it’s been a while

well, a little over one month ago I had the best intentions of plowing my way effortlessly through a 30 day blogging challenge.

then life hit.

we have been experiencing transition like no other. people joke that all we need to do is get a dog and we’ve successfully accomplished all major milestones in a year. well I don’t know if i’d call a dog a milestone, and we definitely aren’t getting one, but there is some truth to this statement.

November 1 marked moving from our little apartment to our new home. Naturally, we began painting the next morning and have hardly sat down since. I run a tight ship around here.

But really, one season led to another and before we knew it we were half unpacked and putting up a real live evergreen tree in our living room while listening to Bing Crosby’s nostalgic voice on repeat.

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Lately I have been cherishing time spent…Since the loss of our precious little one this past September, life has felt a whole lot more raw than it had before. I experienced pains I have never felt before, but found a depth that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Learning to cling to the Lord and ally with my husband are two of the most important things I could ever do during the why seasons.

this holiday I am humbled, and I am tired. I am clinging to the hope that He brings good, and the opportunity to trust that I know I’ve been intentionally given.

I pray that you find rest in this season like we are, that the Lord wraps you in his arms with a peace that is indescribable, and that you know you are loved.

We love you

xoxo and wishing you the Merriest of Christmas’s

The Hostetter Family

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{thank you to our amazing friends Amber Martin, for perfect photography, and Jeff Frandsen, for amazing handtype.}

in my kitchen.

when I decided to join the challenge, I didn’t think about October being one of the busiest months in our life lately. packing, working and having a life are exhausting things when all combined! Brent has been the victim of many crockpot meals and egg dishes lately… but one thing I am so looking forward to in my new home is cooking again! 

I have always enjoyed food, and growing up family dinners were a huge part of our life. My mom home-made just about everything, and her granola and applesauce and savory suppers totally spoiled me. Creativity in the kitchen is just another aspect I discovered that I loved as Brent and I got married. I have found that one of my favorite things about my husband is that he shares this love of food. He grew up watching the Food Network and sitting on the counter, watching as his mom cooked. He is probably more well versed in “cooking lingo” than me, and definitely better with meat. Together, we make a good pair. 🙂

When people ask me what I like to cook, I never really know what to say, and usually just say “idk, everything?,” but lately I have been realizing that I do have favorites. I love quiches, and soups, and homemade pizzas-because I get to create, come up with new flavor combinations, decide what colors look good together (I do think of this when it comes to my food) and I don’t have to be constrained by a recipe. I also love to bake, specifically breads. I don’t know if this has to do more with my love for bread as an overall food group, or that I enjoy the challenge of succeeding at gourmet breads, and find warm golden loaves home-y, inviting, and beautiful.

in my kitchen

i feel alive

i feel creative

i feel inspired

i feel at rest

i feel at home.

Yesterday Brent and I got to be in the kitchen together again,  preparing a yummy fall soup for dinner with friends. That morning I had baked some fresh loaves of my favorite french bread recipe, and together we created some delicious whipped butter with garlic and herbs. I want to share this bread recipe with you because I feel like it is the most forgiving of my recipes, and a great one to start with if you are interested in getting into baking! The butter is so simple, but so delicious on the bread! (a great flavor cover if your yeast doesn’t rise properly;)) and we used the leftover butter this evening to fry up some fresh brussel sprouts!

I hope you enjoy, and it’s so good to be back to sharing with you! I’ve missed it!

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Forgiving French Bread

-makes TWO loaves!-

Ingredients:

1/2 c. warm water

2 TBSP yeast (or two packets)

1/2 tsp sugar

—-

2  c. warm water

2 TBSP olive oil (or vegetable)

2 TBSP sugar

2 tsp salt

5-6 cups flour depending on consistency

Using first three ingredients, dissolve the yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar in the 1/2 cup warm water. Allow to bubble for about 8 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix/knead for 10 minutes. I have found that timing with breads is actually important because mixing too much can make the dough tougher.

Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down, and then rise for another 30 minutes.

Form two loaves (I usually put one on each pan) and slize 5-6 knife marks in the top. If your dough is sticky, grease the knife.

Cover the loaves and allow to rise for 10 more minutes. Do not be alarmed if they don’t look that different.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt and cracked pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. This is a very accurate time, at least for my oven.

