My Engagement Story

I’m engaged!

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Oh my goodness. I’m so silly, stupid, happy in love and I still grin ear-to-ear and get all the butterflies when I think of this day.

Here’s the story..

Sunday, July 3rd

Nate and I went to San Francisco for 4th of July weekend. We decided to travel to San Francisco on a whim; I went once when I was very young, and he had never been, and we both love to explore new cities, so we booked flights to spend a 5-day weekend away from Austin and work.

First of all, I should have known that San Francisco would be chilly. I mean, I checked my weather app every day leading up to the trip and knew it never got over 60 degrees, and I had just been in LA 2 weeks prior, and I was FREEZING the whole time and promised myself I’d bring a warmer jacket next time I was in California! Apparently, I learn things slowly, because I didn’t pack anything warmer than a light jean jacket. So while Nate and I were walking around the bay area, I was constantly cold.

On Sunday, we spent a day in Berkeley. It was wonderful, and we have lots of fun memories and stories from that day. In the evening he thought it would be fun to make it back to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner with a view of the sunset, which I thought was incredibly sweet and romantic of him to want to do. (Note: I had no idea proposal was in the books for this trip…I had kind of guessed that my birthday weekend, 3 weeks later, or sometime in the fall would be when he proposed).

So we grabbed an Uber across the Oakland Bay Bridge and we were dropped off at Pier 39 on a freezing cold, windy, cloudy Sunday night. I was miserable.

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Now, Nate and I don’t love super touristy things in cities, unless they’re well justified by being super sweet. Fisherman’s Wharf is kind of like a carnival on steroids. There were drunk tourists stumbling around, lots of chain restaurants, and annoying, loud music played by flimsy rides and cheesy games. And it was cold and windy, and after wandering around and finding nothing better to eat than Bubba Gump Shrimp or Applebee’s, the night was getting later and we were both really hungry. And COLD!

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I think that both of us expected Fisherman’s Wharf to be a more serene place with cool views of the harbor and good seafood…and it is not that, friends. It’s loud and obnoxious. Lesson learned, San Francisco.

So we had to find somewhere to eat, and I could tell he was wanting to find a nicer restaurant with seafood, but on a Sunday night at 8:30 there weren’t a lot of options. And I was FREEZING. Like, so so cold that I couldn’t even think.

We ended up standing in a Starbucks just to escape the wind for 10 minutes while we yelped and googled and tried to find anything in the area that was A) open on a Sunday night, and B) not Hard Rock Cafe…

BLESS! We found Bar Crudo, and although it was a long Uber ride from the Wharf, it had the most delicious seafood chowder I’ve tasted, a good wine list, and a interesting take on Branzino, a fish we both discovered the week before at dinner with my grandfather! So we knew we should order it 🙂

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The dinner itself was lovely. I was still cold and asked to borrow Nate’s jacket, which he wasn’t using. He hesitatingly handed it to me, which I thought was odd. (Geez, don’t be so stingy with the jacket…) I had not the slightest idea that the ring was in the pocket of his jacket, which was sitting on my lap all night. Clueless..

Now, for some reason I decided to bring up the topic of a ring during dinner. We had never discussed it, and he had never asked me my ring size or what sort of ring I wanted. I had also mentioned that we don’t have to do the traditional route with a ring if he didn’t want…I could be happy with or without a ring, but I just wanted to subtly bring it up. (Note the heavy sarcasm…nothing about my comments that night were subtle).

I asked if he should propose…or me? And when might it happen? He rolled his eyes, said he wanted to propose, maybe it would be sometime in the near future, and we don’t really need to talk about it any more. I quickly dropped the subject…and just as quickly picked it back up again 5 minutes later. Hehe… He was giving me NO answers! His version of this story is that I kept bringing it up all night during dinner, although I feel preeeetty strongly that I didn’t mention it any more. No one really knows..

After dinner I had tunnel vision for my bed. All I could think about was getting home and under the warmth of a quilt. Cold. Tired. Apparently Nate mentioned taking a walk to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, which I hardly remember him mentioning because I was just so cold! Did I mention I was really cold?

Long story short, we almost got engaged on July 3rd, but Kelsey was being such a brat about being cold and tired that it didn’t happen. #sorryNate

4th of July morning

Nate and I are both coffee drinkers, so we love to try a different specialty coffee shop each morning when we’re in a new city. On Monday we walked about a mile to Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, a shop we were excited to try! The bay area isn’t known for bright sunny mornings, but this one was clear and warm, and the good vibes were flowing while we walked up and down the hills to get caffeinated.

Nate saw a city park on his google map and asked if I wanted to go out of the way of our route to walk up the hill for the view of the bay. I happily obliged. It was a gorgeous morning!

We walked and talked, just like a normal morning. The views were incredible so he handed me his phone and told me to take a selfie of us. While I was fidgeting with his phone and took the gorgeous ring out of his jacket pocket, turned me around, and asked if we could spend our lives together.

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Although I was completely surprised by the timing of the proposal, I had thought it through many times before he popped the question. The thoughts that went through my brain when he asked this question were very rational, which I never expected to feel during a proposal. I expected happy tears and laughter and then my brain might probably turn to mush. But there were no tears at that moment, and my brain was functioning as well as I could hope. I just pictured, very clearly, what a lifetime would look like with Nate. I imagined going through all the big stages left in life with Nate as my partner in life, thinking is this what I want?

Yes. Yes, it is.

I realize that doesn’t sound incredibly romantic to a lot of people who might have wanted to have the tears and laughter and mushy brain. But, first of all, remember that I’m an ISTJ, and I like that my brain responded in its normal way. The feeling was perfect to me, because I really really knew that I wanted this man by my side for the rest of our lives. The proposal was actualized, and I thought through my options, and I definitely knew that this is the thing that will make be so, so happy. And knowing that we’re both 100% certain in our decision is the most romantic thing in the world to me.

(Oh yes, and poor Nate…he tells me it took about 45 seconds for these thoughts to go through my mind before I said “YES!” while he stood there with the ring. He is an incredibly patient man.)

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The ring fit perfectly! I have no idea how he guessed, because I couldn’t have even guessed my ring size, but even after going to the jeweler to have it sized, they told me not to change anything.

And the rest of the day? Pure bliss. The tears came soon after, as well as the mushy brain. The day was sunny but my mind was in a happy fog all day.

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We chose not to tell any family or friends for the first 24 hours while we enjoyed our first day of being engaged.

We went to a game at AT&T Park to see the Rockies play the Giants. I remember absolutely nothing from that baseball game, except that the view was beautiful and I had a diamond on my finger and a fiancé by my side.

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I am the happiest ever!

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Oh, and after he proposed we finished walking to Wrecking Ball for a couple coffees and scones. The pour-over was a really good one, so we bought a bag of their Columbia roast to bring back to Austin. Every cup made me so happy!

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I take a ring selfie just about every day…because no matter what I told him about not needing to have a ring to get engaged, it’s just really fun to have a diamond on my finger. 😉

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So much happiness, friends. Thanks for taking the time to read!

Kelsey

June Reads: Exploring Poetry

Good morning! It’s Thursday, June 30, and tomorrow is JULY! I would be sad that summer is halfway over, but I’m way too excited for July because it holds THREE fun trips for me, plus it’s my birth month. So I really can’t lose there.

Today, I’m sharing the eight books I read during the month of June.

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Four of these were poetry books, two were fiction, and two were nonfiction. As part of my 30 Before 30, I’ve wanted to get a taste for poetry to see if it’s something I might enjoy. I look at it this way: orchestra music is not something that the general public seek out, at least not regularly; maybe a concert every 5 years or so. And that makes me sad, because I believe that anyone can learn to love it. The tricky thing is that it takes hard work to learn to love and appreciate, unlike so many other music genres. But it adds so much life to my life. I can’t imagine going through this life without being able to appreciate a symphony!

I was wondering if poetry might be the same idea. I’ve always been intimidated by it, mostly because I’ve said it’s too hard for me. But if it’s something that will bring me fulfillment, I’d like to discover that sooner rather than later.

So, I texted my oldest sister who just got her Ph.D in Literature, and I asked her to lend me some of her favorite poetry books. She gave me a little crash course in how to read and appreciate them (a big point that she and my other research noted: don’t try to understand each word!), and I dove in!

