Pardon Our Dust…

Hi friends! I am in the process of moving to a new location! From now on you can find me at karissasimplifies.com

It’s a little rough right now but I hope you’ll take a peek!

Exploring

Hubby is now all settled back in Austin and working hard at the new job, so I went to spend the weekend with him. On Saturday night we met a dear friend for dinner at Blue Dahlia Bistro on East 11th. It was my first time to ever venture down East 11th. There are a handful of cute local artisan shops, chic restaurants and a few little bars scattered along the street. It is the definition of an “up and coming” neighborhood.

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We thoroughly enjoyed Blue Dahlia. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was intimate without being overcrowded. I had a brie tartine with walnuts and jam from Bolo Patisserie (a local mobile bakery). It was delightful and reminded me so much of the tartines I ate while living in France this summer  that I felt transported back to my favorite boulangerie  in Angers.

After our decadent meal our friend mentioned that she had seen some murals down the street, so we decided to take a little peek…

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These mosaics are so stunning, a photograph cannot do them justice. Check out this article from UT Austin for a little bit of history on the mosaics and the stories behind them.

As we were walking back to the car we passed a cabinet on the side of the street painted with the name “The Little Library”

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Obviously, as a teacher, I was dying over this. What a lovely way to provide books for the children living in the surrounding area, which is one of Austin’s lower socio-economic neighborhoods. I will definitely be coming back with some of my classroom duplicates to add to The Little Library 😉

Have a beautiful day,
Karissa

Eye Opening

If you have ever met my mother you know that I grew up in an extremely health-conscious household. As a family we have always eaten organic when possible, avoided fast food and made an effort to be extremely active. Exercise was a natural part of our routine growing up, whether we were taking family walks/bike rides or playing organized sports with other families in our neighborhood. Mom was vigilant guard of our health, her concerns mostly stemming from her side of the family’s genetic predisposition for health problems. The combination of my background and education has  motivated me to make an effort to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle as an adult. Buying whole, healthy foods can be expensive, but are worth the sacrifices we make to fit them into our budget when the health benefits are considered. Hugh and I try to stay active and avoid obvious pitfalls (aside from the occasional Girl Scout cookie). I thought we were doing pretty well…

…until I picked up a new book last weekend.

Every time I am in Austin (can’t wait to live there again!) I stop by Book People. Hands down my all time favorite book store, they are locally owned & always have a fantastic selection. On my most recent visit I was surprised to see their feature shelf covered with Jessica Alba’s face. What? A celebrity nonsense book being featured in the recommended section of my beloved book store? No! I wasn’t sure what to think, but I have often been pleasantly surprised by books on that shelf so I decided to give it a little peek.

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Turns out The Honest Life is actually a fantastic book. Jessica has a clear, personable voice and she knows what she is talking about. I have been shocked page after page by her discoveries about additives, government regulations and the chemicals that appear in things I use daily. Did you know that there are tens of thousands of chemicals used in cleaning products, personal care items, foods and more that have never been tested for safety for humans? Neither did I until I started reading this book! Even things labeled “hypoallergenic” “organic” and “natural” can’t necessarily be trusted because the government does not regulate the use of those terms and companies are free to use and interpret as they wish. Something may be labeled as “organic” because it has one organic ingredient despite the 50 other synthetic contents.  Now I am obsessively doing my own research at every possible opportunity, looking up ingredients for everything in our apartment. This weekend I threw away an entire garbage bag of toxin-filled cleaning agents, soaps, lotions and more.

I was horrified to discover that even my lipstick, which is marketed for its natural oils, contains lead! Ahhhhhh! And my mascara, which I use every single day, contains synthetic dyes and other chemicals that are believed to be carcinogenic. I put that stuff on my face y’all, and I bet a lot of you do as well!

I am on a mission to create an Honest Life household. If anyone has any tips or truly natural products that you would like to share, leave a comment!

May 5

Day 5: Publicly profess love for another blogger.

I know I’m a day late. Sorry I’m not sorry!

Of course I adore a lot of well known bloggers such as Emily and Kendi, but one of my favorite blogs to read belongs to my friend Amarette of Amarette’s Abenteuer, the chronicles of her experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Last week Amarette nominated me for a Liebster Award. Basically a Liebster is a way for you to recognize bloggers you love who have less than 200 readers (although the original rules say less than 3,000… not sure how that change happened but whatever).

