Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Milledgeville Pilgrimage - or; the Fountains of Carrots Road Trip!

I've been wanting to post a little bit about our wildly adventurous, long hoped for road trip/pilgrimage to Milledgeville, Georgia to visit Andalusia, the home of Flannery O'Connor and where she ended up spending most of her life, as well as where she wrote most of her works, after she was diagnosed with lupus.

Back in November, or whenever the location for Edel '15 was announced as Charleston, I may have immediately google mapped "Charleston to Milledgeville" and then texted Haley that it was only 4 hours away! And Haley, being a great friend said that this was probably the closest a northern Canadian girl was ever going to get and that we should try and tack on an extra day to our Edel weekend to drive there for a visit. The whole idea sounded perfect and like a dream come true because you know my love of the South and Flannery O'Connor in particular, and I've always wanted to visit Andalusia!

We stopped in Savannah for a really quick brunch along the way, and then realized we still had two and half hours to go and that Andalusia closed at 5. We scarfed down brunch of grits, and crab cakes, and mimosas (just me) and hit the road. This was my "I'm in Savannah drinking a mimosa" face. Attractive, I know...

Haley earned a million best friend points for driving me across Georgia even though she was suffering from a horrible cold that left her with no voice and hadn't slept well in a week. But she was the name on the rental car and was a real martyr who didn't want me to drive and break laws. We got there with a handy half hour to spare before closing time and met a wonderful blog reader/podcast listener, Shannon from Milledgeville, who met us at Andalusia and showed us around and then later had dinner with us in Milledgeville. It worked out perfectly!

Actually being at Andalusia felt so surreal. For some reason it was exactly how I pictured it to be. I guess I should attribute that to Flannery's spot-on descriptions in her writings and letters. I honestly thought we'd turn a corner and see Flannery with her hat talking to some geese. The beautiful old trees let the sunlight fall on us, and the peace of the woods surrounding the house made it feel timeless and serene.

Flannery's bedroom on the main floor of the house. I love seeing her breviary and Bible on her nightstand beside her bed underneath a crucifix. Seeing her crutches was a bit haunting; an important aspect of who she was and her suffering, how it was such a part of her life, a visible reminder of her own pain. The curtains she sewed herself, and I love seeing her radio by the window. I wish her books were still in her room, but I understand the need to better preserve and allow others to study them, but I'm sure she wouldn't know what to do without them there.

I just loved all the peacock feathers around the house! Inside the house itself was great to experience and I'm so glad it hasn't been updated or re-touched at all because it doesn't feel like an impersonal museum but really a home.

We had to have a famous porch picture together! The porch is wonderful! I want one.

The only remaining peahen on the property. I wanted Andalusia to be full of geese and assorted fowl! 

I love this picture with the trees towering over the house. I really could have spent all day soaking it all up, never wanting to leave, but it turned out to be a really fantastic visit that I'm going to remember forever. It just made me feel even closer to Flannery and her writings, and filled me with even more love for both.

I'm about 99% certain that must have been Daryl on his motorcycle.

Then we drove through a crazy assortment of Georgia country highways to get back to Atlanta where I would fly home from the next morning. It was beautiful countryside, but I couldn't help wondering if zombies were lurking in the trees, because I've watched a lot of The Walking Dead

All in all I think it was a really successful Fountains of Carrots road trip - and we should do it again sometime!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Answer Me This: My Yearly Appearance

I promised Kendra before she began this summer's edition of Answer Me This that'd I link up.

"Oh sure" I said, "I'll be able to link up a couple times!" I said. And yet, here I am for the first time, and mostly because I noticed that this is the last week Kendra is posting questions so I'm really coming in under the wire.

But more importantly -- Congratulations to the wonderful Kendra and her sweet family on beautiful Mary Jane! She looks like a perfect match to the Tierney kids so far, so I'm sure she'll be pulling her weight in no time! I'm so glad she's here safely and I'm glad Kendra finally decided to get on board the home birth train with me...

1. What's your favourite grocery store splurge?

Haha, this is such an unfair question for me because -- I've got splurges. And they're mostly just for me and completely selfish. I'm not even going to say flowers, because frankly, they shouldn't really be a splurge, they should just be a household expense when you can fit them in because they bring beauty and joy to your home, especially in the depths of winter in Canada and you haven't seen anything growing in months. Just saying.

