A little Christmas preview

Monday, December 29

There is something so nostalgic about returning to your childhood home for Christmas. Last week when we pulled into my parents driveway around 11:30pm at night, we were met with the cold crisp air of Northern California and the familiar magic that covers our home around the holidays. My dad greeted us at the door, and we walked through each room of the house, inspecting the decor and marveling at its beauty. We ohhhh and ahhhed over everything. I love how much awe and wonder there is to be had at the tiniest of details. The growing little victorian village on the buffet table, the precious nativity scene on the coffee table, the way the twinkly lights reflect the colors of the decor…it surrounds me like a warm, familiar blanket.

Christmas is first and foremost about the birth of our savior. Humble beginnings that transformed the world and brought love, grace and incredible mercy into the darkest of places. And i'm always reminded of that when, in the dead of the night, the Christmas lights sparkle on the tree, emanating a hope that is LOVE and POWER and VICTORY. Decorations are not necessary at Christmas. They are not the reason we celebrate. But for me, the familiarity and love and tenderness of my mother who prepares the home, helps to usher me into a deeper place with the Lord.

Today is just a small sneak peak of how lovely the house looked decorated:) Thanks Mom!

We leave tomorrow for Ecuador and Columbia!! I'm so excited, but certainly have a LOT to do between now and then!! Feel free to follow along on our adventures on InstaGram @hopeengaged

Happy Monday hope you had a most beautiful Christmas friend!

3 Unique Gifts {for the last minute shopper!}

Monday, December 22

It's 3 days till Christmas, and guess what? I'm not done Christmas shopping! Whoops!

Today I wanted to take a minute and share 3 unique gifts that I'm giving others for Christmas. You all know i'm super thrifty, but when it comes to certain items, I'll gladly pay a little more for the perfect gift. I love the idea of giving something a little different, and these are 3 gifts that will keep on giving:)

Artifact Uprising

Have you heard of Artifact Uprising? I know there are a lot of printing companies out there, (I've used a lot of them) but in my humble opinion AU far more unique, sleek, and just really stylish. They are not paying me to say this (nor do they even know i'm writing this blog), but I used them this year to make Kevin's gift, and I was absolutely astonished when I got it in the mail. I surprised Kev with a photo book of our SE Asia trip. The book was really easy to make, and my favorite part was the canvas covers they offer in different colors! I chose the tan cover for this book, but already have my eye on the navy color for our Turkey/Greece trip  pictures! Since you probably won't have enough time to make a book and get it shipped, a gift card might be the next best option!! Check them out here! 


Have you heard of Tinggly? I was just introduced to them this year, and WOW, I am already hooked. They essentially offer "experiences"…basically fun excursions to do while on a trip! Let's say you are planning a trip to Thailand, and you have a birthday coming up. You can ask your friends or family for an "experience" they offer in Thailand…. for instance, Tinggly offers an "Unforgettable 2 day trekking in Chaing Mai for two". How cool that instead of just giving you cash, your friends and family can purchase something So special that adds to your adventure! So…since Christmas is just 3 days away, check out Tinggly's "experiences" by clicking here.  You might find it's the perfect gift for you to buy for a friend or family member for Christmas!


Ok, ok…so basket's really aren't that unique of an idea. BUT…they are making a major comeback as adorable accessories for a home! In my room alone I have 7 baskets! I've filled them with books, plants, a place for my school bag, glasses, etc! If you have a fashion forward woman in your life…consider buying her an adorable basket {i've seen so really cute ones at target lately, like this and this!}.

Welp, I hope you enjoy this next week with your family. Kevin and I are picking my little sister up at at the airport today in LA, and then driving up to Northern California. I am beyond excited!! Woo Hoo! I can't help but singing over and over in my head "I'll be home for CHristmas":) 

Stories behind my room decor

Friday, December 19

I've been having so much fun putting my room together {if you missed the full spread of room pics, click here}. It's essentially a very large bedroom that i've made feel more like a studio, with one half of our room consisting of a large bed and dresser, and the other half resembling a cosy little living room. I just love it:) Most days you'll find me snuggled upstairs in this room with a cup of tea, the record player buzzing tunes, with either a friend or my school books!

What made decorating SO fun was that I tried to find every piece from either a yard sale or craigslist. Honestly, it was a modern day treasure hunt, and every Saturday morning i'd slide into my car ready for an adventure. Along the way I encountered some really lovely people, and some fun stories. So..I thought it would be fun to document all the stories of my decor...

