Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Edel: A Reboot for My Soul

Coming back off a weekend high to a house full of laundry and 3 tiny "cathedrals" (reference explained  - keep reading!) that need quite a bit of mortar these days has made it hard to get a moment to sit down and even attempt a recap of The Edel Gathering. Combine that with a delayed by three hour flight and then getting stuck in the air above Buffalo, finally arriving to my own house at 2:30 am Monday, and yeah, it just hasn't happened.

So now, here I sit. There is still so much fresh in my mind. SO. MUCH. It was probably the loveliest weekend I have had in the past several years. I felt young again in the sense that I could fully embrace fun. At the same time I felt at one with women who I typically stare up at with awe and usually feeling like I'm ten again.

I've been excited for this weekend since it first was thrown out into the ether as a concept awhile back on both Hallie and Jen's blogs. My intentions hit both extremes the more I thought about whether it was even a possibility for me to go. I was pregnant at the time and doing the math in my head would have a two month old in tow. And then there was the money issue. It was probably going to be super expensive. But I'd get to meet several of my online friends most likely. Yet I'd have to leave my husband for a whole weekend while he would be finishing up his Masters project.

Finally before the tickets went on sale, my husband convinced me I needed this. (He's a very smart man). So, I bought one.

To point out, up to this past weekend, I had never met any of the women attending. Believe me - it was odd trying to describe Edel to local people who had no idea what it was. "So, yeah, I'm going to these weekend for Catholic mamas. It's kinda part retreat/part party. I'll be meeting up with some friends. No, I haven't actually met any of them" was pretty much the gist of my explanation.

I did have several internet friends that I considered "real friends," but there was this underlying fear they'd decide they didn't like me in real person.

I don't consider myself super shy, but I am an introvert, and I over think everything. Make that over-analyze. I worry about stepping on other's toes, hurting feelings, being annoying and not realizing it, and just being that outsider that everyone else is being nice to by letting me hang around. I know this is probably rarely the case, but it's just how I think of myself. I overanalyze situations in advance and then dwell on each moment after.

Edel was different. I consciously decided I was going to work my darndest to plan for a good time that would benefit me from the get go. I prepared for it with things that would make me happy. The crazy shoe contest was one example of this. I decided at the last minute (well a week before, which is pretty much the last minute for an organizing planner type like me) that I would create a pair of shoes. I decided finally I rarely get to create art, and the fun I would have making crazy shoes would outweigh my competitive self. Note: didn't win, but I did have fun making my shoes.

I don't talk your ears off forever, so I am only going to recap on a few words that come to mind when I think back.

Since FOREVER. You know how we all have those friends that we've known forever and they are just kindred spirits. Everytime you see her, you start your conversation right where you left off whether it was 6 months since you last saw one another, or 2 years, or a decade? Small talk isn't really my forte. I feel like I often get stuck in it.
This was different. The first instance of this was when I was sitting in the lobby meeting women that I didn't know, and I hear someone yell my name behind me. I turn literally into a giant hug from Kelly, and from then on out I kept "meeting" other Catholic mamas who I felt I'd known since forever. Barely any small talk, just Real conversation.

Real. Genuine. All these women were themselves. Whether they were pregnant, mama of one, mama of many, struggling with infertility or over fertility, not one of the women I conversed with hid behind a mask. It was beautiful to see the humility and confidence these women presented themselves with.
On Saturday evening as we all stood in line to pile our plates with the Tex-Mex goodness that was dinner, I stopped and just glanced about at the joy, the beauty that shone forth from each woman. The variety of evening wear showed a little bit how each woman in attendance had chosen something that made herself happy. An outfit that she wore for herself.

Life. There were babies everywhere. It might as well have been a baby wearing convention, there were so many little ones on their mamas. As a mama who was traveling with my own little guy (just two months and 4 days when we set out), it was refreshing to have other mamas that were in the same stage I was.
Having a baby along meant I missed out on a few things - Adrian was quite the trooper most of the weekend, but by Saturday night, he was a fussy wreck and puked on me twice. And on Sunday he was pretty cranky on the whole. But, the awesome part was even when I ducked out of the party into the quiet of the Mother's Room that was set up one room over, I could find another mama in there to talk to.

And finally...
Refreshment. Reinvigoration. Readiness.
I can't say, as an introvert, that I was truly relaxed. The fact that I carried a 13+ pound boy around most of the time and drank exactly one glass of wine (to be remedied at Edel '15) might have something to do with that. I had moments of relaxation, but I think a better explanation would be that I let go. I let go of the me I think I need to become, of the me I wish I was more like, the me that has got it together.

And my soul was give a reboot. 

I came home with a tangible sense of the Church, of the community of women I got to meet in real life. To hug. Laughter, tears, crazy photo booth moments, delicious meals, crammed elevator rides, conversations galore. I knew fully that I was supposed to be there, welcome to be there, and it was good for me to be there, as Hallie told us right off the bat in Saturday's intros.

