Saturday, November 25, 2017

Small Business Saturday Guide

Y'all, I am not a fan of Black Friday. If shopping the day after Thanksgiving is your jam, that's fine, but between the crazy lines in stores and the fleeting carts online, I just can't get into it.

I much prefer the lesser known Small Business Saturday, where you have the opportunity to support small and local businesses as opposed to the typical big-box retail. I posted about it back when I first heard about it in 2015.

This year I'm shopping small online with some of my favorite Etsy shops and other businesses that I love and I thought I'd share some of my favorite items here - many of them are running special sales today only!

Blessed Is She

Many of you know that I am a devotion writer over at Blessed Is She and that this ministry holds a dear place in my heart. BIS centers on creating intentional community among Catholic Women, and also focuses on the goodness of beauty - thus sharing some AMAZING products that would make wonderful Christmas gifts.

Blessed is She is running some great flash sales throughout the day, including 30% off of their 2018 Liturgical Planner if you order between 5 and 6pm EST. I already have my copy and cannot wait to dive come January!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Currently - October

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

How on earth is it October already? I feel like these first few weeks of school have flown by and I'm only now catching up. Thank goodness for the changing leaves and crisp air and their welcomed beauty amidst the chaos.

I'm linking up again with Anne from Anne In Residence and Dana of Something Good for this month's currently's.
styling: photos of the new Blessed is She Advent Journal. If you are looking for a beautiful way to enter into the season of Advent, I cannot recommend this journal enough. It's a beautifully rich, yet simple way to pray, whether alone or in community, and really prepare our hearts for the joy that awaits us in our Emmanuel. You can shop the journal here.

saving: money (sort of), thanks to the Anthropologie Sale on Sale. An extra 40% on their sale prices? Don't mind if I do. I stopped in our local store the on Thursday and got 3 tops for less than $5 each, plus this beautiful dress for under $30. I'm loving this dress, this top, and this skirt.

searching: for a Halloween costume. I have a few ideas, but nothing has stuck yet. Suggestions are welcome. Pending travel arrangements, it'll be a couples costume. 

picking: apples! M came to visit this weekend and I persuaded him to do ALL the fall things. He was a great sport and I got some delicious goodies. It was a good weekend, friends. 

making: banana bread. I let a few bananas get a little too ripe for my taste and have been patiently waiting for them to get to the banana bread stage. 

What's new with you all? Any currently's you're diving into?


Friday, September 22, 2017

A New Day

Skirt: Target (exact - I also love this one)
Top: Target (exact)
Sweater: Hollister (from high school!) (similar
Shoes: Marshalls (similar)
Watch: Loft (similar)
Necklace: Target (another option)
Bracelets: Alex and Ani (1, 2)

Friends, I am in love with Target's new line of clothing, A New Day. 

Ok, let's be honest, I love most things from Target (the dollar section gets me every time), but I'm especially fond of this particular line. Their fall colors are dreamy and items like this skirt are great transition pieces as we start saying "farewell" to summer and "hey there" to fall. 

I also find the clothes to be super work appropriate which has been key to my shopping lately. Basically, if I can't wear something to work, chances are, I am not going to buy it... 

Oh, and the skirt has pockets, so it's pretty much the best thing ever. 

Here are a few other items from the line that I have my eye on:

What are your favorite outfit tricks to transition into fall? 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Currently - September

Happy Tuesday, friends. I hope you all had an only semi-monday-ish Monday and are ready to knock this week out of the park. My week is going to be pretty crazy with everything that I need to get done for work before heading to Ohio on Friday. Not a ton of time. 

I feel like the school year just took off and I'm holding on for the ride. Luckily there are a lot of really great things I'm working on for this year, so I'm staying focused and on top of things so far (knock on wood). 

