Friday, September 30, 2016

"Wuv, twue wuv, wiw fowwow you... fowevah..."

(Title quote from The Princess Bride. If you haven't seen it yet, you should!)

We're engaged!

One week ago, 363 days after the day we met, my sweet man asked me to marry him! I thought it was absolutely perfect (although he would say it was a little too warm outside, and too many people around!) and I've been floating on clouds and staring at my gorgeous ring every spare second since. 

He took me to Duke gardens, and since I had never been before, I was amazed by how expansive it was, and all the beautiful flowers, rich grassy areas, trickling waterfalls and especially the lovely bridges! He said his mental map of the place was a little mixed up, so I didn't even get suspicious when we started crossing the same bridges multiple times. He wanted to propose on a bridge, but also didn't want crowds of people around, and it was pretty busy! Finally, on this adorable little bridge, he found an opportunity.

Every little thing about his proposal was so perfect! I am still in awe that God brought such a wonderful, kind, romantic, handsome, funny, tender, courageous, wise, thoughtful, godly man into my life, and thrilled beyond belief that I get to spend the rest of my life with him! 

Afterwards, we had a delicious dinner at a new restaurant in Durham, Primal Food & Spirits, which was absolutely incredible, I couldn't believe how great the food was! 

This has been the best year of my life so far, getting to know my dear Matt, and I am looking forward to many more wonderful years by his side!

Also, I'm so eager to marry him as soon as possible, that I might already have my dress and a venue picked out... don't you think Christmas decorations are the best kind?!?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Easing Into Etsy

Hello lovely friends!

I've been contemplating opening an Etsy shop for quite some time, so I've finally taken the first step, and listed an apron that I sewed a few years ago. It's been sitting around for a while, so I decided it would be worth the chance to sell it! 

Here's the link if you want to check it out! 

Any advice for selling on Etsy, or just selling handmade products in general? I'm excited, but feeling a little over my head, and uncertain how I should run my shop. I'd like to offer custom fabric choices, because I have a large stash, but more listings help the shop be more visible... but at the same time however, there are already a lot of aprons available on Etsy, and I don't want to make a bunch of aprons if they'll end up not selling. 

I also have some 18" doll dresses, I should probably go ahead and list those too. Except I'm much more tempted to keep those in case I have daughters some day! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Cultivate Independence {as a daughter living at home}

I found this old post in my drafts and decided to post it, with some editing.

It's an unfortunate stereotype that grown adults who live with their parents must be "Kid-ults" - the kind of person who can't or won't earn their own money, support themselves and get out on their own. For many of us adult daughters who live at home, though, we are responsible, productive adults, who probably could manage on our own if we wanted/had to... but why? I enjoy my family, and the room that I share with my sister has plenty of space for me. However, it is true that it's easy to remain dependent living at home. Here are some things that I do to cultivate independence, and prepare myself for the day when I might run my own household. 

- Be responsible for getting up on time in the morning. This is one of the most important things for a responsible young person to start doing for themselves in my opinion. I began in high school, when I took a Chemistry class for homeschoolers. I overslept my alarm once, and was nearly late to class after leaping out of bed in a panic, throwing on clothes, grabbing my books and running out the door. I didn't get breakfast, but I survived, and I learned to be responsible and not expect my mom to make sure I was up and ready when I needed to be. 

- Voluntarily do chores and help around the house, without being asked. No one should have to tell a grown adult to clean their room, do their laundry and clean up after themselves. If I lived on my own and left a mess in the kitchen, there would be no one but me to clean it up, so as an adult who is capable of cleaning up after myself, there is no excuse to leaving extra work for my mom to do. She is not my maid! I admit, I still struggle with laundry... I start a load, and then forget about it sometimes, and Mom has to ask me to move it from the washer to the dryer, or to take the clean clothes out of the dryer. 

- Find a way to earn some money. This doesn't necessarily have to be outside your home, I teach piano lessons in my house. I also babysit/nanny our neighbors' kids, right across the street. I'm considering the possibility of sewing some things to sell on There are lots of options! 

- Pay personal expenses as much as possible. In high school, I started paying for my theatre and dance classes, because I was skipping them too often and my mom was getting annoyed at how much of the fees I was wasting by choosing other activities over class. (That had the added benefit of making me appreciate how much money my classes were costing, and I attended classes more regularly when the money was coming out of my earnings.) After graduation, the number of students I could take increased, and I now own my own car, for which I buy gas, and pay all the maintenance and repair costs. I buy my own clothes and other purchases. I do NOT buy my own groceries, though, and my parents don't charge me rent. How that works in other families will differ, but the important point is to take responsibility for some of your own costs.

