#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
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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.

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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!

Married Life // 3 Month Review

3 Months of Marriage

I love married life with my sweet, sweet husband. Steven is kind, caring, and thoughtful. He is hard working and dedicated to God, his job, his family, and our marriage. The graces of marriage are flowing. I wanted to share what I have learned thus far in our short, short 3 months of married bliss.

Month 1

  • I need to be more of a Mary and less of a Martha.
  • Being a great cook is not a requirement to being an excellent wife.

Month 2

  • The importance of three things: daily affirmation, daily prayer, and sharing feelings with each other.
  • The importance of vulnerability.
  • The importance of mindfulness and recognizing my feelings in the moment.

Month 3

  • I have to go to sleep before him. Some couples can head to bed at the same time, but that is not us. I’ll just talk and talk and talk and then we ever sleep.
  • It’s really fun to buy stocking stuffers for your husband.
  • It’s impossible to hide Christmas presents from your husband in a tiny apartment. Also, he guesses all of his Christmas presents and I’m a terrible liar when I say, “Nope, that isn’t what I bought.” He sees right through me. Life isn’t fair sometimes, ha.

That’s a wrap! Thus far we have been very blessed. Our marriage prep was SO solid. Saint Mary Catholic Church does a great job with preparing couples for the sacrament. For that we are eternally grateful. I have so many parts of the preparation that I loved, but I especially enjoyed our Natural Family Planning classes and our Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat. Both helped us to slow down, take a break from the planning, and learn to love each other and God in a deeper way. More on that soon 😉

What lessons did you learn when you were first married? What was your favorite part of marriage preparation?

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Linking up with Little by Little and Thoughtful Thursdays

Wedding Wednesday // Bachelorette Party

Hip, hip hooray! It’s time for Wedding Wednesday.

Bach Party

Today I am linking up with Messy Marriage, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and To Travel and Beyond to talk about my awesome bachelorette party.

During our brainstorming sessions, my maid of honor and I talked about all sorts of ideas. We talked about heading to a dueling piano bar or possibly attending a wine and canvas event. We spent time on Pinterest and searching the web for ideas. Ultimately, though, my maid of honor came up with the theme…

Love is an adventure!

Seriously, how FUN is that theme? I have a huge adventurous spirit and loved the direction the party started to go in. We decided on Go Ape! in Strongsville, Ohio. It is a high adventure course with 5 zips lines and 42 obstacles, including 2 super fun Tarzan swings and a giant spider web that you zoom into.

When we arrived, my sweet maid of honor had the cutest favor bags for everyone. She also gave each of us ladies a fun water bottle with our favor bag. The canvas style matched the great invitations she sent out. Inside each bag was chap stick, sunscreen, a no-crease stretchy hair tie, and a tea bag for afterwards. She is just the most thoughtful woman! They were a hug hit among the girls.

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Seriously, how CUTE are these favor bags?

She also made me a great tank top to wear for the day. It was purple (our wedding color!) and had a glittery B on the back for Bride… or Bacher 😉 and the front said bachelorette. I put it on right away and loved wearing it throughout the day.

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Oh Hey Friday! #2

FIVE ON FRIDAY… READY, GO!

ONE

I lead a weekly Bible Study at Panera Bread for my Life Teen students. Slowly over the past year we have been growing and developing as a small group. We started with a solid one or two girls last year and now we are up to five or six this year! Youth Ministry fluctuates each year, but I am happy to see where we are headed. I am a big believer that youth ministry is not about numbers, but it has been cool to watch my girls evangelizing and reaching out to their peers. The Holy Spirit is at work and it is awesome!

Life Teen just released a new book called Ascend, which is a companion to the Sunday Mass readings. We tried it out for the first time and the girls really enjoyed it! Plus – the readings for this Sunday are incredibly beautiful. Check them out here to prepare your heart for this weekend.

