Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the category “Family”

Thanksgiving 2013

I’ve learned practicing gratitude is a daily practice that keeps me grounded and reminds me of what is important, but with my favorite holiday just 2 days away, I wanted to take a moment to call out some of the things I am especially grateful for this year.

2013 has been my year- I feel like I’ve finally settled into my self and the life I actually have, as opposed to thinking about what I don’t or the mistakes of the past. That’s a great feeling. Maybe it’s from turning 30 and feeling like I can leave so  much of the unsettling part of my 20s behind, or maybe it’s just because I finally get that I don’t have to know all the answers or have a 5 year plan. Whatever it is, I am most grateful this year for the calming grace that I have earned.

I’m grateful for my health- even though I may weigh more than I’d like and make a few more creaks when I get out of bed than I did a few years ago, I’ve never felt better.

I’m eternally and always grateful for my family and my friends, but as life happens around me, they become even more important. I’d be lost without them all.

The past few months as I’ve tried figuring out what’s next for me in life, I’ve realized that I work with some really remarkable people. Even when the day-to-day at work becomes annoying and stressful, the people at my workplace and the various folks I work with on a number of different projects at work are pretty awesome. They are smart, fun, and teach me so much every day ( even if it sometimes is just random youtube finds!)

This time 2 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep my house. In the middle of a separation and a money situation from hell, I was sure I would end up bankrupt and living back with my parents. I’m grateful that I was able to keep my house, learn how to budget and make sacrifices financially. As much as home ownership can be a pain in the arse sometimes, I’m grateful for the roof over my head and that I will only leave the house when it’s on my own terms, not someone else’s.

I haven’t spoken much about it on the blog because I’ve wanted to keep aspects and people in real life a bit separate from the entire interwebs, but I’m most grateful this year for finding love. The man in my life has been with me only for 8 months, but it’s the most right feeling I’ve ever had with another person- something I never thought I’d find. I finally understand all those silly love songs and my level of cheesiness and romance sometimes even makes me want to roll my eyes at myself.

Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with only the best!



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but for me, it’s about more than the food. For me, Christmas sometimes has a frenzied pace with the buying and trying to visit a lot of friends and family in two days. Thanksgiving has always felt so much more laid back without any pressure, even though I always push myself to make something new and different to bring to the table. Added to the fact that the entire day is about taking time to enjoy and savor- food, family, gratitude, and hands down it becomes the best thing of the year.

The other reason I love Thanksgiving is the traditions. Something about this holiday more than others makes me feel so connected to my family and loved ones in ways that the others don’t even come close to. The making of the Portuguese stuffing is a long held day before Thanksgiving ritual which I’ve taken part in since I was in high school. Many years it has been just me grandmother and I doing it together, others my aunt from California will join us for three generations making our famous Costa recipe. This year it will be just my aunt and I making it together since my grandma has been under the weather, but the tradition still remains.

As I’ve gotten older, some traditions like going to the high school football game have been pushed aside and others have come into the fold ( my family- immediate & extended- always play some raucous games of Cranium after the dinner). When I was growing up my grandparents were in charge of the Thanksgiving feast, but many years ago, my mom took over the duties and I became her sous chef. In the years when I lived at home, we would wake up early to prep the turkey with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in the background. My dad would make cinnamon rolls. Even though I’ve since moved into my own house, I still go over in the morning in my pajamas to help get everything ready for the big meal. I can’t imagine not being there with them to help with all the preparations.

This year I began my own new tradition of trying to find ways to give back. A year ago my marriage had ended and I was living on my own in a house I was not sure I could afford with a meager budget. Had it not been for my amazing support network of family and friends who helped in all the ways possible, I very easily could have been a person who needed assistance from strangers. While I haven’t hit the lottery, my financial situation is much healthier this year and I am so incredibly thankful for that. It’s such a small thing to do to buy $30 more in groceries to make a Thanksgiving care package for a family so they have the kind of holiday I love and always had growing up.

Regardless of whether you have a big family shindig or something small, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with gratitude & love. 


Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s a gorgeous, quiet, sunny fall Saturday morning and I am so content here enjoying it with my hot coffee and fresh Portuguese sweetbread. The sweetbread- courtesy of my awesome father- is one of the main reasons why I could never give up carbs. But I’ll save my love for all things bread for another day ( seriously, in my version of heaven it is one of the few food groups available).

