catholic to the core // closings

Photo Credit

Lent "ends" today. Today is Holy Thursday, and I feel like the end of Lent is a good place to end my "Catholic to the Core" journey. I know a lot of people didn't read or care for the Catholic to the Core series, but that series is something for me. A way to document my faith. Something that's crucially important to me. 

And that's what blogging is all about right? 

To reread, here are all the links of all the Catholic to the Core posts.


visual words

Photography speaks to me.

There's something about capturing that not so perfect moment and saving it forever. Whether it's a serious moment, a tender one, or an absolutely goofy one, moments are meant to be remembered. But sometimes, we don't remember. 

I truly believe that when I have that camera in my hands, magic happens. Whether it's a picture of a flower, or a picture of my cousin or best friend. Or a picture on my iPhone that's taken in haste as I run across campus to my next class, but I truly believe that something amazing happens when photography happens. 

For the rest of my life, I can only hope I get to spend it with a camera strap around my neck. Photography is something I've fallen head over heels for. And I hope it stays that way. 



Photo Credit: Maple Bluebonnet Studios

Sometimes. Sometimes I feel fake.

Like I'm a fraud.

That nothing I say is true. That compliment I give to my friend about her shirt or hair.

Even when I mean it, I still feel like I come off as a snob or fake. 

That people don't really believe me. 

And the same way, I don't believe people when the compliment me. 

I just want to not feel fake, you know?


Inspiring a Character

{Cross Posted on Laura Toeniskoetter}

As I try to relaunch my author career, one that has kind of fallen through the cracks while I grew my blogger "career." I'm perfectly fine with that fact, but now, I think it's time to find a balance between the two. 

At the end of December, at the urging of a former friend, I ditched everything I'd ever built into The Assassin, and started over.

Completely started over.

The only thing I had leftover was Cassie Dreandry. But now, she's older. She's twenty, almost twenty-one. She's always been mature, but now she's a total bad-ass. Like any other character, she's influenced by people. People in my life and characters from other stories. Today, these are the characters that have helped inspire a new Cassie. 


Photo Credit

James Bond is the ultimate spy. Skyfall was the first James Bond movie I saw, and can we just say badass? I love spy movies, action, conspiracy movies, and James Bond has it all. Sure, he's a guy, but he's the spy. 


Photo Credit: ABC Television Network
Kate Beckett is the female lead on Castle. She's Castle's muse and now girlfriend(!!). She's a by-the-books cop. She's one of the best, and she doesn't stop until she gets the truth in a murder investigation. Her mother was murdered, just like Cassie's, and the way she deals with it is something I hope I can capture in Cassie.


Photo Credit: Covert Affairs Wiki
Annie Walker is the main character of USA Network's show Covert Affairs. She's a new agent, so she's a bit young and just a tad bit naive. Cassie is a lot like Annie. They're both young, and at first, they're just a tad bit optimistic. Cassie, not so much because of her background, but both Annie and Cassie (and Kate Beckett) want justice to prevail. 


Photo Credit: Stephanie's Obsession

Oh, Stephanie Plum. Several times, I've sung my praises for her and Joe Morelli. In fact, Connor's nickname for Cassie, "Cupcake," comes from Morelli and Stephanie. Cassie's like Stephanie because even when neither of them know what to do, they keep on trekking and they won't stop. 

So, these are just a few of the people I draw inspiration from to influence Cassie.


B I T C H.

Photo Credit

I'm a bitch. 

And I don't consider that a bad thing. You see, I've learned in life that you can try to please people or you can please yourself. Go chase your dreams. 

Last night, my sister texted me asking me to answer a few questions for her for her homework. One of her questions was "What did you learn in school that helped you in your career?" 

I told her:

"No one is going to do your job. If you want something, you're the only person in your way from getting it." 

It's kind of a bitchy answer, a hard answer. No sugar coating, but it is what it is. And I'm a bitch.

But I'm not the kind of stereotypical bitch you think of. No, I'm the kind of bitch that knows exactly what I want and I'm not going to stop until I get it all. I refuse to take "no" for an answer when it comes to achieving my dreams. 

There's a lot of dreams I haven't accomplished yet, but that doesn't mean I never will accomplish them. That just means it's not the right time for that dream. 

Lately, I've noticed a lot of people who always want something from me. Want to use me, want me to do things for them. And lately, my responses to these requests are becoming more and more blunt and to the point. And a lot of the time, the answer is becoming "no." Why should I go after your dream for you? That distracts from mine. 

