Saturday, October 31, 2009

Catholic Speakers' Month: Steve Kellmeyer

Today is the last day of Support a Catholic Speakers Month hosted by FallibleBlogma, a month in which Catholic bloggers help draw attention to some of the outstanding Catholic speakers in our country :).

I'm highlighting Steve Kellmeyer.

I had the privilege and pleasure to work with Steve back when I lived in the big city. He was then employed as the Director of Adult Faith Formation in our parish, and after an inquisition-like interview (trying to ascertain if I was a heretic) he accepted me onto the RCIA team. What struck me about him right away (besides his Pauline zeal and unapologetic orthodoxy), was how funny he is! Most of his conversation is peppered with laughter, and he likes a good joke. He's a dynamic, passionate, and engaging speaker, and can clearly and succinctly explain even the hardest doctrines. Good times!

A little about the man himself: he has degrees in Medical Lab Technology and Computer Science, and M.A.'s in both Theology and Post-Enlightenment European History. He's been married for 12 years to his lovely wife, and they have four children.

Besides being a catechist and nationally-renowned speaker, Steve is an author. He founded Bridegroom Press which has published his many hot-topic current events books, including: Debunking Obama's First 100 Days, Debunking Angels and Demons, Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, and Sex in the Sacred City (a meditational book on Theology of the Body) as well as his Scriptural works: Bible Basics (an apologetics reference book), The Sensible Scripture Study (a Bible study using the four senses of Scripture), and The Flesh of God (a meditational study for Advent).

There are three of his books I'd especially like to draw attention to, though.

The first is Artfully Teaching the Faith, which takes a few dozen masterpieces from Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and others and describes how Catholic doctrine is visually embedded by the artists in these paintings. It's illuminating!

The second is The Middle-Earth Riddle Book which contains nearly 180 medieval riddles (and, yes, their answers). In researching for this book, he used many of the same sources Tolkien would've used to craft his riddles for The Lord of the Rings. It's a fun read.

The third is, perhaps, his most controversial work, Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America. When I asked Steve the basic gist of it, his response was: "The Catholic parochial system is set up in such a way that it violates the rights of parents... and will never effectively pass on the faith." This book explicates that thesis. Well-researched, insightful, definitely controversial, and quite thought-provoking.

Far and away the most popular product at Bridegroom Press, however, is Steve's Calendar of Indulgences. And why not? It:
  • Lists all the indulgenced works of the Church on a month-at-a-glance basis,
  • Highlights the twenty-two special days when a partial indulgence becomes plenary to honor a day,
  • Color-codes the indulgences for easy identification
  • Has scholarly notes on the history of indulgences,
  • Contains the conditions for earning both partial and plenary indulgences,
  • Gives the complete text of over a dozen different indulgenced prayers,
  • Carries weekly reminders for Friday fasts and Saturday confession
  • Carries all the information for the Year of the Priest plenary indulgences!
Basically it gives you no reason not to gain all the graces you can throughout the year. 

So if you're looking for some Catholic gifts to give this Christmas, I'd recommend any of the aforementioned books (or the calendar!). And if you're looking to bring a dynamic, orthodox, well-educated and engaging speaker to your parish or conference, look no further than Mr. Steve Kellmeyer.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Thought Indeed

I, like every other self-respecting human being, love A&E's rendition of Pride and Prejudice. I've spent about a week of my life, in those I-can't-even-rewind-this-tape-because-I-MUST-get-to-the-next-part 5 hour chunks, watching it again and again.

If you've been graced to see it, you'll "get" this post. If you haven't... go watch it, NOW (not the Kiera Waif-ly version, but the REAL one)!

So as I was dozing off to sleep last night...

Look what my husband built me!

Shelves in the closet!

Since it's Friday, there are two freebies for you. One of them requires you to put forth some effort, and the other doesn't.

On Halloween only, you can get a free Black Jack Taco after dark at Taco Bell (no effort, just show up after dark).

Also on Halloween, between the hours of 6pm and close, you can get a free Boo-rito at Chipotle. But it requires you to dress up like a burrito (or a bowl, or a taco).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One of the Bestest Recipes EVER


1. There are forks in the kitchen drawer again! They've left their comfy home in the dishwasher.

2. (thanks to my sister-in-law) I got my first new pair of jeans in 3 years.

