Join Me For Some TGIF Rambles

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It’s Friday! We made it through the first week of school! It’s a holiday weekend! I like to overuse exclamation points!

This week has both flown by and dragged on. I kept myself  busy with friend dates, hosting a dinner party, “back to school” shopping, and sitting by the pool. Although I took on a  little more relaxed blogging schedule this summer, I”m getting into the “back to school” mindset and have the urge to get back to posting. 

So, I’d like to invite you to sit down and have a chat with me. And because this is a blog and you can only talk back in the comments, (and PLEASE do, I love having conversations with you all) you’ll just be listening to me ramble about what’s going on in my mind today. Isn’t that how blogs started in the first place?

  • I’m so relieved we survived the first week of Ryan’s final year.  I checked the “days until graduation” countdown about 50 times this week. If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m not kidding. You may think I”m being overly dramatic about this whole thing and tired of hearing about it. So let’s move on to another topic…
  • So in less serious talk I am SO  immensely disappointed in the True Blood series finale. (stop reading here and jump down the the next bullet if you have no desire to hear me ramble on about a HBO show). Yes, yes, the show has gone down hill in the past few years, but THIS is how the writers choose to end it? They leave us with this little fairytale ending? Barf! And all that sexist wedding talk and how Bill insisted he “give” Jess away. Also, why was it okay for a vampire to marry a human when it was Jess and Hoyt but Sookie and Bill couldn’t get married? I’ll tell you why, because Sookie wants babies and Jess can’t have them. That’s all it came down to. So, this show, which is so open to all other sorts of relationships and specialness couldn’t be open to Sookie having a baby in any sort of way and then still living romantically happy with Bill? No. Of course Bill had to die, I get that. This has always been Sookie’s story. But I can’t imagine that simply because Bill died, that not only she, but the whole remaining population of Bon Temps gets a happy fairytale ending? I couldn’t take it! Also no love for Lafayette? My favorite character did not get a single damn line in the whole 70 minute finale! Ugh, rant over.
  • Speaking of TV, we watched the first two seasons of Orphan Black this summer. AHamzing! I wasn’t sure if I would like it since it seemed to be more sci-fi than I typically like. But it was so addicting! Both seasons are currently on Comcast OnDemand, I highly recommend it. Tatiana Maslany is so talented.
  • Now that Ryan is busy with school again, I get full control of the remote! There are quite a few movies and TV shows that I’ve been putting aside to watch again. I just started Call The Midwife and already love it! Can’t wait to get in my girly shows this year. 
  •  I had some friends over for dinner on Wednesday night, and one friend brought watermelon, mozzarella, and basil bites. Yep, caprese but with watermelon instead of tomato! I’d never think of that combo myself but they were delicious.
  • We’re headed up to my friend’s lake house for the Labor Day holiday and I can’t wait to get one more waterfront celebration in before summer officially closes up her doors. Wait, I take that back, we’re headed to the beach in September too…
  • But seriously, why is everyone so excited for Fall? I can’t scroll through instagram for more than 10 seconds without seeing 15 Pumpkin Spice Latte’s and everyone’s gabbing about scarves and boots. I still feel like the longest winter known to man just ended. Let’s hold off on starting it all again. It’s still summer until September 22. Enjoy it. 
  • And amidst all this “Back to School” talk I’m itching for something new. I’m ready for some kind of change or just something new to get excited about. I’ve been filling up our Fall weekends with fun trips and things to look forward to. This year is going to be a good one!
  • What are you doing for the long weekend? Join me on instagram and let’s celebrate the unofficial end of summer together!

xoxo Katie
 

Customizable Dresses from eShakti

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I love online shopping, it’s a little addiction of mine. Sometimes there is nothing better than the anticipation of a new order arriving on your doorstep any day.

The problem with online shopping is an obvious one, not being able to try it on. I’ve received many items of clothing in the mail that simply looked atrocious on or didn’t fit my body type. A size 6 at one store is the equivalent of a size 10 at another store. Confusing and difficult.

In steps eShakti to the rescue.

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 A little while ago eShakti offered me a dress of my choice in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

eShakti is an online dress shop that offers fully customizable dresses and tops for all women sizes 0 – 36. Yep, you read that right, they completely customize your order taking your height, bust, waist measurements as well as asking what type of straps, sleeves, or length of dress you’d prefer. 

