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Thoughts on Living Intentionally this Holiday Season

promise to be gentle to yourself this holiday season

Thanksgiving is upon us, followed closely by Christmas and then the New Year. It’s the season where we’re thinking deeply about gratitude and self-reflection, but it’s also be a time where material things take center stage, and the comparison game gets all too easy to play at holiday gatherings. There’s a push and a pull to every thought and emotion I have—I want to create memories with my family, but they may not be Pinterest or Instagram worthy; I want to give thoughtful gifts, but I have severe budget and time constraints; I want to be a great hostess and do everything from scratch, but I want to have the time to enjoy myself at my own party; I want to answer questions about what I do all day with pride, but I struggle with feeling like I’m enough.

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A Status Change

Hi friends,

I got an email today from my friend Megan asking me what’s up with the sale of my home. She’d gotten one of those cool little updates from a real estate app alerting her that there’d been a status change on our place. So, I guess it might be helpful for me to let you know what’s going on here in my world.

We are in escrow! Finally. After being on the market for a little over two months, we got an offer. I think the funniest thing is that we got an offer from the very first person who saw our house, and the very last. On the very first day we hit the market, we got an offer. While the offer ended up not working out, it put us on a great path knowing that there was interest in our home. Many potential buyers came multiple times to see the house, and we had open houses every weekend but one.

It was an incredibly busy time for us—I would clean for every showing and stage our home every time, and it took about two hours from start to finish. I sometimes questioned why I was so adamant about how my place looked—my mother in-law (a real estate agent) would tell me that most of the homes on the market do little to look presentable. But I’d look around at Rory’s toys on the floor, the pack n play and stroller that take up a ton of space, my ottoman covered in cat hair, and my dirty dishes and knew that I could not let my house be seen in this state. I typically pick up the house whenever I have friends over, so why would I invite strangers into my home without making it clean first?

After a little over 60 days on the market, interest seemed to wane, but lo and behold the very last person who requested a showing ended up making us a solid offer. YAY! Fingers crossed that all goes well and we close escrow as expected on January 11. We have a bunch of hurdles to get through, but so far we are on track.

What does this mean for the blog? Well, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in over two weeks. A lot is going on right now, and I had to redirect my energy elsewhere, temporarily. I hope I’m back for good now and will try to resume posting weekly. I may need to take a break again during the actual move, but I’ll keep you updated as that firms up.

Upcoming blog posts: I want to continue with my house tour before we leave this place! I hope to share my thoughts later this week on “living intentionally.” I want to do some gift guides for the holidays. I’d like to share my plans for a minimal Christmas. I want to do a roundup of my favorite podcasts. I’d love to finish up all the drafts of posts I’ve got sitting in my inbox.

There’s so much to come from Invented Charm. Drop me a line if you have an idea for a post you’d like to see me cover. Thanks so much for your love and support!

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A New Take on Porcupine Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes

I’ve really missed cooking these last several weeks while our house has been on the market. I still keep up my weekly meal planning, but the cooking we do is very simple, requires no recipes, and is often done in batches to reduce the amount of cleaning we have to do. The kind of cooking I miss is cooking from recipes with specific ingredients and measurements, but also the kind of cooking that is completely improvisational. I miss cooking on the fly—looking in my refrigerator and coming up with something that may or may not work out. I did both kinds of cooking a lot before my son was born.

Meal time back then could be a risk, an adventure of sorts, because the stakes were low. If something didn’t work out or I didn’t love a new recipe, oh well. Sometimes we didn’t even finish our leftovers. (Shh, don’t tell!) But now meal time is serious business. I want to get in and out of the kitchen quickly, I want a high yield, but I also want to not get so sick of leftovers that I feel the need to order a pizza. That’s asking a lot of myself as a cook, if I’m being really honest.

But I’ve been in a rut lately. We’ve subsisted on leftovers plus a rotisserie chicken all week. Yesterday I just felt tired and unmotivated. I had a pack of ground turkey and no ideas about how I could cook it that would make me excited to eat it. The menu plan called for turkey chili, but I also leaned towards turkey burgers since I had a handful of frozen buns. My mind kept wandering to a craving for meatballs, porcupine meatballs made with Rice-a-Roni, to be exact. I told myself all the reasons this was a bad idea: it’s not a quick meal to cook, I didn’t even have Rice-a-Roni, and the recipe makes a mess (or rather I do when I cook it).

I decided to go for it anyway and just make it up as I went along.

turkey-meatballs-with-purple-smashed-potatoes
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Mid-Century Condo Tour: Kitchen

A couple weeks ago I hinted that I’d be posting a home tour, so here we are, part one: the kitchen!

