I unashamedly love my city and think it’s the coolest, so every chance I get to brag about the amazing people who make this home, I’m going to take it. This gift guide features all Richmond, VA makers + artisans, and I can’t rave about them enough!
There is so much to adore about this city in the heart of Virginia-- from the food, the art, the coffee and beer and cider, the endless festivals, the outdoor options, the tattoos... it's a hipster heaven.
I'm a big fan of shopping local and supporting artists and makers I know personally, and I wanted to brag about a bunch of them today! You can shop all of them online, and it will be a huge blessing to them this holiday season.
It doesn't have to be a pain to eat out as a gluten-free vegan-- Richmond restaurants make it SO easy to eat well! Here's a guide to get you started.
Here's a glimpse into our new place in the heart of our city-- it's not perfect, it's nothing fancy, but it's home, and we love it!
I decided to make the most of all the coffee options in my little city of Richmond, VA, and here's the comprehensive guide to ALL OF MY THOUGHTS.
I'm behind on writing for 31 days. I shouldn't be surprised-- it's typical of me to start something and then push back against the commitment and hard work of it. Anyway. I'm catching up today with four words from the past weekend and hopefully I'll stay on track from here on out...hopefully being the key word there!
Earlier this year, I wasn't sure where I wanted to be. My lease was up on the apartment in the north side of Richmond where I had lived by myself for a year. My work was remote, and I had the freedom for the first time to really go anywhere I wanted. I moved back home temporarily to figure out my next moves, but it soon became clear that Richmond was home and this city was where I needed to stay.
Lately, I've been reminded time and time again that this city is my favorite.
Spending beautiful evenings on the lawn of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts just coloring and relaxing, returning with friends on Friday nights for their happy hours, Saturdays spent by the James River and on Brown's Island for the Richmond Folk Festival, Sunday afternoons at my favorite coffee shop with open mics and vanilla lattes, leisurely walks around the neighborhood that take me past Agecroft Hall and the Virginia House and tree-lined streets of the most charming houses, restaurant and bar hopping with friends on the weekends to dance and watch soccer games and eat french fries...this River City is home. This is the place I love. I can't imagine being anywhere else.
This place is my place. I'm grateful to call it home.
Have you ever been somewhere physically but felt far away mentally? Standing on a hill by the river as bluegrass music played from the massive stage behind me this weekend, I felt that way. I was there, but I wasn't. I hated the feeling. I couldn't place it, couldn't quite define it, definitely couldn't explain it.
I wasn't fully present.
But I want to be. I want to live my life intentionally, wholeheartedly, meaningfully. I want to be present. I want to turn my phone off and keep it away, knowing the notifications can wait, that being fully present matters more. I want to eliminate distractions and focus my attention. I want to sift through the emotions and the doubt and the worry and stress and let it all settle so I can be still and be there.
I want to be fully present.
It will take effort, but it will be worth it. I want to live in the moment, eyes open, all in.
I realized recently that I'm not good at asking for things. I think I'm afraid I'll be heartbroken or disappointed if I ask for things or pray for things and then they don't happen. I'm realizing how prideful that is, that I think my desires are the ultimate best thing for me. I know my God is gracious and good, and I know His plans are best, but I hold on to my own hopes and dreams and desires because I'm afraid they won't be His and I selfishly don't want to let them go. I want to pray boldly. I want to give voice to the things in the deep parts of my heart and hold them with open hands-- if He wants to take them, if He wants to give them, if He wants to transform them, if He wants to hold on to them for longer... I want to trust His will and His way above my own wants and wishes. I want to pray honestly and vulnerably and totally openly. I want to ask. I want to praise. I want to worship. I want to pray without ceasing.
I want to look like You.
I want to act like You.
I want to move like You.
I want to pray like You.
I want to love like You.
I want to serve like You.
I want to lead like You.
I want to worship like You.
I want to sacrifice like You.
I want to be like You.
Every day in October, I'm writing whatever comes to mind when I focus on one word.
You can find all of my Write 31 Days posts HERE.
Today's prompt (the last one!): A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you'd like a prompt: how did the Blog-tember Challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?
My dear friend Amber does these coffee date blog posts, and every single time, they are wonderful. Now this prompt is a farewell coffee date, and I get to share my own take on it. I'm modeling mine like hers, because every time she does it, I swoon. Amber spills pure gold from her fingertips, if you didn't know that already.
