Friday, December 18, 2015

Mary's Advent (Over at Ignitum Today)

Hail Mary by RakstarDesigns (Used with Permission)
The season of Advent is a time for waiting, preparing, and eagerly anticipating the birth of Christ.  It seems like no one could understand this period of time more than Mary, as she waited what probably seemed like a very long nine months for the birth of her son.

You could say that Mary’s personal Advent journey started at the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel greets her, saying: "Hail, full of Grace! The Lord is with you."  Even Mary was “greatly troubled” by these words, and pondered their meaning. We can look to Mary in our own walk through Advent as we prepare for Christ, discovering through her what it means to be full of grace and for the Lord to be with you.

When Mary told the angel Gabriel to let it "be done according to your word", she said yes to being with God, yes to being full of grace.  Her yes affirmed this greeting—just as when we say yes to God, we are filled with His grace.

Her yes can be a guide as we journey through Advent (and life) and as we truly prepare ourselves to be with the Lord.

We can never carry Christ like Mary did.  She quite literally was with the Lord as she physically carried Him in her womb. However, we can also be "pregnant" with Christ by carrying him in our hearts, and through receiving Him in the Eucharist.

Kissing the Face of God, by Morgan Weistling (Used with Permission)
To truly prepare for Christ’s birth, it must go even further than just being with the Lord in our own hearts.  Mary also spent her time of waiting in service to others—she ran with great haste to be with her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth immediately recognizes that she is in the presence of God by being in Mary’s presence, as John leaps in her womb. Mary’s Advent preparation thus also involved her physically bringing Christ to others.  We too can be a vessel for Christ, especially during this Advent season, by bringing the light of Christ to all that we meet and serve.

Mary’s Advent was long. She spent nine months waiting and traveled many miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We only spend four weeks in preparation, and (most likely) don’t have to travel very far by riding on a donkey. But we can apply how Mary prepared for the coming of Jesus to our own Advent season—by pondering the meaning of being with the Lord, saying yes to accepting His grace, and bringing Christ to others.

This post was originally published at Ignitum Today.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis Makes Me Uncomfortable (Over at Ignitum Today)

This post was originally published at Ignitum Today

2014 Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to Korea Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day August 17, 2014 Haemi Castle, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Korean Culture and Information Service ( Official Photographer : Jeon Han This official Republic of Korea photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way. Also, it may not be used in any type of commercial, advertisement, product or promotion that in any way suggests approval or endorsement from the government of the Republic of Korea. If you require a photograph without a watermark, please contact us via Flickr e-mail. --------------------------------------------------------------- 교황 프란치스코 방한 제6회 아시아 청년대회 폐막미사 2014-08-17 충청남도 서산시 해미읍성 문화체육관광부 해외문화홍보원 코리아넷 전한I have a confession to make. Well, if you read the title of this post, you already know, but here it is again: Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.

I know that as a Catholic I am probably not supposed to say that (or feel that way), but it’s true. Ever since he was elected Pope, he has made me uncomfortable.

It started with hearing “first Jesuit Pope” and seeing this humble man meekly waving from the balcony, and it has continued throughout his papacy.

Every time I see him in the news, or trending on Facebook or Twitter, my first thought is, “Oh no, what does the media think he said this time?"

After that wears off, I begin to wonder, “Wait, what did he actually say?"

And then it usually hits me square in the face: “Is he speaking to me?"

At first, I thought my discomfort stemmed from the media’s portrayal of our beloved leader, but I came to realize that it was more than that. He makes me uncomfortable because he is challenging me, personally, to encounter Christ and His Church in a whole new way.

I have decided that it’s a good thing that he makes me uncomfortable.  Honestly, he should make all of us uncomfortable. A leader who makes people feel comfortable can’t lead very effectively. 

As Pope Benedict said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

We were not made for comfort. I have to let that sink in sometimes, especially when something comes along that throws me out of my comfort zone. We were not made for comfort. We were made for greatness.

We are called, as Christians by our baptism, to be challenged.  We are then called to challenge the world by our love and faith.  Christ radically challenged the world, and so should the Vicar of Christ here on earth.  Christ asked the disciples to leave all comforts behind and to follow Him, and He asks us to do the same today.  In the same way, as leader of Christ’s Church, Pope Francis is also called to make us uncomfortable, just as Jesus did and continues to do today. 

