Category Archives: inspiration

motivation for the new year

In case anyone (namely me) needed more motivation for their goals in 2014, a friend of mine posted this video on Facebook the other day and it was so inspiring – really a testament to the “take your time and do it right” approach I’m trying to go for this year. It also made me want to get off my fat ass and do some yoga ;)

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some compassion for my crap in the new year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that jazz!

I’m not gonna lie, 2013 really sucked big time, and I’m really looking forward to the new year for a fresh start. This year I’m only making two new year’s resolutions, and I’m pretty excited about them:


Allow me to explain.

Around Thanksgiving, I read this article on Apartment Therapy and was kind of inspired by it. It talks about how to give thanks to your home, and frames the article as if your home is a living, breathing being that deserves appreciation. It got me thinking about the house in a different way, and then it got me thinking about everything in a different way.

I’m an incredibly impatient person. Most people who know me probably wouldn’t guess this, as people have told me that I give off a very relaxed vibe and that being around me makes them feel calm. They’d be surprised to know what goes on in my head half the time. I get frustrated incredibly easily, but I suppose I mainly internalize it. I’m the sort of person who, if we’re out at a restaurant and my sandwich starts falling apart, my evening is basically ruined.

Most of the time, my life feels like a war – a war between my brain and everything else. I treat everything as an obstacle to get past, but I’m not sure what the ultimate goal is once the obstacle is passed. If the tub is grimy, I get angry and frustrated with the tub. If there’s a pile of clothes on the chair in the bedroom, I get angry at the pile. If the roof is leaking, I’m furious at the house. Every minute spent dealing with these obstacles is infuriating to me, and it makes me want to get it over with as fast as possible. Which means I half-ass EVERYTHING.

So after reading the aforementioned Apartment Therapy article, my thinking began to change. I started to think of the house as another “person” in my life. And then I began to think of everything as another person in my life. I began to anthropomorphize things and realized that these objects perform a service for me and are therefore deserving of my respect. So instead of being angry at the tub for being grimy, I started to think things like, “That poor tub doesn’t want to be grimy. It wants to be clean and white and have fresh new caulk. It’s only grimy because we shower in it every day and don’t take care of it.” Or if my car is a mess, I think, “This car treats me very well – it gets me from A to B, it drives me to work every day and keeps me safe. It doesn’t want to be full of dust and trash and dog hair.” I feel myself developing compassion for these objects in my life, and that compassion makes me want to take care of them calmly and thoroughly.

A secondary resolution that has grown out of this one is:


Part of my perpetual state of frustration and anxiety results from letting my brain become overwhelmed with the thought of “what else?!” If the tub is gross and I decide to clean it, I don’t do it well because I’m preoccupied with the thought of all the dishes in the sink. If I’m washing dishes in the sink I’m consumed by the fact that the living room is a mess. When I’ve moved on to straightening up the living room, I spend that time stressing over what a mess the closet is. And so on. I spend all my time racing through each activity to get to the next. My mind is never where I am but where I’m not, and that is a huge source of constant low-grade stress.

I need to reign in my thoughts and I’m thinking the solution to this is monotasking. In the short amount of time that I’ve tried this out it feels so good. Even when I’m washing my hands, I’ve tried to stop letting my mind wander further down the line and focus on just washing my hands and washing them well. When I’m folding clothes I’m just folding clothes, nothing more. And if I start to feel myself get frustrated because the fitted sheet isn’t cooperating and my mind starts racing, I stop and relax and give myself a little pep talk, like, “Kate, you’re just folding right now; this is what you’re doing, nothing more. Just relax and take the time to do it right.” Once I do that my body immediately unclenches and I actually enjoy folding the sheet. I know that this is really just what people refer to as “mindfulness,” and mindfulness is associated with all sorts of wonderful health and happiness benefits. But I think for me, saying “be more mindful” sounds a little vague, and “monotasking” has a more immediate meaning that I can put into action.

So I’m pretty psyched about these two resolutions. They seem more like building blocks to a better life than simply, “lose weight” or “keep the house clean.” Wish me luck!

