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Catholicism

5 Destinations for Your Catholic Road Trip – Northeast Edition

August 9, 2015

There’s nothing like a road trip to bring together a group of friends, and nothing makes a road trip better than great destinations. For all of who live in the in the Northeast or have a desire to road trip there, here are a few places I suggest you visit (paired with some great eats nearby):

1. The Abbey of the Genesee – Genesee, New York

This Trappist monastery, located in rural Western New York, is home to about 30 cloistered monks. They spend their days (waking up at 2:15 AM!) praying and working. To support their monastic lifestyle the monks of the Abbey of the Genesee bake bread which they sell at the monastery and in grocery stores throughout western New York. Not only can you buy every variety of Monk’s Bread at the monastery (including monastery exclusive unsliced maple cinnamon) you can join the monks in praying Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day!

Tip: After spending time with the monks, head into nearby Geneseo and go to Pizza Paul’s for the half-sub, half-calzone subzone.

 

2. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Montreal, Quebec

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St. Andre was the main driver behind building an oratory in honor of St. Joseph, which has been enlarged multiple times over the years. There’s a lot to explore and see nowadays, but my two favorites were seeing St. Andre’s heart (they took it out and put it in a glass box!) and the hall honoring a dozen or so of the many titles of St. Joseph (e.g. Terror of Demons). There are also multiple places throughout the grounds that are covered in old crutches that people left behind after miraculous healings.

Tip: While in Quebec, you’ve got to grab some poutine, which is french fries and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. Yum!

Bonus Tip: While in town, check out the amazingly beautiful Notre Dame Basilica.

 

3. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette – Attleboro, Massachusetts

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This shrine dedicated to Mary’s apparition in La Salette, France is a great visit any time of year, but is exceptional during Christmastime, during which they pull out all the stops with the Christmas Festival of Lights. They deck out the grounds with over a quarter of a million lights.

Tip: Bliss Bros. Dairy is only a 1/2 mile away from the shrine! Stop in for a sundae or milkshake, and be sure to take home a ice cream pizza. Yes, such a thing exists, and yes, it’s everything you want it to be.

4. Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs A.K.A. North American Martyrs Shrine – Auriesville, New York

shrinepan2

This shrine is built where the Mohawk village of Ossernenon stood. This is where St. Isaac Jogues and two of his lay companions were martyred. The other North American martyrs are also celebrated here. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha!

Tip: Auriesville isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, and this is the one location on this list I haven’t personally been to. I searched Yelp and found Forever Young’s diner less than 10 miles away. They’re known for their korean-inspired Bolgogi (fire meat) omelet and their thick-cut made from scratch cinnamon raisin toast.

5. Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica – Lackawanna, New York

www.ourladyofvictory

Father Nelson Baker’s heart broke for the poor and beat for Our Lady. Throughout his life, he did much for both. The orphanage he ran was so well known that children were put on trains all over the country with “Father Baker’s” pinned to their clothes, and they railroad staff knew exactly where to take them and made sure they got there. He spearheaded construction of a new church in honor of Our Lady of Victory (a personal favorite of his) and the absolutely beautiful basilica was completed in 1925 for over 3 million dollars without going into debt. (You know I love that!)

Tip: Lackawanna is right next to Buffalo, so head on over to Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, and chow down.

This post highlighted Catholic road trip destinations in the Northeast. Please list any Northeast favorites I missed in the comments, as well as spots to list in future posts about other regions of the country!

Uncategorized

Little Happies: Musical Memories

September 15, 2014

Last week was a sad and tragic week in our family.

A beloved member was taken from this life and welcomed into the next…sooner than anyone would’ve expected. Thank you all for your prayers for Caitlin’s family and especially my cousin Jeff at this time. Please keep lifting them up in prayer since it will be a long road ahead.

On that somber note, I am jumping back into the Little Happies Monday posts.

This week, I am drawing from music that has made me happy or was tied to a season/memory in my life. These by no means are my favorite songs now so don’t judge me. 🙂

–one–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT6T-a9Dl28

Let’s travel back to 1988 when I was three years old and THIS song came on the radio.

An instant classic, I’d say.

Why at three years old was I listening to and loving a song about a romantic getaway? Who knows but it was sure fun to dance to.

–two–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgImcqpOyt8

I used to lock myself in my bedroom during middle school and BLARE this song.

Why?

Because it was in the movie Man Of The House  and I was OBSESSED with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Like, two entire bedroom walls covered in posters of JTT’s face from Teen Beat Magazine obsessed.

