Monday, December 29, 2008

Honest to Goodness

My wonderful and much lauded cousin Martha nominated me for the Honest Scrap blogger award! Read her list here. I don’t have her gift for brevity, so please bear with me on this long post as I list for you “10 honest things about me that you possibly do not know.” And make sure you read to the end, because I may have nominated YOU for the same task!

1. I am a wannabe vegan radical. For some reason I fancy myself a total earth mother, who makes frosting with arrowroot powder and agave nectar and coconut milk instead of butter and sugar (like this blogger does), advocates fair trade and lives super sustainably by making my own clothes and recycling my toilet water and maintaining a compost pile. But alas, I’m just not. Texas de Brazil is my idea of a special occasion dinner, and that’s as un-green and anti-vegan as it gets. I do want to live in a teeny tiny energy-efficient home, and to really serve others in my community. I just ordered a book on Amazon called Irresistible Revolution, and I think it’s going to help me figure out how I can live like a radical in my everyday Jesus-loving life. I’m pumped.
2. I was an overachiever in high school. I was vice president of student council, president of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Scholar Finalist, member of Thespian Society, member of Quill and Scroll, Varsity cheerleader (I quit before my junior year), yearbook editor, newspaper editor, even a member of the vocabulary club! And I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out.

A SACS Lion from age 5

While I don’t look back on those days wistfully (as in, “those were the days”), I do have good memories of high school. On the other hand, part of me wishes I had done less, because I kind of got burned out for college involvement. And on that note…

3. I love the University of Texas and will forever bleed burnt orange, but I don’t think I had an authentic college experience. I graduated early, and didn’t get involved in much except Communications Council (for one year), a student magazine and a free speech group. I also got involved with my church, but not until pretty late in the game. And I worked all through college, so that limited my ability to do a lot. However, God allowed me to have an amazing friend-for-life roommate in college, so I’m grateful for that. I graduated with highest honors, but I regret not taking full advantage of those rare years of being an undergrad.

Me and some of my favorite Longhorns :-)

These next few kind of go together…

4. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I were still single. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m so GLAD to go through life with Brad, and I don’t regret marrying him for a second. I want to be really clear about that. I thank God every day for him, and for orchestrating everything about our meeting, dating, engagement and marriage the way He did. One of my top goals in life is to be an amazing wife to Bradford. My point is, I always thought I’d be at least 30 before I got married, but I met the man of my dreams at age 20! Just for the sake of curiosity, I sometimes think about what life would be like if I were in Paris and working as a journalist, or living in North Africa and working as a Peace Corps volunteer. Truth is, I’d probably still be right where I am, doing exactly what I’m doing. But it’s funny.

"So happy togetherrrr..."

5. I want babies sooner than four years from now (but I’m going to wait). Brad and I adopted the “five year plan” when we got married. We want to travel the world and finish grad school before other obligations enter the picture. I’m totally committed to the five year plan, but I have a twinkle in my eye for my babies. I can’t wait to meet them someday (Oct. 2012! Ha!).

6. I think Jesus is going to come back before I have kids. Maybe it’s the Christian school influence, but I have ALWAYS thought the second coming of Christ would happen before the next big milestone. I remember being in first grade, and Mrs. McGann told my class that in third grade we get to take achievement tests. I remember thinking “Third grade?! That’s so far away! Jesus will definitely come back before then.” We also lived near the airport growing up, and any time I heard the roar of a plane taking off, I thought it was the rapture. I thought Jesus would come back before I got married, and now I think Jesus will come back before I have kids.

7. Sometimes I want to move back to San Antonio. As much as I’d like to think I’ve got my stuff together up here in Dallas, visits to San Antonio and Boerne make me remember how much I miss my friends and family. It will probably get worse once baby Gaultneys enter the picture, but I know the Lord has us here for a reason, and we have commitments in Dallas that will keep us here for several more years. I really do love Dallas, and I’ve made amazing friends here… I just wish it weren’t a five-hour drive to “home.”

A dreamy picture of SA's Riverwalk, which I have visited probably three times in my life.

8. I have a long memory, sometimes to a fault. The good news is, I will NEVER forget your birthday. If you ask me to pray for something, I will NOT forget to lift you up. However, it also means I know which of Brad’s Corps buddies came to our wedding and didn’t give us a gift. And it means if you ever gave me a backwards compliment, I made a mental note. I hate that about me. Oh well.

9. I’m jealous of blondes. Gah, who knows why this is? Some of my very dearest friends are blonde (Sharkie, Dubey-Lew, Meago, Meggo, just to name a few), and I don’t have any problems with them at all, but other than that, I have this weird jealousy of blondes. Maybe it’s because there really is some buy-in to the “blondes have more fun,” adage, especially in Texas. But I’ve made it clear to Brad that he is not allowed to think blondes are pretty. I understand him saying that Anne Hathaway is attractive, because good night, I even think she’s a sex monster. But Kate Hudson? Carrie Underwood? That girl who dances on the table in the Bacardi Mojito commercial? NO. Not allowed.

