Category Archives: travel

Investing in hope.

One thing I love every month is making my donations for the children I sponsor around the world. As of last week, that number is now at 3 and it makes me so excited! Child sponsorship never used to be something I felt personally called to – all that came to mind were sad commercials and pictures on a refrigerator. But friends, it is SO much more! My heart was stirred to sponsor a child about a year and a half ago. I went on a mission trip to Lesotho, Africa with my church and one of the girls who led our trip told us at one of our first pre-trip meetings that a child she had been sponsoring (since well before this trip was ever on our radar) lived only an hour or so from where we would be, and the sponsorship organization was working with her to plan for them to meet. As crazy as it feels to say, that was the first time the dots were really connected for me. And it also makes me delight in how beautifully God weaves our lives together – in our human minds we would think that the chances that a random selection to sponsor a child would ever result in a face-to-face connection is basically non-existent. But God knows, and he knew all along. So while we were in Africa my friend got picked up by the organization and driven to the school where this little girl attends classes every day, she got to meet all of her classmates, and then got to go to her home and spend time with the whole family. The girl’s family had been working in the months leading up to the visit to make my friend a beautiful handmade gift that they were SO proud to give to her. They had all the letters my friend had sent over time and they enjoyed looking at them together. It was truly a wonderful day for all of them and our mission trip team was so excited to hear all about it when our friend returned that evening.

So after we got back from Africa, I knew this was one way I could make a difference. I was trying to make sense of all the children we had seen and loved on who needed help and when the need feels overwhelming to us, and makes us feel like there is no place to start to fix it all, the best way to act is to start with ONE.

In the last year and a half I have loved getting the sweet letters in the mail from my sponsored children and I delight in getting to write letters to them. These kids are SO much more than a picture on the refrigerator. They are linked to you, and you to them.

I love this thought from Suzanne O’Dell, a senior staff writer with World Help

There’s more going on here than a $35 a month transaction, or a child moving from point A to B on the poverty spectrum. We don’t get to walk away without being affected.

As a sponsor, you’re a part of a relationship that is mutually beneficial, mutually encouraging, and mutually needed . . . whether you realize it or not.

It’s a symbiotic relationship that thrives when both parties recognize and appreciate their need for one another—to support, to teach, to encourage, and to inspire.

Let’s give our sponsored children a little credit . . . they have more to offer than we could ever imagine!

We cannot forget to share this side of the story.

The idea of even one life being changed is a beautiful thought. But stories cannot be experienced alone. Each one of our stories is composed of reflections—of people who have poured into us, invested in us, and made us who we are.

If you want to read some great information about how effective child sponsorship really is, this is a great article to check out.

As you may know, I am heading to Guatemala on a mission trip with World Help in October, and so with the topic of child sponsorship in my heart lately, I felt like God was calling me to sponsor a child there. So here is Jeymi!

Jeymi Sarai Garcia Perez, Age: 10

For many people, the thought of a monthly financial commitment can seem like a lot – there are a lot of things we could do with $35 each month. I know there have been months for me where I feel like I really need that. But God is always faithful at meeting our needs – just like He is meeting the needs of children in distant places with my donation, He is capable of meeting my needs as well. No month has ever passed where I wasn’t able to make a donation despite the circumstances in my own life. In a way, we are ALL God’s sponsored children. Child sponsorship is such a circular blessing. I find myself now, more than ever, aware of just how abundantly God blesses my own life as I see how He calls me to pour them out into the lives of others. My perspective on the things I feel like I want and need have changed so much. The things I treasure has changed. As it says in Matthew 6:21

…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Putting treasures in the lives of others is definitely a heart-changer.

There’s no better time than right now to begin impacting the life of one child.

Sponsor a child

I’d love to hear stories of children you’ve sponsored! Have you met them? Do you write letters? Where do they live? What do they want to be when they grow up? How has it changed you?

And if you have never sponsored – what questions do you have? Maybe now is the right time!

