Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Our In-Progress At Home Painted Chapel, aka how I spent my summer vacation

I keep waiting to be finished with the chapel to share it here, but I keep NOT being finished with it, and I'm tired of waiting. I made a ton of progress on it over the summer, but now that the homeschool year is going and with all the conference and book launch stuff going on, not much has changed in the past month or so. It's in a useable state now though, and I'm so happy in there. So, I figured I'd give you guys a look at it so far, and the process that got it there.

The chapel started out as an upstairs storage room off of what was the servant's quarters in our 1920-built home. It had shiplap. And a chin up bar.

And this great cathedral ceiling. The first time we toured the house, the husband and I just knew this room needed to be a chapel.

During the major renovations on the house before we moved in, we had a period stained glass window and light fixture installed. The window features St. Anne and Mary and was from a church in England. I found it on eBay. The light fixture was from a local architectural salvage.

I liked the shiplap, and I thought at first that I'd stain it all. But I couldn't find a color I liked. And after a lot of different tries, I went in a completely different direction . . .

Whitewash! I never would have thought I'd want to cover the natural wood color. But the woodgrain still shows through and it's so cool and calming. It's 100% right for the room.

But it was messy.

My first decorative painting project was the center beam of the ceiling, which I stenciled with the traditional shield symbols of the twelve apostles.

I designed and created every stencil I used in the chapel using Picmonkey and this Cricut cutting machine. The designs are cut into adhesive vinyl, then I apply, paint, and remove them.

Next up was the ceiling, which is covered in Bible quotes in English and Latin, and small medallions featuring saint and traditional Catholic symbols. You can see the vinyl stencils here.

For the two tone blue and gold look, I painted the stencils in gold first, then went back with a detail brush and added blue to the edges of the letters, then removed the stencils.

Then I painted the side walls blue, a couple shades lighter than the blue in the ceiling quotes.

Then I had to decide what to do with the floor. We had a new plywood subfloor professionally installed, back when they put in the window and light. I briefly considered tiling the floor, but I really wanted to do the work in there myself (or make my kids do it) and I don't think cutting and installing tile is in my skill set. The original pine board floors which are in what used to be the servants' quarters but are now the husband and my room would have been painted when the house was new. So I decided to paint the chapel floor, as a nod to that, and because I know how to paint.

Except I guess I don't, because I primed it with wall paint, which you are definitely NOT supposed to do. It took 45 minutes to prime the floor, and two days of sanding to get it back off. Here's me just sitting there smiling before I knew I'd have to sand it all back off.

After TONS of research into two part epoxies and Los Angeles paint-related air quality regulations, I just decided to go with good old porch and floor paint from Sherwin Williams. It's only been down a couple months, but it's held up very well to a lot of foot traffic.

Next, I blew up this crucifixion scene from an 1899 Missale Romanum into an eight piece stencil for the back wall.

And then created a chi rho and fleur de lis pattern stencil (this one wasn't adhesive) because the rest of the wall looked pretty bare all of a sudden.

This is the altar wall. I'm planning to use two of these prop doors (from when our house was in an episode of the TV show Justified) to create a triptych wall featuring some art, but it's not finished yet. 

The paintings are Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes, and Christ with the Reed by Ary Scheffer

My dad did these pews for me. They were under my friend Micaela's parents' porch! He split, repaired, and stained them, and then whitewashed them because I didn't like the stain. Then I stenciled the floor with medallions of all of our family's patron saints.

And layed down some catechism between the pews. The left side of the chapel features the mysteries of the rosary.

The right side has the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. It's my attempt to recreate a little of the beautiful way that medieval churches taught the faithful through tile, paint, and stained glass. 

This stunning standing crucifix was a gift to our family from the very kind people at You can find it here. Both the cross and the corpus are hand carved wood. The detail is breathtaking.

