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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Best Friend

I was going to write tonight about how I’m in a funk this week. I had planned to complain – hopefully not obnoxiously – about how I’m just kind sad this week, and I don’t know what to do about it.

But then Brad walked in the door with these:

And these:

(He made sure I noticed that they are from France. Does this man know my heart or what?!)

I had a rough day, and he gave me a listening ear. He just hugged me and told me he was proud to be my husband. I’m so blessed by him.

I am definitely a fan of marriage. God reveals Himself and His love to me through Brad. That’s what it’s all about!

Me and the love of my life in Mindo, Ecuador:

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's Your Decorating Style?

I'm Kitsch Chic.
Stephanie, a designer and LEED AP, discovered this fun quiz that helps determine what decorating style you gravitate toward.

She was Fatale Attraction -- glamorous, romantic and sophisticated, with an emphasis on texture.

My dear Abby is Classic Chic -- just like it sounds, her style is elegant and traditional.

When I found out I was Kitsch Chic, at first I got a little mad. This makes me think of Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic, which was popular a couple of years ago but now just strikes me as worn and cluttered and dull. But then I read the description and a few lovely words popped out at me -- such as Europhile, cocktail, whimsical and cheeky -- and I decided this is RIGHT ON:

You're a real magpie, always on the look-out for retro-style things that will add happiness and personality to your home. You love to mix old and new to create an interior design cocktail that's easy, fun and whimsical.

Living Room
Your outlook is shaped by a love of design from the recent past. The Europhile living room revels in style icons from the not-too-distant past. It's almost modern, but recreates a perfect mythical ideal of our parents' youth - of picket fences and bubblegum pop, ice-cream sodas and sleek classic cars with elegant tail fins. All of these details are useful design references for furnishing your living room: this is a look that is fun and optimistic, but also streamlined and knowingly nostalgic. Accessorising the room with modern pieces is a practical and easy solution to the potential pitfalls of the room becoming camp or kitsch. Occasionally, there's nothing wrong with form following function. Fresh, bright colours at the 'cool' end of the spectrum are welcoming and airy, while glamorous prints and patterns are fun and stylish. Having worked wonders in the kitchen, you deserve a bit of quality time in the living room where you can relax and unwind.

You like it rugged and rustic in the bedroom. Sleep is fundamentally important to our well being. In busy towns and cities, noise can often hamper a good night's sleep. Soft furnishings really do absorb sound, and touch is such an important sense in the bedroom, from crisp, linen sheets to wool or even sheepskin underfoot. You favour an almost elemental approach to interior design in your bedroom, using rich, chocolate browns to create a warm and cosy escape from the rest of the world.

Dining Room
You're a maestro of minimalism using carefully chosen ingredients. At home, 'less-is-more' simplicity appears effortlessly stylish. With so little on show, every single item comes under scrutiny, so it's important that you give time and thought to your choice of china, glass and cutlery. Try to avoid the 'designer cliche' trap, whereby every single piece has impeccable provenance: at best this looks like showing off, at worst it's sadly predictable. When it comes to entertaining, you like to make an effort for family and friends.

Home Office
You draw inspiration from unlikely people and places. These days, almost all of us have a home office: a desk and a chair in one corner of the living room with adjustable task lighting and adequate filing is all it takes (and might be all the space you can afford). Keep things simple when it comes to the actual desk/work area: too many visual distractions can clutter the mind just as nick-knacks clutter a desk.

Your home reveals your fun-loving, whimsical side - the look is nostalgically modern and elegant with a cheeky twist.

So what IS your style?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

As promised...

Photos of the clean Gaultney Homestead:

Domestic Goddess

Perhaps the title of this post is misleading. As I’ve confessed in previous posts, I’m not the perfect housekeeper. Nancy Thorne, my darling mother, is – but I, her wayward daughter, don’t replace the shower curtain liner nearly as often as I should, nor the A.C. filters, nor even the smoke alarm battery… le sigh. How I wish I had her knack for maintaining a nest that honors her husband, reflects her passions (food, color, comfort, cleanliness, etc.), and welcomes others.

About once a month, however, something crazy happens. Be it hormones, out-of-town guests, or something else (in this case, roaches), I kick it into full “domestic goddess” mode, and I clean the entire house from top to bottom.

Two of my least favorite chores are cleaning the floors (I don’t mind vacuuming, but mopping and sweeping I detest) and putting new sheets on the bed. I don’t mind WASHING the sheets – I just hate that awful ordeal of figuring out which way the fitted sheet is supposed to go, tucking in the flat sheet, putting the pillow covers on and then remembering which pillow was Brad’s and which one was mine – ugh. What chores do you dread?

Anyway, I found two roaches in my bathroom within about six hours of each other. I killed one that had gotten into the bathtub and couldn’t climb out… I keep a can of Raid in my powder room at all times… and then I returned later in the day to discover the dead roach’s twin mourning his loss over the other roach’s carcass. The Raid was not taking effect on him as quickly as I wanted, so he quickly met his fate at the blunt edge of the Raid can.

