Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014

I love looking back at events through pictures. Some events I take a ton of pictures, but other occasions I don't take enough. And then there are some experiences that I take no pictures at all, but those are usually the ones when we are having so much fun that I am too busy to pick up my camera. When I read that Dwija at House Unseen was hosting the 12 favorite photos of the year link-up, I was all about joining her because I love lists of favorite things and link-ups. 

I looked through all of my photos of 2014, and I had a blast. Although I had too many pictures of my knitting projects. What can I say, I love yarn. But don't worry, I didn't pick any pictures of yarn to share. Anyway, I decided to use photos that didn't make it to the blog this year. Though a couple of them had variations posted either here or on Facebook. 

Without further ado (so cliche, I know), here are my favorite photos of 2014.

Yo ho, we're pirates. That we be!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Top Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close, and what a year it has been! This year I experienced the death of my grandmother and several health issues. Despite the pain and grief, 2014 was full of blessings. To list a few, Chris and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. Our oldest son, Holden, graduated from our homeschool and finished his first semester of college. We took a wonderful family vacation which is something that we don't get to do every year.  

Also, this year I made the decision to write less about crafts and more about faith and family life. I have made new friendships with some amazing women through blogging, and I have been encouraged by so many of you. Thank you!

I have decided to share the top six posts in three different categories. Six is my favorite number, so it seemed the right number to pick. The categories are top six posts (no link-up), top six posts (link-up) and my six favorite posts.

The top six posts were given a lot of love through clicks, comments, and shares.

The top six posts that were part of a link-up were shown a lot of love through clicks and comments. I have a suspicion that they were so popular because they were part of a link-up at other lovely blogs. 

My six favorite posts are the posts that I felt strong about and enjoyed writing. 

Now on to the lists!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Gift of a Day Spent His Way

This year all my husband wanted for Christmas was to stay home.  

Every year we celebrate Christmas in one of two ways. Most of the past Christmases have been spent either hosting or attending my extended family's Christmas Eve potluck dinner. Then on Christmas we attend mass in the morning, then I cook several dishes to take to Chris's sister's home for his family's holiday dinner. But there have been a couple years when we have gone to his mother's house for Christmas Eve and then had my mother and her significant other to our home for Christmas dinner after Mass on Christmas Day. 

The celebrations are always fun, but they are work, too. Chris only gets one day off for Christmas, and that is Christmas day. He doesn't get home until five or six on Christmas Eve, and then he is right back to work the morning after Christmas. I am not complaining. I know that there are many people that do not get Christmas day off, so I am thankful that Chris gets to spend Christmas home with us every year. But he has never spent Christmas day the way he wants to spend it since we always have family parties to host or attend. 

He wanted a simple Christmas this year, a day with just me and the boys and nothing on the schedule other than morning Mass. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December Daybook 2014


For friends that lost a family member a couple days ago, may they find comfort in Christ. 

For all the people that are alone, may they feel the love of Christ. 

For couples suffering through miscarriage, may they find healing in Christ. 

For all of our friends and family, may they have a blessed Christmas. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Books to Read During Christmas Week

We talk about Jesus, St.Nicholas, and Santa Claus in our home during Advent. 

On December 6th, we always read The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. Then we return to our regular bedtime reading (usually a chapter book) until a week before Christmas. That is when we start reading Christmas stories.

There have been many great articles around the Catholic Mom blogosphere that list great books to read during Advent and Christmas. 

I do not want to recreate their lists, but I think books lists are great resources and we have several books on our list that I have not seen mentioned yet. So I am going to share several of the books that we have read every year for the last several years a couple books that are new to us this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gift Giving, Why All the Fuss?

My friend Amelia at One Catholic Mama wrote a thought provoking article titled When Gift-Giving is Not Your Love Language. She made some good points about how disconcerting it can be to receive and give gifts when you do not like gifts as a whole. 

