Easter Blogging Break

In order to enter into the solemnity of Holy week and celebration of Easter, I will be taking a small blogging break. I will be back into full swing on either Monday, March 28 or Wednesday, March 30.

God bless!

Easter Blogging Break

My Head is Spinning!

Please excuse the mind dump here but it has been a strange week and this is me keeping it real! I feel like I have done a 40 days worth of Lent in just 5-6 days. LOL!

My head is spinning!

Image by DWilliams (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

If you are an email subscriber and opened the email for your private password for the month, you know that my computer crashed on Monday. I don’t know how it happened because I am very careful and have a very powerful anti-virus software. But it did. I think if I didn’t have the software it would have been worse but I it was bad enough! I wound up having to do a complete system restore to bring the computer back to its factory default. πŸ™

It literally took all week because I had to do all the Windows updates from the last six years which was 260+ (and those didn’t even include the optional updates!). While updating, there were other problems because it was causing a drain on the computer’s RAM. And truthfully, I haven’t technically finished because I still have to reinstall my printers and some software problems.

On top of this, my poor husband’s work truck (18 wheeler) broke down in California. Not just once, however. Oh, no. It broke down THREE times! And the third time it broke down my husband was on one of the LA airport runways! To make it worse, while waiting for the truck to be prepared he feel and had to go to the hospital. It turned out that he “broke” his back. He chipped his tailbone but there is nothing they could do about it but give him some non-drowsy pain meds (so he can drive) and some other meds for sleeping. I just can’t wait for him to get home!

But, the BIGGEST reason my head is spinning is for a good thing! This weekend was the Catholic Writer’s Guild’s annual writer’s conference and I am SO GRATEFUL to God that my computer was fixed in time (mostly)! The conference went from Friday, 8:30am-10:30 pm; Saturday, 8:30am-10:30pm, and Sunday 12 noon-10:30pm! Each session was about an hour long with a half-hour buffer between. Basically, I sat glued to the computer for three days. πŸ™‚

I absorbed A LOT of information and I have a lot to process. The conference covered everything from time management to social media to book cover design to literary revolution! I hope to share some takeaways soon after I’ve had time to go over my notes and make some order out of them.

Anyway, please say a prayer that Michael feels better soon! Thanks and God bless. πŸ™‚

Ten Meatless Meals for Lent

Note: I am reposting this with the express intention of highlighting the COMMENTS. Lots of people chimed in with their own ideas/recipes over the last couple of years, so if you haven’t checked them out, scroll down and please do!Β 

10 Meatless Meals for Lent

Do you find it challenging trying to come up with meatless meals each Friday of Lent that doesn’t consist of fish or pizza? I do. And for our family, we don’t eat meat on any Friday of the year, so it can be particularly difficult to not fall into a rut of eating the same thing every week.

So, to spark some ideas for you here’s a small list of our favorite meatless recipes. (Click on the recipe to go to its recipe instructions.)

1. Macaroni and Cheese. This is my sister-in-law’s recipe. Not only is tasty, it is SUPER easy to make.

2. Lentils: lentil Soup, lentils with rice or Honey Baked Lentils. (addition: As noted in the comments, this is a DELICIOUS way to eat lentils. πŸ™‚ )

3. Egg Balls. (Yeah,Β  sounds weird I know, but it is delicious! You just have to try it to believe me!)

4. Peas and Macaroni. This is my mother-in-law’s recipe.

5. 5 Can Soup. I got this recipe a long time ago from some friends in Ohio.

6. Veggie Omelet. (Or any egg dish such as fried, scrambled, souffle, etc.)

7. Potato Pancakes. This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

8. Beans and Macaroni. Another delish recipe from my mother-in-law.

9. Ratatouille. A classic French dish but easy to make.

10. Vegetarian Lasagna. Yum!

Other meal ideas would include, eggplant Parmesan; tuna casserole; cereal or other meatless breakfast food (such as pancakes, french toast, oatmeal – who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner?!); veggie burgers and vegetarian chili.

What are your favorite vegetarian and/or meatless meals for Lent?

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Tweetable: 10 Meatless Meals for Lent

(Linked to Sunday Snippets)

Ten Ways to Get The Most Out of Lent

(repost)

As you know this week is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I *LOVE* Lent. I do. Really! Lots of us cradle Catholics find the fasting and sacrifices of Lent a drudgery. Others ignore Lent altogether. Not me. I see Lent as a mini New Year. A new beginning and another chance to re-charge the batteries in my relationship with the Lord.

