When It Snows…Blizzard 2016

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Well, we survived the blizzard of 2016. We are finally dug out and our lives have gone back to routine. The snowstorm began like any other storm, with tons of anticipation and last-minute trips to the grocery store to stock up on essentials like wine and cheese and pastries and making mental lists of all the things I will accomplish while being snowed in.

The snow began late Friday night and it fell fast and heavy, blanketing our world silently. By late Saturday we were living in a winter wonderland, buried in 29 inches of snow. We spent the next 4 days in our pajamas, bundled up inside together.

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Things I accomplished during the blizzard:

  • Made a long list of things I wished to accomplish during the storm.
  • Accomplished none of them
  • Ate an entire tub of artichoke and spinach dip from Costco
  • Started each morning with copious amounts of coffee and a danish the size of my head. (bless you Costco)
  • Took many naps
  • Watched the entire first season of Man in the High Castle (highly recommend)
  • Read The Martian (and became the only person in the country who disliked it)
  • Finally took down our Christmas tree

We ventured out in the snow a few times and introduced baby Wyatt to the wonder of it all. He was not that impressed. Like is mama he would prefer that freezing rain did not hit him in the face and would rather not leave the house wearing one hundred layers. The boy seriously hates wearing hats. But we managed to get a few cute photos of the experience. 

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Then the novelty wore off. The snow storm ended like every other storm – with us all going a little stir crazy, our cozy home feeling almost prison like, and ready to enter the real world again.

I often lament on the fact that I wish I didn’t have to go to work so I could stay home with Wyatt all day. Well after a whole week of being inside and nowhere to go I was busting at the seams to get outside and talk to some adults.

It was nice while it lasted, but Spring, you can come anytime now. 

 

 

 

Our Christmas

You know how sometimes after you come home from a vacation in need of another vacation? That’s how I feel after these past 6 days of celebrating Christmas with our friends and family. 

It was a non stop whirlwind of eating, drinking, and singing. Full of laughs, traditions, old stories and endless hours playing Heads Up, Guestures, and Apples to Apples. If I am what I eat, I am currently Christmas Cookies, Cosmos, Tuaca, Dip, and Chex Mix. I love when my whole family is together (Mom, Dad, my brother Eric, sister-in-law Veronica, Ryan, Pop Pop and myself).

Boisterous, loud, all encompassing love was all around. 

I’m still “re plugging” back into the “real” world.  It was a nice little break. Until I’m back in full force here are some photos from our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. 

I hope you had a lovely few days celebrating however you celebrate. 

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Giving Thanks

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The snow has started to fall, the pies are being prepped, and holiday tunes are playing. It’s officially my most favorite part of the year. 

This week it is obligatory for us to pause and say thanks. We put aside our stress, take big sighs and say thanks  while we help ourselves to seconds of pumpkin pie and think about Christmas shopping. It’s a nice tradition and I take pleasure in watching everyone’s faces soften a bit this week and bask in a little kindness.  And then riots happen. And mass confusion. And violence. And ugly consumerism. It’s so easy for our simple thank yous to get lost. For us to get lost. Buried under all of that weight. 

This time of year is my favorite. But like my stomach after stuffing and pie, it is also very full. So very full. Full of traditions, emotions, memories, hopes, loss, and joy. Remember that for everyone who is thankful for time with family there is someone without a family to create memories with. That for every person that is looking forward to old traditions there is someone who is experiencing a loss and no traditions this year. Not everything is merry and bright, this season holds darkness as well. 

So as this season of fullness begins I will pause to take it all in. I pause to remember all that I do have, not just the big things but all the small things as well.

Thank you for the big fluffy snowflakes that are falling outside. Thank you for a husband that knows when I need him to hold my hand. Thank you for that second cup of coffee in the AM. Thank you for friends that listen and make me laugh. Thank you for legs and lungs that let me run. Thank you for family that is always present. Thank you for puppy kisses and warm cuddles. Thank you for a safe neighborhood and long walks. Thank you for the man that listens to every silly thought and makes me feel like I belong. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for a job that fulfills me and a boss that is kind. Thank you for naps on clean, crisp sheets. Thank you for champagne and It’s A Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving night.

