Sunday, March 2, 2014

WIWS: When Baby out-dresses Mommy

So I may have slipped up a bit in the dressing up for Mass last night. We have started going to 5:00 pm Saturday mass with Elena because it is less crowded. Our usual mass is the 10:30 Latin novus ordo, which I love (even though I'm still learning all the latin), but it's packed. Standing room only packed. And, I figured if we got stuck in the middle of the pew, it'll be just that much harder to climb over everyone with a baby carrier. Of course, we haven't even had to get up once in the last two weeks. Elena has been PERFECT! Well, she sleeps the whole time, so there isn't a lot of room for error on her part if she's actually sleeping. I feed her, pop her in her car seat, and by the time she arrives wherever we are going, she is fast asleep.

Of course, last night, I was running a little behind in the feeding department. We got to mass during the opening hymn, so it could have been worse. But, I didn't feel quite as put together as last week, and I didn't get to the whole putting on jewelry goal, but at least I was out of sweatpants (Don't worry, I would never wear sweatpants to mass)!

Top: Express
Cardigan: New York and Company
Black dress pants: New York and Company

Elena: Adorable Carter's outfit

I actually did get to the make-up, but obviously, my hair kind of flopped. It was in a much better put together pony-tail when I left the house (Or that's what I told myself). I had Elena beat in the shoe department, but she totally wins for cuteness. 

Mass was wonderful. I'd say I was a bit less distracted than last week, but Jeremy sat next to Elena, so that probably had something to do with it. The readings were about not worrying about the next day; God has everything in control, and He will always take care of us. I really needed that reminder. I've been worrying about Elena, about being on my own and not accomplishing "anything" (see previous post), and the house we are in the process of buying. Obviously, I still need to care for myself, home, and family, but I need to worry less. God will always care for us. 

I also felt pretty humbled when I found this post after writing my last one. I was hoping my complaints came across slightly amusing despite my desperate tone, but I kind of missed a major point that I have observed about motherhood. It's already been the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It's the most important job I'll ever have. Even though I'm tired, and sometimes it's not "fun", I'm so grateful for the gift God has bestowed upon our little family. I just pray that I can be the best steward of this little soul God has granted us. 

Happy Sunday, and please head over to Fine Linen and Purple for more WIWS. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Entering Motherhood

Some honest reflections on first time motherhood.
You don't have time to do anything. At least in the beginning. If you do, I consider you superwoman. I'm starting this post on Wednesday and typing with one hand while holding the sleeping infant in the other. I consider this a great feat in the world of multitasking. However, the amount of time it took to type this paragraph probably disqualifies my post from being a "quick take".

If my beautiful girl ever becomes a terrifying teen, who says I don't love her after not letting her wear a mini skirt in public, I'll retort, "Oh darling, of course I love you. I breastfed you." You definitely don't breastfeed people you don't love...Oh, and I'd love to throw "The Baby Book", which is larger than the Bible, at the author who stated that breastfeeding is relaxing. Ok, I've heard it gets easier.
Enough cynicism (which really wasn't my intention). I really love being a mom. Even the sleep deprivation is worth every tiny, sleepy smile (I keep telling myself it's not gas- she's really just content), every little finger grab, and each stretch, coo, and gurgle. Even the crying really isn't that bad- because she stops when I pick her up, feed her, or snuggle on the couch, and I feel like she looks at me with such adoration.

Naptimes are worth a million dollars. However, you  have to choose to use them wisely. Best move is probably to go down for a nap yourself. Although, if all you're doing is lying there and thinking about the million other things you need to do, I've found it's better to just get them done. Or feed yourself. Food is good too.
I thought I'd have a lot of prayer time, but sometimes I find it hard to finish even a single Hail Mary before she poops, wants to be fed, or I just fall asleep. My sister told me it's ok, that just saying "help" is enough. God will still hear me and know what I need. I've since cried "help" frequently and urgently. It really is effective. 
A quick story about baby lotion. I first got some Aveeno Baby lotion because I was conned by the word "natural" on the bottle. Elena got a glob on her hand and instantly went for her mouth. I wiped it off in the nick of time before she started smacking her lips. Curious, I checked the bottle and was horrified by a big warning to call poison control if ingested. Isn't this stuff for a baby's BODY? They suck on everything, including themselves. I then got a Burts Bees lotion, which did not have fatal warnings all over, but found it didn't absorb very well. Finally decided to try coconut oil since everyone raves about it. They do for a reason! It's amazing and even works on cradle cap.
My final confession: I've had a ton of help through all this. Not only has my husband been amazing, but my mom stayed here for the first two weeks and now my sister is still with me. I'm a big wimp that I'm still finding adjusting kind of, well, difficult. I know it's all stemming from the lack of sleep, but gosh, I was able to deliver her without a bit of medication and I have cried more since being home than I did in the hospital. Actually I didn't even cry in the hospital... I just screamed. No screaming at home yet. I know it will all get easier, but I'm feeling a little daunted by being left alone. How do I feed myself? Will I ever take a shower again? These are the silly questions I ask myself when I've had two hours of sleep and feeling panicked. However, after receiving so many delicious meals from friends who almost each have at least two kids, my sister smiles and says, "See Rachel, there's hope!"