3. I enjoyed the most relaxing and wonderful weekend I've had... maybe ever... and didn't allow myself to think of anything stress-inducing. As such, my already outrageous love for my husband increased 10 fold. WOW!

Check out others' small successes this week at Faith and Family Live.

I don't really like soup very much, except gumbo. But gumbo isn't soup, it's a way of life.

Anyway, soup either scalds off the roof of my mouth or else I end up declaring I shall spew it out for its lukewarmness -- there's not much in between. That's precisely why I don't like it... the point of perfect temperature-ness between molten lava and room temperature only lasts a brief second.

But there's one soup that's changed my mind forever on this subject.

Stuffed Pepper Soup (it's like stuffed peppers... as a soup! Well, duh, but it makes me excited)
Click the link for a printable version

olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups green pepper, chopped
2 cans (not the 8 oz size... the bigger one) tomato sauce
1 can whole or sliced tomatoes (diced is a little too small)
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 or 2 cups water
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
salt, pepper and seasonings to taste

1. In a large-ish soup pot, sauté the ground beef, onion, and garlic in olive oil.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 40 minutes.

That's it. It couldn't be simpler, it couldn't be tastier. Goes great with a salad and french bread!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Short Shall Inherit...?

My nieces were playing during one of their breaks this morning and I noticed that the younger sister ('Stina Beana) was playing the role of the older sister's servant.
"Why did you make 'Stina Beana the servant?"

Older Sister: "Because she's shorter than me."

"Mm hm. And short people are servants?"

Older Sister: "No... okay, we'll play something else."
A few minutes later I returned and 'Stina Beana was the king while Older Sister was the queen.
"Why is 'Stina Beana the king and you get to be the queen?"

Older Sister: "Because her hair is shorter."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You'll Never Make Pumpkin Pie Again

When we were at my sister-in-law's house, she made one of the most delicious non-chocolate desserts I've ever had. It was like pumpkin pie, but without the crust (which is my least favorite part of pie). A finger food that's rich, dense, almost creamy, and quite decadent.

I'm not making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year... it'll be pumpkin cake all the way.

Pumpkin Cake (could be used as pumpkin bars, too... just top with powdered sugar)
click the link for a printable version

  • 1 large can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 & 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3/4 c melted butter
  • 1 c chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream
Mix all ingredients together except nuts & whipped cream; pour into 9 x 13 pan. Then sprinkle nuts over cake batter. Bake @ 350 for approx. 1 hour. Cake is super moist, so toothpick may not come out as clean as a regular cake, but overall, the cake should be firm.

Serve with whipped cream. Promise yourself you'll never make pumpkin pie again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Twisty Turns

I was starting to get cabin fever last week. So, being the unbelievable man he is, my husband planned a surprise b-day trip for me :).

It started with an indescribably delightful trip to visit his sister... complete with a college volleyball game, grilled aged T-bones, pumpkin cake, clothes shopping and strawberry daiquiris.

Then eastern Oregon/western Idaho to see Hell's Canyon and Lake Wallowa.

It included roads like this...

Mm hm. And no guardrails. These weren't the steep cliffs with no guardrails; these were just the windy twisty roads.

Then we went through a tiny town:

And then... beauty and interesting-ness the likes of which I have never seen:

A massive flock of sheep! With bells on their necks! In front of a range of mountains.

They were walking towards us in droves.

I really liked the sheep.

But Lake Wallowa was pretty spectacular, too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Let Me Eat Cake

Today is my birthday.

That is all.

Comments are open ;).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Divine Help for Weight Loss

Hollywood secret weight-loss tips watch out! I've got a new weapon in my arsenal. (They sell out frequently but she re-stocks them frequently, too.)

My hips don't stand a chance against this kinda power.


Sorry I don't have any freebies this week. I try not to offer anything I don't order myself, and all they had available today were makeup samples (don't wear the stuff), PETA t-shirts (don't support the place!), and cheesy bumper stickers (junk).

Hopefully next week I can make it up to you :).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"I've Put This Off Far Too Long"


This was a week in which I attempted to do things I've put off for far too long. So...

