Living

Valentines Gifts for Him (with FREE shipping)

Raise your hand if you still haven’t purchased a valentines gift for that special guy in your life. I know that I can’t see any of you but I’d like to imagine I’m not the only one with my hand in the air right now. When I’m feeling that desperation that certainly accompanies holiday gift procrastination, I like to turn to my happy place, which like most women in my demographic is Target. That magical place has saved my bacon more times than I can count.

So here’s a roundup of gift ideas that I’m sure nearly any man would like. They’re an easy win and won’t break the bank that’s probably still recovering from Christmas. And with your handy dandy RED card you don’t even have to pay for shipping!

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I’m tempted to buy that stone cutting board for my husband but both he and I would know that it’d really be for me. No mistake. That shaving kit would be a clear gift for just him and would fancy up our bathroom vanity, which is never a bad thing.

Anyone else out there want to confess that they haven’t purchased anything for their S.O. yet? Bueller? Anyone?

Happy Valentines!

-Katy


Be Open…And You May End Up Nicknaming a Dog Gaylord and Achieving Your Goals

Mr Gaylord/Perry

How cute is he? And how equally strange is that title? Well, we had an interesting night last night. It started off like any other night with dinner at our fav pho place and a trip to Target (who else goes multiple times a week? I digress…). We were just getting home when our friends call to say they found this cute little guy chasing cars and after an exhaustive search, were unable to locate his family. I was thinking “sad story… what do you want me to do?” like any semi-reasonable person when my friend asked me to watch him and help find his family. That’s when it all clicked.

You see, I’ve been a little down on myself lately because I’ve been feeling like I’m not setting and achieving enough goals. I was bathed in the waters of Franklin Covey and 7 Habits and was truly converted. But like with most things, after a while your conviction can fade and mine was no exception. But then this dog.

You may remember back on my birthday last year I wrote a list of 30 goals before 30 and one of them was to foster a dog. I thought that this would be an easy one considering my friend runs a rescue and Austin is a no-kill city but heavens, the timing was always off. It was not for lack of trying, believe me(!), but I felt like life was constantly in the way and sending me the same message my husband was: Not now! That can be incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to achieve a goal that you feel like is a worthy and fairly selfless act.

So last night, after much cajoling and eventual husband acquiescing, this little guy came to stay and play with us. I wish I had videoed him because he has the most adorable little gait and walks like a little gentleman. This is where the whole Gaylord thing comes in. We couldn’t not give him some sort of name and after scrolling through other fancy British sounding names, he somewhat responded to Gaylord and it stuck. I’d like to say that it was all sunshine and roses but there was crying on his part and a slight allergy attack on mine. Thankfully we both made it and I awoke from my allergy med-induced sleep to texts and calls from his owner.

All the coughing and watery eyes were worth it because watching Gaylord (whose real name is Perry) see his owner again was the closest I’ve ever come to witnessing one of those touching reunification stories you see on Hallmark movies. Definitely my feel-good moment for the week. And selfishly, it feels like I can cross off “fostering a dog” from my list. It might not be considered fostering 100% but I feel like this was the universe lobbing me a slow pitch, letting me get an easy hit. And because my friends (and Google) are so awesome and it fit in so well with my baseball analogy, I feel like I have to share with you that there is actually a Hall of Famer named Gaylord Perry. He was a renowned cheater but let’s save that story for another day and keep our eye on the ball, er story.

So there’s my story on how being open and ready to help can also help you. It’s totally a cheesy trope but they exist for a reason, right? And getting to call an adorable little animal Gaylord was hilarious and almost as satisfying as completing one of my goals.

-Katy


Sometime Life…

Thinking Girl Oil Painting

Sometimes life gets busy. And messy. And totally breaks your heart. And I coming to realize that it’s OK. Not everything has to be a win and not everything has to go the way that you planned it. Life moves on.

