Homeward Bound.

For someone who is inherently skeptical of change, it’s a little wild to think about how drastically different my life is today than it was just one year ago.

One year ago, I was preparing to leave behind life as I knew it in Pittsburgh, and take the next step in my career in Philadelphia. I was apprehensive because life had been comfortable – I knew the city like the back of my hand, I was established in my job, and I had a strong and unwavering support system of friends. Leaving all of those things behind made me nervous (and sad), but I knew that it was a move I had to make. I had to push myself and I had to grow. So I did.

But quickly after I arrived in Philadelphia, I felt like something just didn’t fit. I wasn’t homesick for Pittsburgh, and I wasn’t lonely. But the idea that I had about what my life would be like in my new role in this new city just wasn’t coming to fruition. I wish I had a more elegant way to quantify that feeling, but it was something that crept in slowly and quietly.

Within two weeks of being a Philadelphia resident, I took a long weekend and I went home to surprise my brothers at their football games. It was October – I have a deep-seeded infatuation with October – and the air was crisp. It was a perfect fall day in central Pennsylvania: calm and quiet with the slightest breeze. I felt relaxed, and happy to be in my hometown: a place of true comfort and ease. For the first time, I appreciated being able to walk barefoot through the grass, an uncommon privilege in the city. There was an ever-present feeling of being home that had, up until that weekend, gone unnoticed.

It took less than 3 months for me to admit to myself that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing, and I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I felt frustrated, as anyone might when their ideas and life plans don’t work out like they hoped. The passion and fire that I wanted to have for my career had quickly fizzled, and soon, I was simply going through the motions because that’s what I was supposed to do. I felt disengaged and desperate, but I didn’t have a backup plan.

Instinctively, I looked home. Days continued to whirl by, and I finally let my boyfriend, Skyler, in on my decision to move back to central PA. He was someone I had been friends with many moons ago – we had been nearly inseparable for the single semester that our collegiate careers crossed paths – and as luck would have it, we reconnected at home that weekend in October. However, I had tried to keep him in the dark. It wasn’t because I wanted to hide anything from him – in fact, it was sometimes physically painful not to share these things with him – but because this was a decision I needed to make for myself. I’m from a small town, and I’m not ignorant to how the rumor mill operates, so I tried to keep my relationship with him mutually exclusive from the career change I was hoping for. However, as time went on, I leaned heavily on him on days when I would be frustrated, and soon, that exclusivity faded. He was my cheerleader, and coming home turned into something I wanted not only for my career, but on a deep and personal level, too.

Fast forward to today. It’s my second week as a Franchise Business Consultant with Soccer Shots, an organization that is focused on character development and positively impacting children through the sport of soccer. It’s home to a team of truly wonderful, caring and encouraging people, who want to do good and make a difference in the world. I even have the opportunity to coach this fall season. If you would have asked me ever if this role is something I thought I would take on, there’s a chance I would have laughed. Me? Sports? Business? Funny! But when something is right, it’s right. There was never an ounce of doubt; I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.

And I’m home. After I leave the office each day, I know that I’ll soon be walking through the front door to find Dale wagging his tail, Skyler on the sofa watching Impractical Jokers and Buxton peeking around the corner at the top of the steps. I’m just a moment’s notice away from a last-minute dinner with my mom or an evening spent at my dad’s with my brothers. I have time to do the things I’ve always enjoyed – reading, cooking, writing.

For the first time, it feels like everything is exactly how it should be. Everything fits. And, despite my aversion to change, change is exactly what brought me here: home.

47b9c7bb4b0fa298dbd3b5dde0233930

The Next Chapter.

At least once in every person’s life, there is a defining moment. A moment they’ll look back on with the ability to pinpoint the exact circumstances under which they made a decision that would change everything.

And I have a feeling that this is my moment.

552aa1a9f334cb8de386f5c1a21b6d18

Next month, I’ll be packing up my belongings — a whole house full of memories — and moving to Philadelphia to begin a brand new career at Anthropologie. My love affair with Pittsburgh is officially coming to an end… but what a great love affair it’s been.

I moved here in the fall of 2009, young and naive and anxious to experience a city for the first time. I threw myself in deep. I made a few forever kind of friends and I lost my narrowed views on the world; I’ve experienced great joys and I’ve survived the deepest hurts; I’ve both hated and loved this city with a fiery passion. I grew up here, in the truest sense of the phrase. It was in this city that I really became my own. I learned more about myself here than I have anywhere else, and I’m proud (and grateful) of the woman I’ve become in Pittsburgh.