Yes, under that black coat is my student who despises getting her picture taken… we’re working on it 😉

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We also had our Advent party this weekend and it was such a good time. I am thankful for my organized Core Staff for preparing a great evening for the kids. We had a great time! Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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TWO

Steven and I chaperoned a Life Teen outing Wednesday night. We paired up with Faith Lutheran Church, our next door neighbors to Saint Hilary Catholic Church. It was our first go at an ecumenical event and it was a great success! We went ice skating at Lock 3 in Akron. It’s one of my favorite places. You can’t beat their $3 skating + affordable concession stands. My teens had a great time and it was cool for them to meet kids from the Lutheran Church next door. Bonus – S and I LOVE ice skating, so it was a real treat for us! Next week we are baking Christmas cookies for a local nursing home together. We are excited to hang out with our new Lutheran friends again.

ice skating collage

Blurry photos mean you are having fun, right?

THREE

I added jingle bells to our Christmas presents and I just love how they look! Our home is so cheery and I adore looking under the Christmas tree and seeing the gifts for our family. I feel incredibly blessed that we are able to share our love with our loved ones this way. We are firm believers that this season is more about presence than presents, but it is a real treat to be able to share both. Also, Target has the cutest wrapping paper this year!

FOUR

It has been a big week for the Bacher family. We mailed out our first ever Christmas cards! Check that off the 101 in 1001 and December Goals lists! We decided this year to take it slow and only mail out 20 cards. We sent them to our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings. We just wrote over 100 wedding thank you notes and we could not imagine sending more than 20 Christmas cards. Although, as I was writing them, I was a little sad I did not have more to send to friends. Lesson learned for next year. Marriage is all about the learning and growth, am I right?

But – look at HOW CUTE they turned out. Thank you Shutterfly for your free $20 discount card, free shipping, and Black Friday deal – which all helped us to get 20 cards for less than $8.

christmas cards

FIVE

I have been listening to this song on repeat. It is so catchy and is really getting me in the Christmas/Advent spirit! It’s called Jesus Savior by Chris August.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Linking up with 5 on Friday

 

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // Peace

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Today is International Human Rights Day — #HumanRightsDay — which is celebrated each year on December 10th.

This day leaves me thinking about Immokalee, Florida and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The Coalition of Immokalee workers (CIW) is a worker-based human rights organization. They are devoted to community organizing and sustainable food practices. They are also a major leader in the growing movement to end human trafficking and modern day slavery due to the abuses they witness on a day to day basis in their work with farmers.

When I was a student at John Carroll University, I was privileged to attend an Immersion Experience to Immokalee during my senior year.  Immokalee is located in southwest Florida about an hour away from Naples. We spent our week with volunteers from Humility of Mary. The experience focused on helping us gain a better understanding of the reality of life for the people who live in Immokalee, by allowing us to meet many migrant farm workers and their advocates, who make up a large portion of the city population.

We also learned about the Campaign for Fair Food, which educates consumers on growing issues of farm labor and exploitation. Prior to this experience, I had very little understanding of how large companies played such a large role in helping farm workers earn fair wages for their families. We learned about how the Campaign for Fair Food has encouraged large companies to sign Fair Food Agreements, which help establish human labor standards and fair wages for farm workers, specifically in the tomato industry.

Another large portion of our experiences was learning about the CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign. Modern day slavery is real. It is present in our world. It is present in the United States. the CIW works diligently to uncover, investigated, and prosecute those who are involved in farm worker slavery and trafficking victims. 

Perhaps the biggest hidden secret of the Catholic Church is our seven themes of Catholic Social teaching. They are all powerful and beautiful teachings, but in this case “The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers” stands out. For farm workers in Immokalee, they are fighting daily to have humane working conditions and a fair wage. The CIW is working around the clock to insure this is a reality and not just a dream. Each of us has a right to decent and fair wages and should be treated with honor and respect as a child of God.

What does this all have to do with peace?

