1.) I spent most of my Friday stressed out in an important interview. My day was made better only by my beautiful new Vince Camuto blazer, which I bought specially for the occasion. There’s nothing better than looking sharp and feeling sharp in an interview! People who say fashion is foolish have never felt the power of a well put-together outfit.
2.) I got to celebrate finishing this crazy interview process with a delicious lunch with my brother at Craft and Commerce. Get the fried pickles. Trust me. Even if you hate pickles (I do), you’ll love ’em. And don’t act like you’re too cool to enjoy a shamelessly fried menu item.
3.) Decompressing after a long week, I spent my Friday night at home with the family enjoying our signature Trader Joes pizza/arugula salad creation (TJ’s 4 cheese thin crust pizza, topped with arugula and tomatoes mixed in a quick balsamic vinagrette, sprinkled with some parmesan and a little bacon- so freaking good) and Perks of Being a Wallflower.
4.) Helped my Mama put her finishing touches on our newly updated laundry room! Ain’t it purdy? My contribution was our new hand painted striped key rack. See my prior DIY for my “Hola, Guapa” sign for how to make one of your own, just at some hooks to the bottom and you’ve got yourself a key rack!
5.) Saturday afternoon we all went on a run around Miramar lake. It was a gorgeous day to be outside. Watched the sunset just as we were finishing our run!
6.) After burning some calories on our run, we rewarded ourselves with a yummy dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in San Diego, Hernandez Hideway. This place is off the beaten path, and a little sketchy looking but that’s part of its charm. The food is delicious and the margaritas are strong.
7.) DVR’d UCLA basketaball vs. Arizona. Great game and a Bruin victory at home, what more could ya ask for?
9.) Just about to finish out the weekend with the much anticipated History Channel premiere of Vikings. I’ll let ya know if it’s worth watching!
1) Do you ever have a feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing? It can be something really small and insignificant- like dancing like a wierdo for three hours with one of your best friends- but it feels completely and utterly life affirming. It feels like you are watching a movie about your life and we come to a moment of realization, an epiphany- a scene where the audio drops out and some epic, emotion-laden song comes on, and the audience just feels what the character is thinking. Except the audience is me and I have no idea what I’m thinking, it just feels right. You know what I mean? No, okay, maybe that’s just me.
2) This song makes me feel so nostalgic. Flashback to 8 year old Katie listening to this album in the car with the fam, my only source of angst is the fact that my older brother got to wear the “FF” tattoo that came with the CD instead of me. Take me back.
3) College has completely stunted my creativity. I have no avenue and little time for doing weird/pointless creative things anymore. I used to love just making stuff, it could be anything really- a life size wooden mannequin of myself for a tech theater project my senior year in high school (with literally no purpose other than looking really creepy) or making really nerdy t-shirts in my graphic communications class or baking cupcakes that looked like tennis balls for my teammates. Do I have time for any of that now? No way. And that makes me so sad. When I go home on breaks from school, I always lock myself away in our craft room and spend hours just creating. A few weeks ago I spent the entire night just messing around with water colors and went to bed that night feeling so weirdly fulfilled. What I made was downright hideous (hence no picture) but that doesn’t matter to me when I’m in one of my creative flows. I’m determined to create a life for myself where I can express myself creatively!
4) Deja Vu. WHAT IS THIS AND WHY IS IT ALWAYS HAPPENING TO ME? Today I had the most intense episode of Deja Vu, I was writing a paper on my laptop at a little cafe, drinking an iced latte and a short (rather hairy) 30 something man asked me to share my table, he sat down opened up his mac book and left 30 minutes later and that was that. But I just sat there for five to ten minutes trying figure out if this had actually happened before or if it was a dream, a prophecy, a vision that I share this table with this short hairy man. I cannot handle any more episodes like this.
5) Yes. Jacques Cousteau. 6) “The taste of the usual was like cinders in his mouth, and there were moments when he felt as if he were being buried alive under his future.” Edith Wharton took the words right out of my mouth. Here’s to mixing it up and not getting caught up in the usual this week…
My mama is a quadruple threat. She’s a top notch mama bear, knowing just what to do when one of her cubs is sick or in need. She’s got one hell of a raised bed garden going on with all kinds of veggies and herbs. She can cook a delicious and nutritious dinner. And she’s a master of interior design, our house is the perfect combination of comfortable and stylish. She does all this with impeccable style and taste. She’s my own personal style icon, so much of what I like comes from many training shopping trips with my mom, my personal style comes from hours inventorying my mom’s closet and planning out her outfits for special events. Thus I have a lot to live up to with this gift guide; for a lady of such impeccable style, this gift guide better be spot on. Here goes nothing.
