Clean Eating Update + My Theory About Antibiotics

Clean Eating Update + My Theory About Antibiotics - tifforelie

So! The last few days have been really good. Motivation is staying up! I made a few tweaks to my original clean eating “YES” list and am now including rice, wine and coffee (limited amounts). I’m debating about clear liquor, but I’ll let you know where I land! Obviously, any kind of alcohol should be consumed in moderation and my true focus is staying hydrated, PLUS I’m excluding added sweeteners which means cocktails are out, so we’ll see!

I got the Garden of Life RAW 100 Billion Probiotic and Ora Organic Turmeric Curcumin Tablets with Black Pepper, and have been taking them for 3 days now. So far so good, but it hasn’t been long enough to document any real results. I DID notice that the turmeric tablets seem to be effective for pain relief. I’m staying on them to make sure this isn’t just a placebo effect, but I’m pleasantly surprised.

New Recipe! Vegan Cheese Sauce (PERFECT on pasta…specifically, Jovial Foods Organic Gluten Free Traditional Egg Pasta. (This pasta is life and you NEED to try it.)

I’ve been OBSESSED with this recipe I discovered on Divine Munchies’ YouTube channel. It’s SO cheesy, I don’t think I’d believe it was dairy-free if I hadn’t made it myself.

-1/2 cup whole, organic cashews (soak them in filtered water for 8 hours–this makes the sauce SUPER creamy)
-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
-1 tbsp tapioca flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp cayenne pepper (this results in a pretty spicy sauce, which I LOVE, but if you’re not into that, reduce this amount or skip it entirely)
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 1/2 cups filtered water

Add everything to a blender (I’m IN LOVE with my NutriBullet for this), and pulse until liquified.

Place a saucepan over medium heat, and when it’s warmed up, pour the cheese sauce in and simmer/stir for a solid 5 minutes until the sauce gets thick and creamy.

You can use this stuff for anything: a dip, gluten-free mac + cheese, over baked veggie-chip “nachos”, etc.! If you try this, PLEASE let me know how you used it and how you like it!

My Antibiotics Theory

In reading through all of the wonderful, encouraging, SUPER helpful comments on my last post, I came across one that mentioned her IBS symptoms coming on after a serious round of antibiotics. My jaw dropped. I immediately thought back to when I was 19 and first started experiencing these excruciating stomach pains. It was springtime, and the previous winter I had been babysitting for 2-year-old twins who had been sick A LOT. I had 3 ear infections that winter and went on antibiotics 3 separate times back to back. I had no idea an antibiotic could have possibly been the cause of my stomach pain, which is why it took me so long to figure out that my gut was sick and I could heal it with clean foods. The doctors all said it was just hormonal and kept pushing birth control pills, NOBODY told me antibiotics could have been the culprit, none of them told me to change my diet or take a probiotic, so eventually I did the elimination and experienced relief for the first time in 8 years.

Two plus years of clean eating with no more stomach pains brought me to where I was a little over a year ago. I had been slowly re-introducing different foods, and felt great! I thought I had healed myself entirely! Then the pain started coming back. I assumed it was because the foods I’d been adding eventually caught up with me, but guys. I didn’t put this all together until I read that comment on my last post, but about 5 months ago I did a round of Cipro to treat a UTI. Cipro is a powerful antibiotic that knocks out infections REALLY quickly. I thought nothing of it. But that’s when the cramps started getting really bad.

I’m feeling a lot of things right now. I’m RELIEVED to know what I know at this point and will avoid antibiotics whenever possible, and REPLENISH my gut with tons of healthy bacteria directly after a round of antibiotics if I really need them, but I’m also kind of mad that I was never told by a doctor that an antibiotic could destroy my system (and my LIFE) if I didn’t follow up with strong probiotics and a super clean diet. Eating clean is important for SO many reasons, but I hate that I thought for 12 years that my body needed it in order to not be keeled over in pain. I want to eat clean because it improves my sleep, reduces anxiety, ups my energy, clears my head, boosts my mood, makes me GLOW. I DON’T want to eat clean out of fear, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a really long time.

All that to say, I’m REALLY glad to have these RAW 100 Billion probiotics in my fridge right now and I look forward to healing with clean foods, fearlessly this time. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with all of this. Have you gone through something similar? Did you notice IBS symptoms or other digestive issues kicking up after a round of antibiotics?

Thank you guys so much for following along and sharing your stories. I LOVE all the encouragement and support happening in the comments section of my last post! Please keep that up! It means the world!!!

More updates coming soon!!

