Friday, June 24, 2016

Monthly Recap vol.34 ~ June 2016

We're getting on the road tomorrow, so I'm sticking this up here before I leave town.
#vacay #callmecray #cantwaittodoallthethings


Unreal ~ it's on Netflix
I had mixed feelings about this, but the A.V. Club did a nice review of it. (warning: satire)

I am o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with Chef's Table.  Also on Netflix. Stephen suggested we watch it together, and I was totally "meh" about it at first. But as it went on, it became my new favorite show and I binge-watched the entire first season in about a week. And there are more seasons that I cannot wait to watch!!! 
~Jane Steele beside a local Bocce Ball court.~


My kids stayed overnight for a weekend with their Grammy and Gramps, so I did a lot of reading while they were gone.

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright

This book filled me with happy feelings.
If you think, "Why would I read a book about Elvis? I know nothing about Elvis," then I say, "That's a perfect reason to read a book about Elvis." Ignorance isn't bliss; ignorance is a good reason to read more!;) Read my review here.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The genius of this genre-bending book filled with so much happiness. It scratched my botany-loving itch and made me think {Hard sometimes}, but the book was also super entertaining and hard to put down. I wrote a simple and short review on goodreads here

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

This book was a sort of poetic and imaginative retelling of Jane Eyre, but (in my opinion) with the Dickens-esque approach to mood, evil, and justice. I somehow bought it, not realizing the serial killer theme, and I almost bailed out. I'm glad I didn't, but don't say *I* didn't warn you that if you are a light sleeper and you read this book at night, you may have nightmares.  I got the impression it was a touch lighter! ;)

I'm taking Cinder & The Kitchen House on vacay with me, so here's hoping I blaze through those before July!!!! ;) I also plan to reread my favorite G.K. Chesterton essay "The Ethics of Elfland" while we are gone. I have other books I want to read next month so here's hoping! ;)


my I'm The Luckiest Guy on the Upper East Side mix, that's on Spotify ~ Oh my goodness, so many good songs! siiiiiiigh ahhh. (I've probably seen a dozen or so - maybe more- of those bands live #livemusicitsathing #modernityitsathing)

also: I made a short list of bearable hymns 2016, behold: (And I am very excited about it!)


Molly: I really like this pool... but I *really* miss my friends... I haven't seen them all Summer.
Stephen: Molly, it's been one week.

Frances: (wants a clementine) Mommy, I love Lemon Times.

Madeleine: {walking into our church} Daddy, the Big Bad Wolf can't blow down the Church, because it is made of bricks!

Frances again: (rising Kindergartener that she is) Mommy, I spell Flower F-L-O-R!!!!

Madeleine: Is she eating babyfood?
Me: Yes. And when you were a baby, you ate baby-food, too!
Madeleine: And it's stilllllll there. (self-satisfied "mature" smirk, a la Madeleine)
(I actually lol'd at that)

Our kids were incredibly sad that real seals were not skydiving .... 

ah-mazing~ worth watching! Navy Seals skydive into a TN football game carrying American flags. lol

~true to her personality, completely!~
(Happy, silly, absolutely *loves* animals and toy animals, big smiles and full of laughter and joy, and she just looks in my direction and lights up~ Mama's girl!)


(I hope you stick around and enjoy your morning cup of coffee, links style, here at Picture a Skyline!;)

Like a lot of things at Catholic Mom, this one really grabbed me and I feel it is definitely worth reading.
How Do You Pray @ Catholic Mom by Laura Nelson

How to Survive the Election {with maturity;0)} @ The Art of Simple by K.W. Pershey

Cultivating A Life of Order and Wonder @ They Call Me Blessed (by Lindsey Gallant)

~What My Kids Are Into~

Molly finished the first Harry Potter book on June 21st~ We were all so proud of her.
Stephen has continued reading a buuuuunch to the kids every night (Narnia, Rudyard Kipling, a million and two read alouds!)

The kids have also really gotten into the Australian Television show High Five. If you have Netflix and little kiddos, LOOK THIS UP. It seriously is getting us through the Summer. Good choreography, music, singing, acting. The works. And? The kids love it.


What's Your Darkness @ Blessed is She


Thank GOD this poor woman was let off the hook-- finally! ;)
Gorilla Incident~ Mother Cleared of Charges
She shouldn't be arrested; I believe she should be awarded... after all attacks to her person that she endured!!!;)

I am personally not a fan of Hillary Clinton, myself, and I do not stand behind her ideology - her constituents and fans are shallow poorly educated (many of them) feminists who love the "village" tagline-- but the Church has the answer to the facade she paints in regards to real community/eracism). She is wrong about so many things, and she borders on criminality when it comes to her views on abortion.


She was right in this instance:

I'm sorry, but Yes, yes, yes to everything she says here. A million times YES. And I wouldn't be surprised if her ability to be so articulate in situations such as these will award her the nomination and even the Presidency... I would not be surprised at all/a bit because I remember some of the interviews Obama did prior to his Presidency, and I had the same feeling about him and his ability to communicate. ;) To stay calm in a situation like this and speak truth and rationality into the midst of it? A true MOMENT of heroism for her.

