Life By Kristen

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

Archive for the tag “home”

Thankful Thursday (#10)

I’m thankful for my home.


My happy place- aka my sun room

It’s hard to believe that this coming spring will mark 7 years in my house. It feels like a lifetime, probably because owning the house was the beginning of some tumultuous times for me. But it’s also the place where I found myself after my divorce. And now, even though the address and house has not changed, I’m making it into a new home with Q and Little Man.

It’s an old house, built in 1930, so with that come so many quirks like walls and floors that are less than level and old dirt. But it also comes with amazing charm like the sun room, the original moldings and built-in bookcases, and gorgeous hardwood floors.

Quirks aside from its age, but also from weird things that are on the endless list of house projects, I love this place. It’s small with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, but we have a good yard, huge basement and attic, and the sunroom truly is the best place, even if it overlooks a parking lot of the businesses next door. If I could pick up the house and move it to a quieter neighborhood, I would. When I dream about the possible future for us, I wish I could take the house and just add another half bath, a small bedroom/office,  and a smidge more counterspace to the kitchen, because otherwise it’s really the perfect spot for me.

Whatever happens next in life for our little family, I know this place will always have a special place in my heart.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

[Apologies if the Bon Jovi/Jennifer Nettles song of same title gets stuck in your head!]

Other than a year or so as a baby, the months I lived at college in New Hampshire, and a few months spent in upstate New York for a summer internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’ve never lived anywhere but my hometown in Massachusetts, which is not how I thought life would be like.

I left my town for college, with no plans to ever come back other than to visit my parents. When I got into my dream graduate school that was only 15 minutes away from them, it seemed logical to move back home and commute, especially since I had just graduated from college and even though I landed a full time job right away, I had very little cash flow. Every 6 months or so I thought I’d move out at the end of the next semester, but then it seemed silly to move out when I knew that when I was done with my master’s, I’d be moving away to wherever a job took me.

And that almost happened. I was offered a job in Miami even before I was done with my graduate program, but the pay was pitiful, there were no benefits, and I would have moved with virtually no guarantee of a position beyond a one-year contract ( it was a good thing I didn’t take it because in the economic meltdown of 2008, the place got rid of its all non essential employees so I would have been SOL).

In an weird twist of fate ( what’s that saying about make plans and see God laugh?), my first post-grad school job was at a local historical society only fifteen miles or so from my house. My parents are pretty awesome folks and living with them as an adult was actually sort of fun. There was always someone to chat with after work, watch a movie with, and we had a great cooking arrangement where each of us were responsible for 2 nights a week and went out another night. Living with them was more like having two great roommates and less like living with my parents. I know that I’m very lucky in that respect and as much as I dislike that I’ve lived in my hometown forever and didn’t live on my own before getting married ( or lived with my exhusband before marrying him), I wouldn’t change the 5 years I spent there with them,

5 years is a long time to think that you’re going to move out eventually. At some point, it became clear to me that if I continued to save like I was that my boyfriend and I could afford to buy a home. So at some point, that became the plan. I got a new job ( my current one) and continued to live with the parents and beginning the house buying process. Because of the location of my job and my exhusband’s, we were fairly limited on communities to look at that were halfway between the two of our jobs and would still have a fair commute for both of us ( both of us about 45 minutes each way).

Fast forward to the divorce. In hindsight, maybe I should have sold the house, but I wanted to stay because I love it and mostly, I wanted to leave it on my own terms and not feel forced out of it. I budgeted and scrimped like crazy to keep it through the months of figuring out the divorce terms, and I’m proud that it’s all mine now.

It goes without saying that the past four years have not gone anything like I thought they would. I never thought I would make my own home in the place I grew up– not because it’s a bad place, but it’s just the same. It’s a typical suburban place filled with families and senior citizens. Most of my friends have gone from there. Other than the market and a few stores, I don’t spend much ‘free’ time in the town, taking my dining out dollars to nearby Providence. I travel frequently, but at the same time, I have come to appreciate the location where I live because of its ease and closeness to a number of other locations. I’m there for the time being until something new happens, so I’ve always tried to make the best of it.