I’m eagerly and anxiously anticipating Pope Francis’s arrival to the United States. I’m excited to hear how he challenges our country to step out of our comfort zones, but I’m also uncomfortable about what he will say that will speak directly to me, challenging me in a new and radical way. Pope Francis reminds us that we do not live in a safe Catholic bubble, but rather we are striving for the Kingdom as we live in the world. He challenges us to step out of that safe bubble and bring Christ to the world.  Yes, it will be uncomfortable at times. But by accepting this discomfort, we will find the peace that God promises us, because we were made for greatness.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Living in the Noise (Over at Ignitum Today)

This post was originally published at Ignitum Today

Recently, I went to a Sunday night baseball game to cheer on my beloved Washington Nationals. When the Nats play on Sundays, the local parish offers an extra Mass for baseball fans coming to the game, affectionately called #NatsMass. Not only is it the perfect way to attend Mass right before the game – still making it to the park in time for opening pitch – but the Nats also have a pretty stellar winning record on #NatsMass Sundays, which I think we can all agree is clearly not a coincidence.
This particular Sunday, it just so happened that the Gospel reading and homily were very appropriate for attending Mass in a small parish in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a major city with major game day traffic.

In the Gospel, Mark tells of Jesus coming to His hometown to teach in the synagogue, and the not-so-warm welcome He receives. Jesus was in the world where He grew up, but the people refused to listen to and believe Him.

The priest talked about how Jesus was not afraid to go out into the world to spread the good news, even to His hometown. Christ did not water down the truth for anyone, even His own people. His kingdom was not of this world, but yet He still walked and lived in this world, even if that world did not accept Him.

Throughout the entire Mass, the noise of the world heading to the baseball game permeated through the church doors. Cars honking, sirens blaring, whistles blowing, people yelling. The world outside this quiet little parish delivered a constant stream of noise; a world that was completely oblivious to the miracle of the Mass that was happening right in its midst.

I couldn’t help but take the reading and homily to heart as the noise continued to stream into the church. We live in a world that refuses to listen to Christ, and refuses to believe in Him – even when He is right in their midst.

The parish sitting in the middle of the busy-ness of the city is a metaphor for Jesus teaching in His own hometown. How many people notice this stone church as they walk or drive past on their way to the game; how many stop to think about the presence of Christ in the tabernacle within their reach? I’m sure that the answer is “very few”, and of those few that do notice the church on the corner, even fewer actually soak up what it means to live in this world as followers of Christ. It is so easy to get lost in the noise of this world, and so easy to miss the presence of Christ right in front of us.

There is a lot of noise that surrounds us as Christians. We are not called to live in a Christian bubble; we are called to live in this world, as noisy as it may be. Even more, like Christ, we are called to preach the Gospel and speak the Truth, even if we are ignored or shunned.

As the Host was raised during the Consecration, the noise outside continued to pour in and I thought to myself, “All of those people outside don’t realize what they are missing out on in here.” And so, this is our mission as Catholics – to help bring Christ to all those who live in that noisy world outside.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

3 Simple Prayers for When Praying is Hard (Over at Ignitum Today)

Every Christian has at least one time in their faith journey when they feel spiritually dry. For some, this time in the spiritual desert lasts for a brief period of time and for others it lasts for a lifetime. While spiritual dry spells can encourage great spiritual growth, they are also a very trying time on a person’s soul. Spiritual dryness can lead to spiritual apathy which makes it hard to do the simplest tasks - even praying.

If you’ve spent a prolonged time in the midst of a dry spell, sometimes it can be too hard to even muster a simple Hail Mary or Our Father. I know I’ve been there. I will start praying an Our Father, and get sidetracked about three lines in. So many words; so many lines (or so it seems, when prayer is hard).

Throughout my wanderings in the spiritual desert, I’ve come to rely on a few very short and sweet prayers that are quick to utter while still expressing what is on my heart...

Monday, March 2, 2015


The ladies at Fine Linen and Purple sent me this little interview about thrifting a looooooong time ago. I obviously never got around to sending it back to them, but I thought I would still share this very important knowledge about thrifting!


When did you get into thrifting, and what or who influenced your decision?

You would think that I would have more of a recollection of when I started thrifting since it’s such a major life event, but I honestly can’t remember! It was a few years ago. I had gone to thrift stores before, but I never really got into it. Then I discovered some great thrift stores in the DC area, and started thrifting all the time! I think a big influence on me was that around this time, I was majorly underemployed. It was nice to be able to still go shopping and find some great things, but not have to spend a lot of money. It was also great to be able to stock up on work appropriate attire as I was constantly changing jobs at the time, without having to spend a lot of money on new clothes each time I changed jobs (and consequently, proper work attire codes).