1. Short boots from Madewell
2. This Emerald green purse, also from Madewell, would make a nice seasonal addition to her massive collection of purses. Plus Pantone named emerald green color of the year for 2013.
3. J.Crew Liberty of London print PJ’s. My Mama loves a good pair of fresh pj’s. This cotton set look they would be cozy without being too hot, and a fun paisley print doesn’t hurt.
4. Quirky and cute garden sketches calendar from Terrain
5. Mason Jar Salt and Pepper Shakers from Terrain. A recent discovery of the multi-purpose nature and stylish charm of mason jars, has developed into a full fledged mutual obsession. So having a set of mason jar salt and pepper shakers to add to her collection is a perfectly logical thing to do.
6. Mercury glass candle from Terrain. Mercury glass accents are smattered throughout our house, and I know my mom is always looking for another accessory to add into the mix.
7. Silly selfsies turned into a fun photobooth strip on this nifty site Photoboother.com
8. Jadeite cake plate. My Mom loves jadeite, and this pretty cake plate would look great in our kitchen. (this one my have been a selfish addition, I love cakeplates, probably a lot more than my mom, she would probably want something more useful like a set of bowls, oh well!)
9. Cath Kidston polka dot glasses. Cute!
10. Winter-y house under a shiny glass cloche from Target
11.Throw blanket from Pendleton. This cozy little throw would fit in to the blues and greens and yellows of our family room.
12. Gathering basket for all my mama’s home grown veggies from William’s Sonoma Agrarian
13. Potting table to add to my mom’s garden ensemble. Also from Williams Sonoma
14. Multi-color latte bowls from anthropologie would look so festive in our colorful kitchen
“When you’re tired and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings” croons Bing Crosby in the holiday classic, White Christmas. Bing and Rosemary Clooney rendezvous in the lodge late one night, both unable to get any sleep. They share a midnight snack, while he serenades her, singing of his technique for getting some shut-eye when you just can’t seem to manage to fall asleep. This quiet little scene is somewhat unremarkable, surrounded by all the flashy musical numbers in White Christmas. But somehow it has always stuck with me. Whenever I lay awake in bed, sleep somehow eluding my weary eyes, I always think of good old Bing Crosby and eventually fall asleep counting my blessings.
Just a few nights ago, I slipped into bed, laying there, listening to the rhythmic breathing of my two roommates who were already deep in sleep, my mind started to wander. I began thinking about all the things I had on my to-do list for the next day, all of my upcoming deadlines, the bill I had forgotten to pay that day, and the stress began to accumulate. The longer I laid there the more stressed I was getting and the more frustrated I became at my inability to fall asleep. As all these negative thoughts were running through my mind, I suddenly remembered Mr. Crosby’s advice, stopping my negative thought train dead in its tracks. So instead I started listing off some of my many blessings. In no time I was sleeping soundly. (Try it, it actually works, I swear!)
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving- a whole day devoted to reflecting on our blessings and giving thanks for all we have in life- I decided to share with you all some of the things that I’m most thankful for, the things that I think of late at night when I fall asleep counting my blessings.
I’m thankful for…
(in no particular order)
1) UCLA defeating USC in football last weekend. 38-28.
Finally. After five years of embarrassing defeat, UCLA has reclaimed their rightful place as #1 in LA. The win last Saturday in the big rivalry game against USC was the best graduation gift UCLA football could have given me. The first UCLA victory over USC (in football) that I have experienced during my four years as a Bruin. The energy in the student section was unbelievable, not even the pouring rain could ruin that perfect moment. Returning to Westwood with our heads held high, ready to celebrate and go burn some couches (couches were on fire in the streets that night, no joke), has to be one of the best feelings in my time at UCLA.
2) Friends that I feel I can be truly myself with.
I don’t have to be anyone but me when I’m around them; kooky, weird, moody, or sassy, whatever version of Katie that they get that day is accepted with open arms. I’m so lucky to have found them.
3) Living in LA/SoCal.
I take it for granted on a daily basis that I live in one of the most interesting, diverse, and beautiful places in the world. Sunshine and blue skies year round is definitely something to be thankful for.
4) My Mom.
We have a sign in our house that says “Home is where your mom is”. For me, that saying is completely true. My mom makes our house feel like home, welcoming and warm, such a wonderful place to return to after a long quarter at school. Wherever we are, if I’m with my mom, I feel at home. So much of who I am today is from my mom, growing up under her watchful eye in our loving home, her training me to be a skilled shopper, fostering my creative side with countless arts and crafts projects. My personality, my sense of humor, my creativity, my style, all come from my mom. We are cut from the same cloth. I am so thankful I have her in my life.