Screen shot of the infamous Bacardi Mojito commercial

10. I’m actually really shy. That surprises some people. But yes, I’m a definite introvert, and most of the time I’d rather read a book or watch Bravo TV at home than go to a party.

So now I would like to take a moment to pass the torch to some of my fellow bloggers (including a blonde): Abby, Meagan and Stephanie. I’m tagging you because I love you and can’t wait to see the 10 things you’ll write about. :-) Now get bloggin’!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Christmas Tree

I finally have a working cord for Brad's camera, so I thought it was time for a picture post. :-)

I love our dinky little Christmas tree. We got it shortly after our wedding last year. It's a four-foot, pre-lit guy, and we decorated it with these really beautiful ornaments we got for the wedding.

I like the way I wrapped presents this year: black, white, silver and red. That big tube in the back is not wrapping paper... It's an oddly shaped gift in a tube.

I think my favorite ornament is the funny pink bird at the top with the teal feathered tail. Many of you know my affinity for birds (not real birds -- just in decor, fashion, art, etc.). This was part of a really exquisite set of "ornaments for newlyweds." The bird is supposed to symbolize "happiness and joy." (Interestingly enough, a goldfish that came with the set is supposed to symbolize "Christ's blessing." ...?)

Brad and I started a tradition during our first Christmas together that we would make our tree topper each year. Last year was a lot of fun: a red paper plate cut into a star shape, lots of doodles, and some gold paint. This year was wood scraps glued together and bound with wire, with a message written on the back.

And here are a couple of pictures from our anniversary two months ago. Since I had never been in a limo, Brad surprised me and rented one. In the limo he also had our wedding cake, champagne flutes, wedding video, and a CD he bought me. We drove to a restaurant in Terrell, about 40 minutes outside of Dallas, where he and I first talked about marriage. What a romantic stud I married!

Having too much fun...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Restlessness (Warning: Long Post)

I’ve had this unsettled feeling in my heart now for several months. Like I want to move to Seattle, or maybe just Dallas’ Bishop Arts District; or go to grad school (more on that later); or start discipling middle school girls; or dye my hair fuchsia. Or buy a 9 mm and take concealed-carry classes (Oh wait, I’m already doing that. No seriously, I am.). Or maybe come home one day with my body all painted in henna paint à la Indian weddings.

So I think about all of these things but I still have this RESTLESS spirit, so much so that when I think about it my heart literally hurts. Like an aching for someone or something that I can’t identify. Like I'm grieving for something, really. It's not a depression, just a sense of loss over something I don't even understand. Talk about a state of confusion.

So I’ve prayed. Praying without knowing what you're asking for is hard, and even harder when you think you’re not hearing anything back. I have felt like the woman in Song of Solomon who searches for her lover but can’t find him.

I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer. (SoS 5:6)
And it occurred to me… I’m not serving. I feel most alive in Christ when I’m serving him, and my top spiritual gifts are service and pastor/ shepherding. Maybe my lack of service is what’s causing this weird friction in my spirit. But what to do with this knowledge?
I sought godly counsel from an awesome, life-loving, astoundingly wise friend, who by the grace of God is also family. We’ll call her “Martha.” So Martha, irreverent as she may be, sat down with me over yummy, thin crust, European-style pizza yesterday in Southlake, and we cussed (a little :-), laughed about smoking on the sly, talked about motherhood (her) and future motherhood (me), and generally just had a mini heart-to-heart. Then I came out with it. “Martha,” I said. “What’s going on with me?” I gave her the back story, and she was blunt, as I hoped she would be (I’m paraphrasing):

“Hello? Did you ever think that this restlessness could be the way God is speaking to you, that he's trying to tell you to act on those sneaking suspicions?”

O-M-Goodness. No. Really, no. How could I not have realized that I wasn't just feeling crazy for the sake of crazy... He may be making me feel that way because I'm still not acting on his promptings. I didn’t consider that the Lord was trying to get my attention or affirm the longings of my heart by this aching feeling. But that makes SO much sense. ::: slaps forehead ::: Doh.

She had a lot more truth to speak to me, and I’m not giving her enough credit for her invaluable counseling abilities and insight, but I left feeling really validated – not only validated, but justified – over some of the nutty ideas that have been swirling. My heart and my head are still having a cage match with each other, and I have a lot of thinking to do, but today I really do feel a little bit better. I need to be in the Word for a while, and let some things marinate, but I think I can tell you more later.

I’m deeply grateful for Martha.

And for Brad, who encouraged me to apply for grad school, which I’ll be starting Jan. 22! It’s a professional program (code language for “I’m not quitting my job to go to school, don’t worry”), and I expect to go two nights a week. It’s funny how God works… in the middle of this season of spiritual frustration, I had to register for classes. I’m in a Master of Liberal Studies program, which will allow me to focus on art, French and writing (or as I call them, The Holy Trinity of Katie). But for this first semester, I wanted to have the same schedule as Brad so that we can carpool and spend an extra hour together a day during a time when we otherwise might not see each other a lot.

Well, I had to take a couple of required courses for my first semester, and the only other class that fit with the schedule wasn’t anything that fell into the aforementioned Trinity; it was a theology class.

