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Easter Season Favorites: Quick Takes Style

Easter Season Favorites

Happy Easter, friends! Yes, it has been five days since Easter Sunday, but it is still the Easter Season. We are in the Octave of Easter. We should still be celebrating. And why wouldn’t we! Jesus has Risen!! We spent 40 days in the desert, so why keep the celebrations to one day? I’m pretty sure the Apostles celebrated more than just that first day.

The thought of celebrating Easter throughout all fifty days made me wonder what people most like about this time. So I asked some friends and I got a pretty nice list of Easter Season favorites. What would you add to this list?

#1 Taking comfort in our sacrifices. When Lent starts we often aren’t too keen on giving something up for 40 days. But by the end of Lent, some of us have not just accepted our Lenten sacrifices but have embraced them. Our Lenten sacrifices should be something that provides us a spiritual benefit. When I discussed this with one friend we agreed that by the time we reach the Easter Season going back to our old habits may not always be the best course. What an amazing comfort it is to embrace the fruits of the desert so much that you want to continuing living in that way! I’ve been contemplating this in the days since my friend first mentioned it and it is giving me some deep food for thought for next year’s Lent.

#2 Spring cleaning!! No really. A good, deep cleaning can be rejuvenating and therapeutic.And really what better time to do a big clean than spring. Just as we hopefully cleaned up our souls during Lent, now is a good time to clean up, air out, and freshen up our living spaces to give us some further evidence of a fresh start.

#3 Chocolate and Jelly beans!! Do I need to say any more?

#4 Rebirth. The flowers are blooming, the grass is greener, rabbits and birds and squirrels are showing up in the yard, the beauty of Spring is all around us. All of it is a perfect reminder of the season of joy that have now entered.

#5 The Easter Candle. Okay, so this one had me thinking, “huh?” It is a pretty cool candle, but I wasn’t quite sure why someone would say it is one of their favorite things about the Easter Season. So I asked and her explanation is much better in her words than in mine: “I love the prayers said over it at the Easter Vigil (“Christ is the Alpha and the Omega”), the liturgy of light at the Easter Vigil, the fact that the candle is present at OUR “beginning” and end (Baptism and Funeral), the way its presence in the altar all season helps to tie in Christ’s rebirth with our own….”

#6 Chocolate bunnies … oh wait, did we say this already? Well, let’s just say all those things we gave up for Lent that we’re really missing. Whether it’s beer, bread, sugar, coffee, your favorite soda, or that chocolate, they are all so much sweeter now after 40 days of abstinence.

#7 Hope, even in death. Easter reminds us that Jesus has conquered death for us. It’s a season of hope. This year especially, we witnessed the death of Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN, on Easter Sunday. How incredibly special that she went to her eternal reward on the day that we celebrate Jesus Resurrection from the dead. Even so, Mother would be the first to tell us, pray for her!! What an extraordinary life she had and an amazing legacy she leaves behind. Her life is truly a remarkable example of always listening to God’s will with complete trust in Him. This Easter Season it has been one of my favorite things to listen to EWTN and hear all the incredible stories of her life as those that knew her and worked with her recount their memories.

What are your Easter Season Favorites? Tell us in the comments. And then go visit Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Friday Quick

Charla Ink Slingers Our Favorite Things

Five Things That Make Me Happy

There are several “givens” when it comes to happiness: my husband and my kids, my family, but I want to talk about the other gifts that God has given to us, either collectively or individually.

NUMBER ONE:ipad 131

My dogs.  I have had several dogs in my lifetime, some more memorable than others.  Sasha, my Siberian Husky who I got as a present form my dad when I was 19.  I was heartbroken over a breakup and my daddy told me, “You don’t need a boyfriend; here’s a puppy.” She was my comfort when I was down, my running partner, and my guardian. When she died, at the age of 15, I was crushed.  Shortly after her death, I found out I was pregnant with my only little girl.  My dog Penny sits on my lap when I grade papers and she is cuddly and mellow and sweet.  God gave us dogs to bring out the best in us and for unconditional companionship.  My dogs have been blessings; I can’t help but feel God brought them into my life to teach me to trust and love, so I am better at it with actual people.



