26 March 2014

Top 5 things about being apartment dwellers...

1.  The work-out room.
Okay so we have been living here well over a year, and I have just begun to visit the workout room here...couple treadmills, elliptical, & weight machines.  In deciding to lead another World Youth Day pilgrimage to Poland in 2016, I figured it was good motivation to become besties again with the treadmill.  But honestly, the real motivation? There is a flat screen TV in the work-out room....oh, and did I mention cable TV too? Who am I kidding the real reason I'm working out again is so I can have my fill of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' & 'Cake Boss'.  Nothing is more motivating to work out than watching people make.eat. cake.

2.  Cleaning is a snap.
Our place isn't very big...and that is my favorite when it comes to cleaning.  Typically if we roll up our sleeves & haul it, we can have things sparkly and smelling fine within 2 hours.  Before we agreed on the ever "sacred chore chart", our cleaning ritual was not constant and regular; which drove this little control freak freaking.nuts.
Now with our neon green Excel sheet on the fridge, life is a much happier...and less smelly place around these parts.

3.  When your dry wall is falling apart, maintenance comes to the rescue!
We live in Michigan, and to say this past winter has been crazy cold and snowy is an understatement...with so MUCH cold.snow.moisture.ice. piled on top of each other it has created all kinds of interesting things.  There were a few weeks we had pots out by the back patio collecting all the snow/ice melting through the ceiling because of ice dams.  All this moisture builds up in the ceiling and walls creating bulging pockets and has even started to peel away parts of the dry wall.
fun times right?  Well if we were homeowners I'd be flipping out, but as renters its a job for maintenance.  However, we're still waiting for the final winter thaw, because with the crazy weather they cannot fix anything until the weather is warmer and more consistent.
Hopefully spring is coming soon because I'm running out of towels and pans to collect all this winter residue.

4. No outside chores.
This one is my favorite.easily.  Growing up, it was regularly expected to partake in Saturday family work days outside: weeding, raking, picking up dog poop, etc. I HATED family work days outside...a lot.  When my complaining and/or pouting didn't get the result I wanted, I resorted to other measures.  I would ask to go use the bathroom or get a drink and disappear for 15,20,30 minutes in the bathroom with a book.  When that didn't work (and I got yelled at) I tried bargaining to stay inside and then I could complete all the inside chores.  Needless to say my tricky ways never got me anywhere except going to bed early.
As long as we live here, I'm going to soak up not having to rake leaves, pull weeds, and pick up dog poop.  However when we buy a house someday, I think I am in for a rude awakening...

5.  Free parties!
When I say party I'm using the term loosely here.  Our apartment complex has occasional 'freebies' for the members.  Want to go for a bike ride? free bicycle rental.  Looking for a cook-out? A few times throughout the summer, they have community BBQ's; free burgers and dogs? Sounds good to us!  Want to meet Santa or the Easter Bunny?  Well okay, we haven't visited Santa Claus but, Easter is coming soon...??  I'm sure nothing would thrill my husband more than to get our picture taken with the Easter Bunny.

17 March 2014

Forget the potatoes, I want some Irish soda bread!

Being Irish, our family always celebrated our heritage not only on St. Patrick's Day but throughout the year.  As March 17 drew closer, Dad would be perfecting his corned beef/cabbage recipe, while Mom would bake up fresh Irish soda bread...although I'm still not sure which of the ingredients makes the bread 'Irish'.  Heck I didn't care what was in the bread, all I knew growing up that is was.really.good. Much better than than cabbage that's for sure.

So if you're looking something to help absorb the alcohol in your bloodstream today or something to complete your Irish feast tonight, might I suggest my grandmother or great-grandmothers (I can never remember whose it is!) homemade Irish soda bread recipe?

-5 cups of flour
-2 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. salt
-1 cup of sugar
-2/3 quart of buttermilk (feel free to add a little more, I usually do:)
-1 cup of raisins

1// Mix together all the dry ingredients, including the raisins

2// Add the buttermilk

3// Grease the pan/s (I used 2 round cake pans)

4// Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Happy eating!

16 March 2014

A Toast to Ireland!

When I went to Ireland back in 2008 after college graduation, I learned a lot of things.
I learned you have to constantly remind yourself to drive on the opposite side of the road.  I learned its not good to spend an evening at the pub the night before you climb Croagh Patrick.  And I learned how to toast, the Irish way.
Here are some memorable, unique toasts I learned while visiting the Emerald Isle...

"Long live the Irish. Long live their cheer. Long live our friendship. Year after year."
"As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never face the wrong way!"

I don't think I need anyone to buy anymore drinks for me...
"When you look at the world through the bottom of a glass, may you see someone ready to buy!"

"Like the warmth of the sun and the light of the day, may the luck of the Irish shine bright on your way!"

.... or if all else fails, a lively "Slainte!" (pronounced slan-chuh, is a common toast) will do just fine!

All this talk is making me thirsty...hmmm what goes better with warm Irish soda bread- pint of Guinness or a shot of Jameson? ;)

Be safe. Be merry.  Pray for peace/healing in Ireland.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

07 March 2014

St. Patrick's Day came early this year...

