Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 9

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Conversion Diary for other bloggers' Quick Takes!

{1} Since I didn't write Quick Takes last Friday, today's when you get a taste of my Thanksgiving!  These photos are of the Mediterranean feast Andrew's grandmother prepared, the cute little clementines she served alongside our baklava and pumpkin pie, the rosemary rolls we baked with my family for a second turkey dinner (so, so blessed to have celebrated two Thanksgivings in two days this year), and a little slice of winter sunshine.

{2} My sweet husband turned a quarter-century old this week!  To celebrate, I left work early and gifted him with a hefty, embossed-cover copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude to replace our battered secondhand one, and made a cheesecake and at-home version of his favorite Olive Garden pasta.  We both agreed that this recipe was better than the original!  I love the feeling of preparing something special for my husband and putting so much care and time into a meal.  I know people are always talking about The 5 Love Languages, but I seriously think we all need to add cooking as the sixth.

{3} Have you caught my latest writing outside of this blog lately?  You can read my Ignitum Today post on embarrassment and evangelization here, and my guest column on contraception for Arleen Spencely's blog here.  For better or worse, I'd so welcome your thoughts!

{4} On a similar enough note, last Sunday I gave a talk to the high school girls in our youth group on femininity, dignity, beauty, chastity, and the media--my favorite things to talk about, and I was happy with how we responded to each other.  Birth control is something I feel so passionately against.  When I was a chastity speaker, I'd bring in a Pill information packet and read off the side effects--the sheer size of the packet when it's unfolded, coupled with the extensive amount of warnings and effects, speaks for itself.  I used to count on the element of surprise, but I don't know; only two years later, it doesn't seem like as much of a shock to an audience, maybe because girls are being prescribed birth control at younger and younger ages.  I don't just want to scare people, I want to share my heart and my reasoning with them, too.  Anyway, we did a Q+A session afterwards, and so many were geared towards medical "needs" for the Pill.  I never want to call things out unlovingly, of course, or cause these girls to worry about sin, but I also want to make it clear to them that there are so many better ways to correct their cycles.  So, I'm asking you: what do you think is the best response to questions like these?  How do you answer a friend's question of what to do if a doctor tells you that birth control is the only solution to a reproductive issue?

{5} Have you ever revisited a book for pleasure that was once required reading, and come away with a completely different understanding?  I read The Great Gatsby my junior year of high school and am currently making my way through it for the second time.  It's amazing to consider all of the subtleties of relationships, social classes, and even simple dialogue that I would've missed as a 16-year-old.  There's nothing like a second, more mature reading, it seems, to show me the ways I've grown up.  Am I even making sense?  What's your favorite classic read?  I'd love to add your suggestions to my ever-growing list!

{6} I know, I know, Christmas isn't here just yet.  But if you're a gift-giving early bird like me, do yourself a favor and check out these free printable gift tags!  Adorable.  You know, now that I think of it, I'm early when it comes picking out and buying presents, but horrible about wrapping them in time for Christmas morning.  For the past six years, I have been up far into the night, clumsily cutting and taping yards of wrapping paper (gift-wrapping has never been one of my natural talents) on Christmas Eve while drinking tea and watching movies.  Maybe accessories like these, which need to be printed ahead of time, will be the motivation I need...

{7} Please, please listen to this, Ben Harper and Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland singing Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire, and tell me if you don't get chills.  They both sing with such longing.  I die.

Have a fantastic weekend; I'd love to know what you're up to!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lectio: The Jeweler's Shop

{recommended reading}

Confession time: I have not yet finished the book, or play rather, that I'm about to recommend to you.  But I'm confident; the author became our late, great, Pope and all, so I'm sure it will be worth my time.  The Jeweler's Shop is a play written by Karol Wojtyla, who, of course, became John Paul II (skiing, drama, camping...seriously, this man's talents never end), and since it's about engagement and marriage, I think it's a perfect pick as you prepare for or bask in your own wedding day and beyond.

The play examines the relationships of three couples: two are engaged, and among them one couple is content while the other feels reservations about their future (in their minds, everything is rational and right, yet they sometimes lack feelings of love), and the third is long-married but unhappy.  All of them have ties to the town jewelry shop, where they've bought their wedding rings.