I read four poetry books in the month of June: Where Water Comes Together With Other Water by Raymond Carver, Catalog of Unbashed Gratitude by Ross Gay, The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert, and Song by Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

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The hardest thing about reading poetry, for me, is realizing that I can’t take everything literally. The analytical side of my brain has a rough time not knowing exactly what each poem means. Of course, I could study and analyze and research to try to determine the meaning behind each one, but from what I understand about poetry, sometimes the reader isn’t supposed to know the meaning and should instead appreciate the way the words sound or make her feel.

Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unbashed Gratitude was my favorite of these four, with Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires a close second. I wrote down the page numbers of poems that stood out to me, and both of those had the most. I also found myself remembering certain lines or phrases later in the day. My very favorite line from these books was from Gilbert: “Our lives happen between the memorable.” That has lived in my head for a few weeks, now.

I still have one more poetry book from Courtney that I’d like to read, and beyond that, I would like to dive into it even deeper. But in order to take this to the next level, I need to start discussing these poems with someone who understands them better!

I also read four other “just for fun” books this month!

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I kicked off the summer with something light and easy: Elin Hildebrand’s The Rumor. Anyone else read her novels and immediately want to travel to Nantucket for the summer? Ahh!!  This chick lit was a fun way to kick off my summer reading.

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I was never a big Harry Potter fan. I read 2 books and watched a few movies, but I wasn’t drawn into the world of Hogwarts in the same way as many others. But when I heard that J.K. Rowling had written a new detective series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, I decided to give it a try. Friends: I LOVED this book! I’ve already started the second one!

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My little sister, who I believe has watched every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy, told me that she thought I would like this book by the creator and writer of the show. First of all: wow. This lady is accomplished. I loved hearing her approach to living life in a no-nonsense way, taking what belonged to her, and fighting for happiness in the little ways. This book was a fun one 🙂

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My final book of the month, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age was one that I read about on Modern Mrs. Darcy. The title was deceiving, because I thought this book would be about, you know, conversation… But most of the book was convincing the reader why our digital devices are interrupting our ability to empathize with one another and hold a conversation, starting as early as elementary school, through our relationships, and into the work force. Although it wasn’t what I expected, I loved this book, and ever since reading it, I’ve been more aware of my phone’s presence and try to keep it tucked away and out of sight when I’m in a conversation. I’m also trying to be more thoughtful about when I check my phone. A big point of the book is that we’re afraid of boredom, awkwardness, or silences in conversation, so we immediately turn to our devices when those things happen. But those are natural parts of conversation, and they help us to understand one another better. Embrace the awkward!

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

Kelsey

A Weekend In LA

Woohoo! I’m excited to finally recap this long weekend trip to LA!

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I flew from Austin Bergstrom -> LAX on a Friday morning. The trip was scheduled to attend a college friend’s wedding, but I snuck in a couple days on each end to explore the city, since I had never been to LA!

The weekend was spent with some fellow college swimmers, so I knew there would be lots of fitness and activity involved. The moment they picked me up at the curbside of LAX they said, “we’re going straight to the beach from here – hope that’s ok!”

Of course it was 😉

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Sunshine! Beach! Friends!

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We started off at Hermosa Beach, because it was in the direction of where we were staying for the weekend.

Coffee at the beach 🙂

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We wandered around the cute little town, did some shopping, and sat down for lunch at Gum Tree Shop and Cafe, an Australian eatery and shop.

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After showering and changing, we went to Pasadena to the groom’s family’s house for a pre-wedding party for all of the out of town guests.

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This was so much fun! You know how weddings always fly by, and you spend so much money on airfare and hotels and then you don’t even get to chat with the wedding party, except when they’re walking by your reception table? Well, this fixed that problem. We got a whole evening to catch up with old friends, see the groom, and swap swimming stories. It was perfect!

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On Saturday morning we woke up early to do a quick hike in Palos Verdes. The weather was forecasted as cloudy, so we thought it would be ok. Then as we kept driving up in elevation, it got cloudier, and mistier, and eventually was pouring! What the heck, California??

But the weather eventually cleared up, and we had a nice little Saturday morning hike through the hills of Palos Verdes.

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The wedding was absolutely beautiful. I’m 4 years out of college, and it’s definitely the time of life when lots of people are choosing to get married!

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I had the best time with this friend!

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College swimmers, reunited 🙂

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After a late night at the wedding, I needed some coffee on Sunday morning. When I travel, I like to research my coffee shops. I don’t want to go to a generic, boring coffee shop that serves crappy coffee. I go to Sprudge.com, research the area, save the shops on my google maps, and try them out when I’m nearby!

I think all my friends thought I was crazy. 😉

They agreed to go slightly out of the way so I could try one coffee shop, though. It ended up being more gimmicky than I would have liked, and the coffee wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. But look at this beautiful chandelier!

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But I felt more awake after a strong, black cup o’ joe.

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That morning, we hiked up to the Hollywood Sign!

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There are a few routes of different lengths/intensities. We chose the shortest and most intense route. It was a workout! But the way down was nice 🙂

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Another day of #junegloom in California. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting all of these clouds and cool temperatures! Next time I’m in California I’ll bring a jacket!

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LA: you’re pretty sweet.

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We were all starving after the hike, so we went to Lemonade for lunch.

It’s this awesome little cafeteria with fresh, seasonal food. You walk down the line and pick the salads, meats, and sides that you want. And of course they have about 8 different flavors of lemonade at the end! My smoked salmon and kale salad was one insanely delicious. I’ve been craving it ever since!

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Full, happy, and tired, we went to Santa Monica to take a late afternoon nap on the beach.

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I took that time to walk up to call Nate and talk to him while I walked up and down the beach. LA is BEAUTIFUL!!

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After showering and changing, we ate dinner in Long Beach at a great little taco spot (I can’t remember the name…), and then went to Beachwood BBQ and Brewing for some tasting. Just like with coffee, I’m one of the only beer lovers in this group of friends, but they knew this was important to me so we stopped by so I (and one other) could get a flight of 4 beers to taste.

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Left to right: an ESB, two west-coast style IPAs, and a hopped up American stout. Yum.

On Monday morning we went out to do all things touristy!

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We started out at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and none of use knew how long this was! Ha! I think I was expecting 3-4 blocks of names, but it just. kept. going. and. going.

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We walked, talked, saw the Dolby Theatre (where the Academy Awards are held each year), recognized a bunch of names, and turned down approximately 253 offers for a bus tour through LA. #nothankyou

After that, we did some window shopping on Melrose Avenue. And as much as I would have liked to own that $8,000 pair of shoes, uh, sorry. We were all starting to get hangry, so we asked a local for her best lunch recommendation and she said Blu Jam Cafe is one of her favorites. It did not disappoint!

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Fun fact about traveling around with a bunch of ex-swimmers: we get hangry! And that’s a very different feeling than hungry. If you’ve been there, you know.

A quick scoop of ice cream after lunch at Neveux Artisan Creamery. OK, y’all. The flavors here! I sampled a bunch and ended up roasted banana and caliente cinnamon chocolate, but other favorites were basil olive oil, strawberry balsamic, and honey lavender. Oh my soul.

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We spent the afternoon in….BEVERLY HILLS!

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The sun finally came out for the afternoon while we strolled through the gorgeous shops. I only put $9,000 worth of handbags on my mental wish-list, which is pretty good for an entire day.

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Vino and martinis on the patio with these lovely girls at Nic’s. I loved catching up with my college friends!

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After a long day of (window) shopping, we were all hungry for dinner at Love and Salt, a pizza restaurant in Manhattan Beach.

Dinner was delicious! Love and Salt makes their own english muffins, which we ordered for an appetizer. They’re extra thick and fluffy and served with soft rosemary butter.

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Both of the pizzas we split were insane as well: Roasted Mushroom with Creamy Taleggio, Fontina, and Thyme [pictured below], and Pepperoni Pie with Burrata Cheese and Wild Arugula.

Oh my soul. So good.

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On Tuesday morning I only had time for a quick neighborhood run with a view of the beach, and breakfast at Four Daughters Kitchen before driving back to LAX to catch my flight home.

What a fun trip! I had never been to LA, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. It was a lot like I expected: great hiking, lots of food, and terrible traffic. (And yes – the LA traffic lives up to its hype).

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Love,

Kelsey

21 Days of Fitness: Conclusion

HI! Happy Friday!

I’m wrapping up my 21 Days of Fitness challenge today. Read about week 1 here, and check out week 2 here!

I did this challenge because I felt like I needed something to kick my booty into shape! I had noticed a pattern in my exercising: instead of taking one rest day, I started taking two, or maybe three, or sometimes four rest days in a row before doing another workout. That didn’t make me feel my best. And it’s not like I don’t have the time to work out now, since I’m out of school and not teaching in the summer!

