Friday, March 30, 2007Prayers
Two new babies have been born, Michael Joseph on March 24th, and Liam Seamus on March 25th. Please keep both in your prayers, especially Liam who was born with many complications. He and mother struggled intensely and the baby is now being given a two-week assessment for brain damage or other disabilities. God be with all!
In Luke 18:1, Christ tells us to "pray always and never lose heart." What does it mean for a busy mother to pray always? Well, it's typically understood that with a morning consecration... you are offering up your words, actions, and trials during the day as living prayers to Christ. This is a wonderful practice! And with this, you are praying all day long, just by living your life for the glory of Him.
But can we go deeper? Oftentimes we say or think that we "don't have time for prayer." And I'd wager that oftentimes, it's the devil himself that puts those thoughts in our head... even in the most gentle ways of "Well, I need to get groceries and do the laundry and pay the bills." But, we let time own us; the reality isn't that we don't "have time"... it's that we don't "make time." This is why it's so important to establish a routine of prayer time throughout your day. Say the Angelus at noon, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at three. Set your alarm clock on your watch or cell phone if you need to. Say a simple prayer whenever you hear a clock strike the hour... just a simple reminder to yourself that our entire day should be ordered to sanctification and the glory of Christ.
Some people don't like the idea of scheduled prayer. They think it ruins the spontaniety of communicating with God... that it becomes routinized and thus, mundane. But the reality is just the opposite! While we should communicate with our Divine Lover every time we think of it, we should also establish concrete times of day to make a date with Him. Prayer rhythms throughout the day are very liberating because they become like an old familiar friend... something you can approach with ease and comfort because you expect it and know it well.
I guarantee you that you can find 101 different excuses on why you don't have routine prayer in your life. But He is waiting for you... He is calling you to make Him the central God in your life... not a subordinate god to the errands or lunches or dishes. Of course, as mothers, our vocation doesn't allow for us to spend all day on our knees in prayer... and our domestic obligations are good and holy in themselves.
But go deeper. Make the most of those 4 minutes you spend alone in the utility room, processing laundry loads. Consider waking a bit earlier to start the day off *right* with prayer time. I've found that if my little ones wake up too early with me, I can usually sneak some prayers in while they are watching Mr. Rogers or eating their breakfast. Pray while waiting in the grocery checkout line. At every traffic signal you hit, say a little prayer. Use the spontaneous one-liners often: "Jesus, I am weak and I need You." "Blessed Mother help me to be more like you." "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me and on the whole world." "St. Joseph pray for my family." "I love you Jesus." "Jesus I trust in You." Simple powerful prayers sanctify our day.
Thursday, March 29, 2007Flower Gardening
"Flower gardeners spend their time growing beauty, which the Lord can then use to heal people and bring them closer to Him. Each flower is a love poem of God to us! Each reflects a small part of God's beauty. Look at each one and you will lose yourself in the infinite perfection of that one flower-- it's colors, it's forms, the shape of the petals." ~Catherine Doherty, from The People of the Towel and the Water.
This is how I feel about my son and my coming child. I am cultivating the life of beautiful little human beings. As a mother, I am flower gardening for God! I am growing flowers and hoping that each one will turn their faces to the sun and soak up all the sunshine that is there for their growth. My children's sunshine is the love of God and the love of their parents; it is the food I feed them; it is my own milk; more sunshine will be the graces they will receive from the Sacraments of the Church. Their fertile soil is the solid home my husband and I work hard to provide, preserve and cultivate. It is the love in the home which we surround them with.
Let us, as mothers, consider ourselves flower gardeners!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007Question of the Week: the non-marrieds
Tuesday, March 27, 2007Working Inside the Home
There seems to be a big deal made about little jobs women can get "working from the home." A lot of mothers I know love the flexibility offered with jobs as a consultant for one of the many Avon to Pampered Chef type companies or doing medical transcription work, freelance writing or other such job. I myself, get a small salary as a teaching assistant for Mother of Divine Grace where I spend some time on the phone with students, editing papers and grading work submitted to me.
But I think there is a disturbing trend for some women to make this type of employment a substitute for working OUTSIDE the home frequently. As if the idea of a part-time job is so disdainful for us mothers who pride ourselves on being stay at home mothers. But the time I spend on the phone and grading papers is time away from my family; I'm not mentally present for them at that time. If we needed a financial boost, I would not consider taking on more students over working outside the house. In a way, it's a delicate trade-off. When I'm home, I want to be IN it; I want to be engaged and present for the needs of the family. That's why I try to do my schoolwork and computer work in the early morning when the kids are asleep and husband is at work. Sometimes, I find an opportune moment to do these things at other times during the day, but it almost never happens during the time my husband is home in the evenings. It wouldn't be fair to him.
