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Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Homemade Gifts

We are down to  2 Saturdays until Christmas! I am hopping a plane back to the midwest to attend a baptism in a few hours leaving Daddy and Daughters home for a little Daddy-Daughters weekend, in which they will be taking the Christmas Card Picture (hint… The Wisconsin Badgers will have something to do with the picture!) and possibly getting the tree. I am a little sad to miss out on the tree hunt, but I am very excited for my Godson, Cazimir’s, baptism.

So far, we’ve covered ladiesgentlemen and those-hard-to-shop-for ; this week… easy-peasy homemade gifts for even the most non-crafty! I’ll admit right at the outset… some of these ideas came from Pinterest. Pinterest is a crafty and non-crafty girls’ dream! But beware… it can be addicting. You’ve been warned.

Fleece-Tie Blanket.

This is an easy craft that doesn’t take that much time. You need two pieces of fleece, both the same length. Lay one piece on top of the other and make continuous cuts around the outside, 2″ (5cm) in length. Once all of the cuts are made, tie one fringe from fleece #1 to one fringe of fleece #2 all around, using square knots. Once you’ve finished, you have a great, practical gift for anyone! One key thing to keep in mind, make sure your shears are sharp because fleece is very dulling.

Gifts-In-A-Jar

I personally love gifts in jars. They are pretty to look at. They store well and when you are done with them, you have a new jar! For most food-based gifts-in-jars, you will need a 1-QT Mason Jar with lid. You can jazz the jar up with some scrap fabric, ribbons and a hot glue gun. For bath/ beauty gifts-in-jars, the Pint Sized Mason Jar should suffice.

Chocolate Holiday Cookies (from Taste of Home)

1.5 c. All Purpose Flour

0.5t baking soda

0.25t salt

0.5 c Dark Cocoa

0.75c sugar

0.3 c baked brown sugar

1.25c red and green M&M’s

0.3c white baking chips

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a 1 QT jar, layer (in order) the flour mixture, cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, M&Ms and baking chips. Cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to one month. (Makes 36 cookies)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies. Store the mix in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. To make these festive cookies, you will need:

0.75 c butter (softened)

1 egg

1.5 t vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, egg and vanilla until well-blended. Add contents of jar and stir until combined.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 in apart onto an ungreased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Mmm-Good Pasta Soup (from Taste of Home)

0.5 c. dried split peas

2T chicken bouillon granules

0.5 c dried lentils

2T dried minced onion

1t dried basil

1t dried parsley flakes

1 envelope vegetable soup mix

2c uncooked tricolor spiral pasta

1. In a 1QT jar, layer the first seven ingredients in the order listed. Place the pasta in a 1QT resealable plastic bag; add to the jar. Seal tightly, store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. (makes 3.5 QTs soup.)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This will make 3.5 quarts of a delicious soup… enough to feed 14 people! You will need:

Contents of your soup jar

10 cups water

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained.

1. Remove pasta from top of jar and set aside. Place water in a Dutch Oven; stir in soup mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Add the chicken, tomatoes, and pasta. Cover and simmer 15-20 min longer or until pasta, peas and lentils are tender.

Bath Seeds

1 c. baking soda

0.5 c citric acid (order online)

0.5 c cornstarch

2T plus 1t oil (almond, sunflower, coconut, mineral, canola or baby)

2t water

1-2t essential oil (order online)

0.25 t Borax

food coloring

Mix baking soda, citric acid and cornstarch. Mix the wet ingredients and the Borax and slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly. Mix SLOWLY or you will get bubbles. Pour into a 1 QT jar and add the following to the label:

Homemade Bath Seeds

Use 2-4 Tablespoons per bath

And now, from Pinterest!

Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament from Little Bit Funky

Memory Ornaments from InMyOwnStyle

T-shirt Shag Rug by Rags by Sock Monkey

Crayon Monogram by Chic and Chic Nursery (great for teachers!)

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Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! This has been a fun series and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!