The French Prints & Wooden Candlesticks: 

If you follow me on IG, you probably already read this story, but it's too wonderful not to mention here on my blog. To preface, i'm a HUGE history nerd, especially when it comes to European history. And on this particular Saturday, I got to witness a slice of history come to life. I was finishing up my day yard saling, when I noticed an apartment complex having a community wide yard sale. I drove in, and spotted this adorable old woman standing by herself with a few odds and ends. Intrigued, I stopped and started chatting with her. It was apparent she had an accent, so I asked where she was from. "France" she said, which of course ignited a little chat about how much I have loved traveling through her country on multiple occasions.

I asked her how her family fared during WWII, and she was all stories by this point {which I was enraptured by!}. She shared how her father smuggled Jewish children across the border into Switzerland, and her husband had been kidnapped by the Nazi's and taken to Berlin to work at a labor camp. She even volunteered with the Red Cross. I couldn't believe how amazing it was that all these stories I had just read about in books were here actual experience. I felt so honored to be in her presence! I've since visited her at her home to hear more stories!

One hilarious turn of the story is that she told me she goes walking 3 mornings a week, and ends her walk by eating at a local bagel shop across the street. This happens to be the same bagel shop that my husband's family owns, and I asked if she knew my husband Kevin (and then showed her a picture of him). She started giggling hysterically when she saw the picture and said "I tell my friend every week that he's the reason I come here! He's so handsome!" hahahah! I was dying laughing! What a small world! I bought the wooden candle sticks from her, along with these old photographs of France, as well as a handmade French table cloth (that is not pictured).

The Tree Stumps:

 I like to pin DIY projects on Pinterest, but i'm not the greatest at follow-through!! I just never seem to find the time! But i've been pining {pun intended} after these gorgeous tree stump coffee tables, and knew I had to make them. I found some free wood on Craigslist, and Kevin and I went to town. I love how they turned out!

Advent Calendar: 

{I guess I don't have just a picture of the advent calendar, but it's the red hanging thing in the background, haha} Two years ago my sister and I went to go visit our family in Germany. {see here and here} It was November, and they were just ushering in the Christmas season, which was so magical. While strolling in downtown Dusseldorf, we ducked into the sweetest Christmas shop to escape the brisk chill that was slowly settling in our bones. I was in heaven! I purchased this festive advent calendar, and have loved hanging it every year since! This year, Kevin and I finally filled it with verses of the Christmas story, candy, and sweet little date cards {Kevin and I both did this, so one of us is surprised each night!}

Christmas Tree:

I am a real Christmas Tree kind of girl...I love the smell of fresh evergreen that fills the room with delightful lingerings of the holidays. However, I also just love Christmas trees in general, and wanted to have one in my room as well. One day at a yard sale, there was a brand new fake tree in a box, and I asked how much it was. They told me to name my price, so I sad "$1", and they said YES! I couldn't believe it! So my Christmas tree was $1. I will never get over that!  Love it!

Record Player: 

Growing up, my dad used to play his old albums on the record player in our house. On Sunday mornings, he would blast Beethoven's 5th symphony to wake us up. On the rare occasions mom was out for the evening, my dad would gather us around his record player and we'd jam to various Beatles songs. "Rocky Raccoon" was one of our favorites. So I set out to find a record player on Craigslist. After a few months of searching, I found the perfect one. With the help of some friends who did me a huge favor, I now am in possession of a sweet player that brings joyful tunes into my home on a daily basis! And yard sales are the greatest place to pick up cheap old records!! Last week I was so excited to score the "Sound of Music" {i know, i'm a nerd, but it's my favorite movie!}

If you're curious where anything else is from…feel free to ask! Like I said, I picked up most things from yard sales or craigslist, but I definitely have a radar on brands, so i'll probably know where it's from!

Happy Weekend friends! One of my college roommates is here visiting, and we are having a blast! Kev and I head up to Northern California on Monday, and are pumped!! Christmas is so soon! Thank you all for entering the give-aways last week! All the winners have been picked, but I am so grateful you all entered!! xoxo 

Room Reveal…Christmas Edition!

Tuesday, December 16

For the last year {since moving back from Nepal} Kevin and I have lived with his parents. This decision to shack up with my in-laws was one we did not make lightly. One of my favorite things in the world is hosting and having others in our home. In the few years Kevin and I were married before we moved to Nepal, i'm not kidding when I say that we had company over for dinner at least once a week, and a big party almost every month. We thrive by welcoming others into our space.

But when I started grad school, it didn't make sense financially for us to have our own space when his parents so graciously offered their home to us. So we prayed a lot and felt a sense of peace in moving in with Kev's parents. They are the easiest people to live with, and we love them deeply. But of course, living in someone else's house is just different. When we first moved in a year ago, there was a whole lot of furniture in the room we moved in to…2 huge queen sized beds! Well…just about 3 months ago, they gave a bed away to a friend, opening up a huge space in our room! 