I came home with a sense of being ready to fully fulfill the vocation God has given me as a wife and mama. To spend my days building my cathedrals as Jen reminded us. Marion pointed out the beauty of Freedom we have within the Church and how although we are called to imitate the Holy Family in their love and fidelity, we don't have to be them exactly. After all, she said, "We're not called to move to the Middle East and have only one child." Our choices, she said, must enable us to go further in love. And Haley challenged us to allow motherhood to strip away our sinfulness with the reminder that not all mortification is bad. That God desires to change us into who He created us to be.

Here are two tweets I managed to send out during Saturday's talks. I typically am a note taker (think pen and paper), but with the little man, I just settled in and listened, only taking a break to share these two thoughts over the Twittersphere.

In short, I had a blast. I am already thinking of ways to save for next year. Each women who I met was exactly how I imagined she would be or better. It was all exactly what I hoped for and more.

Oh, and I met all five of the bloggers I was hoping to as well as the bonus options.

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This post Edel: A Reboot for My Soul first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 30 July 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Favorite Bloggers I Plan to Meet at Edel!

So, this is mostly a "I'm super excited to meet some fabulous ladies at Edel" post tied into a 5 Favorites, because, ya know, it's Wednesday, and it's been awhile.

For those who aren't aware, I'm headed to Austin, Texas with just the tiniest of boys for nearly 3 days of mama fun with likeminded Catholic women from all over (including one Canadian, I, for one, can't wait to meet). I am super hoping the Edel Gathering becomes a least a semi-annual event and possibly moves somewhere further north next year.

While I go worry about packing, which has been over the top ridiculous- I swear I have pulled out outfits and then put them back in the closet several times over - you can go and check out these 5 blogs.

To be noted: JenHallieHaley, and Cari are all givens because I think they've become pretty big names in the Catholic blogosphere. So, not that I don't want to meet you ladies, BUT I want these other 5 to be discovered if they haven't been yet.


Molly at Molly Makes Do


Christy at Fountains of Home


(So, Nell might be bigger in terms of following, but I just found her in the past few months, so I guess to me, she's someone that should definitely shared!)


Bonnie at A Knotted Life
You may have heard about Bonnie's son: James. If so, great, read Bonnie's blog, too.


And as a Bonus #6, you should also read Heather from Mama Knows Honeychild, who I am linking up with for Five Favorites. She and Kelly are both hi-flippin-larious and always deliver that laugh that you need on a bad day (who am I kidding, even on a good day, it's often needed).

And now back to packing for me. Read on, and enjoy!

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post 5 Favorite Bloggers I Plan to Meet at Edel first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 21 July 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Celebrating the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim

Presently we find ourselves in the middle of the season of Ordinary Time in the Church. What a beautiful, rich time of growth this is for the Church year! There are so many wonderful feast days of faithful men and women to be found and celebrated. An important but not very well known one vital to Christ's story is the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, observed on July 26th, which this year is this coming Saturday.

St Anne with the Virgin and Child and St Joachim, Joos van Cleve. 16th century
Saints Joachim and Anne were the Virgin Mary's parents and thus are Jesus' only grandparents. Though not much is known from written history, they were given feast days early on in the Christian Church. There are many traditions passed through the ages to celebrate these two people, who I can only imagine were utterly faithful to God's plan as they played such an important role in raising God's mother. Wow! What an astonishing thing to think about. They were a degree away from the story we know of as Christ's life here on earth, yet without them, where would we be? God's plans are so beautiful to look back and see how intricately woven they were!

The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist , Leonardo daVinci. 
The above painting from Leonardo daVinci in the Renaissance period fills my mama (and my artist) heart with joy. Such love emanates from St. Anne's face as she watches her daughter as she mothers her son. I'm obviously not a grandmother myself, but I think this piece captures so much of the emotion that a grandmother carries in her heart, of the loving pride overflowing.

St. Anne is found in many more traditions, but we cannot forget St. Joachim, Mary's father and Jesus' grandfather. Both are often found in art (see the painting at the top of the post) with a popular depiction being of Anne and Joachim kissing at the Gate to Jerusalem. The embrace is shown to express the joy that they felt at being told separately by angels that Anne was to conceive after many barren years and bear a daughter who would be consecrated unto God. Tradition tells us that the couple had waited and prayed for twenty years before this happened when Anne was 40.

They are models of marriage and parenting and have often been looked to by the faithful when in need of intercession for infertility. Together they are the patron saints of grandparents.

St. Joachim is the patron of not only fathers and grandfathers, but also cabinet makers and linen traders. He's often depicted in green, for hope, and holding doves (peace), a staff (the Christian word), and a book (linen makers).

