Balancing Minimalism and Joy: What Do You Collect?

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Little kids always seem to be working on some collection or another. When I was young I had all sorts–everything from rocks to beanie babies to dolls that lived on a shelf and weren’t meant for play. And kids these days are keeping up the habit. (Recently, I had a lovely chat with a little one about all her Tsum Tsums.)

But I’d love to know, what do you collect as an adult? Dishes in a specific pattern? Harry Potter paraphernalia? Miniature buildings to add to an ever-expanding Christmas village?

The nice thing about having a loud-and-proud collection is that it makes gift giving much easier. There’s always that one friend in a group who LOVES a certain Disney Princess or anything with roses on it. So you always think of them when you’re in a store and stumble upon an item that’s “on theme.” Convenient for the gift giver…and also kind of nice for the collector. Wouldn’t you feel sorta special knowing that people are thinking of you each time they spot an item with stars on it? Or used a fountain pen? Or interacted with whatever it is you squirrel away?

Yet, with the quest for minimalism being such a popular feature as of late (shout out to Marie Kondo and all those capsule wardrobe YouTubers) I wonder if some have let their little stockpiles wither away. Even when that little stockpile brought them joy. How do we balance that fad-driven need to cull our belongings with our own happiness?

Whatever your answer might be, I’m curious about what it means for adult collections. Personally, I’m loving my ever-growing collection of washi tape. (See photos for some of my favorite rolls.) This collection feels like the perfect marriage of minimalism dreams and hoarding realities. Haha! Washi is so, so cute with so many patterns to choose from. But it’s also cheap, technically a consumable (because I use it to make pocket letters and for other paper crafting and planning), and doesn’t take up much space. For now, washi collecting feels right. (And who knows! Maybe someday I’ll lift my embargo on rock purchases…but probably not on Ty products.) Bottom line: I don’t want to resist something that I know makes me happy. And washi tape makes me happy!

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What did you collect as a child? What about now? Does your collection bring you joy or does it make you feel guilty? I’d love to hear! 

P.S. Other questions for you to weigh in on — What were your favorite childhood TV shows? and What’s your favorite mug? 

mid-week round-up

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Hello again! It seems folks all over the country have been experiencing a cold snap these last few days so I hope you’re managing to stay warm and toasty. The lows in Miami were in the 50’s and it was amusing to watch the locals break out their parkas and beanies. That’s practically an arctic blast down here! In other news, Chet and I are headed to St. Pete tomorrow. I’m super stoked to see my sister, play a little shuffleboard, and enjoy the gulf-side of the state for a few days. Have you ever been to St. Petersburg, FL? Any recommendations? I’ll post what we’re up to over on my Instagram. Hope you have a great rest of your week, and here are a few links for you to peruse…

The tech inside this 19th century conveyance isn’t stuck in the 19th century.

This and a set of stencils seems like a fun recipe for a whole host of DIYs.

Making Oprah: The inside story of a TV revolution.

How adorable would it be to scatter these around a wedding reception venue?

Why is this painting so captivating?

I’m obsessed with Alessandra Olanow’s illustrations.

Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech.

How we found (and lost) the dream of Personal Rapid Transit.

A genius way to give back.

A Harvard linguist reveals the most misused words in English.

Make college football great again by making it more like high-school debate.

There are as many names for french toast as ways to cook it.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you might enjoy — My Three Favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes and The Big Business of College Sports.

3 At-Home Date Night Ideas (That Aren’t Netflix and Chill)

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Have you ever found yourself in the midst of another night of binge watching TV clear up ’til bedtime and thought to yourself, “Wow. This is actually kinda boring.”

I mean, to be fair…I’m all about my TV time. I’m a huge fan of it in general. (Just started Westworld and OMG that show is nuts!) But sometimes you gotta mix it up.

If you’re one of those people who has a gajillion dollars to drop on elaborate meals out and worldly experiences, then by all means. Go for that.