Wake up, America.

And finally {last but certainly not least}

story: after watching the episode on French chef in SF Dominique Crenn, from season two of Chef's Table, I was interested to learn what types of tea are generally enjoyed in Europe. I learned that many in Germany enjoy a Assam-Ceylon (spicy dark Indian tea mixed with nasty Chinese tea) and they drink it 3-4 times per day. The French like to dip their pastries into (black, green, or fruity) tea, and the jam sweetens the tea. (interesting!)  And as for Italians...


Pride #coffeeprideforever 
#onemanonewoman ;)
that is all.;)

linking up here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Current Kindle Deals Wednesday Vol. 3

Welcome to the third volume of Current Kindle Deals Wednesday!

As many of you know, I love to read, I love Amazon, and I love the Kindle app (and my Kindle Paperwhite!). I also have reading kids, I'm an avid and prolific reader, myself. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would use those passions to help others. And so, I'm excited to announce that every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future, I will share with you a list of 9 handpicked, carefully procured great books, good books worth reading, and everything in between, here.  I will share Kindle deals, as well as a few good deals in the beautiful hard-bound book variety (meaning, those books that you just can't live without, and you would rather not read on a Kindle).  What they have in common is that they are all readily available to you via Amazon.

She is the spiritual role model of Gretchen Rubin. She has influenced thousands of Catholics. Her spiritual mother asked her to write this account of her life. It was assumed she was a saint during her life.  Indeed, she and her parents have each/all been canonized. What (in the world?!) are you waiting for? Read this.

~Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales (.99 on Kindle)

from the publisher:
As no sensible person would make a long road trip without first consulting a map, so the person intent upon gaining Heaven should first resort to a competent guide to reach that Goal of all goals. And no better guide to Heaven exists than An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

~Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross (.99 on Kindle) 
From the publisher:

The great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross became a Carmelite monk in 1563 and helped St. Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelite order — enduring persecution and imprisonment for his efforts. Both in his writing and in his life, he demonstrated eloquently his love for God. His written thoughts on man's relationship with God were literacy endeavors that placed him on an intellectual and philosophical level with such great writers as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

~The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila (.99 on Kindle)

I wrote this post after reading this stirring and intimate account of the spiritual life of St. Teresa of Avila.  It will make you think, it will inspire you, and it will probably change your life (or at least your outlook on said life!)

I read this about a year ago, and it is so worth reading. I'm glad to have it on the shelf, too. From the publisher:

Renowned in the blogosphere as The Anchoress and as Catholic Portal editor of the popular, Elizabeth Scalia offers a powerful critique of the "gods" we worship today, reminding readers that life's deepest desires can be satisfied only in Christ.

~Pope Awesome by Cari Donaldson

Definitely put this on your reading list! This coming from a Catholic homeschooling mother who converted to the Catholic Church when her children were young. You will read it quickly as she humorously recounts cute stories with her children, birth stories, and a come-to-the-faith/Jesus moment-by-moment account.

Take a two-income, quasi-New Age, newlywed couple with two Greyhounds and the resolve never to have children or to embrace any form of organized religion. Add ten years of hunger for something more. What do you get?

What happens when we lose our looks, our bodies, our minds? We are left to learn the greatest lesson of all: How to follow God's will, at all costs. I have not read this yet, but I plan to! I heard a stirring interview with Raymond Arroyo on The Jennifer Fulwiler show, and I pondered the meaty conversation for days, and shared much of the insight with my husband Stephen on a date.

I love this book, and when I found the series at our local library, I vowed to read it all: it was that good! I'll let the publisher take it away:

Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.

~Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

This is like reading his stand-up in book form. Hilarious. If you give it a chance, you are sure to love the latests from Jim Gaffigan.  From the publisher:

Eaten in your car so you wouldn’t have to share with your children? Gotten hungry while watching a dog food commercial? Does the presence of green vegetables make you angry?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why I Sold My Ergo {Baby Carrier}

typical convo around these parts goes a little something like this:

Me: Yeah, I sold my Ergo.
Them: You did? {thinking You must be a terrible person.}
Me: Yeah
Them: You sold your Ergo? What?!
Me: Uh... yeah?
Them: Why?!
Me: Um.... ?
{long and very dark silence}

Me: Well?

enter explanation here::::
...Now (clears throat) I know that this topic of "baby-wearing-Mamahood" is eh... a touch, controversial. Women, especially Mommas, have their opinion, and usually that opinion is unwavering. And... I know there is a whole science and clear cut philosophy behind it. And, I give you that much: I can see all of the good reasons for said philosophy! I can! But!  I am here to say I actually changed my mind on the fifth kid.

(SHOCKERS- I know!!!!)

There are Dr. Sears advocates out there (And I know this from experience} who are DIE.HARD. advocates for Dr. Sears. It is akin to a religion, from what I can make of it.

Them: Well, you've fallen from grace, then.
Me: ????

They will die a hard death in defense of baby wearing, baby carrying, co-sleeping, and cohabitation;) They will look me up and down. They will walk away flummoxed.

I'm like the "don't be like her" poster child.

