Hello, sweet friends!

Welcome, sweet friends!

This is my brand new humble corner of the internet. I can also be found here at my joyful tumblr. I have been posting there since June or 2009, but after much prayer I have decided to begin a brand new blog for sharing the adventures I have with my charming new husband, our life in ministry, and beyond.

I am glad you stopped by! Grab a glass of sweet tea, or wine, and stay awhile. There’s something tremendously magical about taking a few minutes to journal and capture memories to be cherished for a lifetime and beyond. This is my effort to do just that. I pray my blog can inspire, uplift, and give you a moment of peace in this busy world.

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A Fair Trade Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Every gift matters. Are you looking to give a meaningful gift this Valentine’s Day? I want to share with you a few gifts that will bring a smile to your loved one’s face while also having a giant impact on workers around the world.

A Fair Trade Valentine's Day Gift Guide

 

  1. Thinking roses? Think Fair Trade. Show your Valentine just how much you love them, with some Fair Trade roses from Whole Foods Market. Fair Trade roses give back to the community where they were grown. If you are sending flowers to loved ones, you can order online from One World Flowers and schedule the delivery of beautiful Ecuadorian roses. My sweet husband has bought me Fair Trade roses and trust me, they were a big hit 😉

  2. Would you like to give chocolate? There are plenty of delicious options to help you achieve this goal, including: Divine, Equal Exchange, Sweet RiotAlter Eco, and TCHO.

  3. Want to share a drink with your sweetheart? I suggest Fair Trade wine. Mmm! Sam’s Club has Neu Direction Malbec, Whole Foods Market has Cantora, and Target has Wandering Grape Malbec Merlot. I also recommend checking out Fair Spirits for Vodka, Rum, and Gin.

  4. Finally, if you share my love of beautiful jewelry, scarfs, and Fair Trade mugs, I suggest checking out:

    A Fair Trade Valentine's Day

    From top left:
    Jamawar Elegant Kashmiri Wrap $50
    All’s Fair in Love Bracelet $18
    Red Flower Mugs $9.88 each
    Playful Heart Pendant $22

Share the love this year by choosing Fair Trade for Valentine’s Day!

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The New Year’s Resolution You Can Stick To

Folks, we are a few weeks in 2016 already! Some of us may not be keeping up with our great goals. How many of your gym memberships are gathering dust? Well, whether or not you’ve kept to your aspirations, I am going to give you a new challenge for this year.

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Choose One Fair Trade Certified Item and Stick with it All Year

It is no secret that I am a major Fair Trade supporter. I used to work for Catholic Relief Services as a Fair Trade Intern when I was a student at John Carroll University and always advocate for buying Fair Trade when possible, within your means of course. Fair Trade goods help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.

I challenge you to find one product, just ONE, and commit to buying it Fair Trade for the remainder of the year. For example, you could commit to: coffee, flowers, honey, olive oil, sugar, bananas, tea, or wine. Choose a product that you love and buy regularly and commit to only buying the Fair Trade Certified version of that product. Take the time to learn about the big impact that product has on the lives of the farmers and workers who produced it.

“There is no worse material poverty … than the poverty which prevents people from earning their bread and deprives them of the dignity of work.” —Pope Francis

What can you commit to buying? If you need ideas, let me know! I’d love to help you brainstorm.

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Linking up with Little by Little and Thoughtful Thursdays

 

3 Tips I’ve Learned in 3 Months of Blogging

As I reflect on these first few months of blogging, I wanted to share a few tips I have learned. It has been a beautiful journey thus far and I can only fathom the adventures that are on the horizon for this little blog and I.

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  1. Blogging takes time. Between writing, editing, networking, social media, etc. there always something to do. I have also been spending a great deal of time reading through Pinterest pins to brainstorm post ideas, how to grow my blog, and how to utilize social media. I have gained so much insight to the blogging world in just these short three months. I learned that blogging is what you make of it, and it can be anything you want it to be with a lot of hard work. I also really appreciate all of the free blog planning templates out there! They are such a huge help with brainstorming and organization.
  2. Friendships are waiting to happen. The Peony Project has blessed my heart. It is an intentional Christ-centered community where members can share their weekly blog posts, prayer requests, and ask blogging questions. I have been learned a bunch from the other bloggers and I love how they have been supporting me, too! I also appreciate link-ups and the opportunity they create for me to visit other bloggers and leave them words of affirmation. I have really enjoyed my link-ups with Anne in Residence and Blessed is She.
  3. This is just the beginning! Remembering this gives me so much peace. I do not have to be making $15,000 yet or have thousands of followers. It is okay that I haven’t yet made a Facebook page. I am just starting my journey, making beautiful friendships, and learning lessons along the way. It is easy to compare my beginning so another bloggers middle, but the way the Lord is working through this little blog has filled my heart with so much goodness. I am just going to keep trusting Him and watching where this adventure takes me.

