More From the Sacred to the Profane, Books!

I love bringing you the sacred and the profane as far as books go, and I have a fresh batch for you. I am brimming with excitement because two of my favorite people have wonderful author news.

Today is the 202nd anniversary of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Why is this important? Because my friend Rhonda released an ebook titled The Virtuous Jane Austen: Short Reflections on Character. In this quick ebook, some years ago, Rhonda felt inspired to read and reflect on the novels of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice included, as a Lenten intellectual exercise. What’s that? Lent is coming? How perfect! She covers the vices and virtues of the human character as portrayed in Jane Austen novels in the hopes that it would translate into greater consideration in her own life. The hope is, that it will do the same for you! Janeites, hold on to your bonnets, the price of the ebook is just $.99! This means it could be a present for you and your fellow Jane-fanatics. Consider reading it together over this upcoming Lent!

The Virtuous Jane Austen Short Reflections on Character by Rhonda Ortiz a review by @fillpraycloset


I finally received news that the long awaited and anticipated book, Unkept, by glittered author, Ericka Clay is available on Kindle for pre-order! The print version of the book will be out March 2nd. We’ve talked about Ericka, before. She is an amazing author, writer, publisher, wife, mother, social media maniac, Small Wonder robot, and Catholic! That last bit is just the sugar on the berries isn’t it? This will be the best, most riveting $4.99 you will spend on a book. She has a way with words, making the ugly, beautiful and the beautiful, chilling. I can’t wait to get started! The book description on Amazon reads:

As the live-in manager at her father’s funeral home in Burling Gates, Missouri, Vienna Oaks has succumbed to the mediocrity and abject loneliness of her life. Her days are suspended between the mundane and the misery of her clients’ throttling grief, of changing light bulbs, and encountering strangers as bereft as she. But after orchestrating the funeral for a little boy named Parker prompts a severe panic attack, she finds herself at a personal crossroads in which she is forced to confront the pregnancy she’s been hiding, her childhood nemesis, the boy she never stopped loving, and the deep-seated secret surrounding her mother’s death more than a decade before.

In another part of town, Heather Turnbull has just learned from her estranged father that her mother, a lifelong recluse, has died. When making arrangements for her funeral, Heather chooses Oaks Family Funeral home, where she comes face to face with Vienna – the woman she tortured throughout grade school, the woman who has recently had an affair with her husband.

Together, Vienna and Heather navigate through a makeshift friendship born of circumstance and devised to assuage their ambivalence towards motherhood and their tenuous relationship with reality, discovering, in tandem, the art of forgiveness and the will to go on.

With humor and poignancy, Ericka Clay’s debut novel, Unkept, explores the thorny landscape of childhood trauma and the ferocious politics between little girls — and the adults they become.

Unkept by Ericka Clay available for pre-order a write up by @fillpraycloset

Now did I tell you I would bring the goods?! Be prepared for a FULL review on both books. Rhonda’s throughout Lent and Ericka’s as soon as my eyes can read it all! I am so excited to share these indie authors with you. I can’t even believe that I know them!

Why are you still reading this post? Get to buying people!


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, 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 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!

Read and Stitch: The Quick and The Thread

Didn’t I promise that Tiffany and I would be up to some stuffs this year? We both love to read and love all things needlecraft. We thought to combine them, much like the sub-genre, “Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries” with a book review and the progress of our latest projects.

Working Mother, a historical fiction ebook by Erin McCole Cup @ErinMCOP

As a “this just in, news flash” I was recently interviewed about my role as a working mother by Erin McCole Cupp to promote her historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother“. If you haven’t picked up a copy you should, it’s a quick read and it’s a perspective changer (for men and blended families as well, not just working mothers). You can get a sense of what it must have been like for Mary – the original working mother – to manage and balance the needs of her family emotionally, spiritually and financially. Some things never change. Head over for the interview and more on her book.

