Two for Others Tuesday: Special Three-Part Conclave Edition

Serve others in Christ's name

  1. We came across this adorable DIY papal conclave playset for little ones.  Regina at A Living Garden has made something simple that allows the whole conclave process to come alive.  Visit and play!  
  2. Come si elegge il papa interactive slideshow is great for older children who can read and click.
  3. And now, on a completely unrelated note, I encourage you to visit Introvert Fairy Tales.  These are brief but brilliant takes on familiar stories, only they are rewritten for the introvert’s version of “happily ever after.”  It may be entirely secular, but I see this as a wonderful illustration of the fact that not everyone’s “happily ever after” involves being attached to one human creature romantically for the rest of this earthly life.  Solitude is not unhealthy.  Contemplation and the pursuit of mental joys is not sinful. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have monasteries like this one.  I’ve met those ladies through the grille.  They all look happy and healthy enough to me.

Two for Others Tuesday: Good Things, Sweet Dreams… and 3-day Meat Sale?!

Serve others in Christ's name

One Good Thing by Jillee: Jillee is full of all sorts of ideas and such for homemade, frugal living. I just made her slow cooker Greek yogurt between yesterday and today. In spite of it being made by me and involving not one but two electrical appliances, it came out wonderfully. Jillee is kind of famous, so my linking to her is mostly for the benefit of others who haven’t yet seen her recipes for homemade laundry detergent and the like. If you like to DIY to SSC (save some cash), get to know Jillee.

Sweet Dreams is a local organization that provides free cakes for celebrations held by families who otherwise couldn’t provide such treats. Our family has not one but two birthdays in Lent, so as I pondered how we are going to manage birthday dinners and desserts under our 2013 Lenten Challenge rules, Sweet Dreams came to mind. We don’t plan on asking them for cakes, because our “poverty” will be voluntary, and we’ll come up with some way to manage birthday celebrations in the spirit of Lent. For instance, Mr. Mackerelsnapper is one of the birthday celebrants, but his feast day is 3/19, so that might be a day of steak and cake to make up for it. Anyway, Sweet Dreams is an organization that spreads joy. That’s worth celebrating.  If you’re local and you like to bake, get in touch.

Now, an unrelated thing about our local area…. if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have heard me call our area “the far eastern branch of the Bible belt.” This is a place where the local buffet restaurant has “Seafood Night” on Thursday but “Prime Rib Night” on Friday. The attached grocery store also has, for the week leading up to Lent:


Yep. Home sweet home.

Two for Others Tuesday: A Thursday Edition

Serve others in Christ's name

The Love Project:  There is so much ugly conflict out there in the ether, so much delight in what is wrong.  If you’re looking for a way to rejoice some more in the truth, take a look at The Love Project.  What started as one blogger’s (that blogger being Heidi Hess Saxton) New Year’s resolution has become my personal way of taking a moment each day to think with more charity.  Heidi is taking a Catholic look at all the charitable kinds of love, both humans and divine.  The posts are efficient in their brevity and often end with a challenge for you to carry with you through the rest of the day.

Have altar, will travel:  The Travel Altar is an adorable idea.  I met the Travel Altar ladies on my airport/hotel shuttle ride at CMN.  It’s a little trifold card, kind of like a paper triptych, into which you can slide three of your favorite holy cards.  It’s a great way to organize your holy cards and keep them rotating, especially if you’re a “collect ’em all” sort but don’t have a practical means of displaying them all at once.  Now with the Travel Altar, you don’t have to.

Two for Others Tuesday, the Sunday Edition: Help a Convert and A.S.K.

The good news is that I’ve been very busy with good things: namely, with fiction writing, which is my favorite kind of writing to do! Alas, this blog has gone neglected. Here’s my first Two for Others Tuesday in… well, in longer than I care to admit.


I <3 free clip art!

I ❤ free clip art!

1)  I met Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary at CNMC last August when she gave the keynote at the bloggers’ summit.  I try really hard to be realistic when I am in the presence of famous people:  I met her, but she met a bazillion other people that day.  The only thing she might remember about meeting me, maybe, is that I was the lady working on the “NFP murder mystery with every chapter title being the name of an ’80s song.”  Nevertheless, she was one of the few bloggers I met and heard that day whose work I’d already read, so meeting her was a pretty special thing.  Hearing her backstory made the meeting even more special.  She was born and raised…. atheist.  Yep.  This revert loves that. Anyway, Jennifer is pregnant with #6, and I just found out last week that she has been hospitalized with blood clots in the lungs.  She is being sent home from the hospital because she’d be safer away from all the flu cases coming in.  She needs prayers, and so does her family.  If you want to make a sacrifice of prayer for her family, hugs to you.  If you can make a sacrifice of PayPal for her and her family (immobilized mom=family in need of takeout, maid service, and madeup lost income), Hallie at MoxieWife has set up a PayPal donation button, going right to the Fulwilers.