Allow to cool before serving!

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Garlic Herbed Butter

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

(Approximately )1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary

1 TBSP chopped fresh basil

1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste

This one is so easy it’s ridiculous! The key is the ingredients. Fresh herbs definitely make a difference, but I think you could change up what herbs you use! Throw the softened butter, herbs and spices into your mixer and beat until slightly fluffier consistency. Serve in a small dish garnished with herbs!

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bread

panera.

A couple Sundays ago Brent and I decided to go to Panera. I realized when we got there that I actually don’t love Panera. especially when I discovered that you can only log into wifi for 30 minute increments every two hours. But there’s something about that little “cafe” that floods me with memories.

I am a sentimental, nostalgic person. I love the way certain places, people, scents and sights resonate with me and evoke emotion. Panera evokes feelings similar to that of riding the craziest roller coaster you can imagine 27 times in a row backwards.

Let me take you for a little ride.

August 2008- Two good friends meet for dinner at Panera, followed by a trip to the park where they sit on a bench and discuss thier “significant others” all evening. One of the friends was wearing a tanktop embellished with Hollister seagulls, and oddly large (for a not-so-ghetto girl) hoop earrings. I forget what the other friend was wearing. Probably a polo.

December 2008- Katie sneaks away from her little sister’s birthday dinner (sorry Carolyn) to meet her “friend” Brent at the local Panera. They sit in a booth near the back and confess their undying love for each other. Well, not really…but I do remember saying something like “I don’t think this will end,” in reference to our relationship. Apparently I was feeling rather bold that night, in my frizzy french braid and American Eagle sweatshirt.

October 2009- Following a class missions trip to Latvia, the two friends-then lovers-then friends decide to become lovers again. At Panera. My memory fails me as to what my outfit may have been.

We interrupt this story to bring you a very long pause. 2.5 year to be exact, when Panera was still in existence but this relationship was not.

September 2012- Following a rather bold move on Brents part, our relationship was yet again rekindled with a date to Panera, followed by the park. I painstakingly chose a very plain very blue shirt that has since been given to a sister, or to Goodwill, or sold at a closet sale. One of those.

As I sat at a booth with my husband last Sunday, sipping on my cafe latte, I found my heart engaging in our story all over again. It has spanned over so many different seasons that I don’t always remember all the details that played into where we’re at today.

But when I go to Panera, it’s hard to forget.

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PS I LOVE YOU BRENT.

the monthly heart purge.

today was one of those days that makes you feel good, simply because you were semi-productive.

I have been doing what I like to call the “half-pack” for about a month now. If you are moving in the near future then let me tell you, it’s a great excuse to give your husband when you don’t feel like cleaning, organizing, or being neat at all. When I was in middle school to early high school my bedroom was a disaster area. When I hit 11th grade and started grasping at control over everything in my life my room suddenly became tidy to a fault. This continued throughout college and my early marriage (since it has only been one year this refers to the first half). The combination of life getting busier, and me relaxing into who I really am has produced a shocking discovery- I like to appear neat, but in actuality, I am not. If my home looks organized and is clean, I am perfectly happy. This, however, does not apply to my closets- which results in what Brent has so fondly titled, “the monthly closet purge.” Today was the big day, I emptied out piles of stuff, discovered clothing I forgot I had, packed a box full of things I don’t wear (closet sale coming soon?) and began to organize in preparation for the real packing to begin.

Ironically this discovery about the way I keep a home reflects perfectly on my personality. I do not have life all together, not one little bit. But I have always loved to appear as if my life is picture perfect, only allowing glimpses that are beautifully packaged to show. As long as it looks good on the outside, who cares what is hiding in the closets of my heart. It is something I’ve become more and more aware of, especially in trying to keep up honest communication in my marriage. More often then I would like Brent and I are happy for weeks at a time, and then “the monthly heart purge” has to happen because I wasn’t fully communicating for fear of rocking the boat or creating conflict.

So here is a glimpse at my very messy bedroom, as a gesture of sharing my imperfect life. I am continuing to press forward in sharing my true heart, not just what I want people to realize of me!
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my baby sister.

each of my sisters hold a special place in my heart.

carolyn made me a big sister for the very first time.

amanda and I share similar personalities, so we just “get” each other.

brooke is a sister I gained when I thought i’d only have three!

but lydia will always be “the baby,” and today she became a teenager!