10 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent

Here are some ideas for you to spend your time this Lent. (Btw, if you read my “Making Advent Meaningful” post, you’ll notice some of the suggestions are the same. That’s because there are some things – like the Mass and rosary – that are worth being reminded of again. πŸ™‚ )

1. Daily Mass. Since the Eucharist the the “source and summit of our faith”, it stands to reason that daily mass should be on top of our Lenten “to-do” list!

2. Adoration. Next to the mass, adoration is the next best thing – especially if you are unable to make it daily mass for whatever reason. More and more parishes are offering at least monthly or weekly exposition and adoration (and some have perpetual adoration) of the Blessed Sacrament, so try and snag a half hour each week if you can!

3. Stations of the cross. The Stations of the Cross is a beautiful way to remember the passion of the Lord. Again, most parishes have Stations of the Cross once or twice each Friday of Lent. If you can’t make it to church, you can get some beautiful pamphlets for next to nothing and pray they them at home with your family.

4. Forgive. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven and so that we may receive mercy. One of the best (and hardest!) ways to show gratitude for the Lord’s goodness is to forgive those who have hurt us – especially if the transgression was grievous. Just as hard, ifΒ  not even harder, is forgiving ourselves. Or sometimes we hold on to grudges and anger, even when we can’t remember how a particular person has hurt us! If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, maybe you can pray the Lord opens your heart to forgiving someone who has hurt you, or praying that He will help you forgive yourself? Even the prayer that He helps you to WANT to forgive would be a great start…

5. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the hours are always beautiful, but especially during the Lenten season.Β  It is the official prayer of the church, and when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you are united will all the faithful around the world who are praying it with you!

6. Go to confession. It’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, but whatever you call it, there’s no better way (besides the mass!) to prepare for Easter. There will be (or should be) many Penance services around your diocese, so you should be able to find one that fits in your schedule.

7. Watch the Passion of the Christ. Yes, watching the Passion of the Christ is painful. It’s in your face. It renders us speechless. And it should. What Jesus endured for our sake wasn’t “touchy feely” or a walk in the park. It was ugly, but our sin in even uglier, and sometimes we (I) need something like this movie to remind us (me) just how much Jesus loves us and was willing to endure for us.

8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Who says you have to wait for the Divine Mercy Sunday Novena to pray the chaplet? It’s a short but perfect prayer for Lent. I also try and read parts, if not most, of Saint Faustina’s diary during Lent, too.

9. Pray the the Scriptures. Next to participating in the Sacraments, there is no better way to deepen our relationship with the Lord than Scripture.Β  Spending as little as five minutes a day with His Word can transform your life. (New to reading the Bible? Read this guide on how to pray the Scriptures.)

10. Fast. All through Lent we will be hearing about fasting. It’s good for the soul. It opens our eyes to the needs of others. it cleanses us of our base passions. But, fasting isn’t just giving up food, or even television (both of which are excellent). This year, why don’t we fast from anger, sloth or any of the other “capital sins” and try to feast on its opposing virtue? (I know my diet has been terribly deprived of patience lately! πŸ˜‰ )

Now, don’t feel pressured to do all of these activities. Remember, the focus is to deepen our relationship with Christ not add on more to-dos! Start out small. Pick one to three activities and focus on those. Lent is not a competition or race to see how much you can do. It is about focusing on a few things and doing them well so that you can focus on growing deeper in your relationship with the Lord, not exhaust yourself.

So tell us, what are your suggestions for making Lent special for you this year?

P.S. For a printable version of this list go here to subscribe. Subscribers, go to your private page to download the list.

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Tweetable: Ten Ways to Get the Most Out of Lent

My Three Words for 2016

My 3 Words for 2016

Image by geralt (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

For the last couple of years, to go along with my goals, I have been using three words to stay focused and centered on what I want to accomplish. I got this idea from Chris Brogan and although it hasn’t been perfect, it has been revolutionary for me. In 2014, my words were “intentional, love and brave” and in 2015, my words were “relationships, prayer, and grace.”

This year, I want to be more action-oriented and as I prayed the following words came to me:

authentic, focused, mercy

On this blog, I have made it my mission to “encourage busy women in their walk with the Lord.” But when I look back at previous blog posts, I get the impression that it looks like I “have it all together” or that my life is perfect. It’s not. Life is messy – for me and probably for most people. In 2016, I am going to try to get out of my comfort zone and be more “real” and vulnerable and authentic. I am going to try and share my struggles and how I overcome them (when I can). It is scary but I am who I am and I feel like the Lord wants me to show that side of me.

