Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

to you and yours


Katie & E

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Create: my style

One creative thing I've worked on this year (besides dozens of half-finished crafty projects at home) is my style tumblr blog.  After participating in a few fashion challenges over the last year, I had gotten used to taking pictures of my outfits everyday, so in April I created an outlet for those pictures:

I wasn't really sure it was going to work considering I blog 3-5 times a week already here. But I didn't want to turn this blog into a style blog, so it's been a great place to grow and explore my interest in fashion.

This side project has also allowed me to write in a way that is slightly more sarcastic and stream-of-consciousness than usual (and maybe a little more like my real-life persona?). So it's been a fun outlet for creative writing, as well as creative dressing. My readership has crawled up little by little over there, and now about 90 people follow my every-few-days, daily style tumbls.

Here are a few of my favorite outfits from the past 8 months since I started it. (if you click on the photos, they'll link to the posts).

p.s. If you follow me here or there, thank you! It wouldn't be nearly as much fun without you around.

May 13, 2011 IMG_3731 9-9a9-25b May 26 julystyle2 July 11, 2011 IMG_0271 IMG_5587 Dressy + casual 11-11c 10-12b 11-9d 10-13a 12-12b


I'm participating in #WEverb11

The 10th prompt is: Create. Share a creative project you undertook this year (art, writing, DIY, cooking, home decoration, crafts, photography … whatever comes to mind). How do you use your creativity to express yourself?

Monday, December 19, 2011

more, on marriage

My newest readers may have missed this post where I link to, and quote an article by Iris Krasnow on marriage. This has been one of the most influential pieces I read this year - not because it changed the way I felt about things, but rather because it articulated something I find hard to explain to others regarding my opinions on marriage.

Another book along these lines, is the book The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, which I also mentioned in my previous post. E sent me this link to a talk he gave at Google on the topic of the book, which covers the highlights I'd share. I've only just started the book, but I can highly recommend it to both married folks and singles. The talk below is incredibly relevant in a lot of ways even if you aren't religious, because it's so practical. I hope you'll give at least the first part a listen.

Recently, I've been thinking a bit more about marriage and what kind of work and commitment it takes. Two and a half years in and marriage hasn't gotten exponentially easier for me, though I thought it might. I think it's important to recognize that marriage is a living relationship to be nurtured and cared for and communicated about, and not something that happens naturally and on its own.


Along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

The 13th prompt is: Read. What article or book changed your outlook on an issue or life? 
(Thanks, Melinda!)

our week, via instagram

(Or, 'I take SO many pictures of food'!)

For e, pastrami on rye  Pierogis
Frost?! Where am I...Chicago?  Christmas indulgence
The makings of saffron risotto. Nom.  Sorting and labeling items for my first garage sale tomorrow!
Pesto lasagna. Another Italian grandmothers recipe... Can. Not. Wait.  Authentic minestrone with pesto. No tomatoes or noodles to be seen!
All that is time in the world. Butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ready for stroopwafels!  Dough
  Oreo Heath Kahlua chocolate trifle. (I think I need to come with an easier name for it).

1. food truck event at a local brewery. E got a NY style pastrami, and I got pierogis
2. frost on the ground (a first!) and puppy chow as Christmas baking kicks off
3. the makings of saffron risotto, and piles of stuff for a (sadly, unsuccessful) garage sale
4. pesto lasagna and pesto minestrone
5. syrup and dough to make my second favorite dutch treat (here's my first!), stroopwafels
6. the finished stroopwafels, and an oreo/heath/kahlua chocolate trifle.(yes, it was as yummy as it looks and sounds)

How was your week/weekend? Are you working this last week before Christmas? We have a work Christmas party tomorrow night, and a work potluck for those who are still in the office on Friday the 23rd. But then it's off for a week, woo hoo!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

WEVerb11: Thrive

Somewhere around this time last year, E and I started talking seriously about some practical changes in our lives for our health and wellbeing. We had both changed out lifestyles quite a bit after we got married -  gaining weight, and not exercising at all - and we generally felt physically poor. I was, without realizing it, cooking lots of carb heavy, cheese laden, meat dishes that were packing on the calories. We spent more time at home and greatly decreased our physical activity.

So, right after the holidays (how cliche!) we started on a plan. I would cook healthier, purchase more produce and make more fresh food. I blogged out about the plan as motivation.

