“If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it... But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.

~Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Texas Travels

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~ St. Augustine


Currently I am spending a peaceful day with my family at my Grandpa's assisted living villa in San Antonio.  Yes, that's right, Texas.  A place where they still have 80 degree weather in October and it feels like we've gone back in time to those glorious months of summer. Just a refreshing little break, spending time with family and seeing new places.  Then we'll come back to be plunged once again into windy, cold Michigan fall weather...

But actually, as I've seen more of Texas, I'm loving Michigan more.  The woods and lakes and hills are just my home. I don't belong in the hot dry regions with the long flat expanses and the short scrubby trees. I belong in my northern mitten state, and that's where I always will.  But of course, it's lovely to experience something different. Nothing really compares to swimming in the Gulf of Mexico on North Padre Island. Smelling the salty tang in the air, and tasting it on your lips. Gazing out at the crashing, thundering sea. Burying your feet deep in the sand. Wandering along the shore gathering shells. Riding a boogie board on the waves.  Taking a boat tour out amongst the islands.  Feeling the wind whip through your hair. Watching the sun rise in all its glorious splendor.  Watching it set at night from a restaurant over the bay.

All that was a few days ago when we traveled down to Corpus Christi.

Now we're back in San Antonio, and I made a most wonderful discovery at my Grandpa's place:

Books. Classics, to be exact.  In lovely, old-fashioned, hardcovers - just inviting you to open them up and dive into their golden depths. Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Poems of William Shakespeare, Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare's Comedies, The Red Badge of Courage, David Copperfield, and the list goes on.

And these are right next to the pool table where my brothers love hanging out.  I browsed through my favorite parts of Pride and Prejudice last night, and now today I've been exploring the stirring beauty of Keat's poetry.

But what is higher beyond thought than thee?
Fresher than berries of a mountain tree?
More strange, more beautiful, more smooth, more regal,
Than wings of swans, than doves, than dim-seen eagle?
What is it? And to what shall I compare it?
It has a glory, and nought else can share it...
(Keats, Sleep and Poetry)

I just want to sit here for hours and hours, days and days, to read all these books... ♥

Sadly that's not possible though.  Reality kicks in.  I've got homework and papers due and quizzes to study for... and this is our last day at the villa. Tomorrow we fly back home.

Our trip was far from perfect, it had its snags and troubles, of course.  But overall, I will carry away some wonderful memories of places and happenings that I'll just never forget.  God is good. ♥

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee"

There is so much going on in my life that sometimes it just overwhelms me. These past weeks have been really tough at times.
I've just been so swamped in piles of homework and college stuff...

- staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to wrap my head around an annoying little physics concept THAT JUST WON'T MAKE SENSE.  I mean, I didn't want to fail the quiz the next day...  After reading countless explanations and watching demonstrations it finally clicked though. #yesss #hardworkpaysoff
- emailing back and forth with college admissions people because certain parts of my application weren't arriving...
- realizing that somehow I'm a week behind from the rest of my class in Catholic Doctrine - and frantic catch-up...
- literally doing my homework for debate class in the car on the way there...
things like that. 

I just haven't felt very uplifting or inspiring lately.  I haven't felt like I have a great message to share with you.  I haven't even felt like taking pictures.  So consequently I haven't felt like blogging either.

Every time I've sat down to try and do a post, I come face to face with writer's block.  I can't even scratch out a complete sentence.  I just seem to be running up against a wall.  (So instead I go watch Audrey Hepburn movies.  Brilliant, huh.  It's great, except it doesn't get anything posted on my blog...)

But a few days ago things started getting better.  I had a surprisingly fun and awesome physics class where my professor entertained us all with fabulous liquid nitrogen demonstrations.  Freezing flowers and bananas rock solid until they're brittle in the space of a few minutes... with the nitrogen evaporating into the air in steamy clouds.  It was actually fascinating, and I don't even usually like science.  

