Thankful

thanksgiving

The most magical time of the year has started. It’s a season full of promise, hope, and miracles. 

Last night, as I stood in the chilly air waiting for Maggie to do her thing, I gazed up at the bright full moon filling up the sky.

I paused and remembered how last year at this time I would end my nights exactly like this. Right before going to be each evening I’d step outside with Maggie and stare up at the moon and make a hopeful wish  to the universe that we would soon get pregnant. I wished with all my heart and said a soft sad prayer month after month, closing the gap between the stars and I.

And now here we are one year later with a beautiful and healthy baby boy. I am so thankful.

I’m so thankful for my family, my friends, and the gift of getting to enjoy each day. If nothing else, I love how this time of years makes me pause and step back and realize how this world is full of miracles. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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. 

 

 

It’s All About the Journey – Asheville, NC

We spent Thanksgiving vacation in Asheville, NC, visiting my brother Eric and his wife Veronica. You can read about our Thanksgiving day tour of Biltmore and our vegan Thanksgiving.

On Friday the plan was to drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a high peak and do a short hike. Eric had been hyping us up about the views for weeks. It was going to “blow our minds”!

We woke up early, packed some lunches, and dressed in some warm clothes. We were driving up the parkway – and so far it was beautiful! Eric kept yelling, “just you wait! this is nothing!”. So I didn’t pay too much attention – saving my gazing for the top – when we’d be around 5,400 ft elevation. That was until we ran into a road barrier that stated “ROAD CLOSED”.

The roads at the top of the mountain were too icy. We shouldn’t have been surprised since Eric and my Dad’s Thanksgiving morning hike ended with their car doing a 180, tossing them in an icy ditch. We drove to the nearest overlook, realizing that this was going to be the best view we’d get this trip.

And, you know what? It was so beautiful. There were so many tints and hues of blue. The mountains appeared to go on forever.

That morning was a good lesson in appreciating the moment. You know that  saying – “life is about the journey, not the destination”?  Well we were all ignoring the views of the journey up the parkway – all anticipating the “awesome” views at the top. Views we in fact would never see. We were missing out on what was right in front of us. You never know what tomorrow holds, be sure to relish in today.

I constantly find myself with tunnel vision – only looking toward that special moment in the future. When, in fact, what is going on right now is where the magic is. Be sure to look out your windows instead of staring straight ahead at the door. That is where the beauty is. Staring straight ahead will only provide you with an exit sign and high expectations.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, NC

Eric was so disappointed that he wouldn’t get to show us his favorite views. But we were grateful for what we got and we surely made up for it on our remaining two days. We headed into downtown Asheville and walked around and got some drinks.

We then scored tickets for the Amazing Pubcycle. It was a blast! The pubcycle is a 13 person, pedal powered, trolley with a bar in the middle. Everyone brings their own booze, sits on a bike, and pedals and drinks their heart out as they get a unique tour of Asheville. (don’t worry, there is a motor as well).

Amazing pubcycle, Asheville, NC

Asheville Pubcycle tour conductor

Our conductor, Chase, was amazing – he should have his own TV show, he was that fun and hilarious. We had a blast pedaling around town, scream singing Journey and bike dancing (it’s a thing!) to Lady Gaga while chugging some adult beverages. We got to see a lot of downtown. Best way to spend $10 per person!

Pubcycle, Ryan and Katie

On Saturday we had a slower paced day. We toured the beautiful Grove Park Inn. Which was all decked out for the holidays and was showcasing the 21st National Gingerbread House Competition. This Inn has hosted a long list of distinguished guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, and Barack Obama.

Grove Park Inn

 The Gingerbread Competition was amazing. It was really hard to believe that these sculpture were made all out of food.

gingerbread competition

panda gingerbread winner

The Pandas above were the Blue Ribbon winner. Can you believe that is all candy?!

We walked around this beautiful resort, checking out all the themed Christmas trees and even got to meet Santa!!!

Ryan and Katie tree

im and Pat, tree

Ryan and Katie with Santa!

After more touring downtown and a nice lunch at Tupelo Honey, we headed back to the cabin for more Thanksgiving leftovers, games, and drinks. Til next time Asheville!

cows, leicester nc

Katie and Ryan on cabin porch

Biltmore Estate and a Vegan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving sunrise in Leicester NC

On Thanksgiving Day we awoke to the sun rising proudly over the blue ridge mountains. Our cabin provided a cozy night of sleep and we were ready to start our busy day of touring, cooking, and eating. At 8:30 a.m. my dad and brother headed off for a snowy hike while my Mom, Veronica, Ryan and I took off for our tour of the breathtaking Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Estate, ABLA

Biltmore Estate is a jaw dropping mansion nestled on 125 acres in a valley of the blue ridge mountains right outside of Asheville, NC. The country mansion, built between 1889 – 1895 served as the luxurious family home of George and Edith Vanderbilt. Yes, those Vanderbilts! Today, it is open to the public and is the largest privately owned home in the United States.

