Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes {no. 18} On the road again...

Last week I wrote my quick takes about traveling from NYC to Michigan, Ohio & Kentucky. Today my quick takes are courtesy of a state I've never visited before (working on my 30 by 30 list!). Let's see if you can you guess where I am.

Hint no. 1: We flew here. Driving from NYC would have taken a day and 1 hour. (I do love a good road trip, thanks!)

Love these views from above.

Hint no. 2:
These birds with a distinctive tail are very common here. I don't know what they are called yet, but I plan to ask my friend Google (although maybe a reader knows!). Michael & I decided that pigeons are to NYC as these birds are to the city we are in right now.

Have you guessed it yet? No? Perhaps I should give a couple more obvious hints. Hint no. 3: This was seen in a restaurant yesterday with this area's style of cooking:

Think you've got it now? Just to confirm, here's hint no. 4: I'm in our 7 Quick Takes host Jen's home state (but not hometown).

Yep, you guessed it! We are in Texas, where everything is bigger (especially our apartment here in comparison to our NYC apartment. We may never want to go back!).
Even the eggs have state pride!
Michael has an internship here in Houston. We've only been here a day or so, but we are definitely not in Kansas anymore, if you know what I'm saying! Loving it, y'all.

And by the time next week's edition of 7QT rolls around, I won't be in Texas. Where will I be? Well, you'll just have to wait and see.

It's been a little quiet around the blog this week due to our traveling, but the one post I have written is one of my favorite posts to date. It's my Marian Linkup, which I'm calling full of grace. If you haven't checked it out yet I highly recommend clicking over to read all the beautiful posts on our Blessed Mother, Mary. And! If you haven't linked up yet, you have until Sunday at midnight to do so (I extended the linkup by a day). All posts related to Mary are welcomed. I do hope you'll join us!

BONUS take: Tomorrow is a special day, and I'd like to take this chance to wish the happiest of birthdays to my sweet sister, Allison. She is truly the best sister a girl could dream of having and I love her more than words can say. Happy birthday, Sissy!!

Always have & always will love this girl!
Click over to Conversion Diary for many more takes!
Wishing you a beautiful weekend...

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Wedding photo by A Thousand Words Photography.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Full of Grace: A Marian Linkup

Happy Monday, and happy Memorial Day! Thank you, God, for all the men and women who have given their lives in service of our country. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May the peace of Christ be with all those who miss them. Amen.

•      •      •

As my dear readers know, I have been writing a post reflecting on Mary each Monday this month. This week I made a video to share with you! The song in the video is called "Blessed One." It was always one of my favorites at my church in college. (Maybe you sing it at your parish, too?) This particular recording is from the CD my choir recorded in 2009. I hope you will enjoy it. 

{click here to view in a separate window}

Isn't the refrain beautiful? I especially love the harmonies (always wish I was a tenor for this song!). The melodies are simple, yet so lovely - which is fitting for our Blessed Mother, I think.

To finish my series of posts on Mary, I am hosting a Marian linkup beginning today. (It's my blog's first linkup! Exciting!) It will be open through May 31, the Feast of the Visitation and the Queenship of Mary. I invite you to share any of your posts on Mary (new or old, and you may share more than one if you like). My hope is that as we share these posts we will also be able to encourage one another and grow with one another in faith as we honor the mother of Jesus. 
To join me: Click the "Add your link" button below. Be sure to enter the URL of your specific Marian post, not just your blog homepage. If you're writing a new post, please include a link back to this post to encourage others to join us. Feel free to include the Full of Grace linkup graphic in your post, too! 

Thanks so much for linking up with me - I look forward to reading your posts!
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Friday, May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes of Traveling {no. 17}

You may (or may not) have noticed it's been a little quiet around here the past week or so, but for good reason! There's nothing like 7 Quick Takes on Friday to catch up on everything that's been going on in life. If you follow me on instagram, you might have noticed we went on a trip to the Midwest, which included visiting three states. Here are some more details on what we've been up to:

The first stop on our trip was Michigan. We had some great quality time with Michael's family. We also took a super-quick trip to our dear college town, Ann Arbor, which has to be one of my favorite places. Ever. Have you been there?
I also got to see one of my very dearest friends from when I was working on my Masters at Michigan, which was such a gift.

Michael's parents have a cottage on a lake in Michigan, which is oh-so-beautiful. Though it was pretty chilly the weekend we were there, we still enjoyed the peace and quiet of the lake.
One of the main events last Saturday was my brother-in-law's graduation from college! It was so great to be there for his big day. Congratulations, Matthew!