The picture above is an original painting that I bought at an antique mall for a steal. The price and colors were a huge selling point but she just had something about her, a je ne sais quoi if you will, that I loved. I’ve thought about her quite a bit since she’s come to live with me and I think what I love most about her is that she doesn’t look particularly happy or joyful. Some days she looks bored, or disappointed, or even sleepy. Even with her apparent displeasure, the picture is truly beautiful. It’s a reminder to me that life can be beautiful, even in those imperfect moments. And if you could see the whole picture (I’ll post it when I’ve replaced the frame and styled the room) you can better see how gorgeous and verdant her surroundings are. She hangs out, across the sofa from me and reminds me to step outside my particular moment and realize things are far more blessed and perfect than what’s in my head and heart at the time.

So I guess this post is telling you where I’ve been. In my my own head a bit too much. I hope you’ll excuse the absence and still check in from time to time. And here’s a little enticement: We’re installing new countertops, sink, backsplash, and more in the next few days.I know everyone loves seeing the whole “Before and After” pics so stay tuned.

And if you haven’t already, check out Amy Poehler’s book, Yes please!  She’s part of the reason I’m emerging from my funk. And she’s freaking hilarious too.

Until later,

Katy


Lovely Links

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Here are some interesting, beautiful or inspiring lovely links from around the web this week as I’m hurriedly packing and trying desperately not to stress about leaving in a few days:

We love inviting people over but haven’t really had almost anyone over since we moved. I’m sure we’ll get back into the grove and have parties again once we’re a bit more settled because it feels so strange to not have them. But then I read that dinner parties a thing of the past?

The Pope chuckles meeting his tiniest fan- how adorable!

Trying to fit most of my previous apartment’s decor into the new house has been a bit of a challenge, especially when it’s already time to start decorating for the holidays. I’m trying to keep my decorations more muted and “grown up” this year so I loved these brilliant fall decor ideas without a single pumpkin in sight.

I’m leaving for Ireland Friday and packing this and this to help my skin stay fresh with all of the travel.

Every home decor blogger has mentioned this ottoman lately and it’s life changing (OK, maybe just room changing) abilities.

This FREE printable is beautiful and would be perfect to pop into a frame and give as a gift.

I’m not normally a hat person but I’ve seen everyone wearing these lately and it might be prudent to have something to cover my head out in windy Ireland.

Trying to talk myself out of buying this for our bed, especially since it’s still over 90 degrees here! But oh, the knit!

Self worth vs self esteem– which one we should actually strive for.

What awesome things have you found on the Internet lately? Make sure to check in next week and follow on Instagram and Facebook as I’ll be putting up posts and pics from beautiful Ireland!

-Katy


Sometimes There’s Clouds

Cloud Art

Lately I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed. When I list out everything that is causing me anxiety, worry, or stress though, I feel like a bit of a whiney brat because so many of those things are awesome. We’re traveling, bought a new house, finishing up work projects, volunteering, etc. and while they’re all wonderful new changes, the happening all at once part is making me feel less than adequate. Back in college I remember learning about how any change, good or bad, causes stress and I’ve thought a lot about that lately. Even with all my great luck (or blessings if you’d like to call it that), I still feel a little “off” sometimes which then leads me to feel incredibly guilty for being ungrateful. This only leads to a downward spiral situation.

But I was driving the other day and saw the most beautiful cloud formations. I love clouds; they’re beautiful and grand and majestic and even sometimes a little moody. And even though they were covering up the sun and obscuring the beautiful sunlight, they were beyond lovely themselves. I thought about how when I lived in southern California I missed the clouds and the constant sun felt like a drain after awhile. I almost think that happiness can be the same way. Constant sunshine, like constant happiness, is not sustainable and we shouldn’t expect it to be. Sometimes there’s going to be clouds and we should not only accept it but embrace it as part of the human experience. As I’ve started picturing my anxieties and feelings as clouds, I’ve come to better realize that they’re fleeting. No feeling, good or bad, can last forever and there is beauty in experiencing the the spectrum. And I’ve come to realize that I’d much rather have a beautiful life than a perfect one, clouds and all.

