Caravan Sonnet: May 2016


Bistango Restaurant, New York City

Back before I went on the cruise in the fall, I shared that I was able to spend a little time in New York City. It was the first time for me being in the city since 9/11 and it was a precious and memorable time visiting some of the iconic sites and spending a few hours at the 9/11 memorial. When my friend and I decided to spend time the evening in the city before the cruise I quickly researched about where to eat dinner. There are so many fabulous restaurants in the city that it was hard to narrow down to just one, but as a person with Celiac Disease, I was very interested in a restaurant that provided gluten free options. I came across Bistango Restaurant and I loved their website and quickly called to make reservations. 
Having traveled to different parts of the world, I love trying new restaurants and places, and I have to say that Bistango is honestly one of the best meals I have ever had! I definitely recommend this restaurant!
We ate at the 29th street location (there are two different locations with two different menus) which was a perfect fit for us as it was close enough to walk to the Empire State Building after our dinner meal. The 29th Street location is the original location and this restaurant was amazing. 

I had called ahead to make reservations (which I highly encourage you to do!) and we were seated inside by a window which allowed us to view the city as we ate our meal. Despite the restaurant being incredibly crowded I was impressed with how personal our service was and how they have arranged tables so you feel like you are the only ones in the restaurant. It was an incredibly relaxing atmosphere.

Bistango was ranked by USA today as one of New York City's top 10 Italian Restaurants and everything on the menu looked incredible. Everything that was on the menu can also be made gluten free and I was blown away by the options! 
I started off with choosing their gluten free bread (which is complimentary for the first round) and ended up ordering a second order. The bread was amazing. I was incredibly impressed as I never really loved bread and have found gluten free bread to often be tasteless and crumbly. This bread was so delicious. I then ordered the Eggplant Ravioli (which was dairy free also!) and chose the pesto sauce as my sauce. You can see by looking at the menu that there are lots of different sauce options. Honestly our food was amazing and like I have said one of the best meals I have ever eaten. 
The next morning before we left to get on our cruise my friend and I kept discussing how amazing our meals were and I suggested that we go back for brunch before we boarded the cruise. While I enjoyed the gluten free bread again I decided to try the gluten free cipolle pizza for this meal. The food was deliciously prepared but I do admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the crust. My friend who ordered a regular- non-gluten free pizza- said hers was the best pizza she had ever had. I don't think I have to repeat that despite not loving the crust, this was one of the best meals of the entire trip! 

If you are ever in NYC I can't recommend Bistango Restaurant enough! I definitely plan on returning to this restaurant in the future! It was simply delicious!


Memorial Day Gratitude

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." 

-Cynthia Ozick-

Several years ago, as I prepared to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday I realized that I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't know the history behind the particular day. So I decided to look it up and learn about it. As many of you know, Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday that is intended to honor the Americans who have protected our country throughout generations. Memorial Day started as a way to remember those who had died in the Civil War. At this time it was called "Decoration Day, and was first strted in Carbondale, Illinois in 1866. Over the decades celebrations spread to different towns and cities across the United States, and eventually in 1971 it became a formal national holiday. 

If you visit a grave site, you may see people placing coins on top of a grave. Each coin symbolizes a different thing. Pennies mean that you stopped by the grave site, dimes symbolize serving with the deceased and quarters mean that you witnessed the deceased death.

Having lived in different parts of the country, it is interesting to me how different areas celebrate this holiday. For example, when I lived in DC there was always a service held at Arlington Cemetery and always different concert options, while in NYC there are parades. Texas, Alabama, and Virginia also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day which honors Confederate soldiers. Different sections of the country offer all different ways to celebrate and last week I shared about different Memorial Day activities offered around the Lake Champlain area. No matter what you do to celebrate on Memorial Day don't forget to stop at 3pm to remember the deceased. Under an act signed by President Clinton in 2000, Americans are supposed to stop and remember the deceased at that time. 

I am so grateful to live in a country that takes time to honor the men and women who have served and our serving our country and their families. To all of our veterans and active military members and their families and loved ones: I am forever grateful for your service and sacrifice today and everyday. May you experience the gratitude our nation feels on this Memorial Day and beyond.


