It’s Sunday!

Happy Sunday to you!

I am taking a break at the bakery. It feels good to sit down for a minute, my legs feel like lead this morning. While drinking some extra strong coffee and trying not to get my flour covered apron all over everything I wanted to post a quick comment.

Exciting news, I am researching grants for my non-profit and wanted to ask for your help. If you happen to hear of any that would benifit my mission, please send me an email at maurbyr@yahoo.com. I know there is money out there, we just have to find it. I would love your help.

Back to work…

Porch Night

Porch night is when all of us roommates of 4102 Colorado Ave. grill out back, drink good wine, relax and enjoy each other’s company. We laugh, tell stories, catch up on each other’s lives, play music, speak in strange languages, funny voices and just have a good time.

Here are some vegetables I washed for grilling later on – mushrooms, tomatoes and asparagus. Asparagus is my favorite, it’s so easy to just wash, angle the stems and grill with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper.

I love my red Calypso colander. My mom bought it for me at Whole Foods before I moved to Nashville last summer. It has served me well during my 5 nights/week pasta dinners. I love pasta so much and can never get enough.

Next, I marinated scallops in a little olive oil with a chill and lime rub, parsley, fresh ground pepper and plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

With plenty of extra lemon slices for grilling too, which add a brilliant flavor

It’s grillin’ time. With a little wine in hand (and I mean a little, can’t be tipsy before we even sit down), I head out back and pop everything on the grill. At this point the vegetables get tossed with the olive oil. The flame on the grill will ignite a little more at this point because of the oil, but it will go down. Not to worry. Make sure to make a little basket with some foil for the fish, so the oil doesn’t drip into your grill. For the vegetables I always grill mine in the basket shown from Williams Sonoma. I will post a link to it in a later post.

The grilling basket is awesome, and I use it for a variety of things. I steamed those red bliss potatoes prior to tossing them on the grill. That way they are cooked through before placing them on the grill, so they don’t take to long, but they still taste like they were grilled.

 I toss the potatoes with a dap of butter, and flavor with coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and rosemary.

At this point my rosemary focaccia has just come out of the oven and it is time to eat. This bread recipe is under my baking category. It is very easy to make and delicious right out of the oven with bowls of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper for dipping.

The lighting is a little off on these pictures – Tala and CeeCee

Mariu and Kathleen ready to eat.

Sweet Tala

Olive oil for the focaccia

Therese made fresh mango mojitos – they were amazing and I will post the recipe under a summer drinks post soon.

Fruit tarts for dessert (as if our stomachs could hold any more). photo credit: Therese

 Recipe to follow under the baking Category.

Fruit tarts are one of my favorite desserts to make – I love them because I love creativity and I often feel like I’m painting a picture when I make them. There are so many different parts that go into them, like mixing colors to create a picture.

The girls gave me this bow from Anthropologie that night- because they know I love the store (but who are we kidding, I can’t afford so much as a single earning from that place) but mostly because they are sweet and thoughtful like that.

More Beautiful You

Every woman needs to listen to this song and watch this video. Everywhere we turn today we are surrounded by what our culture considers to be “beautiful.” Plastic surgery, 90 pound bodies, made-up faces, immorality and immodesty just to name a few. The only way to combat false true is to replace it with truth. And this song is truth. There is beauty in virtue, a beauty that shines for miles around in this jaded world we live in.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit.” -1 Peter 3:3-4

Good morning world…

I am really excited because today my sister Clare and my friend Elizabeth are coming to Nashville. It’s going to be a great day! And I’m so excited to see them!

Also, I got a new design template for my blog. My new logo will be done the first of September and I can’t wait to show you. In the meantime I’m not sure what picture I’m going to use as a header. I might play around with it. I’m really excited for my logo though. I’ve dreamed about this forever. Kinda makes it legit, you know?

I hope you have a great day. The sun is just rising here in Tennesse and I’m going to go for a quick run.

