Hello Blog: Where Have I Been?

Hello, blog! Hello, readers! Holy cow. It’s been a while. I had no intention to be away from the blog this long (my last post was in MARCH 2019) and I have been wanting to be back as soon as possible. I thought that maybe I could skip over the “where have I been” part and just jump straight into new posts—but this part is important. I have always wanted this blog to be a space of encouragement and joy, in the midst of a crazy and sometimes difficult life, and it would be wrong of me to just pretend like everything’s been fine.

Have you ever had one of those years that, even after it’s ended, is difficult to process? Last year was one for the books, in that respect. My family has been and has come through a really difficult season, but also one that had been full of so many blessings. Last year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my siblings took a job far away, and our family had to adjust to a new way of life in specific areas. But we also welcomed another precious nephew, who we had been praying to arrive for a long time. Last year was a difficult one for me in dealing with anxiety, depression, and just an overall inability to emotionally cope with everything. I had felt paralyzed by life’s circumstances and honestly, I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer anyone on this blog. I didn’t feel like I could encourage and uplift others, when I was having such a hard time encouraging and uplifting myself. But then there were also many good things that happened last year such as hitting milestones in my career, spending some extended time in Maine during the summer, going to England in the fall, and enjoying life in my new-ish house. That is life though, an ebb and flow of good times and times that make you want to curl up in a ball.

But, in all of that…and in everything the happened in 2019–I will say that God is good. He has been so faithful through all of these seasons and it has been such a comfort to know that He has walked with me and with my family through all these times. Perhaps some would think that living a Christian life comes without suffering and difficult times–but that is far from the truth. God even says in His word that–“in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” I think one of the biggest blessings about going through tough times is knowing there is hope and peace through Christ for those who are in Christ. My favorite worship song lately has been Goodness of God by Bethel Music and it’s words have been so encouraging! I can definitely say that I have lived in the goodness of God! And praise God, my mother has been declared cancer free!!

I love Your voice

You have led me through the fire

In the darkest night

You are close like no other

I’ve known You as a Father

I’ve known You as a Friend

And I have lived in the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful

And all my life You have been so, so good

With every breath that I am able

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

Goodness of God by Bethel Music

I think this may be a very random and jumbled post, but it’s just a little snippet into the last year and some of my thoughts. I feel like I am finally able to move forward with my plans for this online space, now that I have addressed the elephant in the room. I know that hard times are still going to come, but I want to encourage and support you through whatever you may also be going through. I have plans for travel posts, home posts, cooking posts, etc., so bear with me!

Hello, blog! Hello, reader! I’m excited for 2020 and I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey!

Welcome to My Kitchen: Before and After

I am so excited about today’s post! If you’re new to my blog, I bought my first home last May and have been working on projects off and on since. I posted my Living Room Before and After a few months ago, and today I’m posting my Kitchen reveal!

When I first walked into the kitchen during the house tour, I knew it would be the room that would need the most change–but I couldn’t wait to make it mine!

Before

After

Dining Table | IKEA Dining Chairs | Wayfair Bar Stools | Wayfair
Dining Bench | Amazon

I LOVE the finished product! This is easily one of my favorite rooms in the house, and I love to cook and have gatherings here. The renovation was such a special part for me because so many people helped me to create the space I wanted. My parents, friends, and siblings worked so many hours in this room and I am so grateful for them and their help.

I love this little corner of cookbooks because there is meaning behind these things. The cookbooks are gifts from loved one and memorials of places I’ve traveled. The ceramic utensil holder was made in Portugal and I bought it to remember my travels there. My friends also made the cookbook stand for me at Christmas!

The four major parts of the kitchen renovation were painting, the flooring, countertops, and the backsplash. I knew I would be in this room a lot and having it fresh, airy, and bright was really important to me.

We painted all of the rooms in the house a light grey and kept the trim white. I thought this could bring a little contrast to the rooms, but also not be blank and white everywhere.

I absolutely love the new countertops and decided to go with a light grey quartz material. It’s amazing how much that change alone brightened up the whole space! I was also able to find the same existing floor tiles and one of my friends graciously (super graciously) installed it for me. Thanks, C!

For the backsplash, I chose a clear glass subway tile and light grey grout. I can’t get over how much that also changed the space! Two of my friends also installed the backsplash for me and I’m so grateful for their help. Thank you C & C!!!


High Tea in London

Happy Tuesday! I hope you have been enjoying my posts about England. Today is the last post in that series, and it takes place in London.

My birthday was last September and, for my gift, my parents treated me to high tea at Fortnum & Mason in London. I love all things high tea and couldn’t wait to end the trip that way. Fortnum & Mason is one of the oldest tea establishments and department stores in England as it began in 1707! It is also famous for its picnic baskets.

The department store is beautiful and carries all fine things in the way of fashion, beauty, food, and housewares. We arrived at the store an hour earlier than we needed to, just so that we could explore the store. I much preferred Fortnum & Mason compared to Harrod’s, but that’s just my opinion.

