July is (random observations) . . .


. . . hot!!!

As in “put my hair into a bun every day” hot.

I snapped the above picture after a (hot) day of cleaning, laundry, and canning pears on Monday (although I was one of the much lesser contributors to the whole canning enterprise. I was cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes after the canning, etc…) Lena is in the background, her hair also in a bun. We Donellan women are putting our hair up, people. In the words of The Dash, “Look out.” πŸ˜‰


A delightfully clean bathroom. Unfortunately, I am too proud to show the “before” picture. I did send the “before” photo to The Dash, so you can rest assured that however proud I am, I’m not that proud.


At one point during the canning process, they called me downstairs to factor an accurate(ish) ratio of pectin to pears, based off an online ratio table, which was oriented around 7 cups of pears per batch. We eventually discovered we were dealing with 12 cups per batch. So how much pectin would that be?? (13.5 tablespoons, more or less.)


We have been canning fruit practically ever since we moved to our current home (seven years ago, this September). The builders/previous owners of this home planted blueberry bushes, horse apple trees, pear trees, and a fig tree. We were thrown into “Canning 101” when we wound up with more fruit than we could consume in cobblers. (Although we can consume a lot of cobblers, I assure you.)

Monday, Mom, Lena and youngest sister made jar after jar of Holiday Spice Pear Preserves (or pancake syrup, depending on how much pectin was used per batch; either way, a success!) . . . which are, frankly, sumptuous. Cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg heaven.


Here is banana pudding, replete with milk and preservatives and rich deliciousness: once-a-year dessert finery. We always make it for one of the summer American holidays (4th of July, or Memorial Day, or Mother’s Day . . .). I’ve had the honor of making it the past couple of years. So far, it has survived me mixing the wrong ingredients together and mildly scorching the pudding. That’s what strainers are for.

However, right now *sigh* I’m done with sugar . . . I know it’s been affecting, at least somewhat, my hormonal health (or, really, lack thereof) and how I’ve been able to deal with stress. Taking it away won’t fix everything, but it will certainly improve the landscape a little!


Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night ❀ For the curious-eyed, The Dash is wearing an apron I received for my eighteenth birthday, bearing a picture of Johnny Gage and the phrase, “Genius at Work” (a reference to theΒ Emergency!Β episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth πŸ™‚

Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture πŸ˜‰

We’re only a few days away from our 10-month courting anniversary! Each new month is a blessing. Tuesday night, my family and I showed The Dash a treasured secret of our secluded mountain road: a fantastic yearly fireworks show on top of a nearby hill. We pull off onto the side of the road, arrange ourselves on the grass with the help of some lawn chairs, and soak in the display like villagers watching castle parties from afar. At first, we thought They (The Party People) would be setting off the fireworks last Saturday night, but after pulling off the side of the road and listening to the frogs croak for an hour with nary an explosion, The Dash was (understandably) rather skeptical of their existence (the fireworks, that is–not the frogs). Fortunately we were able to regain his faith πŸ˜‰



There is a beautiful (if intense) 54-day novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii that fell into my lap only a few days ago, thanks to a friend emailing me this homily.Β It is challenging, consoling and uplifting–and, as with all things under God’s Providence, perfectly timely. The whole text is here.

Yesterday I took some time to read a little of the story of the origins of devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii, along with the story of Blessed Bartolo Longo,Β as well as prepare a long list of intentions for this novena. Something that’s dawned on me is that, the greater your intentions, the greater your suffering or anxiety or desires . . . the greater your prayers should often be. Prayer is our most powerful recourse, and it should grow in proportion to our needs.


And finally, a walk this morning! Much-needed and very brisk. I somehow managed to walk to the cadence of two poems the entire time, mumbling them under my breath . . . hopefully I didn’t look too insane . . .


The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now, far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .

A blessed feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to you all, and happy Thursday! πŸ™‚



7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 15 :: Photo journal edition


Enjoy previous rambling installments here πŸ™‚




Today has been fairly busy . . . I got up, somehow managed to wash all my laundry by 10am or so, dusted and vacuumed the bedroom, cleaned the girl’s bathroom (and finally scrubbed the shower! Ugh!), ran errands with my brother, talked with The Dash on his lunch hour ( ❀ ) and then settled in for an afternoon of catching up on multiple correspondences (which I’ve neglected pretty badly, and I’m still not caught up all the way . . .). I also continued work on a project due next month . . . and I played around with *guilty cough* an iPhone that was generously given to me by my aunt (Mom and Dad were also given ones).

