And Then There Were 5…

“I cannot control exactly what happens in life, but I can control how I respond to it all. In my response is my greatest power.”

I saw this quote on someone’s Instagram page today and thought it was so fitting for the nature of this post. Life can really throw you some curveballs sometimes, and how we respond to them really define what kind of people we are and how we best handle the speed bumps and potholes in life (I have car insurance on the brain…omg).

I have to say, I brainstormed quite a bit for this post. I want to convey what I want to say as “me” as possible, which is with happiness, positivity, kindness, sensitivity, and empathy. I really try to encompass those traits into my being and my everyday way of life. I’m very aware that certain subjects are prone to stigma and susceptibility. That being said:

I am 6 weeks pregnant.

The initial shock has worn off. We weren’t planning on having any more babies. We already have two girls and we were good with that. Life had different plans for us and our little family though. Now that the reality has sunk in, we’re overjoyed and so excited to welcome another bundle of joy into our lives. I have loved this little one since the second I peed on that stick and it said positive; this little one that is literally the size of an orange seed right now. And speaking of size…

I am very enlightened to the fact that announcing pregnancy so early (or even in the 1st trimester at all) has a lot of weird energy surrounding it due to the higher risk of miscarriage in this fragile period. I acknowledge this sensitivity with my full heart, and with that same heart I know that speaking up now is what is right for me.

I naturally and very readily wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes this can be to a fault, but most of the time it has really helped me in my life. I am an open book. Vulnerability is okay and I am not ashamed of it. I feel like I am transparency by definition. I don’t feel the need to cover things up that are emotionally difficult. Doing so makes me feel pent up and anxious. I hate feeling that way. It’s like my insides are shaking and I can’t make them stop. As I type, I feel a weight being lifted. I feel that brokenness is not mean to be done alone. Loss is a part of life, as painful as it is. I’ve experience exponential loss. It’s something I feel is so important to teach our children from a young age. There is a way to explain things to little ones so they understand, so they aren’t as shocked or devastated as they may be if things like loss weren’t explained to them. This is the very reason we’ve already begun talking about the new baby to our girls. As a mom, I am here to protect, of course, but to also educate and demonstrate the type of person I want them to be. I want them to know that sharing things emotionally is a positive thing (and I’m all about positivity), not something we need to cover up or shroud in secrecy. People tend to feel like it must be better to keep quiet about things such as a lost pregnancy or the potential that it could happen, instead of surrounding themselves with support. I want all the support I can get. I have a gut feeling that this pregnancy will work the way it’s supposed to, but just in case it doesn’t, I know all of you will be here for me, and I need that.

Aside from that more deep and serious side of my announcement, the lighter side is that there are so many beautiful things happening to me and the developing baby right now and I want to share it!

It’s exciting and it’s not something I wish to bottle up and keep to myself. I think it’s incredibly interesting that there’s already a spinal column forming, facial features such as ears and eyes already developing, a two-chambered heart that beats, etc. I have been blessed with the gift of life within me for a second time and I want to embrace it for all it’s worth. I want to talk about it, vent about my nausea/heartburn/fatigue/backaches (and boy do I have nausea), and welcome all of you readers who are my family, friends and acquaintances to share in it with me. ❤

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Posted in life

Discouragement/Encouragement

I woke up feeling so crappy this morning, and it wasn’t a cold or illness that was afflicting me, but discouragement. 

Sometimes being discouraged can be the worst thing for a person to deal with. This morning I was feeling so low. 

Life has felt like a struggle recently. Holidays are fun, but they’re hard on adults who can’t sit back and enjoy them the same way as we did when we were kids. They’re stressful and a large percentage is focused around money. Despite those struggles, we made it through, the kids had a great holiday and now, after the new year holiday has come to an end as well, I have been left with a strange emptiness. 

