Monthly Archives: June 2015

in the home

On Tidying Up

June 28, 2015

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

 

Clothes strewn all over the floor.

A pile of paychecks that may or may not have been electronically deposited.

Coffee mugs with coffee in them. Everywhere.

Clothes–clean and dirty–stuffed in the hamper.

Books precariously stacked on every surface. More books on floor than on bookshelf.

Clothes spilling out of my dresser drawers. Can’t even tell if they’re clean.

A strange array of bobby pins, cat toys, and magazines in my bed.

I am a messy person. I’m naturally untidy and 100% okay with being untidy. I also have a lot of stuff. This has always resulted in a space that is in constant combustion. Too much stuff + no desire to keep it tidy equals a ridiculous mess. And I usually didn’t care about it at all. When I did tidy, I’d clean like a wild fire, throwing stuff away just to deal with it quickly. Whatever remained was fruitlessly “organized.” A week later, I’d be back at square one: trying to clean my messy space and no idea how to get it under control.

My sister is an incredibly tidy person. Leave it to her to introduce me to the KonMari method of organization, the system discussed in the amazingly popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She read the book and instantly applied several of the principles to her own space. Not long after, she started sidling up to me, book in hand, reading a pointed passage aloud:

“Have you ever tidied madly, only to find that all too soon, your home or work place is cluttered again?” (Read to me after shaking me awake one morning.)

“…the secret of success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and completely as possible, and to start by discarding.” (Read to me through the bathroom door. At least she didn’t just barge in.)

“…put all your clothes in one heap, take them in your hand, one by one, and ask yourself quietly, “Does this spark joy?” Your tidying festival has begun.” (Read to me as I rushed out the door to work one morning, miffed because I couldn’t find my favorite shirt.)

I did not want to have a tidying festival. At least that’s what I would say. But on the inside, I was intrigued. (Little sisters know that big sisters are full of wisdom, but we will never let on. Until now.)

Long story short, I read the book. I applied the principles. And while I’m still messy at heart, the KonMari method made it so that I have less junk to put away. This alone has helped keep my space infinitely tidier. And that’s something I’m learning to appreciate. Here’s three takeaways that stuck with me.

Purge by category. This is a key concept. Instead of haphazardly purging a little here and little there all over the house, you gather all items in a particular category (like all books) and go from there. This forces you to truly come to terms with how much of a certain thing you have, and helps you decide exactly what to keep.

Focus on what remains. When purging belongings, I often find myself fixating on what I’m getting rid of. Swiftly getting rid of so much stuff I didn’t truly love shed a new kind of light on what belongings I did keep. Now instead of tripping over several tote bags every day, I have one that I actually treasure.

Cultivate joy. According to Marie, the only criteria a belonging must meet in order to remain is that it must spark joy. This concept is so creative and gave me the freedom to let things GO. Every item I own now brings me joy. Nothing weighs me down.

So…do you want to have a tidying festival? You know you do!

–Becca

in the wardrobe

Wardrobe Staples from Season to Season

June 27, 2015

Mint Green Skirt for Summer

I think here in Missouri, at least in our neck of the woods, we’ve experienced some of the first truly hot days this summer. The beginning of the week was sweltering–Becca and I lived in rompers and lived on popsicles. Naturally, though, yesterday gave us a chilly rain that called for a sweatshirt in the morning. Weather is perpetually undecided here in the Ozarks. Thus, my wardrobe always hinges on layers, for any season.

Mint Skirt for WinterColder Weather Accessories

This past spring, I probably wore this mint skirt about 102 times. It is one of the most versatile pieces in my very small wardrobe and I thank my dear friend Molly for thrifting and gifting me with it every time I see her. During the colder parts of the spring I relied on a simple formula of mint skirt + printed top + cardigan to get me through the busiest parts of my student teaching. I seriously love this skirt so much, I knew I had to find a way to make it work for summer…

White ShoesEasy Summer Outfit

Can you believe how powerful accessories can be? Swap the chunky cardigan for a bright denim vest and the booties and socks for summery mules and a totally new outfit emerges. When it’s humid, I tuck the vest in my purse or leave it in my car while out and about. And then when the thunderstorm rolls in and the wind chill starts to give me goosebumps, I put the vest back on. Bright, easy, and features my favorite skirt. And appropriate for the summer weather spectrum in my neck of the woods.