However, if you’re someone of simpler means (Ballin’ on a budget!!!) then you might be looking for some date-night inspiration that doesn’t involve spending a bunch of dough. Or maybe you HAVE a bunch of dough but it’s January and cold where you are so you’re like, “I need to stay in my sweats, kthanx.” Either way…date night FROM HOME is a great solution. Here are three ideas…

3 DATE NIGHTS THAT DON’T INVOLVE LEAVING YOUR HOUSE (OR NETFLIX)

EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING

Take everything you love about a lazy morning at home and move it to the evening times. Sound confusing? Here’s the deal. Weekday mornings can be rushed and weekend mornings can get crowded out by sleeping in or rushing to make that brunch reservation with friends. (Or if you’re me, trying to make it to Target before the rest of Miami wakes up. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid a crowd.)

But long, lazy mornings are soooo nice. Cozy pj’s and a floofy robe. A big mug of something warm. The New York Times spread out across the table. (The crossword that’s inside just waiting to be completed!) A blues-y Spotify playlist playing softly in the background.

Now you’re getting the idea! Put on those jammies early tonight, make breakfast for dinner, crack open the paper, and linger at the kitchen table for as long as you like. Best part? You get to go “back to bed” after this breakfast.

DINNER AND A (COOKING) SHOW

I love watching cooking shows and recipe tutorials on YouTube. Sadly, I’m guilty of partaking in these more for entertainment than actually following the instructions and…you know…cooking. You too?

That’s why I think it would be fun to pick a cooking show or a few video recipes that you’ve had bookmarked for ages and GO FOR IT. And thanks to the magic of your laptop or tablet, you can watch and follow along right from your kitchen. Isn’t technology swell?!

If you really wanna up the ante you could turn this into a competition of sorts. Both you and your partner could make different versions of the same dish being described on the screen. Try them both and decide who came out on top.

GETTIN’ CRAFTY 

Pull out your DIY supplies and get comfy spread out on the floor. The possibilities here are kind of endless. The end goal is the same…MAKE something together. Like something to hang on your walls (cheap art!) or a stockpile of gifts to give your friends when their birthdays roll around (cheap presents!).

A few summers ago Chet and I got really into hunting down cool looking hardback books at thrift stores and then turning them into journals. (Kinda like this.) Even though our living room turned into a disaster zone after an evening of our crafting (paper scraps EVERYWHERE!), it was such a fun way to pass the time together. And we gained a bunch of beautiful, HANDMADE notebooks.

And, because I love a theme, I can’t resist the urge to tell you to indulge in your favorite CRAFT beer during your crafty date nights. Sorry, not sorry.

Do you guys have any at-home date night ideas to share? Leave them in the comments! 

How To Stick To Your 2017 Goals

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Did you get a pretty 2017 wall calendar for Christmas? Still trying to figure out the best way to use it because you are happily married to Google Calendar (or iCal or your bullet journal or phone reminders)? Why not display it some place prominent and use it to track your goals in the months ahead.

It can be easy to stick to resolutions right off the bat. Early days and all that. But it can get a little trickier as your enthusiasm starts to wane. For a jolt of accountability, I love the idea of picking three goals for the year and buying a stockpile of three different types of sticker. Correspond the stickers to a goal and award yourself one for each day you complete your goal. Your goals for 2017 may be big — like training for a marathon or saving money for a down payment on a house — or they might be slight — like packing  your lunch more often or apologizing less. Either way, there’s something so satisfying about watching those stickers add up.

I’ve got my eye on these gold stars (always a classic), hearts, and EMOJIS(!). 2017 – me and my stickers are comin’ for ya!!!

Have you set any goals for the new year? How do you hold yourself accountable? 

(The calendar pictured above is from the Etsy shop cobblestonestudio2 and you can purchase one HERE. 10% of the proceeds from these calendars go to Mental Health America. Which is awesome.)

mid-week round-up

fire-escape-street

Welcome to 2017, my friends! Gah! How futuristic does THAT sound? I hope you’re all doing well and settling into the new year with ease. Did you make any resolutions? Set any new intentions? I’d like to develop some new organizational systems (paperwork, computer files, my planner…all these Christmas decorations that need to come down eventually, lol) and decrease time spent in front of screens. I’m also kick-starting my year with daily yoga videos from Adriene. (LOVE her January challenges!) Now, if reading more random internet articles was a resolution of yours, I’ve got ya covered… But you can feel free to click through even if it wasn’t…

Adding Chris Bohjalian’s book The Sleepwalker to my 2017 reading list.