If for some reason, I needed more work, I would consider doing it outside the home rather than IN the home. Simply because I think it would be more rational to put in a few hours on the evenings or weekends for a business than to take that many hours away from my family. It's kind of a mixed signal you are sending your children. "I'm here. I'm being a good, responsible mother by being a 'stay-at-home' mom... but don't bug me right now because I have to put these Mary Kay orders in. Or I have a deadline to meet with this editor." It's rough! That's why women who work in the home face a set of challenges separate from women who work outside the home... and one isn't necessarily the more 'moral' choice than the other.
Of course, it can be done with grace and generousity and flexibility. I mean, I technically work, and so do many of my friends. But it's not easy! And I've battled with it from time to time because it CAN detract from the family, if not properly organized. (I've struggled this same beast before when I finished my BA degree online: it almost would have been better to be physically IN the classes!) So don't be fooled into thinking that this is the cure to all your financial woes. In or out of the home, a woman must always be able to put her primary vocation first... that is the one with the biggest payoff anyway!
-Ellie, Oak Harbor
Monday, March 26, 2007Quick Tip
I've learned so much from my kids; their imaginations delight me almost every day. All kids do imaginative things and it's so much fun to learn THEIR ideas and talk about them. I think it helps parents set up living environments in their homes that is conducive to imaginative play learning. This is why I love having basic toys, with endless possiblities around the home (blocks, dress up clothes or fabrics, legos, etc.)
Anyway, our kids are improvisers when they don't have every bell and whistle on their toys playing FOR them. My husband just replaced our chintzy back door in the garage with a steel door. The old, hollow wooden door was leaning outside against the house. The kids had smashed the glass window out, so we took the whole glass pane out so it was like an open window. The window on this door had soft, white curtains on the inside. So the other day my husband came grinning into the house. They had taken all their soccer balls or basketballs and lined them up in front of the door like an audience. Then the boys were behind the door with their puppets putting on a show! They'd created their own free version of those hundred dollar puppet theatres you can buy. So my husband is going to chop the door shorter and paint it and put supporting stands on it and there you have it!
Bottom line, have an interesting house! Have an interesting variety of materials and objects for the kids to discover. We recently bought a bunch of PVC pipes and joints and the boys are having a blast making all kinds of shapes and figures with those things. Good play material doesn't need to be expensive!
Labels: useful ideas
Do you buy organic produce? For most of us, the deterrent is price difference, but I came upon this list of the most important foods to buy organic, because they are the most heavily sprayed with pesticides... thought I would share.
Suggested 12 foods to buy ORGANIC:
- Grapes, imported
- Bell peppers
I think if you can't go organic on everything- it's good to know which to try for.
Friday, March 23, 2007Friday Coffeehouse: Donna Marie Cooper-O'Boyle
One author Catholic moms might (or should) know about is Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle who has two books out and another being released next month. As a Lay Missionary of Charity and award winning writer, Donna Marie knew Blessed Mother Teresa and received her encouragement and blessings on her work:
The Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers is a small, sturdy bestseller that is ideal for tucking into your purse or diaper bag. It's composed of both traditional and original prayers. The thing I like about this book is that it's design allows for it to be an understated and effective tool for evangelization... not a self-righteous fishing line for the admiration of others. There's something lovely about the idea of just pulling a prayer book out in the doctor's waiting room rather than reaching for People magazine. This book would be great to tuck into a baby shower gift as well.
The Heart of Motherhood is her second release and don't be fooled by it's soft, pretty cover; this book at times packs a powerful punch! One of my favorite lines in the book is so quirky that one might easily miss out on the depth of the statement. I wonder if the author meant for it to sound as simple as planning for a weekend sightseeing itinerary. She's referring to the need for a mother's consistent love and presence in a child's life: "This presence is crucial, so do try to plan your life accordingly." Throughout the book, which reads like a long but notable and worthy sermon, there are parts which seem kind of basic to the conscientious readers of this blog-- such as the need for physical affection for example. But this only serves to widen the base of appeal for this book. It would be perfect in the hands of those like us, who need the encouragement like our Blessed Mother who "helps us to run from the temptation of mediocrity and compromises," as well as those new moms or mothers who've not been exposed to the positive message about the great dignity of our vocation. Donna Marie discusses the world's very real need for model families. How true is that! Our society desperately needs the example of courageous women who show that they find JOY in their vocation... even the nitty gritty of it. And the example of women who don't just tolerate kids as part of their life but who truly delight in their blessings from God.
