Thankful for the Unexpected: A Little Life Update

It’s been a while, and a lot has happened in that while.

In January Brent and I hosted a Chinese high school boy for 10 days as part of a student immersion program through LMH. Oh the stories we could tell from that adventure...Day one I was convinced we had been paired with the sweetest, most helpful and genuine 16-year old male human on this planet. By day four he was mad that I misinformed him on the weather therefore ruining one of six new pairs of Nikes he had purchased since Day One. Nothing like living it up when you find yourself on a different continent with house parents that could be mistaken for your classmates.

 


In all seriousness, we are so thankful for that adventure, and the impact (I really hope) that we got to make on his life. WE MISS GRIFFIN. (Although I’m not ready to parent a 16-year-old quite yet.)

In February we jetted off on my first tropical vacation with some of our best friends. To be honest, it was difficult for me to keep our trip from being clouded with fear over this whole zika virus thing that is on every news outlet in the US. I am so glad I pushed through it, and we traveled to St. Croix. We had the most wonderful week, I legitimately DID NOT want to leave AT ALL, and a month later I am in the zika clear. (Which really was not a big deal on this island at all). Highlights of this trip included all the delicious food we ate, literally every meal was good, all the beaches we visited, traveling with dear friends, and of course experiencing sunshine and warm weather during the month of February.


In March (Ok so this technically happened in February, but really took off in March, and I needed something for March) I launched A BUSINESS with my good friend Heidi! I still can hardly believe that this happened...and really it was such a whirlwind. Moss + Vine is a floral and event styling business, and our ultimate goal is to help people throw really great parties. Heidi has years of experience with florals, and I just love decor/design/style. Working together has been so much fun, and I am really excited for the things that I know we will create! There has been SO much momentum with our business already, and more exciting opportunities than I would have expected this early in it all.

 

This spring feels so full it's already gone. Countdown till our first beach vacation (June 1) has officially commenced. Four events for Moss + Vine in the month of April alone. And channeling my inner Joanna Gains as I get to design and decorate the 2016 parade home for Brentwood Builders (Brent’s family business). I am loving this even more ever since I jumped on the Fixer Upper bandwagon and decided I want us to be them.


I am so thankful for where the unexpected has brought me. I have cried numerous times as I replay the past year in my head. It is just so crazy tracing where I was last year to where I am now. The opportunities I have worked toward, and the ones that have landed in my lap. I can actually say that while certain life circumstances haven’t necessarily gotten easier, and my prayers haven’t always been answered the way I planned, I have grown. The moments I’ve so deeply struggled with who God is, and the times I have spiraled in a lack of control, are countered by those when I have experienced grace I didn’t know was possible, and peace that definitely is not my own.

There is a sweet sense of anticipation in the realization that I can trust whatever is coming, even though I’m not in control.

 

xoxo Katie

 

home.

No other word describes quite so perfectly how I feel so often. I love our physical home, our house. I love to decorate our home, and keep a home, and create a home for my family. I love when people feel like home, memories feel like home, sights and smells feel like home.

home. it is the nicest word there is.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder

There is a sense of comfort in the word "home." It brings up the nostalgia of growing up in my parents' home with my sisters, learning what home means to them. It is new traditions and trademarks that Brent and I create as we build our home and family. It is the reason that my dream job, to be a "homemaker," is even possible.

I feel privileged to have the responsibility of setting the tone for those who enter our home, and setting the table for those to stay. It really is, in a way, like a life-size dollhouse, and although there is responsibility beyond the "fun stuff" like painting and decorating, each task complements another. So today I wanted to share a few of my favorite things that help make our home. Books and products and shops that I love!

Highlights of our Home:

(left to right)

1. the chalkboard in my kitchen is forever changing, 2. this little vignette of my joy cookbook and dried wheat from a field, 3. a tin feather I purchased in Philadelphia this weekend, and the PSL card my sister got me at Anthropologie, 4. Our mantle is the perfect backdrop for all kinds of arrangements. (Bottom, L-R) 5. My two favorite fall catalogs so far, 6. the hanging shelf Brent helped me make, 7. the glass globe & air plant hanging in our room, 8. This little thrifted plate with a sweet quote.

