Friday, June 28, 2013

DIY: Fringed & Fabulous

Maybe I still have glamorous-party-fever from Wednesday's post...in my Pinterest wanderings lately, I can't get enough of festive, just-whimsical-enough fringed creations.  From garlands to photo backdrops to favors, I feel like there's practically no reception detail that wouldn't get a playful upgrade from a little fluttery paper.  Go sweet with pastels, or sophisticated with metallics.

There are plenty of fringe and confetti vendors who specialize in celebrations (I wrote about one of them here), but I think one of the best things about taking your decorations in this directions is how affordable it could be to do it yourself!  Just tissue paper, twine, and some patience (or a bridesmaids bonding sesh), no?

Here's a roundup of simple projects.  Links are in the captions:

1. Garland  2. Balloons  3. Lanterns  4. Favor Bags  5. Cake and Drink Toppers  6. Backdrop
Tell me what you think!  Are you as in love with this easy, pretty look as I am?  Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Inspired: Gatsby Style

{delights}

I have to admit, my attention tends to alternately wander from or get overloaded by Baz Luhrmann, the director of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and most recently, The Great Gatsby.  The novel is one of my absolute favorites, and in spite of mixed reactions to these very stylized, jumpy movies, I do think I'd like to see it down the line sometime.

Regardless of my cinematic opinions, there's no denying the classic glamour of the 20s, no?  Dropped waists, ankle straps, a healthy sprinkling of gold, and slightly more dramatic makeup than usual...I love it all.  If you're concerned about your wedding looking like a costume party, don't be! I humbly suggest including just a few of these elements, rather than going all out, and grounding them with a simple palette of black and white, plus a pop of color, like eggplant, burgundy, peach, or mint.

True, the world of the novel is flawed, shallow, and excessive, but I don't think that detracts one bit from the beauty of pieces like these (links below):

1, 2, & 7.  Dresses, Modcloth.  3, 4, & 5.  Bangles and Earrings, Bauble Bar.  6.  Sandals, Zappo's.  8 & 9.  Cocktail glassware, C. Wonder.  10, 11, & 12.  Polish in Lucy, Paris, and Claudette, Julep.  13.  Headpiece, Etsy.
What do you think?  Would you add some Gatsby-inspired soiree style to your day?  And should I go see the flick?


P.S.  Today is moving day!  Prayers, please!

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Relocating For Love


As of today, I have about 60 more hours in Andrew's and my little abode, our first shared home, and in our adopted state of the past few years.  We're headed East on Wednesday as Andrew gets ready to start his PhD in English in the Fall, and with all the transition going on, combined with it being about a month until our second anniversary, I've spent a good amount of time lately remembering what it was like when I first moved here after our wedding.

I'd just finished a year of service and didn't have a new job lined up yet, so after our honeymoon, it felt like such an adventure moving out to the little college town where my husband was getting his Master's degree.  And at first, it really was.  After the craziness of planning our wedding, I loved having plenty of time free to get used to a new area and furbish our new apartment (you can read about some furbishing bumps in the road here; I take full blame for them).

The thing I discovered, though, is that there's only so many times you can arrange your books by color and wipe down your countertops.  I felt guilty: here I was, so happy to be married to the heart of my heart, but the adjustment of coming somewhere completely new, with barely any connections or work prospects, and a lot of days spent alone, very often felt burdensome.  I didn't want Andrew to feel bad that I'd followed him, willingly of course, to a place where I felt alienated, and I worried that I'd one day be a terrible stay-at-home mother, feeling stuck instead of happy to be with my future children.

Thanks be to God, we have made wonderful friends here whom it'll be very hard to say goodbye to, and after a few false starts on the job front, I was blessed to be offered a position that was a huge financial and professional gift to us.  But, I can still remember so clearly the anxiety and restlessness I felt in the beginning.  I'm sure I'm not the only one to have experienced this kind of just-married transition, so it's very humbly that I offer you my advice on relocating after marriage (and believe me, it's advice gained much more in hindsight than in the middle of the actual experience--I wish I could've given these pieces of wisdom to myself!).

