Friday Faves – European Vacation


Here we are at Friday!

Tomorrow I will catch a flight back to the United States.

All in all, I would say that my first vacation overseas has been amazing. I’m looking forward to sharing so much when I return home. I have lots of photos to process, with only the ability to share Iphone pictures today.

It’s closing in on 11:00 pm here, and we are mostly packed. I wanted to share just a few photos for my Friday Faves… because this weeks Faves were all about Europe.


Amsterdam was beautiful.


Paris was beautiful.


Integrity prevailed in Vondel Park in Amsterdam where items found in the park where hung to be found by their owners.

Arc de Triomphe Paris, France
Resilience prevailed in Paris. This capture of the Arc de Triomphe was taken this evening. Yesterday evening , there would have been chaos  on this street. Today… strength. And not just on this street. We were near Montmartre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and Champs de Elysses over the course of today.


We have formed a lot of memories during our travels. I look forward to sharing them when I get back home.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and I will be spending next week playing catch up, both with editing non-phone photos and reading blogs! 🙂

So lastly, a song:


Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves – Europe Bound


I’m heading to Europe!!

I didn’t actually get any posts scheduled. Packing for a trip gets crazy towards the end.

So I’m writing en route to D.C.

I wanted to share some of my faves this week.

So I’ll go ahead and let you in on a little secret.

We didn’t end up taking only carry-on bags. Everything did fit in them, but I needed more space for my camera and wanted to be able to bring things home.

In the end, we have 2 medium suitcases and 3 carrry-on size bags that will be checked. Each of the three teens and the hubby brought a backpack for the plane. I have a purse and and the carry-on suitcase.  The carry-on has our raincoats and my camera bag and a few toiletries.

 

Carry On toiletry flatlay

We found a dual voltage flat iron. Yay!  I’ve not had luck with dry shampoo in the past, but I’m going to give it a try. I’ve heard great things about Wet brushes. I have the hardest time brushing my hair when it’s wet. I also got Travel size Buxom mascara, some Peter Roth moisturizer, and a Smashbox palette with eyeshadow, blush and eyebrow powders all in one container. 


This is my bag for around the city. It holds my camera. If you need you camera padded, this wouldn’t work. It’s by Kipling and has an cute monkey keyring.


Isn’t he just adorable.

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Some reading and some backpacks that fold up nice and small!
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you might know that one of my faves this week is some new Converse. They aren’t coming to Europe though. The black Converse are the ones that are making the trip.


I’m sure that these pink ones will see lots of use when I get home.

They are one of my absolute favorites this week.

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What’s a plane ride without some snack, some good reading, and some shut eye.

I also picked up a rechargeable power source.

Of course I can’t leave you without a song:

Check me out on Instagram for stories while I’m away. :).

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday!


Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Fave Countdown to Europe Edition

Friday Faves – Countdown to Europe Edition

T minus 7 days until I board a plane with the hubby and three teens and travel off for springtime in Europe!

The first flight my kids have been on in over 10 years!

The first time 4 of us have ever left United States soil!

We’ve got lots to finish taking care of… but here’s some of my favorite things this week.

Son & Mother-In-Law

Last Sunday, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday.  She’s actually an April Fool’s baby.

I’m not allowed to tell you her age. I will tell you that she looks A-Mazing for her age and I hope my skin looks as lovely as hers as I age. This is her with my 17-year-old, my firstborn. His height to the cabinets is not an optical illusion. He is 6’6″ with his shoes on (if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, then you’ve read about some of my observations about having a tall child. And that we’ve purchased extra legroom seats for him on the extended legs *see what I did there* of our flight.)

Amy Lyon Smith's daughter playing soccer

The girlie’s soccer schedule has definitely been keeping me busy. As of yesterday, her middle school team is 7-0!

One of my big faves happened today.  The delivery of a new mattress and box springs!

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The side wall is two colors.  The bedroom is in the process of being painted my favorite color- Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams.

I really shouldn’t claim how old our last bedset was… but I’m always keeping it real..so… it was 16 years old.

I know…I know… they are supposed to last 7-10 years.  But there wasn’t anything wrong with the last one…until there was.

We had what I consider a family bed when the kids were little.  The oldest took naps with me, sometime slept with us after feeding in the night.  I knew that we would do the same for the next child. The boys are 18 months apart.  So that would mean two in the bed with us.  So we got a bigger bed.

I also believe in children being able to crawl into your bed if they awake frightened in the night. Or if they just need comfort. It wasn’t that long ago in the scheme of the world that we slept in the same space huddled together (and is still the case in some parts of the world).

