Thursday, November 20, 2014

Please click here for my blog

I am moving to

Find me over there and sorry for the confusion!

You're either mature or you're not!

(inside joke, sorry)

Friday, November 14, 2014

7QT: Using the Old Theme


Even though I haven't been "Picture a Skyline" for a while, I'm going back to using the old theme for now; the design created by the amazing Rhonda Ortiz.  To see all of my recent articles, check the archives, or find me online (aka at Real Housekeeping).  Now I have an online home that won't go away.

I'm also really, really excited to tell you that I was featured and quoted in Chattanooga Pulse (!!!) as a member of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Read all about it! (Cover story!)
It's been quite a wild ride. Writing 1667 words a day is no joke, my friends. No joke. I am on my way to the home stretch! 
(insert final countdown music here) Actually mostly I am just listening to this over and over (and over) .....

I'm not going to blog as frequently as I once did under the Picture a Skyline title.... but maybe every once in a while. I will use this space for this and that, not primarily as a space for writing. As I mentioned, see  Real Housekeeping for the bulk of my writing.

A very nice quote.

A theology of peace... part in parcel with "for I know the plans I have for you" and "don't worry about anything..." and for the most part I agree with you, Tolstoy. And I love your books.;)


Also, I wanted to tell you about very cool website, unsplash, where you can find amazing stock photos for free! (hint, hint, free beautiful desktop backgrounds galore!) You can find it filed under "just awesome" on my pinterest page. Some photographers are so cool!  ;)

I'm not on instagram, but otherwise I'm pretty active in social media. See the right side bar to get in touch via the various social media channels! I love Twitter, spesh. 
AND! In case you missed it, make sure to read my 30 Books (30 books! I know, right?!) in 2014 post, here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

30 Books in 2014

I made a resolution to read 30 books in a year. For a while, I used the Kindle app on my iPhone occasionally for reading easy e-books, easy re-reads, such as Anne of Green Gables, or other short books. That’s a great way to do it in a pinch, or if you’re multitasking (i.e. watching kids at a Mall Play area or waiting for the French Fries to fry...or burn;).I still can't believe 2014 is coming to an end so soon. Reading has been sorta a stop-and-start-type thing. You know, Mothering. It's a thing. But I did accomplish my goal, plus some. BTW-Today's post will be linked to Twitterature at Modern Mrs. Darcy. (see below!)

Yep…. I love real books.   

I finally figured out my husband’s iPad and used it for Kindle- I’ve read a handful of books on it.  Personally, I think it is good for ebooks, and I did read a few of those, but otherwise I’m a Real Book junkie.* I just adore allowing physical books to occupy space on a bookshelf. I love to see the titles of recent books and classic books all lined up together. Also, a really quick disclaimer: I did not adore each and every book I read, and if I could express it more gracefully, then I would... so for that, I am sorry. To see a list that includes what I read last year, click here (and here).

So sorry for the rambling! On to my list.... Here's what I read, etc.: (This might get sort of long- sorry!)

1. Cultivating Your Creative Life (Jan)

This is perfect for stimulating your creative life.  I get excited about interactive, artsy type books- the kind you find in a bookstore and just want to sit and look at for a while.  This will get you excited to make some tea, journal, and watercolor or gel pen it up. It will push you to be a more creative thinker and journaller. 5 stars.
2. Maisie Dobbs (Jan)

I discovered this book from one of my favorite blogs, Fountains of Home.  To be honest, this made me want more from No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (see below).  The writing was good, but the story and plot were too predictable and at times rather boring.  I love the sense of humor of the books that inspired this one. 3 stars.

{also{Cranford-} I can’t count Cranford, because I simply found it too stuffy and predictable, therefore I did not finish reading it. Honestly I was disappointed that I didn’t love it. :( Boo!}If anyone has any encouragement for me, please, do tell!;) Discouragement? Don't tell me! ;)} (Feb)

3. The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency (Feb)

This book series is light-hearted, entertaining, and energetic. It will make you think. Profound and absorbing. Entertaining. So, so good. 5 stars.

4. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead  (Feb)

I loved the connection to Madeleine L’Engle, and I haven’t talked about this author enough. She is the namesake of our third daughter, and one of my most favorite authors. (We also were thinking of Mary Magdelene and I know there is a St. Madeleine, as well). Give me almost anything by L’Engle- and I’ll be sure to adore it.  I heard of this YL book from the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. Smart, and unpredictable. 5 stars.

5. A Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Feb)

I was excited to finally read this one. It got a lot of hype and attention when it first came out, and I was dying to see what the fuss was about. I was not disappointed in the least, want to read the next books in the series. Reminded me of a more sophisticated and sassy Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll? So. good. 5 stars.

6. Tears of the Giraffe  by Alexander McCall Smith (Mar)

The second in the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency. Just awesome. Not as fun as the first, but still very, very good. 4 stars.

7. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Mar)

Funny, funny, funny! Having followed this story of the family on the AT, and living near the AT, and having hiked some of it growing up (My husband was the more serious backpacker of the two of us, actually, but I did a whole lot of hiking growing up), I adored this book. Bill Bryson is - simply put- a scream. He’s hilarious.  You’ll have a rousing good time pondering how one person could really eat only noodles for dinner night after night after night… and drink black coffee with pink specks in it...while hiking miles upon miles upon miles every day. What will he do when he gets turned around, separated from his partner and low on water? Don’t read it on your Kindle- it’s too long for that. 5 stars.

8. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider (Mar)

Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed by Tsh’s second book.  I don’t know… can’t put my finger on it.  I am starstruck by her blogging skills, and I love almost every single blog post she has ever written. Somehow that didn’t translate to a book for me. 3 stars.

9. A Little Book About Confession for Children by Kendra Tierney (Apr)

Kendra Tierney is most definitely someone to watch. First of all, she is an amazing Mom- you can pick that up after just a few minutes on her blog Catholic All Year. She has so much talent and she is quick. This book is such a beautiful, humble book, and you can dig your toenails in and really grow from it... although it is a little too short. I hope she writes more books! 4 stars.

10. Spirit-Led Parenting by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer (Apr)

I put it off for too long. I needed to get into the know about about this movement in American parenting books. I’m glad I read it, and I was glad to be done. Missing some main points. 4 stars.

11. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (May)

I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s whimsical, descriptive writing. This novel is no exception. She illuminates the Indian-American landscape and let’s be honest… you can tell she’s a foodie a mile away! It is also adapted to screen, which I was happy to watch. Some sexual innuendo; for mature audiences - book and movie. 4 stars.

12. The Sinner’s Guide to NFP  by Simcha Fisher (May)
Very similar to Notes From a Blue Bike, an extremely talented blogger doesn't translate to an author for me. Why did this book rub me the wrong way? Can someone else pick up the torch, i.e. this subject? 1 star.

13. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (May)

I saw the movie before the book, so I knew it was sad, but you guys. His story is heartbreaking. Read this book if you want to know what it’s like being an Irish Catholic (in an alcoholic family) moving to America. So brilliant and hilarious, with intricate details woven throughout. At times a little depressing for my taste, but witty and to the point, so, worth it. 5 stars.

14. All New People by Anne Lamott (May)

Anne Lamott will forever and ever have my heart. She is witty to the point. A writer’s writer. A writer for the people.  Be still my novel-reading heart. Beware- language and sexual content. Still, stunning and profound. 5 stars.

15. Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler (Jun)

I think I have to say this was far and away my most favorite book of the year.  It was just So. Much. Fun  Readable and funny, full of wit, wisdom, courage, and inspiration. Oh my goodness, go get a copy for yourself right now, sit your butt in a chair, and devour it like the rest of us! 5 stars. to buy, click right here.

16. The Little Oratory by Leila Lawler and David Clayton (Jun)

This book… How I love thee!  No more words can be said that haven’t already been said. 5 stars.

17. Love and Salt by Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith (July)

I already wrote about this book here. 4 stars.