Clean Eating Update + My Theory About Antibiotics - tifforelie

EATING CLEAN CAN ACTUALLY HEAL YOU | My Journey In Detail

EATING CLEAN CAN ACTUALLY HEAL YOU | My Journey In Detail

This is a big one. I posted on Instagram recently about the commitment I’ve made to do a total elimination diet. I’ll just paste my caption here cause I covered it all in that post:

Well guys, I haven’t written about this because I’ve been struggling to make the commitment myself, and I knew once I said something I’d have to REALLY commit. If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember I used to suffer from extreme stomach pains for years—from about age 19-27. I had all kinds of tests done and they never found anything…but in that time, the pain got so bad that I had to leave school (I was attending Nyack College on partial athletic and academic scholarships), and basically ended up confined to my house in debilitating pain for 2 weeks out of every month. The pain had affected my life so severely and I was so desperate, I spent hundreds of hours researching what could possibly be wrong with me. One day I found an article written by a man who described the same exact pain I had been having for 8 years, except he suffered it for 20. He talked about an extreme diet change, where he cut out basically everything processed and inflammatory. After 6 months of this diet, the pain went away entirely and he got his life back. That article inspired me so much that I immediately did the same. I was basically limited to organic fruits, veggies, lean meats and nuts and I drank only water. After 3 months, my pain was gone. That was when I started pursuing photography and sharing on Instagram, because I could finally leave my house. I ate that way for 2 years and my body completely healed itself. I eventually felt safe reintroducing certain foods, but after a year of that, the pain has returned. It’s gotten progressively worse over the last 6 months and I need to reset my eating again like I did the first time. I love food and good drinks so much, this is going to be HARD, but I wanted to share it with you because I know I can do it if I’m open about it! I’ll keep you guys updated on how it goes and share recipes I discover that make it easier to shift. This will be part of my reviving the blog too (finally haha)! Love you guys so much! Here’s to getting better!! 💛🌾 #cleaneating

So here I am! I’ve been committed for about 36 hours and my motivation is HIGH. Sharing my plan was really empowering, ESPECIALLY reading all the comments from people going through similar if not identical things regarding their health and diet. I’ll be sharing recipes and progress here on the blog because I really believe in documenting these kinds of journeys, whether it be in a private journal, videos, voice memos, artwork, or blogging. It’s really helpful to have a record of it all, and PERSONALLY, it keeps me super accountable. Accountability motivates me more than anything. So here’s what I’ve done so far…

Breakfast Smoothie (every morning!)

-1/2 frozen banana (I peel and freeze them in a sealed bag when they’re perfectly spotty and sweet)
-1/2 cup frozen strawberries and/or blueberries
-a handful of raw spinach
-a generous tablespoon of organic sunflower seed butter
-1 tbsp good unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 tsp cinnamon
-Lastly, I add about 1/2 cup of good unsweetened almond milk and then blend in a little more bit by bit to reach the consistency I like.

I blend everything in my NutriBullet, which is SUCH a crucial tool, as I’ll be making all of my own sauces, spreads, smoothies, flours, etc. at home.

Supplements

The comments on my Instagram post were SOOO helpful and a few people mentioned Turmeric capsules as an excellent natural pain killer and inflammation reducer, so I ordered a bottle of Ora Organic Turmeric Curcumin Tablets and I’ll let you guys know how I feel after I use them! The reviews were amazing, so I have high hopes!

I also want to get a really good probiotic. I’m in the research phase right now, but if you have any recommendations, PLEASE leave them in the comments below!!

Now for the TMI…

I didn’t go into the gory details of what my pain is like on Instagram, because that’s what the blog is for haha! If you’re squeamish about bathroom or female stuff, stop reading now! I’m sharing this here because the original article I found YEARS ago when I was going through this the first time (the one that gave me SO much hope) went into a LOT of gory detail, which was the only way I knew I was experiencing the same thing. So for anyone out there who might be experiencing the same thing, here goes…

My body goes through cycles of bloating. The cycles are obviously linked to my period. At the midpoint between periods I ovulate, and soon after that, my body swells up like a balloon until I start to menstruate. When I was 19, the bloating got so intense that I started experiencing extreme abdominal pain. At first I thought it was a reproductive issue because of the cycles, but I never experienced any relief from pain killers. The cramps weren’t anything like menstrual cramps, and my periods were always normal. Twenty eight day cycles, like clockwork, medium/heavy flow on the first 2 days, lighter and lighter until day 4-5 and then it ended. The cramps I would have during my period were only severe enough to take Advil for about 2 hours on the 2nd day. Besides that, it was a walk in the park. The abdominal cramping I experienced BEFORE my periods was another story.

The cramps would always come on about an hour after I ate something, and they were EXCRUCIATING. Relief would only come if I had a bowel movement or passed gas, which was VERY difficult. It was like everything was stuck. Once I was able to relieve the pressure in my intestines though, the pain would fade within minutes and I felt like a million bucks. Knowing what relieved me helped, but at my worst, I couldn’t even drink water without having a flareup. I’d have about a dozen “episodes” a day which kept me in bed, and kept me up all night. I’d be up every 2 hours keeled over on the toilet hoping and praying something would pass so I could go back to sleep. The pain was so intense, I’d get dizzy, sweaty and nauseous. The day I got my period, like magic, everything went back to normal. LITERALLY like magic. I had ultrasounds and CT scans done, and they always turned up clear. At that point, doctors started guessing. They wanted me to go on all kinds of hormone pills, which I NEVER felt comfortable about. If they couldn’t tell me what was actually wrong, I didn’t trust putting chemicals into my body just to guess.

I sunk into a major depression and my anxiety went through the roof. I was having panic attacks on a regular basis (sweating, nausea, heart pounding, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, hypochondria), and as the years passed, the number of days I experienced that kind of pain increased. In the beginning, it was just 1 or 2 days before my period and I wrote it off as normal PMS. But after 8 years, it had turned into 2 full weeks every month. The ENTIRE 2 weeks between ovulation and menstruation, prime bloating time.