I have many thoughts about gifts so instead of leaving a super long response to her post, I thought I would share them here. 

Receiving gifts is not my love language, but I don't mind giving or receiving gifts. What I mind is the attitude I have witnessed lately surrounding gift giving and receiving. 

I love finding something that I think another person will love and giving it to them "just because". I don't think that you can put a price tag on a gift given out of love with the intent to bring joy to a person. Nothing is too cheap or expensive when it is given with true intentions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Fearless Conclusion

In January, I wrote about my word for the year, fearless. I thought the word was to help me battle fears from my childhood and young adult years, and that may have been true for I was often fearful in my younger years. But now that the year is coming to a close I see that God was preparing me for my grandmother's failing health and eventual death and my health issues (read a little about them here, here, and here). I know that God has given me the grace I need to be courageous during the difficult times and the doubts and worries that plague my mind. 

I have not continued to update the blog with the Bible verses that I chose to commit to memory this year. And I must admit that while I know them better, I can not tell you that I have learned them fully, please don't quiz me on them! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Parents, get out of God's way!

While sitting on the sideline waiting for my child's soccer game to start last May, I overheard the conversation of the people sitting next to me.

Now before you accuse me of rudely eavesdropping, I feel I need to explain that I would have had to pack up my stuff and move away from my spot to not hear the conversation. If you have ever been to a youth soccer game, then you know how close the family members of the players park themselves next to the line on the field and each other.

Anyway, now that I have cleared that up, it's back to the conversation that I overheard.

The conversation took place between two young adult men. They ended up at the game separately but ran into each other and decided to sit side by side. Apparently they had graduated from high school together a year or two prior to their current meeting, went off to college, and had not seen each other since graduation. At this unplanned meeting, they happily greeted each other and explained why they both found themselves at the soccer game (one was there to watch his girlfriend's younger brother and the other was there to watch his brother referee the game).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Current Favorites {Five Favorites}

1. Prints from Audrey Eclectic. I gave these two prints to my twin nephews for their baptism. They are gorgeous! 

2. My new flexi from Lilla Rose. I love wearing my flexi in my hair, but a new favorite way to wear it is to hold the ends of my scarves together. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Complete Surrender {on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception}

God knew that Mary would consent to be the mother of Jesus, so He sanctified her at the moment of conception, preserving her from original sin.

On this day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I focus my thoughts on Mary's total surrender of her will to that of God's. She gave herself to him completely and trusted that He would take care of everything. 

I want that kind of trust. I want to abandon my fears, and say to God "Let it be" and not have any worry of what will happen next. For many months, I have been back and forth to my doctor, trying to figure out the cause of physical pain that I am experiencing. As I move through my day, I worry about the what is happening inside my body, and I play the "What if..." game with myself, stressing over all the details. 

I have become a slave to my pain and worry. For some time, I have been feeling stuck in this place of pain and exhaustion, and feeling unable to control what is happening to me. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Homemade Scented Epsom Salts

Earlier this year, I wrote about my favorite detox bath ingredients. On the list, I included Dr. Teal's Scented Soaking Solution because I loved them. I still love them, but I have started making my on that I love more. Not only can I make them whatever scent I want, but they are so much more affordable! If you love taking a bath, you should definitely make your own scented Epsom salts. Store them in an airtight container and keep for yourself or give them to the bath lover in your life. 

Scented Epsom Salts

4 cups Epsom salts
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup mild scented oil such as apricot or sweet almond* 
30 to 40 drops of essential oil of choice**

I use up to two cups in hot water and soak for about 40 minutes. 

*Oils like olive and grapeseed are fine to use, but they have a stronger scent. 

