Tuesday, January 20, 2015


In college, I had sort of a habit of suddenly deciding I wasn't very fond of the way my room looked. The first two years, that worked out for me, because Sara was equally notorious for redecorating on a whim. One minute, we'd be watching Fantasia...five hours later, we'd be surrounded by piles of junk neither of us wanted to acknowledge was actually ours. 

Then two hours after that, we had a new space we both really liked for a few months.

Marcus was nice enough to indulge me this weekend, because I came to the conclusion that our layout was not practical. (To be fair, it really wasn't. We were right by the heater, which is on the baseboard, so someone was always getting burned or smashing into the windowsill--and there was zero floor space.) We ended up pushing the bed into one corner, separating the giant bookshelves and moving his desk against the wall so that we now have a nice giant square of open space in the middle. Being further away from the direct heat keeps it from getting too hot at night, too, plus I can get out of bed without scorching myself.

The revamping of our room gave me an excuse to put up the calendar I'd just gotten--this year's Victoriana edition! I try to find this brand every year; it comes with some really gorgeous collectible postcards that I like to put on the walls. It's also the kind of thing that you can look at over and over and find new details to notice; for instance, upon closer examination, I really like that vintage champagne bottle. Who wouldn't?

I'm a huge fan of playing around with the furniture and decorations in a space; just rearranging a few things can suddenly make the whole room feel completely different. Both Marcus's parents like this way much better and agree that it seems much more open.

...But I'm terrible with commitment, so let's see where we end up by summertime. ;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

recap and resolutions

I haven't been the best about keeping at it, but here are the highlights of one very tumultuous year.

  • I accompanied my mother to Ohio following my grandmother's passing, where I helped her make the decision to move there. I also got stuck in the snowstorms flying standby and spent a few days bouncing back and forth between Chicago, Cincinnati, Newark and Dallas. For a little bit, I honestly thought I wasn't going home.
  • I ended my year as Miss Katie, and the preschool I was working at closed in May.
  • I officially came out to my close family (and Marcus's) about my decision not to have children.
  • I was a finalist in a Pinup Girl Clothing contest, which was a huge deal to me. 
  • I made the decision with Marcus to move to Washington, where I now reside for the time being.
  • We drove together from Phoenix, through California and Oregon, and ended in Kent, WA.
  • We also went to Disneyland!
  • I dropped everything in September and took a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. I fell in love, and now it's all I think about.
  • Also, London. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but I'm happy I went.
  • I spent the night in the airport in Germany. I would not do this again.
  • I learned to crochet! 
  • I got my first semi-"adult" job.
  • I spent my first holiday season away from my family.

Like I said, it was a mixed bag. It was a lot of change, which is good in its own way. I finally got out of Arizona, which was immense. I used to get so distraught about living there, I think people worried. However, Washington has come with its own issues, and I've come to understand that my wanderlust is only ever going to intensify. Going to the Netherlands did not in any way make this better. I know that's not the easiest thing to hear out loud, particularly for certain family members, but it's also time. I'm working on becoming the person I want to be; I can't say that happened entirely this year, but I came a long way. Also, there were fun parts that balanced out some of the severity. I had good company.

Now, as I'm looking at 2015 here in a few hours, I've been doing some thinking about what I want most out of it.

I was never the biggest fan of New Year's resolutions; mostly, I think I'm too impulsive to save all of my goals for the end of the year. I'm very prone to deciding on a whim that I'm going to learn a new skill or pursue some change in my life. Still, I see the appeal of the "fresh start", so here's what's on my laundry list.