Thank you for allowing me to hope.

Thank you for the belief that most of the world is still good. 

 

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is?

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How much does where you call home define you?

It’s perfectly clear that where we were raised plays a large role in our character. I grew up in Lancaster, PA, a small town known for its Amish community, rolling farm lands, history, and conservative minds. I went to a small public school and graduated with 150 other sheltered youth. There’s no doubt that I would be a completely different person if I was raised in a large city or in the Midwest or if I went to a private all girls school or to a huge city school. That’s pretty obvious. 

But how about when you’re an adult? What happens when you’ve matured, changed from that sheltered and naive child, when you’ve traveled, moved around a bit? Does your home town still have that much weight in defining who you are?

Most conversations with new acquaintances start with a similar question, “Where are you from?”

It feels like they are trying to compartmentalize you, figure you out. Usually I just say, “Lancaster, PA” but others times I want to say, but I’ve also lived in Maryland and Chicago. Those homes are part of who I am too. I’m more than just a girl from Amish country. Maybe I feel like that because I sometimes feel out-of-place in my town.

As a teenager I’d often find myself in my bedroom, the door closed and emo music blasting, wishing to get out of this town. To be anywhere but here. Who didn’t feel that way at 16?

I never thought I’d move back to Lancaster as an adult. But circumstances changed and life made that decision for me. After ending a bad breakup in Chicago I had no job, no money, and nowhere to go but home. I took shelter in my childhood home and clung to my family and the familiar. I’m forever grateful for having a place to come home to and a family to take care of me.

As my bitterness resided I began to fall in love with my hometown in a way I never would have guessed. I was slowly turning back into the woman I thought I had lost but I was also turning into someone new at the same time. I liked the fresh air, even when it was full of manure. I liked the openness, the freedom to breathe. The downtown had gone through a renaissance since I had left 10 years prior and I enjoyed the new bars, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. There was a beauty in its simplicity. Cheap housing and no traffic didn’t hurt either.

I began to perceive it as something more than a town to escape. It was home. A place full of family history and memories and I clung to them dearly. 

But there’s still a part of me that feels like this town isn’t my home. And even if I do decide to stay here for the rest of my years that may be a feeling that never changes. Some days I’m content and others I am not. I am filled with wanderlust. We love taking day trips and weekend getaways. I often imagine what it would be like living somewhere else in the country or world. I consider comparing housing markets in different areas a hobby. 

Somedays Lancaster feels like home and other times it feels like a trap. 

I didn’t choose to come back and live here. But how often do we, as adults, get to choose our home town? Family obligations jobs spouses income all have a say in where we live. But does the location really matter? Isn’t home where the heart is?

My heart belongs to Ryan and it belongs to my family. I have too many ties to family and too little risk taking in my blood to be the type to drop everything and move cross-country or abroad on a whim. I’m too sentimental and too much of a planner to live a life going where the wind takes me. But even if part of my heart is here there is a little part of my heart that beats and yearns for some new experiences and for a home that feels like it completes me. 

There is too much out there to see and so many other women that I could grow into being.

If you could choose to live anywhere, where would you live? Forget about where your friends are. Forget about where you family lives. Forget about where you could get a job in your field.

They say live the life you imagined. They say home is where the heart is. What do you say? 

Is that even a question that warrants to be asked? Is it a silly romantic daydream? Is the yearning for more adventure simply part of the human experience?

What do you think? Does your current home town affect your personality? Does it play a big role in who you are? If you could live anywhere where would you live? 