So, as I lay there I would think about how cool JTT was and how much I liked his long hair. (Currently I am married to another Jonathan who had long hair at one point…hmmm)

–three–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNyKDI9pn0Q

Let’s just get it out there.

I am dramatic.

OK, it’s been said.

Remember this song? After I saw Titanic three times in theaters, I had to get the soundtrack ASAP.

For weeks I had a routine of, yet again, locking myself in my bedroom with the lights out and dozens of candles lit as I would blare this song and sing into a hairbrush while looking into a mirror and bawling my eyes out as I sang….pretending to be Celine Dion or Rose Dawson depending on the day.

Those were glorious moments for a twelve year old.

–four–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZi_7t__cJk

And then NSYNC happened.

I loved ALL their songs so really there wasn’t one particular favorite.

But this song had a really cool music video that I loved so much I taped it on VHS during TRL (Total Request Live on MTV for you youngings). I watched it daily for weeks after school, thinking about how someday maybe I could meet J.C. (Weirdly enough Jonathan actually has met and talked to J.C. from NSYNC. First JTT and now J.C. Chasez? I was meant to be with this guy!)

NSYNC jams basically dominated the rest of my High School years but I won’t torture you all with more of their hits.

–five–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fFn2LZGnMM

I am not sure exactly when I heard this song but it simply reminds me of college and being in Alpha Phi. There must have been several spontaneous dance parties to this hit. It’s just so fun! 🙂

–six–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iopkKJJr-xw

College is also when I started listening to Christian music for the first time.

I love good and well done Christian music but you have to sort through a LOT of fluff and cheesy songs.

This song was one I loved from the get go. I heard it my freshman year of college and it reminds me of a summer program I experienced with a non-denominational ministry in Jacksonville, FL for ten weeks one summer with nearly 100 other college students. That summer was INCREDIBLE and really helped me set a foundation of daily prayer in my life. I will never forget it.

–seven–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE

I hear this song and I think of Fall 2008.

It was my first year as a missionary with FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students and I was placed at University of Illinois. All the students were listening to it that Fall. It was my first time living away from Nebraska…totally on my own. I really grew up that Fall and this song just represents that time for me.

–eight–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgyJY9yndv4

Summer 2010 and The World Cup!

I was at a FOCUS New Staff Training that summer and due to the World Cup everyone had soccer fever. I played dozens of pickup soccer games. And along with about a hundred other women on staff, we learned a coordinated dance to this song. It was a blast.

It also was the summer Jonathan and I began dating 🙂

–nine–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nQy-aP_Koo

This is a song that reminds me of dating and marrying Jonathan.

We had a few rocky patches while dating and this song always spoke to me and filled me with profound peace that we would make it through…with God’s love.

Well we got engaged and on October 22, 2011 we got married and this was the song we danced to at our wedding.

–ten–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb7TSGptd3Y

Oh the waiting.

This song reminds me of two periods of my life – singleness and infertility.

I used to go on long runs and have this song play on repeat as I tried to absorb the lyrics and instill an attitude of patiently waiting within my heart and mind. Usually I just ended up crying as I ran for miles.

–eleven–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFy0hQ3lY-w

This song isn’t related to a specific season of life…rather a specific night.

We were out cruising Denver on a Friday night and we pulled up to a red stop light. There was a car on our right-hand side, windows down, blaring this song. They were jamming out to it. Hard. Their car was shaking they were dancing so hard. Jonathan rolled our windows down and began dancing and screaming along with them. They noticed and we all started hysterically laughing. We were then informed that one of the guys was getting married the next day. We cheered him on gladly. Then the light turned green and we were off.

–twelve–

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVHU_YWV3e4

This song was one that Caitlin loved.

It was played at her Celebration of Life service.

I will always think of her when I hear it for the rest of my life. It’s really a peaceful song and it makes me want to tell her “Yes. We love you…and you will always be beautiful.”

May the light and life of Christ shine within you, dear Caitlin, making you radiantly beautiful and more alive than ever. We love you!

Well that’s a Little Happy wrap!

What songs remind you all of certain memories or seasons in your life? Let me know in the comments!

 

Money

My First Stitch Fix!

July 23, 2014

Have you heard about Stitch Fix yet? Here’s a basic rundown from their very own website: stitch fix If you know me well, you know that I love love love things that save me time. I admit it, I am very swayed by convenience, as you can see by my love of eMeals. I really dislike the all-too-common shopping trip that ends up with me buying nothing because I couldn’t find anything I liked.