Theology? Okay. I love Jesus, but theology is really Brad’s thing. I like Beth Moore and Max Lucado and John Piper… but theology?! But I clicked “register” and I’m in. And I have to wonder if God isn’t planning on teaching me something really significant through this course, which is called “The Spiritual Vision of Jesus.”

Think service might be a part of that vision?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Complacent Blogger

I want to apologize for my lack of blog activity recently. It's not that I don't have anything to write about... a lot has happened in the past few weeks, including Brad's and my one-year anniversary and a weekend visit by some very dear friends! It's that I just don't feel like writing. :-( Painfully honest truth. Maybe I will get the motivation to write again soon, but until then, I thought I owed you a post so that you know I didn't fall off the face.

Love to my homies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Killer Pumpkin

I've never really liked Halloween. It's just not a holiday I get excited about... fear and candy are two things I want to stay away from. And I only went trick-or-treating once as a kid. But Brad LOVES Halloween, and he just told me he wants to put this in our front yard:


I am excited about Halloween this year though, because my beloved Kindred Spirit is coming with her husband to visit!

Random post... I'm on a conference call now and shouldn't be blogging anyway. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Work Update

Hey, friends! I apologize for the long lapse in posts this time. Last week was a nutty week with a few late nights at the office, so I thought rather than delay new material any further, I’ll just write about what’s been on my mind: work.

For those of you who don’t know, I work at a public relations agency in downtown Dallas. There’s always something new to deal with every day, which appeals to me and my short attention span. But I’ve recently expressed an interest in focusing my work in one or two areas of “expertise.” That is, rather than working on 80 different clients – in telecommunications, higher education, entertainment, agriculture, food, healthcare, finance – I’d like to put all (or most) of my attention into one area. Or two.

Let me interject and say that I know I’m blessed to get to experience such a wide range of fields through my job. I’m grateful that the variety and number of clients/ projects I’ve been able to encounter have served to make me more well-rounded. But for the sake of professional development, it’s time for me to zero in a little bit.

I think I’m moving in that direction. I’ve been working on more and more healthcare clients, and the healthcare team is just unbeatable in terms of creating a FANTASTIC professional environment. They are great to work with, and some of the sharpest PR practitioners in the agency, I’m convinced. Here’s a photo of Alison, one of my colleagues who works on healthcare, making a binder for a beast of an award entry last week:

And while I'm posting office photos, here's a photo of me and colleague Natasha posing with a basket of flowers a telecom client recently sent us for completing a project to their satisfaction. We're standing on our desks:

I’m also spending about 15 hours a week on a financial client. Now, finance lingo is about as foreign to me as Mandarin, but it’s been a lot of fun learning. Plus, many of you know I come from a long line of bankers. Everyone in my immediate family has worked for a bank at different points (including myself – it was marketing though), and my father and brother still work for banks. So I guess it’s fate that I should have this client!

And I'm continuing to do graphic design support for the office, which is a lot of fun. :-)

But with the good news, I must report some sad news. Holli, my good, dear friend who I also happened to work with, has left the agency to pursue a teaching career. I’m so happy for her and all that she’s sure to accomplish as a teacher, but I miss her already! Thursday was her last day. Here’s her last IM to me. Not sure what we were talking about, but it sounds like it was good (her text: "that nauseates me!")! She sent it Thursday night, but I didn’t notice it until Friday morning, after she had already left. I had to take a screen shot. "Holli Williams has signed out." Tear-jerker.

And here’s me and Holli at the company Christmas party last year. Good times.

Sorry for the practical post! I’ll try to write again soon. Love y’all.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Dew" Not Disturb.

It's finals week at the Gaultney homestead.

Dear Bradford has his first round of final exams for his MBA this week. For a man who admits he had NO study habits in college, I've been impressed at his dedication to studying for his economics and accounting classes.
Sidebar: Can I just say that I am SURROUNDED by studiers?! Brad for his MBA, Stephanie for the NCIDQ, and Caroline for the LSAT! I have such impressive friends!

Anyway, Brad used to be addicted to coffee. I'm talking, seven-cups-a-day addicted. We got a really lovely coffee maker for our wedding, but I don't drink coffee. Frankly, I don't even know how to make it. I LOVE coffee culture... the conversation, intellect, appreciation for flavor, the coffee house as the social hub of our generation... but I just don't love the taste of coffee. I'll drink it if it's covered up in gingerbread, pumpkin, vanilla and caramel flavors, but a true coffee aficionado, I am not.

I think Brad felt it was too much trouble to feed his addiction alone, so he turned to caffeinated soda. He doesn't like dark soda, but he still wanted to meet his daily caffeine quotient. And given the number of sodas he would likely consume, it should be a diet version, lest he gain 100 pounds during our first year of matrimony.

The winning beverage was Diet Mountain Dew. Neon green, with a questionable flavor profile of citrus and hobo sweat, it's not my fave. But it keeps Bradford the MBA Candidate chugging. This is what our drink fridge looks like today, though most of the time it has a couple of two-liters stashed in there as well (look at the bottom row):

And here's what the counter looked like when I came home Saturday night after Brad had spent all day studying:

I'm so proud of him for studying, but I'm going to add up the money I spend on Dew each month and start invoicing him!!!

