All In For Easter



So, last week, I read this post from Kristen Howerton with great interest. I took in the words and pondered her stance. Honestly? It all makes a great deal of sense. Logically, I am SO on-board with all she is saying. Because, really? Getting all emotional, whether distraught or ecstatic, over a single day just because the calendar tells you to? Well, that just seems bizarre.


But, even though my brain wanted to nod along, my heart ached a bit. I knew it wasn’t like that for me. I knew that, while her words rang smart and bright and accurate in their logical explanation, they didn’t read as authentic and true for my own tender feelings.




Because, when I went, on Holy Thursday, to the Feast of the Last Supper, I was so terribly moved. I shook a bit, sitting there on the altar steps, imagining our Lord serving his disciples, so humbly, so tenderly.


Good Friday


And on Good Friday, when I walked behind a cross along Main St. with Christians of all denominations, singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”, I choked, throwing things off for a bit because, honestly, I’m one of the loud singers that other people follow.


Later that day, I attended the Good Friday service at our church. It was somber. It was heavy. It was intense. Our priest couldn’t quite finish the homily without choking up. And I wept.


Honestly, it was a tough two days, emotionally. It was draining. It was heart-breaking. It was powerful and sorrowful and absolutely soul-stirring.


But the thing is…


All that sadness? All that heaviness? All that somber preparation?


Meant that, come Easter morning, the JOY was all the more incredible. It was truly all-encompassing, this wonder and excitement. The thrill and hope of “our triumphant holy day” set my heart alight.


So… yeah. Should we only acknowledge Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection once a year? No. Should we always be cognizant of the price He so willingly paid to save us? Absolutely.


But am I at all “meh” about Easter?


Nope. I’m all in.


I’m one who needs to feel all the feels. I need to ride that wave of emotion, down into the shallows and up onto the highest crest. I want to weep and bow down and then lift my face in utter celebration.


And, though I may not have a totally logical argument for it?


I’m totally okay with it.


How about you? Are you kind of “meh” about Easter? Or a total “feeler” like me? Somewhere in the middle?

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Weekly Shopping with JL



Hey, hey! How about we go shopping together? I don’t know why, but I kind of love those posts that give me a peek into someone’s actual day– what she’s up to, what she buys, where she goes, what she spends… it might be kind of nosy, but it also just feels more personal. It makes that individual even more REAL to me, if that makes sense.


So, just for kicks, I thought we’d try something new today and I’d give you all a glimpse at my weekly shopping trip.


This is 100% everything I bought on Monday, when I realized we were woefully low on milk, produce, and a bunch of other stuff. I am withholding nothing from you all– the good, the bad, and the in-between. Interested in what made it into my cart? Well, here goes…



Stop & Shop


I started out at Stop & Shop because I wanted to check out their reduced produce rack– sadly, it was a bust. I still picked up a few things, though:


2– 5# bags unbleached flour

3 boxes protein granola bars

3 boxes pasta

Total: $2.27


Now, before you’re all, “Whoa! Groceries in Connecticut are CHEAP!”, let me explain. A couple weeks ago, my husband found a bunch of fibers in his granola bar. (Ew.) I contacted the company and they sent me coupons for four free products– two free boxes of granola bars and two items from the same family of companies. I found out Gold Medal was in that group, so I snagged two bags of unbleached flour, since I definitely use that (and Aldi doesn’t sell it.) I also found granola bars on a buy two get one free sale, so I got three for free. So there you go. I was really only paying for the (sale) pasta.


Next, I headed on to Aldi. Aldi is my happy place and it is the store where I do 90+% of my weekly shopping, I’d say.







2 bags nacho chips

1 bag corn chips

2 gallons milk

2 dozen eggs

diced tomatoes

French-cut green beans

1# butter

1 quart yogurt

4# sugar

2.3# ground beef

3 sizes tortillas

blackberry spread

peanut butter

dishwasher detergent

3# white rice

2# powdered sugar

12 oz. dark roast fair trade coffee

baby lettuce mix

3# yellow onions

3# gala apples

8 oz. mushrooms

2 bell peppers

1# baby carrots

1 pint grape tomatoes

3# bananas

Total: $49.11


I can pretty much just forget about coming home if I forget my husband’s chips. ;) That milk will last us a week and I already had almost two dozen eggs, so this addition will set us up well.


