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!

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An interesting read: The Mother & Child Project

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I am very passionate about the effects of extreme poverty on mothers and children so when I had a chance to review this book I jumped at the chance. The book left me with a lot of mixed emotions. It is comprised of essays from artists, actors, policy makers, medical professionals, and pastors that were then compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands — a non-profit dedicated to helping women have healthy children. 300,000 die every year in developing countries from complications related to pregnancy and 80% of those deaths are preventable with resources that we are blessed with.

The words that rang truth to me were about how supporting mothers in third world countries was the foundation for creating healthy families that could rise out of poverty. The struggle I have is with the conflicting solutions. And from the moment I opened this book I felt an uncomfortable tension between the words on the pages and the underlying message. I would be careful if you choose to read this and be mindful that the contributors to the book may have beliefs that are not founded in biblical truth. Bottom line: read at your own risk and maybe seek out other sources to get additional info.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My favorite part of the book was this

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Blueberry Avocado Muffins

Happy Monday! I had such a glorious weekend that started with a sunrise run in DC with a friend and we ended it right in time with the light of the new day waking up the cherry blossoms that were just starting their blooming cycle. God is so good and in the hustle and bustle of life it’s so easy to overlook the glory of newness around us. I’m so glad we got to enjoy these beautiful trees – it always seems like such a DC tradition to see the blossoms and battle the hordes of tourists (and photographers with tripods….oh my gosh, SO many tripods!) before we are really ready to acknowledge that spring is officially here.

After the wonderful morning, I headed up to Maryland for a fun afternoon of painting and wine with local girls from my larger Stella & Dot team. I was not feeling motivated by the pre-planned picture, so I dug into my phone for a photo from the morning and let the cherry blossoms inspire me!

Speaking of cherry blossoms, I have been enjoying local sweet blossom-inspired treats these past couple weeks….yum

And yesterday was just a relaxing day. I even got to soak up some sun on my porch while reading a book. I now have a VERY faint tan line. Yay! I’m ready for my pasty white winter legs to get some color! Then yesterday afternoon I got inspired to make some healthy muffins for an easy weekday morning breakfast. I am totally obsessed with avocado as I’ve said several times now. So these totally hit the spot – they don’t really taste like avocado, but I love knowing it’s in there! I made some extra muffins to take down the street to my wonderful friends who just brought their brand new 1 day old baby home yesterday!


Blueberry Avocado Muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour (you can use white flour, or a combo of both if you don’t like all whole wheat flour)

1/3 cup flaxseed meal (feel free to leave this out and just increase the flour measurement to a total of 2 cups)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 ripe avocado (seeded and peeled)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup plain green yogurt (I used slightly more than a cup just because I got 2 single-serve containers of yogurt that were 5.3oz each and didn’t want to waste any)

1 1/2 cups blueberries (I used fresh, but frozen is always an option), rinsed and dried

Streusel

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (again, white is fine)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup dry oats (quick or old-fashioned)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line muffin tins with paper liners

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, meal, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the avocado on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Next add egg, beating until well combined. Add the vanilla and yogurt, mixing until just incorporated.

4) Add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, beating until just combined. Repeat with 2nd half

of dry mixture. With a spatula, gently fold in blueberries.

5) Fill muffin liners with a heaping 1/4 cup of batter.

6) To make streusel topping, in a small bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a fork, cut in butter in small pieces and continue to mix/mash with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle onto muffins and press slightly into batter. Bake muffins 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Makes 14-16 muffins

Nutritional Info (14 servings)

Calories: 189, Fat: 5.7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Sodium: 224mg, Potassium: 82mg, Total Carb: 33g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 17g, Protein: 6g

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!





3/22 is World Water Day!

Maybe you already know that today is World Water Day, and maybe this is the first you are hearing of it, but I hope you’ll join me on a little virtual journey to a village in Africa where their awareness of water isn’t limited to a special day, or a few times a year, but every single day. A blessing that is so easy for us to enjoy without any real thought, is the difference between life and death for so much of the world’s population.

