The Life of Things: Thoughts on Minimalism


This blog post is a part of the Cherished Blogfest that I stumbled across in my roaming around the WordPress community. Their writing prompt is “What object do I cherish the most?” Feel free to join the conversation and create your own post about this topic and add it to the linked list of participants– or if you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments! I thought their topic was appropriate and relevant to my life lately- happy writing and reading!

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More than ever I’ve been contemplating the accumulation of “stuff” I’ve holed up like a pack rat over the years. I think living at home after college truly can revert you back to your childhood in a weird time-capsule sort of way.

Yet, like me, it’s changed over the past 18-odd years, though the bones have stayed the same. I’ve piled my typewriter, journals, England memorabilia (this includes hotel pens that I’m terrified will run out of ink…  evidence showing my true hoarding capabilities), clothes, books, as well as so many other things that have meant something to me over the years. I’ve essentially collected objects that I’ve come to associate with who I am. Then I go in the Airstream and wonder how in the world I’m supposed to fit my entire life inside this aluminum-can-on-wheels. Do I think that if all these objects that have trailed me are gone, it will erase the history that I encapsulate inside them?

I think I have a gypsy heart some-days, itching to leave it all behind and be doing something else, restless for a change of scenery. Excited by the freedom of the future. Yet, here I am getting sentimental over a cheap plastic pen. I carry so much around with me. In essance, all these things that I collect around me have been given meaning beyond their physicality and even their usefulness.

One example is a gum tape dispenser (essentially a tape dispenser that holds wet tape) that belonged to my great-grandparent’s grocery store that I grew up in–napping in cardboard boxes, pricing canned goods, and playing “cashier” in the back stockroom/break room. I have absolutely no need for this heavy tape holder whatsoever. Yet, tears formed in my eyes when I was reunited with it. It’s as though just by looking at it, that special part of my childhood will continue to exist for me, even if other people can no longer experience it. I can still touch the store, a beautiful memory, and that means the world to me.

It needs some TLC on top of it all, too.

So as I start this journey of minimizing (because honestly, I think M will kick me out of the Airstream if I take that tape dispenser with me… unless I can find some useful purpose for it 😉), I’ve begun to wonder if it’s healthy to “cherish” things in this way. Perhaps all these things are just touchstones I’m clinging onto, afraid that I’ll lose a part of myself if I leave them behind.

I just need a little more square footage….😁

And so I’ll keep you posted on how I actively simplify through our renovating process, keeping these words from Eckhart Tollé in mind as I move forward:

“Most people’s lives are run by desire and fear.

Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully. All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less.

These two movements obscure the fact that Being cannot be given or taken away. Being in its fullness is already within you, Now.”

Month One of Project Dream-Stream


It’s been exactly one month since we brought the Airstream home, and I’m not sure this renovation will be as short as I was hoping. Between me working a normal 40 hour work week and Mason’s work schedule being the exact opposite of mine (working in the evenings and almost all weekend), we haven’t gotten as much finished as we would have liked. We get so much more accomplished when we are both working on the renovations together, but that time is scarce.

Even with such little time spent on it, we are falling head-over-heels for the ‘ole tin can. Despite setbacks, like having to figure out how to put the windows back on after re-doing the weatherstripping (or even just the weatherstripping process itself) and figuring out how we would get the new A/C on top of the roof with nothing but muscle and ladders, we are even more excited about the project than before. Or at least, I am. 😉

An initiation into weatherstripping

The first thing on our list after getting the Airstream, besides getting the title and paperwork in order, was making sure it was sealed tight to prevent future water damage. M tested out the weatherstripping he purchased on the door first, before starting the windows. It went so quickly and seamlessly. The old weather stripping came right off and he only used a bit of Acetone (followed by a quick rinse off with water) to clean up any leftover residue and glue. And viola, the door was done, 35 minutes tops.

We were pretty confident we could knock out all the windows in a couple days of working an hour here and there…

Oh how wrong we were.