Glamour just published it’s first issue produced completely by women. It’s about time.

This stamp set from Concord & 9th makes the sweetest DIY cards for winter.

Sherman Alexie, Lindy West, and Ta-Nehisi Coates all quit Twitter this week.

Would you paint your walls blush?

There’s a massive restaurant industry bubble, and it’s about to burst.

Death on the hippie trail.

The introvert’s travel bucket list for 2017.

Yoga may not be scientifically valid, but it works for me.

Diaries shed new light on siege of Leningrad.

The little-known link between Princess Leia’s iconic hairstyle and the Mexican Revolution.

*shrugs* Shit happens.

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Katie, Reservation Specialist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I’m starting close to home and bringing you my sister Katie’s story. Her official job title is “Reservation Specialist” but you’ll soon learn that her talents and passions lead her to wear many more hats, even in a single day.

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Hi there!  My name is Katie and if you asked me what I do for a living, I would probably answer “I’m a professional actress and playwright” without blinking an eye.  If we are being completely honest with each other though, that’s not always how I make my living. I also work full time at an Italian restaurant in Downtown St. Petersburg.  My official title is Reservation Specialist (I even have a business card!  Fancy!). Since taking on this position I’ve had to learn how to balance my artistic endeavors while pulling a paycheck in a completely different industry.  It’s a lot, but I thrive on stress.  What follows is an account of a recent Monday where I had to juggle several facets of my career.  Come along with me and make sure you have had a LOT of coffee. 

9:00am – Up and fed and caffeinated.  I don’t have to be at the restaurant until 10am so I usually use this time to look at upcoming auditions, make my to do list, or write.  For whatever reason, I tend to write my best stuff after I just wake up. Today, I also update my acting resume for my auditions this evening.

10:00am – We open at 11:30am so I clock in, fill up my water bottle, put my stuff in the back room, and say hi to the day bartender, Jessica.  I start flipping chairs off  the bar and high tops.  The openers arrive and start cutting lemons and setting up the outside dining area while I check my emails.  I get through as many emails as I can before we open, while Jessica and I watch the morning news on the TV at the bar.  

11:15am – The manager on duty gives me the floor plan for the day and I make a copy of it.  I check in with the servers to make sure they’re ready to go.

11:30am – I unlock the front doors and seat the first few tables.  It’s a slow start today because it’s cloudy and gloomy.  It’s amazing how much the weather affects our business, but it truly does.

12:00pm – 2:00pm – It’s a pretty slow lunch rush today so I have plenty of time to take phone calls and answer emails as they come in.  We are closing in on the holiday season so there are lots of big party reservations coming up!  There are already days that are completely booked, and I have started having to tell people we don’t have room for their parties.  

4:00pm – I go upstairs to the office but instead of printing menus, I have to print my acting resume because I have THREE auditions this evening.

4:30pm – I go back downstairs to gather my things and say bye to my coworkers.  I get plenty of “break a legs!” from all my friends.  I love these people.

5:00pm – I run to Staples to print my new head-shots!  I just got them done (thanks Beth!).  I go home and trim them and my resumes down to 8×10 inches, and staple them back to back.  I have done this so many times that it only takes me a few minutes to do 10 of them. 

6:00 pm – I drive to Tampa, where my first audition of the night is.  

7:00pm – I audition for A Skull in Connemara, a play by Irish playwright (and one of my favorites) Martin McDonagh.  It goes pretty dang well.

7:15pm – I say a hurried goodbye to my friends who are also going in for the same role and drive back to St. Pete for my other auditions.  

8:00pm – I arrive at USF – St. Pete’s campus and check in for my St. Pete Shakespeare Festival auditions.  I’m auditioning for Ophelia in Hamlet and Viola in Twelfth Night.  Two different shows.  Two different directors.  Lots of words.  I read a lot of scenes with some of my favorite people and I’m the last person of the night to be released.  