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Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Hard-To-Shop-For

We are down to  5 Saturdays until Christmas! In our family we really value not celebrating/ decorating Christmas until after Thanksgiving (although I would prefer waiting until after ADVENT, but we compromise.) But that’s not so say that the shopping portion can not be completed earlier!

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. So far, we’ve covered ladies and gentlemen; this week… those who are hard-to-shop-for/ “have everything” in your life! These are the people who tend to receive cash or gift cards or something just as generic. So, this year, lets change it up a bit and consider Charitable Donations!

These can be a bit on the tricky side. The key to giving a charitable donation is to keep your recipient and their stance on issues in mind. Your gift is supposed to be one of appreciation and kindness and should not start an ideological war. The list below is not a comprehensive list and you can of course look to local agencies, but consider this a starting point!

To fight hunger/ aid disaster relief

American Red Cross

-Feeding America

Share Our Strength

The Salvation Army

For the Animal Lover 

ASPCA

Best Friends Animal Society

-Local Animal Rescues

For the educators

Donors Choose

For non-cash charitable donations

These are kind of neat because you can use your cash to buy a gift in someone’s name which is then donated to a family. Some examples of the gifts are: cows, goats, honeybees, fish for a fish pond, micro finance, etc.

Samaritan’s Purse (Christian Organization)

Heifer International

Kiva (micro finance for men and women)

Accion (heavier emphasis on financing women)

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Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about some easy-peasy handmade gifts that even the non-crafy among us can make and give!! And of course, if you know of other charities or other great gifts, please leave a comment below!


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Filed under christmas, family, gentlemen, gifts, hanukkah, holidays, ladies, saturday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Gentleman

We are down to  6 Saturdays until Christmas! In our family we really value not celebrating/ decorating Christmas until after Thanksgiving (although I would prefer waiting until after ADVENT, but we compromise.) But that’s not so say that the shopping portion can not be completed earlier!

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. Last week, we talked about the ladies; this week… the men in your life!

For the gentleman:

Pocket Handkerchief/ Pocket Square

Now I know what you are thinking… ewww. But I will tell you, both my husband and his father swear by their pocket handkerchiefs. They always have one on them and they are not just for blowing noses. A gentleman can use his handkerchief as a small bandage or tourniquet, or to carry small treasures as they are found. Maybe you aren’t too keen on the hygiene part of the handkerchief? Maybe consider a patterned pocket square for his suits.

Cuff Links and Collar Stays

If your gent is wearing a French Cuff suit, he will need a great set of links. You can find links at all price points and all materials. In addition, unless your gents’ shirts have button-down collar points, he might appreciate collar stays. Just like cuff links, you can find collar stays in all sorts of material, but my hubs swears by his brass ones.


These engraved collar stays can be found at Collar Bars

Stove-top Espresso Machine
What a way to start the morning! If your guy loves his espresso, but not the hit on his wallet by stopping at LCS (local coffeeshop) every morning, consider a MokaPot. Priced very competitively it is a handsome addition to your kitchen… just like your gent!

Splurge:
A classy timepiece. And he can never claim to not know what time it is!

For the Outdoorsman:

A Rugged Wallet
Even though one is out of doors, you still need a wallet to keep everything together!

A Bowie Knife

Your guy could take this gift one of two ways… hopefully he will look at your giving him a great survival tool.

Starbucks Via

This is not your mother’s instant coffee! I am a huge fan of Starbucks VIA and I always have a stash here at home when just don’t feel like making a Press full of coffee. All your guy would need for a cuppa-joe on the go is fresh, clean water and a heating source.

Splurge:
A trip to Yellowstone National Forest (or another equivalent) so he can live out all of his outdoorsy dreams!

For the techie guy:

Computer Bag
Lots of pockets and a space for his laptop, a computer bag will keep your guy organized and ready for anything!

Arcade Cabinet for the iPad

If your guy spent a lot of time at the arcade as a kid, or thinks arcades are just cool and this current generation is missing out… here you go!

iPhone Case Bottle Opener

Never be without a bottle opener again.