Set a routine for yourself.  Sleeping until 10:00 was nice, for maybe three weeks.  Then I found myself frustrated by mindlessly whiling away my days.  It took a good amount of willpower (and failed attempts), but I tried hard to wake up relatively early to my alarm and to treat exercise, job applications, reading, meal planning, and prayer as a schedule, not as options.  I asked Andrew to keep me accountable, and I also set a limit for myself on internet time.  Be gentle with yourself when you fall short, too.

Prioritize your spiritual life.  We're blessed with daily confession and Mass opportunities here, and getting my butt to the chapel ensured that I at least ventured out of the apartment most days.  Mass was at the end of Andrew's workday, so it was nice to meet him on campus and then walk home together after.  What's more, it's no secret that idle time can be vulnerable time when it comes to spiritual warfare.  I noticed pretty quickly that in stretches where I neglected my prayer life, skipped out on the sacraments, or just didn't spend my time well, I had a much harder time trusting in God, sensing my worth, and sustaining hope that our financial situation (as in Andrew's grad student salary and my unemployment) would work out according to the Father's will.

Go out.  Seriously.  We were trying to save money, and I have pretty strong introvert tendencies, so at first it was way too easy for me to spend a lot of time on my own.  Sometimes I didn't mind, but other times I wanted to pull my hair out.  Luckily, as the months went by and we made friends at church and in Andrew's program, socializing became way easier.  It was just a matter, I discovered, of actually hanging out with people even during times when I mistakenly thought they were all busier than me.  We've been so blessed to become friends for life with another young couple we've met at church, and have done tons of volunteer work with the youth group and NFP classes, and have spent so many wonderful hours cooking and sitting around the table talking.  On another level, literally going out of the house most days helped my sanity in so many ways.  Walks, working on my blog at a bookstore instead of at home, and visiting Andrew and a few of his friends in their offices made me feel much more purposeful.

But, enjoy this time.  Looking back, though I definitely could have been better with time in some instances, I really do treasure those early days of transition in our marriage.  Andrew and I had the privilege of plenty of time together, the thrill of discovering our town together (he'd been living here for a year before I did, but pretty much just went to classes and the grocery store, in the interest of studying and saving money), and the test of virtue that came with trusting in His faithfulness and starting out without a lot of income.  I know that's always the sort of thing people say, and I'm very aware of the fact that we were spoiled in our situation, compared to some, yet I truly can say that I'm grateful things weren't perfectly set up and easy to come by right off the bat.  I feel like it's made our marriage such a shared life, since we've gotten on our adult feet together, rather than having had time to do that on our own and then just combine our lives.  Everyone's story is different, but in our case of marrying young and in school, I'm so incredibly grateful.

What about you?  Are any of you in a similar situation of preparing to move somewhere new after your wedding?  And for you already married ladies, what would you add to this list?









Friday, June 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 23

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

{1} Google keeps warning me about the imminent end of Google Reader...I prefer to use the Blogger reader and email subscriptions for keeping up with the blogs I read, but I know there are plenty of googlers out there.  That being said, do any of you know if Google Friend Connect (the "join this site" option in the left column" is here to stay?  Do any of you ever type a word like Google so many times that it doesn't even look like a real word anymore?  In any case, if you're in search of a new means to follow Captive the Heart, you can do it here on Bloglovin'.  But only if you want to.  Seriously.  Every comment and every visit mean so much to me--thank you!

{2} Speaking of following, Captive the Heart's Facebook page got a little makeover this week.  It's got plenty of videos, reflections, and quotes you won't find on the blog--you can Like the page here.  And thus end the shameless plugs.

{3}  Today is my last day of work.  My coworkers have been so good to me this week; we went out for a long lunch yesterday and they surprised me with an incredibly generous gift.  And, a work friend of mine who had twin boys last Fall basically supplied me with what amounts to our baby's entire first-year-of-life wardrobe!  So grateful.  Saying goodbye to all the parts of our life here as we prepare to move has definitely been bittersweet, and somehow, though things are ending quickly (my job, our lease...), hey don't feel quite real or particularly urgent yet.  Does that even make sense?!  Have you felt that way with transitions before?

