The Easter Fool

The Easter Fool 9

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My husband Scott is not a church person.

Not even a little bit.

But was I going to let that stop me from getting my Easter Sunday on at the local Lutheran church this weekend?

Not in a million years!

I’ve spent the past few months scoping out different churches in Smalltown. Fortunately, living in the “Land of Lutherans” means this ELCA-raised girl has dozens of nearby congregations to choose from. The night before Easter, I checked out several different options online, ultimately deciding I would go to whichever service I naturally woke up in time for.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that when I came to Easter morning, the only viable option was the 11:00 service at Calvary Lutheran. (What can I say? Katrina needs her beauty sleep.)

I invited Scott one last time, received a firm “Nope!”, and cheerily walked out the front door, hollering “He is risen, indeed!”  before my exit. The absence of my husband wasn’t going to stop me from rolling into the sanctuary in my Sunday best!

easter-outfit

My theology may be Lutheran, buy my fashion sense is 100% Southern Baptist.

Previous Easters spent in Smalltown have taught me that the good people of Minnesota don’t wear Easter bonnets. But at this point, I no longer gave two Easter Eggs about what my fellow church-goers thought of me. I mean…if you’re going to stroll in to the Lutheran church all by yourself on the biggest day of the liturgical calendar, you might as well do it with a comically large peony atop your head!

Especially if you and your brightly colored heels strut in twenty minutes after the services has started.

(Turns out I had my times mixed up. The 11:00 service actually started at 10:45. Whoops.)

I was disappointed to see that my fashionably late arrival meant the sanctuary was already full.

As was the narthex overflow area.

And the balcony.

After five minutes of wandering, I finally located an empty folding chair in the front row of the balcony overflow area. The bad news is that I couldn’t actually see any of the service. The good news is that with such nosebleed seats, my giant headpiece wouldn’t be obstructing a cranky church lady’s view of the pulpit.

While frustrated that I had missed the readings and was sitting in the cheap seats, my mood instantly improved when I heard the organist pounding out the intro to my favorite Easter hymn of all: “Thine is the Glory.”  I had already belted the first two phrases with dramatic Easter gusto before realizing the harsh truth of the balcony overflow section:

I was quite literally the only person singing.

(I’m assuming this is due to the fact that the balcony overflow section is filled with a combination of non-regular church goers who don’t know any hymns and crying babies. Lots of crying babies.)

I paused for the rest of the first verse, not wanting to look like the crazy loner girl in the flower hat who treats the traditional Easter Hymns like an American Idol Hollywood week audition.

But then it hit me: I ditched my husband to come here. I had the nerve to show up a third of the way through the liturgy. I’m wearing a giant flower on my skull that is larger in circumference than my actual cranium.

I am the crazy loner girl in the flower hat who treats all the traditional Easter Hymns like an American Idol Hollywood week audition!

“Screw it!” I muttered under my breath. I took a deep breath, pushed my shoulders back, and started singing more loudly than I had the first time around. And you’d better believe I harmonized the final verse.

Because let’s face it — if you’re going to be the unstable looking church lady with a flower-pot for a head, you might as well really commit to it.

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A recipe even I can’t mess up

A recipe even I can’t mess up 2

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While I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent cook, from time to time I certainly have my…umm…moments.

(Let me clarify that by “moments” I mean “disasters”.)

Breakfast a few weekends ago is a prime example. Our good friends from college were visiting, and Scott and I had planned a decadent breakfast for them: banana and macadamia nut pancakes topped with the organic coconut syrup we had purchased at this farm in Maui, paired with a heaping serving of Midwestern bacon.

Scott kept busy prepping his from-scratch pancake batter, while I piled strip after strip of organic, nitrate free bacon onto parchment paper. My husband insisted I cook the bacon in the oven as it “heats more evenly”. {Eye roll.}

Scott had cooked the first few pancakes, but was burning the outside of them on our scalding stove top griddle. And then there was the brisket he had been smoking outside for the past fifteen hours that kept distracting him. Yep. The man insisted on making homemade pastrami for our guests.

{Second eye roll.}

“You worry about the brisket,” I told him, “I can take over flipping the pancakes.”

He hesitated briefly before nodding in agreement and darting outside to tend to the smoker.

I reduced the heat on the griddle, and started manning the pancake situation. I must admit that flipping hotcakes doesn’t come naturally to me. Still, while my finished products were far from symmetrical — a few could even be described as grossly misshapen — they were perfectly fluffy and golden.

It wasn’t until I set the giant platter of banana pancakes on our dining table that I remembered there was $36 worth of Whole Foods bacon cooking away in the oven. I rushed to retrieve the pan from the heat, but it was too late. The strips were so burnt, even Jolie turned her nose up at them.

Still…I placed them on the table. (Throwing $36 of burnt designer bacon in the compost without even trying to choke some of it down goes against every single one of my principles.)

At least the Hawaiian pancakes will be good, I thought to myself.

