#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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#31: Start a family tradition

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We’ve almost made it through the whole month, friends! Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? Today I am sharing with you how I made it through another of my 101 in 1001 goals.

Steven and I have talked a lot about creating traditions in our first year of marriage. Thanksgiving was a great place to start for us! It is one of my favorite days. I actually have been surprised how much I am coming to love November. It is such a positive, happy, grateful month!

November can get busy quickly and Steven and I knew we wanted to make time for each other. Tonight we are going to a Turkey Bowl and tomorrow we are headed to celebrate with each of our families after the Cleveland Turkey Trot.

When we started to plan our our week, we knew we did not want to be stressed, so we tried to slow down and intentionally plan our week. We wanted to create a special tradition for just the two of us. I went on Pinterest and searched blogs for ideas, but nothing seemed to stick. We are pretty simple people and all the ideas were beautiful, but just not us. You know?

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SO… we bought a little 2 pound chicken, asparagus, and ravioli at the West Side Market in Cleveland and had a little Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us. I enjoyed cooking for my sweet, sweet husband. It was nice to decorate the table and enjoy slowing down to eat together. We had thankful placemats, a tiny pumpkin, our  crucifix from Poland that we held while we said our vows, and our Engaged Encounter candle.

After dinner we made two pies! First we made a pumpkin pie and then we made an apple pie. Someone had gifted us all of the apple pie making supplies as a wedding present, so it was really fun for us to make those together. We are bringing them to the Bacher Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. I’m excited to try the apple one!thanksgiving2

There you have it – our own little tradition. Every year, though we love our families, we want to make sure we take time for ourselves to celebrate together (hopefully with our own kiddos one day!)

Also, I forgot to mention… I had S clean out the inside of the little chicken and cut it up 😉 Marriage is about compromise, am I right?

Have a great Thanksgiving, my sweet friends!

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Linking up with To Travel and BeyondMessy Marriage and Women With Intention Wednesdays.

#20: Lose 15 Pounds

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When Steven proposed, I was at my highest ever weight. I am only 5’2″ so I have to be super careful about what I put into my body. When I moved home from Virginia to Ohio, I wasn’t walking through Radford’s campus as much and my lifestyle became a bit more sedentary. I knew I needed to make a few changes prior to the wedding so that I could feel extra beautiful in my wedding dress and be the best version of myself possible. I am proud to share that I not only lost 15 pounds – I lost 17! I am now at a pleasant 135 pounds and I feel more at peace with my health, life, and self confidence level. I also felt stunning in my wedding gown, so all of these little changes were well worth it!

Little Changes

  1. I cut out all processed sugar. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for Green Tea Frappuccino, cookies, cupcakes, and Coca Cola. I became better at reading nutrition labels and I paused before picking up a sweet treat from our secretary at work (she has the best stash of chocolates… sigh!) I have slowly started eating sweets again, but I have been impressed at my willpower and a lot of my cravings for sweets have subsided. 
  1. I started eating more fruits and vegetables (even KALE!) Steven got a blender for Christmas last year and he started making me smoothies every single day for lunch. Today I had spinach, strawberries, mango, and banana. Yum! Never before in my life would I have thought that would be a delicious combo, but I have been training…er… tricking my taste-buds and drinking the smoothies each day.
  1. I bought a FitBit and challenged myself to walk 7,000 steps a day. I especially loved this goal, because it challenged me to park further away, walk upstairs at work to get copies, mossy around the church during the day, and go to the farthest possible bathroom. These little challenges I played with myself allowed me to be competitive and achieve high goals. Just as an FYI – the daily recommended amount of steps is 10,000, but because of fibromyalgia I have to be careful of overexerting myself and making my pain worse.

Since I do have fibromyalgia, I am unable to do most exercises (especially running or anything high impact), but I went to THREE personal training sessions which taught me healthy exercises I could do on my own that work with my illness and not against it. I left the sessions feeling inspired and uplifted. I also met with my chiropractor, who is a nutritionist, and she supplied me with Calcium, Vitamin D, and a daily multi-vitamin. These have helped me to feel energized and healthy as well.

I wanted to find little ways to change my health and still incorporate an element of fitness, even if that was 7k steps a day and small workouts. I think I found a happy balance! 🙂 I am proud to report that the weight I lost, I have kept off!

My advice would be:

  1. Love yourself.

  2. Ask for wisdom and courage from God to start.

  3. Start anywhere.

  4. Start small.

You, my beloved sister, are beautiful and loved JUST the way you are. You are more than a number on a scale. You are more than your weight loss – or weight gaining – journey. You are a child of God and that comes first before all things. If you are on this weight loss journey, fully rely on God. Allow Him to fill the desires of your heart first. Remember no amount of weight loss will help Him love you more than He does right now at this moment. You are so precious and gorgeous in His eyes (and in mine!) Stay strong, ladies. The temptations are tough out there, but our God is bigger than it all.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

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Holly Barrett

#4: Finish the Marian Consecration

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This Spring Steven and I finished 33 Days to Morning Glory, a do-it-yourself retreat in preparation for Marian Consecration. We spent 33 days studying about and praying with the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and Blessed John Paul II.

What I find especially neat is that you begin your retreat on a specific Marian Feast Day. We started on our Lady of Fatima, which is April 10th.

Steven and I went to a wedding on August 14th (the Feast Day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who Steven and I fell in love with during the 33 days) and after the wedding at Peak ‘n Peak we drove up to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, New York. It was a total spur of the moment random trip (which completed #1: Visit a New Church & #94 Go on a Spontaneous Adventure). I am not realizing until just at this moment how cool it is that we started our consecration on Our Lady of Fatima and then we got to visit the shrine!

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe

What I loved about our consecration:

  • Total consecration to the Blessed Mother is beautiful beyond measure.
  • A set time to pray with Steven every day.
  • We gave Mary an even larger role in our lives and we feel more passionately in love with her as our Mother.
  • The passages to read were very do-able. We did not feel overwhelmed. It was the perfect amount of nightly reading and reflection.

If you’re interested, let me know! I would love to give you more information.

Enjoy a few pictures from the Shrine!

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#78: Attend 3 Weddings

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“Marriage is a feast – a Christian feast, not a worldly feast…some are more preoccupied with the exterior signs, with the banquet, the photographs, the clothes and the flowers…These are very important things in a feast, but only if they are able to show the true motive of your joy: the blessing of the Lord on your love.”

Pope Francis, St. Peter’s Square, 14 February 2014

I will be sharing with you updates on my “101 in 1001” list. First up is #78: Attend 3 Weddings

Steven and I were blessed this year to witness three couples lay down their lives for each other in holy marriage. We believe marriage is a sacrament which has the power to sanctify, to make us holy, and to draw us into deeper relationship with Christ. It has been beautiful for us to look at these three couples as true witnesses of sacramental love. We have been inspired by their devotion to the Lord, their unwavering love of the Catholic faith, and their ability to stay focused on the sacrament during each step of their engagement. We are joyful to have such holy friends!

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Rob and Karisa
May 23, 2015

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Jillian and Jason
August 14, 2015

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Katie and Patrick
October 17, 2015
Love, Mary

PS. We cannot wait to celebrate our 50th anniversary year with these three amazing couples! 2015 was a great year to get married 😉

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