Clare, Elizabeth and I

NYC- all three of us love to run

From my Heart

Sunday evening I spoke to a priest about my non-profit. His name is Father Bob Connor, he is an Opus Dei priest from New York City. I use to go to confession to him when I was a child and have very fond memories of his advice. Father Bob radiates the essence of humility and use to live with Saint Josemaria Escriva. He was telling me some stories about St. Josemaria and it was so amazing to talk with someone who not only knew him, but lived with him. As I was talking to him I thought to myself, Man, I am so blessed. I know some really saintly priests. Father Bob lived with Saint Josemaria and Msgr. Essef knew Saint Pio. What is going on here? This is such a gift from God. Father Bob told me to call Father Benedict Groeschel to get a clear answer on the question I asked him and to mention that “Father Bob Connor sent you.”

In closing the conversion I asked Father Bob a personal question about forgiveness. His reply penetrated my very being as he said, “The greatest way to imitate Christ is to forgive. It is higher than any other virtue. The core of Christ’s mission was forgiveness and mercy. The hardest thing you can do in life is to forgive your enemy, to not only forgive, but to love someone who has hurt you. Forgiveness is the essence of the Catholic Faith.”

My right hand, which held my blackberry started to shake and millions of thoughts raced through my head. What if I don’t live that out? What if I just thought I was choosing to forgive, but I really wasn’t? What if I was all talk?What if didn’t love enough? What if I didn’t pray enough for the grace to forgive? 

I asked God for the grace to calm the heck down and rest in His peace. And was instantly reminded that someone I admire very much is praying a prayer to Saint Michael daily for me not to be so judgmental and scrupulous of myself.

Before saying our goodbyes, I asked Father Bob what his favorite saint was. He had been in a car accident and I wanted to pray for him through the intercession of his favorite saint. He is so self-giving and changed the conversation to me and said he would be the one praying for my non-profit through the intercession of St. Josemaria.

Father Bob helped me to see that I really need to work on being less prideful and to allow God to use me as He wishes. He reminded me of how everything we have is a gift. Nothing in life is earned through good behavior, nothing is deserved, but instead every breath is a blessing and one that we often take for granted. He told me some of the injuries from his car accident and said that while they are very painful, being able to sit down in a chair, stand up without assistance is not something that we have “earned.” God can take away those gifts at any moment. And if we are truly alined with Christ we would understand this and accept it without complaining.

Lately I have been sick a lot and it’s really draining. Sometimes I feel like I’m 80 years old, instead of 25. The doctor isn’t sure what is wrong yet and Father Bob helped me see the beauty in embracing God’s will.

“We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” And this is our strength. This is the joy of the Lord.” – Blessed Mother Teresa

The plaque outside the Mother House in Kolkata, India where Mother Teresa use to live. Her Sisters still live there today.

Wednesday’s Inspiration

“My best defense against all the plots and tricks of the enemy is still the spirit of joy. The devil is never so happy as when he has succeeded in robbing one of God’s servants of the joy in his or her soul. The devil always has some dust on hold that he blows into someone’s conscience through a small basement window so as to make opaque what is pure. But in a heart that is filled with joy, he tries in vain to introduce his deadly poison. The demons can do nothing against a servant of Christ whom they find filled with holy gladness; whereas a dejected, morose and depressed soul easily lets itself be submerged in sorrow or captured by false pleasures.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Saints Joachim and Anne: The Icon Of Marital Love

I have a confession to make. When I was little I strongly disliked my middle name – Anne. What a horrible thing not to like the name of the grandmother of Jesus. I have since then apologized profusely to Saint Anne and am ashamed of my behavior. It came to me one day when I was in college that I’m blessed to have her as one of my patron saints. Jesus has said that he could never refuse a favor asked of Him by His Mother and considering all the times that Saint Anne has interceded for me I am guessing the same is true for His grandmother.

Yesterday was the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, so this post is a day late in their honor. I really enjoyed reading this article by Christopher West that my roommate Tala sent me and thought you might like it too.

