week's best clicks / 05

The return of the world's quickest (give or take 50 words) quick takes!

1 /
I linked up to Man-Pleasing Chicken once. If you add 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the filling, I would call this recipe Man-Pleasing Summer Chicken.

2 /
"Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural human right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father." That's not hate speech. That's truth in love.

3 / 
Matching sibling outfits! Personalized baby books! Diapers, God love you! All these make excellent baby present ideas for the mother who already has everything.

4 / 
"Think my thighs are looking a little jiggly, honey? Believe me, you wouldn't like me with skinny ones. My body type is such that I have to work very hard to be thin and become a complete killjoy. I'd be such a soldier for the thighs, you'd rarely get between them."

Excerpting doesn't do this piece justice. Just read it and feel good.

5 / 
A bathing suit piece that is NOT ABOUT MODESTY! By Simcha, of course.

6 /
Beauty splurge vs. steal: eye liner. Picking up the steal version is on my to-do list for next week at Walmart.

7 / 
Dear Chelsea Clinton: Stop. Just... stop it.

Linking up to Conversion Diary's 7 quick takes.


five faves / how to be See's savvy

In lieu of finishing a rather delicate post I'm working on as to why I no longer shop at Macy's, I'm instead going to write about what I used to do every time I'd leave a Macy's: GO TO SEE'S CANDIES.

I know See's isn't really nationwide, but at least every West Coaster should be able to hear me out on this. See's is the chocolate king--or rather, it's founder's mother, Mary See, is the chocolate queen. The See's Candies stores--filled with those trademark soothing black-and-white tile and faint chocolate aroma that I swear lowers blood pressure by at least 15 points--was designed to resemble her home kitchen.

She must have had happy relatives.

I come from a long line of See's aficionados, bordering on well-meaning snobs. You don't know how it pains us to stand in line at a See's (while probably nibbling our delicious free sample, natch), and hear someone order a half-pound box of Marzipan, Apple Pie Truffle and Walnut Rolls. C'mon, seriously? You have before you arguably the world's greatest array of dark and milk chocolate, and you're ordering that??

The only thing more painful is listening to someone who knows they're in the presence of true chcolaterie greatness, but they haven't the foggiest idea of what anything tastes like. "Um, well, I guess I'll take a Walnut Square, and then um, give me two Mocha Truffles... And then, um, do you have something with caramel in it?"

I "humbly" (scare quotes insisted upon by my husband) submit my top five See's picks. Order these with confidence and speed, impressing both your sweet See's clerk and your fellow chocolate lovers in line behind you.

1. Dark Chocolate Butter
"Creamy soft center with chocolate liquor and butter covered in rich dark chocolate." These things are served in Heaven. I have no doubt of it.

2. Butterscotch Chew
"Buttery brown sugar caramel with vanilla." When the angels grow weary of Dark Chocolate Butters, they eat Butterscotch Chews for variety.

3. Scotchmallow
"A layer of caramel with a layer of honey marshmallow covered in rich, dark chocolate." My Dad's favorite. The top of this one closely resembles that of a Dark Chocolate Butter, but in time, you'll be able to spot the difference. Go easy on yourself.

4. Dark Bordeaux
"Creamy brown sugar soft center covered in rich dark chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice." Addictive. "Chocolate rice" is code name for bits of chocolate deliciousness that tumble down your shirt unnoticed when you bite into it, only to be found hours later, melted and unremovable from your clothes. This has never happened to me, of course.  

5. Dark Molasses Chip
"Sugar wafers flavored with molasses and covered in rich dark chocolate." Variety for the angels, part II. We gave these away as favors at each table setting at my wedding. After the reception, my Mom and Dad collected the scattered leftover programs and holy cards that were forgotten at the tables... but not many of these.

So: Pack a box for your mother, your kid's teacher, your pastor or yourself.

Clear eyes, full See's box--can't lose. 


stop pressin' my belly

For my 20-week ultrasound with this baby, I let Dr. Sears talk me into bringing Joseph along. 