And it’s not crazy expensive! Yep, you can order a customized dress at an affordable price (they also offer a lot of great deals each week like BOGO right now!). 

I picked out this lovely green dress with pretty white embroidered detail. I did not have any green dresses in my wardrobe and I loved the bright color. 

After inserting my measurements and placing my order the dress arrived within 9 days. 

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It fits me perfectly in the chest, waist, and hip area. As someone with a small chest and with hips that are larger than my waist, dress shopping can sometimes prove to a be a little difficult.

Dresses that fit in my hips are often way too big in the chest area, leaving a gap where my supposedly larger breasts are supposed to be. If I get it to fit my waist and chest the hip area is way too tights or sometimes won’t even zip up. You get the picture.

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That wasn’t the case here. Since eShatki made this dress to my measurement it fit wonderfully.

The one thing I would change is the length. And this is my bad. I did not know that I could request that the dress be made a shorter length. (Currently the dress is a past my knees in a matronly tea length).

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They really will make the dress to order! So speak up! Want cap sleeves? Full short sleeves? A maxi length? A longer torso? You got it!

Check out the variety of their dresses, many of them vintage themed with classic cuts. Stop making guesses with cut and style and get a dress that is made for you!

Shop eShatki and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

 

xoxo katie

The Last First Day of School

Today is a big one. Today is Ryan’s LAST first day of school!

While all the mom’s were posting pictures of their cute kids headed off to their first day of school today, I couldn’t resist posting Ryan headed off to his first day of his last year of law school. Hallelujah!

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The last year. Still letting that sink in.

So begins another year of only seeing him on the weekends. Of being a constant cheerleader and a wizard-like budget maker.

 

When you’re in the depths of law school, with an overly anxious student that also works a full-time job and adds on Moot Court, and research and TA positions, and law journal, you think law school is going to last your entire life. It’s easy to get lost in the darkness and forget that this is going to just be a short period of your life. 

I’ve written about being married to a law student here and here. It’s tough. Many people are telling us these will probably be the toughest years of our lives. There’s still a lot of unchartered territory ahead. Two semesters, bar exam prep, taking the bar exam, and finding a job. 

As a couple, I think our biggest anxiety comes from the unknown. We are stuck in this “in between” patch of our lives. We have no clue where we will be living next year. Where he will get a job. How we will be paying off the excruciating amount of student loans. We’ve put things off. In our home, the phrase “After law school” is used as commonly as “coffee”. 

We made the most of this summer. Worries were but aside as much as possible and we unplugged and made each other a priority.

This past weekend you would think we’d do something fun and exciting to celebrate our last few days of freedom. No, we were out running errands, buying new shoes, hitting up Costco, and doing laundry, cooking meals for the week, and cleaning. Boring old married stuff. But I cherish doing those every day things with Ryan.

People warned me about marrying a law student. They said that the marriage would come second. That many marriages barely make it.

But I can’t imagine married life any other way. This is all I know. We’re a team. I’m happy to be married to a man who is passionate about his dream and is still supportive of mine. I don’t know how Ryan does it, how he slaves away at his job and also manages to put 100% into law school and still get amazing grades and accomplishment. Yes, I’m bragging. 

Sure I dream of the day when Ryan can come home at a reasonable hour, when we won’t be stressing about every bill, and when Ryan will be fulfilled in a career that he has worked hard for. But,  I like to think that these stressful days of pinching pennies, of saying yes to another dinner in while watching Netflix and no to a Saturday night out, of making the most of our time together will only strengthen our marriage. As cheesy as it sounds, love does win sometimes. 

I just need to remember that in the coming weeks when I’m feeling lonely and lost and like no amount of love can diminish Ryan’s stress and anxiety and like the days are longer than the weeks. We’ve got this! We’ve got this! We’ve got this! 

xoxo Katie

Pesto Quinoa Zucchini Boats

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Summer, the perfect season to eat healthy, when fresh veggies and fruit spring up all over and can be purchased cheaply.

Right now, zucchini are on sale at my town’s farmer’s markets for 5 for $1. With an abundance of zucchini on hand and a stomach that is so tired of zucchini bread I decided to experiment with a new recipe. 

