Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Back to School Hurricane

Hi, friends.

Well, Monday marked the first day of school I've had in four years. I finally bit the bullet and decided to get my master's degree! It was a no brainer, really, but I always seemed to have some kind of excuse for twelve semesters straight (geez, I've been lazy!). I have an employee scholarship that affords me a really great opportunity to get my education for next to nothing. If not now..when?

Besides my wildly over-committed schedule (demanding work schedule, side business ventures, volunteering duties and being a good wifey), my main concern was a question I've been faced with lately: What do I REALLY want to do with my life? You know, the basic "What do you want to be when you grow up?" questions from childhood. Does anyone ever really figure this out?

I was very recently faced with this question that I so often try to hide beneath a cover of  "I'm perfectly fine and content." The truth is I'm restless, unsure and a big hot mess. This came to light recently.

After a summer of waiting for the last of my three advisers, this particular faculty member finally got to her office the day before classes started.  I approached her confidently, waiting for her to dutifully sign off on my well-thought-out degree plan. She gently rests her hand on my degree plan and says "You know, this degree won't get you anywhere."

Immediate choke response. How could this woman (whom I had met) have such an opinion about my future? She went on to explain that people would look right over me in a job application process and I would have wasted my time.

Then she asked that dreaded question: "What is is that you want to do with your life, Kayli?"

Now comes the part of my temperament that I hate. I cry. I just absolutely lose my cool, and tear up when I'm upset or even just plain pissed off. Even in the most professional settings. The tear duct gland is just a-flowing. It's so embarrassing! In my mind I'm like "Damnit, lady! Take me seriously!" and in person I'm a blubbering mess.

I forgot to mention this lady is a licensed counselor. I'm sure she's accustomed to playing with people's emotions and trying to get them to drink the KoolAid and be a counselor just like her. Long story short, she didn't agree to sign my plan.

I left her office as calmly as possible, then totally lost it in the hallway. Was she right? Was I just wasting my time? I chose my degree because it seemed like the perfect fit for someone like me: able to pick from the best of different disciplines to craft a degree that was right for you. Business and Communication were my first choices but for various reasons, weren't right for me. I feel that I'm so multidimensional. I don't WANT to just do one thing.

After calming myself down and talking to my wise colleagues and sweet husband, I decided to stay on my original path, despite what one person said. The funny thing is, I could have viewed this interaction as a sign, a fork in the road. But I had to stay true to myself and my heart. I am different.

Honestly, if I could do it over again, I would have been an art major from day one. I bought into the idea that "That's not a real job." The term 'starving artist' was ingrained in my mind. From very young, the 'paycheck over passion' ideal is indoctrinated into our everyday lives. I can't say I'm completely on the opposite path: I have a job that allows me to grow creatively, write and design every day, with great people. I should be counting my blessings. But eventually, I'd like to really follow my dreams- do meaningful work( to me) . And I believe the more you learn, the more you grow, so grad school is definitely a step in the right direction.

What do I want to do with my life? I'm not certain. But happiness is a journey, not a destination. If I ever get complacent and too content, I'm not working hard enough. They never said it would be easy: they just said it would be worth it.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Gypsy Came Wandering...

I have taken a huge step. After years of my undying, adamant claim to be a 100% dog lover and anti-cat person, a little kitten has walked into our life and softened my hard heart. 

Meet Gypsy: :)

Appropriate name, as this little cutie wandered into our yard, seemingly from out of nowhere. A girl after my own heart! I thought, surely, she must belong to someone, but no one has claimed her so far (and now I'm praying they won't!)  She is about two months old with big blue eyes and a ringed tail. She won us over with how snuggly and sweet she was. Even my manly husband couldn't resist!

The pups are still not sure about her, but I love this little addition to our little family!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shabby Chic Lamp Makeover Tutorial

Soooo, this was supposed to be my weekend of doing nothing. Obviously, the fact that I'm writing this blog post blows my cover. While I was on #5 {Make Something Beautiful}, well, I got antsy and decided it was time for a makeover! It was still the most therapeutic Saturday I've had in so long...getting in my studio makes me feel so alive. Let's just say I accomplished #5 with gusto. :)

My favorite of today's projects was making over this little lamp I've had my eye on forever. Since the move, my taste has changed tremendously. Black once adorned all my finishes, and heavy fabrics filled my home. I've wanted to "lighten up" lately, and this little baby was screaming for a quick makeover.

