30 Days of Blogging: Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!

changesHow have you changed in the past two years?

This is such an interesting question, mostly because I feel like I’ve undergone a ton of changes in the past few years.  Over the past two years, I’ve lived on two continents.  A year and a half ago, J and I moved back to the United States after nearly 4 years spent living in Europe.  The move back to the US was pretty hard on it, as I wasn’t overly excited about moving back just yet.  We moved back for a few reasons, namely my father’s health (he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s while we were overseas, and it’s slowly progressed), so we wanted to be back in the States to spend time with our families while they were still around.  Luckily we did move home, as J’s father suffered a massive heart attack, and a subsequent quadruple bypass surgery on his heart shortly after we got home.  So…I’m convinced God works in mysterious ways, and while I wasn’t happy about returning back to the States, it truly was the best decision for us.

But, over the past two years (and even more over the past four years), I feel like I’ve changed tremendously.  I’ve gone from living abroad in a very “J and I together against the world” experience, and moved home to more of a support system of family.  I’ve had to adapt to being back in the States, which was very hard for me, as I was used to not having familial obligations to deal with.  I’m a very independent person, and when I feel like I’m being forced into something, I tend to push back and resist it.  I also really struggled with moving away from some of my very dear friends that I would see regularly, to a town where my American friends were no longer living.  My BFF had since moved to Texas, another was in Ohio, and I felt like we’d moved back to a town where I knew practically no one, and didn’t fit into any longer.  I missed the city where we lived, the traveling we used to do, and the friends that I’d see on the regular.

Over time, it’s gotten better.  I can finally say I’ve truly gotten used to being back in the States.  I love our house here, and our lives here, and I know that when the opportunity to move abroad again comes along, it’ll be a hard decision to leave all this.  I’ve made new friends, rekindled old friendships, and strengthened the bonds with my friends that no longer live “next door.”  Southwest Airlines has become a new BFF, and I’m able to see them more than I would have while we lived overseas, so it’s a good thing.  Plus, I think my patience has only increased since moving home, since I’ve been forced to deal with some obligations that I wouldn’t have had to handle had we still lived overseas.  It’s been a struggle, but it’s been incredibly strengthening.  And, I’m so incredibly blessed to be near our families, in case anything were to happen.  It’s so good to know that, God forbid something happen, we’re only a two-hour drive away, as opposed to nearly a full day of travel away.  That’s a blessing, for sure!

In the past two years, I’ve grown so much (primarily emotionally).  I’ve learned patience, found new faith, and gained acceptance and appreciation for a situation that wasn’t my “first choice.”  It’s been hard, but worth it, and I’d like to think that I’ve come out on top of the situation.  I miss our lives back in the NL, but our lives here are equally good, if not better.  While I might lose sight of that occasionally, I always remember that, even though we gave up some things to move home, we’ve gained so much more.

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Biggest Fear

fearsWhen I think about my biggest fear, it seems so simple, and probably something that a lot of other people struggle with as well.  My biggest fear is being alone.  Not being alone in the sense that I’m incapable of being happy by myself (I’m not), but being alone in that all my loved ones have either left me or died.  I think the loss of my husband would be my absolute biggest fear, because I honestly can’t imagine my life without him.  Obviously, I know I’d survive…but it would be exceedingly heard and heart-breaking.  Obviously, it’s not something I dwell on (because that’s depressing as hell), but when blog prompts come up like this, that fear is always my first reaction.

On a lighter note…I also fear birds.  Dude…birds are CREEPY!!

What about you?  What are your fears?

Much love,
K.

Friday Favorites: Comfort

Every so often, I find myself in need of comfort.  Maybe something major happened, or maybe it’s just a bad day.  Maybe there’s nothing wrong at all, but I just feel the need for something that comforts me and feels safe.  Either way, we all have those moments, and here are my “Favorites” for various items I look to for comfort.  Hopefully some of these will spark something for you all, or maybe you have some of your own you’d like to share!

1.  Comfort Food.

IG1009_Grown_Up_Mac_and_Cheese_jpg_rend_sni12col_landscapeI have so many different foods that I think of as comfort foods.  But, of all of them, my favorite is macaroni and cheese.  Carbs + cheese = match made in heaven (unless you’re a lactose intolerant celiac’s disease sufferer.  In that case, I imagine it’s closer to hell).  I don’t really discriminate against kinds of macaroni and cheese…my favorite is one I haven’t had to make myself.  Annie’s Organics has a great box mix one, but homemade is better nearly every time.  One of my favorite recipes is from Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac and Cheese.  It’s creamy and full of flavor, and really easy to make.  It’s great for cold evenings when all you want to do is curl up on the couch and watch a movie!

