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A Catholic stay-at-home wife and mother who is learning to value the beauty of homemaking by preparing meals from scratch with real food according to traditional principles, sewing/altering her own clothes, DIY decor projects, and reading books in her spare time, but most of all trying to be the virtuous woman from Proverbs 31.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Product Review: Radiantly You

So, I am always on the lookout for beauty and cleaning products that are all-natural/organic, and since home-based businesses are becoming very common, especially with stay-at-home moms, I've wondered why I had never heard of a company with all-natural products. I would think they would do very well since so many families today are looking to cut the chemicals and other ingredients that could be harmful to our children's and our health. Well, I found out recently that such a company does exist! Radiantly You was founded by a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Melissa Brown, who is a mother and was obviously concerned about the risks of using chemicals in health, beauty and cleaning products. And compared to most other home-based businesses I have heard of, these prices are very affordable.

I had the chance to personally try out Radiantly You's All-Natural Counter Spray.

 It is a very large amount of spray for the cost ($6.00 for 32 oz); compared to Seventh Generation, the brand I normally use, which has only 26 fl. oz and costs more ($8.99). So it is certainly affordable, which is a definite plus for me!

Also, note the ingredients: water, washing soda, citrus castille soap and lemon and orange essential oils.  Very few ingredients, very simple. In fact, one could easily make it oneself, but probably not at that price!

I tried it out and it works very well, and smells very clean and citrusy. I recommend it highly! I look forward to trying other products soon! To find out more, visit my friend Angie's Radiantly You website.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reading Plan for 2014


On this feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, great doctor of the Church known for his love of books, I post my somewhat ambitious list of books I hope to read this year. I know that I definitely won't get to all of these this year, but I will at least be able to easily transfer those not read this year to next year's plan. The books in parentheses are the spiritual books for the month and don't necessarily have anything to do with the unit for the month.  These books are basically a bunch of books I've been wanting to read for awhile; I just organized them according to date written or the date of the setting for historical novels so as to have the right historical perspective. Post your own lists or plans below; I love to see what books others are reading! 



January: Folklore Unit

·     The Hobbit (Tolkien)
·     Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
·     Beowulf (700 AD)
·     (Letters to a Young Catholic)

February: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Unit
·     The Princess and Curdie (MacDonald)
·     Lilith (MacDonald)
·     At the Back of the North Wind (MacDonald)
·     Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)
·     Phantastes (MacDonald)

·     Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination/Child (Esolen)
·     (The Way of the Lamb)

March: Early Christian Church Unit
·     Quo Vadis (Sienkiewicz) 64 AD
·     Helena (Waugh) 250-300
·     Confessions of St. Augustine 354-430
·     Anthony Esolen’s Ironies of Faith
·     (Signs of Life-Hahn)

April: Medieval Unit
·     Gunnar’s Daughter (Undset) 900s
·     Francis of Assisi (Chesterton) 1181-1226
·     Master of Hestviken (Undset) 1200s

May: Medieval Unit Continued
·     Thomas Aquinas (Chesterton) 1225-1274
·     Robin Hood (Lancelyn Green) 1200s
·     Catherine of Siena (Undset) 1347-1380
·     (Dante’s Divine Comedy) 1308

June: Renaissance/Elizabethan
·     Edmund Campion: A Life (Waugh) 1540-1581
·     Come Rack Come Rope (RH Benson) 1570s
·     Don Quixote (Cervantes) 1605
·     Outlaws of Ravenhurst (Wallace) 1600s
·     (St. Teresa of Avila by Marcelle Auclair)

July: Renaissance/French Revolution
·     Betrothed (Manzoni) 1628
·     Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) 1780s
·     Song at the Scaffold (Von le Fort) 1780s
·     (Pilgrim’s Progress) 1678

August: Victorian Era/Gilded Age
·     Mansfield Park (Austen) early 1800s
·     Emma (Austen) early 1800s
·     Jane Eyre (Bronte) 1847
·     Little Lord Fauntleroy (Burnett) 1885
·     Eight Cousins (Alcott) 1875
·     Rose in Bloom (Alcott) 1876
·     Secret Garden (Burnett) 1910
·     (A Prayer Journal- O’Connor)