If you're looking for tons of action and a plot-driven story, this is not it.  The Jeweler's Shop is more a series of monologues that reveal the state of each relationship.  The dialogue feels a little stilted to me so far, probably because it's translated from its original Polish.  Still, the thoughts and occasional doubts of the characters do transcend cultures and years.

I have tried, and failed, multiple times, to read another one of the Pope's most famous works, Love and Responsibility.  I did, however, make it through Dr. Edward Sri's excellent breakdown of the book.  Read it if you haven't.  Seriously.  Anyway, I feel like my existing knowledge of the Pope's philosophies on love, utility, emotions, and the human person came through so clearly in The Jeweler's Shop.  These couples wonder about love at first sight, how to will the good of your beloved, and how to balance the cerebral and emotional aspects of romance.  Me being a huge English dork, I love how literature can work in exactly the way this play does--through characters and dialogue, so many truths about life are illuminated in a way that doesn't feel preachy or educational.  Even if you aren't familiar with JPII's other writings, though, there's plenty to enjoy here.  I'm excited to finish it!

What about you?  Have any of you read The Jeweler's Shop?  I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Veritas: Dominic and Elayne

{real life love}

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to meet Elayne through my blog.  She and her husband Dominic are college sweethearts with an amazing story of coming to understand trust and authentic freedom together.  Elayne tells it so well that I'll let her take it from here!

Dominic and I were in the same major in college, and had many classes together even before we became friends.  Dominic says I was the prettiest girl in Civil Engineering (there were only about 5 of us girls...).

The hem of her dress!  The newsboy cap and suspenders!  That oh so gorgeous setting!
We started to talk when we worked together on a project called 'Concrete Canoe'.  Literally, Civil Engineers from all over gathered to race canoes made of concrete across a lake.  We traveled a few hours to the competition, and it turns out we were both happy to spend those hours in the same car.  On the trip home, Dominic claimed he was tired and wanted to sleep in the back seat, so he talked his friend into sitting in the front.  There in the backseat of a college friend's car, Dominic and I talked for hours.  We talked about family, friends, where we came from, and what we wanted in life.  By the time we reached the highway exit for our college, I knew I couldn't let the conversation end.  I asked him for his phone, and typed in my phone number.  This is completely out of character for me.  I just wanted to keep talking to him!

Luckily I made the first move, because it turns out, Dominic had a girlfriend at the time! He says he would have told me if I had asked, and I guess we are both lucky that I didn't.  By the time that car ride was over, he knew for sure that the girl he was dating then was not the one for him, and he broke up with her a few weeks later.

I loved our first date - Dominic cooked us dinner, we watched The Princess Bride (one of my favorites, and Dominic had never seen it), and we climbed the biggest hill in the neighborhood to look out at the city and the stars.  From then on, we were best friends, but life has its struggles.

As we were growing closer together, Dominic and I were also growing in our faith.  Dominic grew up with wonderfully faithful parents who taught him everything they could about being Catholic.  Throughout college, Dominic was discovering how to take their lessons and make his faith his own.  I grew up with supportive parents, but Sunday Mass was not part of our routine.  I also had never learned how to express my deepest thoughts and feelings effectively.  I craved physical attention and signs of love, and this took a huge toll on the health of our relationship.  After almost 2 years of dating, Dominic wisely decided that we needed to spend time apart.  For months he supported me as my best friend, but gave me space to continue to change and grow into a more mature and loving person.  Although it took me a few months, I came to see that this 'break' allowed us to restart our relationship on solid ground.

This 'break' also coincided with our college graduation, and gave us the freedom to make our own decisions on jobs and careers.  We both ended up moving to Columbus, Ohio, and continued to attend Mass together, becoming very active in a small parish.  We decided in August of 2011 to date again, and quickly knew we wanted to marry.

Dominic proposed on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  After a dinner of my favorite foods, we went to our church to pray.  Fittingly enough, the church has a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe for veneration.  We prayed a rosary together, whispering in the back pew because a few ladies were also there praying.  As we reached the end of the Rosary, we paused to mention our specific intentions...and Dominic's intention was that I would marry him!  It was so sweet, and so perfect for us.