9:30pm – I arrive back home, feeling great about my reads.  I say hi to my two roommates and get out my music binder.  I’m playing in the pit for Blake High School’s production of Full the Musical and I need to make my script and music a little neater and easier to read for rehearsal tomorrow.  (Oh yeah, and I wrote Full.)  I’m pretty hyped up from all the audition adrenaline, so I work on music until my eyes start to slam shut.  

12:00am – I set my alarm for the following day, which includes work at Bella, Full tech rehearsal at the high school, and helping my friend plan her wedding. Because why not.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Katie! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you balance creative endeavors alongside a 9-to-5?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Books I Read and Loved in 2016

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As I explained in this post, I’ve been tracking my reading on a spreadsheet in an effort to diversify the genres and voices I consume, as well as quell my own curiosity about the ebbs and flows of my changing tastes and obsessions. The resulting data was interesting and I had fun recording lots of details for my future-self to cull through. (Full-disclosure: By the 4th quarter of the year I was much less thorough in my approach. Something to work on in 2017!)

For those of you who might be interested, I’ve used the aforementioned spreadsheet to compile a list of the books I read and loved in 2016.

  1. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (On the blog HERE.)
  2. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
  3. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – So gripping! (On the blog HERE.)
  4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Better than the movie. (On the blog HERE.)
  5. Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward
  6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo – A fascinating look at a society not often discussed. (On the blog HERE.)
  7. How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
  8. Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine (On the blog HERE.)
  9. The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
  10. January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her by Michael Schofield
  11. Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax – A triumphant memoir. (On the blog HERE.)
  12. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (On the blog HERE.)
  13. Chef by Jaspreet Singh
  14. Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace – A cross between two of my favorite movies: A League of Their Own and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. (On the blog HERE.)
  15. A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
  16. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  17. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Tears galore!
  18. The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein (On the blog HERE.)
  19. Crush It! Why NOW is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
  20. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson – A must-read if you enjoy true-crime and American history. (On the blog HERE.)
  21. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
  22. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer – There just aren’t enough books about Himalayan mountaineering to satisfy my strange obsession.  (On the blog HERE.)
  23. The Book of Ayurveda by Judith H. Morrison
  24. The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet by Dara-Lynn Weiss
  25. Grace by Grace Coddington – Spirit animal.
  26. Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives by Hoda Kotb (On the blog HERE.)
  27. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – YA Fiction at it’s finest.
  28. Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee by Hoda Kotb – I was having a bit of a Hoda moment. 
  29. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi (On the blog HERE.)
  30. The Last Undercover: The True Story of an FBI Agent’s Dangerous Dance with Evil by Bob Hamer
  31. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I kicked off my mission to re-read the Little House books.
  32. About Alice by Calvin Trillin
  33. Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang – Hilarious!
  34. The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
  35. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Now it’s time to set up my spreadsheet for 2017!

What books did YOU read and love in 2016? Share below…and who knows! Maybe they’ll end up on my list next year. 

mid-week round-up

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Howdy folks! I hope everyone is having a wonderful and restful holiday season!!! Things were getting crazy busy around these parts (I worked a TON during the lead up to Dec. 25th) but after a lovely first Christmas as married folk they’ve started to level off. Phew! On Christmas Eve we stayed up late eating pigs-in-blankets and watching Home Alone (a new tradition if I have anything to say about it!). Then, on Christmas morning we slept in (bliss!), had cinnamon rolls and coffee while we opened presents, and proceeded to straight CHILL all day! Chet and our families spoiled me with so many lovely presents. (Including Alexa!) While we certainly would have preferred to make it home to Kentucky or Louisiana, we still managed to have a pretty perfect day just the two of us. Now, on to the next holiday! Do you have any fun plans for New Year’s Eve? 

This book, about a little known interlude in Picasso’s life, looks right up my street.

6 ideas about what to do with your wedding photos. (I made a photo-book for my mom for Christmas and she loved it!)