Lastly, I can't wait to see her newest book "Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be." There are a hundred and one "What to expect when you're expecting" type books out there; how refreshing to see one focused on the spiritual aspect of pregnancy! Instead of dwelling on the aches and cravings of your body, women can focus on using this special time as a living prayer to unite themselves to Christ. While I can't comment yet on this book's content, I suspect that is the exact direction it plans on taking its readers.
All of Donna Marie's books can be purchased from any major bookseller or directly from her website where they'll come to you signed!
Labels: Books Music Culture
Thursday, March 22, 2007CRS Fair Trade
As far as our finances allow, we have a responsibility to do our best to support companies that have pro-life values and excellent work ethic regarding fair trade prices and fair labor policies.
There is no better source for such shopping than Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade. "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports Fair Trade programs through which disadvantaged artisans, farmers and farmworkers receive fair compensation for the goods they produce."
Many of their prices are reasonable and some of the handicrafts are absolutely beautiful. Consider getting your Easter goodies here...
Labels: useful ideas
Most of us, as mothers, homemakers and wives, do not lead glorious, in-the-spotlight lives. We lead very hidden, humble lives. Our days are filled with very humble everyday tasks such as dishes, laundry, sweeping, cooking. It can be terribly monotonous at times, too. I've thought aloud about that in other posts, such as the laundry one. Our life is full of these hidden, silent tasks that are unnoticed by the world. Others do "big" things: they are doctors... lawyers... missionaries in other countries... or they work in soup kitchens and actually make a difference that can be seen. But ladies, the work we do, although hidden, humble, and seemingly unimportant, seemingly uneffective on the world around us, is incredibly worthwile, incredibly effective, incredibly important!! The main example we have of this fact is the life our Lady lived. She was a homemaker, a wife, a mother. She was the mother of Our Lord Himself! But did the world see her? Did the world know what a glorious thing she was doing? No, probably not. We are living the life our Lady did. We are living the quiet, hidden life of Nazareth! What greater honor could we have? Remember, next time you are sweeping the floor, for the upteenth time in the day, or changing another diaper, or doing whatever grueling task you have, that you are doing just what our Lady did. Put your heart into it. Pray that through sweeping the house and nursing the baby you will grow closer to God and to Heaven. Pray that you will find utmost joy in all these tasks. Our work is beautiful, awesome, worthy and -more than the world knows!- important! It may be hidden and go unnoticed... even by your closest relatives and ffriends. But hey, what better opportunity for growth in humility?
Wednesday, March 21, 2007Question of the Week:The government of God
As Christians we have comfort in how the Bible tells us that God will always provide. He know our needs. People often cite finances as one reason for postponing a pregnancy, either temporarily or permanently. Now what human "needs" are is a controversial topic in itself. But I want to focus on the topic of government intervention via programs such as welfare, food stamps, and WIC. Obviously there are abuses to state programs but that's not the exact direction of this post either.
Sia talked about eating real peanut butter on Monday. I posted about this a while ago on my personal blog but the joy is so great I had to share it here: Make your own peanut butter!
Simply put peanuts into a food processor or blender and process until it's the consistency you like! It's that simple! My kids get thrilled whenever I make a batch of peanut butter now... watching how something is made gives a certain joy to little ones.
- This keeps for 3 weeks in your refrigerator.
- If you can't bear the "natural" taste just yet, add a bit of honey before blending.
- Roasted peanuts are drier than regular peanuts and may need a tablespoon or two of oil to smooth it up. Some add oil anyway just for extra smooth peanut butter.
- Spanish peanuts are the oiliest and won't need any addition!
- I buy a huge party-size tin of regular salted peanuts to use. But they are almost TOO salty so I spread the amount out that I'll be using on a paper towel to shake off some salt before processing.
- You can make almond, cashew or any other nut butter this way too!
Labels: useful ideas
Tuesday, March 20, 2007Childhood friendships
I was talking with a friend of mine at the park the other day about the good old "do you plan to homeschool" question and she mentioned something to me I keep thinking about in regards to my own children. In a recent comment, one of our readers made the point about catholic school being a great arena for her to learn about friendship. I quite agree but as my friend Brooke and I were talking about the great question she said "You know there was a time in most of our lives when our friends were the most important things in the world." I nodded-- I remember spending hours "breathing on the phone to my friends" as my mom put it, and I am sure most of us did at that junior high/ highschool age, being inordinately attatched to our cliques or sports teams or boyfriends or whatnot... but Brooke went on to say that when all that is over, the people who are really there for you at all the important times in your life-= wedding, first baby, hospitalizations, sickness, etc., are your family. Those people who we thought understood us for ever, "BFF", many of them have drifted out of our lives and are lucky to get a Christmas card. Schooling at home definitely encourages the deepest friendships of family memebers to be well, family members- those who will be with us on our journey for life (God willing).
