Christmas Book Advent DIY.

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I wanted to do something to make the Advent season special this year. It's obviously a special time every year, but this year I wanted to honor it in a way that my whole family could participate in. As much as I like eating a chocolate a day, that doesn't really resonate with me as far as taking a pause for gratitude. This year I decided to do something really kid-friendly (and honestly, fun for me, too!) to celebrate Advent by reading a Christmas book per day leading up to Christmas Day. That meant that I spent a lot of time rifling through our current book collection, adding a few to my Amazon order, picking up a few titles at TJMaxx, and grabbing a few at the local Goodwill, too. I wrapped all 24 books in a specific paper, and we have been unwrapping one each day since December 1. On December 25 we will pull out the bible and read the story of Jesus being born. If you're interested in compiling a Christmas Book advent, it's not too late for you to give it a try, too!

A few tips:

- Don't feel like you have to buy 24 new books. Ask around to see if people have 1-2 Christmas books that their children have outgrown or no longer use - you might be surprised how many people come out of the woodwork! It's also something you could post on Facebook to inquire about.

- Wrapping all the books in a specific paper will help keep track of the ones that your kids are "allowed" to open before Christmas. After breakfast each day, Everett carefully selects the book he wants to be able to open later on in the day. It's pretty cute how thoughtful he is about it.

- You don't have to wait until bedtime to open the book and read! Make it different every day or use it as a special privilege throughout the day as you parent. Anything to help incentivize our kiddos, right??

- If you have a mini Christmas tree somewhere else in your house, you could make this your "Advent Tree" and keep all the books around that one. I didn't do this, but now that I'm thinking about it, I think I will do this next year!!

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Let me know if you decide to try this! Merry Advent season to you, friends! xx

P.S. - A fun Christmas announcement will be up on the blog on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Check back here! (Hint hint, it might just be something special for you to unwrap, too. Have I said too much??)

I Cook Turkey Now.

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Thanksgiving 2017, I will never forget you, because you are the first year that I cooked the Thanksgiving turkey and IT WAS GOOD. I love WIlliams Sonoma for that meat thermometer. I love the internet for the zillions of recipes available. And I love my mom for letting me cook it this year (although she did ask me about 20 times how my cooking plan was coming along. WOMEN FOLK.) I stuffed that turkey full of butter and citrus fruit and the heavens parted in my mouth. Oh bless.

Thanksgiving 2017, I also won't forget you because you are the year that my son went down for a nap at 2pm AND NEVER WOKE UP FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT. All that fresh air and playing with Daddy outside must have really gotten to him, because he napped the whole way through, only to wake up at 10pm to ask me to change him into his jammies. Then he crawled back into bed.

Thanksgiving 2017, I ate too much dessert.

Which is fine, because another round of Whole30 is coming in January. So I feel justified in my partying like a college freshmen until then.

Thanksgiving 2017, thank you for bringing my family together around my recently re-painted dining room table. Thank you for my Grandma's china, my mom's red table runner, my brother-in-law's mother's dining room furniture, and my own wine glasses. Which we ran out of. Because my family likes to drink all the wine and then have all the laughs. And then play all the board games.

Thanksgiving 2017, I love you to pieces and I am so grateful, so so so so SO grateful, to live in a place where I can live in all kinds of freedom and health. I can worship my Lord and Savior,  I can raise my children how I see fit, I can work and be home with my kids and listen to the new Taylor Swift album while I exercise and write my heart out on the Internet and call my sisters whenever I want AND SEE THEIR FACES (thanks FaceTime) and enjoy friendships and Starbucks and oh gosh I could go on and on and on. 

Thanksgiving 2017, I loved you for real, especially because now you've ushered in the official holiday season and my Christmas tree is staring at me, all glowy and starry-eyed. I'm ready to crush this season with my holly-jolly joy. And with unending movie marathons for all the most terrible Christmas romantic comedies out there. Thanks Thanksgiving, and thanks Netflix. ;)

Giving Back This Holiday Season!

