Friday, April 29, 2011

I Royally Do

I'll admit it. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the Royal Wedding last night.

I was actually still awake anyway from thinking, praying, cleaning the kitchen, and dehydrating bananas (quite delicious, by the way).

I've become such a softie! When I saw Kate Middleton, now Princess Catherine, I welled up. She was just so beautiful, her dress was so gorgeous, and the whole occasion of sacramental wonder was exquisite.

I mean, how can you look at her and not say, "Wow!"?

Image source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

It, of course, brought back a flood of happy memories from my own blessed wedding.

I couldn't have been happier if I'd been marrying a prince myself. Because of course, I did.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What was your wedding day like, or what do you dream it will be like?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Post: Fresh Apple Cake

Please welcome "Kansas Mom" to CWCL today! I have a bag of apples left from last fall and can't wait to try this scrumptious recipe she's shared with us.

I’m very excited to be a guest at City Wife, Country Life! Below you’ll find my aunt’s apple cake recipe. It is absolutely scrumptious, the best apple cake we've ever tasted (and we've tried quite a few). I have made it for my daughter’s birthday party two years in a row. I haven’t tried it with frozen apples, but I’d love to hear how it turns out if anyone out there has some in their freezer and wants to give it a try.

If you’re interested in a healthier version as a snack cake, leave off the cream cheese frosting. I’ve never done that because I adore cream cheese frosting, but I have no doubt it would be delicious.

Illinois Aunt's Famous Fresh Apple Cake

2 cups flour (I use whole wheat.)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil (I use applesauce; it seems appropriate for the apple cake.)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts
4 cups raw apples, chopped

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the sugar through vanilla in a mixer and then add the dry ingredients. Don't overmix. Fold in the walnuts and apples.

Bake in a greased and floured 13 x 9 pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Frosting: (or you could use your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe):

6 ounces cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar

Blend first three ingredients. Slowly add powdered sugar until smooth.

I frost the cake right in the pan.

Serve with friends or you'll eat the whole cake yourself! I have, once or twice, had a little bit left after the parties. I like to store it in the fridge.

Kansas Mom lives on seven acres (and a bit) with Kansas Dad, her four children, a dog, a flock of chickens and a slew of unwelcome bunnies. They spend their days reading, homeschooling, baking and dreaming of gardening. You can read about their adventures on their blog, Our Home on the Range.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guest Post: Quick and Easy Batter Bread!

I'm very pleased to welcome Mrs. N as a guest blogger today at CWCL!! Thank you, Mrs. N for sending in this awesome photo-essay recipe!

This is my favorite recipe for bread when I really don't have time to make bread.  It bakes up with a nice crunchy crust and is soft and moist inside - it makes the best toast ever!  It's perfectly good plain but gets even better if you add herbs to it, how much is up to your own tastes.  My first choice for herbs is powdered rosemary(if you can get it), I use about 1 tsp, depending on how fresh it is.

Quick and Easy Batter Bread

1 package(2-1/4 tsp) dry yeast
1-1/2 cups milk, warmed
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour

Assemble your ingredients.

Stir together the yeast, milk, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, let stand until slightly foamy.

Add the salt and herbs(if using).

Add flour.

Stir for 2 minutes until completely combined.

Spread batter into a greased loaf pan and smooth with a spoon or wet fingertips.

Cover and let rise until it reaches the top of the pan, about 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Turn out onto a rack to cool.

Devour with lots of butter(it didn't last long enough for me to get a picture of this)

Mrs. N shares a little house in New England with her sweet husband and dog. She spends most of her time cooking, knitting and sewing with the occasional home improvement project thrown in to keep things interesting. (FCW: She's a stinkin' awesome quilter, too). You can find more of her amazing posts at her blog: Doubleshot Thoughts.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Waddle Day

To all those who ate ginormous amounts of sugary candy, chewy cookies, rich cakes, decadent pies, juicy ham, plump rolls, buttered green beans, cheesy scalloped potatoes and all the other traditional foods yesterday, may I be the first to wish you a HAPPY WADDLE DAY!!