I do like to splurge on grocery store sushi. But it's made right there, by these little Japanese women who look completely legit, and it tastes great! So great that I feel guilty having it on Fridays because it's the opposite of a sacrifice when it comes to not eating meat.

I also really like to buy expensive cheese from Costco. And croissants from Costco. The two kinda go together. Even though the croissants and cheese are the exact recipe for not losing weight and are exactly what I shouldn't be eating. But sometimes it just tastes so good! Actually, it tastes good all the time, but holding back and not buying them every time in a big leap in my temperance.

And I'll just stop there because there are more questions.

2. How's your penmanship?

Okay, seeing it on the screen makes it look like chicken scratch.

I feel like my penmanship is decent. I wish it was prettier of course, but it's fairly unique because I think I've kinda created a strange and unique font for myself from combining my cursive and different calligraphy. I used to do calligraphy. Why? Because...homeschooled. I was a very nerdy homeschooler. It's nothing special now but that's where my strangeness has come from. I probably could attribute all my strangeness, and not just strange penmanship, to homeschooling. But we'll let that slide.

3. Do you have a "summer bucket list"?

What winter?

I'd never have anything so formal/committed because I'm not a list maker or a goal maker for that matter. But we do not have a problem with taking summer for granted because...Canada. We really do treasure the warm months and try to do as much as possible out doors to enjoy it all. It happens fairly naturally though and really changes up our daily routine and what we do for fun.

Some things we HAVE to do according to the kids who take to traditions really easily like swimming lessons at our nearby lake, berry picking, campfires and s'more eating, slip n sliding, ice cream eating,  eating straight out of the garden. Nothing crazy but all those wonderful summer time things.

I love to stay out late until it's actually dark, have a glass of whiskey, maybe smoke a cigar and enjoy the warm nights. I also really love summer reading, and making even more time in my usual day to just read and enjoy. And having a couple picnics. I'd like to do all those things and try to avoid getting sunburnt. Simple pleasures.

4. What's the best thing on the radio right now?

There's still radio, that's still a thing?? I thought Taylor Swift shut down that unjust distribution of artist's music?? Honestly, I never listen to the radio anymore. I listen to Spotify and I'm usually planted firmly in Folk/Indie stuff with a helping of ridiculous pop to get me through the witching hour of suppertime. I really like Imagine Dragons cover of Blank Space right now. And other than that I'm a sucker for some Maroon 5 in the summertime.

My usual time for listening to the radio, when I drive to the city which takes three hours there and back, is now usually devoted to podcasts and kids music, Glory Stories, or books on tape. I'm so old.

5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt? 

I think I can honestly say that I've never had any frozen yogurt that would make me want it more than ice cream given the option. Ice cream is just better because...fat. It's true. The texture, the creaminess, the flavour, it's all better with ice cream. I've been eating a lot more ice cream this summer than in the winter, and I don't regret it at all. Or wish for frozen yogurt. There. My policy has been set in stone.

6. Have you had that baby now?

Ahhh! Yay! I'm still so happy for Kendra, and I'm really excited for my other friends who are expecting imminently and over the rest of the summer. I know how hard the last days are and how long they feel and what a blur the newborn days are. It all equals such a momentous time and my prayers are with you! Yay babies!

I did it! Head over to Kendra's to check out everyone's great answers, you won't regret it like you might regret that fat free frozen yogurt...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Southern Dreams Came True!

You know what is blog gold? Travelling. Pictures. Story re-telling from far-off exotic climes.

Or -- travelling around the country in a mini-van with your offspring! (wink, wink, cough, cough)

Since I'm fairly certain I'll never have a "Travel" tab on the sidebar of this tiny piece of internet real estate I'm going to regale you with more photos of my all too brief weekend in the South because how often do I get to the South? Never, before last week! Which is why the whole weekend spent in Charleston for The Edel Gathering was really a dream come true for me.

You see, somehow, very early on in my childhood I became completely infatuated with the South. I'm not quite sure how it happened, because I've always loved The South since I can remember, but I think it started when I read Gone With The Wind at a very impressionable young age. After that I was all "Scarlett O'Hara this, Rhett Butler that, let's do a "unit study" on the Civil War," until I discovered Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and Harper Lee. Then I was officially enraptured with the moody atmosphere that seemed otherworldly when they described the South, with it's eccentric small towns and singular literary characters. It all somehow captured my imagination and I've always dreamed of driving around the South visiting Andalusia, seeing Savannah, the low country, and of course, a plantation.