That was when I found the article that guy wrote. I adopted his diet, and within 3 months I was pain free and bloating was a thing of the past. ALSO, my anxiety disappeared. I actually didn’t have a single panic attack for the entire 2-3 years I was eating clean. When I started reintroducing foods though, mild panic attacks kicked up again (and mild claustrophobia), VERY sporadically, but I knew it was diet-related. At this point, I’m having those awful cramps about 4-5 days out of the month. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but if I don’t make a change now, I know where it will go. Never again.

So I’m doing it! Not even 2 full days in, but I’m sticking with this. My health is too important to compromise for the sake of satisfying unhealthy cravings. And I KNOW the cravings disappear after a few weeks anyway.

Let’s do this together guys! If you want to! I’d love to hear your stories, whether you’re currently where I was (depressed, not knowing what’s wrong with you, hopeless), or if you’ve healed yourself with clean eating, or if you need to reset like me! I want to hear it all. The support we can offer each other makes a WORLD of difference.

EATING CLEAN CAN ACTUALLY HEAL YOU | My Journey In Detail

I’m also really excited to discover recipes that support this new lifestyle. Here are my basic guidelines (I’m not saying this is how YOU should eat, but this is what I know works for me!):

NO

Wheat/Gluten
Dairy
Fried Foods
Processed or Added Sugars
Processed Foods (containing chemical preservatives or additives)
High-Sodium Foods
Brown Liquor
Beer

YES

Water
Organic Fruits
Organic Vegetables
Lean Proteins (eggs, poultry, fish)
Organic Oils (Avocado, Grape Seed, Olive)
Roots (Ginger, Turmeric, etc.)
Organic Spices
Unsalted Nuts and Seeds
Coffee (in limited amounts)

I’d love to open up the comments for anything. Stories, venting, tips, recipes, etc.! More info. and new recipes coming from me soon!

36 Hours in Knoxville

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

My love for Tennessee is no secret. I visited Nashville for the first time 5 years ago and that was it — within a year I had rented a house and now this city is home. As far as the rest of the state, I’ve fallen in love with the sleepy, small, incredibly charming town of Lieper’s Fork with all it’s swimming holes, the cabin I escape to at least once a year in Cookeville (which is covered in golden leaves right now…a dream), the hidden gem cafes and restaurants of Chattanooga, and most recently, Knoxville.

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

I had the honor of partnering with Tennessee Tourism for a 2 day trip to Knox where I got to eat, explore, and attend Kelsea Ballerini’s hometown show in the gymnasium of her high school. It was so cool to be there for that on MULTIPLE levels…one being that Kelsea Ballerini’s bass player is my person’s brother! Yep. I’ve had a person for about 5 months now, aaand it’s pretty amazing. Hehehe ok anyhoo. More on that later. The concert. I loved that she played her old high school. I thought that was the sweetest thing. I saw all those kids crowding around the stage, SO excited to see this girl who sat in the same classrooms they sit in, who made a dream happen for herself and didn’t forget where she came from. It was truly inspiring and a LITTLE emotional for me.

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

As far as Knoxville’s restaurants and cafes, I definitely discovered a few favorites I would highly recommend. For breakfast, Tupelo Honey was great. I got the bacon, eggs and really good gluten free toast, and on a rainy day with some hot tea it was all perfect. For lunch, Wild Love Bakehouse was wonderful. It’s really an anytime cafe where you can set up and work, but the food options were great, AND they were featured as “Best Bakery in the USA” by AFAR! They had pastries, pizzas, an assortment of gluten free goodies (I got the peanut butter chocolate oat bar), and AMAZING coffee. For dinner, it was all about the sushi at Nama Sushi Bar. It was to die for. I’m sitting in my room in Nashville right now salivating just thinking about it.

For wandering, I couldn’t get over the main square! It was so pretty with benches and trees everywhere, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. So lovely during the day and perfect for a nighttime stroll.

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

The trip felt way too short. There was rest, music, exploring, good food, good drinks and I cannot wait to go back!

A little background on that main photo. It was pretty chilly that morning and I really wanted to get a shot of the Tennessee sign in front of the theater Before heading back to Nashville, but there were so many cars stopping and going in front of it and we were going to have to wait to get what I wanted. So in the meantime I told Nate to take a few test shots just so that we could play around with angles, and this was one of the first test shots. We were on that corner for about 10 minutes, teeth chattering, and when I looked through the tests I was like OK that’s a wrap! Then we scurried back to the Hilton and thawed out with hot cappuccinos in the lobby Starbucks. So cozy.

I’m so so glad we decided to get that shot because the Tennessee Theatre, which has been around since the 20’s, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places AND is honored as the Official State Theater of Tennessee! I love it. It started as a movie theater and now its a performing arts theater. They do everything. Dance, music, old movies, Broadway. So cool. I’d  really love to go back and experience one of the shows.

