#7QT Things I’m Loving Right Now

The running hasn’t stopped this week, I wonder if it ever will. And by running, I don’t mean the treadmill kind. I am sharing the seven things I’m loving this week with you, because I think you’ll love them too. The items are so varied, I think it will give you a sense of how my week has actually been.

–1–

Love my Erin Condren Planner! And more of stuff I'm lovin' right now. A new post by @fillpraycloset

My Erin Condren Planner, in conjunction with my new phone. I made the switch from iPhone to Android, and I can’t even tell you how much I don’t miss the iPhone. But, my planner? Bees knees. I put everything in there, and if I just so happen to not have it with me, I capture the event on my phone and write it in my calendar that night. Considering that I am now managing social media for Real Housekeeping, this keeps all the to-do’s for that, running like a well oiled machine.

–2–

A good drugstore lip color Baby Lips Mirrored Mauve and a near perfect drugstore dupe for Tom Ford's YSL Sheer Candy Cool Guava, Maybelline Baby Lips Pink Punch save yourself the $30 bucks! by @fillpraycloset

I’ve been scrolling over on Pinterest looking for drugstore dupes. I love those, don’t you? I have yet to find one for Clinique’s Tenderheart lipstick. I had a dream about wearing this lipstick recently. Who does that? It’s not like it’s super expensive either, I just can’t justify a) paying to have it shipped or b) withstand a trip to the mall because, people. When I made one of 4 trips to the pharmacy this week for prescriptions because we all got sick, I searched for drugstore dupe lipsticks and found these! Baby Lips by Maybelline in Mirrored Mauve and Pink Punch (a dupe for a $34 name brand lipstick as recommended by one of my favorite sites, Maskcara). Did you know they came in a ton of cute colors (that are sheer for the husband, because he hates lipstick)?!  I didn’t know, until I forked over $10 for two while waiting for the pharmacist to mix Alex’s bubble gum medicine Amoxicillin. Way to save a buck!

–3–

I have been listening to nothing but social media podcasts lately. I do that using my phone and playing them as I clean, work on a particularly tedious spreadsheet, cook or cross stitch. I didn’t know which podcast playing app to choose having a new phone and of course asked Tiffany what she used. She recommended Beyond Pod, and it’s just great. They have recommendations for other podcasts I might enjoy and sync up as I sleep so I am good to go the next day.

You already know my fun favorites, but I also listen to Oh So Pinteresting!, Social Media Examiner and others. Lately though, I can’t get enough of Brilliant Business Moms. So many valuable tips and the best, is the “fun mom moment” at the end of every episode. The latest one features a Latina! So you know I was all about it. But one that sticks out is Episode 53 with Kelli Miller. She talks about Twitter. If you listen to something today, listen to that one first. Some people would say the one with Ruth Soukup is great, and it is, but I was blown away by Kelli and immediately implemented her tips and tricks.

–4–

My favorite pen to write with. Part of what I'm loving right now. A post by @fillpraycloset

This may sound lame, but it is what it is. I love a good pen. A really good pen. The problem is, they always get lost in Narnia my purse so when I bought my planner, I added the pen holder attachment so I could keep it there. I don’t know how this pen came to my house because I know I didn’t buy it, and I know for sure that Mike wouldn’t have either. I bring to you, the Papermate InkJoy Quatro. Sound fancy? It’s not really. It’s just a ballpoint with four different girly colors. Can you say instant color coding?! I have one color for family, another for blogging, another for Real Housekeeping and another for just me. Not to mention it reminds me of when I was in elementary school and we would pass those “Do you like me yes or no?” letters back and forth. I never got one, I was just the passer (and nosy too so I’d open it!)

–5–

I have been doing a lot of blog and website reading. Mostly social media, but also Catholic blogs too. I found a few that I absolutely love and have set up to share them on Twitter the moment they publish using a free service called TwitterFeed. It’s so easy and it looks like I am on all the time. I got this tip from the podcast with Kelli (see #3). You just plug in your favorite blog’s RSS link, set how often you’d like the service to check for new posts, and set whether you’d like the title to publish with the link, or the title and a description. You can even add a standard prefix or suffix to the tweet. For example, just this morning Colleen Duggan asked:

She of course was responding to my “magical” ability to know when she published something and I shared it (so early in the morning).

See how her twitter handle is included? I added that as a rule to be included after the title and description are in the automated tweet. (and that’s how I do it, Colleen). Don’t know what blogs to choose? Focus on your top three interests, or top three subjects your readers like. Mine are Catholic, Writing and the ladies in my Tribe. You can also set up to push to Facebook or LinkedIn. Try it. Tell me what you think!