If we were on a coffee date, I would probably still be cracking myself up. I posted an Instagram for #nationalcoffeeday (even though every day is basically coffee day in my book) and it was a photo from a while back, with my Bible and journal on the table too. After I posted it, I realized my Bible was open to Hebrews. HEBREWS. Like He-brews. I HAVE NOT STOPPED LAUGHING ABOUT IT. I'm a huge fan of puns and the total coincidence of this one just has me dying still!
If we were on a coffee date, I would apologize for being half-hearted in this Blog-Tember Challenge. I should have learned from The 100 Day Project that yes, it's hard to show up consistently, but yes, it's worth it...but I fell short. I saw the posts flood my feeds and I wished I was joining in with them, but time and life got away from me and now September is over. Friends that followed along with my posts when they happened, thank you! Friends that I met through this challenge, I'm so glad we connected! Bailey, thank you for pouring your heart out over this past month and being such a gracious, welcoming host.
If we were on a coffee date, I would hope it's at one of my favorite coffeeshops in my beloved River City. I made it one of my goals this year to try 10 new Richmond coffeeshops. I've visited 9 and there are a handful more still on my list. They're quaint, they're cozy, they're quirky, they're full of character, and there's a new one popping up all the time. I love this city and I would want to show it to you one coffee stop at a time.
If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you what you've read and loved lately. I'm a bookworm, it's no secret, and I always want to hear recommendations. Some of you shared yours this month when you linked up with Bailey, and I added a bunch of them to my to-read list, but there's always room for me. Leave your current book crushes in the comments!
If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you I'm still learning about waiting. I wrote about it and I'm reading about it and I'm still in the thick of it. What have you learned about waiting in your life? I would ask. What has reassured you and kept you hopeful?
If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that lists are everything. To-do lists, bullet journal lists, pro/con lists, grocery lists... they're all worthwhile. I always have a pen in hand (these are my favorite kind, if you were wondering, but maybe I'm the only person who wonders things like that) and I'm always making lists, and it keeps me functioning. I would forget everything otherwise. Lists on phones just aren't the same.
If we were on a coffee date, I would ask what word is stuck in your head right now. Maybe you aren't someone that gets stuck on words like me, but I'm about to start a new project (Write 31 Days) and I just decided tonight that I'm going to write about one word every day. What word has your heart struggling or soaring? What word makes you feel fired up or afraid? What word seems so big and so good that you want to just ink it into your skin?
If we were on a coffee date, I would gush about my latest baby, The Rising. It's my pride and my joy and my greatest honor in my work. The people on my team are some of the very best people I've ever met. Their words make me better. It's a privilege to be a part of, and I would just go on and on about my love for it all. Oh, and I would probably ask if you wanted to be part of it with me. If you did, I would point you here.
If we were on a coffee date, I wouldn't hug you goodbye. Because hugs aren't my thing. They're awkward and weird and uncomfortable. I would just tell you I love you and it was so good to talk to you and that I want to do it again soon. And I hope we do.
Most days, nannying two little boys looks like lots of Legos, battles and wars, karate moves, and running around like crazy people in a basement littered with toys. Yesterday, their family came into town and our day looked totally different-- there was still lots of running around like crazy people, but now it was five kids under five with three adults supervising as we explored Historic Tredegar and ventured across the bridge over the James River to Brown's Island. The boys had a blast! I'm always down for an adventure, and loved getting to see places I already love through the eyes of hyped up and eager little kiddos.
I love this River City. I love sunshine and blue skies. Here are six snapshots from our adventure!
Because I know everyone who sees the photo of ink on my arm will want to know the story, here it is.
This is tattoo number two. (Number one is an arrow on the side of my foot.)
It's inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass windows-- Wright is my dad's favorite architect and I have always loved his work, especially the geometric, modern style of his windows. (Side note on stained glass windows: I love the symbolism of broken pieces of glass from all different places of all different styles and colors coming together with a unifying glue to create stunning works of art that are at their best when light shines through... what a cool picture of our own lives and how all our brokenness can be put back together by Jesus who shines through us to make us our best.)
