Dining In the Time of Dry Wall Dust

They say if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. If, however, you want to make Him do more than laugh, if you want to make Him double over and fall down on the floor in stitches, write a book.

In it, be wise. So very wise. Combine the writings of the saints and Scripture with practical examples and tips from your own life about how you personally Do The Wise Thing.

Admit, ever so humbly, that you don’t always follow your own advice. But give the advice just the same.

Before the book is even off the presses, God will be in hysterics. And you will find yourself nearly incapable of following a single word of your own advice.

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Day Drinking In the Rubble

Living through a major renovation teaches you all sorts of things about yourself.

For example, spending day after day, working and planning, eating and drinking, talking and resting in the same shadowy 450 square foot space, unable to invite anyone over for dinner or even a drink, has taught me that I would make the world’s most crashingly awful hermit. If I tried really, really hard, I might last three days—three dreary, miserable days that would inevitably end with me being kicked out of the hermit club, and all the other hermits cheering with glee since I’d spent those three days repeatedly breaking out of my hermitage and sneaking into theirs because I wanted a chat…and variety…and space.

Self-knowledge: I am a women who needs lebensraum. The lack of it makes me a little tick-tick.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone to keep you company in a bombed out, post-apocalyptic shell of a building, I am your girl.

Despite my love for beauty, order, and floors that don’t have 4’ x 8’ holes in them, I have discovered that I have a surprisingly high tolerance level for filth…and rubble…and 4’ x 8’ holes.

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The House: Week 1 (Part Deux)

Welcome back!. Today, we’re continuing the tour upstairs. Yesterday, for those of you just joining us, we covered the downstairs. I hope, after seeing that, you got offline and thanked God that you live in a home without bathtubs on the back porch. To us, that is the stuff of which dreams are made.

Although (drum roll)……Demo has finally begun! Yay!!!! Our wonderful contractor’s schedule finally allowed him to turn his attention to this project, and as I write, men are banging away downstairs. I couldn’t be more pleased with all the dust and noise. I’m sure that will change, but right now, as far as I’m concerned, the more destruction happening below, the better. A contained dynamite blast would be best of all.

Once it’s safe to take pictures down there, I will. But, for now, let’s go upstairs. As you’ll see, I’ve put zero effort into staging the rooms. My apologies.

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Leaving Home

I hosted the first party in my Steubenville home on January 2, 2005. I’d only closed on the house a few hours before, but that didn’t stop me from calling up a half-dozen friends and inviting them to join me for dinner. We ordered Chinese, laid out a blanket on the floor of the empty living room, and ate off paper plates. It was a glorious evening.

I hosted my last party in my Steubenville home this past Friday night. There were too many of us to sit around the table, so we ate in the living room this time too. Only, there’s furniture there now. Life has gotten more comfortable over the past 12 years. The food has gotten better too. For the occasion (introducing my home’s soon-to-be-new-owners to some of my closest friends), I cooked one of my fanciest and easiest pasta dishes. Guests sipped martinis, and we all ate off my pretty English china. It also was a glorious evening, albeit with a touch of melancholy.

Looking Back

Twelve years ago, when we ate Chinese on the living room floor, there was the promise of more parties to come. On Friday, the promise was gone. In its place, however, was gratitude for parties past.

There was gratitude for Thursday Night Dinners—my once weekly dinner parties where children ran wild through the house and dozens of grown-ups found seats wherever there they could—sofas and chairs, basement floors, front porch railings, and garden beds.

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Good Riddance: Four Steps to a Clutter-free(ish) Home

Apologies for the month-long posting break. I had the best intentions about coming back from Christmas and immediately wrapping up the Catholic Home series. But first there was some reading I needed to do (for the new book on food and faith I’m writing). And then, this happened.

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Needless to say, I’ve been a bit distracted.

We’ve set the date for July 1—this July 1—five months and four days from today. Not like I’m counting or anything.

This means in the next five months, I have a wedding to plan, a book to write, two ghosting projects to edit, and Guilder to frame for it. So, we’ll see how much blogging gets done. I’ll try, though. I’ll try.

In the meantime, I want to bring my most loved and most hated series of blogs to a quick end. Because I want to take more pictures of food.

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Keeping the Clutter At Bay: The Not So Magical Art of Knowing Thyself

Today, we’re beginning my wrap-up of the Catholic Home series with a little tough love. Because someone out there— maybe you, maybe not you—needs it.

My friend Jess is not one of those people. She has five small children under the age of nine, and lives in a 1,000 square foot home with no basement, no attic,  very few closets (and a very nice husband who is a little clutter prone). She does a fantastic job of keeping her family’s possessions to a minimum. But clutter still builds up. There are simply too many people (including that very nice husband) in too small of a space. No amount of decluttering will change that.

If, like her, you are living with a passel of children in a truly tiny home, with a spouse who doesn’t share your hatred of clutter, you should probably stop reading this blog right now and friend her on Facebook so you can commiserate. Your lot in life is hard, and today’s blog will probably just annoy you.

If, however, you are like most of America and simply have too much damned stuff, read on.

Some stuff, of course, isn’t damned. Some stuff is necessary. Some stuff is beautiful. Some stuff brings joy, beauty, and light to our lives, reminding us of God, our family, our friends, and days past.

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A Window to God: Five (Affordable) Ways to Bring Beauty into Your Catholic Home

Everything is all sixes and sevens around here this week, with me preparing for my annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party. This Saturday, a few dozen children and a few dozen more adults will show up in their fanciest attire to hang ornaments on my Christmas Tree, eat tiny appetizers off silver trays, and drink cocktails carefully crafted by my friend Dave. This madness has been going on for over 15 years now, and every year it gets bigger. Because I am crazy.

I’ll blog all about the party next week. This week, however, I’m returning to our ongoing theme: The Catholic Home.

Up this week: the Catholic home should be beautiful.

First Things First

Before I start talking about slipcovers and wall décor, I’ll insert the necessary qualifications…for my personal safety if nothing else.

The most important thing that can be said about cultivating beauty in the Catholic home is that the most beautiful things in your house will never be things you can buy. They won’t really be things at all. Rather, the most beautiful things in your home will be the love between you and your spouse, the children who sleep under your roof, and the faith you witness to every day through the love you give and the life you live.

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Deck the Hall…With Traveling Graces

So…sacramentals.

This is the easy one. Yay! Hurrah! Special treat for me! No hate mail today! Or maybe not. I said that last week about the “personal” post and soon found both my pretty house and my virtue maligned. Alas, such is the life of a Catholic blogger.

Anyhow, for the sane Catholic set, selling sacramentals isn’t hard. We love our statues, crucifixes, and Divine Mercy images. We know they belong in our homes….and outside too. Nothing says, “A Catholic Lives Here,” like a Marian grotto in the front yard…or the back yard if there’s no good spot for one in the front.

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I’ll admit though, this need wasn’t always evident to me.

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