No excuses any more 🙁

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{check out that gorgeous sunset over the S. Lamar bridge!}

What I Noticed

This should have been pretty obvious to me even before I started, but as the weeks progressed I realized how time consuming it is to workout every day! Have you ever watched NBC’s The Biggest Loser? At the end of the show, when the contestants are interviewed after living at home for a few months, they always talk about how they feel like they’ve been living at the gym. Because working out takes time! Now, I’m in now way comparing myself to a TV contestant who works out 6 hours a day, but I did notice that I sometimes had to make sacrifices in not doing something I wanted (like watching this week’s episode of the The Bachelorette) so I could fit in a workout.

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challenges i faced

Working out every day was a lot more challenging than I anticipated. There were a lot of days it didn’t organically fit into my schedule, so I ended up working out at random times, like 3:30 in the afternoon when I always feel lazy because it’s so hot outside, or at 8:30 pm when it was finally cool enough to run outside.

I found that it was easier to work out each day, though, when I didn’t have any other option. I decided to do 21 days of fitness, and so that’s what I was going to do. I didn’t waste any mind space by asking myself, “hmm, I wonder if I should try to do a workout today or not?” because I had already made that decision at the beginning of the challenge!

will i keep going?

Absolutely not 😉

While this was a fun way for me to remind myself how to workout consistently, I didn’t enjoy how enslaved I felt to working out! When I envision health throughout my life, I see it as something that brings me joy and makes me feel alive; forcing myself to workout every single day was a chore and often something that I did half heartedly. Through this challenge, I learned that working out 4-5 days would be ideal for me. I need a couple rest days. Not for physical rest, because a gentle yoga class or a walk by the lake isn’t too physically demanding, but because I need a break each week from the time it takes to squeeze in a work out.

Ok friends, thanks for checking in! I’m happy I experienced the past 21 days, but I’m also very happy that they’re over 🙂

Happy weekend! Talk to you soon!

Kelsey

21 Days of Fitness: Week 2

Dear Los Angeles: thank you for making week two of this fitness challenge so easy!

How can you not want to be running around outside when the weather is 70 degrees every day and it looks like this?

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I was in LA for 5 days of week 2 of my “21 Days of Fitness Challenge,” which is my self-imposed challenge to get off my booty and work out regularly. Every day in LA was either hiking, playing at the beach, running, or walking miles around Beverly Hills. It was a blast! Plus, every day was with friends, so I never really felt like I was working out.

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Ahh, LA! I love you!

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The picture below was taken just after walking the Walk of Fame, and just before walking around the shops of Beverly Hills. We literally walked all day long! I don’t know how many miles, but my legs definitely got their workout. Oh, and my feet. Those flimsy sandals weren’t my brightest move ever.

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The hike up to the hollywood sign was surprisingly difficult! We took the short, steep path, and about 5 minutes in I was sweating and panting and thankful for the cloud cover at 11 am.  The out-and-back hike was only 3.5 miles, but I was exhausted and ready to lay on the beach afterward.

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I love hiking with friends because it doesn’t feel like a workout! It’s just a big group hangout, and we’re all talking and laughing and taking pictures, but without realizing it I’m really getting my heart going!

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Week two was a success, thanks to some beautiful weather and a cool city. I’m into my third week now, and (spoiler alert) it’s much more difficult working out in hot, hot, hot ATX. Frown.

I got lunch with a friend today, and I actually felt like my skin was melting off my body when I got back into my oven hot car.

Texas, I love ya, but I do not like you right now.

That’s it for now. Thanks for checking in! Hope your Monday is all kinds of awesome.

Love,

Kelsey

Hello from LA!

                          Hi, friends!

I’m currently exploring the awesome city of Los Angeles for a long weekend! I’ll have a full recap on here on Wednesday when I’m back home! (Uh, because typing this on my iPhone is just not gonna work..) 


Sending lots of love from sunny California,

Kelsey 

21 Days of Fitness: Week 1

Hey, Happy Friday!

I’m heading to the airport to fly from Austin -> LA for a wedding weekend! Woohoo! Can’t wait to catch up with some of my college buddies!

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But before I head out, I want to post my week one recap of this little challenge I’m doing. I’m in the middle of a 21 day challenge of working out every day! Here’s how week one went:


Day ONE started a little groggy, since I had been at Sea World with my two youngest sisters the day before. The sun takes the energy outa me! But I met my boyfriend at the lake at 6:30, and knowing that he was planning on running as well helped to get me out of bed and into my running shoes.

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This week revealed something I already kinda knew about myself: I’m a morning workout person. On the days that I put it off until the afternoon or evening, I dreaded that workout all day long!

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Workout selfie because, uh, I have to prove that I did it.

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I did a circuit workout on day 3, which included some new exercises from SHAPE magazine that I hadn’t tried. That meant that leg day (day 4) was a doozie! I’m still feeling the burn from that one…

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Still going strong! Ready to start week 2. I’m planning on only doing hiking workouts while I’m in LA this weekend. Eeeeks! Can’t wait!

Peace and love,

Kelsey

30 before 30

Happy Wednesday!

I’m enjoying this sunshine-y day in Texas with a morning run by the lake and then an afternoon of teaching inside in the air conditioning. Ha! It’s starting to feel like summer!

Today I’m sharing something that’s been a list on my iPhone for quite a while: my 30 before 30 list. I’m adding it as a link on my home page so I can update it, but I’d also like to share it with you here.

Have you done a 30 Before 30 List? If so, will you please share your link with me so I can see it?! I love lists! Haha. #noshame

To read more about my 30 before 30, and why I think it’s such a fun idea, click on my 30 before 30 page.

Now, on with the list…


1. Get a masters degree – CHECK!

Done! I finished my Masters in Violin Performance in May, 2015. Those were two fun, busy, life-changing years.  Read about a day-in-the-life here, and my final thoughts here. Now I’m working on #6 (see below…)

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2. Read 100 books in a year

3. Visit 20 countries

10 down, 10 to go!

4. Take a photography class

5. Host a dinner party

6. Pay off student loans

Currently working on this. Read about why I feel so strongly about paying off my loans quickly right here.

7. Improve my handwriting

8. Learn to play golf

9. Run a marathon – CHECK!

Done! I ran the Cow Town Marathon in Fort Worth, Texas in February, 2014. This race was so much fun. Definitely one of my favorite moments in life! I haven’t done a second marathon yet, but the itch is still there..  Read my race recap here!

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10. Do an olympic distance triathlon

11. Travel to Asia

12. Travel to Australia/New Zealand

13. Travel to Europe – CHECK!

I visited 6 countries in Europe in the summer of 2015 to celebrate the end of my Masters degree. Click on my travel page to read all of the recaps. 

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14. Learn to play the banjo

15. Go to an NFL game

16. Write a fictional story

17. Take a wine tasting trip – CHECK!

My boyfriend and I took a 3 day trip to the Colorado wine country to explore the Palisade wineries. This trip only enhanced my desire to take a wine trip, so I’m starting to plan trips to Oregon, California, and Spain to taste more! 

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18. Get a massage

19. Start a retirement fund

20. Write a letter each day for a month

21. Qualify for the Boston Marathon

22. Learn my personality type – CHECK!

As part of my quarter-life crisis I’ve experienced this first year out of grad school (ha! only slightly kidding…), I paid for both a certified Myers-Briggs and a Strongs personality test to determine my strengths and weaknesses. My personality type, ISTJ, is that same as when I took the test in college, but it’s nice to have that confirmed! I’ve enjoyed researching my personality type so that I can better learn about who I am, areas I can work to improve myself, and when I need to learn to let it go because this is who I am.. The best book I’ve read for introverts is Quiet by Susan Cain, which you can read about here.

23. Go to a Michelin rated restaurant

24. Invest in a timeless handbag

25. Attend orchestra concerts by the “Big 5” (NY, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland)

Almost there! I’ve seen NY Phil, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.. Boston is the last one on my list! 

26. Read a poetry book

27. Learn Spanish fluently(ish)

28. Have a vegetable garden

29. Take a girls weekend trip  CHECK!

I had the best time in NYC with two of my best college girlfriends! Read my recap here

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30. Have a rockin’ awesome 30th birthday party! 

And you better believe it’s going to be amazing. 😉 

There you go! Some are huge goals, and others are kind of silly, but they’re all things that I’d like to experience as soon as possible! Do you have a 30 Before 30 list? Tell me where I can find it!