- Learn how to go grocery shopping. I mentioned in the last point that I don't pay for my own groceries, but I regularly do a lot of the grocery shopping for my family, and it's been a great experience in learning how to grocery shop efficiently. Everyone should know how to purchase groceries. 

- Help out with cooking. I enjoy cooking, and have made entire meals for my family on my own, although usually my mom, sister and I all pitch in with dinner. We tend to get into ruts, though, where Sarah always makes particular things, and I always make particular things, and Mom always makes particular things, so if any of us tried to switch around, it wouldn't be nearly as good (Sarah's guacamole, homemade salsa, barbeque sauce and spicy broccoli are really just inimitable...) so I'm working on mixing it up sometimes, so I won't have holes in my cooking abilities.

What would you add to this list? I recently began using a free budget manager, which has been a very interesting and helpful experience!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hello August! (Where has this year gone?!?)

Wow, I can't believe it's August already! It's been a very hot summer, I hope it will cool down some this month, now that we're approaching fall!

So, a quick little update on what I've been up to... if you saw my ONE other post this year (haha, my poor little blog is so neglected!) you know that my work goals were:
- Have my annual Spring recital for my studio - CHECK!
- Create a more professional studio policy for managing payments, cancellations, etc. - CHECK!
- Perform my solo recital as soon as possible (hopefully by summer at the latest) - CHECK!!!!!
- Finish the tuning course by the end of the year
- Get my second piano in shape so my older intermediate students can begin concerti

We had a nice, quite successful and very well-attended Spring recital at the end of April. I'm very excited about the improvements I've made to my studio policy and how it's helped teaching to flow more smoothly. I added a policy about late-notice cancellations (I was getting quite a few of those, and it can really mess up a schedule!), began using a online scheduling calendar that I absolutely love ( and finally got up the nerve to raise my rates, after 10 years of teaching for the exact same fee! 

I also performed my solo recital at the end of June! 

Thanks to my dear friend Katherine for this "action" shot, which was staged after the recital. ;)

My boyfriend Matt and me after my solo recital was (FINALLY!) done!

Not to blame him or anything, but this amazing guy is part of the reason I sort of abandoned my blog. We've been dating almost 9 months! He has been such an encouragement to me, always willing to listen and advise when I was trying to decide how to approach my adjustments to my studio policy and so supportive during both my students' recital and my solo recital. 

We met at a contra dance in September 2015, and he asked me out in November. It's been so much fun getting to know him this year. He's a strong, godly man and has been encouraging me in my walk with God. He eats healthy food and we did Whole30 together in January, plus several "Whole7's" since then as a short little reboot. He likes Pride and Prejudice 1995 and watched it with me when we'd only been dating 2 months! (He also appropriately disdains the P&P05 atrocity. *wink*) He enjoys classical music, and likes to read... the number of things we have in common is so neat!

It's been an incredible blessing having him be such an important part of my life this year. We've spent a lot of time together doing all sorts of fun things, way too many to list. Building Legos, reading together and sharing our favorite TV shows are just a few. Whether having fun, just relaxing, or working on a project, he is always fun to be around. I'm so thankful God brought us together!

I'm going to work on writing blog posts more frequently, at Matt's encouragement. I'm planning on continuing to write them quickly, and not do much editing though, as I used to spend SO much time tweaking little things that probably no one but me would even notice! I'm trying to relax on my perfectionist tendencies. 

And with that, I'm going to close this post with just a few pictures of my post recent chalk paint projects. This is Primer Red, with dark wax on some pieces of furniture in our den/TV room. 

Happy August everyone! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

It's been almost 3 months since I last posted. I know I've been very neglectful of my poor little blog lately, and I haven't been keeping up with all my lovely blog friends very well either! Lots of other exciting, busy and fun things have been keeping me occupied.

My piano teaching studio has reached its maximum capacity of 30 students! I'm thrilled to have so many great students, and I really enjoy their lessons, but that keeps me very busy.

I'm also still working on my first (and probably ONLY, considering how long it's taking me!) solo recital. As an achievement that I would have been required to complete in college, I thought it would be a good challenge, but it's taken much longer than I hoped, and I'm really ready to finish it and move on!

