Starting up a Girls' Club

For the past few months I've been involved with a girls' club that we started because there was an unusual situation at a nearby parochial school. There was a relatively small number of girls in both 3rd grade classes, and since it's around 4th grade when the girls start getting all cliquey and well, mean, a few moms wanted to start a club once a month after school as a way of giving the girls something they could all do together and really cultivate solid friendship values. Turns out that ALL the girls were interested and have been coming! It's been so much fun and so nice to see the girls really listening and having fun together.

Our basic schedule is: Snack, Virtue Talk, Project, Clean-Up. Pretty basic right? It works so well and fills up an hour and a half. Then the girls are shuttled back to school to be picked up. It's been trial and error with each meeting but so much fun and so fulfilling. I give the virtue talks which so far have been on: Friendship, Modesty & Femininity, Loyalty and Sociability.  I talk, ask questions, we discuss, and then it's off to the projects such as: jewelry making, embroidering their initial on a napkin, or for example our latest one, the aspects of tea.

It was great! We did it in small group rotations. The girls learned to arrange food, make bite-sized cucumber sandwiches, arrange flowers, and all about tea and its preparation. In May we will have a tea party with the girls and their mothers and it will be a great chance for them to get to know each other better as well! And since May is dedicated to Our Lady, we will all say the rosary together as well.

I think it's a great thing to get involved with. So many young girls don't understand or get the chance to hear what it means to be a good friend, how to live loyalty, or what true femininity is all about.  If they don't hear it from their family members or from someone trustworthy, where else will they receive the "formation"? Hannah Montana?  It's so important because these kinds of values, hopefully solid ones, will stay with them for life.

Have you ever done anything like this? Any ideas for more talks and simple, fun projects to do with the girls?


The Charms of Garage Sale-ing

One of my new favorite things about the Spring and upcoming Summer to look forward to is GARAGE SALE SEASON! These signs totally jump out at me now and the reaction is always a huge smile and widened eyes in eager expectation of what treasures I will find amidst other people's junk. There's a quick look at my blind spots and a screeching of tires as I make the unexpected turn in the direction of the bold arrow. . .

The months before my wedding were spent every weekend possible driving around and for pennies (almost literally!) purchasing all the things that would come together to make a home: furniture, kitchenware, pillows, curtains, frames, candles, cookbooks, utensils, lamps, holiday items (even a tree base and manger!), baskets, even tools and lightbulbs! And the thrill of it all is talking down the price - I'm learning from the pros (including my amazing mother-in-law, queen of negotiations) to get the best deals. I have saved us so much money! I am reaching the point where I hesitate to ever spend full price on anything- even nails since I can find it at a garage sale. Why spend $1.99 when you can get it for $0.10-$0.25 !

With the exception of my beautiful, wooden antique desk ($75) and our practically new Restoration Hardware down-feather couch ($120), every piece of furniture in my house was $10 or less!

Of course, there's always Goodwill and Thrift Stores that you can go to in your area, and I highly recommend supporting the ones that donate their profits to good charities such as Hope Houses.

This very different kind of shopping really is so much fun because if anything, it gets you out and about, learning your way around the many different areas around you (this especially for me has been a big plus!), can be so agreeable on a beautiful day when you can drive around with the windows down, and will save you so much money! But at the same time, as with anything, practice the virtue of moderation. Ask yourself if you really need it. . . not just are you getting it because it's a good deal. It's a big temptation, just like with any kind of shopping. But the point of it is to simplify your life, (especially financially) rather than over-clutter your home or worse yet- have only the material aspects of your home always be on your mind. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to take care of your home, keep it organized and make it beautiful with homey touches. There's great dignity in the work of the home just as much as in any other profession- but it should never be at the expense of losing the focus of this vocation. What I mean by this is that the point of it all is to serve your husband, children and friends through the material means, rather than merely showcasing and acquiring more.  
Live simply and you'll live happily,    
 I believe, especially when you're starting off.

I am a total convert to this way of seeing with new eyes - that really is the charm of it all. You're essentially restoring  the beauty of something. Take my antique desk, for example. I'm not sure of its origin except that given it's style (it even has an old lock with removable key!) and that it's in fact made of a beautiful, solid wood (I love natural, quality materials that last) it obviously is very old. A young woman and her father bought it at an antique auction and payed a pretty penny for it. Though it was worn and scratched, they sanded it and refinished it to look as it does now- with so much character! She was very sweet and did not want to lower the price (she had it for $125, I think) but finally, when she found out that I was about to get married (a great selling point *wink), asked me,

"Will you love it forever?"
to which I could honestly say "Yes!" And so its story continues! I wrote all my thank you notes after my wedding day in it and continue to write letters to all my friends from it. I love the little built-in compartments where I can keep envelopes, stationary and stamps tucked into it. I especially love that it beckons me to write and rediscover the "Lost Art of Letter-Writing."

Isn't that part of the story of life: restoring the dignity of everything, seeing things with new eyes, building character, making all things new again? *It's what we do for ourselves and for our friends: sanding down the roughness of our character, rescuing people who are suffering a setback, elevating spirits. . . just like the old, abandoned,  piece of furniture that you restored and put back in a prominent place in your home, -it's the same you do for others by bringing peace and joy back into their lives.* It's what Jesus does for our souls through the Sacraments!
"Behold, I make all things new."
Revelation 21:5

 * My mother's insightful words during a recent conversation*

I hope the charms of garage sale-ing, and seeing things with different eyes inspires you in your home life as it has me and I will keep posting on this topic to share some of the things I'm learning and implementing in my own home.


