Tag Archives: Holiday

How To Throw A Party And Ruin Your Health

May 13, 2015


This Sunday Austin graduates from med school which means a lot of things that require a lot of lists. Most pressing is the 40+ people coming to my tiny house for a party after the ceremony, including multiple houseguests. So far I have developed a stress pimple (Gary), and a stress stye in my right eye (we call him Sal). My wish for them is to die quickly and leave me alone with my lists.

I don’t know about you, but when a lot people are coming to my home for an event, I like to abide by the following protocol to reduce stress.

Step 1: Plan ahead. Make at least fourteen lists of things you need to do on various days, including a grocery inventory and cleaning schedule. Use a highlighter if necessary.

Step 2: Talk it out. It is important to process every detail of the event as many times as possible with your sister, aunt, and friends at the gym. Make sure to also call your mom to go over the food items as she may take pity on you and make half of them. Include at least four rounds of heavy sighing.

Step 3: Employ your spouse. Asking Austin to do things around the house is one of my very favorite hobbies. However, asking your spouse to do all the things you do not want to do is a delicate process. Use tactics such as bribes, “looking busy,” and again–heavy sighing.

Step 4: Start a project you cannot finish. 3-5 days before your event, it is important to start a project that is impossible to finish. This idea is usually one that is supposed to “improve your environment” and “make things more homey.” Possible ideas include rearranging the furniture, creating a gallery wall, and painting the bathroom. Do as little research as possible.

Step 5: Run unnecessary errands. You need to get groceries for your party so you should probably also stop by Target for a new bra, shower liner (someone may take a shower!), and 20 houseplants. Wait, Target doesn’t carry houseplants. But a dozen local greenhouses do! Spend at least a half hour at each one. Use half of the grocery money on hanging baskets. Call your mom again.

Step 6: Completely panic and finally start the laundry. Oh, 50 people are coming to your home in less than 48 hours? Now would be a good time to do the dishes and start a load of laundry. There is also dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, and carrying boxes of things you cannot deal with to the attic. You should also clear your phone pictures and make a moving slideshow. This would also be a good time to google “fun adult games.” Put the kids in front of Netflix. Go to bed at 3am.

Step 7: Transform into a gracious host. The last few hours before a party begins can be a bit “strenuous” as the children unpot the houseplants and your spouse keeps mysteriously disappearing to the basement. You may not be your best, soft spoken self–but people will be arriving soon, so it’s important to make the transformation from Disney witch to beautiful princess for the sake of morale. Kiss the children, smile at your husband. You are a beautiful butterfly.

May the odds be in everyone’s favor.




March 31, 2015


Another woman turning 30 and talking about it! Welcome.

1985 was a weird year, fraught with floral prints, the uni-bomber, and the first Back To The Future movie. It was also the year my mother tried to give birth to her first child the old-fashioned way– no drugs, plenty of ice chips, and my dad smoking a cigar in the lobby. Unfortunately for her, I was upside down and it was an emergency c-section that brought me into the world. Thanks modern medicine! I’m so glad I could be born into a place that would eventually air 304853 episodes of The Voice in a one month span.

Birthdays are confusing because they are either called IMPORTANT or POINTLESS, two very different adjectives. Each year I think, what will I choose? No one wants to be the girl who cares too much about her birthday, but also I just lived three whole decades without killing anyone or cutting my own bangs. Doesn’t that count for something?

This year I decided to celebrate. On Friday night a few friends and I stayed in the city for a hotel sleepover. It was very “on fleek;” drinks, dancing, carbs, finally learning what “on fleek” means. We stayed out until nearly 3am, an enormous feat for a bunch of moms used to passing out at 10pm. The next night Austin and I drove to our favorite little spot for Indian food and a show at the local theater (The Producers). It was all very wonderful and perfect, but I admit I’m still exhausted and experiencing mild leg cramps three days later.

Basically I spent the last weekend of my twenties being reminded that I am no longer twenty.

kell and I

I’ve learned a lot over the past thirty years. For example, walking! How to eat solid foods. How to eventually hide solid foods you don’t like in the trash can. Multiplication tables. Tampons. How to get out of taking Chemistry. How to get out of pretty much anything. Voice projection. Stage directions. How to maintain the “good girl” image but still make-out with your boyfriend during Yearbook. College dorms. The complexities of the AIM away message. Beer pong. Grammar diagrams. How to cry in front of your professor during finals week. Electric bills. Car maintenance. How to procure jobs for which you are vastly under-qualified.

