Friday, April 28, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Wine, Art, and...Feet

1. No fancy numbering for me tonight. Just the good ol' fashioned numbers. It takes too long to center, use hyphens, etc. and ain't nobody got time for that. ;)

2. But what I did have time for was a relaxing (steaming, sauna-like) hot shower and a little pedi-care while the hubby watched the baby. My poor feet. I've been a barefoot country girl most of my life and my feet are showing it. What do y'all do to care for your feet when you can't afford pedicures? I tend to use a pumice stone, some lotion (or petroleum jelly-- thanks, grandma!), and wrap them up in socks for the night hoping for some soft, gorgeous feet in the morning. At any rate, my toes are a cute spring pink color right now. Okay, did I really just spend a whole number on feet?? Moving on...

3. I'm sipping wine right now and it's sooooo good. I've only drank a handful of times since having the baby, mostly out of fear with breastfeeding, but I'm starting to get the hang of a glass of wine and how little it affects my milk supply. Cheers!

4. This is the first weekend in a long time that we haven't had anything on the schedule. And they're calling for rain and storms. Go figure. This month has been so busy and May is looking similar! But I spent the last two days home all day and it was wonderful. If you follow me on IG, you saw the awesome book I have from the library right now: Little House Living. It's fascinating and chock full of DIY ideas for beauty and hygiene, baby/kids, and cooking. Today I made pantry mixes of cake mixes, cornbread mixes, bread machine mixes, and more. I love that they are chemical free, frugal, and convenient-- total win.

4 (and a half). Dinner tonight was supposed to be spaghetti with some delish sauce I had gotten out of the freezer yesterday to thaw for tonight...but when I went to boil the noodles I realized I was out of them and only had lasagna noodles and a handful of rotini. Into the pot they went, with the lasagna noodles broken up into bite size pieces!! What I thought was a fail turned into a win-- the texture reminded me of ravioli!

5. I finally tried out the Baby Tour at our local art museum this past week and it was fabulous! (Despite a major diaper blowout from baby G on arrival...never fails.)  They gave each baby a board book filled with pictures of paintings and sculptures at the museum, so if you read the book to your baby a lot, they might recognize some of the things if you come back to the museum. So cute! My friend and her baby joined us, and many of the other moms seemed so friendly and open. Great place to meet new mom friends.

What do you think of this painting, mom?

6. Speaking of, next week I'm going for coffee with a new friend and having a play date with a different new friend and her girls later that week. I'm so thankful for the wonderful women God continues to bring into my life. I feel really blessed with all the friendships I've made here since marriage-- and that my old friendships are still thriving despite the distance.

7. My wine is gone and the baby is I'll quickly just mention that I took up a temporary job with a crisis pregnancy center that needed some transitional help. It's a half day per week and they are letting me bring the baby (pro-life all the way!). It's been nice yet challenging! I definitely could not work with a baby permanently but I'm happy to help them out for the month and am so grateful for their flexibility.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends! I hope yours is less rainy! (Or that if it's rainy, you can get all snuggly with books and movies and warm drinks!) Let me know what you're up to with some comment-love!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Devotions from the Kitchen Table: A Book Review

Food has somewhat become a passion of mine. I think it's because we all have to eat, so we might as well make it fun! ;) And as the wife/mom/cook of the family, I spend a LOT of time in the again, might as well enjoy it! ;) But even beyond all that, there's something special about the kitchen and meals as a family. Food draws us together and nourishes our bodies while we go deeper in conversation and quality time together. I love that food and treats and meals are such an integral part of daily life as well as special occasions. Even at church, we celebrate together with the Eucharist-- a meal!

Devotions from the Kitchen Table combines my love for the kitchen with my love for God. The book itself is gorgeous, a hardcover with beautiful colored pictures on every page and a sweet ribbon bookmark. But I was also pleased with the devotions themselves! I thought they might be a little superficial and just about the warmth and love of family and friends around our table...but they also go deeper than that. It's a lovely tone of slowing down and being grateful, with a touch of gentle conviction about misguided expectations and learning to trust God more.

I was so pleased with this devotional. I think it would make such a great bridal shower gift tucked among some kitchen towels or mixing bowls!

[Thank you, BookLook Bloggers, for my complimentary review copy! This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!