September: Russia- same time period
·     Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) 1873
·     Brothers Karamazov (Dostoyevsky) 1878
·     (Death of Christian culture)

October: Romance -Italy
·     Mill on the Po (Bacchelli) 1812
·     The Little World of the Past (Fogazzaro)
·     (Letter and Spirit-Hahn)

November: Early Modern
·     Diary of a Country Priest (Bernanos) 1936
·     The Power and the Glory (Greene) 1930s
·     Song of Bernadette (Werfel)
·     (Orthodoxy)

December: Christian/Catholic Sci Fi
·     Perelandra (Lewis)
·     That Hideous Strength (Lewis)
·     The Canticle of Leibowitz (Miller)
·     Love in the Ruins (Percy)
·     Lord of the World (Benson)
·     (Mere Christianity)

Modern Catholic Reads: (Extra)
·     The 27th Kingdom (Ellis)
·     The Moviegoer (Percy)
·     The Heart of the Matter (Greene)
·     Black Narcissus (Godden)
·     Wise Blood (O’Connor)
·     Unexplained Laughter (Ellis)
·     Mr. Blue (Connolly)
·     Manalive (Chesterton)

Non-Fiction:
·     Flipside of Feminism (Venker/Schlafly)
·     Crunchy Cons (Dreher)
·     A Little History of the World (Gombrich)
·     Medieval World History (Bauer)
·     History of the Catholic Church (Hitchcock)
·     Montessori From the Start (Lillard)
·     Understanding the Human Being (Montanaro)

Monday, January 13, 2014

A bookish birthday party (Peter Rabbit!)

I know I wrote that next I would post my reading plan for 2014 but I'll do that after this, because I was too excited to post the photos of my son's Peter Rabbit birthday party to wait. I had to do such a party because I love children's literature and naturally want my son to, as well. Also, since his birthday is a couple days after Christmas and he would be getting a lot of gifts for Christmas, I thought that doing a book theme would be good because he would get specific birthday gifts (books) versus the majority of toys for Christmas.


 I thought it turned out really well, despite feeling overwhelmed with the preparations the day before. (I prepared many of the foods and decorations at home but threw the party at my in-laws' so we had to transport everything there and make sure not to forget anything). I think I'll probably do it at my home next time despite the smaller space.

I found the ideas for the carrots as a central theme on pinterest, though going on there makes one quite a perfectionist about decor and DIY projects. Notice the little cups of carrots? They are dipped in hummus and there are coffee grounds underneath- it is supposed to be a carrot garden.


For the party favors, I was super excited to give each guest a couple books (one small Peter Rabbit and one small Winnie the Poo), plus a handmade bookmark! I was able to buy the books very cheaply at McKay's Used Bookstore. I love that place! I could stay in there for hours, scouring the shelves.


 I bought the Treasury of Peter Rabbit at McKay's also; was going to use it as a prize for possible games, but we didn't end up doing games as most of the guests were babies so I gave it to my sister-in-law.


 I so wanted to display some of my other favorite children's books- I was thinking of hanging them from a rope of some sort but had to dismiss that idea because the party was going to be at my in-laws and I don't think that would have gone well trying to hang a heavy book-laden rope from the ceiling. So sticking these pictures on the window had to do.



I loved this little cupcake kit I ordered with the figures from the different Beatrix Potter books, so I had to show it off. The cupcakes were, you guessed it, carrot cake!

Anyway, what kinds of parties have you all done for your children's birthdays? I would love to swap creative ideas for DIY projects.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I Read in 2013

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but having a now very mobile little guy is making it harder to find time to post. Another thing keeping me from posting lately is all the reading I've been doing in the past few months. Hence, the book list!

Also, I read this wonderful compilation of Catholic writers' reading lists, which inspired several of the books I plan to read in 2014.  I am a little late to link up with one of my new favorite blogs Carrots for Michaelmas, but stop by to see her list and some of the other bloggers' lists there for your ideas for 2014.

1. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding- In the beginning of 2014, when my son was newly born, I was constantly reading this book. It was a life saver in many instances! I highly recommend it for all nursing mothers or soon-to-be nursing mothers!

2. Beautiful Babies- This was an informative look at the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding and for baby's first foods. It also has a bunch of wonderful recipes at the end, several of which I now use regularly.

3. Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese- This book was spiritually enriching as well as intriguing. I love the story and spirituality of St. Therese, and I love Catholic memoirs, so this blend of both is perfect. Heather King relates events in her life and struggles to St. Therese, which is what we should all do in relating to the saints, because they too struggled with faults and hardships; it wasn't all prayerful ecstasy and miracles for them.

4. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care-  Informative and well-researched, as its predecessor, the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook.

5. My Sisters, the Saints- I loved this book and couldn't put it down. A wonderful look at Catholic womanhood through the lens of Colleen Carroll Campbell. It relates her (re)conversion to Christ and her struggles in reconciling her strong independence as a woman and her newfound faith in living the Catholic Church's teachings by relating to different woman saints.

6. A Mother's Rule of Life- I reviewed it here. http://rosamystica315.blogspot.com/2013/07/book-review-mothers-rule-of-life.html

Fiction:

7. The Wind in the Willows-  I have been meaning to read this book for years, and I am so glad I finally did! It is a delightfully refreshing, entertaining, British book for children. It had me chuckling out loud many times, and I don't do that often. I love the dialogue, the way the animals talk (in such a very British way), and how they are often drinking tea and going on adventures. Please read this book if you haven't already! Better yet, read it to your children! I truly missed out in not having read this as a child!

8. A Little Princess- This is another book I can't believe I had never read before! It is the sweet tale of a 'princess' who becomes an orphan. I was truly inspired by this book to 'offer things up' and be cheerful despite hardships, because this little girl is almost saintly in her endurance of trials. I love the idea that she considers all girls princesses because we all are! We are daughters of the Heavenly King.

9. The End of the Affair-  I had been meaning to read this book for ages, and finally finished it! It is the story of a love affair gone wrong and the spiritual journey of the lovers. I especially loved this passage written by the woman lover in her journal, and misinterpreted by the man lover to be addressing another lover: "I have no need to write to You or talk to You, You know everything before I can speak, but when one loves, one feels the need to use the same old ways one has always used. I know I am only beginning to love, but already I want to abandon everything, everybody but You: only fear and habit prevent me."

10. Persuasion- I can't believe I had not read this or other Austen novels yet, as I have loved Pride and Prejudice for years. This was a wonderful read, and I loved the main character, Anne Elliot. She inspired me to become more humble and less concerned with what others think; as this book relates her journey in doing the same. She had lost her true love years earlier due to putting too much weight in what others thought or advised her to do. She realizes that her judgement was actually better and she should have done what she judged correct, and not been persuaded by those whose judgement was clouded by other factors. She was also incredibly humble despite being right in many cases; she never argued or tried to be acknowledged by her self-centered and vain family members.

11. Sense and Sensibility- The other Austen book I read this past year. I loved it as well, and learned a lot about virtue, manners, sense and sensibility (haha). Basically it illustrates two extremes which are both inadvisable: either not showing your feelings or affection at all and hoping the other person notices your love anyway, or completely giving into your feelings, thus blinding yourself from judging the person sensibly.

12. The Little White Horse- A charming, little-known book for children about an orphan who becomes a hero. I love the Britishness of the narration and dialogue, the Christian elements and the fantastical elements, especially the thought of a magical white unicorn. I should have read this as a child, and will certainly be reading this to any future daughters I may have! J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, was inspired by this book. I wish to make it more well-known, so please read it to your children and students!