St. Anne has many countries and cities under her patronage, most famously Canada and the Brittany region of France. She is also the patron of unmarried women, women in labor, and housewives. St. Anne is also remembered on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

This hymn from the Greek Church celebrates both Mary and her mother:

Hail, spiritual bird, announcing the spring time of grace!
Hail, sheep, mother of the ewe lamb, who by a word conceived the Word, the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world! 
Hail, blessed earth, whence sprang the branch that bore the divine Fruit! 
O Anne, most blessed in God, grandmother of Christ our Lord, who didst give to the world a shining lamp, the mother of God; together with her intercede that great may be the mercy granted to our souls. 
Let us cry to holy Anne with cymbals and psaltery. She brought forth the mountain of God and was borne up to the spiritual mountains, the tabernacles of Paradise.

The Vision of St Anne, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. 1759

Some traditions around the world celebrating St. Anne include festivals in Europe that celebrated all "Annes" or beautiful girls with dancing, music, fireworks, and more! Girls would tie red and green ribbons in their hair to remember St. Anne's green mantle (the color for immortality) and her red dress (signifying divine love).


In France, lobster is traditionally served for the feast meal. As lobster might not be in everyone's budgets, another shellfish or seafood might be more perfect for your celebrations. Check out this recipe from Carrots for Michaelmas for Moules Marinières (Mariner's Mussels). It is also included in her fabulous cookbook and "liturgical year help book" that should really be on your shelf: Feast!: Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year

For dessert, a fruit tart is traditionally served up on French (and French Canadian!) tables. Summer fruits are perfect though plum and apple are the most traditional. Lovely recipes are included in A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family & Faith throughout the Christian Year, another great book to own!

Activities and Crafts

What better way to celebrate the grandparents of Jesus than to honor our grandparents. Children could make a special card or piece of art and give or mail it to their own grandparents.

Another idea would be to make cards for those who are in nursing homes and might not have family that remembers them often.

Have your children say a special prayer for their grandparents. There are some great ones at the Catholic Grandparents Association.

And a Prayer to wrap it up

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (Collect for July 26 from USCCB)

This will actually be the first year our family celebrates this feast day (and we'll be doing so a couple days late due to scheduling and sans shellfish), BUT if you have celebrated in the past or plan to this year, please share how you observe these two great saints in the comments! I'd love some more ideas!

Happy (in advance) Feast of St. Anne + St. Joachim, the grandparents of Our Lord!

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This post Celebrating the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 21 July 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie {Recipe}

Strawberry season is definitely upon us or on its way out in some places. Pie, crisp, turnovers, crisp, shortcake, breads... If you have any strawberries leftover and just don't know what else to make out of them, this is the perfect combo of a strawberry pie and a crumble. I was in the mood for both when I created this recipe.

To be noted, if you have no strawberries or rhubarb left, feel free to mix up other summer berries (blueberry and raspberry, blackberry, be creative!).

You will need:

1 pie crust (If I don't make my own, I often use either Trader Joe's brand or Immaculate Baking Co.)

For the filling:

2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb
(As noted before - you can use 5 cups of any fruit chopped or sliced up)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 TB tapioca
1 TB whole wheat flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

1-2 TB butter

For the topping:

1/2 cup flour (all AP or part whole wheat is fine)
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Place pie crust in a buttered pie pan.

*To butter pans, I stick them in the preheating oven for a couple of minutes, and then I take the stick of butter and just rub it around the pan. The warm pan will melt the butter on contact.

Next, prep the filling. Slice the fruit, and mix with brown sugar, tapioca, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Place filling into pie crust. Dot with butter.

Time for the topping! Combine the first 6 ingredients together in a medium bowl (everything but the butter!). Break the butter into 1/4-1/2 TB size pieces and toss into the bowl. Then blend in the butter with either your fingers, a fork, or a pastry blender until mixture until large crumbs are formed.

Bake Crumble Pie for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned, the fruit juices are bubbling, and the crumble is firm to the touch. Enjoy with fresh cream or whole milk poured over the top.

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This post Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie {Recipe} first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 July 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

CCC of America's Saints and Heroes Series {Review and Giveaway}

I'm taking a break from our summer shenanigans to check in here on ye ol' blog and share a giveaway with you from CCC of America. The break honestly wasn't planned, and I figure offering you a great deal and chance to win something is the perfect apology, right? Or something like that? Well, I hope so. 

CCC of America graciously offered me a copy of one their DVDs to review and then they also offered one as a giveaway prize to one of my readers. Since I'm never one to say no to freebies, at least to awesome ones, I jumped at the chance. Plus, just hearing a little bit about their company made me want to learn more and share them with you. As a family that's striving to live out the liturgical year in an intentional manner, I'm always on the lookout for age appropriate material, whether it be in the form of book, game, or movie, to help our children be excited for the Faith we have. 