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I will never forget (or be allowed to forget) my little 10-year old self running around the neighborhood telling everyone “my little sister is born and she’s FOUR POUNDS FOURTEEN OUNCES!”

This misinformation was the result of evesdropping on our babysitter’s conversation with my dad. Lydia was born at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2001, and I had no concept of normal baby weight.

I remember my parents bringing sweet baby Lydia home from the hospital, and me immediately going into mommy mode.

“Don’t touch her, she’s tired.”

“I’ll get her, she just wants her sister.”

“She’s crying because she doesn’t like you Carolyn.”

I was the loyal protector of Lydia Hope when Amanda came hating on her. I gently stroked the soft spot on her head, and felt super proud that I could change a diaper all by myself. She was perfect for my babysitting resume, and I was old enough to love every minute of her little babyness.

Lydia truly was a little ray of hope exactly one month after September 11th. And she engrained in me the heart of a mother, and the dream that I wanted to be one.

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Today, on her 13th birthday we shared the evening shopping, and talking, and drinking caffiene after 8 PM (sorry mom). I was so amazed at who she is grown to be. How we both love rainy days for the thought of curling up with a good book. And we both talk a mile a minute when given the chance, and ask too many questions. How smart she is, and the dry sense of humor she pulls off so well. How grown up my baby sister is.

Happy 13th birthday LYDIA! I love you. I love that I got to hold you tight when I was 10, and I get to be your friend now. You are beautiful, you are kind, and I am proud of you.

lyd

for the love of sunrise.

When I think of all my “favorite things” in life, I realize there are many.

I love mid afternoon coffee and a little bit of chocolate.

Snuggly babies dressed in cozy fall outfits.

Fresh flowers, thrown into a beautiful bright bouquet.

Handwritten notes from friends. and handwriting notes to friends.

Learning about people- who they are, what they love, their hearts.

As you get to know me this month, you will catch even more of the things I hold nearest and dearest…the list just keeps going…

But today I was, again, struck by one forever love of mine- the sunrise.

When I still lived at my parents home I would wake up early in the morning to take long runs on country backroads. I loved the rest I felt in these moments; running amidst fields and trees, down the stony orchard lane, chasing the sun as it rose bold and beautiful each day.

When I moved into the city I felt this great loss. Suddenly that rest I found at daybreak was replaced with tall buildings and dodging trash cans. The air didn’t feel so fresh, and I told Brent “the city makes me hate to run.”

Slowly but surely I have trained myself in the ways of city running. Go where the green lights take you, watch your step on uneven sidewalks, and don’t breathe for 10 seconds when the trash truck blows past you (not sure that one is good for my lungs…). Beyond the practicals, I have found it a joy to search for a spot of sunrise in the city. There are certain locations where I know I’ll catch it, and I love to begin my runs so that I end heading into the sweet glow of morning. I see glimpses over the Lime Street cemetery, down the wide expanse of Walnut Street, when I branch out and run down Broad Street and by the river.

Even when the fiery streaked sky is peeking through buildings it brings hope to my heart and a fresh perspective to my day. The sweet encouragement of morning sun has, by no means, been lost in the city. It just takes my perspective shift, and stretches me to seek beauty in the unassuming.

and someday- i’m sure I’ll experience moments where I reminisce those sweet city sunrises.
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 {sunrise in ronks}

photo-8{sunrise in lancaster}

marriage.

marriage

This afternoon and evening were spent celebrating two wonderful people becoming one. Joshua Tucker, one of Brent’s closest friends and longtime roommate married the girl of his dreams, and it was so sweet. Josh & Kelly are relaxed, laid back, and love their family and friends, all of which was evident in this beautiful wedding.

Today took me back a year, to when Brent & I said we do. In the moments leading up to our big day, I was slightly overwhelmed, busy arguing with my fiancee over (in retrospect) nothing, and expending all of my energy trying not to be stressed.

If only I knew where the future would lead us. How in just one tiny year so much could change. How we would face bigger decisions, more intense fights, the most challenging moments, and a deep love that only two people so committed could feel.

Looking up at my husband in the wedding party brought tears to my eyes. He beamed back at me and my heart felt so full.

This year has not been easy. I was naive to think that marriage would be.