The second big event of the day was my soon-to-be sister-in-law's bridal shower! We had such a blast putting together a Paris themed party for her. (She and my brother-in-law fell for each other in the "city of love" while studying abroad.)
Lucky for me, I just love this gal, Jean. So blessed to be gaining her as a sister! I can hardly wait for their wedding in August.

After a wonderful time in Michigan, we headed down to Ohio for a couple days to visit my parents. We always love spending time with them.

And, of course, since we were in Cincinnati, we had to get our Graeter's ice cream fix. It's necessary!
Strawberry Chocolate Chip...yum!

On Tuesday, my dad, Michael & I headed down to Kentucky with my dad's parents. The trip meant a great deal to each of us. What a special opportunity to have my grandparents show us around the place where they were born and raised. I especially loved hearing my grandpa talk about all the different "hollers" and direct us "down the road apiece." Yes, please.
We stayed at the beautiful Buckhorn Lake State Park.
We all rode in one car, which meant my grandparents and I shared the backseat. Now if you will please excuse my double chin, how stinkin' cute are my grandparents in their first selfie??
Love them.
After a wonderful trip, we are safely home in NYC as I type this post. It was a very busy, very blessed trip to the Midwest that we will not soon forget. 

Also, a special reminder: Don't forget that this Monday, May 26, begins my Marian linkup. The linkup will be open through May 31, the Feast of the Visitation and the Queenship of Mary. All your posts on our Blessed Mother are welcomed. I really hope you will join me!

Linking up with the wonderful Mrs. Fulwiler & more at Conversion Diary.

Wishing you and yours a blessed and beautiful Memorial Day weekend...

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Mary's Virtues
{Mondays in May: Honoring Mary series}

I recently came upon this blog post on the website (they have some great posts, regardless of whether you're a teen or not!). The post is titled "Mary's List: The 10 Virtues of Mary."
I'm hoping you will click on over to read the post and then come back here for my response.

. . .
       . . .
              . . .

Did you read it? What did you think?

We know, of course, that Mary was a virtuous woman, but what does that mean for me as a follower of Christ? As I reflected on the ten virtues of Mary, I realized what an inspiration these virtues can be for me as I strive continually to be more and more the woman God has called me to be. Personally, I know I have room for growth in each of these virtues.
The tenth virtue on the list, heroic patience, really stood out to me. In the post, the author describes Mary's heroic patience as "always trusting that God was on the move; having more faith in His plans than her own." Knowing that God always has the best plans in mind for us, it seems like this virtue should be easy to attain, but it can be so hard!

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."
{Jeremiah 29:11}

We live in a time where people are wrapped up in the things of this world and define themselves by worldly standards. It is so easy to lose an eternal perspective, so difficult to be in the world but not of it. I think that's why it is sometimes hard to have patience in God's plans: because our perspective is so different than His. But when, like Mary, we have patience and constantly place our trust in the Lord, we open ourselves up to the peace of Christ, which God wants to give us. Sweet, most Blessed Mary, mother of our Lord, Jesus, pray for us.

Which of Mary's virtues stands out to you?

I hope you will join me for the Marian linkup I am hosting next Monday, May 26, as the conclusion of this Mondays in May: Honoring Mary series. You will be invited to share any posts about Mary (they can be old or new!). I am really looking forward to it.

Wishing you a blessed Monday!

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lemon Bars {yum}

I just love lemon bars. Especially in the spring and summer, there's something so lovely, light and refreshing about this dessert. This recipe is easy to make and would be perfect for your next family gathering, graduation party, bridal shower...or just for fun!
Lemon Bars
{recipe slightly modified from this one}

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar + 1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour + 1/4 c. flour
4 eggs
2 lemons, juiced (~1/2 c. juice)
zest of 1 lemon

{how to}
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a mixer, blend together the softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cups flour. Dough will be crumbly, as pictured.
Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan (ungreased). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. It should smell delicious, as this is essentially a shortbread crust. Yum.
While the crust is baking, whisk together 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour in a separate bowl. Then whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. When the crust is finished baking, remove from oven and pour lemon mixture over the crust.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. After baking, allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.
I hope you enjoy this delicious treat!

What's your favorite spring or summer dessert? Do tell!