This provided the perfect chance to check out something new!

If you've never heard of them, CCC of America is a company committed to offering family entertainment that promotes moral values, telling stories of real life heroes (as well as a few fictional ones) through animated films. The Saints and Heroes Collection is targeted at families with younger children with films right around 30 minutes long.

Right now, just so I don't forget to let you know, they are having a 60% off sale, which includes all the copies in the Saints and Heroes Collection! To receive the discount, all you have to do is enter 'SUMMER60' when you checkout. This sale is happening now through July 17th at 11:59pm. Grab your copies of these great videos now!

I was sent a copy of The Day the Sun Danced: The True Story of Fatima, which tells the story of when Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco in Portugal in 1917. She entrusted them with the message to daily pray the Holy Rosary for peace. The children stood fast, assuring their fellow townspeople that they had indeed seen a Lady despite threats against their lives. Finally, Mary sent the children a miracle, causing the sun to dance in the sky, and it was clear that she had specially chosen these three young children to be her messengers.

The animation is sweet and colorful and kept my wiggly 2 and 4 year old still for its entirety. It's short, attention grabbing, and included just enough facts for both my children to take hold of what was happening. As an introductory piece to Marian apparitions, this was perfect since it told of young kids getting to see and speak with Our Lady. The children are shown being devoted to the Rosary and learning their faith, which is an inspiration for anybody.

The story of Our Lady of Fatima includes some heavy material (at least I think so) for young children. A depiction of Hell is shown to the children and the officials of the town, at least in this telling, threaten the children with being boiled alive in oil. These are the only points where I would tell parents to make their own decisions on whether or not this is the right time to share this story with their children. I have two fairly sensitive boys, and neither of them were scared by these scenes. I think the complex issues were touched on enough to be implied but were perfectly dwelt on, so small minds weren't in the least traumatized. I thought the way in which Hell was approached was appropriate with what we are already teaching our children.

All in all, I was impressed and look forward to checking out more films from CCC in the future. I'm especially looking forward to sharing their takes on St. Francis Xavier and St. Patrick with my boys. The stories of the Saints as the pillars of Our Faith are so important for us to teach our children, and these videos are the perfect way to do so.

Since I am the adult in this family, my opinion matters only so much as to what a child might think, so before I close up with the giveaway, here's what my sons thought:

Dominic, age 4
"I loved it so much that I think I will watch it another day. I think it was a really good movie. It was about these children. It had Mary in it, too. The people of the town did not believe the children. But then they saw the sun go crazy. And they even got to see Mary. They actually did believe then. The End."

Blaise, age 2
"I actually liked it. It was about different parts. I sawed the kids and they did see Mary."

I think the main point mostly got across, right?

And now, on that note, I have a chance for YOU to win a copy of any DVD of your choice in the Saints and Heroes collection. Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win!

You must BOTH comment and 'Like' CCC of America's Facebook page to be a valid entry.

**Don't forget to check out the 60% off sale happening right now at CCC!**

There are 18 possible entries, with a few options to come back daily and earn extra entries. I will use Rafflecopter's generator to choose the winner, who will then be announced here on the blog + via social media. I will also e-mail them - e-mail address you provide will only be used to contact you if you win. U.S. mailing addresses only. Entries will be accepted until 12:00am 21 July 2014. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by CCC of America, and they have been kind enough to provide me with a complimentary copy to review. However, all opinions are solely my own. 

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Summer 2014 Reading List

It's that time of year again. Warm weather and semi-lazy days - I don't think with small children that truly lazy days ever happen, but we sure try for some during the summer. I promised a sharing of what I hoped to read this summer, and here it is. Halfway through this summer, I'm finally sharing what I'm reading or hoping to read!

Reading happens in small spurts around here these days. I feel that depending on the habits and temperament on the newborn, reading can either increase or decrease once that little one joins the family. Most days little man is super content; however, that contentment stems from him being held (usually in a carrier). I love baby wearing, but it doesn't always equal lots of snuggly reading time. Plus it's pretty hot, and having him lay in my lap just makes us both uncomfortably warm.

As he's happier for longer stretches, I hope to set up a blanket in the backyard where I can plop down the baby with a wooden ring or something and myself with a book, and we can both be happy whilst the two bigger boys find adventure around us.

My Summer Reading List is often a mix of what I have on my yearlong Reading Goal list and whatever catches my fancy elsewhere. This year is no different. I gathered some ideas from you guys over on the Facebook page about a month back as well as from family and friends I know in Real Life, and here you have it:

My Summer Reading List for 2014:



The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Persuasion by Jane Austen

How about you? Have you read any good finds yet this summer? What's on your 'to read' before the summer days run out?

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post My Summer 2014 Reading List first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 12 July 2014

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