Monthly Archives: October 2011

7 Quick Takes — Grass Edition

This week’s quick takes are inspired by a quote I came across recently which has been stuck in my craw for a while now.

The grass is greener where you water it.


I discovered an awesome blog, Homestead Revival. She posts lovely ideas for the home, garden, and chickens! I wish we had chickens. Maybe someday.

Anyway, the post I linked to above is inspiration for doing a “simple kitchen” makeover. I spend a lot of time each day in my kitchen working, and just about an equal amount of time wishing it looked better.

Well, thanks to that post, I realized the importance of surrounding myself with pretty and functional things. If something is ugly, even if it’s super-functional, I will hate it.

So I spent the better part of Thursday afternoon scrubbing, cleaning out cabinets, and moving things around. With three baskets purchased from Target, and a few glass canisters added to my wish list for future purchase, I’m on my way to having a pretty and functional kitchen.

Watering my grass.


This is a new goal for our home; to fill the rooms where I spend most of my day and do a lot of work into spaces that are pretty and functional.

The laundry room will be the next space to makeover. It’s in our basement, which means there’s only so much I can do. However, our basement is being painted, and I’m going to be on the hunt for ideas to make a basement laundry room as pretty and functional as possible. If you have any ideas please share them!

This post has some great ideas as well.


Sometimes in order to “water the grass”, you need to step back from your home and travel to places which “water” your soul. This weekend Atticus and I are doing just that. We’re spending tonight with his parents, and then he and I are going to the second most beautiful college campus in America for the day:

Now, I’m sure this assertion has you wondering, “Well, if Notre Dame is second most beautiful, which is the first?” Friends, let me tell you. My alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD.

Founded in 1808, it’s the second oldest Catholic college in America, and has been on the Cardinal Newman list for the last several years as well for strong Catholic identity. It’s also home to the National Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.

In fact, the grotto at Notre Dame is a replica of the (larger) one at Mount St. Mary’s. No big deal.

Anyway, even though I love ND, I love the Mount more. But alas, South Bend is closer than Maryland. *wistfully looks east*


Going back to my pretty and functional goal, I found some words that I want to post in those areas where I need inspiration.

I LOVE that!

What words inspire you?


Friends, I have a baby girl into everything, and so I’m going to end these quick takes with some more shots from our fall photo shoot.



Isn’t she so cute? Well, I guess I might be biased.

That’s all folks, and I hope you have a very “grass is greener” weekend.

Check out Jen for more quick takes.

Celebrating the Hallowed Days

I love these, especially the pro-life o’lantern!

One of the most wonderful times of the liturgical year is upon us, the Hallowed days; All Hallows Eve, All Saints, All Souls. Here are some ideas I’ve found for bringing these feasts home.

All Hallows Eve (Halloween, October 31st)

Does your family “do” Halloween? Both Atticus and I grew up celebrating, and I personally love it, so it will be part of our family’s tradition. This year, Maggie’s first Halloween, she’ll be dressing up and we’ll be going trick-or-treating with some friends of ours in their neighborhood. In fact, Maggie’s little friend is going to have the same costume.

in terms of celebrating this feast, there are so many options. Trick-or-treat or not? Harvest party or not? Scary costumes or not?

One writer from had an excellent post about celebrating Halloween in the Catholic home. I love her idea of letting your child’s costume for Halloween be that of a saint who was a martyr. Saint Lucy, for example, and your daughter carries around fake eyeballs.

Her point being this:  “We’re Catholics, folks.  We own weird, bizarre, and even slightly creepy.  We reverence bone-y relics, we do exorcisms, we have holy cards of St. Peregrine showing off his cancerous leg.  We look death and evil squarely in the eyes and say, “Oh, it’s you” and roll over on our beds to go back to sleep.  We do this because we know that Christ has conquered death.”

Yes! Plus, who doesn’t love fun-size snickers?

Speaking of food, if you are planning to have a party or other gathering on All Hallows Eve, these “ghost” cookies from Catholic Cuisine are so cute!

Holy Ghost Cookies

  • Nutter Butter Cookies
  • Almond Bark
  • Mini-Chocolate Chips

Take the Nutter Butter cookies and dip them in melted almond bark. Use mini chocolate chips for the eyes. Let set on waxed paper

All Saints Day (November 1)

This is the day we reflect upon the life, death, and witness of the Communion of Saints, both those canonized and those known only to God.

There are so many ways to celebrate this very popular feast of the Church. In fact, one of the reasons I am head over heels in love with this feast is the sheer Catholic-ness of it.

Some ideas:

Listen to a requiem Mass, particularly Brahms, Mozart, or Verdi. Reflect on the beauty and meaning of the funeral Mass.

Take time to pray for the intercession of your (and your family’s) saint(s). For us that includes St. Bernadette, St. Thomas More, St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Gianna, and St. Michael.

You can make Saint O Lantern’s instead of Jack O Lanterns. So fun!