  • Retake my Foreign Service Officer Test. I made the appointment this afternoon for February 5th; the only one I could get for now is right after work, and I will thus be burnt out by the end. If I think about it too long, I'll rattle myself. Still, I'm grateful that the testing center is literally ten minutes from my job, because the other options were in downtown Seattle and Yakima. Small victories. 
  • Study endlessly for said test. I've taken it once before, so I know it's virtually impossible to know what exactly you'll be asked...therefore, the next month is going to involve a ton of trivia games and staring at maps of Africa.
  • Get back into pilates and yoga--I really enjoyed Blogilates last year, and I still do her videos on and off, but I got stuck in one set workout routine (a lot of times after work, I only have an hour before making dinner, so I stick with what I know). I'd like to repurpose some of that time to get into more fun, dynamic exercises. 
  • Hone my crocheting skills. This time next year, I want to be making hats!
  • Perfect my baking. I've been enamored with it all year, and I can't wait to try making ciabatta, sourdough and wheat bread (to name a few!) in the coming weeks. 
  • Continue my slow-but-steady fight against depression. Losing the battle is not losing the war. If you're reading this and you relate, keep at it. Your depression does not define you. 
  • Branch out creatively and shoot for more frequent blog entries. Ever since my grandmother passed, I've been making excuses not to use her camera. It's probably time to take it off the shelf! 
  • Write. A favorite author of mine who I relate to in many ways referred to her words as being "trapped behind an iron curtain" when she was depressed, and I've never heard it articulated so well. I will try very, very hard to move my iron curtain this year. 
To me, that seems doable. I look forward to sharing the outcome with all of you who are nice enough to visit. 

I wish everyone a happy 2015! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

in which i attempt bread by hand (!)

The statement most likely to come out of my mouth is by far "I wonder if I could make that myself."

That mindset has been responsible for landing me in the kitchen for hours at a time, curiosity vastly outweighing the fear that this thing I'm trying to replicate could actually turn out terrible. As of late, I've been experimenting with fall desserts (read: pumpkin everything). Today, though, I decided to try making bread.

Before I moved, I had a bread machine, but the results were underwhelming. For a long time, I've wanted to attempt bread by hand. This typically takes longer and requires more effort (thus being considered less convenient if a machine is available to you), but I've found that I tend to do it better the long way. I literally have no idea why this is--rice that I make in the cooker turns out so-so at best.

Anyway. Marcus wanted a day in, and I needed to occupy myself with something, so bread it was. I found a promising recipe for hoagie rolls and away I went!

Having never made rolls before, I admit that I wasn't entirely sure what they were supposed to look like. The dough rose wonderfully, becoming elastic and airy. I looked up a few tutorials to see what more experienced bakers favored as a technique for rolling baguettes. From what I understand, you're supposed to roll a segment into a ball, flatten it into an oval, then fold it like an envelope. The directions then said to fold it in half once more and crease it shut, then roll it out a little bit to give it a uniform shape and width. This process took some practice, but it was a lot of fun!

In retrospect, I could've stood to roll them a lot thinner (this is what first tries are for!) At the time I took that picture, they looked to be about the correct size and shape. Little did I know that they'd end up becoming...tall.

This illustrates it a little bit better--see how they puffed up and became almost bun-like in shape? That said, they'd probably make excellent hamburger buns...

So, my main rookie mistake of the day (on top of accidentally forgetting to let it rise an extra 20 minutes after shaping--chalk it up to being eager for results? Seriously, Katie, get it together!) was leaving the raw dough the size and shape I wanted it and not accounting for just how much it would change while baking. As you can see, the smallest ones were only about as big as my palm, but they were pretty thick. I'm hopeful that next time if they're rolled out thinner, they'll be more suited to sandwiches--which, incidentally, was the intended purpose for these. They'll make good side bread for dunking in tonight's Alfredo sauce instead, though, so it works!

Conversely, I was very pleased with how nicely the crust formed on these, and the end product was indeed bread. There are a lot worse ways this could have gone--for example, to my knowledge, nothing exploded. It wasn't a bad first attempt by any means, I think I mostly need to make some adjustments. That, and maybe learn some patience for a second round of rising. Something tells me that will help ensure that they come out lighter and fluffier next time!

Note that quite a few rolls went missing in between pictures. A certain partner of mine who shall go unnamed decided that he needed to sample my wares to verify that they were suitable. I fixed him a warm roll with some pesto to try, and minutes later he ran back out to the kitchen and left with three more!