Memorial Day Fashion Inspiration

Since I was a little girl I have always loved fashion, dressing up, and jewelry. I am truly a girly-girl at heart. Over the last couple of years though as my health declined fashion was often the last thing that was on my mind. Making it through each day - often in the comfiest clothes that I could find was an accomplishment. My body also went through incredible changes due to the nature of this fight (some of which I talked about here) and I was embarrassed to have to work through accepting that fashion was going to look a lot different on me than it used to and on the models that I see in all of the magazines (and even some blogs). But as time has continued, I have seen healing milestones happening on this journey, and I have come to respect and love my body in a whole new way for all that it has done in these past four years, I started dreaming about the joy of being a girl again and the fun of fashion. 

I pondered how to incorporate this on my blog and prayed about how this would fit with my blogs themes and decided that it would be fun to start doing a Friday Fashion post each week. Currently I don't routinely write on Fridays so this was a perfect fit into my blog schedule. If you are curious about my blog schedule it is simply: 

Mondays- I talk about Singleness/Relationships
Tuesdays- Travel
Wednesdays- Writing, Books or Personal Updates
Thursdays- Health Tips
Fridays- Fashion
Saturdays- Artistic Creations/Etsy Shop

While sometimes things morph a little bit this was a schedule that I came up with in the summer of 2015 and it has worked well for me and the blog. *smiles* So welcome to my first Friday Fashion Post! Today I am sharing some fun and pretty memorial day fashion inspiration! Can't wait to continue to explore the fun of beauty and fashion with y'all on Fridays!!
Caitlin (pictured above), from Southern Curls & Pearls is simply so cute in all of her outfits, but this July 4th outfit that she shared last summer was one of her cutest! (You can read her post HERE which will share all of the details of this outfit!)
I love the pop of gold with this outfit! It adds a fun and sparkling addition to this traditional color scheme!
I saw these fun and cute tanks on Etsy that would be cute with a pair of shorts or jeans for the weekend. I love that both of these would also be adorable for July 4th! 
These shorts are so cute and fun!

If you are looking for some fun and beautiful jewelry to compliment any outfit that you are planning to wear throughout the weekend and this summer - check out my Chloe & Isabel shop by clicking HERE! Throughout the weekend I am having a buy 2 get 1 free sale!! Check it out as this sale is amazing and is the perfect time to pick up beautiful pieces (that come with a life-time guarantee!!) for this memorial day and summer season!

I hope that y'all have a wonderful Friday and weekend remembering those who have lost their lives serving our country and the brave men and women who continue to give so much to our country and the world. Happy Friday y'all!


What's Up Wednesday (May Edition)

Happy Wednesday friends! I am excited to link up with MelShaeffer, and Shay for the "What's Up Wednesday" Link up! I have so enjoyed reading these ladies posts and am excited to join in! It is so fun to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this each month!

What We're Eating this Week... 
Raspberries. More Raspberries. And yes, more Raspberries. So basically, as y'all know I spend every single day working to improve my immune system through the food that I eat, drinking tons of water, and the supplements that I take. I truly believe that working on building my immune system is just as important as all of the treatment I do to kill the Lyme. And last week in my Thursday Health Thoughts I shared 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Red Raspberries. I am LOVING these little sweet berries and am eating them several times a day. Yum!

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
Speaking in Phoenix at the beginning of this month. It was truly an amazing and life-changing experience for me! I am also looking forward to how this trip has opened up some new speaking engagements and I look forward to sharing that more with y'all in the upcoming weeks. (If you are ever interested in having me speak at an event, bible study, class, etc. you can find out more about what I speak on at my personal website by clicking HERE!) 

What I'm Loving... 
We are moving down to camp for the summer!! Words can't express how excited that I am to welcome the summer officially as we move this weekend! Are you in the Lake Champlain area and looking for Memorial Day activities to do? Yesterday in my Tuesday Travel posts I shared about some memorial day activities happening along the lake in New York and Vermont! You can check it out HERE!