–6–

Social media automation tools and how I use them to curate content by sharing your favorite blogs on Twitter @fillpraycloset

I’ve been using Feedly (an RSS reader). I created a list in Feedly called “TwitterFeed” and before bed, or standing in line at the pharmacy, I read what they’re publishing, I just don’t have to worry about manually sharing everything.

I also created a list in Feedly for blogs I’m watching, and not automatically sharing. I’ve titled that “I’ll be watching you” because I like the song. If I really like it, I Pocket it. Have you met Pocket? Basically it slaps everything in one place to read later and always accessible anywhere! This is great for tutorial posts, or recipe posts that you want to have on hand. I added the Pocket extension on my browser and when I want to keep something for later, I click the little icon, a small confirmation shows up where I can tag the blog/article (you don’t have to, but I do #planner #organizer, remember?) and when I need it, they’re all there waiting for me to act on.

All of these apps help me with “content curation“. What’s that mean? All it means is collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a specific interest that I can share (or just consume).

–7–

Yes to Carrots Body Butter. I love this paraben free, 96% natural cream! One more thing I'm loving right now. A new post by @fillpraycloset

Winter is always harsh on my skin. I never, ever bother with lotions because I can literally scratch the word DRY on my hand. Who remembers that Vaseline lotion commercial? Am I showing my age? I found YES to Carrots Super Rich Body Butter. I love the way it smells and how within a few minutes I have no trace of slathered craziness on my body. I hate that feeling, don’t you? You can purchase straight from their website or hit Target for it. I always have to look for paraben free products because I’m allergic – you’d be surprised how many beauty products contain it. Don’t believe me? Check your labels for is and their buddies ‎methylparaben, ‎propylparaben, ‎butylparaben, ‎ethylparaben. It’s used as a preservative, but all it does is make me break out in a horrible rash. Any other paraben-haters out there?

That’s my week! What are you loving right now? Spill it, so I can go out and get it, or stalk it online. That’s what I do. 

For more quick takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Find Your Center

I promised myself that I would take some time to check in with you. Yeah, you! It’s been busy, again, just like last week, only it’s colder weather-wise.

Before we even get started, I wanted to share some news happening over at Real Housekeeping. They are an affiliate seller for the Ultimate DIY Bundle where 76 eBooks and eCourses (and some fun bonuses) are available until January 26th. Why is this great? Fifty percent of Real Housekeeping’s net income (from the sale of this bundle or anything via their affiliate links) is donated to worthy charities assisting the hungry and the homeless. While I can’t add the link here, I can humbly implore you to visit the site and if you feel so inclined to learn to sew, take great pictures, learn how to write, finally get your garden going or scrapbook, that you make the purchase there, knowing that some of your money will go to those less fortunate.

*PSA announcement has ended*

I’ve been going to physical therapy (supposed to be twice a week, but I like I told the physical therapist, “let’s not get crazy”) and we’ve been doing these exercises to help with the neck spasms I’ve been experiencing since November.  Surprisingly, these spasms are residual side effects from a car accident, and a falling-down-the-stairs-as-I-was-walking-the-dog-we-no-longer-have incident. Both happened within 6 months of each other 2 years ago, and left me with two concussions. I really know how to do it, huh?

The exercises are supposed to balance me. I lean toward the left when I stand, my left eye rolls out when I focus on an object as it comes towards me (the eyes should both move inward) and when my eyes are closed? Fugghetaboutit, I look like I’m trying to balance in a bouncy house. I’m all over the place. This causes migraines, dizziness and bouts of trying to get my sentences together and having difficulty finding the words. Kind of important for writing, don’tcha think?

Find Your Center. How does physical therapy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and faith intersect? Where does an inspirational quote from come into play, read to find out. A new post by @fillpraycloset
By Saffron Blaze (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
At my last appointment, I had to look at myself in a full length mirror (hello fluorescent lighting and when is my home gym going to get here), and really look at how I was standing. I looked like the leaning tower of Pisa. I was leaning to the left, and that felt like center to me. Forget that when I wake up in the morning, the left side of my lower back and hip hurt from the extra strain, I always favored the left side.

She asked me to shift my weight and align myself as she repeated softly “Find your center”. The more she kept saying it, the less I was conscious in that space. My subconscious popped it’s curly head up as if my physical therapist was taking roll call. When I finally got to what center looked like in the mirror, it was hard to keep that weight shifted correctly, especially when she asked me to try to hold it with my eyes closed. I couldn’t. I had to hold on to something. My thigh muscles trembled underneath the new weight. I couldn’t trust that I could stay centered without visual cues. My muscles are conditioned to lean on the left, even when I’m in the car, I noticed that my upper body leans toward the left and when I shift to center, I soon find it uncomfortable and go back to the usual left, crouched position as I drive.