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

WIWS: Baby Edition

WIWS: Baby Edition

I haven't posted in a few weeks because I went and had a BABY!

Elena Marie was born on February 5th, 2014 and weighed 6lbs 10 oz. Labor was a total of six hours, and I only got to the hospital with an hour and a half to spare before she made her debut.

She is amazing and perfect and I have been overpopulating Facebook with lots of pictures.

She is also incredibly time consuming. She was two weeks this past Wednesday and my mom has been with me since day 2. I have no idea what I would do without her and Jeremy. Between breastfeeding, trying to rest, cleaning her up, and attempting to clean myself up, I have an hour here and there to either nap, read, or blog. Right now, I'm sacrificing nap time.

I finally got to mass last night! I had wanted to go earlier, but my mom talked me out of it since I was still hobbling around, and Jeremy wisely pointed at a wooden stool and said "If you can sit on that for an hour, then you can go to mass". The last two days, I have felt immensely better. Elena was perfect and slept through all of mass in her car seat. Of course, I was extremely distracted, and kept peeking at her to make sure she didn't wake up and was still breathing.

Here is our little family photo. I apologize for not having a full length outfit shot.

I felt pretty accomplished that I put on make-up.

Shirt: Express
Cardigan: New York and Company
Pants: Kohls (gray dress pants)
Shoes: Kohls (sparkly, silver flats)

Elena sported a red fleece dress with white leggings and really cute socks that looked like black ballet shoes with satin ribbons.

Next week's goal: put on jewelry.

Now go join up for more outfit posts at Fine Linen and Purple!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Declan's Baptism!

My little Declan was baptized into the Church yesterday! Although we wanted to have him baptized right away, he was born during the holidays which made it impossible to fit a baptism in. We thought having the baptism at the end of January would give our families plenty of time to recover from the end of the year festivities. However, we weren't planning on the weather being SOOOO terrible. Seriously terrible. My in-laws came in the night before and were able to avoid most of the snow and sleet, but driving to church the next day was downright treacherous. We slid out several times but somehow managed to get there - if not a few minutes late.

I love to be crafty and creative with parties. This was the first one I was hosting at our house for both of our families so I was feeling the pressure. I had planned on doing many other crafty things for his party but had to scale back my endeavors when I realized I can't get much done with a newborn.

The first thing I did was make a banner to be a focal point for picture taking. I got three different kinds of scrapbook paper with similar colors to tie all the decorations together. I chose a blue, brown, and white scrapbook paper as the background to my banner. I then just printed out the letters in Microsoft word and cut out the paper in the form of a triangle to make the banner.

Next I am pretty obsessed with the saints. I have the entire four volume edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints. I had a lot of fun going through these books to find a good saint name that I wanted to use. Because many people have never heard of Saint Declan, I decided to type up a quick synopsis of his life(which is pretty cool by the way). My Declan's middle name is Charles so we chose Saint Charles Borromeo as his other patron saint. I typed up his bio as well. I glued the bios to scrapbook paper, made a header, and put up pictures of Declan on the wall to flank my main table. 
I think they turned out pretty well! 

For my main table, I made a tissue paper flower to hang over the table. Then draped the table in a blue tablecloth. I arranged the beverages, cake, and little sweet treats on the table. For one of the sweet treats, I got blue vanilla candies from Michael's, arranged them on pretzels and then put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 5 minutes. I wanted to make sure they were melted enough to add a white chocolate chip on top. (This is all to go with the blue Baptism theme ;)). I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of the finished product before they were all gobbled up. Oh well. Next time....