**A few of my favorite essential oils are bergamot, grapefruit, and lavender. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Favorite Jane Austen Sequels {Five Favorites}

I love Jane Austen's novels. Unfortunately, Jane Austen only wrote six major novels before she died at the young age of  41 years old. Several years ago, a few friends and I were having a discussion about Jane Austen's novels, and one of my friends mentioned a sequel she had recently read about Pride and Prejudice. I did not know that there were sequels to Jane Austen's novels. Today, you can find enough prequels, sequels, and adaptations to keep you reading for years, but you have to be careful because they range from very steamy and somewhat scandalous to fantasy and the supernatural. At my last counting, I have read 20 books that have either continued her novels, reworked them in some way, or have storylines where Jane Austen is the main character. And I have many left on my wish list to read.

There are six books in my list, but I consider two of them to be part of a set; therefore, I count them as one.

Monday, December 1, 2014

When I Think of Home

"Home is a place we all must find, child. It's not a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere." 
 - Glinda the Good, The Wiz (1978) 

Recently, Chris and I watched the documentary, Tiny: A Story About Living Small, on Netflix. The documentary followed a young man as he built his very tiny home on wheels. He built his house in a friend's backyard, but once he finished, he moved it to his property in Colorado, the only place that he felt at home. Though the topic of feeling at home is not the primary subject of the documentary, it is discussed throughout the show, and I began to think about my earliest memories of home. 

As a child, I grew up in the home of my grandparents. It never felt like home to me; it did not feel like a happy or a safe place to be. Living with my grandmother was hard, and not having a relationship with my mother or father left me feeling alone.  

But I did have a home. I always felt loved and accepted when I was there. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not only today, but every day I am grateful for the family of my birth, the family that I gained through marriage, and my Church family. I am thankful for old friends and new friends, and friends near and far. My prayers are with you all. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Four Books to Read Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a few days away. I have no idea what I will be cooking to bring to the family dinner at my sister-in-law's house.

But I do know what books I will be reading out loud to Thomas and Ralph this week.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Lip Scrub

Cracked and dry lips are not fun! I have tried many different exfoliates for my lips through the years, but my favorite is one that I make myself with ingredients that are always in my pantry. It works beautifully and tastes good, too! Brown sugar is a natural, gentle exfoliate. It helps remove dead skin, but it will not irritate sensitive skin. Apricot seed oil is a lightweight moisturizer that is safe for all skin types. I always keep it on hand to use on my face and body. *I recommend purchasing one that is food grade for this scrub. Cinnamon draws blood to the surface of the skin, causing it to plump and swell. Cinnamon adds the "wow" factor to a lip scrub. Vanilla extract has a soothing scent and antioxidants that may help to improve skin tone.  

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Scrub 

1 cup brown sugar 
1/3 cup apricot seed oil
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container. Gently rub onto lips in a circular motion for a minute or two and rinse with warm water. Use on lips a few times a week to help lips stay smooth and soft. May also be used on your body to exfoliate dry skin.  

*I use NOW Foods Apricot Kernel Oil (Liquid), 16 oz (Amazon Associates link) for over a year now in my oil cleanser and as a moisturizer on my body. It is considered food grade. My skin is sensitive, and it has never irritated it. It is lightweight and absorbs well. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 {Saturday and Sunday} and 10 More Things About Me {a Liebster}

I fell behind on documenting a Week in My Life 2014 and linking-up with Kathryn at Team Whitaker.

My weekend was busy. I spent Saturday morning preparing my science lesson for co-op on Monday. I ended up with six pages of notes, one video to show, and four demonstrations. It was worth the work because the kids enjoyed it! 

Classically Catholic Memory for the win!

Then the boys and I went to Maryland for a family birthday party. Sunday I spent the day winding balls of wool to felt for dryer balls. 
Felted and ready to use! 

We went to the Sunday evening Mass. After Mass, Chris and the boys went home, but I visited my mother-in-law for a little conversation and ice cream. 

I am so happy that I documented my week! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 {Thursday}

Joining Kathryn at Team Whitaker for the Week in My Life 2014 link-up

Thursday morning we enjoyed hot apple oatmeal for breakfast. Then my sister-in-law, Kelly, left two of her children with me to watch while she took her two-month-old twins to the doctor's office for a check-up. 