It was hard for me to let the bed go because it held precious memories.  Reading stories…giggling… tickle wars…nursing my final child…moving its way through a lifespan of seven homes.

But it finally became tired.  It had given all of the life it had to offer.  My back began to suffer and so the shopping began. Culminating in my new mattress that I hope serves me as faithfully as my last.

I finally had a chance to get up to Roanoke Mountain and watch a spectacular sunset.  I’ve shared a couple of shots on Instagram and will continue to do so.

If you caught my last post, then you know that spring has sprung here in Virginia.

Spring Crabapple Blossom Pollination

I’m especially taken by the crabapple tree blooming in my front yard.

But there are beautiful signs of life and color everywhere.

I stumbled across this field of yellow next to the fields where the girlie practices with her travel soccer team.  Of course, I only had my phone to capture the awe of the expanse of color.

Europe to do list

And of course in the midst of all of this… taking care of things before our travel to Europe.

We are getting down to the little details.  I’m very visual so I like to jot them down.

Carry-On Luggage

We did do a trial run and will all be traveling with only a carry-on.  This may or may not be a literal carry-on.  We are flying Lufthansa and their dimensions are somewhat wider and shorter than the other averages that we had used to purchase prior carry-ons.

3 of our 5 bags may end up under the plane because they may be 1/4″ too long.  It’s hard to tell and perhaps when the handle is squished, they will fit.  I was originally concerned about the girlie’s being too big, but given that it was slightly shorter and wider, it was the only one we didn’t have concerns with on this specific flight.

The main reason that we still opted to travel with carry-on is that we will be toting them through Amsterdam and Paris… on trams, trains, buses…whatever method of transport we find ourselves on and we didn’t want to lug giant bags around.

We considered getting backpack luggage, but in the end it was a cost-efficient choice for us.  Traveling with 5 people to Europe is pricy enough.  We already owned 4 carry-ons, so the sensible choice was to add a 5th carry-on.

I found a nice Timberland, which is what the boys have well.  We have an aging Eddie Bauer that’s been all over with us, but is still holding up nicely.  The girlie has Roxy, a nod to our coastal origins.

Countdown to Europe "to do" list

I was really concerned about the weight of my DSLR and given the fact that I still have a lot to learn about photography, I really considered not bringing it.

In the end though, I think that I’d be disappointed to travel to these amazing places and using only my phone.

And yes, we are going to the Anne Frank museum! It was one of my main “must-sees” in Amsterdam.  When people tell you to purchase tickets well in advance, they mean it.  I checked three weeks in advance and they were sold out.  I did not know that they are released two months in advance.

I was sorely disappointed!

You can get in line for tickets on a first come-first serve basis at 3:30, but I read that it can be a 1-3 hour wait.  We are only there for 2 1/2 days, so while I could have had everyone wait for an hour, 3 was unlikely.

However, they also have tickets which are released two weeks in advance which includes a 30 minute introduction to the life story of Anne Frank before the included museum visit.  I made sure to be online when they became available.

I also need to plan for international cell phone usage (which is very pricy x 5) and alert my credit card so that I don’t have denials due to fraud concerns.

I’m steadily checking things off on my #CountdowntoEurope.

I hope that you all are having fabulous weather.  It was spitting ice this morning and snow flurries on the other side of the mountain.

I’m not letting that change my perspective.

It’s springtime!  I am growing and I am spreading my wings!

How about you?

So lastly, I song that I’m loving this week

 

I think it’s so important remember to spread kindness, smiles, and love no matter how chaotic life becomes.

I hope that you have an amazing weekend and that you spread your wings a little more.

Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would. - E.V.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves "One the Go" Edition

Friday Faves – “On the Go” Edition

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On the Go!

That probably describes every aspect of my life right now.

Probably yours too! Right?!

Ferrying kids here, shuttling others there, and feeling undeniably grateful that I have actually lived here long enough to have other parents to switch off on carpools.

And then trying to plan trips and remember to pay the bills.

I did make a little headway this week on my travel wardrobe. I really am trying to plan for each of us to take only a carry-on. This weekend we will do the trial run to see if I am being realistic. Some of my friends are skeptical. 🙂

The shirts in the background of my photo are an actual rack of shirts I tried on.  I am looking for some black shirts that can be dressed up or down depending on what we are doing. Shirts will be my biggest deterrent in being able to fit everything into a carry-on.  I can’t see wearing any more than once.

Why? Because here’s a little secret: I am a nervous sweater. It can be 30°F and if I am walking into unfamiliar scenarios, I will sweat. But women don’t sweat…they glisten or sparkle or glow.  Yeah. Lucky you. Me. Not so lucky.

First time leaving United States soil… Flying across the ocean… Big, unfamiliar cities… I will packing enough shirts.

