On Spring/Summer Style

You know, I wouldn’t call myself “stylish”. Or maybe I would (on a good day I would probably say that I have a sense of classic style, on a bad day…well who knows). Really though I wouldn’t say that I am a person that people look to for style advice, tips, or what is “trendy”. HOWEVER, what I will say is that I know what I’m comfortable in and I know what tends to look good on me- which, in my opinion is what style/personal style is actually about.  I never really thought I would right a post on style, but I seem to do just that every year (sometimes twice a year!). 

My style has evolved over the years, as I think everybody’s does over time. On the whole things have stayed the same- I love a good pair of jeans with a tee or sweater and that will never change. I love a dress in the spring/summer or when the occasion calls for it. I go on and off with screen print anything though- has to be the biggest thing that changes haha. However, I think I’ve settled into what I think works for me, between what looks good, what looks comfortable, and what fits my overall…personality/aesthetic for life. 

So…all that to say…I’m living my best cottage core/European Countryside dress life and I’ll never go back. 

It all started maybe a year or two ago when I purchased the above black and white polka dot dress from Old Navy (fun fact- most of these dresses are from Old Navy). It was so comfortable, I felt so good in it, and it flatters any shape, even my petite one. I’ve always loved the flowy dresses, but it’s hard to find ones that flatter, without adding. That dress was quickly followed by a black floral dress, and then a blue and white striped dress (which is a die hard favorite- will wear every chance I can). I still would purchase the short, cute dresses too, there was/is/always will be a variety to the dress game in my closet, but the main theme over all of it is English countryside/European Summer/Cottage Core. 

This year I’ve well and truly fleshed out my spring/summer wardrobe. It’s 80% dresses, 10% shorts/teas and 10% skirts. I wear the shorts the least (though mostly just because the shorts that look good on me personally tend to be the daisy duke style and as I get older/my kids get older I tend to feel less and less comfortable in that). The thing that I love the most about the dresses is that you can be flowy and soft, or short sweet (and sexy). I really can dress for my mood and all of them will work with the weather (aka all options for hot and sweaty days). 

This all shifts (obviously) come Autumn/Winter when I gravitate back to jeans, with scarves, sweaters, and other oversized long sleeved tops (you could say it’s an academia/dark academia style aesthetic), but we’ll talk about that come Autumn. 

From Our Front Porch

I feel like it’s only right to write this post from our front porch…so here I am sat just marveling at that Spring Morning Breeze, dazzled by the flowers and chimes and birds chirping all around me. I’ve always dreamed of having a front porch- almost exactly like this one ( I mean what I’d really like is a wrap around, but this will do for now). I’d pictured it to be a place to sit at any time of day and just take in the world around us. The boys would be able to play in the front yard and I would be able to read a book. And here we are, I’ve created what I’ve always dreamed of. Our front porch is utilized by almost everyone in our home, and visitors. It’s a true highlight, home to morning teas, afternoon teas, picnics, and everything in between. Once the weather warms, I spend at least 60% of my day on our porch. 

Last year I went a little tame. It was our first year of having this space to work with, and I was really focused much more heavily on our indoor plants if I’m being totally honest. Still, we had some hydrangeas, petunias, marigolds, and such. But this year, this year I had plans. I had a vision. Our last frost was Mother’s Day, so this year, for Mother’s Day, I went on a little shopping trip to pick out the flowers for our front porch. I was not prepared for just how far I would go to create what I dreamed of. I tend to do a combination of big box and garden centers/greenhouses to get what I’m looking for and this year has proven to be no different. 

I wanted to create a little oasis of sorts filled with flowers and cheer and I feel like I’ve done that within the constraints that I have. I am not able to hang anything really (which stinks) as we get the brunt of the winds on our little stretch of the street. I’ve set up some wind chimes and even those are taking a beating from the wind, but the sounds that come from it, combined with the birds chirping, are just a dream. Also, with the winds I have to be mindful of smaller plants. When we are supposed to see an increase of winds, I have to move several of the plants around to ensure that none really topple over or take a lot of wind, so I try to put some thought into where they go so I’m not moving them too much. Finally, I can’t plant anything in the actual ground- everything is potted. This limits quite a few of the plants that I dream of one day having in a full fledged garden (like the iris’s that I had to heartbreakingly pass up). 