13. Brideshead Revisited-  I loved this book, and am so glad to have finally read it! I must say that watching the 1981 mini-series was what finally motivated me to do it (I know, I should have read it first!) This book is a combination of many things that I love: British period piece, Catholic conversion story and the history of a Catholic family. So many of the conversations that the characters have are inspiring to me, and keep coming to me randomly. For example, during Christmas I often thought about this: Charles says, "I suppose they try and make you believe an awful lot of nonsense." Sebastian: "Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me." "But my dear Sebastian, you can't seriously believe it all?" "Can't I?" "I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass." "Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea." "But you can't believe things because they're a lovely idea." But I do. That's how I believe."

14. A Midsummer Night's Dream-  We read this with friends aloud one night, the first of what we hope will be many Shakespeare Nights. It was gloriously delightful and so much fun! I love Shakespeare's comedies; they, to me are practically the only comedy I actually find funny.

15. Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy-  This was the first book I read by Rumer Godden, a Catholic convert. I loved it! It is the portrayal of a real order of religious sisters in France who were born out of a prison. Half of the sisters are former inmates, and they have a great devotion to St. Mary Magdalene, the woman who loved much. It focuses on Lise Fanshawe, who works at a Brothel and then serves time in prison, where she encounters the sisters and, through them, God.

16. In This House of Brede- Also by Rumer Godden. This book was a magnificent portrayal of the history of a religious order of nuns and each of their vocational stories and struggles. Each nun described is brought alive in her very real struggles and thoughts. The story was fascinating and I could not put the book down for a couple weeks. I highly recommend it, even to non-Catholics and non-Christians. I also loved the descriptions of the order's living of the Liturgical year. It is beautifully written.

17. Children of Men-  This book was recommended to me by a couple people especially regarding the way things are going in society today. This dystopian novel illustrates what could happen if people were no longer able to have children (which could someday happen given all the problems artificial contraception causes in women's fertility).

18. The Golden Key-  This novella by George MacDonald was magical and inspiring. I'm not entirely sure what everything meant, but some aspects of it seemed to me to be allegories for living the Christian life.

19. The Giver- (Re-read)- Something I read in Children of Men reminded me of this book and so I reread it in one night. It was a favorite of mine in middle school. I especially love the end concerning Christmas and everyone waiting for the baby. :)

20. Rock Crystal- I loved this sweet Christmastime tale of two children getting lost in a snowstorm. The descriptions of this book are beautiful, especially the descriptions of the magnificent scenery and the humble, liturgically-lived lives of the villagers.

Next up, a post on my plan for reading for 2014!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lost Boys

Yesterday I watched my usual episode of Once Upon a Time (I love all things fairy tale) and it disturbed me quite a bit, surprisingly. (If you watch Once and don't want a spoiler you should probably wait to read this after you watch it.)  Basically, there are all sorts of fairy tale characters and stories all meshed together in this show, and currently, the characters are in Neverland, the land of Peter Pan. Something different about this show, though, is that Peter Pan is portrayed as evil, very evil. At first I didn't understand why, but in light of this letter about parenting by Dr. James Dobson, I now see why he is evil.


First of all, Peter Pan is a lonely boy with no family of his own and he kidnaps other boys to be his playmates, thus taking them away from their families. He never grows up, and therefore skirts all responsibility that comes with being a man. And in this show, he tells the boys to forget about their families, that he and the other lost boys are their family now. In addition, Peter Pan tells Rumplestiltskin  that the boys who hear his song on the flute (yes, he is also the Pied Piper in this show) are those who feel unloved and unwanted. And, in the show, Henry, who up until now has remained hopeful that his family will come rescue him, finally hears the song after Pan tells him that his family isn't coming for him.

When I read Dr. Dobson's letter on Confident Parenting this morning, I realized how true this is in our society. Because many times parents aren't there for their children, be they emotionally or physically absent, they turn elsewhere for love, and that elsewhere many times is not healthy or loving. In fact, it usually involves sin, which is what that Pied Piper's song reminded me of- a sweet sounding temptation to sin.  Temptation makes sin look appealing, not ugly as it really is. In the Once show, once Henry finally succumbs to the 'celebration' with the other Lost Boys, it becomes all about 'having fun' instead of having hope that good will win (as Henry did all along until now). Sin causes people to lose hope of a resurrection from this earthly life with all its sorrows, and just reduce this life to endless pleasure seeking to drown one's sorrows. It becomes the main goal in many people's lives, to simply find pleasure over and over again as an antidote to the stresses and sorrows in our lives. 

