Gardening 2017

One of our biggest dreams when we were house hunting was to have sufficient space for a garden. And now that we have that space, we are reading lots of gardening books and dreaming big. So today I’m passing along some of the wisdom we’ve gleaned from books and other resources we’ve come across. And I love simple, so I’m only going to share 3 simple beginner’s tips:

1 – Know your region.

Not every type of plant can grow just anywhere, so it’s important to know which plants can handle the temperatures and weather your particular region receives in a growing season. According to the Plant Hardiness Zone Map we live in Zone 6/6a so growing more tropical plants would be highly disappointing here. Instead, cold-hardy plants or plants with shorter growing seasons are what we would be the smarter pick.

2 – Study the light.

Unless you have zero trees on your property, this step is super important because it allows you to see where light travels. Last summer I took note of where the sunniest locations in our yard were in a given day. Each hour I noted where the sun was shining. We live in a park-like neighborhood (lots of mature trees), and this exercise allowed me to locate the best location for our garden without having to take out trees.

3 – Start small (and easy).

Some great wisdom was shared with us … in our excitement don’t plant too much (to start, at least). We have much to learn and too many new things at once is a recipe for burnout and failure. So our plan for 2017 is to

1) start a compost bin
Compost is the BEST thing for your garden and we are willing to put off using our raised beds one more year so that we can utilize nature’s gold.
2) build a raised garden bed/window box
Building our raised garden beds now and not filling them will allow us to place them where we think they will soak up the most sunlight, but if we need to tweak and shift them a tad it will be much easier with them empty.
3) plant our 3-4 most favorite foods in containers.
Peas, sweet potatoes, carrots and a dwarf blueberry bush are topping our list for now.

Do you garden? What is your best garden advice for beginners?

My 25-Pound Weight Loss

I remember the day – June 28, 2016.

I looked in the mirror and asked myself, “what happened?”

I weighed 162.5 lbs at the time, which was very unhealthy for my small 5’5′ frame.

I was also dealing with numerous health concerns (nearly 30). I was convinced I was dying or had MS or something else serious, but thankfully medical tests ruled those things out.

One night in September my husband and I were both scared when I got incredibly dizzy and disoriented, to the point I could not walk on my own. Something was clearly wrong despite tests showing I was in picture-perfect health. I had grown sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

Thus began my journey to getting serious about my health. I wanted to get to the bottom of why I felt so tired, achy, couldn’t sleep well, had digestive issues, sensitivities, depression, intense food cravings/food addiction and host of other problems.

I had always been somewhat skeptical of detoxes and cleanses, not really sure if they were safe or worked. But the more I researched the topic the more led I felt to give it a try. A friend of mine recommended the Arbonne 28-Day Cleanse and after some investigating I decided I had nothing to lose in trying it – if it didn’t work I could get a 100% refund and then carry on with troubleshooting.

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For the 28 days I eliminated all corn, soy, dairy, gluten-full, and sugar containing foods & focussed on eating whole foods. At the same time I used various supplements to help eliminate toxins from my body. When I started I had no idea what to hope for or expect.

Remember those 30 health concerns I had? After the cleanse I could name only 4 that still persisted (some of which will never go away as I have an autoimmune condition). I felt great, better than I had in years! And my weight? I lost nearly 8 pounds in those 28 days without feeling like I was trying! This translated to 5″ lost in my chest (going from an XL top to a S/M top), 9″ in my waist, and 4″ in my hips. I tend to carry extra weight up top and this is reflected in where I lost most of my weight.)

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The summer of 2016 I reached my heaviest recorded weight (non-pregnant) – 162.5 pounds. Four months later I am 25.5 pounds down (now in a healthy weight range, woohoo!), keeping it off (thanks to a Paleo diet) and am enjoying life again. I feel great!

If you are interested in trying out the supplements that I used, I’d be happy to give you more information. Just leave a comment with an email address and we can talk.

Have you experienced breakthroughs in your health journey? I’d love to hear about them! 