{Picture of Me Pushing Baby in Stroller}
subtitle: How dare she?
alternate subtitle: ERGO EGOS, YOU GOIN' DOWN! (must be rapped)

Thus, all joking aside... I would like to lay out the Pro's and Con's of baby-wearing, from my experience with five newborn babies, five babies, five (not all of them yet) toddlers/kids.

If you haven't had that many children, take this with a grain of salt (as you will not completely understand everything I am saying.) AHEM. (self-aware awesome-sauce eyeroll here)

There are definitely multiple ways to view this issue. I think we can all agree that there are many ways to view this issue, and that if you only see one side, you are seeing it in black and white. Here are the arguments for baby-wearing. I did it!

Here are the...
1)  The baby is close: you know their needs right away.

~If the baby cries, they might be stinky or hungry. You know it right away.

2) Convenience (this is huge)

~You can just grab and go~ into a grocery store, into the post office, into the Mall, into Barnes & Noble, into Gap, into Baby Gap, etc.

3) It is better than a swing.

~Because there is no way you can ignore baby's cries if they're attached to you. If they need to nurse, you can do it on the go, even (this was one of their selling points to me when I had my first... I did it approximately almost never.)

4) As they grow, they develop trust of their Mommy.

... and trust is everything in parenting. Right? Right?!

and the....
CONS (womp, womp)
Here are the arguments against baby-wearing:

1) Everyone is different: not all babies will take to baby-wearing.

~You might try an Ergo with a baby, and they may not like it. They will cry, or get uncomfortable, or get grabby or crabby.

2) It can depend on the age.

~You missed the window, and now your baby does not need to be carried all of the time anymore! ;) It might hurt their back. It might squish their legs! You never know! haha

3) Carriers are expensive.

~I sold my Ergo, and right now, my budget is tight. I'm not going to spend that kind of money again right now. Maybe I will in the future, but I'm not buying one right now, so.... there that is! ;)

4) Carriers can be sweaty, uncomfortable, and inconvenient for Momma.

~I could shell out the cash, but I've decided against it, and I've made the conscious choice not to. This is the main reason. They get uncomfortable for legs/particularly backs. 

5) Babies get uncomfortable and squished in baby carriers (particularly, some are better than others.
Baby Bjorns are THE WORST ones on the market. Let's just be honest: They are in no way ergonomic. Nor are they ergonomical. (I Just wanted to say that word). They hurt the baby's legs, and they are horribly uncomfortable on the Momma's back #askmehowiknow #ow)

~It is uncommon that if the Momma is experiencing discomfort, using a Bjorn, Ergo, or Wrap, the baby is *not.*  If your back is sore and your tummy is being squished and someone is poking you, there is a chance that the baby feels the exact same way about the experience! haha

6) Baby carriers get dirty.

~Babies spit up, mommas sweat, and babies need changing.  I know, I know. Just wash it. But they can be an excuse to "do your own thing" because "it doesn't matter what I do, the baby is attached to me so I'm doing it all right." ;) This is another weird phenomenon and it maybe akin to a form of neglect unkindness... but let's be honest (always!) here, I've been guilty of this *ahem* letting them stay wet when they need to be changed because they are in the carrier/wrap.

7) AND THE BIGGEST THING:  Babies *need* time on the floor.

~They need to learn to scoot, because if they don't learn to scoot on their haunches, they will not learn how to crawl. If they are not sitting up at age 6 months, and crawling at age 9 months, you've got a problem (sometimes  BIG), on your hands, if they're nowhere near walking at age 12 months.

8) Finally, Momma's can get tired of Ergos, plain and simple.

~I don't know about you, but in my world, am not strapping on a Carrier and just going for a nice stroll on the Beach. No.... I have to wipe bottoms, go for walks, help 3 littles get dressed, make dinner, swirl the toilets, make lunches, make breakfast, go to the bathroom, pick up toys pick up clothes pick up kids.  If my back is aching, I am doing my baby no favors by dragging her around and squishing her while I get all of these things done.

BOUNDARIES mater and they are important. If a child constantly wants to be held, HOLD THEM! But, it is not SINFUL for a mother to put that baby down (take it out of the damn #ouchy carrier) and get something done. If they're high needs, well... they will still have to learn independence. I'm not saying a newborn is being too needy and the Momma needs to put her newborn down. But, the baby will need to be changed, stretch their muscles, and the Momma needs to do a whole lot of things too. If the carrier is in the way, Momma will become resentful and I think this resentment is a Boundaries issue. Co-sleeping could also be classified as a boundaries issue if your child is constantly co-sleeping.

I think baby- wearing was a good choice for my first three kids/babies. I think it is no longer the choice for me. One reason is that my children are *all* learning independence *be they high needs/high maintenance or not* and..... I feel good about that. If it is the right choice for you, that is fine. I don't judge you if it is for ya, or.... if it ain't!!! haha

What I am saying is: (let's get this out there) IT IS NOT ABUSIVE to *not* use a baby carrier. To *not* co-sleep. To *not* tote them around ON YOUR PERSON at all times. I have just laid out for you COUNT THEM EIGHT reasons why a person may *not* choose to use a baby carrier.