Describe a typical thrifting adventure for you. (Do you go solo? What time/day? Multiple stores? Quick browsing or carefully combing through racks?)

I usually go alone, but also enjoy introducing friends and family to the world of thrifting. I usually go off on my own for a bit, though, even if I am with people. I like to go in the middle of the day, as I find morning and evenings to be more crowded. I usually just do one store, because my favorite thrift store (Unique) is quite large, and I can easily spend more than a few hours in there. I usually only go thrifting when I am in the mood to carefully comb through the racks - I won’t always look at all of the racks (I often skip pants and blazers/jackets), but I do comb through because that is when you find the best steals.

Do you thrift as a primary way of shopping, or for certain types of items only? Do you find that certain items are easier or harder to thrift?

I would say that my clothing wardrobe is pretty 50-50 between being thrifted and being from “regular” stores. I don’t typically go to thrift stores in search for a specific item; if I’m looking for a specific item, I usually just go to a department store as they have a variety of styles and sizes. For non-clothing items, again, I don’t usually go to the thrift store seeking a particular item; I am more likely to be browsing the home goods or books section and find something I can use for a great deal.

I don’t think that there are items that are necessarily harder to thrift than others, but some take more patience to find (i.e. it may take longer to find a pair of red pants, if that’s what your heart is set on, but you can find them eventually). I don't often find shoes at the thrift store, partly because who knows whose feet they've been on and mostly because shoes have to fit just right - so I would say that for me it is harder to find shoes, but that isn't the case for everyone. I will say that kitchen items are always able to be found thrifting. ALWAYS. If you don’t care to have your kitchen items match or be brand new, always check the thrift store first.

Have you tried out thrifting online, such as through ebay or an online secondhand shop? If you have, how does it compare to shopping in person?

I do shop through eBay and online sites, like Threadflip. I’ve found some great items through both, at great prices. It is a little bit harder than shopping in person because you can’t try the clothes on (if that’s what you are buying), and often the hassle of returning an item to these sites is just not worth the time/money. Especially if you are the kind of person that has specific fit requirements, it’s much easier to shop in person so you can try clothes on. On the other hand, you can shop eBay in your pajamas at midnight, which is always a perk!

What types of items do you avoid buying while thrifting? What criteria do you use to sort out the “duds”?

For whatever reason, the thought of buying linens or towels at the thrift store just grosses me out. You will probably never find me buying pillows or blankets from the thrift store!

For the "duds", since I mostly buy clothes at the thrift store, I’m going to keep my answer specific to clothing. I’ve gotten pretty good at having a good eye for spotting whether or not something is good quality. I can comb through the racks and pretty quickly know if an item I like is from one of those high quality name brands (Loft, J. Crew, New York and Company, Macy's brands, etc). I try to only buy better quality brands at the thrift store, because I know that they will hold up over time. I also sometimes look for items that are high quality, but are not in my size/not my style, because these items have great re-sale value (and I can make a profit selling it on eBay).

It’s important to ask yourself a few questions when buying, to make sure you are not getting a “dud”:

  1. If I saw this at a regular store, either full price or on sale, would I consider buying it? (This keeps you from getting pulled in by a stellar price tag alone.)
  2. Is the quality of this item worth the thrift store price? (This has kept me from buying some items that I would have bought in the store, but the price was too much for the quality - i.e. a dress from Target being marked at $15 at the thrift store. No thanks.)
  3. Does the item look new or like new? (There is no point in buying an item - even if it is super cheap - if you are only going to be able to wear it a few times before it can’t be worn anymore - look for pilling, small stains, tears, moth holes, etc. If it has any of the above, no matter how small, it’s not worth a buy for me.)
  4. Does the item require special washing (i.e. dry clean only)? If so, is it worth the money you will have to pay to clean it? (To me, it is not worth it to buy a shirt that is dry clean only. However, I have bought a couple of coats and a dress that are dry clean only, and those are still worth it to me because they don’t need washed as much as a shirt would, for example.)

Share with us what you consider the greatest deal you ever got thrifting on a single item (picture please if at all possible!)

