hard”. Instead of being offended by someone else’s “comparatively less difficult” situation, I tell them to own it, and know that I feel that way too. It isn’t healthy to be someone who is always looking to be offended.

  1. Invest in finding one person who gets it

friendsDon’t be afraid to ask for help. Take the time to find someone else who gets where you’re coming from. One of my very close girlfriends is engaged to a man in the Air Force. He is currently overseas. We have a lot in common. We FaceTime our men instead of going on dates. We get that he lives in our phones. There is something safe and good about being able to text your loved one who is only available for a two-hour stretch and know that your friend isn’t judging you for looking at your phone every thirty seconds. So go, find someone from his squadron, have that talk with his mom, reach out to your sister. Whoever it is you need to talk to, reach out and talk to them.

Did I forget something that has gotten you through the rough times away from each other? Do you want to find someone to talk to but aren’t sure where to start? Maybe you know someone who is struggling and want to pass on my advice. Please feel free to comment and share this post. Thanks for checking in with me and listening to my struggle.

You Bought a New Car. Now What?

Guess what? We got a new car! Isn’t she beautiful?


As a couple in our mid-twenties it may or may not shock you that neither my husband nor I have ever owned our own car. Now here we are with a 2016 Prius, monthly payments, and a new sense of pride and dread. Car owners know where I’m coming from on this, I’m sure.

So now that I have gotten that out of the way, let me tell you, when you’re sitting in your brand new car which feels very sterile, empty, and void of personality, you will want to buy a few items that will make your everyday drive more enjoyable. Let me share the list my husband and I have come up with thus far.

1. USB splitterimg_2728

With so much of the world turning to smart phones that use chargers with USB plug in capabilities, it’s pretty nice to keep a USB splitter that can charge more than one device at the same time. We are going to be a household with only one car for a while, so it will be good to have this splitter for not only the two of us, but also for future guests riding along
with us.

2. Spare charge cord

One of the downfalls of this awesome USB splitter we bought is the fact that we don’t have an extra charger cord to go with it. Because of this we are charging our phones on our drive in the morning. We will soon invest in a new charger. You don’t need anything fancy, just something as simple as this will work.

img_27343. Swiffer duster

Our dash board and all of its fancy capabilities are gorgeous. However, dust happens, and if you like the looks of this new dash board, it’s going to drive you insane when it gets dusty. Or maybe that’s just me?  Either way I highly recommend this duster because it’s small and can easily be stored in the car. That way you can dust whenever the mood strikes you. Check out the deal on amazon here.

4. Travel Trash

When I was a little girl my parents were gifted a travel trash bag. That bag was a life saver on car trips and kept our car much cleaner than our rival friends’ cars. The bag attaches to the head rests and hangs on the back of the passenger’s seat, giving easy access to the driver and a contortionist passenger. Look for one that has a liner on the inside for easy clean up. Another investment is a top that closes with either Velcro or magnets. That way any stinky trash is closed up. Check out some of the options I found here, and here.

5. Blanket

img_2736Believe me, when you can pull a blanket out of your car, you’ll be everyone’s favorite driver. Whether it’s for your spontaneous outdoor adventure, or to warm up someone in the car, this blanket will be very helpful. While I won’t be needing a blanket for this purpose in the south, my father has always encouraged me to keep a blanket and boots like this in the car during the winter, because you never know when the car might break down and you have to walk, or when you’ll be sleeping in your car and need a little extra warmth. Keep in mind for those situations, a blanket like this will be very nice.

I hope reading this post will give you some good ideas of what to keep in your car. If you have any ideas of something important to you that I’m missing, please feel free to share your must-have item in the comment section!

My Top Four Yarn Shop Experiences

Much like my previous post about my favorite tea shops, I’d like to take a minute and tell you about the best yarn experiences I’ve had so far! I am the kind of girl who absolutely loves looking for treasures and wandering through new places. Some of my yarn stores are in similar locations as my tea shops, so maybe that just makes it easier for you to visit both!

Let me start in good old Huntsville, Alabama. Wedged in a quaint little shopping plaza, Fiber Artwork is a wonder to behold. I walked in by chance while visiting my sister and was overcome by the gorgeous yarn displays.


