7 Quick Takes: Welcome to Lent

Once again, kind readers, we join Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.


Welcome to Lent!  I started off the season like a true millenial by taking a Buzzfeed quiz that asked what I should give up for Lent.  I got meat, which is what I had already decided to give up.  I promise I wasn’t aiming for that specific answer.  If anything, I was aiming for Coke, which is what I decided to give up as well, in case the marathon training and meatlessness don’t mix well and I start eating meat again.

The Coke is probably going to be harder for me to avoid than the meat.  So much for a secondary fast.


Another Lenten discipline I am tackling is the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge hosted over at White House Black Shutters.


I took part in this last year, but I never really had much organization or focus, and what little I had went out the window when I knew I was moving partway through Lent.  Packing has usually been the death of purging for me.  I hit a point when shoveling stuff into boxes and bins becomes far more important (and urgent) than sorting through and deciding what I actually need.  As I have lived in four dorm rooms, two houses and two apartments since 2006, I have done a lot of moving.  The boxes of unsorted junk have piled up.  Since I’m back at my parents’ house regrouping, it is definitely time to get rid of a lot of things and simplify my life.

There’s not enough room here for all my crap, anyway.


I joined a Living the Eucharist Lenten study group at my parish.  We had our first group meeting yesterday.  It’s early, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.  I’ve been missing having a solid faith-sharing group in my life.


I’m about a week into the #100HappyDays challenge.  I am posting a picture of something that makes me happy for 100 straight days on my Instagram account.  I was looking at my collection last night, and I realized that 5 out of 6 photos so far feature food.  This is all on a spectrum from coffee (which barely counts as food) to the Blessed Sacrament (the best, most nourishing food of all).  I have never considered myself much of a food person, but apparently, eating well (or eating in good company, or feeding myself spiritually, etc.) brings me happiness.

To be fair, who WOULDN'T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

To be fair, who WOULDN’T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

Still, I am determined that today’s post not involve food of any variety.


I went to see Winter’s Tale last night.  I almost didn’t go, because so many people said the movie was so awful.  Still, it sounded like the sort of thing I’d like, so I went to the very last showtime it had in our theater.

And I loved it.  Sure, it was a flawed movie, and I could tell that the source material was broader and deeper than the film could cope with, but it was exactly the right tone and it inspired me to come home and write.  I now have the beginnings of a story idea, and I’m excited about it.

The moral of the story?  I know what I like in films and literature, even if it’s not objectively well done, and I shouldn’t listen to other people instead of myself.

Also, I really need to read the book by Mark Helprin now.


I’m starting to get into marathon training.  I had a really rough start, and I’m behind, but I’m fighting to catch up.  I’ll be ready by May 4 (so God help me)!  It is so much easier to train when the weather is nice and I can run on the paths by my house.  In the meantime, I joined a local recreation center so I can use the track.  I have new running shoes that help my knees.  My legs are changing shape and I’m definitely getting into shape.


It’s definitely the time of year for Irish music.  This is one I heard for the first time just the other day.  Enjoy!

7 Quick Takes: Feast/Fast

Once again, I’m joining Jen.

(Rhyming make my life happier.  So do all of the 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary. So do readers who make it through my especially long quick takes.  Sorry for that.)


Does anyone else have whiplash from this week?  I take my Mardi Gras & Paczki Day celebrations seriously, so Tuesday saw me eating delicious, fatty, sugary fruit-filled pastries and juicy hamburgers.  Well… one of each.  I’m kind of a lightweight.  But there was definitely junk food and definitely meat.  Party!

And then there was Ash Wednesday, and there wasn’t very much food at all.  With the start of Lent, I say goodbye to meat until Easter.  I might not be totally abstaining from it this year, but I will not be seeing much of it.

But then it was Thursday, St. Valentine’s Day!  I love Valentine’s Day, because I love lots of people.  I think we as a human race can always use an excuse to tell the people in our lives how much we value them.  So, for me, Valentine’s Day is not just about romance, but about family & friendship & the strangers you meet on the street & yourself.  So I celebrated in a variety of ways all week.

Now, it’s a Friday in Lent.  Like I said… this week gives me whiplash.


I feel like that first take really works as two (you know, one take for feast & one for fast), so I’m skipping this one.


next step- the zipper! *cue dramatic music*

next step- the zipper! *cue dramatic music*

I had planned to finish my dress in time to wear to my Valentine’s activities on Thursday night.  Then I ran out of thread.

So here’s another picture of a partly finished dress.  All it’s missing now is a zipper and a hem.  I’m a little nervous about the zipper, because more than one person with way more sewing experience than I laughed nervously when I told them that my “very easy” pattern had a zipper.

I have been warned to follow the directions very exactly and not to take any shortcuts even if someone else or the pattern itself tells me that it’s an option.

Follow me on Twitter to get every update in all their gritty glory.


My boyfriend and I did spend some time yesterday devoted just to our relationship, and he did get me a real gift: an ironing board.

