Home Is Where The Heart Is?

Amish Country Farm
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? 

Obsession: House into Home (and the Best TV/Movie Homes!)

So, I must confess, I’ve always been obsessed with houses. And it’s more than just the simple architecture or curb appeal of certain houses – it’s the home that exists because of the house. All the memories, life events and moments that occur in your house that make it a home. How Christmas would not be the same with out the decorated banister. How that crumbly bathtub made your child hood baths an adventure. How that awful shag carpet just brings up memories of coziness and grandparents. I love connecting all the dots to why a memory makes such an impact on our lives. How one little element can shape our perception.

I can trace this obsession back to when I was a little girl and my mom would pick up those gigantic Sears or JCPenny catalogs that weighed around 20 pounds.


I’d flip through to the furniture and home decor selection and cut out of my favorite bedroom sets, living room, and dining room. I’d then create an entire imaginary family – complete with a mom and dad, cool oldest sister, slightly ignored middle sister, and then usually two toddler twins. I’d assign each of these family members a bedroom set clipped from the catalog. (The coolest girl always got the canopy bed, hands down). I’d intricately set the clippings up on the my carpeted living room floor so that to my mind they resembled a two-story house. Each room was full of its own stories and memories. After playtime was over, I’d gather all the clippings and carefully store them in a shoe box. I’m sure that shoe box is somewhere in my parent’s basement to this day.  (see kids don’t need fancy gadgets or toys!).

My obsession carried over as I got older. On school bus rides or long car rides I’d distract myself playing this game. 1. Pick a number between 1 – 20. Let’s say you picked the number 9. Count the houses that you drive by. The ninth house that you pass is your new home! No cheating! I liked to imagine how I’d make that log cabin, McMansion, or smaller rancher into my own.

Currently, I obsess over the listings on Zillow – trying to find the perfect homes in our price range, even though we’re nowhere close to buying a home. I drag Ryan to open houses and pretend we are serious about buying. Sorry real estate agents!

Ok, so you’re probably wondering where I’m getting to with all of this. With my obsession with houses and all the emotions they can evoke imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this lovely site that showcases the interiors of homes featured in movies and TV!

Hooked on Houses  gives you a peek inside all of you favorite homes from your favorite shows. It’s so fun to see the inside of these homes from a new angle, or how they look un decorated. Also, you may be surprised at what other movies the same house was used for! Some of my favorites:

Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride house

Gilmore Girls

homes from Gilmore Girls


homes from revenge

 The Family Stone

family stone house

 The Holiday

Iris's cottage from The Holiday


stepmom house

As you can see, I love the cozy, cottage, farmhouse feel.

There are homes from over 100 tv shows and movies for you to gawk and dream over. Love it!

xoxo katie

Make Your Bed!

make you bed!

How many times did you hear this phrase growing up? I hate making my bed and hardly ever do. What’s the point? No one except me sees it. (I do make it when I have company over). It’s just going to be unmade again later that night. In the mornings our dog Maggie remains sprawled out on it like the Queen of Sheba – making it impossible to make anyways.

This was my attitude before I read that the simple act of making your bed in the morning can lead to happiness, productivity, and profit! Yes, this 2 minute chore is supposed to have major benefits!

Back at the beginning of October, I vowed to make my home a happier place. I finally made strides this weekend, discarding bags of unused bath products, clothes, and files. It’s hard for me to part with sentimental things, but in the end it was a relief. But, simply making my bed on a daily basis just may turn my difficult path t  enlightenment into easy street!

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that daily bed making is something called a Keystone Habit – habits that are catalysts for larger, positive habits. Duhigg states, “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. It’s not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold”.

Basically, making your bed will help you pave the way to a life full of positive and productive habits.