I was all set for Joe to "catch the excitement." Oooooooh.

And then a schedule conflict meant that Amby had to come too. 

Oh boy. 

Up until the news that Amby was coming, I had envisioned an easy-breezy 30-minute ultrasound, with Joe sitting on Sean's lap, gazing in awe at the little baby limbs and sweet baby face on the screen, captivated by the miracle of life growing in mommy's belly. 

Instead I got two squirrels crawling and jumping all over their father while my tech murmured things like, "Ah, your cervix was totally easy to find. Great."

By the time the 45-minute mark of the scan rolled around, I had not only shooed the boys back to the waiting room with their father, but had begun to endure the pressings and pushings of the tech's wand on my abdomen as she tried to shove baby into a better position. Ugh. Ouch and ugh. I was half convinced that the repeated painful presses were necessary to get yet another view of baby's stomach chambers, and half convinced that the tech was just putting me through the ringer. Eventually she got every angle required, but man, I came out of the exam room sore

At the very end, she happily remarked that now, she'd try and get a good profile view of baby's face to print for me. No thank you, all done! I took the one other view of baby's face (really just a sideways glimpse nose and little open mouth) she had managed to get earlier in the scan, and scurried to the exit. 

Sweet little baby who likes to hide his or her umbilical cord entry: I love you muchly. 


books I read to survive morning sickness

The title's a bit misleading. Nothing about my morning sickness made me pick these books in particular, but as a whole, they helped me limp through the worst of the queasiness (and the IAS).

The year's only half-through and I've read five books, start to finish. I haven't done that in... too long. Feels like I'm back in Mr. Jordan's honors English class for high school juniors. And I like it!

I just started Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl, but three chapters in and I'm calling it quits--if anyone has loved another book of hers, please do comment and let me know. Maybe I just didn't pick the right one, or maybe I'm not in the mood for a twenty-something British chick dealing with the shrill, annoying ghost of her great aunt.

Anyway--for What We're Reading Wednesday, I'm reviewing my previous (and mostly recommendable) conquests.

Credit for this pick goes to my wonderful friend (and Catholic World Report editor) Cate. She suggested it after I wrote this post on how hard it is for a modern SAHM to relate to women living out cloistered, religious vocations. I thoroughly enjoyed the rich development of the mostly-female cast of characters. Godden manages to highlight, even emphasize the failings and shortcomings of each woman, turning those very failures into their greatest opportunities for sacrifice and service to the cloister as a whole--and all for whom the sisters pray. Tremendous.

Everyone loves a beach read, right? Especially one detailing the summer wedding plans of a wealthy family vacationing in Nantucket? I found this novel certainly fluffy enough, but too immersed in the current culture of throw-away marriages and hook-ups to be fully enjoyable. I might try another Hilderbrand novel later this year to see if her other best sellers repeat this trend.

One of my few regrets from college is that while I chose the right major for my skill set, choosing that major meant taking fewer courses in the classics (literature, Latin, philosophy). I've read an embarrassingly small amount of Catholic non-fiction, especially by the likes of Lewis, Chesterton, Knox, Belloc, and works of the saints. Whenever I resolve to make up for this deficiency in my adult life, the little Voice of Self Doubt in my head tells me, "Why even try? You won't have a professor to explain it to you. You won't understand it on your own. You probably won't even be able to finish the book. Go back to Elin Hilderbrand."

Well, I gave the Voice of Self Doubt a backhand and plowed through Till We Have Faces. Man. Not only a C.S. Lewis novel, but a novel based on Greek mythology, AND the work he considered his finest? Nothing like starting with something easy and accessible.

But I surprised myself by not only finishing it, but reading a few essays on it, and have continued mulling over its message in my head for months. Lewis raises questions of love, hate, jealousy, possession, loyalty and the blurred spaces where they all meet. Pretty sure I'll be rereading this one again in years to come.

Heh. As expected, loved it. If for no other reason (though there are plenty), worth the read for the "So, are you guys done having kids yet?" chapter.

