Dance like no one is watching

I always hated that saying.

But it seems to fit this video.   You may have heard that there was a flash mob at World Youth Day, with a YouTube video making its way around the internet to teach the 3 million young people the dance before its big debut.  Below is a video of the Bishops learning the dance.

I know some people have voiced opinions about this, so I thought I’d voice mine.  I think this is awesome.  Like my friend said, “It’s not like this is the epiclesis.”

Well said.  You’re not witnessing a flash liturgical dance.  You’re witnessing Catholics having fun.


Do they look ridiculous?  Of course they do.  But so do people in pretty much every flash mob except those involving professional opera singers.

If you were paying attention to anything Francis said last week in Rio, he continually told priests and bishops to get out of their rectories and offices and into the fray with the people.  I can think of several priests who need to dance more.

We could use more bishops willing to look like fools.  Because after all, that’s what preaching the Gospel makes us look like anyway.


Because dinner was too pretty not to blog about

My mom saw an eye-catching picture in her Martha Stewart magazine for a pasta recipe that claimed to involve simply throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot with boiling water.  That’s it — no draining.  Just boil it all until the water disappears.  When she told me about it, I was definitely intrigued.


My kitchen is not for the self-conscious.  If you don’t like seeing yourself, you should probably find a different kitchen.

IMG_4850Someone decided that mirrors would be a great backsplash in my kitchen — over places like stovetops and sinks — because after all, it’s not like mirrors show oil splatters and water drops … oh wait.  Yeah, not a good idea.   Oh well — the prevalence of mirrors all over my apartment just means 1) the place looks twice as big as it really is,  2) I never walk out the door in the morning with my skirt tucked in my pantyhose, and 3) it’s really easy to take selfies.

While we’re talking about my apartment, I wish I could get everyone’s opinion on this paint color, but it doesn’t come out quite right in this picture.  I’m worried it’s a bit too bright.


This picture was my inspiration.  I think I need something a tad more orange.

Where were we?  Oh, yes, the one pan pasta.  So you throw everything in a straight-sided skillet and then add 4 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, stir frequently, and wait for the water to boil off.


This is where I was skeptical, of course.  No draining?  Supposedly when the pasta was al dente, the water would be mostly gone.

I like my pasta pretty al dente, so not all the water was gone by the time I wanted to eat it.  I let it go a little longer than usual, but there was still a fair amount of water left over.  I will probably try the recipe again with 4 cups and see what happens.  Maybe 4 1/4.


The verdict?  Delicious.  The flavors were fresh and found their way throughout each pasta noodle.  The recipe boasted, “Once the water has boiled away, you are left with perfectly al dente pasta in a creamy sauce that coats every strand.”  I was skeptical of the creamy sauce bit, too.  It’s just water!  But it’s true– there was a fresh, pure coating on each linguine noodle that was saturated with the garlic and basil and red pepper flakes.

As a word of caution for those of you cooking for children – or for those of you who don’t like the kick of red pepper — you might want to go light on the red pepper flakes.  The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon.  I like red pepper, but I might even cut back a little bit next time.  It was definitely a prominent note in the dish.

One of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever made, hands down.  It took me right back across the ocean – although the recipe claims to be from Puglia, and I never made it there (Puglia is the spur and heel of the boot).

Now I just need some nocciola gelato.

You can find the recipe here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Yum

It’s odd if seven days of blogging can come and go without me focusing a single post solely on food.  Sure, food was mentioned, but there has been no post with food as its only focus.

So let’s remedy that on this last day of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Yum

Perhaps an odd name for a dessert — I got some weird looks when I told my friends that’s what I had made.  But it turned out that they thought I had said Chocolate Peanut Butter Gum.  Ew.

It’s obviously named after your first thought while eating this goodness.  “Chocolate.  Peanut Butter.  YUM.”


It seems that whomever created this dessert simply got a bunch of stuff they liked — Oreos, peanut butter cups, Cool Whip, cream cheese… and threw it all together.