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this week we received amazing and beautiful news. Here is what I shared on Monday evening: "Seven years ago my health started to disintegrate with "no explanation". Over the years I started to dread blood work as lots of things started to go from bad to worse, and continued to show "one more issue" after another as I was finally and accurately diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease, Cancer and many other health issues. After years of searching for answers, years of slow and steady treatment with my fragile body, and lots of encouragement and prayers we have joyful news!! About 10 months ago my blood work started to slightly and slowly improve. About 5 months ago it started to stabilize. And then today... finally today ...we received the beautiful gift of for the first time in SEVEN years one very important area of my bloodwork is completely NORMAL!! We are crying very happy tears, thanking and praising the Lord for this beautiful news of moving closer to healing, and grateful for this beautiful encouragement as I continue to move forward in treatment. Thank you for your continued prayers friends for this entire journey! Truly they are being answered in small and big ways!!"

What I'm Dreading... 
Let's be honest... even with the amazing news I am still dreading getting a port in two weeks from today. I would welcome any encouragement that anyone has heard or experienced? Thanks friends! I appreciate your prayers for all of this! Would you also continue to pray that all of the finances come in for this trip? People have generously donated to my "go fund me page" but this trip is very very expensive and we are still praying for all of the funds to come in for it! Thank you so much friends. If you are interested in donating you can click HERE

What I'm Working on... 
Lots and lots of orders from the shop that I was so blessed to receive! The shop is closed now until the first week of July but I can't wait to share some exciting surprises that I will be debuting at that time! I can't wait to share with y'all!!

What I'm Excited About... 
As I shared last month, I am so honored, excited, and humbled to announce that my newest book, Path of Hope, was released!! You can purchase it where books are sold or on Amazon (also available in Kindle form) and you can click HERE to purchase it! I have been overwhelmed by the response that this book has received. The sweet emails, the amazing encouragement, and the way that it has been changing peoples lives is overwhelming to me. Thank you so much to each person who has contacted me, written a review, shared on social media, etc. about this book!

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
Tessa Afshar's books are always poignantly written, amazingly researched, and beautifully engaging and leads me back to scripture. She is one of the most talented writers I have ever read. Her books are truly some of my absolute favorites and I recommend them to everyone I know, but this book... Land of Silence... was destined to touch me in a very personal way. Telling the story of the woman who bled for twelve years and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus's cloak, this book had me in tears, encouraged my weary heart, and gave encouragement for this own land of silence that I am walking. I plan to do a complete review on the book, but in the meantime you can find out more about it HERE

One of my favorite quotes from the book is from page 96 when she writes, "Our forefathers had many dangers to contend with... on either side of them rose a wall of water like none they had ever witnessed. The wind raged, the sea churned threateningly, like a lion ready to fall on its prey. The army of Pharaoh sat on the edge of the land intending to pursue them. How easy it would have been for our people, through every step of that perilous passage to set their eyes on these dangers. How easy to give in to fears and discouragement. These are the rushing waters of our lives, surrounding us like a churning wall on every side. They are the army of our Pharaoh. But instead of growing distracted and fearful, we can choose to set our eyes on the path that the Lord opens for us. One step at a time, we can go forward, and learn to be faithful in suffering."

What I'm Listening to... 
I shared this several months ago but if you haven't had the chance to listen to this beautiful song, "Jesus I am resting" yet, take the three minutes and do it right now. I promise you will be incredibly blessed! (Want to find out more about the Wissmann Family and check out more of their music? You can find their website HERE!)

What I'm Wearing... 
Let's be real... I have been in comfy comfy clothes most of the last few weeks as I haven't felt that great but I am definitely dreaming of spring clothes! 

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
We will be at camp! Can not wait!

I would love to know your answers to these questions friends! Share your thoughts below in the comments!! *smiles* Happy Wednesday!