36 Hours in Knoxville - offbeat + inspired

My Nashville UBER Story

My UBER Story - tifforelie

About two weeks after Kappel’s accident, I left the house for the first time. Up to that point, I was trying to re-learn very basic things like eating and sleeping. Conversations were limited to the friends who so beautifully planted themselves by my side, and they got the full, raw, completely unedited flood of everything I was thinking and feeling as it came to me. When I was ready to leave the house, I remember Uber-ing because I couldn’t be alone just yet. Everything outside my front door was a memory attached to more memories. The corner a block away with telephone pole, dented because of a goofy u-turn Kappel took only a few weeks prior, the sushi place he took me to on our last date, the church on Thompson Lane I turned left at every time I went to his house. It all hurt.

I remember calling an Uber to Sam & Zoe’s, a favorite cafe. It was my first time going out alone, and I knew the route would take me through the intersection where the accident happened. I remember deciding early on not to avoid my regular spots. Avoidance would easily become a habit and that would have made staying in Nashville impossible.

I didn’t know how I’d feel riding past Eugenia Avenue and Sidco Drive, but I was happy to be with a stranger who had no idea what I’d been through. It meant I could be silent and feel what I needed to without questions. But as we approached, I was overwhelmed. I tried hard to hold it together, but I had to say something.

Me: Can I ask a personal question?
Driver: Yes.
Me: Have you ever lost someone?

I needed to connect. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.

Driver: Yes. My brother died in a motorcycle accident last year. We were best friends.

He told me the story of the tattoo on his arm and how he got it right after his brother’s accident. It had the date of his death and a quote from their childhood.

Me: I lost someone a few weeks ago. This is the intersection where it happened.

He told me it would get better. We got to Sam & Zoe’s, he turned around and shook my hand. It meant the world to me and my heart rested.

My Nashville UBER Story - tifforelie

Over the next few months, I prompted the same conversation with every one of my Uber drivers. “Can I ask a personal question?” and then, “Have you ever lost someone?” And every one of them shared. They all opened up, and they all wanted to hear my story too. I felt so cared for by these sweet strangers and it helped heal me.

About a month ago, Uber reached out and asked me to be a part of a video project they were doing that focused on driver stories. Obviously, I said yes and told them about the love I had for my drivers and how instrumental they were in the beginning phases of my grieving process. We couldn’t believe what a perfect fit this partnership was. I was going to adventure around Nashville with a local who had been driving for a few years and learn all about them. It’s AMAZING how the company is diving into the lives of these precious people. They aren’t just drivers, they’re stunning humans with stories worth hearing.

So I met the Uber team and Jim (my driver) downtown a couple months ago. Jim was great! He was hilarious, so kind, and lives in Nashville as a musician. We shot video of our ride through the city and talked about our favorite spots and what it’s like living here as a creative. It’s really inspiring to meet someone for the first time and have nearly identical stories about the positive impact Nashville has had our lives. We also had a few of the same favorite haunts like Frothy Monkey, Village Pub, 3 Crow, and I got to share a few of mine he hadn’t visited yet!

My Nashville UBER Story - tifforelie

Village Pub! Mule Monday is our favorite.

 

My Nashville UBER Story - tifforelie

Fort Louise right next door to Village Pub!

 

My Nashville UBER Story - tifforelie

Killebrew Coffee in the lobby at the Thompson Hotel downtown!

 

My Nashville UBER Story - tifforelie

Cafe Roze in East Nashville!

 

Anyway, here’s the video we shot!

I hope you guys love it, I hope it inspires your own stories, and I hope it opens up some amazing conversations with YOUR drivers. This is everything I’ve been learning in a nutshell. There is so much more to every one of us if we’ll be courageous enough to let each other see it, or if we’ll be courageous enough to ask.

P.S. There’s a new feature on the Uber app I was excited to find out about called “Saved Places” which is really cool because you can basically make a little city guide for yourself and save it so you don’t have to look up your regular destinations every time you Uber. SO easy, and a feature I’ll totally be using.

The Best Brunch Menu EVER | A Video With Nikki Phillippi!!

GUYS! I’m so excited to share this with you. My amazing, wonderful friend (and incredible YouTuber) Nikki came to Nashville a couple weeks ago and we spent an afternoon creating and filming three KILLER brunch recipes together. They kill because, A) they’re SO simple and use SO few ingredients, B) they seem MUCH fancier than they actually are! and C) they’re ACTUALLY DELICIOUS. I won’t waste ANY more of your time because you need to just watch and get eating. So here’s the video, and the detailed recipes are below!!

The Menu
All of which have been featured on my Instagram stories numerous times.

Stovetop Kale + Eggs
Peach Galette
Oeufs en Cocotte

Stovetop Kale + Eggs
Serves 4

1 sweet onion, sliced or chopped (your preference)
4 handfuls of chopped kale
6-8 large eggs
butter (or olive oil) for the pan
salt + pepper to taste

Heat butter or olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium.

Add onions to the pan and cook until they’re translucent.

Add kale and toss with salt + pepper until the kale cooks down by half.

Crack the eggs over the kale, season with a little more salt + pepper, cover the pan and steam until the yolks form a white film. Continue to steam past this point if you like your yolks more well done!

Serve and enjoy!

//

Peach Galette
Serves 4-6

The Crust

Make your dough ahead of time because it needs to chill for 2 hours!