Splurge:
A New Computer

Find out what he is looking for, or take him along to buy a new computer and surprise him by footing the bill.


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Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about those who have “everything” in your life!!


Many of the bags shown can be ordered at my Thirty-One webstore.

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Filed under christmas, gentlemen, gifts, hanukkah, holidays, saturday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Ladies

Looking at my calendar this morning, I’ve realized that there are (including today) 7 Saturdays until Christmas! Shopping is not my favorite past time, but if I have a plan, then it’s more bearable.

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. For the next 5 weeks, I will offer some gift ideas for the people in your life. This week… let’s start with the ladies!

For the crafty gal:
-Fingerless mitts are great for keeping her palms and wrists warm, but still giving her the dexterity for working her craft. For some reason, knitting/ crocheting/ sewing tends to make your hands cold!

-A new craft bag with lots of pockets so she can keep all of her must haves in place

– Luxe Hand Lotion. When working with natural fibers, like wool, it can really dry out your hands. Surprise her with a great hand cream in a travel size so she can tuck it into her craft bag.

– SPLURGE: an iPad 2 works fantastically for storing patterns and scrapbook templates. Plus, now with iCloud, all of those files can be stored “in the Cloud” and shared across platforms.

For the Classy Gal:
-The new edition of Emily Post’s Etiquitte. Timeless, classic and always handy.

-Fine writing paper. These tend to be heavier weight with natural fibers and they are a dream to write on. Complete the gift with a fountain pen with a fun ink color.

A small mirrored or silver tray, perfect for her dresser with an assortment of nail polish in neutral shades.

-SPLURGE: classic earring studs. Something simple in diamond or pearl

For the trendsetter:
– Infinity scarves. These scarves are essentially one large loop of material, but can be styled in multiple ways. If you are a knitter, grab your size 50 needles and some super chunky yarn and make one out of a giant I-cord!

-A fun wristlet. Wristlets are great because they can double as wallets, plus they make a cute little handbag for girls’ night out.

-Head back to the nail polish section and pick up some fun shades: teal, gunmetal, taupe, magenta, enclose it with a gift certificate for a mani/pedi and pack it into a cute bag!

-SPLURGE: the new iPhone 4S, if she doesn’t have one already!

For the gal who loves to cook:

– Grab some local apples, a bamboo spoon, a few spices and your favorite recipe for apple pie and tuck it into a handy tote!

-A great infused vinegar or olive oil

-A retro inspired apron

-SPLURGE: A high quality French Oven

For your hairdresser/child’s teacher/personal trainer:
– coffee mug, assortment of teas and a gift card all tucked in a small bag

– personalized thermal lunch bag

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Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about the men in your life!!


Many of the bags shown can be ordered at my Thirty-One webstore.

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Surprise Post Saturday: The Big (or not-so-big) Reveal

Yesterday, I posted a series of song lyrics and asked if you could come up with the common link.

The songs used were:

1. California Gurls- Katy Perry (featuring Snoop Dogg)

2. I love L.A. – Randy Newman

3. Hotel California- The Eagles

4. The Little Old Lady from Pasadena- The Beach Boys

5. California Dreamin’- The Mamas and The Papas

6. Surfin’ USA- The Beach Boys

7. California Girls- The Beach Boys

So, of course, the common link in the songs is California. And the reason why?

DH was promoted within his company and so the Caffeinated Catholic Family is packing up and heading to the Golden Coast in early October! (Los Angeles to be specific!) It is news that is both bittersweet and exciting, but I know that it is just part of that great adventure we call life.

We are going to miss our friends here in The Lou, but thanks to the Internet and FaceBook, Twitter and of course, this Blog, I am sure that we will only be a click away!

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A Modern Day Princess

I’ll admit, I got all caught up in the Royal Wedding. There was no way I was going to get up sans children to watch the LIVE broadcast, so I DVR’d it so I could watch it at my leisure. I am glad that I did, because when I did get up (earlier, yesterday, to watch and to pack for a trip to the Zoo,) my little darlings both got up at the same time. Sigh.