The Digital Detox

vb_v6w1nmea-pineapplesI don’t know about you but clutter breeds stress and anxiety in me big time. This includes digital clutter. This year I’m committed to weeding out all the fluff in my life so I can focus more on what matters. In keeping with a theme of simplicity and contentment for the year I am not only challenging myself to let go of physical things, but I am doing the same with my digital life.

I thought about sharing a step-by-step process of what I did, but why re-invent the wheel when this Declutter To-Do List from Becoming Minimalist is thorough and concise. I will, however, share what I gained by letting so much go.

1 – Productivity

If it couldn’t help me #cultivatewhatmatters in my life or work toward my goals then it was time to let go. This included social media accounts. Now I spend less time searching for files and things I need because I know where they are. And not only am I more efficient, but so is my computer! And I more free time which is a bonus (hello, reading for the fun of it)!

2 – Reduced Frustration

Social media is such a noisy place, and has been a great source of frustration for me (I’m looking at you, 2016 election season). Unfollowing people & accounts that are contributing to that noise has significantly reduced the amount of frustration and anxiety I’ve felt. We each get to choose what fills our feeds – hopefully we are choosing to fill it with #whatmattersmost and is meaningful to us. It’s okay to unfollow people who are constantly contrary or ruffle your feathers often.

3 – Contentment

When all I have on my computer and in my social media feeds is what inspires me toward what matters most in life, I am much more content. I’m not reminded of how I fit in (or not) or what I am missing (or not). I’m not distracted by how well I am (or aren’t) measuring up. Turning down the noise from what distracts me has resulted in much more contentment with my own real life.

What about you? Have you done a digital detox? How did you go about it and what did you learn? I’d love to hear about it!

 

My Word for 2017 :: Content(ment)

I love this time of year. There’s something therapeutic to me about reflecting on the past 365 days and anticipating all that could happen in the next 365.

Last year my word for the year was “fruitful?” Just a few months in to the year and I realized that the heart behind that word when I chose it was full of striving and trying hard to make my life look picture perfect … and God in his kindness and grace and mercy loved me too much to let me wear myself out this way. My year took a turn when I understood what true fruitfulness really looked like.

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This year, I’m continuing along in the same vein with “content.” Patience, grace toward myself, and gratitude in all circumstances are the areas I’m weakest in still. I want to hone in on contentment this year and grow in thankfulness and peace in wherever God has me in life. I want to enjoy the life I have instead of wishing mine looked like someone else’s.

What is your word for the year? What do you want to focus on for 2017?


Powersheets are my biggest tool this year in helping me accomplish  my goals. Learn more about Powersheets here . (affiliate link)

On Poverty and Hope

My mind and heart can hardly bear to imagine the things. I can try to ignore the stories but that doesn’t stop them from happening. 

While I live comfortably in a country with extraordinary freedoms unlike any other in the entire world, women and children are being raped, abused, and belittled on a daily basis. What’s even more heartbreaking is that these precious souls see no means of escape most of the time.

And what I’m learning is that these unthinkable acts are often the result of extreme poverty.

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Why do I have it so good while horrific things are happening to others? What can little ole me do to end this vicious cycle? Can I alone really put an end to slavery, world hunger or poverty?

Perhaps I have it so good because I am destined to be a part of the solution.

I don’t mean buy a pair of shoes so that a pair can be donated. No, that’s charity. Charity is often a short-term band-aid to a long-term problem.

What if there were a way to equip women with tools to interrupt the vicious cycle of poverty and it’s effects on her, her family and her community?

In 2010 two moms just like me were so broken over what they saw happening in impoverished communities all over the globe. It was crystal clear God was about to use them to do something beautiful and amazing. Trades of Hope was born and today there are over 3000 women (Compassionate Entrepreneurs) who have stepped up to play an active role in helping release women from the cycle of poverty all over the world. We currently partner with 16 different artisan groups in over 25 countries.

