In this moment

I just want to start off by expressing my utmost gratitude to all of those who continue to work during these challenging times. While putting yourselves in harm’s way all for the sake of your community’s health and safety. Please know y’all are constantly on my mind and in my prayers.

This blog post is in no way trying to judge or convince anyone what they should be doing or how they should be living their life.

I respect each individual’s decision and trust that in their own right are trying their best. 

Because that’s all we can ever ask of someone.

This is only my personal experience.

Khang and I are on “Day 10” of social distancing and “Day 1” of our county’s stay-at-home mandate till April 16.

Khang is still working full-time from home, whereas I am not. My dental office is closed except to see emergency patients. This has led me to apply for (temporary) unemployment for the first time in my life. It’s super weird. I have always worked from an early age of 13 years old.

But me being me and finding the positive in every situation, I feel very blessed for this time with not only Khang but with myself. And I’ve been taking full advantage of this “gift of time” basically forced upon us.

Last evening we started up a fire in our pit and had solid flames burning well into the night.

For those who don’t know, I love camping and having a campfire is one of the main reasons why.

So I feel especially lucky that I can now easily procure one on my back deck.

At around 8, I knew I would be warming up to the fire until it died out. It’s just a feeling I had and my mind was made up.

Khang on the other hand was ready to call it a night, so he could go play his computer games, which I was completely fine with.

Me and my fire by ourselves sounded like a wonderful date.

So I encouraged him to go ahead inside, but for whatever reason he cozied up too and laid his head on my lap. Anyone who knows Khang, knows he does not like to slow down.

He fell asleep.

And it was in that moment, I took everything in.

The quiet and still night.

The bright stars above us in the black sky.

The cool and crisp Spring air.

The glowing embers dancing in front of me.

& the warmth it created.

Or was that just the overwhelming feeling of warmth in my heart as my Cinderella of a husband was dozing off in my lap?

Wherever it came from, it was mesmerizing. I let it fill me and let my mind wonder.

Initially thinking of all my goals for 2020 and if I would be able to succeed in each one.

I suddenly reminded myself to stop and just take pleasure in this moment.

A moment that would not have occured because originally something was planned for this weekend, (and the next and the next) which would’ve required all my attention and thoughts.

So, I stopped.

And simply thanked God for this moment.

Hopefully anyone reading this can too in their life right now. Try not to stress or worry.

Happily seize these moments with your loved ones and yourself.

They’re worth remembering.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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30 Rocks!

“On my honor, I solemnly swear to set forth on the path of adventure.”

This is the first sentence to the Jules Scout Creed.

Let me explain.

I love adventure. I love exploring new lands. I love discovering myself through Mother Nature. 

More so, I love experiencing it all with loved ones.

And the PERFECT human beings joined me on a grand adventure for my thirtieth birthday weekend.

These are our stories. (Dun-Dun)

Normally I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday.

Because honestly, I celebrate it every day. 

Cheesy I know, but it’s the truth. 

But I randomly decided to just go for it and planned, planned, and planned! Very happily. 

Our itinerary was simple but ambitious: 

Glamping in a Hogan (hut) in the middle of the desert on Navajo reservation with no electricity, water, and wifi. 

Highlights included: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. 

Regardless of how much I planned, it was beyond my wildest dreams

Because no matter how much I planned, nothing prepared me for the many many special moments throughout this trip. 

Most of those precious moments I’ll keep to myself and between the other seven, but here are a few I’d like to share with you:

We were on the road for roughly 16 hours over the course of 3 days. The beautiful views and heart-to-heart talks made our drives easier.

Early on I thought of gift ideas for my peeps as a “thank you” for embarking on this grand adventure.

With all we hope to achieve, I felt like we were girl and boy scouts, so I bought each person a bandana with enamel pins (badges!) that represented our entire weekend.

Everyone took them to heart and it set the entire mood of our adventure together! You’ll see us wearing them in all our photos!

They called themselves “Jules Scouts” I was their leader of Troop 30.

So cuteeee!

Our living situation was pretty rough. Not going to lie. Mainly because we couldn’t shower at all…it was too cold at night.

I felt really bad for everyone.

With that being said, I loved staying in our Hogan.

I loved hiking to the ridge to catch the sunrise both mornings.

Yes, it was challenging to wake up every 30 minutes to keep our fire alive in the wood burning stove during the night,

but I loved it soooo much.

I love camping.

Once you can get over the feeling of being dirty, then you appreciate everything around you.

I took multiple nightly strolls by myself when I had to use the bathroom and each time I would spin around to take it all in.

Filled with too much excitement, I barely slept at night and watched the fire glow from inside the stove.

I laid in my cot and admired the wood constructed from inside our Hogan.

Again, taking it all in. 