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will you wear my pin?

Just a quick note to let all of you know that I am fully obsessed with Pinterest. I signed up ages ago but had this elderly moment of “What is this ‘Pinterest’? I don’t get it. You pin things? How do you do that? And there’s boards? What’s the difference between a board and a pin? Why am I following people already? Why is this person following me? This doesn’t make any sense. Forget it.” Then I spent all of three and a half minutes figuring it out and I’ll never go back. Sorry, Tumblr, there’s a new social media outlet in town. But we can still hang out sometimes.

Follow Me on Pinterest


inspiration: lizzy’s place

My friend Lizzy’s apartment was featured on Design*Sponge! I need to get her to be my personal decorator.


getting there is half the fun, come share it with me

I know that originally this blog was all about our house, and how we were new homeowners embarking on fixing up an old house, and generally just a blog about settling down and staying in one spot for a while.

But I have to admit that pretty much immediately after buying the house, I started to feel a little trapped. Like, “So this is really it, we’re really going to be in Philly for the foreseeable future.” Which is sort of a joke because we’re both such wimps it’s not like we could make a big move anyway.

And for right now, I’m pretty happy with where we are, at the moment I don’t hate the house, I’m looking forward to working on it in the coming months, and even called a couple of contractors today about upcoming projects we have in mind.

That being said, when I see a story like this, it makes me want to kick myself for settling down too quickly. I was originally drawn in because I saw a project involving renovating a Scamp camper. Greg and I saw one on the road a few months back and thought it was the greatest little thing. But then I started digging into their story and was hooked. After a year of being married, this couple quit their jobs, rented out their house and are spending a year traveling around the country in their fantastic little remodeled Scamp. Oh, and they’re writing a blog about it, of course. Being that this is something Greg and I talk about once in a great while but would never have the guts to do, this is a pretty inspiring story.

Read their blog, The Wanderlusters

audience participation

I have two inspiration photos for bedroom colors, but Greg and I can’t decide. He favors one, I favor the other. So here’s what you guys get to do: you get to vote on the color that we will sleep with until the end of time! Or at least until we paint again and/or sell the house.

Choice A: Light grey

Choice B: Sage green

Please help us!

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attention deficit d.i.y. disorder

Every once in a while I just have a total breakdown about the house, that there’s so much work that still needs to be done and everything is such a major production and absolutely nothing goes right. Before we bought the house, it never occurred to me that a) it would be hard and b) I wouldn’t like doing this stuff. When you’re watching HGTV or reading about it in magazines, they never mention the part where nothing is ever standard, and no two houses are alike. They give you step by step directions, and usually by step 2 I’m already saying, “Wait, ok, ours doesn’t look like that.” I think really home improvement instructions should be like choose-your-own-adventure books. Like when you get to page 2, it says, “If there are two wires coming out of the ceiling, go to page 4. If there are 3 wires coming out, go to page 5.” There never seems to be that part where they say, “If that doesn’t work, do this.” They just assume it will work. Which it never does.

Take the other day for example. After buying and returning one lock set for the front door, I bought another one that would work. Greg was out for the day, and I figured I’d just zip home, unscrew a few screws, screw a few others in, and voila! New locks. He’d be so proud. Instead, after getting about 90% into the installation of the top lock, I realized we had to drill new holes. So put that on hold, do the new doorknobs, even easier. Nope. Apparently our doorknob is a few inches over from standard, so the mechanism that goes into the doorframe doesn’t reach the hole in the door. Now what? Do they make a mechanism that’s longer? Can we special order something? Do we have to get a new door altogether? I don’t know, because we wound up just putting the old one back on. Correction: I had a temper tantrum, threw everything on the floor, stomped upstairs and waited for Greg to come home and put the old one back on.

My point is, the easiest thing is not easy. So the seemingly more complicated things *really* don’t get done. So as a result, 70% of the house still needs to be painted, the tub faucet drips, the toilet runs endlessly, the light switch in the dining room randomly switches off. When the going gets rough, we tend to jump ship.