My winter coat! It is from Style & Co., which is a Macy’s brand, so I knew that it would hold up well. It is red - my favorite color - and I love the style. The coat looked like it was fairly new when I bought it. I believe I paid $10-12 for it - I can’t remember exactly, but I do know that I spent more to have it dry cleaned ($14) than I paid for the coat itself! So far, it has held up for two winters, and is still going strong!
Can't ever lose me in a crowd!
Last winter, I also found a Land’s End long black winter coat with down filling. It fits me beautifully and is great for the super cold winter days. When I bought this coat, I looked it up online to get a comparison price - this coat sells for over $200 brand new at Land’s End. I paid $18 for it (and again spent more for the dry cleaning - $20 - than I did on the coat)!


Share with us a complete outfit, or nearly complete outfit, entirely secondhand/thrifted (picture please if at all possible!) If you are willing and able to, you can share what this outfit cost.

I don't remember specific prices anymore, but I paid anywhere from $2 to $10 for the thrifted items!

Green sweater (Loft) - consignment store in KY; Jean skirt (unknown brand) - Unique Thrift;
Necklace (Premier Designs); Boots (A2) - Kohl's
Blue dress (Land's End) - Unique Thrift; Jean jacket (Old Navy) - Unique Thrift;
Sandals (Croft & Borrow) - Kohl's
Skirt with pockets (Ann Taylor) - Unique Thrift; Magenta blouse (Fashion Bug) - Unique Thrift;
Boots (Bare Traps) - DSW
Black and white dress (Mossimo for Target) - Unique Thrift;
Boots (Merona for Target) - Target
As you can see, I tend to find quality, versatile pieces at the thrift store, and then I buy my shoes where I can find just-the-right fit!

Are you a thrift-a-holic? I'd love to hear about your thrifting experiences, including any big tips!

*This post contains an affiliate link for Threadflip. If you sign up through my link, we both get money credit to use!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Travel Bug (Not Alone Series)

Linking up with Morgan and Jen! Thanks ladies!

It's been a long time since I linked up with the Not Alone Series, but I just couldn't resist this topic - travel!

I’ve always loved to travel, and my family always found interesting places to vacation when I was growing up, even just for long weekends. However, I found that when I moved out to DC on my own, most of my traveling was back home to visit family, and while that’s fun, I’ve seen Ohio quite a bit. 

I remember lamenting this fact to a friend a few years ago, and we talked about becoming travel buddies and taking a trip just for the sake of traveling together. While this never happened (because she met a handsome lad and got married!), it did get me thinking about how much I would like to actually travel, especially during my single years. 

This all made me realize a few things: (1) It’s ok to travel alone (to some places), (2) I have other travel buddies (more on that in a second), (3) this is a prime time in my life to do a lot of traveling, and (4) I can travel to places to meet up with friends. 

Y'all. These realizations made me catch the travel bug - and I've barely stopped since!

In the past couple of years, this bug has mostly consisted of long weekends flying or driving to visit family and friends in various locales, but it's also led to some big trips.

My most recent big trip came about when my sister, K, and I were randomly talking about international travel one day. She had just gotten back from doing her third whirlwind tour of Spain. Our other sister, M, was studying abroad in Spain, so they both went over a week before M’s program started, just to travel together. At the end of the week, K dropped M off at “school” and flew back to the US! K mentioned how it was like she was M’s tour guide, since she had shown her around where K had previously studied abroad. 

I made the off-hand comment that sometime we should go to England and I could act as her tour guide, since I had studied abroad there. She responded with, “YEAH, I WOULD LOVE TO GO TO ENGLAND!! LET’S GO!” I asked if she was serious, and she said she was. And just like that, we were going to England! 

We had some “Are we really doing this?!” moments along the way, but once we booked flights, there was no turning back! We came up with a list of must-sees, a calendar of where to go when with a tentative schedule, and then booked rail passes and hotel rooms. The next thing I knew, we were off to England!
NOT London Bridge... Tower Bridge!
Glastonbury Abbey
On our way to the Globe (my favorite place, where I used to write
my English papers!), we stopped to take a picture of Millennium Bridge
and the Tate Modern at the Thames.
Getting goofy at Warwick Castle
Obligatory red phone booth picture
Stonehenge Bus Tour
A beach weekend in Bournemouth

Photo op in the hometown of my boyfriend, aka Stratford-Upon-Avon
It was such a great trip - it was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. My mom was worried that we would hate each other by the end of the trip, but I think we would both say that we got along great, and we grew even closer during our two weeks abroad.
Travel buddies made in Heaven (or the same womb)
The travel bug hasn't really stopped since - I've got a lot of travel this year that includes both visiting family and taking trips for myself!