What’s your favorite wardrobe staple, and how to you make it work from season to season?

–Catherine

 

in the kitchen

two/twenty six: madeleines

June 20, 2015

Madeleines

Madeleine, a French cookie, is the second of 26 French recipes I’m endeavoring to make before my next birthday. Here you can find my complete list and each recipe I’ve completed so far.

When I decided to embark on cooking 26 French recipes over the course of a year, I gathered recipes based on only one thing: obvious deliciousness. I paid no mind to whether the recipe called for strange ingredients (I’m up for adventure) or required complicated technique–I do look forward to the challenge!

My first recipe, the croquembouche, took a lot of demystification. The choux pastry alone took several attempts before proper puff-age occurred. And after filling the puffs, precariously stacking them into a tower, and risking injury while spinning sugar, I can’t say I can recall the tastiness of the cream puffs themselves–I mostly just remember the experience of creating the croquembouche.

Madeleine cookies, by contrast, were refreshingly uncomplicated!’

Madeleines are French cookies that are traditionally baked in a shell shaped pan. I sought the wisdom of Rachel Khoo as I tried my hand at these beautiful, dainty cookies. Her recipe puts a twist on the traditional with a sticky, sweet raspberry baked smack dab in the middle of the cookie and a lemon curd filling that adds extra tartness. I certainly expected the madeleine batter to be full of twists and turns, but it turned out to be rather simple!  Attempting to control my oven temperature throughout the three baking periods (375 degrees for five minutes, oven off for 1 minute, 325 degrees for another five) was the only time I had to remind myself to chill out.

Mise en Place

The verdict? Obviously delicious and surprisingly approachable. Becca and I enjoyed them straight from the oven in all their warm, lemony goodness.

Now the lemon curd I attempted from scratch? Totally different story. In fact, I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store to buy some. So I’ve added lemon curd to the list of things to try again, but I’m most excited about adding my own ideas to these light, buttery cookies. I’m imagining some red, white, and blue madeleines for the 4th of July…

Definitely my new favorite.

–Catherine

field guides

Field Guide To: Last Minute Wedding Gifts

June 18, 2015

Wedding Gifts from Target1/2(His)(Hers)/3/4/5/6/7/8/9

Wedding season is upon us! I’ve been waiting for the summer when all of my good friends get married within weeks of each other so I can travel, get dressed up, and celebrate constantly all the way through August. This isn’t that summer quite yet (three invitations and I can only make it to one!) but I’m still finding myself hustling through Target trying to strike a balance between selecting from the registry and putting some thoughtfulness into each gift. Above you’ll find links to my favorite finds from Target. I especially love going quirky with the gift giving, like his and hers novels!

Anyway, I am simultaneously unpacking from my recent trip to Colorado while packing for a wedding tomorrow. I will most certainly be running to Target tonight to snag a few of these gifts for the bride and groom!

And, in case you missed it…check out the hilarity that ensues when a man messes up his wedding vows!

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

in the kitchen

Inspiration in the Kitchen: Garden Strawberries

June 16, 2015

.Garden Strawberries

My mom and I have been trying our hand at a little urban gardening this summer. While plant shopping for everything you could possibly need to make fresh salsa for mom’s garden, she suggested I try to grow some strawberries on my full shade porch. We’ve had one strawberry at a time for weeks now, but the other day I looked out and a handful had grown overnight! I picked them as fast as I could. I decided to throw together a strawberry sauce with a pint of yellow raspberries I had in my fridge. Added a half a cup of sugar, the juice of half a grapefruit (you could use a whole lemon–it’s just what I had on hand) all six (hulled) strawberries, and my raspberries to a sauce pan. I let it sit and macerate for a bit before bringing the whole mixture up to a boil. I let the sauce thicken until it coated the back of my spoon.

I ran to the grocery store and found some angel food cake in the bakery (nobody cares if your cake isn’t homemade when garden fresh strawberries are involved!) There was just enough sauce for Wes and I to have a couple of slices each. Impromptu desserts are always my favorite.

Strawberry Angel Food Cake