Life By Kristen

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

Archive for the category “Random”

Secret Santa Mug Swap 2017

Thanks to the organizing efforts of San, there was another successful year of the Secret Santa Mug Swap!


Here’s the mug & a few goodies I sent to my Secret Santa, Stefanie


And here is the lovely tea mug and delightful teas I received from Erin!

It’s the perfect cozy size for a cup of tea!

Summer Fun

Happy July! It’s actually been a full month already for me and we’re only 11 days in!

With the dreadful rainy spring we had, I’m taking every opportunity to enjoy summer fun while it’s still here. Knock on wood, the weather has been delightful without a lot of humidity or super hot temperatures. Some July 4ths in the past few years have been unbearably hot, but this year was quite pleasant. I took the Monday off for a much needed extra long weekend away from work.

I’ve managed to do many things on my summer fun list- we went strawberry picking, I’ve been to the beach ( though only once), enjoyed eating outside and relaxation time by the water, and eaten lunch outside at work a couple times too. I’m excited for blueberry picking, a new open air market in my town, and am anxiously awaiting local tomatoes from my favorite farm stand.

We don’t have any vacation plans quite yet, but are hoping to make it over to Martha’s Vineyard to see Q’s family at least for the day in August. I’d like to take a vacation in September, since that month has turned into more of a summer month than fall around these parts the past few years. With kids back in school and life quieted down a bit, I think traveling in September is more our speed too.

Hope your July is filled with plenty of lazy days enjoying a good book, watermelon, and sunshine!

Bristol, RI

Middle of March Mayhem

March Madness has a whole different meaning to me in my particular slice of the museum world.

March is a busy month for me– has been for the past 8 years as it’s the month before the museum I work at comes out of its winter hibernation and gets ready to open in April. Every March feels frantic, goes by in a quick flash, and leaves me tired and living for the weekends. Yesterday alone, I did 11,635 steps just walking around the museum with various tasks, meeting up with contractors/conservators/mountmakers, etc!

This pace of life makes time go by quickly, though the phrase “the days are long, but the years are short” definitely ring true for me this time of year as my level of tiredness grows with 8-hour + days, particularly in the 2 weeks right before opening. It’s become a ritual of life, though one I’m eager to break out of, either in thinking about new things for the future, or just finding a better, less frantic way of doing the same March tasks every year. But every year is different with construction projects, weather delays/cancellations, delivery issues, and so on. I’ve learned to problem solve, be creative, and go with the flow. If anything, my career working in a museum and at a public site has made me more flexible and realize I little control over each day.


Loving Lately in February

Hoopla– As a big consumer of audio books, I really enjoy the Hoopla app, available for free from my public library. There is a huge library of audiobooks to choose from, and unlike Overdrive ( also free from library), you don’t have to wait for the digital audio files to become available. There are also ebooks, music, and movies– only catch is there is a 5 checkouts per month limit. This isn’t a huge issue for me as an average audio book of anywhere between 8-10 hours usually takes me about a week to go through on my commute.

Nutpods- February was the month of Whole30 and I did not want to give up my coffee, but I really dislike coffee black. I knew I could do it without sugar, but needed something to cut the acid a bit. Regular unsweetened, unflavored almond milk was too nutty for me, and I’m not a huge fan of coconut flavor. In doing research for Whole30, I discovered Nutpods, which is a mix of unsweetened almond and coconut milk. It comes in flavors like hazelnut or French vanilla, but I’m not a flavored coffee fan either. I think Nutpods is just enough to take the bite out of the coffee that I need. I’ll continue using these instead of cream in my regular coffee even after Whole30.

Sweet potatoes ( preferably cut up and roasted).

Diffusing essential oils- lately my favorite has been a combination of lavender and peppermint.

The Department of Interior’s Instagram. I think all future vacations will always involve a new national park.

This quote:


via wearsoulsparks instagram



Life in January

I once told a friend that January is meant for sweatpants and hibernating. And while I generally still believe this, this January has been going along at at such a quick pace, there hasn’t been a lot of hibernating!