But seriously, he's taking a final RIGHT NOW and I'm praying for him as soon as I finish this post. Please pray too if you read this before 10 p.m. on Monday! :-) Love y'all!

Friday, October 03, 2008


I'm so sorry to have posted a happy blog post about Rupert the Muntjac deer (below) prematurely. It seems our little champ just wasn't ready for this world. He has earned his deer-angel wings and flown away to be with his mama in Deer Heaven.

Click here for the full story. :-(

Deer Readers,

I'm an unfaithful blogger this week. I know I am, and I am sorry! I could make up excuses... some legit (like that I've been staying at work a little later this week and still have a lot to do when I get home), some silly (like that it's dark outside when I get home so I can't run which means no endorphins which means no happy blog post).

But I won't. (Or did I already?)

I don't feel motivated to write original content just yet, so I'm going to more or less repackage a very "deer" story. Maybe I'll come up with something personal and new and write about it tomorrow.

Anyway, the headline of this post is not a typo. I came across the SWEETEST little photos on the Interwebs and wanted to share it with those of you who need a cuddly lift to kick off the weekend. And if you're in need of additional snuggly vibes, I always recommend for that extra pick-me-up.

This is Rupert, a Muntjac fawn:

Rupert was born three weeks early, after his mama was hit by a car and went into labor. Veterinarians tried to save Mrs. Muntjac, but unfortunately she couldn't hang on. Thus, Rupert was delivered via Caesarean section.

He was just six inches tall and weighed 500 grams (17.6 ounces; less than a pound!) when he was born.

He has been thriving at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital (awesome cuddly name, by the way) in Buckinghamshire, England, and will make a full recovery after his dramatic arrival. He is just over a week old now, and opened his eyes for the first time a couple of days ago.

I just loved the story of this little fighter! Wouldn't this make a good Disney cartoon? Like Bambi for the modern age...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet Weekend

If only all weekends could be this simple and sweet. 'Twas a weekend of:
  • Listening to presidential debates on radio (old-school)
  • Grilled turkey-guacamole-swiss sandwiches
  • Driving around Dallas helping Brad take pictures of gas stations (work)
  • No makeup
  • Messy hair
  • Banana crumb muffins, straight out of the oven
  • Working in the backyard with Brad
  • Gardening
  • 11-month anniversary
  • Cleaning the house
  • Netflix
  • Relevant church and fellowship
  • Laundry (even though I missed a pen in Brad's pocket with unfortunate consequences...)
  • Sore muscles
  • Fixing a leak
  • Soothing my soul with David Crowder Band
  • Speedwalking with hand weights
  • Drawing
  • "Mad Men" on AMC

Tomorrow I have to wear a suit. :-(

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tu t'amuse.

Stumbled across this brilliant video that anyone who depended on Babelfish (or Google Translate, etc.) while learning a language can appreciate.

These people wrote a script for a brief (3 minute) film. Then they translated the text FROM English, TO French, then TO German... then back TO French, and back to English. The result is hilarious! You need to read the "subtitles" while listening to the actors... Enjoy!

(Favorite line: "I was put in failuuuure.")

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I am convinced that my husband knows every song out there. We'll be driving through East Texas and a random bluegrass song from the 1950s will come on the radio, and he will be able to more or less sing along.

Or we'll be walking through GAP and some cheesy little teenage angst love song comes on, and he whines along in unison.

I've never even heard these songs, so sometimes I'm impressed by his music knowledge. But half the time -- no, more like 90 percent of the time -- he makes the lyrics up. They're phonetic, but they're usually WAY off. For example, Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" is completely butchered by Brad. The actual lyrics are:

Blinded by the light,
Revved up like a deuce,
Another runner in the night..

But the way Brad sings it, it's:

Blinded by the light,
Wrapped up like a douche,
Another running uhhh-nuh night!

For YEARS, he actually thought those were the words. Seriously. Srsly.

Most of the time it's cute, but sometimes I can't believe that he doesn't know the words to these songs. Like, I get the feeling he'll just start singing whatever he wants.

Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" may become:

I don't care what they say I'm uhh- luhhhhhh- you.
They try to tear me apart, but I uhhh- luhhhhh you.
Keep thinking, keep, keep sinking in luhhh,
I keep dreaming, keep, keep dreaming uh-huh...

Anyway, Brad is studying at Starbucks right now and listening to Coldplay. Apparently he was wishing he could serenade me, because I returned to my computer a moment ago and was simultaneously entertained and horrified by what was on my G-chat... Coldplay lyrics. Butchered. Nay, massacred. I'm going to put the actual line, followed immediately by Brad's version in red, for two of the songs.


Lights go out and I can’t be saved
lights go out and a camping slave
Brought me down upon my knees
bought me down - oh I beg and please

Shoot an apple off my head
hoot an apple off my head

And a, trouble that can’t be named
trouble trouble can't be named.
Tigers waitin’ to be tamed
Tigers waiting to be swinged

Confusion never stops
cold fusion never stops,
Closing walls and ticking clocks
all the stuff clocks

Curse missed opportunities
curse stop, my chin-a-neese

Home, home, where I wanted to go
Comb, where I want it to be.