My first try making bread by hand was definitely a great way to spend a rainy afternoon inside. The entire house smells delicious, and at least I know Marcus will enjoy the rest of the tray if they're not to anyone's liking. I can't wait to try them again! I have such a long list of bread I want to make soon, including but not limited to cinnamon raisin, pumpkin, banana, wheat and potentially kaiser rolls. It's funny, once you get past the initial attempt, you wonder what took you so long and just want to keep going! I'd better pace myself, or I'm going to run out of yeast by the end of the weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2014


It's been a fair bit, and I've seen these "currently" posts floating around on a few blogs I really enjoy. I thought it might be a nice way to get back into things, and the prompts are neat. I actually have a lot of fun reading these when other people write them.

All right, I'm currently:

Marcus and I have been really into the Legend of Korra lately--and don't say it, we're late to that party. I know. Sometimes I prefer that because it means we get to watch all of the episodes at once instead of having to wait. It starts off that way, anyway, but we always end up caught up and anticipating more like the rest of the world. We thought we were so clever starting Orange is the New Black and House of Cards a season late...

reading:I just finished The Paris Wife, which was actually quite the emotional roller coaster. For those of you who haven't read it, it's a historical fiction detailing life from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. It takes place during a time period that interests me, and I really enjoyed the small details--particularly about what everyone was wearing and eating. The slang terms were sort of wild, too. Part of me feels like I can't be very artistic, because there were a few moments throughout the book where characters were sort of waxing poetic and deep and their meanings were a bit lost on me. Luckily, I related to Hadley in that way, because she occasionally mentioned not really following Ernest when he describes what's going on in his mind. Anyway, if you know a little bit about Hemingway, you're aware that he was married several times and that this story ultimately does not end well! Still, it's a very good read and I'd recommend it for anyone who's interested in him.
I'd also really like to get my hands on Tulip Fever and Bitter Greens soon!

listening:I'm really behind the times on popular media, apparently. I just heard "All About That Bass" all the way through for the first time today and it's surprisingly catchy. I understand it's probably overplayed on the radio, but for now I just think it's cute. Marcus requested it as he was trying to take a nap earlier--rather, he asked for relaxing music and specified "you know, that one where she's all about the bass but not the treble and everyone likes a little more booty". Well, there you have it.

Scarves. Like, an assload of scarves. Dee was nice enough to teach me long-distance crocheting and I got the hang of it sometime last week. I've since finished three scarves, one of which was themed in the colors of the Khador army Marcus plays. He keeps it over his chair at all times now and apparently can't wait for winter, which makes me feel nice. I want to learn to stripe soon and work my way up to more complicated patterns, blankets, hats and stuffed animals.
Also, I've been baking quite a bit. Marcus's family is big on sweets, but nobody really likes to make them. Over the last few weeks, they've all requested an array of autumn desserts. So far, the lineup has included regular brownies, turtle brownies, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin cheesecake bars, pumpkin pear spice cake, chocolate chip pumpkin cookies and snickerdoodles. My god.

Generally hopeful. I think things have the potential to be looking up. If I'm being honest, I've hit a definite low point lately in terms of health and depression. It's all right, though. Sometimes your vices win the battle, but they don't necessarily have to win the war. I sincerely hope I have more concrete advances on my front to share with you soon!

See above--I don't want to overstep and share too much too soon, but if my tentative plans work out, I look forward to some positive changes soon. Also, Marcus and I are still trying to plan Halloween costumes. So far, it's looking like Tina and Jimmy Jr. from Bob's Burgers may be the top contenders, but I also tend to gravitate towards the more "traditional" ideas--I was a witch three years in a row once, and I'd be one again!

The interest in my hobbies slowly returning to me is immensely wonderful. This is my first blog post in forever, and I really want to keep working on it. I've been taking pictures of my outfits for fun lately (with my phone and always in the same spot in my bedroom--I'm sure eventually I'll work back up to getting more creative with that!) and I'm planning on participating in the novel-writing month of November. Crocheting has been so exciting to learn, and I find myself wanting to learn more and practice whenever I can. I hope soon that a renewed interest in languages and history follows, and I really want my writing back for more than just a little bit. Right now, I can see it all on the horizon, and that's more than I've been able to say for a long time. I'm feeling good about it!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

to amsterdam or bust

It's been awhile.
It was quiet, then all of a sudden things were happening. Now, I'm going on a trip!