However, I am fairly pleased with what I’ve done this year. It’s just about put together, with maybe at most only one or two more plants joining later in the spring into summer season (the fuschia that I had last year are a must get again this year). We’ve got a good variety of flower and color, and hopefully, once things start opening and growing in a bit more, we’ll have a lovely scent profile as well. 

We’ve got two hydrangea’s on either side of the door. Hydrangeas are one of my favorites as not only are they fairly hardy, but the blooms just keep coming. Last year my bloomed from May through to August/September and I was able to chop and bouquet them. I have daisies and petunias as well- always a hardy, easy grow with big payoff. This year I’ve added in some Dipladenia with these beautiful white blooms. Then, rounding out this front corner is an azalea and this little pot of snapdragon and garden grape hyacinth. 

Coming around here to my favorite area in the whole house (ok maybe that’s exaggerating- I really love our whole house) we’ve got quite the set up. The furniture is from Amazon from a couple years back, blanket from Etsy even further back, and the bee happy pillow is a Walmart find. You’ll see another little pot of the garden grape hyacinth and snapdragon, as well as more petunias, snapdragons, and Dipladenia. We’ve also got an Asiatic Lily and Poppy bush, as well as a large climbing rose bush in the very back. These three pots are what I’m hoping fills out and creates the ambiance- a big explosion of smell and color from these blooms. Finally on the table I’ve got a columbine and ornamental rose. I had ornamental roses last year and they really do well in this spot, so I’m hoping for success this year. 

And that really wraps it up for our front porch! I tried to go for simple, but pops a punch. You can follow my Instagram (@acuppacosy) to see how everything blooms, grows and changes over the season!

Romanticize Your Life

Yes, yes, I’ve fully jumped on this trend- though to be fair, I’ve always been a bit like this- treating my life as if it were a movie where I was the main character, we just have now named this trend. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here…

***This post is full of photos of small moments, little pockets of joy reframed in my mind with a softness, a contentment. It’s these little moments, little mundane parts of our day, such as opening the blinds, a walk to the school bus, a cup of tea in the afternoon, that can be reframed in our minds. This is where romanticizing your life can begin. It’s also the bigger moments, the bigger show- at the end of the post- as well.***

Romanticize Your Life.

I think some people hear that or see a post with that caption and think…it’s out of reach or not realistic or just adding extra time and effort to tasks. And while in some cases, yes it can be a bit of an extra effort, but it’s much easier than it maybe looks. 

That’s because the whole concept of “romanticizing your life” is more so a mindset than everything else. It’s about falling in love, being so content with the life you are currently leading (and when I say content- I don’t mean in a stagnant way- we should always grow and change). Life ebbs and flows, we go through highs and lows, but romanticizing your life is about loving your life as it’s lived, good and bad. It’s trying to view the everyday mundane things through a different lense, in a different sense. It’s taking those little moments and turning them into more, whether that’s simply by putting on some music, filming them, or turning them into a grandeur production (I’ll explain that- I promise). By romanticizing our lives, we are reminding ourselves just how special some of these mundane tasks/moments, the everyday everyday can still be special.

 

I want to be clear, for me, this DOES NOT mean that everything is sunshine, roses and daisies. It DOES NOT mean that life is simple and easy. It DOES NOT mean that I don’t have off days/off moments/deal with tough moments with the kids. It DOES NOT have to happen every second of every day. What is DOES mean for me, is that the simple act of making tea, of putting together a little fruit tray, taking care of the plants (heck even doing the dishes, folding laundry, etc.), of doing the little tasks is calming, is charming, is sweet. It gives me a better outlook- the idea that instead of HAVING to do something, I CAN do it in a way that will be better/happier for all of us. 

I do this year-round, no matter the season, but there is nothing like having these moments in the Spring or Autumn. It’s no secret that I love the transitional seasons, Autumn when the leaves start to turn and fall, and the air goes crisp and cool. Everything floods with the vibrant reds/oranges/and yellows, and big scarves, sweaters and light jackets become our attire. But also, Spring, when new life emerges, when we leave that den of Winter and step back out into the sunlight. When dresses come back into play, the air still crisp, but with a lightness of life coming back. You can romanticize your life year-round (think of those moments in Winter when the first snow hits, or the snow falls just right, OR those Summer thunderstorms, lazy days on the porch), but it’s definitely easier during the transitional seasons for me.  