2)  Ask.Seek.Knock.Domestic Violence Awareness:  another ministry I discovered at the CMN trade show last Summer.  A.S.K. was started in memory of a woman who suffered death because of domestic violence.  Her abuser is now in jail and her children are basically orphans.  A.S.K. is a CATHOLIC ministry that provides scholarships to children who have suffered loss because of domestic violence.  Their aim is to start a camp for children in this awful situation.  As a domestic/child abuse survivor myself, I am particularly moved whenever people who weren’t the victims themselves (not directly) stand up and say, “NO!”

Two for Others Tuesday…. oh. Oops.

Serve others in Christ's name

I’m already late.   No sense wasting time with banter.

Happy Catholic:  When I went to CMN in August, I met a lot of people I’d never met before.  Since I spend most of my very limited blog-reading time on cooking blogs rather than Catholic blogs, I have read very few of the latter.  So when I met a bunch of Catholic bloggers at CMN, there were admittedly few to whom I could say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve read your blog!”  Julie from Happy Catholic is one of those, well, two, (the other being Jennifer F. at Conversion Diary).  She’s happy.  She’s Catholic.  She’s a Firefly fan.  She’s one of those people I kind of want to sidle up to and, all big-eyed, say, “Will you be my best friend?”

Catholic Cuisine: I don’t think I met anyone from Catholic Cuisine at CMN, but if I did, I apologize for not putting your real face with your virtual one. I’ve been reading Catholic Cuisine for years, because every time I search for ideas on how to cook something that is related to a Catholic feast day, they are the first hit. Their stuff looks lovely. I have to admit, though, that I read CC much in the same way I read Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age etc etc, homemaking magazines, or 97% of Pinterest: I think, “Wow, that looks awesome.  But we all know nothing like that is ever going to happen.”  And then, voila!  Somebody makes it happen.  That somebody, when it comes to fancy spiritual confections, is Catholic Cuisine.

Two for Others Tuesday: Spinning Book-shaped Plates

Wait, before I forget, please take 4.2 seconds to vote in my Lent 2013 Challenge Poll?  Should the challenge be…


Thankee.  And now, on with the show.

I ❤ free clip art!

Right now I’m in the process of reading not one but two books of fiction.  Impressive, no?  Actually, I probably should’ve written, “Impressive, eh?” in honor of both books being from Canadian house Full Quiver Publishing.  The first book of theirs I’m reading is Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable Hrkach.  I’m not far into Emily’s Hope quite yet, but what I’ve read is keeping me looking forward to the moment I get back to it. I met Ellen at the Catholic Writers Guild conference last month.  I love her mission of illustrating Church teaching through story rather than just arguing about it.  I heard someone on Catholic radio recently say that we’re not going to win anybody with arguments; we’re going to win them with love.  Wait… was that Catholic radio or Father Barron on Catholicism?  I’m confused.  I guess that’s what I get for spinning plates.  But don’t let that stop me!

I’m also about one-third of the way through Angela’s Song, the debut of author AnneMarie Creedon.  “But Mrs. Mackerelsnapper,” you say, “Angela’s Song doesn’t come out until next month!  How can you possibly be one-third through it already?” Ah, my dear, you see, when you go to the CWG conference, you come home with SWAG.  And by SWAG, I mean “stolen without a gun,” not anything of the gangsta realm.  Think pirate booty, not the other kind.  Anyway, loving Angela, especially since the author took a chance and wrote it in first person, present tense.  “Oh, the horror!” cry all the publishing gods.  The publishing gods are silly and have silly hang-ups.  This works for Angela.  Again, I can’t wait to get back to it.

Before I got sidetracked on my plate-spinning reality…

… I was trying to get to the mission of Full Quiver Publishing.  Outwardly, it’s about “Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage.”  Really, though, all that means is that it’s about love–charitable love, selfless love, love that lasts beyond the present moment.  And if that doesn’t conquer hearts for God, then what possibly could?

Two for Others Tuesday: Sorority Girls, Cupcakes, and the Zombie Apocolypse

Here it is, our second….

Serve others in Christ's name

First up is Exposed:  Inexcusable Me… Irreplacable Him.  I met the author, Shannon Dietz, at the CMN conference last month when I stopped by the Ask Seek Knock booth (a ministry to survivors of domestic abuse… and believe me, ASK deserves their own Two for Others Tuesday, but one thing at a time, people).  She’s a generous soul in person.  Her book is generous as well, and I feel like it was a generous gift to me personally.  Both of us had difficult childhoods and abusive relationships, and both of us came to Christ through the Catholic faith while in college.  The main difference being I was a pasty-faced theatre nerd and she was a sorority sister.  Exposed reminded me on a new level that surface appearances are just that:  surface.  Underneath it all we all have that God-shaped hole, even those who look like they have it all together and don’t need things like Eucharist or obedience.  I needed this reminder, especially during this political season, when going on Facebook can amount to emotional abuse most days.  Besides that, I totally love a memoir that doesn’t blame everybody else for the author’s shorcomings.  I love her message that, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve been abused, you still have to take responsibility for your own actions.  It’s a brave message, and she’s a brave woman.