Finally, you can't have a party without party favors right? I wanted to somehow incorporate a prayer into the favors so I decided to make Hershey bar covers. I went onto Hershey's website, printed out their covers to use as a template. Then I went on Microsoft word and measured my covers to the size of the official Hershey ones. I created a border, added a Baptism clipart, and a little prayer for our guests to say for Declan on his baptism day. I am super thrilled by the way these turned out. They were a big hit at the party!

The party was a success and I felt a little foolish for stressing out about it the way I did. But the first party is over an done with so i feel like I will be more relaxed for the next one. One final picture of the whole thing put together. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

WIWS: 38 weeks

WIWS: 38 Weeks
Don't worry, the end is nearing, I think baby has dropped, and hopefully you won't have to endure maternity WIWS much longer ;) Last night I actually didn't even know if I would make it to mass since I felt terrible from a cold and cough. After lots of praying it would subside, a long night in bed, and a nice hot shower this morning, I was definitely feeling well enough to venture out. But, I consciously sat in the back and abstained from the sign of peace, in the hopes of not passing along any germs. Please ignore my tired look and overall lack of make up due to feeling under the weather.
Here is what I wore:

Top: Motherhood
Scarf: Target
Cardigan: New York and Company
Pants: Apt 9 (Kohls)
Shoes: Vera Wang (Kohls)
Bracelet: Gift from my mom
And, of course, another belly shot. I remembered to take off the scarf this week.
During the homily today, the priest spoke about "why we are here". I'm sure most people remember from the catechism that we exist to know, love and serve God, yet so many people still wander this earth wondering what their purpose is. One thing Father reminded us was that we need to remember we aren't here to necessarily marry, have a family, get degrees, work amazing jobs, or make money. Of course, we can still know, love and serve God through all of those things, but we need to remember that we have a family out of love for God, to raise children to serve him and know him, we work for love of God for others, and all this is done with the ultimate goal that we end up in heaven.
None of that is anything new or profound, but it was great for a reminder because with baby coming, it's so easy to get bogged down under all the items we "need" and worrying about all the extras.
Of course... I'm still having a little bit of anxiety whether she is definitely a girl or not... but it's all in God's hands :)
Happy Sunday and please join others for more WIWS at Fine Linen and Purple.


Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Random Friday Thoughts

7 Quick Takes: Random Friday Thoughts

Here's another fast link up
Seriously, sometimes I feel like I'm cheating at this whole blog thing. I'm probably taking the easy way out linking up, but it's such a great spring board for jumpstarting posts! So... thank you to all those creative enough to start link ups, so I can participate and not have to think up an entirely original post...
I think baby has DROPPED! Meaning I've started to waddle, or at least, I think I'm waddling. Of course my doctor will probably tell me Monday that no such thing has happened, she won't arrive for weeks, and I've just gained more weight- resulting in my new waddle :)
I read a little post on FB today about one woman's journey to "unplug" herself and her family. I decided to get my smallest toe wet in this area by suggesting a card game tonight with hubby instead of the usual 3 episodes of Chuck or White Collar. We played this game:

My parents got it for us for Christmas and it's a lot of fun! Hubby won by two points... which means he will agree to play this game again in the future ;)

I've been trying really hard to keep Fridays meatless. My mom gave me a vegetarian cookbook for my Birthday and it's for the crockpot! I LOVEEE my crockpot. I came home for my hour lunch today and was able to throw together everything for dinner and eat my lunch before I had to drive back. Alas, I did not keep the day meatless (instead gave up chocolate... which I think is harder at this time in my life), but helped hubby keep it that way!
We had Potato Cheddar soup with frozen biscuits from Schwans. Those biscuits cannot be healthy, but they taste oh soo good. I once suggested I make my own biscuits and freeze them instead of spending the extra money on the Schwans ones. Hubby dolefully looked at me and then asked, "When they don't taste as good, can we go back to buying the Schwans ones?" He is so lucky he loves the rest of the food I normally make him ;)

Anyway, here is the recipe, because it was so easy and delicious!

2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup half and half
1/4 tspn black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

What you do:
1. Put veggies and broth in crock pot and cook on low 6-7 hours.
2. Stir in half and half and pepper. Cover, cook on high for 15-20 minutes. Turn off and stir in cheese until melted.
3. Serve with bread and enjoy!

