Thursday, May 31

Back in August, when I was newly married, I was desperate to find some newly married friends.
I kind of like stalked people with rings on. 
including this little lady below. 
the first time we met, I was in love. 
we have the same birthday people (what's not to like?) and we are both allergic to dairy and gluten, so we started cooking together! the list of similarities could go on, but one of the best parts is our hubbies have become best buddies too. score!! 
Chels is hilarious, and if you want to laugh, check out her awesome blog Pilgrimage
love Katie 

 I’m excited to be blogging over here at a true Californian’s blog. You see, I moved from Ohio to California nine months ago, so everything’s still a little novel. I had never been to California before two years ago, when I started dating my then-boyfriend/now-husband. In my mind (and the minds of many Ohioans) California was a mystical land where the sun is always shining and everyone is skinny and beautiful. There’s also the fear that one day the whole state might break off and start floating away into the ocean.

Where I’m from, most people’s impressions of what California is like are from the TV show the OC, and I found out pretty early on that the majority of Californians haven’t even seen the show. I remember one of the first times I was out here…I was hanging out with some of my husband’s friends (all are either native-Californians or have been here since college). I said something to the effect of, “So is Chino really ghetto?” They all looked at me like I was crazy.

You see, Ryan (one of the OC characters) is from Chino, but moves to Newport Beach and gets quasi-adopted by a super rich family there. In the show, whenever they go back to Ryan’s old neighborhood to visit his mom or something, the camera is always really gritty (like…they use a different camera lens to make it look scary), and there seems to be a lot of domestic disturbances going on and people sitting on couches in their front yards and weird stuff like that. All that to say, my husband’s friends told me that Chino’s not half bad; they thought I meant to ask them if Compton was really ghetto.

Since then I’ve gotten a little more wise about trying not to say stuff that makes me look like a total outsider (also I realized that basing my opinions off of a fictional TV show is probably not the best idea). I still have a few issues. I say pop instead of soda. I talk about driving on the highway, not the freeway. And I can’t get over the fact that in Ohio, Carl’s Jr. is called Hardees. How can it be the same exact thing but with different names? (And ps…it’s weird to me that Carl’s Jr. is popular, because I literally don’t know anyone who’s ever eaten at Hardees at home).

The cool thing about California is that the sun basically always does shine. In Ohio, we have this complex where we HAVE TO go outside if the sun is shining in the fall, winter, or spring, because we honestly don’t know when will be the next time we might see it. It’s totally not like that here because even if it’s a little cloudy or rainy, we know the sun will probably come out in an hour, and if not today, it will definitely come out tomorrow. It’s kind of awesome—and sad that I’ve already started to take the sun for granted.

Whenever I go back to Ohio, people always say to me, “You live in California, where’s your sun tan?” I say to them, “Dude, it’s February and I’m in GRAD SCHOOL. I live inside the library.” It’s kind of incomprehensible to them that the sun would be shining, and I would be sitting inside. But like I said, I’m trying to fit in with the California culture, and for me to be laying out at my pool in the middle of winter (regardless of whether the sun was shining), it would be weird.

I just have one more thing to say. I included the map showing where Ohio is because I’ve encountered some Californians who have no idea of what exists outside of their state. It’s really funny to me to tell people I’m from Ohio and no glimmer of recognition crosses their faces. There’s a whole world out there! And even though, yes, your state is incredible (and I think I’m already ruined for living anywhere else), there’s also life outside of the zip codes that start with 9. And lastly (I swear this is the last thing!) Ohio is not all farmland. I grew up in the suburbs just like the majority of you guys. ;)
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. I can’t wait for Katie and Kevin to get back from the UK! (And I’m sure you can’t wait either after reading this crazy blog. Haha!)

the artist

Monday, May 28

I am so excited for you to meet Amanda today! Amanda and I met in college, and very quickly realized we were practically the same person! We both loved history, studied abroad in Italy, and love Jesus, travel, and all things Jane Austin! Amanda and her husband live in Okinawa, Japan, and have the most beautiful pictures to show for it on her blog, Marshalls Abroad. She is a JOY, and I love her, and I know you will too! Enjoy! 
love Katie 

 My darling friend, Katie! Thank you for having me while you're on your UK-Euro adventure!!