We decided on Sept 15th for our wedding because it is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  We loved the idea of turning to our Sorrowful Mother in times of distress.  During our wedding planning, Dominic started a new job about 90 minutes away.  Neither of us likes to talk on the phone, so that put some strain on us!  The wedding planning came easily to us, and we spent months making decorations and hand-tying Rosaries for all our guests.  I was very pleased with our effort to focus on the wedding Mass, rather than just the reception afterward.  Several people told us and our families that our wedding was the most sacramental they had been to--quite the compliment!  We ditched any tradition that didn't make sense to us (like the garter toss), and started our own (like having a morning mass and a brunch!)  Saying the Rosary with our guests before the Mass started was a highlight for much love and support flowing from those prayers.

I would like to add that, although we had no real issues with wedding Bridezilla moments or breakdowns...we were stressed!  I thought if I showed I was stressed, I would seem unsure about marriage.  But the truth is, planning a huge party takes a lot of work!  I never doubted my vocation, I just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time.

Today Dominic and I are still living 90 minutes apart as I finish my work as an engineer and move on to a new chapter in January.  The distance is so much more bearable with a definite timeline in place (12 weeks!)
We'd love the prayers of anyone reading this.  I have PCOS symptoms and don't ovulate regularly.  We've found solace in novenas to St. Gerard Majella, who has already shown us one miracle:  a visit to an OB/GYN in August led to the diagnosis of PCOS, and I was scared.  My mother-in-law suggested prayer to St. Gerard Majella, and we chose a novena.  The very first day of that novena, I started a complete first in 18 months!  God is good!

Isn't this amazing?  Miracles are real, and with her realization that stressing about your wedding isn't the same as stressing about your vocation, Elayne has to be one of the most wise, self-aware brides I've ever spoken to.  Join me in lifting up Elayne, Dominic, and God willing, their future family in prayer!  

Want to see your love story featured on Captive the Heart?  Email me at!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore Sunday, Volume 4

Head over to Fine Linen and Purple for more Sunday outfit inspiration!

And, while you're at it, Mary at With My Sisters has a twist on sharing your style--thrifting!  She's such a classy lady, and I feel like I've found a total kindred spirit in the DIYs, cultural goodies like wine and literature, and adorable secondhand duds Mary shares on her blog.  Get creative, and submit your best all-thrifted outfit to her linkup here.

Hers: Shirt, Gap (from the Boys' department!).  Skirt, Old Navy.  Cardigan, Gap.  Necklace and Belt, Forever 21.  Loafers, Shoemint.  Nails, Essie Sole Mate.  His: Jeans and Sweater, Old Navy.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend; I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Love Notes: Captive the Heart's Christmas Gift Guide!

{small ways to show great love}

You'll have to forgive me:  I know it's only the day after Thanksgiving, but for me, so much of the fun is just brainstorming and then picking out the perfect presents for everyone on your Christmas list!  I'm happy to say that for the first time in at least four years, I am already almost finished with my shopping!

Maybe it's only me who starts making long lists of ideas and craft projects way back in September, but as of right now, I think it's perfectly reasonable, and maybe even necessary, to get started on your Christmas shopping for real.

So, I want to share with you some of the best gift ideas I've stumbled across for your boyfriend, fiance, or husband.  Some are practical, some are fun, some are religious, some aren't, some are amazing steals, and a few are very worthy splurges.

1) IPad case, Kenton Sorenson.  2), 4), & 5) Hardcover Classics, Penguin. 3) The Dangerous Book For BoysAmazon.  6) Cufflinks, Etsy.  7) Benedictine Cross, Catholic To the Max.  8) El Greco's Stigmata of St. Francis, Zazzle.  9) T-Shirt, Abort73.  10) Whiskey Stones, ThinkGeek.  11) Bracelet, Kiel James Patrick.  12) Slippers, L.L. Bean.  13) 14) & 15) Bow Ties, Etsy.
Tell me; I promise to keep a secret: do you have any perfect gift ideas up your sleeve right now?

P.S.  Visit this linkup, hosted by Moxie Wife, for more man-gift inspiration!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Economy of Salvation: Winter Bouquet Alternatives

{simple ways to save your pennies on the most expensive day of your life}

Maybe you want to preserve it.  Maybe you want to give it to your grandma.  Maybe you want to toss it while the Single Ladies song plays.  Regardless, your bouquet is pretty much a bridal essential, wouldn't you say?

The great thing about flowers is that there's almost always something in season, which can be a major money-saver over ordering special blooms from far away, where your particular flowers happen to be growing.  But admittedly, the more local pickings can be slimmer in cold weather.