The idea is simple – give a woman the tools to make a living wage to provide food, shelter, medical care and education for herself and her family & she becomes an unstoppable force in her community. As a Compassionate Entrepreneur I am her marketer. I’m working #forher. She makes beautiful handmade jewelry, scarves, bags or home decor and then I sell these for her through home parties and online events. Because of this partnership she now has a dignified and sustainable means of income and can care for her family in a way she has always hoped she could.

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It’s been said that each time we purchase something we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want.

When you purchase a Trades of Hope product you are casting a vote for a woman in extreme poverty to have a better life.

When you host a home or online party you are letting others know of her talent and the beautiful contributions she can make to this world.

When you become her partner as a Compassionate Entrepreneur you are honoring her bravery by inviting others in to this life-giving work.

The absolute highest honor you can earn as a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope is not a million-dollar salary, a vacation, or a brand new car. The ultimate goal for so many Compassionate Entrepreneurs is securing a seat on a Vision Trip, where we have the honor and privilege to meet our partners, the artisans, face-to-face. We get to spend time learning about their communities and daily life. We get to shadow them on the job and hear directly from them how our partnership is making a difference in their lives!

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I am eager to share the heart of Trades of Hope with anyone who will listen. If you’d like to take a look at all the beautiful pieces up close, or learn more about how you can join this world-changing sisterhood hop on over to my website mytradesofhope.com/aprilemery. If you have questions or are interested in hosting a world-changing gathering in your home or online email me at the address found on my website (link above).

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Ways to Care for Your Postal Carrier When It’s Hot

We rely upon them daily. Without them bills would not be paid. No newspapers, magazines, or circulars would wait for us in our mailboxes. Birthday cards, letters and other gifts would not arrive.

A lot goes in to getting our daily stack of mail to us. No matter the weather or the temperature postal carriers work hard at their jobs and we reap the benefits. Postal carriers are often forgotten, especially in extreme weather.

Where I live postal carriers walk and hand-deliver our mail to our boxes (on our front porches). In the summer months they don’t have the option to escape the heat like I do.

Here are some simple and meaningful ways to refresh your postal carrier in the heat:

  • if you are home when the mail arrives, personally offer your mail carrier a cold drink {lemonade or water}.
  • if you won’t be home leave a cooler with a glass or two of ice cold lemonade or water next to
  • your mailbox with a note that lets them know to enjoy a drink {make sure you pack ice or
  • freeze packs in the cooler to keep things chilled}
  • leave some cold, damp rags in a cooler so you carrier can freshen up after a sweater route {don’t forget ice to keep the inside of the cooler chilled}
  • leave a motorized hand-fan at the mail box as a gift {or one of those mist bottles with a fan attached}
  • offer a seat on your porch {or somewhere in the shade} for your mail carrier to sit and rest for a few minutes (they are not allowed to enter your home while on the clock)
  • offer a cold treat to your letter carrier {or leave one in an ice-filled cooler if you won’t be home}
  • you can also leave a note attached telling your carrier how much you appreciate all the hard work they do. A kind word can make a huge impact an refresh the soul.

For further reading

13+ Things Your Mail Carrier Won’t Tell You (Reader’s Digest)

Ways To Care for Your Postal Carrier When It's Hot | A Fruitful Life

An Adventure Begins

Funny how the Lord leads you places you never thought you’d be. Nine months ago I ran in to a friend at a fall festival and she told me about the work she was doing helping to bring women all over the world out of poverty. My heart totally connected. And ever since that day I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Nine months later I am joining this growing movement to break the bonds of poverty for women all over the globe. ❤

I have wept out of sheer gratitude that I get to be a part of something like this. Utterly and completely humbled. I’ll be having a Launch Party/Open House soon so stay tuned (yes even those far away will be able to participate)!

•• Trades of Hope’s mission is to empower women out of poverty through fair trade and sustainable business. And as a Compassionate Entrepreneur I market their beautiful work so they can be helped out of the sex trade, slums, sweat shops, and extreme poverty so they to send their children to school, put a roof over their heads, and put food on their tables. ••

❤ my website >> http://mytradesofhope.com/aprilemery

❤ my Facebook page >> https://www.facebook.com/AprilEmeryTradesOfHope/