With a distinct eye and a passionate drive, George Vanderbilt designed and decorated the elaborate estate with only the best materials, artisans, builders, landscapers, and decor. While the building was under construction, an entire village was formed on the grounds full of all the workers and artisans. They also built a railroad leading to the construction site. No expense was spared! The beautiful grounds were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park.

The 178,926 square feet, including 250 rooms and 43 bathrooms are filled with original artwork, custom woodwork and furniture, 65 fireplaces, 16th century tapestries, rugs, and priceless decorative pieces collected from around the world. Highlights include the library with 10,000 volumes, a bowling alley, an indoor swimming pool, great hall with 70 foot ceilings, and beautiful winter garden atrium.

The mansion was lavishly decorated for Christmas – I was so ready to make myself at home in front of one of the 70 elaborately decorated Christmas trees or fireplaces that were the size of studio apartments. It was also fun to see the servants quarters and kitchen – I couldn’t help but think of Downton Abbey. It was hard to imagine that this was the daily home of a real American family. Truly a special experience!

You cannot take pictures inside of the mansion, so the indoor photos I am sharing are courtesy of the Biltmore website 

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The Great Hall (formal dining room)

winter garden

The Winter Garden – a beautiful atrium

guest bedroom

Guest Bedroom

biltmore estate library

My favorite room in the mansion – The two-story library with over 10,000 books in 7 different languages and a mural ceiling

After touring the inside of the house we explored the luscious grounds which included a beautiful flower conservatory and gardens.

Ryan and Katie outside of the Biltmore

Biltmore Gardens

Biltmore conservatory

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Ryan, Katie, Mom tree

Flowers at Biltmore

biltmore red and white flowers

Biltmore Gardens

Biltmore estate

 Touring this beautiful, gilded home is a must for anyone in the area!

Before leaving the Biltmore village we hit up the Biltmore winery and did a fun wine tasting. We tasted some good wines, but only a select are grown on site at the Biltmore vineyards. It was a great way to warm up for the Thanksgiving meal cooking.

Biltmore Winery

Once back at Eric’s home in the mountains of Leicester, we began preparing our Thanksgiving feast. Our gracious hosts, Veronica and Eric are vegan and we were cooking an entirely vegan Thanksgiving dinner. We had all the staples of the traditional feast like, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pumpkin pie. But yes, no turkey. The meat was substituted with a celebration roast. Personally, I’m not a fan of turkey and have never eaten the bird on Thanksgiving day. Give me stuffing and corn and I’m a happy girl!

Veronica and Katie cooking Thanksgiving dinner

mom cooking Thanksgiving

We had a lot of fun having some pre dinner drinks and being silly with each other. Dinner was delicious and as is expected, we stuffed ourselves to the point of being uncomfortable. But, we pulled through, finished off the wine and had a fun night playing games. We must have gone through an entire deck of cards for Gestures and have priceless memories of us acting out hilarious clues. We played boys against girls and had quite the rivalry going. Ryan nicknamed our drinks “Guessing Juices” and as it always goes – the girls won. High five!

Katie and Dad Thanksgiving

Ryan, Dad, Eric Thanksgiving

Walsh family Thanksgiving

Truly thankful for my fun family! We may clash, me may be all different, but we’re family and in the end we have fun and love each other. Isn’t that the best part about family?

Thanksgiving Vacation in Asheville, NC (mini post)

Leicester Cabin

Is it really Monday morning? Am I really back in PA? So this is what the internet looks like? Excuse me as I recover from spending 11 hours in the car, driving home from Asheville, NC after a whirlwind 5 day trip (with two days worth of driving included). We had quite an adventure and I can’t wait to tell you all the details!

But, my own bed is calling my name and work tomorrow is going to be brutal – so this is kind of a cheat post – a quick check in to say hello and hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and share some photos of the cute cabin we rented.

We were SO happy to make it to the mountains of Leicester, NC (about 40 minutes outside Asheville) after driving through a surprise snow and ice storm. My brother and his wife live in this rural town in an adorable country house. My parents and Ryan and I rented a beautiful cabin about 5 minutes from their home.

lone pine lodge leicester nc

thanksgiving cabin porch

When we arrived there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground – a surprise for this time of the year. It was tricky navigating the curvy mountain roads and the steep driveway up to our cabin. But my brother Eric’s smiling face greeted us and the snow just added to the peacefulness and beauty of the serene mountain views.

leicester cabin view thanksgiving

cold cows in leicester nc

ryan and katie leicester nc thanksgiving

snowy mountains in leicester

Thanksgiving 2013 Asheville, NC

We were more than ready to have some drinks, eat a big meal, and get cozy by the fire. We had a busy three days ahead of us! Can’t wait to share our other fun adventures and pictures.

We had zero internet or phone activity unless we were in town. So that meant zero texting, zero calling, and no internet. It was kind of hard to get used to – I kept running to my phone to look up something or to check a black friday sale. But soon enough we were leaving our cell phones behind and relaxing. So, Please forgive me as I catch up on being back in the real world.

Can’t wait to share more tomorrow!

xoxo katie

 

Big Thanks and Little Thanks

givethanks

I’m currently trekking through the rain and snow, making the drive from PA to western NC for Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. I’m so thankful to be able to take time off from work to spend quality time with family and see a new part of the US.