Pesto Quinoa Zucchini Boats!

What You Need:

5 medium to large zucchini

1 cup of quinoa

2 tablespoons of pesto

2 tablespoons of reduced fat cream cheese 

1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Using a spoon, carve the zucchini into “boats”. Scoop out the seedy section making enough of a bowl to stuff with your quinoa mixture.

2. Bake the plain zucchini in the oven (preheated to 325 degrees) for 25 minutes or until they are soft. 

3. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa on your stove top. 

4. Once the quinoa is ready and fluffed, mix in your pesto and cream cheese. Stir generously.

5. Remove the zucchini boats from the oven, fill them with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

6. Place zucchini boats back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes until the cheese melts. 

Enjoy!

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What else do you like to make with zucchini? I’d love to try other new recipes. 

xoxo Katie

 

 

On Blogging – One Year In

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One year ago today I started this blog. 

This was my first real post. It’s kind of embarrassing. But blogging is always kind of embarrassing, right?

I’ve learned a lot during my first year of blogging. In the beginning I knew nothing. I had never heard of link ups and had no idea sponsorships existed. The idea some people pull in a steady blogging paycheck each month blew my mind.

Last August I was a sparkly newlywed full of hope and ready to start something new. One of my freelance employees suggested that I start writing articles sharing  my personal perspective on life as a newlywed. I was a little hesitant, but the fact that he was paying me for each article made me try it anyways. 

Soon after writing these cliché newlywed articles for him I decided to branch out and start my very own blog, writing about whatever I wanted. I have since stopped writing the for profit articles. They felt false and forced. Probably because money was involved. 

What I’ve Learned Since Then:

Blogging is hard. Much harder than I thought it was.  It takes time, effort, and a fearless attitude.

The Best Advice:

The best advice I received before starting this blog is the best advice I also give: Be authentic. 

It’s very easy to lose sight of your true self in blogging.

You get lost in the comparison game. In the number game. In blogging just to blog. You get lost feeling like you have to blog every damn day. Your voice gets lost. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Even when you say, “No, no I could care less about the numbers, I’m writing for me!” Please, if you were writing for yourself, you’d write in a private journal. A little piece of you will always care about the numbers. 

Other bloggers will start to feel like the mean girls that would never invite you to the cool high school parties. But remember, the good people always, always, out weigh the bad.

One day, you’ll see 15 bloggers blogging about the very same topic. Sponsored posts take over and you wonder “What’s the point?”

Like most things in life, my blogging goes through ebbs and flows. I’ll have a month where I can’t get the words out fast enough. I’m filled with ideas and questions. Other months I’m at a loss at what to say and fall back on recipes, lists, and link ups that end up feeling un-authentic and dry. And still, other months I feel so disheartened by blogging. Times when it all feels like a big pointless game I just want to shut it all down.

I’ve learned to take blogging breaks. Breaks are okay! A week or two off here and there will never hurt you. I’m learned to leave blogging behind for a bit and to let new ideas come in. To gain a fresh perspective. And then I come back with a new whole passion for blogging and sharing. 

There are no set rules. Make your own and follow them. 

Blogging will always be weird, a little nerdy, and very narcissistic. People will judge you but a few people will connect with you. Even if one new person connects with you, it is worth it.

I’m not sure what the future of this blog holds for me. I hope you continue along on the journey!

xoxo Katie

Jamaica Part 2, a day in the life

Take me back!

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Earlier this week I shared Part 1 of our Jamaican vacation recap. Today I’m going to be sharing the last of our photos. My entire family spent a week at Secrets Saint James in Montego Bay

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A week later, I still feel energized from the trip. I think these vacations should be mandatory every 6 months. What do you think?

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Our family always takes a yearly summer vacation, usually to a beach house in North Carolina. My brother and his wife live in North Carolina, and sadly we usually only see each other twice a year, once on our beach vacation and once at Christmas. 

Our vacations are true family vacations. Every one, including Pop-Pop, camp out on the beach for the entire day. We catch up on the past year, tell nostalgic stories, swim and play on the beach, read and take naps, and enjoy a few beach drinks. In the evening we all pitch in to cook dinner and end the night with board games and drinks and laughter. 

