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This morning I posted Giving Back where I spoke of grace and gratefulness.

I had no idea I would stumble upon the Surviving Your Serengeti quiz this afternoon. Nor did I have any idea of the outcome.

I read this book about 2 years ago. Then I was in the midst of a real estate career that didn’t make me happy. Moving from one place to another, kind of fighting a shift from one era to the next. My life has been full of eras, cycles. I seem grow in stages that tend to shift very rapidly. I don’t always see them coming. I don’t always move through them gracefully.

This one was no different. Although I can look back now and see all the signs, at the time I fought it some. But grace has been a very large focus in this particular era I am in currently. Call it surrender, call it wisdom, call it what you like.

Imagine my surprise when the result of this quiz left me with The Giraffe.

THE GRACEFUL GIRAFFE

The giraffe symbolizes the broad meaning of the word “grace”. While some see grace in human terms as one’s elegance or charm, for others it’s divine in origin and represents that indispensable gift for the development, improvement and expansion of one’s character and the ability to rise above the negative events of time.


I wanted to share this experience with you because it raises this question I toy with often. This belief that seems to prove true over and over. Even when my “logical”, naysayer side denies it.

I have these moments often… Do you get them? When you are driving down the road and a thought pops into your head, and then a car passes you with a bumper sticker or word on the license plate that matches your thought? Or I’m thinking of a time gone by and a song will come on the radio that relates.

Since I was a girl I have been drawn to, followed by hawks. I can be traveling, think of a hawk and look to the trees and see one within minutes. When I have friends who say they never see them at all.

Is it simply association? Coincidence? Or does the Universe truly send us these little signals?

When I took that quiz 2 years ago I was a Crocodile. Perhaps because I wanted to be a Crocodile. Or because I thought I must be to succeed in the place I was in.

I don’t know if the Universe just sent me a little signal ensuring me that this path I’m on is the right one, but I’m going with it. Because one of my first thoughts this morning, shortly before writing that post on grace and happiness, where I mentioned wondering if this was all worth it, was this… I just want to know that this thing I’m doing means something.

I have a lot of people in my life who don’t believe in such things, and I have to admit that sometimes that rubs off on me. I’m guessing I’m not alone. Whether it be our spiritual beliefs, our ethical beliefs or our goals and methods of losing weight and becoming healthier, there will always be someone or something there to fight it. There will always be reasons to doubt ourselves. There will always be roadblocks trying to stop us.

Sometimes you just have to trust.

Live Well!
~S

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I have endured many struggles in my life. Although I like to paint pretty pictures I can assure that there have been plenty of train wrecks. Mishaps and down right catastrophes.

But it’s not these events that define us. What defines us is how we react and how we proceed.

There have also been many, many blessings in my life. And for those I am beyond grateful. Walking through life with grace, full of gratefulness, is the difference between success and failure. Success is not how big your house is or how fancy your car. It has nothing to do with money or even fame.

Success is being happy in who you are. Loving yourself for the person on the inside. Enjoying your life because of what you have created.

Success is being grateful. Being HAPPY. Accepting the world around you and knowing there are beautiful gifts on  your doorstep each and every day.

It’s because of this gratefulness, these beautiful gifts, that today I am choosing to give something back.

I’m striving to build this community. I’m striving to grow this blog and multiple adventures at the same time. It has often been a slow and somewhat frustrating road. There are days I wonder where all the followers are. Why there aren’t any comments. Is there anyone even listening? And some that I wonder if it will ever happen. If it’s even worth it.

But I know in my heart that if one pretty package makes someone happy, one lotion offers comfort, one post helps someone grow or through their day, then I have succeeded. No matter my struggle.

I don’t always have a tremendous amount to give, but what I do have, I like to give freely when I can. So today I am offering to one random person their choice of gift! It can be a free ad space for their blog, service or product. One item of their choosing from Enchanted Gardens. One service from Enchanted Wellness. Or perhaps a post written for them.

So YOU decide! All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what appeals to you most. I will choose the winner by using the Random Number Generator at Random.org. The winner will be chosen in one week.

Giving things away with no thought of receiving anything in return feels wonderful. Making someone happy, brightening their day for no reason other than their joy is a beautiful feeling. Try it. It’s mustn’t be big or extravagant. Hold the door for someone. Compliment them. Ask someone what you can do for them.