So, at its basic- this is about setting a mood for yourself, your space, and your family. Some of the smaller examples of how I do this just everyday- opening the blinds when I wake up, picking particular clothing out, playing my mood setting playlists (this can be anything from a “day in the cottage” style playlist with instrumental and movie soundtracks OR hits from the early 2000’s, whatever my mood calls for). I set out certain tasks to be right away as it…” sets the scene” so to speak- so I wake up and immediately open up the blinds to let the light in. Then I pick out a playlist that meets my mood- honestly most of my morning music tends to be softer instrumental or movie soundtrack style music. Somewhere along the way I’ll switch…or not, it just depends. These two little things first thing already sets my brain into a “romantic” mood and lifts my mood and spirit. Then everything else starts to fall into place after that. When I go down to make my morning tea or coffee, I make a “production” out of choosing the perfect mug for the day, preparing my tea, and pouring the water from the kettle. When you first start doing this, if you choose to, it may feel silly, BUT as time goes on you start to find joy in these little moments and then it clicks. 

You can also bring this concept into your own living space with plants or flowers, add books and little things that make you happy to the spaces of your home. In the Spring/Summer I usually like to have some fresh flowers on our counter tops, we also have plants (obviously), and then I’ll style the coffee table genre books in our home to fill some of the “first look” spaces. Light some candles throughout your space. These can be real burning candles or the electronic ones if for some reason you can’t burn candles. Not only will the scent fill you with that same joy and peace, but the candlelight will shift your mood as well. 

I’ll give an example of one of my most frequent “bigger” ways of doing this in the spring/summer…this is something super easy but makes a world of difference. Everyday my kids want a snack in the afternoon (which is totally normal) and I usually want to join them. So, we will make a full picnic out of this little snack. Yes, it takes a fraction more effort, usually in terms of cutting, BUT it’s only a fraction and the simple joy (and excited good happy behavior as a result) that comes from this is well beyond that small effort. I’ll usually cut a couple different fruit options, some cheese/cracker/meat combination, place it all on our charcuterie tray and, weather permitting, we will head outside. I would say we do this 2-3 times a week in the summer, and it’s always met with such excitement and joy (from everyone involved) that it ends up feeling like a movie. Something about creating this little picnic just completely changes our entire day. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t take a lot to “romanticize your life”. Find the ways that you feel content, peace, and joy and implement those into your everyday. Maybe that’s the simple act of opening the blinds first thing in the morning, maybe it’s morning coffee/tea on the porch, maybe it’s an afternoon spent at the park with a picnic. Maybe it’s being more intentional with your clothing or your space. Whatever it may be, I promise you there is just such a joy and peace that comes with being so content with life as it’s lived. 

To Thaw or Not To Thaw

Winter is veeerrrrrryyyyyyyy slowly coming to an end here in the Northeastern part of the country and I may finally be seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. This year we experienced our first proper winter in Upstate New York, and it changed us. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a winter quite like this one. 

To start with- the snow. There was a lot of it. Not as much as they’ve had in the past I’m told, but it was still a lot for us. And at times it seemed never ending. The weatherman didn’t quite get it right- it would stop and start of its own accord, and of course throw in the lake effect part and we had quite the time with it. We got a lot of use out of the snowblower (which I highly recommend) and the boys got to have a lot of fun. 

The snow was one thing, something I could prepare for, but what I couldn’t really prepare for was just how COLD it got. Let me tell you, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced below zero temperatures, but I sure did this year. I think that was one of the hardest things about winter here, most days it was either snowing OR it was sunny and below zero. In fact, at one point I used the words “warm” and “not so bad” in reference to a 20-degree sunny day. Previous Mia would never. 

I quickly learned that those cute little winter outfits we see splashed around are just not…practical in any sense. And I’m not even referring to like the little sweater dress and boots. I’m talking about the jeans with the cute sweater, oversized but thin trench, and boots. No, no, no, that would not cut it here in the heart of winter (even though I tried- I tried so hard). 

Enter…the coveralls. The things that I would previously really only wear to go play in the snow with the boys have become an everyday staple in my winter wardrobe. Seriously, every day. I have found that these coveralls, with a long-sleeved layer underneath, pants (and sometimes thermal leggings under those), with snow boots, a thick winter jacket, hat and gloves have been my saving grace. 

The epitome of fashion over here. 

Because, to be honest, at this point I’ve really come to understand the whole function over fashion. 