Love,

Kelsey

5 Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Austin

ATX and ice cream go hand-in-hand. I’ve always been a huge ice cream eater, thanks for my dad keeping multiple half gallons of Blue Bell Ice Cream in the freezer at all times. I could always count on homemade vanilla, cookies ‘n cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, and dutch chocolate being around, often with a 5th or 6th container, just for good measure. The man doesn’t mess around when it comes to dessert.

Now that I’m living in Austin, I’ve completely embraced the fact that I LOVE ice cream. I used to try to avoid it to cut out the craving, but no matter what other healthy things I do to my life, I can’t change this fact: I LOVE ICE CREAM. In fact, eating more (yeah, I know..) ice cream is on my summer bucket list in Austin.

These are a few of my go-to places for the best scoop in Austin!


1. Lick honest ice creams

Lick Ice Creams now has two locations in Austin (N. Burnett and S. Lamar), and a third location that opened in San Antonio, which makes them a convenient, local creamery, but the main reason I love them so much is for their delicious flavors! Seeing words like  Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil and Sea Salt, and Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Honey, or my personal fave, Texas Sheet Cake, makes choosing a flavor so hard! Thankfully they also sell their pints in stores all over Austin (see the list here), so you can keep it in your freezer, too.

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2. Sandy’s frozen custard and root bear

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex right next to Sandy’s. It wasn’t my very favorite apartment complex (because of the whole issue of sharing my kitchen with mice all year..), but being walking distance from delicious frozen custard was awesome! And slightly dangerous when dealing with a stressful year. Haha. Just saying – things could have been better if I lived next door to a juice bar at that time.

Sandy’s is an institution. It opened in south Austin in 1947, which means it was around before pretty much everything around it. The burgers and fries are average (think Sonic or Whataburger), but the custard is thick and creamy and classic. I absolutely love this place in the hot summer months!

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3. Thai fresh coffee bar and restaurant

A thai restaurant wouldn’t be my top choice for ice cream either, but hear me out: this restaurant/coffee shop is one of my very favorite places in Austin! I eat here for dinner more regularly than I’m willing to admit, and half of the restaurant is a coffee shop with a pastry case full of delicious vegan and gluten free pastries, and thai ice cream. Yum.

If you’re vegan, this is your spot. Thai Fresh has a lot of coconut milk treats, and while I won’t ever compare non-dairy ice creams to the real deal, I think they’re delicious in their own, icy way.

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4. dolce neve

This list wouldn’t be complete without Dolce Neve. I adore this south austin gelato shop, opened by Francesca, Leo, and Marco, three Italians who really know their gelato. I’m a weekly customer here because this gelato is so so good! I can’t get enough! The flavors change regularly, so I’ve never had the same flavor twice (except or Fromage Blanc and Nectarine Jam, which was so delicious I had to go back the next day to get another scoop).

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5. Amy’s ice cream

When I was living in Chicago, I flew to Austin with my violin to audition for my masters program. During that trip, a friend took me to Amy’s where I tasted their Mexican Vanilla flavor of ice cream, which may or may not have convinced me to make the move to Austin…

But seriously, no Austin ice cream list is complete without Amy’s! It started in 1984 in Austin, and there are now 14 locations, including one each in Houston and San Antonio. They have a ton of rotating flavors, but be sure to try Mexican Vanilla and Sweet Cream, two of their regulars.

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Ok, I think I just convinced myself to go get a scoop of ice cream! It’s hot outside, yo!

Have a fantastic Tuesday!

Kelsey

Weekending | Summertime Sunshine

Hey! Happy Monday!

This past weekend was one of those that I will forever look back upon with happy memories, although it was a little (lot) exhausting in the moment. It was all really fun family stuff that left me happy and laughing and feeling full of all the warm fuzzies. Y’all: I have the BEST family! Having 7 siblings often has its highs and lows, but this weekend was only the highs. Here are a few weekend snapshots:


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I don’t know about your part of the country, but Austin has been rain, rain, rain for about 3 weeks straight. The sun finally peeked out a little bit this weekend and I took full advantage!

I was all over Texas this weekend, starting in Dallas for a party thrown by my lovely parents, brunch with friends at Anvil Pub for the craziest brunch idea ever (seriously! look at that picture! 32 oz of mimosa topped with skewered breakfast sandwiches and tots!), followed by a pool and pizza party in Austin (pizza from Pinthouse Pizza), and the finally a whole day in San Antonio at Seaworld! I’ve wanted to take my two youngest siblings there forever, and this sunny weekend worked perfectly. Such a sweet weekend with my people.

{Thought: Being a big sister is the best. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have these two sweet little girls in our family.}

Linking up with Biana for her party today. Thanks as always for hosting, Biana!!

One more quick thing: starting yesterday (Sunday), I’ve committed to a daily workout for 21 days. My workout routing has gradually started sliding, and I don’t feel my best. Even if it’s just a yoga video or a quick walk, I’m going to do it every day! I know that posting it here will keep me accountable, so thanks for reading 🙂

Happy Monday!!
Kelsey

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Friday Favorites {June 3, 2016}

Happy Friday!

I celebrated my first full week summer vacation with a lot of R&R! To all of the teachers out there: WE. DID. IT.Anyone else feel like May dragged on foreeevvver??


Thanks to Amanda and Narci for hosting the link-up parties today! Here are a few of my favorite things from this week:

1. Happy Hours in Austin

 

I took full advantage of *not* being a teacher this week and hit up two of my south Austin favorites. El Alma‘s rooftop patio…

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…and the new cocktail bar, Backbeat:

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So now I only have 4,752 more Austin happy hours to try out. #foodiecity

[psst..check out this link for 35 happy hours in Austin]

2. My 5 Favorite Bloggers

Blogging is such a fun, weird, time-consuming hobby! Some days it ends up eating up so much of my time, because I’m clicking from blog to blog and reading about all of these fascinating people, and then I realize I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for three hoursBut I love to be inspired by so many different types of people, and yesterday I shared my 5 favorite bloggers who I’ve been following for years!

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These are the type of people who inspire or encourage me in one way or another. Even if it’s something as simple as being a little more aware of art and design, I love a blog that makes me view the world differently!

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It’s hard to weed through the millions of fitness blogs to find the good stuff, but Janae’s blog, Hungry Runner Girl, is one of my favorites to keep me motivated to run!

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I’m wondering….if you’re reading this post and have any favorite bloggers you’d like to share with me? I love reading blogs! It’s odd to think that there was a time (in the not so distant past) when blogging didn’t exist. Bizarre.

3. Summer Travel Plans

 

A year ago, I was sitting on this bench in Switzerland looking at this view…

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…and this year I’ve been sending a text to my sister, Kylee, at least twice a week complaining about the fact that I’m stuck in the United States when really I just want to be traveling! But that’s the reality of being on a budget to pay off loans.

That month in Europe was definitely my favorite vacation of all time!

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I wish I could relive that month in Europe every time June rolled around!

But I do have some pretty fun, short summer trips planned. This summer will be spattered with long weekend trips to the west coast to explore new cities, eat lots of food, lay in the sun, and see some friends and family. What more could I want?

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4. New Summer Chick Lit

As much as I try to enhance my pallet for reading advanced literature, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to drop the chick lit habit…it’s just way too much fun! I love to challenge myself to read something new, but I will always love sitting by the side of the pool with a cold drink and a thick, juicy novel full of gossip and scandal and martinis and beaches. #guiltypleasure

There are a couple fun ones being released this summer! I’m excited for Liane Moriarty’s new novel, Truly Madly Guilty. This one comes out on July 26.

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And next week, Elin Hilderbrand will be releasing Here’s To Us, which is her 19th novel set on Nantucket Island. Anyone else read one of these and then immediately want to book a flight to Nantucket for the summer??

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Also, Emily Griffin, who I consider to be the queen of chick lit (I feel a little guilty for even admitting that I enjoy reading her books…it’s all fluff, but so much fun) wrote First Comes Love which is set to release in late June. I read Something Borrowed and Something Blue over spring break, and I have a feeling this is going to be another book that needs to be read on a vacation, lounging by the ocean.

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I’m so excited for summer reading! I just can’t get enough 🙂

 


Thanks for stopping by!

Kelsey

 

 

 

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5 of My Favorite Bloggers to Follow

Hey all!