1. In an attempt to lessen our red meat intake, I made fish twice this week... and it wasn't even Friday!! (red snapper, yum!)

2. After talking about it for over a year, I finally painted the youth room.

3. After rescheduling my doctor's appointment 3 times because I hadn't gotten my bloodwork done, I finally bucked up enough courage and did it this morning (including a 2-hour glucose test.... bleh!).

Check out others' small successes at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One of My Favorite Parts About Being Married

I like my first name... a lot. It's beautiful and unique. But it's hard to say.

No matter how many times I repeat it when making a new acquaintance (and then spell it and give a mnemonic device), they still don't get it; it's been a bit of a plague my whole life.

But now... my courageous, charming, and chivalric husband always introduces me, so I never have to say my name.

And it makes me smile every time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


My nieces and I made these little guys today.

The idea came from "No Time for Flashcards." We experimented with construction paper (Frankenbride), crayons (Baby Franky) and markers (Franklin-stein).

We didn't have any golf tees for the bolts, so we used rolled-up foil.

Not a bad way to avoid doing flashcards for a day, hm? :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Success

On Saturday I was going to make fried chicken for dinner. I poured buttermilk over the tenders and put 'em in the fridge -- I'd fry them when my husband got home.

Well, the delightful man came home bearing gifts -- pizza. Hm... chicken tomorrow, then!

So I actually marinated the tenders overnight. I NEVER marinate stuff for 24 hours. 20 minutes... an hour tops... it gets the job done.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! It was so juicy! It was so flavorful! It was tender! It was DELICIOUS!

Try to hold out a full 24 hours on your marinades. You won't be sorry :).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Still Makes Me Laugh

A few months into our marriage, I noticed that I had never washed a face towel in the laundry. I don't really use them because I use a bath pouf. I like them because they exfoliate, conserve soap, and come in amazing bright colors.

My husband uses liquid soap too... but he has no pouf, and apparently wasn't using face towels either. Finally I confronted him on it.

He didn't see any great need to use a pouf, or a rag when plain old soap would do the trick. I don't always understand men. But, I offered him my pouf (it was starting to fall apart) and told him I was going to get a new one anyway. He accepted it lovingly but didn't look enthused.

Recently I was cleaning the bathroom and saw my old pouf lying in the bottom of the shower. It really did look tired and raggedy. My husband is a strong farmer; he's a manly man from head to toe... why did I think he'd use something girly like that? So I threw it away.

Imagine my surprise that night when from the shower I heard a yell. "Where's my pouf?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I Clean My House Every Day

  • Because it's a sacrifice I can offer to God (I don't like doing it anymore than anyone else does).
  • Because my husband deserves to come home to a clean house.
  • Because I'm in a better mood when there's order and cleanliness.
  • Because I don't like apologizing and being embarrassed about my house when people drop by unexpectedly.
  • Because it's a discipline.
  • Because dirty houses smell funny.
  • Because my mom does!
  • Because I love to see the sheer delight on my husband's face when he comes home and sees me... against the backdrop of a clean house :).
  • Because I like to know where things are.
  • Because it's the right thing to do.
  • Because I'm hoping the order in my house will increase order in my soul.
  • Because the Blessed Mother kept her house clean, and she's my model.
  • Because order is beautiful.
  • Because... (feel free to add your own)

It's Friday, here's some free stuff:

When you're trying, hoping, or wanting to be pregnant you go through a lot of pregnancy tests. And they're expensive. Thankfully, you can get 10 free pregnancy tests. (or OPKs, too)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tiny Steps for a Great Week


1. Discovered a delicious new way to make pork. (cube some boneless short ribs, add some flour, brown until crispy, pour on 1/2 a bottle of this stuff and cook it down until it's sticky)

2. Taught my niece to count money.

3. Am slowly overcoming my fear of Photoshop and made this new layout :).

Check out others' small successes this week at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Bounty

There are myriads of orchards so abundantly chocked full of crisp juicy fruit it makes one's head spin. The amount of food that goes to waste on the trees is staggering. In good growing years like this one the distributors just won't take more fruit; it would kill the market by driving the price way down. So they limit the supply by letting fruit rot in the orchards.

