Things to Come

Like everyone else who lives in a climate that experiences all four seasons, including cold and snow, I have cabin fever. As my boss and I laughed about today, we are painfully optimistic in our current outerwear choices. Spring can come as soon as it likes! The signs of future warm weather are all around. The grass has gone from brown to mostly green and my tulips are getting a little bigger each day. After the harshness of winter, spring is such a welcome reminder of renewed life and things to come.

Yesterday Austin and I celebrated our engagement-a-versary and wow…so much has happened! Life has not gone anywhere how I expected, but without surprises there would be no adventure. I love going on adventures and traveling to new places, but getting to my destination is usually the most tiring and exasperating part. I have found that is pretty much how life goes too. However, once I make it to my destination the difficulty or craziness of travel looses much of its potency. This doesn’t necessarily make the journey any easier, but it certainly makes you appreciate where you are at more.

Three years ago as I stood out in the sunshine as Austin proposed, I could not have imagined my perfect little house next to an outlet center that I avoid shopping at because Austin and I are being very intentional about our spending. I could not have imagined our fun neighbors that deliver veggies from their garden in the summer, the ugly basement centipedes that Austin has waged war against, all the ups and downs of employment for both Austin and I, or the new ladies that my brothers would introduce to the family (sisters? maybe???).

I have no idea where life is headed this year, but I am excited to see where we end up. Regardless of the journey, I have to say I have the best travel partners. One knows where we are headed and the other is a constant reminder of the exciting things that are bound to lie ahead.

For such a time as this – Krista.

Scars, Scarves and Love

Today is the sixth year anniversary of my cancer free diagnosis. Life is always moving forward and whether we like it or not, we have to move forward too. It’s the natural rhythm of life. However, I am thankful for memories that allow us to celebrate the good and overcoming the bad in life. A memory that came to the forefront of my mind this year is a fashion I sported after my first cancer surgery. Being that I had a rather large circular wound on my head (and bald spot) I began wearing scarves over the hideous area. I do believe I owe this fashion statement to my mom, who was creatively trying to come up with a solution that made me feel somewhat normal when out in public. My love of scarves blossomed at the cancer center in Texas and has only continued to grow. I now have quite a collection that I enjoy using to spruce up outfits. Little did I know I was starting a trend. Fashion scarves now litter the stores. It must have been my influence!

I could not have survived my cancer days without my mom (thanks mom, you rock!), but I also was filled with the strength of family, friends and strangers that God continually put in my path. His love was constantly beaming in people around me. When you feel God tugging at your heart and pushing you do something, go for it. I bet you will bless someone in the process even if you never know.

After my surgeries I was self conscious about my large scars, but a good friend gave me some wonderful words of advice – the right people will love you all the more for them. He was right. I still don’t show off my bald spots, but I’m learning to be loved and show love each day.  Here’s to another year of scars, scarves and love.

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Photo Credit: my patient husband

 

 

 

New York, New York

At the beginning of December I took a quick trip to NYC to enjoy the holiday decorations and a fun girls weekend. We decided to stay on the Upper West Side at the West Townhouse. If you are looking for a non-hotel experience, I highly recommend! Each of our rooms featured a full NY sized kitchen which worked out well for a quick breakfast. Being a very busy time of the year , I appreciated being able to retreat back to a quite part of town at the end of the day. Our hosts were very accommodating and gave us great tips for navigating around the city. We were positioned 2 blocks from Central Park and were surrounded by grocery stores, coffee shops and quaint restaurants.

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Ice skating in Rockefeller Center is an iconic winter scene. Yet, many may not realize there are multiple ice rinks around the city and the the one at Rockefeller Center is the smallest and by far the busiest.  So, we stopped at the one in Central Park and the view was everything I had expected and more.

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The lights, colors and vibe of the city during the holidays is a true experience.  While crazy busy, the festiveness of the people and the beauty of the city makes New York a truly magical at the holidays.

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We decided to take a walking tour of the holiday windows.  At first we were a little skeptical thinking that having a guide wouldn’t provide that much benefit, but by the end of all 30 blocks we sure were glad.  We would have gotten so lost, especially as we were fighting the masses around Times Square.  My favorite windows were at the end of the tour at Bergdorf Goodman.  I also enjoyed the interactive windows featuring a break dancer and ice skater who made an appearance every hour. We stopped for dinner at Patsy’s Pizza and enjoyed a delicious pepperoni pizza that rivaled my memories of Lombardi’s pizza from my last visit.