First, we tried taking the old weatherstripping off with the windows still attached to the Airstream… which was awkward and not very efficient. I did some research and learned that you could disconnect the arms and lift the window as far up as possible and they would come right off, so that was an exciting discovery.

Yet, the process was still tedious with both of us using putty scrapers to remove the old strips and glue, and we weren’t too happy with having to use Acetone. So after we were able to do a decent job on one of the windows we gave up for the day, with plans for investing in GooGone for next time. It was about 8:30pm by then, and when we went to put the window to the left of the door back on, we could not get it to go. The top of the window frame where the hinge was supposed to pop back in was bowed, and despite using a mallet and piece of wood to try and pop it back on, we had to give up around an hour later because it was dark and difficult to see. We taped it into place and called it a night with bruised egos and a new hole in the window screen from trying to pop it back on.

That weekend we went to town on the same two windows. We were able to remove the last remnants of the stripping and glue by soaking it in GooGone and carefully scraping it off with the putty scrapers. Three-ish hours later, we finished cleaning off the old gunk and had replaced it with the new stripping. Once again, that second window just wasn’t working with us. Another hour passed, and finally M was able to get it back on using a wooden board and a car jack. Two windows and a door down, and six more windows to go…


For now, we are taking a break and moving on to other projects. Sealing up the windows has turned into a beast that we’ve decided to work on over time, enabling us to keep moving forward with the rest of the renovation.

The A/C makes its anticipated arrival

The most exciting part of this venture so far has to be when we were able to put the new A/C into place on the roof. It took some brain power, but at the end of the day, mostly just brawn.

We were feeling a little defeated before putting it up, thinking we would have to shell out even more money to rent a cherry picker or scaffolding. Despite our best efforts, we had accepted the fact that we would have to take apart the old A/C piece by piece to get it off, thereby ensuring we wouldn’t damage the Airstream trying to remove it in all it’s huge and heavy glory. To the salvage yard it sadly went.

In the end, M, an amazing friend, and my dad were able to use two ladders side by side to haul the new one up. In retrospect, I should’ve taken a picture, but I was too concerned for their safety and holding ladders to think of it.

Finally, the electrician came out to check on our wires and the safety of the trailer–giving us the green light to turn the power on. I have to say, it was the most magical moment for me so far. With the weather being 90+ degrees since we’ve had our little aluminum home, we haven’t gotten a true sense of what it will be like living inside it.

For the first time, we sat in it with the door and windows closed, the lights on, and the A/C humming happily in the background. We walked around rambling off all the things we can’t wait to do and some ideas here and there. We played with all of the lights, marveling at the way it made the trailer come to life. Mostly, we just took in the moment. A rewarding, sweet little moment to dream together.

The new A/C

The galley with a random cucumber from the garden

M playing with lights


Coming up…

Tearing out the gaucho/front couch and the galley

-Removing some of the vinyl panels inside to pop out two dents in the aluminum exterior

-Sealing the roof

-Painting

-Putting in the new bamboo flooring

-This list seriously goes on foreeeevvverrr… Stay tuned!

©livesimplykmm.wordpress.com

The Sweetness of Summer + Lemon Bar Recipe


With a long weekend ahead of me, I’m ready to soak up every ounce of cool river breezes and dancing firefly nights.

I’ll be dipping my toes in the water as I drift away from the river bank and into the sun.

With family coming in for the long weekend, we’ll be BBQ-ing and fish frying to our hearts content. And the desserts become the main event– see lemon bar recipe below.

I’m also excited to devote some of my free time to plan the renovations for our new little tin can– it helps that it happily sits just a short walk away from the river.

The AC is almost ready to be put in, we’ve started to seal her up (this has turned slightly nightmarish, but window stripping is apparently every Airstream owner’s induction ceremony), and after we check the wiring and gas pipes, it will be time to tackle the interior– which I’m super excited about.