If you have read some of my recent blog posts since the holidays or follow me on Facebook you know how my heart beats for this area of need in God’s kingdom. (I can’t thank all of you enough for your support in prayers and donations to help me donate my birthday to clean water last month.) We turned to this scripture in church this morning (Matthew 12:34) and I have been praying all week about what this blog post would look like, and this verse reassured me that whatever words I chose to write would be coming from the full heart I have for the urgent need for clean water – especially as it is directly linked to poverty.

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So now let’s take that virtual trip — to Kirinda, Uganda. You can read more about Silvano here — his story is a beautiful example of how our financial support can change the course of lives for the better. And most importantly, how a small portion of our abundant blessings saves lives, sets us on a course to eliminate extreme poverty in our lifetime, and how we answer God’s call with our obedience to care for those with the least.

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Look at these statistics of Uganda:

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1 in 9 people in the world lack clean water, 2,200 children die every day from water-related illnesses.

For children like 15 year old Silvano, there is a daily struggle between attending school as a path to trying to make dreams for a prosperous future a reality and standing in long lines to wait for water that will inevitably cause short term and/or long term illnesses that will perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Imagine how different your life would look without a reliable source of clean water. It’s hard, isn’t it? To really fathom life without something we just expect. Just like we expect a chair to support us when we sit or that we’ll wake up tomorrow, we also expect our water to quench our thirst, be refreshing, and most of all be safe.

What if this was in your glass? It’s what Silvano and his village have to drink.

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I ask you to join me in prayer, in awareness, and hopefully in finding whatever amount of financial support you can share. The best news is that we can cause change. We can break the cycle. We can prevent needless tragic death. The challenge is to choose to do so. This year for World Water Day, World Help is hoping to raise enough funds to provide this community with a comprehensive, multi-faceted, clean water system that will connect key locations like the school, clinic, church, and market. This will be an answer to prayer for over 2000 people. Check out more info here

I want to leave you with these powerful words from Amy Grant that I came upon in a book I’ve been reading this week.

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I donated my birthday

My campaign to raise $5000 for a water project in Africa was such a success over the holidays that I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than by donating it! By donating my birthday a few weeks ago I was able to share my heart with coworkers, friends, and family as I gave up any gifts or celebrations and in favor of encouraging them to help me finish the fundraising and reach the goal. And we did it!! I can’t even put words together that would come close to describing how excited I am to have accomplished this goal with the help of my loved ones and some generous strangers. So many feels happening.

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So thank you again if you donated, if you prayed, or did anything at all to support the goal! Being able to use my day of birthday celebration to make sure that thousands of people will have a much better chance of living to celebrate theirs is an infinite number of wishes come true for me. Thank you again!

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And I strongly encourage you to check out The Water Project website and see all the amazing work they’re doing.

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Another great read: God’s Story in 66 Verses by Stan Guthrie

It took me a few weeks to read this next book because I was enjoying reading each chapter along with my daily Bible reading. I started a reading plan though my Bible app at the beginning of January and this has really cleared up a little of the fog for me.

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God’s Story in 66 Verses by Stan Guthrie takes a careful and creative approach to breaking down the books of the Bible. The verse chosen for each book isn’t meant to be the most important or the best, but instead is a key verse that summarizes or lays the foundation for the book. I really enjoyed the additional commentary on each book and how the key verse ties the various elements together. This book would make a great companion to anyone whether they have many years of familiarity with the Bible, or are just starting a routine of reading.

Additionally, all of the key verses are listed again in a handy consolidated list at the back of the book. For anyone taking on a verse memory challenge, this would be an excellent resource for memorizing verses that would trigger one’s memory of the summary for each book of the Bible. I am so thankful to have this book in my collection now for sharing with friends and for easy reference.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”