Saints Joachim and Anne: The Icon of Marital Love

By Christopher West

Several years ago, while a Byzantine Catholic priest was giving me a tour of his church, I spotted a large, prominent icon of a couple embracing. Looking closer, I realized there was a marriage bed behind them. It was clear that this was a beautifully chaste portrayal of marital love and union. Of course, with my keen interest in the Theology of the Body and the history of “spousal symbolism” in the Church, I wanted to know the story behind this “icon of marital love” in Eastern theology.

“You know who they are, don’t you?” asked the priest. “No, I don’t.” “That’s Joachim and Anne,” he said. “Do you know what we call this icon?” “No, I don’t,” I replied, with interest in learning. “The Immaculate Conception.” I was filled with a sense of wonder and also with deep gratitude for the “holy daring” often found in the Eastern theological tradition.

To be honest, I had never given any thought to the reality of Joachim and Anne’s loving union. If I thought at all about the “coming to be” of Mary in her Immaculate Conception, the word “conception” made me think in terms of that miraculous event in the womb of Anne when the full merits of Christ’s death and resurrection were applied “in advance” to Mary from the first moment of her existence (see CCC 491-492). But in terms of the union of Joachim and Anne that preceded the biological and theological event of Mary’s conception, I never really considered it. I may have even thought one shouldn’t consider it. Yet here, in this sacred icon – unbeknownst to most of us in the West – the tradition of the Eastern Church holds up the chaste, loving union of Joachim and Anne as the main symbol for contemplation in the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.

What are we to make of this? It goes without saying, of course, that we must respect the important veil that surrounds the mystery of Joachim and Anne’s embrace, as this icon does. With that respect as our starting point, at least one thing I think this icon leads us to consider is the possibility of real holiness and virtue in the marital embrace, not only as an intellectual idea, but as a lived experience. The marital embrace of Joachim and Anne, as chastely portrayed in the sacred icon of the Immaculate Conception, should help all married couples to aspire to an intimate life that is “full of grace.” The conjugal act itself, John Paul tells us, as the consummate expression of the sacrament of marriage, is meant to be an expression of and participation in the “life ‘according to the Spirit’” (see TOB 101:6), that is, in the very life of the Holy Trinity.

Of course, if this “grace-filled” reality is to become a lived experience for couples and not just an intellectual idea, we must be willing to undergo a “full purification,” as Blessed John Paul II put it (see TOB 116:3). And this involves ongoing and often very painful trials. We are purified by fire, and that fire can “burn” in various seasons of our life with great intensity. Certainly, Joachim and Anne were no strangers to that journey of purification.

Since I first discovered it, the sacred icon of the Immaculate Conception has become one of my favorite treasures of the East. Contemplating the chaste love of Joachim and Anne has led me all the more, to use Blessed John Paul II’s words, to be “full of veneration for the essential values of conjugal union…. of the conjugal act.” It has led me to appreciate more deeply the fact that the conjugal act “bears in itself the sign of the divine mystery of creation and redemption” (TOB 131:5).

This July 26th, as we celebrate the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, may we be filled with great veneration for their marriage, and may we not fear the “full purification” required in following their example. Amen.

Weekend Happenings

Therese (Little Flower), David, Mariu and Tala at U2

My sweet roommates and I on our way to a Blue Grass show

Therese, our driver cute as ever

Full Moon Pickin’ Parties are Blue Grass events that are held once a month from May to October. These evens feature the finest bluegrass music under the light of a full moon. Pickers form form circles under the trees and around the grounds performing and jamming while several headliners are featured on stage. You pay $5. to get in and your ticket entitles you to 4 beers (all of which I do not drink- see post My Head is Spinning to understand).

You bring lawn chairs or blankets, drink beer, relax and listen to good tunes. It’s a super fun evening!

Sunday morning brunch

Sweet Mariu’s birthday was Sunday! And her parents came from AL to spend the day with her.

