under construction

hello friends!

just sharing some exciting news this morning. blooming branch has been on my heart a great deal lately and i've been making lots of plans for it. in fact, so much so that in a few weeks, the new and improved blooming branch blog is going to be live! i'm soon to have a new logo, a new blog look and a new url thanks to some very talented folks i've met through odesk who are making my life easy. it's going to be fan-cy and i am very eager to have a new space to resume my long-neglected posting.

in the meantime, you can read a few freelance pieces i've written recently for ibelieve here (on friendship) and here (on career). i've been blessed to have the opportunity to write for these folks and am excited to continue doing so!

stay tuned in the coming weeks for some big time changes - i can't wait to share them!


image via gnato on deviantART



with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways an in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like the cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
and we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

- w.s. merwin 

image: waiting by vilhelm hammershoi via silent storyteller


havana nights

tonight i went to a new zumba class. for starters, i've been taking zumba for probably about four years now, off and on, and with a few different instructors. it's so much fun and has definitely loosened up this ex-ballerina. latin dance + hip hop is basically always a win in my book. surprisingly, i'm actually rather good at zumba. one of my prouder moments was during a class a few years ago when a man next to me wearing tighter workout pants than i will ever own and a legit sweatband stopped what he was doing and said to me "girl, you're tall, but you sure can shake it." um, thank you? i'll take that as a compliment.

that said, i fearlessly walked in to tonight's class with all the confidence in the world. as a disclaimer, i'm not terribly confident at the gym in general. i don't like weight rooms or classes with words like "blast" or "turbo" in them. i don't ever want to incorporate a tire into my workout and i think there's a reason that "burpee" sounds like a noise you make right before you vomit. i don't pretend to be hardcore. but when it comes to zumba, i'm good to go. i don't usually have trouble keeping up.

but then there was this class.

with the latin instructor wearing flames printed up the sides of her pants. who kept shouting commands in spanish and was impossible to see. where 60% of the other women in the class were latin. with literal non-stop salsa music and faster moves than i've ever seen. with no breaks or tutorials or overviews. where i faced the front when everyone else faced back and vice-versa. where i had to resort to trying to emulate the lovely latino girl in front of me with the backless shirt and the remarkably impressive beyonce booty shake.

at the end of the class, i thought it would be a good idea to talk to the instructor. for the record, her makeup still looked perfect and she was barely sweaty. she was painfully pretty and spoke with a heavy spanish accent. here's how it went basically:

me: "hi, this is my first class and i really enjoyed it! i've taken zumba before, but this is a little faster-paced than i'm used to. how long does it usually take newcomers to catch up?"

señorita: "you never dance before? that's okay. you can't keep up, you just march."(demonstrates marching in place for my benefit)

me: "well, no, i've actually danced my whole life. and i never usually have trouble keeping up in zumba. this is just a lot faster and different than i'm used to. how many combinations do you have in rotation on a regular basis?"

señorita: "that's okay you just practice." (gives me a sad, sympathetic once-over) "wow... look at you. you sweaty."

muchas gracias.

image via @glamourouscitylights on tumblr


high five

i was recently tagged by the lovely lacey (and by recently i mean like six months ago) to do a fun little "five things" post that's been floating around the bloggy world these days. ironically, this also happens to be my five-hundreth blog post. even though i haven't been very committed to the blog lately, i am so thankful for the role it has played and will play in chronicling my life and engaging my creativity. a five things post seems a fitting way to mark this milestone. making lists happens to be one of my favorite things, so let's get to it. five random things you may not know about me:

1. one of my other favorite things in life (besides lists) is taking weekend trips to new (and old) places. i love trying new restaurants, exploring local boutiques and galleries and wandering neighborhoods looking at houses. it doesn't have to be far away and i get just as excited about small towns as i do about the big ones. even when i don't particularly love a place, it's fun to experience the culture and find the things that make it unique. i'm not a big fan of doing tourist-y things when i travel, and i like to take my time and be spontaneous. schedules are for work days.

2. sometimes (a lot of times) i like to sing in my car and practice my kareoke debut. i've never actually sung karoke and that's probably better for everyone. if i did, however, i would probably like to sing 1. tim mcgraw by taylor swift 2. escapade by janet jackson  or, a duet with some unbeknowst kid rock stand-in to 3. picture by kid rock featuring sheryl crow. (and please don't judge me for numbers two and three. the heart wants what it wants.) this tidbit does not, however, mean that i am actually going to sing karaoke. okay then.

3. i really like books and magazines. i don't want to read them on a tablet. i want to hold them in my hands and turn their pages and underline things and fold down corners. sorry, iPad, but i just don't need or want your help with that.

4. i overanalyze everything. all the time. every waking moment, every single thing. sometimes i'd like to turn my brain off, please, and not think so much. it would probably definitely make my life a little less stressful.