I absolutely love this recipe on Serious Eats and have not deviated from it at ALL. So do yourself a huge favor and just bookmark this page for all future pie-making endeavors.

I use half of that recipe to make 1 peach galette! If you want, make the full recipe and save half the dough for another night! It keeps really well in the fridge!

The Filling

2 large, ripe yellow peaches, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
about 2 tbsp coarse turbinado sugar

When the dough is done chilling, preheat your oven to roll it out into a rough 14-inch circle on a floured surface. And remember, the circle can be ROUGH. That’s the whole point of a galette! Imperfect is better! Once the dough is rolled out, transfer it to a piece of parchment paper.

Arrange the fruit in the center of the dough however you want, keeping a 3 inch border around the edges. My favorite is layering the slices pinwheel-style. If you do it that way, start from the outside in!

Once your fruit is arranged, sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top. It will look like too much sugar, but don’t worry! It will cook down beautifully!

Fold the edges of the dough over the sides of the fruit and brush generously with your beaten egg to seal the crust. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the crust and move the parchment paper with your galette to a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden!

Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving with vanilla bean ice cream or homemade whipped cream!

//

Oeufs en Cocotte
Serves 4

12 baby bella mushrooms, minced
4 shallots, minced
1/4 cup salted butter, European style
1 cup of heavy cream (or more if you want a thinner gravy)
salt + pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1 baguette, sliced and toasted (optional, to serve on the side for dipping!)

Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.

While the pot of water is on, melt about 1/4 cup of butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add shallots and mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the onions are soft, then add heavy cream until the mushrooms and shallots are covered.

Add salt and pepper, and simmer until the cream thickens.

Divide the gravy evenly among 4 ramekins, and crack 1 egg into each.

Carefully place the ramekins into the pot of simmering water, cover and steam until the yolks form a white film. You can cook longer than this if you want your yolks more well done!

Uncover the pot and remove ramekins with a pair of tongs.

Serve with toasted baguette slices or biscuits!

PLEASE let me know what you think of these recipes and the video in the comments! And let me know if you’d like us to do more of these! ALSO, here’s a link to the last video I did with Nikki where I talked about grief, healing and hope!

Follow me on Insta @tifforelie for live stories and regular photography/wanderings/musings!

CMA Music Festival with DSW!

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

I had so much fun last weekend partnering with DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at CMA Music Festival! It was my first CMA Fest experience and I really loved it. It was surreal wandering downtown, streets closed off, full of booths, tents, stages, food trucks. I’ve never seen Nashville like that. REALLY cool.

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

So DSW has basically been on a cross-country road trip for their #MarchOn campaign, setting up this amazing little pop-up shop at festivals and events across the US.

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

I’m so glad they came through Nashville. Exploring with one of the sweet gals from their team was so much fun. We stopped at a few of the stages and bars lining Broadway, checked out DSW’s mini pop-up where customers got to make custom bracelets for free, and eventually wandered out to the pedestrian bridge where we had an amazing view of the big stage with a HUGE crowd right on the Cumberland River. I loved the boats sneaking up on the show. Hilarious, amazing, magical.

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

I got to snag a few pairs of shoes from the collection for my summer adventures. The favorites: Adidas Neo Courtset Sneakers

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

…and Lucky Brand’s Larise Bootie in Black! Love love love.

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

Guys. This just makes me so excited for summer! Where will you be adventuring this season?!

Check out my posts from the festival on Instagram here and here. AND follow the rest of DSW’s US tour on Instagram here!

CMA Music Festival with DSW! - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Happy 2017! Can’t believe it came this fast. So much has happened in the last year. I’ll devote another post to a full update on all of that, but for this one I want to share about one of the last significantly healing things I did in 2016. I got to work with Sionnie and Celebrity Cruises again. And this time, we went to the Caribbean!

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

I didn’t blog about my first cruise with Celebrity (which was also my first cruise ever). The one where my dear friend Sionnie and I went to Europe only 2 weeks after the accident. As you can imagine, that trip was extremely difficult, and profoundly beautiful. The Celebrity team graciously gave me the option of backing out of the contract I had originally signed with Kappel, but Sionnie said she would come with me and we decided that completing the job would be the best way to begin my own healing journey, and honor the dream Kappel and I had of going to Europe to tell an adventure story we believed in. (You can see the video we made here.)

Fast forward 6 months to Sionnie and I boarding a Celebrity ship again. Location: Cartagena, Colombia.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

By now, I’m used to the fact that the Celebrity team consists of absolute angels. They feel like old friends the second you meet them. So we had a built in family for our second ocean journey, this time aboard Equinox.

It was so strange that the last time I was on a ship like that, I was right in the middle of the hardest thing I’ve ever walked through in my life. It was pretty amazing to be in that place again, this time with 6 months of healing behind me. It was beautiful to have Sionnie there, to “check in” and talk about all that had changed. So many wonderful things. I felt like a different person. I had access to so many brand new treasures…deeper joy, rest, freedom, hope. They had become daily realities instead of hazy anticipations. It was such an affirming realization.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Colombia was marvelous. It was like a cross between the colorful plaster buildings of Tulum and the flowery overgrown balconies of New Orleans. Absolutely stunning. And then we set sail for Panama!