Things were going really well for the first month. We felt somewhat better (Admittedly, the working out was much harder for me to start, and I didn't do much). But we has both lost some weight and were fitting into old 'skinny' clothes, which was encouraging. I wrote an update about how things were going with some renewed/modified goals. We were doing well.

And then things kind of stalled; life got busier and our progress slowed down. It was harder for me to be motivated when I stopped losing a pound a week. I didn't step up to the next level, I gave up.

We went to Italy. We had a busy fall where I traveled, E was in night classes, and I did very little healthy cooking. And we both stopped working out. While we haven't gained the weight back, we will soon if we don't change something, again. I'm still 7 pesky pounds from my goal weight and far, far, far from where I'd like to be endurance-wise and generally feeling healthy. I have felt pretty terrible for the last few months-weak and tired. My immune system must be much weaker too as it took me two and half weeks to get past a cold which took E four days to recover from.

E and I haven't talked specifically about a plan for this year, but we do know we have a plan to get back to, soon! Generally I hope to do better at meal planning to buy fresh food that doesn't go bad. I need to come up with a workout plan that fits for me (i.e. not in the morning, and not running outside because its dark when I get home from work), even if it's not as intense as it could be. I tend to set really high goals and then give up because I cant meet them, rather than setting small realistic goals and building up. Hopefully we'll get a chance to work on this over the holidays and get started again.


Along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

The 12th prompt is: Thrive. What was your healthiest habit of 2011? What would you like to change or do differently in 2012?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Since we're having a California Christmas and not spending 1-2 weeks in Chicago with my family, I felt more compelled to make our home feel festive over the next few weeks. E and I had several discussions about the purchase of a Christmas tree. We were concerned about storage (we don't have much closet space in our house), and we had a very tiny budget. But I really wanted something. We finally compromised on a little three-foot pre-lit cutie. It is the perfect fit for our current living room, and we'll keep using it as decoration even when we start purchasing larger trees.

I set it up on an end table and covered it with a $5 throw blanket I found at Wal-Mart (FAR cheaper than purchasing or even making my own tree skirt!)

A little compromise and I got my little tree! Huge smile on my face looking at this in the living room! :-)

Cannot stop. Love.

On the mantles: lights leftover from our wedding decor, antique silver bowl full of red and white ornaments. Candle trio, and candle centerpiece, both from Kohl's

A few of our favorite ornaments. A Dachshund for Pookie (E's family dog), and the leaning tower of Pisa - one of the few souvenirs we took home from Italy.

Decorating our first family Christmas tree!

Then, this past weekend we had our annual friends Christmas gathering with gingerbread house decorating. My team did a great job with our house. We used homemade gingerbread and I'm now devouring this house at breakfast...Nom nom!



The back, wood pile and Santa in the chimney included.

all finished:
The final product. #gingerbreadhouse


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work Tote

Disclaimer: I received this tote bag from Red Envelope in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

I have a large collection of totes in all different sizes and shapes. From an enormous canvas beach tote from a long ago Victoria's Secret order, to the white pleather tote from Target I used for school, to the monogrammed tote I got as a bachelorette party gift with my new married initials.

But I'm still a sucker for a good tote, and was excited when Red Envelope offered to send me one in exchange for this review. It came a few weeks so I've had a chance to use it for the last few weeks and I love it. [leather + canvas tote]


The tote is a heavy canvas material with a sleek leather stripe on the side, and the bottom. It holds its shape really well standing up. The bottom is sturdy with metal toes which prevent wear and dirt from the bottom of it. The past few months, the amount of things I'm taking to and from work has kept growing, but this tote has managed to fit everything for work. My purse, my lunch, a sweater, a book for my lunch break. Even my work laptop if I need to take it home on the evening!


It's easily my new favorite!

You can check out more leather gift ideas from Red Envelope here. Use coupon code SAVE10 for a 10% discount on your order.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blogger Map Project update

Thank you all for your response to the Blogger Map Project! So far I have over 80 forms in, and about 2/3 of you added to the map! I hope to catch up with everyone up to this point, tonight. Thank you for being patient!
I'm really excited about the potential of this map and it's exciting to see it keep filling up and see bloggers from all over the world. (I know there are a lot more of you out there! It only takes a minute: Add yourself to the Blogger Map) I've already found dozens of great new blogs and you will too!

A couple of follow-up notes...

