Not as Many Candles, but Plenty of Thoughts.

As host of book club this month, I was responsible for choosing what we were going to read. After reading a couple of more serious novels, than the completely frivolous 50 Shades of Grey, I decided to go with a memoir (I love memoirs), and ultimately chose Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. I finished the book this morning, just in time for our meeting tomorrow, and really enjoyed it. It’s essentially the musings on life of a successful, powerful woman.

My one major concern when I switched jobs was leaving a position where my boss was a woman and her boss was a woman, and going to a company where I’d be reporting to men. Shared experience, and all that jazz, but it’s important to me to work for a woman-friendly company, and I was hesitant of the unknown. I quickly learned my concern was completely unfounded.

The company itself is pretty evenly split male/female, and everyone is equally valued and important. We’re all in this together, and that’s really great. What I was shortsighted about, however, was not realizing that I would get to work every day with women (and some men) who have built businesses and, in some cases, empires on what they’re good at, and what they’re passionate about. I’m so blessed to be working with so many amazing women, and a bit embarrassed that it took me a few weeks for all those pieces to click into place. These people are authors, tv hosts, run successful blogs and businesses, all on top of being extremely talented artists and teachers. I’m in awe of everything they’ve been able to accomplish, and am so humbled to be given the opportunity to work with them.

I think because of this realization, reading Quindlen’s memoir was even more enjoyable for me. I’m excited to hear everyone’s take on it at club tomorrow, but I know that I got a lot out of it and will be reading it again. I don’t know if Anna Quindlen would count as a power bitch, but her book is still going on my motivation bookshelf right next to Kelly Cutrone’s.

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!

To say that my life has been a whirlwind lately is an understatement. In the past two weeks, I have worked 100 hours, flown to Salt Lake City, and driven across Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. In the past two months, I’ve moved in with The Mister, turned 27, spent a week in Vegas, started a new job, and have had to adapt and adjust to a huge lifestyle change. Today is the first day where I feel like I can actually stop and take a breath, so that’s what I’m doing.

Mother Nature put on a show for us as we drove across Wyoming.

The biggest change has absolutely been the new job. It’s a bit of a switch going from a 4,000 person company to a 50 person one, to say the least. I feel like in my current position I have more freedom than I ever would have had before. With that freedom comes more responsibility and longer hours, so it is definitely a trade-off, but if there was ever a time to work long hours, it’s now. No kids, a partner who works even longer hours, and a company I’m happy to work hard for – perfection.

The best part about where I am now, however, is the passion every.single.person I work with has. It’s incredible to be around smart, engaged, passionate people day in and day out – instead of coming home and feeling exhausted, I come home energized. There’s a lot of work to do, but it is all work I’m looking forward to doing. That was the number one thing I was hoping to find with a new company – not just another job where I punched in, did what I was paid to do, and punched out, but the opportunity to work on something I loved and cared about. I have to say that I’m lucky and found it!

I literally have nothing to complain about in my life at the moment, and that’s an incredible feeling. I love my job, I love living with The Mister, I’m getting back into my yoga swing, and there’s nothing better than a Denver summer. About six months ago I decided I was going to be happy and try to concentrate on the positive energy in the world, and I feel like the effort has more than paid off – not only am I a happier person overall, but the good energy I’m putting out is returning to me 10 fold.

Before I sign off, here’s a picture of Amy and me at “The Happiest 5k in the World,” aka The Color Run, which we walked last weekend:

How can you not be happy at this race?!

Looking forward, I just have to focus on making my new company proud, getting the new house ready to move into and the old house ready to sell, and being a good Maid of Honor for Amy’s upcoming wedding. I’m also going to try to enjoy summer as much as I can, because it is going to fly by way too quickly. Change so far has been good, and I want to keep it that way!

Where in the World is Katie?

I know I haven’t been ’round these parts lately and was going to simply do a “Life from my iPhone” post, but since what’s been going on includes two major things, this will be a hybrid post – a quick recap of what’s going on, illustrated by my iPhone.

Major Thing #1: I turned 27!

What did I do to celebrate?

card game

The Mister and I played Gin Rummy at The Matchbox

We went to the Dodgers game on my birthday and had dinner at Mountain Ranch

I celebrated with birthday ice cream.

Linger

Amy and I had a birthday happy hour at Linger

After that, I packed and went on to…

Major Thing #2: The User Conference for my current copy in Las Vegas.

This was my last hurrah with my current company, launching my final project which was a mobile app specifically designed for the conference. Despite a week of 18 hour working days, feet so tired as to be numb, and cheeks that hurt from smiling so much, I had a blast. Not only did the app go off with minimal bumps (and everyone loved it!), but I made new friends and got to experience so much. 20 hours of sleep, 7 days, and 1 successful app later, I can put a final stamp on my days at [Redacted] and start looking forward to new things to come at my new company.

I know “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but here are a few snapshots of the fun times had despite all the work:

Caesars Palace

Stayed at a beeper friendly casino

roller coaster

Rode the roller coaster at New York, New York

serendipity frozen hot chocoloat

Shared a frozen hot chocolate with my new BFF Ashley at Serendipity

dana carvey

Laughed so hard at Dana Carvey my abs still hurt the next morning

Pure nightclub

Hung out at PURE and had a private party in the suite used in Rain Man

Basically? The past two weeks have been a WHIRLWIND. This next week is going to fly by, and then it will be time to close one chapter of my life and begin another.

Big things are happening, and I promise I’ll be better at keeping this space updated with what’s going on. For now, I’m just glad to be home, relaxing on my couch with my feet up and a hot toddy in hand.

Adventures in Cooking.