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Pants, however, will be a different story.  It has been recommended to bring a black pair and a dark washed jean.  I have not determined how many pairs I will be bringing, but the hunt for the above black pair was arduous enough.

I was on a hunt for leggings and was disappointed at the fact that they were all more opaque than I wanted.  At American Eagle, I finally found these Sateen jeggings.  They don’t get saggy by the end of the day, unlike some others that I’ve tried.  They don’t ride so low that I need to constantly be hiking them up if I need to bend over. And while the regulars were too short, the longs weren’t too long, which is important in a skinny jean.

I thought that I’d just order up another pair in a dark jean wash.  However, the sateen version is their “colored” jeans… at this time in burgundies and greens.  I don’t necessarily like their other jegging versions since they tend to feel tight around my calf muscle (which strikes me as strange since I don’t have large calves).  I think I’m just particular, but I will be going back to try on the different styles.

And I do not intend on taking those shoes!  They are just my favorite dress up pair.

I am still on the hunt for the perfect all-day walking around shoe.

My 13 year old daughter plans to wear her Converse.  She wears them every day so I guess she’ll be fine.  I love mine too. But… I’m 3x her age and even though my feet are strong from yoga, they like a little arch support in return for holding up my body all day.

I have been eyeing Superga’s or some type of old school New Balance-like shoe for my all-day shoe.  I will probably throw in my ballet flats as a second pair.  I’m known to pack too many shoes and usually end up only wearing 1-2 pairs. Space will be a commodity and shoes takes up precious area.

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I purchased a universal adapter since the plugs are different in Europe.  I may need to get more since we all have phones.  I also got this cute pouch that doesn’t allow for RFID readers.  I like to think identity theft doesn’t exist, but I’ve had my credit card compromised too many times to believe that.

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I picked up a new read at the library.  It was on the new release shelf, so I don’t know if it’ll be good or not.  I’ve shared that yoga is my favorite form of exercise.  We also have a pull-up bar that hangs from a beam in our basement storage room.  My goal is to be able to complete some pull-ups. They are VERY hard!  But it is a goal nonetheless.

While I’m busily preparing for time away, I’m still making sure to take the time to stop and notice the beauty of nature.  The cycle of spring.  Flowers blooming. Bees buzzing.

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I hope you have an amazing weekend filled little moments of smiles. Here’s one from my little snapchats with my girlie at the end of a long day….crazy hair and all.  Spread some kindness and a little laughter.

So lastly, a song I’m loving this week…. because…. Paris.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves "Words" Edition

Friday Faves – “Words” Edition

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I can’t believe we are already almost through the month of March.

It’s only 3 more Fridays before I leave for Europe.

I’m beginning to get serious about my to-do list.

It’s much longer than the one above, but those are some of the things I need to start working on.  And yes, one of the flights changed their aircraft, thereby switching our seats.  It says they gave us comparable ones… however, they did not give an extra-legroom  seat to 6’5+” man-child that we purchased one for.

My mom and I are also getting closer to booking the tickets for our trip.  I was starting to get a little panicked about that trip away from my kids and the logistics of it, and then my amazing husband stepped in and reminded me that sometimes I need to do things for myself.

Overall, it’s been a crazy week… so I needed to find a little humor!

 

I thought this sign was hilarious.  I shared in this post, that yoga is my favorite form of exercise.  I’ve also been taking Pilates and am really enjoying that.

Recently, my niece mentioned that she has taken a PiYo class and a few days later somebody mentioned PiYo to me on Twitter.

PiYo=Pilates and Yoga.

Have any of you taken this type of class?

I watched a few YouTube videos, but mostly just heard about body transformation, not what is involved in the class.

I’m not a huge fan of body transformation videos because they usually involve one of my pet peeves.  One that I’ve even witnessed in fitness magazines.  If somebody’s weight is shared..PLEASE include their height. It’s lovely that they weigh 110 lbs, but I can tell you at 5’8″ and with my bone structure, that would be an unsafe weight for me.  Or it’s shared that they wear a size 2… I was extremely thin in high school…and a size 2 was smaller than any size I wore. And yes, you hope people will use common sense, but number fixation can become a problem.

Ok!  Now that I got that off of my chest…

Back to humor!

Yes, this tray sums up numerous aspects of my life.

I am known for going down rabbit holes of information. YouTube…Pinterest…Google…doesn’t matter which it is, I can always get lost in it.

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I also managed to find some sunbeams of sunshine and got lost with my nose buried in a book.

I’ve shared before how much I love Alex + Ani bracelets.  I like the messages that they represent.  I usually have a few that I have my eye on, waiting for some type of special.