  • I know I asked you to tweet, blog OR post the button on your blog, but would you guys consider putting the Blogger Map button on your blog either way? This way you can show your participation on the map on an ongoing basis (so your readers can find you, and others!)The more people on the map = the more bloggers to connect to! Because this is all really new, I'm not going to require the sidebar button for membership, but I'm hoping some more of you will be willing to share. (Instructions are at the bottom of this post)

  • Regarding Tweets: If you tweeted about the Blogger Map, but you didn't paste the tweet link in the form, mention #BloggerMapProject, follow me, OR tweet @ me, then I can't see your tweet and give you credit for it!
    If you didn't meet any of the above requirements but already submitted the form, no need resubmit. Just Follow Me and Tweet This - and I'll make a note get you added ASAP! Thanks.

  • Lastly, I completely understand everyone's need for privacy and security. I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable with posting their location. However, I don't think it's fair to add your blog to the map if you only sent me your state or country (or no location at all). The point of this map is to find local bloggers so please make sure you are comfortable listing both a city and a state/country before filling out the form. Thanks!

To add this button to your site, simply copy and paste this html into your blog editor. (for Blogger users, add an HTML/JavaScript Gadget and paste the code in)

225 px
<a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" height="153" src="" width="225" /></a></div>

150 px x 102 px
<a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" height="102" src="" width="150" /></a></div>

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Back to WEVerb, a little behind.

The biggest choice I made this year isn't something I'm ready to blog about.

I'm not going to feel like I have to quickly qualify - "No I'm not having a baby", because I know that you guys don't automatically jump to the conclusion that having a baby is the only big decision I could possibly make in my young, newly-ish wed life. [And I thank you for that!]

A characteristic of a lot of my decisions from this year is letting go of anxiety. This year has been a year of deep breaths and deep plunges. It's been a year of dipping toes in, and deciding to wait. But it's been a year where we have decided to let go of the anxiety that comes with making big life decisions and just giving it to God.

Being a Christian who believes in a Sovereign God, it can be tempting to avoid decisions and just wait to let things happen on their own. While I do believe God has a hand in even the little things in my life, we also know that He allows us to use the minds He created and the will He formed, to act.

So we've been acting. Talking, praying, asking, and acting. And I look forward to another year of big decisions and adventures doing the same.


Along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

Today's [belated] prompt was: Choose. What was the biggest choice you made in 2011? What caused you to choose what you chose?  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

400 Posts + a Blogger Map

Chatting on twitter on an especially slow day at work I was daydreaming about our next trip. As I usually do when planning for travel - I wondered which of my blog friends live in the area we're going to visit (Miami).

Some of you guys encouraged me to give it a go, and then it started to seem like a really good idea. I've been tossing around the idea of creating a blogroll on my site for a while. I started one and then never got around to publishing it. I wasn't sure how many blogs to list, how to distinguish between 'pretty' blogs and blog friends, and how to categorize them. With the map idea in mind, I did some brainstorming and google searching and a couple hours later - here we go!

The Blogger Map Project

It's open to any blogger, anywhere in the world.

To get started, view my Blogger Map page or click on the link on my right sidebar. 

Fill out the simple form below the map, and I'll get you added on the master map. (I got this idea from Rose A La Mode) To find out who lives in a particular area, just zoom in and click on the blue marker. There you'll find a name, location, and blog link.

In order to spread the word I'm just asking those who participate to either mention the Blogger Map in a blog post or in a tweet, or that you add the Blogger Map button to your sidebar. 

For those you concerned about privacy - if you'd rather just associate with a nearby big city instead of the suburb or rural area you live in, that's fine! I want everyone to feel as safe as possible adding themselves to the list. It's primarily so we can find new local well as find out who might live near the place we're traveling next.

I'm really excited about this - and it's a fitting endeavor for my 400th blog post! (I forgot my three year blogaversary last month, so this is my celebration.) I hope at least a few of you will indulge me and add yourselves to the map. :-)

ps. I am so, so far from being a graphic designer so if that button hurts your eyes and you want to try your hand at a different one - let me know!

Gift Guide: Husband Edition

I have to admit this gift guide is a little bit of a cheat because my husband does an amazing job of making wishlists for himself. No one ever gets stuck on gift ideas for him.