God’s light shines in the darkness. His peace overshadows all the heartache and pain that we see in this world, especially among our brother and sister migrant farmworkers. Although this situation brings me such great sorrow, I find peace knowing that He is with each individual who is fighting for justice and He is helping them to carry their grow daily. In our deepest sufferings, He is our peace.

When we are presented with great opportunities for service in the work of justice and peace, it is my hope that we can take advantage of these chances to stand up for the cries of the poor, the hungry, the sick, and event the prisoner. May our blindness be lifted so that we can turn these opportunities into chances to following Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as yourself.

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Today my prayer is for peace in the hearts of the Immokalee farm workers and their advocates. May all those involved experience wisdom and courage in their day to day life, knowing that they are children of God who are worthy of dignity and respect.

May we continue to sew seeds of peace in our world and in our country.

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Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood

Happy Jubilee!

Pope Francis announced an Extraordinary Jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, to highlight the Catholic Church’s “mission to be a witness of mercy.” The year will take place Dec. 8, 2015 until Nov. 20, 2016. It is an exciting time to be Catholic!

I am looking forward to this year, because the theme is very do-able. Everything I have been reading leaves me thinking, “Oh, I could do that!” and I am hoping those thoughts become a reality. With small changes we can make a big difference in the world around us. Who is with me?

I am currently looking (literally, this view is to my left) at this giant pile of Christmas presents in my Life Teen office. As a Life Teen family, we adopt a family from the giving tree each year. The presents have just kept flowing in.

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To be merciful is to share in the struggles of another. It allows us to be compassionate, gracious, and benevolent to others in our human family. Participating in the giving tree has certainly been an awesome preparation for the Year of Mercy. Those presents are for a family that has eight children. God bless the mother. I talked on the phone with her for almost an hour today (note* we have never met) and we were just telling jokes and stories to each other. My eyes kept filling with tears as she told me about her sweet babes. Y’all, we are one human family. This is mercy in action.

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What am I going to do during this Year of Mercy? These are my resolutions!

+ Feed the Hungry: Next weekend I am heading to the Peter Maurin Center, a homeless outreach ministry in Akron, Ohio. It is part of the Catholic Worker community. I will be preparing sandwiches and then spending time on the streets handing out donations and doing homeless outreach. I will also be leading a week-long mission trip to Philadelphia with Catholic Heart Workcamp in June.

+ Give Drink to the Thirsty: I plan to donate baby formula to Maggie’s Place and to participate in a 5k which supports this cause.

+ Clothe the Naked: Pray for the virtue of modesty in my dress, asking God that I may always reflect my love for Him through what I wear, and lead a Bible Study for my high school students on this topic with a focus on Theology of the Body. I’d also like to work with my Edge Junior High Students to collect diapers for Maggie’s Place.

+ Shelter the Homeless: Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity with Steven.

+ Visit the Sick: This weekend I am taking my Life Teen students Christmas caroling to a local nursing home. I also want to make a better effort to raise awareness about my illness, fibromyalgia, through this blog and my Facebook page.

+ Visit the Imprisoned: I am going to do prison ministry with my friend Sadie through her parish, Church of the Gesu.

+ Bury the Dead: Pray outside of an abortion clinic and pray for the souls of the precious babies who lost their lives.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

Happy Year of Mercy, friends!

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Linking up with What Joy is Mine, and Ember Grey.

Oh Hey, Friday! #1

Five on Friday… ready, go!

ONE

Steven and I went to Dave’s Cosmic Subs for dinner on Tuesday and then did a bit of Christmas shopping at The Learned Owl, a great little bookshop in my hometown of Hudson, Ohio. We managed to find some amazing presents and we were super happy we could shop locally for our family members.

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TWO

I run the Edge Junior High Youth Ministry where I work and Thursday we had our Advent/early Christmas party with the kids. My sweet high schooler, Beth, helps me run it and she dressed up like an elf – seriously, she is too sweet. The kids were a little wild and it left me pretty exhausted afterwards, but it was a great and fun afternoon.