Too heavy, and not my style anymore. Buh-bye! So, I was inspired by all the multi-textured lampshades I've seen around Warrenton, and how romantic they look. I decided to strip off all the fabric, tearing it down to the bare bones. Now, before you start, be sure that the lamp shade frame is supported by an inner frame. otherwise, you'll have two frames and no support! Don't pass these up at a thrift store, y'all!

Next, I used some fabric remnants in the same shades. For this project, I used about 1/8 yard each of cream burlap, old 5" cream lace, white polyester lining and white lace ribbon. I torn or cut the fabric into 1" strips and began each with a knot at the bottom of the base. (Don't tie to the the middle part or they will spin around)

Interweave each strip of fabric between each texture. If the end doesn't meet the bottom, tie off and hot glue to the closest inner wire. (You can hide this later...Or don't! It adds to the shabby chic and imperfect look)

When all the holes are filled in, trim the edges ( especially the burlap!) and be sure that no fabric will be near the light bulb. I also painted the the base with a paint sample (Valspar, Dancing Lake) in a pale blue-green color.

And. voila! It looks even prettier with the soft light, illuminating the room. It's amazing how a little change will make such a difference!

Along with this beauty, I made a map monogram and a map picture frame which I'll share later. {my wanderlust obsession strikes again!} For tonight , talking about our dreams with my sweet husband and watching a good documentary! This Saturday was the best I've had in a while. :)



Linking up with these lovely bloggers:
My fave bloggers at Cowgirl Up!
Twigg Studios Sunday Showoff
Shabby Nest : Frugal Friday
My Romantic Home Show N Tell
At the Picket Fence

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pretty Aqua Bathroom Update

Just a quick look my pretty, serene bathroom this morning. {We've come a long way from this} It's my little oasis! These pictures are much better, with the awesome natural light beaming in. I want to paint my whole house this color (Olympic's Cactus Blossom) because it's so soothing and beautiful.

Looking forward to a big, steamy bubble bath for my weekend celebrating doing nothing!  Hope yours is wonderful, too.

xoxo- K

Paint: Cactus Blossom, Olympic
Mirror, picture: Ross
Soap Dispenser and Shower Curtain: Target
Anchor Art: Hobby Lobby

Linking up here:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Beauty of Doing Nothing

As another weekend approaches, I’m reminded, as I often am, of one of my favorite concepts from the book “Eat Pray Love:”

“Il bel far niente means 'the beauty of doing nothing'... [it] has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement. –Eat Pray Love

When’s the last time you did nothing? A recent squirmy evening when we lost power for a day in a big rainstorm reminded me of this. Alone in our dark house, Derek and I were forced to do nothing–no surfing the Internet or keeping up with the latest TV shows. We had the gorgeous sound of pouring rain on our tin roof and each other. After the initial restlessness, it was absolutely liberating and calming. I looked at Derek and thought how it would have been centuries ago with no power, no technology–just soft candlelight and the sound of crickets at night.

After this wild week at work {magazine deadline week! Oy!}, I owe it to myself to have a BIG weekend full of…nothing. Oh, just the sound of that delights me more than another whirlwind weekend on the road! The perfect escape to my otherwise hectic world! As I look at my jam-packed fall calendar–full of meetings, deadlines, obligations {but with plenty of FUN as well}–I want nothing more than a weekend that is all mine.

So, maybe I won’t ACTUALLY be doing nothing. But maybe instead I’ll be snuggling up with a new book, listening to new music, baking a little something, just because. Maybe instead I’ll make up for lost time, take care of myself, indulge in moments of pure, blissful serenity. I’ll find the pleasure in doing EXACTLY what I want to do, if only for 55 hours. {Not that I’m counting!}

Now, you may think it is against principle of “Il Bel Far Niente” to make a list {old habits die hard!}, but this is one list I won’t mind crossing off. Here is my “Do Nothing” list for the weekend:

Now, doesn’t that sound beautiful? Take a little time to slow down and enjoy your one, crazy beautiful life. 


Friday, August 10, 2012

The Pinterest Syndrome


Reminisce with me for a moment. Do you remember having an “inspiration file/ box/ drawer/board?” Stacks of beautiful images ripped from magazines, luxurious fabric swatches, a little knick-knack that was the just-right shade of blue?

If you’re like me, you remember days of crafting, just based on necessity or plain old creativity. No tutorials, no step-by-step instructions—just you and your medium and your mind.

Has Pinterest made us lazy? Now, if you want to find out how to make XYZ, simply search the term and welcome a barrage of images that you can mindlessly recreate.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really REALLY love Pinterest for many reasons and find a great deal of inspiration from people far more creative than me. But when people see anything you’ve done, made, slaved over and thought up from your own creativity and continually ask “Did you get that from Pinterest?” it’s deflating. It takes the originality out of craft, saturates the market and leaves little room to really create a one-of-a-kind style.

