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Beyond the Blog: August

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Starting today, we’re going to try something new around here.

It’s nothing too crazy, I promise!

But in an effort to share a little more about myself and what’s going on behind the blog, I’ll be writing a post each month letting you know what’s been happening — aside from decorating and spending too much time on Pinterest — with me.

Before we get to it, will you please do me a favor?

I want your advice about this post.

Do you love it? Hate it? Have other things you want to see on the blog?

I’m begging you — please share that feedback with me!

I only want to write posts that are helpful to you, so if you’re not finding value in something, I need to know about it. Just shoot me a note at hi [at] and give me your two cents.

All right. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s chat about five things that happened behind the scenes over here during the month of August.

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I rarely travel for work. In fact, the last time I went anywhere on business was about two years ago, and it was a 48-hour trip to New York City. Lucky for me, New York is a quick three-hour train ride from my house. Easy peasy.

Well, this time I boarded a plane and went to…..Seattle. Yep, I flew six hours across the country for a week-long work adventure. Gulp. My husband and kids dropped me off at the airport, and as soon as I opened the car door I started bawling. My cry-fest was so bad that I literally walked into the airport wearing sunglasses. Super cool.

While I’m not a huge fan of flying, nor am I totally comfortable yet with being away from the kids for that many days (as indicated by my breakdown as I was exiting the car!), it was nice to spend some time with my cool coworkers and explore a new city.

I didn’t have much time to myself, but I did have a chance to pop over to Pike Place Market:

I also had an amazing meal at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. This was also my first non-work mandated meal (read: after-hours team building event) while I was there, and now I kinda feel like I won’t be able to top this dining experience. My foodie game in new cities is strong, what can I say?!

Friends who have been to or live in Seattle: What are the must-dos next time I am in town?

I’m heading there again soon, so give me some fun stuff to add to my list by leaving me a comment below!

Do you guys own an Instant Pot? I finally broke down and ordered one. Here’s the model I got.

Well, guess what? There were so many functions listed on the side of the box that I felt intimidated by my purchase and decided to leave it in the box for, um, a month after it arrived on my doorstep.

Slow cooker! Pressure cooker! Steamer! Yogurt maker! Unicorn/pixie dust maker!

Yes, the last one is fake, but I honestly wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if that showed up in the user manual.

With the encouragement of a few friends, I finally conquered my fear and used my Instant Pot. (Total first-world problems over here.) And now I’m a total believer.

In the past few weeks, I’ve made barbacoa beef from Skinnytaste, chicken pho with zoodles from Nom Nom Paleo (the kids didn’t eat this, but my hubby and I thought it was delish), and chicken enchilada soup from Real Simple Good.

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Tonight I’m making a rotisserie chicken in the Instant Pot, so we’ll see how that goes.

Thankfully, the Instant Pot is much easier to use than I initially thought. Basically, I was nervous about nothing — it was just the slow cooker/yogurt maker/pixie dust sprinkler thing that overwhelmed me. Isn’t that always how life seems to go?! We get all worked up about something and later figure out that we were worried about a whole lot of nothing.

What are some other healthy, Paleo-ish, kid-friendly recipes that you guys love? (Yeah, we’re kinda picky.) Leave me a link to a recipe below.

I rarely have time to sit down with a book, but I’m trying to make time for reading during my morning commute. I drive to work and, um, most people consider reading a book while behind the wheel pretty dangerous, so I recently signed up for Audible.

Do you use Audible? I love it! I questioned whether I would actually use an Audible subscription consistently — and in total transparency, my commitment to it kind of ebbs and flows — but for the most part, it’s been an amazing tool to get me to actually read on a regular basis.

In August, I read this great book called, “You Are a Badass.” Yep, that’s actually the title.

It’s one of those self-help kinds of books that is totally real, full of great wisdom, and cracks you up frequently. As I was reading, I felt like I might as well be having a conversation about life with the author over a good glass of wine. It’s full of one-liner gems, like this one:

In short, this book is awesome and I highly recommend it. And if you struggle to make time to read (just like me!), you should give Audible a try.

Audible offers a FREE trial subscription for a month that includes two book credits, so it’s a great opportunity to give it a whirl, no strings attached, and see if Audible is for you. It’s seriously the only way I read!

Click the link below to get started and give Audible a test drive:

Before I had kids, I didn’t think twice about heading to Nordstrom and dropping major cash on fall and winter wardrobe essentials.

Fast forward to today: I am very particular about what I buy for myself. I don’t love the word “frugal” but I definitely watch what I spend on new clothing and other luxuries that, well, aren’t always line items on our family budget spreadsheet.