But our farmer neighbors tell us, "Take all you want! No, seriously... they're just gonna go to spoil if you don't pick 'em."

Let the applesauce making begin.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hannah's Tears

Without a word our glances meet. He sees the bitter grief in my eyes and knows my thoughts... the wound I'm salting... again. His eyes caress me with his tender gaze of love.

"When does it hurt?" he asks me softly.

I sigh deeply. I don't like talking about it; even with my dearest love. It's too painful.

"When does it hurt?" he repeats gently. His compassionate tones massage my aching heart.

"When women complain about morning sickness. When friends who have been married a couple of months post sonogram pictures online. Every time I see a baby. When I hear women say 'oh, I've had my two and now I'm done.' When I see you playing so sweetly and naturally with our nieces and nephews. When nosy people ask 'when are you going to start your family?' When I see the pregnant teens in my religious ed classes. When I pass the baby clothes section of a store. When judgmental old ladies in the pews feel it their duty to tell me contraception is evil. When I pray novenas and get no answer. When I think of the women who kill their babies. When I cook dinner... for just 2 people. Pretty much all the time."

My husband is so loving. He's so good. He's so dear. He just holds me closer. Minutes pass and my quiet sobs slow to stuttered sniffs.

"Yeah," he murmurs. "I know. It does hurt sometimes."

I'm blindsided. My self-pity and self-centeredness shatter as I realize for the first time... he's hurting too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Farming is hard work.

If you run "hand lines" you have to move dozens of heavy irrigation pipes by hand.

Twice a day for six months a year.

While you dream of riches untold.

But if you don't strike it rich by the time your 65 birthday rolls around... least you can laugh about it while you eat carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Happy birthday father-in-law. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

So Little Time

I've been decorating cakes all day. I was a cake decorator hobbyist in a former (city) life.

Now I've got to run to a high school retreat for the weekend. BUT, next week is going to be amazing -- I've got so many pictures and stories, it'll be so hard for me not to post them all on Monday.

In the meantime:

If your name has C-h-r-i-s, K-r-i-s or C-r-i-s in it, you can get free spaghetti or 15 layer lasagna on October 12th (Chris Columbus Day) at the Spaghetti Warehouse.

And everybody can get a free 8x10 or 10x13 portrait at Picture People.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not Nothing


1. Woke up early every day this week.

2. Overcame a lifelong fear and actually made bread!

3. Resisted the urge to splurge at the grocery store (and thus saved much $$).

Check out others' small successes this week at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Adventures in Breadmaking

My new rite of initiation into country living is breadmaking. No self-respecting farmer's wife buys bread in these parts. She buys flour in bulk.

I'm scared to death.

My last attempt resulted in a tough little brick we chewed on for days. Even the ants wouldn't touch it. It takes so much time to make, and there's too much room for error!

Some of the classic steps that I find most *cough cough* helpful:
  • "Add 4-6 cups of flour." Um... there's a big difference between 4 and 6 cups!
  • "Knead until elastic and smooth but don't over-work the dough." How do I know when it's reached the perfect elasticity? If I keep going, I might over-knead!
  • "Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk." How warm is warm? Without taking a before and after picture, how can I tell when it's doubled?!
Despite the terror, I'm determined to learn. You see... my mother-in-law bakes. Enough said. I'm going to get it right even if I have to eat my weight in failures.

So... I set out to make this bread. I didn't want a sandwich loaf; I wanted a hearty bread that could stand up to my amazing pastas.

Though it was still a bit denser than I'd like...

it was so beautiful. I baked this, people!!

And best of all, my husband was proud of me :). *swoon and happy sigh* 'Twas all worth it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I was raised on Wishbone.

Not the salad dressing. The TV show. It was a classic. Little dog, great literature, brilliant comedy, amazing costumes, and characters with the coolest names ever: Joe Talbot, Samantha Kepler, Nathaniel Bobelesky, Damont Jones, Wanda Gilmore, and Mr. Pruitt to name a few.

Last night my husband and I tried to watch the Gerard Depardieu version of Cyrano de Bergerac. But the whole time I had the Wishbone version of it running through my mind and actually thought it to be better.