 

-Katy

(Beautiful Painting Source)

 


Taking Time to Read: A Husband’s Secret Book Review

The Husband's Secret Review

I picked up The Husband’s Secret after seeing it on quite a few summer reading lists with readers swearing it’s worth the time it takes to get through the 400 pages. I’m not someone who devours book after book so I read several reviews on it before I ordered my copy, hoping that it would be a better written Gone Girl type novel. Well, it proved to be disappointing on that front as I could fairly accurately predict most every twist and turn far before I should have, but I was impressed with the character development and the real-ness of their choices. Maybe the story is predictable because the characters make such realistic choices.

No one person in the entire book was either mostly good or mostly bad- they were all flawed in such a human way. Each person in the story lived out their reality individually within the complete narrative and it made me think about how life is pretty much the same way. We all live life in our own heads, living and reacting to our unique perceptions of the world around us. It’s something that I know cerebrally but easily forget. This book was an enjoyable reminder that everyone’s lives are intertwined and yet can be so solitary. We’re all fallible, limited by our own insecurities complicated by our past and hopes for the future. The story doesn’t end up perfectly because it’s like life, and there are no tidy endings in the real world. This book is definitely a book that I’d recommend, and unlike Gone Girl, is one that can be read in bits and pieces and still remain enjoyable.

Anyone finish their summer reading and want to recommend a good book? I’m on the hunt for something new!

-Katy


The Coolest New Book for Kids

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I wanted to let you guys know about this super awesome new children’s book written by B.J. Novak, of The Office fame. Cleverly, the book begins by explaining that the reader has to say everything that is written inside of books. Then the silliness begins. Here’s just a couple of the pages:

 

 

 

Book with no pages

It only gets more wonderfully silly from there. It’s a perfect way to induce a little bit of silliness, which is something we all could use. I bought this for a friend of mine’s child and I’m very excited to give it to her and read it to her. Any of you already read this? Any new children’s books out that you recommend?

Have a great weekend!

-Katy


Make a Difference Monday: Never a Finished Product

Give them the chance

 

I’ve had this quote on my mind the past day or so. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with someone because he or she is deficient at a certain thing. But I know that just because I’m not alone in this, doesn’t mean that I’m right. In fact, I’m probably more self-righteous than right, if I really think about it. It’s a little ridiculous to expect anyone to be perfect, or even near perfect, yet how many times do I become exasperated with someone over a small mistake or faux pas without realizing they’re just as human as I am?

I’ve been working on quite a few projects lately and frankly, I’ve been amazed at some individuals’ lack of consideration, especially when it comes to respecting others’ time and effort. Initially I was letting their actions get to me and I started to take it a little personally. Thankfully, one of my friends pointed out that perhaps this one individual (whom I consider a serial offender) might not have ever had any prior experience with the particular subject matter and is probably out of her depths. I’d love to say that I immediately got over my hard feelings and invited her over for brunch, but I didn’t. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I’m probably still not quite over this individual’s behavior but that’s OK because I’m human too. But just because I’m not perfect, doesn’t mean that I can’t really try to be better. Human or not, everyone could use a little slack and that extends to her as well as to myself.

So I’m on a mission to start applying the quote above in my life a little bit more and see if that helps lower my blood pressure and exercise my patience a bit more. I think we all could use a little bit more kindness in our day-to-day and the world would be a different place if we could all try a bit harder to be nice to ourselves and the person next to us. My challenge for myself (and you) is that one day this week when someone has inadvertently wronged you that you will consciously let it, just roll off your back. It’s ridiculously hard for me but i’m actually kind of excited to try.

Would you be willing to give it a go and flex your patience muscle a bit this week or have you done so recently? I’d love to hear your stories-leave a comment!


My 30 by 30 List

Setting Goals for Future

So yesterday I turned 29 and while I realize that it’s not old, it feels like I’m getting old. But instead of wallowing in the sadness that only accompanies the loss of youth, I decided that I was going to make a list of things to do that would make me feel accomplished or at least a little bit better. Because if you’re going to get older, you might as well get awesomer, right? Exactly.

