2014 Goal Update

I have been a bad blogger lately. A thousand apologies! But I finally do have something worth writing about, hurray!

When DH and I went to visit his family last month, the first thought I had when I hopped off the plane in their city was, “I’m home.”  

That’s when I knew it was time to take a risk.

The evening we returned from our trip, I searched for jobs that match my skill set in their area.  I found three, and after pondering it for 48 hours, I applied.  All three were kind of a reach for me, but they sounded like jobs I might enjoy.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

After a couple of weeks with nary a word from these employers, I figured they weren’t interested in me.  And then, late on Friday afternoon, I got the following e-mail:

Dear Mary,

Thank you for applying for [Awesome Job] at [Awesome Company].  I would  like to offer you an initial phone interview.  Please let me know which of the following time blocks fits into your schedule:  

[All interview times are on my days off]

President Business

On occasions like this, I’m really grateful to work at a place where a lot of people go home early on Friday afternoon, because if anyone had been around when I received that e-mail, they would have seen me do this:


So, uh, yeah, looks like I’ll have a phone interview with a company 1800 miles away later this week.  I still think I probably won’t get the job, but at least it’ll be good practice.

Thanks again for all your prayers – it really did help in making this decision!

I Grieve, But I Do Not Despair

Every year on September 11th, I watch this clip of Jon Stewart’s return after the 9/11 attacks. Maybe you’re not a fan of the Daily Show. Maybe you disagree with his politics. That’s OK. But even if you disagree, watch this. (After all, this is the one day of the year when we as Americans should try to put aside our differences.) Stewart’s reaction to the attacks continues to resonate with me because of his call to hope, and

“Chaos can’t sustain itself. It never could. It’s too easy and too unsatisfying.” – Jon Stewart

“You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end.” – Matthew 24:6


I still have a job.

My sincere thanks to all of you for your prayers.  I did feel their influence while I was on my trip, and I think you all helped me crystallize my thoughts on the moving decision.  I’ll expand on this in a later post, but for now, everything’s fine and I’m going to relax after having been up half the night worrying last night.  :)

Prayer Request

Just giving you a quick update before I go on vacation.  I had a horrific day at work yesterday and I think I will not have a job to return to next week.  Please pray for my career and help me discern where God wants me to go next.

Answer Me This: All Quiet on the Western Front

Since it’s Sunday and unlike TCIE and Simcha Fisher, I have no exciting news to share, I’m doing Answer Me this again.

An approximation of the likelihood of me getting pregnant.  Image by Flickr user id-iom.

An approximation of the likelihood of me getting pregnant. Image by Flickr user id-iom.

1. What is your favorite room in the house?  The kitchen!  I love experimenting with new food, I love the fellowship of cooking a meal with someone, and I love looking out the back window at my garden.

2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?  Yes.  I get a trade journal that I do my best to keep up with for continuing education purposes.  I also get Glamour, a guilty pleasure, and Mother Earth News, which has excellent gardening and DIY advice.  Sometimes I see the latter two on my coffee table and think they’ll spontaneously combust.

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?  The sign of peace can be really awkward when you’re at Mass by yourself (which I usually am when I’m not in the choir loft).  “Which person do I turn to first?  The person on my left has to shake hands with their spouse and 50 kids before mine, and the person on my right has to hug their boyfriend. Great, now I’m standing here holding out my hand like a dork!  Somebody shake my hand!  Oh, good, it’s the Lamb of God.”  So, yeah, I don’t really like it, but that’s mainly because I’m a socially awkward dork.

4. What is your least favorite sound?  Today, It’s the sound of the words, “You’re next!”

Sorry.  Bad mood.  On other days, it’s the sound of a ringing phone because I hate talking on the phone, and at my job, we go through stretches where the phone rings every 30 seconds.  Usually during these times, it’s somebody calling asking me to fix something they can do themselves, or ask me to do something I’ve already done, and after about the 5th one of these calls, it gets really difficult to be patient.

Ring one more time and I'll throw you across the room, phone.

Ring one more time and I’ll throw you across the room, phone. Photo by Flickr user Richard Stebbing

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?   The Cosby Show!  I watched every episode, and nowadays if I have a sick day, I try to find it on TV.  The Huxtables were the ultimate TV family.  I also watched a lot of Saturday morning cartoons, especially Garfield and Friends and The Smurfs.

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?  Netflix and my DVR are my friends – DH and I tend to binge watch one day of the week and the TV remains off the rest of the week.  In no particular order, I/we like:

  • Mythbusters
  • Doctor Who
  • Mad Men
  • The Profit
  • Sherlock
  • Downton Abbey

Also, anything on the Smithsonian channel will keep us entertained.

For more Answer Me This fun, visit Kendra at Catholic All Year!


Car-Free Vacations: The Hows

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed why car-free vacations are a good idea.  In part 2, I’ll talk about how to make them work.

Before You Go:

1. Do your research.  Some subway systems use paper tickets.  Others, like the London Underground or the Washington, D.C. Metro use plastic cards that you add money to and refill periodically.  Go to the city’s public transportation website and learn which system they use and how to purchase tickets or cards.  Do this well in advance, too – in some cities (such as D.C.) you can buy a travel card at the airport, but in others (such as London) you must purchase your cards before your trip and have them sent to your home.  If you’re going somewhere for the first time, you may want to learn the process of entering/exiting a bus or a train.  (YouTube videos are great for this.)