One thing I noticed last year is that I had a tendency to be all over the place, be it online or off. This year, I am going to do my best to stay focused and work on one thing at a time. For example, one of my goals this year is to write at least one book or journal per month. However, when I sit down to the computer to write, I often get sidetracked because I start checking email or go on Facebook or do any other task first. This year, I am going to make an effort to do what I plan to do when I planned to do it. πŸ™‚

My final word is mercy. This year, the Pope has declared an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. It extends from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016. Devotion to the Divine Mercy is something I take to heart because it is very important to me. Therefore, this year I want to completely entrust myself to Jesus and be an instrument of His Mercy to others.

My hope is that these three words will enable me to be all that God wants me to be. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a feeling, an intuition if you will, that 2016 is going to be a great year. I don’t know what that means or what it will look like but I am truly looking forward to finding out!

Now, tell me, what is your word, or words, for 2016? Please share in the comments!

Annual Christmas Break (And a Head’s Up!)

Just and FYI, today starts my annual blogging break. It gives me a chance to spend extra time having fun with my family and doing some baking. It also gives me some time to look ahead and do some planning.

Wish all of you a blessed and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See ya again starting January 4th. πŸ™‚

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P.S. I found out that Crystal Paine, the creator of the Make Over Your MorningsΒ  (aff link) online course, will be doing a sale from December 26 through January 8, 2016. The course is normally priced at $17 but duringΒ  the Dec. 26 through Jan. 8 time period, the course will cost only $9!

If you are going to make goals or resolutions for the new year, this program would be a great way to help you achieve those goals, and for $9, you can’t beat it. If you are on the fence, you can read my honest review here.

Christ the King

(Repost with some changes)

Christ the King

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Wow! Yesterday was the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical calendar. It’s hard to believe that we will be heading into Advent next week! Where has the time gone?

“At the name of Jesus every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS Lord.” Philippians 2:10-11

Yesterday, the Church celebrated the feast of Christ the King. It is the day that we celebrate and acknowledge the all-encompassing authority of Christ over our lives. To find out more about this awesome feast, go here.

As we transition into Advent, like many of us, I have been thinking about what I want to do to prepare for Christmas this year. In light of today’s feast, here are some questions I am asking myself:

  • How have I grown in my relationship with Jesus this year?
  • Am I growing in trust and surrendering my will to His?
  • In what areas of my relationship with Jesus do I need to improve?
  • How has my prayer life been this year? Am I taking time for the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and other devotions?
  • Am I actively participating in the sacramental life? Am I fully participating in the Mass? Confession?
  • What can I do this year to make Advent a true preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas?

As you prepare for the Advent season, I pray that Christ will truly be at the center of your heart, that you may grow in His Love, and that you will be guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the season and always. πŸ™‚

Tweetable: Christ the King

 

Ten Must-haves for an Emergency Kit

* I heard that it is going to be an especially cold winter this year so I thought I would revive this post. Things happen and it is a good idea to be prepared.

We all know the importance of having an emergency kit; but, how many of us have actually taken the time to put one together? Ideally, we should have two: one for our homes and one for our car(s). Emergencies happen when we least expect it. Or, when we are least prepared.

10 Must-haves for an Emergency Kit

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will be traveling by car (often long distances) to our festive gatherings. Lots of accidents and break-downs happen during the holiday season, so if you don’t have an emergency kitΒ  in your car, now many be a good time to think about getting one together.

Here’s a list of the most common (and important) things to keep in your emergency kit:

1. Water. We personally keep three cases in our car at all times, but a couple of gallons or cases of bottled water should be enough.

2. Food. Non-perishable foods, such as pretzels or granola bars, would be best; although throwing a few pieces of fruit in the car as you are leaving would be a good idea, too. πŸ™‚

3. Blankets. If you break down and have to wait a while (or longer) for a service truck, having a few extra blankets will come in handy. πŸ™‚

4. Medical supplies. You should have extra prescription medications, Acetaminophen, a first-aid kit andΒ  personal medical supplies (such as diabetes equipment, etc.) as part of your emergency kit.

5. Extra clothes. Obviously, if you are traveling by car you have a suitcase (or several!) full of clothes already with you. However, It’s a good idea to keep an extra outfit for each person in the car at all times. You never know when you’ll be glad you did!

6. Flash light and extra-batteries. Enough said here; except, if you have a child like my son (who likes to take the flashlight – or anything else for that matter! – apart), you might want to keep the flashlight out of reach of your little one!