And it worked.  Holy cow, this thing is good.  It’s probably my favorite non-cake, non-ice cream dessert.  It’s pretty rich, but it’s light and fluffy too.


You need to make this for your next party.  I would say to make it right now, but if you don’t have enough people around to eat it, you’ll be tempted to eat it all yourself.  So make sure that you either have a few kids around to help you consume it or that you can take it somewhere away from your house.  There are a few pieces sitting in my refrigerator right now and it’s way too dangerous.

All I can say is… Yum.

Imitate what you celebrate

Seven years ago, I was sitting in the Daily Grind, my favorite Front Royal coffeeshop, with my friend Elizabeth.  We were talking about discernment and the religious life.  I remember exactly where we were sitting that spring evening, conversing when we probably should have been studying for finals.  Four months later, she entered the Nashville Dominicans. Earlier this week, she made final vows.


This morning, the Church in Nashville witnessed a similar event, when two young men were ordained to the priesthood of Christ.


The beautiful crucifix spurred my meditation today during the ordination, and I was thankful for its presence.  The cross reminds us of the Mystery that gives meaning to the radical decisions made in its presence.  These things happen in front of a crucifix for a reason …  because they only make sense when we know Love.

As we celebrate the sacraments within our church walls, the crucifix is there to remind us that in those sacraments we touch the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.

It is there to remind us that Love is the Cross.  The life-changing moments the Cathedral witnessed this week — final vows, first vows, ordination to the priesthood — only make sense when we understand that Love = surrender.

Whether it’s the Sister that signs her vows on the altar of sacrifice or the priest who puts his hands in the hands of his bishop and promises him obedience, these vocations are only possible when when we make ourselves vulnerable and sacrifice the I to Him. 

Marriage is no different.  When Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church,” he immediately reminds us what that looks like: “and gave Himself up for Her.” (Eph 5:25).  And it’s not as if marriage is just a nice metaphor for Christ’s love.  Rather, Christ’s love is the reality of which marriage is a mere shadow.  (see Eph 5:32)  Marriage is an imitation of Christ’s love, which is not an emotion or a warm fuzzy feeling, but the Cross.

If we are living out our vocations — whatever they might be — we will be carrying the Cross.  If we aren’t, perhaps we need to examine our lives a bit.  It’s not that we shouldn’t/can’t/won’t be happy … but if we aren’t sacrificing, we’re not living.  Likewise, we never seek a different state of life to avoid the Cross… because we’re just going to find another cross waiting for us.

One line in the prayers at an ordination always jumps out at me, and today was no different:

Imitate what you celebrate

To be a good priest, it’s not enough to practice what you preach.  You must imitate what you celebrate.  The Paschal Mystery, Christ’s love on the cross, must not only be actualized on the altar at Mass, but must also be actualized in your life.   The altar of sacrifice becomes the marriage bed of Christ and His Church, and the union bears fruit.  If the priest imitates what he celebrates, his marriage to Christ’s Church will be fruitful in the life of his parish.   If you see a truly life-giving parish, take a look at its priest.  I’d be willing to bet he is living a life imitating what he celebrates.  He is pouring out his life in love for his Bride, the Church.

But the command extends beyond the priesthood.  Imitate what you celebrate.   What do we celebrate in marriage, but Christ’s relationship with His Bride the Church.  If we are truly imitating what we celebrate, marriage will be that sacrificial love of the Cross.  Every vocation requires sacrifice.

During the ordination rite, the young men to be ordained lie prostrate in front of the altar while the Litany of Saints is chanted.  An exterior demonstration of an inward mystery; a tangible, visible sign of what is about to happen sacramentally.  Likewise, the Sisters after taking first vows and final vows lie prostrate in front of the crucifix as the Bishop prays over them.

Love is surrender.  Love is vulnerability in the hands of the Beloved.