When it’s -20 with a real feel of -32 and they are delaying school due to temps no one (you included) is going to care about that cute little sweater you’ve got on, or the perfect calf boots you’ve found. The only thing you’re going to care about is staying warm at that comes at the expense of “looking fashionable”. Note- I said looking fashionable, you can still be cute and cuddly in these clothes…it’s just not high fashion. Maybe fashion designers should take note ha-ha. 

In fact, if I do say so myself, there is nothing quite as cute as looking like the kid from A Christmas Story and staying warm. 

Planning in 2022

Well, it’s a new year and even though I am trying not to plan too much, there is still a lot going on and I still need to have a planner of some sort. Going along with my new “be flexible” lifestyle (ha- that’s a bit of a joke) I decided to once again dip my toes in the bullet journaling world. 

Here’s the thing, my ideal planner would have a spot to sort of time block my day in a visual sense, but also a separate section for a bit of a rolling to do list. I want to have the space to write out what I actually need to accomplish, but also be able to visualize how I’m spending my day in a time sense. All of that in a weekly view spread. Every planner that I was finding then involved me needing a separate notebook for the to-do list/meeting notes, and then a separate journal space, and a separate reading space. That was just not something that I wanted. Less is best, right? So, I decided to go back into the bullet journaling world to see if I could find a way to make it work. 

The biggest change this year with the bullet journaling is twofold. The first is that I’m using stencils. The biggest turn off or reason I stopped in previous years is it IS a lot of work and most of the time, I prefer to read a book or do something other. I’m not NOT crafty, but it’s also not something that I really focus on. So, I ordered a pack of stencils to kind of cut my time spent setting up my planner in half. 

The second change I made is in how I set it up. A) all of my months are preset at the beginning of the bullet journal. I needed to be able to see all 12 months at one time, with school/appointments/breaks there is just too much going on for me not to be able to see several months pre outlined. I typically am planning and booking stuff almost a month out, so this was a necessary. I wanted to be able to see my month, but then customize my week as it happened. B) I don’t have a monthly view within each month. Since I did the full calendar year in the first 24 pages of the bullet journal (a month on two pages), I don’t feel the need to then duplicate the work each month. This actually cuts a lot of my “bullet journal work” time in half. Each month has a reading spread and a tracking spread prior to the actually weekly spreads. That’s it. One page to track my movement, mood, and journaling, and one page to track all the book things (I’m tracking both reading and purchasing this year). Then I have my weekly spread, with notes and meeting information as necessary. 

I have found that, so far, a few months in, this has really been working for me. I’ve always said that I want everything to be in one place. That’s something I’ve always liked about Bullet Journaling- it’s really one notebook that can encompass everything you need. I’m hopeful that this will actually work out for me this year and give me both the structure and flexibility I think that 2022 is going to need. 

And that’s the planner for 2022! I’ll do another check in with it about halfway through the year (this is what I tend to do when I do bullet journaling) and we’ll see where it’s at at that point. 

A Year In…

It’s been a year. A whole year being in New York. A {little over a} year back in the United States. I figured I might take a minute and just…reminisce? Share some of the things that I’ve learned? I don’t want this to be a recap post or anything of the sort (I already did that with my New Year’s post HERE), but there are some things that I’ve learned that I want to briefly share about. 

In 2021 we moved away from our little village in Germany back to the US. We took a month to visit some family, before heading on our way to very {veerrrryyyyy} Upstate New York. As someone who was very sad to be leaving Germany, even the excitement of being back in the States, setting up a new home, and being in a new location wasn’t enough to bring me out of my blues. Also, the move back was a bit overwhelming, as was the adjustment of being back in the States. I was excited, but also sad, and a little apprehensive. This would be a different life for all of us. 

I will say this, I have fallen in love with this area of the country. We truly live in a very beautiful area, close to a lot of outdoors activity, smaller town living, and really…not much can top Upstate New York in Autumn. We still have easy access to a lot of travel spots, and we’ve even tried out some different travel options (and fell in love with one or two). It’s been something special this past year, but a lot of that “get out of the blues” feeling is due to one thing…

Romanticizing my life as it is. 

