Autumn Splendor: The Gift of No

November 29, 2016 // autumn walk // autumn walk

The autumn that is ending has been one of my favorites to date. It’s always been my favorite season, full of magic and warmth, but this one was more illuminating & empowering than any that have come before it.

This past summer was a tumultuous one for me. Through all of that, I prayed hard for a sign from God. Then one day, I looked behind me and I saw this. There it was, loud and clear, exactly what I needed: Slow down. As summer came to a close, the tumult began to fade and peace set in. I had my sign.

And so,

slow down,

I did.

I took the autumn “off” in a lot of ways. I rested. I reflected. I prayed. I walked slowly through nature. I took photographs. I laughed. I cried. I listened. I shared.

In the silence of what came next, in the reflecting, I found wisdom.

I realized that there are two types of people in the world: people who are afraid to say no and people who are not afraid to say no.

I spent my entire life being the former, always afraid to say no; afraid to disappoint; afraid to upset — even when it came at my own expense. And then, one day, I said enough. What a thing it is to feel empowered to say no, any time, any place, to any one. It is a gift, a gift to myself and now I will walk happily through the rest of my life carrying no in my hands, never afraid to use it whenever I need it.

And most importantly, now, when I say no, I never, ever feel guilty. For my no is my gift to myself and I trust myself to know well-enough when it is the right time to say it. // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk // autumn walk

I hope that you are well, friends. Here in northern New Jersey, autumn is quickly turning into winter. The bright, warm colors in these photographs are quickly fading, even in my memory. Winter has never been an easy thing for me, as you well know if you’ve been reading here awhile. Yet, this week all of the autumn decorations have been coming down and in their place Christmas has been popping up and bringing fresh hope with it.

Last night, the children and I were driving home. The sun had set and Christmas lights were glowing brightly in the front yards that we passed. Candles were burning warmly in the windows. I felt a surge of warmth in my heart, a deep, profound gladness for all of the people sitting safely & happily inside of their homes. Most of all, I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my own multitude of blessings. Perhaps this winter will not be as cold as the ones that came before it. Perhaps magic will live on and shine bright. Perhaps peace & love will reign supreme. ♥

Simple, Delicious Seared Ahi Tuna Salad

November 17, 2016


As a busy mama with two little ones running around, “Me Time” doesn’t happen every day. So when it does happen, I’m all about keeping it low-maintenance and stress-free. Still, when it does come around, I want to enjoy that precious time and treat myself well.


That’s why I’m always on the lookout for delicious ingredients that make me feel like I’m having a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of my own home. I was recently invited to try out the new Bumble Bee SuperFresh® line. And it did not disappoint.


After an exhausting day chasing toddlers, I had a few hours by myself to relax. I whipped up this delicious Seared Tuna Salad and paired it with a bottle of wine I’d been saving for a special occasion. It was so simple–less than 15 minutes to have everything ready to enjoy. Food, wine, and my favorite music playing in the background. This mama thought she’d died and went to heaven for a little while there. 😉



Whether you’re enjoying some well-deserved “Me Time” or even entertaining guests, this simple, delicious salad is sure to impress.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One package of Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Seared Ahi Tuna
  • A handful of Roma Tomatoes
  • A bowl of Spring Mix
  • A handful of Sliced Almonds
  • Your favorite Dressing (Ginger & Wasabi are both delicious with Tuna!)


Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Seared Ahi Tuna is so simple to prepare. Just remove from vacuum pack and place in refrigerator to thaw. Allow to thaw approximately 3 hours. Plate and serve. Et voilà! You’re ready to eat and enjoy.

Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Seared Ahi Tuna is the first ever sushi quality “Thaw and serve” packaged seafood product. It stays frozen during the processing and never fully defrosted or re-frozen during preparation, so Bumble Bee guarantees its quality is on par with what you expect from fine chefs who know how to source the best product for their restaurants.