I'm kinda a nut about it and I think only my husband and my dear friend Haley have completely got how into the South I was. It could signal that I've got some serious regional imagination issues.

Thankfully this trip worked out perfectly because Haley was going to be there too, she'd indulge me, tour me around to the fullest, and come complete with rented car.

I'm sure I could spend a couple weeks meandering around South Carolina and Georgia alone, and hopefully one day I will, but I really soaked up the four days I spent down there as much as I could. I relished every clump of Spanish moss, savoured as much shrimp and grits I could, and was constantly on the look out for a Francis Underwood accent. I loved the colourful, southern architecture of Charleston and how historic it's cobblestone streets felt. Of course, the palm trees that lined the streets didn't hurt at all either!

The city of Charleston was so beautiful, and I loved how we were in such a historic area where every street oozed history. I'm a bit of a history nerd and would have loved to go through every historic house, and visit Fort Sumter, and spend a whole day along the Battery, but since this was a quick trip I couldn't quite do that.

Of course, the dreams really became came to life when we hit up a real, honest to goodness, plantation. I may have lost my mind slightly and Haley may have had to pull over because I was completely freaking out on entering the avenue of live oaks when we entered Boone Hall Plantation. Completely rational freaking out I can assure you. I loved visiting the plantation, the house was amazing and just like I thought it would be, the trees were stunning, and seeing the slave quarters and cotton docks seemed almost unreal. I'm pretty sure I looked giddy the entire time.

Saturday morning we had a bit of extra time to roam about the city. A group of about thirty of us from Edel were able to pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy and pay our respects in front of Emanuel A.M.E Church. It was surreal to think a beautiful historic church could be the scene of such racist hatred. It defies reason. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

We also roadtripped to Millidgeville to have ourselves a Flannery O'Connor pilgrimage Sunday after the conference ended, but I'll save all those photos for a post to come! 

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Friday, July 17, 2015

The Edel Gathering - Hope in Seeing Joy

This past weekend I was lucky/blessed/really lucky to be able to attend The Edel Gathering founded by two great women Jen Fulwiler and Hallie Lord, in Charleston, South Carolina. It was like a big party with what felt like 300 of your closest friends who all want to have the best time. The atmosphere was beyond friendly - it was joyful and celebratory in all the right ways. I think because each of us there were there with the same goal of enjoying ourselves and enjoying each other. That's a pretty revolutionary concept when you think about it - it wasn't for learning, or deep spiritual enlightenment, or networking, or training, but for simply enjoying ourselves and connecting with each other.

Besties together again! For only the second time in our lives! So, pretty freakin' great!

I know I don't have to tell you how each and every one of us deserve to enjoy ourselves one weekend out of a year, or two years, or ten years. We all deserve it because we're all on our paths to holiness and doesn't it get hard? No matter what, we all have issues, and crosses, and problems, and burdens that we accept in our lives. That's part of what makes our Catholic faith so deep -- that when we really live it we're accepting these crosses into our lives and it is in no way easy.

Why it's so hard to live this life of faith today though, is because everywhere we look society is telling us to reject our crosses, throw them away, ignore them, pop a pill for them, take that medical treatment for them, leave that person who has become a cross to us, and maybe little by little choose comfort, ease, and having a good time over the realties and sacrifices God is calling us to. And make no mistake we all know how hard it is to live a faithful life as a Catholic woman.

Haley, Mary and I - we are some print rocking ladies!

But that is why this beautiful gathering of women from across a continent coming together to share themselves with each other and to have a good time is a really a light of hope. It's a light against the lie that lives deep in our hearts that questions us for sacrificing for our family, for our faith. That lie that says by choosing to sacrifice we will never feel joy again, we will never have fun again, we will never laugh again, we will never share friendships with people who truly understand us. This lie is powerful because it makes us believe we're alone, or maybe that God wants us to be alone, or that God doesn't care about our sufferings and sacrifices because no one else does and no one else understands.

