Thursday, December 18, 2014

This week,

I'm grateful for...

Sleep! Earlier this week I was starting to feel unwell. I couldn't really figure it out, but I was feeling slightly achey and had hints of the chills. I realized I had stayed up way later on Friday and Saturday than I typically do, so I focused on getting adequate rest the next couple of days.  And I never got hit with anything! Sleep enabled my body to regenerate. Sleep allowed my body to focus on fighting whatever was trying to take me down. Sleep is amazing!!

- Journaling! I don't journal as often as I would like to and I find that I always enjoy it when I do. I write whatever comes to mind and switch from topic to topic in a haphazard manner. I consistently find clarity and strength when I journal. I find focus and a recommitment to work on things that will help me become the person I want to be. I hope to journal more regularly in the future. I'm shooting for once a week. 

- Airplanes! Airplanes totally rock! I know I take all of the science and engineering for granted, but when I stop to think... How cool is that I can get on the other side of the country and all I do is sit there?? Airplanes allow me to see my family, travel to my favorite destinations no matter where I live, and explore the world. They open up all sort of possibilities. I am so grateful for airplanes. 

Family here I come!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let's Talk About Racism

This topic is very dear to my heart.

It's something that I was interested in even as a child (when I wanted Addy, not Samantha), was horrified by in middle school, studied throughout college, and continue to ponder now.  And then I saw this and realized I need to do more than just ponder these things. 

I tend to have these emotionally charged discussions with people that are close to me, but I don't go beyond that.  I want to be an ally.  A true ally. That means I need to do something.  I need to speak up.  I need to advocate for my brothers and sisters who are consistently being oppressed. 

So please, do the world a favor and start doing your homework. Know that racism exists, not just between individuals, but it is present systemically.  Understand your privilege.  Realize your bias and work to change it. Apologize when you make a mistake.  DO SOMETHING about it.

I have gathered some pieces that are circulating the internet that have helped me better understand the realities of what's going on and what I can do about it.

Franchesca Ramsey on How to be an Ally

#CrimingWhileWhite on Twitter

#AliveWhileBlack on Twitter

Melissa Harris-Perry's Blog

Stages of What Happens When There's Injustice Against Black People

Across America, whites are biased and don't even know it

What my bike has taught me about White Privilege

White America's Ignorant Bliss

Police Officers and Racial Bias in the Decision to Shoot

Why I Can't Believe Darren Wilson

I Fit the Description

I will keep adding articles above as I find them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

zoo lights

saturday night we went to the stone zoo to experience the zoo lights.  it was quite the hopping place. 

and now we have this gem of a picture with a reindeer hiney...
Merry Christmas everybody!

after spending some quality time with the animals and the festive lights, we had some pizza for dinner (where even jeremy thought the gluten free crust was good) and watched corny christmas movies late into the night.  it was a pretty awesome date.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

it's a winner!

i made the trusty raspberry pineapple pie (with this gluten free crust) for the pie contest at the ward christmas party on Friday night. we had some hiccups in the decorating department; i wasn't a happy camper. but i think it turned out better than the original design anyway.

it is so easy, totally delicious, and a WINNER.  i won three awards in the pie contest: most unique taste, best texture, and i tied for best overall.  so this is your recipe if you are looking for something new to try.  it's a slam dunk!

oh and happy 12.13.14!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This week,

I am grateful for:

- Umbrellas!  We have had a lot of rain this past week, so I am very grateful for umbrellas.  They keep me from being completely pelted by water.  Well, they typically keep at least my face from getting pelted by water, unless the rain is coming at me horizontal (then forget it!).  Regardless, umbrellas are pretty great.

- Snow!  When I walked out of the door today, it was unexpectedly snowing.  I just loved it!  I didn't realize how much I liked the snow until this past year.  While we have been considering where our next adventure will be, I have been vetoing any place that doesn't get a substantial amount of snow.  Who knew I loved it so much?!

- Hot Chocolate! It saved me earlier this week when the heater was on the fritz at work.  I was freezing all day (we were all wearing our winter coats in our offices), until I had some hot chocolate and then my heart was warmed and all was well.  Hot chocolate can make such a huge difference and it tastes AMAZING!  Yum... it's my fave!

Anything you're grateful for this week?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

target is all you need

my office is doing secret santa this year - which i just love! i think i created the perfect gift that is also incredibly easy. we had a $10 limit so this is budget friendly.  all you need is a target close by (seriously target is the best) and a cute tag.

i found the metal pail in the $1 section and figured it could be my container.  then i wandered to the scarves, because that is my favorite section and everyone loves a crazy scarf. am i right?  the scarves are currently buy one, get one 50% off!! so pick one out for yourself or someone else on your giving list, too. then i found myself looking at the nail polish because why not add a little prize in the bottom?  plus, since i got the scarf 50% off, i needed a little something to make it to $10.   

then i decorated the tag so my handwriting could not be detected (good thing ashley doesn't know this blog exists), and stuffed it all into the tin.  it's a tight fit, but i like it... it reminds me of a pot of flowers.  and there you have it, easy-peasy.

so maybe i shopped more for myself than her... but she's a girl in her mid-twenties.  we must be pretty similar.  hope ashley likes it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

candy making

sunday afternoon, i tried my hand at making english toffee... 

i am happy to report, it was quite the success!