2.  Comfort Clothes.

tunic sweaterI love sweaters.  In fact, I wait for fall and winter each year, just so I get the opportunity to drag out my box of sweaters.  There’s something so warm and snuggly about them.  I recently bought a new tunic sweater, and I am in love!  It’s soft and warm, and perfect for lying around the house or running errands.  I pair it with warm leggings and some boots, and I’m good to go.  Plus, the color goes with darn near anything, so it’s a great “Grab and Go” option for if you’re headed out and won’t know whether you’ll need an extra layer to stay warm.  I picked it up from The LOFT, which is one of my favorite places to shop, and I am considering getting another one because I love it so much!

3.  Comfort Smells.

hot-spiced-ciderAhh…it’s amazing how a certain smell can bring back so many memories (both good and bad).  There’s been studies done that show smells being one of the biggest links to memories for people, and that is definitely true for me.  I have a very small sense of smell, due to way too many sinus issues as a child.  My mother can’t smell at all, so I’m happy to have what small sense of smell I do have, even if it’s limited and faulty at times.  One of my favorite smells that brings such comfort to me is hot apple cider.  It reminds me of fall back home, pumpkin patches and apple orchards, and freshly baked cinnamon sugar donuts.  The only downside is that it’s hard to find if it’s not fall, so it’s not really something I can get a whole lot outside the fall months.  Sometimes you can find a few small jugs at the grocery store, but it’s rare.  However, I keep the mulling spices in a jar at home (I make my own) that I can use to put in black tea, and that is a good substitute in a pinch.  Here are 15 Cider Recipes (I’ve only used two, but they were good) from Martha Stewart.  I have a plan to try a few more now that fall is upon us!

4.  Comfort Movies.

Daffy_Duck's_Fantastic_Island_PosterThis was an easy one, primarily because I have one (exactly one) comfort movie.  When I am sick, there is a movie that I will watch, regardless of what is wrong with me.  Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island movie has been a favorite of mine ever since childhood.  Whenever I was sick and at home from school, my mom would stuff me in bed and put that movie on to watch.  9 times out of 10, I’d fall asleep before the movie was half over, but since sleep is best for a sick body, it was a win/win.  It’s funny  how, even now that I’m in my 30s, it’s still a go-to for me whenever I don’t feel well.  J has even joined me a few times to watch it, and agrees that it’s a great cartoon (and agreement is agreement, regardless of coercion), so I think this one is a winner.  In fact, when J realized how much I loved this movie, he took my beat up VHS tape that was falling apart (and really, who uses VHS anymore) and had a DVD made of it, so that I’d have it longer.  Now, if that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is!

5.  Comfort Places.

libraryThis one has two answers, both equally important to me.  I think that everyone has a spot that always brings about comfort.  For some, it’s the beach, others it’s the mountains.  One of mine, thankfully, is a place I can find just about anywhere I am.  Whenever I’m down, or just needing a feeling of home, I find a library.  There’s something about the smell of aged paper, combined with the quiet peacefulness of the stacks of books that puts me instantly at ease.  I’ve worked in a few different libraries, and would love to move back into librarianship, and they were always my most favorite jobs.  I enjoyed being surrounded by so much knowledge, and the feeling of having the answer to just about anything at my fingertips was incredible.  Even when I was overwhelmed with school work or life, stopping in to a library, just to find a corner to myself, brought back an amazing amount of perspective for me.

cathedralAnother comfort place for me is church.  Much like libraries, the quiet calmness of churches help bring about peace and tranquility for me.  J and I were in DC a few months back, and we had been racing around trying to see different things, and we took a moment to pop into a cathedral there.  I took a minute to step into a prayer room, and it was as though all my worries melted away.  God has such a calming presence in my life, that just stepping foot into a church is usually enough to release the tension.  I’m so thankful for that, especially when I think about how stressed I get in my job, and how I’m usually always close to a church of some sort, that I can walk into and gather my thoughts.

 

There are my favorites in the way of finding comfort.  I hope you enjoyed them, and that this post inspires you to go out and seek comfort for yourself.  Also, if you have some truly favorite comforts, feel free to share, as I’d love to hear them!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Excitement!

bridesmaidThere are always things I’m excited about in life.  Usually, it’s the simple pleasures that excite me the most…the first day where I notice the leaves changing color on the trees, the first hot chocolate of winter, that first moment in the morning where I wake up and find my husband watching me with love in his eyes.  It’s the little things that matter the most, and I do my best to really focus on those and hold tight to them.

