Saturday, November 21, 2015

Embracing the Crazy

Plans Don't Always Turn Out Like You Want...

Everyone is now shaking their heads in agreement and thinking, what in the world could you write that would be insightful. I'm thinking the same things. I think this a lot when I read articles on Verily one of my favorite online magazines. The topics about the single life on this quick google search make me always think, "now the secret to embracing being single, the secret to understanding why God has me in this place of being in between." This is just a sampling of the last year or so:

  • 8 Secrets to Savoring the Single Life
  • Single and 30: How I Stopped Waiting for a Ring and Started Living a Great Life
  • The Advice I wish I could have Given to my Single Self
  • You're Only Single Once, So Embrace it while it Lasts
  • Get a Healthier Attitude Toward Being Single with a...
  • Things Happily Coupled People Say to their Single Friends
  • Being Single is What you Make of it, to Make it Positive
  • 5 Reasons I'd Rather Be Single on Valentine's Day
  • Are Single Women Really Just to Smart for Marriage?
  • Dating my Backpack helped me Thrive as a Single Woman 
I always click through and think "finally maybe some insight about how to embrace this unplanned portion of my life." But I'm always disappointed, no new information - just someone else with the solution, usually a married woman looking back telling me to embrace my life the way that it is. (This is not a hit on Verily, I really appreciate their writing, magazine, and everything!! I will continue to read it each day!)

I will admit that there are some amazing things that I have in my life because I am single. 

~ I bought a house. On My Own. I decorated it. I've furnished it. Now I'm working on doing some of those extra things I really want to do like painting my office charcoal gray this weekend.

~ Speaking of my office. I took an amazing job that was a huge risk for me. I know work as a "Digital Product Sales Specialist" - who would have every thought that? Not I, that's who!

~ I've been to the Congo. The Congo, people! That's crazy and almost unbelievable.

When I was a little girl, my dream was two-fold. Be a mom and be a teacher. By profession I've never really been either of these. I've worked as a youth minister, which most would argue is a teacher, but it's a little bit more of that. I've been a baby-sitter/baby-holder/child care giver for thousands of hours, but never my own little ones.

What's the point of this?

I've transformed my dreams, for now at least. I don't know if I'll be a single woman forever or just for now. I  might take my two freshly baked sweet potato pies to our young adult "friendsgiving" (yes, another one this weekend) and come home with two empty pie plates and a man. That's an interesting plan ... but it will probably turn out as predicted ... just two (hopefully) empty pie plates!

So the dream transformation ... here's the plan:
  • Be a Mom: 
    • Next weekend I'm training to be a Client Advocate at the Stanton Health Clinic for woman who are considering abortion but have changed their mind and are keeping their baby. This lasts for at least 9 months after the baby is born - a beautiful opportunity to be part of someone's life.
    • Hang out with my friends and their super cute kiddos and embrace every second. Provide a gift of my time for them and their hubbies to go out on a date night by baby-sitting.
  • Be a Teacher:
    • I've been working with our Confirmation students for the last few years - this year being the best Confirmation Class I've had in 8 years!
    • Act as a godparent/sponsor for a young woman entering the Church this coming Easter. She is actually being Baptized, Confirmed and receiving Eucharist.
    • Take time with my friends who want to learn to cook and teach them. Fun for me and them and quite delicious!
These don't fulfill my entire childhood dream, but they do prevent some of those sleepless, tear-filled nights. They help me to embrace the fact that I haven't lived out any of the plans I've had and instead done "crazy" things like buy a house, take a risk on a new job, and go to the Congo. Crazy seems to be my main style of life plan! It was never my plan, to live a crazy life, but now I'm trying to have less plans and more dreams. 

Now I'm starting with: "What's the crazy way to live out my dreams?"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

As Sweet as Apple Pie

Y'all, I have eaten a lot of apple pie during my three decades of living. My dad has two apple trees in our backyard and we ate a LOT of apples as kids. He makes pies by the dozens and freezes them for later. So when I heard a story on NPR or an npr-esque podcast last week about the best, flakiest pie crust ever, I knew I had to try it.

So tonight's "friendsgiving" at a friend's parish young adult group was the night! Two recipes mixed together for the best apple pie I've ever eaten (not to boast too much). Oh and this recipe gives you a chance to use up a little bit of that vodka we all have lying around in our freezers - or is that just me? And yes - the vodka makes the crust so, so flaky - so don't flake out and skip it! Now a beautiful picture and the recipe so you can be the talk of the party for your amazing apple pie!