So there you go! That’s what grocery shopping looked like for me this week. I already had a fair bit of homemade bread in my freezer, plus several pounds of chicken and cooked (then frozen) pinto beans. The addition of these items should get us through nicely until next week!


Thanks for coming along shopping with me. :)



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Menu Plan: Bottomless Pits



It’s that time of week! The Tuesday menu plan is back again this week… :)


We headed back to school this week– boo. :( Actually, it’s all good, but I could’ve used another day or two off with my little peeps!


I had to hit the grocery store, somewhat unexpectedly, yesterday, when I realized that I did not have a single piece of produce in my house. Save for a cup or so of applesauce and some sad frozen peas and corn, there was nary a fruit or vegetable to be found! Also? Out of milk.


I am truly feeding bottomless pits these days and it’s taking its toll on our food supply! The 9″x13″ pan of lasagna I made last Thursday? After I took out a piece for my husband, the children proceeded to kill off the entire rest of the pan– the whole thing! Mama didn’t even get a single piece!




Easter Sunday found our son eating two big cinnamon rolls, a bunch of sausage links, five eggs, a bowl of Cheerios, and an apple– not to mention the candy pieces here and there– all before 10AM.


Suffice it to say, we may have to reevaluate our grocery budget and adjust accordingly. Since that child is pushing five feet tall and is incredibly slim, I’m not really after limiting his food intake. :)


With our newly purchased food on hand, here’s the whole plan for the week!


Breakfast– Cheerios, Apples, Milk (for the littles, before 7:30AM Mass

Brunch– Cinnamon Rolls, Eggs, Sausages, Fruit

D– (at Bama & Papa’s) Ham, Potatoes, Asparagus, Salad, Carrots, Challah, etc.




B–Challah Roll Egg Sandwiches, Apples, Milk


D– Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles with Carrots & Chicken



B–Granola, Applesauce, Milk

D–Spaghetti w/ Meatballs, Asparagus



B–Challah French Toast, Bananas, Yogurt


D–Cheesy Beans & Rice (date night!)



B–Toast w/ PB & Bananas

D–Chicken Fajitas



B–Cinnamon Sugar Toast, Apples, Milk

Pizza Dough (1)

D- Large Pepperoni Pizza, Medium Mushroom Pizza



B–Tex Mex Egg Wraps

L–Leftovers, Salads

D–Chicken & Veggie Alphabet Soup, Grilled Cheese


And that’s the plan!


What are you eating this week?

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Inadvertently Scandalous


Have you ever encountered something that you didn’t even know was a “thing” and, all of a sudden, found yourself making waves totally unintentionally? It’s a bizarre feeling, really. I mean, there are times when we say or do something and, frankly, we KNOW people are likely to get riled up, but we make the choice anyway.


This was not one of those times.


washing of feet

image source

My littlest heard, at the Tuesday morning Mass, that they would be washing feet at the Feast of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. To say the least, she was intrigued. To be clear, she really, really wanted to have her own feet washed.


“Do they wash girls’ feet, Mommy?” she asked me, innocently.


Now, in asking the question, she was really asking if they washed the feet of little girls– children. (And they do not, for the record.) She was not actually making any gender-based inquiry. But her words made me wonder…


Did they wash female feet?


I wasn’t sure, so I did what anyone wondering such a thing at 4:30AM would do– I googled it.


And you know what I found out? Holy mackerel, is there ever a lot of debate on this one! There were pages upon pages dedicated to why it was either okay or sacrilege for women to have their feet washed by pastors. Seriously, it blew my mind. I really couldn’t find any set-in-stone guidelines, so I finally just gave up and closed the window.


Still, I thought about it. I wondered what our church did. To be honest, I had never made it to the Holy Thursday Mass there because that’s the night my husband works late and, previously, my children were really too young to make it until close to 9PM.