Now, tell me what I can do for you! Don’t be shy!! 

Live Well!
~S 

***YOU MUST COMMENT AT A LIFE ENCHANTED TO ENTER!!***

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My family gave me the sweetest Mother’s Day gift.

A week “off”!

A full 7 days of no cleaning, no cooking, no grocery shopping, no taking care of them. They want to do everything for me. Hmmh. Well, let’s talk about this, shall we….

First, I can’t believe how unbelievably generous these darlings are. The Mister gets up at 4:30 every morning to go to work and works hard all day. So watching he and our daughter cook dinner, clean the kitchen and do laundry at the same time was actually a bit painful. Plus, I like taking care of them! I don’t have dinner on the table at the same time every night because I have to, but because I like to. In this house I clean the floors daily,  dust every other day, shop every other day. And I like being busy, so sitting knowing the floors need cleaning, the lawn REALLY needs mowing and my plans for this week were to clean out the pantry and all the kitchen cabinets has thus far, been near torture. (it’s not as spotless here as that may make it sound, really.) But I made a promise. And I just love that they would even want to do this. So here I sit.

Okay, not really. I must confess.
I went shopping on my way home. I scouted for dirty dishes (and embarrassingly found them) in the bedrooms. I weeded the gardens some. But that’s not really house work, is it? I swept the floors yesterday and am having a very hard time refraining today. And I did wash some dishes. BUT, only because I had dirtied them!

So, to keep my promise I found a whole bunch of other things to keep me busy after returning home from training. I had to get out or surely would have started dusting. So I went foraging.

I found a slew of dandelions for us to talk about later this week. Here are just a few.

And the mustard spinach growing in the lawn needed to be picked before the mower got a hold of it.

Then I decided to venture in the woods across from the house. I didn’t find much more than a bunch of mosquitoes. And a ton of fairly old bottles and cans. Who ever logged these woods many years ago (or the teenagers who once lived here) sure liked Budweiser.

How old do you think this Pepsi bottle is? It’s plastic, but still been here awhile.

And this iced tea can.

I did find some really great spots deep in the woods. At one point, there I was carrying my basket with the hood of my sweatshirt up to help fight off the mosquitoes. I found myself singing…

“Hey there Little Red Ridinghood. You sure are looking good. You’re everything that a big bad wolf could want.”

Do you remember that song? Well, about the third time through I realized I was in the exact location where the pack of coyote who live in these woods were yelling at me just two nights ago. I love to run in and wander the woods alone. The song was strangely fun and creepy.

The beasts will accompany my future foraging expeditions, per the Mister. I’m married to a Marine, grew up in the woods and have no trouble taking care of myself. Nor do I have a poor sense of direction, but I was stalked by a big cat in these woods once too. I mean a BIG cat. Mountain Lion. They “say” we don’t have them in the Shire, but that’s nonsense. I watched it run past me chasing a dear. A short time later I heard something following me. I turned just in time to see it behind me. I knew it was there all the way home. I’m frequently reminded we have 300 pounds of dog for a reason. But it’s much nicer alone.

I wandered for about an hour and then ventured back home. Started some vanilla extract…

And sourdough starter.

Made two new batches of sauerkraut.

Look at this line up!

Now I have a ton of writing to do and you have a sneak peak at a few of the things to come. But I fear I may have to break my promise before the week is over. I can only keep this up for so long. Or perhaps I should add a couple more morning clients?

I hope your week has started as sweetly as mine! 

Live Well!
~S 

We’re Moving!
Come visit our new home….

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This site is moving! Double posts are time consuming. I can only keep it up for so long. Come follow along at our new home! 

To all my lovely readers, may you enjoy this glorious Sunday with your loves! 

Moms and dads too. Sisters and brothers, friends and lovers. Enjoy your time together. Revel in the simple things.

The Mister, the babes and I were able to spend time yesterday with both of our momma’s. It was a beautiful day. I only wish there were more time. I made these baskets for both.

We were able to visit, had some dinner out and took some time just to be together. It doesn’t get to happen as often as it should. There’s an hours drive between us all. At least. And life can be so busy.

I filled them with some of my favorite things.

All hand made.

This stuff is glorious.

Lemon salt. Heavenly.