Monday, December 8, 2014

snowflakes and awkward teenagers

our ward was in charge of a multi-stake youth dance over the weekend.  we had kids come from rhode island and new hampshire and all over massachusetts.  (sidenote: how is it that i still don't know how to spell massachusetts after living here almost 4 years? man... thank heavens for spell check.) we had a polar express theme.  we built a train photo booth and everyone wore pajamas.  i was in charge of the snowflakes, so i made lots of snowflakes over this past week (over 200!!).

the youth made a handful of them, so i wasn't completely on my own.  we strung garlands of them across the gym and put some in the game room and refreshment room (hot chocolate, cookies, and donuts!!).

jeremy came to help chaperone the dance and we made our way out on the dance floor a few times.  we had a blast. teenagers can be terribly awkward (and some just don't have manners).  i swear i was never that awkward.  it was pretty entertaining.   it was fun trying to pair up the wallflowers.  a dance is no fun if you never get on the dance floor.

i got asked to dance by a couple of the teenage boys.  the first time i said yes... rookie mistake.  as we were dancing he asked where i was from, i answered, and then i said, "i'm actually a leader."  his response, "ah, man." (ha!) i cut him loose to dance with someone his own age and scrammed to the kitchen to help with the hot chocolate.  later, i successfully deflected a dance request to a teenage girl that was in the vicinity. 

obviously, i would much rather dance, than chaperone while others dance. which is why i'm scheming away to have a low-key new year's eve dance for couples and families in the ward.  it's kind of in the works.  just need more people to jump on board so i'm not doing it by myself.  we'll see if it happens.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's Give Thanks (all year long)

In my attempts to be more grateful all year long, not just in November, I will post 3 things I'm grateful for every week.  I may miss a few here and there because life can be really exciting, but I'm going to try and stay consistent with this one.

This week I am grateful for:

- Oranges! They are so delicious.  My favorite is the Cara Cara orange, which I haven't seen in the grocery store yet, but hopefully soon.  Sometimes the chore of peeling the orange can get in the way of enjoying the orange.  I have been cutting them into quarters with a sharp knife and peeling each quarter on it's own.  It seems to work better and then I eat more oranges.  Hooray!

- Christmas Lights! They just make my day.  I love how they sparkle and glisten and figuratively (and literally) brighten any room. Pair Christmas lights with Christmas music and some hot chocolate and now you are having a good time. That's basically what I do every night, sometimes switching the hot chocolate out for popcorn depending on how cold I am. 

- Online Shopping! It really just simplifies life.  I love how I don't have to spend hours running around in the cold trying to find the perfect gift.  I can find them online and take advantage of a sale or some coupon codes to get a good deal and then send it on it's way.  I do like to get out in the shopping frenzy for a few small things though.  It can be quite entertaining.

What are you grateful for this week?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

and then a train appeared

last night a little after 9:30 jeremy decided we should put the train up.  we have had the train for a while now and we haven't done much with it. i had dreams of putting it around the tree this year for a festive punch and jeremy jumped on board real quick.  his dad loves trains - he built a whole village in his basement. it's amazing. like father, like son.

it is the perfect addition to our tiny tree.  maybe next year we will get a real one (fingers crossed).  regardless, this train will be coming out every year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

december letters

dear december,
you have arrived!  welcome. we are so glad to have you.  thank you for bringing the glistening lights, the candy canes, the christmas cheer, the mall santas, and the giving spirit. it is truly the best time of the year.  please, take your time... we are not in any rush. 

dear Jesus,
what a gift you are! thank you for your life, your example, and your infinite love.  because of you, i can be perfected.  because of you, i can change for the better.  i will do my best to focus on what really matters. i will do my best to serve those in need and love those that suffer. i will do my best to represent you in all that i do.

dear christmas music,
you are everywhere and i love it.  i even workout listening to your festive tunes.  my favorite pandora station right now is michael buble (holiday).  just the right mix of old and new and everything in between.  it's a gem.  i will bask in your glory and soak it all in. 

dear mall santa,
i have been asking jeremy if we could take a picture with you for years, literally years. i might just have to visit you solo and have a stranger take an iphone picture, because he is just never in the mood to sit on your lap. can i come visit you and not pay for the staged picture?  do your mall elves get grumpy when people do that?

dear materialism,
you're the worst.  i tend to get caught up in you around this time.  the black friday shopping reels me in and i fall into a gimme-gimme-gimme-phase. and we all know that just leads to misery.  you are the very opposite of a grateful heart, so i will use gratitude to fight you off and take back my holiday season.  there. i am feeling better already.

dear egg nog (non-alcholic, of course),
i don't understand you one bit.  i taste you every couple of years and i am still perplexed by your existence.  what are you made of?  why do people actually enjoy you?  beats me.  maybe this will be one of the years i test you out again.  no promises that anything mutual will develop. 

dear snow,
we got a glimpse of you this past week and i am getting pretty excited.  i am ready to hit the trails on my cross-country skis and go exploring in the woods.  i am ready to make a snow man and get so cold that hot chocolate is the only proper remedy.  come on snow... let's play.

xoxo, katie

p.s. anyone want to join in on the 25 Christmas challenges?  we will do one everyday until Christmas.  it's the perfect advent activity!