I just finished that cozy mystery I wrote about recently, The Quick and The Thread by Amanda Lee (isn’t that a great play on words?!). The book was great because I could see myself in it. The main character, Marcy, recently moved to a small town in Oregon to open up an embroidery specialty shop, The Seven Year Stitch (I mean the play on words, I love it). She heads next door for her favorite latte (vanilla, non-fat milk and cinnamon – YUM) and her dog, an Irish Wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff,  hangs with her in the shop. On opening night, she throws a great party with the help of the owners of the coffee shop down the street. The owners are a couple, Sadie and Blake Mackenzie. Sadie and Marcy are best friends. In fact, Sadie told her the storefront was available to be leased.

The Quick and The Thread book by Amanda Lee. A great cozy-mystery that incorporates cross stitching! A new post by @fillpraycloset

The party is a success and people are interested in the needle craft classes, her sign in sheets are filling up. All is right in the world – except this man who is drunk and trying to talk to her. He was the previous tenant of the storefront she is leasing. Of course, she avoids him. The very next day she opens the shop, and that drunk-previous-tenant-guy? He left an unfinished, nonsense message on the wall using a tapestry needle. Dun dun duuuuun! Then someone else is murdered, just after speaking with poor Marcy. Not one to wait around, she starts investigating because of course, she’s a suspect. I loved the twists and turns, and the characters, especially Vera. You would LOVE Vera. She’s a dollface. The dialogue was witty and easy to follow. I finished this book in 6 days. I would have finished it sooner, only I was working on my own cross stitch project.

I would love to open up my own cross stitch shop. See the progress I made on my first project and read a craft & hobby cozy mystery book review ! A new post by @fillpraycloset

We all have little daydreams, don’t we? Some we share, some we keep to ourselves partly because we like to detail them out in our heads, and mostly because we are afraid of what others will think of our “silly notions”.  I’ll share, since you asked. I would love to open up my own cross stitch shop. I could hold classes and have a sit-and-stitch a couple of nights a week. I would order supplies, kits and patterns and would act like a kid on Christmas morning when they were delivered, only to get more excited at arranging the hoops, needles and kits to showcase my favorites.

Isn’t that lovely? Doesn’t that sound like a dream job?

My husband and I frequently talk about what we’d do if we ever received a large sum of money, like from a lottery or inheritance (we have more chance with the lottery). We talk about how we would never leave the area we live in, how we would live the same way we do now, pay off all of of our school loans and never worry about the kids college tuition. And now, I can add opening cross-stitch shop to that mix.

I’ve been steadily working on my first cross-stitch project and it’s almost finished. Not to worry, I have two more projects on the way. If you’re not following along on Instagram, here’s the progress so far on my first project:

Cross Stitch progress in stages and read a craft & hobby cozy mystery book review !  A new post by @fillpraycloset

That empty box means that I haven’t finished it yet. There’s a border around the lettering that needs to be there, then  I have to backstitch the around the flowers and leaves, and then stitch up some green tendrils in around the edges, curling inside and outside the border. Kind of like dreams, we’re never finished, right?

As I stitch, I listen to podcasts, but mostly, I let my mind wander as I daydream and “think all the thinks I can think”.

Do you have any daydreams that you don’t share for fear of the reaction you’d get? If you like cozy mysteries, why not join me! There are 8 in the series (the eighth book, Wicked Stitch is available for pre-order with a release date of 4/7/2015) You know I already have the second book waiting patiently on my tablet! For more on the author, whose real name is Gayle Trent, head to her author website here. I only found this series because I started cross stitching, so thanks to Amazon for throwing this in my “recommend” list!

Head over to Tiffany’s place where she is reviewing Last Wool and Testament and sharing a recently finished knitting project and the start of her next.

Next month, I’ll review the second book in the series, Stitch Me Deadly. I get such a kick out of these titles!

#7QT My Favorite Christmassy Things

It’s the Friday before Christmas week and I thought I would share what my favorite things are during this time of year. You know, Christmassy things, because that’s a word now (and the word mass is in it, hello!). Without any delay, here we go!

— 1 —

Balsam scented candles, but in a pinch, this one will totally do! I received it for my birthday.