The absolute feeling of pure ease and calmness.

Our first outing was the slot canyons. Different from Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon.

If you have questions, then just send me a message and I’ll explain why we decided to go with the much less-crowded and very beautiful Canyon-X.

Photos do not provide justice.

In fact, all the places we went to don’t in the least bit.

Later that day, we hiked in Zion National Park on the Overlook Trail.

It’s definitely one of my favorite trails to date. I didn’t take much photos, but that’s okay just shows how much I enjoyed the hike.

This view was waiting for us at the end.

Horseshoe Bend and Grand Canyon National Park were on our last day (Sunday), but not before s’mores over a warm campfire on our last night.

A very special night that I’ll remember forever.

I keep playing everything I saw and heard over and over in my head.

Definitely a “happy place” for me.

After a final group hike to watch the sunrise on our last morning, we filled our tummies with warm homemade Navajo tea and packed up to head towards Horseshoe Bend.

The position of the sun made it hard for photos, but Horseshoe Bend really surprised me by its size and beauty.

My favorite part was laying on our bellies at the edge and peering into the Colorado River!

Then we made our way West to our Final Frontier.

The first time we all saw (except Khang because he was driving) the Grand Canyon was priceless.

We all simultaneously brokeout into “WOWs!!!!!”

The majesty of it completely caught me off guard. Makes sense why they call it “Grand”!

Worthy of its name.

Due to time (we had a 10pm flight to catch later that evening) we decided to hike the Bright Angel Trail for 20 minutes. No stops for photos so we could take in the views and 40 minutes to hike back with photos.

Also to set away time to have our official Jules Scouts “final pinning ceremony”.

I stood on a rock, had my scouts declare our creed.

Then I asked each of them to “step forth for their final pin of the Grand Canyon National Park”.

Not going to lie, we looked and sounded like a cult.

But I loved every freaking single second of it! 

And that’s a wrap!

Still so so much I left out, but I want to end this post with the actual day of my birthday (Monday).

I slept on the plane and landed at 6:30am in Charlotte. I had to be at work by 9:30am. That East Coast life.

I cried on my drive to work. Not because I was sad that my wonderful weekend ended or because I didn’t want to go to work.

Quite the opposite. 

My heart was so full, happy and overwhelmed with joy.

Happy for the time I spent with my loved ones, but mostly happy for all my family and friends in my life.

Grateful for a job I love and not once thought about “calling-out” because I care about my patients.

Life is so good.

And I’m beyond thankful for these past 30 years and look forward to the next 30 more.

So please, spare me the “oh you’re getting old” and the “dread crap” because I’m not having it.

Not at all. 

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Helping Hands Kickoff!

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that you kept it away from others and held it close to your heart?

Some of you might know that I’ve had a blog for over 2.5 years now. You might also know if you searched around that at one point I had a separate page within the blog called “Helping Hands”, which was created 2 months after I started WithJules in November 2016, but I removed it from being public after sometime.

Well I’m ready to tell the truth and real purpose of my blog.

It was and has always been my dream to use my blog as a platform to showcase my crafting talents in order to raise proceeds for charities that I really care about.

For awhile, the goal was to raise enough funds to go on another mission trip. But it just hasn’t been the right time (many times). And well, I’m tired of waiting for the “right moment”.

So today, I’m announcing my first fundraiser for a non-profit organization that I’ve supported for a long time called Global Dental Relief. They provide free dental care to children all over the world. To be completely transparent, all donations will be made directly through their website.

I’m starting “Helping Hands” with this embroidery project that I truly fell in love with and is inspired by my childhood growing up in the MS Gulf Coast.

If you donate at least $85, then I will make you your very own embroidery hoop like the one pictured (frame not included)! Plus $15 directly sent to me for materials and shipping.

This would be a wonderful gift for a true Gulf Coaster, embroidery lover, nursery decor, or someone wanting that southern charm in their home or space. I seriously can’t help but smile when I look at it.

And because I love how custom it is, I’m allowing ONE LETTER CHANGE to make it more personal for the person receiving theirs.

If you are interested about being part of something special to not only me but others as well, please directly message me to get started or go straight here for more information!

I’m only making a limited amount of hoops since each one takes many hours of love to create. Secure yours today!

Happy FriYAY, y’all!

Flashback to my first dental mission trip to Belize in 2014, which sparked everything! Look at those sweet faces.

I also spy Khang in the background!

Holly: Moving fearlessly forward with faith

Have you ever met someone and instantly admired them?

That was me with Holly.

She graduated one class after me in dental hygiene school so, of course, I saw her around from a distance.

Oh my goodness, just realize I seem like a stalker. Hah!

Let me quickly get to the point here: I continued to admire her kindness and really blown away by her beauty.

