I can’t even remember the last time I went on a road trip by myself… It’s probably been at least 17 years, pre-marriage and children! I’m not someone who really needs “breaks” from my children, I prefer taking at least some of them with me when I have out-of-town plans, but after working all summer (including 15-20 hours per week at the office) I was definitely ready for a break from all things work related. Sean had the weekend off (he hasn’t been sent on any fire assignments yet this summer) so it worked out perfectly. I kept debating whether or not I should go, and I almost cancelled at the last minute, but I’m so very glad I did!

.: St. Stephen’s Catholic Church :. 

After driving over 250 miles, I arrived in Portland right at rush hour… Instead of fighting the traffic, I enjoyed some quiet time with Our Lord, beautiful stained glass windows, and the sound of some talented soul practicing the organ! 🎶 #unlockedchurches #deogratias

.: Kyra’s Bake Shop :. 

I ended up staying with the parents of one of my childhood friends. On the way to their home I stopped at Kyra’s Bake Shop, a 100% gluten free bakery in Lake Oswego. Kyra is the only four-time winner of Cupcake Wars and her gluten-free goodies are amazing!

I was especially excited to find Egg Free Paleo Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum! Even though they were dairy-free, grain-free, egg-free, and refined sugar-free, they were not 100% AIP approved, but close and, well, vacation! 😉

I’ll definitely be making a point to visit again the next time I’m in the Portland area.

.: Jacobsen Salt Co. :. 

I might not be able to go wine tasting, but salt tasting? That I can do! 😉

“Harvested from the cold, pristine waters of Netarts Bay on the Oregon Coast, Jacobsen Salt Co.’s flake and kosher sea salts have gained much critical acclaim for their beautiful and pure taste, texture, and appearance, and are used by chefs and home cooks around the world. We are proud to be the leader in the emerging vanguard of American Saltmakers, as well as first company to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis & Clark.”

In addition to their website and tasting room you can also find Jacobsen Salt over at Amazon.

The tasting room was actually closed when I arrived, as they prepared for an event, but they kindly let me in anyway! It was all soooo good. I had a hard time deciding which flavors to purchase. 

They were completely out of the Flake Finishing Salt (I’ll be ordering some soon!) but I did bring home some Lemon Zest, Garlic, Rosemary, White Truffle, and a Salt Gift Set with Wood Holder Display to give my mom for her birthday next month.  I thought I had bought the Vanilla Bean too, but I guess not. Next time.

I also picked up a jar of Bee Local Willamette Valley Artisan Honey. Yummmmm! 

.: Catholic Women Rejoice :. 

On Saturday I had such a wonderful time at the Catholic Women Rejoice conference… Morning Mass offered by Archbishop Sample, encouraging and inspiring talks by Mary Lenaburg, Jenna Guizar, Rebecca Frech, and Hallie Lord, visiting friends from all over the state (and out-of-state!), and finally meeting so many online friends!

.: Cultured Caveman :. 

After the conference I had made plans to go out to dinner with Hallie and Chris. I did a little research before the trip, looking for a place to eat that would work with mine and Hallie’s diet restrictions, and I discovered Cultured Caveman

A menu that actually lists the foods that can be modified for Autoimmune Protocol?!?  Strawberry Kombuca on tap! It was so nice to be able to look at a restaurant menu again without having to fight the tears. The Autoimmune Protocol is not easy and it’s been frustrating that I haven’t had much success adding foods back in yet. 

I ended up ordering the Zoodles and Meatballs with Olive Basil Pesto, Creamy Turmeric Veggies, a cup of the Creamy Mushroom Soup (special of the day), and the Strawberry Kombuca. It was amazing! We need a Cultured Caveman in my area. Even better than the delicious food though, was getting to spend some extra time visiting with Hallie and Chris. 

.: Missa Cantata at St. Stephen’s :. 

I drove back into Portland for an early morning Latin Mass offered by Fr. Andersen at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church before beginning the drive back home! Portland is so blessed.

.: Mount Angel Abbey :. 

I didn’t plan to visit Mount Angel Abbey on this trip, but God had other plans.

I had been invited to Mass and brunch with our youngest daughter’s godparents, but I had to get back on the road early on Sunday so that I could make it back home in time for a BBQ for my sister’s birthday. She was visiting from Utah and I wanted to see her while she was in town.

When I was about 45 minutes south of Portland I got a text from another sister saying that she hoped I was having fun in Portland and that she wanted to get together with me soon. I told her I was on my way home and that I’d see her at 6:00 at Dad & Mom’s. She responded that the party had been changed to 1:00 and that she was worried that no one had told me.

I was so upset. Why didn’t they let me know?! I had planned the whole day around needing to get up and leave really early so I could get home in time for the party. I could have stayed in Portland longer. I sat on the side of the freeway trying to decide what to do now. I realized that I was only about 15 minutes away from the Abbey, so I decided to stop and visit.

It was a beautiful day. I visited the Abbey Church, walked around, sat on a bench enjoying the peaceful view, and took a few photos. As I was walking back to my car, getting ready to leave, I ran into friends from my area and visited with them for about 15 minutes. I said goodbye, walked down the stairs to the quiet back corner of the parking lot and couldn’t believe my eyes… There was my Archbishop!

He was walking about 20-30 feet away, towards the Abbey. I called over to him and asked if I could speak to him. I just so happened to have a letter addressed to him in my purse! I had hoped to give it to him the day before at the conference in Portland, but I never had the opportunity. He was so kind. He recognized my name and said he had heard great things about my family from a mutual friend/priest who we had recently had over for dinner. I was finally able to share so many of the challenges we have faced over the years, including our current challenges with getting our older boys confirmed. It’s a very long story, and not one that I am going to go into here on the blog, but he listened patiently and lovingly, while I apologized for the tears. At the end of our conversation he thanked me for my perseverance, said that he will take care of this, and that families like mine give him hope for the Chuch. God is so Good!  I’m still in awe over His love, grace, and absolutely perfect timing!

.: Home Again With Love :. 
 {and Cupcakes!} 

It’s so good to be home again. I had purchased treats (Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate with toasted Marshmallow Meringue, Vegan Peanut Butter Cup, and Banana Split Cupcakes!) to bring home with me and thankfully only some of them melted in the car while I was visiting Mount Angel! 😉 


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Father in heaven, grant me the grace to appreciate the dignity which you have conferred on me. Let me realize that not even the Angels have been blessed with such a privilege—to share in your creative miracle and bring new Saints to heaven. Make me a good mother to all my children after the example of Mary, the Mother of your Son. Through the intercession of Jesus and Mary I ask your continued blessings on my family. Let us all be dedicated to your service on earth and attain the eternal happiness of your kingdom in heaven. Amen.

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Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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