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Ship life is lovely. Even though this was only my 2nd cruise ever, we’d developed a few routines. A morning cortado and a gluten free coconut macaron at Cafe al Bacio, a reading/napping session in the actual grass (for real, there’s grass) outside The Lawn Club on the upper deck, lunch at Oceanview Cafe, hammock lounging by the Solarium Pool, dinner at one of the many AMAZING fine dining eateries on board, with menus expertly crafted by my friend and extraordinarily talented Chef Cornelius Gallagher (Luminae, Tuscan Grille, Sushi on Five, Blu and Murano to name a few…), and FINALLY, our favorite part…dancing and karaoke-ing at Sky Lounge, Martini Bar or Quasar. We live for the dance parties.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Panama was bustling. We ported in Colón and wandered for a few hours in the heat. I loved it. There was so much going on! The marketplace was absolutely packed. Street after street full of carts, bins, spices, vegetables, buying, selling, so much noise, an organized chaos of culture that I wanted to marinate in and just LEARN. Every few steps there were locals warning us to hide our cameras, and I tried. But I had to snag a few shots.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Next was Costa Rica. We took a bus to the rainforest…and we zip lined. THAT was pure magic. In the misty treetops gliding over a lush bed of green, imagining getting sneezed on by a Brachiosaurus (ya feel me?). Oh, and I saw a sloth up close. I’d text Kristin Bell if I had her number.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

Last was Cozumel. Mexico is so near and dear to my heart, I enjoyed every minute I got to stare at that wild sunset kissing the ocean.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

The end of our adventure was bittersweet. We drove up to Cancun, said goodbye to all our new friends and flew home.

The idea of cruising had always been sort of lost on me. I love exploring too much to be “stuck inside a resort” for an entire trip. But that’s not what Celebrity is about. They want you to explore. They’re passionate about it. They want to give you a place to rest and unpack your things so you can see that great big world AND have a spot to come home to while you do it. I love that. They take really great care of everyone that sets foot on their ships. They took care of me while I was going through the hardest season of my life and I hope we continue to work together as this journey unfolds.

Sailing with Celebrity | Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica + Mexico - offbeat + inspired

If anyone is interested in a trip like this one, Equinox is now doing the Caribbean year-round for an “Endless Summer”. They have sailings departing from both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale!

This post was sponsored by Celebrity Cruises, but all stories and opinions shared are 100% my own!

Our Last Adventure | Hawaii

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

I’ve discovered a lot over the last few weeks. I’ve discovered how beautiful the people in my life really are. How precious what I had with Kappel actually was, and how my heart has come to process those things as time slowly passes. I say “discovered” because when blurry images become sharp, it feels like you’re seeing them for the first time. I knew we went on a disproportionate amount of adventures. I knew the things he loved to do complemented the things I loved to do, and that our hearts wanted to move through life in the same direction. But the details that filled in the space of our relationship sometimes flowed beneath the radar. They came naturally, and now that I have distance from him I’m able to notice them in a way I couldn’t before. Details like how much we changed and inspired each other. How I finally learned to ride a motorcycle because he pushed me to tackle that dream. How we both geeked out over Playmobils and woke up the little kids in each other. How he fell in love with food because I loved it so much. We learned so many new things about ourselves because of each other. I have to collapse under that truth sometimes and just cry. We let ourselves be seen, and be changed for the better by each other. I think that’s the most beautiful thing we ever accomplished.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Our last big trip was to Hawaii with Bon Appétit and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. It was a food-focused journey that led us across the four islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and The Big Island. We tasted all the things, and loved it. I would normally write about an experience like that from my own perspective. I would talk about what I loved in each place, what the tastes were like, what spots I would recommend based on my own preferences…but I don’t want to do that here. I want to talk about what Kappel loved. I want to share what it was like to watch him light up over bruschetta at The Pig & The Lady on Oahu. I want to talk about his favorites, the places he would have told you to go, because my heart exploded every time he got excited about food. I knew it was something we loved together…and was a part of him that came alive a little more when he was with me.

So here’s how Kappel tasted Hawaii, and another batch of reasons I love him so much.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

OAHU

Kappel loved the shrimp trucks. We drove aimlessly one afternoon and ended up on the north shore at Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck where we holed up under a big umbrella at a picnic table while a storm blew in. He got the garlic butter shrimp over white rice with a side of vegetables. I got the lemon shrimp. He tasted both and definitely preferred the garlic (so did I).