Today I'm linking up again with Anne over at Anne in Residence and Lowanda from Sunshine and Elephants to share some "currently's" this month.

celebrating: My sister's 25th birthday. We may not always get along, but I am truly blessed to have her - plus she brought my favorite little peanut into the world so I'm forever grateful ;)

watching: Netflix (typical). I just jumped on the West-Wing-train, and y'all, I am HOOKED. Trying my best not to binge watch, but it's just so good!

welcoming: Fall. All of the pumpkin things. Crisp air. Warm colors and clothing. The list goes on and I can't wait for more!

preparing: for everything I have planned (hopefully well) from now until Halloween. Between some huge work projects, heading home to Ohio, a work conference, the BIS writer retreat, M visiting, and you know, life... it is going to be a whirlwind around here friends. All good, just a lot all at once. Prayers appreciated. 

photographing: My cat, Zelie

What have you been up to, friends?


Sunday, September 10, 2017


Meet Zelie.

Named after the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, Zelie Martin. Pronounced like Ellie with a Z. Also known as: Little Z, ZZ, ZZ-Top, Zeezer, Zeezer Salad, Zel-Bell, and just plain Z. (I tend to make up nicknames...)

She's a ball of energy who drives me crazy while simultaneously melting my heart.

I adopted her last winter so my apartment wouldn't seem so quiet. Be careful what you wish for, friends. The quiet is gone, replaced my a combination of meowing and spastic running lengths of the apartment.

She's the least coordinated cat I have ever met - so it's a match made in heaven.
She needs constant attention and loves to hop on your lap, purr and kneed at your lap.
She plays with her food, shreds paper like it's her job, and plays fetch.

She's both the worst and the best and I am so thankful to have her around.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

My 10 Favorites Finds at Trader Joe's

Hey friends! Happy Thursday! I hope everyone's weeks are off to a great start. We are well past the halfway point of the week, so let's finish it off with some enthusiasm! The long weekend is so close y'all.

I am super excited for this Labor Day Weekend because my sister and nephew will be visiting and I am thrilled! I can't wait for all of the baby snuggles. Really though, all. the. snuggles.

Visitors on the way translates to "Sarah needs to restock the fridge and pantry." My eggs, rice and beans diet with a splash of veggies and an occasional seltzer water are not going to cut it... I do know how to cook, promise. I just haven't been home a ton over the summer and have been trying to eat what's in the apartment.

(Hold while I answer the worried call from my mom about my cooking habits...)

Anyway, as I was making my grocery list for their arrival, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite finds from Trader Joe's.

I buy about 90% of my food from TJs. Other than a random ingredient here and there, meat is about the only thing I don't regularly get there - mainly because I don't eat a lot of meat, but also it is pretty pricey. I know, I know, it's good quality and made from some really great sustainable practices, but the up-charge on the cage-free eggs and locally grown tomatoes is more manageable to fit into my budget. I do get meat their occasionally, but I just can't afford to all the time.

Because I shop there so regularly, I do have my go-to's but thankfully, with their reasonable prices, I am also able to try new items (usually inspired by the free samples and gratitude for the coffee).

And so with that semi-decent amount of experience with this particular grocery, I present to you, my 10 favorite Trader Joe's finds (in no particular order).

1) Gnocchi - They have 3 kinds in the frozen foods. All are great and super affordable. The gnocchi alla sorrentina is my favorite. I introduced them to Michael the first time he visited and he too is hooked.

2) Gone Bananas - Chocolate Covered Bananas: the dessert that makes me think I'm eating healthy-ish. Try to eat just one piece. I dare you.

3) Habanero Lime Flour Tortillas - A friend recommended these to me and I am hooked. They are a bit spicy (I think more so when they aren't heated). Quesadillas with these babies and some avocado are one of the easiest meals I make and taste pretty great too.

4) Organic Riced Cauliflower - Just so we are being honest, this is not for everyone. Michael really doesn't like it, but he also doesn't typically like cauliflower. I, on the other hand, love cauliflower and think this is a great substitute for rice if you are looking to add more veg in your life. I also find it easily masked flavor wise. Add a sauce or spices and voila, you won't even know it's healthy.

5) Cauliflower Crust - Keeping with my love of cauliflower, when I heard TJs was selling a pizza crust substitute I knew I had to try it. It's delicious. I like to make it simple with just some pizza sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Yum!

6) Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - Fun fact, when I was younger I hated chocolate unless there was peanut butter in it. Now that I'm older and perhaps a bit wiser, I eat other chocolates, but peanut butter cups are still my #1. Trader Joe's are some of my favorite around and as a bonus, they sell them in mini bags so I don't have to worry about how quickly the tub will disappear in my apartment.