The chapel is not done yet. I want to add more elements to the floor, and finish the altar wall, and there's a closet at the entryway that I still need to decide what to do with. We haven't had it blessed yet (not since the whole house was blessed) or had a Mass said in it. But we are finally able to use it as we've envisioned would be it's usual function, as a place for private prayer and quiet reflection inside a very full and noisy house.

If you've got twelve minutes, you can watch the whole thing unfold in timelapse. According to the app I used, it was about 600 hours of recording time, over about two months.

Hey, speaking of time (how's THAT for a professional segue?) only two more days to grab the the Catholic Mom Bundle this season. It's full of lovely Advent (and other) resources, all created by Catholic Moms for Catholic Moms.*

*You don't have to be a mom to use this bundle.

There are twenty digital items worth $246, offered for only $25, but only through November 16th. 


My contribution to the bundle is an At Home Nativity Play Script booklet. And I'm offering an Advent Wreath Prayers booklet and a Christmas Novena booklet as a free bonus gift for anyone who orders the bundle through my affiliate link (for which I receive a commission). Just forward or screenshot your order confirmation to me at and I'll send you the other two pdfs. Now you're getting 22 resources!

Okay, so, the chapel . . . what do you think? What else do you think it needs in there once I get going on it again?


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Some Advent Resources to Complement the Compendium

First off, thank you guys for liking the book. I mean, I hoped you would. But you just never know. It's been great seeing your social media posts and Amazon reviews (if you've got it will you leave one?) and getting your messages and talking to folks in real life about it. I worked hard on this book and I'm just glad you guys don't hate it, because that would have been really awkward.

The second printing, of ten thousand books (!!), arrived at Ignatius warehouses on Friday, and books backordered from them have already shipped out. The book is in stock and ready to ship from Ignatius immediately, same with Barnes and Noble. It's also available in Barnes and Noble stores (so crazy, right?), and local Catholic bookstores.

I wake up every morning and check to see if Amazon has decided to order some books for their warehouses and make it available for prime two day shipping. So far no dice. I'll let you know if they ever do.

<le sigh>

Anyway . . . My older kids go to a really good Catholic school, which is excellent for all sorts of important reasons, but also because the other moms at the school are ALSO into obscure liturgical living practices. Or they're at least happy to listen while *I* blather on about them.

One of the gals in the office approached me about doing a raffle for the school that would include my book and wall calendar and stuff you'd need to observe the suggested feast days in December. How awesome is THAT idea? So we came up with a list of supplies:

And she's putting together a basket. Now I want to make up baskets like this for all fundraisers everywhere. So cute.

But then I was like, wait a minute, we need the prayers, too! In the book, I talk about three of our favorite family observances: the Advent Wreath, the Christmas Novena, and the At Home Nativity Play. The actual prayers/script we use for the observances aren't in the book, since they're easily available online here, here, and here. And since my editor was reluctant to have the book be 600 pages long. #whatever But . . . I wanted to make sure the prayers were a part of the basket for whoever won.

I had already made a printable booklet version of the Nativity Play script (I'd only been meaning to do it for about six years now), to include in the Catholic Mom Bundle for Advent this year. So I made the other two into printable booklets too.

The Christmas Novena is my favorite liturgical living tradition of all the very, very many we do all year. It's also my favorite of the booklets. It contains all the prayers, responses, scripture readings, and song lyrics you need to do the Christmas Novena without looking anything up on your phone. #adventgoals 

And how about this Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, huh?

All three booklets are illustrated with art from vintage prayer books and an old book of drawings of suggested decorative painting and banners for Catholic churches.

I'm super excited to use them with our family this year, and for some lucky basket winner at our school to use them too! And I thought maybe you guys would like them, so I'm making them available with the bundle.

I'm really pleased to be a part of the Catholic Mom Bundle this season. It's full of  lovely Advent (and other) resources, all created by Catholic Moms for Catholic Moms.*

*You don't have to be a mom to use this bundle.