I’m not so sure on the sticking to the budget part yet but I’m sold on being productive! I’m going to test this theory out for the next two weeks. So, go ahead and gloat Mom. You were right.

xoxo katie



Pop-Pop’s Life Lessons and Advice – a video

Pop Pop DubbleMy Pop-Pop, Clyde Dubble, has been an amazing role model through out my life. He has always been present. During my childhood he attended almost every concert, band competition, or theater event I was in. He has been apart of every holiday, birthday, graduation, family vacation or other special occasion.

Like a third parent he has offered me unconditional love, support, and wisdom. Some of my best memories include scream singing “I’m Proud to be an American” in his pick up truck, eating crackers on his boat in Avalon, long walks on the beach, sleepovers at his house, and that time I ran his riding lawn mower into his truck and he didn’t tell on me.

He is the most friendliest man you will ever meet. Wherever we go he seems to run into someone he knows. If not, he makes a point of asking people “and where are you from?”. He grew up on a farm in Lancaster and built a successful life for himself and his family.  He has so many friends and is full of so much positivity and love. He makes me so happy and I’m so lucky to be able to document some of his life memories.

I think we all can learn a little something from Pop-Pop.

Last week he turned 88. I decided to interview him about his experiences, life lessons and advice:

Do you have a grandparent who has played a special role in your life? xoxo katie

Creating My Happy Place – 5 Steps to Living Clutter Free

this is our happy place

Do you know the one thing that has been proven to make people happy? And no, it’s not buying that new pair of shoes, or booking a vacation, or drinking that bottle of wine.

It’s a clean house!

I learned this first hand – coming home from a night away to a clean kitchen and living room simply allowed me to breathe a little easier. (Thank you, Ryan!)

After having a hard couple days last week I decided to take matters into my own hands and make our home our sanctuary – the place that serves as the foundation to a happy and stress free life.

Keeping  the kitchen and living room tidy is one thing but ridding yourself of access clutter is a completely other task. A very daunting task to a pack rat like myself.  Back in the beginning of September I made a pretty simple list of Fall Goals, two of which were to clean out my closets and our home office. I have failed at both of these so far. But, now I’m ready to go to war.

I believe happiness starts at home, and I want to create an environment that is a safe haven from the stresses of the world. If you walk in the door to a giant mess, it just creates more stress. It’s time to simplify. By getting rid of some of our junk, who knows what we will find?

simplify your life

Here are my 5 steps to a happier clutter free home:

1. Everything in its Place

This is a two-sided promise. First, as soon as you are done using something, put it away. Or as soon as you bring anything into your home, put it into its proper place. This means no longer dumping things in the entry way after a long day. Second, if something doesn’t have a “place”, create one for it. This will be key for me when doing something with the piles and piles of “files” in our office. Staying organized and knowing where everything is will save you so much time and energy!

2. Little by Little

Feel overwhelmed at the thought de cluttering your whole home? I sure do. Tackle one section of a room at a time . Try to dedicate 15-20 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get accomplished in just a few minutes.

3. No More Piles!

I don’t know about you, but our mail pile can quickly turn into a leaning tower of stress. It’s safe to say that any small pile can and will quickly grow – it’s just too easy.  Commit to the no more piles rule! Nothing should stack up anyway except in your laundry basket!

4. If you bring something in, take something out

Pretty simple – but who really follows this to a T? Take the time to really consider your purchases. Is this necessary? Will this make me happy? I like to think of long run purchases. How many of your impulse purchases could have added up to a weekend getaway or a new piece of furniture?

5. Only keep items that are useful or have meaning.

In other words: purge, purge, purge! I have so much clothes and other junk that I need to dispense of. It will be a weight off of your shoulders once those un needed items are removed from you life and mind. Bite the bullet and really go through your items. I personally know I have items of clothing I haven’t worn for 5 plus years.

clutter free stress free

I hope these steps will not only lead to a happier home and state of mind. I want to turn these steps into life habits of making my home an oasis and to living a simpler and happier life. 

How do de clutter your home or purge items you have a hard time letting go of?

Have you been successful at simplifying your life?

xoxo katie