18. The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten (July)

I had a hunger in my quest for better praying the Rosary, and this book didn’t disappoint. I hoped I would have a kindredness with her writing, and I would have been heartily disappointed if it had not come to fruition the way I hoped it would. 5 stars.

19. Faith Beginnings by Michele Chronister (July)

I love Michele’s blog because I always leave inspired in my parenting and motherhood!  I was so thrilled when I heard she had written a book, I immediately shared it with a good friend after reading it myself. It’s one you’ll want to pass along to those you love, especially other young Catholic moms. Excellent introduction for exposing your children to the Catholic faith, just as the title says. So much wisdom. 4 stars.

20. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (July)

Although not my favorite of the bunch, this was a quick and fun read. Did I mention that I want to read the whole series? ;) 4 stars.

21. Cold Comfort Farm (Aug)

I already wrote about this book (read my review on Goodreads, here.) At times too negative. Very, very time-consuming and very, very British! Stimulating. Exhausting. Important. “Surely she had endured enough for one evening without having to listen to intelligent conversation?” ― Stella GibbonsCold Comfort Farm (Oh my gosh, there's a TV movie.... sweet).  5 stars.

22. The Joy of Knowing Christ by Pope Benedict XVI (Aug)

I read this collection of homilies like a devotional - one or two before bedtime. I have only  one other work by him- The Virtues. (nonfiction) Encouraging read. 5 stars.

23. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton (Aug)
Wrote about this book already- here.  Very good. 5 stars.

24. 5 Keys to Understanding Pope Francis by Anne Joan Flanagan, FSP (Sep)
Includes an interesting explanation of the papacy, and is an enlightening picture into Pope Francis’ theology, background, and personal thesis. Highly recommended. If it helps, it is rather short, perhaps why it isn’t more popular! 4 stars.

25. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (Sep)
I do recommend that you read this book, to stay in-the-know about current affairs/trends/the spiritual/(political) atmosphere in our country today. And I know that this topic was so significant to 2014- especially with the direction our country is headed. Although I do not assent or perfectly align to this theology, I found it light, encouraging to my faith, and inspiring. Also? A little too black and white for my taste.... but, not a bad read at all.  5 stars.

26. Delancey by Molly Wizenburg (Oct)
This book is a killer. It’s a quick and fabulously fun read; I think I finished it in three days total, and it is over 200 pages. The minute I opened it, I wanted to be Molly, or at least escape into her world of opening a restaurant in Seattle. It has a different feel from her debut (a little more to the point, and the recipes feel less involved, as well), but for what it is, it is perfect. 5 stars.

27. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (Oct)
Read this! It was the first by this author that I’ve read, and the Australian backdrop and dialect kept me rolling. I heard it recommended countless times, and I’m glad I took the time to finally read it. It made me wonder: What would my former self of ten years ago think of the person I am today? What would I say to the person I will be in ten more years? A little too long. 4 stars.

28.The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Oct)

I loved it.  The level of engagement and profundity reminded me of The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society , with flashbacks, plot twists and such.  The premise of an honest look at the foster care system in our country while simultaneously delving into the Victorian concept of the meaning of flowers? Masterfully accomplished. 5 stars.

29. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (Nov)

This has to be the American Harry Potter, imeanrite?! I spent some time reading it to the kids... they couldn't believe Reynie doesn't like TV!

30. Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott (Nov)

I was a little disappointed by the length of this book. Compared to her others, it felt a little short. Worth reading, but if I had to choose, I'd start with Bird by Bird, then Operating Instructions or Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. 3 stars.

In December, I'm reading An Accidental Marriage by Roger B. Thomas. Here's a nice review/interview by Sarah Reinhard.

One Year to a Writing Life by Susan Tiberghien

Read/Reading with the kids
Katie and The Impressionists  and Katie and the British Artists by James Mayhew
A Little Princess in the Making by Emilie Barnes
My Mom gave this adorable book to my daughter Frances for her 3rd birthday. Replete with paper dolls? Yes please!
Picture Book of Saints by Lawrence Lovasik
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say Finally broke down and bought this book. the illustrations are phenomenal.
How to Train Your Dragon series
The Mysterious Benedict Society series
a few from the Narnia series with Daddy..and a few more!;)

What have I watched?

