Monthly Archives: December, 2015

What I Wore Sunday: So Many Days of Christmas


Merry Christmas! With the holiday falling at the beginning of the weekend, I feel like it’s easier this year to convince people that Christmas is still going, the twelve days start with Christmas Day, and so on. I stand by my earlier assessment that Advent passed by much more quickly this year than in past years, but it’s nice to not have had to fight for even Christmas weekend.

I went home to spend Christmas with my family, so I don’t have my usual full-length photos this time. Don’t need a mirror for a selfie, though!

Christmas Eve

What I Wore Christmas Eve

Dress, sweater, and shoes: Old Navy
Necklace and earrings: Charming Charlie
Hair: It’s a side braid folded in half and pinned along the base of my head. I learned it somewhere online, but I can’t remember where!

I usually try to dress liturgically, but I’m getting tired of my gold skirt, and I don’t have anything plain white that’s not for summer. (Seriously. Not even a button-down.) So I opted for an outfit that would survive packing well and that I still felt pretty in. The dress is navy blue, as are the shoes. The sweater is partially buttoned to create a waistline, and the necklace fills in some negative space.

I went to the same parish I usually attend when I’m at home, but the Mass I chose was celebrated by an assisting priest. He was old and Irish and delightful. Unfortunately, I accidentally picked the Mass with music by the Gospel choir. They sing the same songs every year, but they never seem to improve. The cantor/director made it seem as though she was Gladys Knight and everyone else in the church was just a Pip. Everything else about the Mass gave me great and tangible joy and reminded me that I don’t go to Mass for the music. I go for the worship, the people, and the Eucharist, and I got all of those.

We had the readings for midnight Mass, although it was only 8 p.m. The cute old Irish priest began his homily by noting that angels and shepherds were Jesus’s first “birth day” party guests. He noted that the word “savior” is repeated through the readings. It’s the saving part that we celebrate at Christmas, even though we tend to think about that more at Easter.

As I noted in previous posts, my spiritual preparation for Christmas went really well. The culmination of all that waiting did not leave me disappointed.

Holy Family (Sunday)

What I Wore Sunday, December 27

Top and skirt: Old Navy
Tights and necklace: Target
Boots: Lauren Conrad
Earrings: high school graduation pearls
Hair: courtesy of Mom’s products and tools

My Christmas outfit was tricky. This one is a old standby. Well, I didn’t get the boots until last Christmas, so I guess it’s not that old, but this is probably my favorite outfit, period. I acquired every piece of it separately, but I love the way it all fits together.

I went to a different church on Sunday than on Christmas Eve. We have more drivers than cars when I come home now, so we had to do more shuttling and shuffling than usual to make that happen. It was interesting to be in a church where (as usual), I didn’t quite look like anyone else, but that was because (not so usual), almost everyone else was Filipino.

The priest started his homily with a moment about how abortion is such a terrible sin because it harms future generations. There’s no one to take over. It was poignant.

Continuing on, he noted that, when Jesus stays behind in the synagogue, he’s about twelve and almost old enough to become a man. He spoke about how there is a transition between “cultural faith” as a child and “convictional faith” as an adult. He sympathized with parents who wonder why their children don’t go to church anymore, and he pointed to their lack of conviction regarding their faith as the real culprit. You wouldn’t expect a doctor or lawyer to get by in their professions based on what they learned as children, so you shouldn’t expect that childhood faith is enough for children once they become adults. You have to own it.

Surprisingly, he also spoke about his late wife and two sons and about how he calls his sons every day. His own parents were able to send all seven of their children to college despite their poverty. Their family didn’t have much, but they did have faith.

It was a family-soaked homily, of course, and I wished I’d had my family there to share it. Maybe someday.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple. This post is also linked up at D-Isis and the D Crew for What I Wore for Christmas.

Booking Through Thursday: Gifts


What books are/were you hoping to get as gifts this holiday season? Which books did you get?

There was a third part to the question, but it sounded ungrateful, so I left it out. It’s not quite Christmas yet, so I haven’t received any gifts so far. Well, that’s not 100% true. My roommate gave me an unexpected present as I was packing for home, but it looks too big and square to be books. And I went shopping with my mom and brother for some gifts they’re giving me, but those weren’t books. The days of a bookstore in the mall are long gone.

Had there been such a store, I would have snagged UnDivided in paperback. Although I struggled with the pacing of the third book in the series, UnSouled, I care just enough to finish it. I can buy that one for myself, though. I prefer picking out my own books, and I get so many review copies for Austin CNM that I barely have time to read anything else, let alone something I have to purchase.

As my friend Brogan once put it, giving someone a book is like giving them a job. I guess I like that job; I just want to apply for it when I’m good and ready!

For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

What I Wore Sunday: Advent Finest


No witty commentary this week. Just another of my favorite cold-weather outfits.

