Daybook No. 94

Daybook No. 94

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Outside my window::

Cloudy and chilly! My iPhone says it’s 28 degrees out there, and I’d believe it.

Wearing::

My PJs–blue t-shirt and Disney PJ pants. So, you know, nothing exciting.

Reading::

I’m about to finish The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times, and this is REALLY good, guys. I highly recommend it!

Also, this arrived at the house yesterday!:

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Yay!

This was originally a Christmas present! But there was so much interest, and the press that publishes this is so tiny, that I’m just now getting it. I’m not going to link to it on Amazon because I don’t think they have any–but your local bookstore might! If you’re a LIW fan like me, you will really love this. And if you’re a real fan, then you’ll appreciate this photo of a hay log!

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(If you’re not a LIW fan, then just….move on. :-P)

Around the house::

The usual. Changing sheets today, though, and working on cleaning out the office. I need to get some trash bags up there so I can bag stuff that’s been tagged for discarding.

Pondering::

Why people think that good food should be cheap. I mean this in terms of meat and produce, milk and eggs.

A good product that is raised humanely and responsibly, by actual family farms, is going to cost more. It just is. There’s a lot more that those farms have to pay for. And we’re not even coming close to really covering their labor costs. BUT they provide a product that is better–for the animals, for the environment, for us. Have you tasted local milk before? Let me tell you, it’s awesome. I gladly pay more money for it because it’s so good. Stores that have higher price tags on these items are usually (Not always) but usually providing you with a better product. If you want healthier food, you’re probably going to have to pay for it.

I’m just touching the surface here–if you’re really into this, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which is amazing.

Farming is hard work, people. Raising food, raising crops is hard work. Some of that should be reflected in what we’re paying (and I say this as someone who is, by no means, rolling in the cash). That doesn’t mean you can’t love Trader Joe’s. I do love Trader Joe’s.

You can get deals at Farmer’s Markets. In fact, I direct you to Elizabeth on this. I don’t have a vast experience with farmer’s markets, and that’s something I’m hoping to change this summer. Don’t go to places like the market or more expensive grocery stores thinking everything is going to be expensive. In fact, when it’s in season, it’s usually cheaper! It’s when we’re paying for tomatoes to be shipped from Chile that they’re expensive! (And they just don’t taste as good.)

Anyway, read Elizabeth’s link, read the book, and think about food as more than just a price tag, guys. Just some food for thought, this morning.

Lent::

We’re in Passiontide–the last two weeks before Easter. Yesterday I was teaching CCD and the two questions were:

“Is Pilate a Bad Guy?”

“Is Judas in Hell?”

I had to refrain from pulling out Dante for that last one. 🙂

Writing::

I’ve got a list of writing projects to work on, so I have to get cracking there. This includes making an omelet so I can photograph it later this week.

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Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 58

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 (I meant to schedule this for tomorrow morning. So “tonight”=Friday night. 🙂 )

I.

OK, so good news first: I’ve been accepted to make life promises with my Lay Dominican chapter! Yay! I will make them in December at our monthly chapter meeting.

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I feel like Agnes with her Fluffy Unicorns. 🙂 🙂

II.

So I am super excited about that. I am also super excited that I got to read Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of LOTS of awesome new books that are coming out! This week I got to read Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult’s new book which comes out October 14, and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe, which also comes out in October. I love these authors, and I adore these new books. You must read them!

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I’m not going to say too much about these because I want y’all to read them yourselves and then we’ll talk.

Tonight I also read Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, which comes out January 13. As an avid Virginia Woolf fan, I really liked this novel, especially since it was told from Vanessa’s Point of View, as the title tell us 🙂 I’ve read almost all of Virginia’s novels, and The Hours is always one of my top five movies. Highly recommend this one.

The last one, which I haven’t read yet, is A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison. This one also comes out in January (1/27).

How did I get these? A local public library had a rep from Random House come in and talk about new releases, and there were lots of ARCs available for us to read. Part of that is drumming up interest, and no, I didn’t get paid to read these, so I can tell you, without bias, that the three I’ve read so far are great.

(ARCs are basically the finished novel, but “uncorrected proofs”, so there may be small typeset or editing errors that will be corrected before the final copies that go to bookstores.)

III.

I’ve also been cooking a lot this week, mostly from The Chew‘s first cookbook.  I’ve made General Tso’s Chicken, Mario’s Restrictor Plate Chili, and Eggs in Hell thus far this week (and my hands are still stinging from chopping the jalapeños in that last one!). These recipes have all been really great, and I’ll try to post links to them on my cooking blog.

IV.

Speaking of blogs: as part of the BOOK PROPOSAL, I need to develop a “platform”. So I’ve got an “author” web page, which has links to my Twitter and Facebook Author Page. (Yes, I have one, yes it feels ridic to have one, but….) If you would be so kind as to go to my page here and follow both those things (and the page!), I’d be super happy. 

The page itself is still under construction, so there won’t be too much activity there for right now. But it is important in this digital webby era to have BRANDING ALL OVER.

So, I’m trying.

(I hate selling things, by the way. I hated selling Girl Scout cookies. But I really want the book to get published, so I’m selling myself for my book. :-0 )

V.

In the world of writing, it’s almost NANOWRIMO time! This will be the third year I’ve participated. I wrote more about it here.  Come join? 🙂 It’s fun!

VI.

Dolly rehearsals go hard core this week. Dancing is tonight.

I’m nervous about that. I don’t really….dance….

On Saturday we’re running/blocking Act I, and on Sunday, Act II. I’m not teaching CCD this week, it’s my co-catechist’s turn. The topic? The rosary. The first Sunday of October is Rosary Sunday at my parish, so we’re going to teach the kids about this very Dominican, very important devotion.