I am the world's worst procrastinator. My lack of a hospital bag at almost 38 weeks pregnant provides testimony to the extent of my procrastinating abilities. The fact that I'd also rather blog about how I don't have my bag together instead of just walking upstairs and throwing some clothes together probably also speaks volumes. Too bad I can't also just procrastinate away the anxiety resulting from the lack of said bag....
I've been indulging in the ultimate teeny-bopper Christian novel series: The River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren. It's cute and completely unbelievable, but, hey, sometimes you need an easy, mindless flick to read. There is a bit of Bella'ish obsession with the main character regarding her love interest, but the time travel and medieval time period have made up for that so far ;)

Thanks for joining my ramblings, but for more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WWRW: YA Book Review -- Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Published: April 3, 2012
Audience: Ages 14+, Grades 9+
Series: His Fair Assassin Trilogy (1) 
Awards & Honors: ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2013). 
Genre: YA Literature, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Setting: Kingdom of Brittany (Celtic Nation); Guerande, Brittany; France, Middle Ages; 1485-1488

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts -- and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany -- where she finds herself woefully under prepared -- not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? 

(synopsis as seen on

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My thoughts: Based on various reviews I had read about this book, I was pretty certain that I would enjoy it... historical fiction plot with a twist of fantasy and a bit of romance -- right up my alley. However, I wasn't planning on being completely blown away by it!  I used to be the type that could finish entire books in one sitting (like when Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix was released, I was disappointed it took me TWO sittings to finish it, simply because it took SO long to read!)  However, as of recently, I tend to get antsy and really don't spend more than an hour reading a book, (except audiobooks -- they allow me to multitask, or else I'm driving). Don't get me wrong, I still love reading, I just do so in much shorter spurts. 

That is, until I picked up this book... this 550 page long novel that I had immediately assumed probably didn't receive proper editing.  After reading the first 100 pages until I couldn't keep my eyes open one late night, I was quick to finish the next 300 in one sitting, and only very reluctantly set the book down because I had a friend's birthday party to attend that evening. I finished the book the next day and ended up at Barnes & Noble a few hours later, seeking out the sequel, gift card from Christmas in hand (which I had told myself I was going to save for the Miss Peregrine sequel when it came out).... Yeah, so much for that happening! Nevertheless, I very happily picked up the sequel to this novel, along with Anne's recommendation, Firefly LaneI mean, who can ever leave the bookstore with just one book? 

So, needless to say, I absolutely loved this book. And the critic in me feels extraordinarily strange saying this, but after mulling it over, I simply can't think of a single bad thing to say about this novel. Yes, it was 550 pages... and every single page of it was well-used and fantastically written.  Right from the start, I was completely sucked in by the plot -- it didn't drag for a second.   

Sunday, January 19, 2014


What I Wore Sunday Vol 1:

Ok, this outfit isn't really anything special, but I figured I should document since I'm officially FULL TERM! 37 weeks today :)

Normally to church I try to wear a dress or skirt (just to switch up my look so I don't wear the same thing as I do to work), but as I mentioned previously, my wardrobe is getting pretty limited. For me, at least...

Top: Forever 21 (from forever ago!)
Cardigan: Old Navy Maternity
Scarf: Wal mart (last year $5!)
Pants: Express (held up with Target's beband ;))
Shoes: No clue, but they're old

The Beband from Target has been such a life saver for me during pregnancy. I HATE maternity pants and am yet to find a pair that fit me properly AND have a proper band. The pant part either fits well, but the band cuts my poor tummy in half, squishing my baby, or the band fits, but the pants are dumb looking. I got two Bebands since I use them almost every day, and figured I should wash them occasionally.

Here is one more shot, where you can actually see my belly better (if for some reason you were interested).

Now go join other bloggers for WIWS here!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sewing .101

Yes, there is a decimal in front of the 101... This post is for the sewing impaired or pregnant brain sewer or both.