However, we had a good night last night. We’ve sort of been working on the office, and last night we actually put down most of the floor trim, so we’ll probably finish tonight. We’re buying a rug this week, so we’re getting very close to finishing.

I’ve just been reading through Anna’s blog at Door Sixteen and am finding some great inspiration. They have some huuuuuge projects on their hands, but they seem to take things one small step at a time and pay attention to the details, unlike Greg and me, who always have to go back later to touch things up, which we never actually do anyway. I think our biggest problem (aside from not having a clue what the hell we’re doing) is our lack of focus and patience. We keep skipping around from room to room, which I know I’ve complained about a lot, but it’s starting to get ridiculous. I think I’m really just in denial that this is going to take us a long time. I sort of figured we’d bang it all out in a year and be able to sit back and enjoy, but clearly I was incredibly naive.

So we need to stop looking at this in terms of the house as a whole and start taking things room-by-room, from start to finish. Starting with the office. I’m officially deciding that we can’t move onto ANYTHING else until we’re completely satisfied with that one room. Here’s what’s left:

– finish installing quarter round
– prime trim
– paint trim and doors
– touch up paint mistakes
– re-hang door
– wallpaper closet
– buy rug
– put other computer in there
– hang artwork
– clean and rearrange bookshelves
– new curtains

We can *so* do this.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share Melanie’s blog with all of you. Melanie was a girl I knew from work who passed away the other day after a long battle with leukemia. She has really been an inspiration for me and I hope you will read through her blog and see why. She and her husband picked up and moved to New Zealand a few years ago, and I’ve been following her down-under adventures ever since. She was such an incredible and positive person, and the world is truly a better place for having had her in it, even if for just 26 years.

excuses excuses

It has been so hot, even the squirrels in our neighborhood don’t want to do anything…

We’re headed down to the beach on Saturday, so I’ll be posting even less than I have been. But we do have some good news, which is our kitchen will (hopefully) officially be underway August 18th! After that it will be five weeks of takeout and all things microwavable. We’ve been tying up the loose ends and doing things like finalizing tile and picking out cabinet hardware, door handles, and faucets. I was particularly excited tonight because I was finally able to get a photo of this great tile I saw in someone’s vestibule. We were walking through the neighborhood a few months back and peeked into a house that had this great tile accent that I fell in love with. Of course, after that they always had the blinds pulled, so I wasn’t able to sneak a snapshot. I finally worked up the nerve tonight to ring the bell, and they were actually super nice and let me take a photo and told me where they got the tile. So we’re hoping to do something like this for the backsplash:

So we’ll see you in a week. We’ve promised ourselves that when we get back, we’re going to throw ourselves back into the house again. Although it feels like we’ve made that promise many times before. Anyway, in the absence of new posts, please enjoy way too many videos of Porter keeping cool.

too many cooks in the kitchen

I’m taking advantage of one of our freebie summer days at work tomorrow and am staying home to be productive. It’s time to crank up the AC on the third floor and finish with the craft studio & office once and for all. Here’s my big plans that I’m embarrassingly excited about:

– get my car inspected
– wallpaper my craft studio closet (provided I wind up having enough wallpaper)
– hang shelves in the office closet
– hang my prints in the craft studio
– unpack my craft supplies
– go through my clothes & make a donation box

It still feels like an eternity away, but in a few short weeks work is scheduled to commence on The Big Kitchen Project. Which reminds me, I really need to get back to them with our tile decision. I think for the floor we’re going to go with charcoal gray hex tile with snowflake inlays:

This color tile:

With these inlays:

I subscribed to Martha Stewart Everyday Food in anticipation of all the cooking I’ll be doing come September. It’s still impossible to imagine that there will be a point in the not-so-distant future when I will actually enjoy spending time in my kitchen. Not to mention all those lovely wedding gifts waiting to be opened! I think I’m actually salivating. As soon as it’s done, you’re all invited over for dinner. Seriously, our table is huge.