7QT: Housekeeping, Knitting, and Digging Lent

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Lent is here.  If you haven’t already gathered by now, we Ortizes dig Lent.  Perhaps it’s because we’re natural melancholics, but we gravitate to fasting and purging and all that.

I’m not sure how many people there are who jump up and down, yelling, “Yippee!” when Ash Wednesday rolls around, but we’re among them.

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Want to see our newest purchase?  The latest and greatest gizmo in our house?

I know you do.

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Day 7 of 7 (okay, 8): On Paying Attention… Wait, What Was That?

I failed on Day 7.  Today is Day 8.


Oh well.


Yesterday our priest preached a simple message we’ve all heard: Learning to pay attention… learning to not worry about this-and-that… learning to turn off the smart phone/computer/social media and being present to the here and now… learning to listen to God and others… learning to stop trying to do eight things at once…

You know that feeling you get when the congregation is “with” him?  As if a pin could drop?  Father wasn’t preaching anything we didn’t already know, nor was he delivering it in any way other than his usual gentle manner.  But he had us.  Or, rather, the Holy Spirit had us.

We were riveted.

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Day 5 of 7: Veni, vidi, non vincere.

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Yep.  Still here.


Post title courtesy of Google Translate.

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So, dude.  Yesterday I penned and shared all my wonderful thoughts about time management.  Nice thoughts, they were.

But I should have known that, as soon as I posted them, my day would turn into one of those days.  Murphy’s Law, of course.

My sitter had food poisoning.  We were out of food and had to go to the store, despite the snow and single-digit temps.  I forgot to feed Ben before we left.   Whining, moaning, frustration, money being spent, writing not being done, etc., etc., etc.   By the time I had a chance to breathe, it was 3 p.m. and almost time to start dinner.

Time management. Heh.

I should make a list: Topics I Should Never, Ever Blog About. Continue reading

Day 4 of 7: You Tell That Time Where to Go! Plus Our Lenten Menu

Day 4 of 7…


…and I’m not getting tired of blogging.  Oh, no.  No-no-no-no-no-no-no.

If you know anything about Dave Ramsey, then you’re familiar with the idea of a “zero-based budget.” A zero-based budget is the act of accounting for each and every penny that comes in and out of your hands, every single month or pay cycle.  No “leftover” money.

Why?  Leftover money, left to itself—or left to us—will disappear.  Gone.  Buh-bye. Continue reading

Day 3 of 7: The Very Best Lenten Practice We’ve Ever Done


Today is Wednesday, and that means we have one week until Lent begins!

Clearly, Rhonda has discovered memes.

Clearly, Rhonda has discovered memes.

Sound the alarms, folks.

I want to tell you about the very, very best Lenten penance the Ortizes ever, ever did.  And I will tell you, because this is my blog.

Several years ago, before we had children, Jared and I gave up variety for Lent, specifically in our diet.

It was awesome.

Our menu was this:

Toast and eggs, smoothie, and/or oatmeal.

Lentils and Rice with Carmelized Onions from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

Rotation of the following:  Black Bean Soup, Red Beans and Rice, White Bean Soup from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Cooking, and Chickpea Soup from the same.  Beans, beans, and more beans.  Soup was served with homemade bread and peas.

That was it.

It was a great Lent.  Our menu was simple, we could cook in large quantities, freeing up time, and we were able to give alms out of the money we saved on food.  As for the requisite suffering (because it can’t be a sacrifice unless there’s, you know, a sacrifice), I assure you that I was very, very tired of our food choices by Week Six.  Especially the lentils.

You should have seen us gorging on stuffed olives, sausage, fruit, and cheese after Easter Vigil.

Word to the wise:  One must ease into Easter feasting after giving up variety.  Except those with stomachs of steel.

We’re giving up variety again this year again.  Our menu will be different, and I cannot give up meat entirely, given my health concerns, but all the same, begone variety!  I hope it’s as wonderful as it was the first time we gave it up.

I’m interested: What are you thinking of giving up for Lent?

Day 2 of 7: Ye Old Powerlessness

Day 2 of 7 in the 7 for 7 Challenge


…and I figured I’d start us off on a light-and-easy topic: SIN.


Stolen from CatholicMemes — is that a sin?

Enough memes.  Let’s get down to business.

From Cardinal Jorge Bergolio, now Pope Francis:

On the one hand, we cannot know God without being totally transformed; on the other hand, we cannot be transformed by our own efforts.  Only when we situate ourselves in between these two truths can we begin to have hope.  Only then will prayer arise in us—”Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!” (Psalm 130:1)—for it arises out of our consciousness of being next to nothing (cf. Psalm 103:15-16).  - Open Mind, Faithful Heart, Ch. 10

Those of us who, for one reason or another, have some familiarity with the Twelve Steps will recognize this place Pope Francis is pinpointing.  It’s the place of powerlessness, the First Step. Continue reading

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown


I must be INSANE.

I’m in the middle of a major novel revision, have several Real Housekeeping submissions to edit and post, two articles to conceive/write/edit/submit in the very, very near future,  and two logos and one print design project to wrap up—

Not to mention that my father-in-law is visiting this weekend, or that we’re hosting Hope‘s Union of Catholic Students for dinner on Sunday, or that my home and children need a bit of love so as to not suffer the lasting psychological (do house have psyches?) effects of my neglect—

And yet, when Jennifer Fulwiler says, “Hey everybody! Let’s write seven posts in seven days!”… Continue reading

7QT: Real Housekeeping, Hair, God, and More Real Housekeeping

Joining Jen and the gang.  As always.

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Just in case you missed it (and I’m not sure that you could have, given how shameless I’ve been in Social Media Land), Real Housekeeping launched on Monday:


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I love being in the captain’s seat.

Editing is awesome.   I have the pleasure of reading ingenious, creative articles from many wonderful writers BEFORE y’all get to read them. Neener-neener-neener!

Seriously, though.  I love working with others to polish up their pieces.  I love that feeling of excitement of seeing their work receive the accolades they deserve.

Screenshot from 2014-02-14 05:58:02

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I picked up the January issue of The Sun, their 40th Anniversary issue, at the doctor’s office the other day. (Really, what kind of doctor’s office has issues of The Sun floating around? Little highbrow, don’t you think?) Reading an interview with Sun founder Sy Safransky, I was struck by this: Continue reading