Our friendship truly started to develop on a dental mission trip to Belize in 2014, which was life-changing to say the least.

And y’all, the more I got to know her the more I just fell in love with her!

I think what I loved most (on the mission trip) was her strong faith and how she gracefully carried Him in her heart and through her actions.

To put it simply, Holly’s beauty was much more than skin-deep. It flowed to her core and I just marveled at it.

And I continued to do so through good ole’ social media–she resides near Jackson, Mississippi.

So imagine my complete surprise when she began to document her struggles with her body in the past and present.

She also started sharing her journey with fitness and a healthier lifestyle, which is amazing and inspiring to say the least.

She documents it all (good and bad) but in a way that motivates you to not only improve your life and body, but your mind too, which is so so important.

To not judge your progress by the numbers loss alone, but by celebrating the confidence and fearlessness gained.

But still, I was over here in Charlotte still utterly shocked by all her insecurities and flaws she saw in herself.

Now I don’t want to come off as dismissing her opinions and emotions.

Because I did not.

In fact, I tried hard to see what she saw and instantly knew(like when I first met her), in return, I wanted to show her what I saw in her: all that confidence and fearlessness.

A different perspective from someone on the outside.

I wanted to show her through my eyes all the absolute beauty she holds.

Hence this photo session we did in the wee hours of the morning.

It was the best time.

Coffee seemed like a good place to start at the super cute Cultivation Food Hall.

We got right down to business!

Who are we kidding?! There were lots of giggles!

I mean y’all, how does one go about looking so freakin’ gorgeous in athletic wear?!

The lighting here wasn’t ideal, but it says “step into the light” to me. Or dance into it (her last name is Dancy too)! 

Holly,

Thank you thank youuu so much allowing me to capture you and your journey.

My hope is for you to look at these photos and marvel at your beauty inside and out.

You’re an absolute gem.

No matter where you go in life, heed no fear because for you my sweet friend, God has wonderful and beautiful plans for you.

All my love.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

Postscript: If you yourself are looking for a team to not only hold you accountable, but to motivate and inspire you towards a healthier body and lifestyle, then check out my girl Holly, who I know will lead you towards your goals and so much more!

Here are her Instagram and Facebook pages! And if you’re ready to get started here’s the direct link to join her tribe!

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Nature’s gift: Violet Syrup

It’s that time of year again where violet flowers are wildly blooming and I love seeing the pops of colors on the ground.

But did you know they hold magic? And you can unlock this magic and enjoy in your tummy at the same time?!

I learned about violet syrup last year at a foraging class in Asheville. I tried it right away after I discovered they grew in hoards right in my own backyard!

Khang really enjoyed making mint juleps at Cinco de Mayo last year for our friends and was pretty excited when he heard they were blooming again this year!

Making this is so very easy and fun!

It’s basically like making a simple syrup, but you add violets.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of (boiling) water

1 cup of white sugar

1 cup of Violet flowers:

Remove the calyxes (the green parts at the bases of the flowers) by twisting the petals free.

1. Pick the flowers.  Please make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or around animals that may have relieved themselves. Don’t forget to take a big wiff of the lovely violet scent. This step is important.

2. Clean and rinse with water like you would with cilantro. I usually rinse at least 3 times. 

3. Divide evenly into jars or glass containers. It doesn’t have to be glass but you can see all the loveliness better.

4. Pour water in pot, come to boil, lower heat, add sugar, stir till sugar has dissolved completely.

5. Carefully pour into jars of flowers while liquid is still steaming hot. Stir.

6. Let cool. Cover and place in fridge for 24 hours.

7. The next day, use a strainer to remove flowers.

8. Enjoy up to 1 year if it even lasts that long.

What I love about the violet syrup is how the color is natural and you don’t need to use artificial coloring.

Oh and did I mention the syrup turns PINK when you add acidic juices like lemon, orange, and lime!

It has something to do with the pigments in violets called anthocyanins which react to the lowered pH. Talk about a cool science lesson for the kids (and adults)!

This is Khang’s favorite reason to use the violet syrup. Hah! He uses it in his cocktails. But I prefer a simple mint lemonade!

The pictures below are based off of this Kentucky Lemonade recipe.

Khang prefers whiskey and garnishing with fresh mint. He used about 3 tablespoons of the syrup.

Mine is virgin and I prefer my mint muddled. I used 4-5 tablespoons because I added substitute the ginger ale with water.

I recommend you measure to taste.

Use your favorite drink recipes! Pour the violet syrup in first, then the lemon (or acid) to really witness that magic!

Also how sweet it would be for Mother’s Day if you made her a pitcher of pink lemonade with real violet flowers, which are edible by the way!

Just an idea. *Wink wink*

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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