Have I mentioned in this space how much I hate to cook? I can cheerfully bake all day long, but cooking is something I really prefer not to do. I find it stressful, difficult, and thoroughly unenjoyable. Yet this is the second time in a week I’ve volunteered to cook for The Mister, perhaps due to the success of Easter Brunch.

On the rare occasion I volunteer to cook, I scour the Internet looking for recipes that I think I can manage. Seeing as I have zero faith in my culinary prowess, these recipes tend to be casseroles or something with minimal difficulty. This morning, however, I asked The Mister if he wanted me to cook dinner tonight. He agreed, as long as we used ingredients that we have on hand. Since he is the actual chef of the family, he quickly ran through a mental list of things we had in the kitchen and requested pasta with chicken, lemon, and capers.

chicken picatta

Sounds easy enough, right? I’m sure it would be if you’re the type of person who is comfortable in the kitchen, i.e. not me. I have minimal cooking confidence to begin with, so not having a recipe terrifies me. Luckily, the Internet exists. I’ve found a recipe I think I can manage to make chicken picatta. It’s a little more work than something I would normally make (pan frying! deglazing!), but I’m going to go for it.

Though the recipe isn’t *technically* gluten free, it is easy enough to modify with gluten free all-purpose flour (I’ll probably use gluten-free Bisquick) and quinoa pasta (or your favorite gluten-free pasta). I doubt my concoction will look as pretty as the meal above, but as long as it tastes good it will be considered a success, right?

If all else fails, there is always wine. Lots of it.

Happy Early Easter, Everyone!

A consequence of living far away from your family is that you don’t get to go home to celebrate every holiday. At first I struggled with this, but the longer I’ve lived in Colorado the better I’ve gotten at making my own celebrations. The trick, I’ve learned, is to not try recreating your family traditions — it only ends in disappointment. Instead, you have to find your own ways to celebrate.

To celebrate Easter this year, I volunteered to make brunch for The Mister and me. In reality, I’m a terrible cook, but through the power of Pinterest I found a few recipes to make that look yummy but shouldn’t be too hard to pull off. I’ll post photos later to show off my culinary prowess.

My original thought was to make a breakfast casserole, but that would be a lot of food for just two of us, and while it would be delicious it wouldn’t be ~*~fancy~*~, and we are nothing if not fancy. So, I’m making Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche in individual ramekins.

crustless broccoli cheddar cheese

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

Next on the menu: deviled eggs. The Mister’s favorite food is deviled eggs. The first time I made deviled eggs on a non-holiday I blew his mind — he didn’t realize they’re one of the easiest foods to throw together. I’ve made a few different types of deviled eggs for him in the past, and when I found a recipe for Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs I knew I found a winner. I don’t have a pastry bag so mine won’t look this pretty, but hopefully they’ll taste delicious.

cream cheese smoked salmon deviled eggs

Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs (with avocado to boot!)

The next course is going to be Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites, with a Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce. Even though these are probably more of an appetizer or dinner-type food, who doesn’t love bacon and potatoes in the morning? Bite-sized, and they look easy to make. Instead of normal hot sauce in the sour cream, I’m going to use sriracha (my fave).

bacon wrapped potato bites

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites

Finally, I was going to make Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Eggs, but I was having trouble finding hollow chocolate eggs at the store, and making my own was just too involved. Since The Mister doesn’t have a sweet tooth (I’ll satisfy mine with Easter candy), we are going a different way for dessert: bacon pops. Which basically are goat cheese balls rolled in bacon. Delicious, right?

bacon pops

Goat Cheese Pops with Herbs, Pecans, and Bacon

So, that’s how we will be celebrating Easter! What about you? If you celebrate Easter, are you doing anything special?

Take a Trip in a Time Machine

Yesterday, the US National Archives released the 1940 census records. Verdict? There is a lot of interesting information available, and it is embarrassing how easily I got sucked into the old census records. While you can’t search by a person’s name, you can search by geographic area, so of course I looked up The Mister’s house.

I don’t know if I already explained this, but the New House is on the property next to The Mister’s current house – he bought both lots as part of the current house and split them into two addresses. Surprisingly, the current house’s address doesn’t show up on census records (despite being built in 1889), but the New House’s address does. Still with me?

I would have been more surprised by this discovery, but when they were excavating the foundation for the New House, they found “artifacts” that made it clear there used to be a house on the property. We tried to talk to some of the older members of the church across the street to see if they had records, pictures, or even memories of the house that was there, to no avail.

So, what did the census reveal?

1940 Census results

The former residents

Mike Ortega, age 38, used to rent the house for $10 a month. He lived with his sister Julia (age 29) and his adopted son, who I think is named Nestor (age 9). Both Mike and Julia were from New Mexico originally and had 5th grade educations. Julia stayed at home and kept house, while Mike was employed through an emergency public work program (a result of FDR’s New Deal) as a laborer at an air school, making $660 in 1939. He had lost his privately held job 52 weeks earlier and immediately entered an emergency public work position.

If you find this information as fascinating as I do, Gawker (surprisingly) has a pretty solid guide on how to use the US National Archives’s search tools to look through the census by address. I found the first search a tad bit complicated, but once I realized how the system worked it was much easier to continue to search.

Take some time to check it out – I fell down a census rabbit hole and found out that my current house was rented by a 29 year-old woman who worked as an evangelist. She paid $15 a month, or 1/50 of my monthly rent. I also found it impossible to look up my childhood house, since that area has changed and grown drastically since 1940. I knew my neighborhood didn’t exist until the 1980s, but I was interested to see the census records for the farmland. I just don’t know enough about Lexington County’s geography to give it a go, though maybe I’ll attempt it again later tonight.

These census records are like a time machine – what can you find out?