Dad – My Quiet Supporter

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I never knew how much of a gift I had in my father until my freshman year of college. It was the start of my second semester and my new best friend and I were moving into a new dorm room together. We were ecstatic that we were both able to escape from our equally crazy previous roommates and were looking forward to an adventurous semester together. As we anxiously awaited for Laura’s dad to arrive to assume our beds into bunk beds, we discussed all the fun parties we could throw in our new spacious room. (Imagine 12 x 12 being spacious.)

I hadn’t met Laura’s father before and was a little nervous. He came barreling into the room with his overflowing tool box and barely said hello before getting to work on the beds. The next 30 minutes was full of more swear words than I heard at all the frat parties from my first semester.

Laura’s dad was loud and red-faced and took no time for niceties. I remember feeling embarrassed that I was scared.  Later, after he left, I said to Laura, “God, I’m SO sorry that we made your Dad do that, if I had known it was going to be such a problem we could have tried to tackle it ourselves.”

She just laughed and said, “You mean because he was swearing? Katie, that’s NORMAL. That’s what dads do. It doesn’t mean he didn’t want to do it. Chill out.”

I thought he was going to burn the dorm down. That was normal? Not in my house.

My dad was the opposite. He is the most tender, calm, kind, and passionate man I know. Our house wasn’t filled with the typical masculinity or stereotypical “dad” culture. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that. I just didn’t grow up with it or ever experience it on a first hand basis. 

Dads are often overlooked when credit is due in the parenting game. I’m so grateful for my Dad. My dad was always present. He was quiet and timid and the strongest way possible. He was nurturing and calm and sometimes could say the most without saying anything at all. He was always my quiet supporter, cheering for me from the sidelines in the most graceful way. He’s still there, I can feel him even now, waving his arms and smiling his big Dad smile. 

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A big emphasis was never put on sports – I still can barely sit through a sporting event, live or on TV, without being confused or bored. Of course this doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun playing sports with my Dad. We had wild games of wiffle ball and basketball and goofed around in the pool and ocean. He taught me how to play tennis and golf, and when I whined about hating golf and being the only girl player after only a year he did not put up a fight and let me quit. Thanks Dad for letting me be me. 

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Whenever my mom was out late at a parent teacher conference or other event and dad was responsible for dinner he’d whip up one of three things, a frozen Tony’s pizza, pancakes, or grilled cheese. These nights always felt like vacation. We didn’t even use the “fancy” napkins with dinner and got to make fun ice cream sundaes afterwards. Thanks for teaching me to put cereal and pretzels in my sundaes. It’s the little things that make life fun. 

He’d always invited me to go on walks with him, whether is was at the county park, at the beach or just in our neighborhood.

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We’d quietly chat about my day at school or walk in a calm silence as he’d point out small nuances and little details in the landscapes. Whether it be the way squirrels played, the shapes of the clouds, the new shade the leaves were changing, or the odd wreath hanging on old Mr. Larson’s door. Thanks dad for always making me notice and appreciate the small things and change my perspective of my world. Even when it was in the same old neighborhood you lived in since you were a child. Perspective is key.

I was lucky to always have music playing in my house growing up. If neither of my parents were currently playing the piano in our living room, music was filling the house from the record player or stereo. If my mom was in control, which, if I’m being honest, was more often than not, we’d all be treated to Broadway tunes. Otherwise my Dad would turn on some of his classic rock favorites like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Deep Purple.

I remember one time I walked into the living room to find my Dad laying flat on his back on the floor with his eyes closed. Pink Floyd was playing. My first thought was, “Is he okay?” He then invited me to sit down with him. He said to close my eyes and just listen to the music. Thanks Dad, for making me slow things down and for making me always choose classic rock over modern-day pop.

He actually always seemed excited to help with boring school homework like memorizing state capitals and quizzing me on history and English facts. Once it was time to do any project that involved poster making I knew I could count on him to meet me at the dinner table with a ruler and a straight edge. He was meticulous about making straight lines and making sure everything look perfect. His art school days always showed. Thanks dad for always making it a guarantee that my projects would get an A. 

