7 Blogs I Love

I had something else planned for you. Something to do with personalities, I did some research, it was going to be super fun, but time ran away from me like it always does. So I had to bump this one up. You know me, planner-planner. Here are blogs the I MUST read every day or when they post a fresh batch of awesome because I need to get the update. I won’t officially include Life of a Catholic Librarian or Real Housekeeping because, I mean, you know why!! See what I did there?

7 Blogs I Love, a new post by @fillpraycloset

— 1 —

Colleen Duggan, a blog I love. A new post by @fillprayclosetColleen Duggan: She doesn’t post very often, but when she does, no matter what time she does, I drop my tea and cookies to read. She take beautiful photography on her sprawling property and shares her faith like nothing I’ve ever seen. Oh, and she’s as real as they get. One of my favorites? When her very young daughter, maybe 4 or 5? Had to have the last word. I  mean WOW.

— 2 —

KCross Writing A blog I love. A new post by @fillprayclosetKCross Writing: I’ve mentioned her here a few times and I have shared some social media tips for writers over at her place. While not really a blog and more of an author site, she posts what it’s like to be an indie author, self publisher and marketer. A former nurse turned author, she gives all the dirt on Goodreads and how to make it work for you, type setting, creating an audiobook to one of my favorite posts about what it’s like to sacrifice a career for your dreams and the struggle. A career is different from a job you see, you love your career, and to give that up for a dream? That’s tough stuff.

— 3 —

The Wounded Dove a blog I love. A new post by @fillpraycloset

The Wounded Dove: Charity is not only part of my tribe, she has a beautiful site to look at, and recently branched out into a vlogging series (which for me, is gutsy!) called Chai with Charity. She writes about her marriage and 4 adorable children. That sounds sweet, doesn’t it? She shares the dark parts of her marriage too. As she puts it, it begins with the day she found out about her husband’s affair.

— 4 —

This Northern Belle a blog I love. A new post by @fillprayclosetThis Northern Belle: Annie is special to me. She encompasses my earliest memories of blogging. If you go to my about me page, she is the very first comment. She is Catholic, fresh, young, married, funny and outgoing. I love her posts on apartment living and home decor, but her annual Christmas gift guides, for me, is just as good as flipping through my favorite magazine. I post a monthly prayer request here, and she asked me to pray for her upcoming marriage (she’s happily married now), and for the longest time, I prayed rosary decades for her. See how beautiful the internet can be? Her post on 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband, always a go to.

— 5 —

Ksenia Anske Fantasy Writer, a blog I love. A new post by @fillprayclosetKsenia Anske: Ksenia is an indie fantasy author that sells her books for, wait, she doesn’t sell them. She gives them away for FREE. I found her through Ericka Clay at Tipsy Lit. She shares the ups and downs of the writer life and even shares about her own personal life. Asking her readers if she should file for bankruptcy or asking for letters to be sent to her boyfriend’s daughter who is suffering from drug addiction. She lays it all on the line, like a great artist should. I fell in love with the blog portion of her site when she published this content rich post about making a New Year’s Resolution to write a book this year. I immediately gobbled it up and emailed it to Rhonda. Ksenia is such a cheerleader for aspiring writers – and the timing of that post? She’ll never know the kick in the pants she gave me. I’ve read that post a few times already.

— 6 —

This Felicitous Life, a blog I love. A new post by @fillprayclosetThis Felicitous Life: I just love how real and funny Laura is. She is a Catholic mother and part-time lawyer. Um, yeah. She posts outfits she finds, and how to look less bad, the back and forth of dieting and trying different ones, which, come on – that’s stuff we don’t really talk about. What really got me, was her honesty about anti-depressant medication for anxiety. I’m an anxious person, I’ve been on anti-depressants for anxiety and before that for postpartum depression. Anyone who can talk about anxiety openly, I’m in.

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Now, I’m going to cheat here, because I wrote some stuff this week that I loved writing and my friend just came out with an ebooklet that I am excited to read for Lent. So I am including myself on this list. Yes, I love my blog too! I give you, the round up:

  • A Day in the Life of a Blogger, With Tips! this is making the rounds on Pinterest!
  • More From the Sacred to the Profane, Books! Calling all Janeites! Rhonda Ortiz wrote a Lenten companion for you reflecting on vice and virtue using Jane Austen novels. My friend Ericka Clay has her novel available for pre-order on Amazon. Gritty, beautiful and penetrating.
  • Church Triumphant: St. Agnes of Rome Every month, I pair up with Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian and we talk about saints. We don’t just pick anyone, we talk about it, tweet about it, text about it, and finally pick two that we just have to share with you, because in the end, they pick us.