The Best Apple Pie Recipe

Prep: 60 minutes, Fridge: 45 min to 2 days, Bake: 50 min

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

  1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
It's going to be SUPER sticky - but that's okay. We were pressed for time, so we put it in the freezer for 45 minutes rather than the fridge. It could have used a little more time to chill before I rolled it out. Roll it out on a very floured surface so it doesn't stick everywhere. And if you get fancy, you can use some of the extra dough after you put the top in your pie to add in some fancy apples. Don't forget to vent the top so the steam can come out!


6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (6 medium)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly against side and bottom.
  2. In large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients; spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Top with second crust. Wrap excess top crust under bottom crust edge, pressing edges together to seal; flute. Cut slits or shapes in several places in top crust.
  3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch wide strips of foil after first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
I guarantee these two recipes will make your pie go from the above to this:

Happy Baking!!

(Sources: crust & filling)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Analyze This, Over-Analyze That

I've been meaning to write about this subject for weeks - and after four conversations this past week with this exact topic with friends, I'm even more convicted to write about it. Also Not Alone Series posts begin again next Tuesday with Rachel and Lindsay (new hosts!!), and I want to get back into the writing groove. Because I like sharing, I think I have something to say (at least to myself, future Katie, to look back on), and I'm looking for new stress relief so get ready!

I have a tendency to over-analyze things - which if you know me in real life you would never think! So over the last 18 months of being present in the online dating circle, I'm giving it up. I've also spend the last few weeks reading the beginning of this book by Aziz Ansari (it was only $3.99 so I splurged). He and this other guy Eric did a lot of research about Modern Romance and are bringing it back to the people.

The book puts in writing a lot of the things I'm experiencing in this crazy world as a 30 year old single gal trying to find herself a mate. I don't even think I'm fully immersed in to the online dating culture. For instance, none of this is happening. I don't pursue the men following Cindy's advice here - and also it not being fruitful after a few messages. I did take a leap (because I couldn't get this song out of my mind) on one guy and spent a few weeks chatting online and on the phone before an in person meeting that solidified how much I didn't ever want to talk with him again.

Another guy viewed my profile and had a little quiz in his that lead to his name and a 'find me on Facebook' hint - which I did and spent time crafting this great message to initiate a conversation in the hopes that he would respond. I was interested in what he wrote about himself and wanted to know more. Know what I got? ... ... ... You guessed it, a big fat nothing! No response at all.

All this does is confirm my extreme dislike of the whole online thing. I've always said "I don't want that to be my story" - I got over it. Meeting online isn't a bad story. It's not the first thing that people say - it won't be what we tell our grand-kids - unless this is the 'how' of our meeting.

"Grandma, how'd you and grandpa meet?" asked the cutest grand-kid ever.

"Well, you see. It was a long time ago in another era. He logged in to this online world where he could scroll through hundreds of different women that a computer matched him up with and view their carefully selected profile. He wasn't committed to the process enough to pay for the service, so he could only send Emotigrams to girls who's profile he liked. And one night he sent 20 of them, and I was one of them. (p.s. the first time we talked on the phone he told me that I wasn't the only girl he was interested in that night (p.p.s. yes a man who I talked to online said that to me the first time we talked on the phone)) So I decided I would send him a real message back and I crafted words so carefully it took me three days to even 'wink' back. Then for weeks and weeks we sent 'hello's and 'shocks' and 'welcome aboards' before he finally asked for my number to call me. Then three weeks later he called and we talked. Then we sent Facebook messages. Then he decided we should meet and 4 years later we got married. Now we live happily ever after."

In case you've never seen them, actual emoticons:

This says, I liked what I saw, but I'm too cheap to pay,
so I hope you like me enough to investigate my profile and
figure out a way to contact me outside of CM
even though you signed a contract stating
you wouldn't do that and I said I wouldn't ask you to.

Shocked at what? (no one's ever sent this to me, thank God!)

"Welcome Aboard" - what? The SS Lollipop?
Are we sailors now? WHO says this??
Anyway - back to the point. I know that there are many benefits of the online meeting (I'm going to refuse to call it online 'dating' - Dating is something people do when they are in the same space!). Expanding your circle to include people who you wouldn't otherwise know, being able to see that these people are all in it for marriage (but I've found that isn't really true), seeing from the beginning that you have common interests, etc...

