Happy March!

Just a quick post to say “Happy March!” to you, dear readers!

Jell-Jell’s outfit has been changed accordingly, thanks to Jennifer (see sidebar, but also):

I’m so excited it’s March, because that means winter’s almost over. Of course, this weekend has been full of bitter cold, but not for long! Oreo says he saw some green today, and he wanted to share his discovery with you.

What does March mean to you, dear readers? Here’s to hoping it’s full of luck and green for all of us. :)

Excess & Sacrifice: Paczki Day + Top Ten Things People Are Giving Up for Lent in 2015

Excess and sacrifice–two polar opposites that enjoy global popularity this week. I find this both personally and culturally fascinating. How better to explore this than in a list?

“Top Ten Tuesday” is BACK! You know I can’t resist a holiday, readers. And while, yes, today is Mardi Gras, as well as Pączki Day (OK I may or may not have celebrated the latter but I couldn’t help it because someone brought in a huge box of fresh delicious pązki and I’m Polish and it’s in my blood to require them for sustenance on such a day, and, and…)


Let me help you with those…

Ahem. While today is both of those holidays, it is also the last day before Lent for Catholics. And, actually, my personal resolution is directly related to Pączki Day–a last hurrah, if you will–which is exactly what it was designed to be.

The specific pązcki in question was sweet-cheese-filled with vanilla frosting. (In recollection of Pączki Days past, our friend described his personal encounter with the traditional rosehip-flavored type, which was an acquired taste, and a floral shock to his raspberry expectations. I was thankful only to be pleasantly surprised today.)

In slightly related news, our dad randomly found gourmet fudge today in the trunk from our parents’ recent trip to Wisconsin. We deemed it a Lenten miracle and gobbled it up before midnight.

Midnight, of course, marked the beginning of Lent. Personally, I find the tradition of minor sacrifice enlightening about myself. How hard is it for me to give something small up, versus someone who gave up everything? What about people who live in poverty and have nothing to give up? Interestingly, many religions (and even non-religious causes) practice similar self-deprivation to promote awareness. So, in addition to being a reminder and practice of my own religion, I find the tradition to be beneficial in many ways.

One of these ways is my health. Every year around this time, my stomach breathes a sigh of relief (and my sweet teeth–for they are, all of them, sweet–sob) for forty days.

My standard is to give up sweets. It is both difficult (sweet tooth x 32) and easy–it’s fairly easy to eat around them.

Then I wondered–what do most people give up? I’ve read of people giving up sleeping in beds and doing major fasting during this time. But what’s the norm? Obviously, Twitter has the answer. OpenBible decided to index the top Lenten sacrifices users posted on Twitter, ranging from silly to serious. It’s an interesting sociological examination:

The project, now entering its sixth year, pulls from the Twitter firehose to index mentions of Lent and various iterations of the phrase “giving up.” It’s the brainchild of Biblical Web guru Stephen Smith, who in his day job runs engineering for the massive Christian site BibleGateway.com. The list updates every 10 minutes, so it’s apt to change. –Caitlin Dewey, The Washington Post

Without further ado, I present:

Top 10 Things Given Up for Lent 2015

(34,520 Tweets During the Week of February 15, 2015)

Rank What Number of Tweets
1. twitter 1,568
2. social networking 1,429
3. chocolate 1,418
4. school 1,035
5. alcohol 1,024
6. soda 635
7. sweets 619
8. swearing 609
9. fast food 585
10. coffee 416

Interesting, no? #1 and #2–ironic or sarcastic? #4–obviously a joke. All the rest? I believe them. Add me to #7–make that 620 tweets. :)

How about you, dear readers? Do you practice Lent or any other type of deprivation/sacrifice–what, if anything, do you think it tells us? What do/would you give up?
Food for thought–since that’s the only consumption of sweets I’ll be allowing myself till Easter. ;) :'(

Happy Valentine’s Day from Oreo and Chad

Happy Valentine’s Day from two precious piggies. Who needs cherubs, when you have these cuties?

The valentine I made for Jennifer. Oreo is very affectionate! <3

Oreo is getting some Valentine’s snuggles in with my mom. :)

So much snuggling can make even the most loving piggy snoozy…

Love was often on Chad’s mind; he enjoyed cuddles. (RIP Chad. <3)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, dear readers! 

Witty Literary Valentines

Hello, dear readers! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share with you some witty literary valentines that made me guffaw. Warning: the spicy PG-13 implications are not for the faint of heart. ;) I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

16 Hilarious Literary Valentine’s Day Cards

The sun’s not the only thing that rises, if you know what I mean.

Jarry Lee / BuzzFeed
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4. Click here for one that’s a little more rated R than PG-13.
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And more…(I removed a few repeats from the list):

10 Literary Valentines For The Special Bookworm In Your Life

Happy Valentine’s Day!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 I hope these gave you a laugh, and I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! :)

Changes

*blows dust off of blog*

Hello, dear readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you. I’ve finally screwed up the courage to post here, after months of hemming and hawing over what I should say. It seems so much has changed in so little time, and I’m still catching my balance. Finally, I decided it’s too embarrassing to be a writer who can’t find the words to say what she needs to say, so I’ve decided just to do my best in a usual ramble. ;)

So, in recent history, I turned 29. My sister threw an amazing surprise golden birthday party for me, and it was more than I ever imagined. I told my sister I’d been planning it–like a wedding–since I was a little girl. When I was young, I imagined I’d host a grand party in my mansion or maybe a castle (seriously), wearing a beautiful golden dress, surrounded by husband, children, parents, friends, loved ones, and stacks of my own best-selling novels.