The collection includes:
Christmas Countdown Activity by Saongjai
Be Yourself Journal Coloring Pages by Prayer Wine Chocolate
Grace Grows in the Trenches: 5 Minute Meditations for the Weary Catholic Mom (Plus Works of Mercy Advent Calendar and Until I Rest in You Mass Journal!) by Not So Formulaic
The Question Jar: Cultivating Connections in Catholic Families by Sweeping Up Joy
Girl Talk: Build Your Relationship by Journaling with Your Daughter by Someday Saints
12 Days of Mercy by Prints of Mercy
Biblical Nature of Essential Oils by Aroma Rosary
Christmas Printables Pack by Trendzilly
Journey Through Advent: A Daily Devotional for the Catholic Military Woman by A Beautiful, Camouflaged, Mess Of A Life
Montessori Games to Play:  Advent Edition by Work And Play, Day By Day
Advent Table Runner and Placemat Patterns by Faith And Fabric
A Month for Your Marriage challenge cards by Surprised By Marriage
A Beauty-Full Advent: 24 Days of Beauty to Prepare for the Incarnation by Jill Simmons
An At Home Nativity Play by Catholic All Year
The Merciful Mama by Gathering Manna: Moment by Moment Spirituality for Moms
Our Lady of Sorrows: A Catholic Novena & Prayer Meditation Journal by Catholic Mommy Blogs
Advent Candle Embroidery Hoop Pattern by Happy Nest Home Goods
Printable Gift Tags by Mary With You

There are twenty digital items worth $246, offered for only $25, but only through November 16th. 


I finished making the Advent Wreath and Novena booklets too late to get them into the actual bundle, so I'm offering them as a free gift for anyone who orders the bundle through my affiliate link (for which I receive a commission). Just forward or screenshot your order confirmation to me at and I'll send you the other two pdfs. Now you're getting 22 resources!

If you're not in the market for a bundle, there are tons of free Advent resources here on the blog.

My first (so ugly😂) version of the Christmas Novena booklet is available free here.

You might enjoy these posts . . .


And my 2019 Liturgical Year Wall Calendars are now available in two designs, you can order them here.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Them's the Rules

So much to update you all on! But that's not what's happening today. TODAY, I'm just popping in with this post that has been in my drafts folder for three years, because I just happened to reference our family rules in today's Blessed is She devotion and awoke to a flurry of emails demanding (politely) to know ALL of our family rules.

So, here they are . . . 

1. When People Give us Good Advice, We Listen.

This is the rule that reminds us that if someone else reminds us of the rules, we should listen to them. It's weird and convoluted, but somehow necessary. 

2. If You're Doing It Really Hard You're Probably Not Doing It Right

This one is a bit counter-intuitive, right? But I really think it's true. In our family, it MOSTLY prevents children from Hulk-baby-ripping handles off of things by pulling them the exact wrong direction, or deciding to crowbar something open with a table knife, rather than, say, turning the lid. I think it applies more philosophically too, though. While there is a time and a place for great effort in the face of continued difficulties (like, say, math homework), in my own life, I've found that the things I was fighting the hardest to do were just not God's plan for my life, and that when I cooperate with God, things go more smoothly.

3. How Could You Make Our Baby Happy?

x1000 per day. I'm all about challenging toddlers and little and big kids. I'm all about NOT being held hostages to their whims, demands, or preferences. But if the baby wants a thing, nine times out of ten, I say let him have it. And I say other kids have to let him have it. The fatal flaw in this rule is that at some point, the old baby will not be replace by a new baby and could end up completely insufferable.

4. Little Kids Do What Big Kids Tell Them

A big part of what makes our big family work is the enforcement of a hierarchy among the kids. We give the big kids authority over the little kids, and when the little kids don't listen, the grownups back the big kids. If you want to be able to shower, or run a quick errand alone, or leave older siblings to babysit for the evening, enforcing a kid hierarchy is key. 

5. Tyranny Will Not Be Tolerated

But of course, fallen natures and all that, the big kids will not always wield their power gently and graciously. This rule allows the little kids recourse if the big kids need reigning in.