Our 89-year-old Pop-Pop wanted to do a big trip with everyone before he got a little too old to fly. After some research we chose Jamaica, an easy flight for him, and booked our trip in the dark of winter. 

We were a little nervous that Pop-Pop would miss the routine and familiarity of a beach house. He’s legally blind and was very nervous about not knowing the grounds of the resort, not knowing what he will eat, or if we will all be off doing our separate things.

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After a few days, and after a couple of beach vodka tonics, Pop-Pop was sitting in the pool and exclaiming that this place was “beautiful” and he would love to come back. We were doing all the same things we’d do on a beach vacation, but in a much prettier environment with absolutely no worries. No need to run out to the grocery store for the third time that week. No need to cook or clean up. Pop-Pop didn’t have to make his own morning bloody mary or “flimosa” (what he calls mimosas). 

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It was a great family vacation. I’ll walk you through a basic day in my life in Jamaica. Please don’t hate me. Trust me, by the end, it will be hard for you not to book a vacation to Jamaica. 

8:00 a.m.: Wake up with the bright sun shining through our window. Roll over in bed to peer out the window and see the Caribbean Sea

8:30 a.m.: Have a buffet breakfast with the family. Mimosa, coffee, all you can eat omelettes, french toast, or sausages, or whatever your heart desires. I usually stuck to the fresh fruit, yummy croissants, and a variety of cheese. 

9:30 a.m.: Get lathered up in sunscreen and hit the beach. Our family would secure a group of lounge chairs on the beach as our “home base”. 

9:40 a.m.: Hop in the sea to cool off. Admire the clear turquoise water. Check out the fish, one day we saw a sting ray and another day a barracuda!

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10: a.m.: Secure a beach drink, I liked the Bob Marley, a frozen layered drink in the Jamaican Flag colors. First layer a strawberry daiquiri, second layer mango daiquiri, top layer a green mango daiquiri.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Read and talk on the beach

11:00 a.m.: Hop in the pool to cool off. With another drink of course

11:30 a.m. Take out a kayak or a sail boat, see the resort from the Sea. 

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12:30 p.m. Grab lunch at the all you can eat buffet, a seaside restaurant, or a veggie burger at the grill. My favorite was the Jerk Chicken cart. 

1:30 p.m. Head back to the beach for an after lunch nap

2:00 p.m. Hit up the swim up bar, spend the afternoon in the pool, lounging on a raft, chatting and sipping cool drinks. The only way to beat the heat.

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4:00 p.m. Head up to the room to shower and take a quick power nap before dinner

6:00 p.m. Meet up in Pop-Pop’s room for a before dinner drink. Walk outside and enjoy the heavenly sunset. 

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7:00 p.m. Choose a restaurant to eat. You can choose between Asian, Italian, Mexican, French, Seafood, or Jamaican. 

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7:15 – 9:00 p.m.: Have a very leisurely dinner with 3 courses. Service is slow, but hey, you’re on Jamaican time! 

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9:30 p.m.: Walk Pop-Pop back to his room. He was falling asleep at dessert and needs his beauty rest.

9:45 p.m. Check out the evening entertainment. One night we watched a guest dance off competition. (think tipsy newlywed men shaking their booties. Hilarity ensued).

Another night we were entertained by a local band with bamboo dancers and a fire breather. Cheesy yes. But also fun.

Another night they recruited volunteers for a newlywed game. Eric and Ryan both wanted us girls to play. Thank goodness our French dinner went late and we missed the sign up time. Questions included, “Who in her family would you wish to just disappear” and “where is the craziest place that you’ve had sex”. Thank goodness we escaped those questions in front of our mom and dad!

Another night we hit up a beach party, where we learned a new line dance on the beach and did some amazing people watching. 

10:30 p.m. We enjoyed joining the sing a long at the Piano Bar. Just don’t request Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. 

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11:30 p.m. After enjoying some cocktails outside, get ready to head into the cheesily named “club” Desires. Us kids enjoyed a night dancing to a good mix of 90’s music and current hip hop. #turneddownforwhat became our to go phrase for the rest of the week. Another night we were entertained by karaoke night.

If the night doesn’t lead you to “Desires” enjoy a romantic night-cap overlooking the sea or take a late night dip in the pool. 