7) Charles Shaw - Ah, Two Buck Chuck. Cheap, good wine. Connecticut only sells wine in liquor stores so this crowd pleaser in nowhere to be found - you should have seen the look on my face when the lady at the store explained this to me. Be sure to appreciate it if your store carries it friends.

8) Reduced Guilt Guacamole - It's all in the name, friends. I love guac. I do not love the calorie count in guac. Trader Joe's heard my cries and came up with this beauty made with greek yogurt. Delicious.
9) Greek Yogurt Cups - One of my go-to lunch items for work. Honey is my favorite. The others are amazing too.
10) Well Rested Herbal Tea - Funny story, I ran into a colleague at Trader Joe's during one of my first shopping trips in CT. I'm not sure what brought up the topic of tea, but she was insistent that I try the Well Rested flavor from TJs. I headed her advice and haven't looked back. If you have a hard time getting to sleep at night, give it a go.

Not sure where the nearest TJs is to you? Hop over to the Trader Joe's website and use their store search bar :)

PS - Don't forget about their AMAZING flower selection. Some of the prettiest seasonal blooms for super affordable prices.

Any other Trader Joe's fans out there? Any products I need to try? I'd love to hear from you!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Currently: August

Happy Saturday, friends. It's been a paradoxically fast yet slow week here in CT mixed with just about every emotion imaginable - so that's been fun.

Today I am joining in on the Currently link-up with Anne from In Residence and Shea from Shea Lennon. I've seen a few bloggers I follow participate in this one and think it's such a fun way to look back at the month and reflect on a few things.

Here goes: Currently, I am...

Snacking On: Pudding and Yogurt. I had two wisdom teeth removed yesterday and am still on the soft-food-train. (Plus I love pudding and yogurt, so win win.) Specifically, tapioca pudding is my jam and I just started eating this yogurt from Whole Foods and love it.

Anticipating: My cousin's wedding next weekend and the beginning of school at the end of the month. How is it already August?! So much to do before the kiddos return!

Borrowing: Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer this one. I live pretty remote from family and friends so there isn't much occasion to borrow... Still paying those loans from undergrad though, so that counts, right?

Admiring: Artists. I follow lots of Etsy Shops on Instagram and have been loving the art these women have been sharing - Brass and Mint Co. Brick House in the City and Be a Heart, to name a few. What beautiful talents they share!

Purchasing: Craft supplies. I stopped at Hobby Lobby about a week ago and went a little crazy. There was a lot of "Oh, I could just make that," thinking happening as I shopped. Whether or not that was a good thing is yet to be determined. I did make this cactus though, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

I am currently (see what I did there) driving to Ohio for the trip delayed by pesky wisdom teeth. It's 8 hours and basically all through PA all with my cat, Zelie... Prayers for smooth travels and safety are appreciated.

What's going on with you, friend? Any great snacks or non-monetary borrowing? (Or monetary - We can commiserate on the cost of a college education.) Road trips? I'd love to hear!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Loving Lavender

As you know from my last post, I'm mildly obsessed with lavender. And I know it will absolutely shock you all to hear that not only do I like the plant, but I am also quite fond of the color. (This is where you all gasp in disbelief.)

Row 1:   Tote  |  Scarf  |  Top
Row 2:   Skirt  |  Dress  |  Pants
Row 3:   Shoes  |  Sunglasses
Row 4:   Earrings  |  Socks  |  Bracelet  |  Lotion

All jokes aside, there are some really lovely pieces available in various shades of lavender and I thought it would be fun to share some here. I'm strongly considering the Anthropologie earrings and the eyelet top from J. Crew but am not quite sure how to make it work appropriate and cute... A cardigan maybe? We shall see.

Are there any color trends you are loving lately?


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lavender Pond Farm

One of the perks of having a flexible summer work schedule is taking spur-of-the-moment trips on a weekday afternoon. I saw a few friends on social media mention they had visited lavender farms near their home towns and was immediately inspired to search for one in my neck of the woods.