The rest is still a work in progress.03:92a

I have had a few moments of clarity recently, especially on the topic of having it all. I don’t know if it’s the birthday milestone or constantly discussing another baby–but I’m getting a little weary of the idea that we can’t have it all. That because we are women, we have less choice over what our lives look like. Because here’s the thing, of course we can have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time. That’s how life works. There is no such thing as perfect work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for upsets the delicate symmetry of our day to day being; babies, career, marriage, friendship–they are all so hard and inconvenient, but all worth it in the end.

For the past decade I’ve tiptoed around the lie that I cannot be both writer and mother. That I have to choose between the two, or everyone suffers. The truth is we can be as many or as few things as we want to be. Wife, mother, writer, helper, friend, artist, shop owner, acrobat, singer, restaurant hostess, teacher, lawyer, wanderer, 30-year-old mom shaking it to Beyonce at a dance club.

The question shouldn’t be, “Will this make life harder?” but “Will this make life richer?”

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We belong to each other, but we also belong to ourselves. We are in charge of what happens next.

All we get is this one life. One chance to be 19, 27, 32, 47, 68.

What else is there to do but go all in?

Let’s do this.



Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

i like you

“Much has been said about love…” – Every writer trying to write about love


Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, it has already been said before. Lovely, weird, silly, stupid, expensive, polarizing, fake, cliche — all those words are true.

It is hard to celebrate love without celebrating something that isn’t real. The love we see in romantic comedies, in Disney’s wide eyed princes, in reality shows with fantasy suites and cheap red roses–it is such a giant spectacle. At the end of the day, no one wants to raise their glass or exchange chalky hearts to that kind of love.

Real love is problematic, messy, covered in boring dinners and rehashed arguments on the quality of hand towels. Real love is not forever. You can be in love for decades and have it disappear. A boyfriend, a wedding, a ten year anniversary–they are not finish lines.

Real love is perpetual motion and constant work. The navigation of emotions and responses and honesty. The daily struggle against our selfish tendencies.

What I want to remember on this strange holiday is that the love worth celebrating is the love that stays even after the ugliest words and most shattered expectations. The love that fights, that fixes, that says all the words out loud. The love that keeps moving forward.

Like every other holiday we’ve made up, Valentine’s Day is what you want it to be.

May the love you seek find its way.


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Happy Galentine’s Day!

February 13, 2015


Hello! Happy Galentine’s Day!

What’s Galentine’s Day you ask?

Only the greatest day of the year.

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Every year on February 13th, Leslie Knope fans gather together with their girlfriends to celebrate friendship and eat all of the things. Even if you don’t watch Parks & Rec, it’s a great holiday to adopt just for the sake of chocolate covered fruit and margaritas.

This year I threw myself head first into the festivities because celebrating women is one of my very favorite things to do. Gift bag goodies included nail polish, candles, hand towels, magnets, pins, Galentine’s Day cards, and even a Galentine’s Day shirt.IMG_2002


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I read once that building a community around you is the best thing you can do for your health. I didn’t know how much this would be true until I had kids.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise a mother. Today I celebrate the women who have helped me be a better woman and mama. To the family and friends close and far away, and also to many of you. Your comments, emails, and hand-written letters have inspired me to be a more kind and thoughtful person.

From the bottom of my very happy, weepy heart– thank you.

Happy Galentine’s Day, friends. There is no better thing than women helping women.IMG_2737


Celebrate women by supporting shops run by strong, creative female business leaders.


Shirt –> Fourth Wave Apparel Twitter, Facebook, & Shop
Each of Fourth Wave’s designs are based on vignettes from women’s history and pay homage to courageous women who refused to know their place. Shop owners Noelle and Anna believe in honoring the legacy of women who insisted on their right to vote, own property, access education, ride a bicycle, wear pants, etc. by inspiring today’s generation of women to speak up, stand up, and shine. Everything they make is screenprinted by hand in Boise, Idaho and 5% of all profits are used to give back to other women through Women for Women International, an organization that supports women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities.