That’s it! That’s all I got. I am off to have lunch with Alex at school for Catholic School’s Week, and then to the school dance tonight. You know we’re going to shake our groove things. But before I go, tell me, what are your favorite blogs, the ones you just gotta read. I am always looking for new blogs.

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


#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.


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.


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!


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.


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!)


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!


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).


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!

#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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled

I was asked by a friend what books I would suggest to her friend that’s struggling emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t want to just suggest the bible, it’s an always staple for me. Sometimes we need to read hope in many places. She gave me more details so I was able to tailor my suggestions a bit. I will share that the woman is Anglican so she is “ok with Catholic stuff”. I didn’t think I had anything good, but you know me, once I get going…

I am sharing them with you too, you know, for your friends. My list includes both Catholic and Christian books, because we’re inclusive like that here.

7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled Both Christian and Catholic Books for Everyone by @fillpraycloset


I haven’t read As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections by Lisa M. Hendey, but my gal pal Rhonda swears by it. And we all know Lisa, right? She’s the founder of CatholicMom.com, is an author, produces and hosts TV shows and is public speaker (to name but a few hats).

7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled Both Christian and Catholic Books for Everyone by @fillpraycloset

If you have KindleUnlimited (like I do) you can get this book for free! What’s up downloaded?!


I thought (in my meta-mind) that the sister to this book on the Christian side would be that lovely devotional I mentioned a couple of days ago, The Busy Mom’s Devotional by Lisa T. Bergren. She actually encourages you to write in the devotional. Seems like she didn’t expect big-font Cristina to be reading it, so I have a separate notebook. I’m only in the first devotional and I love how before you even get started, there’s a place to get all the junk floating around in your head down on paper, so you can focus on the devotional, scripture, and you!


7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled Both Christian and Catholic Books for Everyone by @fillpraycloset

Another book I suggested, and sadly, haven’t read yet is The Grace of Yes by Lisa M. Hendey (surprise!). All of my favorite bloggers read and reviewed this book and had nothing but praise for it. Barb from franciscanmom.com says:

I’m glad I said “yes” to reading Lisa Hendey’s latest book. It’s a combination memoir and pep talk with prayer, Scripture and inspiring quotes to tie the whole thing together. This book touches on the many ways saying “yes” can be an opportunity for grace for ourselves and others–and why sometimes saying “no” is also necessary to allow grace to work within us.


Keeping with the sister book theme, I thought this could be a good counterpart to Lisa’s book. I didn’t read this one, but I love the writer so I know it’s good. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst. The description says:

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your best yes today.


I’ve spoken about this book before and read it all the time. It was a gift from my husband, for no reason at all. Don’t you love those? It’s Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler, Jean E. Syswerda. I didn’t review this book, but always refer to it, whether it’s for an RCIA presentation or just to get a feel for what these Women of the Bible would do in my situation (or similar ones – I doubt Ruth had issues with too much social media).


7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled Both Christian and Catholic Books for Everyone by @fillpraycloset

I love this book for it’s simplicity. Simply go to the table of contents, pick your feeling and there’s a saint ready to hold your hand through it. I’m talking about Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems: From Anger, Boredom, and Temptation to Gluttony, Gossip, and Greed by Fr. Joseph M. Esper. This book runs the gamut from anger and anxiety to boredom, irreligious children and even, wait for it, profanity!  And how can you not get it based solely on the cover? We all know how I love Mother Teresa!

What I didn’t know is that Fr. Esper came out with a second book,  More Saintly Solutions. The second book touts wisdom from St. Augustine, St. Elisabeth Ann Seton, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Francis de Sales (his novena is coming up!). It also mentioned that you’ll also meet lesser-known saints, including St. Maria de la Cabeza, St. Joaquina, and St. Theophan the Recluse.


7 Books That Help When You Feel Drained and Frazzled Both Christian and Catholic Books for Everyone by @fillpraycloset

I know this can be considered an 8th book, but you don’t really mind do you? Because Venerable Fulton J. Sheen had to be here on this list with the book Your Life is Worth Living. This book was given to me by a family friend I made in PA, who actually transcribed his talks from record! As in LPs as in #oldschool. It’s his book! Crazy, right? I adore . I do. I love to watch his shows on EWTN late at night when no one is awake. I literally respond when he says things that ring true for me. I’m all “I know that’s right!” right at the screen. He was such an evangelist, and just a humble person who speaks from the heart about everything and anything. Not to mention, when he was younger, he kinda looked like he could have been my brother. Weird! But the book isn’t. This is a MUST HAVE.

Tell me, what suggestions would you make for someone who is just drained and frazzled both spiritually and emotionally? 

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