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Rules Are:

  • 1. Posts 11 things about yourself. (I have to admit I am skipping this part because I am super short on time!)
    2. Answer the questions that your nominator set for you plus list 11 questions for the people you nominate.
    3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. (But the original rules say 3-5 and 11 is a lot so… I’m going with that haha)
    4. Go to their page and tell them.
    5. No tag backs!

Here are the questions I was asked by the lovely Amarette:

  1. What’s something that motivates you in the morning? Knowing that I get to go to school and do a job that really matters. Plus I get awesome hugs from all my students, and if a hug from a little kid doesn’t cheer you up I don’t know what will!
  2.  When feeling down, what’s the one thing you do to help improve your mood? I go somewhere alone. The moments of solitude allow me to mediate and pray, which helps me regain my perspective. Sometimes I enjoy a little shopping as well as long as it doesn’t break our budget! 😉
  3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I want to go everywhere… Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, Greece… I want to see the pyramids, the Nazca lines, so many things! I especially want to travel to Albania one day to learn about my heritage.
  4. What’s your go-to beverage? Coconut water! Yum! Taste Nirvana’s Real Coconut Water (with Pulp) is my favorite. It’s a little pricey but it is super healthy. No added sugar and it is packaged in glass, which avoids the chemicals of plastic bottles or cans.
  5. On a rainy day, would you rather stay inside and read a book or go outside and play in the rain?? Inside with a book! I will always choose a book. Right now I am reading The New Republic by Lionel Shriver and it is fantastic.
  6. Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere! My students, magazines, friends, blogs, nature, daily encounters… everywhere.
  7. What’s your favorite childhood memory? Wow it is so hard to pick. My family has always traveled and we are very close so I have many happy memories… I can’t pick just one favorite but many of my happiest memories are associated with Wind River Ranch, where I spent many summers as a guest and even more as staff.
  8. What made you start blogging? My husband and I decided to get rid of our Facebook accounts, and some of our family/friends were asking for another way to keep up with us as we moved forward in our life together. Since so many of my friends blog I thought I would give it a try 🙂
  9. What’s your favorite blog post (add a link too)? I’m assuming this means a blog post of mine? I would have to say this one. It is not flashy or witty, but going back and reading it always reminds me to be intentional with the people I love.
  10. What’s your favorite word?  My favorite word is not flashy or unique, it’s not obscure or chosen to make me seem clever or intelligent. It is, in fact, humble. I think that humility is undervalued in our society and that calling someone “humble” is one of the highest compliments you can pay them. It implies that they are not apt to brag or be overly prideful. It also whispers that they probably have something they deserve recognition for, but they choose not to ask for recognition. I find that to be so classy and appealing in a person. A humble spirit is a truly valuable characteristic. 
  11. What is your favorite form of social media and why? Instagram! 100% with no competition. I would so much rather see pictures than anything else, and I love having a feed that I can go look at to see the faces of the people I love most.

I am nominating these lovely folks for a Liebster of their own:

  • Alli from Beautiful Family Affairs (look at that little chunk of hers and tell me you are not in love already. I mean come on, that baby is stinking adorable!) 
  • Rylee from Rylee Blake (Her design in fantastic, I can’t wait until she starts accepting new orders! It might actually be enough to get me to move to Blogger.) I discovered her through this May challenge I’m doing.
  • Kayla (my bestie!) from Whale You Be My Friend (Girl has amazing style- check out her posts on fashion trends.)

Here are your 11 questions ladies! I really like Amarette’s so I might borrow a few 😉

  1. What is one song that can always get you up and dancing?
  2. What is one thing you need to make it through the day?
  3. Why did you start your blog?
  4. Do you have any pet peeves? If so, what?
  5. What is the best/funniest internet video you have ever seen? Include a link please!
  6. What is your favorite food of all time?
  7. Where do you find inspiration?
  8. What is the best book you’ve read recently?
  9. What are your 3 favorite online shopping websites?
  10. What is something you have learned recently?
  11. What is your favorite summer color palette for 2013?

Have fun ladies!

xoxo

May 1

I know it’s a bit later in the evening than I usually post but I just stumbled upon this Blog Every Day In May challenge, and I thought it sounded like fun so here goes! I probably won’t keep going with it but I like today’s prompt.