I know this firsthand because in my darkest moments I believed the lie and it fed the darkness and plagued me with doubts. I've had several unexpected pregnancies (I'll leave the exact number and details out) that left me in a crisis of faith multiple times. I felt depressed and hopeless precisely when I was supposed to feel overwhelmed with happiness. I envisioned only scenarios for my life that involved the painfully slow martyrdom of losing myself to my children, never leaving the house again, never having fun again. It may seem a bit overdramatic, but at the time there was no group of Catholic moms anywhere that I knew of that were in the same tough spot I was that were choosing to have a good time anyway, choosing joy anyway, and willing to step out and make time for themselves even though they had more than a handful of kids at home, or were breastfeeding, or pregnant, or dealing with infertility, or the loss of a child, or struggling through a painful time in their marriage, or dealing with serious health issues, or any amount of intimate, personal sufferings. There was no gathering and celebration of Catholic women simply because they were Catholic women. There was no Edel Gathering, and there was no beacon of light to me in that time of darkness when I was believing the lie that because I was choosing my faith and the crosses that go with it that there would be no joy, no laughter, no sharing fun with true friends again.

Polka dot friends forever!

That's why the Edel Gathering is important and why it brings hope. Even if you've never been, even if you might not be able to attend in the next foreseeable few years. Because what it represents is not just one place where women can get together and have a good time, it represents that it is possible to be a Catholic woman, to accept the challenges that come along with living this life of faith, and that there are other women out there who are doing it and still choosing to live with joy. And if there are women out there, then you are not alone, and you will be able to choose joy too. You can do it. You can get through those tough times, you will be able to feel that joy again, you will be able to have a drink and party with friends again. It may just be a couple friends, it may be a shorter time frame and not a whole weekend, it may not have an official name, but there will be joy and fun and friendship.

We're all in this together - a crowded elevator metaphor.

The past weekend was such a wonderful time! From meeting new inspiring women like Mary and Kathy, to finally meeting in real life like Micaela, to seeing women like Cate, Wendy, Heather, and Rachael that I'd met last year but felt like old friends, seeing in person dear friends who I talk to on a daily basis; it's the open hearts that these vibrant Catholic woman offer that makes this gathering a treasure. Having speakers like Rachael and Kelly who intimately know what our vocation calls us to and were able to speak so eloquently about, while being able to spend time with us and see us as we are also meant so much and was a gift to our weary souls.

I know I was energized and soothed by sharing drinks, laughing till it hurt, singing out loud, dancing, sweating, and enjoying myself with so many great women. I feel like not only was I renewed by time spent enjoying myself, but also as if my hope was refilled. My hope that there are other women out there who are living lives of faith, complete with crosses and sacrifices, that are willing to still choose joy and still experience joy. My hope that I'm not the only one who may be dealing with tough, hard things in life AND can still have fun, still make time for giving ourselves a true break and a bit of pampering. It's this hope and joy that mean so much in fully embracing and living our lives of faith and the vocation entrusted to us.

For all the other great Edel posts, and better pictures head over to Kelly's for the recap of all the recaps! I'll have the rest of my Southern adventures in a post to come! 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seeking wisdom and truth in my heart and The Summer of Psalms Project

I'm so excited to be part of Kristin's beautiful project bringing art and the Psalms together this summer. It's so refreshing to see stunning, yet approachable, artwork and design brought together with meaningful scripture while at the same time giving us glimpses of those who chose particular verses.

Today it's my turn and I've chosen Psalm 51:8, not because it's the most eloquent or poignant verse ever, but because the simplicity of this one verse has really helped direct my own personal prayer, especially in times where I have no idea what I should be praying.

Do you ever have those times in prayer? You're trying so hard to come up with things to talk to God about, you're bringing Him the issues you have, troubles going on around you, how you're feeling, but you're not quite sure what to ask for? There are no specific words that form, and you're left wondering if your prayer is doing any good?

I feel like I run into this problem a lot. I don't think it's necessarily dire, or means I'm not praying at all, but I do feel that moment where I don't have the words and I don't know what exactly I should be focusing on in asking God.

That's where this verse is so perfect because it simply is asking God to come into my own heart. Personally and intimately. To search my heart, my inner soul, and to show me His wisdom. He knows the truth of my heart and my life and knows everything that's going on in there, even in those moments when I'm so overwhelmed I don't know what's happening in my own heart. He knows what He wants for me today, for tomorrow; He knows what I need for the problems and difficulties I face. It brings so much peace while at the same time reenforcing that intimacy and love God shares with me that I too easily forget. I need both the simplicity of this prayer and the reminder that God is with me.