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Hi Friends! Happy Thanksgiving week to you! We got our Christmas tree over the weekend and Everett is begging us to set up the train that roars around it ;) We are hosting family in our home for the holiday (and I'm making the turkey, eeek!! First time!!), so we have lottttts to prepare. As I'm sure everyone does! But even with all the busy-ness, it's truly my favorite time of the year! Today I want to share something with you that is on my heart, and... I want to ask for your help.

I've been thinking a lot about how to give back this season. It's been a big year in our country, with so much relief needed due to so many unprecedented natural disasters. I have found myself overwhelmed at times, wondering how to really make a difference. I am thrilled that my church is partnering with City of Refuge this season, an Atlanta organization that comes alongside individuals and families in crisis by meeting their immediate needs while also providing avenues for long-term education and self-sufficiency. You can read more about that here.

City of Refuge has a need right now for toiletry kits for mothers coming out of traumatic circumstances, including sex trafficking and abuse. Here's where you can help me - I want to partner with them by donating 25 kits!

Since becoming a mother myself, I have such a heart for single moms who are doing their best to raise their babies. My own mother was a single mom before she met my dad, and I am constantly baffled by her tales of how she made ends meet during that season of her life. Friends, I know that being a mom can be hard, and my experience of motherhood has been one rife with an uber-supportive network and a loving husband. I can't possibly imagine what these women have endured to make ends meet and support their families. It would be my absolute honor if you partnered with me in donating 25 toiletry kits to these women.

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Here's how we can do it! I've created a Target registry to make it easy to shop for the items needed in the kits. Once the items are delivered, I will compile them and deliver them to City of Refuge myself. Each kit contains 1 of each of the following: 2 in 1 shampoo + conditioner, deodorant, lotion, lip balm, tampons + pads, toothpaste and a toothbrush. The approximate cost of each kit is just under $25.


I know this upcoming week is a dizzying carousel of shopping, deals, and promotions galore. My hope is that in the midst of this busy-ness and holiday hoopla, we can band together and serve the Atlanta community in a way that showcases love first and foremost. Thank you so much for hearing my heart and for your considerate generosity, my friends! I can't wait to share about the outpouring of love that comes from this groups of readers! xx

P.S. - This is the first time I've ever asked my readers (you!!) to donate/contribute to something and it feels really, really exciting. I wanted to do this last year but I was so unbelievably pregnant I couldn't even walk without contracting. I am so excited about being ready and able to make a rippling effect of loving difference this year! Thanks again for joining in!

The Body Oil I'm Using Everyday (+ a Giveaway for you!)

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As many of you know, I've been on a green beauty journey over the past 6 months or so. I've been testing everything from mascara and shampoo to serums and toners. It's a lot to take on at once! But I've just gotten to the point where I want to decrease the toxic load in my home (and on my body!), so the research and trial-and-error is all worth it. While I've found some face oils that I am loving lately (which I will include in a separate post, because I didn't want to overwhelm with too much information here), I kept striking out when I was looking for a premium body oil. I wanted it to smell good (duh), be super moisturizing but not greasy, free of toxic ingredients and instead made with safe botanicals and essential oils. You all know how much I love my Doterra oils... so, the bar for a stellar-performing body oil was set rather high.

Which brings me to Little Barn Apothecary.

The Discovery.
I discovered Little Barn when I was celebrating my 30th birthday at Serenbe this past September. They have locations at Serenbe, Westside Provisions in Atlanta and down in Watersound, Florida at The Hub on 30A. Shannon took great care of me in the store, explaining the LBA philosophy (which totally resounds with me) and proceeded to load me up with some incredible samples. I went home to try the body oil and I was honestly overwhelmed. I had found the one! I ran out of this remarkable sample oil in like 3 days because I couldn't stop basically bathing in it. Even Stevie came home from work and said, "Whoa, you smell really good. Like really, really good... what is that?" I tried to pass it off as my naturally alluring scent, but we've known each other far too long for that to work on him. He was like, "no for real - what is that??"