If a person doesn't, don't judge THEM. That momma is different from you. SHE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD AN ERGO. And she may still hold her baby a whole damn lot! You don't know that do you?  She doesn't hate or resent you, so why should you be so arrogant toward her? If she chooses to use an outdoor swing, a stroller, a johnny jump-up, an indoor swirly seat, a baby swing, a baby seat, a padded highchair... DON'T JUDGE HER.  I read somewhere that Ergos were only invented in 2002. I know carrying and baby wearing has been around longer than that but most of the people you know who are over the age of 15 were not *worn.* My parents had a hiking backpack and us kids probably rode in those a handful of times each. It was not typical to see parents wearing their kids around Walmart just 15 years ago! I think they used their *hips*!

Dr. Sears may be amazing, but Mommas-- He did not put *you* in charge of other people's babies! Hell no! You are not the sole person with a brain because you abide by attachment parenting and follow Dr. Sears' advice.

This is a stupid and ridiculous aspect of the Mommy Wars, and ...



for not baby wearing, co-sleeping, and attachment parenting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She can still establish trust with *her* baby in her own way!!!!!!!!!! Do you know how? She holds her on her hip! LOL

Get a life, people!!!!!!!!!

And if you do get a carrier, get an Ergo (PERIOD) The others are for the birds!!!!!!!!!

;););) hahaha

Friday, June 17, 2016

7 Quick Takes~ My Make-Up Routine ~ {& How to Save}

So, let's be real:  I usually don't spend a lot of time talking about shallow things like make-up. Plus, I am a pretty simple gal when it comes to a make-up routine, in general. But it is my personal opinion that a little goes a long way, and when you take the time to freshen up your appearance before heading out for the day, it can improve your mood and your self-confidence, just like a new outfit that fits you well and suits your personality.

I feel like I am finally to a point where I know where to splurge and where to save, as well. I don't do a "full face" of make-up everyday, but I do try to give myself a little sparkle when I have the time, and I definitely wear make-up of some kind when going out with Stephen.  If I am in public, more often than not I feel "naked" if I don't have some kind of make-up basics on. If I do a selfie or a video of myself, I definitely want to have some make-up on, or I look like I just rolled out of bed. ;)

So, today, I give you my 7 favorite beauty products.

~1~  "Happy" by Clinique

First of all, many of you may not consider perfume make-up. But if you're stinky, others notice. If you smell amazing, others notice (namely your husband!)  For so many years I wore "Pink" by Gap, and I feel like "Happy" is the grown up version of "Pink." Fruity and flowery and full of fun!!! I love it and I wear it all the time. Almost everyday. It will probably last me months! ;0)

~2~ Foundation by Almay (save the big bucks!)

I've used Almay off and on ever since I started wearing make-up.  OK this might sound weird, but they have come out with a line called "Smart Shade," and hey! The make-up actually matches your skin-tone using Titanium Dioxide. Basically it's  kind of like Pop Rocks for the face, in that it is like a little chemical reaction when placed on your skin. That might sound strange but it REALLY works for shade matching! Ah-mazing. I love it. It also has a little bit of SPF (15), so I feel like I have a basic tone and a little protection to boot.

~3~ Powder by Cover FX

I got my pressed mineral powder at Sephora, and it has lasted me  I love it. It matches my skin and it really works and fights back the shiny, without looking fake.  It was a little more expensive the drug store brand, but it was worth the splurge, and I will probably go back and buy one compact two shades lighter when I run out sometime next winter!!;)  It really lasts me!

~4~ Blush by Covergirl

I use Covergirl blush in Classic Pink.  I honestly do not understand the difference between fancy blush and this. (In fact, I think it works better).  It works great, I love the color, and it is perfect for everyday wear!

~5~ Chapstick by Burts Bees

I bought a four pack and I keep one in my purse, one in my downstairs bathroom, one in my make-up bag, and one in the cupboard.  I LOVE Burts Bees chapstick, especially Coconut and Grapefruit, and I also love their Peach colored Lip Gloss. I cannot stand anything on my lips that tastes weird or unnatural. I have been using this for forever and I can attest that this will make your lips so happy and they will look so pretty.

~6~ Eyeliner by either Almay or Maybelline

I get Almay Intense i-color eyeliner tube, in dark grey. I love the way it makes my eyes look more awake. Maybelline also makes a really good eyeliner called Master Precise Skinny.  It is a crayon gel pencil, but it actually doesn't look like a crayon or pencil... it rolls up and looks like a thin tube with a top! ;0)

~7~ Eyeshadow by Revlon

I also save on eyeshadow by getting the drug store brand. I use Revlon color stay in Moonlit. I usually save eyeshadow and mascara for Church because mascara drives me crazy in general. It's just one of those not-my-thing things! I'm inconsistent about eyeshadow to be honest.

BONUS: I love this Moroccan sea salt spray (pictured) for adding texture when I wear my hair down. I try to keep it layered and a little above my shoulders, so that wearing it down is pleasant for me and it still looks cute and well-kept.

Annnnyway, I think make-up is fun! Right?! Riiiight?! ;)
this was an unplanned photobomb by Stephen

What do you use? Why do you swear by?

linking up with Kelly

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Current Kindle Deals Wednesday: vol. 2

Welcome to the second volume of Current Kindle Deals Wednesday!

