Monday Mantra: find your gift

It’s monday.  Time to get back to it.  Life has been a bit nutz around here lately.  Lots of changes.  Lots of growing.  Lots of new.  But new is AWESOME!  Sometimes it takes a second to get used to it; it can make you tired; it can make you unavailable but in the end its exactly what was needed!  Because thru changes and thru all this new-ness you start to get back in touch with the things that make you most happy, most fulfilled and most content.  Everything in life happens for a reason, even if those reasons aren’t clear in the beginning.  So cheers to change.  Cheers to finding your purpose.  Cheers to accepting new.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”
~ Pablo Picasso

give a gift

Find your gift and SHARE it!!
~ Jillian


Sending Love

I have a penchant for hand-written correspondence.  Although the mail is no longer the most efficient means of communication, I still love to send and receive letters, cards and care packages.  Call me crazy, but I get excited when I see an envelope with a hand-written address among the stack of bills and junk mail.

My favorite pen pal is my adorable seven-year-old niece.   We started writing each other when she was learning how to write and needed practice on her penmanship.  In an effort to make it fun – and let’s be honest, keep her interested – I try to switch up my mode of delivery every so often.

I got the idea for my most recent “letter” from the popular bunting banners all over blog-land and Pinterest.  I thought it would be a cute way to deliver a short and sweet message.  A quick “hello,” if you will.

I gathered some scrapbook supplies from my craft stash.   Because I used to hoard scrapbooking materials, I was able to make this project for $2.  I used a few pieces of patterned paper, a large circle hole punch, pre-cut self-adhesive letters, a glue stick and glittery craft string.

I punched two circles (front and back) for each letter of my message.  Additionally, I used solid color circles as a break between each word of my message.


Once all of the circles were punched, it was time to assemble my banner.  I glued the two circles (front and back) together, sandwiching the glittery string between the two circles.  Then, I affixed the letters to both sides the circles.  If you do not have self-adhesive letters, you could always use a marker to write or stencil each letter.


In order to send the “banner,” I decided to use a mailing tube that I found at OfficeMax.   You could also use the tube from a roll of wrapping paper, if you have one lying around.  I added scrapbook paper to the exterior, to make the tube look a bit more fun.  After I finished assembling the banner, I attached the ends of the string to the tube caps using packaging tape.   That way, the banner will have draped effect when pulled out of the tube.


First, I attached the end cap for the right side of the tube.  Note:  Be sure to give yourself a fair amount of excess string at the END of your message, so it will extend out of the tube, but still be connected to the end cap.  I ended up needing to add another segment of string to feed through the tube, because my message would not connect to the end cap.



After attaching the message to the other end cap, it was done!


I also added an “open this end” message and an address label on some patterned paper, to coordinate with the wrapped mailing tube.  It is en route to my niece…I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of it!


~ Brittany

Monday Mantra: Perfection

Happy Happy!  Hope you had a lovely weekend!  This weekend comes with mixed reviews…we caught up with good friends, relaxed with some of our neighbors, and spent some much needed time relaxing in our house!  On a sad note we did spend some time with my momma who had to put her sweet little kitty down.  Thankfully his illness snuck up quickly and he did not suffer but it is so tough watching a sweet fur baby struggle (needless to say the Doodle got a lot of extra snuggles and love after we got home!)  Lots of love to my mom…I know its been a tough week!!!  We had an impromptu neighbor hang out at our house on Saturday and I loved loved loved getting to share our house with our new friends!  There were piles of yummy munchies sprawled across the kitchen island, kids running around the house playing and tons and tons of laughter!!  It is so wonderful to have neighbors that are awesome!!!

“Those who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.” 

Her Split Ends - perfection

So here’s to a great week ahead.  I hope its filled with lots of love, laughter and things perfectly inperfect

~ Jillian

An Introduction to Alaska

Alaska map


As we continued my first visit to Alaska (you can read more about the first part of our trip here), my husband and his family introduced me to their beautiful city of Anchorage and the surrounding area.  My husband spent a good portion of his childhood and early teens living in the great state of Alaska and misses it terribly.  He is on a campaign to convince me to pack up our life and leave the “lower 48” for good.  Well, after my first visit….I can definitely see why he misses it.  If it was not for the long, brutally cold winters, I could easily see us living there.  There are outdoor activities everywhere you look and all year long!  Perfect for us!  Life has a slower pace, compared to our daily life in a big city.  The air is so clean, the scenery is picturesque, the people are incredibly warm and welcoming.

Before we left for Alaska, I was quite surprised by some individuals’ reactions about our upcoming trip.  Many were excited for me, but others thought I was crazy for choosing Alaska as a vacation destination.  They had a very incorrect perception of what Alaska had to offer.

Allow me to clear up some common (and hilarious) misconceptions that my husband and I have heard about Alaska:  Residents do not live in igloos.  Although, my husband does enjoy telling people that ask that yes, he grew up living in a two-story igloo.  Penguins are not common pets.  Yes, someone really did ask me about penguins.  And, polar bears.  I’m still hoping that was a joke.  It is not dark for weeks/months at a time in Winter.  Yes, Alaska has extremely long days in Summer (18+ hours of daylight!) and extremely short days in Winter.  But, the 30 Days of Night movie is not what they experience during Winter.  Lastly, it is not miserably cold all year in Alaska.  (Perhaps this one motivated some of the other incorrect assumptions?)