I listed above that my have-read list of Catholic non-fiction is a short one. Ditto for classic fiction by Catholic authors. I wanted to read some Graham Greene but winced at the idea of getting through The Power and the Glory (assuming there'd be a lot of violence, right?), so I opted for the, uh, book about the racy affair.

Or so I thought! I had seen some of the 1999 movie version, but didn't know then what I know now--that the movie, while somewhat faithful to the book, has both stark plot differences and a great deal more explicit sex than the book. As for the book, wow. The back jacket of my edition had a quote from William Faulkner: "For me, one of the best, most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody's language." Agreed.


five faves / oh baby

Greetings and salutations!

And, surprise!

Top five moments of new baby's in-utero life thus far:

1. Breakfast

The morning I suspected I was pregnant, I decided to scramble some eggs. Cracked open an egg into a bowl, and boom: double yolk. Hmmm.

Took pregnancy test. Positive.

Four mornings later, I make eggs again. Crack open egg.


Say a Hail Mary and wonder how many infant onesies you need for twins.

2. Ultrasound

First OB visit and 8-week ultrasound showed just one guest hanging out, but I really had my doctor going with the whole double-double-yolk story. 

3. IAS

I developed serious Internet Aversion Syndrome for the first trimester. Ever heard of it?

It's when the familiar and ever-present car-sick, queasy feeling of pregnancy intrudes upon your sole escape from reality--namely, blogs and online shopping. I hear that people with car sickness are supposed to either drive the car or try and look at the horizon. Anytime I tried to look down at my phone and scroll through Instagram, or sit with the laptop and compose a post, it was like doing that while sitting in the far-back of a 15-passenger van, hurling down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Close to the halfway point of cooking this baby, and IAS has almost completely abated. Favorite thing ever.

4. Boy/girl

My favorite part of delivery with both Joseph and Ambrose was the moments after each baby came out, and I'm lying back, thoroughly exhausted, totally spent, eyes closed, and I hear Sean say: It's a boy!

I labor for those words. They're my reward. So even though the big anatomy ultrasound is coming up fast, I don't think we'll find out the gender.

5. Gobble gobble

I'm due in November.

In lieu of baby gifts, please send pans of my favorite gluten-free stuffing for Thanksgiving. :)

And now, a Domestic Apologist PSA.

I've thought about this site every day since beginning my little pregnancy-imposed blogging sabbatical. In the very early weeks of this baby's existence (and the most potent IAS), I still forced myself to write posts, all the while wanting to either throw up or go lay down and close my eyes. Awful. Why was I making myself do it? Who was I doing it for?

So I stopped.

I gave up the pursuit of new readers, the affiliate links and, to be honest, the hope of making more of a name for myself (and this blog) before the Edel Gathering.

But, surprise (another one)! I took up other things--like reading the news! (Something I did religiously before I read blogs.) And reading books! (More on that tomorrow.)

And, I did something I told myself I'd do long ago but never did: I cleaned out my blog reader and unsubscribed from anything that wasn't enriching my day or bringing me life.

This isn't to say that one can't read both blogs and news, blogs and books, blogs and make sure each blog was contributing, not detracting, to one's spirit. Indeed, so many lovely ladies with awesome blogs do just that.

But somehow, it wasn't working for me. And getting pregnant again proved that. In my nauseated haze, I pruned back my intake of online information almost to nothing. When I felt well enough to begin reading again, I started slowly. It all came back to what was bringing me life, as I was growing a new life within me.

One of my most favorite things about blogging is that you can stop, whenever, for whatever reason, and the world goes on--or as the New York Post would say, the republic still stands. I like that.

Anyway. I'm happy to be looking at the blinking cursor again, happy to be gestating, happy to be able to stand on my soap box (or diaper box, as Jim Gaffigan would say) from time to time. And thank you, as always, for clicking over here. Now join me in eating some carbs.

Linking up with Heather, the new hostess with the mostest!