I mentioned in my last post that I finally broke down and bought a sewing machine. After agonizing over reviews, I finally decided to take the plunge and order it. Electronics and I don't usually get along; I can order them brand new and usually something is defective, so other than the fact that I know zero about sewing, I was also nervous about spending a lot of money. A little superstitious, I know. I went for this computerized machine, the Brother XR9500PRW.
I really really like it! So far I haven't found any defects, but I've also only tried one type of stitch and sewing square projects, but hey, you have to start small sometimes. The machine was really easy to set up; no problems with threading or winding the bobbin or even raising the bobbin thread (I hated doing this on the other machine I was using).
However, despite the beginner friendliness of this machine, I still manage to make major sewing faux pas. For example, today the seam ripper is my best friend... or worst enemy (I haven't decided, but I sure picked up that pointy little guy with great resignation after discovering my mistake). I'm making these cute burp cloths for my sister-in-law.
The tutorial has been great! I finished one the other day.

Since then, the sewing machine and ironing board have been taking up all the space in my kitchen, forcing hubby and I to eat in the living room while watching 2-3 episodes of Chuck on Netflix. Our life is so hard, I know.
Anyway, I promised him I'd finish the second burp cloth today and put the kitchen back together tonight (he wasn't complaining or asking me to). After work, I sat right down and pinned my pieces together and started sewing. I even remembered to back stitch before starting! I finished up sewing all the way around and was pretty proud of my even stitches. Feeling pretty good, I clipped off some of the extra fabric on the corners so they would be pointier and went ahead flipping my project. Lo and behold... I had pinned the wrong sides together. REALLY!? How had I managed that!?  So, here I am, ripping out the seams, taking a break to blog about it and attempting to rally myself to try again.
1. take time to breathe before coming home from work and starting a craft project.
2. Double check your fabric to make sure the wrong sides are facing each other if you need to flip the project, and not just one wrong side and one right side (face palm).
3. Always remember to backstitch.
4. When you have to seam rip... take lots of breaks, eat lots of chocolate in between, and turn on some good music.
5. Don't give up! Even you can learn to sew ;)
Some actual helpful beginner sewing articles:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Children's Book Review: The Moon Shines Down

It has been awhile since I've posted, but I have a pretty good excuse for that - my seven week old baby Declan!

That's my little cutie!

Having a tiny baby around makes things a little harder to do. Who knew? I have all these plans for the day, but somehow my day escapes me before I can get any of them done. I'm finally now getting around to posting and I do have a craft project on the way(if I can find the time to complete it). So keep an eye out for that one! 

One thing I have really enjoyed doing with Declan is reading books to him at night. He is only seven weeks old, but he is super alert and already tries to focus on the pictures in front of him! Proud mommy moment ;)! 

One book that he has seemed to take a liking to is The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown. 

This book actually has an interesting back story. The author of this book also wrote the beloved children's book, Goodnight Moon. After her death, the manuscript for this book was found in an old trunk that she owned. It had never been published. After reading through it, they decided to publish it with some pages added by a children's book publisher, Laura Minchew. The finished product is beautiful.

The story takes the reader across the world and shows how the moon shines on all the children around the world and how God blesses each of these children in each country. The pictures are beautifully illustrated and really capture the beauty of the countries. I also like the rhyming throughout the book. I find that it is easier to read children's books to children if there are rhyming patterns because then it almost comes out like a song. It has captured the attention of my little one at least! 

I would highly recommend this book especially for story time at night. With most of the children in the book going to sleep it is an easy lead into your own child's bedtime and it might introduce the concept of the world to your little one. Ultimately it has a nice message of how the moon shines down on all the people in the world equally and God blesses each one. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Pregnancy Edition

This is my first time participating in the 7 Quick Takes link up from Conversion Diary, and I'm pretty excited! This edition will be dedicated to some random pregnancy thoughts and observations. Please forgive the lack of photographs!
I think I'm already over the nesting stage and boy was it short lived! For those who know me, I'm a major procrastinator, so this probably isn't much of a surprise. Or I might just be lazy too. We did some deep cleaning right around Christmas and I was getting really excited about organizing the baby room. Jeremy's parents got us a bookcase with doors on the lower half which helped so so much with storage. Now to just go through the other %75 of baby gear.
Discovery: When you are short on storage; use your car. Wow, that probably sounds like the worst idea ever! But seriously, when you live in an apartment with two bedrooms, no attic or basement, and suddenly have mounds of baby stuff (that kid already has more than we do!), it's a good place to stick stuff in a pinch. Like when you get two car seats and are too lazy to install them right away- just shove them in the back seat of one car ;)
Putting on socks and shoes and most other things becomes quite difficult after 33 weeks. Also cutting your toenails. No explanation needed there...
Suddenly becoming large greatly decreases the options in your closet. On the flip side, choosing outfits becomes way easier since there are only five things in the closet that fit you!
Make sure you have married a man who lets you snuggle on the couch all night and read an entire book. I finished A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson last night. Extra points for the guy who doesn't criticize you for not doing the dishes instead and super bonus points for the one that does them ;)