"Green Eyes"

Honey you are a rock
honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand...
pun witch I stan...

That green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you...
the green I's, yeah the spark light, shins up on you
I came here with a load
i came here with a lobe
And it feels so much lighter, now I’ve met you...
and it feels so much lighter now I metchu...

Sighhh... What a crazy, goofy man I have married. :-) Thanks for indulging me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We Did It!

Just wanted to give a little update on the "90 by '09" Campaign. As of last weekend, I surpassed 90 profile views! Thanks for your help in bolstering my self e-steem (Internet self esteem).

As a little reward, please enjoy this Jackson Pollock widget. Run your mouse across to splatter paint, and click to change paint colors.

Thank you for your help and your clicks! :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shoulda Been German

I know I’m Italian. My mom’s family is from Sicily, land of gypsies and mobsters. :-) My dad’s family is from England (my maiden name is Thorne), with a little Scottish and Irish thrown into the mix.

I always wished I was French, but I don’t think I have a drop of French blood in me. Knowing my love for La Belle France, Brad told me while we were dating that the name “Gaultney” is thought to have originated from French tribes (Gaul, like early France). But he has since confessed that it’s probably Welsh. Boo.

About once a year though, I think I’m embodied by the spirit of a German woman. I grew up in South Central Texas, which has lots of German influence, so Oktoberfests, Wurstfest and German towns like Kerrville, Fredericksburg and New Braunfels bring back sweet memories for me.

Addison hosted its annual Oktoberfest celebration this weekend, and Brad and I had a great time. He did his research and figured out that if you reserve a room at the Hampton Inn for $49.00, you get:

  • Two free tickets to the festival
  • $10 in food coupons
  • A “deluxe” beer stein

That's not to mention the hot breakfast the next morning and HBO! ;-) Ha.

Since the hotel was within walking distance from the festivities, we went for it! It was a really nice Hampton Inn that felt a lot more like the chain’s older brother, the Hilton. So together Brad and I celebrated our first “stay-cation.” Ha!

We ate good German food – brats, schnitzel, streudel, kraut, etc. – and drank good German beer. We rode a Ferris wheel, I got a temporary tattoo of a dove (lame, I know), we listened to German folk music and people-watched.

When we walked back to the hotel there were a bunch of Addison Police Department cars in front of the hotel… Apparently some guests had enjoyed Oktoberfest a little too much and were being rowdy when they returned to the hotel. Anyway, one of the police officers who responded to the scene was a friend of Brad’s from college and we stopped and talked to him for a couple of minutes. Funny coincidence.

Here are some pics from our time at the festival. Loved it! Really sweet, light-hearted fun with my best friend.

I spent the morning of the festival baking bread at home to get into the German spirit. I went with a braided yeast loaf with sea salt on top. Yummo!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ode to Fro-Yo

I’m trying to listen to my body more. In the same way that pregnant women get telltale signs of vitamin deficiencies by their cravings – like women with iron deficiencies may crave chalk, dirt or even laundry detergent (a condition called pica) – I’m trying to train myself to listen to my body’s cues in terms of ways I should adjust my diet.

Some girls crave breadsticks or cake or donuts. None of those things really tempt me. I always tend to crave red meat and cheese. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been craving yogurt! I think it’s because I don’t get enough calcium, and all the women in my family end up with osteoporosis. My mom has osteopenia right now, the precursor to osteoporosis, and she’s still quite young!

(It may just be an old wives' tale that cravings signal a nutritional need, but as long as my stomach/ brain are prompting me to eat healthy things, I'll listen!)

I went to the doctor on Monday and asked him what he thinks about probiotics. I’ve been hearing so much about them lately and how they’re just healthy body miracle-workers, and I wondered if I should pick up powder or something from GNC. He said he believes in them, but that the yogurts that have probiotics in them (Activia, DanActive, etc.) are just as good as the powders and pills.

So yesterday I went to Wal-Mart and went on a yogurt-buying spree!

My love for yogurt began in France, where my French family had a serving after dinner each night. Click here to read my blog post about French people and yogurt.

Then, during Stephanie’s Dallas visit this spring, we happened upon an old-school frozen yogurt (fro-yo) place, Natsumi. I guess old-school isn’t really the right word. Its contemporary interior with white leather Barcelona chairs, concrete floors and Calypso blue accent wall makes it very up-to-date. But the yogurt pays tribute to the way frozen yogurt is SUPPOSED to taste – not like sorbet, not like light ice cream – but like yogurt! It has a sweet but tart taste, it’s fat free, and it has those live active cultures that are good for you!

In the spirit of Natsumi (or Pinkberry, OrangeCup, or whichever fro-yo purveyor you prefer), I decided to make my own frozen yogurt last night. I took two containers of the plain Greek yogurt my grocery store carries – about six cups – and to it I added one part Splenda and one part sugar, about three-fourths of a cup each (1.5 cups total). Then I added a little bit of vanilla extract, maybe a teaspoon and a half, poured it into my ice cream machine and let ‘er rip for about 25 minutes.