In case you were wondering what Charlotte Church has been up to.

Duck Dynasty vs. Modern Family: 50 maps of the U.S. cultural divide.

Why straight rural men have gay “bud-sex” with each other.

How Miss Cleo went from joke to legend.

What chefs buy at Trader Joe’s.

2016: The worst year ever, until next year.

Everything is off the beaten track on the world’s most remote inhabited island.

Made me laugh.

Trump’s face photo-shopped on the Queen is an image I can now never unsee.

How cute are these Happy & Nuri stickers???

P.S. On the hunt for the comfiest bra and a movie recommendation.

In Search of the Comfiest Bra

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Hey friends. I’ve been meaning to buy some new bras for a few months now. (Is it embarrassing to admit that I still haven’t checked this off my To Do list?!) For some reason the task just seems so daunting. I’m just not in love with any that I currently have so finding a new brand to try out sorta seems like searching for a needle in a haystack.

So, I’d love to ask, what’s your all time favorite bra? Where is it from? Why do you love it so much?? What style suits  you best? I used to think Victoria’s Secret was a sure bet (if you’re only gonna do ONE thing then you’re probably pretty good at it, right?) but every time I go they tell me my size has changed. I’m starting to think they just mess with the sizing so you have to buy new bras all time! (I’m a VS conspiracy theorist, y’all!)

Anyways, in the midst of my quest for the perfect boob holder, the name ThirdLove kept popping up. ThirdLove is an awesome online company that promises well-fitting, comfy bras for ALL women. Instead of using standard industry measurements and grading them up and down to create each bra size, they fit all  sizes on real women. These fittings help them design each bra size to be a more precise fit, like shorter strap lengths on larger sizes for better lift, or a wider width between cups on smaller sizes. Plus…they do HALF sizes. *mind BLOWN*

Have you ever tried ThirdLove? I just ordered their 24/7 Classic T-shirt bra and I can’t wait to see how it feels! (I’ll be sure to report back.)

P.S. ThirdLove is offering Finding Delight readers a discount. (Score!) Just use the coupon code TL15BRABLEMSDEC when you check out.

P.P.S. In case you’re experiencing any of these common “bra-blems” …

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Gift Guide 2015: Fathers, grandfathers, father-in-laws, uncles and any other jolly gents!

Christmas is just around the corner! Today, I’d like to conclude my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide with the final installment. I tried to find items that would suit lots of different folk at various price points. Each gift is something I love or would love giving! I hope you find some inspiration. Happy Holidays!

rustic-frame

A rustic frame to help him display his favorite adventure (and favorite adventuring partners). (Wayfair, $12)

lobster-pot

For the huge meals he whips up to feed the whole family (think: seafood gumbo and spicy chili), give him a GIANT pot. (Amazon, $38)

balderdash

Because he’s always been able to tell believable tall-tales. (Amazon, $15)

the-agony-and-the-ecstasy

The classic biographical novel about Michelangelo for a lazy weekend read that will bring his favorite artist to life. (Amazon, $13)

brass-lion

This vintage brass lion to adorn his desk with a quiet roar. (Etsy, $35)

mens-workout-pants

He goes out for a morning jog even when the temperature starts to drop. These Nike pants will protect him from the elements. (Kohl’s, $40)

glenmorangie-18

An 18 year old bottle of Scotch for a super smooth nightcap experience. (Reserve Bar, $153)

biz-card-holder

A place to keep his business cards at the ready for networking (and free lunch drawings). (Etsy, $23)

iphone-lens-set

This smartphone lens set will really up his iPhone photography game. (ModCloth, $15)

cashmere-lined-gloves

The most gorgeous pair of cashmere-lined gloves. (Saks Fifth Avenue, $240)

ceramic-mug

For his morning cup of joe, a handcrafted mug inspired by mid-century Scandinavian design. (Etsy, $27)

bourbon-smoked-sea-salt

Because he believes everything is better with bourbon! (Farm to People, $11)

P.S. Gifts for the gals in your life! Gifts for the guys in your life! And gifts for your Mama!