7. Road flares. They aren’t that expensive and can help prevent an accident if you breakdown at night.

8. GPS Tracking System or Maps. A lot of cell phones have built-in GPS tracking systems now-a-days, and if yours does, you are all set. If not, you may want to invest in one. Or, get a local map(s) of the areas you will be traveling in.

9. Whistle. Okay, I am be a bit paranoid; but, there are some not-so-nice people out there, so yeah, I keep a whistle with me. Yelling “help” or even “fire” might not get attention, but a whistle sure will! (My late great-Aunt once saved herself from being attached once by blowing a whistle into the ear of the attacker! I’ve never forgotten that!)

10. Extra kids stuff. Again, if you are traveling with kids you have what you need already; but, it would be good to keep an extra bag of things you need for little ones in the car at all times. And don’t forget to keep a personalized child’s traveling bag within reach, too! (We certainly want to keep our little ones happy while traveling!)

Do you have an emergency kit prepared? If so, what’s in yours?

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Here is a printable version of this list, no opt-in required: 10 Must-Haves for An Emergency Kit

Tweetable: 10 Must-Haves for an Emergency Kit

Ten Reasons to Love Autumn

(repost)

My favorite season has always been spring; but, I have to admit that autumn has slowly become my new favorite. I don’t tolerate winter very well, so for years, autumn was nothing more than a precursor to my most dreaded season. However, over the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate the many joys of autumn. Here are the top ten reasons I’ve come to love the season of autumn:

10 Reasons to Love Autumn

1. Cooler weather. After the scorched days of August, the cooler weather of autumn is a welcome relief!

2. The colors. I love the deep, earthly colors of autumn! The reds, the oranges, the yellows and browns are comforting and homey.

3. Fall Foliage. When I lived in Ohio, I loved walking or driving around town to look at the leaves as they turned color and fell to the ground. Here, in NJ, I love to see the turning leaves. the NJ Parkway is lovely in the fall. And, who doesn’t love the reward of jumping into a newly raked pile of crunchy leaves?!!

4. Fall Festivals. Bring on the fall festival fun! The hay rides, the mazes, and all the harvest goodness that comes with fall festivals is definitely worth the onset of autumn. πŸ™‚

5. Snuggling. It is so much fun to snuggle up on the couch with a good book and cup of tea. Or, better yet, to cuddle up on the couch with my husband and son and read or watch TV together!

6. Flannel sheets. I love the cozy warmth of flannel sheets (and pajamas). Although, I must confess, it makes getting out of bed so much harder. πŸ˜‰

7. Family gatherings. Summer gatherings and barbecues are fun; but, there’s nothing like Thanksgiving dinner or getting together around the kitchen to chat or for a rowdy game of Pictionary!

8. Pumpkin carving – and eating! Some people are so creative. It’s fun to see all the different designs and characters that are carved out of the pumpkins. Unfortunately, I’m not very creative, so I’ll stick to decorating with markers and stickers. LOL! And let’s not forget the wonderful pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin soup!

9. Apples, apples, everywhere!Β  Apple picking must be one of the best things about fall. And, even if you can’t get to an apple orchard, apples are so inexpensive now. There are so many varieties to try and choose from. I make a simple homemade applesauce that my family loves. Besides, who doesn’t love warm apple cider, apple pie and apple butter? I also like to toss apples in my sausage, peppers and potatoes recipe for a touch of sweetness.

10. Soups and Stews. There’s nothing better than a nice, hot bowl of soup to warm you up on a cold day, so I make lots of homemade soups and stews in the fall/winter. Just throw a few ingredients in the slow cooker and in a few hours you have a tasty and hearty supper. Add some bread and/or salad and you have a complete and healthy meal.

The one thing you aren’t going to find on my list is football. I’m sorry (Not!) to say that I don’t like football. {gasp!} It’s true. I find it boring. Did you know that during a 3 hour football game there’s only about 11 minutes of action. I’m not kidding. My father-in-law read it somewhere last year and then calculated it for himself. If you don’t believe me you ask him yourself! πŸ˜‰ That’s not to say that I never watch a game. My husband watches it once in a while; so I’ll sort of watch bits and pieces of the game.

What do you love about Autumn? Do share!

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Tweetable: 10 Reasons to Love Autumn

Image by PublicDomainPictures (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure policy.

(This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

We Never Forget

14 years have passed since that fateful day, September 11, 2001, which changed our lives forever. My prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones and for anyone who has been affected by the terrorist attacks in any way. And, of course, my prayers go out for the repose of the souls of the deceased.

9/11 memorial

Image by Michelle (2013) via Pixabay,CCO public domain