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Always prepared with a camera he taught me about negative space and how to find the right angles for your photos. Although others may judge me for taking 20 photos of the same sunset, I know he never will. Dad, thanks for showing me that beauty can be documented and we can alter our perception through photos. Even if it’s the same sun setting over the same beach year after year. 

Once it was time for me to learn how to drive he took me down to the empty parking lot at the pool. He let me drive around in circles and made sure I was completely comfortable before taking me out on the main road. As I white knuckled it on the highway and screamed whenever someone passed me or I got over 50 MPH he held his patience and never raised his voice. Thanks for having confidence in me.

As I got older I would tend to lean on my mom during the hard times and heart breaks. Yet, I always knew my dad was there, worrying about me and thinking about me. He was always aware of the problems, and even if we didn’t talk about the specifics, I knew I could count on him to take my mind of things or to just to lean on him and cry. We’d sit and be quiet together or go for a car ride or watch some sappy movie on TV. Thanks Dad for always watching girly movies and celebrity entertainment and simply being there as a quiet supporter. Also for reading my US Weekly’s so you’d be “on top of things”.

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If I needed it, I could fall into his arms and let my troubles fall aways. My dad is a little man who weighs less than I do, but when he hugs me, he hugs me with his whole heart. He makes me feel small and innocent again, like he could fix anything with a “breakfast for dinner!” night and a hug. 

Thanks for always believing in me and telling me I’m capable of doing hard things. 

Dad, you certainly made it hard for any other man to fill your shoes. Ryan is so similar to you in so many ways, it took me awhile to find someone to live up to your tender heart. You’ve shown me what a true father looks like and have done a wonderful job raising both a son and a daughter. You make my world a more beautiful place and I can’t wait to learn more from you as we continue our walks into the future. I hope you know how grateful I am for all that you do. 

 Also thanks for always letting me win at Monopoly. No one else plays like you. 

xoxo Katie

The Big Closet Clean Out

I did it! I did it! I did a total closet makeover!

I devoted this weekend to accomplishing a major closet clean out, discarding 8 bags of clothes and reorganizing all of my dressers and two closets.

On Friday, I told you all about my addiction to shopping and attachment to things. I’ve been holding on to several articles of clothing due to sentimental reasons for far too long. I couldn’t navigate my way through my closet and found myself reaching for the same few boring sweaters and jeans even though I have a multitude of options because I simply couldn’t find anything else.

Clothes were smashed up against each other with hangers pointing in all directions, sweaters lay in wrinkled piles on shelves, other pieces cluttered the floor and I couldn’t close my dresser drawers. It was stressing me out and I was ready for a change.

After Friday’s post, I received so many great ideas and support. Thank you to all that reached out to sympathize and offer great advice! I took it all to heart and used all of your tips.

I woke up on Saturday with determination. I was going to throw things out. I wasn’t going to get held up by memories and sentimental emotions. I was going to reclaim my wardrobe!

I started at 11:30 a.m. and finished around 9 p.m. It was a long and exhausting day. I discarded roughly 25% of the clothes that was taking up space in my home. My entire bed and spare bed was covered in clothes that was either being thrown out or given away. I then re organized all of my remaining clothes, categorized it by season, style and color and put it back into the closets and dressers.

The first 20 minutes were the hardest. I made excuses and stalled. But like Amanda from Notes From a Newlywed said, it got MUCH easier to say goodbye to things after the first 10 items.  I put all my summer dresses and fancier dresses in the spare bedroom closet.

The ending result felt so freeing. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted. And literally there was.  I couldn’t believe how much trash I was storing in my closets. In addition to my Thred Up and donation bags, I filled a huge black trash bag to the seams.

Here are some before and after photos:

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Here are my closet clean out tips:

1. Make sure to set aside an entire day. If I had plans in the evening I would have never stayed focussed all day. Knowing that I had nothing else to do made me truly devote all my energy to this project. I put on some music and got into the zone.