This convicted me to truly share the Good News with others. Just as in the Once Upon a Time show, the 'good guys' are never losing hope and always confident that good will win, we need to be confident in our Lord and His saving us from our sin. Good will win, and I feel that so many people have become so focused on their day to day lives, their stresses and pleasures, that they lose sight of the bigger picture and of the Loving God Who is there, directing our lives and rescuing us from our sins and consoling us in our sorrows. We need to remind them of this (and ourselves!) 

I am also convicted about families, that we need to be present to our families so that they don't go looking elsewhere for love. They are the most important responsibility we have on this earth. We need to make sure they are loved, that they know our God and that they go to heaven! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Work of God

"It's not necessary for woman to 'contribute' to the world of work. The world of work exists to be sure she has what she needs for her family." -Rebecca Ryskind Teti from 'Style, Sex and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter'.

I had been reading the book quoted above and was struck by this rather obvious statement when one considers history. In society today, we have lost sight of women's roles throughout history, which mainly involved taking care of family and the upkeep and management of a household. 'Kristin Lavransdatter' by Sigrid Undset comes to mind. It is the story of a strong willed, faith filled woman in Medieval Norway who marries for love/passion, manages a large estate, and has eight sons. I highly recommend it, particularly for wives and mothers of faith.

Anyway, nowadays, women feel guilty when not 'contributing' to society by entering the workforce. However, as C.S. Lewis put it, "Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? ... The  homemaker's job is one for which all others exist." And I might add that by raising loving, responsible human beings to take their place in society, we are impacting society more than anyone else could in their work, no matter how important their work may be. However, all work is important and meaningful, if done for God, as a means of sanctification. (Plug for Opus Dei/St. Josemaria Escriva.

God bless you in your work of homemaking, ladies! It is an indispensable task and vocation to which God calls us!

PS- If you wish to purchase either of the books I mentioned in this post, see the Amazon widget to the right of this posting.

Monday, July 29, 2013

You have need of only one thing...St. Martha and Mother's Rule of Life Part II

It is the feast of St. Martha, the woman famous for having complained to Our Lord that her sister Mary was not helping with the serving. He tells her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. You have need of only one thing, and Mary has chosen the better part.' We all know the story about how Mary is sitting at the Lord's feet and listening, and therefore, she has chosen the better part, whereas Martha, running around the house, trying to get things done, is too preoccupied to pay much attention to Jesus.

This hearkens back to my recent post about the book 'The Mother's Rule of Life' and my implementation of its principles to my daily life. The key to the Scripture passage about Martha and Mary is not that we should always be in the chapel praying and reading Scripture, but that we should not get so overwhelmed by the housework we have to do that we forget about Jesus, Who is always with us.

One of the most inspiring things about the Mother's Rule of Life for me was that the author, Holly Pierlot, once she began living her Mother's Rule of Life, after awhile no longer had to think about the tasks she was doing because they became second nature. Instead, she was able to offer each task she did for the Lord and she was able to reach heights of contemplation as she did her tasks. She got everything done and had chosen the better part.

This is a great inspiration to me as a homemaker wanting to grow in holiness but still have a well-kept, beautiful home for all who enter, in particular my family. Making all meals and snacks from scratch and keeping on top of housework is time-consuming; a homemaker cannot obviously pray in the chapel all day, however we can be in union with Our Lord while we do these tasks. Though I'd read about saints who thought about God all day long as they did their tasks, I'd never been able to do it myself until I formed and implemented my Rule of Life. When one does not have to think about what to do next from the to-do list, it makes it so much easier to just follow the schedule already laid out and focus one's thoughts on other more important things, such the One Thing, our Lord Jesus Christ.