My friend Mary has been begging for the salad I make in the fall and winter when I have friends over for dinner, so I finally put it up here.  It’s my fall/winter alternative to my balsamic strawberry salad, which I make in the spring and summer.

Patron Saint for 2014

So every year Jen at Conversion Diary runs the Saint Generator, which gives you your patron saint for the upcoming year.

this year, my patron is St. Catherine del Ricci, which is somewhat ironic; she’s the patron of sick people, and was also a lay Dominican (there were called tertiaries, back in the day).  I have to say, after reading about her, I like her muchly. This sounds like a saint I can really like! (Not that we can’t like all saints, but you get my drift. Right?)

Head over to Jen’s if you want your own patron saint for 2014.

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 46

Outside my window::

It’s sort of snowing. What I mean by that is the snow is being uncommital in its desire to come down. It’s sort of just floating along.


Jeans, black flats, a v-neck cornflower blue long sleeved tee from Eddie Bauer. It’s a house day. 🙂


A Dance With Dragons; two Christmas books, Mythology and Charles Dickens (a biography by Claire Tomalin), and trying to finish a book on Italy’s history. And re-reading The Book Thief. 


That last Christmas scarf? Yeah. It didn’t get done in time. So I’m working on that. Also one of my goals for the year is to write every day in some form, so this counts as that, but also keeping my journal up to date. I’ve been really slackerly there lately.

In the CD player::

Loreena McKennit A Midwinter Night’s Dream.

From the kitchen::

Dinner party tonight. Menu is Tuscan pasta (the pasta is cooked in a bottle of Chianti), a salad, and the ever-famous Guinness Cake, which is currently under the cake dome. I frost that at party time so the frosting doesn’t dry out and get unattractive. The wonderful thing about this cake is it is so MOIST that it does not dry out. You can eat this thing for a week, easy. It makes a divine breakfast. (Not that I know that by personal experience, or anything)

Around the house::

After much wrangling with it yesterday, the dishwasher is working again, Hallelujah! So I’ve done a round of dishes already this morning. I have to vacuum and dust a bit before the guests come over, and I have to change the sheets and linens in the master bath.

Plans for the week::

My parish offers Midnight Mass on New Year’s Eve, so I’ll be attending that. Back to work on the second!


january 2014

I am terrible at resolutions.

I always have been. When I was a kid it was stuff like “I will not bite my nails.” Given that I just ripped off another one, you can see that this resolution has never been kept. Part of it is my grandparents’ disdain at the sound of long fingernails clacking on piano keys (Grandpa always said girls should keep their nails short, so this didn’t happen), part of it is I can’t grow long nails (thanks, CF finger clubbing, although mine’s not as bad as some other people’s), and part of it is….I just do it. If Jackie Kennedy did it, I guess I can do it too, with no serious loss of face, although I do try to keep a nail file with me to keep hangnails from appearing. And yet…they do.

In my family we didn’t have a tradition of making a big show of new year’s, or resolutions. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried, with varying success, to make resolutions and keep them, but they’ve never lasted very long.

I’m good at short-term things: like NaNoWriMo. I’m great at that. Writing every day for a month? That I can do. But then the habit lapses.

There are a few things that I do regularly: take meds (I know, how thrilling!), say my Divine Office, read, Mass. The rosary, usually, although some days it’s said right before bed and I fall asleep while I’m saying it.

But this year I’m going to try to make it different. I’ve got a few days left of break and while I have a cold right now (it’s been hanging around for the better part of this month and I am determined to get rid of it in the next few days, if not today), there are some habits I want to instill this year, for certain:

  • Daily writing–either blogging, journaling, editing novels, or something else.
  • Attending Mass at least once during the work week, every week.
  • Getting up earlier. This is a habit I actually started working on this year, and it’s worked fairly well, but now I need to push it back even farther. My goal is to be up by 7 AM on a daily basis, so I’ve got about 20 minutes to shave off here.
  • Daily Bible reading. Again, another habit I started this year, but it’s been hit or miss. I’m hoping that by waking up earlier I can add this to the time I’ll gain in the AM.
  • The fitness habit–be more consistent.

So there are five things there, which I’m going to attempt to incorporate one at a time, starting with the getting up one. I’m hoping that by getting up earlier I’ll have more time in the morning to do things like read the bible. Working out in the morning will not happen unless I get up much earlier, which I don’t think will ever happen. Seven is probably the earliest I can coax my body to get up on a regular basis.

So if I can incorporate one a month, that puts me at the beginning of June for having these instituted. Of course the last one needs to be fleshed out a bit more. Goals need to be specific in order for them to be achieved. So off the top of my head, let’s say three hour long workouts a week–minimum. Once we establish that, we’ll go from there.

Do you make resolutions? If so, what are yours for 2014?

Christmas in photos

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

Mel and I, wearing the scarves we got each other

Mel and I, wearing the scarves we got each other

Olaf isn't mine--my brother got him for his girlfriend. But I love him anyway.

Olaf isn’t mine–my brother got him for his girlfriend. But I love him anyway.

Santa brought soft kitty slippers!

Santa brought soft kitty slippers!

Christmas table centerpiece--I made the gingerbread girl in ceramics class a million years ago.

Christmas table centerpiece–I made the gingerbread girl in ceramics class a million years ago.