Luckily, I found the address to Lavender Pond Farm, only about 40 minutes away from me and their flowers were still blooming (thanks, Google). And so I decided the next day would be my mini-adventure of exploring lavender fields and pretending like I was summering in Provence. They say Connecticut is the Sault of the United States - OK, nobody says that, but I bet the lavender here is just as pretty and smells just as good...

Friends, I LOVE lavender. The smell, the color, the texture - gosh, just about everything about this plant brings me joy. My front door has a lavender wreath, 90% of the candles in my apartment are lavender scented and so is my bathroom hand soap and my favorite essential oil. It's an obsession, I know. But for someone who is super picky about smells, when you find one you like, you cling to it (and apparently make just about everything in your home smell like it - hens the new candle and lotion I bought at the farm...).

I've heard that lavender is supposed to help with relaxation and boy does that seem to be true for me.
As soon as I stepped on the grounds of Lavender Pond Farm I felt at ease. The beautiful grounds alone are stunning. Add in the scent of fresh lavender and you have found my idea of paradise. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon.

Seriously, it was a dream.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

St. Anne

I love the beautiful examples of faith we are given via the Communion of Saints. These holy men and women help me to remember that I am loved beyond measure by a Creator who isn't interested in perfection so much as genuine effort. A God who can create saints out of some of the more unlikely cases (I'm looking at you Ignatius.)

Saint Anne, whose feast day is today, is a saint near and dear to my heart. Maybe it's because of a close relationship with my own grandmother, but Jesus' grandma has always been a source of inspiration and consolation in my life. She helped young Mary grow to be a strong, holy woman who proclaimed "Yes!" to God trusting unconditionally.

While most Catholic girls I knew growing up were striving to be like Mary, I often felt her perfection to be distancing - to be honest, sometimes I still do. I mean, the woman was immaculately conceved and chosen by God to bring us the Prince of Peace - that's crazing intimidating. And while I have since begun developing a closer relationship with Mama Mary, I still feel drawn to her mom, Anne.

In those moments where I find Mary to be out of reach, I pray for the grace to be like Anne - a gracious mother that leads her child in holiness by a beautiful example of love and sacrifice.

So, today I am thankful for the gift of St. Anne, for the gift of grandparents, and for the gift of holy women that teach me how to fall more deeply in love with Christ and lead me closer to God.

St. Anne, pray for us.

Who is your favorite saint?


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Let's Catch Up

And just like that, my first year of work at a high school is over. This year has been challenging and beautiful and hard and rewarding and so many other adjectives that don't seem to fit together but, by the grace of God, do.

And now, summer. A chance to be still. To unwind. To continue settling into life on the East Coast. Technically I'm a 12 month position, but because of all of the travel I did this year to learn about our service program, I have been firmly told to take a break and if I do have to get something done, do it from home.

Twist my arm.

Honestly, it is a bit more challenging than you would think. I love my school and I love my job, so not going into the office is hard. It's 10 minutes away, it gets me out of my apartment, and I would see coworkers... I'm working on it. Definitely a growing edge, friends.

I did manage to unplug from work this past week on a vacation to Exuma. More about that later, but for now a photo of M and me because he is currently driving home to Ohio where I will be in a week or so. We had a blast, if you can't tell from our ear-to-ear smiles. He got pretty sunburnt right from the get-go (hens the t-shirt), so a friendly PSA to practice good skin care this summer, friends.

(On a note of personal growth for the year, never did I think I would publicly post a photo of me, full body, in a swimsuit. And yet, there it is, and on Instagram too. And I actually really like the photo. If this was a year ago, I am certain I would be tearing myself apart about x, y or z in the picture. And to be honest, I do still notice some flaws, but they do not own me any more and I feel so freed by that - May not seem like a big deal, but believe me, it is.)

Other things we may need to catch up on since my last post...

I've been trying to jump back on the reading train and these books are definitely worth checking out:

  1. A Man Called Ove - I cried.
  2. Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job - Easy read that I hope to use with my high schoolers.
  3. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People - Some strong language, but overall great read and a great reminder to find God in everyone. 
I tend to be posting more on Instagram lately than anywhere else, so if you would like more timely updates/convo along with potentially entertaining stories, you can find me HERE.