Books.  I am an English teacher and the focus of my day to day life is books. There are so many favorites: the Bible (of course,) Jane Eyre, Love in the Time of Cholera, Black Beauty, House of the Spirits. All these books have taught me about myself.  I have explored other worlds, become different people, and known interesting characters.  My life has been enriched through reading.  People from across time and the globe have affected little ole me.  These books are friends. They are concrete in many ways, and they are figurative in most.  Books enable me to have great conversations with people and get my students to think about ideas and actions.  Books are lessons learned and morals revealed. The talent evinced by writing is invaluable in my world because it turns the microcosm of our tiny existence into a macrocosm of worlds possible.



Colors. My favorite color is red.  Red is passionate and painful; red is exciting and flashy.  It expresses multiple moods and personalities.  Black is deep and mysterious.  It is night and the universe; it is limited and expansive.  Yellow is cheerful and bright; while also being smooth yet sometimes sickly.

bmBlue is the color of the Blessed Mother.  It reminds me of peace and motherhood, since my first baby boy was wrapped in light blue blankets with a stretchy blue cap on his head.  Blue is the color of sea and sky and  morning glories, and most importantly, my husband’s eyes. White is brilliant and of course invokes images of brides and my favorite, white roses.  For me, it is reminiscent of the Transfiguration when Christ’s clothes became brilliantly white.  That is the kind of white that to me is perfection, just as the Holy Spirit is.



Cheese.  I love all kinds of cheese: Swiss, brie, cheddar, mozzarella, you name it, I love it.  Cheese makes or breaks a dish, and almost every ethnic food has its way with cheese. Cheesy enchiladas, pizza, and lasagna are comfort foods.  Cream cheese can make any dessert or dish better as well.  Cheese and crackers, simple, yet perfect, shredded cheese sprinkled on a salad or cheese sauce poured on broccoli or cauliflower improves any vegetable.   Yes, cheese is given to us by God; it has to be.



sandia-mountains3Mountains.  I am fortunate to live in a city surrounded by beautiful mountains. We always are certain of our sense of direction because of the huge mountain east of the city.  Visitors are told, “Mountains are east.” The mountains are our landmark; our view is always based on the mountain; the view is either OF the mountain or FROM the mountain.  Hiking the mountain is an exercise in resilience; climbing its majesty is triumphant.  Sitting within the forest of the mountain is peaceful, filled with the smell of pine and the chirping of birds and the colors of flowers.  Mountains are proof that God exists.  The small mountains to the west of the city are dormant volcanoes, which at one time, 100,000 years ago, held such power within, they exploded under the pressure and left remnants throughout the valley. Mountains signify simultaneous strength and beauty, quite the way I imagine God Himself to be—steadfast and my landmark as well.

These simple things in life, though there are many more,  remind me of my blessings and God’s presence in my life and my world.

What simple things remind you of God’s beauty and love?


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Seven Quick Takes: Easter Traditions

Our forty days in the dessert are almost complete – today is Good Friday.  And while most of the Quick Takes this week will feature various Easter traditions embraced by members of Catholic Sistas I am beginning with an Easter tradition that our family has been using for almost 18 years and begins on Good Friday.

Quick Take One: The Easter Tree

On Good Friday we prepare a “dead” tree to plant. Typically we gather several large dead branches and place them in a container that is filled with rocks or bricks – something heavy. We explain to the children that the tree represents Jesus’s death as the tree is currently without life. Then Saturday night after the Vigil angels descend and decorate the tree bringing it back to life. We use live blossoms and leaves unless the time of year we are celebrating Easter is not providing us with sufficient blossoms we use store bought silk flowers. Regardless of what type of flower we use, we also need florists tape which I typically purchase at our local dollar store.We also use pretty ribbons that we tape to candy eggs and drap from the branches. On Easter morning the children get to see a beautiful tree that has come to life – representing Jesus’s resurrection and enjoy the sweet treats of the newly alive tree.


Easter tree 2006


Blog easter tree risen


Quick Take Two:  Some favorite recipes shared by our Ink Slingers:





Click on any of the pictures to get to the recipes.

Quick Take Three: another recipe but with a story!