Easter blessings to you from our family! May the Risen Lord give us hope this season as we remember and celebrate that HE can overcome anything in our lives holding us back from the joy and peace He wants us to experience!** 

**My husband took a walk with the dog last night and wished a neighbor man a 'happy Easter.' The man grunted and said 'just another day.' It hurts my heart to think of those hurting on holidays-- the poor, the lonely, the singles (I remember, girls!), the childless...and honestly, each one of us has our brokenness that surfaces during the holidays. Even now, the hubby and I argue, or family gatherings aren't perfect, etc. etc. But let's all remember no matter what we're struggling with, that Easter is never just 'another day.' It is truly the reason for our hope-- that Christ died to give us new and eternal life, and that He overcame the grave and every darkness we may ever experience. Seek the Light this Easter season. The darkness cannot overcome it. Lots of love to each of you. Thanks for reading and being my friend.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Triduum Plans

It's here! The Triduum has begun! (For Catholics, the Triduum is the three days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. We remember and celebrate the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus' carrying the cross and His death for us on it, and then the burial and the waiting, the "in between" time, of Holy Saturday.)

Though my Holy Week started rather shakily, I'm excited about the Triduum and I've seen God's grace at work through this week. I was able to experience the sacrament of Confession on Tuesday and felt so much grace and mercy from the Lord's forgiveness. It has helped me clear my mind and heart to focus on the upcoming liturgy.

It's a blessing to be home this year, whereas previous years I've had to work on these days and it was more of a rush to get to a Mass or service. I'm thankful to be able to have the church events be the focal point of my days this year, although I know it will be a challenge to stay focused once I'm there and little G is moving all around! ;)

Holy Thursday: today I'm trying to clean the house, make a couple pot pie casseroles, one to eat today and one to freeze. Since we'll be with family on Easter, I know it would be nice to come home to a clean house and leftovers in the refrigerator. Plus I'm just in a spring cleaning kind of mood. Our neighborhood is blooming with cherry trees and flowers and I'm all about wiping the windows so we can see it better! This evening we'll head to our parish's Holy Thursday Mass. Today is such a rich day of layers-- the Passover of the Old Testament, the Last Supper of the New Testament, and the Mass and Eucharist celebration of today. The instructions to roast the lamb and eat it...the breaking of the bread to become the Body of the Lamb, "This is My Body, given up for you"...and now receiving the Eucharist as we do indeed remember and "do this in memory" of Him. Thank you, Jesus, for this incredible gift.

Good Friday: my husband has the day off, which will be so nice. I plan to spend the morning catching up on the rest of the laundry and cleaning, and then hopefully spend the afternoon hours in the solemn quiet and reflection warranted by the day. I wish our communities still observed the noon to three closings of businesses and schools and such. But we'll try to shut off our media and music and have our own solemn remembrance at home. Our parish has a service at noon or the neighboring Catholic church has one at 2pm, depending on the baby's nap schedule. ;) In past years, I've watched the Passion of the Christ but I'm not sure I'll be able to sit through a whole movie this year.

Holy Saturday: I love Holy Saturday. I read once that we tend to spend a lot of our lives in "Holy Saturdays." We don't daily have the tragedies of Good Friday nor the rejoicing of the Resurrection and Easter, but rather we live a lot of our lives in between those two extremes...and often waiting and hoping for something in the midst of the ordinary. I love that. I'll probably spend the day preparing for Easter. I'd like to put out my spring and Easter decorations, including my bird feeder and wind chimes outside and decorating my seasonal chalkboard inside. I'm making carrot cake for our Easter dessert (dairy free! Yippee!) and might make some deviled eggs (my husband hates them but my mother-in-law loves them...). I wish we could make it to the Easter Vigil Mass to top off the Tridduum because there's just nothing like that Mass. The new Catholics coming in to the Church, all the extra Scripture readings, the candles and the music!!! But alas, our baby is at that too-old-yet-too-young stage for it and I know the Lord understands. I do look forward to worshiping at the Easter morning Mass (and on a less pious note, G and I have very closely matching dresses, even though I found hers secondhand recently and have had mine for years. Very excited to snap some mother/daughter pics!). Someday when G is older, I want to make Resurrection cookies with her-- have you seen those? They are the ones like meringue cookies, where each ingredient stands for something in the Passion of Christ, then you put them in the oven ("tomb") and seal it overnight, then on Easter morning you wake up and they're not only ready to eat, but they're hollow or "empty" inside, just like the tomb after Jesus rose! :)

If you're still with me after all this rambling, you're a true friend! haha! What are your Triduum or Easter plans this year?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Martha, Mary...and Judas

A few sentences in to the Gospel (John chapter 12), I could recognize the story. The one about the dinner with the Apostles where Mary poured the costly perfumed oil on Jesus' feet to show her love for Him. Judas got upset and Jesus rebuked him and praised Mary's act of worship. I read on. Part of me grimaced at the sentence about Martha-- Martha was serving the meal. Always serving and working and doing while Mary sat. Although this wasn't the passage about Martha being too busy, so this time likely she was serving out of love for Jesus.