But now, it’s time for the next chapter. Like every book lover knows, the end of one chapter and the beginning of another opens up endless possibilities. It’s impossible to know what’s coming next — anything could happen — and that both thrills and terrifies me. I’ve had friends who have picked up and moved their entire lives across the country, and while I’m only moving five hours east, I’m still leaving the comfort of a place I’ve called home for so long.

To Pittsburgh and the people that I love here: I’m so grateful to have known you. And, for the sake of a cheesy cliche, it’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later.

 :

Stay tuned for my first installment of The Pittsburgh Philadelphia Food Diaries.

Making Our House A Home: DIY Shelves.

A few months ago, I had the crazy idea to build shelves in our living room. Four simple, white shelves on each side of the fireplace. I was excited and I was nervous. I had never built anything that didn’t come with instructions. Not even the catapult required to pass Mr. Storrick’s high school Physics class. (Shout out to you, Mike Myers.) But, we were determined to make our house feel more like a home, and we thought shelves would be just the thing.

IMG_0031

I scrounged up a measuring tape only to discover that our fireplace is 10″ off center. So, with two different measurements and a ton of ideas in mind, we headed off to Busy Beaver.

IMG_0536

Two months, one quart of frozen paint, one shipment of wooden brackets from Ikea, one paint-stained pair of Under Armour pants, one brand new drill, and six packs of whatever kind of screw we needed to stick into our drywall-covered-brick walls later, we were ready to begin actually hanging the shelves.

IMG_0542

This is the part where I completely passed the baton. It took forever to get four shelves hung perfectly, which I now attribute to the fact that not only is our fireplace not centered in our living room, but the walls themselves are crooked. Pittsburgh homes. I tell ya. Gotta love ’em.

Fortunately, I know a few handy people, and my shelf dreams came true. (Disclaimer: Half of my dreams come true. Somebody managed to score tickets to last night’s playoff game, so our shelf hanging timeframe was minimized. We’ll get the other half done… eventually.) Check out the fruits of our labor… and Lauren Graham’s “Those shelves look amazing!” face!

IMG_0566

Even Buxton is happy with the upgrades!

IMG_0572

IMG_0573

IMG_0575

IMG_0576

Home Improvement: Let Me Upgrade Ya.

For a few months, I have been mentally redesigning our home. I have a pretty hefty list of upgrades I want to make in order for it to feel more like, well, home. After an embarrassing number of hours watching HGTV and scouring Pinterest, I decided I was ready to begin on our living room.

A few weeks ago, when two of our roommates moved out, taking the living room television and entertainment center with them, we began our overhaul. A quick shopping trip for a big screen TV, sound bar and wall mount allowed us to make better use of the floor space where the entertainment center once lived.

IMG_9434

Our next project: upgrading the faux fireplace. Centrally located in our living room is a purely decorative multicolor stone fireplace. Not the worst eye sore, but definitely something we wanted to put a little elbow grease into. So, we headed to our local hardware store, stocked up on some paint and supplies to build our own shelves (coming soon!), and I was all set.

IMG_9438

We chose a dark grey paint to cover the stone, because we knew it would look great with the floors we’ve picked out from my dad’s flooring business to span from the entry way and living room into the kitchen.

I let the grey paint dry overnight, and tackled the mantle, grout and the interior of the fireplace the next day. For this, I chose a simple, lightly grey-tinted white paint, and voila — a refreshed fireplace!

IMG_9470

Next on our list: building shelves on either side of the fireplace to give us extra storage with some style!

Mad About Mustard.

Mad About Mustard
Oh, mustard, how I love thee.  Accent colors are on trend right now in home decor, and my personal favorites fall into the mustard/goldenrod hue.  Truthfully, I couldn’t walk past one aisle of Target without stopping to oogle every single thing I saw in this color.  Mix this color with light floral prints and you have the perfect, chic decorations.  Check out this botanical flower print, Charlie Ford Vintage French Book, Vintage Decanter Glass Bottle, Upholstered Accent Chair, Chevron Pillow Cover, Mirror Mosaic Bowl, or Felt Pom Pom Flowers to get your very own mustard obsession started!