Now, let me make this clarification (and I’ll probably make this several times throughout this little post) …this doesn’t mean that life is easy or grand or beautiful every day. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and wonderful and easy. BUT what it does mean is accepting that those days come, but celebrating, reflecting, and holding on to those little moments of joy- that first cup of coffee in the morning, a picnic on the front porch, the quiet of the afternoon while the kids are at school, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. Or bigger things like walking in a field of flowers, picking some fresh for the table, sitting at the edge of a mountain in the middle of Autumn with the vibrant reds and yellows all around. Those little joys are what I share, what I reflect on, what I treasure, making sure those are the moments that hold me through…that’s what this means to me. It’s finding those little moments in the midst of the chaos and holding those close when it is chaotic. 

I know it might sound cheesy, but if you’ve been following my social media over the last 6-9 months, you’ll have seen me share a lot of those moments (I mean how many times can I wonder at opening my blinds up in the morning to greet the day?! It’s glorious!). 

It’s really easy to get swept away in life and the world living in Europe. Like beyond easy to feel like you’re living in a dream, living in a fairytale. I didn’t want to lose the joy and wonder I had when waking up in Europe every morning when we moved back to the US. And while the US is incredible and the area, we live in is beautiful, I needed to find a way to carry that feeling from Europe into our new life in New York. So, I started doing little things. Our new routines and scheduled meant for less time for “dallying” in the morning, so I tried to take little moments, making that first cup of tea, opening up all the blinds in the house, playing calming music in the morning, etc. It’s nothing I wouldn’t already be doing, but it’s more so putting a bit more intention into these little moments. I find that if I take a couple extra seconds in the morning to put on a calming playlist (I have several to choose from) and just take a couple extra minutes when opening up the windows to truly take in the day- it shifts my mindset. It reminds me that life is beautiful (even if not always perfect and calm) no matter where we are or what we are doing. 

It doesn’t mean that life isn’t chaotic, or busy, or that my children don’t throw fits and I don’t feel like screaming and crying all at the same time…it simply means that I am constantly looking around and reminding myself how wonderful life is in the good moments. It doesn’t change that we have bad moments (because oh boy do we), but it makes a small difference in them. 

And that to me is what Romanticizing my life is all about. It’s about putting myself in the movie, in seeing the beauty in all the little moments throughout the day, to help get through the bad moments (also throughout the day). It’s about reminding ourselves that life can be incredible and celebrated and enjoyed. 

New Year, New Nothing – 2022

Listen, it’s 2022. I think that this year is not THE year (which is OK). But, even if it’s not THE year, that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep our heads up, our shoulders light (maybe), and carry forward doing our best (whatever that means for YOU). 

For me, what does 2022 look like? Well, I don’t really know to be honest. Right now, the world feels like it’s in a fragile place and I don’t just mean in terms of the Pandemic. There’s a lot of scary things happening from {what feels like} all around and I feel like we are going to have to weather quite a bit over this year and the next. I know what I hope for, and I know what I’m going to be doing, but beyond that is really out of my control. 

With that being said, I’m not really making any resolutions or intentions this year. This is partly because of how I want to approach the year, but also because I feel like this year is going to throw us for loop after loop after loop to be honest. And my almost type a personality needs to be able to plan to be flexible (the laughs to be had there). I have things that I would LIKE to accomplish this year- a book, growing both the blog and the podcast, a new podcast, some big traveling, seeing some family that I haven’t in far too long, volunteering more, seeing both kids starting school, etc.- but I also want to recognize that if this year goes any way like the couple past, I need to also have some grace in those goals. I will still be able to accomplish them, but maybe not in the timeline or way that I had planned. 

I do have a word of the year, and some basic changes that I’d like to initiate just for my overall mindset, but nothing super major. This is also stuff that I’ve touched on before at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), so you can read that post HERE to see…or just continue below haha. 

Ok, so we’ll start with the hard part, the word of the year. Back when I was working on Rosh Hashanah, I struggled to find a word that fit with what I wanted the new year to look like. The world right now is a bit of a scary place in so many ways and we’re in a dark spot, again, in so many ways. I’ve always felt like I wanted to be that light, that cheery spot in someone’s day, that person that can be the safe spot. Those are the moments/things that I cling to when I’m having an off/bad day, those are the moments/things I want to provide others with, and what I think makes all the difference. BUT I’ve never really found an English word that described that. So, I turned to Yiddish and/or Hebrew (this was in part because I couldn’t find an English word and in part because I really wanted to lean into this side of things a bit more). Enter: MECHAYEH or “that which gives life”, the idea of a thing or feeling that just makes your day (the example given was a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day).

That seems lofty, or like I’m putting myself on a pedestal, BUT I’m trying to think of it as more of an overall thought process, not like I am that exact word. 