Mariu turned 27 yesterday and yes, she went to Harvard.

I am so blessed to live with Mariu she is one of the most humble people I have ever met. Mariu graduated from Harvard and then Medical School. She was a Division 1 basketball player & rower. She works at Vanderbilt as a Doctor. One of the sweetest and most caring people you will ever meet.

Mariu loves Jesus and the saints so much. She has a great devotion to Saint Gianna (patron saint of doctors).

On Sunday morning Tala got 27 balloons for Mariu and put them in her room. Mariu was post call after working 30 hours at the hospital, so she slept in. She was really surprised.

Sweet Little Mariu (that’s what we call her).

Lots of balloons

I love them so much!

We are so glad Mariu was born. I even thanked her parents :)

Mariu’s mom brought her a strawberry cake for her birthday!

Happy Birthday Sweet Little Mariu! Someone at the Hospital once asked her if she was 11. Come on people…

vino

It wouldn’t be a 4102 Colorado ave day unless someone did something slightly like the above picture. Mariu going through the cat door in our house. Yup! We don’t have cats, but the owners of the house had cats, so we have a few doors with openings for cats. Personally, I strongly dislike cats. Most of us have gone through this door at one point or another. It was a beautiful weekend!

A few things I learned this weekend – it’s good to laugh at yourself, I really need to work on being less prideful, it is harder for me to receive love than to show love. All of these things I am going to actively work on.

A Nugget to Ponder

Today is the feast day of St. James the Apostle, a very special feast day. And one that holds great personal meaning because my brother is named after Saint James (guess what his name is?) And my sister Clare walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain two summers ago to the tomb of St. James.

What better place to look for a reflection on this holy saint than In Conversation with God. Francis Fernandez tells his readers.

James, from Bethsaida, was the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. He was one of the three disciples to witness the Transfiguration and the agony in the Garden besides other important events of our Saviour’s public life. He and his brother’s impetuous zeal caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder. 

James developed his apostolate in Judaea and Samaria. According to tradition he preached the Gospel in Spain. He became the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom. His mortal remains were later brought to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain which became a popular medieval pilgrimage site and a sanctuary of the Faith for all of Europe. 

Fernandez goes on to meditate on the life of Saint James and his countless encounters with Christ and others. He talks about the beauty and mystery of suffering and this particular quote from Saint Josemaria in the reading penetrated the deepest depths of my heart.

In union with Christ even our pain and failure are converted into joy and peace. The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon, and with it we can conquer eternity. In Conversation with God, 29.

A nugget worth pondering wouldn’t you say?

“My head is spinning”

Anyone who has ever had an alcoholic drink we me before knows that I don’t hold my liquor very well. As the saying goes, I am your typical light weight. My roommates have been trying to “toughen” me up this past year, but it really hasn’t been working. It’s not that I don’t like alcohol, and I’m not opposed to drinking in moderation at all; I just get so dizzy. Several times on first dates, the guys have ordered a bottle of really expensive wine and told me to drink half and one time I said, “yeah, I can’t do that.” Sometimes I feel bad, but what’s a girl to do?

We make some really good drinks at home a lot. A few weeks ago my roommate Therese made fresh homemade mango mojitos. They were amazing!! Well after half a drink they are used to hearing me say,  “My head is spinning.” They usually laugh because they know it’s coming.

Well yesterday I was at the Hospital getting some tests done and they needed to draw five vials of blood. After the second one my head started to spin and I told her “my head is spinning.” She said I would be fine, but then I couldn’t hear her, started to shake, and I couldn’t see after the third vial. “It really is spinning,” I said and that’s the last thing I remember. I woke up in a bed and the tech was right there and said, “It really was spinning huh?” “Yes, it was,” I said. I smiled and thought of all the times my sweet roommates have heard me see that. It was kind of funny actually and they said the next time they would just lay me down to take blood.

Oh and tonight we are all going wine tasting for Mariu’s birthday. At least I’m not driving…

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to laugh at yourself!