As many of you know, I love to read, I love Amazon, and I love the Kindle app (and my Kindle Paperwhite!). I also have reading kids, I'm an avid and prolific reader, myself. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would use those passions to help others. And so, I'm excited to announce that every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future, I will share with you a list of 9 handpicked, carefully procured great books, good books worth reading, and everything in between, here.  I will share Kindle deals, as well as a few good deals in the beautiful hard-bound book variety (meaning, those books that you just can't live without, and you would rather not read on a Kindle).  What they have in common is that they are all readily available to you via Amazon.

~A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot {50% off if you buy it on Kindle}

I read this exactly one year ago, and it had a very good, encouraging impact on me!

Motherhood and homeschooling had overwhelmed her. The house was dirty, the laundry undone. Holly felt frustrated, discouraged, and alone. She couldn't find time to snuggle and have fun with her five children or to go out with her husband. Yes, she loved Philip and she did love God, but she had come to resent Philip's freedom and she almost never found time for prayer.
Today, everything's better.

~Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset 

This is one of my all-time-favorite books. I have read it at least twice. I love having it on my shelf: it is like a little comfort and burst of happy familiarity to see it there among the other books.

from the publisher:

Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena is critically acclaimed as one of the best biographies of this well known, and amazing fourteenth-century saint. Known for her historical fiction, which won her the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928, Undset based this factual work on primary sources, her own experiences living in Italy, and her profound understanding of the human heart.

~Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton {Currently free on Kindle, and very cheap paperback}

I've read this three times. It is definitely one you should put on the shelf! ;) Chesterton is one of those authors who everyone loves to love and quote, but knowing his work backward and forward is rare. The Ethics of Elfland is one of my all-time favorite essays by a Catholic author, and you can find it here.

~Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan {Great deal for a used copy, but just buy it new, because you're going to want your own!;)} I have read this, and it is as funny as it is cracked up to be for sure. You will cry and laugh and wet your pants.

from the Publisher:

In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children.

~The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

I finally took the time to read this in its entirety last Fall. It feels good to say that, but it is very long. You should still read it though!  It actually is not a Catholic perspective, but I include it because it takes place at a Catholic monastery

~In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden (Worth having an IRL copy on your shelf)

Join the club!  I feel like everyone in the blogosphere was reading this last year! ;)  This book looks into the lives of a group of nuns at a Convent. Godden opens up a world to us, and it is sometimes stilting and sometimes surprising. She is a really interesting writer, and if you're looking to get a taste of her writing, this might be a good place to start! (Although it is rather long- you should know that, dear reader!)  The ending shocked me though, FYI, so be on guard for the unexpected! ;)

~The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (.99 on Kindle)

This has been a longtime favorite, and it was a favorite of my Dad's mom. I have read it and reread it. Keep it somewhere nearby.

~A Little Book About Confession For Children by Kendra Tierney (Great deal for a used copy)

I read this a few years ago when it came out, then read it again when my daughter Molly experienced her first Confession and first Communion! I think it will have a positive impact on you and your children! ;)

~The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home by Leila Lawler (Worth having a hard copy on your shelf)

I was thrilled when this was announced. I bought it upon publication, and absolutely loved it.  I encourage you to get a copy of the hardbound book.;)  You will not regret owning it, as it has beautiful art that can be torn out (perforated pages for the win!) If you are Catholic, and especially if you long to make prayer a bigger priority in each day of your life, this book is the one for you! ;)

If you're wondering why I'm doing this for no pay, read my explanation here.

Happy reading, friends! ;)


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Amazing Summer Dinner Idea~ Homemade Pepperoni Pineapple Pizza

You should really try making homemade pizza sometime. It's a lot of fun, kids can help, and the process IS part of the experience. I once did a can crust for a party, and we all decorated our own pizzas. That can be fun as well! Last Sunday, Molly helped me make it, and it truly turned out delicious!

For the crust:

2 1/4 tsp. or 1 pkg. active dry yeast rapid rise

2 3/4 c. unbleached flour (You can use half whole wheat and half white flour- delicious!)
1 1/4 c. very warm water
3/4 tsp salt
sprinkle of sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil

1. 1 3/4 c. warm water- pleasantly warm on your wrist, sprinkle yeast and let activate 10 min., sprinkling in a pinch of sugar to help activate

2. Put salt and 2c. of the flour into food processor, pulse, then add yeast/water and pulse five times. Add olive oil. Add remaining flour 1 c. at a time, scraping sides as you go. Add the rest of your water, and if it is too runny, add a bit more flour. Empty out and knead 15 turns until dough is elastic, adding flour as needed. It should not be sticky.

3. Allow dough to rise in greased covered bowl for 45 min. (alternatively, preheat/set oven to 170. Turn off oven. Allow dough to rise 30 min). Punch down and divide in half- each half will make a 12 in. pizza.

You can wrap it in Saran Wrap at this point and leave it in the fridge overnight, or as long as you need to. (If there are any hard spots on your dough from refrigeration, just pick them off and throw them away). 