Now, I already mentioned that I didn’t want to set full resolutions or intentions. I’ve mentioned some of the things that I would like to accomplish this year, but I’ve found that this year might be better to also focus on the little things in the day to day that can help me accomplish those bigger things. So, one of those things (something I’ve already been working on” is getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. We all do it, we all wait till the last minute, hit the snooze button as many times as we can, or just lay around on our phone until something else calls to our attention. When I don’t do this, I have a mile’s better day, feel clear headed, and don’t spend nearly as much time on my phone. So, that is my little promise to myself to do every morning. Get out of bed with my first alarm and get on with my day, instead of procrastinating until the last minute. 

And that’s really it. That’s my one full resolution for 2022. I’m hoping that doing that will help me accomplish those other bigger goals. This may seem like a “cop out” in so many ways, but if the past two years have taught me anything at all, it’s that the littlest of things make the biggest difference. 

What else do I want to note about 2022? Nothing really. I know we are all a bit wary going into this new year, and with just cause. It feels like such a dark and draining time for so many, but it’s also full of so much light and joy. We just need to find our balance between advocating change for the dark/painful parts and recognizing the joy of our life and world. 

2021 Wrap Up

Well…2021…the year that was. I don’t know if it’s my frame of my mind while I’m writing this or if it’s just the general…meh ness of this past year, but I’m just not feeling a wrap up. We had a lot of good, some not so good, and a whole bunch lumped in together to end the year out (which if I’m honest, is probably what’s making this wrap up feel meh). However, this end of year reflection is kind of becoming a tradition and it’s one that I want to keep going. I feel like reflecting on a time allows us to learn lessons and continue to grow as long as it’s done from a place of honesty (as in- recognize if you are viewing it through rose colored glasses – which is fine but should be noted- and don’t change the bad stuff around to suit your current status or feelings). 

So, 2021…

Our year started with a big move, from Germany to the US. We said a very sad, very fond, very long (seriously- our flight was delayed for two days) farewell to our German adventure. It was a kicking and screaming moment as we really loved our home, our neighborhood, and the friends we made there. There was a bit of culture shock once we got back to the States, namely a) you can get anything, anytime, b) the cost of…well everything, and c) the general “busy, busy, busy” lifestyle read about it: LEAVING GERMANY, ADJUSTING TO AMERICA, DIFFERENCES). 

We ended the first quarter of 2021 making a new home, a new community in upstate New York. We’ve settled in really nicely into our new house, creating a imperfectly perfect space with what we’ve got and I’m really in love with how it all has come together. I’ve still got some décor bits and bobs I’m working to find, but I’m trying to be slow and mindful with those purchases. We’ve settled into a new community, jumping into a new school, some new volunteer opportunities, and new friends all around. It’s been a real blessing how everything here has seemingly clicked into place. 

We spent spring exploring some of our area (ALEXANDRIA BAY, LAKE ONTARIO/WELLESLY ISLAND), and summer exploring a part of the East Coast we hadn’t gotten to see (PLYMOUTH, BOSTON, BOSTON PT 2, SALEM, PORTLAND). Then Summer started to turn to Autumn, and we went a final couple of places on our list (ALBANY, FINGER LAKES, LAKE PLACID). I feel grateful for the amount of traveling that we have been able to do this year and for the truly incredible places we’ve seen. We fell in love with a couple new places, solidified what’s important to us when traveling, and maybe how we want to do a couple trips differently in the future. 

The boys have settled in remarkably well, reminding me just how resilient our children truly are. They’ve fallen right into the swing of things with Colton properly starting Kindergarten this year and Andrew…well, being Andrew. We’ve had a couple of struggles that come with the changing years as they grow, and we’ve had a couple of trips to the hospital (remember when I said everything bad seemed to come at the end of the year all at once?), but throughout it all, the boys weathered with a smile on their face and excitement in their eyes. Well, the excitement might have been a troublemaker’s gleam, but we’ll go with excitement. 

As a family, I think we are in the strongest shape we’ve ever been in. We just continue to grow individually and as a unit and I’m just so happy and at peace with life. That feels so good to say. Robert and I celebrated 10 years together and hit 7 years married. Safe to say, we’ve come so far and have so far to go. 