These St. Lucy cupcakes are awesome. Since I’m planning on naming a future child Lucy, this recipe is getting tucked away for future use. I may even make them this year, just because I love the eyes. Does that make me creepy or awesome? Probably both.

All Souls Day (November 2)

This might sound morbid, but part of the reason I enjoy the Hallowed days so much, and All Souls in particular, is because there a lot of dead people in my family. I like making a family altar in our dining room, with pictures of all our deceased loved ones, and offering part of our daily prayer for their souls.

We usually leave the photos and holy cards out for the whole month of November, since it is the month of the holy souls.

I wish I was Mexican, because it would be awesome to celebrate Dia del los Muertos, known for it’s macabre and colorful skulls. And this:

If a rosary were ever going to be described as “badass” it would be this rosary.

Even if you aren’t Mexican, your family can celebrate All Souls Day with some of the Dia del los Muertos traditions.

This site has recipes for Sugar skulls, Pan de Muertos, and skeleton cupcakes. I can’t wait until Maggie is old enough to make the sugar skulls, they look like a lot of fun to make and decorate.

Another way to remember your loved ones who have died is by making some of their favorite foods on All Souls Day. This year I’m going to make a Vegetable Pie, which was one of my mom’s favorite things to make and eat. I’ll share the recipe, in case you’re curious.

Mom’s Vegetable Pie
1.5 hours total, serves 6

1 prepared pie crust (either homemade or store bought, top and bottom)
8 oz. mushrooms (fresh or canned)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large head broccoli, chopped (or frozen)
8-10 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
3 large sweet potatoes, cooked (or 40 oz. can)


1. Brown mushrooms in butter and add broccoli. Saute until soft. Meanwhile, bake bottom pie crust at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. Place cooked mushroom and broccoli in the bottom of the pie shell. Add shredded cheddar cheese on top of broccoli. Mash cooked sweet potatoes and spread evenly over cheese.

3. Place top crust on pie, adding slits for steam release.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Do let me know if you try it! It might sound like weird ingredients, but it tastes so good together. Trust me.

There you have some ideas for celebrating the Hallowed days coming up, and I’d love to hear any of yours. Family traditions are a wonderful thing, so share your stories friends. Happy Hallowed days!

You Can Sleep When You’re Dead?


Friends, I need help. We need help. Maggie used to be a great sleeper. We’d put her down in the crib, and she’d sleep for nine or ten hours, maybe waking once or twice in the night for a pacifier. Those days are gone.

It all started about two months ago when she got a cold. She caught her first real, slight fever, snotty nose, can’t breathe cold. Understandably she couldn’t sleep in her crib. So she slept in her car seat and woke up a lot. Then the cold went away. But she still isn’t sleeping. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Let me lay the scene for you:

Monday night: Maggie falls asleep in Atticus’ arms. Put down in crib. Sleeps for 1-2 hours. Wakes up. Takes pacifier. One hour later, wakes up. Wants out of crib. Move to car seat. Falls back to sleep. One hour later, wakes up. At 3:45 am, Atticus takes her out in the car, drives around until she falls asleep, then comes home. Sleeps in car seat until 8 am.

Tuesday night: Maggie falls asleep in car sear. Stays in car seat until morning, taking pacifier once.(sleeps nine hours)

Wednesday night: Maggie falls asleep in car seat. Wakes up two hours later, wants out. Rocked to sleep. Put in crib. Repeat every hour. Realize around 3 am that she will only sleep if someone is holding her. Sit/sleep in recliner until 7:30 am.

Thursday night: Maggie falls asleep in car seat. Sleeps for three hours. Wakes up, wants out. In sheer frustration, take Maggie to bed with us. She sleeps fitfully, tossing and turning, keeping everyone awake. Finally settles at 4 am. Sleeps until 7:30.

Friday night: Maggie falls asleep in Atticus’ arms. Placed in crib. Sleeps two hours. Wakes up, takes pacifier. Wakes up again in an hour. Moved to car seat. Sleeps 7 hours.

And so on. Her sleep is so unpredictable it’s impossible to know what to do to make it better. One night she’ll sleep in the car seat for eight hours, the next night she won’t sleep unless someone is holding her.

We have a bedtime routine. She gets a bath, jammies, some quiet play time in her dim room, a story, a bottle, and a lullaby CD. Then more rocking, and either placing her in the crib or car seat. Some nights she lasts a few hours or all night (though never all night in the crib), other nights only two or three hours, then she wants to be held for the rest of the night.

Even taking her into bed isn’t great because she sort of sinks down into the mattress, which seems to make it difficult for her to be comfortable. Then Atticus won’t sleep in bed with me if Maggie is in bed, and I’m not choosing between my husband and child. I made vows to Atticus, but not to Maggie. The marriage bed is for us. I feel very strongly about this. A night (or part of one) every once in a while (especially if sick) is fine, but I’m not willing to do every night co-sleeping. Anyway, she doesn’t seem to sleep much better in bed with us than anywhere else.