Form the dough into a circular disk. Stretch the crust in a round, spinning pattern, turning as you go.  Keep flattening and stretching until it is the size you want. (Might need kitchen gadgets for this;)  We used a rolling pin, and the thin crust turned out so full of flavor~ try it, even if you can't throw and spin a crust in the air. The more you do it, the easier it gets to make the crust you love and expect from a delivery.

For the Pizza:

Add a dollop of sauce with spoon, using the back of the spoon to spread on your crust.

Add toppings of choice, and lots of shredded mozzarella and fresh parmesan.

Ideas for toppings....
Good Marinara sauce
(could be mixed with sour cream or mayo/cream cheese~this is a Paula Deen fave)
Barbecue Sauce

pepperoni, bacon, italian sausage, (spicy) chicken, (fresh) mozzarella, feta, parmesan cheese, fresh tomato, black olives, ground beef, shredded basil, grapefruit, pineapple, bell pepper, red pepper flakes. Add shredded basil/cilantro at the end to keep it from over-baking.

4. Bake with toppings on 450 for 16-18 min. adapted from Paula Deen's Pizza Recipe, Paula Deen Celebrates c. 2006
*I tried this pizza crust recipe, since it called for sugar unlike Paula Deen's recipe. I found it a bit too dry. I'm going to keep trying crust recipes.
~SEE ALSO: Barbara Kingsolver's pizza crust recipe

Come back tomorrow~ I will be continuing my new feature Current Kindle Deals Wednesday, where I share a list of 9 handpicked books, be they Classics, Kids, Fiction, Nonfiction, or Catholic and where to find them on Amazon!;) See the first installment, here:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Feature: Current Kindle Deals Wednesdays

Today, I am happy to announce a new feature here on this ol' blog: 9 Current Kindle Deals Wednesday.

As many of you know, I love to read, I love Amazon, and I love the Kindle app (and my Kindle Paperwhite!). I also have reading kids, and I'm an avid and prolific reader, myself. Thus, it seemed only natural that I would use those passions to help others. And so, I'm excited to announce that every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future, I will share with you a list of 9 handpicked, carefully procured great books, good books worth reading, and everything in between, here.  I will share Kindle deals, as well as a few good deals in the beautiful hard-bound book variety (meaning, those books that you just can't live without, and you would rather not read on a Kindle).  What they have in common is that they are all readily available to you via Amazon.

Today, let's kick it off with a list of 9 books that I may or may not have pre-read (I'll tell you which is which), that I would recommend to you and I'll tell you the best way to read the book! (And if you find that bossy, head elsewhere!) As it states above, my main categories will be: Kids, Fiction & Nonfiction, Classics, & Catholic.  Each list will include some, perhaps not all, of these categories. I will also try to include an excerpt or blurb for each book title, so that you have some idea if it is worth reading or not! ;) Take it from me, you will want to grab these titles now, so don't you wait!!!! ;)

Here goes!!!!

~ 3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life by Philip Kosloski {currently free on Amazon}

I have not read this, but the publisher says

"Do you struggle with prayer? Do you want to pray, but don't know what words to say?  In this short book, Catholic author and blogger Philip Kosloski takes you on a quick journey through three methods of Christian prayer that have been changing lives for thousands of years. Kosloski covers the following prayer methods: 
1) Heart-to-Heart 
2) ARRR (Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond) 
3) Lectio Divina (Divine Reading of Scripture) 
In this concise and detailed guide, each of these methods of prayers are presented so that you can start deepening your relationship with God immediately."

~It Doesn't Have to Be This Way by Ginny Seuffert {4.95 on Kindle}

Need a parenting shot in the arm from a Catholic perspective? This will be worth your while! I wrote a short post about it here. Coming from a homeschooling Mom who uses the Seton method,  you can certainly trust her advice!  Published by Seton press.

~An Exorcist Tells His Story by Gabrielle Amorth {About a dollar off on Kindle}

We bought this a few years ago and still own this, and I have read most if not all of it. I'm glad we have a copy on our shelves, as we have had some experience with a priest + exorcism, when a good friend of ours' had a child passed away in D.C., while we were living in their rental house. He came over to clear the air and give us some peace during a very difficult and traumatic time. {Shortly thereafter we moved down South and they moved back in, and they've since had another baby, and seem to be doing really well;)}.

~From Burma to Rome by Benedict Rogers {A good deal for a used copy}

I heard about this on The Jennifer Fulwiler show, when she interviewed the author. It is definitely worth reading, I would think.

From the publisher:

 This book tells the remarkable story of Rogers' journey to the Catholic Faith, through the lives of those who inspired him, from Burma to Rome. Benedict Rogers has travelled extensively in Asia, reporting on human rights violations and conflict and acting as an advocate for religious freedom. 

~The Incorruptibles by Joan Caroll Cruz {I'm not very good at math, but I believe that's 30% off if you buy it on Kindle}

From the publisher: 

Continuously popular since it first appeared in 1977, TheIncorruptibles remains the acknowledged classic on the bodies of saints that did not undergo decomposition after death. Many remained fresh and flexible for years, or even centuries... 