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So let me just tell you a little about this heavenly Honeysuckle + Grapefruit Body Oil. Formulated for all skin types, this oil is best used just after you get out of the shower, when your skin is still damp. It is a daily moisturizer that is non-greasy and quickly absorbs into the skin to give you an all-day glow. It also smells super indulgent, like you've been bathing inside the nectar of a flower and then spritzed with a squeeze of citrus juice. Which is #lifegoals, am I right? I imagine this is what Tinker Bell smelled like, that lucky lass.

I love that Little Barn Apothecary believes in the power and healing of all-natural ingredients, centering each of their products around the simple focus of being a safe, pure alternative to the chemical-laden self care products in today’s market. This has been my mission with my Green Beauty Trials, to find companies just like this one! Score!

The Story Behind the Brand.
Little Barn Apothecary founders Joshua and Brad started the brand in their kitchen after realizing there was a void in the market for handmade, uncomplicated self-care products. The beauty market is flooded with chemical-laden products that wreak havoc on the body, and they were passionate about creating alternatives. After sharing some of the items with friends and family, they were met with enthusiastic requests for more and decided to expand their line. In 2015, Little Barn Apothecary was debuted to the public with the promise that the product line is “simply simple”, meaning that the botanical ingredients in each product is 100% natural and selected by hand. All products are hand crafted in small-batch apothecary tradition and sold in recycled glass bottles with minimal packaging. Every product is 100% vegan and organic, containing wild-harvested ingredients whenever possible. All the products are free of synthetic ingredients, artificial colors, parabens or any sort of “fillers”. Little Barn takes inspiration from the earth to provide hand made formulations designed to evoke a simple feeling of well-being.

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Discount for YOU!
Well, whatever they're doing, it's working. Stevie keeps trying to steal my body oil, that rascal. If you want to snag your own, you can shop here and receive 15% off any purchase by using the code KRISTENH at checkout. Stock up on Christmas gifts, my friends! I am also a huge fan of the Ginger + Rosemary Hand and Body Wash and the Lavender + Frankincense Original Oil (amazing essential oils for supporting overall skin health!) I love dropping an extra drop or two of my Doterra essential oils in these products for added potency. Hurray for all the oils!

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Giveaway!
I'm super excited to partner with LBA to give away a "Glow For It" kit to one of you! This amazing set contains contains my beloved Honeysuckle + Grapefruit Body Oil, the Sweetgrass + Lavender soap and the Jasmine + Geranium Polishing Scrub. Jump over to my Instagram (@oykristen) for your chance to enter! Winner will be selected and notified on 11/22, Thanksgiving eve!

More about the Kit:
The “Glow For It” Body Kit comes in a limited edition box, complete with three items to help you achieve a natural, healthy glow, even in the dead of winter. First, cleanse skin with the Sweetgrass + Lavender Soap Bar, an organic, gentle soap made for all over body cleansing with essential oils to create the perfect aroma in your shower. Next, exfoliate with the Jasmine + Geranium Polishing Body Scrub, perfect for dry skin. This scrub uses pure, organic cane sugar and organic, skin loving oils to scrub away dead skin and reveal a softer, more youthful glow. After stepping out of the shower, pump a small amount of the Honeysuckle + Grapefruit Body Oil, and massage over still damp skin. This luxurious daily moisturizer is non-greasy and formulated for all skin types. It quickly absorbs deep into the skin to give you an all-day, glistening glow while sending you on an indulgent journey of sun-drenched blossoms, lightly kissed by delicate pink citrus. The “Glow For It” Body Kit is priced at $70 with a retail value of $80 and is available online at littlebarnapothecary.com and at select retailers.