Really, she wants to sleep curled up in someone’s arms. In fact, during the day she won’t sleep anywhere else for any length of time. It’s been over a month since she has napped during the day anywhere but in my lap. It’s getting old.

Our pediatrician told us to try cry-it-out or some variation thereof if we felt comfortable with it. That was several weeks ago, and we hesitated because she does have two teeth coming in. But now, those teeth are most of the way in, and really, it’s not teething pain because we give her a small dose of baby advil every night before bed. We’re open to the possibility of sleep training, though I am not excited about it.

I’d love some suggestions on how you’ve dealt with sleep issues in the past (or present!) and any ideas that have worked for you. I know every baby is different, but I’m sure there have got to be things that work for lots of people. Don’t hold out on me here! Thanks in advance for the advice.

PS: If you’re going to leave a comment telling me I’m a bad parent for (a) not co-sleeping or (b) considering the possibility of CIO, save your breath. What I really need is help, not judgement.

7 Quick Takes Friday


I am officially a coffee-drinker. I really wasn’t for most of my life. Ironically, I developed a taste for coffee during my pregnancy with Maggie, when I drank iced coffee with cream.

Now, when I drag myself out of bed and downstairs, I walk over to the coffee maker and pray “Please let there be coffee.” It’s better for everyone when there is.

What I want to know is, how were they able to convey with such truth how I look before the coffee is ready?


That said, I do love tea also. My favorite varieties are Mighty Leaf Bombay Chai and Earl Greater Grey.

Are you a tea person or a coffee person? Or both?


Tomorrow and Sunday Atticus and I are facilitators for our parish’s marriage prep program, One in Christ. It is such a truly awesome program. We’re very blessed to be part of it.

But we have to be there at 8 on Saturday. I’m just saying. That’s early.

Also, if they didn’t show Fireproof again this year, I could live with that. Seeing that film once in a lifetime is plenty.


I was drooling over a dress at Target and my kind MIL gifted me with it this week.

I love it! It’s so comfortable, and the shade of purple goes great with my brown, black, and gray boots! I also like that the belt is removable, you can change it to a different one. In fact, I like it so much I’m thinking of getting it in black too.
I was also able to get some new black boots this week, thanks to a great sale and a good coupon. I had to sell my previous pair because they did not fit anymore (my feet got a bit wider after having Maggie). Boots are probably my favorite type of shoe. I now have five pairs.
Including these beauties:
That little tiny heel is the highest one I have on any of my boots. What can I say? I live for comfort.
I made applesauce this week! I’m going to give some for Christmas gifts, so I made several jars from the bounty of our trip to the orchard.
No, I am not a canning expert. In fact, I bought the jars that can be canned or frozen, and the applesauce is living in my (huge!) new freezer until Christmas.
Didn’t have to boil anything or worry about seals and botulism or whatever gets into canned items. Just fill and freeze. Just my speed.
Last weekend, my friend Jessica, who is a lovely photographer, did a family photo session for us at a local park.
These are the “sneak peak” photos, and I am so excited to see the rest!
This one is my favorite.
Friends, I am obsessed with Fiestaware dishes. I got a place-setting for four in white at a thrift shop in Chicago, and now I want to get another three or four. Three would be 7, enough for Eric’s family and us, but eventually I’d like a setting for 8, since that’s a nice round number.
Also, we are hosting Christmas dinner this year. I came across this idea for the place setting, and I LOVE it.

Imagine it in white with red ribbon!

Sigh. I love it.

Anyway, I love Fiestaware. It’s durable, and pretty, and made in the USA! This makes me excited.


What are you excited for on this fall Friday?

One Thousand Gifts: An Invitation

Friends, did you ever start reading book and feel tingly? Start to feel as though perhaps this book might shake up your little world? Did you ever then decide not to keep reading?

To walk away. Stay safe. Comfortable.


I have. Stagnant is like ratty old sweatpants. Comfy as hell, but does nothing for you.

I started reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts a few months ago. I read two chapters in, got scared and closed the book. Put it in the library drop box with a thud. Now I’m ready to check it out again.

This book is called “A dare to live fully, right where you are.”

If that isn’t scary, what is? Aren’t reaching, striving, wanting the “next big thing” part of the human condition? It sure seems like it. It’s a habit I can’t seem to shake. Can you?

So I’m taking the dare. Will you join me?

If you’re not sure, you can read the first chapter here.

If you’d like to read it together (as together as we can be via screens), please let me know. As we sit down at our keyboards to type, we can all imagine we’re chatting over tea.

True Empowerment

Hello friends. Today I’m writing at some reflections from my years as a counselor at a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Chicago. Please check it out if you feel so inclined.

I’ll write something here this week, I promise! Now off to do yard work (boo).

Relational Giving

I forgot to link you all with my post at this week! I wrote on Monday about ideas for doing Christmas without materialism. I’d love it if you check it out and share your ideas as well!

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