Our Lenten prayer basket, tiramisu, The Crown, cake pops, and a surprise in the mail (7 Quick Takes)


Ash Wednesday is next week, so sometime before now and then, we will fill our Lenten prayer basket. We will take 46 strips of paper, write names on each of them, and put them in the basket. A name might be an individual (living or deceased) or a family or a group of people like “Our parish” or “People who don’t have enough to eat.”

Each morning we will pick a piece of paper, and that will be our intention for the day.

It’s so simple, and it’s my favorite thing we do as a family during Lent. I look forward to it every year.


John and I had decided we would go out to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which we did over the weekend—with our boys.

On Valentine’s Day night, John came home with tiramisu and a Napoleon. It was a simple Valentine’s Day and a wonderful one.

I love a quiet family celebration.

And I really love tiramisu.



I grew up in a household without much TV. In fact, at one point my parents unplugged the TV and told us it was broken. The night my oldest sister came home with a homework assignment that involved watching The Agony and the Ecstasy, the TV magically started working again.

So, I just never think of TV as a way to pass the time. We watch plenty of TV in my house, but I’m not the one with the remote. In fact, one day we had an issue with our Fios, and the repairman couldn’t believe I didn’t even know how to turn the TV on to see if it had been fixed.

The other night, though, my husband was working late, the children were in bed, and I finished my writing for the evening. So, I decided to turn on The Crown for the first time. It was good. I may have to take up TV watching after all.


I have a container we have been passing back and forth with a friend and her family, and this week she returned it to us full of cake pops.

If I had known it would become our special container that would go back and forth forever, I might have picked something more exciting than a simple plastic container, but it is large and versatile.

And I like thinking about how many more times we might pass it back and forth.


My godson is in his first year of college about two hours away, and I had promised to come take him to lunch during his first semester. Then my job got really busy, and I just couldn’t get away during the fall to go. I was so disappointed.

But today his mom and I are going to drive up to have lunch with him! I’m excited to see him and see his campus. I think I got dragged along to visit it many years ago when my sister Maureen was looking at schools, but I was a moody middle schooler with no interest in college at the time. It will be so much fun to see him today.


My friend asked me to make prayer cards for people participating in Lenten service projects in our parish, and I decided I didn’t have enough photos from our church. So, after Mass on Sunday, my sons and I walked around the church and took photos.

It’s amazing what you notice when you are looking for pictures. I was really struck by the beauty of some of the windows.

I’m pretty proud of the prayer cards. I may have to share them here.


Last week I received a package in the mail at The Catholic Review. A kind reader who read my “Popsicles Before Dinner” column sent our family a book, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle. The reader’s sister-in-law is one of the children of Frank Epperson, inventor of the popsicle.

It’s a delightful book, and I was so touched that she sent it to our family. Her sister-in-law lives not far away—in Charlestown Senior Living in Catonsville. Imagine what it would be like to meet someone who tasted one of the very first popsicles!

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum, and have a terrific weekend.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.