The problem for me is that E likes to guess what he is getting, and he checks his Amazon wishlists so often that it has proven impossible to actually be surprised. Hopefully this collection will help some of you wondering what to buy for the guy in your life. (I'm not saying whether I bought any of these things for E...he'll just have to wait and see!)

Links to each item are provided on the thumbnails below.

Husband Gift Guide

 Clark's Desert boot in Beeswax
 The Hunger Games series for cruise reading
 Levi's 511 Skinny pants - his favorite fit ever
 Buffalo pattern flannel shirt
 Filson (his favorite brand ever) wool vest
 a great Western: True Grit
 Buck knife (model 112)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Year's Travels

Where did I travel this year?

Chicago (x3), Grand Rapids, New York City, Atlanta, Tucson, Santa Barbara, Boston, Spokane, & Italy!

It was a busy year for travel - I realized I started to mark time by when I was leaving or returning for my next trip. I earned status with both the airline and the hotel rewards programs I participate in.

I loved experiencing some new cities in the US, but my favorite part was Italy (big surprise, right?). Not just because of it's far away location and beautiful sites, but because being in Italy brought out what I love about travel. Seeing new places, experiencing new things, seeing a new culture - and thus seeing my own in a new light, realizing what I take for granted about home. We learned so much from our experience there and E and I have both been missing it lately - especially the people.

We are planning to go on a cruise early next year, but don't really have any other travels plans, so we'll see what happens. I imagine the travel bug will bite us again soon.


along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

Today's prompt was: Where did you travel this year? What was your favorite part? If you didn’t get to travel, where do you want to go next year?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Haiku for 2011

dreams for the future
we traveled so far to learn
there's no place like home


along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!
Today's prompt was: Sum up your year via Haiku

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lesson Learned: Where Home is

This year I learned firsthand, that home is wherever we're together. E and I spent a lot of time (relatively*) apart this year. I was gone for about 5 weeks total for work trips, and then we spent another 5 weeks consecutively apart in July. We missed each other in more than just the tangible, obvious ways; I mainly just missed E's presence in our home. The meals shared, messed up sheets, teeth brushed in unison, annoying morning shower concerts.

And then I learned that we could make it in an entirely different culture and environment. Our time in Italy was by far the most life-changing event of the year, and probably of our marriage so far.  I learned that leaning on each other forced us to appreciate things about each other that we rarely acknowledge. As we're beginning to face the reality of moving somewhere unknown...sometime in the future, I'm realizing it doesn't matter where we go as long as I'm with you.

*"a lot" is relative to the normal amount of time we spend apart and relative to some couples I know who've never been apart for more than 24 hours, and for the military spouses who regularly spend the better part of a year separated.


along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

Today's prompt was: What lesson did you learn in 2011 from “The School of Life” rather than a classroom?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In a Word

This past year has been a bit crazy. In the year 2011 I took nine trips and we had five visits from out-of-town family and friends. In the beginning of the year, I decided to take a class at E's school which led to me being gone two nights a week, in addition to our weekly youth group commitment. I felt like we were never home. Then in April we got approached with the idea to spend the summer in Italy. We had a frantic few weeks of pulling things together to be gone, and we left. After our vacation to New York and time in Italy, (including 5 weeks apart), we had out-of-town houseguests for most of the rest of August. Then school started back up, including me taking another class, E taking German in addition to his full-time class load, and me traveling for almost the entire month of October. In addition to all that we've had family and church related things going on.  Looking back on the year (it hardly seems like I should already be doing that!) we feel incredibly blessed to have gotten through it as smoothly as we have. But it did feel a bit crazy.

The word I would like to use to be able to describe this upcoming year is difficult for me, because right now it feels very unknown. E and I have finally been faced with the reality that once he is done with school in the spring we have no idea where we're going or what we're doing. He could be called to a church right away, or [likely], it will take a while, and we'll have to have a plan for the meantime. It's hard for me to imagine us leaving this area and our lives here, but at the same time I'm eager to see what's next for us. So, at this time next year, I'm hoping to be able to describe 2012 as: at peace. It could very well be that our future will be as unknown one year from now as it is today, but I'm praying for a peace to get through the uncertainty of what our lives will hold over the next year.

Along with other friends, I'm participating in #WEverb11, organized by Kim. I'm excited to reflect on this last year and look forward to what's ahead. We'd love to have you join us!

The first prompt is: Choose one word. Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why. Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you

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