But the Lord has carried me to places that I never could have dreamed, and He continues to, with Brent by my side.13_Katie&Brent_1542

this city.

I have been known to proclaim, very loudly, enthusiastically, and on more than one occasion,

OH I JUST LOVE THIS PLACE! LET’S LIVE HERE!”

Seriously. These words come out of my mouth wayyy to often. And probably more than I actually mean 🙂 Strolling through Central Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Exploring the ins and outs of Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. At pretty much every beach i’ve ever been to. Believe it or not the only trips where I probably haven’t exclaimed this proclamation have been overseas, when I dealt with horrible bouts of incurable homesickness.

But on most days, I love to explore new places. There is something in my heart that practically bursts at the discovery of a hole-in-the-wall book shop, or a homey cafe.

However there is something about Lancaster. About the crisp, cool nights of Fall- filled with pumpkin fields and apple orchards. About the chilly Winter season- bringing fresh, icy air and the smell of wood piles burning. About Spring- magestic cherry blossom trees spotting the countryside. And of course Summer- those warm, muggy nights made of  flashing fireflys and fresh dairy ice cream.

Living in the city has been different for me. I grew up in a location I thought was the perfect mix between suburban and rural. Backroads to run on, but not too far from Target.

However, I have grown to love the city- and what each season brings.

Winter, with it’s sleek and sparkling trees creating a bright wonderland. Spring, with the hustle and bustle of a city alive again. Summer, with it’s sweet evenings at the creamery, or sprawled out on a blanket in Musser Park. And Fall- a chill in the air that calls for blankets and sweaters…and trips downtown for hot apple cider.

Today was one of those days…when my eyes were reopened to what was in front of me. As much as I dream of the future, of a sweet old farmhouse with character, and a backyard made of wildflowers, I am cherishing today. Of love and of laughter over hot drinks. Of market mornings, and restful afternoons, and strangers becoming friends.

this city. it’s where we are now, and it’s what I will cherish.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

community.

there’s something so cozy about nearest & dearest. I’m definitely a words girl, and that phrase brings warmth to my heart. as I thought of different areas in my life that I hold in close regard, I felt community continuously coming to my mind.

community. something I love and long to live out. doing life with those closest to us. openness and heart sharing that creates strong relationships. the beauty of going deep, being real, and loving through it.

for me, the defining moment when I came to realize how beautiful community demonstrated truly is, was during the loss of our sweet little one.

it brings tears to my eyes when I think of the love that Brent and I felt. I envision the arms of the Father, holding me tight. And within those arms a warm and cozy blanket, soft and comforting. this is community.

 bouquets of radiant wildflowers.

fresh pumpkin cookies.

lovingly chosen gifts tucked between the doors.

handwritten notes and caring messages.

the warmth of a hug, the tears of a friend, the love of our families.

through the community that surrounds us, I have now experienced the Lord revealing Himself through His people. I can identify with the importance of carrying the Father’s heart.

if there is beauty from what sometimes feels like ashes, it is that I have found and experienced the deepest sense of community, and the greatest wave of love I have ever felt.

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things nearest & dearest

31 days: a writing challenge.

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The idea started with one of my favorite writers and bloggers, the nester. 31 days of blogging, one topic, and a new post each day. The goal: challenge your writing, grasp each moment, and for me- to go deep in your heart. Yesterday my friend Heather told me about this challenge she was planning to join, along with thousands of women across the country who will be linking in to write31days. The concept is a mix between networking and inspiration, a push for growth in writers.

Strange as it may sound, I wrestled with the idea. Do I have enough to write about? Do people even want to read what I have to write? What topic should I choose? And if anyone stumbles across my blog it’s really not that cute… I would settle on something, weigh it back in forth in my mind, then go to the drawing board again. I knew I wanted to share about real life and push myself to go deep, creating a place of intimacy in sharing my heart. The image that kept coming back to my mind was you and me, around my kitchen table in our cozy fall sweaters, cups of steaming hot coffee in hand, sharing our hearts. My dream is for people to know I get it, to feel my love for them. I want to share what’s closest to me in hopes that maybe you can relate. Not only the places I go and the things I do, but the lessons I’m learning in the process.

So envision this as my daily coffee date, sharing things nearest & dearest to my heart.

I’ll see you tomorrow,

xo Katie