As a bonus, I have learned that blogging giveaways are AMAZING! I have won three giveaways in three months. I won a beautiful fair trade Christmas ornament, a 2016 Emily Ley Simplified Planner, and beautiful hand knitted ear warmers. How fun, right?

There’s so much more that I’ve learned through these first months of blogging, but those are the most significant tips that stand out to me.

What tips have YOU learned while blogging? We are on this journey together!

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Wedding Wednesday // How to Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner

When I first started this blog I knew I wanted to share with y’all details of our special day and a little sneak peak into our love story. If you pop on over here you’ll see a collection of the posts I have already published.


 

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Today I want to share with you about our rehearsal dinner. The only photos I have from the day are super blurry, so alas you’ll just have to visualize with me. I wore a white dress with rose gold gold floral high heels and pretty sparkly rose gold jewelry. I originally had  pretty pink dress picked out to wear, but last minute I changed my mind when I remembered I only got to be a bride once and I really should we white. I am really glad I had that change of heart, because I felt like a beautiful bride-to-be all night.

The whole evening was simple which is exactly what I wanted. We started at the parish, Saint Mary Catholic Church in Hudson. The wedding planner was a familiar face from the parish. She was organized and friendly, which helped set a peaceful and stress free tone. We had turned in paperwork with all of the details about our wedding a few weeks before so she knew who was walking in with who and in what order. She knew what songs would be playing when and even the age of our little flower girl. It was helpful to have her so informed, which really helped the our parents, our bridal party, and our lectors remain at ease. Our priest was also super casual, relaxed, and funny which made the atmosphere happy and inviting for our family and friends. It was a pretty quick rehearsal, then it was time for dinner.

We decided to host the dinner at our favorite restaurant, Winking Lizard. It is a really casual place with multiple locations in Northeast Ohio. We have been on dozens of dates there and it holds a special place in our hearts.We chose the menu with Steven’s parents a few months before hand and reserved a special room at the Peninsula location where we had our own bartender and space to spread out.

When we arrived, we had time for mingling and chit-chatting before dinner was ready to be served. Steven and I quickly ate (good practice for the next day ;)) and went around to thank each person for being there for us. Afterwards we handed out our bridal party gifts and received a lot of tears and joy! It was a happy moment for us to share with our friends.

My advice for brides-to-be would be this: each moment of your wedding and rehearsal should be a reflection of you and your love for each other. Host the dinner in a place that is special to you, or that you can make special with decor. If you are unable to do so, remember that your loved ones are there – especially your soon to be husband – and ultimately, that is what is most important.

What do you remember from your rehearsal dinner? What advice do you have to share?

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Linking up with Wedded Wednesday

Currently Link Up // January

Bring your special someone to an unforgettable night

RESOLVING TO read the daily readings each day. I am taking time to dive into Scripture and journal the ways in which the Lord is speaking to my heart. I am thankful for the Blessed is She community for making it so easy to reflect with the word of God. Check out today’s readings here.

READING The Greatest Job on Earth by Joel Stepanek. Youth Ministry truly is the greatest job on earth (despite the long nights, occasional teenage drama, and sometimes long staff meetings) and this book describes how wonderful it is to play frisbee, eat pizza, and hang out with pretty amazing teenagers. The book also discusses the need for humility, balance, authenticity, faith, hope, love, and humor to do this job day in an day out. It includes funny stories and antidotes to keep us youth minister going. I bought it as a Christmas present to myself and thus far I am really enjoying it!

ORGANIZING our kitchen. It’s silly, but when our home is disorganized I do not sleep well at night. I think I picked up this trait from my mother! I went to the dollar store on Monday and bought a few drawer organizers and a few bins to store towels under the sink to save on drawer space. I am still brainstorming more ways to keep the kitchen organized, but I am excited with the progress made thus far! Any ideas on how to organize pots and pans are welcomed.

LOVING my Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. I won it on a blogging giveaway and I could not possibly be more in love! I find so much joy in paper planners. I even got some special stickers in the mail yesterday from Faye Creates and it was so fun placing them throughout the planner! She even included some special Valentine’s Day stickers for free- what a doll!