I usually identify with Martha. I tend to be a do-er, a worker, a list maker, and I feel accomplished by hustling and bustling and getting things done. While I enjoy rest and refreshment and every once in awhile identify with Mary and simply sitting at the Savior's feet, my first inclination is to do. But as I further read the passage with Mary and Martha, I realized that sometimes...I'm neither of them.

I'm Judas.

Mary was sitting at Jesus feet, listening and repenting and loving.

Martha was serving Jesus with love, likely listening to His wisdom with an open ear and heart from the kitchen.

But Judas? Though he was a follower of Jesus, Judas was focused on himself and his own well-being. He tried to be in control. He was upset at things Jesus allowed, like the waste of the costly oil. He was greedy. He didn't trust Jesus for his future but instead took things into his own hands.


I've done all those things. All while proclaiming to follow Jesus. What a painful realization. But you know what? Jesus loved Judas too. He met him in the garden of Gethsemane with a kiss, even though Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray Him. What love, what mercy. 

We all have our Judas moments. But we also have our Mary and Martha moments. By His grace, may we be true followers of Jesus who not only sit at the table with Him, but truly listen and serve and love Him with all that we are and all that we have.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

God Loves Mommy and Me (A Book Review)

My daughter loves it when her daddy reads to her. They usually lay on the bed or the floor and both look up at the book while daddy reads (usually because she can't reach it to chew on it at this age! ha!). I've gotten several 'daddy' books for them to read together but this one struck my fancy this time. The mother-daughter bond is just so precious and I couldn't be more grateful to have my own little girl. This book is a sweet celebration of that and all the fun things we can do together. Even more, though, it's a celebration of God's love for not only children but also their parents. Some specific things I loved about this book:

-The padded board book style. So durable yet pretty.

-The beautiful and sweet illustrations

-The discussions of God's love for us in the 'gifts' He sends us, like dandelions to pick or rain puddles to splash in

-The discussion of mommy's love and how God's love compares to yet surpasses that (God's love reaches to the sky like when mommy helps me fly high on the swings).

-My favorite line: "God loves Mommy and me, and when we make mistakes, We say 'I forgive you'-- that's the difference that love makes." It shows a little bunny and mommy bunny picking up a dropped spoon and mess in the kitchen. Such a precious teaching!

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my review copy at no cost. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Monday, April 10, 2017

When You Feel Unholy [During Holy Week]

Thanks to Sweet Little Ones for my Lenten printable!
It seems to happen every year around this time. The holiest week of the year is here and I'm feeling quite the opposite.

The good stuff first: it's been an overall good Lent with fasting from social media (minus the times I cheated...). I've kept in tune with liturgical living more than usual and have had simple decorations even when the first day of Spring presented itself. I've held off putting out the bird feeder, wind chimes, fresh flowers, and such things simply to make Easter even more celebratory. My days have been quieter and more contemplative for the most part.


I have gotten into a nasty habit of negativity. I'm sure I can think of lots of excuses (postpartum hormones? PCOS? lack of affirmation? long winter?), but no real reasons for it. The sad truth is I have simply focused more on the difficulties in this current season and vocation than the blessings of it. I sigh and eye roll and grumble way more than I want to admit. I shuffle around with a slave mentality instead of a servant-heart. Even my husband has noticed. (Or maybe if I'm being honest, I'm even moreso that way around him so he knows "how hard" my days are...). It's embarrassing and I'm ashamed of it.

Even God has gently corrected me a few times. I've learned from our book club last year to zero in when God speaks twice-- usually a verse or phrase or topic that comes up more than once in a personal way. In the span of a few hours, I had TWO Bible verses/themes repeated on the radio and in books I was reading: To "rejoice in the Lord always" and "when you seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you." I knew God was reminding me He is the reason for joy and the only way we can have steadfast, constant joy. He was also encouraging me to seek Him in my days and to find Him in my family, but not halfheartedly.

I improved for awhile but soon fell back into my negative slump. Which is where you find me today, on the Monday of Holy Week. Feeling very unholy.