There is SO MUCH I want to do in my life. I work hard at my job, try to be a good mom, strive to constantly project positivity on my world and other people, and sometimes it feels like I’m falling short somewhere. Sometimes I feel like the events that happen in my everyday life don’t make sense with all the effort and love I put out in the world. For instance, this morning I had to take Derek’s car to work instead of mine and forgot to leave him the other key,  so I had to turn around in the snow and take it back to him, causing me to be late for work. I may be nit-picking, but when little things like that build up, it takes a toll on me, my demeanor and my emotions.  It feels like negativity rains on me when all I’m doing is trying so hard to be a good, kind, compassionate,  empathetic, hard working person. It makes me feel like I’m not trying hard enough. 

I voiced all this concern and heaviness on my mind and heart to Derek and he, of course, made me feel better. He reminded me of the good things that my funk was shrouding. I have A LOT of wonderful things in my life and I need to remember to be patient and stay positive. Our time will come.

For 2017 I have huge goals I want to work toward. They are “working” resolutions; long term goals I want to get a start on. Here’s my list that I’m excited and encouraged to achieve, however long it may take. 

-Start saving for our forever home

-Move up at work and achieve a promotion

-Get involved with philanthropy on small and large scales (I want to be in a position where if I ever see a person struggling at the grocery store to pay, that I can pick up the tab, no problem). 

-Be empathetic in every regard, even when it’s not easy

I’m going to get out of this funk and move forward. That’s all I can do. 

The Most Essential Quality of Civilization

Hi everyone, I know it’s been a while. I got super busy with a new job and a lack of focus for blogging topics. I needed inspiration and I received it.

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Empathy has been cropping up all around me recently. In my new role with Liberty Mutual as a claims adjuster for Safeco insurance, empathy is important if you want to do your job (or at least do it well). I’m currently reading a book called “8 Characteristics of an Awesome Adjuster”. Sounds boring, but it’s very helpful for my job path. There was a part I read recently where the author compared being an adjuster to being a therapist (which is kind of my dream job), and it’s so true! Empathizing with people is something that comes very naturally to me and I’m grateful for that. I’m glad I don’t find myself struggling to feel someone’s pain after their car just got totaled by a 10 point buck or when they were going a little too fast when they hit black ice and spun out, slamming into a guard rail. When people call in a claim, it’s probably one of the worst times in their life. Getting into a car accident is scary and extremely inconvenient, especially during this time of year when everyone is trying to travel for the holidays and now they can’t because their vehicle isn’t able to be driven and they have to find different means of transportation. I feel horrible when I have to tell someone rental isn’t on their policy and they’ll have to pay out of pocket. While they should have been aware of what they elected on their insurance policy, hey, at least there’s a discount through Enterprise if you’re a Safeco customer, right? Yeah, but that’s literally the exact thing I have to try to avoid when I’m talking to people who are on the phone with me.

There is a huge different between empathy and sympathy. Here are the definitions:

Empathy:the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

Sympathy:harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.

You can sympathize with someone respectfully and genuinely feel bad that they are going through something tough. When someone is sick, you buy them a sympathy card to show them you care, or if a friend of yours is going through a tough divorce, you’re there to listen, try and cheer them up, get them to look on the bright side. While this is all good and well, how deep are those feelings of compassion you are expressing to them? Does your sympathy for someone else’s pain hit you right in the heart and reflect back to them as such, or is it only skin deep? I’m sure the answer to that question is debatable. That’s fine. I’m just here to point out that as you go through life, trying to connect with people on a deeper level-a level that builds trust, connections, and peace-relies heavily on how well you are able to show true empathy.

I see people’s lack of empathy all around me. I’m guilty of it myself, although it’s been a long time since I haven’t figuratively tried to think of how another person must be feeling before I judge their actions. I have found that if you just step outside yourself for a few minutes, think about someone who is, say, lashing out at you harshly, and try to really feel their struggle and the root of their pain, it’s so much easier to react appropriately. People naturally want to be defensive in situations where they are feeling attacked, but I hate to break it to you that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Things may feel personal, but a lot of times, they aren’t. If you can detach from a situation and you’re able to conclude that that person would have reacted the same way if you were replaced with someone entirely different, then it’s not about you, it’s them. It’s something that person needs to work through to get to a good place. Even if they are taking it out on you personally, that’s no reason to lash back out at them. That kind of reaction, no matter how right it feels, no matter how much you’re able to justify it, is taking the low road and it’s immature. We are adults and we are capable of empathy. It’s not always easy, but it’s right.