A friend of mine lives in Amsterdam and was nice enough to ask me over for a visit. At first, I dismissed the idea, but Marcus prompted me to consider it seriously. After some deliberation, I realized that I wasn't committed to a job, I had money saved up for nothing in particular--so, what was my excuse, really?

I didn't have one except for the fact that I'd been in my comfort zone too long and was terrified to make it happen. I wasn't going to, honestly. I don't remember what exactly changed my mind. All I know is that later in the week, I was sitting in front of the airline's webpage staring at the tickets I'd looked up...and then I bought them.

In that moment, I suppose it became officially decided, because tickets are generally not refundable. I really hate to admit that I've become the kind of person who's afraid to do things like this, because it conflicts with my innate desire to move around and see the world. As a child, we moved so much with the military that I was very much of the "we have to be in what country by next month? No problem, I've got a bag packed already" mentality. As an adult, I've gotten into the cycle of staying in one place a little bit too long. These things happen. I know this kind of adventure will remind me who I actually want to be--even if that involves losing control of every single detail all the time!

Once I got over the initial shock that I'd just bought a one-way ticket, I snapped out of it pretty quickly and got to work planning my other plane and train rides, hostels and places to visit. I now have a pretty solid outline of where I'm supposed to be and when. Other than that, I'm trying not to worry too much about it--which goes directly against my nature, because I'm a horrendously anxious person.

It's difficult. That need for total control and understanding of a situation is like an anchor that's held me back from taking a lot of risks. I've known for awhile that I'm going to have to choose between the life I want and some of the deeply-rooted, less desirable personality traits I have. Nothing happens overnight, but I've made my decision.

And since then, I've had a blast getting my trip ready. I'm almost all set to go, though I really should find some books to bring on the plane. Last time I traveled between Arizona and Ohio without any reading material (I blew through Sky Mall in all of three minutes) and nearly lost my mind--and that was only a five or six hour flight! A trip to the bookstore might be in my future while Marcus goes to his gaming tournament today...

Anyway, I'm spending the weekend running last-minute errands, and from there, it's out of my hands. For anyone who happened upon this page, I can't wait to share the upcoming details with you! I feel like I have so much time and also none at all between now and Monday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

afternoons in the city and a new skirt

A few weeks ago, I went to Capitol Hill with Marcus's mom to check out a few cute shops I'd heard about. One of them, Pretty Parlor, had been on my to-do list for quite some time because it had come to my attention that they hung petticoats off the ceiling. While we were there, I had a blast trying on all kinds of beautiful things that I'd never thought I'd find in person anywhere--one such item was a gorgeous skirt in a colorful print. There was only one size left, and even though I sort of knew it wasn't mine, I had to try it on anyway and hope it ran small. (It didn't.) Still, I couldn't get over the pattern and made a note of the brand so I could search for it later. When I started hunting for it online, I came up short. Before I gave up completely, I decided to check out the designer, Jamie von Stratton, on her  webpage to see if she had any other stores that she sold to listed--or even her own shop to buy from! While I didn't find anything like that, I did come across her contact page, so I figured "why not?" and shot her a quick email describing the skirt and asking if that print was sold anywhere else.

She responded the next morning and said that, yes, she recognized the skirt I was referring to but no, it wasn't sold anywhere else. However, she did inform me that she had just enough left to make maybe one more and asked my measurements. I sent them back to her, and a week later, she contacted me to say my special, just-for-me skirt was ready!

Today, Marcus agreed to take me down to the city after lunch to go get it. Before I say anything else, even though he doesn't read this, doing this for me was a serious gesture him and greatly appreciated. Cities, especially narrower ones like Seattle, have a claustrophobic effect on him and he tends to avoid them. As someone who has my share of phobias, both rational and not, I generally try to respect his aversion to that area. He insisted that it was fine, though, so I helped him navigate and off we went!

The residential area we were in was beautiful, and we got there early so we walked around for a little bit (he actually loved that staircase up there and asked if he could try taking a picture of me on it!) before going to pick up my skirt.