I'm a bitch because I'm a narrow-minded girl, eyes on the big goal. I know there are goals I still haven't discovered for myself, but when I do, I know I'll go after them too. 

I'm a bitch because I won't let people stand in my way of getting what I want. My doubters only make me more determined.

I'm a bitch.

And I'm proud. 


catholic to the core // after confirmation

After you're confirmed in the Catholic faith, you've kind of "Graduated" from Sunday School. But that doesn't mean the journey is over. 

Many kids just go to mass for an hour, hour and a half on Sundays and call that good. 

But for whatever reason, just going to mass has never been enough for me. 

After eighth grade, I quit the children's choir to join the adult choir. I still sing in the adult choir when I go home to visit on the weekends. Singing is just something that really moves me. The past few times I've gone back home to sing with the choir, there have been times when the music we sing has completely moved me to tears. There's just such an overwhelming joy I get from singing. 

I also cantor. Cantoring is for the masses where there's no choir. A cantor leads the congregation in singing. I've been cantoring since I joined the adult choir in ninth grade. I go through phases where I love it and phases where I absolutely want to quit. It's just a process of life.

After I finished confirmation in tenth grade (like two months after I started this blog), I immediately knew what I was going to do with the time that had been spent in Sunday School classes. In the fall of junior year, I began teaching Faith Formation. I taught fifth grade with my former fifth grade teachers. They're a married couple and I love them. They'd totally be there for me if I needed them. I still see them every time I go back. 

I taught with them for two years: junior and senior years. I loved it, but sadly, I wasn't able to keep it going. Can't drive all the way home to teach every weekend. 

The two years after Confirmation were very important to my faith and I'm so glad to have had them.


24 Hours of Pure Craziness

Due to some poor planning on when to have Spring Break, Allie and I had Spring Break different weeks. Major awfulness.

Thankfully, she took the time to come down to Huntsville and spend the night with me.

We did a photoshoot Monday on campus, and campus is just gorgeous, the flowers exploded over spring break and they're all bright and pink!

Monday night we went bowling with my other friend from school, and well, working at a bowling alley for a year and a half did nothing to help my game. Last place both games!

Tuesday, we woke up and took the hour and a half drive to Houston to do a little shopping at the Galleria. We've avid fans of the one in Dallas, so we had to go see the Houston one.

Gosh, that place is so confusing, what the heck is that shape supposed to be?! It's like a cross, but the cross doesn't add up on the floors! The Dallas one is just a big oval, I'll stick with that one! ha!

It was a lot of walking and a lot of listening to our poor wallets cry for mercy. Nah, it wasn't that bad. I got a few things, but mostly importantly, I got to spend good time with my best friend. Amazing how the few moments I get to spend with her always make the moments without her okay. I'm so blessed to have her in my life.

Yeah, we're weird, but it was amazing. 



I usually don't post on Saturdays, but this was something that's on my mind and I felt the need to get it out while it was still fresh on my mind.

How have we, humans, gotten so pathetic we can't give people respect? Even if it's just respect for that person because they're a human too? A human with feelings and opinions and emotions. How have we gotten so detached from others that we're so willing to mock them so publicly?

Last night on twitter, a tweet popped up in my timeline from Natalie Maines, the lead singer of Dixie Chicks. I love the Dixie Chicks, their music is some of my favorite. I adore their live album for it's energy.

The tweet featured a picture of George Bush, assembled with tiny pictures of assholes. I called her out for it because it's wrong. Got a problem with George Bush? Cool, you've got a right to that, but what she did was childish and petty.

Natalie Maines Twitter Conversation

Needless to say, I unfollowed her. I can't support people who don't have respect for others. I get it, she doesn't like George Bush. I've said it before and I'll say it again, great, you've got a right to not like George Bush.

You know what? I can't stand Barack Obama. Didn't vote for him in this past election. But you know what? When he was reelected, I didn't send him death threats or wish ill upon him. He's a human being and I respect him for that. He's the President. Do I agree with his policies? Hell no, but I'm not going to compose pictures of him using butts. 

I try really hard to be respectful of others, sometimes I fail, I'm only human. But how have we, as a society, gotten so far away from respect? From keeping others in mind as well? I feel like my generation is pretty much screwed because we've lost so much of what humanity is. Common sense, socializing, respect, honor. 

I want to be a better person and I try to focus on the positive. I'm done with publicly humiliating people for being people. Call out the acts, not the person.