My sewing machine arrived today! I had just enough time to pull it out of its box and drool over it. Now to finish all the projects in the four weeks I have left! Wish me luck!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Phantom of the Opera

A friend asked me if I wanted to write a review on Phantom of the Opera for her theater blog, check it out here, so I thought I would modify it for cleverknack!

When I was in fourth grade, my parents offered me a ticket to see Phantom of the Opera, and I foolishly turned it down. It soon stopped touring and I feared I would never be able to see it and would have to settle for the mediocre movie version. However, I miraculously (I frequently stalk musical productions) found out a 25th anniversary tour was happening and that it was going to be in Minneapolis! Easily worth the five and half hour drive in the dead of winter. By the way, you have not experienced cold until you’ve been to Minnesota in December. FROZEN.

Pictured below: A phreezing Phantom photo!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story line, the musical follows a chorus girl, Christine Daae, and the phantom's obsessive love of her, which is manifested through terror on the opera house. In contrast with the more “pop" style that is seen in musicals these days, e.g. Wicked, Once, Rent, etc., Phantom is obviously operatic, and has a rock tone to it. It's more famous songs are "Music of the Night," "Think of Me," "All I ask of You," and it's title song, "Phantom of the Opera." I love me all good musicals, but there really is something about the quality of opera (when it is done well), that is absolutely uplifting.

Phantom has always had a stunning and majestic reputation due to it’s spectacle and intense musical scores. Even though the 25th anniversary was a non-replica rendition, it did not disappoint! The show was complete with a falling chandelier, moving and disappearing staircases, colorful costumes, and a hefty amount of pyrotechnics. Nothing was spared, it was truly a majestic performance.

Ultimately, I experienced everything one should during a musical- I was wowed by the spectacle, caught up in the music, fascinated by the idea of a play within a play (thank you, Shakespeare!). Minneapolis was only the second city on the tour, so I give them some room for error. The show had to be stopped mid-performance due to technical difficulties (which is actually really ironic because there is a scene in Phantom when that actually happens as part of the storyline). Also, intermission was prolonged due to more technical problems. I’m not sure if it was the venue or the production, but it did noticeably throw the performance off. In general, the entire flow seemed a little disjointed, but hopefully it gets smoother with time.

The tour has long moved on from Minneapolis and is currently in Chicago, IL if you fancy a trip! It will also be showing in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and a few other locations. Click here for more information or look up the 25th anniversary performances on Youtube to get a taste of the songs, you won't be disappointed!

WWRW: Children's Book Review -- Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Published: September 27, 2011
Audience: Ages 9-12; Grades 4-7
Awards & Honors: Newbery Honor (2012); ALA Notable Children's Books (2012). 
Genre: Children's Literature, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Setting: Soviet Union, 1950s; Kremlin in Moscow, Russia 

Synopsis: Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six: The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism. A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience. A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.  But now that it is time to finally join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has waited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball.  He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested last night. 

This moving story of a ten-year-old's boy world shattering is masterful in it's simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility. 

(synopsis as seen on

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

My thoughts: This book was fantastically written and the illustrations are a wonderful touch to this short children's novel on Stalin's reign in Communist Russia. Loosely based on the author's life, this story paints a very realistic picture of what the Russian people's lives were like ruled under Stalin's iron fist. 

I think what's so memorable about this book is seeing the effects of tyranny through the eyes of a child. Sasha is so innocent, believing in his world that Stalin is a "father for all" and it's saddening to watch everything this child believes come crashing down before his very eyes.  The fears expressed are very genuine and convincing for the character's age, and it seems to me that many young children could relate, perhaps not specifically to the Sasha's situation, but in dealing with fears such as his. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup

Disclaimer: I wrote this post about two months ago, so the commentary is out of date, but the recipe is still good!