This recipe is used to create a visual account of Jesus’s resurrection! (Click on picture)

or You can make Easter Story Cookies:


Quick Take Four: Add a new twist to your Easter Egg hunt this year


Cascarones (Eggs with Confetti)

(Click on picture for directions.)

But if thats just too much work for you this year – you can add an egg with the word Alleluia in it or on it. The child who finds it, as part of the egg hunt, wins a special prize!

Quick Take Five: More eggs with special meanings!


In various Eastern Rites it’s common to celebrate Easter with red eggs and here’s why. Often, they are also used in a game called tsougrisma by Greeks. (One year we attended a Byzantine Easter celebration and they too played this game! The kids had a blast!)  Click here to read about how its played and find some links to some great greek recipes as a bonus.

Quick Take Six: Resurrection Eggs 


One Catholic Sistas’ family shared that they love to add Resurrection Eggs to their Easter celebrations and, at one time, had their own hand version of these eggs. Over time parts of their eggs were lost so they bought a version of this online.

Quick Take Seven: Easter Breads

So many wonderful options for celebrating with delicious and symbolic breads. (I’m sorry at this time I have not found gluten free versions of these. Please feel free to leave links to gluten free options you love in the comments section!)


Paska Breads above and below. (Click on pictures to get to baking instructions)

easter polish bread

hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns (Again click on the picture….)

So now I have your mouth watering and it’s Good Friday too! I’d apologize but it’s still Lent so I’m just going to tell you to offer it up and get baking!

See  you next month and I can’t leave any hints as to what its gonna be about because it’s a surprise. (For you and me both!) Thanks again to  This Ain’t the Lyceum  for hosting the Quick Takes Seven and be sure to mosey on over and check out who’s over there this week.


7 Quick Takes Ink Slingers Kerri Our Favorite Things

7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 22: New Year’s Resolutions


Each year we resolve to be more than we were the year before. Or, sometimes we did a good job the year before and we want to build upon our good habits. Either way, the New Year is always an opportunity to embrace change and adopt new habits that foster our relationship with Christ. To start the first Friday of the year off right, we asked our Ink Slingers to share some of their New Year’s resolutions.


At Confession a few weeks ago, Father told me to stop trying to be patient, but instead I should strive for understanding and then patience would follow. So my resolution is to be understanding and confession at least once per month as a family. ~ Charla


 Start going to Thursday night (Latin) Mass. ~ Hannah


Keeping the First Friday devotion. ~ Birgit


Two novenas per month for our family, one on the theme for the month the other a major feast of Christ or Our Blessed Mother. Going to Confession every other week. Doing an examination of conscience with the children at night during prayer at least once a week. Reading more spiritual books…less time online. And get up before the children to do morning prayers.~ Alessandra


Begin every day with prayer, even if it’s a quickie one-liner on hurried days! ~ Mary S.


My goal for this year is to work on decluttering my life and becoming detached from “things.” ~ Mary P.


 I am resolving to live my life more humbly. ~ Michelle

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions you’d like to share with us? Tell us in the comments below! For more Quick Takes posts, check out Conversion Diary.

Advent Christmas Colleen Ink Slingers Our Favorite Things Resources Your Handy-Dandy List

Your Handy-Dandy Guide to Catholic Christmas Shopping!

I know, I know! Thanksgiving is still 2 weeks away, and Christmas isn’t even on your radar. But when it comes to Christmas shopping, the earlier, the better, especially if you’re relying on the USPS to get your stuff to you. One year, Martina made a commitment to get ALL her Christmas shopping done before Advent began, to prepare for a peaceful, less-stressed Advent. What a great idea – it is a little stressful to track your package online on December 23 and see that it is currently in Denver, 600 miles away from you, and that your city is expecting a huge snowstorm overnight, and you may have to show up at the relatives’ house with an “IOU – your present is on its way!” card. (raises hand.)

It is also stressful trying to figure out WHAT to buy for someone who seems to have everything. Maybe you want to buy a religious-themed gift, but don’t want to go with the ol’ standby of a Bible (which is a great present, by the way, but just in case they already have one, or two, or five…)

I present to you: Catholic Sistas’ Favorite Things, a compilation of our favorite religious gift items for young, old, and everyone in-between.