I think about the men I know in real life, like one I saw again on Friday night. Having a conversation that's the beginning of friendship. Learning more about each other's lives and seeing if there's a good flow of conversation. Finding out tidbits about their life without reading their entire profile or FB history before even talking to them. Looking someone in the eye when speaking with them. Standing near someone experiencing more than just words, but body language, if they are being receptive to you. Etc...

These are the things that make a relationship. I know expanding your circle, widening the pool - I get it. I'm not putting down people who've met their spouses on CM or other sites (except Tinder, I'm not sure exactly how that creates a long term relationship - that's serious luck to find someone else in it for the long haul). That's great for you. It is. But for me, I want to live my life outside of my computer. I have a tendency to get sucked in to electronic / tech things and I don't want to pile one more thing into that lump.

I know it's a lot to ask, but I want a husband who's first encounter with me was "in the flesh" rather than a random "emoticon" after checking out 150 profiles one night when he was bored. I want mutual friends. I want shared interests. I want the same faith. I want to be pursued. It's a tall order, but I'm begging like the persistent old woman with the unjust judge. Only I'm a persistent single woman with a just Lord who loves me so much He cannot stop thinking about me - because if He does, I cease to exist (check it out, cool theology from the great Thomas Aquinas, although I can't find the reference). 

He can do anything, even the seemingly impossible. So I'm asking for everything. I see Him deliver all of the time. I'm removing my doubt that He will. I see friends who've asked for big things from the Lord and receive them in abundance. I've been there on my knees with them asking for spouses to begin fighting for their marriage rather than bailing. Cancer to be completely eradicated from their bodies. I believe it can happen, and I'm not giving up until I'm sitting at the feet of Jesus seeing how my life unfolded alone.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cross I'm Not Carrying

Tonight I had to run to Harris Teeter for some snacks to serve my very good friend Father Emmanuel from the Congo and the family who's hosting him tomorrow evening when the come over. I've been in my PJs (ie: shorts & a t-shirt I typically wear only to bed) since I got home from the 5pm Mass. When I pulled into the parking lot I noticed Sister E's car there and texted to see if she too was at HT. She was and we got to see each other for the first time in what felt like months. It was so great to catch up.

Our really great conversation ended with me crying in the middle of the HT parking lot. Although it ended in tears, it was a really great conversation.

I've been having some trouble lately with the cross I've been given to carry. The single life with a deep desire to be married with children. It seems like everyone else has all of these things that I want. I see how I am incredibly blessed by God. I know this. He takes such good care of me. Like just the weekend when I had a water leak in my ceiling. Yes now we have the Great Leak of 2015 as a sequel to the Disgusting Leak of 2014 when the entire downstairs had to be redone. It was from some hoses on the washer that are soon going to be replaced with a brand new washer and dryer set someone is getting me for free from the factory. Taken care of! Completely!

When I was talking to Sister E she said something that I couldn't stop thinking about when I came home - and then I was watching Parenthood on Netflix (to which I am addicted - and I cry at almost every episode - so be warned if you're going to start - it gets emotional!). There's some pretty intense stuff that happens to these characters you've grown to love and feel like they are a part of your own family.

Sister E said from the outside no one would know you have this struggle - the single life struggle that leads to crying in the HT parking lot. And she's right. My friends know, they know because it's constant and they are always talking me down from it. They are probably exhausted doing that and really just want to slap me across the face so I'll finally get it - God had a bigger plan that He set in motion at the beginning of time - calm yourself! But anyway...

I have an amazing job. This new job I took is really a perfect fit for me. I love the work I'm doing. I'm good at it. I was Electronic Sales Specialist of the Month for June and am a serious contender for July as well. The first month was really just practice, getting to know the business and finding opportunities. Who knows if it will last, but it's really great right now.

I haven't had to worry about my financial situation for a long time. I am frugal, but I was able to buy a house - and decorate it how I wanted to (with a little help from my flood insurance money). I know how to do the things I want to do here, so I can DIY things.

My family is healthy and so am I. There are minor issues here and there, but we aren't battling cancer right now or being with someone through the last days of their life in hospice. I'm not struggle with infertility (well I wouldn't really know that for sure being a single gal - but I keep track of these sorts of things and there are no known issues). Even the minor health issue I struggle with (chronic and frequent sinus infections) is just that minor.

I'm always concerned about the cross I'm carrying. This crazy "I'm single and I don't want to be and what's wrong with me and why won't anyone love me and everyone else is finding someone to marry them" cross that I think is too heavy. I forget how heavy the crosses I"m not carrying are. Unemployment, Terminal Health Issues, a Job I really dislike, Infertility, Homelessness, Mental Illness, Addiction, Abuse.