Hope writes from Fillmore CA
Monday, March 19, 2007St. Joseph
I think, despite being one of the most popular saints, St. Joseph and his intercession, still don't receive their deserved recognition. A lot of people just think of him as a good guy, a good father and companion to Mary. But think about the divine implications of all this! St. Joseph was deliberately chosen to help raise the Divine Child Jesus and be the husband to the Queen of Heaven. Aside from our Blessed Mother, he had the most important job in the entire history of salvation! His patronage includes MANY things, places and causes... most relevant to this site being families, fathers, married people and pregnant women.
This feast day is pretty big in Italy and an abundance of traditional Italian and Sicilian foods are usually enjoyed on this day. Visit this awesome website for recipes, coloring pages, and symbolism for today. What we'll be doing here, is pretty simple: coloring pictures, reading our Fr. Lovasik book, and talking about how to mimic St. Joseph while my kids carry around their dolls. I'll also be asking for his intercession while my husband undergoes some important medical testing today.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Graciously accept our family which we dedicate and consecrate to You. Be pleased to protect, guard, and keep it in sincere faith, in peace, and in the harmony of Christian charity. By conforming ourselves to the Divine model of Your Family, may we all attain to eternal happiness.
Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, by your merciful intercession make this our humble offering acceptable to Jesus, and obtain for us graces and blessings.
Saint Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by your prayers in all our spiritual and temporal needs so that we may praise Jesus, our Divine Savior, together with Mary and you for all eternity.
I have some thoughts on health in general today.
First of all, I think that a healthy diet is essential not just for our physical well-being but also for our mental and spiritual well-being. Eating good, wholesome food helps me to feel better overall, assisting me in my mood and everyday presence and state of mind. I don't know about some of you, but I feel that I get more done around the house and tend to be a better, more attentive mama when I have groomed myself first, so to speak. (IE, when I have brushed my hair, gotten dressed, scrubbed my face and mouth and have made a reasonable effort to make myself look lovely and well-put-together.) My diet is the same way. When I eat healthy foods, I feel better, and therefore usually do better.
A healthy diet is, in my mind, also an issue of responsibility. It is our responsibility as mothers, primarily. Our vocation is a very physical one; we nurse babies, grow them in our wombs and give birth to them. What we eat directly effects our children as well as our ability to be good mothers. It is also, in my mind, our responsibility to be healthy not just as mothers, but as Christians! We've been given these beautiful bodies by God, our Creator. It is up to us to maintain them, nourish them, to have reverence towards them.
A healthy America: Unfortunately we live in a very obese country. Go against the grain! Raise healthy, strong children! A healthy body is not just effected by the consuming of foods but by the lifestyle we lead. Walk to places you can walk to. Stay active. Stay away from the TV. (I read somewhere a while back that watching TV actually decreases your brain cell production. Don't have any way of backing this up!) Weight control is not just a matter of keeping our bodies active but of keeping our minds active. Don't let your mind go squash! Cultivate it.. read a book, don't turn on the TV. If you can't stay still to read, then turn on your favorite edifying talk show... or a story-CD... educate the mind. Go into the burger restaurant instead of through the drive-thru... the list could go on! There are several lifestyle choices we can make day-to-day for our own health and for the health of our children.
Let me clarify what I mean by "healthy". Obviously to eat all-natural, organic foods would be the ideal. However, financially this is not an option for most of us at this point. The first step is simply eating whole foods: Real foods. Good, real, solid foods! What I think is irresponsible is to consistently eat junk food, fast food, TV dinners, etc. If you have the money to spend, treat yourself to shopping for the family at delightful stores such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and.. my favorite (because it's affordable and different)- Trader Joe's. If you are more strapped financially and are shopping at the cheapest place in town, just put the focus on real, simple foods in bulk.
Saturday, March 17, 2007St. Patrick's Day
Today is celebrated Ireland's greatest saint. Legends true and tall are endless about this man. But we do know that he is responsible for the conversion of Ireland and the propagation of Catholic education in all of Europe. Great prayers, including his famous breastplate invocation can be found on Domestic-Church. Today consider making authentic Irish Soda Bread. This recipe is from Jesuit Brother Rick Curry who says he couldn't get the recipe from his Irish brothers because they said "It's like boiling water, you don't need a recipe." He had to wait until returning to the States before getting it.