Time wasted.

I leave feeling frustrated and frumpy.

Gross.

Enter Stitch Fix.

It originally attracted me because:

1. I wouldn’t have to actually venture out into the retail jungle to hunt for clothes that may or may not work.

2. I could personalize the items based on my actual style preferences.

3. I could try items on in my own home WITH items I already own. No more buying a one-hit wonder shirt that goes with nothing else in my wardrobe.

4. It’s $20 for a go-around but that money goes towards any purchases AND it’s 25% off if I order all five items, an incentive for my stylist to get me great items I’ll like.

5. I get 3 days to decide if I like the items and try them on with various clothes already in my wardrobe…not 14 seconds in a fitting room with bad lighting.

So, with great eagerness and excitement, I placed my first order.

Would I love it? Hate it? Find that it was worth it? Discover it was a waste of time?

I filled out my style profile and my Pintrest board with my favorites and waited with baited breath for my first Stitch Fix box….and it arrived TODAY! 🙂

Help me decide what to keep!

stitchfix.jpgItem #1 Gilli: Dawn Jersey Chevron Print Maxi Skirt $58

chevronskirt.jpg I love Chevron.

I also love the comfortable fabric of this skirt.

Lastly, I love the color.

If you can’t tell, BLUE is my fave color and I asked for it in this fix! Good job Kathleen!

It’s a tad thin (see through in some light) so wearing a slip was necessary. Not the biggest deal ever. Buuuut is this a $58 skirt? I quickly googled Chevron Maxi Skirts and found some comparable ones for about$30-$35….hmmm.

Item # 2 Yumi: Quin Eyelet Details Fit & Flair Dress $98

dress.jpg This dress has super cute detailing on the neck and skirtline. It also fit really well and was decent on length (although 1-2 inches longer would be more my style).

I have/would pay $100 for a great dress that I plan to get years of wear out of so that didn’t bother me too much. The waistline was flattering and overall the material felt very high quality.

However, it’s Kelly Green…which is a hesitation but I am not sure it should be. I own other items in Kelly Green so why not a dress? I think I also might be hesitating because I basically have this dress but in Teal. So I wouldn’t be filling any noticeable wardrobe gaps – does that make sense?

Item # 3 Octavia: Emily Lightweight Chevron Infinity Scarf $32

scarf.jpgAgain, loving the chevron.

I also have an obsession with scarves and asked specifically for one in this fix.

This scarf is more or exactly the scarf I have wanted and ALMOST bought on many occasions. The one thing I might change is wanting it to be Mint in color…but how does the Navy look? I think at this point I might be nitpicking a good thing and practically all I wear is Teal/Mint so I should likely have a tad more variety.

Item #4 41 Hawthorn: Coco Swiss Dot Lattice Detail Blouse $74

whiteblouse.jpg Love this blouse. It fit well and I have been wanting a blouse of this fabric for quite some time now. The detailing is beautiful and it made me feel fancy. Since it’s white, it more or less goes with everything I own.

But $74 worth? This is a girl who hasn’t spent more than $100 on clothes in years, literally. I think I am having sticker shock from that reason alone.

Item #5 – 41 Hawthorn: Vicky Colorblock Trim Silk Blouse $88

blueshirt.jpg Again, it’s that material of blouse I have been wanting for a long time. I love the colors, length, and fit. I could see this being a fun and bright addition to my wardrobe that could be dressed up or down.

But again, $88 worth? I really loved it but felt tempted that I could find the same thing at H&M for a quarter of the price. Yeesh.

Here’s my overall takeaway from this first Stitch Fix:

Did I fall in love with every piece?  I’d happily wear every one of those items but my fave was the white blouse.

Was it fun waiting for my first fix? Yup. I even sneaked a peak at my items online before they arrived in the mail. I only got text of the items in the box but of course I googled the items and found photos in advance. Made me even more pumped to try things on!

Were the items overpriced? Probably…but there is a cost to quality, convenience, and my sanity. I wouldn’t do this monthly but every now and again I feel it’s a fair price for their services. This first time around I did it for my birthday and asked family to consider gifting towards any items I loved, that way it won’t hit our budget so hard. Attaching the fix to something special made it even more fun! 🙂

Will I do this again? Yes! No idea when but I am sure someday it’ll happen. I would love to see my stylist get even better with my feedback.