Memorial Day Activities on Lake Champlain

Happy Tuesday y'all! Last year I shared my suggestions for Summer things to do on Lake Champlain and also Fall Activities on Lake Champlain and with Memorial Day quickly approaching this weekend I wanted to share some of my favorite activities to do in this area on this weekend. Since this area is steeped in history, there are truly so many wonderful activities that can be experienced to celebrate the true meaning of this holiday weekend and also many exciting activities to "kick off" the early summer season! Enjoy y'all!
A Salute to the Service of the Armed Forces at Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga (steeped in History) has many events that take place throughout the entire weekend, but May 30th has an entire day dedicated to salute the service of the armed forces of the United States. Starting at 9:30am and continuing throughout the afternoon there are activities all throughout the day. You can read the entire schedule HERE. There is a cost for admission, but children under 4 are free.

Crown Point Memorial Day Celebration
Similar to Fort Ticonderoga, Crown Point is having a full weekend of activities, including an event to honor Vietnam Veterans on Sunday, May 29th. There is an entire list of activities that are being offered (many of them for free) that you can find out about HERE

Attend a Parade
There are numerous parades that are taking place in the many towns and cities of Lake Champlain. You can find a listing of all of the Vermont Memorial Day parades by clicking HERE! The largest parade in Vermont, which takes places in Vergennes, begins at 11am. You can find out more details on this specific parade by clicking HERE.

Take the Family to the Farmers Market
Numerous Farmers Markets open up this weekend and there is no shortage of the different types and places that you could attend. Type in "farmers market" and your town and find out the times and places. Interested in attending the Burlington Farmers Market? You can find out more information HERE!

Great Adirondack Garage Sale
Every day throughout the weekend there will be the Great Adirondack Garage Sale held along a 200-mile "trail". If you are looking for a great bargain you won't want to miss this exciting event! You can find out more on their website by clicking HERE!

3rd Annual Lake Placid Wedding Show (in partnership with the knot!)
Getting married? You will want to attend the 3rd annual Lake Placid Wedding Show held at Whiteface Lodge on Sunday, May 29th. This wedding show is in partnership with the knot and will feature tons of vendors from the area, boasts amazing prizes, and special activities just for the happy couple. The entrance fee is only $5 and more information can be found HERE!

Run in, Volunteer, or Cheer on the Participants of the Vermont City Marathon & Relay
There are several runs that are taking place around Lake Champlain, but the Vermont City Marathon and Relay takes place in downtown Burlington this Sunday. Stop on by, participate, or volunteer in this exciting event! (Interested in finding out about other running events that take place in Vermont? Check out the "Run Vermont" website to find out about lots of other events coming up in the future! 

There are so many different things to do on Lake Champlain on Memorial Day Weekend! What are your favorites?


10 Amazing Benefits of Red Raspberries

I have always loved raspberries since I was a young girl, but didn't know all of the amazing health benefits of consuming them until I did additional research. Y'all I am so amazed at the health benefits that come with consuming raspberries and hope that it will inspire you to add this to your daily life! So what are all of the health benefits that raspberries have? 
Check out these 10 amazing benefits:

1. Eating Red Raspberries may prevent Cancer by inhibiting the abnormal division of cells and promoting the normal death of healthy cells. New Research that has been performed at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina has revealed that the human body readily will absorb the ellagic acid that is found in red raspberries. This specific acid has been clinically show to cause cell death in certain Cancer cells.

2. Eating Red Raspberries helps to maintain eye health. Consuming raspberries helps improve vision and helps the eye and retina be protected from infections and other eye issues. 

3. Consuming Red Raspberries may help to improve fertility. An article in Medical Daily claims that the magnesium and the Vitamin C that is found in raspberries may help improve fertility in both men and women. One theory states that the antioxidants that is found in red raspberries helps to reduce the risk of miscarriage, promote conception, and protect sperm health.

4. Eating Red Raspberries helps maintain cardiovascular health. The amount of potassium that is found in red raspberries helps to regulate heart beat and blood pressure. Raspberries are also high in minerals such as manganese, copper, and iron which helps the production of red blood cells which helps keep our hearts happy.

5. Eating Red Raspberries helps fight obesity and helps with weight loss. Red Raspberries have a very high fiber content and are low on the glycemic index which helps our bodies feel full longer after consuming them. 

6. Consuming Red Raspberries helps prevent memory loss. Eating red raspberries can help prevent brain damage and also memory loss. One study found that the higher intake of raspberries helps to prevent and reduce cognitive decline. 

