stuff I love: dutch blitz

dutchblitz

One of my absolute fondest memories from childhood is the annual two-week summer vacation we took in Maine. My grandparents rented a cabin in a four-cabin campground for the entire summer. We would come up and rent one of the other cabins for a couple of weeks. During the day we’d swim and sight see. And then at night, we did the exact same thing: we ate dinner, we went out fishing until the bugs drove us crazy, and then we came back and had dessert while we played Dutch Blitz. Every. Single. Night.

Dutch Blitz is actually an Amish card game. My Mom stayed with an Amish family once when she was still in school and they showed her how to play. She took the game home and then it eventually became something the whole family played together. And we never grew tired of playing it. We’d howl with laughter at my brother’s stupid jokes, eat too much dessert (well, I ate too much dessert), and have a vonterful voot game ; ) (that’s the Dutch Blitz tag line!)

One of the neighbors at the campground who was also an annual renter used to absolutely HATE us. He had a vanity tag on his car that read “Beetat” … so that’s what we called him behind his back. He would complain to my grandmother that he could hear us howling with laughter all the way through the woods. I kind of feel bad about that now … but what can I say? It was fun! And besides, look at how absolutely COOL I looked playing with my short hair and glasses. Yes, those were MY glasses. Why were they so big? Hmmm … not sure. I remember picking them out myself … so I have no one else to blame but myself. Oh, and when people ask me now why I don’t ever experiment with shorter hair styles, well, all I have to do is whip out the pictures. Been there. Done that. It was NOT good!

Want to buy Dutch Blitz? You should!!! You really should!!! Check out their list of distributors here.

 

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Motivation Monday: (life hack) success principles

One of my favorite books EVER is Jack Canfield’s Success Principles. If you’ve never read it … go get it. Really  … GO. GET. IT! It’s that good.

While you’re waiting for your book to come in, here’s Life Hack’s 10 success principles you need to remember.

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I’ve set some big goals for myself this year. None of them are going to be easy to achieve. And all of them will require persistent effort on my part. I notice that I start to lose heart and wear down on the days that I don’t remind myself of these principles. Even though it may look like others achieve their goals over night … rarely is this true. It takes persistence. Lots and lots of persistence. 

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how to break in your cowboy boots

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A few years ago, I FINALLY got my very own REAL cowboy boots. I already had a couple of pleather pairs that I had gotten at Goodwill. But I wanted real ones! I got them from a friend’s store and when I went in for a fitting, she told me that you have to start out a little snug because they stretch. That made sense. I ended up going with an extra narrow boot because I have a very narrow heel and I can’t stand the feeling of it slipping up and down in boots! This is actually a problem I have with any type of boot … only a few brands work well for me (La Canadienne is one and Franco Sarto is another … just in case you too have this problem.)

So I left with my beautiful new boots and two plastic baggies. I needed to put my feet in the baggies in order to get them into the boots! But that would all change once I wore them a bit and they stretched.

Or, so I thought.

For the past five years, I’ve tried to wear them. Really, I have.

But.

They.

Hurt!!!!

I’m particularly wussy with my feet because I have significant nerve damage in my legs and feet from a couple of back surgeries. While I have very limited sensation on the bottom of my feet, the top of my feet are overly sensitive. (Nerves are no joke!) (Oh, and another side note: acupuncture is amazing for nerve damage! I’ve gotten so much better with acupuncture treatments!) So anyway, all this to say that I had given up on my boots. I was just about ready to donate them to Goodwill when I decided to give it one last go.

This time I remembered something that Les Brown said in one of his talks. His family was poor and his mother would often bring home clothes that her employer’s would donate for the children. Once his Mom brought him home new sneakers that were half a size too small. She rubbed his feet with vaseline, stuck his feet in the shoes, and then had him walk in a tub of water. He walked and walked until the shoes fit like a glove.

So I tried it. It became  my step one:

Step one: Put your boots on (if you need to put plastic bags over your feet to help your feet slip in, then do it!), fill a tub of water, and start walking.

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I had some music on and I even did a little dance. I walked and walked. My feet hurt!!! But I kept walking. It helped … a little.

Step two: If you’re feet aren’t too sore (mine were), keep the boots on and take a walk outside.

Step three: If you’re feet are too sore, take off your boots and stuff some balled up cloth into them … making sure the tightest areas have the most cloth. Let the boots sit and dry with the cloth in them.

This might be all you need! Your boots should dry and be ready to be worn.

Step four: Sigh, or, if you’re like me… you  need to keep working at it. Put the boots back on (I still needed the plastic bags to help my feet slide in … but once they were on, they were noticeably looser than before) and walk around for a bit. Notice the areas that are causing pain. Saturate a cotton ball in some rubbing alcohol and then use it to saturate the tight areas of the boots. Keep on walking. You should notice that the leather instantly stretches and gives you some relief. Repeat as many times as necessary. After doing this several times, I was finally able to move on to step five!