Thirty seconds later, I learned the hard way that you should never judge a book flapjack by its cover. Despite their buttery gold exterior that appeared grilled to perfection, my hotcakes were completely raw in the middle.

But at least the coconut syrup was good…?

*******

You can see why I’m often hesitant to try new recipes. Yet when Scott requested brownies, I couldn’t help but feel obligated to redeem myself from the breakfast disaster.

“Fine,” I conceded, “But I’ll have to run to the store to pick up brownie mix.”

“No you won’t.” he informed me. “You can just make them from scratch. We need to use up all that cocoa powder you bought in South America, anyway.”

Brownies that aren’t from a box? Surely, Scott jests!

“C’mon, Katrina,” he encouraged me, “Just follow the instructions this time.”

I knew he was right. The hour of culinary redemption was upon me, and I simply could not fail. I took a deep breath, dug my Ecuadorian cocoa powder out of the pantry, and pulled this recipe from Inspired Taste up on my iPad.

Fudgy Brownies that even Katrina can’t mess up:

  • 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar (I used a 1 1/2 cups, as a few commenters noted these brownies weren’t super sweet.)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional — I didn’t use any.)
Directions
  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
  2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  3. Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  5. Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
  6. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). Note: Some have found they need to bake an extra 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the toothpick test as your guide.
  8. Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.

******

Holy cocoa powder, these brownies were good! Baking them was so much simpler than I had anticipated, and the finished product was more than enough to get me out of the doghouse for ruining all that pricey bacon. I can honestly say I will never make brownies from the box ever again.

Now if only it was appropriate to serve these for breakfast.

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Does my blog make me seem cooler than I actually am?

Does my blog make me seem cooler than I actually am? 6

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This past Friday was pretty much the best day ever. Here’s why:

  • I had the day off from work.
  • I got to drive to the most adorable little coffee shop in a neighboring town and start my morning with some girl talk.
  • I got my nails done, went on a much-needed walk, and polished it all off with a two-hour nap.
  • After nine months of trying, I finally figured out the kipping pull-up! (I suspect the two-hour nap helped.)

pu

  • I was invited to become a CrossFit coach at my local box! (Coach Katrina? Kind of a scary thought, but I’m running with it!)
  • I celebrated a fabulous friend’s birthday over wine, wine and…more wine.

Truly, it was one of those days where I felt like I was prancing around on cloud nine the entire time. And this list didn’t even include the best part!

Are you ready for this?

I was recognized by a complete stranger because of this blog!

Alright, alright…maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen, and totally made me feel like an internet celebrity.

(An internet celebrity who’s risen to fame by sharing her obsession with pregnancy tests and fear of sitting in cab puke…again. Still, it’s more than the Kardashians are famous for…I’ll take it!)

It all went down during my bi-weekly manicure. I was chatting with Peter — the best nail tech in all of Smalltown — when a girl who had been getting a pedicure approached us. She was totally adorable, and had the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen. (Yeah…I was checking her our while she got her toes painted…so?) As she came closer, I  couldn’t help but wonder why someone so fabulous wanted to talk to boring old me.

“Okay,” she started “I feel like a total creeper for saying this, but…”

At this point I assumed she was going to ask me where my shoes were from or what color nail polish I had used for my manicure. Instead, she surprised me with “…but I found your blog on The Stanfield Clan one day and totally love it!”

I blushed.

My jaw dropped to the floor.

I may have let out a squeal of delight…although honestly I don’t really remember.

Christy, if you are reading this, you totally made my day! (Also, sorry if I just spelled your name wrong.)

We chatted for a few minutes, and she as was sweet as can be. I even confessed that I had been creepily admiring her hair from a far. I was still basking in the glow of blog recognition when she walked out of the salon.

But then it hit me.

What if  in “real life”, I’m not as cool as I am on the internet?

In person, I don’t have the luxury of a software widget that checks my grammar. I can’t review every single word that comes out of me before hitting “publish”, nor do I have the ability to erase the giant zit on my chin with some Photoshop.

In a face to face conversation, I’m not all that witty or clever. I also probably have spinach in my teeth. (Which at least distracts from the giant zit on my chin.) For all you know, I have a terrible lisp!

(Alright, fine. I don’t have a terrible lisp. But I could.)

Often times, I feel like my “blog self” and “real self” are two totally different personas. I can’t tell you how many times someone I’ve known for months (or even years) stumbles across ‘Sota is Sexy. “I had no idea you were _____!”, They’ll say. (Fill in the blank with ‘so funny’, ‘so sarcastic’, ‘a writer’….the list goes on.) I assume this is  because I don’t speak to my acquaintances with the same snarky tone I use on this blog.

But we all do it, right? Whether you’re a blogger or are just on Facebook, the things you share online will never be able to show the entire story. We’re always going to use the most flattering profile picture, share the things that are cool, and keep the icky, embarrassing, shameful stuff to ourself. Even I, the queen of TMI, have certain things I won’t post for fear of public ridicule. And when I do write something embarrassing, I try to spin it in a cute, charming way. I have no problem being the ridiculous girl from the internet. But I want to be the ridiculous girl from the internet who people find loveable…not gross.