It’s not that I never wanted to leave or haven’t daydreamed of doing so- in fact, I think about what I will keep, what I’ll miss and so on when the time comes to sell my house and go onto the next adventure. It’s more that I have come to be appreciative and understanding of my place in life- maybe in the past I wasn’t ready in some way to move away or lacked the ability to do so. Whatever the reason is, I’m not bitter about staying in my hometown all these years, but thankful for having the opportunity to come home again and see it in a new way.

Welcome to the Crazy

Every year for the past almost 5 years ( what!?! How have I been at my job this long!), March is the CRAZIEST month at work for me. Exhibit installation, getting the museums ready for the season, general craze of spring and life, and much more.

You’d think after all these years and the cycle of my job that I would be prepared for when this happens. But every year it sort of sneaks up on me and I find myself sort of in a whirlwind. This past weekend I didn’t have much planned and instead of trying to get ahead of things to lighten the load in the next few weeks, I sort of just hunkered down with myself and enjoyed the winter sunshine in the sun room, took naps, and read. It’s hard sometimes for me to put the giant to do list aside and take time for myself, but I’m glad I didn’t do a whole lot this past weekend and was able to breathe a bit. Of course, come the next few weekends of birthday parties, conference presentations, and a social life, I may regret that weekend of doing nothing as I stare at the growing pile of dust bunnies.


Oh who I am kidding? I’ll never regret an afternoon spent reading over housework.


And now…drumroll please! A winner of the giveaway for my birthday and 100th blog post!! The lucky gal picked randomly by rafflecopter is………. Stephany!!

My Happy Place

In my opinion, one of the biggest aspects of being happy everyday has a lot to do with the spaces one occupies, so for me that would be my office, my car (ah the life of commuting), and my house. When I was married, the house was a site of struggle and frustration, not just because that’s where disagreements took place, but because the physical space did not reflect much of who I was or wanted to be, but more what I thought my then-husband would like or some reflection of who I thought I should be as a married gal.

My house is a constant source of both pride and frustration– as I am sure is the case with so many homeowners. There are days I look around and all I see are the things to do- which was the case almost every single day while I was in the house & married. When the house became all mine, it took me a long time to get it how I wanted. Hours spent over Pinterest, decorating blogs, and so many house related magazines had me imagining the spaces I wanted for myself, and slowly, they took shape. With the exception of the office/reading room/painting space, the house is as I imagined– and even with that space it’s a matter of getting things on the walls and rearranging some furniture.

Each room of the house brings a different kind of satisfaction to me- knowing I found the style of couch I wanted, having the duvet I lusted after and serene setting of the bedroom, and a kitchen with bright colors. But the place in my house which brings endless joy is my sunroom.



Of course this would be all the better photo if it had been sunny out. Also please excuse the mats and towels on the floor- the windows leak when the rain blows against them!

The sunroom was one of the selling points of the house to me ( as well as the built in bookshelves, fireplace, cute yard, and historic details). The windows are on three sides and open into the room, and while the view is less than desirable ( commercial building next door), the breezes in the summer are unbeatable. Even on the most humid day, the room is relaxing and restorative. The couch is a hand-me-down from my parents, but is comfortable and perfect for quiet mornings in the sun with a cup of coffee or a Friday night with a book and glass of wine. It is unheated, but when those beautiful sunny winter days happen, the space is often warmer than the house– perfect for afternoon naps that make me forget it is February.

This space isn’t just perfect because of its light and coolness, but it’s the place where I unwind and feel at peace with myself. I spent hours in there journaling and meditating during the roughest days of my marriage and separation and it’s the place where I found the courage to stand up for myself and my life. Regardless of where I live after this house, this sunroom will always be remembered as a big part of who I am.


Organization Freak

In the past few days, a few of my favorite bloggers posted about getting organized in 2013, buying new planners, and so on. This brings me great joy because I am one of those people who considers organization one of life’s simple pleasures.

I don’t know what it is, but there is so much excitement to buying a new planner and sitting down with some great pens to fill in the never changing dates like birthdays and holidays off from work. I have tried for years to be an all digital calendar gal, but I can’t make the switch. Something about the process of writing things down makes them real and tangible to me, as well as commits them to memory. FYI, I’m the same way with studying and note taking- you should see the files I’ve created at work just of notepads for exhibit research.