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THREE

I have been on the lookout for stockings for Steven and I. I have been struggling to find ones that I love. I didn’t want to settle and buy them just to buy them, you know? Today I finally found some great ones at Kohl’sand I am just over the moon excited about them. I might have sent Steven 20 text messages about my excitement… oops 😉 I was also SUPER productive today – I went to the chiropractor, bank, gas station, AAA, Kohl’s, Target, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Big Lots, and now I’m relaxing at the Stow Public Library writing this post. Busy bee! It feels nice to just sit and unwind.

FOUR

I bought Steven some stocking stuffers today at Grismer’s Christian Gifts. They don’t have a website to show you, but they have some great locations around Northeast, Ohio and I greatly recommend checking them out. I am a big fan of the Stow, Ohio location- mostly because they know me by name there #frequentshopper

For Christmas this year, I wanted to try the “want, need, wear, read” tradition for my dear husband. The read part was the trickiest, because he is not a big book reader (maybe one day I’ll convert him) and I couldn’t find any solid magazines I thought were worth spending the money on, but today I realized how much we LOVE prayer cards and novena books, so I bought a few for stocking stuffers. I am officially finished shopping for him! Hooray.

FIVE

I have been loving Ann Voskamp‘s daily Advent reflections on Facebook. Today she wrote, “I will let every flood of stress today be an invitation to get into the ark of my Savior.” How beautiful. I believe that is something we can all take to prayer.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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#BISsisterhood Link-Up // Hope

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I have hope, because His grace keeps flowing.

I have hope, because I have been saved by His amazing love.

I have hope, because our God is a compassionate God.

How do we share our hope in Jesus Christ? We have to start talking. We have to start shouting from the rooftops of the glory that God has done in our lives. Why is your hope found in Jesus? What has He done for you? We have to share our testimonies so that we can share with the world the hope that is found in living a life centered on Jesus Christ.

“Hope is the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on earth to do: to praise God and to serve Him.” Youcat 308

I was placed on earth to praise and serve God. My time is not over yet. Tuesday I was in a car accident. For those of you who know me well, car accidents and I seem to be attracted to each other. It is a heartbreaking fact, but for reasons unknown to me, my Guardian Angel works overtime to protect me. I have hope, because I know God is real and I have seen and experienced miracles in my own life, including the accident on Tuesday afternoon. I have hope, because I am alive when science would say I should not be.

Saint Thomas Aquinas holds that, “from the very moment of his birth man has an angel guardian appointed to him” (Summa Theologica, I, 113, 5). From infancy to death, we are surrounded by the watchful care and intercession of guardian angels. They stand as our protectors. Our angels help us avoid physically dangers, especially if it will help us achieve salvation.

Guardian Angels can move faster than Superman.

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According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, “The swiftness of the angel’s movement is not measured by the quantity of his power, but according to the determination of his will (Summa Theologica, I, 53, 3, ad 1) Hello, awesome! Angels are not bound to a material body like us, so they can move super fast. Steven and I are currently watching The Flash and I cannot anything moving faster than him, so this notion is pretty awesome. I believe that on Tuesday, my Guardian Angel moved faster than Superman to save my life. My angel might have even brought along some friends.

My car did a complete 180 on the highway. I was facing the opposite direction towards oncoming traffic. The car that almost hit me and caused the accident drove away. I called AAA, the police came, and I was okay. I felt shaken up, but was okay. My car scraped the concrete barrier, but was not dented. I believe that God still works miracles today. I believe that He has amazing helpers in His Guardian Angels. I believe that I am alive, because of the help of my angel and God wasn’t finished with me quite yet.

I am hopeful that the Lord has big plans for this little life of mine. What are those plans? I am not sure yet, but I cannot wait to find out.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, rule and guide. Amen.

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 Linking up with Blessed is She and #BISsisterhood, Thoughtful ThursdaysThought Provoking Thursday, and Little Things Thursday