I had a lemon, lavender, rosemary theme going on. There’s been a lot of that going on around here lately. My three favorite things.

Enjoy your Sunday! Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! 

Live Well!
~S

We’re Moving!
Come visit our new home….

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It’s been raining for days here in the Shire. But you won’t hear me complain. I love the rain. I find just as much beauty in a warm Spring rain as I do those bright sunny days. And I’m not afraid to get a little…or a lot wet for a visit to the garden.

I’m also not going to complain, because as you may have noticed, I have been rather preoccupied as of late. I know, I know. I haven’t written in days. I have been so busy with products though that there hasn’t been time for much of anything. I can’t tell you all the details for I don’t want to ruin any surprises for some, but I have been in a creating frenzy. My house has been littered with bottles and jars, paper drying and masses of heavenly herbs.  There have been early mornings, long days and late nights. I am proud to say I have created more potions and brews in the past week than ever before!

And my gardens can prove it. Oh, the neglect! I dodged a few rain drops and took some photos. You will see just what has been … NOT happening or happening without me here in the Enchanted Gardens. They sure aren’t looking very enchanted today. Have a look….

There’s quite a bit of lettuce.
But so much more waiting for a home.

Some celery, scallion and a lonely leek patiently waiting for the others to join.

The watermelon radish are putting up a good fight against the stones.

How do they get there?

The peas are looking okay.
I do wish I had gotten them in a week or two earlier.

 The blackberries need a straw blanket…
and perhaps a trim.

They chose this spot themselves. We didn’t plant them.
I do wish they had chosen a spot further from the raised beds.
Another bed and a fence belong here.
But I just don’t have the heart to pull them out.

 Nor do I have the heart to remove these
that have created a home on the other side of the raised beds.

Look at that mess!

 TOO many beets?

They self seeded AND I unknowingly planted more.
Thinning is in order here.

And here.
The cilantro self seeded last year
here where the pattypan squash will call home this year.

 And the dill called this place home
but the cucumbers are moving in soon.

Look at all that baby dill!
And I planted more…. uh oh.

 I was sad to tear out this raised bed,
but the hot tub needs a home too.

I told you it was a busy week…

The herb garden needs some love!
And some mulch.

But the chives are happy.

 The oregano is happy too.
She just needs a little hair cut.

So do her sisters.

The strawberry patch is doing okay,
but look what happens to the seaweed with all this rain.

Soft and mushy and slimy.
This is why I don’t use it for full mulching.

This is Matilda.
She was supposed to be a dwarf weeping cherry.

 She is not a dwarf.
I love her dearly, even if she is far too close to the house for her size.

The lawn is in terrible shape this year.
Ants and moles have taken up residence.
Sixx, the stealthy hunter is taking care of the moles.
The ants… well, that’s my job.
And I’m slacking.

The dogs have done their fair share of destruction as well.
I have my work cut out for me.

Nothing has been edged
and the mustard greens are trying to over take the lawn.

But The Mister’s grandmothers peonies are loving their new home.
Their very healthy, vibrant sisters didn’t fair so well.

Who new the gas man would decide the tank should be moved
when only come to fill??

And who in their right mind would place it over a group
of glorious peonies 3 feet wide?

Well, he did. And he killed them.
All of them.
This group here is the last of them because, well…
The Mister’s mum and aunts…
They killed theirs too.

I’m taking dear care of these ones.

Grow little beauties. Grow!
So the legacy may live on.

This is where my iPhone risked serious destruction as the drops turned to streams. The sun is finally shining though, and the last of the mass of botanicals is to be delivered today. Until Monday of course, when the conjuring will begin again.

I hope you get to play in your gardens this weekend!

Live Well!
~S 

We’re Moving!
Come visit our new home….

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Whole Living With Stephanie has been gaining moment with gusto lately. New readers, new followers, site stats doubling and tripling almost daily. I’m overwhelmed, thrilled and even humbled from the experience.

So why wreck a good thing?

Well, because this was the plan for years. From the very beginning. No, not to destroy something. To GROW! I started the blog to get my feet wet. To be a stepping stone in the transition. But it was always my plan to take the blog further. To create a full site where I could share everything that I do and everything that I hope to do.

