ventage tuesday : you gotta have faith.

image from katyat34.typepad.comApologies to anyone who is now singing George Michael.

Today's Ventage Tuesday post was suggested by Angie, in honor of Holy Week. To be perfectly honest, when I read that, I thought "what??" - and then remembered that Easter was coming up. I took a few moments to reflect on the Passion Play that my church in Oklahoma used to put on - a VERY impressive production. And then I decided that I was certainly NOT going to write about religion. Well, not really... 

1. At the end of the day, faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don't really expect it. - Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy. (yes, I am fully aware that this is a character on a TV show) I have spent the past several (10) years moving away from religion, or so I thought. I'm learning that what I really wanted to move away from are the rigid beliefs that come with religion. As I've left behind the black & white, I've found more faith in the grey. Funny how that works.

2. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, and the discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returnes. - Anne Lamott I think that some people might refer to this as "let go & let God." Some say "be here now." My grandmother would say "this too shall pass." I have faith that despite the hard times, despite the dark & twisty...there will be light again.

3. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. - Elizabeth Gilbert Oh, THIS. This is the part about faith that is so tricky for me. I research. I analyze. I learn. I want evidence. Faith, for me, is learning to trust the Universe...and also learning to trust myself.

4. Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty. - Brene Brown Again with the not seeing. What I love about this quote is the mention of courage. It's HARD to have faith, especially when your faith doesn't match your family's or your friend's faith. It takes courage to keep believing.

5. Let faith be the bridge that you build to overcome evil and welcome good. - Maya Angelou One of the mantras that I often try to work with is "there is only love." It's not really about finding the love in a person/situation - it's merely having faith that it's there. And when that bridge is built? Love wins.

ventage tuesday : luck of the irish?


While it's true that I'm a bit irish...I'm not sure that I got the "lucky" part of that heritage. I tend to believe more in hard work than in lucky breaks. Although, I do believe in the law of attraction, the power of intention, and various other "systems" that might be viewed as luck. Leave it to me to over-analyze a Ventage Tuesday topic! Angie's pick for today - something making you feel lucky, or a luck ritual

Disclaimer - this post would be better with pictures. 

1. Lucky sweatshirt. I have a sweatshirt from the University of the Pacific that I've had since my freshman year of high school. It's white with orange letters, and it has held up surprisingly well! I bought it at the first debate invitational that I ever went to. It now serves as my "lucky sweatshirt" when I need inspiration - usually for crafting or writing. 

2. Lucky numbers. I definitely notice when angel numbers show up - 1111, 444, and 555 are the most common occurences for me. 

3. Lucky coffee cups. I'm pretty particular about the coffee cups that I use at home - and I guess I really do consider a few of them to be "lucky" as they relate having a good day. 

4. Lucky quarter. New! I picked up a quarter in the parking lot the other day. If finding a penny brings a day of good luck, I should have about three weeks left. Hey Universe, do you hear that??

5. and....that's all that I've got. :)

ventage tuesdays : a little spring in our step.

VentagetuesdaysTwo things - 1) the amount of spam that I am currently getting on old posts = ridiculous and 2) it is cold & snowy & probably going to MORE snowy soon and spring feels like about a MILLION FREAKIN YEARS AWAY.

Alright. Now...on to today's Ventage Tuesday post! We're all dreaming of spring, so today's post is all about things that are putting a little spring in our step...


the farmer's market | dinners on the deck | walking on the waterfront | flowers | pretty pedicures.

ventage tuesday : instagram

I'm not ashamed to admit that one of the things that I was MOST excited about when switching to iphone was the ability to be on Instagram. Getting peeks into the daily lives of my friends AND of people that I don't know? Score! Shameless request - follow me! (I'm katrinasimeck on Instagram) Today's Ventage Tuesday thanks Instagram for putting the app in happy....

InstaloveFrom the top left: my very first instagram post, #foodporn, water love, selfies are an instagram requirement (right?), and Starbucks often appears in my instagram feed. 

Are you on Instagram? Leave me your instagram name in the comments so that I can follow you! 