Towels –> Viva Sweet Love Facebook, Twitter, & Shop
After being a mosaic artist for nearly two decades, Amy Fancher longed to do something different. So in 2006, she started exploring screen printing and acrylic painting, beginning the journey to starting her own business. In her shop you’ll find a magical assortment of original illustrations that have been screen printed onto soft tee shirts, flour sack tea towels and napkins, messenger bags, his and hers pillow cases, cushion covers constructed from natural hemp and organic cotton, and more. And the arrow onesie? Yes please. Make sure to use coupon code “KATEJBAER” for 10% off the shop!

Cards –> Carly Reed Designs Instagram, Facebook, & Shop
Print designer Carly Reed is inspired by simple and beautiful things. From wedding invitations to everyday cards and stationery, she has everything you need to keep your paper needs classy and unique. In addition to the collections and custom options, her designs are also for sale at Minted and carlyreeddesigns.com. Make sure to also check out her stamps and t-shirts. One of everything, please!

Magnets –> Turtle’s Soup Instagram, Twitter, & Shop
Shop owner Melanie (and Christopher!)’s goal was to make eco friendly and totally awesome pop culture and original art products for all to enjoy. Lucky for them, they are succeeding while also going to school full time! I don’t think I’ve ever ordered something off off Etsy that has made me laugh harder. Uteruses before Duderuses forever. Check out their other magnets/pins for more happy mail ideas. 

 Candles –> HollyBeeez Instagram & Shop
Holly from HollyBeeez loves yoga, coffee, and creating. She especially loves making candles and specializes in bridal and baby shower candle gifts. She currently lives in a small town north of Pittsburgh with her husband, three teenagers, cats and dog. Use coupon code “love10″ for 10% off the shop, and make sure to also check out her garlands!


PS: Treat yo self to a free wardrobe for a year. 1,200 dollars worth of White Plum clothing, for free, in your closet. It’s a no brainer. All you have to do is join their mailing list. Easy peasy. Giveaway runs from February 11th to the 22nd.

WP Free Wardobe Giveaway

Five Things For 2015

January 6, 2015


Every year I promise not to make any New Year’s resolutions, and every year I do it anyways. A hopeless romantic for new beginnings. (And maybe a bit of a narcissist, too).

A few things I’d like to do more of in 2015 ->

1) More clean eating. I am not a health expert and this is not a food/diet/weight/whole30 blog–but I would like to eat a few less processed foods and few more fruits and veggies every day. So far I’ve bought coconut oil and almond butter and am giving kale a 52nd chance. I like these recipes and this food mantra.

2) More day trips. Austin and I took a fun day trip to DC last weekend, reminding me how many places and things to do are accessible within hours from our home. I like this roadtrip site and this travel mantra.

3) More books. Roaming the library to find good books was fun 3.5 years ago. Now it is almost impossible with two small children trying to ruin the librarian’s day. I still haven’t given in to screen reading (yes, I know I’d love the kindle), so I either order my books on Amazon or request a dozen books from the library and pick them up when they’re ready. All my favorite books here and a few book reviews here.

4) More podcasts. One of my favorite things to do last year was listen to podcasts because I get so much done. A few months ago, I started the ever popular Serial podcast six episodes behind and caught up in one day while scrubbing the kitchen, organizing closets, and folding mounds of laundry. Now I won’t touch the dishes unless I have something to listen to. Other favorite podcasts are Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin and Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

5) More planned events. Guess what? We are doing a free trial of Netflix DVDs for a month (usually only do streaming). Do you want to come over and watch a movie? So far we’ve watched Her, some long Hobbit movie, and The Fault In Our Stars. One of them was good. Or we could watch the Golden Globes together. Tina! Amy! I’ll make margaritas! Oh and Valentine’s Day is coming up. Or more importantly, Galentines Day is coming up. Let’s plan a party! Make our own invitations! Cut out tiny paper hearts while binge watching Girls! Or we could meet at the park. Take the kids to the zoo. Someone must be having a birthday, right? Let’s find a babysitter and go out for tapas! Or plan a dinner date just to talk about Serial. Let’s put something on the calendar because if we don’t, I will sit here every night with one eye on a book and one eye on Friends and never, ever get up off the couch.


What do you want more of this year?