One of the things I love about bloggers is they're all so wonderful and nice. They try to inspire love and happiness, even with the going gets tough and they're down. If only everyone could be a blogger, right? 

I don't know about you, but honestly, I'm sick of the lack of respect I see all over the place. I want to change that, it's about time that we demand our respect back. I just hope you're with me. 


body back

I like pretty things. Like any girl does. I love big, loopy earrings. Bright pinks and purples. Sparkly things. Pretty nails. Jeans that make me look good. 

The only problem is, I have a bad habit of leaving things. My manicure looks like a train wreck. My nails look like a train wreck. I've left my weight in the hands of my eating habits and I've packed on more than just the freshman fifteen this year. I'm trying to motivate myself to go to the gym, but so far, it's just sporadic visits. Which I guess is better than nothing, but sporadic isn't going to make my old jeans fit again.

But something has to change. I'm on a road of destruction of my body. There's a difference between being curvy and just losing it. I feel unhealthy. I go to the gym and in ten minutes I'm completely wiped out.

For so long now, I've told myself I was going to lose weight. Not necessarily because I feel fat (well, that's part of it), but because I need to establish some sort of exercise pattern. I don't exercise at all. 

I gave up pizza for lent in hopes of losing a couple pounds. 

It backfired. Instead of pizza, I picked up chick-fil-a. The pants got tighter. The shirts got tighter. All around, I've been feeling.... well, shitty. 
 I've always been a bit on the heavier side. Not fat, but never skinny. And I don't want to be skinny. I don't want to wear a size 4 jeans. That's crazy. I'd be a stick.

For some reason, I've always wanted to be a size eight. Still single digits, but not skin and bones. I want the curves that I know are there to be curves I can show off, not just muffin top.

 I want to get the body I want. I'm going to make that body. Not just with the weight. I want to get that damn acne under control. I want to get nice, white teeth. All the things I pick on myself for?

This is the time to change them. There's no time like the present. So, starting today, today, I'm going to get my body back.

Because honestly, who wants pregnancy shots like that when they aren't even pregnant?! I don't!


catholic to the core // papal elections

Yesterday, history was made. Yesterday was the election of Pope Francis. This is historic for a lot of reasons.

He's the first pope from the Americas.

photo credit
He's the first pope named Francis. It shows that he wants to make change. Oh, and he's a Jesuit. Jesuits are pretty awesome.

This is the second papal election I've witnessed in my life. I saw his and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

I remember the election of Benedict pretty well. And I obviously remember yesterday's election as well. Today, I'm going to share both.

Fifth grade. Sitting in the chair at the dentist's office. They were finishing up with me when the TV in the patient room broke from the View to breaking news. Then there was the white smoke in the sky. My mom had told me about how the Cardinals would elect a new Pope and send up white smoke. Having never seen it, I was having a little freak out in the dentist's chair.

Of course, my hygienist wasn't Catholic, and had a really hard time calming down. After they finished cleaning my teeth, my mom and I stalled as long as we could to wait for the new Pope to come out.

Because my mom wanted me to see the new Pope, instead of taking my brother and I back to school, she took us to Cici's to have lunch before we went back to class.

I can still picture sitting there, watching the TV as Benedict came out. It was exciting, but a group of Baptist School kids came in and were all loud and noisy, and that kind of killed the mood.

But not completely. I remember being there, telling myself this was something I needed to remember, to store in my memory, because it would be a story to tell.  

Flash forward eight years later. Yesterday. March 13th. I was at my grandmother's house, and the TV was turned to Fox News. I'd been doing some work on my laptop all day, and every ten minutes, it was "we're just moments away from expecting smoke to come out."

This went on for three or four hours. I left the room for fifteen minutes to go find a phone charger, and all of the sudden, my mom yelled from the kitchen that there was white smoke.

I'd missed it!

Naturally, I ran back to the kitchen, where we had fifteen (ish) people huddled in the kitchen, watching the smoke come out.

We all talked about memories of seeing past Popes being elected, and my mom, grandmother, brothers, sister, cousins and myself all moved to the family room where there was a larger TV and more seats.

The waiting continued as I eagerly texted some of my closest friends (most of them aren't even Catholic). We all got excited when the camera panned onto the balcony and we saw people hiding behind the windows.

The Cardinal came out and announced Pope Francis. My church at home is St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, so Francis is kind of a close church name to my family.