What I Wore Sunday, December 20

Dress and leggings: Target
Sweater: Old Navy
Boots: Lauren Conrad
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: gift

It wasn’t really cold enough for this outfit to be seasonally appropriate, but I wore it anyway because I like it. I don’t know what’s going on with the weather this year. When I was packing for home, I thought to check the forecast. That turned out to be a blessing, because I realized that I wouldn’t need to drag my heavy coat all the way home. Even if I’m out at night, it’s still in the high 50s, so a regular coat is fine.

At Mass, we had Fr. Associate Pastor. Last week was about joy and hope; this week was about joy and humility. Advent: all joy, all the time. He said that Mary was filled with joy at being chosen to be the mother of God (clearly), and Elizabeth was filled with joy at being visited by Mary (and Jesus). However, Mary also showed great humility by making the trip to see Elizabeth. Mary had just become the most important woman in the world. She could have waited for Elizabeth to travel to her little backwoods town, but instead she went to Elizabeth “in haste.”

I have to say that it’s been a good Advent so far. I didn’t get to pray any of the O Antiphons, which is a shame, but I managed to get all my Christmas-prep loose ends tied up. I think I’m ready. How about you?

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

7 Quick Takes on GTD, Dance, and Radio Buttons


— 1 —

Although I have not been up to much besides the mad dash before Christmas, I had a bunch of fun things to share stored up from the weeks I skipped in October and November. Score another point for GTD.

Speaking of GTD, I finally published a second installment of my GTD “series,” this time on how I organize my Next Actions. I also published some key terms for GTD and for Wunderlist, with a dash of commentary for pizzazz.

— 2 —

I went swing dancing at the Fed for the first time on Thursday. I stayed out too late (even though the party was still going when I left), but I had a great time. I learned a little East Coast (triple-step) Swing to go with my growing knowledge of West Coast Swing and my Jitterbug (single-step swing). As we rotated between partners, I could tell that I was getting it, or at least that I seemed like I was getting it. My leaders who were not actually first-timers kept testing out my skills randomly. I managed not to step on or kick anybody, so that worked out.

— 3 —

After the intro lesson, I went over to the West Coast side room. (A side room is a smaller room with a different style of music and dancing than the main ballroom.) That’s why I went to the Fed in the first place. I took this month off from classes, but I didn’t want to get too rusty, and since I didn’t have class, I was available for 3rd Thursday Westie night. The first few sugar pushes felt weird, but then I found my groove again.

For better or for worse, I was mostly surrounded by people who dance less like I do and more like this:

I’m better than when I started, but I don’t have half as much style as that!

— 4 —

I’m not in dance class this month, but back in October, I got the most wonderful compliment in class from a fellow student.

My general strategy for trying things you’re unsure about is to just believe you can do it. I have psyched myself out of things before. There’s a reason athletes visualize completing passes and making goals and all that. I think you can psych yourself into things, too.

So, when I rotated around to one particular leader (who I like because he’s taller than I am), I was stunned when he complimented me out of the blue for sharing that exact concept. When we’re working on something new and I rotate to a new leader, I usually ask, “How you feelin’?” It’s a more constructive version of “hello,” and it builds camaraderie when no one is getting the pattern we’re practicing. Back in my first month on Level 3, he was not confident one week, and I told him to just believe he could do it. All those weeks later, he took the time to tell me that he’d taken my advice and started believing in himself. I was flattered, and now I know that it’s not just my head that works that way.

— 5 —

My company started using new accounting software a few months ago. In training, we had to do a lot of that awkward thing where you describe where you want someone to click, because our trainer was on a computer, but we peons weren’t. At some point, I used the term “radio button,” which confused everyone. Not everyone can handle my vocab skills.

Radio buttons are these guys:

3 radio buttons

They’re called that because they work like buttons on a radio. When you click/tap/press a radio button, it stays selected. If there is a set of 2 or more radio buttons, you can usually only click one at a time. You’ve seen them in online surveys that have questions like “select one of the following,” because the radio button forces you to select one and only one.

The funny thing is that our IT guy, who was in that training session, wasn’t familiar with “radio” button, so he heard radial. Like a tire. Which is also round, I guess. He keeps saying it now, and I don’t have the heart to correct him.

— 6 —

One quick GTD tip: how to capture while driving.

I have a long commute, so it’s not uncommon for me to think of something I need to do or buy while I’m driving to and from work. I have a holster for my phone in my car, so it’s within safe and easy reach. I do almost all of my capturing on my phone, but I can’t write while driving. It takes too much time and looking and tapping to unlock my phone, launch Wunderlist, open a new task, tap to start dictation, and capture the task. So I was stuck.

I can, however, use Siri while driving with relative ease. Siri doesn’t connect to Wunderlist, though. My solution is to use Reminders with Siri and process the tasks later. As long as I tell Siri to remind me at 9 to (fill in task or item), it works fine. The item is out of my brain, I’m still driving safely, and at 9, the reminder pops up so I can get it organized properly. Done and done.