I have been thinking a lot lately about art in it's various forms, whether it be photography, cooking, writing, furniture-making, interior design. There are so many ways to develop creativity and so many ways to communicate to each other.
But what I've been thinking on the most since living on this beautiful little island in Japan is about The Artist. The Lord God Himself. 
This early morning I woke up to the same gorgeous sight I wake up to every morning - the blue turquoise of the East China Sea on our front yard, the waves gently crashing just below our home where the sugarcane meets the sand. The birds singing. Clear skies. It's my favorite time of day here. The sunlight is soft as I walk through my neighbor's plots of farmland - huge heads of lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, green beans - past the goats making their morning noises, down a path and onto the sand where I run. I was mentally bowing my head and singing praises to the Lord with a huge smile on my face. His creation literally cries out in beauty and in song and in joy. 
It's good to be quiet sometimes. It's good to be surrounded by nothing but the outdoors.. and in our case while we live here, the glorious crashing waves. When my husband and I lived in DC, we'd literally have to leave the city atleast once a weekend and drive as far out into Virginia as we could to take a break from smog, crowds, concrete. We've learned the importance of slowing down, being quiet and being surrounded by hills, mountains, ocean, fields, river, vineyards, streams. God's voice in nature is unmistakable! 
As I sit on our balcony admiring my neighbor's red tile Japanese roof contrasted against the turquoise sea and greens of lush trees and bushes with the song of birds and waves, I feel as if I'm sitting in the Lord's sanctuary. He created all this!!! He is the artist behind it all. And I think the point is that God gives us a mind to logically work out that the heavens are declaring something, are communicating something: they are speaking of the glory of the Person who made them

"He who forms the mountains,
creates the wind
and reveals His thoughts to man,
He who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads the high places of the earth
the Lord God Almighty is His name."
{Amos 4:13}

travel log: London

Saturday, May 26

hello sweet friends! Kevin and I made it safely to London, we are loving it! 
we seem to have brought the California sunshine, as they are having quite a spell of heat
which means anyone and everyone is wearing swimsuits and laying in the park
i may have been the only one wearing pants, ha!
today we walked A LOT, and it was marvelous... 
Big Ben
Tower Bridge
Westminster Abbey
Trafalgar Square
London Bridge
National Gallery (love me some Monet)
and just  incredible markets and food

off to Bath, and Oxford the next few days, and then to Ireland on Tuesday! 

Happy weekend friends! 
love Katie (and Kev too!) 

travel log: England, Ireland, Scotland

Thursday, May 24

as we speak as you read,
two tired people 
(who stayed up WAAAYYY too late packing because they procrastinated till the bitter end)
are boarding a plane for distant lands 
filled with
red double decker buses
lord of the dance
Spice Girls
Jane Austin
and Harry Potter

it's here. 

the Cooks take on England, Scotland and Ireland
it's gonna be epic. 

now, while I know ya'll will miss me, 
I've taken great lengths to surprise you with some
incredible guest bloggers
whom you'll love. 

I'm hoping to be posting a few pictures here and there,
but don't expect too much (sorry)
Kev and I plan to be FULLY present and engaged!! 

LOVE to you all, and i'll see you when we get back in mid-June! 

so long, farewell etc. etc. etc.
love love love, 

travel log: spike ball at salt creek beach

Monday, May 21

 like I promised...a post on our new favorite sport. 

lately we've been playing on grass, but this weekend we brought it to a whole new level
and played it like it's supposed to be played
on sand. 
which I discovered I LOVE
because i'm not afraid to dive! 
it's so fun! 
think volleyball, but instead of hitting it over the net, you hit it on the net 
and instead of 6 players on a team,
you just have a partner. 
the whole point is to hit the ball off the net so that the other team can't return it. 
and guess who dominated our entire tournament? 
that's right,
your's truly and her handsome hubby
(side note: it really didn't have a lot to do with me, but rather my stud-muffin ha)
{pretty much the cutest man alive!}
{victory snow-cone}

and besides spikeball, is there ANYTHING better than 
best friends
and food? 
 {umm...cuteness! you'll get to meet Chels and all her spunk when she guest posts for me while i'm gone. get excited!}
oh, it was glorious!! 
{evidently the new way to propose...?}

but the moral of this post is that
spikeball will change your life. 
i'm not kidding. 
happy sporting! 
love Katie 

last friday in the red, white and blue...oh wait!

Friday, May 18

{on our last trip to europe together...loving Belgium}

Hurrah! In a week's time we will be on new soil, British that is! 