But you know what? Maybe it's not a bad thing to feel this way at the beginning of Holy Week. Maybe that's exactly where I need to be on this Monday before the Triduum. Because this is the starting place of remembering how much I need a Savior. This is the posture of repentance where I can receive mercy and grace. This is where I can focus on Christ on the Cross and learn better how to carry my own cross and to lay down my life in this season. And this is where I prepare for joy, true joy, the joy that comes from knowing that yes, I am unholy, but there is a Holy One who died for me and rose from the grave. My unholiness doesn't faze him. He is at work in me, always working on a resurrection for the dead, sinful places within me.

If you are feeling in a dark place this Monday, take heart! Enter into each moment of this week knowing that Christ too walked through darkness so that we would know redemption. Walk with Him carrying the cross and sit at His feet while He hangs there with love for you, just as you are. Know that He is stronger than any sin or struggle in your life. In the end, the Son will rise, the Light will shine forth, and that is reason for us to rejoice!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Donuts

Since a couple of you commented about the donuts, I thought I'd share the recipe! It's so, so easy, I'm almost tempted to pretend it's this complicated, secret recipe.

But we'll keep it real. It's a cake mix!! The only difference is you use a few less eggs. My favorite thing about the recipe is that you can choose different cake mix flavors. My goal is to let our kids/family choose flavors for holidays and birthdays-- like maybe baby G will want cherry chip or another child would choose funfetti. And then there's always red velvet for Christmas or spice cake for the Fall. The possibilities are endless!

Here's the deets:

1 cake mix
1/4 cup oil
1 cup of water
1 egg

Mix and pour into sprayed donut pans (I got mine from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and they are nonstick Wilton brand). Bake at 400 for around 10 minutes. They are fairly cake-y and I do want to try my hand at a from-scratch recipe sometime to see if I can make them a little more dense, but my hubby thought these were amazing and raved about them. So as long as he's happy. ;) For the frosting, I did a quick glaze with milk (almond milk in my case) and powdered sugar. You could also add a touch of butter or vanilla for additional flavor. For the chocolate frosting I did the glaze just mentioned but added melted chocolate chips. That frosting was heavenly, esp. when it hardened somewhat in the fridge. Don't forget the sprinkles on top!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Water Advisory Adventure

Last week the doorbell rang on a Monday morning and by the time I corralled the baby and the dog to answer it, there was simply a notice hanging on the doorknob.

There was a water boil advisory, in which our whole street needed to boil any tap water before using it for drinking, washing dishes, cooking, or brushing teeth. They would let us know in three days if it was lifted or extended.

I glanced at the dirty dishes on the counter as I thought about all the ways this was going to cramp my style for the next few days. And all of a sudden I was very, very thirsty. ;) Questions ran through my mind, like what do I do with the ice machine in our freezer? What about the dishes I just ran through a cycle in the dishwasher? All of a sudden it felt like I use water for everything!!

But as I dragged my two big soup pots onto the stove and started boiling, a part of me got giddy-excited that I was like Laura Ingalls Wilder and all those great pioneer women (ha! except they got their water from a creek while I simply turned on the tap!).

Our advisory only lasted two days, but it certainly made me think and ponder! What a great, unexpected Lenten exercise. The Lord took away something I take for granted and I realized how much I need to be grateful for the huge gift of daily clean tap water.

When my husband and I were in Haiti, we visited a 'tent city', where thousands and thousands still lived in makeshift tents after the hurricane years ago. Water was brought in weekly on a truck and small rations given to each family. Water was precious and scarce to them, yet how often I don't think twice about running the faucet, spilling water, or how quickly I can satisfy my thirst.

Another thing I noticed was how much more intentional and purposeful I was with my water use during the advisory. It took a lot of effort to boil those two pans so I was all about conserving when I washed dishes and I found myself truly focusing on the act of washing dishes and the amount of soap and water. It also took focus not to accidentally turn on the faucet to rinse the dishes, so it caused me to stay simple and stay in the present moment...and I found that I actually (almost?) liked the (soothing?) task of washing dishes.

Finally, I realized that I've been a little whiny about how much time I spend in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, and how difficult that is with a baby (womp womp). But adding the need to constantly boil water took that to a whole new level. When the advisory was lifted, it was actually a treat to be in the kitchen and it seemed so fast and easy to cook and clean, haha. Oh, perspective.

As much as I admire and love to read about pioneer women, and to pretend I have that same strength and stamina within me, I have to admit there was a lot of rejoicing and relief when they lifted the water advisory. That being said, I'm so thankful for the ways it caused me to slow down and be grateful for a gift I use daily and so often take for granted.