Step five: Wear your boots! Obviously, the more times you wear them, the more they’ll stretch and fit your foot perfectly. Success!!

Disclaimer: If you look at the picture below, you can see that the boots are a bit lighter in color now across the tops of the foot. That’s from the alcohol. I knew that some discoloration would occur, but really, once they start to get worn in more, the discoloration won’t even be noticeable. Besides, if I didn’t stretch them, I wouldn’t even get to wear them. So it was worth it to me : )

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I’m so excited because this Spring I finally have a pair of cute and comfortable cowboy boots I can wear with my dresses! Hooray!!

Have you had any success breaking in boots or shoes? Please share your tips and tricks! I’d love to know about them!

 

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motivation monday: I dare you.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do … but you’re too scared, nervous, or unsure of yourself to do it?

Me, too.

Here sits a lovely stack of marketing flyers.

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I designed these flyers to advertise my photography services to ad agencies in NY. I had them printed and then sat down to address them. And then I stopped. That was months ago.

I worked as a marketing writer and designer for years before becoming a photographer. Now, after working six years as a photographer who specializes in child photography, I love the idea of mashing together my love of child photography with my 10+ years of marketing layout and design. The thing about working in the advertising industry is that it’s very, very, very hard to get noticed.

So, what do you do? You do your research and send out targeted promotions to art buyers. These art buyers received hundreds of like pieces a day. Yes, HUNDREDS. Some of the most seasoned and talented photographers in the industry are all out looking for jobs. So you might say that the competition is stiff.

And truth be told … this intimidates me. No … this SCARES me. So much so that my lovely little stack of flyers STILL sits in the same spot of my office, collecting dust.

I stared at it the other night and I thought, “Come on, Kate. What’s the WORST thing that could happen if you send these in? What is stopping you?”

A million reasons why I shouldn’t send in the flyers popped into my head. Alright, maybe that’s a little dramatic … maybe it was 10 reasons. But they went something like this …

There’s already enough amazing photographers out there.

You’re not good enough.

You don’t have enough experience.

You won’t be able to handle the work.

You aren’t talented enough. 

It’s a waste of stamps. 

Someone is going to laugh at your weak little post card. Other photographers send in thousand-dollar promotions! (No truly, they do!)

The thing is … it’s probably going to take me sending in promotional pieces over and over and over again before I catch someone’s eye. And that means that if I can’t get past doing it the first time, I won’t be able to land the commercial job I want to land.

So I had to go back to my favorite motivational clip. I. LOVE. THIS. CLIP. If you need to get motivated …watch this. Watch it everyday. The imagery is sports related … but it’s the words that speak to me.

I dare you to take a little pain!
I dare you.
- Eric Thomas

So, I decided to dare myself. I dare myself to send in the flyers. And somehow, with those words “I dare you” in my mind, there’s a fresh drive pushing me to do it. And it feels good! So good that I even made up a new screensaver for myself. Who knows what else I might accomplish if I regularly dare myself!

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You can download  a copy of the screensaver here.

And here’s the full speech by Les Brown … “It’s Possible.” I’ve watched this at least 25 times in the last few months, and it never gets old.

p.s. More motivation monday posts!

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bathtub dreaming: 10 of the BEST bathtubs out there!

It has been a very, very long while since I’ve gotten to relax in a bathtub. I actually can’t remember the last time I had an enjoyable soak in a tub. I have two bathtubs in my house … but neither is large enough to allow me to fit properly and comfortably. Either my legs are covered in water but not my upper body … or the other way around. I have long legs and it’s just plain old NOT relaxing when you don’t really fit in the tub!

I’ve stayed in a few hotels that had beautiful bathtubs … but have you watched those specials on the germs that lurk in hotel rooms? I have. If you haven’t … spare yourself. It’s not something you’re likely to forget. Actually, the tub in my hotel room in Mexico overlooked the ocean and was beautiful. But I couldn’t get in because I couldn’t stop thinking about the TV special. (See, I told you. Don’t watch it.)

Even if my bathtub doesn’t allow for full-body coverage (which is what I want!), I came across an article the other day that reminded me of why I should be taking baths regularly … despite the lack of tub perfection. Detox baths are considered essential to your health in many cultures. Here’s a great article that explains this further.

So, while taking my next detox bath, I’ll try not to focus on the fact that only half of my body is in the tub. Instead, I’ll dream of tub perfection. Maybe … just MAYBE my new apartment will have a deep soaker tub. Maybe it will look like one of these 10 amazing tubs!!…

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{ SOURCES: 123 }

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{ SOURCES: 4 … 5 }

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{ SOURCES: 6 … 7 }

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{ SOURCES: … 9 … 10 }

A girl can dream, right?!

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