The result: even BETTER yogurt than Natsumi! It came out of the ice cream machine with perfect consistency, but after storing it in the freezer overnight, it was a little too hard this morning. In fact, I had to let it thaw for about 45 minutes before it was scoopable.

Here’s my breakfast: fat-free, low-sugar vanilla frozen yogurt with blueberries on top. :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Simple Joys

I have a bit of a paranoia about my Google News page. There’s that nifty little section of articles “Recommended for” me, which should be a convenient assortment of news stories that may interest me based on articles I’ve recently clicked on.

However, much of the time I find it’s filled with mindless entertainment news that, since it’s “recommended for” me, makes me feel like a total ditz. I emailed Brad a screen shot in March of this year after a particularly bad selection turned up:

But today, JOY! My Google-chosen selection of articles represented sentient, relevant news:

Is it sad that my Google News page can have such a profound effect on my self-esteem?

In other news, Brad and I have started going on a weekly date – Wednesdays or Sundays – since he’s getting busier with school and work. This way we are sure to spend some quality time together, even if it’s just a trip to White Rock Lake for a walk.

Sushi is a favorite date of ours. I was thrilled with the presentation of our BOAT-load of sushi!

And we made friends with the sushi chef, who carved some sort of animal out of oranges for each of us. He carved it right in front of us! So cool… awesome knife skills. Although I can’t really tell what this is supposed to be. Maybe a frog with an open mouth? And the orange segments are in his mouth?

What do you think?

And last, but CERTAINLY not least – I have some exciting family news. I'm going to have a sister! No, my mom is not pregnant. My older brother Matt proposed to his girlfriend of over two years in New York last week! They are planning an April wedding, and I couldn't be happier for both of them. Brittney fits in so well with the Thorne clan, and that's not easy! Here's a photo of the happy couple:

Even though Ike caused some tragic devastation, it allowed me and Brad an opportunity to spend some time with the lovebirds. They were supposed to fly back from New York to Houston, where they both live and work, but that wasn't happening! So we spent a few days together and it was cool to be the first to see the ring, the video, etc.

Praise God for simple joys!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Being Intentional

Time for that meaty post about my weekend and my friends I've been promising... Apologies in advance if it ventures into sappy territory. What can I say, my friends make me want to turn all gooey and just hug someone. :-)

I mentioned my list of life goals in an earlier post. On the list I wrote “Be an intentional friend.” Not a friend who calls when just when she’s bored; not a friend who forgets birthdays and apologizes later. I’m aiming to cultivate the type of meaningful friendships that really love unselfishly, celebrate each others’ good and call each other out on the bad, and go through life together.

During my first several months of marriage, I lived up to that statement by being very intentional in the time that I spend with and the affection I show to my best friend, Brad. But lately I’m learning the balance of doing both: making my husband a priority, but showing my good girlfriends that I cherish them.

Last weekend, I was blessed to spend quality time with three sweet friends in three different cities.

My kindred, Stephanie, and I took a cooking class at Sur La Table in Houston. So chic, so fun. I love this girl’s life: she’s a very hip, bohemian travel-loving designer, and for the first time I got to see her way cool digs that reflect her style. We made French food (we’re both gaga for all-things-French, as is our partner-in-crime, Abby) at our cooking class and stayed up late drinking wine, nibbling on imported “biscuits” and sharing our hearts. The next day my sweet friend treated me to breakfast – the most refined biscuits and gravy I’ve EVER had – and then we browsed the funky shops in Rice Village.

Here are some photos of our time together:

That afternoon, I was honored to get to celebrate my dear friend Jessica and her upcoming marriage at a bridal shower. What a joy to meet “her people” in the area where she grew up, Buffalo, Texas. The shower made me even more pumped for her wedding on October 25, where I’ll be a bridesmaid along with two other great friends, Holli and Caroline. (Sidebar: How cool is it that Jessica and I will forever celebrate our anniversaries just two days apart?!)

Here’s a photo of Jessica and her equally precious fiancé, Clay:

After leaving the shower in Buffalo, I continued up I-45 and turned on I-30 to go to Marita Cattle Ranch in Mount Vernon. Some very cool recently married friends of ours, Jed and Jen Melson, invited us to a ranch weekend with them and two other couples. They have an amazing place on 500 acres of East Texas land, with peacocks, cattle, fishing and the whole bit. The menfolk dove-hunted while we women cooked. :-) Brad and I were blown away by the Melsons’ hospitality and warmth!

Here’s a photo of Jed and Jen shortly after their engagement last October. Jed popped the question at the ranch:

I’m just sitting here reflecting on how blessed I really am to have true, lasting friendships with such remarkable people. What a weekend!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oh, the Irony!

I'm sitting here in front of the TV, doing some research for work and eating my dinner, when this article caught my eye:

Eating too much? ‘Law & Order’ may be guilty

OMIGOSH! I'm watching Law & Order RIGHT NOW! And eating grilled cheese and a cucumber salad and drinking sugar-free grape Kool-Aid! Ooooh, what delicious, gruesome irony. :-) Who knows how many of the ten-or-so pounds I've put on over the past few years can be attributed to my Law & Order obsession?