~An Accidental Marriage by Roger B. Thomas (Used copy for only 6.72, 30% off on Kindle)

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Catholic Mom has a review and interview with the author here.
I found it practical, thought-provoking, and it was an engrossing fictional account, to boot.  If you are intrigued by the idea that marriage is sacred and is meant for one man and one woman, but you're still in the dark a bit about this teaching, this book is for you!

~Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler {25% off if you buy it on Kindle}

I love this book and I read it when it first came out. This is for you if you have any interest in learning more about the Catholic faith, or conversion for imperfect humans. Or if you are just interested in learning more about what the Catholic church teaches~ this is for cradle Catholics and inquiring minds, alike. ;)

~St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton (2.99 on Kindle)

One of my favorites. If you have not read it, snag a copy and do yourself a wonderful favor. If you have, well, read it again. We all should!

~Until Lily by Sherry Boas {30% off on Kindle}

I finally got around to reading the first in this series this past year, after hearing about this from This Inspired Life podcast, when Kristin did an interview with the author. Go take a listen to that episode, and then if you think it is for you, check it out! ;)


Eventually, I hope to post these somewhere more semi-permanently! For now, consider this a quick window into what's a deal and what's worth grabbing over at Amazon.

If you are wondering why I'm doing this for no pay, the answer isn't simple. ;) I am for one, doing it for fun. For two, to make the blogosphere a happier place and to bless my amazing readers. I also want to give back, as an avid reader, and I want to inspire others to keep reading and learning new things all the time. Last but not least, this is fun for me, so I feel compelled in a very good way to do this legwork for you so that good books be delivered into your hands.

If you are intrigued by any or all of these titles, or have questions, leave a comment for me and let me know your thoughts and/or questions! I will be happy to answer!;)

Happy reading friends! ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Really *Feel* Something When Praying the Rosary

A lot of times when I have prayed the Rosary as a convert to Catholicism, I have sat there wondering: Why don't I feel anything?  Usually in prayer, I feel peace, or I feel moved, or I have a sense of understanding. However, with the Rosary, I have had a hard time feeling anything. I think it is quite sad, and it shouldn't be this way. So I will attempt to break down why that is, and then tell you how the words of my favorite hymn have transformed me and have made me fall in love with praying the Rosary again.

So why don't I "feel" it? I think it can be boiled down to four things.

1. I didn't grow up doing it.

This is the most obvious thing, but it is important. I have had no practice up till five years ago. I wasn't exposed to it; I was completely ignorant of it. How would I deeply feel something if it is completely foreign to me? I've tried to "force it," but that doesn't always work for me. Help?!

2.  I'm not in the habit of doing it a whole lot.

Honestly, even though I have been Catholic for five years already, that doesn't mean it is an ingrained habit for me. Actually, praying the Rosary has been a dreadful thing for me; a habit much like pulling weeds or digging a deep hole in the garden. Tiresome, but it still felt necessary. Because it is foreign, I have to be pretty desperate, like flying-on-abumpy-plane desperate to feel "in the mood."

3. Much of the profundity and purpose for it is lost on me.

Because of the these first two things, I can't really "feel" it deeply, much in the same way you wouldn't really "See" the Church if you didn't understand all of her symbols.

4. It gives me anxiety, because I don't "get it."

This is a real problem, and one I have had to talk about in therapy with my counselor. I told her that if I read anything about death or dying, I would start to think I was about to get a serious illness, or God was trying to tell me he was about to judge me. I have no idea why/where this anxiety was coming from, but I had to take a break from praying the Rosary for a while.

But also, there are several things I can do to make it more powerful. I can...

1. Do it in a good spirit.

I can try to pray the Rosary when I am humble, when I have been to confession, and when I have good intentions for praying it. I can pray when I've been to Mass and my heart is in the right place, and I'm thinking about truth.

2. Increase my understanding of it. (Joyful on Mondays and Saturdays, Luminous on Thursdays, Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays).

I can memorize the prayers, and learn the Mysteries, and study the meaning behind the Rosary. The true purpose of the Rosary is to ask our Mother Mary to pray for us to Jesus. The humbling thing is: we can do it when we are tired, when we are despairing, when we are exasperated, when we are impatient, and when we are- yes, indeed- suffering.

3. Sing worship songs afterwards.

Instead of praying the closing prayers, I can recite the verses of a favorite hymn from my childhood. I can meditate on those words.

This last thing has completely transformed my understanding of- and use of- the Rosary!  If I can turn it into a devotional time, a time for letting the Spirit really penetrate my space, then I can truly accept this prayer as a beautiful aspect of my faith. This last and third step recalls something from my childhood, and that seals it with a sense of familiarity and peace. And I think there is nothing wrong with that! ;)

While I have had many good penances from priests after saying Confession, I've never had a priest tell me to pray the Rosary everyday. Usually, I get something like, "Say three Our Fathers in front of the crucifix and three Glory Be's" or (on a good day), "Offer yourself to God every morning for a week, and pray, asking him to help you to be faithful to Him."

I think saying a Rosary everyday for a week would be an excellent penance for the sin of neglecting it! Perhaps some of us could engage preemptively in this action!;)

What are some of your favorite hymns? I've been shopping around and I think I've found a couple of really good ones!