My mantra when it comes to stocking my closet is “quality over quantity.” For years, I tried to buy cheap stuff — getting excited that I was buying three sweaters for the price of a single “nice” one — and that strategy totally unraveled on me. (Yep, I hope you noticed that pun.) A couple washes later, my three sweaters looked like crap and wound up in the Goodwill pile.

In keeping with my new shopping mantra, here’s what I purchased to refresh my wardrobe for fall:

  • This top from Nordstrom, made by Bobeau (side note: this is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands, and I have multiple styles of Bobeau’s tops in multiple colors)
  • A few of these one-button wrap cardigans, also from Nordstrom and Bobeau, as they are SO easy to dress up or down
  • These wedge booties from J. Crew Factory that basically go with everything
  • This french terry dress from Hanna Andersson — perfect with a pair of chucks, or with tights and leather boots (yes, Hanna is known for kids’ clothes, but their women’s line is pretty awesome too)

Shockingly, I am not a pumpkin spice latte girl, but I can’t resist a great pumpkin-scented soap or candle. My mom recently bought me this yummy pumpkin soap with the BEST packaging design from Michel Design Co., which now has a home next to the kitchen sink.

Following my “quality over quantity” mantra, I also tend to purchase pricier candles that last forever and also make my entire house smell like pumpkin-y goodness. I’ve grabbed a couple less expensive candles from places like HomeGoods and Michael’s over the years, but they often aren’t potent enough and I end up being disappointed. #candlesnob

Enter my go-to brands of candles, all of which offer pumpkin-scented varieties: Capri Blue, Nest and Illume:

That’s a wrap, friends! Thanks for reading, and for sharing your feedback!

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Kathy Smith

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Hey Kate, I love reading your bog, it's so informative in a fun and enjoyable way. I never realized the train to NYC was just a few hours... it gets me thinking of how I can combine a trip to see Karen, D'Arcy and kids and squeeze in a day trip to NY . I also knew nothing about instant pots.... I will look into these. Keep writing, your a natural! Have you thought about writing children's books and selling them on Amazon.... I bet you'd do very well. Thanks for sharing yourself!


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Thank you so much, Kathy! I really appreciate the kind words, and the encouragement about maybe writing books one of these days. I'd never considered that, but never say never, right? As for the Instant Pot, it is awesome and makes meal prep much easier and faster. I love it! Let me know if you decide to get one...would love to hear what you think of it.


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Hi Kate! Love your blog/decorating! You've inspired me to change our playroom/flow and function of our whole main level. Have made LOTS of changes in the last two weeks and am starting to feel more human/more organized again- so thank you. I think adding the "beyond the blog" is fun and has good info! You mentioned something about budgeting spreadsheets- wouldn't mind a post about how you do that- I always struggle with my spreadsheets and like hearing how other people keep track of their budgets!


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Hilary - THANK YOU! I so appreciate you reading and also am grateful that you took the time to leave a comment. So glad to hear that you've made progress with your spaces. I always find that even just a couple changes can make a huge difference. I like the budgeting spreadsheets post idea, too. I'll add that to my post calendar. Anything that you specifically want me to cover as it relates to budgeting? Like saving up for big home decor purchases, how often to revisit your budget line items, etc.? I'm all ears. :) You can also shoot me a note at hi [at] Thanks again!


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Ahhh! You bought an instant pot!! Yay! Welcome to the fam haha :) It was super intimidating at first, but once I did the water test I felt like an IP pro!

Love the blog. Keep it up, if not for your fans ;), for your family and self!


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Thanks so much for the sweet comments, Vicky, and the warm welcome to the Instant Pot family, LOL. :) Okay, so I didn't even do a water test. Was I supposed to do that?! I admit that I'd still be pretty nervous to make yogurt or something more complicated in my IP, but I feel like I have a decent grasp on most settings now (or so I think). What are some of your go-to recipes? I know you are a fan of meals made with whole foods, just like me.


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Great blog Kate, lots of wonderful ideas on many levels...


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Thanks so much, Judith! You would love the Instant Pot -- it's great for soups, stews, and lots of meals that are perfect for the colder months!

Valerie | One Happy Housewife

Tuesday 12th of September 2017

I loved reading this Kate!! So much fun stuff! I too am a lover of the Instant Pot and I have so many great and easy recipes on the blog! I especially love our Dr. Pepper pulled pork! Give it a try! I would love to go to Seattle. My hubby went for work a couple years ago and loved it! Also, we have that book and have been listening to it as well!! Have a wonderful week my friend!


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Thank you for the kind comments, Val! You are awesome. I'll definitely have to check out some of your Instant Pot recipes! It has a permanent home on our counter right now, as I use it a couple times a week. I'll take some notes on my Seattle travels for ya, too. I've heard that the aquarium and art museum are both excellent, so I hope to make it to both those places during a future visit!

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