12:30 p.m. Promptly fall asleep, ready to do it all again the next day!

On our last day we made sure to really soak up every minute. We lingered on the beach for as long as possible and then captured our last sunset and minutes of daylight seaside before enjoying a seafood dinner. 

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 I’d highly recommend Secrets Saint James to any traveler looking to book either a romantic vacation or a family trip. 

We returned home exhausted but with a refreshed perspective and with a desire to find ways to relax more at home and bring the Jamaican lifestyle into our everyday lives as much as possible. A good reminder before Ryan starts his jam-packed final year of law school. 

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xoxo Katie

Jamaica Part 1

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Hello mon!

We’ve returned from our Jamaican vacation. It was everything a vacation was supposed to be. We relaxed, we unwound. We drank and we ate. We bonded with family and got nostalgic over old stories. We tried new things and let loose. We opened our perspectives and remembered the important things in life. 

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For a week my entire family (89-year-old Pop-Pop, Clyde, myself and Ryan, my brother Eric and his wife Veronica, and my parents, Pat and Jim) stayed at the Secrets Saint James in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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I simply have too many pictures I want to share, so I”m dividing up my Jamaica post into two postings. I know looking at vacation photos are low on many people’s list of fun, but I love looking at vacation and travel photos and learning about new places. 

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Secrets Saint James is an all-inclusive resort about 20 minutes from the airport. It’s connected with Secrets Wild Orchid and the two resorts share amenities and restaurants. 

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The grounds, the beach, and the pools were pristine and impeccably clean. It felt like heaven on earth. 

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We arrived on Wednesday morning. Upon landing in Montego Bay, full of excitement to get to the resort, we discovered that Southwest had lost my mom’s luggage. Even though we were on a direct flight from Baltimore….

After searching the airport for an hour and filing the necessary claims, we headed through customs with the hope that the bag would arrive later that afternoon. 

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We piled into a shuttle bus and began the short drive to the resort. This short drive was such a different experience than our honeymoon, when we stayed at Sandals White House a full hour and forty minute drive through the country and mountains. 

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Upon arriving at the resort we were treated like royalty. While sipping champagne and Red Strip we got checked in and showed around our area. Our family chose to stay in the “Preferred Club” section of the resort, which included a more private pool and beach area and a private lounge that had a buffet of food and a private bar available all day. 

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Since we had two semi handicap people, my 89-year-old grandfather and my foot surgery healing mother, it was nice to be in this smaller private section. 

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Our rooms were not quite ready yet so we headed to lunch by the beach. Once we were able to check in we were in awe over our rooms complete with a jet tub by the bed and another tub out on our ocean view balcony. 

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Thank goodness my mom packed a bathing suit in her carry on bag so that we could all head out to the beach and jump in the water. Heaven on Earth! I’ll let a few photos do the talking for me:

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Above is the sunrise view from our balcony. Sadly, my mom’s suitcase did not come that first day, or the next. Yep, it took three full days. One day for it to arrive in Jamaica. Another day for the airport to find the missing customs form that I filled out for her and a whole other day for it to be delivered to the resort. She was without any clothes or makeup, except for a bathing suit, cover up, and the black pants and t-shirt she were on the flight. It put a little damper on the first part of our trip, but after spending hours on the phone with the airport the problem was solved. 

If I had to hear “no worries mon!” one more time in regards to this incident..

Once her suitcase arrived we all celebrated with drinks at the pool swim up bar. The resort as a strict “no shot” policy but the bartender was convinced that my mom needed some extra celebratory fun and awarded us all with “little drinks”. It was a lot of fun!

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It was fun to try out the 7 different restaurants at the resort. The first night we went to the traditional Jamaican restaurant. The second night was Mexican night and the third night we celebrated at a seafood restaurant in the pool beach area. My mom was so happy to have clean and pretty clothes to wear!

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Ryan and I had a lot of fun on the Hobie Cat sailboats, we went out with a guide one time to refresh our sailing skills and then took it out again. Just lounging with my family in the pool was a blast. My Pop-Pop who usually never swims was so hot and relaxed he got into the pool AND got his head wet! This is the man who throughout every single childhood vacation to the beach he would never get more than his feet wet. Meanwhile his grandchildren are fish!

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Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!

xoxo Katie