{4} As I venture into temporary unemployment, please say a prayer for a wonderful job possibility that came my way just yesterday morning!  It involves a few more steps before things are finalized or completely discerned, but I'll share more soon, God willing it works out!  For now, I'm trying to just look forward to a little break from things as we settle into our new apartment next week, and am praying to use the time well and enjoy Andrew's summer break with him.

{5}  Real men never take themselvestoo seriously because they acknowledge their weaknesses and know their limitations. Marriage humbles men as their wives remind husbands of their faults all too often.

and

In awe and wonder man contemplates the miracle of woman's beauty and desires her love with a longing that pierces the soul. 

Both of these truths, one sort of funny and one profound, all in one essay.  I stumbled across this article, "The Privilege of Being a Man," this week (Alice von Hildebrand, anyone?  I wrote about one of her books here), and while I found the second part, about marriage and fatherhood, much more engaging, I think it's definitely worth a read.


{6} Slices of life lately...a sweet little bouquet I spied at the park (gathered by an unseen stranger), berry picking at a wonderful little farm my sister discovered, and my sister's talent on display: she baked me a chocolate sour cream belated birthday cake with cookie butter frosting!

{7} Beauty.

Enjoy your weekend!  Mine will be spent packing, hiking, and hosting.  I'd love to know what you're up to, too!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lectio: Holy Sex

{recommended reading}

photo source
One of the most convenient things about being engaged, I pretty quickly found out, was having a few other friends who were engaged whom I could bounce around ideas and share my discoveries with.  I'll be forever thankful to my friend Kristin for introducing me to Dr. Gregory Popcak, a Catholic sex and marriage therapist whose books specialize in building an intimate, lasting marriage.  His book Holy Sex, she told me, was a great resource for not just learning the theology of marriage and the basic moral guidelines surrounding Natural Family Planning, but a way to actually apply them in real life.

Kristin was right.  Reading this book was like having someone explain to me, in an honest, unafraid way, what all of the beautiful teachings on marriage that I loved so much and had read so much about really looked like in the day to day.  Popcak spends the first part of this book breaking down what Holy Sex is, in his view, and in light of the Theology of the Body, and how it opens up a couple to receive as many graces from their sacrament as possible.  He also makes the super interesting point that sex isn't a single, separate part of a husband and wife's relationship, but a microcosm of their relationship as a whole.  For instance, if they have difficulty communicating in the bedroom, he points out, it's likely that the problem isn't the couple's sexual relationship, but a deeper communication issue within their marriage.

The second part of this book gets real about living out NFP and expressing sexual love in the fullest, purest way, in a voice that's sensitive without sparing technical details.  I've heard criticisms of Popcak here and there, saying that he's too frank and not reverent enough, but I'd actually argue that this kind of honest talk, by someone faithful and well-formed, is just what the doctor ordered.  We're all aware of how saturated the culture is in sexuality, and in my opinion, the frankness of the culture should be met in an appropriate, corresponding way, not a way that tiptoes.  The Church has such beauty and richness in its teaching on sexuality, one that certainly isn't prudish and doesn't tiptoe, and I think wisdom like Popcak's is a needed response to what the world has to offer.  Additionally, it's not uncommon for engaged Catholic couples to be unfamiliar with some of these more delicate matters, and the way I figure, if there's a more noble and more holistic view, like this one, that offers insight into these things, then it's one less thing these couples need to turn to things like Cosmo for.

I have to admit, there were times where I rolled my eyes at this book, thinking that Popcak's corny jokes and acronyms are like listening to your out of touch uncle, but on the whole, I can't recommend it enough.  One of its biggest strengths, aside from its honesty and the reverence with which the Church's teaching is presented, I think, is the fact that it can bring peace to scrupulous hearts (I wrote more about scrupulosity in sexual matters here) through Q+A chapters and discussions of specific acts, allowing newlyweds to enter into marriage with complete joy and peace, not with fear.  St. Augustine said, "peace is a tranquility that comes from right order."  Amen.

Have any of you read this?  Tell me your take!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Re-post- Veritas: My Love Story

{real life love}

It very well may be that in addition to the grace of God, I owe my marriage to many, many cups of coffee.  How in the world?  I don't even drink coffee much anymore.