6. If You Can't Work and Talk, Don't Talk

I love to see my kids laughing and chatting and hanging out. I just wish it didn't happen almost exclusively when they were supposed to be doing the dishes.

7. Oh-Kay Mama

This one is probably the one that gets repeated most often, as a reminder of the preferred response when I ask/tell a kid something. Okay Mama is NOT their natural response. But the rule helps.

8. If a Toy Causes Unhappiness, it Goes Away

This is part of our policy that people are more important than things. Toys that cause fights, or tears, just Go Away in this house. I'm not going to referee turns. Either they can figure it out for themselves, or I have to get involved. And if I get involved, it goes away. Not for any set amount of time, I'll just put it up on a high shelf, or take it to my closet, and then put it back in the playroom when I think of it.

9. What are YOU doing to help our family?

So, some of them aren't "rules" so much as "things I say all day long." Take this one for example. You're probably going to hear this if you are, say, standing leaning against the counter while other folks are doing the dishes, or laying on the couch staring at the ceiling for no particular reason.

10. No whinin,' no cryin,' no beggin,' for food, and you carry your own coat.

This is the rule that begat ALL the rules. My mother-in-law said this to her kids. And she says it to mine. And I say it to them too, if they ever have coats, which is almost never.

11. Cryin' Babies Go to Bed
You guys already know this one. It has a whole blog post.

12. Whistling is an Outside Activity

This one isn't the end of the world. But, we just find that the comfort of our home and the productivity of its occupants is increased by there not being ANY whistling inside the house. They can go outside and whistle all they please. I think it's okay to insist upon a certain level of volume inside.

13. Don't Rush Off to do a Job I Gave to Someone Else

Kids don't love getting assigned chores, right? Right. But, somehow, they DO love to rush off to do something I asked someone ELSE to do. Why? WHY? I don't know. But having this rule keeps my kids from pushing, tripping, and elbowing past one another in their rush to do someone else's job. They're such weirdos.

14. Sit in a Seat That Someone Isn't Sitting In

Another one that seems like it shouldn't be necessary, yes? But it really, really is. There are enough seats on our couch for everyone to sit and watch a movie. There are enough chairs at our table for everyone to sit and eat dinner. But nothing looks better than a seat momentarily vacated by a sibling going to grab a drink. And maybe you've been bickering with that particular sibling all day, but NOW if you don't get to sit next to him by squeezing into a spot that means you're mostly sitting on top of your sister, you'll JUST DIE. But then . . . so much unhappiness. So we have this rule.

15. Don't Take Your Pants Off Without a Plan

And here it is . . . the rule that launched a couple dozen printables.

I think it's good advice for kids and grownups alike, ya know?

We were getting a lot of: 1. Take pants off. 2. Realize you don't have any pajamas in your drawer. 3. Kinda pull shirt down, come out to the living room where we have company over to alert mom to the pajama situation.

But NOW, we have a rule.

Acceptable plans around here include: "1. Take off pants. 2. Get in bathtub," "1. Take off pants. 2. Put on pajamas (that are RIGHT THERE)," and "1. Take off pants. 2. Use as floatation device." But that last one only works if you happen to be wearing sailor pants.

16. What does God do to complainers? He sends snakes to bite them.

Really, I just love this one. I love it so much I wrote a blog post about it AND a reflection at Blessed is She about it. My kids know this one so well, that now I don't even have to say it. I can just hiss and poke them with two fingers. And THEY KNOW.

17. Is that a tool, or a toy?

I don't know about yours, but my kids are always messing with stuff they ought not be messing with. So we have this rule to help little kids (and big kids who need reminding) learn to distinguish between things that should be played with and things that should just be used for their intended purpose.

So . . . Scissors: okay for cutting paper. Not okay for putting in your mouth to make your cheeks poke out funny. Oven mitt: okay for moving a hot pan. Not okay for having a puppet show. Rubber mulch: okay for walking on, or falling upon from a great height. Not okay for filling your pockets or winging at your sister.