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

We visited the Hawaiian Shochu Company to learn about (and taste) Japan’s favorite drink next to sake. It was a private tour with the sweet owner, and Kappel couldn’t get enough of his stories. Usually, he would film while I talked to people. But he loved the conversation so much that I took over camera duty. I loved watching him be free while getting to know people, absorbing what they were passionate about and celebrating it with them. At the end of the tour, we did a tasting. Shochu is a rice-based spirit with sweet potato, fermented with Koji-kin, a mold used to break down the starches in the rice and potato. The flavors came through beautifully, and we departed with 2 bottles. We had no room left in our bags, but Kappel was determined to get them home and he made it happen. My bottle is unopened, on the counter in my kitchen. I’ll keep it there.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

KAUAI

Koloa Rum Company was a lot of fun. We went for a tasting, learned a lot about rum, and Kappel insisted that we buy the Mai-Tai mix and a bottle of coffee rum. From there, we drove out to the canyon and stopped along the way for a coffee rum picnic. He loved that moment. We sat on the edge while the fog rolled out, sipped and took pictures.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

We went on an official Kauai food tour and got to stop at Wailua Shave Ice. It was a beachy, cherry red, happy little trailer and Kappel got the Stumptown Coffee flavor. I got a fruity one, he tasted both, preferred the Stumptown. We were both really impressed by how refreshing the shave ice was.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

MAUI

O’o Farm was incredible. It’s a full farm to table experience. It starts with a tour. You eat from the trees and pick your own salad, then you make your way to the dining area where the chef gives a menu intro, then you make friends while everything comes to life. Finally, you eat on a beautiful hillside at a big family table. With our full plates in front of us, new friends next to us, and a sweet breeze blowing, we looked at each other and said, “What is our life??” Beautiful.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

The Mai Tais at Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (say it 5x fast) spoiled us both. We spent an evening at the bar, tasting what became our favorite beverage of the entire trip. Kappel loved that they weren’t too sweet, and that the fruit flavors were so fresh. We agreed they were the best, and would recommend them across the boards.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

ISLAND OF HAWAII

On our last day, we met at Daylight Mind Coffee Company for breakfast before heading out for a day of shooting with Mark and Soni from Moon & Turtle and the HVCB team. Kappel loved the food at Daylight Mind. We had dinner at one of their other locations earlier on in the trip, and that was a great experience too. I ordered the Avocado Toast that morning and he had the Eggs Benedict. He LOVED Eggs Benedict, so was pretty picky and Daylight Mind nailed it.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Later that day, we visited Hirabara Farm where Mark cooked for all of us in the outdoor kitchen right next to the farm. Then we ate together right on the farm. We made some beautiful friends that day and it was the highlight of our entire trip. Kappel loved connecting with the owners, Pam and Kurt. He wanted to go back. We walked away feeling like they were family, and talked about making plans to visit again. When Kappel fell in love with people, I fell in love with him more. It wasn’t just about the food that day, which was incredible (Mark is an insanely talented chef). It was walking into a situation as strangers and walking away with bonds that led Soni to send me a box full of Hawaiian treats and a beautifully comforting letter when she found out about the accident.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Kappel was changed by our Hawaii trip and so was I. We checked a lot of items off our bucket list, and added a lot of new ones. Our desire to travel and gather with people over food for the purpose of going deeper, loving better and connecting in a more true way grew tremendously. That’s a big part of the journey we were on, both professionally and in our relationship. That journey continues for me and I will honor it. Our hearts intertwined there. We loved people, food, and the process of overcoming fear so that we could venture into beautiful places like this and experience the hearts and souls of precious human beings. It opened up the doors to so much life, and I will keep after that. And find healing in it.

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Outside the Hawaiian Shochu Company

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Mark and Soni preparing our dinner at Hirabara Farm

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

The Pig & The Lady, Oahu

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

The winding road to Waimea Canyon

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Hirabara Farm

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Next to Wailua Shave Ice

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i - offbeat + inspired

Full plates at Oo Farm

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i -  offbeat + inspired

Me and my love, shot by Meghan Kay Sadler for 12th Table

Our Last Adventure | Hawai'i -  offbeat + inspired

My favorite picture of us, shot by Meghan Kay Sadler for 12th Table

 

 

I love you, Kappel

I love you, Kappel - offbeat + inspired

It’s been 12 days since Kappel’s motorcycle accident. These last 2 weeks have been the hardest of my life. There’s so much to feel, so much to process, so much longing and missing, confusion, sorrow, absolute devastation. But there has been comfort too. Sweet, beautiful friends and family have been with me each day, taking care of me, reminding me to eat, making sure I’m comfortable…and really I couldn’t ask for anything more given what I have to go through right now.

I was texting Kappel’s sister, Lily this morning. We’ve been texting each other a lot with updates on how we’re doing. This morning it was about denial and anger. Feeling everything in order, and figuring out what to do next. How to walk through this in a healthy way. It’s really hard. I feel angry, but when I play that out, I’m not actually angry…I’m sad. I feel cheated, but when I play that out, I don’t actually feel cheated…I’m just really sad. It always ends up at the same place. I’m sad.

Pictures have been really hard for me. When I look at them, I break down sobbing and it’s like I’ve awakened this earth shattering longing to have him here. Crying it out for a few seconds feels right, but beyond that it feels like I’m just torturing myself. So I made a Kappel box that I’ve been filling with those things. It’s hidden in a closet and it’s easy to avoid.

With all of this…the process, feelings, crying, exhaustion, stomach aches, moments of peace, laughter, shock…I’m constantly brought back to this place of contentment where I know I’m on a path now that many others have walked and survived. I have to walk this path. I can be dragged, kicking and screaming, or I can stand up and move.

I shared a line from one of my favorite movies with Lily. It’s from Elizabethtown. Kirsten Dunst says it to Orlando Bloom when she finds out he’s grieving the sudden loss of his father. She says, “We are intrepid. We carry on.” Like…it’s just what we do. Whether we choose to handle it poorly or not. We carry on. So if I can grieve well, feel it all and keep walking…that’s what I want to do.