Now I know that these “30 by 30” lists aren’t new but who cares, right? Plus, isn’t it in your 30’s when you stop caring about what other people think? I was just going to keep this little list to myself since it’s not a cool for anyone to be the last one jumping on the bandwagon, but I feel like sharing it with the lovely people of the Internet will make me more accountable and I’ll probably end up going through with it if every month I have a public check-in with my goals. So, without further ado, here are my 30 by 30:

1. Buy a House: Kinda cheated on this one since we closed on my 29th birthday yesterday but I’m telling myself needed a win to build momentum.

2. See NYC: I’ve been to a ton of major cities, even some in Europe, but I’ve never made it to the Big Apple. I’ve got some flight vouchers I need to use up so I’m planning an autumn vacation with the husband. Central Park in the Fall seems so lovely to me.

3. Paint and Hang a Painting: I’ve always wanted to be an artist but never put much time or money into doing it. This year I will face my fears and paint something to go up in the new house.

4. Re-read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: This book is amazing and I even worked for Franklin Covey years ago so I’ve totally bought into Covey’s ideologies. I need to be more effective and disciplined so I’m hoping this will help me get back on track. It’s time to be an adult, after all.

5. Ride All the “Big Rides” at Six Flags Again: I grew up going to Six Flags every Summer and some of my fondest childhood memories are being there with my siblings and dad. Even though time is definitely marching on, I want to do things that remind me of the childlike wonder I used to have. Plus Six Flags is just fun.

6. Buy the Husband a Piano: You guys, my husband is a dreamboat. Smart, handsome, successful, kind, and talented in so many things, especially music. He put down his trumpet in college years ago and now wants another musical outlet. He’s wanted a piano but we haven’t been able fit one into our home until now 🙂

7. Go to Hamilton Pool: I’ve lived in Austin for over 3 years and have never made it to this other-worldly place. Many film scenes of alien planets and heavens have been shot here because it’s beautiful and unlike any other place in the world.

8. Take Ballroom Dance Lessons: Oh how things change! As a child I would have been mortified if I was forced to take these classes. Now, I cannot wait. We’ve already purchased the lessons, now I just need to conquer my fear of looking dumb and get on the dance floor!

9. See My Abs: Even if this is only for a day, I want to see my abs before I die. It only gets harder (or so I’ve been told) so I’m having that now or never feeling right about now.

10. Adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree: I’ve done this before and it’s one of my favorite things during the holiday season. These goals are only for the next year but I hope to do this each year until I pass. It really is that fun and rewarding.

11. Write a Short Story of My Grandma’s Life: My sweet Gran is one of the most kind and charitable people I’ve ever met. She taught me about love, service, kindness and so much more. During my last visit with her I realized that I only know a fraction of what there is to know about this wonderful woman. I want my future kids and their kids to know how wonderful she is and the only way of doing that is writing it down.

12. Paint My Entire House: Our new house is beautiful. It also needs a paint job. I’ll talk about the more later on but for now, know that this is on my list.

13. Have a Random Acts of Kindness Day: I want to take a day off and fill it with acts of kindness. The world needs more good and I could sure use some more feel-good in my life.

14. Hot Air Ballon Ride: I  am deathly afraid of heights but I have always wanted to go on a hot air ballon ride. Husband said he’ll help make it happen so I’m pretty much waiting with baited breath for this one.

15. Make a Delicious and Legit Cake: I’m not a good baker but I’ve always wanted to be able to make a beautiful and delicious cake. I’m friends with some fabulous ladies who have promised to help me out on this one and I’m excited! Side note: I should probably start this after I’ve seen my abs.

16. See an Opera or Symphony: I’ve already seen both of these but it’s been nearly a decade since then. How can I call myself cultured if it’s been over 10 years since I’ve been to one? 😉

17. Do a Head Stand: My balance is horrid, especially since they gave me a new leg bone, so I want to work on that. Hopefully the yoga it takes to achieve this will also help with the abs thing.

18. Be Featured on Another Blog: Blogging isn’t always easy and fun but it’s a great outlet for me. While I’m not treating it like a business, I do think that I should make so goals around it. This one seems like a fairly easy one but we’ll see.

19. Re-do Our Kitchen: Our new place is gorgeous(!) and I promise to show you lots of pictures. While so many things about it are wonderful, it needs an update since it’s pretty much been untouched since 1969!