Oh, and I adopted a cat. I don't think I've introduced you Zelie yet. She will probably also get her own post soon. (Maybe.)

And I guess that's life in a nutshell lately. How are you, friend?


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Questioning Empathy

I present to you musings of an overtired Sarah  from around 1 am last night as she tried to sleep but couldn't seem to turn off her brain, thus recording those thoughts in writing here on the blog. I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and/or circularity. The final product might not be as pretty as some posts, but it is honest and authentic - which I tend to prefer anyway. And so, without further adieu, Questioning Empathy.


Lately I've been consumed with thoughts about empathy and how it occurs in others. It all started about a week or so ago while I was on a service trip with students to the city nearest to our school. During these trips (this was my third of this specific one) my students engage with different local organizations and programs that they could choose to serve for a year while they are seniors. The boys cook our meals - it's an all boys school, we don't just force the males to cook - and the faculty members facilitate discussions about various social justice topics like housing and hunger.

The discussions are typically engaging with a pleasantly surprising amount of student involvement. Questions are asked, presuppositions are challenged, and the idea of care for the other is usually taken away - at least an inkling of it is... We have to start somewhere, right? This time was different though. Or maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was the culmination of many tiny instance from the three other trips this year or maybe I was just in an off mood. 

Whatever it was, this trip left me with a haunting question about empathy, namely, can empathy be taught? Is it something you're born with? Are there those more prone to empathy than others? Is high school too late?

The optimist in me still believes that, yes, empathy can be taught. I also believe that no one is born hateful. Hate is taught. So why can't empathy also be taught? I believe empathy is developed and strengthened through meeting others and hearing their stories. As we listen, our imaginations move us into their shoes and allow a closer understanding of the other and what events in their life has led them to. But how do we get someone to imagine? To even try to imagine? Is their refusal laziness or incapability? 

What if I am wrong? What if you can't teach empathy? My many questions on the topic caused me to do what any good millennial does when faced with a question - google it. Actually, I searched for any Ted-Talks about empathy, but I did that through Google. Tomato, tomato. There were a surprising number of videos where people asked similar questions. One in particular had a woman sharing her study of altruism and it appears there is a part of the brain correlated to acts of kindness. Altruism can be connected to the size of this particular piece of the brain. It's not empathy exactly, but I would say the two are very much correlated. 

What if being empathetic is genetic? I always attribute my ability to empathize to my mother and grandmother and how they raised me. But when I asked my mom "how do you teach empathy," our discussion led to a recognition that she and my uncle were raised in the same house by the same woman and he is not an empathetic individual. Is it different in males vs females? Is age a factor? 

I'm rambling now and I know this post is completely out of left field, but I would genuinely love to know your thoughts on empathy. Do any of you know of any good sources on the topic? I'm genuinely considering digging into a deeper study of the topic and would love any recommendations if you have them. 

Thanks for listening as I ramble friends. 


Sunday, January 1, 2017

An Intentional 2017

Happy New Year, friends. 2017 has arrived, and with it a fresh, crisp new year with which we can work to experience in beautiful ways.

This year, instead of setting a typical resolution, I have decided to choose a word to strive to embody during these next 12 months (and hopefully beyond that). As I prayed and reflected on what I wanted that word to be, my heart kept returning me to the idea of being intentional.

That's not to say that I currently spend my days being unintentional and lackadaisical, but there are definitely moments in probably every aspect of my life where I have simply gone through the motions, or carelessly did the  bare-minimum to complete I was doing just to so it would be done. It's not everyday and it's not all at once, but every time it happens I've missed an opportunity to learn and grow as a person.

With intentionality comes reflectiveness and authenticity. It requires awareness and discernment. Actively choosing to be intentional won't be easy, and I will undoubtedly mess up, but I believe that even simply recognizing times where I could strive to be more intentional will allow me to flourish.

I pray that intentional time, relationships and prayer will lead to deeper listening, understanding, and growth.

And so, here's to 2017! May this year be filled with goodness and bring us all closer to God.

Have you set any goals for this new year? Any tips on how to live more intentionally?