Finally, have I changed? Grown? Experienced something new this past year? Yes and no. I feel like I’ve really started to learn how to use my voice, what I want to use my voice for, solidified some boundaries, and learned how to “manage” certain things. I don’t think that we’re meant to learn something every year or grow massively or experience great things. Some years we are just meant to carry on and I feel like that has really been my sole focus of 2021. Carry on, move forward, and see the light. That I feel like I accomplished. 

Round the Kettle Ep. 31 Dipping MY Toes Back In

It’s that time again…it’s time for me to talk about how I’m bringing these posts back once again, but this time it’s for real (see last POST dated 4/21 :|). If you don’t know, or are new, Round the Kettle is a biweekly series that I do that I use as a bit of a brain dump of life. It wasn’t intended to stay in blog format, but rather transition into a podcast, but that quite obviously hasn’t happened yet. I keep talking about doing it, about getting the podcast going, but then I get these little thoughts in the back of my mind…what if it sucks, what if no one listens, what if I can’t do it. But then again, are you here? Are you reading this? Am I screaming into a void? Screaming into a void can be quite nice though…A thought for 2022 possibly.

I digress. That’s the beauty of Round the Kettle, you get my pure unfiltered, unadulterated thoughts on a wide variety of things. Quite honestly, I sit down at my desk with a small outline of what I’d like to cover from the previous two weeks, then I type a bunch of stuff, do a basic spell check and hit publish. It’s great. 

I originally had stopped these because we were moving, things were hectic and chaotic and, I finally found a routine with the blog and doing one post a week. That was manageable. Then somethings shifted in the world at large and I really needed to take a step back from everything and breathe in my own headspace. However, things are levelling out now (I say that- back to school is right around the corner and the world is still doing its thing) and I feel like I want to maybe…dip my toe back in. 

First things first, some lighter things to talk about…

Surprisingly, I’ve actually watched quite a bit of TV that I want to talk about. I’m not a massive TV watcher, mostly due to the fact that the TV tends to be monopolized by my husband and children, but also because I tend to prefer reading quite a bit more. However, Netflix has been doing a lot on the docuseries and reality shows that have been working for me and I’ve watched several. 

On the reality side of things, I obviously watched the After the Alter Love is Blind special and I’ve got a couple of quick thoughts: 1) STOP. Stop dragging these people through this, if we want anymore updates, we can see those on their social medias. I basically only watched to see Lauren and Cameron because they’re adorable, but the rest of the cast is full of such toxicity that it just turns into manufactured drama that doesn’t need to play out on a screen in front of us (especially that whole Damian and Gianina situ- so manufactured and edited my goodness). 2) If you want to keep the team of the Love is Blind “phenomenon” (which the first season and reunion WERE), then do a season two of all new people. Let the show continue to move on. Put this first season to bed. 

I also watched the second season of Too Hot to Handle and…oh my word was this next level compared to the first season. I mean, anything really went and they really went with anything. I don’t have much more to say on this one, except that I really rooted for a couple of people and I’m so happy with how it turned out and who is still together post show. 

Finally on the reality side of things, I’ve gotten about halfway through My Unorthodox Life and…I don’t know if I’ll go much further in it. Here’s the thing, I think the show is great at showing Julia’s life and how she has found “herself” and who she wants to be. I LOVE that she advocates that for everyone, that each person needs to find their own way and what they want out of life…BUT (and it’s a massive but) I feel like in some ways she doesn’t allow the same grace to others as she expects to be allowed her. Let me see if I can explain that better…Julia wants to be accepted and acknowledged as a woman who is no longer part of the Orthodox community, she wants to be free to be herself (which we can sit and debate the true realities of different parts of that statement- there are plenty of people already covering that), BUT she is disappointed or makes snide remarks that her children may hold a different view than her. Point in fact, she regularly referenced the fact that her older son still held some facets of orthodoxy (I think both her older daughter and son would be “modern orthodox”, but I’m not sure- I’m not a fan of labels) such as keeping Shabbos and Kosher as disappointing or confusing to her. If you want people to accept what you have decided for your own life, you need to accept what they have decided for their own lives, even if you don’t understand or agree all the time. It got to be a bit too much judgement and hypocrisy (especially with her older daughters marriage- my goodness) that I had to stop watching. And I don’t know if I’ll continue. 