To take your savings a step further without sacrificing looks, I'd submit that this time of year is perfect for carrying a fresh, festive alternative to flowers--greenery, branches, and metallic touches fit so well with the holiday season, and what's more, they can be much more permanent than flowers, giving you a wonderful wedding-day keepsake!  Get inspired by these lovelies:

I'd love to hear about your bouquet!  What do you think?  Would you choose one of these wintry alternatives to flowers?

P.S. I have a guest post today on Arleen Spencely's blog, about why we've chosen not to use contraception.  You can read it here, and be sure to check out the rest of her writing on love, sex, and relationships!  I'm obssessed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Start Here...

I have a new post on Ignitum Today, well, today!  Follow after the jump to read my entire column!

I can still feel the floor under my little carpet square.  Seven years ago, I went on my first Steubenville-style retreat, Mount 2000.  There, I experienced the lack of sleep, shortage of showers, and crowdedness of floor space otherwise known as the youth conference for the first time.  The featured speaker, Matt Smith, a Catholic who'd been on MTV's The Real World, came to discuss being in-but-not-of the world and the various worldly situations he faced while on the show.  To my surprise, he spoke at length about how much he welcomed these situations as opportunities to witness to faith and virtue.  In fact, he said, he soon began praying to feel uncomfortable, the better to form himself more into who he was meant to be.  How ridiculous, thought my exhausted, unshowered self, who had been semi-permanently contorted, Indian style, all day.  Click here for the full article!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 8

{story of a soul, condensed}

{1} I mentioned on Sunday that after last weekend's wedding, all of my close friends are married now!  It's crazy to me how during college, my girlfriends and I used to spend hours wondering about our future husbands and what our lives would be like, and now it's all become such a reality.  Suffice it to say, real life so far has been more blessedly wonderful than any of us never even knew.  In Sunday's post, I asked you for a few reunion traditions my friends and I can start, and I'll ask again here: how do you celebrate with your friends when you're living far apart and when you're in between major life events?

{2} On impulse, I bought a few turnips and rutabagas this week because they were on sale.  I love the whole root vegetable family, but I struggle sometimes to get more creative than just roasting them in the oven.  I did find this roasted veggie minestrone and this scalloped rutabaga...any other recipe ideas?

{3} I am so, so proud of my husband!  In the past two weeks, Andrew has been accepted to present papers at two conferences, which I'm just discovering is a big deal in the literary world!  One is in Washington, D.C., which is close to home for both of us, and the other is in Albuquerque, New Mexico!  Sadly, I'm sure it can't always be like this, but this time, at least, I'm going along to Albuquerque and we're going to make a little vacation out of it!  The fact that the conference falls during Valentine's Day makes it even better, in my opinion.  New Mexico, with all of its Spanish and Native American culture and pretty landscape, is somewhere I've always dreamsed of visiting, so I'm so excited!  Now, tell me:  what things should I put on my must-do list?  Are any of you from the area?  Have you visited?  I'd love to hear your recommendations!

{4} On the subject of Andrew's academic life, we'd so appreciate your prayers when it comes to the next step for us.  He's been feeling such a pull lately towards an amazing Ph.D. program that would put us halfway across the country, which is no small change.  We've been trying to discern how that would mesh with having a family soon and with living so far away from our family and friends for the next six or seven years.  Thank you so, so much!

{5} I've just stumbled across the sweetest set of love stories.  My Better Half is a series by Amanda Jane Jones that features portraits of cute couples, along with hand-drawn images and quirky facts about each of them ("Loves the city, craves the earth," "Spent a year of his young life demanding to wear a cape").  Aren't they adorable?

{6} This letter, written by a 16-year-old young man to his future wife, brought me to tears.  At my desk.  At work.  I'm floored by his loving affirmation, his wisdom, and unfailing hope, and I'm certain he's not the only one.  There really are so many good men out there, even at a young age, prepared to give everything for their brides.  Read it and be amazed.  The letter is a contest winner among several other Theology of the Body-themed essays--when you're done, I highly recommend reading the rest of the winners'!

{7} I've written about my Mat Kearney obssession before.  Lately, I can't stop listening to this song, Hawthorne.  I love how fragile his voice sounds in this acoustic rendering, as well as the lyrics.  "The Jesus of prostitutes," he sings, "is chasing my soul."  It might sound provocative, but I think it points to Jesus' loving, healing mercy so clearly.  How deeply, completely loved we are.