I want to be clear on something here. I’m not saying you should let someone crap all over you and not say anything about it. It’s perfectly fine to take a step back and say, “Hey, I understand you’re upset. Talking to me that way isn’t going to help anything, but I am here to listen if you really feel like talking about it.” I know, I know. That sounds like a corny Brady Bunch line, but I swear it makes all the difference. I have been praised in my short time in my new job by the way I’ve reacted to people who were literally cursing at me with every other word on the phone. I have heard other adjusters in the office immediately get defensive with customers who are being verbally offensive and every time I hear it, it blows my mind. They aren’t taking a single minute to think about how that person must be feeling. Someone just smashed into their car because they weren’t looking and ran a red light, they’re upset and shaken up and pissed off. We are one of the first people they speak to because they need help. Help is what we are there to provide, not argument. Try and hear the tremble in their voice and feel the shakiness in their hands. Try to envision what they see or saw at the scene. Try to imagine how that would have made you feel. It’s never right to take anger or hurt out on other people, but we are human and it happens.

This goes for other situations too, of course, not just people lashing out in anger. Sore subjects/sensitive topics: death, illness, infidelity, divorce, conception, miscarriage, exes, children, debt, etc. Friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers all have struggles that they are dealing with openly and internally every single day. How they choose to deal with it is one thing and how we choose to react to it is another.

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I don’t mean to stand up on a soapbox. Like I said, I’m guilty of lack of empathy myself. I am just extremely aware of it at this point in my life. I think it’s an important thing to be aware of. I am also admittedly a very sensitive person. I understand that it’s easy to take things personally. Empathy for others, though,  creates a foundation of the kind of person you project into the world and sometimes a lack thereof can project insensitivity and rudeness, even if it isn’t intentional. Just try it. Think about other people before yourself. Assess situations before speaking, then make an appropriate response. Walk in another person’s shoes and decide on what you think they really need.

Until the next time (hopefully soon)!

Oh, and I’m just going to leave this here. It’s not long at all. Please watch it. I thought it was great. ❤

Regrets…or Lessons Learned

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Truer than true

I am by no means “old”. I haven’t even hit 30 yet. But, I am old enough to know that when I look back on some of the choices I made, I wish I could do them over.

The picture says it all. It’s not that I necessarily “regret” some of the things I did in my teens/early 20s, I just wish I had taken more chances, stepped outside the box, and hadn’t acted like I knew what the hell I was doing. Regret is such a harsh word, and I did have a lot of happy times when I was younger, but mixed in with the happy are so many things that should (not could) have been done differently.

I’ll make a list:

1.) Deciding at age 14 that I had found “the one”.

Who does that? Well, I guess a lot of stupid kids think they know everything and know better than their parents, who have actually LIVED through crap like that. I met my first boyfriend when I was 14 and decided he’d be the one forever and always. Granted, we did stick it out for 10 years…but we can talk about that later. My parents tried telling me over and over, “Dusty, you’re a kid. You’re in high school. Have fun and don’t tie yourself to someone who doesn’t even live in the same town as you!” and I said, “But I love him!” and I did, but, I know when I look back on it, a lot of my motivation was setting out to prove them wrong. I wanted to defy the odds and show them it was possible to find your soul mate at age 14 and live happily ever after.

2.) Deciding to move out at 18 & live with my boyfriend, his mom, and his 2 little sisters

At this point, the wonderful relationship I had with my dad was ruined. He had forbade me to ever talk to or see my boyfriend again, I did anyway, he found out (a couple of times), trust was broken, resentment was formed, etc. By the time I was 18 I wanted out and away from parental rules. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and I did. I still went to college, but I commuted and lived in my boyfriend’s house with his mom and 2 younger sisters. I immediately became homesick and tried to visit my parents as often as possible, sometimes even spending entire weekends there. That caused resentment in my boyfriend who wanted me to be home with him. When I look back on this, I wish so strongly that I would have just gone to college and lived on campus like a “normal” person does. I’d probably be sitting here with a 4 year degree (or more) instead of a 2 year degree that took me 7 years to get. I wish I would have been young, not acted like I was married when I wasn’t, gone to parties, hung out with people and made friends, etc. I had been accepted to several colleges that offered me scholarships, but I didn’t accept them. Instead I went to a school that didn’t offer me anything because I had to go to the same school my boyfriend went to and also because he threw a fit when I suggested I may want to go the other route. I was young and dumb enough to be persuaded, even though deep down I knew it wasn’t in my best interest.