Have a blessed week!

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Goodbye May, Hello June!

Lots of fun stuff happening lately!

First off – donuts. Oh how I love donuts! The DC area is getting in on an Outer Banks beach vacation treat: Duck Donuts! These were excellent! I can see what everyone is talking about when they rave about these!

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The annual PBS Memorial Day Concert on the lawn of the Capitol Building was awesome as always! 

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If you have never been to Harper’s Ferry, VA/MD/WV, I highly recommend it! All 3 states converge at this beautiful spot and there are historical sites, outdoor adventure activities, and much more!

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I am trying to eat more veggies at lunch, I get tired of a typical salad and then realize that I end up in a rut of eating basically nothing green at lunch for weeks at a time! So this is the #summerofsalads that are of a non-traditional variety! This tasty combo below lasted the whole week and was so yummy! Strawberries, broccoli, almond slivers, get crumbles, chickpeas, and a poppyseed slaw dressing. 

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Last week I had the pleasure of getting to attend a VIP pre-opening dinner at Arlington’s new Tupelo Honey Cafe! Usually I hate Facebook ads, but seeing the ad was what led to getting on the list for this event!  I know this is a popular chain throughout the south and I can see why! Every single thing I ate was so tasty! Can’t wait to go back again!





Last weekend I said goodbye to May with another year of running the Virginia Wine Half Marathon. It was hot and humid but luckily overcast! 





I love you, wine!



And wine tasting back at one of my fave wineries afterwards was a largest way to celebrate a great run!

Oh! And last but certainly not least! A HUGE thank you to everyone who shopped my Stella & Dot eBoutique in the month of May! Thanks to you, we were able to make a donation of $400 to Nepal earthquake relief !

That’s all for right now! Be on the lookout for another post very soon, I just finished a really great book that I can’t wait to share about!

Spring in DC just got even better! 

One of the best parts of DC, in my opinion, is the fact that we get 4 solid seasons. I love them all! A couple weeks ago I shared my cherry blossom adventures and I didn’t think it could get much better than that! But it did. A friend invited me to join her on a short trip out to a tulip farm, and let me tel you, it was nothing short of magical! Only 45 minutes from DC you can find a glimpse of heaven at Burnside Farms. You can pick flowers to buy and take home or just walk amongst them and enjoy the scenery. We just wandered around and marveled at it all. So fun!

Then we headed to a winery that was only about 10 minutes away — this winery is now at the top of my list. Every wine we tried in the tasting was awesome. Usually I get through a few wines in a tasting but don’t enjoy them, but for real, every single one of these was a winner! Also, as if the delicious wine isn’t enough to convince you, how about the fact that they have this awesome made-to-order Sicilian style pizza that will blow your mind? Quattro Goombas is where it’s at, friends. And they’re opening a brewery too very soon!

Weekend Trip: Charlotte, NC

This past weekend I took a road trip to Charlotte, NC to spend the weekend with one of my best friends from college! It was such a perfect weekend! We had awesome food, got to relax, squeezed in a barre class, and I did a Stella & Dot trunk show for her friends! 

The trip down from DC took a little longer than planned on Friday, so a coffee stop was much needed as we neared the last couple hours of the drive! A quick internet search (by my copilot!) found a recently opened coffee shop just a few miles off the highway, so we headed there! Totally worth the little detour!! The Blend & Co in Burlington, NC is amazing! Fun menu (including some fun variations mochas) and a great interior! 

We made it to Charlotte just in time for dinner on Friday and were treated to the magic that is Viva Chicken! A Peruvian chicken place, but better than any place I’ve been to before! Okay, real talk, I never ate chicken, but what I did eat totally blew my mind!! 