We’ve also been watching Man with a Plan, The Heist, and I’ve watched an episode of Cooking with Paris as well as Shadow and Bone. I’ve been binging on a few YouTube videos and Podcasts- notable ones would be The Morning Toast & Not Skinny but Not Fat on Podcast, Observe, Morgan Long, The Book Leo, and Emmie on YouTube. It’s been kind of an eclectic time and I find myself being drawn mostly to aesthetic styles in my content consumption (outside of TV and Books) rather than specific topics. 

I referenced this earlier, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. I talk about all of the books in my monthly wrap up, but I’m currently reading These Violent Delights, which is a Romeo and Juliet retelling taking place in Shanghai with a supernatural twist. I’m enjoying it quite a bit (I’m a bit of a sucker for a hate/despise to love romance) and while I think it’s good, so far it’s not GREAT, just good (like the difference between a 3 and a 4 star book). I recently finished both Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca (which I don’t even know what to rate or say about) and The Royal Art of Poisoning by Eleanor Herman (which I loved). It’s been a pretty stellar period for reading this August. 

In the real world, it’s been a lot of heartbreak hasn’t it? Devastation from Mother Nature in Haiti, heartbreak in Afghanistan, and a world still very much in flux and fighting over this pandemic situation. Sometimes it feels like we can’t do anything, we see all this destruction and pain and heartbreak and we get paralyzed with the sheer amount of it all. It sits heavy on our soul and we carry it forward with an additional feeling of “what can I even do about this?”. Sometimes its hard not to feel like a small ant in a very big colony, but we can each do SOMETHING. Whether that is sharing links to resources, sharing information with our community, writing our leaders, or simply being the ears and shoulders for someone to share their burden, it all matters. Everything matters, from everyone. I want to say, that while I don’t or can’t always share my personal opinion on certain topics publicly (for a couple reasons that I won’t bring up here), note that I am ALWAYS doing something behind the scenes, something in my community, something in my home. I will always fight for what I believe in and what I feel is right, even if that’s not always a public fight. 

And that wraps this super long, super rambly new episode…there is something just freeing about the fact that I am about to just press publish and walk away. So many of my blog posts are so well thought out, edited down, researched, and worked on over a period of time. And I LOVE them, but I also love this style too. 

Which is your favorite?

Welcome to Our Home: The Sunroom

Introducing the surprise “bonus” room that we were able to work out in our New York home, the “Sunroom”. Much like a home library, I’ve always dreamed of having a sort of conservatory, indoor porch, sunroom set up in my forever home, so being able to style this room up in a similar manner has made me very happy. This room is set off the kitchen and dining room and was a kind of odd set up. It wasn’t quite deep enough to really use for a certain purpose, and since the floors are all laminate in this section of the house, I didn’t really want to turn any area in this home into a play area (just for the pure noise control factor). So, I took some of the items that we already had that didn’t have a final home (such as my reading chair, the rug, and the two cabinets) and fashioned a little seating area. 

So, let’s talk it through. The only new item I really needed to purchase was the bench against the wall, which is the Christopher Knight Home Mission Ottoman from, you guessed in, Target (linked HERE). It opens to a decent storage space, which currently holds all our candle stuff. I’ve topped with a knitted blanket and one of the pillows we purchase at Ikea when we moved to Germany. In the left corner we have my mug cabinet (of which I have cleared out my collection of quite drastically), and opposite is my husbands’ memorabilia cabinet. Then we’ve got my reading chair, which is one of the comfiest places to sit in our entire house, facing out the window so I can watch as the kids play in the backyard. This little spot also gives enough separation from the kids play area that I can both sit and enjoy my coffee or tea or conversation with friends, but also spin around and see what is going on in the play area. The chair is actually from Babies R Us, so I can’t link it for you unfortunately. The rug is from Ikea (linked HERE) and is still one of my favorite pieces. There are two smaller cabinets that serve as a table for the chair, and a storage spot for plants & outside shoes. 

On the walls we have three photographs from our time in Germany, all taken in the Fussen/Neuschwanstein area of Germany. The center being the overlook of Hohenschwangau and the lakes, the left being at Fussen Castle, and the right being a corner of Hohenschwangau Castle. 

This room serves as a second purpose though (because we are practical in this home), this room also serves as the drying room for hang dry clothes during laundry days. The dryer rack plops right on the rug and all the clothes are up on top. I can’t have you thinking our home is all glamorous all the time now, can I?

I know this was a bit of a shorter “Welcome to Our Home” post, but I sure you hope you liked seeing this little bonus area that I was so excited about. It’s the perfect morning or afternoon tea spot.