7 Quick Takes: Easter Octave Edition

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Happy Friday!  Here I am blogging instead of watching the just-released-for-home-viewing Star Wars movie, so…you’re welcome.  We have big plans to watch it after Maddy goes to bed tonight, so I should need to make a popcorn and wine run this afternoon.

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We had a lovely Easter.  The Triduum looks a little different when you’ve got a toddler and no really stellar Mass options, but we made it work.  There’s a Ukrainian Catholic option in town, so we went to some of their services and really enjoyed the change.  Plus, the congregation is very small (as in, under 10 most days) and child-friendly.

On Holy Thursday, every Mass option was bilingual, which meant things took about twice as long as they would have at an English Mass, but Maddy was a trooper past her bedtime.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to an authentic Spanish Mass (no, I don’t count my Midwestern university’s attempts).  The enthusiasm of the musicians was really something to see.

On Friday, we went to the Ukrainian Mass, which was celebrated for the Feast of the Annunciation.  Maddy was good for the first hour or so, and then lost interest and needed to sit in the car eating Cheerios.  She enjoyed climbing freely around the backseat.

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Happy as a clam and totally stuck.  She just politely said, “Hey, mama?”

We laid low at home on Holy Saturday; our bedtime disruption capital had all been spent on Thursday night.  On Sunday, we woke up bright and early and went to Easter Matins, again at the Ukrainian church.  There was a procession involved, and the priest’s wife gave Maddy a set of bells to ring whenever we said, “Christ is risen!”

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Hard to get a picture while carrying her and processing through the bushes, but you get the idea.

Johnny was conscripted into leading the procession, which ended with Father knocking on the closed church doors with a crucifix and announcing three times, “Christ is risen!”  It was great.

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Maddy is enamored by his hat and the bells on the thurible.  The Roman Rite is pretty dull in comparison.

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We didn’t manage to get a family photo because (ahem) someone changed out of his church clothes too early.  I may make everyone wear the same thing this weekend for a staged picture.  Pretend it’s real.

I did think to take photos of Maddy.  “We have lilies and a stuffed lamb!” I thought.  “How hard could a photo be?”

This hard.

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Fittingly for Easter week, our kitchen is full of various baked goods.  But they were all made under duress!  Really!  We couldn’t not have Easter brunch, and the pound cake was my contribution to Easter dinner.  And the cookies were because I thought Johnny was going on a business trip.  And the bread is there to go with the ham.  In short: I should’ve bought butter and flour shares.

 

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We totally skipped an Easter basket for Maddy this year, because she still thinks raisins are candy, but her grandparents and great-grandparents came to the rescue.  My mom sent her the Our Lady of Czestochowa Shining Light Doll, and she’s been carrying it around everywhere asking, “Who’sis?”  She’s currently fascinated by all depictions of Mary and Baby Jesus, so having a portable version is fun.

Johnny’s grandpa made her this rocking fish, which she likes but isn’t quite sure how to approach.  In a month or two, she’s going to be a rocking fool on it.

 

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The weather has been great this week, and Maddy has been begging to spend every moment outside.  It’s tough, because every surface is covered with pollen, and all three of us have allergies.  I’m trying to bite the bullet, though, so we’ve been to the playground a few times.

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Just practicing for Baby.  Given that she flipped it immediately after I took this photo, I think we’ll keep practicing.

 

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We have a lot of time to spend outside because she went down to one nap pretty much every day.  It’s great that we can count on her to sleep through the night now, but I’m missing the time I used to have to myself during the day.

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All I need to do is figure out how to eat in the shower while making phone calls, without anyone on the other end getting suspicious.  I can do this.

 

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We spent the last month dealing with a ridiculous car repair situation that resulted in finally getting a loaner car from the dealership for a couple weeks.  Any excitement I may have had about driving a cute Fiat was quickly squashed by the fact that it was electric and had a range of 74 miles.  Ever forget to plug your phone in at night?  Yeah, now imagine being stuck at home the next day while the car charges.  Needless to say, I’m not planning on a purchase anytime soon.  Once my car came back (two weeks later), I sent the list of repairs to my dad and asked how long it would take him.  Response: “Two hours including lunch.”  Awesome.

 

I’ve typed away a pretty fair portion of naptime, so it’s time for me to go do some adulting.  Enjoy your weekend – we’ll be going to something called Big Hat Days!