Day 1: The Story of Your Life In 250 Words Or Less

Born in the North but raised in the great state of Texas.

I have known as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a teacher. My aunt (who is also my godmother) is a teacher and I learned to love teaching through my visits to her classroom.

At age 5 I was attacked by an ostrich at a safari park. It pecked me and stole my sandwich.

I love and am loved by two wonderful parents, an incredibly talented little sister, 5 aunts, 3 uncles, 3 grandmas and 2 grandpas (one from heaven and I miss him every day).

In high school nerd-athlete was a hard role to fill, but I loved every minute.

Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado has given me my best summers, greatest memories, and some of my dearest friends.

On the first day of college I met an adorable, dorky rugby player. Three years of friendship and two years of dating later he gave me his heart and his name.

St. Edward’s University has been the source of many wonderful things and 4 of the greatest years of my life.

Every moment of my existence has been orchestrated by the divine. Call Him what you will, believe in Him how you will, but I cannot take credit for even a second of it all.

 

Big News…

I cannot even begin to tell y’all how excited I am to be writing this post. Some of you have known about this for a while but we didn’t want to spread it around too much until we were certain…

WE ARE MOVING BACK TO AUSTIN!

Our time here in Houston has been a blessing in so many ways, but we have always felt that Austin was our home together, and we are ecstatic to be returning to the hill country. Hugh has found a job that he is so excited about and I will be teaching Kindergarten again at an amazing charter school.

We can’t wait to be back in our favorite city. Hiking on the green belt, throwing darts at Red’s Porch and paddle boarding on the lake seem like far too distant memories. Of course we are also excited to rejoin many of our closest and dearest friends!

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We will be settled as soon as the school year ends, so y’all come visit!

xoxo

Recently…


IMG_1218Well, we are officially 3 weeks in to married life and I have to say, it is AWESOME! Since we never lived together before it has definitely been an adjustment to share space in our cute little one bedroom apartment, but it’s a fun adjustment to make.

We are currently in limbo as far as our living situation and can’t make any big moves until I finish out the school year with my Kinder class, so for now we are in a short term lease ending mid-June. We agreed that the hassle and cost of setting up services for such a short time was not worth it, so we have no cable and no internet.

Every time I mention to people that we have no internet, they tend to freak out a little bit. I understand the reaction. We have come to depend on the internet for so much, from looking up dinner recipes to checking email and listening to music via sites like Pandora. It is such a prevalent resource in our society that we almost don’t notice how much we use it until it becomes unavailable.

As a teacher I rely on the internet for a lot. I use it to find inspiration for units, to look up state standards and to find new methods for helping my students with unique needs. But outside of that research there is not a lot of effective internet usage happening in my life. Mostly I dawdle around on Pinterest, check my email way more than necessary and occasionally update this blog 😉 Far too often I have caught myself investing my time in those outlets when people I love are sitting right around me, available for conversation and quality time. That is why I have come to love our lack of internet. On Sunday we spent almost the entire day in the apartment, cooking, reading and just enjoying each other’s company.

No email, no web surfing, just peace and rest.

Disconnecting can be a fantastic thing!

xoxo

Packing List: Honeymoon Edition

For our honeymoon H is surprising me with a week-long trip to a mystery location. All I know is that we are going to a place with beaches where it is warm during the day and cool at night. I have a couple of theories… but I love that he is surprising me so I am not going to try to figure it out 🙂

This kind of climate presents a packing challenge, so I am planning to stick with versatile basics and take a few fun scarves to mix things up. Everything I need for the week should fit in my Lulu duffel and my trusty Madewell satchel, which also serves as a day bag. No checked luggage here!

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I can’t wait to find out where we are going!

Apartment Decorating

As we try to figure out our next steps, H and I have been fortunate enough to secure a short lease on an apartment where we can begin our married life. While planning for this move (it’s the first time we have ever lived together, so it should be interesting) I have realized that my opportunities to decorate a feminine living space are gone. I will be living with a man now, a man who would rather sleep outside than touch a ruffly duvet. How shocking! (just kidding) Oh well, I may not be able to decorate exactly the way I would like to but that certainly shouldn’t stop me from sharing my current favorite pieces with you!

Currently Loving: Anthropologie Home