Irish Soda Bread
5 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter
2 1/2 cups light and dark raisins, soaked for 15-20 minutes and drained.
3 TBS. caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter two 9 x 5 inch bread pans. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, soda, and powder. Cut in butter and mix thoroughly with hands until grainy. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Add buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture. Stir until well moistened. Shape dough into two loaves and place in pans. Bake for 1 hour. Test with toothpick for doneness. Cool in pans for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.
*You can make your own buttermilk substitute by adding a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of regular milk. OR you can use sour cream but this may alter the texture a bit.
Friday, March 16, 2007Let's not forget them
This isn't entirely my style of music but the message is painfully right on. Sad fact: for every black baby born, three are killed.
Lately my son and I have been having lots of honey and cinnamon in our oatmeal and on our toast as a lenten alternative to jams, syrups and sugars. It comes to mind that these two foods are particularly very healthy. Little did I know, though, that they were also cures! Here are some of the claims to health honey and cinnamon may have. Not all of these are verified, but there is certainly no harm in trying!
Labels: useful ideas
Thursday, March 15, 2007"Celebrate Diversity"
...reads a popular left-wing bumper sticker. I like this sticker for certain reasons. I like it even more when I apply it towards the Catholic world. I kind of want a sticker that reads, "Celebrate Catholic Diversity"... hmm.
The Universal Church has so much diversity, not just in race and culture but in callings, in work, in roles we play in society! I think that it is especially important to remember that within the world of families there is also, and should be, diversity! It sounds simple and obvious, but too often I see families aspiring to be too much like eachother. I've seen this within my own heart and mind at times, too... when I say to myself, well, so-and-so doesn't do this. Or, well, this family would do this. Why don't we? I have since, in the realization (wow!!) that it was not fruitful or edifying to think in this way, altered my mindset and converted it to: What is OUR FAMILY called to be? What are WE called to do?
Each family has it's own charisma. Each family is called to be different in it's own way! What if we all tried to be like each other and there was no diversity? The Catholic world would be a boring, bland place... it would be a production farm of only one kind of produce, not a beautiful field of wildflowers, each flower blooming in it's own way.
I would venture to say that although learning from one an other's examples and looking up to each others' families, it is indeed dangerous to the individual growth of our families to think too much along the lines of, "I want to be like them", in a sense. Perhaps one family is called to pray 3 times a day together... while it may not be another family's calling. It may be one one family's calling to live on a farm and to home school, but another family's calling to live in the middle of the city and go to soccer practice and gymnastics. How boring the world would be, if all the Catholic families lived on farms. How boring it would be if all the Catholic families lived in a suburb and went to Catholic schools. Not only would it be boring, but it just wouldn't make sense! It makes more sense to me that our Lord would want us in the marketplace, in the garden, in the country club, in the poor neighborhood, in the rich neighborhood... in the schools, in the local baseball team. How else can we witness to our faith and be the salt of the earth?
There isn't a right way of living, of raising children, of family culture. But there is One right way, and that is the way our Lord has intended for each family alone. It is the individual, little way of each family in itself. It wouldn't be very productive if we were to always be wishing we were "that other family". We need to direct our minds and hearts to our own little families and let our Lord fashion them in His image, handing our homes, our little Nazareths, over to Him. We need to let our families become what He intends them to become.
Celebrate Catholic Diversity!! ;)
~Sia, Vancouver, WA
Wednesday, March 14, 2007another little one!
Congratulations are also due to Marie K. who welcomed new (10 pound!) baby Sarah Catherine into their family today, March 14! (She shares the day with my dear husband ;o) )
This is Eli Beautel, born after a 10 hour labor on March 9th. Sia had a succesful home birth and is doing well with her family. I'm pray she is resting well and will take her sweet time in getting back into the groove of things online here. Thoughtfully, she left a stock of draft posts for me to put up in the interim period. I actually haven't even talked to her yet; we've been out of phone and internet service all week until today. Thank you to my deary Steph for keeping the blog posts up and running. (I'm removing Sia from the expectant mother list... anyone know about Mary F. due in Feb? I'm taking her off too since she'd be painfully overdue by now...)