I hope this review provided you with basic information about Stitch Fix and some fun alongside my first fix. If you ever consider doing a fix yourself, please use my referral link Stitch Fix provided to me, as it will credit me $25 when your fix ships! In NO WAY do I write this review simply to get referral credits but it is something nice Stitch Fix offers for customers. The referral credit in no way, shape, or form changes my thoughts/comments about Stitch Fix. I am a firm believer in only promoting things that I personally enjoy and love. Remember, I hate wasting time…so no way would I waste my breath on something I didn’t think was great and worth trying even once.

Have a great week and please leave your feedback about the fix in the comments below!

Help me decide what to keep/what not to keep!

Uncategorized

Little Happies: Wedding Festivities

June 23, 2014

We are back from our trip to Omaha and it was one heck of a jammed packed and fun week.

The primary reason we were in town was for my cousin’s wedding. Leading up to the big day we had several shindigs with out of town relatives. We also were given the task of providing a few deserts for a mini-desert bar at the wedding.

The easiest way to throw these Little Happies together is just to do a photo collage from the week. Here you go:

–one–

lighteningA Severe Thunderstorm rolled through Omaha this past week while we were at a family barbecue.

Naturally many of us gathered in the open garage to be spectators of the hail, wind, rain, and lightening. The bolts were getting closer and closer to our location…so close that one intense and blinding bolt struck a nearby house!!! It was a serious rush of adrenaline for all and the house was fine with minimal exterior damage.

About that time Jonathan ran inside to get the camera and snapped the above photo. BEAUTIFUL and TERRIFYING right? Truly a wonder of nature!

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Directly after the rain storm was a nearby Fireworks show.

Since Jonathan already had the camera out…he snagged this photo.

Getting excited for the Fourth of July! 🙂

–two–

desertbar.jpg

The mini desert bar! 🙂

This was a lot of fun and a good portion of our time this week. My mother, grandmother, Jonathan, the Bride’s Mother and I were the busy bees working on various deserts while my Aunt Denise was the creative genius behind the decor.

There were various flavored mini cupcakes, white-chocolate covered oreos and pretzels, lemon bars, carmel apple bars, and brownies. Not to mention there was a three-tiered gorgeous cake these all were complementing.

As you can see in the photos – Jonathan more or less took charge of the desert bar both in making the items and in setting them out and frosting. His love of creating and making things really kicked in and the rest of us were shooed away while he entered his zone.

–three–

familyfaces.jpg

A pre-wedding photo shoot with my parents. We don’t get many family photos together so we took advantage of everyone being dressed up.

Of course, Jonathan and I had to slip some goofy faces in.

–four–

theceremony.jpg

Jeff & Caitlin’s Wedding!!

We snapped some pics from the ceremony. It really was beautiful outside – one day after that severe thunderstorm!

My brother was the best man, so of course, we had to get a shot of him all snazzed up.

–five–

reception.jpg

The reception was right indoors from the wedding, which was really convenient! We snapped some pics from a few of the special moments from the night as well as some silly ones.

I grabbed a photo of Jonathan playing with the kids…since he is really just a big kid himself and I love him for it. I also snagged a pic of my younger cousin who found an afro and proceeded to run around in it for a while.

–six–

photobooth.jpg

Photo Booth!

At our wedding we had one of these photo booths but I never made it in there the whole night. It was a serious regret on my behalf.

I guess to make up for it, we took lots of photo booth pics for the Bride and Groom that hopefully leave a smile on their faces for years to come.

Uncategorized

Little Happies: Our Pup and Some Gambling

June 16, 2014

We’ve been in Omaha, NE for the better part of the week and it’s been non-stop since we arrived.

Many things that make us happy have happened over the week but I forgot to take many photos of most of it…and part of my thinks that is how life should be. Lived. Not constantly photographed and “shared.” That is an different blog post though. Of the moments I did manage to capture, they are below:

–one–

paperworkfinal.jpg

It’s The Final Paperwork….duhn duhn duhn duhn…duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn. (The tune of The Final Countdown anybody?)

This leg of the adoption process is DONE!!!

Everything was gathered, triple checked, packaged, and finally mailed off to our agency and the States we’ve lived in. Next on the list, we need to schedule our home visits with a social worker in the upcoming weeks. After that? Hopefully approved to adopt! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Please keep your eyes and ears peeled for ANYONE who may be considering adoption for their child and let us know! Thanks!