Everyone knows I’m tight with my parents- my whole family really. I’ve written about them both before because my relationship with them has gotten better over time and in the past few tough years, they have been my rock.

It goes without saying that without my Dad, I would not be able to keep this house up on my own. Without him, the lawn would not get mowed ( my horrible allergies take over almost every time), the sunporch would not get scraped and painted, and a good portion of the things hung on my walls would probably have already fallen down ( as well as a piece of living room ceiling drywall). He saved my basement in the Great Flood of 2010, was the wallpaper whisperer in removing the pesky stuff in two rooms, and took care of the mouse issue on more than one occasion.

His handy and creative nature aside, our relationship has grown exponentially in the past few years. While we were always close growing up, I sought out the advice of my mom a lot in the teen years and often could not talk to my dad, but I’m so happy that that has changed. He frequently is the one with the best words of advice or wisdom for any given situation. I’ve come to see I’m so much more like him than I thought- from my particularness ( some may call it stubbornness) to our sense of humor ( he can still make me laugh like no other), I’m happy to be like him. In recent years, we both have come to grow into a new love of cooking ( and eating!) and that is something I have really come to enjoy, as well as all the hours working on the house and doing various projects together. Even writing about this all seems to fall short in trying to explain my love and gratitude for him.

He is one of the hardest working people I know- from his own business to the support he gives to our entire family on a daily basis. I worry about him constantly- something else I inherited from him since I know he worries about me and my brother too. Outsiders may think that our family is a bit too much all in each other’s business– and sometimes we are– but it’s out of a place of love and concern that I honestly feel is desperately lacking in today’s world.

My parents- neither my mom or my dad more than the other- have given so much- not just to my brother and me, but to their family, jobs, communities- that I want so much to give back to them tenfold. I know it will never be possible and that the cycle of life and family means that one day the roles will be reversed in terms of caring and nurturing. But in the mean time, we say I love you as much as we can ( something else the world needs more of today) and help each other out in the best ways we are able.

I often think of how my dad and I are today-doing house projects together- and it is the same thing I saw growing up with my grandfather and my dad at my childhood home. While the circumstances are far different, it is crazy how the more things change, the more they stay the same. And of course, I will always be Daddy’s little girl.


Sunday Rituals

This Sunday morning may be the most glorious in a long time. It is an amazing day with no humidity, sun shining, and the quiet that only seems to happen on a Sunday morning.

I’ve come to love Sunday as my favorite day of the week. It’s always a day filled with relaxation and enjoyment for me, and even when I get minor cases of the Sunday night blues because of the week ahead, I still feel so great because I have had an awesome day.

To me, there is nothing better than getting up at whatever time on a Sunday ( usually by 9AM at the latest) and enjoying my cup of coffee in my sunroom. While I usually read blogs and the news, I could just sit in the quiet with my coffee waking up and thinking about the day. The mornings are also one of the best times for me to write & be productive in organizing my thoughts.

It’s so funny to me to think back at how I was when I was younger- even just five or so years ago when I languished in the laziness on Sunday mornings- watching whatever movie was on cable or staying in my pajamas until noon time.

Sunday also has become my centering point in the week as I almost always have Sunday dinner ( really it’s lunch) with my family. I look forward to this every week not just because it means a great meal and leftovers for Monday, but it’s always the best time to spend a few hours with my parents, grandmother, brother, and whoever else comes over. We gather for food and family, laughter and love, and to enjoy each other’s company. It’s both the best way to start off a week of work and best way to end a weekend. It’s become my moment of clarity and sanity in the week, no matter how wild or crazy my family gets.

While I am fairly  religious, I have not gone to church in some time. In my opinion, my Sunday rituals are special and scared in a different way, but with the same ideals of reflection, faith, and family that seem to be lost by so many people today. I don’t think it matters where you go or how you do it, but spending time with yourself and surrounded by loved ones- whether it’s blood family or the family you make- is one of the best ways to start/end a week.

What are some of your Sunday rituals? Running errands? Church? Football? I’d love to hear them!

Post Navigation