Currently I can use it for anything other than calling or texting, as Tracfone is still engrossed in transferring my phone information to the new SIM card. (Earlier, I actually did my first online chat with a worker, trying to troubleshoot . . . a new experience! And now I am doing it again. First it was Genevieve, now it is Rick. It is much better than being on the phone . . . sanguine though I am, I’m still too shy for that!)

However, right now I can use the phone to take pictures! (And eventually text them!) I find this rather ridiculously exciting, as this has been something I’ve been unable to do previously.

But anyway. I’m rambling way too much, even for aΒ Rambling TakesΒ post. I took this picture while taking a quick rest on my bed. Over the past few days, The Dash and I have had conversations about courage and St. George: how, in a certain sense, courage isn’t something you receive that then enables you do something you’re afraid of, but is rather something you gain after acting while afraid.

Last Advent, Lena was my Kris Kringle, and she secretly left me this beautiful holy card of one of most well-known and best-loved of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Just simply looking at this image inspires me with the courage that comes from Christ; the courage St. George exemplified by his holy martyrdom: the courage I need today and always!


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There were lots of thunderstorms today . . . but now we have a lovely, tranquil summer evening! It reminds me of the prayer of Sarah out of the book of Tobit: the prayer I prayed so many times while waiting to meet The Dash, and the prayer we have started praying together recently:

For Thy counsel is not in man’s power. But this every man is sure of that worships Thee; that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to Thy mercy. For Thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm Thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping Thou pourest in joyfulness. Be Thy name, O God of Israel, blessed forever!

It is a prayer of beautiful trust in the midst of any difficulty.


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A goofy picture, taken by my (obviously taller-than-me) brother while I was cooking supper.

My hair: as of a few days ago, I’ve been trying to wash it less. For years upon years, I’ve been in the habit of washing it every day (which, of course, makes it produce an insane amount of oil after just one day sans washing). I know that if you go a little longer and only wash it a few times a week, it helps your hair grow healthier by improving and regulating oil production. In fact, I’ve recently really enjoyed showering right before bed, pulling my hair back, and letting it air-dry overnight. I wake up and the curls are softer and bouncier and easier to style.

In this picture, however I’d done neither of those things πŸ˜‰ A mid-morning shower and a blow-dryer. Such is life.


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Ahh, our blueberries. I have literally been having homemade oatmeal (with almond milk), a little granola, and blueberries almost every morning. They are too good. Thank heavens the couple who owned our house before us had the inspiration to plant numerous blueberry bushes. If we’re blessed with a good year, we get gallons and gallons of them.

Needless to say, this is a good year!


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This was my aftermath of prepping chicken strips to go into the oven. (I am notorious for cleaning as I go [and annoyingly cleaning up after people when they aren’t], but this was one process in which I couldn’t…)

It took longer than I thought it would . . . but it’s a good recipe. For us, we cut three chicken breasts into strips, then season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Dredge the strips in a little flour, dip them in 2 eggs beaten together with a splash of milk, and then dredge again in breadcrumbs. We bake them on 375 degrees for 25 minutes or so, on cooling racks placed over our cookie sheets (which are covered with aluminum foil) and are sprayed thoroughly with nonstick spray. (Although I never seem to spray thoroughly enough. I’ve had a rash of things sticking lately . . .) We also spray the chicken with the nonstick spray. It may seem weird, but it does help it get crispy.

I couldn’t seem to decide if using my hands or metal tongs was the slower method of doing all the dry-to-wet dredging . . . either way was messy . . . but delightfully domestic. It’s the third meal in a row I’ve cooked (Lena and I went in together Friday night, though). My siblings are being heroic in enduring my “it’s-not-quite-Mom’s-cooking.”


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However, the chicken strips turned out pretty good! We cut them up and ate them on salad with homemade chipotle sauce . . . long ago, my uncle let us in on the secret that you can replicate it wonderfully by mixing Ranch dressing with Louisiana hot sauce.

They stuck to the racks, though. And I won’t entertain you with the Story of the Homemade Fries I Baked On Aluminum Foil On Friday Night, Thinking Olive Oil Was Enough to Keep Them From Sticking.


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The Dash bought me some dark chocolate the other day . . .”Just because I love you.” ❀ He couldn’t be more wonderful, I know.

The funny thing about these chocolates: they have “inspirational sayings” printed on the underside of each foil wrapper. I am tickled by them (and their relative, well, lameness). In fact, yesterday after Mass, I was so tickled by one that I had to text The Dash while sitting at the kitchen table and snickering at the little foil wrapper. Our paraphrased-from-memory exchange was as follows:

Me: My Dove Chocolate of the Day states: “If life isn’t going right, go left.” I knew you couldn’t live without that priceless gem of wisdom.