7. Eating Red Raspberries helps boost the immune system. Red raspberries are filled with strong antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Quercetin, and Gallic Acid, all which help boost and strengthen the immune system.

8. Eating Red Raspberries may help to lower inflammatory conditions and pain. Raspberries have been shown to inhibit the production of COX-I and COX-II enzymes. Anti-inflammatory products such as asprin and ibuprofen also help inhibit COX-I and COX-II resulting in the reduction of pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

9. Consuming Red Raspberries helps build healthy blood vessels and connective tissues. Vitamin C is a necessary component in helping the growth and repair of cells in the body. Consuming Red Raspberries helps the body build healthy blood vessels and connective tissues.

10. Eating Red Raspberries helps women. Red Raspberries (especially raspberry leaf) is found to be effective in helping decrease menstrual cramps, reducing pain during childbirth, and helping nausea. Raspberry leaf helps to reduce pain by tightening and strengthening the pelvic muscles that experience cramping during a woman's menstrual cycle. It has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of Cervical Cancer by helping prevent Cancerous growth.

I love consuming raspberries by themselves or adding them to my daily morning smoothie. Do you eat raspberries? Have you found any health benefits to consuming raspberries?

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}


Celebrating Dreams Coming True

Do you have friends who are simply amazing? I have been beyond blessed in this department. One of my dearest friends, Katie, from Always Katie, has been a true friend for years. She has walked head on into my suffering with me, she consistently encourages my heart, faithfully prays and prays and prays (not only for me but for my future hubby & kiddos), and has lovingly and tenderly and uniquely welcomed me into her family. She has not only sent thousands of text messages and facebook messages just to help me smile on very painful days, but willingly and lovingly shares her heart and her story. She welcomes people in whole-heartedly and shares her beautiful heart. Being in Katie's presence is a beautiful reminder of what Christ-like community centered on grace looks like. She is amazing and her story of trusting Jesus with big dreams has consistently inspired me. If you don't know her beautiful and heart-wrenching story through infertility I can't encourage you enough to go and read it. You can find it HERE

Two weeks ago while I was in Arizona another one of Katie's dreams came true and she became a Huff Post Author!! Some of you may have seen me share this on other sites, but if you haven't had a chance to read her article on being your children's friend you must check it out HERE!! 

Congrats Katie- you are AMAZING!! Thank you for sharing your life and the beautiful love of Christ with so many of us, myself included every single day.


Wildflower Loop Trail, Desert Botanical Garden, Arizona

When I was in Arizona two weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to visit the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden. I had been to the Desert Botanical Garden when I was a young child and was anxious to go back. Due to my limited energy levels I only went around the Wildflower Loop Trail and it was gorgeous. 
The Desert Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located in Phoenix and has been designated as a "Phoenix Point of Pride". 
The Desert Botanical Garden was founded by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora society in 1937. Two years later it was established and the garden now has more than 21,000 different plants. Over 1/3 of these plants are native to the area, including 139 plants that are considered to be rare, threatened or endangered.
There are plants that do come from other desert conditions (or plants that can adapt to desert conditions) from around the world including some from Australia and South America.
There are 5 unique trails in the Desert Botanical Garden and as I mentioned I chose to visit the Wildflower Loop Trail. This trail is the perfect "fit" for those who want to see the Desert Botanical Garden but might not have a lot of energy to explore the whole site. The wildflower loop trail is close to the entrance and does offer a couple of shady areas to stand in and has a place to sit.
The Desert Wildflower Loop trail highlights the wildflowers of North American deserts. I had read that at different times of the year there are not many flowers, but going at the beginning of May was the perfect time to visit. There were tons of flowers that were in bloom and the place was simply gorgeous. I also have to mention that going in the middle of the week (I visited on a Thursday morning) had very few people and crowds. This is definitely a wonderful time to visit!
For me personally the time spent at the garden was absolutely priceless. The Wildflower Loop Trail stands as a beautiful reminder that even in the desert times of our lives beauty can grow. If you get a chance to visit I can't recommend enough taking the time to see this beautiful site! You will definitely not regret it!