I was able to catch snippets of the broadcast here and there but I was over the moon to see a few things:

Kate’s sister, Pippa, and the adorable Flower Girls!!

but more importantly, Catherine’s wedding dress. Swoon.

What do I love most about this dress? Everything. I love the lace. I love the A-line. I love the embroidery. I love the train. I love the veil. I love the tiara. Must most of all, I love how modest it is.

Think about it ladies and gents, instead of having Audrey or Katherine or Jackie or Grace to emulate, girls now have Snooki, Christina or Gaga. Stripper Pole Dance Classes are cast as group exercise and seven-year olds are hawked thongs and padded swimwear.

Who would you rather your daughter emulate? Other than you, of course!

Michelle Obama has turned the tide in First Lady dressing a bit and gone a bit more elegant and modern with her look but, sadly, many girls would look at her and see someone who is… old. You know, like their moms.

So, I want to say “Thank You!” to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge for showing us how modest dressing can look so classy and appropriate for young girls and for celebrating my favorite NEW-TO-ME accessory… the fascinator!

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Pax Christi!

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Where distance is measured in minutes, not miles…

This weekend, the family decided to road trip up to the city in which The Mister and I spent our first few years of marriage… Chicago (and if you now have Frank Sinatra’s Chicago worming it’s way through your mind, you’re welcome!) Our trip, of course was not without events.

I bade farewell to the Mister on Tuesday morning as he left for the airport heading to Los Angeles for the week. Our plan was for him to fly into Chicago Friday night and we’d have the rest of the weekend to stay and play in the city. Well… you know what they say about your plans and God’s plans. Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling two steps shy of awful. I had only felt this way once before, it was last April and it was when The Mister was in California and I ended up having Strep Throat. This year, same time, same circumstance, same diagnosis. Thankfully, I was blessed with the kindness of a dear friend (and reader!) who came over and spent the afternoon with my girls allowing me to sleep and begin recovery. (Thank You again, Kristine! You are such a blessing to me.)

Just an aside: I’ve been asked if strep throat is just a “really, really bad sore throat??” If it was just a sore throat, I could deal with that. But with it being an infection, I had all of the classic infection symptoms: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and to be honest, the sore throat was minor. For me, it was difficult trying to care for my children, to feed them, diaper them, while trying to stay on my feet without keeling over or running to the vomitorium at the sight of food. That is what made the illness difficult.

Anyway, losing a day and a half of prep for illness was a challenge but not insurmountable. Friday morning, we ended up leaving about 1.5 hours behind schedule,which would come back to kind of bite me in the end. So, we hit the road in the Swagger Wagon and get about 90 miles outside of home before The Bear needs to make a potty stop. I figure, we might as well eat as it’s close enough to lunch time so we spent about an hour at a popular “PlayPlace,” with the thought that the girls would expend enough energy and sleep a good chunk of the afternoon. The original plan was to picnic at one of the many Rest Areas in Illinois which have these fantastic playgrounds, but the weather was less than cooperative. Back on the road, the girls snoozed until just south of Chicago, in Joliet, despite Mama’s chastising peoples’ driving habits (“Cruise Control People! Learn It! Use It! Love It!”; “Trucker, there is no shame in being passed by a Swagger Wagon, stop playing LeapFrog with me!”, etc) We made one last stop for potty and a mini-stretch and hopped back on the highway for the short jaunt to the city.

Along the route I spied a sign that said “67 minutes to Dan Ryan” and I, foolishly, didn’t believe it. I figured it was left over from Rush Hour traffic. No fewer than two minutes later, my speedometer went from 70 MPH to 11 MPH… and we had 26 miles to go. Guess that 67 minutes wasn’t that far off. Ah, Chicago traffic, how I didn’t miss thee.