Enjoy your weekend, and be sure to visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Spirit Rejoices: Sanctuary and It's Time

{sweet songs for your Mass and reception}

There's an image of Our Lady that I absolutely love, and just never tire of (you can see it here!).  It's called Our Lady of the Millenium and depicts a young Mary kneeling on the ground.  In my mind, the Annunciation has just taken place.  Her head is humbly bowed, and though I consider sometimes that she must have felt such uncertainty about (hello) having just been asked to bear the Son of God, and such concern for Joseph, her betrothed, her face radiates peace.  Mary's belly is glowing.  She is a tabernacle, a still, silent dwelling for the Lord, espoused completely to the Holy Spirit.

Lord prepare me to be a's this image of our mother that comes to mind when I hear the song Sanctuary.  It speaks so wonderfully about the desire to let the Lord dwell within us, to decrease so that He might increase and that we might bear his face to the world.  The thought of a bride, "pure and holy, tried and true" becoming a holy vessel for earthly and divine love in marriage is beautiful to contemplate, don't you think?  You can listen to the song here.

There is nothing like a song with hand claps.  Nothing.  It's impossible to hear it and not feel happier, right?  I heard It's Time by Imagine Dragons on Pandora recently, and have been listening to it nonstop.  With an overwhelming sense of possibility, and lines like

The path to Heaven runs through miles of clouded Hell 
right to the top
Don’t look back,

I think this song would make for a perfect dance floor sing-along; a little slice of hopeful adventure that sheds light on the darkness.  You can listen to it here!

What do you think?  I'd love to hear your own favorite images or titles of the Blessed Mother.  And, tell me: what song do you think would get all your guests singing?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Post from Mandi: Catholic Wedding Planning 101

Have you visited my Contributions page yet?  I love meeting other young Catholic women through the blogosphere, and I was thrilled when Mandi from Catholic Newlywed asked to write a post about planning a beautiful, holy Nuptial Mass.  She made the point that it can be tricky to clearly, sensitively explain to non-Catholic guests why certain aspects of the Mass are the way they are, and today I think she's done a phenomenal job of doing just that!  Keep reading for her wise, wise words, and be sure to head over to Mandi's blog for her reflections on young married life and on being a mama to sweet Lucia!

"You mean you can't have a Coldplay song in your wedding?"
"What do you mean you can't get married on the beach?"
"Are you going to write your own vows?"

These are just a few of the difficult questions I had to answer while planning my Catholic wedding.  The answers were easy: "No, I can't," answers all three.  But explaining why the Catholic Church (usually) doesn't allow such things was quite a bit more complicated.

 I attended only one Catholic wedding before my own, only a few weeks before getting engaged.  I'm so glad that I did, because seeing the Nuptial Mass firsthand not only helped me to see the structure of the ceremony firsthand, but also the beauty of a wedding done within a Catholic Mass.  At the same time I learned that my wedding wouldn't look like those I saw in a million  movies or have the personal little touches that I saw in bridal magazines, I also realized that it would be much more God-centered.  Although I was initially a bit sad to give up some of the little details of the wedding that I had dreamed of, I quickly understood that this was a better way.  My wedding wouldn't be a day all about me and my beloved, and I was fine with that, because my wedding would be part of something greater than the two of us, something that would endure long after we were gone; it was part of Christ and His Church.

Personally understanding the significance of our Nuptial Mass is one thing; explaining to someone else is another.  The hardest (and perhaps most common) question I had to answer was, "Do you really want a Mass?  But it's so long, and most of your guests aren't even Catholic."  I'm not quite sure why so  many people cared about the details of my wedding.  They were quite often appalled that I couldn't plan each detail of my wedding to make it "the wedding I wanted."  Sigh.  The wedding I wanted was a Catholic wedding, and as long as I was able to marry my beloved, I didn't care about the minute details.  In fact, anyone who knows my husband and I know that we are devout Catholics, so I don't understand why friends and family didn't understand that we wanted our wedding to be part of a Mass; that we wanted to choose religious music that glorified God; that we wouldn't have had it any other way!