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, June 3, 2016

7 Reasons Why God Still Loves Me and Chooses Me (In the Midst of My Mesiness)

Does God really know us? And does he really love us and choose US? I think based on God is Love that yes, he loves us even when we feel less-than, or imperfect, or severely inferior to el Queen of her own Ball. ;) Let's be honest: I want to be Queen of the Ball too, but my life is often just a big mess. My kids get lost at playgrounds. My parents help me- a lot. My iPhone gets more attention than it is due. I drink dirty chais and iced mochas more than I care to admit. achoo!;) And I'm left - at the end of the day - feeling like A mess with a capital Me. How could a just God look down on me in all of my awesome sauce mess and still think, "Wow!" {insert long, impressed pause here} "I love her!"

Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite writers, said,

"I've long wanted to be better at accepting help... But being so sick (with grave morning sickness) for so long was a painful education, but one I needed, one that forced me to embrace the risky but deeply beautiful belief that love isn't something you earn, but something you receive, like a balm, like a benediction, even when you're at your very worst." (from her cookbook Savor).

Sometimes it can be hard to experience our own weakness and our own sloth and feel the emptiness of loser-dom.  I hate to use that word, but it is the opposite of winner, and when we are being our laziest, that's what we actually, really are: losers. (I'm just being technical here) ;)

Does God look down on us to find us as his little people, and think, "Man what a loser."

Should we, then, think that of others?

No. Definitely we should never, ever think that way about others.

But I know for myself, that I often think it of others myself.

And I even oftener forget that God really, truly DOES love me.

ME. With all of my flaws.

Why? Why does God still love us, even while we are still sinners? And whiners? And failures and the opposite of winners in it to win it, in so many ways?

Why? Because...

1. He made us.

Would we scoff at our children, who were created to look very much like us, when they make little errors? No! We think they're cute, so we laugh at them and love them. The grace of loving them looks like just that: grace.

2. He has a plan for us.

Does he set us in the world, free-wheeling and alone? Does he tell us to high ball it and hope we don't get arrested? No! No more than we would do that or want that for our own children! He watches us, he provides for us, and he deeply cares about us.

3. He knows us.

When we spend time with dear friends, do we think, "Man, I can't wait to leave this room!" No! Never! When we are with dear friends-- real friends-- we admire them. We sympathize with them. We appreciate them. We think, "Beautiful!" How much more, God who knows our every move, our every desire, our every thought, our every word, our every mistake, our every misstep, our every scrupulous thought?! ;) He is leading us somewhere, and we can certainly trust that he will give us our desires if we delight ourself in HIM.

4. He made us after His own likeness.

When we are with family or very old friends, the love that friends share is even deeper, because we know each other more deeply. We give each other the well of grace that comes from knowing each other. We laugh at the same things, we are skeptical of the same things. Imagine, then, how much his AGAPE love covers us and is poured out over us, when he created us and loves us infinitely more than we can imagine! We're in his image and that's huge.;)

5. He knows all of our minute thoughts, and He still loves us.

When we freak out over the other drivers on the road, does he condescend to us? When we fall on the floor dying of envy when we see someone cooler or prettier than us, does he walk away? When we scream at the insane people making us wait hours or just 10 minute longer than we intended in the Walmart line or the carpool, does he shrug carelessly? No! He knows how much we've had to eat. He knows who is making us feel less-than. He knows we were up late with a baby. He knows we are so tired and were just hoping for a nap.

And even though we aren't being a friend to sinners in those moments? We can be reminded that he loves us, then too and He does love sinners. His love is unconditional, so He loves us at all times. 

6. He chooses us freely, willingly, intentionally.

God chooses us. Yes, he chooses every single one of us. How do we know? He died for us on the cross. He died for sinners. And last time I checked? We were all sinners. We are all in the boat together. Even when we make HUGE mistakes. ;) What does it mean to be chosen? It means he has appointed us to do good works. It's like an adoption, where he shows his particular favor to us. When we pray, he says yes. He chooses us and He calls us to rise up.

7. He wants to see our lives, our talents, and our love come to fruition.

Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, God not only loves us, he wants to see us shine in the radiance of his love and his forgiveness. He wants to see something come of all of our trials and struggles and failures. He wants to make us better, sure, (especially if we are in the clutches of mortal sin), but he still loves us in the midst of all of that!

Do you believe God loves you? You should should should should should!!!!;)  Why do you reject his love? Is it because of something from your past? Is it because your kid has autism or you have failed to adhere to a difficult diet? Or do you just simply believe you are unlovable? You shouldn't. He laid down his life for you. He loves you.


He wants to know you are loved and that you are acceptable, and he wants to heal your soul.

God is not negligent.

He is not forgetful.

He is right there with you, with us.

He wants to be that balm, that benediction.

He wants you to believe in his Resurrection.

He wants you to have faith that will move mountains.

So beg him for forgiveness, and go down on your knees in repentance. He is there. Waiting. Leave your pride at the door.

He will say to you like he said to the tax collector..  Go, your faith has made you well. ;)
linking up with Kelly today.