Labels: in the news
Tuesday, March 13, 2007Corporal Works of Mercy
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the imprisoned
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Bury the dead
St. Robert Bellarmine was often accused of being generous to a fault. His friends would tell him to stop giving money to some of the beggars because they were deceiving him and taking advantage of his generosity (sounds like the skepticism many of us have with the panhandlers on the streets). But he always maintained that if among 100 deceptors, he was able to sincerely aid one man (or one disguised angel?), it was all worth it. Take a family outing to volunteer at the soup kitchen. If you have several stylish jackets, keep one or two for the different seasons and part with the rest to a St. Vincent's or other such organization. Check your local jail and see if they have a visiting prayer ministry you can join. At least be praying for those who are incarcerated. Volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build. This would be a wonderful thing to do with older children. And if it's not feasible, offer to bring food or refreshments for the volunteers that ARE working. Here is a link to some of the homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the United States.
Monday, March 12, 2007Making Do on Monday: A note on organization
In a post a while back, I shared with you some thoughts on "combining practical with beautiful" in our homes. I think that there some mothers out there who really have a high tolerance for messes and cluttered family homes, for chaos and such. However, there are some of us out there who would go crazy with too much clutter and would be bad mothers because of it. I, for sure, fall into the latter category. Unfortunately, it is a cross at times to be so picky about what I have to look at. There are many ways of which I mentioned one can put touches of beauty into our daily lives. See this post to read more on that.
The reason I am reminded of this today is because on Regina's blog she speaks of her use of baskets in her home. Regina has taken some lovely photos of her basket organization which are worth peeking at. Organization of a home/workspace can become an art in itself. I think that baskets are a perfect example of how to keep a home organized as well as cozy and lovely. When I organize my pantry shelves or my medicine cabinets, I find myself putting all ugly miscellaneous bits into baskets, large and small.
Another wonderful type of container for organizing in the bathroom and kitchen is the jar. Jars can be big or small, fancy or plain. When we lived in an apartment, we didn't have any cupboard space for our pantry items. We had a large open set of wooden shelves... a perfect place for the items such as rice, beans, lentils, oats, cornmeal, bulk herbs and such. So I filled up these shelves with our more beautiful dishes and lots of filled jars. Another place where jars come in handy is in the bathroom. Anything that didn't have a sturdy container to live in, ie a plastic bag full of cotton balls or a box of bandaids (which always end up getting bumped and beat-up), I transferred to a jar or one of my own peices of pottery.
Jars and baskets can both be found in abundance at the goodwill or local city rescue missions. Also keep in mind that often those pasta sauces and jam you buy off he shelves in the store are fantastic jars and look great after a soaking and scrubbing. Last year my mother gave me two larger sized jars (harder to find!) from the Dollar General or Dollar Store.
Also, for knick-knack storage, such as little things like thumb-tacks, glue sticks and other office/crafty supplies (which are in abundance in our home!!) we like to put them into any type of fun container that is a pleasure to look at. -Old cigar boxes, old wooden boxes of any kind, wooden tea boxes, my pottery and such. These can give a sort of funky, colorful touch to the shelves or storage area.
Then there are those fabulous huge popcorn tins for the larger toy clutter which Regina mentioned in both the posts I've linked to. There are a few other mothers-- including my own, who put these excellent storage tins into use. Regina writes, "...But the best baby-proof container I've found are large round tins that holiday popcorn often comes in. I have a row of these in my kitchen storing lots of odd things I don't want my kids getting into. Babies and most toddlers can't open these without resorting to (loud) violent striking with blunt instruments or throwing them downstairs..."
-Sia, Vancouver, WA
Labels: useful ideas
Sunday, March 11, 2007New Baby
Sia has given birth to her new baby boy Eli; I'm sorry I can't give all the details right now. We are out of internet and phone until Wednesday so things may be lagging here as I try to get someone to put our posts up. Details to come! Prayers for the mom and baby!
Friday, March 09, 2007Holy See speak to UN General Assembly
Labels: in the news
A family back in Ohio makes these scones every Lent... they passed the recipe on to a few other families, including my own. And now it's being passed onto all you readers. Thank you, Doughertys!
I Don't know about most of you, but every day, be it first thing in the morning or later in the day, I need a good cup of black tea or coffee and something substantial to go with it. During lent, it's nice to have handy something healthy and a bit plainer to nibble on with your tea/coffee instead of a cookie. These scones are really delicious if you add the reccomended amount of sugar and top with a brushing of milk and a sprinkling of brown sugar before baking. (Though for some people, perhaps they're not sweet enough!) For my husband and I, I have decided to add a Tbs. less of the below amount of sugar, and to use part whole wheat flour instead of all white flour. This makes them a little more "lenten" for us!
Combine: 3 Tbs. sugar; 1 1/4 cup flour; 1 tsp. bkng pwdr; 1/2 tsp. soda; dash of salt.
Stir in: 1 cup oats; 1/3 cup raisins or currants.
