Life By Kristen

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

Archive for the category “Random”

The Liebster Award

Nominated by San, the Liebster Award means “loveliest” or “most favorite.”



The rules are pretty simple. You’ve probably seen blog awards go around on the internet – in one form or another. I love learning things about others + it’s fun when I have prompts from others to answer so here we go.

  1. Answer the questions that the blogger picked out for you, then come up with 11 questions that you like to have answered.
  2. Choose 2-11 people for the award and link to their blogs in your post.
  3. Go to their blog and tell them about the award nomination!
  4. No tag backs!

1. What is your favorite beauty product? Mascara. I think I have small eyes so I wear it almost every day.
2. If you could pick any place/city to move to for a year, where would you want to go?  English countryside. I have never been outside of London, but I think the quiet and village atmosphere would be lovely for a year.
3. What is the one thing you like best about your home? The sunroom, AKA my happy place. I love the warmth during the day in the winter and the cool breezes on a summer night. It’s the perfect spot for reading, napping, or lounging.
4. What are your favorite pair of shoes? Clarks brown leather booties with a low heel- I’ve now reached the age where comfort often trumps style, but these shoes are both!
5. What is your favorite travel destination? Somewhere I’ve never been before! I love finding new places to explore.
6. If you could have one do-over, what would it be?  I would not have gotten married. Even though the divorce led me to a new understanding of myself and what I wanted from life and brought me to Q, I definitely would take a do-over on that.
7. What is something you are currently struggling with? Next steps in life and career!
8. Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Breakfast. Give me some pancakes or French toast over anything else!
9. Who is your celebrity girl crush? Melissa McCarthy
10. Why did you start blogging? Writing was the only way that I was able to make sense of all the emotions and issues that were happening in life back in 2010-2011. Blogging was a huge part of bringing me back to the true me and connected me with some truly amazing people who helped me on my journey.
11. Tell me about one of your plans for this summer. I’m looking forward to going blueberry picking- I forget every year how much more amazing local fruit tastes! Hoping to have a freezer filled with local blueberries to enjoy well after the season is done.


I nominate: Gina and Alycia!

Here are the questions:

  1. What’s your favorite time of day?
  2. What modern technology could you not live without?
  3. What was your favorite cartoon as a child?
  4. Who do you call when you need a listening ear?
  5. What’s the worst vacation you ever took?
  6. Is there any place in the world you would never travel to?
  7. What’s your least favorite household chore?
  8. What celebrity awards show would you most like to attend?
  9. Are you allergic to anything?
  10. What was the last movie you watched?
  11. If time/money/education were not a concern, what would you really be doing for work/career?

Currently- April

Currently recovering from a crazed month of March at work, especially the last few weeks of installing an exhibit.

Thinking about sanity, day jobs, interests, and money.

Loving more sunlight each day

Loathing the lack of spring weather– I think it’s becoming less of a season each year




So Long February

Even though this month brought some serious stress related to my day job, it was overall a good month.

Lots of relaxation time with Little Man and Q. A long weekend of much needed hibernation. Reading, coloring, and kitchen accomplishments. My taxes are done. The Walking Dead came back on and we started finally watching The Americans.

This month, my main goal was to do a spending fast, which was 90% successful. I didn’t buy any clothes or things for the house, but because of some wonky work weeks, we ended up eating out more than I wanted. Now this doesn’t come from my personal budget as food is mostly Q’s responsibility in the breakdown of our shared funds, but we both realized a few weekends that we had barely eaten anything from our own house. It’s good to be aware of it and I think it would have happened even if we did plan better with meals since the extra takeout or restaurant stops came because of schedule woes with both of our jobs.

The food and supply spending came from a much overdue trip to BJs for all the bulk buying, which will save us some cash in the long run ( and frustration since I hate running out of or rushing to buy toilet paper). Our food buying was way over budget because what has long been my regular market has increasingly become my least favorite place to shop as they never seem to have the sale items or other important things in stock. This meant I went to the market more often to get the things we needed and went to multiple spots. This may be my biggest pet peeve.

Other achievements include a long overdue, much needed deep cleaning of various spots around the house, which isn’t completely done yet, but I’m already feeling better about the cleanliness of our space.

What’s on tap for March? More cleaning, more tracking of spending and working towards paying down debt. Thinking about buying a car. Some birthday pampering. My main goal is to purge basement items- furniture, long ago used computers and electronics, and house supplies. Some of it’s a long overdue declutter, but mostly it’s just cleaning and organizing that I’ve been avoiding!

Happy Leap Day and welcome March!

A Pencil Memory


I love writing with mechanical pencils and have a few nice ones I rotate between in my professional life. Today, I was rushing to a meeting and forgot my pencil so went into the supply closet and grabbed this one quickly.

Photo 1

It brought back the strangest memory to me: my organ teacher Judy.