But, right now, I’m excited about something slightly bigger.  One of my best friends is getting married THIS WEEKEND!!!  I’m her Matron of Honor, and I am so incredibly thrilled to be able to share this day with her!  She’s had a rough year or so, and deserves all the happiness life has to offer, and I know her husband to be will give her all that and more.  Plus, it’s one of the few weddings that J can actually go with me to, as normally there are conflicts in our schedules.  Tomorrow kicks off the wedding weekend festivities, with manicure and pedicures for us ladies, then the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner after.  Then I’ll be spending the night with the bride at her place, and we’ll wake up Saturday to what I am sure is going to be a fantastic day!  I’m seriously very excited and can’t wait to spend time with her before her big day!

So, there you have it, my big excitement!  Is there something that you’re excited for at the moment?

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Relationship Status

relationshipThis seems like such a silly post topic, as most of you can gather from my various blog posts that I am married.  But…short and sweet, right!

SPOILER ALERT:  I’m married.  Yep, I said it.  Married.

J and I got married in May 2008, a year before I graduated law school.  The timeline to our relationship was not the norm, but it worked for us:

 

First Date:  March 10, 2006

Engaged:  July 22, 2006

Married:  May 16, 2008

 

A lot of people thought it was too fast to get engaged four months after meeting, but it worked for us.  Even now, six years later (six years of marriage) we’re both incredibly happy.  Marriage isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday: Apple Butter, a Fall Favorite!

Riding high on the success of my honey sweetened white peach jam, I decided to do some more canning.  Only this time, I went with a fall favorite, apple butter!  J and I both love apple butter.  We use it often times in place of jams or preserves, and I usually mix it into my oatmeal during the winter.  Plus, most of the time, it has a lot less sugar than preserves, and fewer calories, but still tons of flavor.  Also, if you look at the ingredients, it’s usually only apples, water, and sugar.  Pretty simple, and I can pronounce and understand all these ingredients, so I call it a good day!

home preserving bookI decided to modify a recipe out of the Ball Home Preserving book.  They have a few different recipes in there for apple butter, and their main recipe calls for apple cider.  I took their traditional apple butter, but instead of the sugar that it suggested, I sweetened it with honey.  I prefer the taste of honey as a sweetener, over sugar, plus there’s a lot less processing going on with the honey.  I also made a half-batch, as compared to a full batch, because I didn’t want to have a ton of it lying around (because, let’s be honest, I’ll just eat it with a spoon).

apples_slicedI started with Honeycrisp apples, because they’re absolutely delicious.  Plus, they’re enormous, so I don’t have to peel as many apples as I would if I used the smaller ones.  Then, I cored and sliced up the apples, before putting them in a skillet with water to cook down.  This process took awhile…maybe 30 minutes.  I gave it a stir every now and then, and spent the time working on a homemade Spanakopita for dinner (next week I’ll tell you all about that recipe…divine!).  Really, at this point, you’re just waiting for the apples to cook down and get soft, so not much effort goes into this step.

food processor applesAfter you’ve cooked down the apples, you can either use an immersion blender to blend them up, or if you’re like me and don’t have one, you can put them in the food processor.  Do this in batches if you’ve got a lot…since I had a half-batch, I only needed to break it up into two batches for the food processor.  You don’t want to liquefy the apples, but do break them up until they’re smooth.  That said…this is YOUR apple butter…if you like it chunkier and less “buttery” then you go ahead and process to your desired texture.  “You do you, boo!” is my motto.

Once you’re done blending/processing to the texture you want, put it back into a clean skillet.  I don’t have many skillets big enough, so I just washed and dried the one I already used, and put it back in there.  Add the honey and spices, and bring up to a gentle boil.  Now, listen to me, because this is important.  If you have a canned apple buttersplash guard, USE IT HERE!  Nothing says 2nd degree burns like being splashed with boiling applesauce.  It’s not fun, save yourself the pain.  You’ll want to reduce down the apple/honey/spice mixture until it’s thick and doesn’t separate from the liquid when you place a spoonful of it on a plate.  I did this for nearly an hour, because I wanted the apple butter to be very concentrated.