CRAVING more adventure! Steven and I are planning our 1 year anniversary trip to South Carolina (and maybe another place, too!) and I could not be more excited. We are also going to Washington DC this month and Philadelphia in June. My heart is ready to explore the world!

LINKING UP WITH the always lovely Anne and Jenna. Thanks again for a fun link-up!

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Phrase for 2016

Good morning, friends! Happy New Year!

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In the midst of things as mundane as laundry and dishes and lukewarm tea, I am finding much joy in being able to sit down each day and reflect on the daily readings and participate in the Blessed is She 31 days of prayer pledge. I love it when Jesus speaks to my heart and allows me to remain connected to him in my hurt and in my joy. I have made it a goal in 2016 to spend time with the daily readings and the Blessed is She reflections, because the women who write just speak so powerfully to my heart.

I love how he has been speaking to me so far this year. In just these 4 short days, my eyes have been opened to so much of His goodness. God strives for us. He wants us to stay connected to Him through constant prayer during the little tasks he gives us each day, like planning the upcoming Life Teen semester or reading a book on marriage while driving to Cincinnati to see friends. I even prayed by Divine Mercy Chaplet for the Cleveland Browns yesterday on my way home from Church (Lord, help us!) God wants to meet us exactly where we are at and touch our hearts in those moments.

I have a hard time with thinking ahead, planning one million + one events, and completely missing the present moment. That’s why I believe God has been speaking to me words of pause. He has been putting the Blessed Mother on my heart and asking me to be more like her and less like Martha. I am a constant work in process on that one.

I have seen many bloggers choosing words for 2016. I decided to follow suit and take this to prayer with our Lord. I have spent a few weeks praying about “my word,” and decided I could not just use one. I opted for a phrase instead.

My phrase for 2016 is…

holy mindfulness

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. It is the radical acceptance of each moment as it is, remembering that it is the only moment we have for certain. It allows us to calmly acknowledge our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This year, I desire to use mindfulness to grow in holiness. Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. I want to be mindful of how I can use each moment to grow in holiness to best serve myself, my husband, the world, and of course my Savior.  I hope to take more moments to pause, read scripture, and just be held by our Lord. This year, I hope to be held by the arms of grace and not to any standard of perfection. I hope to simply be present each moment to strive for holiness.

What is your word or phrase for 2016?

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Monthly Goals: January Edition

Hello 2016! January has arrived. ‘Tis the season for fresh resolutions, a bit of snow in Northeast Ohio, and a fresh semester of youth ministry for Saint Hilary Life Teen.

Monthly Goals January 2016

Without further ado, here is a recap from my December goals: I accomplished 4/5. Thanks to a few glasses of wine, some upbeat Christmas music, and a few long nights we mailed out the last of our wedding thank you cards. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of our family and friends in helping us fill our first, quaint married home. We also mailed our personal Christmas cards!  We celebrated my 26th birthday by having brunch at Townhall in Ohio City and picking up cassata cake at the West Side Market. I finished reading Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber. It was such a delight. If you’d like to know more about it– feel free to ask.

I was not able to select photos for our wedding album this month. That goal seemed to slip away from me. I think the reason I have been putting this off is because I love all of our photos and I am nervous to choose just 100. Thus — I shall keep it on the list for this month.

This month, I hope to:

  • Select the photos for our wedding album
  • Visit our best man, his wife, and their sweet daughter in Cincinnati for New Years
  • Safely store and organize all of our Christmas decorations
  • Travel to Washington, DC for the March for Life
  • Register my teens for the Steubenville Youth Conference
  • Hand write and mail four letters/cards to people I love
  • Establish an apartment cleaning routine

What are your goals this month?

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#36: Bake monkey bread for Steven

Bake Monkey Bread

Keep on celebrating — Christmas is not over, friends! For faithful Catholics, the Christmas season begins at midnight on December 24 and continues well into January. Although the rest of the world is winding down their Christmas celebrations, we are just gearing up for ours. Right now we are in the midst of the Christmas octave, the 8 days of celebration following a feast day.

Both during and after the Octave of Christmas, there are number of feasts to commemorate and celebrate. The season of Christmas ends on January 10th, which gives us 17 full days to celebrate the birth of our Lord! Awesome, eh?

  • December 26 – St. Stephen (the first martyr)
  • December 27 – The Holy Family
  • December 28 – Holy Innocents (children murdered by Herod’s soldiers in the effort to destroy the Christ Child)
  • January 1 – Holy Mary, Mother of God
  • January 3 – The Epiphany of the Lord (visit of the Magi)
  • January 10 – The Baptism of the Lord

On Christmas Eve, Steven and I went to Mass at 4pm and then headed over to his parent’s house for dinner. They cook a traditional Italian fish dinner each year. I tried all 8 fish this year and I was very proud of myself for keeping up with the Bacher’s. We brought the salmon, which my dad had caught on a fishing trip to Alaska earlier this year. It was a big hit!