18. Don't look at me when you're talking to him.

This one is just tattling, disguised as not tattling.

We have a family rule that before you come to tell mom or dad, you must take up the issue with the person with whom you are having a problem. Or, if you see someone breaking a family rule, you're to remind him and give him a chance to stop before you involve mom and dad.

But, unfortunately, that rule necessitated this rule, because a lot of the "reminders" ended up being shouted right past the offender, right to me.

19. What do we say when someone helps us? (thank you, not: I WANNA DO IT!)

This one has always been directed mostly at the one to three year old set. But I currently have a seven year old who is terribly offended at assistance of any kind and still needs reminders.

It is a fact of life that toddlers need help for many, many things. But most of them do NOT want that help. My toddlers all want to "do it aself." That's great. I love that. I'm a huge fan of encouraging independence, even in toddlers. But sometimes we just need the hand washing or unbuckling to happen this decade and there will need to be help. So, when the shrieking begins, I remind them of the preferred response.

20. Three times is the limit, for singin' stuff, sayin' stuff, and doin' stuff.

Much like whoever makes The Fast and the Furious movies, my kids believe that if something was good once, it will be good fifteen times. But, I think WE can agree that that just isn't true. Three times is plenty for that novelty song about a duck at a lemonade stand or that knock knock joke.

21. Unless it's dangerous or destructive, you're just tattling.

That's two anti-tattling rules in this list. But, MAN do I hate tattling. So, there ya go.

Basically our rule is that the kids should make every effort to handle things amongst themselves. They are Team Kid and we are Team Grown Up, and they should be trying to take care of each other, and address problems between members of their team without involving us.

However, if it's dangerous or destructive, I want to know about it.

22. No. No screaming.

I can't abide shrieking. I just can. not. So, we don't allow shrieks of anger or frustration or glee. You can BE angry or frustrated or gleeful, you just can't scream about it.

So, if there is screaming, there is one warning, then there is a trip to the corner or the crib, depending on how old you are. It's pretty effective . . . eventually. Even with really stubborn kids.

Images for rules 9-15 are in this post.
Images for rules 16-22 are in this post.

And here are the rules in action!

Quick Book Update

Amazon is being super weird about my book.

laugh evil devil photo LaughEvil.gif 

They have shipped from the printer. I have copies in hand. Ignatius has copies in stock and is shipping them out. I am assured by the folks at Ignatius that more than enough books to cover pre-orders should have arrived at Amazon warehouses. But, Amazon is saying 1-2 months delivery. I have no idea what's going on. I have no control over it. But I really don't think it's true. It's got to just be a glitch, and they'll realize that they have the stock and ship them out this week. That's what I think. Buy I'm not in charge of Amazon. If you want to cancel your Amazon pre-order and purchase the book from Ignatius, I'm sure Ignatius would be grateful, as Amazon pockets 40% of the list price.

And this deserves its own post, but the Fiat Conference was absolutely amazing, despite THUNDERSTORMS in Los Angeles! Thank you so much to our wonderful speakers, and vendors, and my tireless family and fellow organizers, and the amazing soul who generously donated a professional tent to be installed the night before the event. See you all next year!

Finally, the 2019 Liturgical Year Wall Calendars are now available in two designs, you can order them here.

As with all my printables, you are welcome to save the images to your computer for your own personal use. You may print the images and / or upload them and have prints made for your personal use or to give as gifts. (These are sized for 8x10 or square but will print well up to 16x20.) First click on the image to bring it up in a new window, then right click on the image to save it to your computer. You may use my images on your blog, just please link back to my blog. If you would like to sell my images, please contact me first.

 For LOTS MORE free printable prayers, check out my Pinterest board.

And for downloadable images featuring prayers, saint and Bible quotes, catechism snippets, and much more, check out my Etsy shop: Printable Prayers. I also accept custom commissions!