'You love the little birds, I think? I see you've managed with a fond research To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!' vs. 'Do you love the bird so much, you let him perch on your nose?'


'How serves that oblong capsular? For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?' vs. 'What do you keep in there? Your pen, or your whole writing desk?"

I miss Wishbone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Man's Trash...

I went to a parish council meeting the other day. It was hosted by a lovely woman in her lovely home. As we walked in, she cautioned us not to let her cat out of the house... "He's a Bengal. He's bred from leopards and it takes 4 generations to domesticate them" she said, proudly. We all oohed and aahed over the beautiful rare cat (who'd been thoroughly domesticated). As each new council member arrived, she delivered the spiel anew.

Then our pastor walked in. His first remark: "That's the ugliest cat I've ever seen." (I'm still laughing).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hodge Podge of Topics

Update on the Gurgle:

The backed-up toilets/sinks/etc. from earlier this week were due to "roots growing in your pipes." RotaRooter kindly and promptly rooted them out for us in time for our 20 guests.


Am going to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D tonight. Yay for post-college fun :).


Was recently recruited to do the technical work for a Catholic radio program. I've never done it before, so I don't know why I was recruited, but I'll be learning about mics and soundboards and recording studios and mixing software really soon. New challenge, here we come.


It's October now. Free chocolate is over.

But, you can celebrate National Cookie Month and get a free Great American Cookie anytime this October by signing up for CookiE-Mail.

And October 2-5th you can get a free Tall brewed coffee at Starbucks just by participating in their taste challenge. "Participants can taste Colombia Starbucks VIA™ next to fresh-brewed Pike Place™ Roast and challenge themselves to guess which one is Starbucks VIA™. Starbucks VIA™ Taste Challenge participants will receive coupon for a complimentary Tall brewed coffee on their next visit"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Small But Significant


1. Left a bag of opened tortilla chips (my favorite) alone for an entire 36 hours. "Treats must be earned" I tell my nieces... why should it be different for me?

2. Resisted the urge to have hot dogs when I didn't "feel like" cooking because I realized my husband deserved better. Experimented an amazing new dish into existence which was truly appreciated by my famished farmer husband ("recipe" below) :).

3. Read a 677 page book without skipping pages. (I'm notorious for getting halfway through and losing interest. This was a big step for me. But, alright alright, the reason it's a "small success" is because I didn't read it by myself. My husband read the entire thing aloud to me in the evenings).

Check out others' successes this week at Faith and Family Live!


What To Make When You Don't Feel Like Cooking But Know Your Husband Deserves A Good Dinner

a) butter and olive oil
b) 1 package Italian sausage links (uncooked not precooked)
c) 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, chopped into big chunks
d) 1 jalapeno, seeded deveined and diced
e) 1 onion, chopped into big chunks
f) 3 cloves garlic, minced
g) 1 beer
h) 1/2 can black olives, chopped into chunks
i) 1/4 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
j) juice from 1/2 lemon
k) 1 container fresh mushrooms (button, crimini, baby portabella, whatever), chunk chopped
l) 1/2 package cream cheese, chopped
m) a big splash of cream
n) Your favorite noodle (I used both rotini and rigatoni because we were low on both... great combo)
o) (optional) Feta cheese AND good hard Parmesan cheese
p) seasonings to taste (I used red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder)

1) Salt and boil your water for the pasta (don't put the noodles in until after step 2, 'cause otherwise your vegetables will be floppy soggy little things).

2) Chop the Italian sausage links into chunks. In a large hot skillet, throw a-b until well browned but not fully cooked. Add c-f and cook slightly. Add p. Take a swig of g and pour the rest in. Leave uncovered on high (scary, I know, but I otherwise the beer will never reduce. Just watch it.).

3) Wait a few minutes and add the noodles to your water. By the time they're nearing doneness, the above will be just about ready.

4) When the beer is pretty much all gone and you have a sticky delicious concotion (which you'll want to eat as is), add k-m and cover (to cook the mushrooms and melt the cream cheese).

5) Drain the pasta, add it to your lovely meaty mix and stir. Serve with feta and/or real Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top, garlic bread, a green salad and a glass of wine.

6) Pat yourself on the back for not serving hot dogs, and kiss your husband.