I'm not great at this, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to focus on the lightness of my cross and work on my perspective. I can't really change what other people are experiencing, but I can recognize that my attitude could use an adjustment in relation to where I stand with the Lord. That is one thing I can control - and maybe the only thing I should make an effort to have complete control of on a regular basis.

p.s. I would be remiss if I didn't state how I've been away from here for a while - mostly new job stuff. But I need this outlet in order to less some stress of sometimes. Unless I just use the crying during every episode of Parenthood to take care of that! So I'll pop in from time to time to write for myself. If those posts also speak to you where you're at, I'd love for you to share with me so we can journey together. Until next time...

Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday, May 15th

Wow readers it has been quite a while since I've written anything at all and the last thing I wrote was just a bunch of pictures so that hardly counts - but you seem to be coming back day after day to read what I wrote. I'm back ... for now, I can't make any serious commitments. I want to, but I can't. Instead of boring you with a first I did this, then I did that sort of quick takes, I'm going to relay the things that I've learned in the last 3 weeks. The last time I wrote was my last day on the job as Office Manager. So I've learned lots of things these past three weeks at my new job.

The most glaring thing is that I don't think I handle stress as well as I thought I did. Not that I experience it all that often, I'm very blessed that I don't really get easily stressed out (not in the past few years anyway). It usually manifests itself with being really tired, but not getting enough sleep. But these past few weeks I've had some neck pain and some issues with my tooth (which are not entirely resolved - prayers would be most appreciated). Although there are underlying issues, I think they were exacerbated by stress. I won't go into everything that happened, but a lot of personal learning experienced coupled with beginning a new job. I learned that I have to make sure that I'm doing stress relieving activities. So I took up running again. After my break up with running back in August - we are back to together. Starting slowly - just getting to know each other again. I've committed to running a 5K at the end of the summer with a friend, so now just to train. I'm three days/1 week into the Couch to 5K training app (my favorite running app).

I learned that I can actually sell things. This was a concern of mine with my new job - but I made a few sales this week and now my daily numbers no longer read 0-0-0! So that's pretty exciting!

I learned that I really enjoy living alone. I've been working from home these past two weeks and I'm loving it. I like being able to go downstairs and grab a cup of tea, using the stove to boil the water rather than the microwave. I also learned that I like tea with water that was boiled on the stove rather than made hot in the microwave - I don't understand why there's a difference, but there is. I also like being able to take a break mid morning to make breakfast. It's been quite lovely.

I learned that I have the best friends. They listen to me when I just need to 'word vomit' all over them with problems or issues that are happening. I'm so grateful for MG and her ability to be a sounding board without judgement and then provide me with good advice. All of my friends have been so great these past few weeks listening and just being 'great friends' ... I hope I am the same for them.

I learned that I love being a parishioner at a parish. This is the most fantastic thing in the world - all of you fellow parishioners don't know how great you've got it! On May 3rd - my first Sunday at the parish after leaving (the previous weekend I had been away on retreat with the teens and then the entire week I was in Indiana) - I was having a doughnut with a friend and her family when someone came up to tell me how the urinal just wouldn't stop running and that there was an issue. I politely replied with "I don't work here anymore, I'm sorry but I cannot help you with that issue. The new office manager is actually over there, you can take the issue to him." SO freeing!!!

I also learned that not all parishes have automatic answering machines that go on in the evening! When I was in Indiana I wanted to go to daily Mass and one of the parishes didn't have their Mass times on their website so I just decided I would call. Surely they had them listed on their phone message. They might, but I don't know because when I called at 11:30pm Father Drew answered! I was so embarrassed. I had to make sure I went to the parish the next day for Mass and sure enough, he recognized me. This is quite the valuable lesson: for me - be aware before you call a church at 11pm at night; for the church - make sure you're websites are accurate!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

I'll be back soon ... have to catch up on my blog roll too ... have over 250 unread posts!

Friday, April 24, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... April 24th!

Well, I promised I'd share some photos from my trip to Texas, so here we go!

This is the view from my Aunt's porch. As soon as we got to the house on Tuesday, I had to sit outside and take in the view. I remember it being amazing, but it was even more incredible than I recalled! We spent a lot of time out here on the porch! 

The fire and the View!