When it was time for our high tea, we went to The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Fortnum & Mason has gluten-free and vegan options for high tea, as well as a regular menu. If you are looking for a gluten-free option for high tea, this is one for you! There were several tea options to choose from, so you should be able to find one for you. There were also many tea sandwiches, scones, jams, clotted cream, and they even gave me a slice of cake for my birthday. This gluten-free high tea at Fortnum & Mason was a hit for both of us!

The price per person was definitely more than it was at other places, but I think the experience is worth it. If you’re going to London, save your pennies (or pounds) because you’re going to want to stop by Fortnum & Mason. A few cups of hot tea and yummy things to eat are also essential when it’s cold and raining, as it was that day.

Again, I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have! Has it inspired you to go to England? I hope so!

48 Hours in London England

If you haven’t read my latest travel posts, I went to England for a week with my mother in October. I’ve recapped the trip in posts here, here, and here if you would like to read them. The trip began in Cornwall, made a stop in Bath, and then ended in London.

I’ve been to London once before several years ago, but only for about 10 hours. I’ve always wanted to go back to London and see things we didn’t the first time. We decided to buy 48-hour passes for the hop-on-hop-off bus tours–and I’m so happy that we did because we were definitely tired from all our travels. Once we arrived by train to London, from Bath, we walked through Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and even saw Kensington Palace on our way to our Airbnb.

 

After checking in and dropping off our luggage, we made our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s so interesting too that the museum was just featured in the most recent episode of Victoria on PBS! Prince Albert wanted this museum to be completely free to the general population and there is so, so much to see! You would probably need a few days to see it all, but we just saw some highlights. We saw beautiful architecture, original works by Shakespeare, art, and so much more in passing. If you’re ever in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is worth a visit!

After we left the museum, we got back on the bus and made our way to Harrods, which is one of the most distinguished department stores. My mom had been to London a few times before but she had never been to Harrod’s. One of our tour bus drivers stated: “if you have to ask how much something is, then you can’t afford it.” I would say that the statement was fairly accurate, haha! Harrods was very beautiful but it was extremely busy, maybe even a little too busy for us. We were also starting to get very hungry and tried to find something to eat in the food shops. We ended up going to an Italian restaurant in Harrods and ordered over-priced gluten-free pasta. However, the experience was memorable for both of us and we can now say that we’ve been to Harrod’s.

The next morning, we did our full bus tour through London. We also had high tea at Fortnum and Mason, but that will be saved for the last blog post in this England series. The hop-on-hop-off tour was interesting and nice to be able to sit down after days of walking all over. This kind of tour is also a great way to see all of the landmarks, high points, and learn history about London. I loved the bus tour and feel like I have seen so much of London!

Things I’m Loving Lately | AD

Hi friends! Welcome back to the blog and for another favorites-related post! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this and I have a few favorites to share with you. This post is sponsored by Riverdean Watches–thank you, Riverdean!

Netflix’s The Final Table

I was sick with a strain of the flu a few days after Thanksgiving and into the first week of December and spent a lot of time in bed. I also spent a lot of time reading and catching up on Netflix shows. One of the shows that I watched in entirety was The Final Table on Netflix. This show is a cooking competition between the best chefs in the world and each week focused on a different ethnicity of food. This show was so fascinating, inspiring, and definitely worth the binge.

Netflix’s Salt Fat Acid Heat

I’ve been so interested in reading the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat and was happy to learn that it had been made into a Netflix special. This show was inspirational, educational, funny, and gave me the travel bug super bad. Samin spoke about her experiences with food, cooking, and taught how to incorporate these essential elements into home-cooking. This show is also highly recommended if you need something to watch!

Riverdean Avalon Watch

Riverdean reached out to me a couple of months ago to ask if I would like to try some of their watches. I’ve been thinking about getting a new watch and was very excited to receive this one! I love the color and the marble design on the face of the watch! It has been the perfect accessory to many of the outfits I wear! Riverdean has kindly offered to give my readers a 20% discount off any orders using the code “LOVEXAMY20.”

Use code “LOVEXAMY20” to get 20% off your order!

RMS Beauty Products

I’ve been trying to switch to all natural cosmetic products and decided to give RMS a try. I’ve heard so many good reviews about this brand and my best friend has also worn their products for years. I am hooked. I bought a concealer and luminizer and love how they look on my skin. I plan on writing a post about “clean beauty favorites” at some point, but I think that I’ll be using RMS concealer and luminizers for a long time.

Boxing

I took a boxing class with some of my friends in the fall and I’m (left) hooked! Haha, jokes! But seriously, this type of workout has been so therapeutic for me and has been really fun. It’s been a really long time since I actually enjoyed working out. I bought a boxing bag for myself and hung it in my garage, so now I can box whenever I wan