Dash: So your chocolate is telling you to become a leftist?!?

Me: I presume so . . . or at least a terrible relativist.

Dash: I don’t think this chocolate is a good influence on you.

Me: I know. But what’s the alternative? Give this bag full of bad advice to (younger sister)? I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience.

Dash: It seems the only clear way to preserve the minds of your loved ones is to ensure you’re the only one influenced. You’ll have to sacrifice and eat all the chocolate yourself.

Me: That’s what I was thinking. Since I’ll be acting in the face of fear, I’ll expect that with each chocolate I eat, I’ll receive the courage to eat another one. By the bottom of the bag, I’ll be super brave.

Dash: . . . or, if not, we’ll try again with another bag.

This guy knows what he’s doing πŸ˜‰

A blessed feast of St. William to you all!




More about our courtship!

A little plaque I photographed on our family trip to Missouri . . . how true it is . . . πŸ˜‰


Hello, friends! Happy feast of St. Vitus! I’m just quickly dropping in to announce that . . .

1) The blog has a new look! (Gray/purple/blue . . .? My sisters and I can’t decide. But in any event, I really like it!)

2) There are several brand-new pages up, with more details about our courtship!

I wasn’t planning to accomplish either of these projects, but I rather fell into them yesterday morning and didn’t climb out again for several hours. I’m so happy it worked out for me to bury my head in the blog for a little while . . . while I’ve been able to post here and there this month, I really haven’t had time to have a nice sit-down with Benedic for too long.

You may notice that my blog’s “subtitle” (for lack of a better term) has changed a little. I started this site almost two years ago . . . and a lot has (happily) changed in my life since then! I find myself scribbling so often about topics relating to Catholic courtship and healthy relationships, and that wasn’t something on my radar in 2016. So now, my subtitle reads:

Endless ramblings of a young Catholic woman at home, especially on all things relating to courtship, femininity, and the beauty of home life.

I think it strikes a nice note πŸ˜‰

And under my blog banner, you’ll now find a new tab, called “Our Catholic Courtship (Click here to start!)”, and beneath it, “The Rational Side of Courtship,” “Boundaries,” and “Spiritual Life.” More pages are forthcoming as I extract time to write them πŸ˜‰

(In case it piques your interest, I also brushed up the ubiquitous “About me” page a touch . . . πŸ˜‰ )

I pray you have a blessed weekend!


7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 13 :: Resuming life



Enjoy previous rambling installments here πŸ™‚


My parents cutting their lovely anniversary cake, made & decorated by Lena. Picture taken by my brother πŸ™‚

Two weeks ago, we prepared for and celebrated my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, and it was both a lovely and exhausting stretch of days in which I gained a big dose of party planning/coordinating experience . . . last week, thusly, was mental recovery week. Today proved to be recovery day from recovery week, especially in the region of my half of the bedroom, which had become a positive landing zone and, while not exactly messy, was cluttered. I did begin by wiping out the family microwave, since a miniature explosion had occurred there recently. But eventually I retreated into mine and my sister’s bedroom and went to war πŸ˜‰

At long last, I situated all my tutoring supplies into their bin; I stashed away bags of handmade party decorations; I sorted books and shelves, finally updated all my monthly calendars, plowed through the Mines of Moria (also known as my desk drawer), went walking by the lake for an hour with mom and siblings, came home, cleaned off my desk, dusted and vacuumed nearly every surface, and have now collapsed with immense satisfaction. There is nothing so domestically marvelous as sitting in a dusted, vacuumed, de-cluttered space πŸ˜€


May is already winding down . . . and getting hotter . . . we’ve seemingly already entered our summer weather pattern down here of hot, muggy days with scattered thunderstorms at any time. But there has also been plenty of sunshine and breeziness to keep things nice.

Around the house, schoolwork has largely wrapped up for the school year and tomorrow, most likely, will be the first day of celebratory swimming with The Dash’s family πŸ™‚


I have been compiling a list of summer goals . . . some smaller, some bigger, some random, some obvious. One goal, however, is to brainstorm and figure out how to blog more consistently about courtship (and eventually, God-willing, betrothal and wedding planning) topics . . . so we’ll see what happens here starting early summer!