Our home is a 1958 Spanish revival/Mid-Century modern condo. The roofs are all red Spanish tile and the stucco is white, plus there are cool Mid-Century details like the metal awnings, and huge windows that flood the space with natural light.

kitchen-tour-1
Photo by Laurent Leger Adame

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How to Recover After a Stressful Season and Live Well When Life is in Limbo

I’ve been struggling again and I worry that I rely too much on Sesame Street to entertain my kid while I make food or put on makeup. I shared previously some tips on how to manage stress when you feel like you don’t have any free time, so I thought I’d write a follow-up post about how recover after a stressful season and how to keep living life even when everything is in limbo.

I feel like so many things were put on pause while we got ready to put our home on the market. Though we have no real timeline for the move, we know it’s imminent. In the first few weeks our place was listed, we had multiple showings and open houses and I was just trying to survive, but now things have quieted down into a slower pace and I feel ready to be part of the world again.

One of the key things I advocated in my post was simplifying during times of stress or particularly busy seasons and figuring out what commitments you can forgo while you’re under pressure. But what happens when your schedule isn’t so tight anymore and you feel like you have room to breathe again? Do you just revert back to the way things were before? Or maybe you’re living a new normal and you have to figure out what you want your life to look like now.

five tips for recovering from a stressful season and living well when life is in limbo

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An Easy and Affordable Refresh for Your Kitchen

As I’ve shared previously, our house is currently on the market. I’m working on a tour of my home to share, but first I thought I’d post about how we got our place photo-ready and welcoming for potential homebuyers. At first when I scoured the internet for useful tips, I was scared off by intimidating DIY projects and the pervasive belief that only houses with granite counter tops and high-end appliances will sell. I decided then to approach the process of getting my house market-ready with a strict budget, quick timeline, and a lot of elbow grease.

This post is first in a series about how to do an easy and affordable refresh on any space in your house. You don’t need to spend a lot (or any money). You’ll see how I’ve repurposed many items I already had, borrowed some, and spent money carefully on things for a real visual impact. I believe it’s absolutely possible to make your house your dream home without a serious renovation or the help of HGTV experts.

affordable and adorable ideas for an easy kitchen refresh

Ten Kitchen Projects for an Easy & Affordable Kitchen Refresh

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Lessons Learned from my First Capsule Wardrobe

Back in July I posted about my casual summer capsule wardrobe. It was my first foray into building a capsule collection, and it was a huge learning lesson. Overall, I really enjoyed the simplicity of getting dressed everyday. I have already begun planning my fall capsule wardrobe, but before I share it, I want to reflect back on what I learned this summer.

lessons-from-a-summer-capsule-wardrobe

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How to Manage Stress When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Any Free Time

I want to share that as of this week, my home is officially on the market! It’s been quite a challenge to get everything ready, but I’ve learned so much and I can’t wait to share more about the process. In the meantime, I’d like to offer some ideas on how to manage stress when you feel like you don’t have any free time, a topic super relevant to yours truly.

four-things-to-manage-stress
We all are busy people juggling work, social, family, home, and financial commitments, but there are times in our life when already full schedules may explode with even more obligations. When I’ve looked for support via the internet or in casual conversation, I’m often met with unhelpful advice about the importance of creating routines. People tout their morning routines, bedtime routines, work out routines, and money management routines as some sort of miracle cure for whatever ails you—but the last thing I want to do when I’m pressed for time is create another routine or try to improve upon one that has already been a struggle to maintain.

During times of stress I advocate for simplifying life as much as possible. Cut back to the bare bones so that you have more time to dedicate toward whatever is in front of you. Maybe you’re transitioning in your career and you’re overwhelmed because you have a lot to learn in a short period of time, or perhaps you’re approaching a significant date (graduation, surgery, wedding, travel, etc.) and it’s keeping you up at night with worry, or there’s a big life change (birth, adoption, moving, etc.) on the horizon causing feelings of anxiety. Consider what you can give up and let go of to give you peace of mind.

Four Things to Do to Manage Stress When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Any Free Time

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Kindness and Friendship

even the smallest gestures of kindness can bring us back from the darkest places

I have been working my bum off to get our condo listed, and it finally will be next week! Phew. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support and encouragement from my family and friends.

Stress, anxiety, and fear have a way of giving us tunnel vision, but even the smallest gestures of kindness can bring us back from the darkest places. I have received beautiful comments, a thoughtful card, and an amazing care package from various friends. They all touched me, lifted me up, and brought me to tears (that’s what happens when you’re running on caffeine and sheer force of will). My parents came through for me in a big way when I got to my breaking point. We couldn’t have gotten our place ready without them. I’ve even become better about asking for help from my in-laws.

I sent out a bat signal and so many people answered it. And why did so many people answer it with their time, help, support, meals, and cups of coffee? I’d like to think they’re just returning the love I put out there in the world. Thank you, you lovely humans.

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