Linking up with Kelly, because of course.

7 Quick Takes, mostly about food

Geez, two posts in one day! If you're thinking that I must have lots of spare time…well, you'd be totally wrong. I have a lengthy to-do list, and this is my chosen means of avoidance.
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Yes, so much food. Why? Because being pregnant (not to mention living with a ravenous toddler), it's a major theme of my life right now. I can't say I have any cravings, per se, but I'm very suggestible. Watching Food Network becomes a constant litany of, “Oh, I'd eat that…” Sure, the rest of the house is slowly declining into a huge mess, but now that I'm not averse to most everything, I'm cooking like crazy.
 
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It doesn't happen to me too often, but yesterday I had the most spectacular baking failure. A loaf of bread from an America's Test Kitchen recipe looked promising going into the oven, and then went downhill from there. Down, and down….and down. Even after it came out of the oven, the top just kept sinking. I was looking forward to the easy sandwich bread they promised, but I think I'll keep looking. But hey! At least I knocked the bread knife off the counter and reflexively reached to grab it, so I've got a bandaid souvenir.


3:

I went to a tea party last night, so in addition to the ill-fated bread, I whipped up some lemon bars. I've been baking significantly less during Lent (and no desserts at all), so I seized the opportunity to use up some sugar on an all-Protestant crowd. I should really know better than to try a new recipe when I'm on a deadline and have a new audience, but I was looking for a way to showcase some beautiful fresh lemons we got from a friend, and this recipe seemed like just the ticket. A stick and a half of butter, six eggs, a cup and a half of sugar, and three lemons? What could go wrong?

I'll spoil the ending and say that they did turn out fantastic – the flavor is amazing, and the shortbread crust has great texture. However…I baked them for 4 times longer than the recipe called for, and I still wasn't convinced they were set. After some refrigeration, they were fine but still gooey. Next time, they need to be in a bigger pan so they can cook a little faster.

In other news, this was the first time I've left home after Maddy's bedtime, and she (and Johnny) missed me so little I may have to do it more often. She slept through the entire night for only the second time in her life. Of course, I still woke up every few hours in a panic that she was still quiet. I managed not to go check on her at all, because I didn't want to have to explain to Johnny that I had woken her up.

 

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After months of waiting (yes, I need another hobby), I was really excited for the opening of a new grocery store near our house – a sort of Whole Foods Lite, where most of the produce is local, and it's all cheaper than anywhere else. I managed to go to the big opening all by myself – Maddy was with Johnny's mom, so circle the bulk section repeatedly while ogling the granola variety like the very very cool person I am.

I texted Johnny a picture of my cart and told him, “I think we have to become salad people now!” One whole week later, and we haven't let anything languish in the fridge yet, so I'm counting it as a win.

We've been back a few times, and Maddy found a barrel of dried cranberries bigger than her, so I think she's a fan too.

 

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Not to brag, but I'm doing pretty well at Lenten Fridays so far. We eat meatless on Friday all year round, so it really shouldn't be any different, but for some reason I've been putting a little more thought into dinner the last few weeks. I learned recently that Johnny doesn't actually hate shrimp like I thought he did; he just hates overcooked shrimp. Fair enough. I've always been a seafood lover, so I'm happy to have this territory opened up for exploration. Last week, we had this lemon shrimp pasta, which was certainly one of the more photogenic dishes I've cooked in a while.

 

6:

Okay, enough about food (she writes, while pondering leftover lemon bars and a cup of tea). We recently got a chance to try a free trial of Google Express, and I'm afraid I might be hooked. With a pretty low minimum purchase, they'll deliver my order from Costco, Target, and other stores the next day. It's a very first-world service, but I had one Costco order delivered, and I can see myself getting used to it. We're at the point when a shopping trip can't be spur-of-the-moment, and once we have two kids under two, I may never leave the house again. Time will tell if I actually pay for the service ($10 a month) once my trial runs out, but I'm keeping my options open.

 

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On the agenda this weekend: the usual housekeeping catch-up and a little adulting (gotta get the cars registered in this state, among other things). Hopefully we'll balance that out with a trip to the zoo with the membership Maddy got as a birthday gift. It's supposed to be 80 and sunny, so it would be a shame to waste the nice weather.

