San Francisco

What a weekend! I'm trying to totally ignore the fact that the last half-day of our trip and traveling home was filled with the worst food poisoning in the world and just focus on all of the good parts. Because there were a ton! I feel really grateful that we were able to spend some time on a mini-vacation and as always, Hank and I had the best time together. We missed Henry likes crazy but it was good to have some "us" time, and sometimes shaking up your scenery is just what you need to make home feel even better than it does. And as much as I enjoy time away, there is nothing like coming back to our little town. I could never, ever live in a big city. I'm more than happy to visit, but give me my 35 mph roads and restaurants where the servers know what we order.  I'm a small-town girl all the way.

But like I said above, our big-city visit was fantastic. Our dear friend Alex hosted us and showed us around his city, and pulled out all the stops. We ate wonderful food (minus the food-poisoned vegan tacos at Gracias Madre- yuck!) and I stuck to my no-sugar plan. Hank got fulfill one of his childhood dreams and spent some time with "the man" George Lucas and nerd out at Lucasfilm. We facetimed with Alex's adorable girlfriend, met his lovely friends, tasted some of the most delicious Gouda of my life, and strolled through the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. We attended the Super7 art show on Saturday evening, and I got to do a few things I've always wanted to do while in SF, including visiting the Full House hill and taking photos in front of the Golden Gate bridge. And if you were ever curious about the type of girl I really am, just know that yes, I did YouTube the Full House intro so we could listen to it during our picnic.

It's weekends like these that I am incredibly grateful to be married to my best friend. Hank is without a doubt my most favorite travel partner, co-adventurer, and person to share new experiences with. He also put up with my wretchedly-sick self all the way home on our return flight. So as Andy Cohen would say, "Mazel, Hank!"

Here are some photos from our trip- and thank you again Alex for making our visit so enjoyable. We love you!

San Francisco, January 2012
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San Francisco, January 2012
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San Francisco, January 2012
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San Francisco, January 2012
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San Francisco, January 2012
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San Francisco, January 2012

Taking Liberties | America Magazine


the cover of America, the Catholic magazine
For a century and a half the Catholic Church in the United States has served the American people with health care, education and social services. Even a few months ago it would have seemed preposterous to suggest that the U.S. government would place the future of those good works at risk. That seems to be what has happened, however, with a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to allow only a narrow conscientious exemption to the employer health care insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the administration’s signature health care reform law.
For U.S. Catholics as citizens, the administration’s failure to offer a broader exemption presents a grave test of the “free exercise” of religion protected by the Bill of Rights. For the narrow definition of religion in the new H.H.S. guideline is at odds with the millennia-old Catholic understanding of the church as a community of believers in service to the world. The H.H.S. definition would force the church to function as a sect, restricted to celebrating its own devotions on the margins of society. The ruling is a threat to our living as a church in the Catholic manner.
The controversial guidelines, announced on Jan. 20 by Kathleen Sibelius, secretary of H.H.S., restricts religious exemptions to those persons and institutions the administration defines as religious—namely, those that serve clear religious functions, employing primarily co-religionists and serving a largely denominational clientele. The administration rejected appeals from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association for a broader conscience clause. Religiously sponsored institutions, like all other employers, will be explicitly required to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and two potential abortifacients, services that are in violation of Catholic teaching. The administration has thus pushed the U.S. bishops into a destructive showdown over the future of Catholic health care, social services and higher educational institutions. It is a confrontation both sides should seek to avert.
The exemption devised by H.H.S. places Catholic institutional employers in an untenable position. The guidelines force them to cooperate, though indirectly, in grave wrongs by facilitating acts the church considers sinful. They also place dissenting institutions in the position of withdrawing health insurance benefits from their employees and from students at their colleges and universities. Employees of such institutions will have to seek out inferior and more expensive health plans on the open market, and their employers will face annual fines from the federal government for refusing to comply with the employers’ mandate.
A misunderstanding of the Catholic mission in the United States lies at the heart of this unexpected conflict. The Obama administration’s religious exemption covers only entities that serve patently religious functions, including parishes and parochial schools. But serving the broader community through hospitals, clinics, service agencies and institutions of higher learning is not an extraneous activity for the Catholic Church. It is a civic manifestation of the church’s deep beliefs in human dignity, solidarity with the suffering and forgotten, the importance of learning and commitment to the common good. Even as the church remains true to its moral teaching, it is called to remain open and engaged with the wider society. The administration must be led to understand that defining away the church’s service to the world infringes upon Catholics’ free exercise of religion.
Less, but equally real, is the threat to Catholic ecclesial identity created by exasperated responses from some church leaders, who unwittingly would acquiesce to the sectarian temptation presented by the state, jettisoning the church’s public institutions in the name of conscience, apparently without sober attention to the church’s historic teaching on remotematerial cooperation. By complying with similar state-level regulations, however, the practice of Catholic employers in a number of states without conscience exemptions (a full list is at suggests many have until now held a different reading of that tradition. In any case, the Catholic conscience needs to remain engaged in the public forum out of our faith in the church as a “sacrament” for the world.
Catholics have resisted authoritarian governments that attempted to confine religion to the altar and sacristy. What has distinguished Western democracies from authoritarian regimes has been not just the freedom of individual believers but especially the institutional freedom of the church. While Catholics should be prepared, if necessary, to resist such a policy in our own country, both sides should leave no stone unturned to find a workable solution without unnecessary confrontation. Practically, in an election year, a solution needs to be found as early as possible. Miscalculations from either side could prove devastating.