Our church is rather traditional and formal in most of our doings. We do the incense, the holy water, the adorations, the venerations, the kneeling, the bowing, the prayers, the invocations, and we never miss a feast day. There are girls in chapel veils (and also those in super cut-off shorts– we run the gamut) and rosaries wrapped around many a hand.


Yet, we’re also pretty progressive. Women have a very high and honored place there. They lead ministries– and not just children’s ministries– I’ve never been treated as “less”, nor been made to feel that I didn’t belong someplace.


So, to be honest, I didn’t know what we did. And I decided I didn’t really care. I wasn’t going to lose sleep over it. If they chose only men, as a matter of tradition? No problem. If women were invited into the mix? That was cool, too. I truly didn’t have strong feelings about it.


This year, my kids were all very interested in attending the Feast of the Last Supper. So, we went.


I wound up being one of the twelve called forward for the washing of the feet.


After the fact, I mentioned it on Facebook and to a couple people in real life. And, of course, the people who were there saw me. Honestly, it was a deep and meaningful experience and I was grateful for it.


Until I found myself in the middle of a maelstrom of controversy.


I received a couple of Facebook private messages. I also got an email. And, of course, there was the radio silence. Finally, I pulled the post, not wanting to offend anyone.


And then a fellow parishioner approached me later in the weekend.


“I just don’t really understand why you did it. I would simply have politely declined. I mean– it’s just not appropriate. Honestly, I had to look away when the priest got to you. I was that uncomfortable with it.”


Her words surprised me. They also troubled me. And, admittedly, they puzzled me a bit, too. For I hadn’t detected that discomfort prior to her confession. Not from the college-aged guy to my left. Not from the elderly man to my right. Not from our 70-something-year-old deacon, standing with towels. Not from our priest.


But her words echoed through my thoughts: “I just don’t understand why you did it.”


Well, to answer that, I have to back up, just a bit…


Thursday night, I, along with my children, walked into the church. We were almost immediately approached. A lector asked my son if he’d be willing to serve, because they really needed another altar server.


He nodded, and said, “Yes.”


Our deacon hugged my little girls, then turned to me, “I want to ask you– would you be willing to be among our twelve? Would you let us wash your feet?”


I looked up at this leader of our church… and I said yes.


It’s the same thing I would have said if he’d asked me to launder the towels following the celebration. It’s the same thing I would have said if I’d been asked to help bring up the gifts. It’s the same thing I would have said if I’d been asked to give up our seats for someone else.


I said yes.


I later sat on the steps of the altar and I listened to the choir’s swelling refrain. I could smell the lingering incense and the shadows from the flickering candlelight played over my hair. And, as Father knelt before me, pouring water over my foot, he looked up at me and said, softly and simply,


“Thank you for saying yes.”


I said yes.


And I would say it again. Even if I was inadvertently scandalous.



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Secret Clinical Strength (review + giveaway)


Disclosure: The Walmart gift cards and information in this post have been provided by Secret.


Secret Giveaway


So. I’ve told you all before that I sweat– a LOT. In all honesty, this was more of an issue back in my late teens and early twenties than it is now, but I don’t really know if that’s because my chemistry has changes or antiperspirants have gotten better. Either way, I can assure you that there is no way on earth I am ever skipping a day of wearing deodorant. No. Way.


Anyway, since I’m still slightly scarred from my years of dreading sweat and wetness, I was I was actually pretty excited to try out one of the new varieties of Secret Clinical Strength.

  Continue reading Secret Clinical Strength (review + giveaway)

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It’s All Good



Last night, I heard the wind whipping. I compulsively checked the temp on my phone to confirm that, yes, it was still above freezing.


Rattling and howling and creaking surrounded us as we snuggled under blankets and got a chuckle over how we had just gone out for fro-yo and our son’s cheeks still bore a trace of sunburn from the day before.


I knew it was getting colder and I knew the rain had swept in. I even knew that there had been murmurings about a “wintry mix” that I had chosen to ignore.