Tuning has not been going well lately, I'm feeling very stuck. And with my students, and my recital program, it's definitely been getting left out of my work schedule. 

My work goals for this year are:
- Have my annual Spring recital for my studio
- Create a more professional studio policy for managing payments, cancellations, etc.
- Perform my solo recital as soon as possible (hopefully by summer at the latest) 
- Finish the tuning course by the end of the year
- Get my second piano in shape so my older intermediate students can begin concerti

Whole30 was the topic of my last post, so I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that I'm still very happy with my results on Whole30! I'm starting my second round with the new year this January! I can't remember ever feeling as great as I did on Whole30, and after some holiday cheating and a little bit of feeling gross, I'm excited to get back into Whole30, and hopefully, a better sleep cycle! Even before the holidays took me into late nights, I was struggling to sleep through the night, waking up in the wee hours and tossing around for sometimes 2-3 hours quite regularly. My psoriasis is continuing to improve, but more slowly since I haven't been on Whole30. 

My health goals for this year are:
- Completely clear up my psoriasis
- Focus on understanding my body and learning what foods I do well with, and which ones to avoid
- Get my sleep and hormones back in shape
- Find a regular exercise routine that works for me

In keeping with my goals, I'm now going to go to bed... and I'm going to try not to edit and rewrite my blog posts so much, so instead of letting this sit in my drafts for a few days, I'm just going to publish it! Hopefully a part two will come later, as I do have some more goals and such on my mind. Happy 2016 to all!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Whole30! Part 2

So I'm counting today as day 29 of my Whole30, but actually, on the third day, I ate fish and green beans that my sister cooked with butter, and it didn't even occur to me until after I'd eaten that my sister would of course use butter, and that she didn't know I wasn't supposed to have butter! Instead of starting over, I decided just to add 3 days, which means I'm really on day 26, and won't be finished until Saturday.

As I near the end of my first Whole30, I'm definitely getting interested to step on the scale, and see how my measurements have changed. My dad keeps commenting on how much thinner I look, trying to guess how much weight I've lost, and asking if I've weighed yet... but I'm excited about all my "non-scale victories" too (which is what Whole30 recommends focusing on) so I wanted to share a few of those with you.

I mentioned in my previous post that I was eager to try meal planning, and I'm delighted to announce that it's gone wonderfully! It's only been 4 weeks, but I can't believe I used to live without meal planning. How did I manage grocery shopping without even the faintest idea what we'd be eating for the rest of the week? And then, sometime during each day, the horrifying question "what should we have for dinner?" would pop up, and the daily process of scrounging around to see what we have, and trying to figure out what we could make would begin, often ending with disappointing and repetitious dinners. No more! Now I go to the store with 5-7 dinners planned, and pick up exactly what we need. If I see kale on sale, maybe I'll substitute it for the brussels sprouts I planned, or if, horror of horrors, there are no sweet potatoes, I'll grab an extra butternut squash, or sub in carrots instead. Meal planning is a MUST for me now, it has made "fixing dinner" take much less time, and go much more smoothly. 

My confidence in my cooking abilities has also increased exponentially. Before Whole30, I could cook some dinner foods well, but my specialties have always been baked goods: breads, muffins, homemade pasta, biscuits, homemade pizza dough, cheesecakes, brownies, cookies... Actual meals have always been my weakest point, and whenever I thought about the possibility of someday being in charge of my own kitchen, I felt slightly terrified at the idea of cooking dinners that weren't based on some kind of bread. Now I can cook a variety of dishes, and have confidence in my grasp of the basics regarding cooking meat. These Whole30 recipes will certainly stay in my meal rotation even after I'm done! 

I've discovered that I really enjoy wilted greens of any kind as a breakfast side. With a leftover salmon cake, or a boiled egg, or even scrambled eggs! 

We have a pull-up bar, and I went from being able to do 0 to 3 so far! Not 3 straight in a row, but one, rest a little, another one, rest a little.... I'm working toward 2 in a row now. 