— 7 —

Goodreads has offered me my year in books report already! I feel a little shorted since I actually have more time to read now than any other point in the year, but it’s fun to see the statistics laid out like that.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

A Clarion Call to Catholic Men (Review: “Into the Breach”)

Although I am not a man, nor am I married to one, I greatly enjoy reading about Catholic men’s spirituality. I’m blessed to have so many examples of strong, outwardly faithful men in my life. Honestly, one of my favorite things is hearing my male friends talk about their personal religious lives as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. It gives me hope that the Church is not yet so happy-clappy that men will steer clear forever.

"I am hereby exhorting you to step into the breach to do the work of Christ's soldiers in the world today." —Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

I also found great joy in knowing so many men who shared the recent apostolic exhortation by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Into the Breach. It is timely, direct, and thoughtful, and I hope it will inspire many more men to take up arms against the sea of trouble raging upon our world, our families, and our hearts.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

Wunderlist and GTD: Organizing Next Actions into Projects and Areas of Focus

woman writing on a notepad

It’s time for another installment of my disorganized, ad hoc series on how I use Wunderlist with the Getting Things Done productivity methodology. In the meantime, I made a separate page with a handy list of key terms and definitions for you, since GTD has its own jargon. I am a teacher at heart, so I like to define things first.

Just like in my last GTD post, on Projects vs. Areas of Focus, I wrote this one in response to a post on the GTD thread in the Wunderlist Support Center.

The Question (edited for clarity)

Let’s say I have 3 Areas of Focus: health, work, self development. I would have one GTD list/folder and another folder for each AoF. My question, what do I put in every AoF folder in terms of additional lists? Do you implement the same lists as the main GTD per AoF? Or do you solely put in projects concerning that AoF and make sure all items are tagged properly and come together in one of the main GTD lists? (i.e. All scheduled/tickler actions come together in one list—so health/work comes together in one [list] but I would be able to filter this through using tags?)

My Answer (which I posted ages ago)

(Non-GTDers: This is where the abbreviations and jargon start to come flying at you.)

In Wunderlist, lists and folders are totally different concepts. A folder contains 1 or more lists. A list contains 1 or more tasks/NAs.

I’ve never found it useful to have one master NA list, although that is part of the GTD methodology. I find it much more helpful to sort my NAs by AoF or by Project. I have a folder called “Areas of Focus” with one list per AoF, and I have another folder called “Project Plans” with one list per Project.

Therefore, if I view my “Friends & Family” list, I see all the things I need to do regarding my friends and family. If I view my “Closet Purge” Project list, I see all the things I need to do to purge my closet.

I use very few tags, so my filtering is just by date. (What gets scheduled gets done.) Thus, I click on the Today smart list to see what NAs I have scheduled for today in each AoF and each Project. Since they’re separate lists in WL, they are visually labeled and separated within the Today smart list. I guess I could also tag my S/M list by AoF and future Project, but I don’t. One giant S/M list does work for me.

For a different perspective, Andreah at Frazz2Fab has a post about maintaining separate NA, S/M, etc. lists for each AoF that you might find useful.


Lists and folders are different things. The fewer of each you have, the better.

What I Wore Sunday: Not Rejoicing Is Not an Option


I have been on the leadership team for Spirit & Truth for several months. We meet in person occasionally, and since I have a whole house that is rarely full, we’ve met at my house the last few times. Unfortunately, yesterday’s meeting ran right up against my need to leave on time to lector at Mass. I didn’t want to give up such a great lectoring opportunity, so I literally ended the meeting by saying, “I love you! Please leave!” I shooed everyone out of my house and made it to church on time and liturgically dressed.

What I Wore Sunday, December 13

Blouse: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Tights and belt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Earrings: ancient gift

The weather cooled down from the 70s on Thursday, which was good for me because this outfit would not have worked otherwise. This is also an exception to my general preference to avoid tucking in shirts and wearing a visible belt. I thought about wearing my boots, but I knew I didn’t have time due to the aforementioned friendly eviction and dash out the door. In the end, it all worked out.

The Mass I go to has a short lector cycle (as in, I get to do it a lot), and I always let the Holy Spirit pick which days I get. He tosses me a winner occasionally, and that included yesterday, because I had the second reading. We nailed it. At the very least, that chunk of my parish was properly admonished to get with the rejoicing already.

We had Fr. Pastor last night, and he noted in his homily that each of the readings speaks of God at a different position in time and space relative to his people: already here, at hand, or coming sometime soon. I hadn’t noticed that. It underscored the “already, but not yet” character of Advent.

He went on to say that we hope that the Lord is coming while simultaneously rejoicing that he’s already here. We have hope and joy. Those are my favorites!

Finally (or at least at the end of my notes), he noted that, in each season of our lives, we have both past and future contributing to how we see the world and relate to the Lord. Even in childhood, the foundation of faith our parents do or don’t provide influences us in a way that lasts our whole lives.

I don’t often hear homilies that speak straight to my heart, but this one did. I had much to think and pray about. I still do. The temporal aspects of pre-Christmastime might be rapidly passing me by, but I think I’m winning at the spiritual side of Advent this year.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

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