Ralph and Thomas love when their cousins come for a visit. They used to live four houses up the street, but now they live about an hour away. We miss them a bunch! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 {Wednesday}

Joining Kathryn at Team Whitaker for the Week in My Life 2014 link-up.

Wednesday I woke an hour earlier than I usually do. I knew that we had a busy day ahead of us, so I got all of us moving early. Schoolwork was started and finished in record time, although, in all honesty, I did raise my voice a couple times. Then we all took showers and got dressed for the day and loaded into our minivan. Our first stop was the bank. Our second and last stop was Sam's Club. 


When we got home, we unloaded the trunk and then started putting our things away. Although some of the items stayed on the kitchen table for hours.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 {Tuesday}

I am joining Kathryn at Team Whitaker for Week in My Life 2014

I am loving taking pictures throughout our day. And let me tell you, I didn't realize how much we did until I starting taking pictures of everything! 

Here are the highlights!

I started my day with a cup of black coffee and read the Blessed is She daily devotion.
Then the boys and I ate a quick breakfast and started their schoolwork. They listened and did their work without complaining. It was a good school day. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Week in My Life 2014 {Monday}

Well, hello there! It has been almost two weeks since I last posted anything here. I have been busy, and I haven't been feeling well. Time just kept moving forward, but I didn't make time to sit down and write about any of it.

Kathryn of Team Whitaker is hosting A Week in My Life. Kathryn writes, "Feel free to share your life in photos, words or videos. Trust me, no matter what you share you will look back on this week and BE GLAD you did it."

I need some glad feelings; everyday blessings to look back on and be thankful for, so I am going to join her. Too often, I move through my day, accomplishing tasks, but not noticing. Then I go to bed and wake up the next morning to do it all again. I think slowing down through the day to take pictures will help me to see that my day to day life is full and beautiful. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Fall and Winter Wardrobe {2014}

I knew I needed to clean my closet and get rid of a lot of stuff that I was never going to wear again.

I finally got the kick in the pants I needed first, by Kendra's daily devotion at Blessed is She and then again by Kendra's post, An Inspired Capsule Wardrobe. Kendra was my first inspiration, but there is a ton of information about capsule wardrobes and simple, clutter-free closets on the internet. 

I filled two trash bags full of clothes and shoes to donate. Then I separated the rest of my clothes in a Fall/Winter pile and a Spring/Summer pile. The latter was put into Ralph's closet because all of his clothes fit in one small dresser, so it was an empty closet. My goal was to make getting dressed as quick and easy as possible, so I didn't want the out of season clothes getting in the way. The Fall/Winter wardrobe has a total of 49 pieces (including shoes and house/workout clothes). The Spring/Summer wardrobe is similar in size. Although, when I pull them back out some of those pieces will be donated, and I will purchase a few essential pieces (I know I need new black sandals to name one thing). 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Let's Eat!

Nell at Whole Parenting Family started a weekly meal plan link-up. Just in time, too, because I have become uninspired in the dinner department. We eat spaghetti with meat sauce, nachos, and salad with chicken nuggets every week. On Fridays, we eat some variety of fish with some form of potato and cooked broccoli. The other three nights I totally wing it, and throw something together from what we have in the house. Usually a soup one night, rice or bean one pot meal another, and maybe burgers or meatloaf or baked chicken another night. We rarely eat out or get take-out.

Here are the highlights from this past week.