5) My Dad.
I am thankful for my Dad for so many reasons to limit it to a few lines is impossible. I can call my Dad from hundreds of miles away, crying about something stupid and he always knows the right thing to say, not making me feel silly or dumb for being so upset, but just listening, being understanding and somehow always knowing what to say to make me feel better. He doesn’t always make things easy for me, he makes me realize when I am doing something wrong, I can’t lie to myself with my Dad there to see right through me. Dependable and incredibly supportive, he is my go-to guy.
6) Having a brother that I can call a friend.
Our brother-sister relationship has evolved as we’ve gotten older, and I no longer feel like I am playing just the annoying little sister role to his cool older brother role. Being each other’s allies at large family gatherings, watching dumb videos online, playing softball in the backyard; I can do anything and nothing with the big bro and have a good time. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about “real life” stuff, but we just get each other, real life stuff is boring in comparison to the random crap we spend most of our time together talking about. “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug.”
7) Having a tight-knit family that enjoys spending time with each other.
So many of my best memories are times spent with my family. I treasure every weekend home with the family, every family vacation, road trip, holiday celebration, and family get together when I get to spend quality time with the fam. Family is a priority in our household, and I am thankful for that.
8) Traveling abroad last summer.
This past summer I spent a month on travel study, traveling throughout Spain and Morocco while studying the history of Islamic Iberia. My first time traveling by myself without a friend or family member with me was an amazing experience. I made new friends, experienced so many new things, became immersed in a new culture, brushed up on my Spanish skills, discovered the wonderful world of tapas, and became so much more confident in myself as a self-sufficient, travel-savvy young lady. It was a truly life changing experience, and I am so thankful for having had the opportunity.
9) My education .
Growing up, it was a given that college was a part of my future. I was on the path toward my college degree since middle school; taking AP classes, saving money for my college fund, taking PSATs, SATs, prep classes, college visits. But I never really understood the true value of my education until recently. As I look forward to graduating from UCLA this year, I have realized just how much my college education has shaped who I am, my goals, my aspirations, my personal strengths and weaknesses, and my passions. My education has truly been transformational. It has already granted me so many opportunities and blessings (see # 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, & 12) and will undoubtedly affect my future. This kind of transformational education is not a reality for many young scholars. Only 8% of children born into poverty will go on to graduate from college by the age of 24.
10) Having found my passion to guide my future career.
I came into college with no idea what I wanted to do or even what I really cared about. If you asked me what I was passionate about three years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to come up with a legitimate answer for you. I have, after plenty of searching, found my niche in education. My passion for education, educational equity and quality, has become a guiding force in my life in the past year. I have been driven to learn more through the education studies department at UCLA, and take action through organizations like Teach for America, becoming a leader for a cause that I care about. I now know that education, either as a teacher or in policy, will be a part of my future. I am so thankful to have found what drives me, an issue that fires me up and a passion that will guide my future.
11) Having straight hair.
I am so lazy when it comes to doing my hair. I wake up, run a brush through it, and if I’m lucky throw a bobby pin or two in there. If I had curly or wavy hair I am almost positive I would look like a homeless person 98% of the time. Flat irons look like they suck to deal with.
12) Having a job with a company that I believe in, in an industry that I am passionate about.
This past year I quit my soul sucking job at a residence hall’s front desk and mail room and got a job with a company that I believe in, in a field that I am passionate about, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity. I am inspired every day by their mission statement and the kind of transformational leaders that work for this company. Whereas at the front desk/mailroom I felt myself die a little bit inside each time I clocked in for another mindless shift, now when I start my work I feel alive- motivated, inspired, and challenged.
13) Not having food allergies.
I love food way too much to even fathom the idea of being limited by a food allergy. Gluten allergy, heeelll no, glutenous carbs are my main squeeze. Lactose intolerance would be intolerable- yogurt, cheese, froyo- I don’t think I could live without them.
14) This blog!
This blog has become my creative outlet, my hobby, and I am so thankful that I have people that support all my creative endeavors and people like you that read my nonsense. Everything I write and every picture I post comes right from my heart. It’s me on a page. Having the forum to express myself and my creativity has been completely life affirming. Thanks for putting up with all my nonsense.
