A Simple Christmas

A Simple Christmas

This year, Derek and I decided to take a new approach for celebrating Christmas. We chose to rent a tiny little cabin in the Vermont woods for four days just the two of us. The simplicity and serenity was our biggest gift to one another.

We spent half of our time relaxing in the cabin and exploring the landscape of the rural countryside where we were staying: Underhill, Cambridge, Westford and Jericho. The other half of our time was spent in nearby Burlington where we sipped, ate, shopped and sat on a bench swing taking in the beauty of Lake Champlain. Our last stop before heading home was to Waterbury, for none other than the infamous ice cream factory that resides there. I will let our photographs do the talking this time around – prepare to scroll;

I cannot get enough of the desaturated cloudy palette and the vastness of the landscape. Vermont served as the perfect place to find peace in silence for even just a few days. We are eager to make it back to this beautiful land again another time. Until then, it feels good to be home and settling in for the winter as we had our first snow fall today.
Wishing you all the happiest, safest and healthiest new year. Cheers!
Life Lately

Life Lately

lists on top of lists, woooo!

a few too many cookies and not even feeling bad about it before wedding diet crunch time kicks off Jan 1, for real.

vegan eggnog because, see above.

Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Darling magazine when I can stay awake longer than the turn of one page.

just a little bit of snow!

forward to a quiet Christmas in Vermont just the two of us

way too much time on social media lately... new years resolution: found.

for happiness and good health for everyone I love. Really, I know this is t h e most cliche thing ever, but I pray for it every night! Everything else falls second.

taking a slower pace this Christmas season and focussing on quality time with each other and our families instead of expectations and pressure. It has literally been the best, I highly suggest it.

Shark Tank, the best thing since sliced bread in our household right now.

where life will take Derek and I a year from today as we're settling into our marriage!

the extra snuggles from Conway as the days grow shorter and the weather gets cooler.

a cordless vacuum situation because endless amounts of pine needles on the floor are a B.

my Nike trainers as much as possible because comfort is key and this sprain needs to heal pronto.

about the ride this past year has been and how, with just a few weeks to spare before the new year, how grateful I am that it has all amounted to growth.

focused on enjoying these next eight sacred months as an engaged couple before the next chapter begins!

I cannot wait to share our cozy holiday in the woods here next week, till then — have the merriest Christmas!!
Home Is: Bridgton, Maine

Home Is: Bridgton, Maine

The best way I know to get in the Christmas spirit and kick off the season is to spend a day making the journey to the tree farm to cut down a fresh pine to decorate. This a family tradition that we've been doing my whole life. For so many years this meant hopping in the car to find the most scenic and charming farm we could find. Usually this meant driving at least an hour away but, that was part of the fun — the journey! What's ironic is that since moving to Maine, there is now a tree farm just at the end of my Dad's street (which, yes, truly is called Memory Lane). So now and for the past few years the journey to get the tree now looks like this: blue skies, dirt road, wagon in tow. It's so beautiful to see how traditions ebb and flow throughout different seasons of life.

Bridgton, Maine has become a new home base in this chapter of our lives. It has been exciting to explore a new state and a new way of life when we visit. It's the biggest breath of fresh air to wake up with a view of the mountains, a sprawling field for a back yard and a much slower pace. There is just so much natural New England beauty every where you go and every where you look. I always feel like I'm brought right back to my New Hampshire roots, but in an even deeper sense Maine has a simpler and more organic way of existing.

When we're en route for a visit to Bridgton, I always get a buzz reminiscent of the glory days when February vacation was a thing and we'd be headed north for a week long ski trip. Those were the days, right? Ah but, these are "the days" too.

Even though we're often up for just a weekend and the inevitability of work on Monday is reality, the magic of this place still exists and makes it easy to live in the moment to truly take it all in.
Cutting the tree in Maine has lead to making new memories with an old tradition. As time passes I'm eager to see how we carry this on to our own kids one day and share it amongst three generations. For now, it's special to share it with my own Dad and of course, Derek.

It's amazing how things come full circle in life. From making long trips for the sake of the journey, to now pulling our tree in a wagon from the end of the street — it's so fulfilling to see this tradition evolve through so many years. Going from one extreme to the other keeps it all so alive.
What Christmas traditions do you celebrate year to year? How have they carried through life as it ebbs and flows? Would love to hear. Enjoy these next few weeks before the big day finally arrives!
A Not So Common Day Moment: Our Proposal Story

A Not So Common Day Moment: Our Proposal Story

This is a long one, but a good one. Sit back and get comfy. Six months ago today Derek asked me to be his wife. And in honor of this exciting anniversary as well as our four year anniversary of being together later this week (we celebrate everything, get use to it), I'm handing the mic over to my lovely fiancé Derek for this 'Not So Common Day Moment' post to tell the story of his proposal for my hand in marriage. I'm so happy to share this and it's still hard to believe that this really happened! I had dreamt of this for so long and it's a fully realized dream to have found love with Derek. Enough of the mushy gushy. Read on for Derek's take on this incredibly special day --

It wasn't long after the dust had settled from college that I knew I wanted to marry Nicole, but it then became a matter of waiting for our lives to evolve and transition into the next chapter of post college life together. This would involve Nicole's graduation from Montserrat, me leaving my roommates and the "warehouse" in Charlestown behind, and us getting our first apartment together - which would prove to be the true test. The following spring after moving in together in Gloucester, we were fortunate enough to take a trip to Naples, FL to visit my grandparents - Grandy & Grampa Stan. It was at this time that my mom hinted towards a rather unique ring that Grandy often times wore during special occasions. She told me that this ring was my great grandmother's engagement ring from the turn of the century and that maybe, just maybe, it could be passed down and kept in the family. This was of course pending I had someone in my life whom I thought was deserving of this honor, and of course, I had someone in mind!