I’m fresh off a much needed 4 day weekend– even though with holidays and other happenings in life I haven’t had a full work week since before Christmas, my day job has just been frantically busy, a feeling I dislike and goes against the pace of this time of year, in my opinion. There are a lot of changes happening, including a huge one in the leadership of the organization, that have all of us worker bees in the middle just going along each day doing our work until someone tells us something different! It’s an odd feeling to know change is happening, but that nothing is happening at the same time. Supremely cautious optimism is the name of the game these days.

18 days into the new year and I feel like I’m doing well with my goal of ‘wellness.’ I walk on the treadmill most nights for at least a half hour, plus my once a week yoga class. On my extra long weekend I did a ton of cooking for lunches and dinners, plus planned out new recipes to try out.

One new habit that I’m loving– listening to podcasts while chopping, cooking, and doing housework. It’s totally transformed what was previously some of my least favorite chores into something to look forward to a bit. I’m currently loving I Feel Better, Pop Culture Happy Hour,  Stuff You Missed in History Class, Modern Love, and You Must Remember This. I’m listening to podcasts just as much as audio books on my commute now too, so I’d love any recommendations! Points if the podcast is around 40ish minutes, my usual commute time!

Another new thing I love- the Hoopla app from my local library. Unlike their Overdrive option ( which is also great), you don’t have to wait in line for a title on Hoopla for audio books, though the selection is more limited than Overdrive. They also have e books, music, and videos available for rent. You can only rent a certain amount of titles per month, but since I average about 2-3 audio books a month for the commute, it works perfectly for me.

The 4 day weekend and some solo TV time gave me some uninterrupted time to watch Bright Lights, the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds documentary that was more uplifting about family relationships than the sadness I thought it was going to be. Also caught Weiner, about NY politician Anthony Weiner, which was fascinating/disturbing/interesting all at the same time. I recommend both!

How is your January going?

Secret Santa Mug Swap


Normally, I wouldn’t be up for adding more ‘stuff’ to life, but this one was too good to pass up! San had a great idea for a holiday gift giving between bloggers with a mug swap.

I sent this lovely mug to Maegan in California.


And I received this amazing one from San! Along with some flavored coffees that we’ll be trying. I’m a fan of its size- -and so is Q, as he keeps using it for his regular cup on the weekend!


La Salette Shrine Christmas Festival

If you live in New England, you’ve likely heard ( and visited!) La Salette Shrine.

It’s a Catholic shrine, church, retreat center,and more, but at Christmas they are famous for their Christmas light displays that highlight the Christmas story and Catholic faith. It’s incredibly popular, maybe because it’s free and who doesn’t love Christmas lights!?!?


Their first night is always the evening of Thanksgiving. Growing up, La Salette was usually an annual tradition not only for my family, but frequently for my church youth group and CCD classes. It’s located only about half hour or so from where I grew up, making it an easy ride to enjoy some Christmas spirit.

This past Saturday, Q, Little Man and I joined Q’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece at La Salette. It was my first visit in probably 8 or so years, as we went as a family with my exhusband before we were married.

As many times as I have been there, I had never been there for when the lights were turned on, but since we wanted to try to beat the traffic that often piles up for miles on the one road in/out of the shrine, we went early. There is a nightly prayer and reminder of the ‘reason for the season’ and some reflection by the priest. When he flipped the switch, everyone cheered.

Maybe it was because I was feeling sentimental about now being at La Salette with my own family, or because I was already feeling emotional about my Dad, but being there on Saturday felt calming and peaceful in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Maybe it was being there for the prayer and saying the Our Father and Hail Mary with other people aloud. Whatever it was, it helped me feel at ease when I really needed it.

I’m sure a huge part of La Salette’s appeal is just the sheer amount of lights and decorations, plus it’s free, so it’s something fun to do for families, no matter the age or religion. Or maybe it’s that people feel the need to connect with their spirituality in this somewhat passive way, instead of going to a church. I can only speculate on the reasons, but for me, it was a special night that lifted my spirits and got me excited for the Christmas season.

On My Soapbox: Vote!

November is going to busy with work happenings and rethinking how I’m using the blog, but need to take a moment to get on my soapbox.