I did not know that this was going to happen.


snowy April


Like much of the country, I’ve the rug pulled out from under me. Don’t get me wrong– those in the midwest and plains states had to know that 80s weren’t typical April weather, just as we knew that 70s weren’t typical April temps here.


That didn’t stop us from loving it, though.


I sighed as I pulled out long sleeves, long pants, and socks for my girls. I frowned out the window and declared, “I could just cry, seeing this snow in mid-April.”


And, clearly inspired by Pete the Cat (as we ALL should be, quite frankly), my youngest’s silvery voice rang out:


“Not me! Snow comes and snow goes. It’s all good.”


And you know what?


G.– and Pete– are right.



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Menu Plan: The Due Date



It’s that time of week! The Tuesday menu plan is back again this week… :)


We’re on Spring Break– woo hoo!


So, today is April 15th, AKA “Tax Day.”



It was also my due date with my second baby.



That’s right, sweet C. was due to arrive on Tax Day, which, in 2006, was the day before Easter.
Instead, she arrived the day before Christmas, back in 2005.


It honestly blows my mind every single year when April 15th arrives and I think about just how long ago Christmas Eve really was. I mean, that’s crazy! God is so very, very good.




In totally unrelated news, here’s the whole plan for the week!


Breakfast– Pretzels, Bananas, Milk (for A., before 7:30AM Palm Sunday Mass)– Weird? Yes. But also a good way to up his salt and electrolytes before he had to stand and serve for an extended period. Gotta prevent that syncope!

Boston Cream Donuts

Lunch– Sandwiches, Crackers, Fruit, Boston Cream Donuts

D– Rotelle, Ham, and Broccoli w/ Cheese Sauce




B–Wineberry Scones, Applesauce, Milk

D–Tomato Soup, Grilled Pepperjack Sandwiches on homemade Honey Wheat Bread



B–Cereal, Greek Yogurt, Grapefruit

Carnitas & Spanish Rice Soft Tacos

D–Carnitas Soft Tacos w/ Spanish Rice



B–Blueberry Muffins, Eggs, Milk

D–Salmon, Rice, Peas (date night!)



B–Toast, Greek Yogurt, Strawberries

D–Chicken & Broccoli White Lasagna


Friday: (NO MEAT)

B–Cantaloupe Slush, Toast

Pizza Dough (1)

D- Large Cheese Pizza, Medium Mushroom & Onion Pizza



B–Ham, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches

L–Leftovers, Salads

D–…something with ground beef, but I haven’t nailed it down yet. :)


And that’s the plan! This is Holy Week, so we have a lot of preparation and celebration taking place around here. I am truly looking forward to our Faith Walk on Friday and I’m praying for cooperative weather!


What are you eating this week?

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Boston Cream Donuts



Boston Cream Donuts

Boston Cream Donuts
Recipe type: Breakfast, Bread, Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8

A light, fried dough donut bursting with vanilla cream filling and finished with a buttery chocolate ganache.
  • (for the donut portion)
  • 1 tube (8) refrigerated biscuits– the larger size (“Grands” or equivalent)
  • 2 cups oil, for frying (coconut, olive, canola, sunflower, your choice)
  • (for the cream filling)
  • 1 3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • (for chocolate frosting)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ – 1¾ cups powdered sugar

  1. Pour oil into large skillet and heat over med-high heat until shimmering.
  2. While that heats, prepare the filling. Whisk the pudding mix and 1 cup of milk together. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on high to beat the cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form– my Kitchenaid took about a minute and a half. Fold in the pudding mixture. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Set each biscuit into the hot oil. Fry each side for about 3 minutes. Remove to cool and drain a bit on paper towels.
  4. To make the ganache (frosting), add the cream, butter, milk, vanilla, and corn syrup to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce to low. Stir in chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar gradually until a thick, rich chocolate frosting consistency is reached.
  5. To make the donuts, transfer the cream filling into a pastry bag (or heavy duty zip-top plastic bag with a corner snipped.) Push the tip into the side of the donut and squeeze. You’ll feel the donut “fill.” Once you’ve reached desired fullness, move on to the next donut. You’ll have plenty of filling– the leftovers can be eaten plain, like a mousse, used in a trifle, or reserved for another batch of donuts!
  6. Spoon the ganache/frosting over the tops of the donuts. This is easiest when the ganache is still fairly warm.