Enjoy your weekend and Leap Day!

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.

 

7 Quick Takes: California, you are crazy

Now that we’ve been in the Golden State for almost a month, I feel qualified to offer some observations. California, please take these in the spirit in which they are intended; namely, that of bewilderment and judgement.

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I feel that I was led here under false pretenses. No one ever told me about that the human population was so greatly outnumbered by the spiders (black widows, to be precise). The first time I saw one, on the screen of our bedroom window, I was the only one even remotely surprised or concerned. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t comforted to hear, “Oh, it’s just a little one.”

Luckily, my Minnesota-born family was more understanding via group text:

The second one was on the INSIDE of the screen door, and again, I was the only one who cared. By the time the third one showed up, a few days ago, I dared to get close enough to spray it with a bottle of Raid. Turns out, it was dead long before I got to it.


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The other day, I took Maddy outside to take her seven month photos. Within 20 seconds (no kidding), I saw 5 lizards (again, no kidding). I’m sure they were entirely harmless, but it didn’t seem like the best time or place to set my baby on the ground, so we scratched that plan. At this rate, I’m pretty much expecting that I’ve been lied to about the scarcity of snakes and earthquakes, too.



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It is, unsurprisingly, hot. I realized within a few days of getting here that my single pair of shorts was not going to carry me through till whenever the temperature drops. I went to the mall thinking that surely, shorts would still be a hot commodity (or at least available). As it turns out, no. It took me four trips to find a pair (on steep clearance, at the bottom of the rack). Meanwhile, there were crowds of people flocking to the puffer vests and leggings.

PEOPLE! Fall is not going to be a thing here until at least February!


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It rained earlier this week, and like a total dork, I stood outside in the rain (and brought my baby with me for good measure, so she doesn’t forget what water is).

 

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To be a good sport, I should also mention some good points about this strange state. First: the Mexican food is fantastic. Even the cheapest (okay, second cheapest) grocery store taco counter is better than any Mexican restaurant anywhere else I’ve lived.

Watch it, kid. We'll learn about sharing *tomorrow*.

 

 

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The scenery certainly hasn’t gotten old yet. This place was made for Instagram filters.

 

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One more…one more… Oh! Midnight EST, when blog linkups go live, is only 9:00 here, meaning I stand a chance of making it on the list above #100! With that said…

I’m linking up with Kelly and everyone who’s anyone!

 

 

7 Quick Takes: Linkin’ Around

Linking up with Kelly et al. to share a few things that are catching my attention or coming to mind (aka, clearing out the tabs I’ve got open on my browser).

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This new photo (and video) of the moon passing over the earth is incredible. I love seeing their scale and movement.

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Apparently it’s World Breastfeeding Week, and that’s great, but how about no one goes crazy? Here’s my photo contribution to the week, but no worries, skittish ones – we’re all covered up.

 

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I’m rereading some Harry Potter lately, and every time I come back to it, I’m surprised at just how much I enjoy it (even book #5, which is by far my least favorite). With that in mind, I’ve been pondering Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter, and on a lighter note, 8 Reasons Molly Weasley Is a Great Literary Mama (both via Carrots for Michaelmas)

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I know this is an advertising campaign, but darnit, handwriting is awesome (science agrees). Unsurprisingly, back to school ads are making me nostalgic for the days when I had an excuse to buy new pens and paper every semester.

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In what is possibly the most spot-on targeted advertising I’ve ever seen, Facebook “suggested” the following ad for me:

I’m not endorsing this company, because this was the first I’d ever heard of them. $8 is just a leetle steep for a onesie, but I am partial to the idea of baby clothes without logos or phrases. Maybe when Miss Maddy slows down her growing a little bit, I’ll give them a try. If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

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Rosie linked to this article about buying maternity clothes, and it had me in stitches. I’d call it a must-read for anyone who’s experienced the indignity of maternity shopping. When I went to buy jeans while pregnant, the tag helpfully advised me to “Buy the same size you would normally choose (XS, S, M, L, XL).” Ah yes, because my normal jeans come in lettered sizes. Never again, Motherhood!

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I’ve got a few sewing patterns on my wishful list right now, including the Geranium dress for Maddy. It looks simple and versatile enough that I could sew it over and over again. For myself, I think this sundress pattern – in the right fabric – could be made nursing-friendly. I’m doubtful that I’ll get one made up while it’s still sundress weather, but hope springs eternal (as does, well, spring).