I’m sharing a couple of my favorite bloggers with you today. I’ve been following these ladies for around 6 years, and I feel like I know them! It’s funny how you start to feel so protective of the bloggers you’ve followed for a while, even if you’re not friends IRL… Right?

These are five bloggers who inspire me in one way or another. Enjoy!


1. Kath at Kath Eats Real Food

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Kath documented every bite she ate for five years! Yeah, she blogged thrice a day to show gorgeous photos of every morsel she put in her mouth! Talk about diligence.

Once she became a mommy, she started doing daily posts instead. I love her beautiful pictures of her daily, healthy eats, and the way that she showcases her town, Charlottesville, VA! I’m finding that the bloggers I love the most are the ones who make me want to visit their cities.

2. Katie at Katie’s Pencil Box

Katie is an artist who lives in Ohio. She’s married to a tattoo artist with a wicked head of hair, and has two precious kiddos. But the main reason I love stalking her blog is to see her light, white, airy photos of her home, city, and vacations.

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Her photo collages are gorgeous. One or two photos won’t do it justice, so seriously, go check out her blog! Just do it.

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 3. Janae at Hungry Runner Girl

Janae’s blog is my go-to when I feel like I need a healthy kick-in-the-pants.

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This lady is fast. Like, insanely fast. But besides that, she’s a completely normal, down-to-earth lady. I love her transparency about being a single mom while raising her gorgeous little girl, Brooke. This is a fun blog to read when I’m needing some athletic inspiration.

4. Joanna at Cup of Jo

Ahhh…just reading the title of this blog makes me feel cozy! I love to curl up with a cup of coffee and my iPad on a rainy Saturday morning and read Joanna’s posts about design, style, travel, and motherhood.

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She’s the type of person I’d like as a friend. (Too bad we live thousands of miles apart…)

She must have a huge network of people around her, because she always has the best guests post on her blog! My favorite posts are her weekend links. (Seriously – I’m feeling happy just thinking about her blog!)

 

 

5. Rosie at The Londoner

I started following this blog about a year ago, just before I left to visit London. I checked out a few London-based blogs, but this is the one that stuck! On top of just being a beautiful human being, Rosie’s photos are quintisentially British.

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She has a beautiful sense of style, and I just wish I could see inside her closet – it must be insane! So many handbags, so many shoes…

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{psst: her instagram is another fun one}

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{Bonus} 6. Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy

I know I said 5, but I couldn’t resist adding a sixth! I’ve been loving this blog recently as I’m attempting to read more often. Without fail, Anne’s blog makes me crazy excited to pick up a book and start reading!

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This lady read a lot of books, so she always has something new to share. She seriously reads so many books! I don’t know how she does it, but I appreciate someone who can simmer down a huge list to a few favorites so I get to just read the best ones! This is a blog that I don’t follow regularly, but I definitely stop by when I need some reading inspiration.


I’m heading to my 5th (FIFTH!) appointment today to follow up on the arm infection from two weeks ago. I feel like I’ve been telling everyone this story (because it’s hard to not say anything when there’s a giant piece of gauze wrapped around your arm…ugh), but I slipped in a slippery, algae-like substance and gashed my elbow a couple weeks ago, and my entire right arm got infected. I ended up with a trip to the ER, 3 shots, and 2 prescription antibiotics. Hopefully today is the final check up!

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Summer Bucket List in Austin

It’s June ALREADY?! I know that May felt like it dragged on for.eh.ver, but I can’t believe we’re already into the summer months!

June and July always fly by, and before I know it, it’s the orchestra season and teaching season and I’m running around like crazy. This year, I want to take advantage of these two months and make sure I do all the fun summer-y things in Austin that I miss so much during the winter! Since we all know that we’re more likely to do our goals if we write them down, I’m making a little list of the fun things I want to squeeze in this summer. Here they are:

1. Go to Blues On The Green

I’ve always missed this free summer concert series in Austin, and this year, I have it on my calendar!

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Blues On The Green is a free concert series presented by 93.3, KGSR. It’s the oldest free concert series in Austin, and it happens on Wednesday evenings in Zilker Park, which is where Austin City Limits Music Festival takes place! Wild Child, Hayes Carll, and The Suffers are all playing this year, and I’m going to make it to at least one!

2. Eat More Ice Cream

Yes. I’m making it a goal to eat more ice cream the summer, because it makes me so, so happy!

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Lick and Dolce Neve are two of my very favorite ice cream shops in Austin! I’ll be a regular at both during these hot summer nights.

3. Hit Up Barton Springs

This is another AWESOME Austin tradition, but I rarely go! I usually just end up hopping over to my (free) pool, but Barton Springs is such a fun experience!

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This spring-fed pool is the fourth largest in Texas, and it’s at a constant 68 degrees! Brrr. But when it’s 105 outside, the icy cold water feels just right.

4. Stay Inside And READ

Ugh. Austin gets so miserably hot in July! By the end of the summer, I’m avoiding going outside as much as possible. When the heat and humidity are killing me, I’ve found that the best thing to do at this time is…

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My favorite local book store is definitely Book People, which has a lot of book clubs for those who need the goal of a deadline and a group of people to discuss the book with!

I’m also really loving Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide, and this fun list of easy reads, because let’s be honest: in the summer, I love me some chick lit. 😉

5. See Movies At Alamo Drafthouse and Violet Crown

Like I mentioned, sometimes the heat in Austin becomes too much to bear. Have you ever experienced a day when it’s too hot to go swimming? If you live in Texas, you know exactly what I mean..

In times like these, my favorite past time is to head to Alamo. Austin is known as the founding city of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the cinema for real cinema go-ers (wink):  It’s an awesome movie experience, with huge screens, strict no-texting rules, and a big menu of craft beer, burgers, nachos, and delicious adult milk shakes (yes, please!). You can now find these theaters all over Texas!

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   And while I love Alamo, my very favorite movie theater in Austin is Violet Crown (which also has locations in Santa Fe and Charlottesville). I like violet crown because it’s the smaller, hipper, cooler younger cousin of Alamo. It’s not quite as much of a chain, and it’s right in the middle of downtown so you can walk to a restaurant before or after the movie. Like Alamo, they offer a great beer list, but they also have a long list of killer cocktails! One big difference between these theaters: you’ll have a waiter to bring you food and drinks at Alamo Drafthouse, but at Violet Crown, you’re expected to order food in the lobby and carry it into the theater yourself.

Ok, I’m ready for summer! I can’t wait for all the fun things in store!

Happy Wednesday,

Kelsey

 

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Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Happy Tuesday! I hope your Memorial Day weekend was awesome!

 

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I had a perfect weekend up in the Dallas area visiting my family. But first, a quick stop at Brew & Brew for a pour over on my way out of town! This is one of my favorite coffee shops in Austin.

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I drove straight up to Denton (about an hour north of Dallas) to visit my older sister. If you haven’t ever been to Denton, I’ll tell you: it’s a quirky city! It’s a college town, so I can guess that it’s what Austin used to be like about 40 years ago. We went to a GREAT concert on Friday night at Dan’s Silver Leaf, a small dive bar/concert venue. I’ve been wanting to see James McMurtry for a while, and his show was amazing! He’s the type of artist I’d like to see over and over again.

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On Saturday morning we went to the market!

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Santiago is a big fan of the dog treat table. He led us straight there right when we arrived at Denton Community Market.

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Silly dog…that’s not how you drink water!

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It was a hot, humid morning! A tall, cold limeade hit the spot!

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We grabbed breakfast at the Waffle Wagon. So many good choices!

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I went with chocolate chip. Classic.

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Denton is so beautiful at this time of year! This field by the market was full of bluebonnets in the spring, and now it’s a bursting with all types of wildflowers.

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Fast forward to Saturday night: I drove an hour from Denton to Dallas to see the little siblings! Haha. This car ride was so funny! These three kept using middle school slang that I didn’t understand, and I had to ask them to explain everything for me. For instance, when I mentioned a song, and Will, 14, said, “yeah, that’s fire,” I didn’t know if that mean “good” or “bad” or the song is literally called “fire.” So confusing.

I’m officially the old, uncool sibling 🙁

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Sunday after church we did a mother/daughter shopping trip to Central Market, complete with lunch afterward! Love their salad bar!

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On Sunday night, my sister and I had tickets to go see Ragtime at Dallas Summer Musicals!

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Fun surprise: on our way in the door, a woman was giving away two free tickets for the third row! We accepted them and thanked her and called Cara and Kylee at home and told them to hustle and get there fast! All four of us ended up seeing the show. Thank you, kind lady, for the free tickets! I wish I had gotten your name!