Wear your elastic waist pants today and rejoice that our Savior is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Image Credit: Herbert Gustave Schmalz, Resurrection Morn

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What to Pray For

Christ tells us to stay awake, but not for cards and dice, not for rowdy parties and drunken brawls, not for wine and women, but for prayer. He tells us to pray not occasionally, but constantly. "Pray," He says, "unceasingly." He tells us to pray not only during the day (for it is hardly necessary to command anyone to stay awake during the day) but rather He exhorts us to devote to intense prayer a large part of that very time which most of usually devote entirely to sleep. How much more, then, should we be ashamed of our miserable performance and recognize the enormous guilt we incur by saying no more than a short prayer or two, perhaps, during the day, and even those said as we doze and yawn.

Finally, our Savior tells us to pray, not that we may roll in wealth, not that we may live in a continuous round of pleasures, not that something awful may happen to our enemies, not that we may receive honor in this world, but rather that we may not enter into temptation. In fact, He wishes us to understand that all those worldly goods are either downright harmful, or else, by comparison with that one benefit, the merest trifles; and hence in His wisdom He placed this one petition at the end of the prayer which He had previously taught His disciples, as if it were a summary in a way, of all the rest: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wanted: Guest Bloggers

I will post a short excerpt from St. Thomas More tomorrow, but for now I interrupt this Holy Week schedule with a call for help.

I'm having some issues typing, and I fear it's a darkly sinister issue with my wrist. As such, I want to lay off of the computer for a few weeks and pray it clears itself up. However, in the meantime I don't have a neat stash of pre-written blog posts just waiting to be published (unless you count the Love Story posts, tehehehe).

So, for the next few weeks, I'd like to keep CWCL going by showcasing the volunteered writing talents of guest bloggers.

If you're interested in submitting one or a few pieces, please send me an e-mail at: happywife at citywifecountrylife dot com

General submission guidelines:

Topic of your choosing, but closely related to the topics generally posted about here (e.g. homesteading, marriage, photography, recipes, etc.)
Less than 500 words (300-400 is even better)

Good but not required:
Funny or witty

Does not need to be an original submission! So if you have an already-published post (that you wrote) you think the readers here would enjoy, please share it.

Thank you very much for helping a gal in need!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Bonnets, Attitudes, and Yawning

 Image credit: Topic Topos

Just as our minds are inattentive when we set out to pray, so too we proceed to do so with an equally careless and sprawling deportment of our bodies. True, we pretend that the worship of God is our reason for wearing better than everyday clothes on feast days, but the negligence with which most of us pray makes it utterly clear that we have utterly failed to conceal the real motive, namely a haughty desire to show off in the eyes of the world. Thus in our negligence we sometimes stroll around, sometimes sit down on a stool. And even when we kneel down, we either place our weight on one knee, raising up the other and resting it on our foot, or we place a cushion under our knees, and sometimes (if we are especially spoiled) we even support our elbows on a cushion, looking for all the world like a propped up house that is threatening to tumble down.

And then our actions too, in how many ways do they betray that our minds are wandering miles away? We scratch our heads, clean our fingernails with a pocketknife, pick our noses with our fingers, meanwhile making the wrong responses. Having no idea what we have already said and what we have not said, we make a wild guess as to what remains to be said. Are we not ashamed to pray in such a deranged state of mind and body -- to beseech God's favor in a matter so crucial for us, to beg His forgiveness for so many monstrous misdeeds, to ask Him to save us from eternal punishment? -- so that even if we had not sinned before, we would still deserve tenfold eternal torments for having approached the majesty of God in such a contemptuous fashion.