Recently, there was a special and I took advantage.

I think the words that we speak to ourselves or see throughout the day have a tendency to become reminders and “Live a happy life” is something I want to strive toward.

I also liked that this was a Charity by Design piece, contributing to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation which helps cancer patients and their families.

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If you know me and my love for photography, then the reason I’ve been eyeing this bracelet is self-explanatory.  Its element of sea-like green color is a nice pop and is one of my favorite colors as well.

The special offered was this bracelet for free with a certain dollar amount spent.  And again, this was a message that speaks directly to who I am.

I need my moments of solitude to recharge.

Moments for creativity to take root.

Moments to process the plans for my upcoming trips.

Moments to find a little humor before plunging headlong into the chaos again.

So lastly, the song that I’m loving this week:

I like this song, but the main reason for it being my choice this week is the lyrics.  Or rather, what  I thought the lyrics were.  My dad owned the tape (yes…before CD’s…and way, way before MP3’s).  It was a different beat than most of the music he owned and I would listen to the tape over and over. And on this song, instead of “Karma”, I would sing “Cumma, Cumma, Cumma, Chameleon” and instead of  “Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams / Red, Gold, and Green”, I would sing “nothing would be easy, if you coming was like my dreams, my golden dreams”.

I was probably between 7 and 9 years old and I still think about singing it that way and laugh every time I hear this song. I totally thought the song was about going somewhere.

What about you?

Did you find anything humorous this week?

Ever sing any lyrics incorrectly?

Do you require moments of solitude?

I hope that you find some moments of laughter and some of solitude in the upcoming week.

Let your light shine!

Amy

shop local shop green farmer's market roanoke virginia

Friday Faves “Green” Edition

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It’s Friday!!

And St. Patrick’s Day!!

I shared about my Irish heritage in yesterday’s post.

Today I’m sharing the “green” faves I found last weekend.  I’m not perfect in my environmental choices, but I’m trying to take steps in the right direction.

Farm to Table Roanoke at Greenbrier Nurseries has a vendor’s market each Saturday.  Last weekend was a Wellness Expo .

Tha Best! Kombucha hand crafted in Floyd Virginia

One of the items that I already shared in Tuesday’s post was this yummy Kombucha.

I’m ready for a refill!

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I also picked up this Elderberry Syrup kit.  It has instructions on how to prepare it and add it to some raw honey to create the syrup consistency. Elderberry is supposed to be a healthy and effective remedy against the cold and flu.  My friend swears by it.  I’ll be making this very soon.  All the nasties that the kids and hubby have had may be finally finding their way to me.

I have not been to the storefront of QueenPin Herb shop.  They said that there are herbalists there who can create custom formulations.  The awesome name comes from the fact that acupuncture services are offered through QueenPin Family Wellness.

I’ve never had acupuncture.

Have you?

One the booths was Earth Girl Wellness.  She is a holistic nutrition and wellness coach.  She told that she had been making various products and that her friends convinced her that she should sell them.

I’m glad they did.

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I picked up these toilet bombs and a shower melt.

The toilet bombs fizz in the toilet and make it smell wonderfully pleasant (a huge feat in a home full of teens).

The shower melt is an orange scent since orange is energizing.  I definitely need that in the morning!

I’m not a big fan of overuse of antibacterial items (the kind that lead to superbugs).  I think they have a time and place, but don’t use them regularly.  So I was very excited to see this Natural Hand Cleaning Spray. I chose peppermint because of scent preferences.  The tea tree oil would have been the wisest choice because of its antibacterial properties.  I don’t mind the scent of tea tree oil, but figured that I’d be sharing it with my daughter at her soccer games and she may prefer peppermint.

Speaking of soccer, Earth Girl Wellness, will be featuring her new Stinky Shoe Deodorizer at this coming weekend’s market.  She had it on hand last week to share the scent.  So much more heavenly than the rank smell that begin to permeate cleats partially through the sports season.

I will be returning for that one!

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I also picked up these three products from Essential Bliss Aromatherapy.  I was mostly interested in the yoga mat spray, but they were running a special on three products and I couldn’t resist.

The cooling mists can be chilled to give you some refreshment, but also work as a natural room deodorizer.

They were also creating custom blends which I found intriguing.

Calming for stress… anxiety…

Yes, please!

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I can’t end my faves with out sharing this little guy!

A baby goat!

He was so soft and adorable.

Briar Mountain Farm makes 100% natural goat’s milk soaps, lotions, and other bath and beauty products.  The selection was amazing!  I didn’t get anything because I wanted to figure out which essential oil scents I wanted to add to the house.