Well…I did find the dress, which I shopped for without having any plans of my own–lacking said mansion, husband, and children–and, most importantly, lacking inspiration for this life-changing moment. I just knew I had to find one, even if it meant sitting at home, wearing it by myself–it was the one part of my vision of turning 29 I could keep. Finding “the dress” had as much tribulation as what “the dress” usually means (wedding!), but I found it, after months of searching, on *clearance* at Bloomingdale’s…the only one of its kind! Gold, hand-beaded, retro design. It was like a dream.

But the dress is the least interesting part of the party! Jennifer really blew me away with all of the thoughtful touches. She invited all of my loved ones, most of whom were able to make it. She served all my favorite foods, right down to pretzel rolls for the sandwiches and fudge-covered caramel apples, which she burned herself making from scratch. <3 <3 I felt so surrounded by love and joy; it was overwhelming.

Me, wearing “the dress,” holding some of the gold balloons Jennifer decorated my party with. :) I’m also wearing the Kate Spade necklace our friend Ashley got me–matching the party’s gold Kate Spade theme. <3

Turning 29 was a momentous occasion for my life–I’d set goals for myself when I was young, a list that had gotten longer over the years. The timing was highly reflective for me: it was also the 9-year anniversary of my brain injury/Miracle DayIt was also the same timing I traveled to Colorado to visit Lindsey, which was a totally new experience for me–with a combination of nature, good friends, and adventure, it provided for a lot of introspection–which travel tends to do for me–that’s probably why my soul needs it so much. :)

There’s no easy way to say this: I realized my relationship with Jeremiah wasn’t where or what I wanted or needed it to be. I realized we’d grown in different directions, that things had changed and couldn’t change back. The realization was sudden, but I realized it had been building within me for a long time.
But we’re still friends. I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful for the loved ones helping us both through this transition.

I’ve had to “forgive” myself for being a different 29-year-old than I’d imagined. First drafts aren’t what gets published in the end, right? ;) I suspect I’ve quoted this favorite before: “We plan, and God laughs.” I am blessed to have the life that I do. Even if I haven’t yet hit the “milestones” I thought I would have, I love the path my life has taken. I am grateful for so many things I never expected to have–my career, my writing, my loved ones, my furry babies, even my health.

It’s been a crazy year of change, of love and loss, of tragedy and joy. Of finding myself in new places. Of taking risks that made a difference.

And I wouldn’t change a single minute. It’s all made me who I am.

I think that’s what I wanted to say, dear readers, in the end. Thanks for bearing with me. I’m backed up on lots of news to share–I just participated in and helped to plan a LITERARY FESTIVAL last weekend, for instance–but I had to say this first.

Oh, and another thing I’m grateful for–you. <3

Stay tuned for more posts soon. And if you don’t hear from me before then–Happy Valentine’s Day. (Jell-Jell is all decked out for the holiday in my avatar–thanks to Jennifer!) Even if you don’t have a romantic partner, I urge you to go celebrate love with other loved ones. That’s what I’m doing. :) <3

Merry Christmas from Piggies Past and Present

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, dear readers! I hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

While I did have to work today, it ended up being pretty fun, culminating in a gorgeous Christmas Eve Mass with my family at the chapel where I work.

The holiday season has been an absolute whirlwind of fun, but exhausting activity! Come to think of it, life has been a whirlwind lately, too, a mix of good and…well, difficult. More on that in my upcoming year-end reflection.

I’m looking forward to pajamas, egg nog bread pudding, present exchange, carols, and cuddles!

Speaking of cuddles–the holidays are an especially great time for that. Here are two Christmas cuties of past and present.

Our first guinea pig, Chad, is officially a Christmas angel now, whom we feel with us all-year-round. <3

Photo: Merry Christmas! I asked Santa for a fun towel path I can run on to my heart's content. I also hope I find some Orchard Grass in my stocking! What did you ask for this year? :)

Oreo, our present guinea pig, is also a lovebug. <3

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Happy Veterans Day: “In Flanders Fields”

Jelly-Side Up:

The day is almost over, but I wanted to send a thank-you to all those who have served, risking their lives for freedom. We owe our happiness to your sacrifices.
Read on for some history about the holiday, as well as my thoughts about it.

Originally posted on Jelly-Side Up:

Happy Veterans Day, readers. Thank you very much to those who have fought for our freedom, risking–and, in some cases, losing–their lives. According to the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, Veterans Day is “when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities [of World War I], between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of ‘the war to end all wars.'”

Across the pond and in other Commonwealth of Nationscountries, the day is called “Remembrance Day,” “Armistice Day,” or “Poppy Day,” all really the same holiday with different names. King George V (the father of Colin Firth’s King George VI in The King’s Speech) made the holiday official in 1919, while President Woodrow Wilson made it official (at the same time) here…

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