It’s kind of what a lot of things are like, isn’t it? Whether we are so busy a pocket of rest is unnerving and we have to fill it even though we know the balance is good for us; or if we are spending some time to pray in the chapel and the silence is too silent, we get uncomfortable, and pull out something to read, just me? It’s become hard for us, for me, to find and rest with balance, with being centered. As I continued to do the exercises, my mind wandered to God. Of course! I immediately asked myself questions, am I leaning away from God or toward him? And if I’m leaning away, what am I afraid of? Am I afraid of balance in my prayer life and everything else, because then what am I “working on”? I always feel like I can do better, pray more sincerely, be more aware of those in need. In Confessions, St. Augustine says (emphasis is mine):

Find Your Center. How does physical therapy and faith intersect? Where does an inspirational quote from come into play, read to find out. A new post by @fillpraycloset

And maybe it’s just that I will always be this way, until I find rest in Him.

Check your balance. Find your center. Are you at rest there, or are you like me and feel a bit uncomfortable there?

Let me know.

Here’s a sweet pin for ya

#7QT The Whirlwind Edition

The quickest Seven Quick Takes in my history, maybe. The one where I shared the search terms used to find this blog was pretty short, but the hilarity! Here’s a run down of what’s been going on this week – in short, a whirlwind.

–1–

My husband has been in London all week. The time zone makes it so we’re not in touch as often as we’re used to, but we make the best of it. Think early morning phone calls to check in. He never has time to see the sights while working, but that’s ok in London. He’s been there before. I did ask him to get me a tea cup. So let’s hope he remembered, if not, I’ll take a cup of tea made by him!

Big Ben 2007-1
By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 –2–

Of course, I get sick and Alex gets sick while he’s gone. There’s no such thing as a sick day for a Mom, #amirite? I have an upper respiratory infection and Alex has a sinus infection. Gabriel? Gabriel has chocolate chip cookies. Not necessarily an illness to most people, but his obsession with it? AND they’re homemade too. By homemade I mean Toll House pre-packaged chocolate chip cookie roll. BUT, I slice them so they look homemade, which means I still get points.

–3–

Things are in full swing at Real Housekeeping. I contributed an article on Four Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions. Then Tacy chimed in with an article about How to Beat the Winter Blues as a Stay-at-Home-Mom. Add to that, the social media hat that I am wearing for this site, I am all over it like wet t-shirt, or 7 year old, pink velour yoga pants. Don’t ask me why I’ve kept them, you know the answer: nothing like stretched out elastic. Nothing.

   

 But I would love it if you liked the Facebook page, or followed us on Pinterest, and Twitter. What would really knock my socks off is if you signed up for the newsletter, because that’s going to be funny, witty and chockfull of housekeeping goodness of the real variety. Just head over and fill in your email address at the top. We can have virtual spiked hot chocolates together, if you do. :) #gratuitousplug

–4–

Reading this week has been The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. I love Peg Fitzpatrick. She has no idea and I’m comfortable with that, she’ll come around and love me back. In the book she shares all the steps that go into pushing great content out into all social media platforms. And by all I mean, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and even Google Hangouts. Seriously, the book is great for newbies or anyone looking to push their social media strategy to the next level. I loved the straightforward way Guy shared his tips. He uses the rules for amateur boxing as an analogy for dealing with trolls:

The opening bell is when you share a post. Ding Ding!  The opening Round 1: Commenter comments. Round 2: You respond. Round 3: Commenter responds to your response. End of fight.

Isn’t that great?! But, my most favorite part is:

“…if you’re not pissing people off on social media, you’re not using it right. Some people will complain that you share too much or share posts that are not perfect for them. This is what I refer to as “Internet Entitlement syndrome”. Sufferers believe that everything should be free and perfectly tailored to them, because they are the center of the universe – Copernicus be damned.”

If you’re interested in how to put your best foot forward in the crazy world that is social media, I highly recommend the book. I devoured it in less than 2 days so it’s a short, power packed read.

–5–

My husband is now the Tiger Scout leader for little Gabriel’s group. I mean, couldn’t you just squeeze them?! Tonight is the camp in at the parish center. This means, the entire troop (25 kids and 25 adults) bring blankets, pillows and sleeping bags, pitch tents in the parish center of our church and does a mock camping trip. There will be activities AND Mike volunteered to take care of breakfast in the morning.