2.  When booking a hotel:  


You’ll need to walk from your hotel to the nearest bus or subway stop carrying all your suitcases at least twice.  Choose a place that’s within a short (to me that’s less than a mile) walk of the nearest subway or bus stop.  Your back will thank you later.  It’s also a good idea to get a hotel that’s near more than 1 mode of public transit – that way you can still get around in case of construction or strikes!

3.  Pack well.  As I said in #2, you’ll need to walk from public transit to the hotel with all your suitcases at least twice.  Getting a hotel close to the nearest subway stop is one way to make this easier on yourself; the other is to just take less stuff.  And even if your hotel is right next door to the subway stop, chances are you’ll need to go up or down at least one set of escalators while navigating the subway system.  Ever tried to take a big roller bag on these?  It’s not pretty.

This + Roller bag = disaster waiting to happen.

This + Roller bag = disaster waiting to happen.

First, pare down to what you actually need (I find it helps to lay out each day’s outfits before packing) and then learn the most efficient ways to pack.  There are a lot of great resources for this both in text form and video form.  I also recommend OneBag.com.

If you look like this guy, you're doing it wrong.

If you look like this guy, you’re doing it wrong.

4. Plan, plan, plan!  You don’t need to plan your itinerary down to the minute, but it helps if you make a list of things you want to see in the city you’re visiting and determine roughly where they are in relation to each other.  As much fun as it is to ride the subway, it makes little sense to ping-pong yourself across the city multiple times per day; it’s better to devote one day to, say, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House and spend the following day at destinations that are farther out, like Arlington Cemetery.

During Your Trip:

1. Double check the schedules!  Since you’re on vacation, you probably aren’t on a strict timetable, but it helps to know if there are times of day when the buses or trains don’t run.  For example, the London Underground is not in service between midnight and 5 AM; ditto the Portland, Oregon light rail.  If you’re an early to bed, early to rise type, this probably won’t cramp your style, but if you plan to stay out till the wee hours carousing, be aware that the subway system may close down before the bars do.  In some cities (such as D.C.), schedules may be reduced on weekends – plan accordingly.

2. Be polite.  You may be on vacation, but if you’re taking the subway or bus during rush hour, everyone else is on their way to or from work.  If you want to stop and look around, that’s fine, but step aside and let the busy people through.  Johnny T explains it best.

3.  Relax!  You may run into delays.  You may have to deal with construction.  You may find yourself stuck next to somebody with bad B.O. for a 90 minute ride.  Don’t worry about it!  You’re on vacation!  You’ll get where you’re going, and after you get home, you’ll have a great story to tell.


So, that’s my advice for traveling car-free!  Did I leave anything out?  Comment below!

Answer Me This: Lazy Sunday Edition

The post on the hows of Car-Free Vacations will be up soon, but since DH is headed off on a business trip, I’d like to save the serious writing for after he leaves.  Instead, have something short and fun!

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?

Glove and Boots – they’re puppets for grownups!  Here’s their video on how to fix your grammar.

2. Who taught you to drive?

Despite what my friends might tell you, I did not get my license in one of these.

Despite what my friends might tell you, I did not get my license in one of these.

I went to Driver Ed like everybody else at my school, although my mom and dad took turns riding with me while I practiced.  This may be the reason why my mom’s hair is completely gray and my dad has no hair.

Neither DH and or I learned to drive a stick shift when were younger, so about a year ago, we went back to Driver Ed and learned.

3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?  Ooh, that’s a tough one!  I really enjoy cooking in general, but I think my favorite things to make are marinara sauce and chili.  Both are dishes I can basically make up as I go along, which is what makes them so much fun.  For marinara sauce, I use this recipe; if I plan to freeze it or I’m making a small batch to use immediately, I’ll add garlic, onions, basil, oregano, red wine, and maybe some olives or veggies.  If I’m canning it, I’ll only add the garlic and herbs to the pot, then add 2 tbsp lemon juice to each quart  jar.

Here’s my chili formula:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

2-3 cans diced tomatoes

1 can black or pinto beans, drained

1-2 cans Ro-Tel

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1-2 bell peppers

1 bottle of beer or 2 cups lime juice

Chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and/or chipotle peppers to taste.

Brown the meat, garlic, and onions in a skillet and transfer to Crock Pot.  Deglaze the pan with the beer or juice and add to Crock Pot.  Add all your canned stuff.  Spices will depend on how spicy you like your chili; I suggest starting with 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin and 1 tsp oregano.  Add cayenne or chipotle if that’s not spicy enough for you.

Cover Crock Pot and let it sit on low for 6-8 hours.  30-60 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add the bell peppers – they get soggy if you leave them in the Crock Pot all day.

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?  I am a hugger, but I’m not sure why.  I do try not to hug people I just met because I worry about upsetting them.

5. Where do you pray best?  Like Kendra, I pray best while moving.  When I go for a long walk, I take my rosary beads with me and pray while walking.  I love sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament but don’t get to do it very often.

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?  I’m very blessed to have two of my grandparents still living!  I last saw them at Thanksgiving, and if all goes well, I’ll see them in a few weeks at my cousin’s wedding.

For more Answer Me This fun, visit Kendra!