I have been dreaming of this adventure for as long as I can remember. As a small girl, before entering school, I would mix “herbs” in a bucket with a stick. At 8 I was buying magazines filled with muscled up men and a few women. As a teenager I made my own skin care products, sneaking things from the kitchen and hiding in the bathroom. As a very young new mom, I made my own baby food, fed my family only healthy things, worked out daily, taught my little guy to cook before he could walk. Sort of. Coty would sit on the counter next to me watching as I chopped and stirred, experimented and created. I would let him mix and add and I would talk to him about what I was doing as I went. And at 17 he can cook an amazing meal.  I still believe that it was eating clean, working out everyday and using the vitamin E oil creation I made that kept me from getting a single stretch mark from either pregnancy.

So, as you can see, this has been a journey. I have books filled with ideas and recipes, drawings and dreams from throughout my life. All leading up to this.
A Life Enchanted.

This is a mere fraction of the books and journals

There have been pauses and adventures that seemed to have led me in different directions. But those were part of the journey. They strengthened my resolve, taught me great lessons and showed me this is really where I was meant to be.

I didn’t do this overnight. I didn’t read someone’s blog and decide that making a few skin care products sounded like fun or a way to make a little money. In fact, I have made more products for family and friends at my own expense than ever making any for even my own cost. I do this out of a life long passion.

I had a fear of pursuing this dream for years. The biggest dreams can seem the most out of reach. I had a fear of telling anyone about this dream. A fear that my inspiration, my love would encourage someone else to pursue MY dream… and possibly succeed before I did. A selfish and silly fear. I know. Only a few choice friends can tell you how I have longed for this day for as long as they have known me and longer.

I must tell you that making this change is terrifying. The fear of losing momentum was nearly crippling. Many nights I lie awake wondering if changing everything so drastically would be a fatal decision. I put it off for quite some time. Long after I had chosen the name and even created the site.

But I need to thank so many of you for following me here. I’m surprised and honored at the results so far! 128 views in the first 4 hours yesterday. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For those that haven’t had a blog or website, you might not realize that every click has meaning. That every page viewed, every like, every comment helps.

See that follow button down there on the right?? (over at A Life Enchanted, of course)

Click it! And let me know you like the change. Your support means more than I could ever explain.

I know that adding another site, receiving another email, it can all be a giant pain. But we won’t be moving again. I swear.

And I will end the sappy stories for a time too!

Live Well!
~S 

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Happy May Day!

May Day is a festival of fertility, celebrated all over the world for centuries. Predating Christianity, May Day, often known as Beltane, the festival of Flora and Walpurgis Night, has been a time of revelry. Saying  a final good bye to Winter, hello to neighbors and honoring the Gods for a strong Summer bounty. People gather, they sing and dance, feast and have great fires.

Thanks to my sweet friend, Kesh, I was able to participate in a glorious celebration including a Maypole!

My children are far too old for such things now. I was so happy to be invited to share in this event with so many babes running around. For most, this was their first ever May Day celebration. I love watching others learn of such traditions. Thank you, Kesh!

In honor of May Day, of fertility and great bounties, of new beginnings, I have a gift for you!

Many times you have heard me hint of such a gift, a new name, a new place. Well, today I would like for you to see what I have been working on!

A Life Enchanted   –   www.alifeenchanted.com

I have created a new site, filled with so much more than I have been able to offer here. It is certainly still a work in progress, however, I couldn’t wait any longer for you to be a part of it! Over the next few weeks you will continue to see changes and watch it grow.

I wanted to be able to combine the many things I do. Here, I have created a place for all the enchantments that make up my world and hopefully, yours. I chose A Life Enchanted, partially in honor of the botanical and apothecary line I have been perfecting over the last 16 years and am finally finding time to fully pursue. But also, because I really have found a sense of enchantment in this life I have laid out. The whimsy, the earthiness. It is truly enchanting. To feel healthy, to be happy, to be inspired and creative.

Whole Living With Stephanie will now become A Life Enchanted. But this site will stay up for a time. To allow everyone the chance to adjust. I hope you will find this move exciting and follow me on this journey into becoming bigger, better and far more inspiring. With this I will be able to offer so much more to my readers. I have big plans for you dear readers!

Please take the time to follow the page and don’t be shy! Come and let me know what you think. Ask me your questions and tell me your ideas. I look forward to sharing this with you.

I hope you are excited as I am!

Live Well!
~S 

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