Favorite Books about Home:

The Nesting Place, by Myquillin Smith

Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist

Happy Handmade Home, by Emma Chapman & Elsie Larson

Design Bloggers at Home, by Ellie Tennant

Favorite "Helpful" Household Products:

Glade Jar Candles (They are cheap and they make the house smell so good! Fall and winter scents are my favorite)

Mrs. Myers Multi-Surface Cleaner, Basil (I use this for everything. Bathroom, kitchen, coffee table, everything.)


Lavender Essential Oil (I diffuse this for the scent and to help us sleep, but also apply it topically for burns and for cramps.)

Norwex Dusting Mitt (One of the best bridal shower gifts. It works so well, and is extremely convenient.)

Horsehair Dust Brush (I never realized the importance of a good dust pan and brush until I bought one for .99 cents at Ikea. We got a horsehair brush at a local Amish store and the difference is amazing.)

Favorite Home Decor Shops:

Pottery Barn, Rockvale Outlets (look for good sales!)

West Elm, Rockvale Outlets

Goodwill

Michael's Craft Store

Cost Plus World Market

HomeGoods

Marshalls

Terrain

and of course, Target.




The Most Delicious Bread [and Something Wonderful to Do With It]

Bread is probably one of the main meal staples here in the Hostetter home. This may be because I am a husband-proclaimed expert on baking things and roasting vegetables (hey, at least I'm well balanced!). I have two go-to bread recipes that a friend passed along to me, and I don't stray far from them on many occasions. This simple dutch oven bread recipe is one that I posted a photo of recently on Instagram, and received a lot of interest so I thought I'd share! I have included my version with adaptations, and a link to the original below! (The original is very much a plan ahead recipe, so I doubled the yeast for less rising time and have been really happy with the results!)

 

Simple Dutch Oven Loaf

[original here]

Ingredients-

3 cups unbleached AP flour

1 & 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 heaping tsp rapid-rise yeast *(I would say the definition of heaping means it doesn't have to be leveled out, for those of you who are more particular about that kind of thing :)*

1 & 1/2 cups water

Stir flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Mix in water until the dough comes together, will most likely be a shaggy texture. The one thing about this bread is that it is extremely forgiving. I have made it before and it literally sticks to my hands as I drop it into the dutch oven, yet it still turns out.

*THE FUN PART- This recipe is a great base for you to get creative. I enjoy mixing in herbs, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. and creating different flavor combinations. This is best done before allowing the dough to rise. Our favorites so far have been blue cheese with fresh oregano, and orange zest with dried cranberries.

Allow dough to rise, covered, for 1.5 hours. If it rises a little longer that is fine, but I would say definitely not less than that.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the oven is preheated, bake your cast iron dutch oven, or the dish you are using for 30 minutes before putting the bread in.

**A few notes from my experience- I always use my Staub cast iron cocotte (same as dutch oven) for this bread, and I LOVE it! If you are looking to buy one in the Lancaster area, Mise en Place Kitchen Store carries them! I assume that other cast iron lidded pots would have the same effect. One time I wanted to bake two loaves at once, so I did one in the dutch oven and the other in a stoneware casserole dish just like this one . The bread was still good, but it got a little dark and stuck to the dish. So if you DO NOT have a cast iron oven, a lidded dish will have the same effect- just make sure to spray it, and I would preheat it for less than 30 minutes. **

Back to the recipe, after preheating the dish, take it out of the oven and drop the risen dough in. Even if it does not form a perfect ball it is fine! You will be amazed at how it rises and shapes! Put the lid back on and bake with lid on for 30 minutes. Take the lid off, and allow to bake another 15 minutes to crisp the top. Use your discretion for this part. If it is looking like it's beginning to burn on top you can take it out sooner. I always tap the bread to see if it seems crispy/solid or if it still seems doughy. Everyone's oven heat is different!

I would allow it to cool, at least a little bit before cutting so the moisture does not escape.

 

This bread is amazing no matter how you serve it, but I wanted to share what Brent and I did with it last night! I saw the inspiration for this platter in Martha Stewart Living, and had to try it out! Brent threw the slices of bread on our charcoal grill for a couple of minutes, just to sear them, and then we drizzled fresh olive oil from Seasons downtown, and served them with a variety of tomatoes and goat cheese. It was the perfect summer side, and would also make a wonderful lunch!

Let me know if you have any questions, or come up with any amazing flavor combinations!

Enjoy, and happy summer dinner partying!

xoxoxo Katie

 

 

A Weekend in NYC: Part 2

Saturday morning dawned bright and early, and we hit the ground running. The weather was overcast and a bit drizzly, but luckily I had a sweater and was debuting my first ever jumpsuit (Brent was a little unsure) so I felt very comfortable.