Cut in: 4 Tbs butter. Work in with a fork: 1/3 cup buttermilk. (NOTE: Don't add more buttermilk... the scones will be too tough!)
...Press into little ball-shaped scones or press onto counter into 1" thick patties, then cut into fashionable, fun triangles.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes... no more.
~Sia, Vancouver, WA
Thursday, March 08, 2007St. John of God
Lately I have been thinking about my husband- trying desperately not to take him for granted. He is very good to me, to our children, etc and he works so hard and loves us so much. I want to be a good wife. Sometimes I focus on trying to look good for him, dress up a little more, actually brush my hair and put on some mascara before he walks in the door; sometimes I try to impress him with a new dinner- or a clean house- or the latest quip I heard on the radio that day- or an interesting piece of world or church news. But it has occurred to me that while these things are all good- what exactly is at the heart of what a man wants in his wife- and we all know because it's what we want too- is a best friend. And what is a best friend? It's the person you laugh the hardest with. It's a person you can't wait to talk to. It is the person who is most interested in what happened to you today. Sometimes I think I ask all the questions to my family and friends but I don't pry enough about what is interesting to my husband and why. Although men have all sorts of needs that I don't have to mention- they are human like us and deeply desire to share, to be understood, to love and be loved. What's the planet between Venus and Mars? Earth.
-Hope finally at the computer
Wednesday, March 07, 2007Question of the Week: knock, knock.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007The purity of a child's prayer
Adults are so quick to want children to grow up. We forget that they are not just adults in training, but real living people with unique charisms all to themselves. They are capable of their own special relationship with God that we'd do best not to interefere with too much. Reading an old Montessori essay on this really put that thought in perspective for me. Moms like me get a big kick out of sharing funny little stories about their children's spirituality. Junior plays "Holy Communion" with brother, or starts baptizing the kids at the play group, or asks loudly during Mass where Jesus' clothes are on the Cross. These things are all "cute" to us. We laugh when they put a bowl of cereal in front of the statue because it looks hungry or when they sing church songs and do their own processions in the home. It's all so darling isn't it?!
Monday, March 05, 2007Knowing God
Well, there are endless recipes floating in cyberspace right about now as Catholic mamas everywhere pool their meatless meal ideas together to make it through the Fridays of Lent. I'd encourage you to poke in over at www.allrecipes.com also. This is my favorite online resource for food ideas and their vegetarian options are sure to lend you many ideas (we made a creamed corn chowder last week that was superb!). In our house, on meatless days, we eat a lot of quesadillas with beans, salsa, and sour cream. Or grilled cheese with tomato soup or fried peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. And whenever I boil potatoes for a supper, I like to have extras that I keep in the fridge and use for easy breakfasts when chopped up and fried with some garlic, salt and pepper. Speaking of breakfast... that happens often around here on Friday nights: pancakes or french toast, with eggs. Or you can use the above potatoes, fried, and mix in some eggs, green peppers, cheese (mmm, pepper jack!), onion or zuchinni etc., and scramble it all together for a pretty hearty meal. I can do a meatless spaghetti or macaroni or twice baked potatoes and tuna casseroles, but that's about as far as I go. So for some general tips on cooking without meat, I'll turn you over to Sia, who is extraordinarily adept in this department (her black bean and rice burritos saved me when she cared for me while I was postpartum.).
You can make nearly any soup you like with a base of sauteed onions&garlic in olive oil. The liquid component for your soup can be cream/milk, stock/broth, or tomato juice with water. An excellent healthy addition to any brothy soup is to add sliced kale or spinach at the last minute before serving. This way the greens are fresh, colorful and yummy instead of cooked until flavorless and brown. Add to the above any pureed vegetable and you have a fine, tasty, thicker, creamier type of soup. Touch up as needed with appropriate seasoning. Pureed carrots go well with nutmeg, salt &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; pepper and cream; pureed peppers go well with s & p, oregano and bay leaves... but with broth instead of cream...every vegetable has it's complimentary seasoning. The protein aspect of your soup can be lentils, beans, miso, etc.
Some soups in this household...
Lentil soup: use above base. Add lentils and water; cook lentils until tender; add water or stock and a can of crushed or diced tomatoes; reheat to simmer and add a couple bay leaves, s&p. Thin by adding more water or stock; thicken by cooking longer with lid off.
The basic-pureed-creamy-soup: Make above base. Steam any vegetable(s) and puree with some warm broth. Add pureed vegetable(s) to the base and thin with a combo of cream/milk and water. Season as neccesary. Our favorite is cream-of-carrot seasoned with a dash of nutmeg, s&p and just the right amount of added broth to the cream/carrot puree.