Organization to me is fun because I like all the pretty accessories that go with it, but really for me it’s about sanity. This organization extends to the house, office, purse, and so on. I try to keep all matters of life in a somewhat mannerly way ( I kind of have a basket addiction), though I will admit that I have ‘organized’ areas of junk, out of sight of course. As I’ve been working on  Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, I’ve tried to tackle these secret piles in the closets and basements, but I have an ever growing of pile of items to sell that I fear will stick around to spring when I can have a yard sale with other members of the family. But it’s in my basement so if you come over, you can’t see that haha.

The sanity aspect is knowing where things are when I need them, but also having a lot of clutter and stuff around really gets in my way of thinking and being able to get things done. I think I’ve always been this way ( though my mother might disagree), but I have to clear and clean out the physical space before I can think about tackling a project. Last night I sat down to attack my piles of to do lists and scribbled notes into a somewhat coherent plan for the months ahead- just having one notebook divided by month with all the various action items I want to accomplish made me feel like it is all very attainable. I’m going to try to only write the action items down in this one notebook as a way to try to clear out the worrying about forgetting something on another list! We’ll see how this new organization method works.

2012 in Review

I love the end of year review of books, movies, etc. just as much as I love the excitement and anticipation of the new year coming up. It reminds me of the great things & gives me things to look forward to for the upcoming year.

2012 was the first year I really thought about what I wanted to improve and work on in life. Making a list of attainable goals with clear action items was helpful in keeping things in focus and remembering what was important to me.

As far as goals go, I did alright. Here’s the breakdown:

Tackle at least three items on my 30×30 list: I did 9.5 on my list! The half is for #30 which is to digitize the family 8mm home movies and photographs. For Christmas, my brother and I had the 8mm films done, but not the photographs. Go check out my list to see what I’ve done and what I’m still working on.

Donate hair to Locks of Love: Completed in October!

Read 50 books: This, sadly, I did not complete, falling just 9 shy of my goal. I mostly did not finish because I picked a few books that were a bit tough to get through, but I’m happy with how I challenged myself with reading new genres and things outside my comfort zone. Had I included books I read for work on this it is well over 50, but I wanted to read 50 ‘fun’ books outside of work time.

Create a weekly Pinterest item: This was sort of a success. I made A LOT of new recipes from Pinterest, but with travel and various work things going on, there were a lot of weeks when I did not make new items or do any DIY projects. I’ll call this a half success.

Work on my writing: Again, sort of a half success. I did more writing this year than in years past, but not as much as I wanted, especially neglecting the blog sometimes. This is one goal that is carrying over to 2013 and might just be a perpetual do better in life item.

Better communication with friends: I think I did pretty well on this front, though I did not make plans and go out with friends as much as I should have. I did work on getting in touch with people who I had lost contact with and made a few long overdue apologies and explanations to friends and family over various things. Definitely something to continue to work on.

I also tried to make small improvements every month with things like drinking more water, getting up with alarm instead of hitting snooze, etc. I definitely have achieved a lot of these things and integrated them into my life. Some of them- like painting & going for walks- are now things that I really enjoy and seek out in my non working time.

Overall 2012 was a big year- I own my house by myself, divorce was finalized, regained my name, and traveled more than ever before. I did more house projects, met a lot of new people through the interwebs, attended a blog conference, and found happiness in the small, simple things. 2012 was a year of grand and glorious things, sadness & madness, but it was a great first year of my new life and I know 2013- the year I turn 30 (woo!) will be filled with just as much awesome and sparkle.

Wishing you and yours a happy & healthy 2013!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy November!

My favorite month starting on my favorite day of the week ( I have always loved Thursdays) seems like a double win.

I love November because it is the month of preparations for my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving, a month about family, food, and traditions, and a time to prepare for celebrations and reflection.

It’s also the start of my busy work season, my favorite museum conference, and time to break out the down comforters and flannel PJs.

This November is jampacked with activities and goals I want to accomplish including the big one of participating in NaNoWriMo- National Novel Writing Month. I cheated a bit and got going last night after trick or treaters left my house. I’m finally writing on some characters and a story I’ve been thinking about for over a year now- and that feels really awesome.

Wishing you all a wonderful eleventh month of the year!

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