Hmmm... do I smell a lawsuit? Perhaps I can sue NBC for my weight gain caused by LAW & Order... Irony on top of irony! Love it!

(That blog post about my friends and weekend is still coming... Sheesh, Katie, get on it!)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Motivation Lacking

I planned to write a super stellar post tonight about my wonderful weekend which led me across Texas for quality, intentional friend time.

But I just can't seem to muster the motivation. I kind of had one of those days like... well, like you bought a top that you weren't sure about, but you paid for it anyway thinking it might match an Anthropologie skirt you got on sale a few months ago but have had trouble finding coordinating pieces for... and you take the blouse home and realize it's much more mustard yellow than goldenrod, and you decide after a week or two of not wearing it to take it back. The tags are still attached and you held onto that receipt, so why not? You probably won't wear it anyway. You know what, definitely not going to wear it. It's cute, but not really you, and you don't have anything to wear it with.

So you go back to the boutique only to discover they have a weird return policy and you were supposed to return it after ten days. They can give you store credit, but the location is really not convenient for you, so you're still annoyed. All of a sudden, you hate that taxi cab-colored shirt and wish you had never laid eyes on it.

That scenario didn't happen to me to day, but as I sit here in my easy chair (hello, grandma phrase!), that's kind of how I feel. I'm sort of annoyed and dissatisfied and I think I could have avoided all of this buy just not buying that shirt on a whim.

Err, you know. Whatever.

Don't fret. That upbeat post about how much I love my friends is in the wings and shall emerge later this week!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bloom Where You’re Planted

In my constant search for new forms of creative expression, I took up gardening last spring.
(NB: I refuse to admit that “gardening” means I’m becoming domesticated. I’m not a Lands End-wearing, Tupperware-collecting Stepford wife… I’m just a nutty gal who dabbles.)
Anyway, I was interested to see if I had a green thumb. My roommate Meagan and I had a corn plant in college. We named him Cornelius. He died over Christmas break when I left him out on the balcony and he turned into a gelatinous blob of gray goop after a freeze. All of this to say, my hopes weren’t high that I would be the next blue-ribbon rose grower.

Nevertheless, I carefully planned my garden, did my research on Texas hardy perennials (NOT annuals… I refuse to start from scratch every year!), and planted everything following the directions exactly. I opted to go with purples, pinks and blues. I had to deal with a nasty little yellow lantana plant that was already there when I started. It was the only flowering plant existing at the house when we bought it.

Anyway, my garden was pretty awesome for a few months, and I was encouraged. I planted a lot from seed and I was eager to see my photosynthetic babies pop up over the soil. I also planted sunflowers along all of the fences in our backyard, but they met a sad fate at the sharp blades of Brad’s lawnmower… there were tears (mine).

BUT THEN. Despite all my care and keeping. The lantana plant grew to have tendrils SIX FEET LONG, and it covered up and choked out all of my plants, except a purple sage, a hymenocallis Brad gave me (this bulb could withstand ANYTHING) and my basil. I was SO MAD.

So two weekends ago I went out and cut the Lantana to the ground. I filled two trash bags with the carcasses, then sprayed Round Up all over the open wounds. That plant WILL die.
(NB: In my research to find the best way to kill this diabolical plant, beloved for its heat-hardiness and appearing in landscapes all over Texas, I discovered that lantana is considered a noxious weed in many parts of the world. You can be fined thousands of dollars for growing it in Australia! It’s harmful to the ecology.)

I mentioned that the purple sage, bulb and basil escaped the evil clutches of the lantana. I neglected to write that there was also a super tall plant that sprung up in my garden and resembled bamboo because of its thick, straight stalk – but it had these funny, frizzy leaves. I thought it was probably a strange weed, but I didn’t pull it because I was intrigued by its height.

I walked out this morning and it had BLOOMED over the weekend! I had no idea this was a flowering plant! Look at its amazing pinky-purple daisy blooms!
I'm including a photo of it next to Brad's ginormous truck too, so that you can have an idea of its unusual height. So tall!

The only thing I can think of as far as its origin is that I had a packet of wildflower seeds I bought in Ireland a couple of years ago and scattered them early this spring. This has to be the lone remnant from the packet.

It may sound cheesy, but that this sweet, vibrant daisy survived the hardship the lantana brought it reminded me of God’s goodness and grace in the midst of adversity. We really have the ability to thrive in difficulty because of the hope we have in Christ Jesus and his ability to carry us through. My mom has always encouraged me to “bloom where I’m planted,” meaning that no matter what situation I’m plopped into, I have the choice to become the best “whatever” I can be, and bring glory to God.

What a precious reminder that little flower was to me today!

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Excuses, excuses...

I'm LONG overdue in updating... but I think I have a good excuse. :-) I was in Mexico for the long weekend! Such a nice, needed break. I've gotten to take a lot of cool trips this year, but it seems I can never travel enough!

I'll try publish a meaty blog post later. I have another action-packed weekend coming up, so apologies if the updates are coming less frequently these days.

Bisous to you all!!!
Mugging at a botanical garden in Mexico. Believe it or not, I did NOT take this picture of myself. It looks like I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New 'Do and a Throwback

New haircut... Modeling the coif du jour with my feather headband, natch.