(NB: I think I'm getting back into the swing of this blogging thing. I realized this as I was watching the first roach die, and I thought "I should take a video of this for my blog!" Clearer thoughts prevailed and I realized how disgusting that would be.)

This got me thinking. Granted, I live in an old house in a historic neighborhood – and this IS Texas, so there are bound to be roaches – but perhaps it’s time for an all-out scrub-down.

I keep my kitchen clean because I’m a bit paranoid about germs and I bake a lot (again, see here). So I figured I would ease myself into the cleaning madness and start with my cleanest room, the kitchen, and just make it that much cleaner. Check out my awesomely organized fridge:

And freezer (is this beginning to feel like an MTV Cribs episode?):

And my personal fav, the pantry:

I hope you noticed the vase full of limes and lemons on the top shelf of the fridge. I thought that was a nice, Stepford-esque touch. I’m very into room temperature water, no ice, with limes these days. I feel like it does wondrous things for my insides. Maybe it doesn't.

I also arranged a really lovely bowl of fruit. The vessel is a copper paella pan my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday. Really gorgeous! And the mix of bananas, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, studded with black plums and cherries, makes for a pretty spread. I feel like the darker fruits look like little jewels of amethyst and onyx against the citron backdrop:

And with some mood lighting (I'm not as good a photog as Abby!):

Now onto other rooms of the house. Today I’ll focus on the den, formal living room, and my bathroom. The office I tend to stay out of because that’s Brad’s mad scientist lab and there’s no point in picking it up. The guest room is storing some extra furniture, so it’s not worth trying to make that room look pretty until we unload the excess at my little bro’s apartment. The master I tend to keep pretty picked-up. A girl’s gotta have a decent place to dress herself, right?

Look for more photos of the clean house later. :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ode to a Profile View Counter

When I was a junior in college, I went through a bad break-up.

Well, ok. It wasn’t so much “bad” as it was a blow to my pride… and it wasn’t so much a “break-up” as it was that a boy who liked me -- and I liked back -- stopped liking me. Ouch.

Anyway, being the punk rock rebel I am, my broken heart found comfort in the music of Conor Oberst, also known as Bright Eyes. I played the anti-love anthem “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” over 200 times on my iTunes that Christmas holiday.

But then something really terrible happened. I upgraded to the new version of iTunes, and somehow all of my play counts reset themselves! I had worked hard to earn that 200+ number. And it just slipped through my fingers, like sand through the hourglass…

This blog resurrection has given me a case of déjà vu. I changed the email that my blog is hosted under and deleted the old one, and now all of my profile views have disappeared. Thanks to some really avid followers of my France trip, I had amassed a fairly impressive total of over 600 profile views. Now we stand at… looks like 24. And I’m willing to bet a third of those originated with my very own computer.

So this blog posting is an ode to the 600 fallen page counts. You served my ego well, and you will never be forgotten.

It’s also a plea. Click on my profile? There’s not much there, but it would do my heart good to see that number spike. I hereby announce a campaign: 90 views by ’09!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Birds of a Feather

The friendship shared by me and my kindred spirit, Stephanie Gahm, is legendary. We live parallel lives and know each other backwards and forwards. I could go on and on about how much I love this lady and why she’s so very precious, but instead I’ll focus on one of our mutual affinities: feathers.

Feathers? With all Stephanie and I have a common zeal for – Paris, Austin, Urban Outfitters, trying new things, men with last names beginning in “G” – I’m going to write about feathers?!

Well, yes. You see, feathers are one small piece of a litany of evidences showing how this girl and I just get each other. I have to give credit where credit is due. Stephanie actually pioneered a feather trend, fixating upon peacock feathers and incorporating them them into her wardrobe and accessories, design aesthetic, and more. She even considered working peacock feathers into the floral arrangements and bouquets at her wedding, which I still think would have been brilliant. Here’s a photo of Stephanie sporting her fabulous peacock earrings as we waged a chopstick war:

Stephanie knows about my recent fascination with vintage half-hats and clips. I scour eBay for these lovely little sartorial wonders about once weekly, usually sans success. Recently I’ve marveled at the ability that Kenley from Project Runway has for scooping up and sporting similar pieces, and I’m trying not to be annoyed with her for stealing my next great fashion statement… Sequins, feathers, knit or mesh – I LOVE half-hats.

I found on my doorstep today the most delightful little package with the most delightful contents: an Urban Outfitters headband with feathers on one side, very much resembling a vintage hat!!! And of course, my kindred spirit Stephanie sent it to me. I turned the feathers up on one end to give it some added "oomph" and proceeded to execute an impromptu photo shoot. Forgive the salmon cardigan that clashes with my wondrous headband.