I don’t do much driving in St. Louis in which I encounter copious amounts of traffic and you tend to forget that traffic even exists in the insular world of the suburban stay-at-home mom. But as I was sitting there on the Stevenson, I kept hearing this quote from Homer Simpson running through my head: “Gas, Brake, Honk. Gas, Brake, Honk. Honk, Honk, Honk. Honk, Honk, Punch!” Since I had my trusty GPS with me, I decided to bail on the Stevenson and let the GPS re-route me to where I was going. (Just so you know, we are staying with dear friends who have this gorgeous condo in downtown Chicago. Looking out of their windows, you have a great view of the skyline with the Sears Willis Tower, the River, The Chicago Tribune Building, The Chocolate Building, among others. Gorgeous! And Free. Tee Hee!) However, my GPS is insistent on re-routing me back to the Stevenson and when that didn’t work, wanted to re-route me to the Dan Ryan, which was just as much of a parking lot as the rest of the expressway. Sigh. After many turns and relying on my memory of the grid outline of downtown, we finally made it to the condo.

We left our driveway in St. Louis at 10:30a on Friday morning. We arrived at our Friend’s condo in downtown Chicago at 7:00p Friday night. Traveling where distance is measured in minutes, not miles, with children is not for the faint of heart.

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Pax Christi!

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Lenten Meals: Nina’s Black Bean Patties

OK. I know it’s not Friday and technically I owe you two Lenten recipes because I didn’t post one last week but cut me some slack, hey?

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Nina. She made black bean patties for her family one night from a blogger recipe. Her family wasn’t too keen on them, so she brought them to my house to make sure that they tasted OK and that it was just her family and not the actually patties. We loved them. I kept asking her for the recipe and so one Friday, decided to Frankenstein up some black bean patties of my own, based on what she told me was in the ones she made. I did eventally ask Nina for the recipe which you can find here.

Nina’s Black Bean Patties

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato, shredded

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 handful cilantro

1/4 cup walnuts

1 egg

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T cumin

1 T coriander

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 t salt

1 t pepper

breadcrumbs (amount will vary, use enough for your patties to hold shape.)

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Add all ingredients, except breadcrumbs, to a food processor with blade attachment. Pulse until a uniform paste develops.

3. Remove bowl from your food pro and transfer paste to another bowl if you’d like (remove the blade.)

4. Slowly add in breadcrumbs until the mixture comes together and can hold a shape.

5. Take a palmful of mixture and pat into a patty shape, about 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. (mine made about 6 patties)

6. Bake at 350 deg until the tops look dried and a little cracked, about 15 minutes.

7. Top with Mango Salsa or Salsa Verde and serve with a  delicious side of your choice. (I served with a Quinoa Pilaf.)

 

Quinoa Pilaf

1 T EVOO

1/2 c chopped onion

2 carrots, chopped

1 c quinoa, rinsed

2 c veg broth

2/3 c walnuts

1/4 c parsley (or cilantro)

Heat oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Cook onion in oil for until translucent. Add carrot and cook 3 minutes. Add quinoa and veg broth, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and fluffy. In a bowl toss together with walnuts and parsley (or cilantro.) Serve hot or at room temp.

 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced

1 T lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Add all ingredients to a bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill until use.

 
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It is the season of Lent. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!

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Mrs. Hanglow: Or how I learned to stop complaining and finally bought quality

**Disclaimer to my gentleman readers: This is a post about bras and bra shopping. You have been warned.**

Yesterday, for the first time in four years, I went bra shopping and bought a bra that did not have escape hatches. I’d like to say that my motivation for such an endeavor was to look better and feel better about myself, but it wasn’t… well, maybe it was. I am standing up in a wedding next month and I have a great dress to wear and it would be a shame to wear a non-supportive bra with this dress because it would make things just… go… south.

The last time I really went bra shopping, I was not a mother (and certainly not a nursing mother. Just an FYI, I do own nursing bras so technically I have gone bra shopping within the last four years, but you kind of know what I mean…) I used to do all of my shopping at a little store that is known for having lots and lots of Secrets. The biggest secret that I came to find was that most of the consultants there really aren’t that good at bra fittings. Now, I shouldn’t blame the salesgirls, after all, they are only as good as their trainers (hahaha, that could be a pun!) Maybe it’s just the stock offering at this particular store, I don’t know.