But again, the married couple doesn’t escape the cross.  In a different way, the spouses lie prostrate as well. In the marital embrace, they surrender to each other and to the Cross.  (This is what is so scandalous about birth control — at the very moment you are supposed to be surrendering to the beloved, you are doing the exact opposite.  At the moment of self-gift, you are holding back.)

As I watch my friends make these radical decisions — whether it’s marriage, priesthood, or religious life — I thank God that He has given His grace for these heroic witnesses.  I pray that I too may have the courage to accept His Cross, in whatever form it may come to me.

Reason #42 I live where I do

My toilet has been running for months.  It’s in New Mexico by now.

Okay, so it’s not running anymore.  And it wasn’t running all the time – just randomly enough that it would scare the liver out of me.  Just imagine … you’re falling asleep… it’s nice and dark… you’re just about to drop off into unconsciousness… and then your toilet starts to refill as if a ghost just went in and flushed it.

I knew that meant there was a leak.  Solution?  I closed the door to my bathroom so I wouldn’t hear it at night.

A few weeks ago I decided I should probably really solve the problem.  And being an independent woman, I decided to fix it myself.

Well, to be honest, my first reaction was to call the plumber.  But one of my friends at work – we’ll call him “Bill” — told me that I could easily fix it myself.  He encouraged me for days — just go to the store, buy the kit, and you’ll be fine.

Really?  I could do it myself?

Yes, he assured me.  Anyone can fix the inside of a toilet.  And think how proud you’ll be of yourself after you do it.

Well, sure.  I was proud of myself when I painted the bathroom.  But fixing a toilet?!  I could rule the world.

Plus, it meant visiting my friends at the hardware store.  So I stopped there on the way home from work one day and headed in to buy the inside of a toilet.  A nice-looking young man asked if he could help me.  He sure could.  I need the inside of a toilet.

I think he was rather skeptical, but he didn’t show it.  After I expressed to him that my friend told me I could handle it, he assured me that he had faith in me.

As I drove away with my kit, I noticed an important phrase on the back:

IMG_4738Hm.  I was fairly certain I had a one-piece toilet.  Of course.  This wasn’t really going to be easy, was it?

But I wasn’t going to be stopped.  I got on the internet (of course I did) to see if I could somehow make it work.  A YouTube video (of course it did) informed me that I couldn’t.  In fact, I needed a special flush valve and some wonky tool.

Hm.  Well, maybe I didn’t really need to replace the whole inside of my toilet.  Maybe I could just replace the flapper. It was clear that I needed a new flapper, so why not start there?    So it was back in the car to the hardware store.

I think my friend had a twinkle in his eye when I arrived.  Here she is again.  With the unopened box.

I explained my dilemma and informed him that I was going to start with the flapper.  We headed back to the aisle and he grabbed a universal flapper for me.

First mistake.  (Or is this my second?  Or third?)


Notice how that flapper attaches.  Notice it, because… I didn’t until I was heading into my bathroom to replace it.  Wait, I don’t think the flapper should look like that…

It was now beginning to thunder and look rather threatening outside.  I wasn’t going to let a little rain deter me — this project was getting done now.  But I wasn’t about to go back and see my friend at Ace.  I decided to head to Home Depot and pick up another flapper there.  I know, I’m a big chicken.

As I was heading out, I ran into my wonderful neighbor Faye.  After asking where I’m headed, she listened with disbelief at my answer.

“I’m going to Home Depot. I’m fixing my toilet!”

 “Honey, why?!  That’s why you live here!”

Right.  In a condo building.  With maintenance.  Undaunted, I shook my head.  “I’m going to fix it myself to show that I’m an independent woman!”

Faye laughed.

I drove to Home Depot in a monsoon.  I ran into the store, look at the flappers, and grabbed one that looked just like the one that I just removed from the toilet.


I returned home and got to work, confident that I was about to fix this problem myself.  Think how how proud you’ll be of yourself after you do it.

Well, perhaps we should have covered the other side of the spectrum.  Think of how you’ll feel when you can’t fix a simple problem like a bad flapper.  What a doofus.