Hugs and Kisses Gumball Machine

Hi friends! First I just wanted to say thank you SO much to all you sweet girls for making me feel like I'm not alone on the momma guilt wagon last week! Your thoughts and kind words were so encouraging and I realized 2 things:

1. I don't need to be so hard on myself all the time and
2. I shouldn't write blog post while under the influence of heavy medication.
'Nuff said. bout a little PINK to perk you up?! This was the perfect little project for me this weekend to get me out of my *rut*...I mean how can chocolate not heal you?!

Want to whip up one of these for yourself, or a friend or neighbor? Here ya go!

I found this idea through Pinterest, and it's originally from the blog Dandelions and Dust Bunnies, but when I saw it I thought a Valentines version would be so cute!

-4" terracotta pot ($1-Michaels)
-terracotta saucer(.79-Michaels)
-glass bowl ($1-dollar store)
-wooden doll head ball (.25-Michaels)
-1 bag of Hershey hugs and kisses (about $2.50-Walmart)
-Spray paint in color of choice (already had mine, but it's about $3 a can at Home Depot for the Rustoleum brand-my FAVORITE!!)

First I painted the pot, saucer and ball pink. I almost went with red for the "gumball machine" (like I was shakin' it up getting ready to spray my pot and almost had to flip a coin because I couldn't decide), but decided I wanted it to be a little more light and flirty, so I went with Rustoleum's Sweet Pea-eeeek love!

I used some scrapbook stickers I already had in silver and red (purchased from Hobby Lobby) to write out
Hugs & {kisses} on the pot (and make sure to flip the pot upside down!).

Then I just used some E6000 to glue the glass jar to the upside down pot, filled it with some hugs and kisses and tied a pink, grosgrain ribbon bow around the middle.

Then I glued the wooden ball to the underneath side of the saucer and stuck the "lid" on the top of the glass bowl (I guess you could glue the lid to the bowl but I chose not to-I have to be able to access my chocolate! :) )

And that's it! A little something simple and cute to add to your decor, or a cute gift to give to a friend!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, I'm so so SO happy you're here! Talk to you soon!!

Tattoo Tuesday V.107

Name and blog name: John O'Hagan -The Golden Rule Tattoo and PhxJohn on Instagram...Closest thing I have to a blog haha.

editor's note: fun fact- John was actually the person who took me to get my first tattoo almost ten years ago! I have him to thank for "showing me the ropes," and giving great advice that resulted in me taking my time and choosing really wonderful artists. It's pretty neat to feature him here after all of these years!

Age: 29 (ugh, when did that happen?)

Occupation: Historic and Mid Century Modern Home Specialist - Twins And Company Realty: A boutique real estate brokerage.
Co-Owner - Maxwell and O'Hagan Group: We buy historic/MCM houses, and renovate them in a period appropriate style.
Co-Owner - Golden Rule Tattoo: Customer service focused tattoo shop in Downtown Phoenix AZ.

Age of first tattoo: 18

Favorite tattoo: My arms probably. I loved the look of full sleeves when I was a kid. A lot less people were tattooed back then and when I saw someone with full sleeves it was really visually impacting for me. I always wanted that look.