And be sure to check out the other Ventage Girls - Emily, Barb, Angie, and Steph

ventage tuesdays : RAKs

VentagetuesdaysI thought about skipping this post today. I'm feeling pretty bruised & broken today - my heart aching for another friend's loss (this is the 2nd friend who has lost a parent in the past week), feeling worried about the aforementioned home repairs, and trying to rise above the reality that some people just don't play nice in the sandbox. There were several times today that I whispered "help" to the universe....and each time, the universe showed up. Today's Ventage Tuesday post is supposed to be "Random Acts of Kindness." I honestly don't remember if we intended to list ideas for RAKs, or RAKs we have done, or what. Today, I want to share the (maybe not random) acts of kindness that showed up for me today...

1. An email from one of the Ventage Girls saying simply "are you okay? you seem down." Thet gesture of caring...and the willingness to read/listen that came along with it...helped a lot. Thank you Angie.

2. An email from one of my besties that I am fortunate enough to work with saying "wanna go for coffee in a few minutes?" Coffee runs = mini therapy sessions. Thank you Macaroni. 

3. As I was leaving work, I had a ton of noise in my head about the muck of the day. I struggled to bring my attention back, and when I did...I noticed that Soar was playing. Thank you Universe.

4. After leaving work late AND having to go to the bank AND having to go to Wal*Mart...I was wicked late heading toward home. I got a text from another bestie saying that she was just leaving work. Which means that I had someone to chat with who can say, and truly mean, "I know just how you are feeling, and it sucks, and I'm sorry." Thank you Becky.

5. I came home to a lovely box of Juice Beauty goodness from yet-another-bestie...this one from the beauty biz. Thank you Lauren.

and a bonus...

6. A simple vote of confidence and love from another bestie (I am a lucky, lucky girl in the friends department) saying "hang in there." Thank you Leigh.

So, as this Ventage Tuesday draws to a close, I am reminded that kindness matters...and I am grateful.

ventage tuesday : all about the words.

VentagetuesdaysToday's ventage tuesday topic is a favorite of Barb's - reading! The girls tease me (a lot) about my penchant for self-development books, but I also read a lot of memoir. I've been pondering my aversion to fiction a bit - I think it's all mixed up in having to feeling like I'm always doing something useful. Fiction is so frivilous! Anyway, on to my 5 books... Note: the assignment specifically said "things," which I interpreted to mean books...but I'll be curious to read the other girls' answers. 


1. Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment  by Katrina Kenison - I had the privilege of meeting Katrina a couple of years ago, and loved every page of The Gift of an Ordinary Day

2. Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo - This one would go on my Eat, Pray, Love shelf. 

3. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed - Still haven't read...and am hoping that Miss Hope might have left her copy here over break. Hmmm....

4. The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather - I think that memoir is closing in on self-improvement as my favorite genre.

5. Everything but the Coffee: Learning About America Through Starbucks by Bryant Simon - marketing, starbucks, reading, memoir, research...these are a few of my favorite things.

What's on your list? Check out Angie, Barb, Em, and Steph....

ventage tuesdays : no soup for you!

First, a quick explanation for Cindy and anyone else wondering what "ventage tuesdays" is all about. Angie, Barb, Steph, Em, and I started calling ourselves the Ventage Girls b/c 1) our lengthy daily email threads often involve venting (and sometimes ranting & raving) and 2) to make ourselves seem more sophisticated, we decided to rhyme ventage with fromage (very sophisticated, right? if that doesn't work for you, just note that we all love cheese). We decided to have a weekly shared question/blog topic to help us all stay on track with blogging - and to share how alike & different the five of us are. 

Okay, so today's topic - soup! Timely post b/c I just threw myself a little birthday shindig and declared it a soup night. I made 3 kinds of soup, and served them with several cheeses, sourdough bread, and lots of wine. Yum....

1. Cheesy Vegetable Chowder - I've made this one twice in the past few weeks. Really easy, and so good. I sub vegetable broth, so mine isn't quite as pretty (veggie broth tends to be much darker than chicken broth). 

2. Roasted Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar - I've made it once with milk, and once with cream - and I prefered the milk version. 

3. Creamy Slow Cooker Spinach & Tortellini Soup - I like the sound of this soup, but I'd have to make some adjustments. What the heck is white sauce mix? White sauce is soooo simple to make - why would you need a mix?? I also think that I'd swap the consdensed milk for cream. Something about condensed milk in soup just grosses me out. 

