1.30.2011

Brassy to Classy Curtain Rods

Here’s a quick project if you want to update some curtain rods!

When we moved in, the first things that had to go were all the ugly, seen-better-days plastic blinds.  But of course, we wanted the privacy, too.

On one of our first shopping trips after moving in we splurged (yeah) on $1.25 curtain rods at Tar-jay. I was more distracted about the thought of curtains to make it feel more homey to think of the detail of the color of the rods. . . or maybe I just was distracted by the cheaper price on the options!

And it all worked just fine for a year!

But there was definitely something lacking in the details. I LOVE my handmade curtains from a clearance Williams-Sonoma tablecloth that my MIL made for me, and I want them to stand out more when contrasted with our dark kitchen.

Out came my friend, Rustoleum (that’s the guy’s real name who owns this line!)

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And in a matter of minutes (plus a few hours for drying) I gave that brass some real class!

Before

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After

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Yes, that’s a fire alarm right there- you can never have one of those too handy, you know. . .

And that’s how you can update the brassy elements in your home or apartment- (I doubt your landlord will mind if the thing happens to be a permanent fixture). Hope this gives you a new way to look at something whether in your home, or if you come across a not-so-perfect-but-useful-item at a thrift store!

1.12.2011

My Cup Floweth Over

During the Christmas season, we reflected on the coming of Jesus Christ as a tiny babe made incarnate on earth. His presence among us was God's supreme gift to mankind, and indeed He continues to live amongst us daily, made present on every Catholic altar in the world every single day in the Eucharist. He is available for us at any moment, ready to listen to us with an understanding ear.

What a cause for gratitude this is! In fact, in this recent article on Inside Catholic , Mark Shea wrote a reflection on the meaning of the Eucharist: "thanksgiving." In "A Few Gratitudes,” he says:
"The center of our Faith is the Eucharist. Eucharist means thanksgiving. That means the center of our Faith is thanksgiving."

I am in love with this idea of thanksgiving and gratitude.

As Deitrich von Hildebrand says,
"Gratitude is the gateway of love."


A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Thank you. No, Thank You," stated that "grateful people are happier long after the leftovers are gobbled up." Developing an attitude of gratitude is invaluable for us because we are creatures to which everything we have been given is an enormous gift. A heart overflowing with gratitude is one that is receptive to all of the good things that the world (ultimately, God) would have in store for us. So, while the season of Thanksgiving may be passed, and the Christmas season is now behind us, we have recently welcomed a brand new year. As one of my New Year's Resolutions, I am striving to foster a deeper appreciation for the simple things in my life.


Life is busy. It flies by and we get caught up doing a million little things. When is the last time we sat down and thought about how many things for which we have to be grateful? I know I don't do it enough. So, to aid me in this process, I have decided to create what I call my "Gratitude Box." In it, I will capture those small moments that bring joy: "catching all the green lights on the way to work," "a fresh snowfall," "a full tank of gas."I was inspired by a post in Real Simple recently about a woman who had her "God Box."

Source: Jose Picayo at Real Simple
Inside were hundreds of little messages that she had written to God over the years. A little prayer, a whisper of thanks, a desperate plea -- all of them put together formed a little glimpse into an incredible friendship with God. Another woman recently wrote a book about growing in happiness, called The Happiness Project. In one year, she divided her months into specific goals: "Read more Aristotle" (an attractive prospect for someone with a Liberal Arts education, lol) "Sing in the car," "Learn the guitar." The goals are cute and in keeping with the idea of being proactive about our outlook on life.


In my "Gratitude Box" I will fill out little slips of paper each day. On each one, I will list a small thing (or large) that brought me happiness or that I appreciated that day. Little by little, (I hope!) it will help me be more grateful. If not, I will have a lot of fun at the end of the year going through the box and remembering all those great moments!




Today's piece of paper? Receiving a letter in the mail from my sister. A week ago? Fresh peanut butter fudge.  



Speak out!





What are you grateful for? What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?

1.05.2011

Twelfth Night (not the Shakespeare play)

I know that Epiphany was celebrated this past Sunday in the States, but traditionally (and still on the Traditional Calendar) the feast day is on January 6! It is a beautiful feast day full of Christian meaning and it is actually the climax of Christmas.
That means. . . that tonight is Twelfth Night, and the night when the Three Kings (representative of all nations, all humanity) arrived to prostrate themselves before the Savior.

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In many countries, gift exchanges are done on this feast day, hence the reason for the gift-giving tradition. I remember growing up this was always a day to look forward to. In Hispanic countries the kids leave out some water and hay for the camels the night before to have as they travel on their way to see baby Jesus. (I am definitely going to continue this tradition.)

Last Sunday our pastor gave the most beautiful homily on the significance of this feast, and I took some notes to share. I’m sorry there’s no fluidity to it all, but I hope the ideas are clear. 
  
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Epiphany means the manifestation of God to the world, and we commemorate it in three events.
  1. The feast of the Three Kings, (also known as Epiphany)- the Word was made flesh for all humanity. 
  2. Baptism of Our Lord- the voice and the Spirit in the form of a dove.
  3. The wedding feast at Cana- the first miracle of the water turned to wine. How beautiful that it was at a wedding!
It’s beautiful to see the closeness of our Lord with us. This closeness is like the one found in the marriage between a man and a woman. It is the closest human relationship possible, because it is one of mutual giving and self-surrender in complete love and trust. The relationship between the Church and its members is the same. The three manifestations help us realize it’s the same close relationship God wants to have with each soul. And this cannot happen without the Church.

Christ is the bridegroom, and the Church, his bride. As Catholics, we belong to the Church, and that bond between the Church and Christ is a bond of sanctity and grace through the Sacraments. Christ wants to be united with each one of our souls, therefore a relationship should always be developing in us with Him.

The gifts of the Three Kings and their symbolic meaning of mankind’s gifts to God  

Gold- Jesus is King, so they offer a valuable gift. Gold is symbolic of love. We offer God the greatest gift we can: devoted love.

Frankincense- Incense has been used from antiquity. It represents the sweet smell of worship of God. Unfortunately the use of incense is at the lowest in Roman Catholic history. It is symbolic of prayer and devotion. As the smoke rises up, we need to be conscious of our prayer and devotion rising to Heaven.

Myrrh- In ancient days, it was used to anoint the body after death. It is the recognition on the part of the Magi that the child, while God, was also man, and that He, too, would one day die. Spiritually, myrrh is symbolic of conformity to His will because it entails a sacrifice on our behalf.

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The relationship of God with us is like a marriage- constant, pervasive and persevering. Through love, prayer, devotion and through conformity to His will we should always be developing our relationship with Him.

It was such a great homily!

The season of Christmas ends on the Monday after the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which signifies the purification of the world, through Christ himself. . . so our Christmas décor and spirit is still up and thriving!

Happy 12th day of Christmas!
*hums song*

And just for fun, I looked this up and had to share.
Source: Fr. Hal Stockert

The Twelve Days of Christmas
An Underground Catechism

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. [. . . ]

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith [. . . ] The song’s gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed


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Let’s continue to live the spirit Christmas through all these meaningful feasts and symbols of the season for the last few days of this season!
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