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  I love balsam scented candles, here's a great variation. by @fillpraycloset

According to Yankee Candle, the scent is [a] crisp, naturally fresh scent of gleaming, snow-covered pines with hints of patchouli and fruit. Head over to Tacy’s place, she’s a bloggy friend and fellow contributor at Real Housekeeping, she’s giving away a A Balsam Forest candle from Anthropologie! Tell her I said hello!

— 2 —

Hot Chocolate. I’m not talking about the “just add water” kind. I’m talking about the Panera Signature Hot Chocolate kind.

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  How do you not have hot cocoa? This one is from Panera! by @fillpraycloset

In case you were wondering, those are chocolate chip marshmallows you’re drooling over. I have yet to try their other hot chocolate drink, I thought there was sea salt caramel in it, I could be wrong because I love sea salt caramel. I could have totally imagined that on the menu as I was waiting for my drink.

— 3 —

Holiday teas! I have recently been feasting on Stash’s Holiday Chai Black tea and Christmas Morning Black and Green tea. Also acquired on my birthday, they are delicious. I love the black and green tea mix because Hello! I’m AWAKE!

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  For all of you tea lovers, Stash has a great holiday assortment to choose from by @fillpraycloset

But as you can see, they have many others to try!

— 4 —

Cozy Mystery reading. I know that my dear friend, Tiffany loves to read Cozy Mysteries over Christmas, and she nudged me in that direction this season. I cannot believe I have never read this genre before. Maybe, sort of with Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp, which you know I devoured! I am currently reading the Embroidery Mystery Series by Amanda Lee. I love them! I am on book two. My evenings consist of a little stitching and a little reading (where the main character is the owner of a specialty embroidery shop!)

Here’s where I’m at with my current cross stitch project. I have to finish the border, outline every flower and leaf, and then add little green tendrils. I want to finish by Christmas Eve because I have two new projects coming in the mail!

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  I am reading Cozy Mysteries and cross stitching. Here's the progress on my latest project! by @fillpraycloset

Not bad for a first-timer, eh?

— 5 —

Watching Polar Express. We do this every year. I make hot cocoa (still not of the “just add hot water” variety) and make some cookies while we all sit and watch Polar Express like it was the first time! Without fail, the boys remember why they love it and ask to watch it a few more times before bedtime in the nights leading up to Christmas.

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  Watching Christmas movies like Polar Express and A Christmas Carol, the Disney version, of course by @fillpraycloset

This was taken last year when we watched A Christmas Carol. Gabriel and I take our Christmas movie watching very seriously.

— 6 —

Our Christmas Tree. It’s not so much the tree, as the ornaments. We have an assortment of NY Giants and Transformer ornaments, of course, but then there are the ornaments we, as a family, picked for one another. The boys love burrowing in the ornament boxes for their personal ornaments. I also have a couple of ornaments that were on my tree when I was a little girl. They no longer have hooks and I haven’t even tried to fix them. I sit them on the branches, carefully, and smile at another year.

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  Enjoying our Christmas tree, especially the personal ornaments by @fillpraycloset

— 7 —

Here’s a first! We have been invited to a party with some friends and we have to wear ugly sweaters! We recently hung out with them when we were making another favorite for Christmas, pasteles (they’re like the Puerto Rican version of a tamale). We had such a great time with them, so when they asked us to their Christmas party we said yes, eagerly! I don’t own any ugly Christmas sweaters, but my friend S has a couple she’s willing to loan me. I’m partial to the one on the right, but I’ll have to go with whatever fits. I will chime in with pictures to be sure!

A new post sharing 7 my favorite Christmassy things to do and have.  Christmas parties, of the ugly sweater kind. I have two to choose from! by @fillpraycloset

So what are your favorite Christmassy things? Do tell. I’ll be cross stitching  and sipping hot cocoa wearing an ugly Christmas sweater,  as you tick off your faves!

I won’t be linking up next week for 7QT so I’ll see you all in the New Year! Merry Christmas!

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