So it’s a weekend with Dolly and teaching, and dinner with my friend Mary.

VII.

And finally:

This is an awesome look at OSU’s Wizard of Oz halftime show.

Daybook No. 75

Daybook No. 75

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Happy Michaelmas–the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three Archangels. 

“And I do not have you married by Michaelmas, it will not be my fault.”

Sense and Sensibility

Outside my window::

Another lovely fall day, it looks like. On the warm side; I wouldn’t mind some fall temperatures!

Wearing::

PJs. I was doing my Morning Pages, and after this it’ll be time for Morning Prayer, and then I’ll get dressed.

Reading::

Voyager (yes I am working my way through the Outlander series again, duh); Love Does, and whatever I bring back from today’s library trip. Monday is my new “library day”, I’ve decided. I’m returning what I got last week and have finished, and checking out whatever strikes me.

In the CD player::

Dolly, of course. It’s all off-book now, but practice makes perfect!

Theater::

Speaking of Dolly, massive rehearsals start this weekend as we get ever closer to opening! You can get tickets here.

Liturgy::

It’s a busy week for it! Today is Michaelmas, one of my feast days, because my middle name is a derivative of Michael; St. Therese’s Feast Day is on Wednesday, and she’s my Confirmation Patron, and Friday is the First Friday of October. Whew!

St. Therese

St. Therese of Lisieux 

I’m going to get to Mass on Wednesday and hopefully on Friday, too. Today I didn’t get up early enough to get things done before Mass, but I hope St. Michael will understand. 🙂 October and November are so chock-full of saints’ days and feasts, and then we’re into Advent again. Can you believe it?

CCD funny::

(In class this week, we discussed the creation story in Genesis and had the kids draw pictures of what they thought it looked like.)

Me: (looking at student’s drawing) Oh, what’s that?

Student: (gleefully) It’s a tidal wave!!!

These kids, they kill me.

Pondering::

It is a repeated observation of St. John of the Cross that God prostrates souls in a preliminary trial when he intends to draw closer in love. Here a pattern is noted, calling for our insight. No doubt we need to understand the providence of God differently.

Trials do not reflect a sign of disfavor with God. Rather, the reverse is indicated. God is offering an invitation, even if it hardly seems so. He is teaching, even if it seems a harsh lesson. It may be a hard truth to accept that God’s greater love is proven by the prevalence of trials we could not foresee, and by their lingering despite every plea for their removal. It is a rare soul that learns to take no surprise at this.

There are indeed many shocks in what can seem God’s rough treatment. Perhaps it is not unusual that we attempt to persuade God to be more gentle in his manner. It appears sometimes that nothing moves him in this regard. More love for God, for example, rather than overcoming a trial, will seem on occasion to extend the duration of a time of trial. But at the end of the day we face always the same question. Would we prefer to love less if it meant not to suffer?

–Father Donald Haggerty

Fitness::

I lost two pounds last week! This week it’s gym and I want to work in a yoga workout as well, possibly on Thursday. We’ll see how the schedule unfolds.

Around the house::

Working on cleaning out my closet as well as purging books and magazines from the first floor rooms. My pile of things to take to Half Price Books is growing, as is the pile in the recycling bag. (Trader Joe’s bags are excellent for paper recycling, because you can just throw everything in, including the bag. 🙂 )

From the kitchen::

Working on The Chew cookbooks this week; I’ve got some salads, chili recipes, and tonight’s meal, General Tso’s Chicken, in the works.

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 48

Outside my window

A glorious sunrise this morning, all sherbet pink and orange and purple and deep blue. One nice thing about the sun rising later–I’m awake to see it!

Wearing::

Grey pleated skirt, black flats, emerald green wrap top, and silver lotus flower earring. They were my Christmas gift to myself, those earrings, and I wear them almost every day.  (They’re the ones Natalie Portman is wearing in the photo below)

(and yes, I got them because I saw them in Black Swan. I am weird like that)

Books::

Over the weekend I had a stomach bug so I did a bit of reading: I finished Charles Dickens (he was not a nice man. I’m sorry. But he wasn’t. Or let me rephrase that: he was nice to everyone except his wife and most of his kids. He had a great heart for charity. Also, the author’s insertion of her opinion about the novels is sort of irritating.) and Renewed, and The Invention of Wings (which was good, but the narrator jumping back and forth was a bit choppy at times). This week, more City of God and I’m finally reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked. Reading the Dickens bio also made me want to read more of his early stuff, including Dombey and Little Curiosity Shop, so I might have to track those down.

Memorizing::

ThisTalking about the first verse on Wednesday! Join us?

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From the kitchen::

Tonight: Cacio e Pepi–pasta with cheese and pepper. Lots of pepper.

Tuesday: Lazy bolognese on penne (two pasta nights in a row? I try not to do that, but sometimes… 🙂 )

Wednesday: Salmon

Thursday: No idea. Need to find something.

Friday: Out

Saturday: Meatloaf, a  new recipe. I’m looking for my favorite one.

Made a lovely pork chop with mustard, onions and apples (and apple cider) last night, though. Very easy.

Around the house::

The usual Monday things–trash out, vacuuming, dusting, etc. According to Fly Lady we’re in the master bath and one extra room this week, so that’s my bathroom and the office/book room.

In the CD player::

A mix CD I made ages ago.

1000 gifts:: 

Up to No. 143. 🙂

This week::

ENT appointment at lunch time tomorrow. The sinuses need checked out, for sure.

Pure Barre tonight, W and Thursday–getting back in the class groove.

Teaching CCD as usual on Sunday.

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.

Wearing::

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

Reading::

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. 

Creative::

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!

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 33

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I.

Happy feast of St. John the Evangelist!

II.

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.

III.

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).

IV.

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.

V.

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.

VI.

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!

VII.

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. 🙂