Haluski  or Cabbage and Noodles - My grandfather grew up eating it. His parents were from Hungary. If I remember correctly, his mother cooked the cabbage and noodles in bacon grease, not butter. This time I cooked about a pound of thinly sliced pork chops in the pot with a little butter first. Once cooked, I removed them from the pot and added the onions and cabbage to the pot. While the onions and cabbage sauteed, I cooked the egg noodles according to the package directions a different pot. Once the onion and cabbage were soft and the egg noodles al dente, I transferred the noodles to the pot with the cabbage. I then sliced the pork chops into thin pieces and threw them into the pot and added a couple more tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste. The recipe I linked to suggests using a cup of butter. I have never used that much. Butter is an important ingredient in this recipe because it gives it flavor, but I think a cup is way too much.  Also, I never finish this recipe in the oven. From the start to finish, it is cooked on the stove top. 

That same night I made an apple cake. It was very yummy. I reworked an old recipe to use the ingredients that I had on hand. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Little Things {Five Favorites}

1. My new Lilla Rose Flexi. 

My new Night Owl Flexi arrived on Monday. I love it!

2. New supplies for a cross-stitch project. 

I designed a happy fall scene to stitch onto these hand towels with DMC Color Variations. I am going to put them in a gift basket with a candle, candy, and my #3 favorite to give as a birthday present.

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Early Review of Classically Catholic Memory

This year I, along with two other moms from our homeschool support group, started a Classically Catholic Memory co-op. We are having a great time so far! 

The Program

We are using Classically Catholic Memory. Classically Catholic Memory offers memory work in eight subjects: Religion, Latin, Math, History, Timeline, Geography, Science, and Great Words. It is a four-year program, geared toward ages five through twelve. Each year has a name (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma) and consists of 18 weeks of memory work. The four years can be taught in any order. Classically Catholic Memory is very detailed and provides step by step instruction for the parent to lead their child through each subject. It works as a supplement to your homeschool lessons. 

The Details of Our Co-op

There are three moms and ten children in our co-op. We meet every other Monday for about two hours to introduce new material and to complete group activities. We spend two weeks on each week of the program, so that the program extends over the entire school year. Currently, we meet in each other's homes, alternating each time we meet. The children are between the ages of four and thirteen. We broke the children into two groups that by chance happen to be of equal size. Our younger group is kindergarten through fourth grade, and our older group is fifth through eighth grade. 

We start our morning together with a prayer, and then we go over Religion and Latin together. Then we separate into groups. One mom teaches the younger group; another mom teaches the older group. The final mom teaches Science (it is the most involved subject) to both groups separately and helps with the youngest group once both groups have finished science. We meet after breakfast and finish before lunch, so that we do not need to have a snack break.  At home, each family goes over the new material daily (it takes about 15 to 20 minutes) as part of their school day until we meet again. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Running to the Music of my Life

Anne Shirley asks early in L.M. Montgomery's novel, Anne of Green Gables, "Which would you rather be if you had the choice - divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?"

My answer was always beautiful.

Having grown up in a home where a regular topic of conversation was my lack of beauty, I have always had this desire to feel pretty. I felt that all my childhood problems (my grandmother would like me, my father would want to see me, my mother would be involved in my life more) would be solved if I were beautiful.

Thankfully, I didn't seek unhealthy ways to feel better about myself, such as alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity as an adolescent and young adult. But I did binge eat and avoid many social situations.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Celebrating My Marriage

Today Chris and I celebrate our anniversary. Eighteen years ago we said, "I do." I am so thankful that we have made it this far and look forward to many, many more years together.

Yesterday, on the eve of our anniversary we had a big misunderstanding, as we sometimes do when we have to use words when communicating with one another, and it was not pretty. He couldn't understand what I was saying. I had no clue what he was saying. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

About My Writing (A Blog Hop)

Bobbi at Revolution of Love Blog kindly tagged me to join the blog hop about writing

All I have to do is answer four questions and then tag three fabulous bloggers to join the hop.

Here I go!

1. What am I writing? 

The tabs under my blog header sum up what I like to write about here at Saint Affairs. Family, faith, and things that make up our life. I enjoy writing most about the books that we read, the crafts that we make, and our faith. Occasionally, I write about diet, exercise, beauty products, and what I am wearing. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

God Gives and Forgives Generously

 "You get back what you put out." 