*note: 2 cups is a LOT of oil. You’ll still have pretty much all of that oil left when you’re done frying. I save mine in a jar in the fridge for all “dough frying .” Just be sure to let it cool to room temp before pouring it in the jar.

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Conversations on Being Vulnerable



“I’m trying to get tougher. I NEED to get tougher.”


“Why?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking at me with genuine curiosity.


“Well,” I stammered, “because I’m too horribly sensitive. I overthink and overreact and get hurt so very easily.”


He nodded.


I took that as confirmation, “So I need to get over it. I need to just stop caring so darn much about what everything means and how everyone feels and why careless remarks just sting so very much.”


“Mmmm…” he said.


Mmmm? What did “mmmm” mean?


He leaned forward.


“Maybe you need to stop seeing your vulnerability as being the same as weakness. Maybe you need to realize that, as hard as it is sometimes, your very real vulnerability is who you are, authentically. And, while it means that you might get hurt easily and might spend a lot of time analyzing things, it also gives you this amazing empathy and capacity to love…


Maybe your vulnerability isn’t a sign that you’re broken, but a sign that you were perfectly designed.


Just keep loving your neighbor. Love your neighbor, as yourself, Jessica. As your uniquely, perfectly vulnerable self.”



. . .




What if he’s right? What if I’m not actually flawed and broken and a hot mess because I’m sensitive? What if I’m just wired this way and — gasp! — that’s okay?


The thought is both freeing and terrifying.


What a blessing to not feel like I have to change myself. What a burden to carry these intense, emotional responses around all the time.


But I’m working on it. And I’m thinking about it. And I’m being very, very challenged by the idea that maybe I don’t have to get tougher… maybe I just need to find a way to make my vulnerability a gift and not a curse.



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Gentler Lent, revisited



Do you remember about thirty days ago? When people all over were sharing what they were giving up, what they were adding, and how they were observing Lent this year? I was one of them, though my plans certainly looked pretty modest and insignificant compared to many.


No sooner had people shared their ideas and sacrifices than others scoffed in response. “How bold and pretentious! TRUE Christians wouldn’t feel the need to BROADCAST what all they were giving up for Lent. That’s just tacky.”


Because, you know, it’s not tacky at all to snap-judge someone’s motivation and intent.


Anywho, I digress.


Gentle Lent 2


I set out this Lent with the sole intention of handling it all quietly and mindfully. I did nothing– absolutely NOTHING– particularly grand or wonderful.


I’ve been reading and following a Lenten devotional.


I say the rosary at least once a week.


My kids asked to add at least one weekday morning Mass each week and I’ve made sure to get us all there.


My kids also asked if they could do chores to earn some coins to buy food for Loaves & Fishes.


We’ve made plans and commitments for observing Holy Week, as well.


But it’s nothing overwhelming or intense, to be honest. Not one thing we’ve added has been a true test of willpower. Not one thing has been all-consuming.


And I’m so glad.


Because, in the midst of Lent, illness struck. First, a minor stomach bug that swept the family. Next, a run-in with pink eye. Most recently, a horrific stomach virus that brought with it a 104+ degree fever.


All of a sudden, our “Gentle Lent” became not just pleasant, but also instrumental. We really didn’t need to miss a beat in our plan, because our plan was designed to add depth and richness without a whole lot of obligations.


Would anyone have blamed me if I’d needed to abandon a Lenten promise in order to care for a very ill four-year-old? Likely not. But I would have crumbled from the weight of failure. I don’t do failure well. Few of us do.


Instead, I turned to my increased prayer and devotionals. I fit in some extra Mass whenever time allowed. I gave our older children little tasks that helped them feel productive while they worried over their little sister.




This Gentle Lent is just exactly as it should be for us.


Are you doing anything special for Lent this year? How’s it working for you?

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