Artist/shop/location of featured tattoo: Severed Geisha head and snake on my left thigh. Chris Lain - Pinnacle Tattoo- Corpus Christi, TX

1) Tell us about your featured tattoo.

I was in a band in the early 2000's and we were on tour and had a date in Corpus Christi. There was a shop next to the venue we were playing so we went over to check it out. Honestly most of the time on tour you are just killing time. I saw Chris' book and was blown away. I had never heard of him before, and I'm pretty into the style of tattooing he does. I chatted with him for a while and he was super nice. I won't get tattooed by pretentious tattoo dorks no matter how good they are. I want the experience to be solid all around. Anyways, I wanted to get something quick by him but he was setting up for an appointment and couldn't squeeze me in.
I kept trying to book another trip out that way to get in with him, but life kept getting in the way. A few years later, while I was at Immaculate Tattoo getting tattooed by Coleman he said there was a guest artist coming through in a couple months whose style I would love, and it was Chris! So we started this piece on my thigh and after a couple more visits finished it up.

2) Do you have any other tattoos? If so, what do you have and where? 

I have full sleeves done by Aaron Coleman. My leg from the knee down was done by Jason K that used to work at Immaculate as well. I've been tattooed by a bunch of different people randomly here and there. Aaron is working on my torso/bodysuit right now, slowly... haha.





3) Do you plan on getting more? 

Yep. I'd like to be fully covered wrist to ankle, I'm on my way I suppose. I'm considering my hands when the timing is appropriate career-wise . But since I'm built stocky, I probably won't tattoo my neck ever.

4) How do your family and friends feel about your tattoo(s)? 

My Mom used to cry when I'd come home with a new tattoo. Now she thinks they are pretty. My Dad was always cool about it. They both just wanted to make sure I didn't get dumb tattoos that would prevent or limit me from future career choices. That was smart of them to consider, and thankfully I listened to them. In my daily career of dealing with buyers and sellers in real estate, it's nice to be able to cover up and not have to deal with reactions to my tattoos.

Have you run into any adversity or negativity because of them?

Sure. I get glared at in public sometimes, or ignored by staff at high end stores. Especially when shopping for high end fixtures for properties I'm flipping for some reason? As if I having tattoos means I don't have the money to buy nice door hardware or shower fixtures haha. But once they realize I know what I'm talking about and that my tattoos are really nice, not jailhouse garbage they relax and treat me well.
In general I try and stay covered up in public just to avoid questions and being hassled when I'm on task.
When I was a bartender it was a constant source of annoyance for me. People trying to talk to me about them, ask me how much I payed for them, telling me they don't like them or calling me "tat guy" to try and get my attention when the bar was busy.

I've been into Yoga for a couple years, and I get a lot of weird looks when I go into a new class or new school. the mat space next to me is always the last one to get filled. I've been called out by instructors in front of the class before too, on some " why would you do that to your body" type stuff. It seems to be one of the most conservative spaces for acceptance of heavily tattooed people that I've run into. Seems strange since of all the open minded hippy bullshit they spew while I'm just trying to get more flexible.

John's pet piggy, Emma! See her tribute tattoo above. :)

Do you have a significant other? Does he/she have tattoos? 

My ex wife was heavily tattooed, but wasn't when we started dating.
I've dated really heavily tattooed girls, and more recently more girls that have either no tattoos or like one small one.
I don't have a preference honestly. I like good tattoos, but bad tattoos are a turn off for me. No tattoos is fine by me. I'm not into the social side of the tattoo industry, I just simply like the aesthetic.

5) What's the most interesting experience you've ever had in regards to your tattoos? 

I mostly remember confrontations. Most of my tattooing experiences have been really pretty typical.
People touching me really doesn't work well for them. Other than that, I am fine with people staring. I don't mind a couple questions but I don't like getting sucked into weird conversations with strangers for any reason, especially not tattoo related.

6) Any advice for those interested in getting tattooed but haven't gotten one yet? 

Do your research. When I was trying to figure out who I wanted to tattoo when I was younger I read an article in a tattoo magazine and it was an interview by Chris Trevino and in it he said " Everyone gets the tattoo they deserve" and that always stuck with me. If you just walk into a random shop and get a bad tattoo, it's your bad. If you do your research and find an artist you like and are comfortable with, then you'll have a great experience. Either way, it's your experience to own and you get to/have to live with the consequences.