Quite the contrary, many parts of Alaska experience four seasons and have warm summers, reaching mid 80 degree temperatures.   We visited Anchorage in mid-August, which was the end of summer and beginning of Fall for this area.  We had a good blend of warm and cool days.


{Hiking the Turnagain Arm Trail at Chugach State Park, Anchorage}

Of course, elevation can turn a warm Summer day hike into a freezing cold excursion.   This photo was taken just a couple of days after the Turnagain Arm hike.   We were bundled up and still pretty cold during our hike, due to higher elevations and cold air coming down the mountains.


{Hiking my husband’s favorite trail, Rabbit Lake, at Chugach State Park, Anchorage}


{Snow on the ground in August!  It never melted from the previous Winter’s snowfall.}

As mentioned earlier, we visited at the end of Alaska’s Summer.  We took advantage of the long days and packed in as much outdoor sight-seeing as we could….


{View from the end of the street at my husband’s family’s home.}


{Beluga Point, Anchorage}DSCN3971

{Beluga Point, Anchorage}


{View of Cook Inlet, Anchorage}


{Potters Marsh Wildlife Viewing Area, Anchorage}


{Matanuska Glacier, about an hour northeast of Anchorage}


{Hike to Rabbit Lake, Chugach State Park, Anchorage}


{View of Alaskan Range, from “Denali Viewpoint South”, mile marker 135 on Parks Highway}

SO beautiful, right?!  I completely fell in love with Alaska and can’t wait to return and see more of this beautiful state!

Enjoy this post?  You can read more about my travel adventures to Denali National Park, Yosemite National Park & Mojave National Preserve, & Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon & Sedona.


Monday Mantra: peacemakers

Happy Monday to you!  It’s almost fall ya’ll!!  We had a GORGEOUS weekend of weather here in Georgia…Nothing but blue skies!!  So naturally we decided to spend as much time as humanly possible outside enjoying the lovely weather!  We celebrated lots of special sweet birthdays, caught up with family and friends and even spent some time playing in the dirt!  All around a lovely time filled with smiles and lots of love!

“The planet does not need more successful people.
The planet desperately needs more peacemakers,
healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all
~ Dalai Lama


Share some love this week with those around you!  Choose Joy!  And always practice peace!!

~ Jillian

*  Lots of happy birthday wishes to send today!  This week we are celebrating two of my favorite ladies…and HSE contributors!  Happy Happy to the lovely Brittany and Miss A!!  (Find out more about them here)

Let go

I was in a yoga class recently and the instructor was talking about breathing; about how to breath to really allow yourself to get into a rhythm that calms you, he said something that really stuck with me. In your head as you inhale say the word “let” and then as you exhale say the word “go”.

Breath in: Let

Breath out: Go

Let Go.

Such a simple phrase but such a difficult thing to do.

Life can sometimes be a bit of a roller coaster; really fabulous highs and super tough to deal with lows. We tend to let those tough times sit on us and sink in. Sometimes without even knowing it these things throw us off balance and manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. We spend a great deal of our lives holding on to those feelings that cause pain! Let Go.


There are so many moments on a day to day basis that we get wrapped up in life; get overwhelmed and stressed about the craziness. It’s easy to forget to breath, really take a deep breath that purifies your body and brings you back to calm.

So on this lovely Friday and as you move through the weekend, take a second…

breath in: LET…breath out: GO.

You will feel energized, relaxed and calm.


~ Jillian

Pin-spiration: Fire

I am a crazy ball of all things house and home inspiration these days.  With a new casa, the list of things we want to do is insanely long (and forever changing!)  As the weather starts to change and fall is around the corner…I’m PUMPED!!   I love love love the gorgeous weather that comes with fall and my favorite part is when the nights start to have a little chill in them…perfect time to sit around snuggled up around a crackling fire.  So in the interest of searching for inspiration the debate of the day is “firepit vs fireplace“.

fireplace 2

firepit 2

fireplace 8

firepit 11

fireplace 7

firepit 3

fireplace 2

firepit 1

fireplace 5

firepit 12

fireplace 1

firepit 10

fireplace 1

firepit 9

firepit 6

(check out my Outdoor Livin’ Pinterest board for all these fabulous photo sources!)

Don’t these images make you want to brew up a warm cup of joe, wrap up in a blanky and toast up some marshmallows?!?!  Where do you fall on the Great debate of the Firepit vs the Fireplace??  Yeah to fall!!  Yeah to fabulous weather!!  And yeah to a little outdoor snuggling!!

Happy fall Ya’ll
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: beautiful people

Happy first day back from a long holiday weekend! These days are always a bit rough for some reason!!  This year has had a LOT of crazy turns for me and my most dear; And thru it all I have been most inspired by the beauty and strength that has surfaced.  Life will always have a way of keeping us surprised and on our toes and the only thing we can control is how we handle what’s thrown at us.  So here’s to all of those strong, beautiful and positive people out there.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.”

find beauty

Choose Joy
~ Jillian