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When in New York, you have to go to Broadway! We saw You Can’t Take it With You and Love Letters, I enjoyed and would recommend both. Though, the theaters were definitely not made for long legs. Walking through Times Square after the shows reminded me of Frank Sinatra’s lyrics of a city that never sleeps. Between the lights and the crowds, you forget about the fact that is quickly nearing midnight. We stopped for cheesecake at Juniors, along with multiple other theater goers. It was insanely busy, but continuing the tradition of after show cheesecake was certainly worth it. As we were waiting for a seat, we marveled at the sheer number of people crammed into the little restaurant and the size of the dinners they were eating. Everyone wants a 6″ high sandwich on rye with fries at 11:30, right? Ugh…we didn’t even finish our cheesecake pieces. Uber proved to be a great way to get home after a show, especially with the soppy weather outside. If you aren’t sure how to hail a taxi, put the Uber app on your phone and let it do the work for you.

There were multiple Christmas markets around town, all of which were fun to browse.  The very wet weather kept up from visiting some of the outdoor markets, so we made a stop at one of my favorite places in New York – Chelsea Market. Apparently everyone else had the same idea we did on that rainy day, but we squeezed through the masses like every other hot spot in NYC. We browsed multiple local food spots from Farm to Table to mini donuts. Shopping was of course mixed in to food browsing and I scored 40% off the sale racks at Anthropologie! We dodged in and out of Ugg Australia and Sorel on our way to a coffee shop across the street. To all NYC goers, I recommend taking coffee or cafe breaks during your visit. There is so much to see and do that just taking a few minutes to sit, people watch and process is a great way to enjoy the city, yet so easily missed. It’s also a great opportunity to charge your phone.

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The sun finally came out on our last day. We walked across Central Park to the Met, where we joined a group of ladies and one brave male tour guide for a three hour jaunt through the museum. Despite being exhausted at the end of the tour (note to self – take walking tours at the beginning of the trip next time), it was fantastic way to get a good overview of such a vast museum and I learned so much more than I would have on my own. The tour was hosted by Walks of New York and I give them an A+ for experience. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, extensively traveled and even provided our group of over a dozen ladies with a chocolate break mid tour. It’s hard to make museum’s a priority when in New York, but if you have more than a weekend, definitely consider it.

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The airplane back home usually carries one exhausted Krista, but I can’t wait to visit again!

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Less is Best – Step 1

As I was brainstorming ideas on how to reduce spending, I opened my email and realized the unnecessary temptation I was exposing myself too.  Daily I was receiving dozens of marketing emails from a variety of my favorite stores. Most of them I originally signed up for to get an extra discount or to stay abreast of sales.  However, this constant onslaught of “great deal” emails was only inspiring me to browse countless pages of items I didn’t really need.  Now, I will say that I’m not a very compulsive buyer.  Most of my purchases require a careful contemplation and this is a tremendous tool! The problem is, justification can quickly masquerade as need and deceive a careful spender, particularly when deep discounts are available (which is exactly what marketers want you to believe).  Plus, I was only opening about 10% of the marketing emails.  What a waste of time to have to sit and delete that junk out of my email inbox.  So! I started unsubscribing from all but a few newsletters that pertain to local, natural grocery stores and my favorite coupon blog.

Finding a great deal is one of my favorite challenges, but it is time to find a new way to challenge myself when it comes to clothes and house decor. My new challenge will be finding inspiration on Pinterest for outfits out of my amazing closet full of clothes and house decor (and maybe even gifts) out of the variety of crafting supplies in my basement. Next time you open your email and start to click on that ad from Pottery Barn, ask yourself – what can I find contentment and joy in that I already have?

Meat!


Cancer changed my perspective on food and one of the health changes I continue to embrace is buying hormone and antibiotic free chicken and beef.  Understandably, this meat is a bit more expensive than the average grocery store options. However, a freezer plus sales make buying “healthy” meat affordable.  So the first question is, where does one find this meat?  Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Earth Fare, Fresh Market and Lucky’s Market are all local examples of chain stores that have hormone free meat options.

My two top spots for meat deals are Fresh Market and Lucky’s Market.  Fresh Market runs a different sale each month on Tuesdays ONLY.  The month of January features $2.99 (per pound) Tuesdays for chicken and beef.  What I love about Fresh Market is their friendly meat department staff will wrap my meat into whatever portions I need (which is usually 1lb.).  When I get home, all I have to do is pull out what I want to use that week and toss the rest into my freezer.  Done!

Lucky’s Market has plain ridiculous deals. Their sales run from Wednesday to Wednesday and every Wednesday is double ad day so you get the sales from the week prior and the week to come!  Be warned, it gets quite busy.  I’ve seen Lucky’s run sales on chicken and beef for right around $1.99 per lb. For hormone free, they definitely win the best deal award.

All of these stores, while naturally focused, sell a variety of items so always read the labels to ensure your food is more than a cool looking package. I’ve signed up to receive weekly emails from Fresh Market, Lucky’s and Earth Fare so that I can stay on top of sales.