Liesl’s 2015 Travel Schedule


- PA to visit Julie
- Waynesboro, PA to help lead a high school retreat

Coming Up

- K comes to DC for Easter!
- Home to Ohio for M’s college graduation
- Flying to FL to meet up with my family - Disney World and HP World for a week, and then a long weekend trip to the beach with K (rest of family goes home - their loss!)
- Either DC or Philly to see the Pope (and Julie again!)
- Denver, CO to visit Amanda followed by the #CathSorority retreat!
- Home for Thanksgiving and Christmas

I also hope to throw in a day trip to King’s Dominion, as well as another visit with Elizabeth! There’s also some great small towns and vineyards about an hour away from me, and I love to take day trips out there with friends to explore - Baltimore, MD is tentatively in the books for this spring! My cousin is also tentatively coming to visit for the 4th of July - she has been to visit a number of times, and I always love “traveling” to DC and exploring VA with her!

My long-term travel goals (in the next few years and beyond) include going to visit my cousin in Lexington (she’s been here so much, it’s time to go to her!), another international trip or two (possibly to Spain with my sisters, and Italy, the Mediterranean, and Australia are all on my to-travel list) and more long weekend trips to different parts of the country (I would love to go out west to explore, to see Alaska, and maybe do a cruise).

I've learned so much from my travel bug! Let me share my wealth of knowledge with you...

Liesl’s Tips and Tricks for Single Life Travel

  • Don’t be afraid of traveling alone (or of traveling alone to meet up with someone). I’ve become a pro at driving and flying alone. As an introvert, I actually some time alone with traveling very relaxing. If you’re taking a long road/plane trip, go to the used bookstore and treat yourself to a new book you’ve been wanting to read, or borrow an audiobook from the library (my fav? Ella Enchanted)
  • If you’re not ready to travel big, do day trips. Every town has exciting things to explore! I remember growing up, my mom would find fun summer tours for us to do that were within an hour of our town - the Longaberger Basket plant, the US Post Office, and the Anthony Thomas chocolate factory. Our hometown also had a wealth of new malls to explore, odd museums (the Anti-Saloon League museum, to be exact), and random events throughout the year to check out. Traveling doesn’t have to be Go Big, or Stay Home. Be a tourist in your area for a day!
  • Plan trips to visit friends in different parts of the country. Not only do you get to meet up with a friend, but you also can hopefully save some money because you will most likely have a place to stay. This is a great option if money is tight or you are saving your dough for a bigger trip.
  • Lump your travel plans with work holidays. I work for the federal government, so I am very lucky to get a number of paid holidays, as well as my accrued leave. I try to lump my travel with holidays so I end up using less vacation. It’s also a plus that my vacation rolls over (to a certain point), so I can save up my vacation for bigger trips. If your work allows flexibility, you can also work comp time before a trip or work longer hours and flex off in order to travel - without having to use any leave! I took off 2.5 weeks to go to England, and ended up only using 40 hours of vacation leave, because I had saved up 32 hours of comp time and lumped our trip with a federal holiday. You can bet I used all that leave I saved for other smaller trips!
  • If you are flying, sign up for price alerts. When I know that I am flying somewhere, I immediately sign up for a price alert for that trip, so once I see a drop in price, I can buy. Oftentimes, airlines will drastically lower prices for only a few hours or a day, so if you get the alerts, you can jump on those savings! I usually use Kayak, but there are a lot of great sites.
  • Use travel sites to your advantage. You can find some great deals if you look for them. When we were planning our trip to England, I ended up discovering Priceline’s Express Bids, and we snagged some stellar deals through that! For the Express Bids, you can select a region of town and the hotel rating - we selected the Westminster area for one leg, which had a 4-star hotel option available for something like $100 a night - which is just unheard of in that area. Even though we didn’t know the exact hotel or location, we jumped on it... and did we get a deal! We found out that our hotel was a brand new luxury hotel - we were greeted by a porter who took our bags up to our room, which was huge for English standards. Our bathroom was like a spa (I even soaked in the tub one night!), and we were only a few blocks away from the tube station, which was only a few stops away from all the tourist spots. We could walk to a number of delicious taverns and restaurants, and were right on the Thames to see all the London sites. Priceline and Trip Advisor also allowed us to snag some other great deals - our hotel in Stratford was adorable and the bed and breakfast in Bournemouth was perfect for us - and we saved a ton of money. Don’t be afraid to shop around on multiple sites to find what you're looking for!
Leave your best travel tips in the comments!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#5Faves: Post-Holiday, Pre-Spring Edition

Linking up with Jenna!