I hope to be framing this beautiful image soon, and I'll share picture with you soon! You can follow and post your own image after you've printed it out on Instagram under the hashtag #summerofpsalmsproject.

If you loved this image make sure to check out all of Kristin's designs which some really great bloggers chose by clicking on the button below. It's been such a treat to be part of this project!

Vine of Plenty | The Summer of Psalms Project

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

5 Simple Faves for Summer!

Is it "fave" or "fav"? Why do I see both spellings, and am I wrong?? Big questions, folks.


Gran Hotel on Netflix

Ok, it's basically a Spanish version of Downton Abbey but with more people getting killed and the plot line moving approximately 1000 times faster. Most people you will see writing about Downton Abbey are always Shocked! when the show slides into genuine soap opera territory, but I on the other hand, love a good soap opera. Say what you will, they're entertaining. Gran Hotel just ramps up that soap opera aspect of Downton Abbey to perfection, complete with someone getting slapped in the face, murdered, thrown from high windows, put in a coma, challenged to a duel, and of course, conspiring over a cup of tea in almost every episode. In other words, I'm addicted and am just about to finish the first season. All three seasons are on Netflix (even in Canada! Woot!) and I wish I had listened to Kendra months ago and ignored everything to watch this show.


This lipstick is about five bucks and it's one of the best reds I've found in a while. The shade I bought is just called Number 10, but it's a great bright red that's creamy, lasts for ages, and has just the right amount of shine. Seriously, five bucks, you can try a bright lippy for five bucks! I'm telling you, you'll love it!


This wine.

I'm usually a die hard red wine drinker. But last week we had temperatures that were actually above 90 degrees and I was out of limes for a margarita and had decided to try this moscato on a whim (read: it was on sale). I love that it has just a hint of fizz and is sweet, yet not cloyingly so, like some moscatos. It's a winner.


Southern Fiction

In honour of my exciting trip to the south for the first time this weekend, I've only been reading Southern fiction for the past month or so. It's been so great to reread To Kill a Mockingbird, especially with Harper Lee's sequel to be published this month! I've also been fitting in some rereading of Flannery O'Connor's short stories and they've been especially great knowing I'm going to visit Milledgeville soon! I may need to read some Faulkner or Walker Percy when I get back....and probably watch Gone With The Wind again.


Edel '15

I can't believe I'm flying to The South tomorrow! Seriously, if I could express my lifelong love of all things Southern you might think me a little less crazy, but I just love the South and have always dreamed of going. So not only is going to Edel going to be a fabulous time but it's also making one of my dreams come true. If you're going, I can't wait to meet you! And if not, then you can follow my instagram for what will prove to be a giant flood of pictures of all the Southern things. 

Linking with sweet Jenna today, hop on over for more great faves! 

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Notes from a Friday

I didn't mean to go a whole week with blog silence, but summer and life have really taken over which should come to little surprise to this woman who still lives in that delusion that summer is when I will have "all the time!"....silly me, right?

In unfortunate news we lost my grandma yesterday. She was 92 and was a wonderful woman who leaves me with a wealth of beautiful memories and a remarkable example of a kind woman and wonderful grandmother. We all love her a lot.

This week we also went to the annual Catholic family conference in our area for a day which was fun and exhausting and I didn't even camp. I'm the biggest camping wimp there is. Or just plain wimp. It's amazing I've kept five kids alive this long, really.

The husband and I also painted a bathroom which is always a great time. We were paining in a small room together because we wanted to paint it quickly at night because that's the only time we can keep small people out of there, and so it was cramped and sweaty and definitely not in a romantic way, but we did it. Why does painting make things so clean and why do we wait so long to paint?? 

This weekend I'm going to be packing the three big kids off for VBS at their grandparents, while packing the rest of us up for the funeral on Tuesday which is about 5 hours away. It'll be a really quick trip, then I'm flying to Edel on Thursday. I'm caught off guard with how quickly all these things have seemed to come up, and I'm trying to not be wound so tightly and to just pray for peace for all of it. I'm sure everything will go great, and I'm becoming a worrying old lady. 

I'm wishing all my American friends a fabulous 4th! Because you guys party way more than we do for Canada must be the revolutionary spirit ;) 

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