If you are in the process of planning a Catholic wedding, you will probably be asked some of these same questions.  Here's a few tips for planning a wedding that is wholly faithful and crazily countercultural:
  1. Think of the priorities you want to set for your marriage and model your wedding off of them.  If you want to have a holy marriage with Christ at the center, having a holy wedding with Christ at the center is a good start.  A great photographer, gorgeous flowers, and a killer wedding dress are all enhancements to a wedding, not necessities, and should be treated as such.
  2. Be kind, but don't be afraid to state your wishes.  I hope your friends and family members are totally on board for a traditional Nuptial Mass (assuming that is your wish, as well), but if they are not, be understanding.  In a society where people often go tens of thousands of dollars into debt for a wedding and see it as a personal fashion statement, it's difficult to understand that a couple would want to have their wedding as part of a Mass in which the focus of the ceremony is on Christ, not the couple.  Take the time to explain why you want a Catholic wedding and the reasons for the "rules" (Coldplay doesn't belong in a Mass, etc.).  If the questioner persists, don't be afraid to tell him or her that you are planning your wedding the way you want and that is that!
  3. Personalize your reception.  Just because you want your wedding within a Mass doesn't mean you don't want the day to be about you and your beloved--of course you do!  Instead of personalizing the ceremony, focus on the reception as your opportunity to make your wedding reflect the unique love between the two of you.  Decorate the reception however you want, pick that perfect first dance song...the opportunities for personalization are endless!
  4. Remember that your wedding is a part of something greater.  I loved that my wedding wasn't all about my husband and me.  Instead, our wedding, our marriage, became part of something greater than the two of us.  It was about Christ and His Church, it was about serving each other and a greater good--our God, our families, our communities.  And that is a good thing.  That is more enduring than any marriage has ever been or ever will be.  Having a wedding as part of a Mass added the weight of 2,000 years of tradition behind our marriage, and no Coldplay song could ever rival that!

Mandi is a Catholic wife and mother in her mid-twenties.  She married David in a Nuptial Mass in July 2010, and they welcomed their first child, Lucia, in December 2011.  You can read about her musings on marriage and motherhood at Catholic Newlywed.

"Crazily countercultural..."  I love it! Have any of you encountered these apologetics-type issues when it comes to planning your wedding Mass and explaining certain traditions of the Church?  We'd love to hear about your experiences and how you dealt!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Wore Sunday, Volume 3: The Wedding Edition

I spent this weekend at my alma mater, a placed filled with grace that I treasure so deeply, for my friends Jonathan and Siobhan's wedding.  They are the last of my close friends to get married, which means that my life will be lacking in weddings for at least a while.  I've loved celebrating with each of them at their nuptials, as well as my own, and now I'm so excited for all that lies ahead!

Everyone's a little spread out now, so do you have any ideas for reunion traditions we can start?  When we aren't all seeing each other every few months for another sacrament and night on the dance floor, I know we'll have to get creative with our get togethers!

Anyway, I'm cheating a little on my outfit post today.  It's what I wore on Saturday, not Sunday.  This is my beautiful best friend Beth and I, in our wedding-day best.  Her own wedding was just three weeks ago!  Doesn't she look so Audrey Hepburn classy?  Technically, though this was Saturday, these are still the outfits we wore to Mass, so that counts, I should think.  Besides, in the interest of packing lightly, I did still wear this dress today (I swapped the sparkly shoes for boots--much more practical for traveling).  It's actually the same dress I wore last Sunday...little black dresses aren't the best for nothing, right?

Beth: Dress, Dorothy Perkins.  Trench and belt, J. Crew Factory.  Stephanie: Dress, Old Navy.  Shoes:  Adrienne Vittadini, from TJ Maxx.
I'd love to hear about your weekends!  When you're done here, head over to Fine Linen and Purple for more Sunday fashion inspiration from other bloggers!

Friday, November 9, 2012

D I Y: Printable Calling Cards

Unfortunate but true: it's almost impossible to talk to every single one of your wedding guests during your reception.  Hopefully, you'll still be able to clearly, graciously express your thanks to everyone and to chat with them soon after.  Snail mail can be a great way to do it!

Aside from thank you notes, belated gifts, and future correspondence, I bet one or both of you will be moving after your wedding day.  So, how are you going to announce your new address?  Calling cards are a chic, classy way to spread the word.  Just print your names and new address on nice cardstock, and slip them in with your favors or wedding programs for an easy, accessible way for everyone to stay in touch after the big day.  I made a few designs for you here!  All that's left is for you to write or type in your new information.