So, the cross is at the top because that's my focal point and utmost priority, and it carries down through as the spine of the whole thing like my faith carries through my life. Without it, everything fall apart. Jesus and His sacrifice upon the cross are first, highest, and above all. It's a reminder to always fix my eyes upon Jesus above the things of this world.
The four parts below that (the chevron-looking section) represent my family-- mom, dad, and younger brother, and the parts on either side of that represent that outside influences can't change that they're my core. My faith and my family are the two things above all else that I want to protect against outside influences, so that's what those symbolize, creating the top half of the tattoo.
The sun below that is for Arizona and home-- it's the place I grew up, the place I will always call home, the place that built me and shaped me from my earliest memories. It's where I went to kindergarten through freshman year of high school, it's where I fell in love with the Lord and gave my life to Him, it's where I grew up rooted in incredible community in my church, neighborhood, schools, and friends...it's where my foundation is.
The bottom is like a diamond to symbolize how my life has been like diamonds coming out of dust and triumph coming out of pain. That's my testimony-- my story is all about the Lord transforming brokenness into new life and redeeming me day by day into a new creation. It's been a long process of refinement and God chiseling away at parts of my heart that were ugly and unnecessary, and in doing so, creating new beauty and reminding me of my true worth.
Not a single part of this tattoo was careless or meaningless. I'm so excited it will be part of me forever. I'm excited for the conversations it will start and for the opportunity I'll have to share part of my story because of what this tattoo represents.
So, that's the significance. That's the story. May it be a way to bring my testimony to life and may it be a way to point back to Jesus always.
UPDATE: I've heard from people that this, too, looks like an arrow, which is funny since a super simple one is on the side of my foot! Also, people have said it looks like a totem pole of sorts, and Southwest-influenced, and although neither of those were my specific intentions, I love them both! Obviously, I grew up in the Southwest and it will always have a huge part of my heart. I also traveled to Alaska with family and saw TONS of totem poles and thought they were so cool-- my family even took pictures acting as if we made up a totem pole, so they bring back fond memories as well. :)
Shout out to Ashly at River City Tattoo on Boulevard for bringing my design to life! So thankful for your talent!
Yesterday, the sun finally broke through what had been a week of gray skies and ice and (unnecessary) snow days. Since one of my #RAD52in52 goals is to visit 10 new Richmond coffeeshops, I set out to find one where I could spend my morning. I visited good old Yelp and found Black Hand Coffee Company which was near where I would be picking up the kiddos I nanny, so I decided that would be my spot for the day.
It was an unassuming little corner coffeeshop tucked away in the downtown Museum District with just a few tables inside, but I loved it. I ordered a dirty Chai (the Yelp reviews sold me on their Chai!)-- my first "dirty" Chai ever (they add a shot of espresso)...so good. It was such a relaxing morning in a great new little spot. They even had a free little library box outside where I picked up a new book to try (but I'm a few chapters in and not liking it all...so that might be a flop).
I continued my solo morning at my favorite Richmond vegetarian restaurant where I got the BEST vegan "chicken salad" wrap (gluten-free too!) with mustard potato salad...to die for. All in all, it was the perfect Friday morning and everything I needed after a gloomy and draining week. Here are some snapshots from the morning.
Winter seemed to come out of nowhere this weekend. I was loving autumn, soaking every bit of the cool and breezy temperatures, admiring every fiery tree and fallen leaf...and then it was 30 degrees and I was freezing. I'm not a fan. Saying farewell to the outdoor adventures of summer and fall is bittersweet, but this weekend was still full of exploring.
If you haven't met her yet, the pup is our miniature schnauzer, Uli. She's sweet and sassy and I've trained her to hold my hand (aka the cutest trick ever). I ventured to the VMFA with one of my best friends for the Forbidden exhibit (we concluded it was a good thing to expose ourselves to things from different cultures, and we should do it more often, but neither of us were overly enthused by the whole show) and to just wander around both inside and outside in the gardens that I've never seen before. On my way home, I decided to stop in a little local grocery shop I had seen on Instagram, and I promptly fell in love with how cute and quaint it was. The prices weren't as fun (sorry, but I'm not spending $9 for a bag of granola), but it was definitely picturesque and full of treasures!
Yes, it's cold. Winter is here. But adventures can still be had. Thankful for this fun weekend.