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Cocktails afterward at Bowen House, one of our favorite cocktail bars in Dallas.

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Happy Memorial Day! I slept in and then enjoyed some breakfast bread, fruit, and green tea on the back patio.

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We celebrated Cara’s birthday a few days early while the family was together, and I decided to make this homemade vanilla ice cream cake from Brown Eyed Baker for her! Will helped…

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Presents! And a sleepy pup 🙂

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My mom always selects a beautiful spread of cheese, jam, crackers, and wine, for special occasions. This time was a sharp white cheddar, goat, brie, and raspberry preserves.IMG_4314

Happy Birthday, sister!!

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This was my first time to make an ice cream cake, so I was a little worried how it would turn out, but it all held together through the happy birthday song and candles! Phew..

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Oh man…I love my big family.

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Cara and I are two years apart, and we’ve always shared an extra special bond. Ever since we were little girls, we’ve gotten super silly when we’re together. We laugh at stupid stuff that doesn’t really make sense, and we enjoy talking about travel and budgets and fashion and dreams and boys. She’s an incredible built-in friend and I can’t imagine this life without her.

Happy Birthday, Cara!! I love you!

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I’m linking up with Biana for her weekending link up party!

Lots of love,

Kelsey

 

March-3

May Reads

March-3

 

Happy Memorial Day!

I’m in Dallas this weekend visiting with my family. We’re all here to celebrate my awesome, fun, extroverted, determined, wonderful older sister’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Cara!!

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I have some books to share today! I read 5 books for the month of March.

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I listened to the audio book version of Gone Girl, and I loved it! After not enjoying The Girl On The Train so much back in March, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. But there were times I’d sit in my parked car outside my home for 10 minutes just to listen a little bit longer! I missed the movie when it came out in 2014, so right when it was finished, Nate and I watched the movie together. Seriously, I couldn’t wait! I loved the movie too, but the character development was much more intense in the book.

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This was my fourth Moriarty novel to read, and my least favorite so far. (Bit Little Lies is my favorite.)

I don’t like books that end all “fair and square” at the end, and that’s exactly what this one did, in a sort of morbid way. I enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing, so this was still a fun read, but I wouldn’t recommend this book to any of my friends.

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FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH! Maybe of the year?

My little sister told me to watch Susan Cain’s TED talk, and so I did, because my sister knows her TED talks…  I was immediately hooked and knew I had to read the book.

This book is valuable to both introverts and extroverts. As an introvert (I score at least 60% introvert each time I take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, and sometimes higher), this book was so beneficial in helping me understand why I often feel the way I do about talking on the phone, going to parties, and feeling exhausted or even angry when too many people are in my space. If I could have read this book when I was in high school, it would have boosted my self confidence so much in helping me to accept the way I am and to “Be Kelsey” a little bit better, instead of always feeling guilty about not being a loud, outgoing, popular girl.

A friend who’s an extrovert told me this book was very helpful for him in understanding his wife better, who is an introvert. I will re-reading this book many times!

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I ended up reading a couple of self-help books this month! This one has been so popular recently, but I really didn’t know anything about Marie Kondo’s approach to tidying. But oh. my. goodnesss. I loved it so much! The Konmari method basically lies on one principle: do your belongings #sparkjoy?  If the do, keep them! If not, toss them.

I love throwing things away, so I was so happy to use her method to tidy my closet and bedroom, which you can read about here, and my bathroom and kitchen, which you can read about here. I got rid of SO MUCH STUFF! And I didn’t think I even had “stuff.”

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My final book of the month was The Happiness Project, which my older sister read and loved and lent to me. This book has also been everywhere for a couple of years, and I’ve almost picked it up in airport bookstores on multiple occasions.

It wasn’t what I thought it would be…I was expecting it to be written from the perspective of a depressed, angry, and maybe financially struggling young woman. But Gretchen Rubin is a upper-class, highly educated white woman who went to Yale Law and had career as a lawyer before transitioning into writing. She had several books published before she wrote Happiness, and she was already pretty happy with her life before she started the project. But she wanted to see if she could become even happier.

Although it wasn’t what I expected, I still flew through this books and enjoyed all of it! Each month is dedicated to a different focus, like parenting, money, friendships, passion, and marriage. I picked up a lot of tips along the way, and on the final page she left a great list of other books to read about happiness that I’ve added to my “to read” bookshelf.


Yay! I love reading. PS. Have you checked out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Summer Reading Guide? Lots of great stuff there! I already have a big stack of books from her list that I want to read this summer!

Hope this Memorial Day makes some wonderful memories for you!

Love,

Kelsey

21 day of thankfulness-3

21 Days of Thankfulness: Conclusion

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After too many weeks of feeling unsettled and generally ungrateful for the life I have, I committed to writing in a gratitude journal each day for 21 days. I’m wrapping up the final week of this little project, and I’m so happy I did it! I wrote each morning in my black moleskine journal. An entry typically consisted of bullet points or a short paragraph stating the thing or person or situation for which I felt gratitude.

Read week one here, and check out my week two recap here.

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WHAT I NOTICED

I take a lot for granted! As the weeks went by and I felt like I was “running out” of things to write down, I started to dig a bit deeper. My first few entries were all about gratitude for the fun, exciting things in my life. “I’m so thankful for this brand new computer that makes blogging so much fun!” or “I’m thankful for my incredible boyfriend and how he knows me and loves me so well.”

But by week three, I went back to the basics. I was thinking of the normal, daily things. Drinkable water from the tap. Air conditioning in the summer. Elbows that bend (after last week’s arm infection fiasco). My gratitude journal will never be finished, because the list is literally endless. Even here in my room, while I’m sitting and typing this post, I see dozens of things that deserve my gratitude. Books and knowledge and music and technology and pictures of great friends. These three weeks made me more mindful of all of the good things in life.

Week 3 was also my final week of teaching, so I got several end-of-the-year gifts from the parents of my teachers, accompanied by sweet thank you cards. These gifts made me feel SO wonderful! This was a good reminder to me that I need to not only express my gratitude in a book – I need to say it out loud to the person who deserves it. I’ve made small steps to do that more regularly. When I think of how great it makes me feel, I want to give others that high, too!

CHALLENGES I FACED

This was a pretty easy project, so there were no real challenges 🙂

WILL I KEEP GOING? 

Yes. Definitely, yes. But not every day. Sometimes it started to feel like a chore, like it was just one more thing to check off my morning list. But generally, I felt uplifted after I had taken a moment to jot down a few things. Also, I noticed that this made me better at journaling regularly, because I would often write and extra page or two after writing my gratitude journal. I’m always glad after I journal, even though the process isn’t always something I like because my handwriting isn’t great and it takes a long time. So, I’m happy that there was an extra added benefit!

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When I Grow Up

If someone told me I would be 25-years-old, with a Masters degree in violin performance, questioning my career path, I wouldn’t have believed them.

This seems like an early time in life to be contemplating something I’ve been working on since I was 7.

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Now that I’m here, this choice doesn’t seem so alien. I declared that this was the career I wanted, and I was warned that it would be hard, and now that I’m here I’m not sure I want it anymore. I’m finding a lot of people in similar situations! I was speaking with the mom of one of my violin students, and she told me that she’s exploring the idea of a career change, although she’s 45-years-old and has a stable job and a masters degree in her current professions. Maybe people just get confused regularly about their careers?

When I was very young, I gave the normal answers about what I would be when I grew up. Teacher. Gardener. Painter. You know, the normal career list that a 4-year-old spits out. By the time I was in high school and college, I said, “violinist.” I was good at playing the violin, and at 17 I didn’t know what else I might like to do, so I got a college degree in violin performance. When you’re 17 and say you’re majoring in violin performance and get asked the question, “so, what are you going to do with that?” the correct answer is, “I’d like to win an orchestra job!”. That’s sounds legitimate and respected! But maybe I never wanted it as much as I wanted to be respected and well-esteemed. Yikes. How pathetic is that?

My self efficacy might have been too high for my skill level, because I never suspected that I might not be good enough to succeed. I just knew that if I persevered, I would come out on top. I always told myself that I was going to stick with it and finish this out. I was going to win an orchestra job and have a great career! And then maybe I would gracefully decent from my oh-so-well respected position as I eased into an equally impressive career doing something unrelated to music. I’ve always been driven and disciplined, and I would use those traits to fly past the competition and win the jobs.

Easy there, tiger..