The reason for our trip was actually to experience the Renegade Craft Fair's pop up shop in Brooklyn. My friend Liz, who we were traveling with, has a leather bag company and she was displaying her products as part of Renegade. I had seen the fair advertised in my Martha Stewart Living magazines, so to actually be going was SUPER exciting for me.

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The fair took place at East River State Park in Brooklyn, and had a beautiful view of Manhattan. We obviously were a huge asset in the set up process.

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We began the morning by visiting this amazing coffee shop right around the corner from the park. I loved the vintage European feel, and their signature drinks were amazing. I would highly recommend getting the iced maple latte at Sweetleaf if you're ever in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

Sweetleaf shares a space with this incredibly trendy real estate agency where I'd be perfectly ok with working.

And what you can't see is the freshly grated nutmeg that our barista totally impressed me with, all over the top of that delicious drink.

When Liz and Jeff were set up and ready for sales, we did our own exploring around the fair. (Doesn't the Liz Riden stand look amazing?)

I of course had to find my favorite vendor and support them. I was super excited about this adorable tea towel/jar cake package that was a collaboration of The Neighborgoods and Jam Jar Bakery .

As we roamed around Brooklyn our first stop was Mast Brothers chocolate, where we picked up some Father's Day gifts and I got a free tour along with my use of the employee restroom.

Coffee shop #2- Blue Bottle, Brooklyn

I loved the atmosphere in Toby's Estate, and the line was out the door.

(Not Pictured) The amazing Thai restaurant where we grabbed lunch. Chai Thai Kitchen

Brent had heard about this motorcycle/coffee shop called Jane Motorcycles from a friend. It was a really cool concept and had an awesome industrial feel.

If you're going to NYC and you love cooking, or just cute things, visit a Whisk shop. And if you're going to Lancaster and you love those things, visit Mise en Place. They're pretty much one and the same.

After lots of walking, shopping, and coffee, we ended our day back at Renegade to partake in this amazing thing called Smorgasbord (you don't wanna know how long it took me to spell that word. obviously born in Baltimore not Lancaster). The concept is this- all your favorite food trucks, vendors and more, in one place at one time and you have the opportunity to feast. Everything from granola, to gourmet ice cream sandwiches, to ramen burgers. Brent was in heaven with a beef shank and curry fries, while I opted for sushi spring rolls that may or may not have led to a little carsickness on the way home... regardless of that it was still SO GOOD!

Sometimes when I leave a city I love I get this homesick feeling toward it once I'm actually home. It's safe to say that this week I went through a little bit of New York adventure withdrawal. And I'm already compiling a little list in my phone of places I want to see next.

xoxoxo Katie

A Weekend in NYC: Part 1

This past weekend Brent and I got to spend a couple days in what truly might be my favorite city. The problem is, I actually say that about almost ever city we've ever visited, but after discovering even more reasons to love New York City, it is currently at the top of my list. I wanted to share the highlights of our trip, and since we spent two days I thought I'd break it down into parts. I know that I always find new places to be a bit more manageable when I have some recommendations to go by- So I present to you, some of my favs in NYC, (with special thanks to our friends Jeff & Liz Frandsen, who made amazing tour guides!)

1. Chelsea Market - After checking into our hotel in Brooklyn Heights, we hopped on the subway and headed to our first stop, Chelsea Market. This market is located in the meatpacking district of NYC , and I'd heard so many good things about this place, but had yet to experience it for myself. I was nothing short of impressed. This giant old building was filled with gems, from meats and cheeses, to bakeries, to Thai food, to it's very own Anthropologie!

As usual I had to snap a few photos of my favorite Anthro displays. I loved the bright summer colors in the kitchen section, and especially all the PINK.

One of my favorite things about Anthro's aesthetic is the way it incorporates vintage, with crafty, with high end clothing. Case and point, these paper flowers with this old wardrobe.

Inside Chelsea Market.

 

2. The High Line - This old rail road track turned park/walking trail, also located in the meatpacking district, sits high above the city with one of the most beautiful views and fun atmospheres. It was a gorgeous day so people were out walking, relaxing on the wooden lounge chairs that line the walkway, and enjoying coffee or popsicles from Blue Bottle & People's Pops vendor carts.