(Click on the title of each item, and you will be redirected to their site to purchase.)


Something to Wear




1. Holy Hair Bows (email to order)
2. Little Flower Heart Necklace
3. Blessed Virgin Dress-Up Outfit
4. Lego Pope Shirt
5. Veils by Lily
6. Keep Calm And Pray Your Rosary Shirt
7. St. Gerard Rosary Bracelet
8. Miraculous Medal



Something to Listen To




1. Brother Francis CD: Let’s Sing!
2. Stories and Songs of Jesus
3. Hug Me Jesus
4. Blessed John Paul II Glory Stories (also see St. Kateri & St. Cecilia, Blessed Imelda & St. Juan Diego, and more)
5. St. Catherine of Siena Audio CD – Mary Fabyan Windeatt
6. Advent at Ephesus – Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles
7. Mater Eucharistae – Dominican Sisters of Mary
8. Pursuing Holiness: Lessons from St. Francis de Sales



Something to Watch




1. Holy Baby! The Rosary in 7 Languages
2. Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa – CCC Saints Movies (Also see Juan Diego, Messenger of Guadalupe, Patrick, Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle, Francis, the Knight of Assisi, Bernadette, Princess of Lourdes, and other titles)
3. Brother Francis Movies
4. Retreat With Fulton Sheen



Something to Play With




1. Forever Treasured Wooden Saints – St. Miriam & Friends
2. Brother Hubert Rag Doll + Story Book
3. Sister Mary Clara Doll
4. Fr. Juan Pablo Doll
5. Shining Light Dolls
6. Tiny Saints Charms
7. No Room At the Inn Puzzle
8. Saints Pillowcases
9. Make-A-Rosary Hanger Kit
10. Catholic Coloring Poster
11. Little People Nativity (a classic!)
12. Playmobil Nativity

Something to Pray With




1. Children’s Miniature Mass Kit
2. St. Edmund Campion Missal (for Traditional Latin Mass)
3. Rosary Steering Wheel Cover
4. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Art Print
5. St. Paul Daily Missal
6. Magnificat Subscription
7. Laudamus Te (like Magnificat, but with the 1962 Missal readings/propers)
8. Children’s Colorful Rosary
9. Wooden Sick Call Crucifix
10. Sterling Silver Military 4-Way Medal
11. Shamrock Rosary
12. Madonna and Child with Lamb Statue



Something to Eat




1. Mystic Monk Coffee – Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
2. Trappistine Creamy Caramels – Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey
3. Trappist Beer
4. Hazelnut Fudge – Brigittine Monks
5. Clover Honey – Cistercian Nuns @ Redwoods Monastery
6. Monks’ Bread
7. Prayerfully Popped Corn from the Cloister
8. From A Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook



Something to Read




1. The Friendly Beasts – Tomie dePaola (also, see The Night of Las Posadas, The Legend of the Poinsettia, and other titles)
2. Who is Coming to Our House?
3. E is for Eucharist – A Catholic Alphabet
4. An Alphabet of Catholic Saints
5. Smart Martha’s Catholic Guide for Busy Moms
6. Small Steps for Catholic Moms
7. Catholic Daily Planner by Michele Quigley (if my husband is reading this, hint hint!)
8. Real Men Pray the Rosary: A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer

(see our Pinterest board for over 100 other book ideas!)


Honorable Mention

Looking for a unique, non-religious gift, but still want to support Catholic shop owners? Check out these:


1. Handmade Toy Soldier – Steadfast Tin Soldiers
2. Nest Egg Charms – BlueJayBabies
3. Handmade Soaps – Corner Shop Soaps
4. Lady Mary Hat & Fingerless Gloves Crochet Pattern – Nat’s Niche
5. Handmade Tote – Sew Sweet by Shannon
6. Artisanal Soaps & Lotions – The Little Flower Farm
7. Yellow Dotty Vase – Donnabelle



Be sure to check out our Pinterest gift boards, Christmas Gift Guide and Gift Ideas, as well! In case none of these 67 gift ideas struck your fancy. 😉

Got any favorite Catholic gift ideas or shops you support? Planning on purchasing any of these items for a loved one? Please share in the comments below!