Yes, I played the organ from second through fifth grades. Unlike other kids who took piano, I learned how to play the organ because my grandmother had one, previously played by my aunt. I’ll have to dig out a photo of it some time. I also think part of me loved even then that I was a bit different, and playing the organ definitely was not a typical 8 year old musical choice.

In any case, I loved it. I took lessons at The Melody Shoppe in the town next to me, a business run by “The Polish Princess,” this woman who was famed in the organ musical world and was a Liberace tribute artist. In the back of the store she owned, there was a grand piano (it might have been baby blue) and lots of glitzy trimmings, a red plush carpet, and various organs and keyboards for purchase. There were small lesson rooms around the store.

In my few years taking lessons there I had the same teacher- Judy. I can’t remember her last name, but she ALWAYS ALWAYS had one of these mechanical pencils. She would make notes in my music books about places to speed up or slow down, areas to concentrate on, and after I successfully completed a piece, she would write praise/comments and the date. She had perfect cursive penmanship with this mechanical pencil. I remember her long, skinny fingers would always grip the pencil so tightly that she frequently broke the pencil tip and would ever so carefully spin the pencil top to get more lead out.

It may have been the early 90s when I was taking lessons, but Judy dressed like she was stuck in the late 70s. She wore shades of tan, orange, and reds all the time, lots of tunics and bell-bottoms. She had a wardrobe uniform before it was trendy. She wore the same brown shoes no matter the season or weather. Her brownish hair was sort of that 1970s pageboy style and she had big, wideframed oval glasses. I think at the time I thought she was probably ancient, but thinking about it now, she was probably in the same age range as my parents. She liked hymns and traditional church music ( I guess because that’s usually where one hears an organ); one of the first tunes I played  ( and still remember to this day) is “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” When I got to the point with a song that we added in the background music, I remember she always like “bossa nova.”

I don’t remember much else about Judy– I’m even questioning if that was her name now that I’m trying to bring back the memories. What I do remember was how kind she was to me– as a perfectionist and Type A personality even as an 8 year old, I was often hard on myself for not getting the right notes or screwing up the tempo. She didn’t give me stickers or stroke my ego, but she helped me a long and praised me when I needed it. Playing the organ and having weekly lessons gave me an early experience with discipline and practice; it also taught me to read music a few years before my peers, which was helpful later on as I explored other musical opportunities.

I stopped playing the organ in the fifth grade when I took up the French Horn ( another story for another day!) For a few Christmases, we would take out my keyboard for my aunt and I to play some “greatest hits” on, but for the most part, I can’t remember many tunes from my organ playing days.

And all this from a pencil.



Pet Peeves, Revisited

A couple of years ago, I posted about my pet peeves. These have not changed. Here are a few more though! I’m not bitter or mad at the world, but a few of these happened within the last day, so are fresh on my mind.

Not moving close to center of road to take a left hand turn

This could really just be a thing in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where the lack of consideration for your fellow drivers seems to be at an all-time high lately. This especially bothers me at busy intersections where there is no left turn lane and not moving closer to center of road makes it virtually impossible for people to pass you to go straight. Yes, I know passing on the right is technically not a thing to do, but if the road is so wide and the traffic is piling up, this is what that extra room is there for, especially at busy intersections. Also, trying to take a left turn while practically on the edge of the right side is just dangerous for everyone involved!

Personal cellphone conversations in waiting areas

I was waiting for my oil change on Saturday morning and a guy comes in and sits beside me, along with about 3 other people waiting. He gets a phone call shortly thereafter and proceeds to talk very loudly about his sister-in-law’s restraining order against his brother, all about her being angry at men, and so on. Please, go outside.

Duplication of work and micro-managing

Well these are actually two, but related. I’ll just leave them here because well, work.

Reply All Emails

There are very few occasions when this is actually needed. I would like to send every ‘sure’ ‘OK’ or ‘fine by me’ reply-all email to whoever invented this function because it drives me nuts on a daily basis, multiple times a day. Same with reply-all on listservs or email lists “me too!”

Life Lately

January is made for hibernation and while only 13 days in, my January has a lot going on. I miss the long winter breaks in college where I could spend almost an entire month watching movies and reading all day.

I’ll get some of that hibernation this coming long weekend, though the actual weekend has a fair number of things I’d like to accomplish around the house. I’m very much looking forward to my day off on Monday– Q is working so I’ll get a day to myself. As much as I love my partner, it’s also quite lovely to get a lazy day alone with a good book and total TV control. It really is the small things in life!

Otherwise, my day job is ramping up to my busiest time of year as we prepare for another exhibition and my freelance work is even taking off a bit more so I’m really working to find the right balance of work and free time to do other work, as well as still have time for other adulting things, exercise, and time with Q. After a long day at work yesterday, going to the market after work, and then a number of things that had to get done at the house after that, I didn’t sit down until 830 and practically fell asleep drinking my cup of tea.