Then Pope Francis came out. The picture at the top is him when he first came out. I love it because he's so overwhelmed and it's kind of cute and adorable in a little kid way. He's in shock, and when he asked people to pray for him, it was obvious that he wasn't going to be like any other Pope we've seen in a long time.

I'm excited to see what Pope Francis will do to our wonderful church. And I pray for him, because he's got one of the toughest jobs in the world.


Two Hats, One Girl

Well, okay, I don't actually own any hats. That I know of. I hate hats because they give me horrible hat hair! But, that's not the point of this post. The point is...

I'm at a crossroad in life, and I didn't really realize it until the other night, I got an email from one of my co-workers at Entranced about hosting an author on my blog. The email was sent to my blog email. Of course, I was happy to help in whatever way I could, but what really struck me was when she emailed me again, apologizing because she hadn't realized I was the same Laura she worked with!

Which made me laugh. Are my personalities at work and on the blog so different that not even a last name like "Toeniskoetter" makes it obvious I'm the same person?

Naturally, I'm a happy, goofy girl. I make faces at people all the time, trying to get a laugh (I just get an eye roll from my mom). 

That picture is my cover photo on my facebook profile. I think it's an awesome photo. It shows that I'm not afraid to look a little stupid and that I enjoy life. 

Then there's this girl. 

This is the picture I use as my "author" picture. It looks nice and posed, and it's not too flashy or anything. It's the picture on my writing facebook page and my writing twitter account. Ever since I started the job at Entranced Publishing, my writing persona has been shoved front and center in my life.  For a long time now, I feel like I've been so focus on my blogging - growing it and nurturing it (it sounds like a garden!) that I've let the one thing that led me to blogging fall to the side.  I was the two sides of me to co-exist, but still stay separate from one another. 

I want them separate, but I still want people to know that while I may have different sides to me, there is only one me.

There's only one Laura. (Well, I mean, there's only one Laura Toeniskoetter. There's more than one Laura.)

At this point, I'm trying to play the balancing act of author and blogger. And well, it'll be interesting how that goes. 


Bloggin' From the Apps

So, I'm a teenager. I'm a blogger. I'm a publicist. My world literally revolves around the little apps on my phone. I use it to keep in touch with people, to promote my latest blog post, or maybe an author I'm promoting.

I've had many times when someone looked at my phone and asked me "why do you have that app?"

"Because I blog."

Yeah, lets put it this way.

Most teenagers think that's a really stupid answer.

But today, I'm going to show you some of the apps that I use most for my little blog here.

Bloggo - This app has been out for two weeks, but it's pretty nifty. It was made by Dana at Wonder Forest. At first, I was kind of skeptical of the idea of using an app to blog, mainly because the official blogger app sucks. Big time. But last week, I was in a rush, needing to do a post, and I had no computer. So I took the chance and opened up the app, and ten minutes later, I had a whole entire post, already up and ready on the blog. It's well designed, both on the eyes and the way it works. I will be using this post again.

Evernote - Okay, I use this app for everything. My notes for class, my notes for my books, my notes for work, my notes for anything, it'll be on Evernote. I write down blog ideas, and I love that it syncs with my evernote app on my Mac. Win.

Facebook Pages - This app is really nice for tracking stats for your facebook page. It also allows you to post and comment as your page. 

Twitter - I think twitter is pretty self-explanatory. Twitter is used to interact with other bloggers and to promote my posts. 

Google+ - I'm trying to get more active on Google+ because everyone says it's going to outpace Facebook, and I want to be there if it happens. I think I've opened this app twice. 

Just Unfollow - This is great for twitter. It shows you who follows you that you aren't following. It shows you who you follow that doesn't follow you. It shows people who've unfollowed you. If there's a stat about a follower on twitter, you've got it in this app.

Followers - Same general idea, but for instagram. 


Instagram - I love this app. So cool. I think everyone is on instagram, and I can't blame them!

VSCO Cam - I just got this app last week. I love it. The pictures are so clear and I love the editing selections! 

So, these are some of the apps I use when it comes to my blog. What apps do you use that I didn't mention?


good blogger, bad blogger

So, maybe I'm a bad blogger. I changed my layout for the second time this week. The other one got messed up and I just wanted to start new. I promise, this one is here to stay.

So, maybe I'm a bad blogger. I only posted three times this week, and one of those posts was almost at the end of the day and another one was written quickly on my phone during class.

So, I'm a bad blogger.

Know what?

I don't really care anymore.