2. Organize your space before you start. I made sure the room I was working on was clean and clear of all items. I made labels knowing that all of my discarded clothes  were even going to Goodwill, Thred Up, or the trash. (If you haven’t already, check out ThredUp, an online consignment store that takes your gently used clothing (they even pay for shipping) and pay you a portion of the income received from the sale of your items)

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 3. Take out Every Single Item from you closet and dresser. Yes. Every single item. It was hard to not get completely overwhelmed by the mountain of stuff on my floor. But I stayed positive by looking at the empty space left behind in the closet and the possibility that it had.

4. Try Every Single Item on. Pick up each and every piece of clothing, examine it and try it on. Yes, this was exhausting. But, I was totally surprised by how many items that when I first examined them I thought, “Oh yes, I still like this!” and then once I tried it on I realized that it no longer fit or was not as cute as I remembered it. So yes, try everything on. I would have kept at least 20 items that I would never wear again if I had not done this.

5. Ask Important Questions About Each Item Each item begs to be asked important questions. As I tried each piece of clothing on I made sure to ask:

A.) If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?

B.) Does it fit? 

C.) Does this make me feel confident/pretty/comfortable?

D.) Is this currently in style?

If I hadn’t taken the time to ask these questions I probably would have found excuses to keep everything. I couldn’t believe how many things I kept around that I would never currently pay money for or that no longer fit or made me feel good while wearing it. This helped me get rid of too tight jeans and dresses, tops that were trendy 5 years ago, and shirts that were never really “me”.

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 6. Realize memories live in your mind, not in the clothing. The hardest pieces for me to get rid of were pieces of clothing that held important memories for me. These included the mini skirt I wore out for my 21st birthday that was so short I can’t believe I ever wore it. The cover up used on my spring break trip to Miami from my senior year of college that was ratty but still smelled like sunscreen, burnt skin, and alcohol. And the top that I wore on Ryan and I’s first date that was so worn out I would never wear it again. All of these “kept for memory’s sake” items were so out of style or so worn out that they were thrown into the trash pile.

I followed Allie’s, from Everyday Adventures, advice and asked “Do I still love how this piece makes me feel?” Not in a “I loved the time I spent in it!” way, but in a “wearing this makes me feel confident and happy” way. And the answer was always “No”.  I said a final goodbye before tossing them aside.

7. Create a “Maybe” pile I still had a few pieces that I wasn’t sure I was ready to give away. They went into the “Maybe” pile. However, when I went pack to them at the end of the day 90% of them went into the giveaway pile.

8. Categorize Your Clothes As I was going through my wardrobe I began to categorize the clothing that I was keeping. I made a pile of summer dresses, formal dresses, short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, sweaters, winter dresses etc.This way I could see how much I had in each category – which helped narrow down the choices even more. When I found I had multiples of similar items, I forced myself to get rid of one or two. No one needs 8 similar black tops. I then placed the clothing back into the closet in these categories to finding what I need when I need it easier. (I also color coded everything)

This project felt fantastic! I was actually excited to get dressed for work this morning because I could, for the first time in years, see all of my clothing options. Now I hope to not fall back into old habits and keep up this organization and de cluttering mindset. My whole mind feels more open today, making it easier to get out of bed in the morning and stay focussed. Tell me about your home makeover projects!

xoxo Katie

 

 

A Call for Help! Addiction to Things

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I have a problem. Two actually. Number one: I’m addicted to shopping. I know many of you share my compulsion to spend.

There’s the high of finding a dress or a purse on a spectacular sale. There’s the high of walking into the store full of clothes begging to come home with you and knowing that you’ll find something that suits you perfectly. There’s the dependency to have something new for each event or to commemorate a special event.  Don’t even get my started on online shopping. After a stressful day my hands can’t help put find their way to the keyboard, pounding out the keys to the url of my favorite shop and just buying something, anything.

Truly it’s an addiction. I’ve come to depend on the joy that overcomes me when buying something new. And along with the addiction to shopping comes the addiction to things.