There was every color and shade I could think of and my eyes were immediately drawn to a wall of multi-colored skeins. While Fiber Artwork is not the cheapest yarn store I’ve been to, the quality of the yarn was incredible! As I walked to the cash register nervous about the price of my lone skein (I made an adorable hat by the way), my nerves were immediately set at ease by the southern charm of the store owner. She encouraged me that the color was beautiful and would create something great. She also gave me a free goody for being a new customer and told me if I ever wanted to come visit again, Fiber Artwork offers classes and welcomes customers to knit their hearts out at the table in the store. If I lived closer, I know where I’d be on a week night! If you’re in the area or visiting, I would highly recommend going to see their yarn organization and buy at least one skein.

untangled-purlsNext, let’s go to Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is my tribute to the yarn store with the cutest name I’ve come across yet; Untangled Purls was a knitting experience worth having. While visiting another of my sisters I was recommended to check out this cute little shop and returned a total of three times. I found beautiful colors and tons of fiber options for any price range. Like Fiber Artwork, Untangled Purls had an area designated for crafters to come and work in a circle. I watched as a woman sat there knitting while I browsed. She would look up every once in a while and ask the woman behind the cash register about some knitting-related question. The whole spirit of camaraderie and learning made me want to spend hours joining in. I would say one of my favorite aspects of Untangled Purls (besides their friendly staff and great resources) was the bargain bins full of half-priced,good-quality yarns just begging to be bought. I will definitely be returning there on my next visit east.

My husband has been stationed in Germany for two years, which ideehas resulted in a few trips “across the pond.” On more than one trip to Weisbaden, I have found myself walking through the doors of Idee der creativmarkt. Yes, you read that right. And yes, you can pretty much pronounce and understand it. Great, right? Idee is more along the lines of a European JoAnn Fabrics, selling a wide range of craft supplies;  however, I wasn’t bombarded by the same old acrylic yarn. This place had its own spin.

While still being the affordable price of a box store, I was instead transported to a colorful-needlesmodern neon European yarn haven (try saying that five times). I mean, for heaven’s sake, there was an escalator in the store and more craft accessories than I knew what to do with. I ended up committing myself to the collection of these gorgeous rainbow knitting needles. For those of you who are interested and want a full set without having to hunt for the needles, you can find something similar on Knit Pick’s here.

Lastly, I want to share my all-time favorite yarn shop experience to date. It takes us back four years ago when I traveled to Nova Scotia, Canada. Gaspereau Valley Fibres was my dream yarn experience. From the moment I set eyes on the front door, I had aspirations of finding or owning a similar yarn shop.


Surrounded by gorgeous hilly countryside with live sheep frolicking all around, Gaspereau was the ultimate experience. There was a great array of price options and yarn gaspereauweights, and my mother and I had a ball digging through their bathtub full of rovings. The color palettes and atmosphere were a sanctuary welcoming you in from the crisp autumn morning wind, donning you in the fibers of your choosing. I truly hope I can go back some day. I’ve never shopped in a place that was so naturally picturesque.

What did you think of my top four yarn stores? Did you have a similar experience? Maybe you know some places I’ve missed. Please tell me, and share this post with the knitter in your life. Local businesses always need customers, and the more I can help, the better.

Three Books to Help You Write Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction is one of my favorite types of writing. It’s fun and allows the writer a lot of creative freedom. In my opinion writing speculative is the best time to ask the question “what if” and find out the answer.speculative-fiction
Perhaps you don’t know what I mean when I say Speculative Fiction. For those of you who don’t, let me clarify. Speculative Fiction is a category of writing which encompasses Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. A few of the masters of this style are Frank Peretti, Stephen King, Philip Dick, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

While writing may come easy to you, let me suggest you check out a few books on the craft of writing in Speculative Fiction. Here are the three books I’m currently studying.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

220px-onwritingOne of the best horror writers, Stephen King is known for his works such as Carrie, The Shining and It. While at times a little raw, this book gives an in-depth look into the life of Stephen King. The memoir begins with King’s childhood, and you really get a feel for how this horror writer started out. King then moves on to talk about craft and important aspects of what you need to learn if you want to write well.


Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle.

walking-on-waterWhile this might not be a go to for everyone, Madelenine L’Engle author of A Wrinkle in Time, is without a doubt a phenomenal writer. A friend once told me that the way L’Engle writes about hard topics always comforted her because she knew that a topic would be broached that challenged her while also leading her down the rabbit hole in a way that made her feel safe. This kind of incredible connection with readers is worth looking into for anyone who is interested in writing. I think it’s also safe to say that as a creator of art, it’s good to know where that creative genius is coming from and how to interact with it in a way that stays true to who you are.

Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin

steering-the-craftKnown for The Earthsea Trilogy, Ursula K. Le Guin is an incredible Speculative Fiction writer. Her scene setting and rich characters are more than enough to qualify her to write about writing, not to mention her numerous awards, including her World Fantasy Award for her book The Other Wind. In Steering the Craft Le Guin lays out fundamental workings of narrative voice and good information about point of view. With an easy-to-read witty voice, Le Guin also instructs readers on writing solo, or in groups and offers guides to writing that are easy to understand and apply.

Take some time to check out these books, and see where they may lead you, I know I certainly plan to. Happy reading and writing!

P.S. If you know of any other Speculative Fiction craft books I can add to my list, please tell me about them in the comments. As I like to say, you can’t be a good writer without being an avid reader.

Tea Worth A Try

One of my favorite aspects of travel is learning a thing or two about culture and what is important to the people who live where I visit. It was this month four years ago that I came home from a gap year trip in Europe.

inirelandnewWhile I was overseas I spent three weeks with a family in Ireland, and one week with several couples in England. On this trip I drank more cups of tea than I had ever before consumed, and since that trip I’ve found a fondness for all kinds of different brews.

I’ve collected several different types of tea over the years, and I love the fact that every time I open a box and take a whiff, I’m transported to the time and place I bought each bag. For this very reason, I’ve decided to share my three favorite tea shops to date.

First I want to start off with Rishi Tea. While some may love Twinning’s and earl-greyTeavana, I haven’t been able to drink them with much comfort after reading this article by Food Babe. Because of this, I set out looking for some good quality tea that didn’t have the high pesticide rating so many other do. Who wants to drink pesticide tea? Rishi Tea began with the desire of one man who wanted to bring together his love of travel and culture  and fill a void in America that was screaming for some good quality tea. Rishi specializes is loose leaf tea and has so many varieties that you’re bound to find something you like! One of my personal favorites is their organic Earl Grey Lavender tea. I use it to make out of this world London Fogs.

piper-and-leafMy next favorite tea shop calls northern Alabama it’s home. Piper and Leaf specializes in artisan tea and features amazing flavor combinations. My first experience with them was sampling a sip of my sister’s tea while at a farmer’s market in Huntsville. Let’s just say that their iced Briar Patch Brew hit the spot on that hot summer morning, and I lamented about leaving, knowing I wouldn’t have a local fix close to home. Let’s just say, I was wrong. A few months later I discovered Piper and Leaf has grown big enough to accommodate a few more store fronts, and supplies all the tea one can afford to order online. I mean, check out this sampler gift set!

Lastly, my newest find is the PA Dutch Tea and Spice Company. While this charming store tea-shelvesdoesn’t have a place to order teas online (to the best of my knowledge), it was my favorite place to stop and splurge while I wandered the historic area of Fredericksburg Virginia. I highly recommend a trip if you live anywhere close by. Prices were very reasonable, and the variety made my head spin. It’s always important to support small local businesses.

Well, now that I’ve typed all of this up, I’m craving some of that PA Dutch Tea and Spice Company root beer flavored green tea. See? I didn’t lie about variety.

Please feel free to comment and tell me what some of your favorite tea shops are. I’d love to add some more destinations to my list of places to travel.

Breaking Traditions

jessie2I can see why there are phases of life, and why most people do decide to live by them. They are comfortable. Really. It makes sense why so many people accept them.

I’m an exception, as usual.

However, I can honestly say that I’m not a trend-setter. I don’t do things differently because I want to be different. I’ve wanted to fit in my whole life. But I’ve also come to the conclusion that that isn’t going to happen. So I may as well make the most of it!

Twenty-five is closer to my age now than twenty. I’m technically a junior in college. And I’m pretty different from most of my classmates.

I’m married. Long distance. And it’s been…two years. Yeah, that’s hard. I know.

Plans are in the works to push me into the smaller percentile of women who work from home, as well as an even smaller percentile that gets paid to write from home.

I’ve married into the military. And to top it all off, I’m left handed, so I’ve let’s just say I’ve been fighting white boards and scissors my whole life.

I’ll tell you one thing though…through this incredible life I’ve lived so far, I’ve been on the outside of expectations. This means I’ve had a lot of freedom to try new things. I’ve traveled extensively and was always encouraged by my parents to try something even if it leads to failure.

Because of that, I want to spread encouragement. I want to tell you that adventure is out there, and there is nothing stopping you from breaking traditions, just like me. So here is the first post. An open invitation. Come check out what’s percolating in my head, and see if I’ve got anything interesting say.