–two–

mug caminoThis mug.

I leave it at my parent’s house so I can come back and find this gem in the cupboard when I pour my morning cup of joe.

If you haven’t heard about El Camino de Santiago, you need to. During the summer of 2009, I walked The Camino with other FOCUS staff and students and it has and will continue to change my life until the day I die. I am still drawing lessons from that trip. Especially on the road of infertility. I should write a blog post comparing the two journeys and how similar they can be.

Despite the real sufferings experienced on the trip – I overwhelmingly remember all the good things and want to go back and walk The Camino again someday.

–three–

AmeristarAtNight

Wild Pixies at Ameristar Casino.

Friday night we went to the Casinos with my Mother and Grandmother, primarily to watch the fireworks at the College World Series Opening Ceremony….OK and to gamble responsibly.

My mom won some cash off the bat so she gave us a lucky $20 so we didn’t have to cough up our own dough. Thanks mom! From that we ended up nearly tripling her winnings playing Wild Pixies. It was a lot of fun!

By the time we met up with Grandma and Mom later on, everyone had won! A great night overall!

–four–

jonathan bloggingThe World Cup!!!

We’ve been watching the games and will DEFINITELY be watching the USA play Ghana tonight!!

What’s making me happy is seeing Jonathan’s awesome graphics going up on the FOCUS blog breaking down each country complete with stats on what the Church looks like there.

–five–

pupThat guy.

Another FOCUS missionary’s family breeds Labrador Retrievers and we’ve been wanting one FOR-EV-ER but had to wait till we were no longer renters. The pups were born a few weeks ago and our little guy will be set to come home with us later this summer! Can’t wait!!!

–six–

facebook_logoI’m leaving Facebook for a while and feeling HAPPY about it.

Call it cruel fate but Facebook pretty much only shows me pregnancy photos, babies being born, or family photos these days. Seeing these posts one after another sends me into a depressing place I refuse to keep going to. I’m sure one day I will be stronger and better able to handle the bombardment…but that isn’t today and I am happy to finally admit that.

Catch me here on the blog or by phone/email if you want to get a hold of me!

Date Night, Marriage

Building Forts

September 28, 2013

Jonathan and I have been traveling this past week, which deserves a blog post of its own, so more on that to come. This post will be a catch up post from date night the past 2 Wednesdays. I also hope some of you are stealing these ideas and having some of your own date nights!

Date Night #7 – Kid Night

Not surprisingly, Jonathan picked the theme for this night. We talked about all our favorite memories, toys, trips, movies, TV shows, etc. from our childhood days. It was a lot of fun to reminisce on a great time in our lives. My, how things have changed so quickly in only 15-20 years. Activities included the following:

We built an awesome fort!

We built an awesome fort!

DSC00728

And laid pillows down to make the floor extra comfy to hang out on.

Then we ate hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and apple sauce. These were "healthier than our chilhood versions (hot dogs were 100% organic beef, mac n cheese was made of rice flour and real cheese, apple sauce was 100% apples with no added sugar).

Then we ate hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and apple sauce. These were “healthier” than our childhood versions (hot dogs were 100% organic beef without bun, mac n cheese was made of rice flour and real cheese, apple sauce was 100% apples with no added sugar).

Then we watched 90's commercials on YouTube, and hopped on Amazon Prime to check out Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Clarissa Explains it All. Great shows!

Then we watched 90’s commercials on YouTube, and hopped on Amazon Prime to check out Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Clarissa Explains it All. Great shows!

You want to watch those commercials too, right?

Click here to check out many of the best ones. Skipit, CrossFire, Gak, Lite-Brite, ahhh the classics!!!!!

 

Date Night #8 – Whole Foods & Despicable Me 2

First we went to Whole Foods to grab some dinner to go…aka dinner we could fit in my purse and bring to the movie. The best thing we picked up was:

love bar

This. Any flavor, doesn’t matter. They are just great. They also have a love poem written inside if that is something you enjoy.

Then we were off the Elvis Cinemas (aka the Cheap-o Theater) for a viewing of Despicable Me 2, which was hilarious, especially this scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPh5MFPOPLY

What I love most about the minions musical debut was the beautiful combo of All 4 One and Boyz 2 Men.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFD9lW9PGM4 (The actual tune)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N9opF-PK5k (The all white outfits)

All in all a great night and I highly recommend seeing Despicable Me 2. Hilarious movie!