Three years ago, however, this was so not the case.  I was a junior in college and in the middle of my first serious relationship, which, though prayerful, was intensely physical and often left my heart much more confused than aflutter.  I knew I was being used far more than I was being loved and I felt a constant sense of anxiety, but I was afraid to even consider the possibility that this might not be it.  Amidst this confusion and among discussions of 19th century British writers and the philosophy of literature, I met my husband Andrew.  In the two classes we shared together one semester, to which I usually brought enormous cups of coffee with hazelnut creamer, I admired Andrew's wit, ideas, and originality daily.  Though I wouldn't have admitted it until recently, I remember thinking several times that I knew we'd end up together.  He later told me that during those same hours, he'd hope his future wife was someone like me.

Andrew graduated at the end of that semester.  Over the summer, we stayed in touch and watched our casual acquaintance deepen into an affectionate, virtuous friendship.  I saw his character for what it was: honorable, truthful in every sense of the word, and fixed on the Lord.  That summer, I encountered John Paul II's definitions of authentic, sacrificial love in Love and Responsibility for the first time, while my relationship with my boyfriend remained static and misguided.  I'm not proud to say that my weaknesses contributed to the state of things between us.  I know now that slowly, patiently, the Lord was pulling back the veils I'd put up, the ones I'd been afraid to look behind and see that my relationship lacked any solid foundation.  He was readying me for authentic love that would bring peace to my soul and draw me, weaknesses and all, out of hiding and fear and back into His light.
 

There's a poem my husband loves.  It's T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."  This poem has a line in which the speaker, a lonely man, describes how he has "measured out [his] life with coffee spoons."  As Andrew worked and prepared for grad school, we had coffee together a few times.  One time, he showed the poem to me and we talked about it.  Now.  There's something you should know.  Andrew is a born poet, a lover of beauty and sadness, and words flow from his mind like water.  I am not.  Somehow, though, this sweet boy inspired me.  My first finished poem began,



Surely you're familiar with that poem,
the one about measuring your life in coffee spoons.
Is this how I've come to measure my own?
A measure not of monotony,
but of talk that breathes,
never still
and constantly inconstant...



This is how it ends:
Surely you're familiar with that feeling.

By then, I'd finally realized I couldn't be dishonest with myself anymore.  I needed to face the falsehoods in my relationship and be fair to my boyfriend now that I knew I'd fallen, however gradually, for someone else.  It wasn't simple from there on out.  My breakup was, like most, messy, emotional, and not extremely charitable.  When Andrew told me how he felt about me (over coffee), we agreed to wait for a period before beginning a relationship.  The next few weeks taught me patience and discernment in a new way, although even now, months later, I know I remain a spiritual newborn.  I felt a peace about Andrew that I'd never experienced with any other boy.  

I asked Saint Therese for a rose, unexpectedly spotted a real one on the ground a few days later, and by the time Andrew took me out to dinner, I think we both knew we'd never go on another first date.  He proposed after a rosary walk on our college campus less than a year later, and after almost two years of marriage, I still marvel every day at the miracle we've been given in each other.  I have my very own love of my life, a man who calls me dozens of ridiculous nicknames, always does the dishes, and writes me letters that say things like "All these words are an inadequate attempt to express to you how entirely I am yours, how deeply I am attached to you, how much I appreciate you, and how greatly I thank God for your beautiful, radiant, brilliant self."  He calls me on, cracks me up, and is my heart's greatest fulfillment on this earth.

Every day I think I couldn't possibly love him more.  Every day I'm proven wrong.

Want to share your love story on Captive the Heart?  Email me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Weekend + Links Lately Loved


Is it just me, or have things taken a turn for the all about me lately?  Don't get me wrong; it brings me so much joy to share my life, and especially news about our sweet baby, with you, but let's turn back to weddings, at least for today, shall we?  Here, a few planning and spiritual resources worth sharing:


"I'm not entirely sure that what people want, at the deepest level, is sex.  I think what our sex-crazed culture really wants is what sex promises: the feeling of being desired."  A beautiful reflection on desire and what it's really meant for.