3. Coffee Stop- After leaving the High Line, we rode the subway into SoHo, my favorite place for shopping in Manhattan. On day one I enjoyed an iced coffee from SoHo's La Columbe

I absolutely LOVED the Crate & Barrel in SoHo

And what's a trip to SoHo without an afternoon snack of yogurt parfaits at Chobani?

4. The Highlight- Although I loved pretty much everything we did on day one, and spent the day in what I like to call my "city freakout mode," my favorite part was definitely the evening. When we finished up shopping we headed back to our hotel in Brooklyn Heights to freshen up and grab some dinner. We ended up taking a beautiful walk in this neighborhood full of amazing brownstone homes, all of which overlooked the Hudson River.

The views were perfect, the weather was perfect, and we found a sweet little Italian restaurant with homemade burratta so that made me happy.

Day one ended with twinkle lights and a black and white milkshake from Shake Shack. If you have never tried one, and are considering telling your husband, "You just get one and I'll take some sips," DON'T DO IT. He will want to drink it all and you will want to drink like five, and you will end up sad and dairy deprived, or kind of sick from drinking it too fast.

But let me tell you, it was well worth it.

 

Day 1 was pretty incredible, and only sealed all the love for NYC that I already had in my heart.

Yup, I Married My High-School Sweetheart

Most people love a good love story. You know, one with a dreamy couple, precious plot, and especially a happy ending. I remember watching chick flicks in high school, and indulging in Nicholas Sparks novels, all while dreaming of "a perfect love," and searching to find it.

Brent and I were high school sweethearts, it's true, the makings of a classic tale of destiny. It really is a cliche, yet kind of crazy thing, that I married that 10th grade boy I had a crush on.

The unfortunate moment that I got my little red digital camera. First date to Olive Garden and first picture in the Ford Focus.

The unfortunate moment that I got my little red digital camera. First date to Olive Garden and first picture in the Ford Focus.

However cute (and miraculous) it may be that we ended up together, it was definitely not glamorous. Sometimes I lose count of how many times we broke up when I'm telling our story, and I definitely don't always include all the hurt we caused each other along the way. There are certain defining aspects of my life that Brent got to experience alongside of me, but on the same token some days we look at each other and say, "Was that really necessary?" 

Right before I turned on him and FREAKED out- The "let's take a break" walk.

Right before I turned on him and FREAKED out- The "let's take a break" walk.

When it comes to dating in high school, I'm torn. Do I think it's a must do? Nope. Did it end well for me? Well, yes, eventually.

I'd be lying if I told you that I knew from the moment my stomach got Brent-butterflies that I knew he was "the one." Our roller coaster relationship ranged from sharing cinnamon crunch bagels in Panera and me saying, "I don't see myself liking anyone the way I like you," to a full out 17-year-old tantrum on the amish lane when he told me he wanted to wait a couple months to date. (Yup, not even break-up, just wait to date.) There's the infamous story of Brent creating a fancy seafood dinner, only to have me throw it up all over his driveway as his dog cleaned up behind me (Reagan and I have an unfortunate but special bond now). My favorite thing might be the poster he made me for my 18th birthday, on which he listed some of his favorite things about me including (I quote)

-Your excitement and love for Target

-The face you make when you really want something

Ask me if I have that poster readily available as ammunition.

Junior "banquet"

Junior "banquet"

I truly cherish the memories we've shared. And they definitely produce some pretty hilarious evenings reminiscing and sorting through photos, jerseys, the game ball he gave me from his championship baseball game (which he still says is a mistake!).

But we've definitely had extra things to work through in the length of time we've known each other. Who I was seven years ago, and who I am today are very different. Things that were spoken out of insecurity, and actions that were taken out of immaturity left an imprint our experiences of each other, and that made dating for marriage really hard. We had both broken trust, and now we needed to rebuild in order to make a solid and true commitment. There would be no more breaking up for the summers, and "taking it slow" if we were serious about marriage.

Those kids are lookin' thrilled.

Those kids are lookin' thrilled.

Senior year, our longest stretch of dating.

Senior year, our longest stretch of dating.

Last night we watched a Nicholas Sparks movie (yup I'm still a sucker for those things) and it got me thinking about our love story. I don't really "take pride" in where we've been, in the fact that we were that couple who did end up together, or in the fact that we shared the awkward stages. That actually made things really hard. Marrying my high school sweetheart is a fun little fact about my life, but my favorite thing about our love story is where we are going.

photo by Jamie D Photography

photo by Jamie D Photography