The building was amazing--I'm pretty sure it was an old hotel at one point. Marcus wasn't a fan of the dark staircases and hallways, which, admittedly, did sort of lend a horror-movie vibe to the place. When we got to the door, though, it was like a whole different world. The apartment was set up to be sort of a sewing studio, so the entire living room was covered in gorgeous fabrics, racks full of clothes and a ton of giant hats. The open window had this perfect view of the entire bay, which brightened the entire room immensely. I'll be honest--I'd live there! Jamie was incredibly nice. She let me try on my skirt in the bathroom and checked to make sure it was the right fit. She'd asked me how tall I was beforehand, so she'd even gone to the trouble of making it proportionate to my height...no tailoring for me on this one! I was elated and thanked her profusely. She was sweet and chatted with us for a few minutes about things to do in the area, gave us a few shopping suggestions and sent us on our way.

Marcus was nice enough to offer to go shopping for a little bit while we were in the area even though I know it's pretty boring for him--we visited a new Goodwill that Jamie had pointed us to, I bought us both some coffee, then we hit up Pretty Parlor one more time. It was a great day, and I think Marcus really hit it off with Vincent, Pretty Parlor's resident cat.

(This picture was priceless--he was posing with his drink and putting his pinkie in the air, but I waited until he looked away to get this one. When I showed it to him, he started laughing and said he liked that I included the massive dresses in the background. Ahh, he's a good sport.) 

I can't wait to wear this skirt everywhere. Seriously, I think it matches with just about every color. Also, I would highly recommend checking out Jamie von Stratton's website--she does a lot of pretty cool stuff! I couldn't have been happier with this whole experience.

The takeaway from this one: if you like something, don't be afraid to speak up and ask about it--the worst that happens is you get a no or don't hear back--and in my case, I happened to become the owner of the prettiest skirt I've ever seen!

Monday, July 28, 2014


I've been feeling this heaviness in my heart lately. It generally comes when I'm missing something I know I'll never really have in the same way again. It's almost impossible to articulate, but this is important. I'm going to do my best.

At a first glance, I could see how that might look like some bedroom--small, lacking in a definitive color scheme, obviously shared. I had no idea at the time that I would come to miss this little room so, so much.

When I first moved into my freshman dorm, I shared it with someone who was sort of mismatched to me. She ended up moving out midyear, leaving me with an unheard-of half a semester with a room entirely to myself. The RA explained that they'd pick a new roommate for me, which didn't appeal at all given that the first one hadn't worked out very well. When this was taking place, I was in the middle of a fight with my friend, Sara. As I recall, it was over a boy, but all I really know for sure is that we were on the kind of terms where you pretend not to notice each other at social gatherings. Remember, we were in the middle of not speaking to each other, because it's important.

I found out that I essentially had until December to choose my own roommate. Promptly, I texted Sara and asked her to meet up with me. This was years ago, so I haven't got direct quotes handy, but the conversation essentially went something like this:

Me: I know we're fighting, but I need you to come and live with me so I don't end up with someone I spend all my time fighting with.
Sara: Sound logic. Let's do it.

We signed her over to my room and I helped her cart all her things from the second floor up to the fourth. The decor significantly improved and my life changed forever.

I like to describe all of my best and most worthwhile relationships as the kind where we're on opposite extremes and gradually meet in the middle. When I met Sara, I was overwhelmed by her louder demeanor and take-charge attitude. She was equally underwhelmed with my comfortable status in life as a people-pleasing doormat. During our time together, she taught me how to assert myself more, which came into play immensely when I found myself in a compromising position with abuse. I don't know what I taught her, but I can only guess it was a few obscure new vocabulary words and maybe some appreciation for Spanish music. Jesus, writing this is making me miss her so badly, because she was easily one of the best influences in my life. I think of our time together as these brief flashes of wonderful feelings. I'll let you on in something that might sound strange--I suffer from anxiety. It's gotten better over time, but when I really can't shake it, I think about some of these things to calm myself down. For example...

We used to rearrange our rooms together for fun, and one of our "just-for-us" hobbies was browsing the bargain aisles of home decor stores to find crazy new additions for our walls and desks. None of our bedding ever matched--actually, our sophomore year, that was sort of the point. We both bought the loudest, most colorful things we could, including plastic pink flamingos and cardboard models of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower and just had a blast with it. To this day, I remember some of those wild posters she used to hang up. I have no idea where she got half of those.