5. when i grow up and have a family, i am so excited to make big, lazy breakfasts together on weekends. especially pancakes. i love breakfast and i love staying home in my pajamas and making it. it will be a lot more fun when i don't have to eat all the cinnamon rolls by myself. although i can't say i mind too much because cinnamon rolls are delicious.

1. tedbaker 2. budget travel 3. honey kennedy 4. victoria savannah


crockpot happiness

there is a very high likelihood that i have lost my mind within the last few days. not only did i sleep through my alarm for over an hour this morning (and i vaguely remember trying to turn off npr with my iphone at one point), but yesterday evening (tuesday) when i came home hungry for dinner, i realized the the huge pot of soup i made on sunday afternoon was still sitting in the pot on my stove. i guess i should be thankful the stove wasn't still on, which wouldn't have actually shocked me. apparently i need to slow down a little bit. thankfully, there are really easy and fool-proof crockpot recipes for helpless people like me who seem to be a bit scatterbrained. tonight i came home after an almost twelve hour day to the most delicious crockpot meal i've made yet. and probably the easiest prep-wise too. also, if you know me at all you know i generally am not great when it comes to following recipe directions and this one is very open for modifications (aka whatever vegetables i happen to have in the fridge at the moment). i was so happy with it, i had to share:

balsamic chicken and vegetables
you can read the original recipe here, but i changed/modified it quite a bit, to be honest:

2 - 3 large chicken breasts
1 whole head of garlic
2 sliced zucchini
1 red onion, sliced
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 cups small grape tomatoes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

1. place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of a crock pot. season with salt and pepper.
2. peel garlic, but keep cloves whole
3. slice zucchini and onion, toss with tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic
4. place vegetables on top of chicken
5. mix balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce, pour over vegetables
6. cover and cook on low for eight hours (if you want to cook on high, you're on your own. i have no idea how to cook on high.)

i actually cooked this on low for about ten hours, and it was still completely moist and delicious. i doubled the initial liquid suggestions since i knew i'd be cooking for quite a while. additionally, i thought with such a short list of ingredients it might end up tasting bland, but it was quite the opposite. i was floored. i didn't actually measure any of the veggies, but i just filled up the crock pot. i also think summer squash would be really delicious so i'll likely decrease the zucchini and add that to the mix next time. and there will definitely be a next time!


i can't believe it's not...ice cream

i think it is important that i share something very important with you: blue bunny frozen yogurt is ridiculously good. in fact, i thought it was actually ice cream the first time i ate it. but then i looked at the nutritional facts thinking how horrified i was going to be after eating a half gallon by myself (not really. but kind of.) and was actually shocked in a good way. there was barely any fat. there was a lot of protein. the ingredients didn't contain words i couldn't pronounce. there were healthy probiotics that didn't require me to turn into jamie lee curtis and eat activia. i mean, let's be honest, it still has calories and all dessert is probably full of crap that we don't need to be stuffing into our bodies by the very-large-spoonful, but in general, i feel pretty good about this stuff. i also feel pretty good about the fact that it tastes remarkably good and has incredible flavors that don't just include chocolate and vanilla. (but they have those too if you're into that.)

my favorites include the two flavors that i have tried. but honestly i'm so happy with them i'm not sure it's worth branching out.


white chocolate raspberry (follow the link for nutritional information) includes "white choclate flavored frozen yogurt swirled with a raspberry ribbon and dark chocolate chunks". win win win. win.

carmel praline crunch might even be slightly better if that's possible. "butter pecan frozen yogurt with praline pecan pieces swirled with a salty caramel ribbon." is there a combination that sounds more fantastic? i don't think so. i'm on board for pretty much anything that contains salty caramel. i am actually eating some while i write this and feeling like all is as right with the world as it can be on a random tuesday night in february.

the wonderful thing about the two aforementioned flavors is that harris teeter carries them in mini single-serve sizes. meaning you can flirt with the cute baby ones without making a serious fro yo commitment, just in case you have issues with that.

p.s. this post is not related to blue bunny in any way and all opinions are my own. meaning, blue bunny didn't pay me to write about how much i love their fro yo. but if they wanted to pay me or give me free product, i mean, i probably wouldn't say no to that.

images via: 1.petitefolie 2.flickriver 3.flickriver


friday eye candy

meet my friend allison. she's gorgeous. she runs half marathons. she loves jesus. she has a cute dog named ranger. she now lives around the corner from me. she sells mary kay. she is the only person in the world i know who owns and loves every season of friends as much as i do. and she just got married to her best friend. i don't know rob too well yet, but my favorite thing about the two of them together is that when they had a long distance relationship they'd use skype to play connect four with each other. is that not the cutest thing ever? personally, i'd be partial to texas hold 'em or monopoly deal, but it's probably hard to wager things via the interwebs.