Not to mention the countless hours mindlessly perusing the thousands of pictures of skinny models in expensive clothes, the newest fad diet and funny cat pictures. It’s almost to the point of unhealthy. Instead of actually creating what we pin, we waste hours “pinning, pinning, pinning” and almost develop an inferiority complex.

A recent experience brought this to mind. I did a craft for a guest post recently and when brainstorming and coming up with that aha! moment, Pinterest quickly bashed my dreams. Surprise! It’s been done.  Then afterward, you obsess over it to see if it in turn gets pinned! Good grief! It’s a vicious cycle.


Now, I give major props to gals that have truly authentic ideas and beautiful homes to match. Week after week, bloggers wow us with “why didn’t I think of that?” brilliance. I really don’t know how they do it, but I applaud their ingenuity and stamina. But sometimes, it’s gotta be a real drag.

I truly miss the days of creating something to solve a problem, to make something that hasn’t been made 451,579 times.  Sewing because I learned from my grandma, knowing how to cook because I peered over the stove since I could remember…when things were simpler. If your craft was in fact made a million times, you were blissfully unaware, able to sit back and admire your handiwork without feeling like you stole it.

I appreciate many things that Pinterest is good for, however; its awesome organizing capabilities, inspiration around every corner, and supporting a craft revolution of sorts that bring the appreciation of arts and crafts back to mainstream society. But, just for a moment, shut it off and see where your mind takes you with just a few materials. I think you’d be surprised with yourself.

Oh, and feel free to pin this.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Olympic Photo Album :)

For our moms, family and whoever else wants to see our Olympic photo album, made on Shutterfly! Fun Fun memories of a lifetime! Happy Wednesday!

Create your own custom photo books at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our trip to the London 2012 Olympics!!

Wow….we are back from a whirlwind trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games! As you may have seen in my last post, my husband and I won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Olympic Games from a sweepstakes that we were automatically entered in (by a $5 cup of coffee purchase!). Three weeks ago, we had no idea we’d be packing up to head across the pond. Now I’m back in the states after the trip of a lifetime!

We arrived in London Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. after a red-eye flight from D.C. The first thing that hit me….that fabulous 60 degree weather! When we left Dallas, it was 110 degrees, so it was quite a pleasant relief from the heat. Visa then shuttled us to the Hilton Metropole with the other dozen winners from the U.S. We met some great people from Arizona to Miami and shared our “can-you-believe-we-just-won-this!?” stories. 

We then checked into the Visa Hospitality Lounge, complete with daily gourmet breakfast, a wifi lounge and staff to make sight-seeing recommendations. We got our name badges, complete with pictures of our ear-to-ear grins, and checked into our room. Then came the swag and FINALLY finding out which events we would see! Beach volleyball, basketball and track & field it was! Woohoo!!! We spent the rest of the day exploring London—getting lost in beautiful Hyde Park, leaning over on Margaret Thatcher’s Rolls Royse to fix my shoe (oops!), and watching the games on massive screens in the park with the over-the-top excited Brits. 

LOVED all the bunting everywhere!

Now, I’m not a big fan of touristy activities, but in the limited time we had to see the city, the hop-on, hop-off double-decker open top bus was our best bet. I’m SO glad we took the time to do this—made the entire trip around London and made our own mini pub crawl and shopping trip! London was absolutely stunning—the intricate architecture, the interesting history, the epic people-watching and the energy of the host city were incredible. I saw people from all over the world and they were all so kind. And, I must admit, I’m kind of a wannabe European (I think they are the epitome of cool) so it was fun to hear all the accents and admire the trend-setting style. The girl’s taste in fashion was questionable, though. Apparently the “I just rolled out of bed and got dressed in the dark” look is in, as well as Blossom-esque early 90s garb…yikes! I’ve never seen so many black tights with jean shorts in my life! The guys looked sharp though and dress like my brother. He is ahead of the curve!