For someone who says she’s “not afraid of failure,” I sure am afraid to look like I failed at this career!

Why is this so hard for me right now? 


Because my type A personality needs to wrap up each post in a neat little package, I’ll finish with this: I am so happy with this life I’m living. Each day is exciting and different! Oh my goodness, friends. I have no idea where my life is heading, but I know it will be an adventure. 

Love,

Kelsey

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My Experience With The Konmari Method of Tidying, Part II

Yesterday I shared part one of this post, and today I’m showing you the rest of my tidy little apartment!

I read Marie Kondo’s book about tidying, and I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to use the entire process of my apartment in Austin! She say the process can take 3-6 months, but because my place is so small, I don’t have any kids, and I don’t own a lot of stuff, it only took two days of work.

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I showed before and after pictures of my bedroom and closet in Part I, and today is my bathroom and kitchen.

Let’s jump right into this, shall we?

BEFORE

I didn’t touch a thing before snapping these pictures so that you could see what my bathroom looks like on a normal day…

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It’s not atrocious, but it’s not really clean either. It’s just a “medium” sort of bathroom. I don’t feel chaotic when I walk in, but I don’t feel calm either.

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My jewelry is on the bathroom counter. It’s moderately organized, but it gets messy if I don’t clean it up every now and then. I’m still looking for good ways to organize jewelry…I’ve looked around on pinterest a bit, but if anyone has something that works well, please speak up!

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I had a lot of jewelry hanging up that I never wore, and it was covering the few pieces that I really love!

My kitchen is small. I do almost all of my cooking at my boyfriend’s house, because he has all of the nice cookware. I haven’t invested in many nice kitchen items, so I just have a small corner of the kitchen where I keep a few items:

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It was definitely not organized! I knew how to find things, but I also knew there were a lot of things hiding in the back corners, which is kind of gross..

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The top cabinets, unfortunately, ended up being a place to throw odds and ends.

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Those are the before pictures. When it was time to start working on the bathroom, I cleared everything out. Because most of the items in the bathroom fall under “miscellaneous” I didn’t have to follow a particular order when I organized this room.

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Asking myself “does this spark joy?” is a little weird with personal grooming items. For instance: deodorant, no matter how well it keeps me from smelling like a garbage can, does not particularly spark joy. But I keep it and use it each day because I’m a normal human being. Lots of my makeup, though, sparks joy! Every single tube of lipstick lit up my inner joy right away 😉

I had a bag of kitchen items and a bag of bathroom items to throw away. It wasn’t as drastic as my closet, but I’m still happy with the result!

AFTER

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The drawers have a lot more space now so that I can see everything that’s in them.

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I only kept a couple travel bags and cosmetic cases…I had way too many that were just storing “stuff.”

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I got rid of the jewelry that I don’t love, and now my jewelry looks very simple and easy to grab. I don’t wear jewelry very often, and I think it’s because it was always hidden by the pieces I didn’t like!

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And in the kitchen, after taking EVERYTHING out of the cabinets and asking myself if it “sparked joy,” I put it all back in and was pleased with how it looked! Lots more space, more airiness, and I can find everything that I need! Again…I don’t use this kitchen very often for cooking, so that’s why my pantry is so sparse! All of the cooking/baking supplies are in Nate’s kitchen. 🙂

The lower shelves have some storage and my juicing/smoothie supplies.

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In the middle I have the items I use each day: tea/coffee, snacks, chia/flaxseeds for smoothies, omega3 pills, oatmeal packets for breakfast, etc.

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And up on the top I put items I don’t use very often or things that I need to store. I’m a liiiittle too short to reach without a chair, so I put the things up there that I don’t need regularly.

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Ok, that’s the end of that! I tidied my place completely. Looking around my apartment, I don’t have anything that I don’t want. Granted, my room is a little bare and I could definitely stand to invest in a good dresser, but I’m happy knowing that I’m only surrounded by the things that I love.

End result: I’m a #konvert! I’m totally a fan of the Konmari method and would recommend it to others. I like that her book is brief – it doesn’t take more than a couple hours to read. It’s a simple approach to follow, and the results are awesome! This method could be much more difficult if you’re a pack rat type of person, or if you place high sentimental value on “things.” But for anyone who wants help creating a clean, live-able space, this book is a great place to start!

I’m off to play my violin – my elbow has finally healed!!

Lots of love,

Kelsey

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My Experience With The KonMari Method Of Tidying, Part I

I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. You probably either love this stuff or hate it,  but as soon as I put down the book, I couldn’t wait to get to work! I’m down with anything that involves organizing, throwing things away, or starting a project! This book is right up my alley.

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It could also be called, “the life-changing magic of throwing things away,” because Kondo has a very minimalistic view to what we really need. Her method of tidying follows a couple main points:

  • Organize by object, not by room. So, you start with all of your clothes, no matter which room of the house they’re in at the moment. She has a specific order that works best, starting with clothes and finishing with mementos, which are the hardest to organize because of sentimental value.
  • Her method of choosing to keep or discard is based on asking oneself the question, “does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, keep it. If not, toss it. This gets tricky when it’s a practical item, a sentimental item, or something you “might need” in the future. She goes through a lot of these issues in the book, but her final answer is almost always to throw it away if it doesn’t spark joy. This way, you’re only surrounded by the things you love. 
  • She believes that her clothes and house are alive and must be touched and thanked. This is what keeps the clothes vibrant and colorful. She recommends thanking each item as you take it off each day, not storing socks in balls because they “deserve a rest,” and never putting out of season clothes away to be neglected. 
  • She says that if you do a thorough job of tidying, you only need to do it once, and your house will remain clean. This process can take 3-6 months. 

While she calls it tidying, to me, this book was really about learning to throw away the things you don’t need. And you can tell that you need something by touching it and asking yourself if it “sparks joy.”

I followed her entire process in my apartment! First, let me tell you that I thought I was a very tidy person already. I didn’t think I’d have much to throw away, and I don’t normally feel overwhelmed with clutter. But, I’m not 100% satisfied with my closet, and I was curious what her method might do for me.

Before:

Welcome to my closet!

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On the right I have tops and dresses, some shorts hung up, and a lot of empty shoe boxes. Some of them ended up being full, which I didn’t realize..

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I attempted a capsule wardrobe a couple months ago, so I had already put a lot of the clothes I didn’t love in my storage bins. I have space for my luggage, shoe hanger, and laundry hamper down below.

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This is a small spot for storing dresses, but it’s the only place in my closet that’s long enough. I honestly didn’t wear half of these dresses, but I felt bad throwing them away..

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And up above, I had….I don’t know, stuff? I honestly didn’t know what I would find up there! I’ve moved 8 times in 4 cities in the past 8 years, and some items have stayed in duffel bags the entire time and I’ve never bothered to really sort through them. #embarrasing

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Right in the middle of my closet I have clear plastic drawers (I don’t have a dresser right now, so I use these drawers instead) and a plastic shelving unit that keeps bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and extra sheets. This is a constant source of frustration to me because it always looks awful!

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Another source of frustration: the dreaded t-shirt drawer.

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My gym clothes drawer didn’t look too much better. These drawers go in cycles. Sometimes they look awful and I just throw stuff in, and other times I get frustrated and take it all out and fold it, and then it looks great for a week. I snapped these pictures without changing a thing so you can see what it looked like on a pretty normal day.

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I have a few built-in wire drawers, and I use them for socks/hosiery, and swim wear. These drawers are always a mess, and I never even tried to keep them clean. I’d just grab what was on top, and ignore the rest.

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The left side of the closet.

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I had two storage bins full of out-of-season clothes, shoes that I don’t wear very often, bulky clothes, and high school swimming t-shirts.

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The “before” picture of my room is pretty tidy. I don’t have a lot of stuff out in the open – it’s all packed into nooks and crannies. I like to make my bed every day, so at least that was done for the picture!

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My desk area is new, so it’s already the way I like it. I don’t have anything in the drawers that I don’t like, so I really didn’t have to touch this!

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Large bookshelf to the right…

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Small bookshelf to the left…

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Corner reading chair/place to throw stuff…

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And back behind my bed is a yoga mat and a couple crumpled blankets.

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So there you go! That was my starting place. Marie Kondo recommends working in silence with no music, dressing up for the occasion, and greeting your house when you begin. I turned on some quiet background music so I wouldn’t go CRAZY, did not greet my house because that’s weird, and I put on comfy clothes that weren’t my pajamas and some lipstick. Compromise.

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I started by taking all of my tops of out the closet, because that’s the clothing item she says to start with.