I've already told you how I'm not a typical blogger. I don't have fancy pictures of what I wear all the time. One, my closet isn't big enough to feature everything I wear only once. I repeat outfits a lot. and two? Well, I don't really have the means to have someone do pictures of me all the time. Maybe next year I will. Or maybe after I graduate college. Or maybe I'll marry a man who doesn't know anything about photography, but he's still willing to take pictures of me for the sake of a little blog.

I don't do giveaways all the time. Sorry guys, but honestly, the blog isn't quite big enough to host giveaways yet. When I do, nothing ever happens. We gotta keep growing.

I try not to do depressing posts all the time. No one wants to read that sob story, I get it.

I'm only nineteen, I haven't gone through divorce, lost a parent, or anything super depressing like that. I mean, I've had depressing things happen, but not quite to those extremes.

I've only lived through so much. I'm young.

There's a lot of things I can't do that other bloggers can, whether it's because of lack of resources, or no money, or whatever it may be.

And if that makes me a bad blogger, so be it. At least I enjoy blogging. In fact, in the past few weeks, I've felt like a better blogger than ever before.

Blogging was this little hush-hush corner of my life, my parents raised eyebrows, rolled their eyes, and my sister was like "Why the heck does she blog?"

Then last week, I invited all these people on my facebook to like the howdy girl facebook page. And most of them did.

Which is nice because it's losing a lot of traffic. Stupid jerks that unlike pages.

The point is, I'm coming into my own about blogging, and it feels right.

So, maybe I'm not a good blogger.

Maybe I'm a bad blogger.

But I'm okay with that.


catholic to the core // confirmation

Tenth grade, I was confirmed. In the Catholic Church, confirmation is kind of like accepting your faith yourself. Catholics are baptized as babies, which is seen as the parents agreeing to raise their baby as a good Catholic (sadly many don't anymore).

Confirmation is the baby, who's usually 16 at this point, standing up and saying "I'm making thins choice myself to continue my catholic faith." 

Confirmation was a crazy year. There were service hours to complete, interviews to conduct, and a retreat to attend. Then finally, after a long, crazy year, it was May. 

Confirmation is kind of like high school graduation. You've finished with the Sunday school education, but there's still so much to learn. Three years after, I'm still learning things about my face. 

The night of confirmation, my family went to church and I had to sit in the pew (something I never do because I sing in the choir) and listened to mass. There was over 140 kids being confirmed, so mass dragged on during the sacrament. Thankfully, I'd been stuck somewhere in the middle of the mix, so it kind of broke it up. My sponsor was another girl from the choir, so we passed the time by singing "Ubi Caritas" with the rest of the choir. We harmonized with the rest of the songs, causing people to look at us, but we had fun. 

In fact, the gathering song that night was a song that my sponsor, Michelle, and I grew up singing together, it's kind of "our song," so to sing it at confirmation was really special. 

Confirmation was one of the best things that happened to my spiritual life. Kind of like rebirth with oil. Amazing. 


Three is for Pink

First, I want to say thank you. Because you know what it is? Today is the blog's third birthday. Three years since I opened up blogger and clicked the little "make blog" button. Granted, it's been ten months since Howdy Girl was "born," but the blog has been here so much longer than that. What started out as a blog about writing has grown into so much more.

And I can't wait for it to keep growing.

The blog saw so much growth since I relaunched it back at the end of last May. This past summer was the biggest thing that ever happened to Howdy Girl. But I'm ready to change that. I'm ready to watch the blog explode it to new limits and heights. I can feel it coming, I know it's almost here.

There are so many exciting things happening this month that I simply cannot wait to share. So many things this year that are happening that I'm so grateful because I'll be able to share because on this blog. The blog is ever changing, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Year Three, this is going to be the best one yet. I just know it will be.


Ask Away

As my blog and I grow, I've tried several times to build up an FAQ page. And they've always failed. So, this is it guys, let's make an FAQ page! I'll do my best to answer every question that I can.


life according to my iphone // february

1 - my blog planner. Didn't stick 100% it, but it definitely helped.
2 - Reunion Tower in Dalals
3 - Found this sticky note in a bathroom. Great message and I really needed it at the time.
4 - Ash Wednesday
5 - trying to tune my guitar when I was at home.
6 - fire escape map at church in the choir room
7 - Cowboy boots
8 - My gorgeous campus
9 - Getting ready for church
10 - Aggie, my baby
11 - Suzanne, my other baby

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