So–if we ever run into each other at Wal-Mart, and you discover that I’m way more boring/fat/ugly/weird/normal/awkward in the flesh…sorry, but I’m not sorry.

*******

On a related note, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who got recognized this weekend.

I brought Scott along to the birthday party I mentioned above. One of the highlights of the night was meeting a fellow blogger from Smalltown who I’ve only interacted with online. When I introduced Scott to her, she responded with, “Oh, I know you. You’re Jamæsel!”

jam

Naturally, this made me love her even more.

On the drive home, I asked Scott if he was embarrassed that people all over town (some of whom are probably also his patients) know him as Jamæsel.

“Are you kidding?” he smirked. “I relish it.”

Of course he does.

 

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The Fab Five: April 2014

The Fab Five: April 2014 8

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So…we got four inches of snow yesterday. Isn’t Holy Week supposed to be…I don’t know…warm? Or at least warm-ish?

Thank the risen Lord that sixty-degree temps should be rolling in just in time for Easter Sunday. Meanwhile, here’s my five April picks that have been helping me cope with life in Smalltown Winterfell.

 

1. Trader Joe’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette

salad-dressing

 

In search of the most bomb-ass salad dressing that ever was? Look no further, blog friends. This stuff is delicious, cheap ($1.99 if purchased at Tradey’s), and light enough that it won’t sabotage your diet. I love it with organic spinach, and just a pinch of nutritional yeast flakes. Yum.

 

2. Loreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream

bb-cream

I purchased a tube of this at my hometown Walgreens back in Washington last month. I’d mistakenly packed foundation that was  way, way waaaay too dark. (Think a less severe version of the NJ tanning mom.)  I grabbed this stuff on a whim, hoping it would carry me through the rest of the week, and somewhat blend in with my neck.

Let me just say that “magic” is a gross understatement. This tiny bottle contains a primer and super-sheer foundation that manages to hide shine and even out your skin tone, while making it look like you aren’t actually wearing makeup. Go treat yo’ self to some! Because you’re worth it.

(Sorry…couldn’t resist.)

 

3. Sahara Pendant Necklace

sahara

 

Is it humanly possible for me to be more obsessed with this necklace from Stella & Dot’s brand new summer line?

No. No it is not.

At only $49 bucks, it was well worth the investment. Particularly as I plan on sporting it errrday, all summer long.

 

4. Sugar Shack Country Candles

sugar-shack

 

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy candle spokeswoman, these candles have completely changed the ambiance of my home

Our good friends from college brought us a small sampling as a housewarming gift, and I’ve been hooked ever since. These babies are potent! One tiny candle has the power to make your entire house smell like heaven.  Plus, each product is handmade in Edgar, Nebraska — so you can feel good about supporting a small, privately owned business with each purchase. I’ve yet to come across a scent I haven’t loved — Fresh Bamboo is particularly refreshing as we (hopefully) head into the warmer months.

Also? I just tried on of their bars of soap this week. Life = changed.

(At least the small portion of my life that is spent in the shower.)

(And now I’m sounding like a cheesy soap spokeswoman. Apologies.)

 

5. FitBit One

fitbitI’ve owned my FitBit for several years, but only recently started wearing it again this month. In spite of six intense workouts a week, I’m not super active during the majority of my day.

In other words, I sit at a desk, sipping on coffee and typing emails. Usually at least one dog is in my lap.

I was inspired by Jessica Simpson, who shed her post-baby weight with a combination of Weight Watchers and taking at least 10,000 steps daily. Taking a note from Jess’ weight loss handbook, I’ve vowed to take 12,000 steps (approximately 6 miles) a day.

So far, working towards this goal has been really fun! When the weather’s nice, I take the dogs on a daily walk around the 3-mile loop that surrounds our house. As for snowy days like yesterday, I blast Missy Elliot on my headphones while strutting full speed around the indoor track at the Y. Indoors or out, I’m starting to remember how much I enjoy walking. It’s such a great way to relax, de-stress, and have some time alone with your thoughts. (And the lyrical stylings of Missy Elliot.)

My tiny FitBit One tracker has made reaching my daily step goal fun and easy. It’s small enough to be worn effortlessly and can remain hidden if necessary. It tracks my calories burned, steps taken, miles walked, flights of stairs climbed and sleep patterns. It even syncs wirelessly with a personal dashboard that I can access on my laptop or iPhone.

dashboard

Four years later, I’m happy to say my FitBit is one of the best $100 investments I’ve ever made. If you’re in the market for an activity tracker, I highly recommend it!

******

What are you guys loving this month? Anyone else completely enamored with their FitBit? Still…I think my favorite thing on the list is that salad dressing. I’m not joking when I say I could drink it straight out of the bottle.

******

Psst! Want more Fab Five goodness? It’s all right here.

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