The Dash and I were messaging earlier about automotive troubles, and in the course of our conversation he gallantly asked me if I were looking as beautiful as ever . . . I replied that I was in workout clothes, holding a can of furniture polish, and that I had mildly frizzy hair, so I would leave him with that mental image in order to make a decision.

I presume it is natural for any person to default towards putting a nice photo of themselves on their blog. Being sanguine, I am particularly geared towards appearances and impressions (which holds its own mixed bag of potential virtues and inherent vices, but that’s for another post . . .)

Not that I am a frequent selfie-taker, but it seems to me that a self-taken photo revealing your current post-cleaning state prods one a little more towards virtue than a selfie when you are all fixed up. I did have to pull in the cherry blossom cup (a lovely gift from one of my students!) to add a little femininity, though πŸ˜› Here’s to cleaning and to enjoying it!



Currently, we are in the few-weeks-long break between the end of The Dash’s semester and the beginning of his summer internship . . . it’s like one huge holiday and has been so wonderful so far to spend extra time with him! πŸ™‚ Time truly is a gift from God, and when you are able to live it well and full with those you love, it becomes a joy!


For most of this blog post, I have been clicking back and forth between my internet browser and my graphic design software as I attempt to finish up one of three jobs lined up for me to complete by the end of next month, and get the final products off to be printed. It might not make for the most coherent of posts, but, hey, I’m multitasking πŸ˜‰


The FSSP ordinations are this Saturday, May 26th, streaming live from LiveMass.net! God-willing, Lena and I will be able to watch them! What beautiful memories from last year, and what spiritual joy.


Have a lovely rest of your Monday!


On the eve of May


I’ve been waiting to find it again for what seems like so long.

Before today, I’d seen it only once before: and that was several years ago, on EWTN’s Litany of Loreto, quickly passing by in a slideshow of other sacred Marian images. They were all beautiful. But this one . . . it struck me silent. I have never seen anything like it, before or since. I have never seen anyone paint her in this way. Her hands are clasping Him tightly. Her head is tilted back so far. Her face is suffused with intensity and bliss.

But even more simply, it’s her look. It’s her inhalation. Her pure mouth is partially open with it. It’s as if for one moment, we see her as only Christ ever saw her: full of ecstasy, full of grace, completely possessed by God, and possessing Him with an intimacy that surpasses our understanding: Theotokos. Truly, it’s a portrait of total possession and total surrender, manifested beyond compare in the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady.

Anyway . . .Β  as I watched the Litany of Loreto, in the span of four or five seconds, this painting came and went — and I had no idea whatsoever of how to find it again! I searched on and off for a few days across the internet, but eventually the research petered out.

Vaguely, in an honestly more whimsical than prayerful way, I entertained hopes that Our Lord might nudge it back into my life somehow . . . maybe someone would give it to me in a moment of significance, etc. It was strange how several years went by, and yet occasionally the memory of that painting would come back to me. I was silly enough to never make a direct, prayerful request to find the painting again. Possibly because it felt a little trifling. And yet at the same time, I kept sensing a recurring combination of humorous mystery and certainty that Our Lord most probably would bring it back to me, when I was least looking for it. (Most likely, this is totally a woman thing. But I digress.)

This morning, I casually clicked onto a website, and there it was.

Right in front of me!


These past few weeks have been consumed with busyness; planning, projects, responsibilities, and the mental clutter that comes from it all. Today has certainly been a microcosm of that! Because of this busyness, I had completely lost sight of the fact that today is the last day of April. Which means, obviously, that tomorrow is the first day of May. Her month!

What a blessing to be sent such a heavenly reminder as this! Tomorrow is especially busy, and as it’s also the feast of her blessed spouse St. Joseph the Worker (which The Dash and I have been looking forward to, with the novena ending today!), this fact thatΒ herΒ month is beginning tomorrow might have totally slipped past me if it weren’t for finding this painting again, and eventually realizing on what day, exactly, I’d been given it. God is very good. It’s come at such a sweetly perfect time, when all is busy, when my prayer and life of virtue suffers in little and less-little ways because of my own laziness and lack of courage, and struggle and discouragement begin to creep in. It’s time to give it all to Our Lady, again, and re-embrace my Total Consecration (a good preparation for when I start my annual renewal on September 4th!).

So I’m off to reflect a little on what I, a slave of Mary, can do to make this upcoming month a gift to Our Lady. I’m not sure what it looks like yet. I’ll be taping this image in my Missal, for a start!

I pray your May is blessed with Our Lady’s choicest care for you, and that your devotion to, and love of her is deeply renewed. I would be so grateful if you prayed the same for me!