Rice and Beans:
Rice and beans are one of the healthiest combinations and delicious base for a meal. Rice and beans (cooked, of course) can be served with corn or flour tortillas or alone with a salad. What makes this delicious is a simple addition of salsa, sour cream, cheese and such, or just salt and pepper and a side salad.
It is winter, but salads are still an option. Add a can of cooked garbonzo beans or tuna or whatever and you have a simple, complete meal.. and very low-fat!
Peanut Butter Sauce (for rice or pasta) ...excellent with a side of stir-fried veggies, especially peppers. I like to cook up some white basmati, stir-fry some vegggies, then toss all in a bowl with this sauce and serve --with chopsticks.:)
Puree: 1-2 tsp. crushed ginger; 1 clove crushed garlic; 1/2 cup-2/3 cup peanut butter; few Tbs. chili powder; 1/8-1/4 cup sesame oil; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/8 cup orange juice; water to thin if neccesary.
Tofu: Oh, so plain but can made oh, so yummy!
Tofu can be simply stir fried in olive oil and soy sauce, or can be baked. My new favorite form of tofu: Slice into thin little squares (1/8 inch thick, in 2x2 squares) and lay into bottom of a glass casserolle dish. Cover with terriyaki sauce and bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Take out of pan and gently lay onto paper towels to soak up grease/excess liquid. When cool, put into container or ziplock bag and refrigerate. This makes a delicious quick-protein snack.
Friday, March 02, 2007Friday Coffeehouse: Forgo the cream and sugar
eliminate condiments...such as salsa on the burrito, syrup on the pancakes, cheese on the chili, jam on toast...you get the idea. The hardest is no salt and pepper!! ;)
simplify the flavor... take the yummy taste out of the food, ie not as much spice/herb seasoning...
switch to honey: replace the syrup on pancakes and sugar on cereal/oatmeal to honey! This isn't as sweet, and keeps it eat-able.
no salty or sugary snacks: instead of putting out the chips and salsa, put out the plain vegggies, nuts, raisins, seeds.
no added sweeteners in the everyday essentials: plain toast, or olive oil insead of butter; plain tea and coffee, with no added sweeteners or creamers.
plain old water: try to drink more water, less yummy juices.
whole wheat bread: many people prefer white to whole wheat, thus this is a good sacrifice to make.
Happy lent to you mamas.
Thursday, March 01, 2007We are all called to be saints.
Someone was recently very generous and gave me "The Gift of Faith" by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, which is taking me on an extraordinary spiritual journey, so far. I wanted to share something that really resonated with me from this book. How can we be joyful about the sorrows and trials in our lives? By seeing them as gifts. It's that simple, and that difficult. Sainthood isn't a thing of legends and lofty people of the past. We are all called to be saints, to live simple lives of holiness.
For lips, which I was feeding too much, for the dirty noses of the children, for the guarded sheep, I thank you!
Thank you my God, for the prosecutor and the police commissioner, for the policemen, and for the harsh words of Fr. Peyramale!
For the days in which you came, Mary; for the ones in which you did not come, I will never be able to thank you... only in Paradise. For the slap in the face, for the ridicule, the insults, and for those who suspected me for wanting to gain something from it, thank you, my Lady.
For my spelling, which I never learned, for the memory which I never had, for my ignorance and for my stupidity, thank you.
For the fact that my mother died so far away, for the pain I felt when my father instead of hugging his little Bernadette, called me "Sister Marie-Bernard", I thank you, Jesus.
I thank you for the heart you gave me, so delicate and sensitive, which you filled with bitterness.
For the fact that Mother Josephine proclaimed that I was good for nothing, thank You. For the sarcasm of the Mother Superior: her harsh voice, her injustices, her irony, and for the bread of humiliation, thank you.
Thank you, that I was the privileged one when it came to being reprimanded, so that my sisters said: "How lucky it is not to be Bernadette".
Thank you for the fact that it is me, who was the Bernadette threatened with imprisonment because she had seen you, Holy Virgin; regarded by people as a rare animal; that Bernadette so wretched, that upon seeing her it was said: "Is that it?"
For this miserable body which You gave me, for this burning and suffocating illness, for my decaying tissues, for my decalcified bones, for my sweats, for my fever, for my dull and for my acute pains, thank you my God.
And for this soul which You have given me, for the desert of inner dryness, for Your night and Your lightening, for Your silences and Your thunders, for everything. For You - when You were present and when you were not- thank you, Jesus."(according to Fonti vive, Caravate, Sept. 1960)