20. Take the GRE: I want to go back to school and get my PhD in psychology and the first step towards that goal is taking the GRE test. Math is not my friend so I’m completely intimidated but at this point I’ve realized that I can’t let that stop me.

21. Have a Real Photo Shoot: We don’t have children so I haven’t hired a photographer since we were married 6 years ago because I thought no one would care to see photos of a child-less family. I’ve just realized that that’s dumb. We’re taking pictures this year with our adorable dog-child and I don’t care if no one wants to see them. I do.

22. Watch a Meteor Shower: I’m not sure if I know anyone who doesn’t love shooting stars. They just feel magical and lucky. Instead of going to bed like a responsible person, one night I’m going to count as many shooting stars as possible. Besides, who doesn’t need a little bit of extra luck?

23. Take Husband Horseback Riding: He’s never really been and I love horses and rode them quite a bit when I was younger. He doesn’t understand my obsession and I can’t fathom why he isn’t really interested in going. Adding this to my list pretty much forces him to go with me.

24. Re-Take My French Course: In college I was forced to take French to graduate. I hated it. Now after visiting France, I wish I could speak it better so I’m hoping that if I practice it enough that when we go back (hopefully soon) I’ll be more proficient at it and have a more authentic experience. Plus, French is so freaking classy.

25. Re-Read My Favorite Classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and The Secret Garden are some of my favorite books and I just don’t read them often enough. With all of the husband’s travel this year, I’m hoping I’ll crack open these books at night instead of turning on Netflix.

26. Go to a UT Football Game: I love my Alma Mater and it turns out they’re fairly decent at football. The tickets are expensive but the games are so fun so this season we’re making it to one of the games! Hook’em!

27. Make a New Friend: I love people and I love having friends but sometimes I just don’t make time to meet new people because life happens. This year I want to make a new friend, hopefully someone who’s pretty different from me and will help me see the world from a different perspective.

28. Sing a Duet with My Husband: I love to sing and husband does as well. I’m not sure whether it means singing together in church, at a social function, or even just karaoke but I’ve always wanted to sing a duet with him and this is the year!

29. Foster a Dog: So many little pups are out there without homes and need love. While I’m pretty sure that Oakley is the only dog for me, I want to foster a dog and help it find it’s forever home.

30. Do Something For Someone That They Cannot Do for Themselves: I honestly can think of no greater goal than helping someone who feels like they’re in a situation where nothing can be done. I’ve been down and out and wonderful people have reached out and helped me when there was nothing more I could do. I’m not sure how exactly this one might come about but I believe if you keep your eyes and heart open, ways to give will find you.

Ending on the kinda sappy one wasn’t what I planned but sometimes you gotta just go with what feels right. So I have to know, any of you out there set goals each year on your birthday? Or have you done any of the things on my list? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Kate Spade giveaway here!

-Katy


Do You Still Hand Write Thank-You Notes?

Thank you Notes

I wrote a dear friend a thank you note a couple weeks back because she had done something so so sweet and kind for me. When I saw her again, she thanked me for my note and told me that she almost never receives hand written notes these days. At first I was little shocked, but then I remembered last winter when I sent flowers as a thank-you and had to talk the recipient out of profusely thanking me. In both of these instances, these women let me know that very few people send more than an email out now.

With the ease of email and the cost of stamps (hello 50 cent postage stamps :() I guess I can understand a little bit but even being a millennial, I can see the advantage of hand written notes. For one, your note will stand out amongst the bills and junk mail, something that’s harder to say about a thank-you email. Second, it’s a chance to show some personal style through your choice of stationary. And lastly, it’s just good manners and people like good manners.

Now I won’t say I’ve always been good at sending them-in the past I’ve really struggled with it. But I will say that since I’ve made it a priority (I actually add it on my to-do list) I’ve found that my personal and professional relationships have benefitted greatly. Here and Here are a few of my favorite options to help you in case you tend to run out quickly like I do and Amazon delivers straight to your door!

So here’s my question: Do you still send thank-you notes and flowers? If not, why?