I’ve been reading lately from so many people that they hate winter/January/February/the-time-between-New-Years-and-spring. To be honest, I just don’t get the hate! I love winter. It is (usually) my favorite season, and made even better when snow decides to make a regular appearance (still waiting for that rain to turn into snow here...). I find that there is so much about this time that I enjoy, so here are my #5Faves about this post-holiday, pre-Spring time of year (also known as January and February... and sometimes March... and depending on where you live, April too).


Snow, snow, snow! When snow is forecasted, most people are all:

...and I'm all:

I love me some snow days. Maybe I'll change my mind someday if I have kids, but for now, I have a love-love-LOVE relationship with snow. We haven't gotten much snow here this season, but we've been known to get an unexpected blizzard or two or three in February, so I haven't given up hope yet. Snow just takes me back to childhood, when I'd wake up to the world blanketed in white. Building a snowman and making a fort to have a snowball fight with your friends down the street and making snow angels and getting snow in crevices of your body you didn’t even know you had and then finishing it all off with a nice hot mug of hot chocolate! I know you remember those days too, and I bet you one snow angel that you remember them fondly!


Federal holidays, anyone? So this most likely doesn’t apply to those who stay at home or who work a retail or customer service job, but this is our prime season of federal holidays at work. New Year’s Day, MLK Day, President’s Day… this time of year ends a long string of holidays off that started in September, until we go into the long haul of post-President’s Day to Memorial Day. It’s a long three months of no holidays. Real long.


Take it easy. If you just started singing that song in your head, either you're welcome or I'm sorry! For many of us, the Thanksgiving and Christmas season is filled with lots and lots of travel (and if you stay put, the season is still insanely busy). I flew home for half a week for Thanksgiving, only to drive back three weeks later for Christmas. I love traveling, but it’s exhausting, so the couple of months after the holidays are so relaxing for me. I still find ways to keep busy, but it’s less flying/driving and more curling up with a good book or TV show, visiting with friends who are close by, seeing lots of movies, and getting my craftiness on. I feel like no one expects much of you in January and February, and so it’s the perfect excuse to let your inner introvert reign supreme!


Bubble bubble, toil and trouble! Except there is no toil and trouble in the kind of bubble I'm talking about - bubble baths!
I love bubble baths - rub a dub dub, just me in the tub. I enjoy a glass of wine and a good book or Amazon Prime while I'm soaking along. Nothing feels quite like soaking in some hot suds when it's cold outside, which is why winter is amazing. You just can't enjoy a nice long bubble bath in the heat of not-winter like you can while it's cold outside! 


Get your fashion on! I just love winter fashion. Dresses/skirts with tights; boots galore; sweaters and cardigans of all colors; scarves of every pattern... oh my! These are a few of my favorite things. While I have tried to get away with wearing these things in not-winter as my office operates in sub-zero temperatures during the summer, it just doesn’t work because it feels about 100 degrees outside. You can only look completely adorable in a dress/tights/boots/cardi/scarf combo in these months - any other month, and you look completely insane.

What do you love about this post-holiday, pre-spring time of year?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Neck of the Woods

What I'm Reading: I just finished Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and I'm currently reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (both on my 2015 Reading Challenge list).

Y'all. I can't even count how many times I've read EE, and I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "I probably won't love it as much as I did the last 15094 times I've read it...", and I can't tell you how many times I close the book and think to myself, "OHMYGOSH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH WHY WHY WHY IS IT SO AMAZING *HEARTEYEEMOJI*!!!!!" So, there's that.

This time, I listened to EE on audiobook - highly recommend! It just brings the book to life. The entire time I was listening to it, I just kept thinking about how amazing this book would be as a movie. And then I would remember that they did make a movie out of it, and it was terrible - minus Hugh Dancy as Char - because they were not true to the book at all. So. Does anyone know any fancy producers that would like to re-make the movie to be true to the book? Much appreciated.