Then after class I got to go shoe shopping and found an awesome pair of riding boots. <3 They made me so happy. :)

But what really brought so much more peace to my heart was just going out for a simple walk when I got home.  Grabbing my dog and heading off to traipse through the woods with their fading fall colors. My life had just been so busy that I hadn't had the time to do this in so long.  I think I had forgotten how wonderful it felt.

I've written about the peace I feel in nature before.  But I'm over and over again re-discovering how wonderful it is.


Then this morning, when I was driving to confession, my attention was captured by a lovely song on Catholic radio...
A beautiful voice singing an amazing song with the most wonderful, peaceful, sublime lyrics...
I quickly wrote down the name and the singer as soon as I heard them: "Restless" by Audrey Assad in her album The House You're Building.

Watch this video and soak up the beauty in the stunning pictures and music.  It will seriously change your day for the better. 

For me, this just touches such a strong chord in my heart.  I am transported back in time to the Christendom summer program, where I got to sing the Prayer of St. Augustine with some of my friends at the talent show. The refrain is, "My heart searches restlessly, and finds no rest 'till it rests in Thee.  O Seeker You sought for me, your love has found me; I am taken by thee."

Really, the perfect prayer.  It will forever be one of my favorites. ♥  Just singing this song gives me such a sense of internal peace.

Here is the beautiful song/prayer in case you haven't heard it:


These reminders have served to show me that in all the craziness and wonderfulness and hardship that is my life, I'm losing the whole point of everything if I don't fall back on God.  I can't struggle through senior year stress on my own, I need the grace of God to help me.

I saw this quote on social media yesterday that really struck home.

That calmness in my heart is what I am searching for. ♥  And the only one who can give that to me is God.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Happy feast of St. Francis!

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith; 
where there is despair, hope; 
where there is darkness, light; 
where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, 
grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.


We all know about the life of this remarkable saint.  I've loved hearing about him ever since I was a little girl.  The awesome stories of him taming the savage wolf by speaking a few words, preaching a sermon to the birds, and so on and so forth, have always held such a magic spell. 

Now this year, when Oct. 4th came around and I realized today was the feast of St. Francis, my thoughts turned toward Assisi.  My favorite place in the world.   I remember when I was visiting in the middle of September last year and they were already getting ready for the huge feast.  They even had construction crews working on the roads to make sure everything was spick and span, because Papa Francesco was coming!!!  And there was a big poster of the Pope announcing the event in the town square. :)  The Italian taxi cab driver taking us to the airport (who surprisingly spoke very good English!) told us all about their preparations and how exciting it was. 

That's what I immediately think of now when I see the date, Oct. 4th.

It was such a wonderful experience to be able to walk the streets St. Francis walked, enter the cathedral in which he was baptized, and gaze in awe at the magnificent basilica in his honor. 

But besides my memories of Assisi, this feast also brings to my mind the wonderful prayer that I included at the top.  I absolutely love it.   It has spoken to me in ways I could not imagine, and inspired me from the depths on my soul to wish to be the Lord's instrument of grace and love to others. 

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.   

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Friday Morning

. : outside my window : .
the morning sun is flooding across the sparkling, dewey-wet grass from a sky of clear, brilliant, blue.  the promise of a gorgeous September day... 

. : I am thinking : .
that I would like to throw aside my homework and college essays that need to be written, and just go spend the whole delightful morning perusing the woods to the sounds of the birds in the treetops and the feeling of the crisp, autumn air.  Unfortunately that's not practical...

. : I am thankful : .
that I get a quiet morning home alone while my brothers are at their orthodontist appointments. *smiles*

. : in the kitchen : .
I just made my first batch of homemade applesauce for the year yesterday! Now it feels so much more like Fall. :)

. : I am wearing : .
blue jeans and a tee-shirt, and a cozy hoodie, of course. What else would be better for a chilly morning when you're at home?