I don’t care what you believe, who you support, or who you vote for, just go and vote. You don’t get to complain as much about what happens if you don’t vote (only half kidding).


Little Man literally fist pumped the air exclaiming “Yes!” when Q and I told him we were going to early vote as a family last Saturday. Even an 8 year old realizes how important it is to exercise your right to have an opinion on who represents us in the government.

Also, whether you like her or not, or plan to vote for her or not, it’s amazing that we FINALLY have a woman nominated as a major political party final candidate for president.

And if you think that’s not a big deal either, I dare you to not be moved by some of the stories of these women on the site

Katherine might be my favorite ( and looks AMAZING for 102).


Random Musings

Random musings lately…

-I begin my commute a little before 7am each week day. I see a TON of people on the phone when they’re driving. Who the heck are they talking with? I can barely get my mind together before coffee in the morning and relish my quiet time in the car to wake up my mind. If someone wanted to call to chat that early, I’d ignore them!

-Do you ever think about clothes/accessories you no longer have but loved dearly? I’ve been thinking about that lately as I’m going through the arduous process of cleaning out closets and getting rid of stuff. Mostly it’s shoes that I miss, though there are a handful of pieces of clothing I think about longingly ( though they wouldn’t fit!)

– I sometimes daydream about jobs that seemingly have no stress or worry– does such a thing exist? I think I have a pretty decent work-life balance, but I still find myself dreaming about work or worrying about it after hours, especially on Sunday nights. I think back to my days in retail or some of my student worker jobs through the years, and try to remember if I had stress related to them or not.

– We bought a new car ( an SUV!) about 2 weeks ago ( like only 25 miles on it at the time- new) and I’m still getting used to it. Every time I get in it, I wonder if people think I’m a soccer mom or something (nope, just wanted something better for the winter).

-I’ve said it so many times, but I dislike Halloween. Last year we had Little Man for it so it was fun to see his excitement, but overall it’s kind of annoying to me. Despite this, I bought a pair of Halloween socks to have some sort of festive excitement. I should probably pick up some candy for the 15 or so kids who come to my house so we don’t get egged again ( yep, that happened!)




It’s August!

I was thinking I’d write it’s been a rough few weeks, but then thinking about it, it really hasn’t… I’m just in the lazy, popsicle-eating, lounging and reading days of summer.

I like the summer, but am more partial to the early days and nights of the season than the afternoons. I have come to detest the thick humidity which seems to become worse every summer- I don’t know how people in the South live like this. Our house is small so we do fairly well with two window ACs, but we are thinking about installing a ductless AC in our front room for next summer– gosh, I’m such a suburban homeowner.

Life-wise, it’s hard to believe that school starts in a few weeks for Little Man. He is headed to the second grade and is quite excited about all the new math he’s going to learn ( his favorite subject) and a little nervous about the reading, which we’re trying to work on with him whenever we can.

Work has been busier than usual this summer, both at the museum and with my fun writing projects. That’s also increased my indoor time more than I’d like, but I’m hopeful for a warm September that can lead to more dinners outside, lounging on the swing in the backyard, and enjoying walks on the beach.

We’re making slow progress on the backyard re-do– I think we have finally tackled all the ants, though now the yard has been taken over by heat-living, drought resistant weeds that give us a false sense of hope and make our lawn look greener than it actually is! Once the hot, humid, thick weather leaves us ( hopefully soon!), we’ve got someone finally coming to paint our fence, a task I did once with my father when I bought the house 7 years ago, and have no interest in doing again.

I’ve got the furniture donation people coming this weekend to get a bunch of random furniture from the basement, something that even though I don’t look at all the time was stressing me out. I’ve held onto a lot of things for the ‘what ifs?’ of life, and am realizing that it’s more annoying to keep it there than its worth. Even if we never move from this house, I want it to be a better space for our family.

Exciting things coming up soon: day off on Friday and a massage, my Mom’s birthday, standup paddleboarding with work friends (finally!), an adventure with Little Man and Q, and trying some new restaurants with Q.

Hoping you’re enjoying the dog days of summer too!

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