To download these calling cards, save the images to your computer, then paste them into a desktop publishing program like Microsoft Publisher that lets you easily move and resize images.  Add in a text box with your names and new address, if you don't want to hand write them.  Copy the image multiple times on a page, then print it off on cardstock and cut each one apart.

Tell me what you think!  Do you have a creative idea in mind for sharing your new contact info?  Have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. I'm going to my last college-friends wedding tomorrow!  Please lift up my friends Jonathan and Siobhan in prayer, as well as all other couples entering into marriage this weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Inspired: Wedding Monograms

{wedding candy}

I am a terribly lazy newlywed.  A year and a half after my wedding, I have lost my new Social Security Card and still have a Driver's License (out of state, too), debit card (though we got a joint account), and email address with my maiden name.  Moving to another state, to live where Andrew was going to grad school, was a big factor in my tortoise-like speed to change my name; a new license would involve a new vehicle registration and insurance, and our bank isn't local to our new area.

My currently dual identity notwithstanding, I remember being engaged and feeling such anticipation for taking Andrew's name.  Sharing it, I thought, would make us feel united as man and wife in a very real way, of course, but also very much like our own family, which was so exciting to me.

So, what better way to celebrate your new last name than with a monogram?  Unless your fiance's name starts with the same letter as your maiden name does, you'll be getting a whole new set of initials soon.  I love the personal touch a monogram can add to practically anything, from your reception decorations to items for your nest to accessories you'll wear forever.  Here are a few monogrammed items I adore, for you, your guests, and, so he's not left out, your hubby to be:

1. & 2. Minted  3. Etsy  4. L.L. Bean  5. K. Slademade  6. Swell Caroline  7. J.McLaughlin  8. Pinterest (source)  9. Catbird  10. DKM

Tell me which one you like best!

By the way, do any of you do this thing I do, which is to start saying your friend's name with her boyfriend's last name as soon as she tells you he's the one?!  By the time their wedding rolls around, you don't even have to think about it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mod (est) ify: A More Modest Wedding Dress, the Fall & Winter Edition

Remember when I wrote about strapless dresses a few months ago?  I loved reading all of your opinions and would be so happy to continue that discussion!  Regardless of your take on strapless, it's cold.  So what are you going to wear to stay covered and cozy during the upcoming seasons?

I think Fall and Winter are perfect for topping your gown with something both warm and chic, to wear as you're in transit and even for a few photos. When you think about it, you actually have more options than the warmer months for covering your shoulders if it's important to you; plus, you won't have to smile for tons of pictures as your teeth chatter!  A simple wrap, a cropped cardigan, or even luxe fur...there are plenty of choices out there.  You can match your dress with something white, but remember that white also goes with everything--I think a pop of color would be adorable!  My friend Beth found the prettiest blush-colored sweater to wear over her dress while she went from Mass to reception.

1,  2 , and 6  J. Crew  Factory.  3, 4, and 5 H&M.  7. J. Crew  8. American Eagle  9. American Apparel  10.

Which one's your favorite?  Have you picked out anything warm to wear with your dress yet?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I Wore Sunday, Volume 2: The His & Hers Edition

The ladies over at Fine Linen and Purple are hosting another weekly linkup of Mass outfit inspiration!  Head to their site to see more!
Hers: Coat and Shift Dress, Old Navy.  Necklace, Etsy.  Ballet Flats, Shoemint.  His: Sweater, H&M.  Jeans, Old Navy.  Coat, Gap.  Shoes, Target.

Andrew got in on the action this week.  His office building is right down the street from our church, so I tried to convince him it would be a good idea to take pictures inside, where it was warm and where there's this awesome marble staircase.  It was not to be.  First, his student ID wouldn't open the door (he stopped being a student back in May), so we were standing there talking when the door flew open and one of his coworkers walked out!  We were taken by surprise, to say the least.  Our angst continued once we were inside (we weren't going to let someone open the door and not take advantage of it, after all)--every distant footstep caused my husband to jump with nervousness, and to jump up and down, begging me to leave.  Lesson learned: do not attempt to use your husband's workplace, whereupon he may run into a colleague who could spy him male modeling, as a site for your photo shoots.