3.) Deciding to go along with and stay with someone who constantly held me back

When I say this, I am not saying it because I think my first boyfriend is a bad person. He isn’t. He was good to me during our 10 years together. Along with the good, there is always not so good (or even bad). He brought out my ugliest side, a side that Derek has yet to see. He made me feel like I shouldn’t like or enjoy the things I genuinely liked and enjoyed. I repressed A LOT when we were together. I dressed, acted and even dyed my hair a certain way because I knew he liked it that way. I did things for myself, but there was always a part of me that would second guess things or go in a direction I knew he would approve of more. I wouldn’t listen to certain music because he would make fun of it or make me feel silly for liking it. I scarcely spoke of my interest in Paganism because he had mentioned on several occasions when I had the courage to bring it up, that it was “stupid” and that I was “buying into it”. We were around 22 when we moved out on our own. I’d want to hang out with friends, drink, play games, do things, BE YOUNG. He’d constantly make me feel like I was some wild party girl who had “changed”. He’d talk about how sweet I once was and that I was different. I felt like anything that I liked that wasn’t the same as it had been when we were young teens, was bad. I didn’t talk about a lot of these feelings I had brewing inside of me. Resentment, frustration, even regret. Like I said, he was a good boyfriend, but once I decided to let go and break up, I felt immense relief that I had finally broken free from someone who really was very controlling. He didn’t think he was (who would?), but he was. He may not be now, but he was then. He was with me.

So, I guess I feel like the things I did for all those years are things that have really molded me into who I am today: what I stand for, my beliefs in what is right and wrong, etc. They are things that have made me realize all the chances and opportunities I allowed myself to miss out on when I should have been living life for ME. I had no kids, I wasn’t married. There was no reason for me to allow him to let me feel guilty for a lot of things that I wanted to do, but I let him. I am not that person now.  I am naturally a “people pleaser”, but I am now an adult who has learned from her mistakes. I know the difference between doing things for people because it makes me feel good about myself and happy that I’ve done them, and doing things because I feel forced to.

As a mother of two little girls, I plan on answering every question they may have someday completely and fully. I will tell them the things I have done and the things I wish I had done, and I’ll tell them out of passion and love. I don’t want to see them go down the road I went down. Some of the choices I made were very, VERY immature and stupid.

My life is very happy now. Derek’s personality and mine mesh so well together and I never feel held back with him. He understands that people change and evolve, and those differences are what makes us who we are.

I can definitely say that although I do wish I made a lot of different choices in the past, I am very grateful that my first boyfriend helped sculpt me into the person I am today. A person who is strong, unique, doesn’t care what others think of her and her interests (as much), and knows not to allow anything to hold her back from happiness.

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Words of Wisdom, Subject: Empathy

I came across this today and I remember really loving it  back when I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” years ago.

Just wanted to share these words of wisdom. It speaks for itself and it’s so unbelievably true.

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Posted in blended family

Wise Words Wednesday: Forgiveness — Not the Average Mama

This is a wonderful blog to follow. I just had to share this post she made today because it’s so incredibly true, especially if you are or ever have been in the world of step parenting. Thank you for your words of inspiration and encouragement!

 

Wise Words Wednesday is dedicated to profound quotes and sayings I have come across that I want to share with all of you. There are times where I’m going through my reader and find some interesting and wise quotes. Those quotes sometimes help me through a tough day by making me stop and think or […]

via Wise Words Wednesday: Forgiveness — Not the Average Mama

Posted in mabon, pagan

September 22nd-Mabon

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I wrote about the upcoming Pagan holiday, Mabon, a while back. I was getting so excited for the fall season that I couldn’t help myself! Now the time has finally come and Mabon is upon us! September 22nd is the date it falls upon, and although it’s more symbolic than anything, I feel like this balance between light and dark really allows those of us living in this hemisphere on Earth to embrace “death” and the coming fall and winter months.