After that…can as normal!  I got 2 half-pint jars out of this recipe.  I probably could have gotten 3 jars out of it, but I wanted some of the apple butter immediately, so I didn’t bother canning the last bit.  I’m really excited to bring this out this fall and use it in the mornings.  Plus, I think I’ll can up some more to give away as presents for Christmas (along with the Peach Jam I made last week).  Who doesn’t love food presents?!

Much love,
K.

Friday Favorites: Make-Up

When it comes to make-up, I am a minimalist. In my  mind, less is definitely more, and if I can get away with nothing at all, I’ll do it. But for those times when I’d like to add a little oomph to my outfit, I’ll whip out my make-up bag and slap on my war paint! Some of my favorite make-up tutorials are by the Pixiwoo sisters on YouTube, so if you’re interested in learning make-up techniques, I would definitely recommend them. They do a lot of high fashion tutorials, as well as plenty of your everyday type lessons, so there’s something for everyone.

Because I am fairly low maintenance on make-up, my favorites are very much the basics. For some of you, this will seem ridiculous at how minimal it is. My friend, R, is a make-up goddess and she would shake her head at this if she were sitting next to me. Oh well…this is my Powerpoint, kids…so hang on.

1.  Tarte BB Tinted Primer

BB CreamI love this stuff. It feels like powder after it’s applied, and just has an overall silky feel to it. One of my favorite things about Tarte is the fact that their entire line is cruelty free. It’s harder to find cruelty free make-up out there, but it’s very important to me, and Tarte is my favorite brand of it. The tinted primer comes in five shades, and I have one each of the two lightest. The lightest is for my everyday shade, and the slightly darker one is for summer, when no matter what I do I’ll still wind up with a slight tan on my face. But, because they’re tinted primers, there doesn’t need to be that many options because most of it will blend in with your natural skin tone. I don’t wear foundation, but I do occasionally want minimal coverage, so this is my go-to option for that.

2.  Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in ExposedI wasn’t joking when I said I love Tarte make-up. Their blush is just as awesome as their tinted primer. I have Exposed, which is a nude pink shade. It gives a hint of color without looking ridiculous (as most blushes do when you’re this pale). This is a must have in my tiny make-up bag, and I have used it when both tan and not, so it goes well with my skin regardless of how “sun-kissed” it is. Tarte cosmetics are a bit on the pricey side, but since I absolutely love the way they feel, I splurge. It’s one of the few make-up brands that down break me out, so it’s worth every penny!

3.  Urban Decay’s Naked Palette

Naked UDThere’s a reason why there’s so much hype about this eyeshadow palette. It’s because it really is that good! I can do any look I’d ever need with that palette, and had I bought it first, I never would have spent another penny on eyeshadow. The colors in the Naked palette (the original) are fairly pinky, so if you’re not a fan of pinks and browns, this might not be for you. There aren’t any purples, which surprised me a bit, because all these colors are fairly warm, but even though I’m a big purple color fan (it looks good with hazel eyes), I don’t even miss it in this set. Also, the original Naked came with a trial size of the Urban Decay eye primer, which is another fantastic product. It’s a win/win!

4.  Pixi Large Lash Mascara

pixi mascaraPixi by Petra is another cruelty free brand that I really like. I’ve admittedly only tried their mascara, but mascara is usually one of my biggest issues in make-up, and I’ve never had any problems with Pixi. The wand is quite fat, and doesn’t cause clumping. On top of that, it’s one of the rare mascaras where it’s easy to find a brown/black color, instead of the harsh black that most mascaras come in. You can find this brand at Target (which is where I get it) and while it’s a bit expensive for a brand you can find at Target, because it’s so easy to apply and never clumps, I think it’s well worth the extra money. I’ve had several tubes over the past two to three years, and each one is as good as the last. I’ve had no reason to find a new brand, so that’s good enough for me!

5.  Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

burts-bees-tinted-lip-balmMy last go-to make-up product is one step up from chapstick.  It’s Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm. I love the feeling of the lip balm; it’s not sticky like gloss, and doesn’t have that thick feeling like lipstick. It feels exactly like my favorite chapstick, while giving my lips just a hint of color. I already have fairly red lips to begin with (though they’ve gotten paler as I’ve gotten older), so I don’t need a ton of color. I have the Red Dahlia color, which is a perfect reddish pink color that looks great with my natural lip color.  To top it off, it’s incredibly moisturizing, so even after it wears away my lips are left feeling very smooth and soft.

 

So, you’ve now seen what’s in my make-up bag, but what about you?  What are your favorite cosmetic products that you can’t live without?  I’d love to hear about them!

Much love,
K.