This sounds awful, in fact, so awful that he asked some of his female friends in advance if I would be legally obligated to beat him for getting me a household tool for Valentine’s Day.

What makes it actually delightful is the fact that the ironing board I have now is about 18 inches long, 3 inches high and barely padded.  It makes my sewing projects a literal pain as I hunch over it, ironing yards and yards of fabric, pressing seams & redoing it all 15 minutes later.  I had been complaining, and so my boyfriend got me a nicer one in order to help along my creative endeavors.

An ironing board to sew fun dresses is much nicer than an ironing board to do laundry.

Plus it has polka dots, which is just really cool.


Of course, my boyfriend also got me a bouquet of tulips, my favorite flower.

big red bow and all! <3

big red bow and all! ❤


Some friends of mine compete in a trivia competition every Thursday evening, and when I can, I join them.  Last night, the woman who runs the competition read a question that asked which “New England city” is known as “the city of brotherly love”.  Now, this is a really easy trivia question, but as we raced our answer in, I protested: Philadelphia is not in New England.

Some of my friends quibbled with my surety.  So I pitched the question on Facebook, especially asking the input of my Philly-area friends.

The comment thread in response to this post has evolved to discussing the names of regions across the whole US, with several friends & family members, none of whom know all of the others, chiming in.  It is making me so happy to read.  This kind of thing is why I love social media so much.


It goes without saying that I love all of those people in the above take, and indeed, all of my friends and family, but I’m going to say it anyway:

I love you all, my family, my friends, and you, my readers.  Thank you for reading, for responding, and for making my days so much cheerier and so less lonely.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and a Blessed Lent.


7 Quick Takes: and then some

I’m joining Jennifer Fulwiler for the 7 Quick Takes Friday tradition.  Check it out!


This is the kind of week where everything piles on top of everything else in one big, unending, over-the-top sandwich of stuff.  For example, today’s snowfall.  I estimate six inches of snow falling on top of other snow.  It took me 45 minutes to get Connie-the-Cougar (yes, my car is named Connie) out of my parking spot.  It took another 15 minutes to get off of the side street and on to a major road.

I keep trying to convince my boyfriend that we could have a perfectly happy future living in a southern state, like Georgia.  So far, he disagrees.


When I watched the Super Bowl last week, I crossed an item off of my Wisconsin Bucket List.  I finally got around to ordering a very impressive Bloody Mary from Sobelmans, a Milwaukee institution.  The actual alcoholic drink part of this order was tasty, but what caught my attention was all of the extras heaped upon it.

Garnishes On My Bloody Mary

  • lemon wedge
  • green olive
  • pearl onion
  • grape tomato
  • celery stalk
  • green onion
  • Colby Jack cheese cube
  • chunk of summer sausage
  • pickle spear
  • Brussels sprout
  • asparagus
  • mushroom
  • shrimp
  • bacon cheeseburger slider
  • small glass of beer

This would have been a perfectly worthwhile drink, and probably a much cheaper one, without all of the accessories.  But would I have ordered it?


It’s been a very social week for me, which I’ve loved.  My boyfriend is a graduate student & English instructor, and I have been able to join his colleagues for some pizza dinners and card games this week.  I am making an effort to actively seek community  now that I have more free time.  The results are already fabulous.


I am enjoying participating in the Theme Thursday photography linkup that Cari is hosting over at Clan Donaldson, although it does make me feel a little wistful to see all the pictures of beautiful children.  I guess I am the crazy single girl hanging out with all the cool mamas.

I am developing more of an eye for photography again, which is the really cool part.  I am noticing reflections and shadows and all the ways that light plays on surfaces.  I have to get into the habit of taking my point-and-click everywhere with me (remember… it’s “easy to hold onto in bars”).  In the meantime, I have my smart phone.  I used my phone to capture this shot of my reflection in the glass of a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, who is basically my favorite.



It’s hard to believe that Lent is next week already.  I have not decided what (if anything) I am giving up.  I usually refrain from eating meat (except maybe on St. Patrick’s Day.  I am such an Irish girl at heart).  I haven’t decided whether or not to stick with that this year.

I am also leaning toward giving up Netflix.  However, I live alone… so we’ll see.  I could probably do it if all my friends would agree to Skype with me on a regular basis.

What are all of you people thinking of doing?


OH MY GOODNESS.  I planned on mentioning Carbon Leaf in this take, because they sent me an email with an announcement, but I hadn’t realized it was this exciting.  Carbon Leaf is my favorite band, and I guessed from the email that I hadn’t read the whole way that they had a new album coming soon.  In fact, I have actually heard some of the music from this album when I last saw the band in concert.

I did not realize that the new album would have a name as cool as Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle, I also did not realize it was coming out in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.  This is exciting and then some.  This is so fantastic I have no words.



Let’s close off with a Carbon Leaf video.  This is one of my favorite Carbon Leaf songs, and this particular live performance is touching and just well done.  Skip to the 1:00 mark if you don’t want to listen to all the talking before your music.

Happy Friday, friends!