Brad seems to like it! Hahaha. :-) Such a goober.

I had a lot of fun tonight with this site, "Yearbook Yourself." You upload a photo of yourself and see what you would have looked like in days gone by, from 1950 - 2000. Check me out as a high school senior in 1992... Awesome!

So what about you? Were you destined for another era? Check out 1982... It's a trip!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good for the Soul

It's no secret that I hate exercise. I maintain a decent diet and eat lots of fruits and veggies, but I still tend to get really hung up on body image. If I feel bad about the way I look, it affects my entire attitude.

But my dear, sweet neighbor, Carol, is doing her part to help me change my attitude. Carol is an incredible woman. She is a former aerobics instructor and P.E. teacher, and she teaches swim lessons as much as 60 hours a week during the summer. She runs marathons, teaches a wellness class at church, mentors 10 women, takes continuing education at local colleges, volunteers at a nearby pregnancy care center… and much more. She and her wonderful husband Don introduced us to our church, Lake Pointe, by bringing over a care package of chips and salsa and some church brochures shortly after we moved in. They have blessed our lives so richly in just the short time that we’ve known them.

Carol is an overflowing fountain of energy, and when I mentioned to her that I was looking for a way to get in shape and relax, she invited me to a yoga class she heard about through her granddaughter’s dance studio. Well, it wasn’t just yoga. It was yoga fusion – a mix of fast-paced hip hop, aerobics, weights and cardio, all in a really hot room. The only “yoga” aspect is the last two minutes when we breathe deeply and say “Namaste!” It’s a great workout, and a really good jump start to my fitness routine.

Tonight yoga was canceled, so Carol asked if I’d like to go on a walk with her instead. I agreed, but I should have known that a “walk” by Carol’s definition is more like a jog in Katie’s world. We speed-walked around the neighborhood for 33 minutes and I felt like I ran a mile or two! (I try not to let on… Carol barely breaks a sweat!) Here’s a picture of me and my fitness-loving neighbor/friend at a ladies’ Christmas party at church last year:

It's hard to argue that exercise is good for the body and the mind. And when you’re like me and struggle with a negative body image, it’s good for the soul. Most of us who have grown up in the church know this verse, and it really rings true:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I want to arrive at a place where my goal is to honor God with my body. I’m on my way there, but I’m not there yet. I’d still like to have a body like… Evangeline Lilly or Rachel McAdams or January Jones!

I had dinner with some good, Jesus-loving girlfriends last night and we ended up talking about our insecurities. One of my friends recommended this book, Wanting to Be Her: Body Image Secrets Victoria Won’t Tell You. I came home and immediately one-clicked it on Amazon! It should be here before the weekend. I look forward to reading it.

Lord, I’m yours. Help me to truly honor You with my life, including in the way I take care of and view my body!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Distractions and Creativity

We’re near the end of summer, and I find myself taking stock of my life and my day-to-day. Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time of year – and summer my least favorite. I’m happy to be moving on to a happier season.

Through my seasonal self-assessment, I have realized that in my “settling down,” I’ve become a little lazy. I’ve never liked to exercise. And I’ve always loved TV (I’m one of the few people I know who will admit that I really do love TV). Law and Order, anything on Food Network, Project Runway, news, House Hunters… I can usually find something on the tube that I don’t mind vegging out to.

But I’m starting to think it’s gone a little too far.

I wrote in my journal four years ago a list of life goals. The list goes on and on, with plenty of dos and don’ts to last several pages – some trivial and some profound. One of the items on the list was this:

Never lose the art of conversation. Don’t spend your married nights in front of the TV.

Sadly, I think I’m headed that direction. Brad doesn’t really enjoy sitting still, especially to watch television. But he does like spending time with me. So after a crazy day, I’ll arrive home and my head will be spinning, and all I want to do is make a quick dinner, eat it in front of the TV, watch a few shows and go to sleep. And Brad, being a sweet husband, will sit with me while I do nothing.

Anyway, I’m trying an experiment. For the past couple of weeks, after a hectic and/or frustrating day (and there have been several of those lately), I come home, eat dinner with my husband at the dinner table – TV off – and then do something productive. I may do some housework, do something artistic, read a magazine or a book, pull weeds in the backyard, ride the stationary bike (ugh!), talk to a friend on the phone…

This is a good exercise for me. Brad started his MBA program this past Thursday, so I ought to be spending a little more time alone as he goes to class and study groups.

I painted a watercolor of a eucalyptus tree line the other night. It came out all right, but it was missing something. So I stuck it in the oven and baked it:

Ha! I discovered this technique after my last move. I had painted a little watercolor of a Tuscan villa, and I really liked it. But I didn’t take great care of it. In my haste to pack everything up, somehow this little watercolor got stuck to the back of a baking sheet. I didn’t know what had happened until I was baking cookies one night and smelled something smoky… Sure enough, I had baked my little landscape!

It yields some interesting lighting effects. Stay tuned for more “baked art.” And I’ll let you know if I come up with anything interesting in my quest for productivity and creativity.