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Monday, May 12, 2014

On Mothers and Mary
{Mondays in May: Honoring Mary series}

First of all, a day-late Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful mother and mother-in-law (or mother-in-love, as I prefer). I am so blessed to have a mother whom I so dearly love and admire. She is a champion of support for me to this day, and I am so grateful God chose her for me. Michael's mom is a gift to me, too - not only in the love she has shown me, but in the wonderful man she raised who is now my dear husband. What a blessing! Thank you, Lord, for mothers. 
{wedding photography by A Thousand Words Photography}
Yesterday was also my first Mother's Day. My sweet baby is already in heaven with our Lord. I found myself wishing our Thomas Gianna was still growing in my womb. I was filled with so much sadness. Michael made it a special day for me, which was very sweet. We both have great hope that one day we might be able to celebrate Mother's Day with a child - or, God-willing - children.

Mary, our Lord's mother, knows all too well the sadness of losing a child. I find myself turning to her, and asking her to intercede for me. I love this image of Our Lady of Sorrows, her eyes heavenward.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

When in your life have you turned to Mary?

I hope you will join me for the Marian linkup I am hosting beginning May 26!

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Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes {no. 16}

Happy Friday!

On Tuesday night, Michael & I had a fancy date night (my favorite!). There's something about getting dressed up to go out that is just so much fun.

First we had a delicious dinner in the Time Warner Center with a gift certificate Michael gave me for Christmas. 
{view of Columbus Circle & Central Park}
After dinner we headed over to Lincoln Center to see La Cenerentola at the Met, courtesy of my grandpa. If you ask me, Lincoln Center (home not only to the Metropolitan Opera but to the New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic and several other major arts companies) is one of the most beautiful places in all of NYC. I just love it there.
We had such a fun evening, which was a true blessing.

The next morning I got my hair cut. I hadn't had it cut since November, so it felt great! I love going to get my hair done. It always feels so nice.
Selfie of my new hairdo!
On Monday I started my Mondays in May: Honoring Mary series. Be thinking of a post you might want to link up (old or new!) for my Marian linkup on May 26th. I'd love for you to join me!

Speaking of you know about the organization Pray More Novenas? If you go to their website you can sign up to pray various novenas with many other men & women around the world. They send the novena prayers to your e-mail, which (hopefully) makes it easier to pray each day. Their next novena is to Mary, Undoer of Knots. (Her picture is always at the top of my favorite blogs, Bonnie's A Knotted Life!) If you enjoyed the Novena to St. Gianna, you might like praying with, too. I've found it to be a great resource in my prayer life.

I finished reading Something Other Than God this week, and oh my goodness did I ever enjoy it.
Full review coming sometime next week, I hope!
I spy with my little eye, Something......Other Than God!
Michael couldn't put it down either.
Michael & I are heading to New Jersey for part of the weekend to visit some friends who had recently had their second child on Easter Sunday. We are looking forward to meeting him and to seeing our friends. Another friend of mine - hi, Gina! - had her second baby earlier this week too. Would you say a prayer for my dear friends and their growing families? These sweet new lives are such blessings! And Kathryn had her baby, too!

Gotta run, so that's all for today! Hop on over to Conversion Diary to read Jen's takes and many more. Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

When I saw that Stephanie at Captive the Heart was hosting a linkup to share the old, new, borrowed & blue items from your wedding, I knew I wanted to join in the fun. I so enjoyed celebrating this tradition on my wedding day and took care in choosing each of these.

{something old}
We had the wedding veils of my mother and mother-in-law on display at the wedding.
(My mother-in-law's veil is on the left and my mother's is on the right.)

To cut our cake we used a cake knife which was previously used at the weddings of my grandparents, parents, aunts & uncles. Really special!

{something new}
{my sister - tying the bow of my sash}
Of course there are many, many new things at a wedding. I absolutely adored everything I wore for my wedding, but one detail I particularly loved was the sash on my dress. It was a beautiful silk organza flower with crystal accents. It tied around my back into a pretty, flowing bow.
{Loved the cloth-covered buttons on my dress, too!}
 {something borrowed}
I borrowed two beautiful handkerchiefs - one from my mom and one from my mother-in-law.
And they were put to good use throughout the day, let me tell you!

So many happy tears! I'll spare you the ugly cry photos. :)
And, not to worry - we laughed a lot, too.

{something blue}
How sweet is this bridal clutch?
My sister gave it to me as a shower gift so I would have my (subtle) something blue!

{linkup hosted by Stephanie at Captive the Heart}
What a fun, fun tradition! So! Did you have something old, new, borrowed & blue at your wedding? I'd love to hear!

{all wedding photography by A Thousand Words Photography}

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