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Oddly, this is the only picture I could find of myself holding a shopping bag

Frankly, it’s disgusting. Like any other addiction, the need to spend money on new things in order to calm yourself or to feel happy is a little repulsive.

I’ve been trying to cure myself since this past Fall and I’ve done a pretty spectacular job on the shopping portion of my problem. Starting in September I started putting myself on a spending freeze. I  managed to not by a single article of clothing, shoes, or accessory from mid September until the end of November. It was refreshing. And you know what? I never wanted for anything. Yes, there were days when I found myself what I now like to call “online window shopping” where I browse websites, give myself an imaginary budget and go to town. I was never allowed to hit “Submit Order” though. Going inside a mall was out of the question. That would have been like an alcoholic burning for a buzz going into a bar.  It was forbidden.

Once I went through my period of fasting I was able to ease myself back into shopping. Buying here and there and mostly classic pieces that would be used on a more every day basis (compared to the party dresses, heels, and I’ll buy this just because it’s 80% off tops). I began to realize that I own tons of clothes that I never even wear.

But now I need to cure my second problem. My emotional attachment to clothes that I no longer need. I hold on to articles of clothing that will no longer fit me, are way out of style, or are too worn to be seen in public because of the sentimental value I have for them. If I’m being honest, I wear about 20% of the clothes that I own. 20%! Just take a look at my closet.

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(and this is just one of two closets. There’s also three dressers. And tubs under neath the beds….)

Most days I stand in front of my  mountain of clothes and think that all too familiar thought, “I have nothing to wear”. I usually find myself pulling on my favorite jeans and one of my few favorite sweaters.

This is caused by two things.

1. I give up on finding possible outfits because my closet is stuffed to the max and cluttered. 

2. Most of my clothes don’t fit my current personal style or lifestyle.

Like the addiction to shopping, the attachment to things is equally bad and restraining. I’m so attached to clothing and the false joy I believe they bring me that I can’t bring myself to get rid of certain things. I come up with hundreds of excuses, my most favorite are:

“Well this will fit once I finally lose 10 pounds”

“What if this comes back into style?”

“This would be perfect for _____ theme party or Halloween party”

I’ve read time and time again that de cluttering your life and opening room for new energy is liberating and leads the pathway to more happiness. Yet, I continue to let sentimental things define me.

I can’t get rid of the size zero jeans from ten years ago that I know my current size 8 – 10 self will never again fit into. That two sizes two small little black dress that I wore to a favorite night out with friends will never zip up nor will I ever have a place to wear it to. Old emo band t-shirts and sweatshirts collected on trips fill my dresser drawers to the brim. There is absolutely no reason why a grown woman needs to own 25 plus bathing suits. Yes, you read that correctly. I own over 25 bathing suits, that obsession started in my life guarding days where I basically lived in a bikini. Do I really need 3 pairs of pink pumps, or mini skirts made for 22 year old’s, or purses from college that are still full of receipts, movie ticket stubs, notes, and dried up lipstick.

I keep these items because they tell a story of my past. But are they preventing me from living with purpose in the present?

I’m feeling the urge to purge. It’s time. This weekend I’m throwing on my figurative hard hat and diving head first into my closets ready to get rid of anything that fits these rules:

1. Does it fit? (like truly fit, not “oh this will fit when I lose 10 pounds”)

2. Have I worn this in the last 12 months?

3. Is this in style or does it fit my current lifestyle? (ie 30 year woman who works in a very casual office who spends more nights at home than at trendy bars)

4. If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?

Here is where YOU come in. I need some support. I know this is going to be a hard weekend. I know I’m going to be paralyzed in my closet for hours, trying on countless items of clothes trying to find any reason to not say goodbye to old friends.

How do you purge your closet of unnecessary items? What tips can you give me? Have you gone through a complete closet overhaul and come out emotionally unscathed and in one piece?

Help me!!!

xoxo Katie