One day we went into San Antonio to the Aquarium (not amazing), the oldest cathedral in Texas (beautiful), the riverwalk (lovely), and dinner at the Tower of Americas (delicious)!

cute little sea horsies
Just amazing - they have confession every day
all day long! How cool!
The view at dinner - from 63 stories up!
Celebrating my birthday with Aunt Char & Uncle Joe

Another day we took a drive to see the wildflowers. It was like they bloomed just for me! They said it's been a few years since they've been so beautiful - and this year did not disappoint. It was a day of incredible views!! Here's just a quick sampling of all of the amazing flower photos - I couldn't get enough!!

We also stopped at Enchanted Rock. We were going to hike, but the morning was rainy and then we didn't have enough time. It was so amazing though. How incredible that God put this granite rock in the middle of Texas and you can climb it! Also, only about 1% of the rock is even above the ground - the rest is hidden beneath the surface!

On Saturday two of my cousins came up to the house to visit and we sat on the porch after dinner with the sunset and a drink I've been waiting my entire life to try. I have this memory of my grandmother making pink squirrels when I was a kid, but I never got to try them. My cousin made them for me that evening as an after dinner dessert (and it is sweet) drink. Quite delicious and a great memory!

vanilla ice cream, creme de almond, creme de cocao

Before we left on Sunday I made everyone take a photo with me - just in case it's another 7 years before I'm able to come back!

Blake & Joey

Stephanie & Mark

Aunt Char, my godmother

Rubi & Greg

The porch from the other side as we said goodbye to this little piece of Heaven on Sunday before heading out to the airport.

I'm so glad I was able to take a vacation and visit family who I haven't seen in a while. A great way to celebrate the Octave of Easter!

Came back to two weeks left at my old job - and today's my final day. Staring the new one on Monday!! Here we go!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
Also - I really want to read that book Kelly's talking about today ... need to start!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NAS: Freebie :: All Groan Up

Topic for this week is whatever we want, so I thought I'd write a little bit about a book I'm on a launch team for :: All Groan Up.

I've been reading this guy's blog for a while now. It's full of funny, inspiring, and great content. I especially think about his explanation of OCD ... Obsessive Comparison Disorder. (not to diminish people with clinical OCD tendencies) I don't know about you, but I tend to look at someone else's life and compare and contrast to my own. However, I typically only see the ways that hers is better than mine, she has accomplished more of my goals than me, and is overall happier than I am. Objectively, I know this isn't true. The self we put on Facebook, Instagram, and even this little 'ole blog is our best self. I don't tend to write to you on the days when I'm practically having a nervous breakdown, crying my eyes out because I don't know what to do with my life, where I'm going, or if I'll ever not be single.

I have those days. We all do. However, it's how we come out of them, how we try to prevent them - that matters. Wondering how to cure OCD according to Paul? His three tricks are: Put on Blinders, Cut down on Facebook and TV, and Celebrate what you do. Celebrate the great things that are going on in your life, even if it's just that you remembered to take out the garbage before it got smelly - people that is an accomplishment sometimes! Typing of which, that should really go out this morning before I leave for work!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand ... when an opportunity came a few weeks ago to be on the launch team for his new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! I signed up. I thought it was a long shot - I'm not a writer, I have about fourteen readers (if you're even there today), and I really dislike twitter (because in this regard, I am an old person and don't understand how it actually works)! But he accepted me, added me to a Facebook group to get to know others on the launch team, and sent me a copy of the book to read ahead of time.

I was in Texas two weeks ago (speaking of which, I should share photos with you, the view from my aunt's house is amazing! - maybe Friday) and couldn't stop reading the book until I was finished! It was excellent. I found myself nodding along when he was talking about figuring out what he wanted to do, living with roommates, searching for a spouse, taking a leap at a new job, and so much more.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I loved it so much. He writes like it's a friend having coffee just chatting about what's happening. He writes to the scared 20-something who just wants to figure life out so they can become transform from thinking of themselves as a child to an adult. He writes honestly without sugar coating everything.

From the title, you might think that he was searching for a job (that actually made money) for a while - and you'd be right. He was - but in the midst of it, he found it - his 'signature sauce' - "your unique mix of ingredients that brings the world a flavor that no one else can."

We all have it, we all bring something to this world that no one else does. We just need to figure out what it is and bring it! Here's hoping that mine will help me succeed in my new job - which begins Monday!!!

Check out Morgan's for more 'freebie' posts from the ladies and as always thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting up this weekly time of amazingness!