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This method helped me to get rid of a lot of old, smelly, ratty t-shirts that I had been hanging onto for sentimental purposes. I was so scared to throw out my first state swimming shirt, although it’s tattered and musty, because of the memories it holds of that swim meet when I was 13. Kondo urges her clients to thank the item for its purpose and the memories it contains, and then let it go.

I felt a little weird saying, “thank you” to a royal blue t-shirt, but you know what? It actually helped! I was able to accept that this t-shirt was from an earlier time in life, and letting it go does not diminish the impact that that swim meet had on my life. But keeping it in a giant bag in the top corner of my closet for decades is not going to bring me any happiness, and if I haven’t made a “memory quilt” or something along those lines yet, I never will.

So, goodbye swimming shirts.

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The picture above is just of TOPS! I hadn’t even starting going through pants, skirts, shoes, outerwear, purses and bags, and miscellaneous items yet. In all, I took 3 garbage bags and 7 paper grocery bags full of clothes to goodwill!

I found some fun stuff along the way, like these Hollister “Cali Flair” distressed jeans circa 2005, that were so low-cut they barely covered my bum and dragged like a wedding train behind my feet. #praisethelordforfashionchanges

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I mean….what? And I think this is how they were supposed to fit!

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After

 

Once I put my closet back together, I was so happy with the light, airy feel to it!

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There weren’t a lot of changes on the right, except that I have my purse and bags organized and a place to empty my purse each night. When I was reading Kondo’s method of emptying out her purse each time she got home so that it could “rest,” I thought it was weird. But I tried it, and I’ve really been enjoying it for the past few days! It helps me to keep my bag organized, free of food and crumbs, and I always know where each lipstick/pen/pair of sunglasses is when I need it. Plus, I end up switching purses depending on my outfit, so it works well.

PS. This method showed me that I have very few clothes I actually like… I wish I liked shopping!

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Above I have my scarves and just a couple organized boxes on top. I know exactly what’s in each on of them!

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And on the right: a little nook for my American Girl Dolls, because I’m 25 but I still love them!

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Marie Kondo recommends keeping most clothes folded and in a drawer to save space. She has a method of folding clothes (I found an illustrated guide right here) so that they stay standing up. She also recommends placing them vertically instead of horizontally so you can see each one in the drawer. I LOVE THIS IDEA!!

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I threw out a lot of exercise clothes that I didn’t love, which means I’m running a bit low now. I’m hoping this forces me to actually go out and get some nicer stuff! For now, I have enough to get by.

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I organized the wire drawers and I now know exactly what’s in my sock drawer. They’re folded instead of balled up, and while I don’t exactly believe that my socks are alive and need to be appreciated each night, I do agree that it will help save their elasticity if I store them this way.

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I have space for the winter coats I like and all of my shoes on the left.

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And down below, the towels I chose to keep, my luggage, and some gift wrapping supplies for easy access. Remember the two storage bins that were there? I completely emptied both of them! I now have two empty storage bins sitting in my hallway, and I’m not certain what I’ll do with them yet. If I had an attic, they could be useful! But I’m still in the apartment-living stage of life.

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I had a lot of stuff hanging on this door that I hadn’t used in years! I cleaned it all of so now I only have a couple items that I use regularly, which is really what a hanging rod should be used for, right?

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After clothes, I moved onto books. Now, I’ve always loved my collection of books. I like that I invested in some really nice ones when I was young, and that my parents gave them to me as birthday presents. They’re heavy to move, but worth it because they’re so nice to look at. But, I’ve ended up with a lot of books that aren’t so nice, too.

I took all the books off the shelf, picked each one up, and asked myself if it sparked joy.

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The shelves were pretty sparse after that, with only my favorite, most beautiful books left. The ones I love to look at and read and I’m proud to display.

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In fact, when I was done, I was able to fit all of my books on the smaller bookshelf! The big one is a cheap $30 particle board shelf from Walmart, and it was falling apart after too many moves. I was happy to throw that one away. I’d love to purchase a nice bookshelf and keep collecting nice books, but for now, I’m so happy with how this looks!

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I didn’t have to many changes in my bedroom, except for moving the giant mirror over my bed to the closet and tidying out my nightstand.

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I threw out some old extension cords, found a home for my yoga matt, and only kept the blankets that I actually use. The one sentimental blanket that I had back there is now safely folded and put away, which is where it should be instead of shoved under the bed.

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Woohoo! That’s it! I feel so invigorated and fresh. I love the feel of my room right now. Although it’s not perfectly decorated and designed, it’s exceptionally clean and tidy, and only my favorite things are in site. In a few years, I hope to have a dresser and a bookshelf that I love, but for now, I’m really pleased with how this turned out!

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a big fan of the KonMari Method. It’s similar to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” because everything must be either placed where it belongs or disposed of. It leaves very little room for error.

I’ll post part II next: bathroom and kitchen!

Happy Tuesday,

Kelsey

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3 Lessons I’ve Learned From My 5th Grade Class

Happy Monday!

Today is my first day of summer break! I finished classroom teaching last Friday, and let me tell ya that I was rea.dy. for summer.

I got a giant scoop of gelato (fromage blanc with nectarine jam) from my favorite gelato place in Austin to celebrate the start of summer!

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This wraps up my third year of part-time classroom teaching, which has proven to be a fun, challenging, perfect little way to round out my career as a musician. As long as this school wants me and it fits into my lifestyle, I will keep teaching my little 5th and 6th grade orchestras.

At the beginning and end of each school year, I always go back and read this post about my very first day of classroom teaching. I had no clue what I was doing, I had just started grad school, I was flat out broke so I went to Ross to try to buy some teacher clothes for next to nothing, I was in a new town that I didn’t know…I was so terrified. And then I missed my alarm on my first day of teaching! GAHH. I wish I could go back in time and give that poor girl and hug and then tell her to set a BUNCH of extra alarms on the first day of a new job!

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All that being said, I’m reflecting on this past year and the things I’ve learned from my students. I learn a lot of lessons from my 6th graders as well, but this morning, I want to share a couple things that have become so obvious to me by hanging out with these awesome 5th graders all year:

1. Excuses never sound good

“I’m so sorry I’m 30 minutes late! I burned my toast and so we were all late!” (And the slowest toaster in the world award goes to…)

“Uh, I don’t have my practice sheet with me. It was a crazy morning! First of all, my sister forgot to do her homework so she was doing it this morning, and then we were late! ” (Woah. Sounds insane. )

I wish I had written them all of these little excuses down, because they’re hysterical. My 5th graders love to give long reports as to why they forgot their instrument, or why they were running late. Some were legitimate, but very few. I was reminded that excuses never sound good! Just say you made a mistake and move on.

I do this all the time when I forget to text people back! “Oh sorry I forgot to respond! I was (fill-in-the-blank) all weekend and it was really crazy!” Really? A text takes 15 seconds to send. If I forgot to send it, it’s not because I didn’t have time. It’s just because I forgot. End of story.

2. We can do amazing things

Our minds are capable of learning HUGE amounts of knowledge! Our motor skills can pick up on new tasks! Each year starts with a group of kids who can’t play their instruments, and it ends with an orchestra of musicians. I’m not tooting my own horn here; the teacher can only facilitate learning, and the children are the ones who actually do it. I’m AMAZED by how quickly they soak up the skills they need to play these string instruments!

I’m a little older than my 5th graders, buy my mind can still sponge up new information. It’s too late for me to be an olympic gymnast, but there are so many other cool (practical) things I want to learn! I’m making a summer project list of fun things to attempt. One of them: learn spanish.

3. Just ask

There are a lot of times when I, the teacher, don’t have a huge preference. A certain kid really wants to switch seats to sit on the front row? Sure! Someone wants to play a review piece from last semester as our class warm-up? Ok! A violist is very unhappy with her choice and wants to switch to cello? Yeah, probably! The kids ask questions every day to let me know their preference. Lots of the time, I can grant these requests! A couple are a bit crazy (no, we won’t have orchestra outside..) and I have to draw the line.

How many times do I not get the things I want because I’m too afraid to ask?

{Answer: way too often.}

My 5th graders who don’t speak up may be completely content, or they might have certain issues that are bothering them! But unless I can guess what those things might be, I’ll never be able to help them! This is the biggest thing I’ll remember if I ever go back to school for another degree: just ask for what you want!

I’m off to a follow up appointment to check on this swelling on my elbow. Things are looking better!

Lots of love,

Kelsey