So I have about three or four recipes that I've put on a list to share on the blog, and they've sat there for about two months! However, one of them I just have to get on here now before fall is over. It's a little time consuming, but you can make lots, freeze some, or just eat it all week!

Butternut Squash Granny Smith Bisque

2 Medium butternut squash
1 Vidalia onion or sweet onion
1 carrot or handful of baby carrots
1 large granny smith apple
3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup apple cider
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tblspn maple syrup
2 tblspn butter
1/4- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 tblspn apple cider vinegar

How To:

1. Peel squash and chop up into cubes. Discard "guts". Put in large pot, cover with water by 1 in. and boil for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain water and mash.

2. Dice apple, onion, and carrot. Saute in soup pot with butter for about 3-5 minutes. Dump into large pot with squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, syrup, vinegar, and cider. Saute in large pot for a couple minutes.

3. Bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Use blender to puree until smooth.

5. If you are going to freeze some of the soup, take out what you want to freeze now.

6. Return your puree to low heat and add heavy cream.


Note: if you want to use this for a meatless Friday or just vegetarian, make sure you use the vegetable broth instead of chicken.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Delightful Drinks

Happy New Year!
Is it just me or does it seem that everyone is hating on 2013, but completely assured that 2014 is going to be the best year yet? That is just the sense I've gotten from Facebook. I have my own theories on superstitions of how good/bad a year is going to be. 1) Even numbered years are always better than odd and 2) A bad New Year's Eve results in a good year.
Now, my NYE wasn't necessarily bad or good. The highlights are as follows: 1) I had a major allergic reaction due to a cat and dog being at the house I was at 2) I signed up for a half marathon at midnight (yay!) and 3) We made some delicious drinks- recipes to follow after this funny picture of a swaddled cat.

I'm not sure how popular Moscow Mules are in other cities, but in Omaha they are pretty much the hottest (hottest as in trendy terms, not temperature terms) drink around. I assume this is due to the rise in the hipster culture because it seems to have been dubbed as a hipster drink.  In case you are unaware, it is basically ginger beer, vodka, lime juice and a lime garnish. It's signature trademark is that it is served in a copper mug. It is light, refreshing, and flavorful without being too sweet (or bitter or sour or dry, etc.). 

My cousin made the drinks for us (and she happens to own copper mugs, which is essential for any hipster host), but I looked up the recipe and it is as follows: 

Moscow Mule: 
2 oz. vodka 
1 oz. lime juice
8 oz. ginger beer 
garnish with lime 

As is standard, even for the hipsters, champagne was served at midnight. A trick I use to jazz up our champagne is to put some berries in it. Last year I tried raspberries, but this year I went with the blackberries (mostly because the raspberries were $4.00 and the blackberries were only .99 cents). It is simple and easy to add the berries in. First, crush the berries in a bowl, then spoon them into the glasses, pour the champagne in, and make a toast! 

Voila! Your champagne is pretty, unique, and even more tasty! 

And there you have it. Two drinks to add to your hostess with the mostest repertoire.  Cheers to 2014!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! I love the feeling of a fresh start and taking time to reflect on all the past year's joys, blessings, and even trials. However, this also brings up the inevitable "R" word. Resolutions.

I'm terrible at them. I half heartedly think up about ten of them, but never put much effort into keeping them because they usually all just fall apart within the first week... or day. This year I'd like to take a slightly different approach, and I gained inspiration and encouragement from my dear friend's blog post today, "Hopes, goals and resolutions".

This year I'm going to make realistic goals. And, to everyone else they may seem a bit small, but with the baby coming along, I'm figuring a lot will be changing. I could start the year out resolving to wash all the dishes every single darn day (we don't have a dishwasher), sew dozens of cool projects, and keep the house immaculate. Those sound like nice resolutions, but they probably won't happen and will it all make me happy? When I don't keep the resolutions, I'll probably just feel depressed, or if by some miracle I did keep them, I'd probably still be miserable because I'd be exhausted.

I want to set goals that put God and my family first. For example, waking up and saying a few prayers right away to get the day started. Or saying a decade or two of the rosary while nursing. I know I'll have the time for these things and it will only help me love and serve my family better.

Don't worry, I'm still going to try really hard finishing all the housework, but I encourage you to set goals for yourself or resolutions that will help you truly live your life better during the time God has blessed us here on Earth. I promise you won't be disappointed with your results ;)