Going and Coming – A New Year

2014 was a full year and in ways I am sorry to say goodbye. Nonetheless, I am enjoying my banister adorned with Christmas cards and the year-end reviews of friends and family. In a world of incredible technology, I’m thankful for certain age-old traditions.

Our house is coming along, as is my list of ideas for house projects (thanks, Pinterest…). I still find myself meandering around the house holding picture frames up to the walls and finding new purposes for aged objects in our storage room. I also find myself stopping mid-stairs and thinking….we have stairs, and a basement and how thankful I am for God’s provision. Life is by no means perfect, but there is always an opportunity to be grateful.

2015 will be year of frugality for my home. I’m not sure what this year will bring. A couple of months ago I would have told you that 2015 would bring a new career move for me. Instead, it brings a new career for Austin. I also would have told you that it would involve a puppy, but instead I think I’ll just borrow someone else’s pooch when I want to go to the park.

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions, but this year I decided to choose a word to encompass the year. This a tradition that my vivacious grandma has followed every year. For 2015 she picked the word “tune”, she wants to be more in tune with people around her. I picked the word “touch”. How can I touch others, new experiences, places, old treasures…? Austin picked the word “growth”. Life sure has a strange way about it. He is embracing his word without a doubt.

Together, Austin and I decided to make 2015 a year of spending less and enjoying what’s around us more. We originally made the decision not because we couldn’t spend, but because we both feel like we completely missed last summer. Instead of traveling and shopping (both of which I LOVE to do), we are going to make it a year of pool side dates, backyard marshmallow roasts, hikes through the park, splashing in the sprinklers with an adorable niece and enjoying the “everyday”.

This year, I’m going to try and remind myself that less is best.

A New Years Prayer

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen

By Rev. Bill Graham

© 2008 Saturday Evening Post Society.

I Can’t Unlove You

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I came across this phrase recently and it is stuck in my head like a post-it note. I keep looking at it, as my mind turns over its multiple connotations. OneRepublic’s catchy song, Love Runs Out, would disagree greatly with this statement. Yet, a blissfully enchanted lover might use this phrase to demonstrate the epitome of their devotion. Four words, yet such different viewpoints.

This week Austin and I are celebrating our two year anniversary and as a happily married wife, I must admit that my love has grown for my husband since we said “I do”. Thus, I fall into the category of blissfully enchanted lover. I think I find myself staring at the phrase above because I don’t want to unlove my husband. This phrase is a reminder that there must always be forgiveness and patience in any relationship. Also, It is a kind of reassurance to my lover that all of the days we have spent together, loving each other, mean more than dirty dishes, forgotten trash cans and the other annoyances that come from having a neat freak wife. It’s like saying, “I will always love you because I’ve committed my heart to you and I am not going to let outside things take that away.” It’s both a promise to my husband and a challenge for me.

As OneRepublic’s peppy song makes its rounds on the radio, it sends a message of passionate yet shallow love. It says, “I’ll commit to you until I don’t feel the love anymore.” The harsh truth is that we can’t truly unlove someone once we’ve given part of our heart to them. That part of us will forever be gone, you can’t just take your heart back to Cupid and ask for an exchange. However, pain has the ability to mask love. I look at the broken relationships around me and I see a hurt that comes and says “I will unlove you.” The heart wrenching formation of those four words is often the beginning of the building of a brick wall encasing the memory of what once was. As the mud is slung brick by brick, the love disappears from sight.

Unfortunately, emotional love it so prevalent it in our culture today. I am continually grateful for the example of messy, mutual, rock climbing love that is exemplified in amazing couples that I am blessed to call friends and family. My grandparents committed to an “I Can’t Unlove You” relationship over 55 years ago and pray that Austin and I will share that same kind of relationship for the rest of our life together.

Today, if you have found your lifetime lover, commit to them with an “I Can’t Unlove You” relationship and let’s show the world what true love should look like.

Closet Exploration

photoWith the beginning of a new job I have been exercising and exploring my closet.  Determination, sweaters and the right shoes can result in a lot of fun, new outfits.  Local consignment shopping with a friend and scoring 80% off jewelry (Kohls…) helps too.
Pinterest has a lot of outfit ideas, no surprise.  However, utilizing these ideas is key.  I pin outfits that I can create with clothes that I already own.  On occasion I see outfits that I have 75% of and keep an eye out for the remaining sweater, skirt, scarf, etc.  This helps me control my spending as well as utilize my closet to its fullest potential.  My mom and I also have a motto when shopping – if you don’t love it, don’t buy it.  Why fill your closet with things that you kind of like instead of waiting for items that you know you’ll wear over and over?  The self restraint that goes along with this mindset is hard, but it is possible.  Give it a try!Here’s my Pinterest Board for office attire – http://www.pinterest.com/kreatedbykrista/office-style/