Yes, the flapper didn’t fit.  I left it sitting in the empty tank, washed my hands, and headed down to the front desk.

“Tony, could I put a maintenance request in?  My toilet is running.”

~  ~  ~  ~

Thirty bucks later, the flapper and the fill valve are both replaced and my toilet works like a charm.  I was somewhat comforted when George told me that he had difficulty finding a flapper that worked and that my fill valve was acting up on him as well.   Thanks, George.  I feel slightly less like a doofus.

I’m an independent woman with a maintenance crew.  What can I say?

Seeing the face of Christ

Pope-Francis-in-Rio-jpgPope Francis is in Brazil. I like stating really obvious facts on my blog.  I suppose it might not be obvious to everyone. Perhaps the world is still talking about George Zimmerman.  Did you hear that William and Kate named their baby after him?

Anyway, I hope everyone has been able to follow the Holy Father’s trip to Brazil, and if you haven’t, he still has a few days left, so get tuned in.  I highly recommend and

While I’ve never had a desire to go to a World Youth Day, that doesn’t stop me from living vicariously through everyone in the comfort of my own dry home.   Technology has made it easy to do so, with constant twitter updates and live-streaming (as long as your place of employment doesn’t prohibit live-streaming, and if it does, well, thank you unlimited data cell phone plans.)

None of that is really the point of this post, so let’s move on.  We’ve established that the Pope is in Brazil and we’ve established that I’m addicted to following Papal coverage, whether it’s conclaves or trips.

I saw the picture above when I was following coverage, and it really struck me.  My first thought was, “Does Pope Francis recognize someone in the crowd?!”

Doesn’t it look like he just saw his third-grade teacher?  Or maybe the guy that used to sell him the newspaper every morning?

The joy of recognition is written clearly across his face.

And then I realized that the Holy Father does recognize the people in front of him. He recognizes in them the face of Christ.

And because of that, we see Christ in him.

“Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine:  so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you. None of it will be mine. No merit to me. It will be you who shines through me upon others…. Make me preach you without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to your saints, and the evident fulness of the love which my heart bears to you.” Bl. John Henry Newman

CrowdsforPeter“… that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.” Acts 5:14-15

(hat tip to Father Rosica for that caption)

Pinus pinea. Published.


JoaninOrdinaryTime.  Published.

Full disclosure – I would love to be a published author.  I suppose I am — I wrote a piece that’s in John Paul II, We Love You, I have published articles in a few diocesan newspapers, and when I was in middle school I had a 100-word article on horses published in Archie Comics.  I got $15 for it.

We live in a funny time when it’s more possible than ever to get published, but it’s also hard to make your voice heard over everyone else.  Most of the books I’d like to write have already been written or are being written.  Several years ago I started a novel, but since I have no delusions that it will be any good, do I really want to pollute the world with another semi-decent novel?  I could write non-fiction, but who the heck wants to know what I think about things?  Oh, wait, you’re all reading this right now… Um…

Anyway, this post is not about dreams, it’s about reality.

I’ve never considered myself a photographer.  I love having pictures of memories, so therefore I kind of have to take pictures.  I don’t think I’m a bad photographer, but I don’t think I’m an arteest.  So I was kind of surprised when someone in the wide world of the internet contacted me regarding a picture on this blog.  Specifically, a picture of the Colosseum found here.  She was writing an article for the Journal of the American Bonsai Society on Pinus pinea (stone pines)  and wondered if she could use my photo as one of the featured images.

I was honored — and grateful that she asked.  I have a feeling people’s pictures are being used all the time with no one asking permission.  (Did you hear about this?  Scary.)

When I agreed, she promised to send me a copy of the journal.  I gave her my name for the photo credit and address for the journal and forgot about it.

Until today!



There she is!  And now I can find out more about bonsai – since my knowledge is limited to this Saved by the Bell episode. Thanks, Cheryl!