  1. Go out of your way– befriend someone today that needs a friend and follow through to Christmas
  2. Tell someone you love them
  3. Add a decoration that will remind you of Christ
  4. In your prayers today, give thanks for every blessing without asking for anything
  5. Try to be as kind as possible to others today
  6. Reach out to a family member today that you haven’t talked to recently
  7. Do a good deed anonymously
  8. Make goals for yourself– seal a copy in an envelope to be opened in a year
  9. Visit someone sick or lonely or sad
  10. Do volunteer work for some worthy cause
  11. Do something fun for a child or younger sibling
  12. Try to forgive someone who has wronged you, be reconciled
  13. Make a “give list” instead of a list of gifts you’d like
  14. Improve yourself in some way to please the Savior
  15. Quietly reflect and choose uplifting activities instead of shopping
  16. Phone or send a card to an old friend
  17. Listen to religious Christmas music
  18. Make a Christmas treat for someone else
  19. Be a calming influence today and control your temper
  20. Accept the gift of forgiveness– pray for one of your weaknesses & ask for help in repenting of it
  21. Look at Christmas lights… where does all light come from?
  22. Sing carols
  23. Do something nice for someone without their knowing it was you
  24. Be the first to say hello to people all day
  25. Ask someone to tell you about a past Christmas

Saturday, November 29, 2014

We don't waste anytime...

when it comes to putting Christmas up!

we have other decorations around... i'm just really loving our heart tree.

Friday, November 28, 2014

day of traditions!

 yesterday we started off with (gluten free) pumpkin waffles and homemade syrup (tradition!).

 it was basically pumpkin cake covered in a caramelized glaze.  yum!  the syrup was tough. my impatience burned the first batch, but the second attempt turned out just great (because jeremy came to help).  he's a wise and patient soul.

then we went to the movies (tradition!) and had popcorn, milk duds, and m&ms for lunch.

we saw mocking jay, part 1 and we both really liked it.  we found out the movie theater by our house upgraded to recliners!  it was a pleasant surprise.  it was the comfiest movie ever.  and we love it when the theaters are empty.  everyone had their own row.

then we added some leaves to our thankful tree (tradition!).

we have never made one this big before; we usually just draw it on a piece of construction paper. we built it on sunday and have been adding leaves throughout the week. we even got friends to add to it.  i'm thinking next year we will make it on november 1st and add a few leaves everyday.  we had one rule for the leaves... NO REPEATS.  so there are some creative things on there.

then we went downtown to joe's for dinner - third year in a row (tradition!).

i'd rather spend the day playing than slaving away in the kitchen, so out to eat for thanksgiving dinner it is.  we rounded up some friends to come with us.  they were all up for the lack of prep work and dishes.  we both got the turkey dinner (5 out of 6 of us did actually - 1 got a burger) and we loved every bite.  

then we came home and had some (gf) pumpkin pie for dessert while we filled up the thankful tree with the rest of the leaves.  the pumpkin part was delicious and the crust was not fabulous - chalky with a weird after taste.  maybe next year i will be brave enough to try an make my own. 

it was a fabulous day.  i love a day off to hang out with my bestie.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Let's give thanks, Week 4

Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

I am grateful for traditions.  They bring me so much joy and they are incredibly grounding.  I'm grateful that traditions connect me to my family even when I am not with them.  I'm grateful for traditions that make me laugh.  I'm grateful that I can pass traditions on to connect past and future generations. I'm grateful that traditions help me remember all of the fun I've had over the years.

I am grateful for our car.  It's not fancy and it's not new.  It joined us within a few weeks of getting married and has been a champ.  I'm grateful that our car gets me to and from work safely each day.  I'm grateful that the heater works.  I'm grateful that it gets pretty good gas mileage.  I'm grateful that our car has been pretty reliable.  I'm grateful that we have had the means to fix it when it needed some extra love so it can keep chugging along.

I am grateful for uplifting music.  Music is something I have loved from a very young age.  I started singing solos in church when I was only 6.  I'm grateful that music can deeply touch the soul. I'm grateful that music can portray hard to describe emotions.  I'm grateful that music can be experienced and appreciated across language barriers.  I'm grateful that uplifting music allows me to connect with and praise God.

Maybe I will keep this weekly gratitude going.  It's certainly something I could do more than once a year. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

this is why i save jars

jeremy surprised me with these beauties last night... just because.

surprise presents for no reason are my FAVE!  my absolute fave.