. : I am creating : .
A big collection of all my favorite summer photos from this year. <3  I really didn't post very many pictures on my blog this summer, and so now I'm just going to shower a bunch of them down on you all together. :D  So workin' on that right now. :)

. : I've been reading : .
short stories for Literature class. And my, have we read some interesting ones. O_o  It's so much fun to discuss them in class though.  I love how we get to find the hidden meaning behind everything! And it's so cool to hear everyone else's thoughts about the stories because they always think of all this amazing stuff that I would never have thought of. Oh, and did I tell you that we were reading Ivanhoe too? I LOVED it. So awesome. Anyway, this might very well be my favorite class so far.

. : I've been writing : . 
a saint series post on St. Thomas More! He is one of my favorite saints now after learning about him in my history class last year. Just his steadfastness and his cheerfulness and his courage... it all blows me away. <3

. : I've been listening : .
to Josh Groban and Celtic Thunder a lot lately. As well as these epic songs. *swoon* THE BEST. 

Feelin Good by Michael Bublé on Grooveshark

Home by Phillip Phillips on Grooveshark

Viva la Vida by Coldplay on Grooveshark

. : I am looking forward to : .
Visiting Andrea at Steubenville in slightly less than two weeks. (!!!!!)

And just everything about autumn. :) When the amazing, vivid colors come out on the trees more, and it's time to drink warm apple cider while curled up reading a book. Pumpkin pies, apple cobblers, scarves, boots, the special tang to the cool air... <3

. : I am happy : .
that I survived my first Physics quiz on Wednesday and I think it went well! Score. Oh yeah.

. : I am going : .
to get my college apps finished very soon. All my reference letters are taken care of now and I just need to wrap up few essays! Time to get down to work so I can be DONE... Christendom, TAC, Franciscan, here I come. ;)

. : I am wondering : .
when life's craziness will slow down and I'll actually be able to say that I have nothing more on my to-do list. :/ Not sure that will ever be a reality though.

. : thought of the day : .
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

. : one of my favorite things : .
having a warm, fuzzy, purring kitten on my lap.  They make you so much happier. 

. : A peek into my day : .

Have a wonderful weekend, lovelies! 

(*The inspiration for this post is credited to this one from Iris. :))

Monday, September 15, 2014

Peach-Pear Crisp!

So, I had these delicious recipes for two different kinds of mouth-watering fruit sorbet... and I was going to post them in August when it was still hot summer weather, but then I'm not sure what happened... They never did make it onto the blog, and next time I noticed it was acting like fall outside.  So instead, I've got a nice, warm, autumn-ish recipe for you today. :)

The perfect thing to eat on a chilly fall day.  Trust me, this is sooooo good.  I LOVE the combination of peaches and pears together, to me it was much tastier than just peach crisp.  (And this recipe is gluten-free and super healthy, to top it all off!)  You should definitely give it a try. :)

4 to 5 medium peaches, sliced
2 cups of pear slices (I apologize for the weird measurement here, the original recipe was for 2 cups of blueberries, so I was just replacing that.  I can't remember how many pears I ended up using...)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup brown rice flour (you can really use any kind of gluten-free flour here, I ended up using sorghum flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

(EDIT: I'm not sure what happened but somehow when this was posted I left out several of the topping ingredients and put down the wrong amounts for a few things. :/ I have triple checked now though and this is correct. Sorry about that. :P)

Cooking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.  Set out an 8x8-inch glass baking dish.

To make the filling, add all the ingredients to the baking dish and gently toss together.

To make the topping, place the rolled oats, brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, and sea salt into a bowl and mix well to combine.  Ad the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and stir together. Crumble the topping over the fruit.

Bake the crisp for about 40 minuets.  Serve warm.

Yield: about 6-8 servings 

(with slight modifications, this recipe was taken from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

Yep.  The brothers enjoyed it.  I seriously could've eaten the whole thing by myself though. ^_^  

Alright, now that I've made myself very hungry right now, and the crisp was finished yesterday of course, I will depart and go study for a physics quiz before bed.  Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!