A sweetly vulnerable, new-to-me love song

Inspired by whimsically festive fringe balloons like this one for reception photos.  DIY here.

Some of the most authentic wedding advice I've ever heard, from a recent bride to the newly engaged.  My fave?  "Ignore everything I say--" it's your day, not hers, we're talking about here, and Victoria gets that.

Chime in!  Any fantastic resources or pretty things you've stumbled on lately?  Share away.







Monday, June 10, 2013

Anticipation...


Finding out our sweet baby's gender this morning!  Stay tuned to find out who he or she is!


Friday, June 7, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 22

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

{1} Did you catch the two guest posts I wrote last week?  You can read about my first real broken heart here on Arleen Spencely's blog, and about my lessons in transitioning to newlywed life, thanks to some towels my husband found hideous, here on newlywed Tess' blog, Little House in Chicago.

{2} Somehow during the five-ish months I've been pregnant, my formerly pretty healthy eating habits have taken a dive.  I've come to understand that hormone-induced cravings are a biological reality and can't always be overcome by virtue (in the beginning, for instance, there were so many nights where I'd make a full meal for us, then decide I couldn't stomach any of it and have grilled cheese instead), and I'm at peace with gaining weight, though I want to make sure I do so from healthy sources, not from junk food.  So ice cream and I have become the best of friends lately.  Combine that with a husband who has a lifelong sweet tooth, a newfound love of baking, and a few minor issues that are probably related to overconsuming sweets, and I think it's about time to do a little sugar detox.  We buy very few packaged or prepared foods (as a preference even more than as a health-conscious choice), and I tell myself that since all the treats we make are from scratch, they're not as bad as they could be, but obviously...I've been doing a lot of research to make sure any dietary changes we make are safe for Baby, and I don't think it'll be anything too crazy, but I'd love your input.  Right now we're thinking we'll do 3-4 weeks of no added sweeteners (sugar, honey, or maple syrup, and we already don't consume soda or artificial sweeteners), no packaged bread or tortillas, slightly limited dairy and fruit, and from what we've read, a higher intake of healthy fats than of carbs to decrease sugar withdrawal symptoms.

Tell me!  Have any of you tried anything like this?  Anything I should definitely take note of?  And by all means, if any  part of my little plan sounds unreasonable or unhealthy, feel free to make alternative suggestions for us!  P.S.  We are moving in 3 weeks and there are three cartons of ice cream in our freezer.  I'm not about to let them go to waste, and besides, emptying the freezer is satisfying.  So this will probably all get rolling in a month or so--I'm trying to get prepared starting now!

{3} On the subject of moving soon: if you've said even one prayer for my job search and our apartment hunt as we prepare to leave our first married home (and our adopted state of the last few years), thank you so, so much!  ...Can I ask you to say a few more?  I go back and forth between being overwhelmed and blithely peaceful (or is it lazy?) as I go to interviews and consider where we'll live.  I feel like time is running out, in some ways, and also like the Lord wants to draw me out into a deeper trust.  I'm blessed with a husband so faithful, so patient, and so trusting, which is a huge gift to me, but there are some days where I just feel like flapping my arms in distress, you know?

{4} Honestly, I sometimes used to feel out of place when my friends would sit around the lunch table talking about different spiritualities and charisms (in the least pretentious way possible, promise!), since I felt like I didn't know enough about certain saints and religious orders to really identify what mine was and since I never loved the idea of putting yourself into a box, like, "Oh, I'm so Dominican," or something like that.  A few years later, I generally feel the same way about categorization, but I do think I've gained a little clarity in the ways of prayer and different, equally good lenses for one faith in the sense of what I'm drawn to.  My spirituality is pretty Marian, I suppose, pretty Theology of the Body.  When I read this book a few months ago, I also started realizing how much St. Augustine's discussions of restlessness and hunger have moved my soul since college.  This week I stumbled onto an amazing blog, Beauty Is Lived, infused with these ideas, and onto one of the most poetic, beautiful reflections I've read in quite a while.  A sampling:

To allow ourselves to become vulnerable is to invite another to pierce us with a sacred wound, to penetrate the depths of our most tender heart, and in so doing we expose ourselves as naked and bleeding creatures.
 Read the rest here.