Oh, and quiet afternoons. We'd pop the window open to enjoy the light and breeze. Half the time, we weren't even directly interacting--the TV would be on a Disney movie or something, and I'd be laying on my bed enjoying her company while she asked me questions about whatever was on her mind.

She used to talk to me at night, too. It's like she had some sixth sense for when I was right about to fall asleep. My eyes would close and then--"hey, Katie, did you ever think about what it'd be like if you had to live underwater? Do you think it'd really be that different from living on land?" The most arbitrary questions would come out of her mouth, but I truly never minded. Having someone to talk to was the greatest.

She hated that haircut on me, by the way. She told me in a Dillard's once that it looked like a pumpkin and the saleslady got kind of offended for me. Sara maintained that her feelings remained unchanged. (It was a really bad time in my life for hair, to be fair.) I could always count on her honesty, which, while it wasn't always what I immediately wanted to hear, usually ended up being good in the long run.

Don't get me wrong, we went through some painfully rough times. They just never lasted, and I guess in some way I knew they wouldn't, so they never worried me too badly. It's never fun to fight with people, but there was never this feeling like we'd ever end up wandering too far from each other. There was one other point in time where we went a bit without speaking. She showed up at my friend's New Year's party with my favorite Starbucks drink and we spent the rest of the night upstairs by ourselves talking like nothing had happened. She was always more important than the few problems we had, I guess, which I haven't been able to say about that many people. That same night, she followed me to my car to make sure the boy who was trying to talk to me knew she didn't like him one single bit.

That's the best, too--she saw me through some seriously fucking story-worthy relationships and she kept me from getting completely demolished by them. I do believe she would have been a formidable force had any of these people attempted to do any real lasting damage. She had my back, for lack of better word. If she didn't like someone, I heard about it. If I was making the wrong decision (spoiler alert: young Katie did this all the time), I heard about it whether or not it made me happy. Her honesty is something I valued, because I didn't have a lot of it in my life at the time. We've both outlived all of each others' college relationships but two--our current ones. I maintain that I wouldn't even be in this one if not for her teaching me to value myself and communicate better.

 What else? Oh, my style changed because of her. She used to make faces at my clothes and ask why I always bought them a size big. It's because I was self-conscious, which I tried to explain, but she wasn't really having it. She was sort of ahead of our time in terms of body confidence, and I think she did her best to snap me into it. By sophomore year's end, she had me wearing clothing in the correct size and trying out skirts for the first time in my life. Anyone who knows me now knows that I don't leave the house in pants unless I'm absolutely out of other options. I can thank Sara for that, because now I think I own exactly two pairs.

We took my first out-of-state drive to Disneyland together and had the time of our lives on spring break. Our shared enthusiasm for the entire enterprise made it an experience I'll never forget. (We met so many characters, you guys.)

Almost everything I enjoy now is sort of tinged with shades of people I hold close to me. Everything from Starbucks drinks to leopard prints to the phrase "to be fair" makes me think of Sara at least a little bit, which is hard when we're states apart. To my knowledge, she's pretty happy and doing well, and we talk as often as we can. It's not the same, though--it won't ever be like living together in Flagstaff again. Most days, I can accept it. Other days, it sits deep inside my soul and refuses to move. I miss my friend. I credit her for a lot of positive changes in my life, and sometimes I wish I could have those moments back for just a little bit.

Sara: for all of the mishaps with hair dye, brutal honesty, matching yellow dresses, garish pink flamingos, Disney movies, milkshakes, magazines, arguments, shared anthropology courses and days in the printing room, thank you. These periods of time where I'm missing a piece of myself are good, because it means you were so important to me that I notice when you're gone. I wouldn't feel this sad if I hadn't been truly happy.

That, I think, is how I make peace with it. Tonight, I miss that little room. I probably always will. It won't ever be my home again, but thankfully, I kept the most important thing in it. As long as I can call Sara my best friend, I think I can live with the missing.