It’s Friday! Yay! Visit the happenest place on the internet for more takes.

7 Quick Takes: GIF Recipes, Fat Babies, and Organizing

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum with a post that I actually finished before Friday. There's a first time for everything!

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All of our local farmers markets are “conveniently” held on weekday afternoons, which has been a tough adjustment from living in a place with just one large central market on Saturdays. They were all pretty much out of reach for someone with a day job, but this week, Maddy and I finally made it to one. We were hoping to find sour cherries, and we came away full-handed. Also with fresh doughnuts in hand.

These cherries are destined to become preserves, because we're running dangerously low on our beloved Michigan Cherry spread (Found at Costco. If you ever see it, buy it and I will happily reimburse you.).

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A gif! Because I wanted to see if I could. It turns out I can, just not very well without putting a little effort into it. In any case, melt together 1 part coconut oil and 2 parts chocolate, and prepare to delight and amaze your friends.

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It has been a good week to be Madeleine. On Monday, she got a package from one of her aunts, who sent a book from Comic-Con. It's a very sturdy board book with cutouts on each page, making it easy for her to manipulate and explore, even with her undeveloped motor skills and a tiny attention span.

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Then yesterday, when I was feeling slightly bad about doing nothing to celebrate her name day, she got a totally unexpected box of gifts from a family friend. Here she is, relaxing in her track suit while listening to Rossini and playing with Sophie Jr. This is basically leisure incarnate.

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One of the perks of renting: this is the front of our house, and I had absolutely nothing to do with the planting or care of these flowers. I took this picture two days ago, and those morning glories are already up to the second floor windows.

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books

Ever since I snapped out of my undergraduate reading slump, I find that I tend to read three or four books on the same topic before moving on to the next one. I guess I'm unconsciously researching and jumping down a rabbit hole until I'm satisfied. The “Mount Everest Disasters” month was a good time, as was “Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy” week.

Currently, I'm reading about home organization with a trio of books that I highly recommend. Our belongings are a mashup of dorm hold-overs, wedding gifts, and the things we each acquired after college, and it's kind of a stressful jumble. After waiting on the library's list for months and months, I finally got a digital copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I'm still reading it, but I'm already dreaming of a house with relaxed socks and much less stuff. The intense purging session will be a bit of a hurdle, though.

I actually started my “research” with Minimize the Mess, which will be the book I come back to time and time again for practical advice on the day-to-day business of keeping my stuff in check. It's written specifically for people who clean with little people underfoot.

To get my fix of decorating and beauty, I'm absolutely loving The Nesting Place. I had never read The Nester blog before picking up the book, so the style and decorating philosophy is all new to me. I can't wait to tidy up so that I can really focus on making our house a more visually appealing place to be.

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If you should ever find yourself in the inconceivable position of having brown sugar but no white, and needing dessert, give these cookie bars a try. I did, and I am, and they're pretty fantastic. There will be a next time, and it will involve pecans.

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This week's MaddyCam features her inaugural game of peekaboo, played this evening. She was veeeery tired, so everything was hilarious.

Go visit Kelly for more Quick Takes!

 

Halfway There?

Here we are, at (a little past) the halfway point of this year!  Today I’m going back over my New Years Resolutions to see where things stand six months (and one baby) later.  Since I conveniently made seven resolutions, I’m linking up with 7 Quick Takes as well.

1 – Have a baby

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As predicted, this one happened.  It wasn’t even so bad!

2 – Establish a good housekeeping routine

As it turns out, I was right to have very low standards for this one.  I’m just starting to get back into a post-baby routine, and it’s true that getting one room tidied, plus making dinner, is about enough for one day.

3 – Read at least 15 books

I have a whopping 13 books on my 2015 Goodreads shelf, but some of them were started long ago, and others have been abandoned permanently.  Of those 13, I’m counting 9, plus 2 that are still in progress.  I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting to 15.