Our hearts are brimming full, spilling excitement all over the place! So excited in fact, that as i'm typing this, i'm also eating popcorn, and it's flailing everywhere! Yes, yes it's true, next Friday we will be strolling the streets of London with dear friends, eating fish and chips, and hopefully picking up one of those darn classy British accents and saying words like brilliant, mate, and knickers. or Hogwarts.

we've prepped like nobody's business. all the essentials. Like watching the Iron Lady, reading up on British and Irish History, booking B&B's like it's going out of style, reading some Jane Austin, Downton Abbey action, and watching plenty of rick steve vidoes on hulu (gotta love that quirky man!).

for the record, our itinerary is as follows:
London for a few days
Ireland for a week
Scotland for a few days
Northern England for a week
back down through the country
and then back to the good ol' USA.

a few fun items to leave you with this weekend:

- never fear dear readers, i have some very exciting and brilliant people guest blog posting while i'm gone, including some extremely adorable single men! (ladies....)

- if you could't already tell, my blog received a sweet make-over from the fantastically talented, brilliant and adorable Danielle from her blog take heart. i'm so excited about how it turned out. what do you think?

- if you've never played spike ball then you are missing out. big.time. tomorrow we are playing at the beach, and i promise some sweet pictures and instructions on how to play this brilliant game.

- it seems as though i'm going to blend right into the UK with my overuse of the word brilliant. brilliant!

hope your weekend is just bril...err, lovely!

love Katie 

today, you choose...

Wednesday, May 16

i am a new testament girl. i love me some romans, matthew and james- well, really all of it is great.
(revelation tends to be avoided at times) but i could just soak in all that Jesus goodness for hours. warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

but the old testament, that's another story. i'm not kidding when i tell you i've started to read the Bible countless times all the way through, and i always quit in leviticus. my brain hurts trying to keep all the rules straight, and that brings me back to math class in high school, and that is just a plain bad memory!

so this year i resolved to read through the whole bible. leviticus shall be conquered i cried, creepy parts and all! and guess what? it has. i found a chronological bible online, and you might as well call me their newest saleswoman.  i love this thing!

tonight, in the silence, i curled up and read this:

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. 
for he is our life..."

- Deuteronomy 30: 19-20

ah yes.
abba is life.
He isn't just the author of life,
He IS life.

and sweet savior gives us the choice, shall we choose life, or shall we choose death?

now i don't know about you, but in theory i will choose life 10 times out of 10. if you are sane, i think you would too.

but in practice, do I?

today in my journal i wrote:

life = God

not life = husband/family

 now these "not life" things enhance life and make it rich and beautiful. but they are not the essence and beginning of creation. strong hands that sculpted stars and poured oceans, ah yes, those are the hands of a potter that breathed love into dry bones and life into what was not.

"if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, i declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed." - Deut 30:17-18

choosing anything but the potter leads to destruction
which leads to death

i yearn to choose life.
to choose life more often.
to choose HIM more often

and today, we get to choose.
will we run to fuel on LIFE
or will we continue pouring ourselves into things that while lovely, 
do not fill, recharge, renew,
and never will.

let's choose life together.

and who knows, maybe in the process, the old testament will grow on us?
it has for me:)

love Katie 

travel log: san luis obispo

Sunday, May 13

san luis obispo was voted on the Today show, as the "happiest city in the US" 
and once you've been there, you will be shaking your head in agreement
this place radiates happy
because let's be honest, who doesn't love 
rolling green hills
pouring sunshine
charming and quaint architecture
lord of the rings font on all the street signs
farmers markets to boot
the beach
hikes galore
funky and delish restaurants
and beautiful people? 
and did I mention it's postcard pretty from every angle? 

point taken. you get the idea. 

it's a destination we find ourself traveling to on a regular basis, only a few hours from home
kev has family there, his parents and siblings all went to college there, and now my sister goes there. 

so this weekend, we made a quick trip. 
we visited grandma, caught dinner and games with friends, made our traditional run on pismo beach followed by to-die-for cinnamon rolls at old west cinnamon rolls, and hiked along montana de oro with my sweet sister (breathtaking).

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
{one of the many wineries in the region}
{kev and sweet grandma}
{running on pismo with friends}
{seriously, i love that this barn is pink!}
{starting our hike on montana de oro...not a bad view, eh?}
{kev checking the view, and polly being polly}
{i'm not sure what's weirder..catching kev right before he's about to sneeze, or my skills at being photogenic}
{something was clearly funny}
{i love this picture, mostly because polly is stunning, but also because the, ahem, placement of her pink undershirt...hehe}
{i'm not even telling you why we are laughing here, but it was funny}
{i was so in awe of God's creation at this point, i just had to be still}
enjoy this week lovelies! 
i hope the creator of this beautiful place speaks whispers of love to you this week,
enveloping you in His comforting arms. 
may we feel so absolutely beloved today.
love Katie