{5} My hair right now is the longest it's been in years, and I've had the same layered-ish look for a pretty long time now.  I thought I'd love having long hair, but sometimes I just never feel like dealing with it.  I'm considering getting a long bob or just a different long cut, but I'm so nervous about taking the plunge!  I mean, it's taken so long to get my hair, well, so long!  I've been collecting inspiration here.  Thoughts?

{6} Also on the subject of moving soon: help!  What's your best moving advice?  This will be our first time moving with furniture (in college my campus apartments had all the basics, so did Andrew's first grad school bachelor pad, and all of my furniture was donated when I was a missionary), and it'll be a fairly long trip.  I keep hearing slightly mysterious, good-sounding things about PODS, where you put your stuff in big storage bins and then a company picks them up for you and transports them to your new place.  It seems convenient and cheaper than a UHaul--is it?!


{7} I'm officially halfway through my pregnancy (though when my baby will chose to make his or her entrance is anyone's guess)!

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Spirit Rejoices: Prayer of St. Francis

{sweet sounds for your Mass and reception}


Two summers ago when I finished my missionary year, I went back home for three weeks before my wedding.  Three weeks, we'd told ourselves when choosing a date, was plenty of time to wrap up all of our last minute things and not drag out our engagement (since Andrew was a student at the time, there was only a small slice of summer available to us for wedding dates).

Nope.  Not nearly enough time.  Dress hemming, assembling a beast of a cupcake tower (I admit, all credit for that thing goes to my sister), seating-charting...I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  Looking back, of course I'm glad that we got married when we did, and of course there would have been last minute stress regardless of how many days I was still counting down.

I wanted to make prayer and exercise a priority during those weeks just to keep my head on straight, but I have to say that I wasn't particularly accountable on either of those fronts.  What really did help me, though, was advice from a fellow bride.  My friend Breanna (read her love story here; she and her husband Dave are expecting a sweet baby girl this summer!) got married a few weeks before me, and we were chatting one night shortly after she got back from her honeymoon.  I told her about all the stress I was feeling, and she said that the best advice passed to her was to pray for peace.  Peace that everything would fall reasonably into place, peace that tiny details ultimately wouldn't matter, and the joyful contentment of knowing she was marrying her best friend in a matter of days.  The Prayer of St. Francis, the one that goes, "make me a channel of Your peace," helped her more than anything else, Breanna said, and she and Dave even used the song as part of their nuptial Mass!

So, in the spirit of Breanna's wisdom, I can say firsthand that praying for peace really is one of the best ways for any bride to deal with stress, deadlines, and general wedding crazies.  With that, I humbly, shamelessly suggest stealing her song choice for your own Mass.  I think the Prayer of St. Francis would be such a beautiful addition to your preludes or for contemplation during the presentation of the gifts!

Your turn: what's the best bride-to-be advice you received?


Monday, June 3, 2013

Rite Resources: Lovely


Aside, of course, from your wedding gown, does it seem to you (like it seemed to me) that weddings involve a plethora of other dresses, too?  Bridesmaids, your mom, parties and showers, your rehearsal dinner...it's not a requirement, of course, to restock your wardrobe just because you're getting married, but if you are in the market for a few new fancies, might I make a suggestion?

Lovely is a bridal boutique with the prettiest offerings and, judging by their website, gorgeous styling.  Most of their selections look like they're well above any budget I had for my own wedding dress, but happily, Lovely's sister dress shop also has plenty of well, lovely choices for more casual wedding-related affairs, most of them under $100.  Peplums, sequins, and girls in white dresses?  Yes please!

Browsing through, I noticed that most of Lovely's dresses for the season share the same white, cream, and blush color palette.  I love the idea of mix-and-match bridesmaids dresses, and between the sweet, sort of vintage sensibility that runs through the collection, plus prices this nice, I think these dresses would be perfect contenders for a white wedding!

What do you think?  Any of these lovelies in particular that you have your eye on?  And what other resources have you found for dresses to wear to all your festivities?


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