I asked my mother in law if I could do some decorating, and she gave a resounding "thumbs up!". So I went to town…big time! I'll save the before and after pictures for another time (because that merits a whole post in itself!) but today I wanted to share a little bit about how I decorated for Christmas!! 

But, what I love about this space of mine is that everything I bought was either free, a few dollars at a yard sale, bargained off craigslist, or on mega sale at a store. It doesn't have to be new or perfect to be wonderful!! Creating a welcoming space is about the love and care that goes into it, and not the amount of money we spend! Love is what fills a home, and all of us have that to give:) 

Enjoy sweet friends, and don't forget to come back Thursday, for i'll be sharing lots of stories behind each of these items!! xoxo Katie 

The few items we did not get from a yard sale include:
- Herringbone throw blanket: Tiny Prints {soooo cozy!!}
- Lamp: Target
- Couches {I found the love seat at a Yard Sale and the chair on Craigslist, but they are originally Ikea
- Ottoman: Homegoods {on mega sale!} 
- Plant: Home Depot 
- Tree Stump Coffee Tables: Kevin and I made these with free wood we got off Craigslist! 

That's it…everything else (and I mean EVERYTHING ELSE} you see in this picture, is from a yard sale! Hooray!! I hope this gets you a little more into the Christmas spirit fiends:) Wishing you the loveliest of days!!! 

fulfilling desires {and a $150 cash give-away!}

Friday, December 12

What a beautiful week this was in so many ways. Reminders of God's faithfulness were so evident around every corner. I'm sitting in my big chair now, looking out at the twinkly lights on our tree, thinking about this last year with great fondness. Life can be hard and messy and crazy, but this season (with all it's monotony: i.e.: not living abroad) feels right. I told my friends the other night that i'm living into my calling, to become a therapist, and it just feels like i'm breathing my authentic self.

Kevin and I have such a wanderlust and heart for the world. Travel for us isn't just about seeing new places, it's about building deep into the relationships that we form, and learning to view the world through fresh eyes. One neat thing about this past year, is that even though we've been forced to be relatively "tied down" to Southern California (with me in grad school), there have been so many beautiful ways we've still engaged with the world.

Just take this week for example...

- Kevin and I figured that since we can't be living abroad right now, we can still be meeting, welcoming and connecting with students from around the world! Every Tuesday, we have lunch with a group of international student. This week the Saudi Arabian students made me straight up coffee from their home town, and it was INTENSE. They about died laughing after I took my first sip…that stuff was strong! I quickly replaced the taste with a delicious date they brought over from SA as well….who knew fresh dates were so divine?  Random fact, did you know that the Saudi Arabian King helps pay for students from SA to come over to the US to study? Amazing. I wish Obama would pay me to go study in another country, haha! But truly, these students are a joy and I love that Kevin and I get to be on the receiving end, inviting people into our home and loving them!!

- On Monday night we had a Nepali couple over. They actually are the directors of the aftercare home where we worked in Kathmandu, Nepal. This is the first time we've seen them since we left Nepal {a tearful goodbye here}, and it was so lovely reconnecting! We asked them how each one of the girls were doing, and laughed at all the sweet  stories we heard!

- Earlier in the week, Kevin and I filled our advent calendar that I bought in Germany 2 years ago. There is a little pocket for each day. We put verses of the Christmas story in each pocket, as well as candy and fun little activities to do together! Last night, Kevin said "hey babe, why don't you go get the verse out of the calendar". Along with the verse, he had sneakily stuffed a little present in there for me. When I unwrapped it I couldn't believe my eyes!! A sweet little bundle of cash was in there, along with a note that said "to splurge while in Cartagena"! Kevin and I are budget travelers, but because he had agreed to attend a survey group the day before to make $150, he was able to give us a night at a sweet hotel in Columbia. If you didn't already hear, we are going to Ecuador and Columbia in January (see here for more info)!

- Lastly, as you all probably know, I am still selling our 2015 Travel Calendar, and it's gorgeous as ever!! I still have about 20 copies left, and would LOVE for you to enjoy the vibrant pictures and inspiring quotes all year! It would make a fantastic Christmas present, or just a fun addition to your room! These 9x9 calendars have space to write a little something each day! You can purchase one here! 

Basically, the Lord is so good in providing sweet little reminders of His love, and delighting our hearts with our desires! I hope that wherever you are, and however you feel, you would know that God's tenderness is for you too.

PS- And as a fun friday give-away, a few other travel bloggers and I are giving away $150 cash on IG. Go visit my IG page, and read the instructions on how to enter. The give-away will start at 11am EST (or 8am PST for those of us west coasters!) It's pretty easy!! Fingers crossed that you win sweet friend:)

Happy Weekend lovely,