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I’m ready to slow down too though– maybe its the searing heat that makes us languid, but my heart is happy during this sweetly simple few drops of summer I’ve been allotted.

As for the lemon bars… well I couldn’t not mention them. I’ve baked these for my family on multiple occasions. And every time they were gone before I could even snap a picture. I’ve already had requests for repeats, so I can say your pretty safe giving these a whirl for the Fourth of July Weekend, or any lazy summer day (they’re simple to make, too). I’m debating between making these and Fried Oreos which has also been requested this weekend. While the oreos are always a hit too, there’s just something about cool, zesty-sweet bars that make them a summer home run in my book.

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Bar Recipe

What You’ll Need:

13 by 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper

Filling/Sticky goodness:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

**This recipe will add up to needing at least 3 large, whole lemons (depends on their size, I’ve used up to 6 small ones before)**

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crust (first step): Mix flour, sugar, salt, butter and lemon zest together with an electric mixer until it resembles bread crumbs (works best if you work your way up to a high speed for the right consistency). Then, press the dough together with your hands, then pressing it evenly into the base of a 13 by 9-inch baking pan (lined with parchment paper). It can be sandy in consistency. The key is flattening the mixture to line the bottom of the baking pan.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes or lightly golden. Let it cool while leaving the oven on for the next step.

Second Step: Put the sugar, eggs, and lemon juice and zest in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Pour over baked crust (once it has cooled slightly). Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has set and edges are golden. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate over night or as long as possible.


Enjoy their zesty, sweet, here-comes-the-sun taste!


Though they aren’t a glamorous patriotic choice for the Fourth, they embody summer- and disappear just as quickly!

**I am in no ways a professional baker, just a by-the-book, line-by-line observer of recipe instructions. I only tweak where helpful or necessary– I can’t guarantee satisfaction, other than my own experience!**

Photos ©livesimplykmm.wordpress.com

Our Decision to Live Riveted


For many moons, a boy and a girl stayed up late at night, restless, trying to figure out how they were going to build their lives together. Many dreams were dreamt, and many they watched fade away into distant memories of who they used to be. Yet, time and time again, the questions remained, where would they start? How would they begin?

Since I was 13 or so, I’ve adopted the motto “Live Simply, Love Deeply.” It’s guided everything I’ve done up until now and has led me down some pretty crazy paths. But, it’s given me infinite room to grow. It’s made me much braver than I thought I could be. It’s been so important to me, that it’s the namesake for this blog. And so it was fueled in the 6th grade when I took Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” to heart. I really haven’t looked back… Just waiting for that sigh somewhere ages and ages hence

All this has led up to Saturday’s 22 hour journey to buy our Dream Stream—a 1972 Airstream Sovereign. We’ve officially taken the leap to live small and dream as big as we possibly can. It’s funny how I almost feel like this was something I always knew would happen as soon as M introduced me to the documentary Tiny. It just spoke to everything I believe in, and feels right for us. It isn’t for everyone and it probably isn’t forever for us, but it’s so so right for right now. Now that it’s home and ready to be renovated into our little landing place in the world, a huge weight has lifted off of me.

I’m not naïve enough to think it will be a walk in the park (it’s summer in Texas and the A/C unit doesn’t blow cold air– which means we’ve already had to shell out a pretty penny for a new unit, we don’t have a toilet, a bedroom, or really any idea how the wiring works… we are learning!), but I’m excited to become comfortable with less in a world that teaches us to always want more.

I’m so excited to be taking this time capsule from another era and breathing new life into it. Salvaging it into something special for us, learning how to re-purpose and repair what time has forgotten.

I’m ready to create a home I can afford, AKA debt free, at this stage in my life with the person I love most. I’m ready for the things we will learn and the travels it will allow us to take (Redwoods here we come!).

I’m ready for life in this moment.

And yes, you will probably see renovation updates in this space now. Along with the content you are used to me posting, this is just a little piece of the journey. I’m excited to share what we discover along the way, and hope you continue to follow along!