IMG_2096 IMG_2100

Christmas books and other gifts

Christmas books and other gifts




Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 33



Happy feast of St. John the Evangelist!


So how was your Christmas? Mine, as usual, was pretty excellent, and it continues (Christmas is 12 days, y’know) with the family reunion, which kicks off today. We went to the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve at my parish, where the priest (a son of the parish, who was ordained in June–as a Jesuit, but we limited the Jesuit jokes) gave a wonderful homily based on a line from the psalm, “blessed the people who know the joyful shout”. He also talked about God’s intense love for each one of us, at every moment of our lives. It was a really beautiful homily. The children’s choir provided the music.

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

After Mass we headed to a local Italian place for the usual Christmas dinner, and then back to the house for the exchange of sibling gifts, and my brother and his girlfriend exchanged presents. There was much watching of A Christmas Story, per usual. We love that movie at our house.


Christmas morning–my brother had to go to Mass on Christmas day (Since he worked the Eve), so once he was home we opened gifts and had the Traditional Christmas Morning Feast, which is sausage and cinnamon rolls. I look forward to that meal all year. I love it. I delight in it.

One of my favorite gifts: tickets to see the new US tour of Phantom of the Opera in March. My love for Phantom is deep and well-documented–it was the first professional musical I ever saw–and to see it again is always exciting to me, especially in a new production.

Christmas Day is a fairly low-key affair at our house. We stay in, nap, watch movies, and things like that. Bryan and I spent the night again while my sister went home (she had to work the 26th).


A nice “Christmas surprise” on the 26th was that my vacuum had given up the ghost, so dad ran to Best Buy and got me a new one. It’s nice, living where I do, in that there are three big box stores on one street, so it’s good when you need food and/or appliances. The new vacuum works amazingly well–it got up a crazy amount of dirt from the carpets. I was suitably impressed. As a reward for our efforts, we had Chipotle for lunch.


Today kicks off the Annual Family Reunion and I am, as usual, psyched about it. It’s always great to see all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandma for a few days, especially now that everyone is getting older and it’s hard to see everyone when my family visits during the summer. Most of the family lives in Pittsburgh but some live in NYC, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, and my cousin Diane lives in Houston with her husband and two girls. So at Christmas we get to see about 98% of the family. There is lots of food, drink, frivolity, shopping and movie-seeing.


On Sunday I’m going to a hockey game with a friend’s family–Penguins vs. Blue Jackets. This is a tough game, because the Penguins have been “my team” since I was about six years old, but the Jackets are my hometown team. Either way, a team I like shall win–but the game is here, in Columbus, so it would probably be safer to root for the Jackets? Maybe? I might just wear a neutral blue shirt and “Grover”, my North Face fleece. 🙂 Then I’m good either way!


As usual, I got several books for Christmas (to be augmented today–I got a B&N gift card, too): Longbourn, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, and Jane Austen’s EnglandLongbourn was amazing, and I highly recommend it. I was a bit wary of the premise–it’s the “downstairs” version of Pride and Prejudice, basically–but it turned out wonderfully well. And since my sister got me a scarf with a quote from P&P on it, it was a very P&P Christmas. 🙂

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 45

waiting...soon He comes!

waiting…soon He comes!

Outside my window::

Cloudy, and a lot colder. It was almost 70 yesterday and we had rain all weekend, but it’s in the 30s now. Tomorrow it will be in the mid twenties. Brr! Quite seasonal though so I don’t mind.


Finished One Thousand White Women and Yesterday, Today, Forever; the latter was better than the former. The former would have been better if it hadn’t been so slow to move, since it became very exciting towards the end. I’m eagerly anticipating Christmas books. 🙂

In the CD player::

One of Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas CD–the one with Carol of the bells, O Holy Night, Veni Veni, Hark the Herald, and a few others. It’s my favorite of all their Christmas albums.


Gosh I can’t wait!!!! I love Christmas so much, it’s sort of crazy. Tomorrow starts with brunch with my friends, which is always a great time. After that I head over to my parents’  (the restaurant is on the way), where I’ll spend the night Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We’ll go to 4:00 Mass at our parish, which will be glorious arrayed for  Christmas (I’ll post pictures), then dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse, and then back to the parents’ mason for the holiday. We do the sibling gift exchange on Christmas Eve, with the rest of the gifts on Christmas morning, followed by the most GLORIOUS breakfast of the year, and which I eagerly anticipate all year. It’s just cinnamon rolls and sausage links, but I love it. I am a big proponent of tradition, and this has been our breakfast for as long as I can remember, so I love seeing it re-appear every year.

In the spirit of West Wing’s State Dinner ep, this dress is what I’m wearing, and I shall endeavor to do my hair like this. (There are no mother-of-pearl toe buckles in sight, however.)

From the kitchen::
Not much, since I won’t be cooking the next two/three days. I did make these biscuits over the weekend and they were quite yummy! Note to the recipe: I used regular flour (2 c.), and “clabbered milk”, and they were still awesome.

Around the house::
Packing, last-minute gifts to pack up, cleaning out the trunk of my car so everything will fit, and then a bit of general tidying, to make room for Christmas stuff and c.

Plans for the week::

Other than the obvious? 🙂 Christmas family reunion kicks off on Friday, then Blue Jacket/Pens game on Sunday!