Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meet the Cast

*Have you entered the GIVEAWAY for a Living Graciously Thirty-One  Thermal Tote yet?

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to our wonderful new team of writers! I know you will grow to love them and all that they have to offer. They truly are a great fit with Living Graciously and the ideals on which this site was founded. Welcome aboard Lauren, Carmel, and Ashley!
My name is Lauren and I am a 28 year old living in a sun-filled suburban Boston apartment with my wonderful husband, playful dog, and cuddly cat.  I have degrees in both psychology and guidance counseling, and I am currently working in the special education department of a high school. I strive to find a balance between the two basic food philosophies of “eat to live” and “live to eat“.  I believe that food should be (and is!) one of the great pleasures of leading a healthy lifestyle. 
My enjoyment of preparing and eating healthy food burgeoned during my graduate school years, when I started to prepare homemade meals. I found myself drawn to the eating habits instilled in me by my health-conscious parents; gravitating towards unprocessed foods and cooking with fresh ingredients. I became enthralled with The Food Network, subscribed to a handful of recipe catalogues, and scooped up a wide variety of cookbooks. My goal was to make food that was simultaneously wholesome and delicious. 
Over the past few years my culinary ambition has not wavered, but my confidence in the kitchen has grown. Lightening traditionally unhealthy dishes and creating my own recipes have become a true passion of mine. I also enjoy learning - and writing - about new kitchen tips and tools. Although I still consider myself somewhat of a cooking novice, I am thrilled to share my recipes, tips, and techniques with you. Some of my posts on The Kitchen have also been featured on my blog Healthy Food For Living (www.healthyfoodforliving.com) whereas others were written specifically for the Living Graciously blog. 
When I'm not in the kitchen, I'm either laughing with my husband, outside hiking with our dog, Shelby, snuggling on the couch reading with our cat Roxie, or planning my next meal ;).
If you ever have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you! You can email me at: foodliving AT gmail DOT com.
Hello, I'm Carmel. 
I'm a wife to my dream man (a.k.a the hubs) and stay-at-home mom to 2 great kids, and I'm currently living in my fifth house, hence the blog name - Our Fifth House (genius right?!).  I've spent the last ten years on board the "moving train" (because of the hubs job) and have finally settled down here in Lexington, Kentucky, which is the hubs hometown.  Since I've been married, I've moved 6 times, have had 7 addresses, lived in 5 houses, and have called 3 different states home (Kentucky, Virginia, & Pennsylvania).  While I am originally from Orange County, California, I love the Southeast!  I love having all four seasons, and I'm a big fan of southern comfort food! 

My moving adventures really sparked a design interest within me as I'm passionate about making my house a home.  I'm not a "designer" (although I am a Willow House Design Consultant), however I've gained quite a bit of experience in the "making-this-house-a-home" department.  I believe that your home is an expression of you and all who live there.  The hubs loves modern, 60's inspired designs while I lean toward traditional and french country styles with an updated twist.  It's kind of like West Elm meets Ballard Designs.  My mission is to create a home that reflects our "merged style" that is comfortable for both of us not to mention our 2 kids and 2 dogs.  Making this house a home is a journey not a destination, and I believe that it can be done without breaking the bank or sacrificing style.  I take it one diy project at a time.  My moving adventures have taught me one very important lesson.  Home is not a place; it's a feeling.  While I'm no expert, I'm excited to share what I've learned about how to make your house a home.  I'll be sharing lots of design ideas, tips, tutorials, along with a few decorating misadventures I'm sure.  You live and learn - that's my philosophy anyway!   

If you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them!  Please feel free to email me at Carmelraye@yahoo.com or follow me on twitter @Ourfifthhouse!

Well, hello there!
My name is Ashley,
and I recently had an epiphany.
Yes, this actually took me 24 years to discover.
You know those people who come out of the womb,
knowing they want to be a rocket scientist,
or a doctor, world saving, President of the United States?
And then they work the rest of their lives
pursuing that one thing?

Well, that has never been me.
I have ALWAYS wanted to be a published author.
But that's not all.
I want to inspire inner-city highschool kids,
have my own hand-made business,
be a motivational speaker,
and lead an organization that I founded called The Shine Project.
Here's where my epiphany comes in:
I don't have to choose just one thing!

Man that feels good to say!
My husband inspires me,
my beliefs lead me,
and my stubborn motivation keeps my goals high.
I'm a firm believer that we're all here to
and that's just what I intend to do.
Join me for ways to stay motivated,
ideas for small acts of service to lift others,
and lifestyle posts...
All while we share our progress with each other!
Disclaimer: The crazy events that I say happen to me, actually do. Be prepared for ridiculousness
You can find me regularly at The Shine Project.

I know you girls already kinda know me, but for those who might be new, I thought I'd introduce myself a little more formally:
My name is Kristin, and I am the founder of Living Graciously. I actually started blogging several years ago as a craft blogger to provide my customers with a constant string of stamping inspiration between classes, then in 2010, I started my original personal blog: Windy Poplars. I toyed around with what I wanted Windy Poplars to encompass: personal life, public life, instructive tips, a hodgepodge everyday-life blog, inspirational posts, a structured/organized resource blog, etc... and finally (after a year!) I came to the decision that I wanted to have a place that could be purely unstructured and about whatever I felt inspired to write at the time (Windy Poplars), and then create another space to be a purely instructional and inspirational  (and more organized- so people could easily go back and find a recipe they wanted to try for example) resource blog for the woman of many interests...like me! Hence, Living Graciously was born. - I've always been passionate about living your best life - we settle for so much less of what life holds, and God intends for us on a daily basis girls, so the idea of living a gracious lifestyle, seizing the day, and blogging about it, seemed a recurring anthem that beat within my heart. Now I'm so very thankful to have these girls beside me along for the ride!

On the personal side: I'm in my early thirties, am married to a wonderful man who is truly my human completion. We live happily on 3 acres in the country (our little corner of the earth is called Windy Poplars) and we share our home with two little incorrigible Bichon Frise pooches (Chester and Caroline), and a rather stuck up grey calico cat (Autumn). I have so many interests and hobbies, I won't bore you by listing them all here! A short list is: writing, crafting, cooking, travel, entertaining, dancing, and home decorating. I work as a wedding director for a local bed and breakfast, a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, a piano teacher,  and most recently an Artfire artisan selling my handmade and vintage wares, so my days are generally full --but full of good things! - I am an interactive blogger at heart, and love more than anything, having two-way conversations with my readers. So I hope you'll join in the conversation, don't be afraid to speak out (i.e. leave comments ;-)), and become a friend of Living Graciously!