1 Gilmore Girls seasons 1-4
2 The Mindy Project season 1
3 The Russian Ark
4 Emma
5 Portlandia
6 Sherlock
7 The Cosmopolitans
(what have you watched?)

With the Kids..
Monsters, Inc.
How to Train Your Dragon
Tangled and Frozen because, Disney.
Curious George
Charlotte’s Web (new and old)
Angelina Ballerina (there is never enough of it for my girls!)

Blogs I read : Top 10

1. Catholic All Year inspiring and very Catholic
2. Carrots for Michaelmas inspiring and important
3. Like Mother, Like Daughter especially resonating with Rosie's posts over here!;)
4. Hollywood Housewife-really like her book posts, love her writing 
5. Conversion Diary love everything about this one.. she is hilarious
6. Becoming Peculiar love her crunchy, frugal/minimalist ways!
7. Patheos Simcha Fisher, Lisa Hendey, several other good ones there
8. Catholic Mom daily encouragement up the wazoo
9.Modern Mrs. Darcy good stuff all told...really bookish and very solid recommendations!
10. Camp Patton hilarious and Catholic to boot!

And, of course….. Real Housekeeping :)

also, these:
US Tourist Locked Inside London Waterstones Bookshop @ The Guardian
bahahaha... can Portlandia spoof this article? because, this is ridiculously funny stuff. {c'mon twitter, you can do better than that!}
For homeschoolers, Joyous Lessons is inspiring.
For sewing inspiration, Anna Maria Horner is my go-to.

E-books and Cookbooks I read this year..
The Family-First Creative by Jennifer Fulwiler
Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
Feast by Daniel and Haley Stewart- ordered in April and loved it!
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
How She Does It by Anne Bogel
Spice Up Your Marriage: A 28 Day Adventure by Hallie Lord
Home Organization for Stress-Free Living by Karen Pettine

Music I enjoyed in 2014….

My favorite tea right now is Hot Cinnamon Spice by Harney and Sons; I found mine at Barnes and Noble booksellers.  Let it steep for a good 4 minutes in 12 oz. boiling water, longer for more water~ and you will not be disappointed! It's a little spicy- beware!

My favorite coffee is Bulletproof Coffee.  And because I couldn’t say it better than her, I will quote Anne Bogel:
“And I finally, finally tried bulletproof coffee. We are bona fide coffee snobs around here. (It’s a blessing and a curse, I tell you.) Bulletproof coffee sounded like a surefire way to ruin a good cup of coffee. But I’ve had blood sugar issues ever since pregnancy #1, and bulletproof coffee is supposedly good for blood sugar stabilization.
I am pleased to report that it wasn’t terrible. It was pretty good, actually. I wouldn’t say I preferred it to my regular cup (black, and strong), but not because it’s worse, just different.
(To make it: add one tablespoon coconut oil and one tablespoon butter to twelve ounces of coffee, blend, and serve. A good blender is essential, and the quality of ingredients is paramount. I used Kerry Gold butter, Nutiva coconut oil, and my favorite locally roasted coffee, all thoroughly whirled up in my Ninja.)”

Only one aside, actually three:
~If you use Virgin Coconut Oil, you will taste the coconut flavor more than unrefined Coconut Oil. We always use Organic. 
~ We own a Vitamix, but either that or any high-powered blender will work wonders on your frothy concoctions! ;)
~Do not use butter that has Salt, or it will ruin your cup of coffee!

* I read a wide variety of books, often at night, but sometimes if a book was really good, I would fit it into nap time and playtime and well, you get the idea. :) Whenever I could get a chance.  That is not to negate the importance of boundaries- do as I say, not as I do! ;)
I am willing to shell out the cash for a real book versus the cheaper version for iPad, because I can exchange them at McKay’s (or another used bookstore) for used books, DVD’s, and movies.  Win-win! :)  We are also huge fans of Better World Books, where you can buy used books at a discount, with FREE shipping! Anyhow…. enough bragging and tongue wagging on owning books.