Second:  Ora Et Labora Et Zombies.  Ryan Trusell is one of those people I kind of want to smack.  Just a little.  Not enough to hurt or anything.  He has written an “epistolatory novel” (you know, the kind Pride and Prejudice actually started out as) and is mailing it out piece by piece.  The cruel tease handed out the first one for free at CMN.  Now I have to actually waiiiiiiiiit for the next one.  Cruel, cruel author.  Anyway, so far, Ora et Labora et Zombies is worth your time.  It’s got a love story–gasp!–within an already established marriage.  And a toddler.  And monks.  And cupcakes.  And Mardi Gras.  I am hooked.  I want you to be hooked.  These letters just might eat your brains.

New Feature: Two for Others Tuesday

I can’t believe it was two weeks ago already that I was at the Catholic Marketing Network Conference in Arlington, TX.  It was a whirlwind week of ooh-ahhing over all the goodies at the exhibitors’ booths, learning more about the writing and blogging crafts at the attached Catholic Writers Conference and Catholic New Media Conference, and then there was the networking.  This introvert here wishes she could make “networking” a four-letter word.  However, at CMN, it wasn’t so bad.  First of all, we all shared the whole Catholic thing, so that broke the ice.

Secondly… well, time for a confession.  I admit that, the night before I left, I was sobbing, yes, sobbing, over the fact that I would be stuck with strangers who might not like me.  You can take the girl out of junior high, but you can’t take the junior high out of the girl.  However, remember how I just mentioned “the whole Catholic thing”?  Before falling asleep that last night at home, I publicly (to my husband, anyway) resolved to worry more about others than I worried about myself.  I would ask more questions than I answered.  I would help others more than I waited around, looking for someone to help me.  And I would pray.  A lot.

That resolution made a huge difference.

Upon coming home, I made a resolution to be more mindful and less slapdash about my blogging, which includes reaching out to others more on their blogs, not to debate (debating, as we’ve already discussed, is not my strong point), but to build up.  One joint Catholic blogger effort is “7 Quick Take Fridays,” started by Jennifer Fulwiler at conversiondiary.  All the cool Catholic bloggers are doing it.  As usual, my position doesn’t allow me to play with the other cool people.  Fridays are both my big cooking day (researching, taking notes, finding ingredients, taking dreadful pictures that include the shadow of my iphone) and either Little Flowers Girls Club day or the day we join with our homeschooling field trip club in some wacky, highly educational adventure.

This morning, as I was praying over my blog (how nerdy) and going over our Tuesday schedule (we do community service in a local city every Tuesday), my pre-conference networking resolution and my post-conference blogging resolution collided in my brain.  It was a pretty collision.  Very sparkly.  When the dust settled, God handed me Two for Others Tuesday.  It’s not quite off-topic, as it will be something Catholic; but Two for Others Tuesday is when I will either share a Catholic blog I like or review one of the gazillion books or products I brought home from CMN.

Without further ado, I bring you…


One:  Allow me to wax enthusiastic about Margaret Rose Realy’s blog, Morning Rose Prayer Gardens.  I feel hypocritical writing about gardening, because I am the most neglectful gardener in the world:  I hate bugs, I have had back and other joint problems since I was 15, and I generally can’t keep something alive unless it yells at me to do so.  However, Margaret’s blog brings gardening into the heart of even the least green of thumbs.  Her spiritual insights into the practice of gardening are poetic without being too lofty.  Go read her stuff.  When you’re done that, order her first book, A Garden of Visible Prayer.  I had intended to start reading it when Oldest Kid announced to me, “But I’m already on Chapter 3!”  Some Tuesday in the future, I will give both her and my reviews of said book.

Two:  At CMN, one of the wonderful volunteers I met was Laura B. Nelson, who blogs at  She is a rockin’ lady both in person and in writing.  I was personally drawn to her mission to “discuss faith and the environment” from a distinctly Catholic perspective.  I think she and I are blogging two sides of the same… well, not coin, because there are more than two sides to sharing ideas about Catholic life without going into an apologetics tirade.  How about we’re two sides on the same gorgeous jewel?  Yes.  Yes, I like that.

Anyway, there’s one step to blogging more mindfully as my primary vocation allows.  Next step:  prettying up the place.  Sheesh.  It’s about as pretty as a gulag around here.