Things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: how to find time to work on my book ideas when I’m writing “about pages” and copy for websites and thinking about my day job well past the end of the work day; trying to find more things to declutter and make our small-ish home work better for us; dreaming of having a personal chef and housecleaner; babies.

Of course if I hit the Powerball, everything will change! Ha.

Happy New Year!

May your 2016 be filled with happiness, good health, and love!


Tuesday Brain Dump

A few weeks ago I sat down and organized a calendar of topics and post ideas for the rest of the year. And then I proceeded to ignore it. Well, not ignore as much as acknowledge its presence in my planner and then proceed to go onto something else.

I feel like I’m going in a few different directions lately, but mostly I’ve been spending A LOT of time feverishly writing in my personal journal trying to work through the noise in my head. For that, you get this rambling, brain dump of a post.

We had Little Man over the weekend and it was a tough one. He’ll be 7 next week and it’s clear we’re moving into the stage of his childhood where he is starting to learn where the limits are- as in, how far can he go/what can he do before he gets called on it or is told to stop. Or the limit to which he can stretch bedtime or getting snacks, and so on. It was a weekend of testing limits and him stretching/learning to be defiant and outspoken. In some ways, I see this as a good step in his development, but gosh, there were definitely some tough moments of patience testing. I continue to struggle with my role as adult/friend/bonus mom and how he and I interact. It’s tough for both Q and I since we are not in control over much of anything when he is with his mother. We haven’t reached the “I don’t do that at Mom’s” or “Mommy lets me do this,” but I can see they are on the horizon. I’m practicing my best responses and hoping “because I said so” is not our default answer.

Other things swirling around in my universe are thinking about cars, home, and career. Being a one-car family now ( Q has a work truck for during the week), I think more about our transportation and logistics than ever before– sometimes it’s annoying and exhausting trying to figure out the musical chairs of drop offs/pick ups and so on. We’re contemplating another car just to have for emergencies and weekends, as well as the option of sticking it out with just one car longer, but getting a newer car, as mine has over 160k in miles and is almost 8 years old. Adult decisions like this make my head hurt.

As far as home goes, I’m trying to plan a few things for the house update-wise, all the while thinking about maybe upgrading a bit and moving on to a slightly bigger space. All I want is another bathroom and wee more counter space, maybe a third bedroom for my own office/reading/painting space. But the thought of cleaning a larger space makes my head hurt. We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV Tiny Houses and daydreaming about that. It’s not possible for us at this stage of life, but maybe someday I could live in one.

Other random things that are going on range from friends having babies, family health things, and general life to dos that I’m procrastinating about. My to do list has everything from “buy lawn bags” to “make a budget to get rid of student loans.” The last one really is comical!


Cary Grant



I’m listening to Rob Lowe’s book Stories I Only Tell My Friends on my commute and Lowe tells a funny story about going to Grant’s house during the time he dated Grant’s daughter with Dyan Cannon, Jennifer Grant. It involved Cary Grant giving Rob Lowe a case of soap on the rope and was quite funny. Hearing this story reminded me of how much I like Cary Grant’s movies and am passing on my admiration for him to you. I was born in the wrong decade when it comes to pop culture interests, because as with so much of my life, my love for movies of the past is definitely far greater than anything made recently. If I could invite a group of celebrities, dead or alive, to a dinner party, I would most definitely have Cary Grant on the guest list.

If you’ve never seen Cary Grant in one of his many classic Hollywood films, you’re missing out. Run over to Netflix where you can stream a few of his films, including Charade, with Audrey Hepburn, which is quite good.

To me, Cary Grant is the epitome of Hollywood at its best- good looking, well-rounded actor with a long career and perhaps the most handsome looks around. He starred in some of the biggest, most well-known movies in the 30s and 40s. He was the ultimate leading man.

Favorites of mine include: North by Northwest, The Philadelphia Story, To Catch a Thief, and Bringing Up Baby. But nothing compares to his amazing performance in An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr. Seriously one of the best films of all time.














Image source

September= Feelings

A new month and one filled with a lot of feelings.

Dad’s birthday.

My mom moving.

My childhood house empty and waiting for a new family to love it.

Little Man starting first grade.

Decluttering our house and facing decisions about what to keep, what to give away.

Trying to make some decisions about future and begin making plans.

Lots of feelings over here. Not all bad. Lots of changes and happy thoughts mixed in with some sadness, though more bittersweet as I know new beginnings are a step for all of us. It might not be a new school year for all of us ( though having a small child in our life puts us in that frame of mind) this September, but it is the start of a lot of newness, so we’re embracing the feelings and going forth on our new adventures. And hopefully, some cooler temperatures! ( I’m just cranky from this 90 degree heat with ridiculous humidity).


Happy September!


Image from here

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