We did manage one good picture inside.  The one of our feet was taken at the bottom of the staircase!  We decided just to take our photos outside our house instead, which sounds normal, except that one of the stray cats who frequently roam our street (we have a cat-lady neighbor), we discovered, was quite camera hungry.  You can see him below, in what I like to call the "Outtakes" section.  Diva.

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 7

{story of a soul, condensed}

Seven pieces of my life, as of the last two weeks.  Visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more quick takes from her and other Catholic bloggers!

{1} We've had a lot of social engagements and big events in our friends' lives lately (weddings and new babies top the list!), and have been spending more money as a result.  I'm always happy to treat my friends and celebrate with them, of course, but I'm also just as happy trimming our expenses when I can.  So, Andrew and I have decided on a new project for the next few months: instead of going out to eat, which we try to do minimally anyway, we'll instead make our own version of what we're craving at home.  I'm really excited since we try to only go out for more exotic food like Thai, Middle Eastern, or Japanese (I figure, why spend money on something basic like spaghetti or burgers if I can make them myself?).  I just made this Indian lentil curry with coconut rice, roasted cauliflower, and this sauteed cabbage.  We already had most of the ingredients on hand, and it was as delish as going out!

St. Francis In the Desert by Bellini
{2} Are any of you as obssessed with museums as I am?  I grew up going to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. with my family every year after Christmas, and even though I live much further from the National Mall now, I still try to visit other nearby exhibits when I can.  Our bank even offers free admission to a whole slew of museums across the country on the first weekend of the month!  As much as I'd like to visit them all in person, that's a tall order, so imagine how thrilled I was to find out about the Google Art Project!  This awesome online gallery lets you virtually tour exhibits from museums in Spain, Italy, the Acropolis, New York, and practically everywhere else in the world!  It's love!

{3} If you've been reading this blog for a while, or maybe even if you haven't, you can probably tell that authentic love, chastity, and the dignity of the human person are a few of my favorite things to talk about.  I recently found a kindred spirit in Arleen Spencely, and I now I have a humongous crush.  This woman is bold, articulate, and so full of wisdom when it comes to relationships.  Visit her blog, read her opinion pieces from the Tampa Bay times, and her column on Ignitum Today and I think you'll see what I'm talking about.

{4} On the subject of Ignitum, a sort of news-blog hybrid aimed at "the JPII and B16 generation,"  I am a new columnist!  If you missed my first post, on health and hippiedom, you can read it here.

{5} My sweet husband's birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and I am at a loss, for the most part, over what to give him!  Andrew is a man of extreme thrift and, occasionally, extreme stubborness.  Most of the time, his willingness to spend a little less and his strength of conviction are two of my favorite things about him, but when it comes to gift-giving, these traits make it almost impossible!  He never wants to replace worn-out things until they're completely unusable, and insists that he doesn't need much (he's taken the same line of reasoning with our car transmission...I'm trying to talk him out of it!).  But, more personal, sentimental things like letters do mean a lot to him.  I'm trying to think of a present along those lines, and wanted to ask you: what's the best, most meaningful gift you've given or gotten your boyfriend, fiance, or husband?  I can't wait to hear your ideas!

1.  2.  3.  4.  5.
{6} Aside from Andrew's birth, of course, Jesus' birth is also coming up!  I start making Christmas lists for everyone long before November, but now that we're only about a month away from Advent, I've been dreaming about Christmas cards!  We didn't send them last year for our first Christmas, but there's something about being married and feeling more grown up in certain ways that really makes me want to do it this year!  I found all of these adorable designs on Etsy this week.

via Instagram
{7} And lastly, just a little piece of beauty to start your weekend.  Remember how my friend Beth got married two Saturdays ago?  I'd never been a bridesmaid before, meaning I'd never been to a wedding rehearsal besides my own, but this time around, we got to spend plenty of time with our other best friend, Teresa, strolling and reminiscing on our college campus, where her wedding Mass was held, before rehearsing.  This statue of our lady is right outside one of the chapels, and she and her son have been crowned with gold since I last saw them!  I love returning to the place where all my close friendships began and where I met Andrew, and this time was extra special.  I carry it in my heart.

Have a wonderful weekend!  I'd love to hear what you're up to.  Visit again on Sunday for another What I Wore linkup with Fine Linen and Purple, and look for a new little something on Monday!


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