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(Christmas Eve Mass)

Then on Christmas morning, we woke up early and I baked Steven monkey bread (which you will hear all about in this post!) before we opened presents just the two of us. Then we headed over to my parent’s house for presents and dinner. We ended the day at home watching our wedding video. We truly enjoyed our first Christmas day together.

Then on the 26th, we celebrated his feast day and on the 27th we celebrated my birthday (I’m 26!) and the feast of the Holy Family. What a blessed first few days of the Christmas season!


Mini Monkey Bread Recipe

Without further ado… the monkey bread! I had added this to my 101 in 1001 list, because it is one of Steven’s favorites and I wanted to learn how to make it for him. I searched for a great recipe and found one that I wanted to try! I knew Christmas morning would be a great time for it to make its debut.

Ingredients:
– 1 can of Pillsbury biscuits (I used Southern style but you could probably use any kind)
– 6 tbsp butter, melted
– 2 tbsp corn syrup
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 2 tsp cinnamon
Icing:
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1 tbsp butter, melted
– 1-2 tbsp milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions:
1. Cut each biscuit into 6 equal pieces. I used a pizza slicer, which made it super easy! In one bowl, combine the melted butter and corn syrup while in another bowl, combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and mix well.
2. Spray your muffin pan with Pam. Dip each piece of biscuit into the butter mixture and then into the sugar mixture and place in the muffin pan. I found that 3 pieces per cup was perfect. Once the pan is full, place in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 min. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
3. After your breads have finished baking, combine the icing ingredients and mix well. Drizzle on top of the monkey breads. Serve warm.
monkey bread

What do you bake on Christmas morning?

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Linking up with  Ember Grey

15 Favorite Photos of 2015

Today on the blog I am sharing my 15 favorite photos from 2015. I had such a great year. I’m excited to share bits of it with y’all!

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  1. It didn’t just rain, it poured during our 1st scheduled engagement photo session. We didn’t let that stop us from having an awesome evening. We dawned our rain coats and went out for a nice date night. Funny enough, this ended up being our favorite photo from the entire year.
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Oh Hey Friday! #3

Five on Friday… ready, go!

One

We are wrapping up youth ministry for the semester and it’s been a busy hustle to try and get everything accomplished. One of my favorite tasks this week was buying presents for my Life Teen Core Staff. They are the dedicated volunteers who serve, sacrifice, and love the teens by helping with weekly programming, retreats, and relational ministry. I wanted to support Life Teen when I bought their presents, so I bought everything through the Life Teen Store. They have so many amazing treasures, so it was hard to narrow it down. I chose to buy three sweet items. I am excited to give them their presents during youth ministry on Sunday evening!

The Keys to Life: Everyday Wisdom from Saint John Paul II

Life Teen Journal and Pen

Madonna Prayer Card

core christmas gift

TWO

In addition to being responsible for our sweet high school youth ministry, I also run EDGE for our junior high students. Our entire semester has been based around the corporal works of mercy. It has been really life giving for the students to learn about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and burying the dead. We had some absolutely incredible events. We closed our our semester by doing a service project. We made soup kits for Gennesaret, which is an organization in Akron, Ohio that shelters homeless families and feeds the poor. We had stations set up where each student could add a different ingredient to the soup mix, tie the bows, and put stamps on the recipe cards. I was incredibly proud of my students! Here are a few photos. When we finished we circled up and said a prayer for all those who would receive our mixes.

edge collage

THREE

Last Friday night, Steven and I had an in home date night. We made gingerbread houses! Steven had never made gingerbread houses before, so that was an extra special treat. I surprised him when he came from work. It was great to drink wine, listen to Christmas music, and unwind together.

houses

 

FOUR

Today I bought mistletoe! I read it is good luck for fertility 😉 I immediately hung it in our sweet, humble apartment.

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FIVE

Sunday evening I brought a small group of my students to carol at a local nursing home. We were very festive with our songs and Santa hats. The seniors were grateful we were there! It has been a joy teaching my young students to practice the works of mercy in their day to day lives.

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What are your weekend plans? We are going to spend some relaxing time just the two of us unwinding before the craziness of next week.

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Linking up with A Liz Adventures for 5 on Friday!