I am of the ample chested variety (even without active lobules) and for some reason, most of the bras there are of the “push-up” variety. I am all about lift and separation and for me, having my breasts squished together and placed somewhere under my neck is not the most comfortable. In addition to smooshing together and jamming them under my neck, the bras that were “hand-picked” for me tended to give me the “quad-boob” look. You know what I mean, where the top of the bra cuts diagonally across the flesh of the breast and kind of digs in, making it look like you have four breasts? Lovely, right? So, by the end of my “fitting,” all these years ago, I walk out with a bra I am not 100% in love with and actually kind of hurts me (the underwire would dig into my armpit area. Not fun.) Oh, and did I mention, that it cost me an arm and a leg? Looking back, I really should have said “thanks, but I am not finding anything here,” and walked out, but I was a part of the consumer group that this store heavily markets to and, doggone it, I wanted a bra from there! To me, my other option would have been going to the old-lady department stores and getting fitted there, but who’d want to be seen doing that?!

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve been living in stretchy, comfy nursing bras for a long, long time. The Mister, when we were shopping for this dress for the wedding, even commented how much nicer the dress would look with more… support. OK, OK, I’ll concede, I’ll go shopping. I headed to the mall and avoided she-with-many-secrets and instead swallowed my pride and headed to an old-lady department store for a fitting. (After all, I am over 30 now. Tee Hee!) The saleslady asked my size and I told her a guesstimate and she promptly said, “You are no way in the right size, let’s go measure you.” Oh, was she right. From my guesstimate, actual band size was four inches smaller and the cup was one cup size bigger. (And joy, of joys… I am an “odd” size, so no Target or WalMart bras for me.) I tried on the correct size and, Oh Mercy! The girls were defying gravity!! In that one instant, I looked about ten pounds lighter and I found myself standing with better posture; my shoulders were held back and I didn’t have the hunchback thing going on. Then I looked at the price… and it was no where near what I was expecting and that was a nice surprise!

Let’s take a little break here and talk quality versus quantity or maybe how quality and quantity are related. Many women I know (me included) HATE to spend money on things like bras or shoes or other things that get worn out. Why? Precisely because they are going to get worn out and better to wear out and replace the cheap item than the expensive one, right? Wrong. Remember that you get what you pay for. If you are running out to local discount store every two months to by a new bra at $16 each (which may or may not fit right,) how is that any different than spending $35 on a bra, measured to you and made of better materials, every 6-9 months? Basic fact, cheap items are made of cheap materials and will wear out faster than their more quality made counterparts. Yes, a “specialty” bra (let’s say… for a wedding?) might run you upwards of $70 but for that $70 you are getting a bra that is guaranteed to fit and most importantly stay up and make you look flattering in your dress. How many of us have bought strapless bras off the rack (tee hee, another pun) only to have it fall down the entire night, or dig in to your flesh? I have heard it said that a woman’s wardrobe is only as flattering as the foundation pieces under it and this mama 100% believes that now.

So, I am a proud owner of a new bra and I can’t wait to get some more. I would like to see if I can find at least one nursing bra in my “new” size because I am loving this new figure I am sporting. And if you’ve read this far… enjoy your cookie.
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Do you have any bra-shopping horror stories? Or even bra horror stories? Do share!!

Pax Christi!

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Getting off the fence

I used to be a fence sitter in the realm of the polarizing topic of abortion. I have close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-choice; I have other close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-life. For the longest time, I would hem and haw and try to tactfully avoid the question or topic for fear of angering or alienating a friend or worse, losing a friend.

I am not very good at memorizing scripture, but there is one chapter of the bible that has really “spoken” to me at varying times in my life: Matthew 10. Quite a few passages from this chapter has lead me to writing this today:

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of federal monies that are used for preventative health screenings, which include contraception and cancer screenings. Currently, Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal dollars for abortion services, and the removal of this money cuts off it’s “family planning” side. As an aside, the monies were being provided under the Title X Family Planning Program enacted in 1970. According to the US Health and Human Services Website:

Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. (emphasis mine)

Opponents of the funding cut, use the argument that by cutting the money to Planned Parenthood, we are putting the lives and health of women at stake. But not all Title X recipients are being cut, only Planned Parenthood, which may be the most accessible if not the most well known “family planning” center in the US.