My favorite part about Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Ahi Tuna is that they are wild caught and harvested from sources that are managed to promote healthy fish stocks for generations. As a gal who absolutely loves sushi, but struggles with the ethics of eating certain fish species, this is music to my ears.

I hope that you enjoy this easy and healthy recipe as much as I did. ♥

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Halloween 2016 // Dinosaur & Lamb

November 14, 2016

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween is kind of a big deal around here. Errrr… that’s an understatement. Halloween is actually THE. BIGGEST. DEAL. around here. Roman and I start getting amped up about the end of July. This year the kids’ costumes were purchased in August. In October, once the Halloween decorations start going up all over town, we make a special effort to pass the best-decorated houses at least once a day. We start watching “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and Curious George’s “Boofest” at the very first signs of autumn.

For me, Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a way of life, a celebration of everything that is fun and magical about childhood. So many of my own best childhood memories were built around Halloween. The smell of pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, the excitement of carving a jack-o-lantern, the thrill of bobbing for apples, spooky Halloween songs & stories, the joy of trick-or-treating from door-to-door on cool October days. I am so grateful to spend the rest of my life celebrating the magic with my sweet babies.

This Halloween was as beautiful an autumn day, as one could hope for. The sun was shining and the air was crisp. Orange, red, yellow and brown leaves were painted on the trees and swirling through the air. Pumpkins were glowing on front porches and the whole community gathered at their front doors to greet babies, children, and teens with treats & smiling faces.

As has often been the case this year, I didn’t get to take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked. Still, I am so grateful that I decided to drag along my big camera and at least capture these precious moments that I’m sharing here today.

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

Halloween 2016 //

I hope that you had a most special Halloween celebration this year, friends. I’ve just now, two weeks later, begun to reluctantly take our Halloween decor down around the house. Onto Thanksgiving and Christmas! But don’t worry Halloween, we’ll see you again next year for even bigger and better celebrations. ♥

Free Desktop Calendar Background // November

October 31, 2016


Happy Halloween, friends. I hope that you had the most wonderful October possible. More importantly, I hope that you have a magical Halloween today! 🎃 I am so excited to get the babies dressed up in their costumes and to head out trick-or-treating later. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I’m cherishing every moment of it with my little ones.

As excited as I am, I am also a little sad that my favorite month is over. Still, there is lots of beauty right around the corner in November. So today I’ve made another free desktop calendar background to celebrate the beauty of November.

To download it, simply click on the link below that best suits your screen size. Then right click and choose ‘set as desktop background.’ Enjoy!

November // Desktop Calendar Background 1024 X 768 px
November // Desktop Calendar Background 3840 X 2860 px

Dena xo

Free Printable Watercolor Wall Art – Autumn Greetings

October 19, 2016

Free Printable Wall Art Autumn

“October, crisp, misty, golden October,

when the light is sweet and heavy.”

–Angela Carter, The Magic Toyshop

Hello, friends. I can’t believe that October is halfway over. I am savoring each beautiful day. October is my very favorite month of the year. I love it so much that my heart soars throughout this wonderful month. Each day, I take the babies for long walks and we take in the stunning colors of the changing trees and the gorgeous smells of the earth as the season transitions. It’s the perfect time for campfires and hikes and all of my favorite things. It has been a month of great changes for me — highs and lows. Through it all, there has been so much magic. My heart is full and grateful.

“In October any wonderful

unexpected thing might be possible.”

–Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

This afternoon after a walk in the warm October sun, I was inspired to create another freebie for you all. This time it is a piece of printable wall art. It will fit perfectly inside of any standard 8×10 frame. There are two versions, one if your frame has no mat and one if your frame has matting. Just click the desired link below, download, and print.

8×10 Printable
8×10 Printable (with Mat)

I hope that this piece adds a bit of warmth and magic to your space. If you do print it and hang it, I would absolutely love to see a photo! You can email me at denabotbyl [@] gmail [.] com. I would be so grateful.

Autumn Greetings to you, my “deer” friends. xo

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