4. Broccoli Edamame Soup - delish....and high in protein!

5. The BEST Clam Chowder EVER - not a recipe. Just click on the order button, justify the shipping by realizing that it will STILL be cheaper than going out, and then anxiously await for the the Fedex delivery. The first time that I ordered Splash chowder to be delivered across the country, I took a pic and texted it to a friend who went to school in SLO. He texted back "oh...I just got a tear in my eye." It's that good.

Check out the links above to see what the other Ventage Girls are slurping. :) 

ventage tuesday : 5 awesome things to do.

VentagetuesdaysHappy New Year from our little Ventage group! Today's topic was chosen by Barb - "5 Things to Do in 2013." Since Stephanie has dubbed this year "the Ventage Year of Awesome," here are 5 things that I think would be AWESOME to do this year...

1. Visit the Ventage Girls. I'm the outlier, up here in the northeast. Ventage headquarters is really Wisconsin/Illinois. I'm determined to take a road trip/train trip/ plane trip to get the band group together.

2. Take a few weekend trips to the beach. It's really not that far...and if I have company, the 3.5/4 hour drive will fly. (hint, hint: Colleen. Gina. Michelina.)

3. Find a signature cocktail. I'm certainly a fan of red wine, and Miss Angie introduced me to the beauty of the gin & tonic this year. I'd like to get creative and find a drink that I can call my own.

4. Attend (or maybe even HOST!) a pop-up dinner party. Note to Barb - I will need you to fly out for this. How amazing does that SF party look?? Swoon.

5. Go on a date. I feel like a giant geek even writing that! First, for anyone saying "but wait, didn't you JUST get divorced??" Uhm, no, I didn't. The falling apart (thank you, Stacey Morrison) happened over the course of several years. The legal part was merely the finale. And I'm not saying that I even want a relationship - I'd just like someone to compliment my outfit, open the car door, and pick out the wine. I'm easy like that. NO, not easy like that. Oh good grief, I should delete this one.

What awesome things do you have planned for 2013? See what Angie, Stephanie, Barb, and Em are up to...

ventage tuesday : peace on earth.

Happy Ventage Tuesday Christmas! It's bound to be an abbreviated sort of day, given that 3 of the 5 Ventage Girls have littles underfoot. My "littles" have driven themselves over to their Dad's house for a Christmas dinner, so I have some quiet keyboard time. Barb suggested that today's topic be "things that make you feel peaceful." Seems like a fitting theme for the day...

1. Knowing that my kids are loved. We were joined for brunch today by Hope & Austin's Dad, and then said "Merry Christmas" via Skype to Hope's father. We are choosing kindness...and that brings me great peace. 

2. The first cup of coffee. I've made more space for gentle mornings this year (even when they make me late for work). I'm not always successful, but when I do manage to really savor that first cup of coffee? Insta-peace.

3. Meditation. It sounds funny to say that this one is hard-won, but it is. Meditation isn't easy. Monkey mind derails me all the freakin' time. I'm still not confident enough to say that I have a regular practice, but I'm getting more & more consistent. Sitting = peace.

4. Writing. One of my intentions for 2013 is to write more. I'm firing my critic, and rewriting my censor's guidelines. I want to blog more, journal more, contribute more, tweet more, and (yes, Katherine!) maybe finally start writing a book. Words bring peace. 

5. Alone time. I am, and forever will be, an introvert. I crave my alone time, and often spend it in silence. Thanks to Gabrielle Bernstein's writing/teaching, I'm learning so much about finding peace within myself. 

I hope that this holiday has brought you moments of great joy, and so much peace. 

ventage tuesday : rockin' around the christmas tree.


Today's topic is brought to you by the marvelous & musical Miss Em...5 fave Christmas songs! 


Baby It's Cold Outside - the Glee cast version. 

Straight No Chaser - the 12 Days of Christmas

Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas

U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

SheDaisy - Deck the Halls

I'll be listening to Christmas carols on my drive to Montreal today - it's time for things to get HOPEful around here. :) 

*Be sure to check out Angie, Em, Steph, and Barb...I'm hoping that one of them leaves me a Xmas carol voice mail. Hint, hint.