i had the honor of sharing in allison and rob's special day and despite the fact that the temperature never rose above 50 degrees, had a blast at their outdoor ceremony. what's even better is that allison hired my sweet friend and insanely talented photog, lindsey lee hartsell to capture her special day. and it's your lucky day because there's a huge slideshow of their lovey nuptials over on her blog. go check it out and round out this week of love with a real wedding featuring two people who definitely love one another.

happy friday!

p.s. if you leave a comment on lindsey's blog post, allison can win free photography. it takes five seconds and i promise lindsey lee will not fill up your inbox with spam. i mean, why wouldn't you want to help allison print more photos of her fantastic bridesmaids to hang on her walls?

all images via lindsey lee photography


the one with the candy hearts

better late than never, but happy valentine's day! i've been running six ways from sunday today, but it's been a happy one. cupcakes for breakfast at our office party. planning with a sweet sweet coworker who is leaving tomorrow to have cancer surgery. event rebrand meeting at the insanely cool ten park lanes in charlotte. learning and live tweeting at the TEDxCharlotteED conference this afternoon. dinner with my parents. now i'm sitting by the fire and nursing my sugar hangover.
if you haven't already done so, hop on over to ibelieve and read my far more insightful thoughts about today instead of my half-asleep wishes at the end of all the craziness. i hope you felt loved today. and i hope you ate some candy hearts and chocolate of some kind. until next year...
"and love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. we have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking." - henri nouwen


put a little love in your heart

even though i almost never post lately, you should know i'm still alive. and in celebration of the fact that i love valentines' day and it's coming soon, i have taken the time to create the ultimate love song playlist. i like love songs. i like making playlists. especially ultimate ones. i also especially like love songs that are not generally played by delilah. all of the ones on the playlist in the sidebar ------> really resonate with me for one reason or another. they are my favorites and you should listen to them. and stop being mad at me for never posting on my blog. my valentine to you. you're welcome.

a few other notes in regard to this playlist:

- kc and jojo's all my life almost made it. don't judge me.
- in case you ever had any doubt that you're the inspiration isn't one of the greatest love songs ever, watch this video from the old tv show ed (remember that!?). tom cavanaugh and julie bowen are second only to ross and rachel and nick and jess when it comes to great tv couples.
- nickelcreek's when you come back down isn't just an ultimate love song, it's likely my favorite song in all of the world.
- if you aren't already a dave barnes fan, you should be. three of his songs made the list because they're that good.
- i'm sorry, tpain, but just because your song is entitled best love song and i like to listen to it when i run does not entitle you to make the list. thanks for playing.

additional note: if you're reading on a tablet or mobile device, the embedded playlist won't load. but don't dismay! click here and put a little love in your heart.

image via laurenconrad



if i had a dollar for every time lately someone has told me i look like taylor swift, i could probably buy the ralph lauren collection dress that she wore to the people's choice awards last night. i am freaking out a little bit over how stunning she looked. that dress is unbelievable. i'm generally a pretty modest dresser, but i think she played this one perfectly. she looks sexy and classy.

i don't really see my resemblance to tay swift, but i have been asked to appear as her at the cabarrus chamber's annual meeting next friday. given that i don't have to sing and get a free lunch out of the deal, i am pretty happy about it. perhaps taylor would lend me this dress for my appearance? or is it too much for a day event?

images: 1.-2.stylefrizz



happy 2013!

after a lovely christmas holiday, i ended 2012 with three petty traffic citations (none of which actually had to do with my driving and i'd like to think that cops on nye are more interested in citing drunk drivers than goodytwoshoes rule-followers like me, but alas, some state troopers are apparently bored) and kicked off the new year with flannel pajamas, my mom, a downton abbey marathon and a little bubbly. today i am back at work and making an effort to actually ignore the crazy to-do list (and the 250+ emails) that follow two weeks of vacation and take a proper lunch hour to blog and breathe.

i am excited about 2013, yet i have realized lately that i'm not really the optimist that i thought i was. i imagine exciting scenarios. change, excitement, future happiness, but i don't really expect they will happen. i've found that i often expect things i wish would happen not to happen to avoid certain disappointment, and i think that's a sad way to live. lately the Lord has taught me that it's good to hope, good to trust and good to plan for the best scenarios. while disappointment is a fact of life, He is faithful and sometimes wonderful things can happen. i don't want to be cynical. i want to be hopful.

i don't really make new year's resolutions because i like to think we're constantly changing and improving for the better, not just once a year (and plus, does anyone honestly make it past january with the eat-only-clean-foods-do-one-thing-that-scares-you-everyday business?), but i do like the idea of making a motto or words to live by for a year. in 2013, i've decided that mine is going to be extremely simple: hope. there are so many beautiful scripture verses regarding hope and i'm excited to explore and memorize them this year as i not only rejoice in the hope i see around me, but hope in the plans that the Lord has for me and watch the way He uses them build my faith in Him and His goodness.

join me in hoping during 2013, won't you?

"may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - romans 15:13

image credit lipstick&curls via sarah martin