Having my great grandmother's ring in the back of my mind, I knew that I could now begin to think about asking Nicole to marry me. About 8 months after our trip to Florida we purchased our first home together on Cherry St. and began the daunting task of completely renovating the entire interior, moving, settling, and coming to grips with the new responsibility we took on together. I knew that it wouldn't be right to propose during such a hectic time, so I waited until the Spring to re-visit the subject. It was at this time that I was able to sneak down to Naples during a business trip in Florida to visit Grandy to talk about marrying Nicole, and how she was deserving of the family ring. Once I returned home from my business trip, I had to start the rather sneaky task of working with Nicole's mom, Lynn, restoring the ring, getting it sized, and planning the proposal.

Ever since marrying Nicole first crossed my mind, I knew that Eastern Point in Gloucester would be the place I would pop the question. Eastern Point was the first place that Nicole and I went when we began to date. It was here that we spent our first full day together taking pictures and frolicking around on the rocks nearly four years ago. It was here that we spent many gorgeous summer evenings enjoying the cool ocean breeze while watching the sun set. It was here that we passed countless times on the boat as we were coming and going from the harbor. It was the perfect location. It is quite challenging to plan a proposal in an outdoor location in New England given the variability of the weather, compounded by coordinating with my sister Anne to be an undercover photographer who would capture the entire event on a digital camera. I chose the seventh of June because by then the weather would be more stable, and I wanted to kick-off the summer in such a way that would never be forgotten. When June 7th rolled around, I played it cool. Nicole had been asking weeks prior when we could take pictures together (a tradition we have once the winter is over) so I used that as the perfect excuse to head out to Eastern Point that evening for the first time of the season. It worked out perfectly because Nicole, knowing that we were going to be taking pictures, spent some time "getting ready" to be sure to look nice for the camera.

Around 6pm, we headed out to Eastern Point in my car. I had pre-arranged with my mom and Anne to have a vase of peonies (Nicole's favorite) set up on a prominent spot up near the lighthouse, and for Anne to be in disguise wielding a camera. As Nicole and I approached the lighthouse, she immediately noticed the bouquet, and began asking questions. It was at this point that I began panicking inside because I did not want to answer her questions and potentially blow my cover. It was at this point that I told her to go stand by them so that I could snap a picture, while she turned around to walk towards them, I reached into my camera bag and grabbed the ring box. I gave Nicole, the love of my life, one last kiss as "boyfriend and girlfriend" and assumed the position down on one knee. Before I could even speak I could tell that Nicole was in total shock, and then, on the most scenic point in Gloucester during the "golden hour" of sunlight, I asked Nicole to marry me.

(Attempted) Capsule Wardrobe

(Attempted) Capsule Wardrobe


Ahh the allusive idea that is the capsule wardrobe. It's been a thing I've been wanting to accomplish for a while now but for so long has felt daunting. I kept telling myself I just had to be in the right mood or it had to be the right time. In the interim I brushed up on capsule wardrobe anatomy (just decided that that is a thing) by following Caroline Joy's beautiful blog, Un-Fancy. Here, she documents her daily outfits from her 37 piece seasonal wardrobes to inspire others to live with a simple but intentional focus.

I set myself up for success by not limiting myself to a number but rather a set of criteria that would ensure every piece had a reason for still hanging up in my closet. This meant only keeping the pieces I loved, wore frequently, are good quality without any tears or pilling, and I felt totally comfortable in. This meant putting aside any emotional attachment and being totally practical. Relieving myself of the weight that all of this stuff kept in my life was the reason for doing this in the first place. Up to my closet I went, and the rest was well... a massive purge. The result was well worth the time and energy: an organized and realistic closet containing only what belongs. I could literally close my eyes and pick something out blindly knowing I'd love it and wear it. Picking out my clothes and jewelry, especially for work, is now a much easier and more positive experience.

With clutter comes weight. With weight comes guilt. It does not serve you to have half of your closet (or any material thing for that matter!) in your life that makes you feel any negativity. If so, pass it on to someone who will appreciate it and has a better use for it than you. As satisfying as it is to open my closet doors and admire the perfectly stacked sweaters or thinned out jewelry rack that was previously over flowing, creating this practical and intentional wardrobe came with an even better reward besides what was in front of me. The ultimate reward was making a massive donation to the St. Frances & St. Clarie's thrift sore of Lazarus House Ministries — a Catholic charity supporting those in need, especially families who have suffered from house fires. Taking the time to find a place to donate to that supports causes that are personally near to my heart made the entire experience that much more worth while.
I encourage you to take a look at what items in your home may not be serving a purpose any longer and pass them on. It's a win win. You feel great and your home will become more of a freer environment while you enrich someone else's life with something so appreciated. There's no better time to give than the holiday season :)