Image via Pinterest

Acknowledgements:

Thank you to both of our families and friends (and especially M’s dad and my dad) for your endless support and love. 

A sincere shout out to my wonderful fiancé for doing endless grunt work and hours upon hours of research for this adventure. I wouldn’t have had the peace of mind, let alone an amazing partner in crime, if it wasn’t for your devotion to me and this project. You are the only thing that takes my words away– there is never any amount of words to thank you. ❤️

I’m a Wanderer


I never thought as an English major that I would find myself in the world of marketing and advertising. I don’t know why really. I mean, not all English majors don a tweed jacket with elbow patches and a pair of spectacles for reading papers (though to be honest, I do love my tweeds). While that still appeals to me some days, I feel like I have a bit of a wandering soul. Despite all my angsting to have control over my life, I also get anxious when I feel stuck in the same place too long. I’m a bit of a strange fruit because my passions change with every rise and fall of the sun. If it has an inkling to do with writing or reading or anything about my lifestyle that I find enjoyment in, I’m interested. I pursue it.

So when I found myself as an associate copywriter, I was surprised that I could be inspired by the world of branding and marketing. I have always been a creative writer, not a marketing guru. How was this possible? Combine product that has the power to inspire people every day and meaningful words and you have a whole new perspective. I didn’t realize that there was a person behind all the e-mails and articles I read every day. It’s almost like something I just consumed mindlessly. No, I know I consumed mindlessly. There is a whole new world that opened up to me for writing that I never really thought about. Copywriting can be the difference between a run of the mill advertisement and a meaningful product that you can connect to and care about. Anyone can try to sell a product, but can you inspire people with it?

I remember when I was in college being asked what I was going to do with my degree. I hated it. I understand that people love labels and it helps them identify with you, but I couldn’t label my degree. I didn’t want to. I loved books and words and people’s stories. I loved writing and being a communicator. I felt like it was a wonder degree where I got to have the best of all worlds. No future career option with a background in English sounded bad. While I always have a plan and am organized, my only goal was to love whatever job I found and take whatever steps that meant. Be it publishing, writing, or teaching. If anything, my degree program taught me you could be anything if you could communicate clearly. I just want to write to my heart’s desire. There are countless possibilities.

More than anything, I am becoming a “yes woman.” There are so many experiences that I would have been terrified of before or thought I wasn’t capable of doing. After graduating I was at a point where I just needed somethinganything to get my feet planted in the world. It pushed me to be OK with the extraordinary, because let’s face it, extraordinary is scary but ordinary is a silent killer. It’s a big world out there and as hard as you may try to plan, you really can’t always tell where it will lead you.7594c85d89ea3e5fe7fab1000512330e

I’d like to say my wanderings have left my writing for this space long behind me, but I find myself constantly scribbling down notes about things I want to post in this little space. I feel a need to move on some days, leaving the world of my ramblings on WordPress behind. So much to do, so little time. But, I found I’ve grown to love this little expression of my soul. And though it may wander in and out and never truly become something super grown-up and professional like I often feel compelled to do, it’s honest. And goodness knows, in such tumultuous times, it’s a soft spot to land and say something heartfelt and maybe make a few meaningful connections along the way. While I wander every which way and struggle to find words sometimes, I think it’s still relevant– I just have no idea where the path may lead. 

But here’s to the journey and hopefully many more–Kassie 

 
Images found on Pinterest 

Why I Jumped Ship on Traditional Magazines


Slowly crawling out of their caves to find print is in fact not dead, magazine media companies find that the world has changed and only the innovative will survive (more so than ever before). You would think brands like Vogue, Esquire, and People would have the legacy to ride into the future, but I can honestly say that companies I once would have died to work at are no longer quite so mystical as they once were. While I’m sure the world will always desire the unattainable fantasy of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve jumped ship.

In preparation for meeting a lot of magazine professionals in New York, I began following companies like Vogue and Elle on social media. I quickly began to notice the monotonous hum of output they created. Their content mimicked each other, and I began to scroll by. They say it’s difficult to compete with the vast amount of content out there, but maybe the content has grown stale?