4 – Go to Confession at least once a month

I think I’m on track with this one, but I have to admit that I don’t remember much of March and only a little more of April, so I may have missed.  Of course, if I don’t remember what happened, am I really culpable for anything that happened?  (I kid, I kid)

5 – Improve my food photography skills

This one took an unexpected hit, because I didn’t consider the fact that to have food photography, one must first make food.  Maddy has thrown a bit of a wrench into my ability to plan, make, serve, and eat dinner without someone crying (sometimes, it’s even her!).  We’re also stuck in a bit of a rut, and while there’s dinner on the table every night, it’s the same rotation of five meals (and one of those five may rhyme with Schmostco Schmizza).

In any case, when I do take photos, I’m being a little more deliberate with the setup, and pretty pleased with the results.  I’m hoping to step up my game in the second half of the year.

Look forward to more wins like this rice.

Look forward to more wins like this rice.

6 – Run a 5K

Being too cold is no longer a concern.

Being too cold is no longer a concern.

Well…we’re still running, Maddy and me.  I don’t know that we’re making swift progress, but there’s a long time between now and Turkey Trots.  We’ve been getting out 2 or 3 times a week to run, but it’s harder to find a good time as it gets hotter.  I’ve been saving my podcasts for run-time listening.  Thanks for keeping me company Fountains of Carrots and This American Life (and the last couple weeks, Little House Mothering)!  It’s like running with smart, interesting friends who don’t expect me to answer when I’m out of breath.

7 – Write at least 50 blog posts

If I’m counting correctly, this post makes #28, so gosh, I’m right on schedule!  A baby really does make the best content fodder.

Visit Kelly for more Quick Takes – her summer bucket list is positively ambitious compared to mine!

7 Quick Takes: Summer Fashion, Sacred Heart, and Miscellany

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phone comparison

New camera (phone) alert!  I upgraded my phone, and the new camera is so much better.  Compare the old photo (left) to the new one (right).  Maybe it’s just my over-scrutinizing photographer brain talking, but they look so much better to me.  Full Instagram-Speed ahead!

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I recently pulled out an old unfinished knitting project, and I’ve been making steady progress on it every evening.  I’m pretty sure I bought the yarn and started working on it before I got married, so it’s been languishing in craft purgatory for a long time.  The finished product is huge, but I’m hopeful that someday I’ll get it done.  Just in time to send it to college with Maddy.

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Netflix’s suggestions for me are usually dubious at best, but I followed their advice and watched the first episode of their original series Chef’s Table. Each episode profiles a different chef (ahem, hence the name), and the first one is about Italian chef Massimo Bottura. I thought it was fascinating from both a culinary and artistic standpoint, and his relationship with his wife was very endearing. I haven’t gotten to the other episodes yet, but I highly recommend the first one.

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Our balcony garden is, well, still alive, and that’s something!  The morning glories are starting to climb on the balcony and each other, making for some complex knots.
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Globe Basil, with its small leaves, is becoming my favorite variety.  They’re so small that they can be tossed into the pot without any chopping, which saves a step.  The poppies, in the same planter, are still shooting up, and since I don’t know much about flower gardening, I’ll consider that progress.garden 6-12-4 The blooming flowers are still going strong, possibly due to the fact that someone else did the hard part before entrusting them to me.  It’s nice to have such a vivid splash of color out there!garden 6-12-6

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Maddy and I had the chance to go to a new-to-us mall yesterday (the open-air kind that’s probably more common in warmer places but is a novelty around here). We’re happy to report that the summer fashions currently in stores are great. Fashion is cyclical, so I guess we’ve circled back around to a time that pleases me. Neither of us really needs anything new right now, but here are some things that caught my eye. There’s a definite theme of skirts and nursing-friendly dresses here…

Loft. I’ll be watching for this one to go on clearance.
Anthropologie ($198).  This will never go on deep enough clearance for my budget.
Loft.  Vertical stripes – yes.
JCrew.  The color is fantastic.
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H&M.  I’m not exactly sure what you’d wear under it (it’s clearly a little short as is), but it looks breezy and comfortable.
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H&M.  Something a little different from the usual t-shirt, and there were cuter colors in store.

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Sacred HeartIt’s a solemnity today!  That means our home altar is decked out, and I’m off to make (meaty) lasagna and cake for dinner.  There’s no particular tradition behind either choice, except that together, they’ll use up a whole container of ricotta.

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This week’s MaddyCam comes courtesy of her “new” walker, which is an awesome development. It keeps her happy for long enough that I can empty the dishwasher or do some cooking, but she really loves it when one of us gets down on her level.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!