I spoke at Kappel’s memorial service this past Monday, and I wanted to share what I wrote with you here.

Kappel was my best friend, my partner in work and adventure, a challenge and inspiration to me every day I knew him, and the love of my life.

Being here right now and having the honor to talk to so many people who loved him, as the person who spent every day of the last year and a half with him, is kind of a huge task. But at the same time, I get to do something I dreamed of doing every day I had him next to me…to let everyone know the raging beauty of what God was doing with us, what He was doing in Kappel’s heart, and how it changed my life.

The first thing I noticed about Kappel was his sweet spirit and his soft heart. I felt it the night we met, before we’d spoken two words to each other. We had just sat down for a business meeting at Pinewood Social and all I could think about was how strange it was to feel so fiercely protective and amazed by someone I literally knew nothing about.

It was like God gave me eyes to see his true, pure self before I had a chance to experience him on my own.

Over the next month, we had a few more “meetings”, and found out we had both just been through divorce and had absolutely no filter about our respective commitment-phobias. It wasn’t best foot forward. There was a lot of vulnerability up front about the wounds and confusion we were carrying.

We fell hard pretty quickly at that point, and after a little while, the ugly stuff started to surface. He expected me to run for the hills when I saw it, but I just couldn’t. When he allowed me to see the mess, it made me grateful. I wasn’t looking forward to how hard it was probably going to be, but I was excited about the fact that he was letting me see it, and continuing to come back. It made me feel like I had this incredible opportunity to prove to him how DEEPLY loved he was.

I found myself in the middle of the hardest and deepest relationship I’d ever been in. It changed us both. It showed me such a vivid and real picture of what God’s heart really is for us. 

Relationship wasn’t just about romance and fun and creating. The person deep down in each of us, the one that loved perfectly, and served, and sacrificed, and radiated beauty and life…the one that we hoped and dreamed was real, but doubted our whole lives because of our hurts and mistakes and failures…that one was actually called out and SEEN in each other. The goal of relationship was suddenly to be more ourselves each day. To be the ones we were created to be. To speak it out loud and reflect it back to each other. The ugly things were simply proof that our eyes were half closed. The act of putting our depths on the table in front of each other brought true intimacy that I’ve never known with another person, and a desire to love like I’ve never loved before.

My relationship with Kappel put a fire in my heart not to quit on the person God calls me to be, and never to quit on the person God calls the one I love to be. His heart for us is that kind of beautiful. He wants us to have the clearest picture of how He sees us and how He loves us. Relationship was designed to give us glimpses and tastes of what that true love is.

I believe that right now, besides the fact that this is a story we longed to tell together…and with all my heart I wish we could have told it together…the only thing that’s different is that he is with the Father Himself. And there isn’t a doubt in his mind anymore about true and perfect love. He’s not just tasting it anymore. And I will be grateful for the rest of my life that I got to walk through the last year and a half by his side.

I wanted to read this quote that Kappel recently wrote and shared on Instagram. 

“Everyone is going on “adventures” these days. Webster defines adventure as “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity”. I crave to be in the wilderness very often. Entertaining fantasies about “escaping” from normal life, challenging myself against nature, and letting discomfort become comfortable, have become more and more frequent. But then I realized…in a season of growing, in an intensely emotional way, I have mistaken my wilderness. I have focused on the easy adventure. Is learning to be in deep relationship with others possibly the greatest adventure of them all? Is it possibly the deepest, most uncharted wilderness still available? The wilderness of knowing and being known. The adventure of beating your heart for another to see. Grizzly bears can’t kill you there (you’re in luck, Leo). But you can be left emotionally open. Bare. Vulnerable. And potentially acquire a wound deeper than any wilderness adventure could produce. 

Or, on the other hand, the discomfort becomes comfortable. The pain heals. The thought of entering the grizzly of emotion, the freezing temperatures of vulnerability, or the bee sting of emotional pain and healing becomes a welcomed challenge for the warmth of fur it produces when conquered.

I dunno. Just sayin.”

I love you, Kappel. I actually love you.

1988-2016

I love you, Kappel - offbeat + inspired

I love you, Kappel - offbeat + inspired

I love you, Kappel - offbeat + inspired

I love you, Kappel - offbeat + inspired

<3

Boat Dayyy

Boat Dayyy - offbeat + inspired

I NEEDED to share this little 15-sec video Kappel shot of our boat day with friends + Mike’s Hard Strawberry Lemonade last week. It was SO much fun and I posted about it on Instagram this morning…SO HAPPY THE WARMER DAYS ARE FINALLY HERE!!

My caption on Insta!: “BOAT DAYYYY!!! This is just one of the many things I love about Nashville..an impromptu cookout on the water with swims and friends IN SPRINGTIME. ☀ I got to partner with @mikeshardlemonade again to show how we’re having fun outside this season and I would love to hear about what you’re doing too!!! 😀 After all the traveling lately, this was MUCH needed. <3 #mikessummer #whyweadventure #partner #SPRINGTIME [COMPLETELY obsessed with this little video @kappeljamescloninger made!! <3]”