I didn’t take a pic so I am borrowing this from Instagram. Friends, if you’ve never stuffed quinoa into an avocado half and then topped it with all this other amazing stuff, then you’re not really living. 🙂

Saturday morning we did a barre class and walked to get some donuts from a local truck, Sugar. We basically tried all the donuts between Saturday and Sunday and they were all fantastic! The Banana Fritter may have been my favorite mostly because it’s so unique! And I love banana 🙂 The Maple Bacon rivaled all others maple bacon donuts I’ve ever tried — I’d go so far as to say it was the best one I’ve experienced. 



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Then after an awesome trunk show where the guests all picked some awesome spring accessories we went to dinner!



Dinner was at Maverick Rock Taco — very cool and happening place in a fun little neighborhood. 

Awesome interior!

And the food…..oh my gosh! I love street tacos! I had the Fried Avocado taco and the Roasted Cauliflower taco with the side of street corn. All of it was soooooo good!!!! 





Then we finished the weekend with a little morning coffee at Rush Espresso in my friend’s neighborhood. Coffee was great, and the little individual creamer vessels were adorable! 



And that was it! Such a great visit to a new city to visit an old friend!





Jamaica weekend!

Just wanted to do a quick photo recap of my trip to Jamaica a few weeks ago to attend the wedding of a dear friend! Talk about a great weekend away from the chilly winter in DC! The weather there was absolutely amazing, and one day of reading and napping poolside with great girlfriends blended right into the next. Perfection!

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Then the day we got back it was to this majestic winter weather 🙂 but with a day off from work to relax post-trip I made the best of the cold by taking my first ever Solidcore class! Talk about sweating! Oh man. It was so challenging and I loved it. Definitely go try them out if you haven’t yet!

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So thankful!!

My goodness, here we are at the end of November and the Christmas season is already in full swing! Did you shop on Thanksgiving? I am still holding strong to keeping that day off limits to shopping! My Thanksgiving involved a morning Turkey Trot with my mom and older brother, then home to watch the parade on TV while eating breakfast with my family, then afternoon naps on the couch while watching the Dog Show, and then our tasty and simple Thanksgiving dinner and and evening of Christmas movies. It was the perfect day of relaxing and soaking in lots of family togetherness. I didn’t even take a picture of my food! Haha.

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A little coffee tasting at Whole Foods was the perfect treat during Thanksgiving grocery shopping!

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A pre-Thanksgiving sleepover with my sister-in-law and dog-phew Liam!

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I love this race — no entry fee, just bringing a new toy for a child! We filled 3 tables with toys!

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I lied — my one food picture from Thanksgiving. Our donuts from the Amish bakery in town were the same size as my sweet little Bianca 🙂

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It’s official — the Allen girls love leopard shoes! My niece (Ava) and my sister-in-law and I have the same taste in shoes 🙂

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Ava loves selfies! Cheeeeeeese!!!!!

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Leaving home is always sad but the trip to the airport sure is beautiful, especially at sunrise time!

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So exciting to find this in my mailbox when I got home from my vacation — a gift from Stella & Dot to celebrate my big promotion last month! I love a company that rewards in cash and free jewelry 🙂 can’t wait to keep growing my team in 2015!

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Do you follow an Advent devotional? I’m excited to use this free one each day!

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Got myself a peppermint mocha from Peets today after a lovely yoga class – perfect way to venture into the Christmas season now that we’re past Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone gets a good night’s sleep before the email assault of Cyber Monday! (I’ve already been getting loads of emails)

Labor Day weekend fun!

I can’t believe that September is already here! My family drove up from Florida for the long weekend and we had such a fun and magical time. I am sad it’s over but feeling fortunate that the weekend really did feel like a good length. I hate feeling like a weekend was over before I actually for to enjoy it. So I’m glad it wasn’t like that! Yay long weekend! AND my pup Bianca was here so that was a blast. We also hit up Virginia’s fun wine country for a couple vineyards, a distillery, and 2 breweries. Then lots of home cooked meals, coffee, pedicures with my mom, window shopping, and just good ‘ol hanging out! Here are some pics:

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