Thursday, October 1, 2015

Michaelmas, Frankenstein, and the Closet Challenge!

Happy feast of St. Therese!!! I'll be digging into some chocolate eclairs later, because St. Therese liked 'em, so it's a great way to celebrate! (another way I'm celebrating is by reading her poetry) Today I'm linking up with Blessed is She to talk about wholeness. This story begins a few days prior to Michaelmas. 

Michaelmas is another name used for the Feast of the Archangels, which Catholics celebrate on September 29. Haley Stewart has already done a fantastic job explaining this great feast, so you can read her words of wisdom for more information about it. I love the liturgical year, and I love celebrating feast days in special ways. I don't know if you've noticed, but this week is particularly awesome: On Monday, we celebrated the feast of St. Wenceslaus. Tuesday was the Archangels. Wednesday was St. Jerome. Today is St. Therese (!!!!!). Tomorrow is the Guardian Angels. While it won't be celebrated liturgically on Sunday here, Sunday is St. Francis!!! My patron! So lots of opportunities for celebration and good food (read: LOTS of sugar. Especially in the form of chocolate). 

As I scoured the internet for traditional Michaelmas recipes, I realized that different cultures all have different "traditional" foods. For instance, England is where people would roast geese to celebrate the Archangels. Blackberries are also traditional in some places. Call me lazy, but I didn't want to make a big ol' grocery shopping trip just before the feast, so my "traditional" options were rapidly depleting. 

Then, I saw it: Bannocks are a traditional food for Michaelmas in Scotland. 

Ever since I read the "Martha Years" of Little House on the Prairie, I have wanted to try bannocks. So I can finally try them out and simultaneously celebrate the saints? Yes please! Excitedly-and trying to follow the directions precisely-I made the bannock. The dough is easy enough; you just quickly combine the ingredients. Then, you cook it. There are, apparently, as many ways to cook a bannock as there are recipes, but a common method I found is the stovetop method. I thought that sounded like fun, so I eagerly splooshed out the dough into a pan to cook it. The recipe warned me that bannocks like to break apart while being flipped, so like a good girl, I used a plate to make the flipping process go smoothly. 


For the rest of the cooking time, I was trying to smoosh my poor bannock back into one beautiful piece...
The finished product! Thankfully, it tastes way better than it looks!
Um, yeah...didn't work so well. As I was patching up and pushing together the pieces of the bannock, I felt like Frankenstein, from Mary Shelley's novel. In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein tediously spends hours harvesting pieces from different human beings so that he can patch them together into the Creature. 
“I collected bones from charnel-houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secret of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation; my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion.” (Frankenstein, Chapter 4)
How many times are we like Dr. Frankenstein? We try to piece together our lives-sins included-into one cohesive unit, but it never seems to work out. When we try to animate those  dead parts of our lives-those bad habits, addictions, sins, grudges-we crumble apart. 
We need to give ourselves to God, and let Him heal us, fill us, and make us whole in His love.
We need to embrace the grace that He pours out on us in the Sacraments. 
Not only that, but we can seek fluid wholeness and consistency in our lives. In order to become more wholly consistent in my own life, I need to implement concrete steps in my own life. For instance, one year in Lent, I discontinued reading a less-than-uplifting/not-bad-but-not-wholesome series of books. Why spend hours reading material that promotes things I try to not live out? I wanted to be consistent. I love simplicity, St. Francis of Assisi, and consider myself to be fairly simple. But lately, I've been realizing that I can fall into some bad consumerism when it comes to clothes. Shannon just wrote a fantastic piece on this, which I recommend checking out! So what am I doing to reach for wholeness and consistency? 

Today, at the urging of my friend and fellow parishioner, Kari, I am starting a new challenge, in the spirit of the simple and wonderful St. Therese: The Closet Challenge.  
7 Items of clothing. One Month. You are invited. It will be epic. 
But...don't freak out. Workout clothes, accessories, coats, underwear, shoes, layering tanks for modesty, and pajamas are all "freebies" and don't count. And, like Leah and her friend noted on their respective websites, there is no "Clothing Challenge Police" that will come running after you if you choose, say, 10 items instead of 7. So adjust this to your lifestyle, but challenge yourself!  If you're interested in trying this out-but you're fearful-then read Leah's reflection on that. It's pretty solid. After much deliberation, I finally settled on 7 clothing items. It was hard to decide, because I have a plethora of awesome skirts, but I made my decisions, and here they are: 

1 navy blue dress. This dress is super comfortable, and it can be dressed up or down with accessories. It's very simple, making it extremely versatile! 

1 white v-neck t-shirt. Does this need any explanation? This is a staple in my wardrobe. 

1 white-ish lace-covered shirt. Super comfy (I've worn this consistently for 9ish years, no joke!), and it can dress an outfit up a bit. 

1 black peasant-ish top. I bought this a year ago, and I love it. Very comfy and cute. 

1 purple wraparound skirt. Not only is it cute, but it can easily be dressed up with the lace top and accessories! Oh, and the skirt is reversible, so it can either be two shades of purple or one. Win. 

1 lightweight black skirt. It goes with everything, how could I not include it? 

1 red hippie skirt. I bought this skirt from a legit hippie store in Georgia once (...hippie clothing stores & skirts are amazing!), and I love it! One of my most favorite skirts ever and it's very comfortable. 

So there's the lineup! I'll be blogging and posting pictures about this as the month goes on (#TheClosetChallenge), so you can see what kinds of outfits I whip together! When I chose these items, I made sure that each top could go with each skirt, because that multiplies my outfit options, and I feel like I will gain a whole new appreciation for accessories. This shall be a tremendous adventure, and I am quite excited! 
"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person." ~St. Therese of Lisieux


  1. Michaelmas! I love St. Michael! To the point where this lady/family friend from church has to bring him up every time she sees me because she just associates him with me now, haha. Sounds like you had a good day making Bannocks! My day consisted of realizing that I lost my St. Michael necklace, so that was a bummer. I'm off to read some of the links you posted here and nurse an incoming cold with lots of soup and Disney Infinity! (If you didn't see my post before I changed my blog URL)

    1. Haha, that's hilarious! I think it's funny how there are people who associate us with a particular saint, and ALWAYS bring up said saint in our presence :) Oh no, that is so super sad!! Did you ever find your St. Michael necklace? (ahem, St. Anthony, if you'd be so kind...) Oh man, I will pray & ask St. Luke to help you battle this cold! Haha soup and Disney Infinity will hopefully work wonders :)

      And...although I left you an obsessively long comment on your blog, I love your new blog name and design! It's an adorable design and a very awesome title. :D

  2. I didn't find it :(. And I can't even find the website I bought it from so I can't replace it. Ah well, I don't wear necklaces much anyway. And thank you - I'll need the extra help in fighting off the cold now that we're getting a hurricane in the next few days and so I've been out in the rain quite a bit. I'm sure I'll regret the "I'm only going to get the mail so I don't need a jacket" mentality when I really get sick, haha. And I already said this on the comment on my blog, but thank you again! I didn't know if my new design was a little too cutesy, but whatever, I like it. :)

    1. Oh no! So sad...You're getting a hurricane?!?!?! That's crazy! I hope that flooding isn't bad, and that you live in an area with good drainage (when I moved to Oklahoma this summer, they were in the middle of a random 30-days of heavy rain, and they are NOT set up for drainage. So there was tons of flooded roads haha). With your blog, if you like it, then I think that's great! I wouldn't worry about it being "too cutesy." Plus, I've read so many "professional blogging" articles that all say contradictory things (some say long posts are best, others say short posts are best, etc.). I figure, "It's my blog, I do what I want!" :)