Now! I want to know!  What have you read, watched, and listened to? Please let me know in the comments!
Joining Twitterature @  Modern Mrs. Darcy

Monday, October 27, 2014

Home Finance Week

Woohoo! It's finally Home Finance Week at Real Housekeeping!

We'll have posts everyday this week.

God bless and happy reading.
Please consider shopping our swag and our store, and/or supporting our sponsors!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


There needs to be a Nanowrimo for Nonfiction, so that those of us who are serious about writing can get some support!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Pray the Rosary

Becoming Catholic is about more than simply venerating Mary and reading (watching?) EWTN.

When living in Hyattsville, Maryland (on the belt loop in D.C., as previously mentioned in this post), I can literally say that I felt like a fish out of water.

Why? (Is praying the Rosary that hard?)

Catholicism was, to be honest, a little disappointing to me at the very beginning of our conversion. It just wasn't all it seemed cracked up to be.  For one thing, I read a book called The Private Prayers of Pope John Paul II.  Many are addresses he gave in public places, on The Secular Institutes.  Falling on my very non-Catholic, American ears, the leader of your church shouldn't be writing something about Secular life... should he?  Or, oh, that's simply referring to the laity? Why are the public addresses included in the book referred to as "private prayers"? At the time, many things did not make any sense to me.

I joined Rosary Moms and prayed the Rosary, out loud, in front of people that I had just met.  More often than not, I felt like a complete fool. Half of the prayers included on the list I didn't have memorized. I had to ask a lot of really stupid questions.  Sometimes I felt my ego depended on a confident friend or two who took me under their wing and lifted me up. And then of course there was always that person who lived to shoot me down.* It was all so upsetting. Very upsetting.

All those days of tongue-in-cheek aside, all of those days of-- if we're honest--some hard times and maybe even a little suffering, I'm left wondering: not just how do we pray the Rosary, but why do we pray the Rosary?

First of all, we pray the Rosary to meditate on the mysteries of Scripture. The Rosary and the Scriptures go hand in hand. Each day a different set of mysteries is recalled. Joyful on Monday? You must be crazy. ;) (Joyful on Mondays and Saturdays, Luminous on Thursdays, Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays).

Second of all, we pray the Rosary in order to gain spiritual food and spiritual fruit. One example is Spiritual Poverty, as gained by praying the Rosary while meditating on The Nativity of Christ. A person might think of the shame of Joseph, the roundness of Mary's belly, and the Christ Child in all of his smallness. My daughter asked if we go clockwise or counter-clock wise. I actually wasn't 100%, but I told her "to the right."

Third of all, we pray the Rosary to find sincerity of heart, and therefore, peace.  There is no peace if you're "doing faith" for the attention of man.  Often our prayers can be simply a form of self-betterment, even the exaltation of our spiritual maturity, or a chance to show off our accomplishments in life. Prayer is a touchy thing, and it is a delicate thing.  Like a crystal chandelier, maybe. Like a rosary of precious beads.

Finally, and fourth of all, we pray the Rosary because it is not a norm.  Cultural Christianity hasn't left much room for Mary.  It makes us Catholics different. It once made me squirm with annoyance and discomfort. Now -- I love it.  What about all of this makes you feel uncomfortable? If it does, then good. It should.

*You think I'm joking but I'm not. You don't have to be Catholic tobut you do have to admit that I have a point.
** Also see this article that I wrote on Mary and this one on Becoming Catholic
(I also have an article on Real Housekeeping today).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Called to Communion Article

I wrote an article for Called to Communion- a website my husband and I have enjoyed reading for several years. Visit the link -- and dear reader, please let me know if you have thoughts or questions. I encourage visiting the link and interacting there on the Called to Communion website.

Prayer, Idolatry, and Grace @ Called to Communion