Away from the world of Fall lipsticks and what outfit Kendall Jenner wore today is a land that I find myself starting to visit more and more. They call it the indie movement.

Instead of being controlled by advertisers and fighting for crazy circulation numbers, indies embrace the unknown and the belief that consumers value content created thoughtfully over the black hole of immense quantity that traditional companies try to rev out every hour.

As a consumer, I get bored with the same articles season after season, year after year. As a writer, I couldn’t place much value on many. While sometimes it’s nice to mindlessly read about celebrities and fashion trends, the lens gets old. It seemed to me that long-form journalism was just a nostalgic dream.

I had Darling Magazine circling my radar for awhile but didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t think a magazine would ever captivate me enough to actually become a subscriber again.

Ironically, as my time in NYC was nearing an end, my dad gifted me with the latest issue of Darling Magazine, a little motivation as my program wound down. It was the most beautiful magazine I’d held in my hands– I didn’t even want to open it! I could proudly display it on my desk as something fresh and inspiring… substantial.

  
 But when I did open its pages, I was immediately taken aback by the letter from the editor, only a handful of pages in. For once it was like a magazine was reading my mind and knew my life story… my hopes, dreams, insecurities. Had it been a book, you would have found highlights on every page.

It’s been down the rabbit hole from there. I’ve now read the pages of Kinfolk (quite notoriously hipster now), Flow (another favorite focused on mindfulness), Gentlewoman, and many others. Each is refreshingly different from the other, and while not all have appealed to me, the indies I have loved feel like a new sense of belonging. That there are people out there like me– writing and creating and sharing life. All in all, it felt like they were calling me home to content that creates genuine joy rather than making me feel “never quite enough.”

  
Do you have any independent magazines you love? I’m always looking to discover more, even quirky “traditionals”! Also, you can check out Magazine Brighton on Instagram, their magazine shop in the UK is full of indie-possibility😉

In no way am I shaming anyone who still subscribes to traditional magazines, I still love National Geographic (despite growing controversy), The Knot (I’m engaged, it happens), Britain Magazine, and am known to flip through pages of anything if it’s put in front of me. These are personal preferences only!

Sometimes, I just am.


Everyone wants to be heard. We shout from our little bubbles with hashtags and share “news” articles that may or may not be accurate. It’s on the internet so it has to be…

I understand having a voice. I use it with every scribble and dot and crossed t. I know about voice because mine changes at every turn. In one story it’s solemn as an old man contemplates life in his empty ranch house, searching with shaking hands. Then it’s upbeat as I send e-mails at my internship, staying personable and kind. It’s inspirational and loving when I write in my journal, as I tell myself life is good…let me count the ways

More than I care to admit, it is defensive as I growl at other peoples’ opinions. Sometimes I can’t even handle my own voice.

I understand voices. I read them every 5 seconds. I write them every day. I create them. I am them.

But sometimes I drown in them. It’s a cacophony full of likes and dislikes, up-thumbs and down-thumbs. Sometimes we have to walk away, turn off, log out.

Sometimes even I, the most genuine believer in voices and their magic, need stillness.

Painting silly pictures of flowers and ducklings, because why not?

Just one moment to get lost in the process with my thoughts and judgements far, far away…. And I just am.

I just am kayaking, splitting the water with my paddle.

I just am putting colors on a page, just to see their brightness.

  
Image via Pinterest

I just am making coffee, the roast wafting and filling me up.

I just am, and it is glorious to just be.


This ramble was partly inspired by the roar of noise that is my Facebook feed thanks to the impending doom presidential election, as well as this article, The Dark Side of Social Media and Why We Will Always NEED Magazines, that I read from my daily BoSacks e-mail. It’s easy to forget to be mindful of what we post on social media and to take responsibility of the world we create online, not only for ourselves, but those that connect with us.