Herb & Vegetable Garden

Spring is here at last! it looks like we're cleared from snow for the rest of the season!

My husband and I love to cook with everything as fresh as possible, and you know what this means. . . many, many trips to our local produce market for last minute things, especially herbs!

After visiting his grandparents a few weeks ago, who served us a wonderful salad with their garden's vegetables and told us how easy it is to grow things like peppers, we were hooked on the idea! Here is the start of our gardening endeavor! We're crossing our fingers that most of the seeds sprout!

Since it's not uncommon for the temperature to still drop in the 30s this time of year, we decided to start our little garden indoors! We also live in an apartment, and though we are allowed to plant, who knows how long we'll stay, so we are also considering having a potted garden like the one Martha Stewart made.

We're very excited because this will be a not only fun project, but one that will save us money! Seeds are so cheap and the supplies really don't cost much!
Project  Breakdown:
Seeds: Parsley, cilantro, habanero peppers, red peppers and green pepper seeds.
Miracle Grow Seeds Starting Mix
Decomposing, organic planters  - These are great because they retain moisture/ you can tell when you need to re-moisten. Additionally, you can transplant these containers directly to the new dirt and they will decompose and serve as fertilizer! Awesome!

We have it in our study for now on a little table, since it's the room with the most light!

I will have to re-post in a few weeks with updates!

Grow little garden, grow!

Post Script. Turns out this is the thing to do in the North! I'm linking to Ann Marie from White House Black Shutters who also had a fun take on windowsill herb gardens.


Reflection on the Priesthood

Notes on Fr. Dennis' homily given on Holy Thursday-  April 1, 2010.

I want to take you three days back, to Holy Thursday, because my pastor, Fr. Dennis, gave the most moving reflection on the priesthood also in light of the recent attacks on the Church and on the Holy Father, Pope Benedict.

Here are some excerpts, though you can find the entire content here. Note- emphasis added.

Few Catholics ever witness the conferral of Holy Orders with all of it solemnity, 
when the profound significance of the priesthood is seen in the richness of its ceremonies. 
And perhaps, that in part is why so many don’t fully understand it. Especially today, there 
are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about who a priest is, what a priest is and what he should be doing—even among some priests themselves. 

 Few stop to think that “Christ suffers more than us by the humiliation of his priests and the affliction of his Church” [and] “if he permits it, it is because he knows the good that can come from it, in view of a greater purity of the Church.”1

But perhaps, Pope Benedict called this Year for Priests also as a source of consolation and support for a category of people, who have been the object of unrelenting criticism, scorn, hatred, defamation, attack and denigration by many people in our country and the world. Although this phenomenon has been growing for many years, it broke out with a vengeance several years ago when the sexual scandal rocked the Church. And since that time, the forces of Satan, aided and abated by his all too willing accomplices inside and outside the Church, have struck blow after blow, hoping to destroy the priesthood, and with it the Church. We see this all to clearly in the recent attacks against the Holy Father himself. It is evident that by flinging mud at him, they hope to bring down the entire Church. It is a source of grave embarrassment and sorrow for priests, but one of the saddest and most shameful manifestations of our perverse culture is the manner in which 
so many Catholics treat their priests. 

Priests have given up everything with no thought of reward for themselves. 
Through ordination their souls have been changed for all eternity to be configured to 
Christ in a life of self-sacrifice. They have allowed themselves to be used as Christ’s 
instruments so that He can do His work among you here on earth. And although any good 
and authentic priest will tell you the great joy it is to be a priest, he will probably not tell 
you that his life is also a life of constant immolation in so many small ways in imitation 
of the One, of whom he is an image. He is called to be “another Christ” and that is why, 
at the moment of his death, he will be called to an accountability far greater and more 
terrible than anyone else can image because he will be called to account for every single 
soul that was in his care. Did he lose any? Did he try hard enough? Did he do all he could 
to get his flock to heaven? He was both Christ among you but also so very human and 

Don’t judge them but leave them to the justice of God. And remember they will 
be judged far more severely than you. Remember—they absolve your sins, renewing 
God’s divine life within you, returning you to His friendship when you have imposed 
your own will over His. They bring you Christ in the Eucharist, without which you would not be able to spiritually sustain yourselves, for as St. Pio of Pietrelcina once said, the world can more easily live without the sun than without the Eucharist. Priests baptized your children making them children of God and opening heaven to them. They join you in marriage, so that you can draw from the font of nuptial graces to sustain you in that often difficult task of wedded life. They leave the comfort of their homes at sometimes the most inconvenient times to anoint you and impart upon you the Apostolic Blessing, to help you pass through the veil into eternity. 

Pray for your priests. Not that they do your will but that they be holy and faithful to the end. 

~ ~

I especially ask for you to keep in your prayers my cousins Xavier and Alex as well as my brother-in-law, Matthew, who are studying for the priesthood!


Easter Treats!

Happy Easter! ! ! Gaudium cum pace!

I'm off to an Easter party and thought I'd share my treat! They were supposed to be Easter lilies, but oh well. I thought it was a cute idea if you want something that will present nicely! I wasn't sure when I'd find use for this cupcake stand, but knew that it would be fun! Food as a centerpiece! 

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