Why, I'd love to call you Char...
I would like you to know, Char, that I always say "Thank you" to chivalry...
You can sweep me off my feet anytime...
What I'm Watching: Surprisingly, I am not watching Ella Enchanted, the movie (just the gifs, apparently). Since all my TV shows are on their winter break right now (why do they do that to me?!), I'm currently binge watching Criminal Minds via syndicated marathons. It's gotten to the point where I'm watching the same episodes that I already saw earlier in the week, which I guess means it's time to find another hobby. Any other good recommendations?

What's Happenin': I traveled back home to spend Christmas with my family, which meant that I was off work for a whole week - I love my job, but sometimes you just need a vacation! I came back to work for two days before NYE, and rang in the New Year with Stardust and Larissa! We celebrated New Year's Day by cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes in their Sugar Bowl win! The odds were not in OSU's favor so I didn't want to get my hopes up, so when they did win, I may or may not have cried a wee bit.

Oldie but rocking my Buckeye pride with my Buckeye seester.
And then... the plague hit. That's what I'm going to call it, because I've officially been away from work for a week. It's like my body says, "Oh, I'm tired of being sick in this way, so let's try something new!" WHO KNOWS. This means that I've had many opportunities to scour the TV schedule for when the next Criminal Minds episode is (there's only one today, how will I live?!), sleep 12+ hours a night, and figure out ways to pass the time when my cable and internet go out for hours on end (hair braiding, y'all). My deepest thoughts have been trying to decide if it's socially acceptable to go to bed at 7:30 pm (consensus: it is), so I'm really hoping that my body is on the mend so I can get back to "real life".

Link It Up:

The 2015 Reading Challenge - Modern Mrs. Darcy also set forth a reading challenge for 2015, and I think I'm going to try to check off all her categories in my own reading challenge! Here's to reading in 2015!

Ideas for Friday Abstinence - Jenna at Call Her Happy shares some great ideas for your Friday fast besides giving up meat. There's some great ideas on there for those Fridays where you just need that burger!

Ignitum Today - I've been editing posts for Ignitum Today! Head on over to read all the great things that I'm privileged to have come into my inbox each week!

What's happening in your neck of the woods? Share with me in my sickness-induced boredom!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

5 Most Memorable Reads of 2014

Yesterday, I issued myself a reading challenge for 2015. I know the first thought in all of your minds was "But Liesl, what were some of your favorite things that you read this past year?!"

Just roll with me, ok? You thought it, even if you didn't, alright?

These are 5 books that I read in 2014 that really stuck with me, both while I was reading them and long after. Just in case you want to join me on my reading challenge, you can add these beauties to your list.*

Something Other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler - I'm pretty sure that every person in the Catholic world has at least heard of this book, if not read it, by now, but in case you haven't, this highly anticipated memoir lives up to the hype! Her memoir is very readable and will have you laughing and turning the pages quickly to see what's next. I highly recommend this for Catholics and non-Catholics. Of course, the highlight of reading this beauty was getting to hear Jen speak and meet her in person!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - I have a slight obsession healthy fascination with 1900s England and WWII fiction, so I was excited to pick up this book. What I didn't expect was that I would be constantly thinking about when I could continue reading this book when I had to sit it down to do - you know, real life things - and how much it would make me think. Not only is the writing beautiful, but it really makes you ponder how events in our lives are linked together... and what could happen if you had the opportunity to go back and do it again.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett - I wrote here that Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors and that I've never read something from her that didn't completely suck me in... and she did it again with Liars! I love how she develops the relationships of all of her characters, and I especially enjoyed the nuns in this novel.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton - I've enjoyed all of Kate Morton's novels, each of them set in historical England, but this one is my favorite by far. She weaves English culture, history, and an engrossing mystery into each of her novels, and I loved the mystery that took me deep into WWII England in this one. While I did figure out the ending a little bit before the ending, her writing and characters kept me just as engrossed in the book as ever.

The Likeness by Tana French - I wasn't the biggest fan of French's first novel in this series - In the Woods - so I picked up this next one in the Dublin Murder Squad series with hesitation. I'm glad that I did though, because this one was so much better than the first, probably because I actually liked the main character, Cassie. The mystery kept me intrigued and the vivid characterization of each of the players kept me enthralled even after I figured out the whodunit. Unfortunately, I think it helps to read the first book in the series to have an understanding of Cassie's mindset, but good comes out of suffering, right?

What are some of your favorite books that you read in 2014?

*Just realized that all of these books are authored by women. Totally not on purpose, but girl power, ladies!
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