Thursday, November 20, 2014


Living abroad means getting the "where are you from?" question quite often. Sometimes they know without asking. They hear our hard R's and loud laughs and say, hey! You're Americans! But what does it really mean to be an American? I think much can be learned from a person based on where they're from and their family backgrounds. These sorts of things have always intrigued me, so a couple of months ago I started working on learning about my family genealogy.

I did this pretty easily with a subscription to It started slowly, just by putting in my Grandparents names and birth dates. The site automatically pulls up census records and marriage and death certificates, so you can piece people together fairly easily. I tried to verify the names and relationships with my Grandparents, just to make sure I was heading in the right direction.

So I've been working on this for over 2 months now, and I have to say, it's so fun. I have learned so much about my relatives, their homes, their family relations, their occupations. It's incredible! I've also come across some pretty great photos of my family members.

That stud is my 3rd Great Grandfather on my Mom's side, Arthur Webster Paxton born in 1820. His goatee alone is worth the mention.

I discovered that I've had ancestors in Pennsylvania since immigrating over from Germany in the early 1700's. That's pretty cool to me because I love my home state so much, and I guess they did too.  My 6th Great Grandfather was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. I've discovered ancestors that fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. Ancestors who owned slaves in Virginia, and ancestors who fought to free them further north. 

Just this week I've traced back far enough to ancestors who arrived in Plymouth Mass from England as early at 1634. When I told Kevin about this he responded with, "wow, you are super American." But I said, "No, I'm just super white." My DNA results (which you get through the site after signing up) told me I am 100% European. I was kind of annoyed with that. How boring! I was hoping for a little flavour in there somewhere. 

But everyone everywhere has an interesting story to tell. You just have to know where to look. Some of my aforementioned family members who settled in Plymouth opened what I can only assume to be one of the very first taverns ever in America. It was called Coles Inn, and James Cole (my 11th great grandfather) was recorded to have had his liquor license taken away quite a few times due to rowdiness, selling liquor on Sundays, selling liquor to Native Americans, and the like. 

But one of the funniest things I've come across was a mention of his son, Hugh Cole, being fined for 20 shillings when he & his future wife were found guilty of "keeping company each with other in an undecent manner, at an unreasonable time and place, before marriage." What life must've been like in the 1600's, right?

My last story is this; Edward Bosworth (my 12th great grandfather) was born in England 1586. He along with his family boarded the Elizabeth V Dorcas to sail to Massachusetts in 1634. During the journey Edward got sick and he died on the ship as it was sailing into Boston Harbor. It has been recorded that in his final moments he asked other passengers to take him up to the deck so he could "view the promised land." He then passed away and his body was taken to shore and buried in Boston.

I'm so glad I found all this out right before Thanksgiving. It somehow makes the story of the Pilgrims and ships and disease all those years ago more real. And no matter if your family members sailed on the Mayflower or you're first generation American, people had to make sacrifices to get us to where we are today. And that's definitely worth remembering this holiday. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


making: plans. for the weekend. for christmas. for my life.
drinking: green tea. I hear it's good for you.
wanting: inspiration.
watching: the walking dead (on a suuuuper sketch website that I'm fairly certain is illegal.)
listening: avett bros (oldies) and--judge me, taylor swifts new stuff
eating: thai take out and grapes.
smelling: outside air seeping in.
wishing: to teleport home for thanksgiving next week.
enjoying: warmer nights around these parts.
hoping: to breakout some new stationary tomorrow and pen a few letters.
needing: peoples addresses for mailing letters.
feeling: content.
wearing: bed clothes. big baggy comfy.
bookmarking: oscar wildes the picture of dorian gray. 

sorry this is pretty lame and uninspiring. see above how I'm wanting inspiration? yeah, my tank is running on E. I usually find inspiration in all kinds of places. from conversations with friends, to music and books, to old pictures which conjure up memories. but I've been lacking lately in this department and need to get the juices flowing again.
if you've got any to spare send it my way. until then I'll just keep writing lists and humming taylor swift.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

living with less

When you get married you get a lot of stuff. Cookbooks, furniture, money (the best), and bread makers that you will never in a hundred years put to use. There are gifts you register for, gifts you don't, and gifts that most likely were re-gifted at least once. We ended up with doubles of many things because people didn't bother with our registry and just went out and bought us random stuff.

But this is not a post to complain about excess wedding presents. Those additional gifts are able to be returned for the best gift (noted above); money! But what I'm trying to get at is that after the wedding you suddenly have loads of stuff. Some of it is necessary, but what I'm beginning to realise (5 years later while most of it sits in other peoples homes) is that most of it is not.

Before Kevin and I moved abroad we sold a lot of this stuff at yard sales. And yes, it was definitely hard to part with some of it. These were the things that made up our first home together. Dishes, bedding, chairs and tables and carpets. But in the end, it didn't make sense to keep it all when we don't know when or where we'll need it again.

Upon moving, we made the conscious decision to live simply. I believe this has always been our goal, but when you are gifted so many nice and beautiful things what are you to do? We moved here with 3 suitcases and a few carry ons. This forced us to be extremely intentional when it came to what we were bringing. We arrived with no furniture, bedding, appliances, or decor. It was like starting with a completely blank slate.

Over the past year we have made this work for us. Finding a furnished place was the biggest thing. And we have been able to add our own personal touches here and there. But when it comes right down to it, we could pack up everything we own in a matter of an hour or two and be on our merry way.

This has a lot to do with the fact that our home here is roughly 80 square feet. It basically one room plus a bathroom, and has been the perfect space for us to simplify. We have had to be very careful about the things we chose to fill our space with. This means getting books from the library or on kindle instead of buying them (which is hard for both of us book nerds). It means I only buy a new candle when the current one has burned out. It means washing our bedding in the morning so its dry by the evening when we need to put it back on our bed, since we don't have spare sheets.

These are all little changes that can be made to maximize space and efficiency. Food is another story altogether, as we need to go to the store multiple times a week since we do not have much room for storage. But this also causes us to eat fresher and better food in general.

I think so much can be learned by cutting things out of our lives. It has definitely taught me the difference between things we need (1 smell-good candle) and things we just want (17 smell-good candles). Most of our things used to be wants, only used to fill up space. When we first got married I think we had 10 or 12 bowls. This seems ridiculous now! We only re-used the same 2 everyday for cereal and the rest just sat untouched on the shelf. 

Life is busy and hectic and crazy enough without the extra 10 bowls taking up space. De-clutter and live simply. I promise, it's a good idea.