My energy levels have been fantastic! Also, my mood has been really good. And I've definitely lost weight, though I don't know how much yet. Honestly, I'm really surprised, because Whole30 food restrictions didn't seem that different from my version of GAPS, so I wasn't really expecting to notice such obvious results. Maybe it was cutting out peanut butter (my last remaining food addiction) or maybe it's eating three complete, satisfying meals with no snacking in between. Perhaps it's just the greater quantity of vegetables I've been consuming. Or maybe it's just happiness from the obsessive organizer in me that is absolutely thrilled about meal planning and how helpful it is! I don't know, but I feel incredible, and I'm loving Whole30 so much more than I expected to!

Even though I do intend to follow the reintroduction plan to see what foods I might not be sensitive to, I think I will probably eat mostly Whole30 long term. My psoriasis is looking better, but still not completely gone, and I think it'll take longer than just to the end of this week to finish. We'll see though, maybe it'll be gone by Saturday!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I think I've mentioned the other diets we've done before, my previous favorites being The Maker's Diet and the GAPS Diet. Well, after seeing a lot of yummy pictures on my instagram feed tagged #whole30 and hearing success stories from friends, I decided to give it a try! I'm on day 8, and so far I'm loving it. I'll get back to you day 30 and beyond with my final opinion.
The Whole30 book has a ton of amazing recipes, so far I've particularly enjoyed the chicken salad with homemade mayo in endive leaves, the no-fuss salmon cakes, and a roast leg of lamb that was wonderfully delicious, and so much easier than I thought! Their recipes do a great job of making cooking seem easy, and they even include a section on how to cook "perfect" basics, like how to cook steak, or ground meat, or fish! We followed their instructions for white-fleshed fish (something we already fixed on a regular basis) and discovered that we had been overcooking it all this time! It was so tender and moist!

So far as food restrictions go, Whole30 hasn't been much different from what I had been eating on GAPS, I had already cut out the GAPS-approved kefir and yogurt, and was feeling like I needed to cut out cheese and peanut butter as well. The hardest thing is butter, because I was really enjoying "Bulletproof" tea (I don't drink coffee) in the morning. (What's "Bulletproof"? My version is blending butter and coconut oil into tea with a high-powered blender. It creates a creamy tea with a frothy foam on top, and it's really delicious and filling with all that good fat!) Since I had to give that up for Whole 30, I've actually weaned myself off of morning caffeine. Honey is the only sweetener we'd been having on GAPS, and I had already cut that out as well, so I can't say the restrictions have been hard at all, personally. And Whole30 allows potatoes, which were not allowed on GAPS! Sweet potato baked "fry" frenzy has definitely ensued!

What I'm most excited about is the food reintroduction plan. After the 30 days of Whole30, you control the reintroduction so that you can discover exactly what foods you are and are not sensitive too. If you're always eating triggers like gluten, dairy and sugar together, how do you know what's actually causing your issues? I'm hoping that after this 30 days, my intestines will be "healed and sealed" (a GAPS term) so that I won't have any food sensitivities, but if I do, I will know for sure what they are and will be able to avoid them! I suspect (from some cheating I have done off GAPS) that I have a gluten sensitivity, but my psoriasis hasn't completely cleared up yet, so that's a sign that I'm not finished healing yet either. I'm also eager to find out if sprouted/soaked/sourdough bread products will cause my body to respond differently than standard bread products, so I'm planning on testing them separately.

By the way, about my psoriasis, being on GAPS has definitely made some progress, but I think what has really vamped up the healing these last few weeks is the clove of garlic I've been taking every morning! I just chop it into pill-sized pieces and swallow it with my blood cleanser and anti-inflammatory herb capsules. I don't notice any garlic breath, and my psoriasis has been clearing up very quickly and obviously since I've started. I think continuing the garlic cloves with Whole30 might finally kick my psoriasis! But I probably shouldn't get my hopes too high... we'll see!

Lastly, the bonus of Whole30 is that I've FINALLY started meal planning! It's been great, I planned meals for Tues-Fri last week, bought (almost) everything I planned, and actually stretched it all to cover Saturday and Sunday meals! I definitely have some room for improvement, but I was pleased it went so well last week. I've been wanting to try planning meals, but it's never really worked out before. I think it went so well last week because I'm the only one in my family on Whole30, so I just planned what I wanted for my meals, and then planned to make enough for the rest of family if they were interested. My meal planning yesterday was a little harder (I was tired Day 7 is "I just want a nap"), but I got it all planned and the shopping done, so I'll see how it goes this week! 

Now I'm off to go try making "Perfect Seared Chicken" and "Roasted Root Vegetables in Curry Sauce" for dinner! 

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