Fun with the fam:)

1.  For Christmas, Jim and I got my whole family tickets to see Flogging Molly, a lively Celtic punk band.  Last night was the concert.  It was at the old theater in Detroit that is just gorgeous on the inside.  The music and dancing festivities were kicked of with a round of Irish car bombs at dinner (now I remember why I haven't had one in such a long time!) and as I fell asleep last night my ears were still ringing.
Jim had to work late (bummer!) but his BFF Jake came kept us crazy Breen's in line.

2.  Last Saturday my Uncle Mike and his family came into town for the baptism of their new little boy.  Mom and Dad were the godparents and did a fabulous job; they be professionals at godparenting 101.

After the baptism, we went over to my folks for a party...who am I kidding, I just came for the pizza and cake ;)  It was fun to see my Mom with my brothers and listen to old stories/memories and play with my little cousins...oh and of course hold baby Mickey!

3.  This evening till tomorrow I am going on a silent retreat with some ladies from church.  I'm really excited...something about prayerful silence that helps me relax and clear my mind and just BE.  I think it comes at a good time, especially as I dreading the start of Lent earlier this week. 
Here's to some silence and no phone for 24 hours!!

4.  We have lived in our apartment about 1 1/2 years, and since then I have been aware of the small gym room next to our laundry...however I had yet to grace it with my presence; that is, until Wednesday.  Some how I found they have cable in the gym, and since we don't have cable I decided what better way to enjoy a fix The Real Housewives and Full Hose re-runs, than making friends with the treadmill??  So that's the plan...enjoy some favorite shows whilst getting my sweaty on.

I also have a lot motivation to get more active in being World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.  Yeah I know its over 1 year away, but I'm starting to realize the very very limited public transportation in a not very industrialized city...which means when a couple million of my Catholic brothers and sisters gather there, my legs won't be able to fail me.
So I'm starting the walking now:)


5.  On Mardi Gras was our belated staff Christmas party.  We feasted on the most tasty spare ribs and I made good friends with the strawberry cheesecake...and of course I loved the part where I got a small Christmas bonus which went right into our savings account.

6.  I have questions. on essential oil...I've seen different people writing about them and I'm interested in learning more.  What is the benefit? Are essential oils expensive?  Any good sources I can read and better educate myself?
Thank yee for any help you can offer:)

7.  Earlier this week I bought a whole of case of Matt Fradd's newest book for myself and our youth program.  The book is called "DeLIVEred", and is true stories of men and women who broke free from pornography addiction and share their stories of hope/strength.  Pornography addiction is a disease that kills.robs.steals.  When 47% of Christians who attend church weekly struggle with this, it NEEDS to be talked about in churches.  Looking forward to sharing the hope of this book with many others!

05 March 2014

A different kind of Lent...

All last week and up until mid-day yesterday I have been dreading Lent.

Kinda like Capt. Jack Sparrow; just yuck and blah.

In my daily life, I'm really good at keeping busy; furiously checking things off my to-do list and priding myself on how MUCH I get done and what I am always busy doing.  But all that busyness is catching up with me, it is wearing down my spirit.  Though I love quiet, peaceful moments...I'm not generous enough with myself to allow time for that every day.  On top of being the busy worker bee I am, I need to be more focused on my own self care this Lent.  I need to work my own recovery just; like my husband needs to do the same and keep learning.healing.growing. from addictions he struggles with.

Leading up to today, I haven't felt very prepared to enter into these holy days.  I have felt so beaten down and frustrated with things in life.    And then I felt refreshed when I read Elizabeth's post on how to have a gentle Lent.  Reading it was just what this tired soul needed.  Like Elizabeth, I totally have a tendency to over-commit and overdo Lent.  Which makes me chuckle, because Lent is not so much about DOING, but rather BEING.

This point was so beautifully illustrated when Jim and I went to Mass at 9a for Ash Wednesday.  It was an all school Mass, which meant all the kids were at church in their uniforms.  The priest asked the children, "So what exactly is the point of Lent, anyway?"  His answer?
Lent is about spending 7 weeks looking at the crucifix; looking at Jesus hanging on those wooden beams. And in that prayerful look, we ask Jesus "How can I change? How can I become more like You?".  Lent is about a loving, prayerful exchange of looks between God and his child.  And yes, prayer, fasting, and alms-giving are all important and helpful tools to help make the most of these 40 days...BUT we cannot get so caught up in the stuff.actions. of Lent, but remember the One whom Lent is all about.

So this Lent, I am going to be gentle with myself {not soft or easy on myself}...but more patient and less harsh with myself.

I feel inspired by God in the ways I want to live this Lenten season in a gentle manner.

Prayer:  I have set three alarms on my phone to stop and pray. from the heart. the serenity prayer:
Such richness.wisdom.hope. in these words...
I'll also spend time each morning or evening praying with Scripture. 30 minutes.  I NEED it.

Fasting:  I will fast from "checking up" daily on my husband's recovery, but rather let him do his own work and share when he feels ready/able.  I will not nag him about what he needs to do to take care of himself, but instead focus on the positive steps I see him taking and be more affirming.  We will have 1 time a week to openly share.discuss.ask questions on how both of us are doing (recovery wise).

Almsgiving:  I will send a hand-written note/card each week to a different person and mailing it...and.come. on.  Am I the only one who gets excited when I get snail mail?! ;)

I feel hopeful now starting Lent...like I can do this and live these days with a gentleness to myself I'm not quite used to.

May these next 40 days be a time of peace and refreshment for you.

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