As I will be staying in a remote cabin – away from it all, I will be taking a little Thanksgiving break from posting. So, I wanted to take time today to express my gratitude.

Of course I’m thankful for all the obvious things like my family, my husband, my friends, Maggie, my job, home, and health. I am truly blessed with a beautiful life. You may say that I want to give  BIG thank you to all of these blessings.

But what about the little thank you’s?

Here is a list of a few things lesser thing that I am also thankful for. Parts of my life that I may usually take for granted. Smaller things that may not seem worth noting but things that in the end add to the beauty and greatness of my life.

1. There is this one part of my daily drive home where the sky is always breathtaking – no matter what time of day it is, it always catches my eye. I always say to myself, tomorrow I will pull over to take a picture – and I haven’t yet. I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful part of this country.

2. Warm morning cuddles with Maggie. She makes it both easier to get up but harder to get out of bed.

3. Christmas decorations – most importantly the ones that have been passed down to me from my grandmother or mother and the ones from my childhood. Each holds its own story.

4. Warm boots and scarves – keeps me cozy at the office

5. The fact that I get to see my mom almost every day and my dad at least twice a week. I’m fortunate to know my adults as people, rather than just parents. I’m glad to have them as friends.

6. Scented candles that fill up my home with warm fuzzy feelings – makes evenings alone seem not so lonely

7. The fact that Ryan washes the dishes and cleans the bathrooms without complaint. Even if I DID do these two chores, he’d do the over again because my effort wouldn’t be up to par. I haven’t cleaned the kitchen or the bathroom since we started living together a year ago. I cook, he cleans.

8. Red lipstick that brightens my day and makes me feel more like a woman, even if inside I feel like a slobby troll.

9. Wine, peanut butter, chocolate (hopefully those two things together), apples, nachos, cheese, avocado, cosmos, ice cream, cashews, macaroni and cheese, crab cakes, and chex mix.

10. You! I’m so grateful for this blog and you readers. It still blows my mind that anyone would want to read. I love connecting with all of you, making new friends, and commiserating over this crazy world we live in. I’m so appreciative to have a place to come to every day, a place where I can say my thoughts, be creative, and feel at home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

If you want to follow along on my trip to Asheville connect with me on Twitter or Instagram

xoxo katie

Weekend Wrap Up – Thanksgiving Week 11.25.13

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Another weekend flew by and now we are greeted with a beautiful two-day week and Thanksgiving vacation! This weekend was kind of a whirlwind – we didn’t have too many plans, but it was busy with errands, and decorating, and preparing for Thanksgiving. I scored that adorable sign above at Home Goods – could have spent a fortune there on Saturday!

Our house is a beautiful cozy Christmas retreat and I love just sitting on the couch basking in the glow of all my reindeer (my obsession) and pretty candles while watching cheesy Lifetime Christmas movies.

Today, I’m so thankful for a two-day week and so thankful to be able to travel to the Asheville, NC area to spend Thanksgiving at my brother and sister in laws house. This will be my first time traveling to his new (3 years!) home. My parents have visited them over Thanksgiving the past couple of years while I’ve stayed at home (no vacation time and dogs to take care of). I’m so excited I get to come along this year!

So, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning Ryan and I will load up my parent’s mini van and join them for the 11 hour trek to NC.

Both the cabin we are staying in and my brother’s house are in the mountains and very isolated, so I will be without internet connection for a few days. My blogging will be limited and I will enjoy unplugging and family time. My brother and his wife are vegans and we will be having a 100% vegan Thanksgiving!

I’m looking forward to exploring their town, touring Biltmore Estate, and seeing the views of the Blue Ridge mountains. Oh, and all the games, drinking, and snacks that will be taking place!

When we return on Sunday – it will officially be Christmas time!

As November is drawing to a close – I thought it best to do a second recap on my Fall Goals:

fall goals

Clean out closets and donate clothes   – almost all done! Will post before and after photos of my closets, because I’m proud! 

Resist buying any clothes until November   – As I mentioned in my first recap – I failed this right away. But I succeeded at not buying any clothes or accessories for myself between mid September to the second week of November! I honestly didn’t miss having a new shirt once a week (yes, I was that bad)I used the saved money on Christmas gifts.Score! 

Organize office

Print photos from wedding and other recent events for albums and frames  

Learn more than just 4 settings on my camera – getting there!

Wake up earlier on the weekends  – nope, we just can’t seem to kick lying around in bed on weekend mornings when we have no urgent plans. 

Do more than 12 full push ups at a time   

Stop late night snacking and wining – nope! this has probably gotten worse – I blame the cold weather and being covered in baggy winter sweats and blankets! Also explains why the only clothes that fit me well right now are yoga pants and dresses. Time to get serious —(after Christmas?!?!) 

So I completed 50% of my goals. Humpf. I decided that in the future, I’m going to break them down in months. I will be posting my December goals soon and will be taking part in Amber’s (from Mr. Thomas and Me) #sayyesproject.  Help me stay on track guys!

How are you spending your Thanksgiving?

 

xoxo katie