There’s always this weekend!

Lastly, a song I’m loving this week.  In case you missed yesterday’s post, I’m planning a trip to Scotland!  I love Julie Fowlis’s voice and while she mostly sings in Scottish Gaelic [which I had Percy Jackson style fantasies about being able to magically understand], I am sharing an English song :

Have a GREAT weekend!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Alan Watts Quote - The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Roanoke River in the background

Friday Faves – “Local” Edition

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Honestly I think this is true most days.

Minus the hot part!

But today is Friday!!

So I’m letting the other side of my new coffee mug represent today.

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Fabulous, darling, Fab-u-lous.

The crazy weather pattern in Virginia continues.

We’ve had numerous days of close to and even hitting 70 degrees (F).  And now we have snow coming in a few days.

Guess that means more time to read.

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I picked up this book at the library- This Is Where You Belong, The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick. It was at the front on the new release shelves and caught my eye.  I don’t think it’s a shocker that I’ve had a hard time adjusting to living in Virginia (yes, even 3+ years later).

Imagine how surprised I was that the author, Melody Warnick lives in Blacksburg, a town not to far from Roanoke.  She wrote this book after move #6 and was determined to figure out how to fall in the love with the town she had moved to.  I’m only 1/4 of the way through it, but am thoroughly enjoying it.  She was already said so many of the things that I have thought.

I live in the suburbs, with no sidewalks, so there isn’t really walking the town for me. But she does offer some other tactics that I’m planning to employ.

One of which relates to shopping local.

She refers to The 3/50 Project which is about saving the independent brick and mortar stores in the U.S. (I think this concept is applicable anywhere-the numbers are just based on the U.S.). It states that if half of the employed population would commit to spending $50 each month in locally owned businesses, it would generate more that 42.6 billion in revenue.

Those locally owned shops are what give a town its character, but I often find myself in the same situation she found, which was looking for the cheaper option.  Those businesses can’t thrive without locals purchasing their goods.  It’s also been reported that more of the money gets filtered back into the community when you buy local.  Win-Win.

The 3/50 project is about picking three independently owned businesses and spending a total (or more) of $50 between the three places during a month.

If you checked out my Friday Faves last week, then you can see I already had a head start on March since I visited a local, independent shop and found lots of goodies to bring home with me.

The hubby and I are major foodies!  And the preference is for non-chain food.  We decided that we would eat over in this great little urban section of town, Grandin Village.  You might remember I mentioned Grandin Village in this post, highlighting the architecture of a church over there.

Now Grandin is a walkable section of town.  And there are always people out walking the sidewalks from their homes to the little shops along it.  We ate lunch at Local Roots.  It’s a Farm to Table Restaurant.  The menu changes according to what is in season.  I decided on the soup of the day and lunch salad.  I can’t tell you what all the soup had in it, the waitress had me at “vegetables” and “it’s delicious”.  I did ask if they could add the pickled onions to my salad because they are delish.  My hubby ate their ham sandwich because it had him at horseradish. I stole a few bites of it…and it was so much yum.

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I also ordered the artisan bread because I was starving and was worried about having enough food.  If you’ve ever read any of my very early foodposts which can be found here, here, here, and here , then you know that I am mostly gluten free.  I used to be fully gluten free (no, I don’t have celiac disease… I have stomach problems that feel better when I don’t eat wheat…and yes…I discuss my eating habits with my doctor), but occasionally I opt for some bread.  This was the perfect, light addition to add to my lunch.  I didn’t even need dessert.  Oh, and they had an amazing unsweetened blueberry iced tea that I wish I was sipping on right now!

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Part of the reason for our excursion to Grandin was because that is where the Co-Op is located.  I am a member of the Co-Op, but don’t get there as often as I would like.  We picked up the lotion that my hubby likes and a few other things.  I was very tempted by this mug, but it was a little smaller than I like (I drink huge cups of coffee!) and plus, I’d already picked up the new mug at the top of this post.

The girlie had her first middle school match last night.

I got to see a friend who is the epitome of southern sweetness, who is going through some heavy stuff, and yet she is there with a smile on her face and offering me a hug of hello.

I sat with women (and men) whose daughters have been playing soccer with mine for some time.  I met some new mother’s who had girls on the field. All of us laughing and cheering for those girls. A little whoop, whoop when one scored a goal.

They won 5-0!

Later that night, I heard from another girlfriend asking me if I wanted to check out an expo this weekend.

And I reflected on the fact that even though I miss Florida and the friends and family there, I have met some pretty amazing people here.

And it’s relationships that make me begin to love this place a little more.

So with that in mind, a song I’m loving this week:

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Let your light shine!

Amy