Some of our stops were Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, J.K. Rowling’s House in Hyde Park, Tower Bridge (with the Olympic Rings!), the London Eye and Piccadilly Circus. We had a few pints at the dark and moody Bag O’Nails pub, a tapas plate and Shiraz at CafĂ© Rouge, and a sinfully delicious cupcake at the adorable Primrose Bakery. From there, we stopped by London Live at Hyde Park to watch the games on giant screens and enjoy the sunset. We were still pinching ourselves!
Early Thursday morning, we headed to beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. This was by far our favorite event! It looked like a beach had spring up in the middle of the historic royal grounds. The sun was shining and we even got a tan! In London! We saw The Netherlands vs. Latvia and No. 1 seeded Brazil vs. Italy in the men’s division, followed by Italy vs. Canada and Spain vs. Argentina in the women’s category. I don’t know how those girls do it—move that fast in that little outfit! Sheesh! The fans were AWESOME, too. We literally did the wave for an hour non-stop. The announcer was hilarious and had us all up dancing. Unfortunately, our seats for each event were next to the media and TV cameras, so our cameo appearance never happened.  It was still an incredible experience. 

No time to stop, we headed onward to Olympic Park several hours before our next event to see the state-of-the-art structures and beat the crowds. There, we ate Derek’s favorite meal of the whole trip—meat pie and mash. He’s still talking about it and wants me to make it for dinner this week!

The park was massive—vibrant hot pinks and purples were splashed all over the place, and photo ops were plentiful. We whipped out our American flag with pride! We then proceeded to take a much-needed comfort-food-induced nap on the grassy hills and were awoken by the loud roar of Great Britain fans cheering their cycling team to victory. Later that night, we caught the Great Britain vs. Spain basketball game followed by the USA vs. Nigeria game. After hearing the crazy excitement from the Brits, I was ready to get my U-S-A chant on. We met up with our fellow Visa prizewinners Justin and Nicole from Arizona and planned our patriotic revelry. The game began at 11 p.m. because it was being broadcast live in the U.S. and all of our friends back home were watching for us on TV. 

Much to our dismay, our four-man cheers were drowned out by Team Nigeria fans…really?! Just hatin’ on us because we made that game look like a walk in the park. We tried to get others to join us, to no avail.  I guess everyone was asleep, or lazy. We had a great time anyway, and witnessed Olympic history as the USA scored the most points ever in an Olympic basketball game. Boom!!! We stopped for a million photos in front of the illuminated Olympic Stadium and red crumpled up roller coaster looking statue (still not sure what that thing is!).  From there, we left with our new friends to navigate “The Tube” on the way home, cracking jokes and laughing til we cried. Justin and Nicole, you still owe us a beer! 

The next morning began with our first look inside the very impressive Olympic Stadium. It definitely gave Cowboys Stadium a run for its money! Inside was the Olympic torch, made up from torches from every participating nation. Very cool, but not as big as I thought it would be. There we watched the preliminary track and field events…no Usain Bolt this time! 

We left a bit early to meet up with one of my very best friends who flew in from Sweden to visit us! Talk about a small world! Zebine and I met in college and have remained great friends since. She is the ultimate jetsetter…moved to Sydney, Australia, where we visited her and Derek proposed, then back to her hometown in Sweden. She flew in for our wedding to be a bridesmaid and now made the trek again to hang out for the day…what a friend! We had some traditional fish and chips and watched some events at Hyde Park. We then explored the city, visited Piccadilly Circus and met a few gals from the Russian basketball team. They were discreetly shopping for souvenirs, but their seven-foot frame blew their cover. We headed to Tower Bridge and took tons of photos under the iconic rings.

Zeb headed back to the hotel to get ready for a night on the town while Derek and I stayed for a bellini at a hole in the wall bar. We then experienced the confusion of the “underground,” hopping a train for Edgwere (the city) instead of Edgware Road. Oops! Just a little two-hour mistake, but it was a nice view of the countryside.

After getting lost a few more times, we finally made it to Covent Garden to the rooftop bar at Punch and Judy. We reunited with another friend, Clarkey, who we met in Sydney and his girlfriend, Marcia, who both live outside of London. We laughed about our accents and told him about our “we don’t dial 911” policy in Texas! A trip to the ranch is definitely in store! The pub closed at midnight (lame!) so we headed to another and Derek learned the fine art of ordering a beer from a new friend. Haha. We got home at 3 a.m. after seeing the colorful people on the last train home…wow! Idiocracy is universal!

Exhausted, we rushed back to Heathrow, almost missing our flight, but not minding if we did. Our first time to Europe was unforgettable and we are now daydreaming about our next journey. Germany, Ireland, Czech Republic and Sweden are all on the list! Huge thanks to Visa for the amazing opportunity and our local coffee shop, Java Jacks, for that lucky cup of joe! Now looking forward to following the rest of the games. I love the feeling of unity across the nation and everyone coming together I’m feeling proud to be an American and was so fortunate to cheer on Team USA in person!