Can I remind you that he comes home today? Whirlwind to get all of the breakfasty things together, packed up and there by 6PM. Eeek. Gabriel wants all of us to go, but I’m sick, remember? I’m hoping to feel well and perky enough to go. The good doctor said it was up to me, and I really want to help him with the load. He’s such a great Daddy.

–6–

In case you missed it, I also shared the Do’s and Dont’s of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage, but it can easily be applied to any marriage, I think.

–7–

Hello, favorite novena! Have you started it? You know, the St. Francis de Sales novena? If you haven’t, there’s still time! We’re only on day two. I’ve made it super easy for you, just go here and get to praying. His is January 24th.

While I catch my breath, head over for more quick takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage

Living an unequally yoked marriage is not easy, especially when one person is an atheist and the other decided six years into their marriage to convert to Catholicism. Whatever your faith denomination, or not, as the case may be, here are some quick Do’s and Dont’s that I’ve collected that may help you get through some of those tougher moments.

The Do's and Dont's of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage. It takes work, prayer and patience by @fillpraycloset

Do ask your children to pray for your spouse. I don’t know where I heard this, but children’s prayer’s are powerful. Maybe it’s that scripture verse Matthew 19:14. Simply praying as a family for them to have a good day, or a safe flight is perfect.

Don’t tell your children to pray for the conversion of their parent’s soul. Don’t create a divide in your marriage this way. In essence what you’re doing is pitting your spouse against the rest of the family and if what you want is peace in your marriage, do your best to eliminate unnecessary us vs them scenarios.

Do participate in church activities. Faith is something that isn’t seen. Make your faith, new or not, visible to your spouse and sign up for a bible sharing study or a clean the church day. They’ll see that faith isn’t private, but shared in a community.

Don’t kill your schedule with every church activity. Remember that marriage is a vocation too and that is always priority with family. It’s about balance. If you’re a new convert, it’s easy to be so excited about your faith that you want to scream it from the rooftops and participate in everything. Pick one or two things and then journal girl, journal. That will get all the high energy stuff out, and you’ll have a great resource for yourself to look back on when things get tough.

Do spend quality time with your spouse. I know it may sound weird, but this new faith thing you got going, where you’re consuming all things God, it’s wonderful, but to your spouse it’s like they’re sharing the spotlight with an interloper. Don’t get me wrong, God is not an interloper. Just look at yourself through their eyes. They married you because of how you love, and they want that love showered on them.

Don’t assume your spouse isn’t interested. Just because they say they will never, ever, ever in a million, trillion, billion, years believe in anything other than your delicious rice and beans, don’t assume they don’t care. They love you and do care, just give them time to come around to your new found faith. Like all change, it takes time for a marriage to adjust.

Do show patience. A priest explained it to me like this: “Of course you’re frustrated, you are milestones away in your faith, and even if he doesn’t know it, he’s on a journey of faith too, but he’s like at the entrance to the journey. He’s checking out the door. Be patient with him” Remember how the door to your journey of faith fascinated and terrified you at the same time? Show a little patience.

Don’t argue over every tenet of the bible, or social doctrine. I know it’s hard, but sometimes, sometimes, you have to stay silent. For me, marriage trumps all. I know that’s the vocation I was called to and God understands the struggle in my heart. Peace and love in your marriage always. Of course, there was that one time that I caused a rift.

Do share the load. Have a good friend, priest or minister? Confide in them. This is tough stuff to work through by yourself and it’s not healthy to hold it all in. In fact, it can make you a little crazy. Ask for prayers to have the grace to be the spouse you are called to be. As a Catholic, I lean on the saints, but most of all Our Blessed Mother.

Don’t focus on their conversion. As harsh as it sounds, that’s not your problem, nor is it something you can really do anything about. That’s a battle they have to work out. All you can do is pray for yourself and your marriage. Personally, I just pray for seeds of conversion. That’s all. Because blooming where you’re planted has strong roots.

Do admit that you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, when conversations heat up, one or both spouses can feel cornered. A quick “get out of here now” card is to say that you don’t have all of the answers. Back it up with a resource, my favorite? My priest. He knows everything!

When in doubt, sprinkle everything with holy water! I’m kidding. Maybe. Please know that you’re not alone. If He brought you to it, He will see you through it. It’s cliche, but man is that something to keep handy when the going gets rough.

Are you unequally yoked? Do you have any tips that could be helpful to others? I’d love to read and share them.

The Do's and Dont's of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage. It takes work, prayer and patience by @fillpraycloset