I heard that phrase all the time while I was growing up. I believed it wholeheartedly. 

And when it came to school work and in the workplace, it was true most of the time. If I worked hard on a school project, I got a good grade. If  I completed all of my tasks at work, I got a glowing review and a raise at the end of the quarter. 

But it did not always hold true for relationships, especially with family. I thought that if I put forth the effort into building relationships, by exhibiting the character qualities such as kindness and honesty that I hoped to receive back, people would show those qualities back to me. Everything would work out, and everyone would be happy. 

It didn't always work out that way. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy - Daybook 2014


What we have been doing:

Our days have been busy lately. Busy in a good way.

Honestly, most of this summer was hard for me. Losing my grandmother forced me to think about things that are better left forgotten. My anxiety reached an all time high, and them I had the pesky infection that kept me on the couch for almost a month.

Once I started feeling better, we jumped right into vacation mode and  enjoyed ourselves. 

First we had our trip, then we got together with friends that we hadn't seen in weeks. Then we spent most of our afternoons visiting with friends for talking (the moms) and playing (the kids), had lunch with our friends, and went swimming.

One day the boys and I went to a Back to Homeschool  field day and picnic at a local state park. Then I enjoyed a dinner out with a couple of mom friends.

Chris and I took the boys to a water park for the day, and I rode the one water ride that I said I would not. It was super scary. I prefer roller-coasters to water-slides.

I planned my homeschool year and a co-op with a couple of other moms from our homeschool support group. 

Finally, I met my new nephews. They are twins and super cute!

The last month has been so wonderful that it totally makes up for the spring and early summer that I experienced!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yarn Along {thirteen}

Knitting: Easy Lace Scarf  

I love this pattern! It is easy to remember, and I can knit and talk or knit and watch a show and not make a mistake. I think I may want to spend the next year knitting five more scarves in this pattern. Plus, my favorite yarn to knit with is fingering weight, so this pattern is a combination of all of my favorites; easy, not boring or frustrating, and fingering weight yarn.  I just attached my third and final ball of yarn. I hope to have the scarf finished by the end of the month.  And then I may start another scarf, seriously! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Summer Trip {2014}

We packed the Prius to capacity early Tuesday morning and hit the road. We had planned several destinations to visit along our five-day trip. 

Late Tuesday morning we arrived at our first stop, Shenandoah National Park in Front Royal, Virginia. We entered onto Skyline Drive, ready for adventure. Unfortunately, the fog was thick, so we did not get to see much during our drive. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Never More Than Jesus

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rejoicing With My Family This Week

Chris is home with us this week, and we are very excited to be able to spend our days with him. I have a couple inspirational pictures scheduled to post, but I won't be on the computer this week. I will be too busy enjoying my family! 

I hope you have a blessed week!  

Friday, August 8, 2014

7 Teas to Love {7 Quick Takes}

I am a coffee drinker. I love coffee. I start every morning with a fresh cup of hot coffee with just a smidgen of half and half. It is my favorite thing to drink. But I can only drink it in the morning. For some reason unknown to me, if I have a cup of coffee in the afternoon it makes me feel unwell. My stomach hurts, and my head starts to spin a little. It is crazy, I know, but it is true. 

Part of the reason that I love coffee is because I enjoy a mug of something hot to drink. So I had to find an alternative to coffee in the afternoons, and I knew hot chocolate was not the answer. I have tried to drink it, but after only three sips, I have reached my sweet limit. 

Enter onto the scene tea. It allows me to have a mug of hot liquid in my hand, with the negative side effects of an afternoon coffee splurge.

And believe me when I tell you that an herbal tea can be good for you! I am not a healthcare professional, but you can quickly research the different herbal teas and the benefits associated with them online. Here is a list of seven of my favorite teas and why I love them.

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