Not every Planned Parenthood office provides abortions, but every office will council and refer to an abortion provider as needed. One question to have, is Planned Parenthood providing abortion as a family planning method? I don’t know. I guess that would depend on why the abortion is performed. According to their 2010 fact-sheet, in 2008, Planned Parenthood performed 324,008 abortions and referred 2,405 pregnancies for adoption. Planned Parenthood is not without other controversies, either. Last March, Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts of America caused some issues when they partnered to do some “No-Adults Allowed” Sex Education. A few weeks ago, the pro-life group, “Live Action” released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees skirting the laws and essentially helping a man posing as a pimp for an underage girl. Planned Parenthood has come out and said that the videos are all hoaxes among other things. For me, though, Planned Parenthood and abortion are intrinsically linked and culturally very personal.

According to the Gutmacher Institute, black women account for 30% of induced abortions in the US. However, according to the 2000 Census, black (or black with something else) women in the US made up 6.8% of the total population. Another percentage from the Gutmacher Institute is that 69% of pregnancies among black women were unintended, but Planned Parenthood is providing Family Planning services? Bottom line is that family planning services do not make money, but abortions do. Abortions are not covered by federal dollars, so the women are paying out of pocket for the procedure. According to the PPFA Annual Report for 2008-2009, the non-profit ended with a profit of $63.4 million. To clarify, non-profit is a tax status, so that means they don’t have to play Government Taxes. (The 2009-2010 report has not been released.)In New York City, 71% of black teenagers aborted their children in 2009. According to LEARN, the largest black pro-life group in the US, between 1973-2001, abortion has claimed more lives than AIDS, Violent Acts, Accidents, Cancer and Heart Disease combined (their stats come from the CDC.) So, what’s going on here? Why are we, as a community, allowing this black genocide to continue?

Women deserve better than abortion. Of those 324,008 abortions in 2008, we can say at least half of those would have been little girls. I am never a fan of those who criticize without bringing another option. In my opinion, we need to:
– redefine our definitions of “love,” “sex,” and “intimacy.” Intimacy can lead to sex and sex can lead to the creation of life. Sex very rarely, if ever, leads to intimacy or love.
– support pregnant women more, whether it is in their jobs or just personally. A woman should not have to feel compelled to choose between her child and her job. Maybe some of those federal monies should go to Pregnancy Resource Centers/ Emergency Shelters to help pregnant women with no place to go. Let’s give adoption some better PR.
-Stop Glamorizing Teen Pregnancy. Yup, MTV, I’m talking to you. Now, I have to admit, I have NEVER seen “Teen Mom” but what I have heard about it makes me vomit in my mouth a little. Some say it’s a great window to the realities of teen motherhood, others say that it makes girls think that they are one pregnancy away from landing a reality show and FAME!
-Celebrate the involvement of the father. Too often pro-choice voices talk about how it’s the choice of the woman, but there are at least 4 people involved in that choice: The Mother, The Father, The Child and God. In having the abortion, the mother takes away the choice of the father and the choice of the child.

A baby is not just an extension of the mother’s body, like an appendix or gall-bladder. It has it’s own genetic code and is a separate being. Just because it is dependent on the mother for a period of time does not make it more or less valuable or give it less of a right to live. My children are still very dependent on me. Just because they do not rely on me for their oxygen exchange or nutrition, doesn’t mean they are not still dependent. Do I have the right to deny them life because they count on me?

I’ll close with two quotes:

“The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood)

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What are your thoughts? I fully believe in civil discourse, but I do expect a certain level of decorum when engaging in debate. We all have differing opinions and no one person is more right than another and we all have the right to speak our minds. Can’t wait to read your thoughts.

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