I’m so excited, nostalgic and dreamy during this time of year! I always knew there was something more to these feelings and attachments I’ve had since I was young about seasons, smells, “rituals”, traditions, etc. and I’m so glad I finally discovered what that was. Paganism, as a broad term, has really opened up my world and answered so many unanswered questions that felt unfulfilled for a long time

As I’ve said before, balance is huge in my world. Being a Libra, that really goes without saying. I think I’m extremely connected to this particular holiday because there are equal parts of daylight and night, things are still growing, but they are also being harvested, and Earth just seems to be teetering in a happy middle that allows me to feel very grounded. I try to remind myself everyday of this and I like to think all this alignment and balance is the reason things have seemed to fall into place in my life very nicely, right around this time of year. I have literally zero bad energy connected to fall. It’s a beautiful thing and it’s so enlightening to feel the spiritual energy!

Just for a little bit of background once again:

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I tend to take a lot of things that come with Paganism more figuratively than literally. If I had my own crops and harvest, I’m sure I could celebrate both ways, but since I don’t at this time in my life, I like to think that now is the time to “reap” the benefits of the positive efforts I have “sown” all year to better my life. I truly believe, again, that if you wish for abundance, you will receive it. I have wished long and hard for it and I have reminded myself to look for it wherever I go, and I can see a difference! That fills me with joy in so many ways.

Let me know if there are any neat rituals, recipes, altars, etc. that you have used in the past! I’d absolutely LOVE people to make their voices heard and help me learn and grow spiritually. Please don’t hesitate to comment.

I will leave you with a cute Susan Branch recipe for Autumn Spiced Cider ❤

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I can only imagine how wonderful this makes your house smell!
Posted in life

Work Hard, Love Hard.

I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the craziness of life. My life, that is.

Now, as I have made very clear, I lead a basically “ordinary” life and I’m your typical “everyday” girl (to an extent). With that being said, I think this topic is right up my alley.

The topic? Working mom. Dun dun dun…

These are my #firstworldproblems. 😉

 

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I do a lot.

I’m not one to constantly toot my own horn, but I think it’s silly to be overly modest about how much I actually do as a wife, mom, stepmom, woman, person. I’m not looking for pats on the back or even any real acknowledgement at all, I’m just stating: I do stuff, man.

I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18 and have been working ever since. I worked as a student for 7 years (and still only ended up with an Associates degree) and have worked several jobs, a few having sculpted my career path into what its become today.

With that being said, my current roles in life are (and not in any particular order, because they’re all important as hell): mom, wife, business woman. Bottom line? I’m a working mom, and being a working mom is tough! I’m not complaining. I’m actually very proud of myself and where I stand today. I feel like I’ve worked my ass off to get here. I have struggled to climb the career ladder for so many years. I just landed a brand new job, doubling my yearly income (hallelujah!) and I’ve done this all while being a mom to two kids. As ordinary and mundane as that sounds, it’s an accomplishment to me. My current job was a huge step in the right direction as far as advancement, but the new one is like a giant leap. I’m more than thrilled to have landed it.

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AMIRIGHT?

Working full time with two kids is hard on several different levels. I already don’t see Charlotte through the week because she goes to school where her mom lives, and I don’t see Willa until evenings. Those evenings are spent the majority of the hours she is awake, just the two of us. Derek leaves as soon as I get home except on Friday. She goes to bed around 8, but before she does, I’m playing with her, taking care of her, cooking dinner, feeding her, doing various things around the house, etc. I have both kids on the weekend, and in one of my previous posts I talked a little bit about how my weekends feel very “go, go, go” the entire time. They are fun, but they fly by, then I’m back at my desk again, wishing for the weekend and beating myself up about having not had the time to clean the bathroom (or I just didn’t want to because I did the grocery shopping, did the laundry, made and cleaned up countless meals and snacks, changed 500 diapers, AND made sure the kids were happy). These are the struggles and battles I have in my mind all the time. Yes, I need to continue working to better my family’s life, but yes, it does suck not seeing them as often as I’d like, and yes, it also does suck literally have zero free time for just me, or just Derek and me.