Now trying to channel the mystique of a silver screen hussy:

I LOVE it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake – and Pies, and Tarts…

I’m a big believer in the joy of cooking. I have to be! Goodness knows I’m not the tidiest housekeeper ever. Both of my parents are meticulously organized keep their house spotless to the point that the tops of their ceiling fans could pass a white-glove test any day of the week.

In fact, I have a bit of a complex about how I inexplicably missed the cleanliness gene. The moderate germaphobe gene, however, I got. It doesn't compute. Elevator buttons, shopping cart handles, laminated menus and the like give me the heeby-jeebies because of all the pernicious microbes undoubtedly harbored by these surfaces. Then I found out from my colleague Alison yesterday that even my own wet laundry could be a disease carrier.

But I digress.

My point is, since my house never seems to be as spic-and-span as I’d like it to be, I have to play up my strengths. Baking happens to be one of them, and cakes are a particular forte. Brad and I celebrated his mother’s birthday yesterday at Mattito’s in Uptown, and the birthday-cake-baking honor fell to me. I’m not a huge chocoholic unless it’s DARK chocolate. The darker the better. So knowing Teresa’s love for the dark master, the cocoa bean, I created my most chocolatey confection to date. It was a dark chocolate layer cake with real fudge icing, chocolate ganache filling, and chocolate-covered cocoa beans on top. (The word "ganache" always makes me think of Stephanie's wedding, since Taylor's groom's cake was covered in chocolate ganache, which Stephanie described as "magic chocolate icing." So true.) I hope you don’t mind allowing me to indulge in a little show-and-tell:

(Love the Crate and Barrel cake dome and foot too. A wedding gift, naturally.)

The night before my birthday last year, I determined to make my own birthday cake. Pathetic? Perhaps. But it gets worse. I had decided on a pineapple cheesecake (combining two of God’s greatest inventions) and set about my mise en place. I had gotten no further than melting the butter when, through an uncanny series of events, I ended up with second-degree burns across my abdomen. I won’t go into details except to say that scalding butter + laundry night = pas bon.

This year I had more luck. Here’s my birthday cake from last month, before I dressed it with gobs and gobs of cream cheese frosting. The photo was taken from my phone. This was my own recipe, three layers of yellow cake with a pastry cream filling and chopped fresh strawberries mixed in:

Now the birthday cake I made my mom. It was a coconut cake with white lemon buttercream frosting and strawberries for garnish:

Last winter I got a case of cabin fever and decided to make a super summery cake. I love coming up with my own recipes, as I did with my birthday cake this year. The next photo shows one of my more successful dabblings. To fight some cold weather blues, I created this lemon cake with raspberry filling and orange zest buttercream icing. Summer heaven:

And a final Katie-penned recipe. This pear and almond tart had the richest, most gloriously spicy glaze and a chewy cream cheese dough crust. The perfect fall comfort food:

I owe much of my lovin’ of the oven to the Thorne women. Three generations of bakers:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dipping the Big Toe

I’ve decided to give it another try. I’m not prepared to guarantee a high dive, cannonball, or even a belly flop, for that matter… but I am going to dip my feet in the water once again. Yes, I’m going to resume the blog.

I have to admit, I should credit much of my little foray to the good-natured “prodding” of many of my former faithful readers (Meagan and Abby, to name a couple), who hold the fact that they’ve linked their blogs to mine as leverage over me.

By most accounts, I don’t have a lot of exciting material to blog about right now. No extended trips to Paris in my future, like the adventure I chronicled in my first blog. I’ve been married for just shy of a year now, so no wedding planning to kvetch and kvell over. I bought my first house well over a year ago now, and I can firmly state that there are NO plans for babies in my future. When so little is “happening,” what is there to write about?

In fact, I have plenty of anxiety, enthusiasm, and just plain curiosity over where I am in life now. I can’t really put my finger on it, other than to say that I’m going through a sort of frenzied respite… A sort of “sitting down on the inside,” a state of coming to peace with who my Creator has made me – not for the sake of others’ approval, not even for my own satisfaction… just being “me” because God designed me. I’m not after the award for funkiest bohemian, most Stepford-esque newlywed, or any other mantle I may have consciously or unconsciously sought not long ago. I’m just getting used to really being.

Change is a constant theme in my postings, and indeed, so much has changed over the past 18 months. I don’t have to tell you all the ways my life looks different now than it did just a year and a half ago. God is good, so good. And he’s enriched my life extravagantly. I’m truly on the verge of contentment… strange.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve learned how to sit still, or that my postings from now on are going to be treatises on “boring.” I’m just figuring out this whole adulthood thing, and that, to me, is an adventure.

  • I still daydream about what the future holds.
  • I still have a persistent case of wanderlust. I want to live in France, Morocco, Costa Rica, Seattle…
  • I want to write children’s books and create something every day (a painting, a tray of cupcakes, a blog post).
  • I want to truly love my husband selflessly and become a woman who honors God with her body and her life, and inspires others to godliness.

I’ve got a long way to go, and I hope through this blog you’ll help me chart my progress. Thanks for reading. Here we go again.