Family vacations bring together the best and the worst memories and experiences from childhood. Annual summer vacations are where I first developed an obsession with lake houses, a love for the outdoors, a penchant for fishing and hiking, and my camping savvy. Don’t get me wrong, my family has had their fair share of terrible vacation experiences. Funny stories in retrospect, but at the time they were anything but funny. Like the time we stayed at a motel that looked like it came straight from Hitchcock’s set for Psycho. Or the time that I cut my finger on a soda can (trying to get a licorice straw that I bit too small out of my can of sprite) and promptly began to play with germy lake mud, resulting in a raging staph infection, on a houseboat, in the middle of nowhere. Or the time that the woods around our cabin were infested with swarms of bugs. These terribly funny experiences rest in my mind right next to some of the best memories of my childhood from family vacations. Memories that feel like pictures in your mind. Jumping off a dock. That one giant trout that got away. Melty soft serve ice cream cones after a sweltering round of mini-golf. Little vignettes that have wriggled their way into my memory and refuse to leave.
During the packed days and nearly constant togetherness of family vacations, realities of daily life back at home fade away and family dynamics are magnified, creating a vacation vacuum of sorts. Isolated from “real life,” tensions rear their ugly head, but at the same time it brings your strengths and values as a family to the forefront. This is both visible from the inside-out and the outside-in, as I experienced this summer.
I nannied this summer for three-weeks for a family I had never met before. A couple with three young kids wanted some extra help taking care of their kids while they vacationed in Montana. The family, rather wealthy, could afford to fly me to Montana and pay me to play with their kids. It was quite the deal for me! It was a free vacation with cute kids and a seemingly normal family. I love nature, I love kids, I’m a pro at dealing with the dynamics of family vacations, what could go wrong?
The answer is, a lot. I loved the kids, but realized that being a nanny on vacation means that you deal with all the stress and angst that inevitably goes hand in hand with family vacations without all the perks of quality time and making memories with the fam. I was an extremely awkward outside observer to so many ridiculous family fights, arguments, and the occasional group meltdown. It was so uncomfortably enlightening to see an entirely different family dynamic unfold in front of me. It provided me an entirely different lens from which I could appreciate my own family and my own experiences on family vacations.
After a few weeks with this family, I became so much more appreciative of my parents who worked so hard to make family life a central focus: being completely present in family life, making vacations memorable and fun. Recognizing the importance of little things that made me who I am. Dad taking off work early so he could coach my basketball teams and shutting off his computer at night to come shoot hoops in the cul-de-sac. Mom kindly putting up with the messes I made when I was in one of my arts and crafts frenzies, respecting my creative process, which unfailingly involved glitter.
I saw in the attitudes and behaviors of the kids I took care of this summer that so much of who you are and who you grow up to be comes from your family and the environment you grow up in. I saw their parents close-mindedness and the family’s sense of moneyed entitlement bleeding over into how their kids interacted and viewed the world. I saw a little boy, desperate for his Dad’s attention, a father who was virtually chained to his laptop and a work life that overran his family life. Children come into this world a blank slate ready to become a unique individual, but that only happens within the context of family and home. This summer made me realize that in order to be part of a family grounded in love and respect you have be emotionally, mentally and physically present. It takes hard work and patience to create a positive family dynamic, especially within the “vacation vacuum”. By experiencing another family’s tensions and negativity, I realized what it is that makes my family work and what I want to show the world about who I am and where I come from.
Family is the context in which I which I was able to build the confidence to be authentically me. To be unabashedly weird, embrace my quirks, to know myself and be unafraid to show others the real me. Rather than the boring watered down, filtered out me, which somehow seems so much easier to present to others. Authenticity breeds happiness and fulfillment. I’m still working on this one.
I always try to be open to new opportunities and experiences, whether it be a new food, a hobby, sports, friends, adventures, music. Closed minded parents make it ok for their kids to miss out on potentially life changing opportunities. Closed-mindedness is contagious, especially in families. Stop the spread by trying something new each week and bring a friend. My new experience this week: creating my own blog!
A good sense of humor makes you stronger person, facing challenges and mishaps with a dose of humor will make most things you encounter easier to handle. This doesn’t mean brushing off every experience with a laugh. Realistically, not everything that happens to you will end up a funny story. But being able to take a step back and realize the humor in the things that life throws your way is a strength. A strength that years of laughter around the dinner table with the family has trained me to do.
These are things that I value deeply because of my family, and these are things that I am still working on in my own life. I feel that I can only be a successful teacher and positive influence in others lives if I convey the importance of authenticity, open-mindedness, and laughter through my own attitude and behavior. It’s a constant effort, but my family and friends make it just a little easier to be both who I am and who I want to be.