Derek and I have really made it a point lately to make sure we don’t lose ourselves in the midst of our everyday lives. Yeah, we’re parents and we have jobs, but we are also individuals with interests and passions and needs. Derek and I hardly understand what it feels like to have any free time. After the kid(s) go to bed every night is the only time we have for just he and I, and that’s only like 2 hours and then we’re ready for bed ourselves. It’s not easy to whisk off on a Saturday to have a date night, because we’d have to get a babysitter. It wouldn’t matter what day of the week it was, there’d always be the need to ask someone else to help us out. There is at least one kid in our house 24/7. That gets tough, but that’s parenthood.

The point in all this, to be perfectly honest, is to vent a little bit. To get all these feelings off my chest and hope that someone, anyone, reads it and can relate. I love support and I especially love support from other women.

Please comment, chat with me, share, anything! I’d love to talk to other ladies who totally get it.

 

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Posted in fall

Dusty’s Favorite Fall Movies

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I’ve been getting more and more excited for fall with each day that passes. I live in southern Ohio, so the heat right now is still raging, but that doesn’t change the fact that IT’S SEPTEMBER. I purchased my first pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks last week (I don’t care if that makes me “basic”, hahaha) and I’ve been going crazy on Pinterest trying to find fun fall crafts that are cute and affordable. The other thing that’s been on my mind lately are all the great fall movies that I love to watch during this season. Most of them are super corny and get bad ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (which is make or break with Derek), but I will forever love them to pieces.

Here are my top favorites (I have lots of scary favorites as well, but all of these are “family friendly” choices):

“The Good Witch” Movie Series

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There are seriously 7 of these movies and I love every one of them. Catherine Bell plays ‘Cassie Nightingale’, and in each one, all the characters get into all kinds of mischief. I don’t know what it is about Hallmark movies, but they have a tendency to suck you in, and this movie series has succeeded (at least for me)!

Here are all them:

  • The Good Witch (2008)
  • The Good Witch’s Garden (2009)
  • The Good Witch’s Gift (2010)
  • The Good Witch’s Family (2011)
  • The Good Witch’s Charm (2012)
  • The Good Witch’s Destiny (2013)
  • The Good Witch’s Wonder (2014)

Give them a whirl if you have the chance. I think they’ve even made it into a T.V. series due to its popularity!

 

“Halloweentown” Movie Series

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I remember the first time I watched the first “Halloweentown” movie when I was a kid and loved it. The first one will always be my favorite, but they are all very cute and now I really just enjoy watching them with Charlotte. I showed her the first movie last fall season and she loved it! They are great little family movies that are fun to make a tradition for each year.

Here are all of them:

  • Halloweentown (1998)

  • Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001)

  • Halloweentown High (2004)

  • Return To Halloweentown (2006)

 

“Hocus Pocus”

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I think pretty much everyone agrees with this one. It’s timeless and always so much fun to watch each fall season. I’m sure everyone knows the leading ladies in this favorite are Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nijimy as the three witches. This is another one that Charlotte loves and I love watching with her. *AND!* They’re making a sequel, which will definitely be exciting to go see!

 

“Practical Magic”

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This one is my all time favorite fall movie. Honestly, I could watch this movie any day out of the year. I have such a strong attachment to it for some reason, and I don’t even really know why. It’s just one of those special movies that has found a place in my heart. I love the setting, the feel, the music, the house, everything. I love Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as well. They are both two of my favorite actresses. I seriously want to be both ‘Sally’ (Bullock) and ‘Gilly’  (Kidman). It’s hard to explain, but I love the characters’ personalities so much. There is so much charm in the movie and I’ll always love it so very much.

 

I hope you liked my list! I know it wasn’t very long, but it’s fun to share these with you!

And before you leave, check out my favorite quote ever from “Practical Magic”.

Happy (almost) Fall!

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I have this framed and hanging in my kitchen. ❤