Imagine, if you will, that you have committed a crime of high treason against some mortal prince or other who has your life in his hands but who is so merciful that he is prepared to temper his wrath because of your repentance and humble supplication, and to commute the death sentence into a monetary fine or even to suspend it completely if you give convincing signs of great shame and sorrow. Now, when you have been brought into the presence of the prince, go ahead and speak to him carelessly, casually, without the least concern. While he stays in one place and listens attentively, stroll around here and there as you run through your plea. Then, when you have had enough of walking up and down, sit down on a chair, or if courtesy seems to require that you condescend to kneel down, first command someone to come and place a cushion beneath your knees, or, better yet, to bring a prie-dieu with another cushion to lean your elbows on. Then yawn, stretch, sneeze, spit without giving it a thought, and belch up the fumes of your gluttony. In short, conduct yourself in such a way that he can clearly see from your face, your voice, your gestures, and your whole bodily deportment that while you are addressing him you are thinking about something else. Tellm e now, what success could you hope for from such a plea as this?

Certainly we would consider it quite mad to defend ourselves in this way before a mortal prince against a charge that carries the death penalty. And yet such a prince, once he had destroyed our bodies, could do nothing further. And do we think it is reasonable, when we have been caught committing a whole series of far more serious crimes, to beg pardon so contemptuously from the king of all kings, God Himself, who, when He has destroyed our bodies, has the power to send both body and soul together to hell?

Still, I would not wish anyone to construe what I have said as meaning that I forbid anyone to pray while walking or sitting or even lying down. Indeed I wish that, whatever our bodies may be doing, we would at the same time constantly lift up our minds to God (which is the most acceptable form of prayer). For no matter where we may turn our steps, as long as our minds are directed to God, we clearly do not turn away from Him who is present everywhere.... but... besides such prayers for which we prepare our minds more thoughtfully, for which we dispose our bodies more reverently, than we would if we were about to approach all the kings in the whole world sitting together in one place.
St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Instant Remedy for Sleeping While Praying

Every year during Holy Week, I read St. Thomas More's The Sadness of Christ (published in a volume of his Selected Writings). It is one of the most beautiful, profound, and yet (if I may say so) witty meditations I have ever encountered.

During the 14 months he was locked in the Tower of London awaiting his own trial and execution, St. Thomas More wrote this 116 page meditation on Christ's Agony in the Garden. The work carefully parses every phrase of the Gospels relating the Agony in the Garden, and offers pointed applications to daily life.

In this holiest of weeks, I will be sharing with you some excerpts from his work, and highly encourage you to get a copy for yourself so as to enter more deeply in pray into the mystery of Christ's Passion.

Image: Agony in the Garden, Andrea Montegna

"Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." (Luke 22:46)

Before, He ordered them to watch and pray. Now that they have twice learned by experience that the drowsy position of sitting lets sleep gradually slip on them, He teaches an instant remedy for that sluggish disease of somnolence, namely to get up. Since this sort of remedy was handed down by our Savior Himself, I heartily wish that we would occasionally be willing to try it out at the dead of night. For here we would discover not only that well begun is half done (as Horace says), but that once begun is all done.

For when we are fighting against sleep, the first encounter is always the sharpest. Therefore, we should not try to conquer sleep by a prolonged struggle, but rather we should break with one thrust the grip of the alluring arms with which it embraces us and pulls us down, and we should dash away from it all of a sudden... Then, if we devote ourselves to meditation and prayer, the mind, collected and composed in that dark silence of the night, will find that it is much more receptive to divine consolation than it is during the daytime, when the noisy bustle of business on all sides distracts the eyes, the ears, and the mind, and dissipates our energy in manifold activities, no less pointless than they are divers.

But Lord spare us, though thoughts about some trifling matter, some worldly matter at that, may sometimes interrupt our sleep and keep us awake for a long time and hardly let us go back to sleep at all, prayer does not keep us awake: in spite of the immense loss of spiritual benefits, in spite of the many traps set for us by our deadly enemy, in spite of the danger of being utterly undone, we do not wake up to pray, but lie in a drugged sleep watching the dream-visions induced by mandragora.

But we must continually keep in mind that Christ did not command them simply to get up, but to get up in order to pray...
St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Difference Between Men and Women

When it comes to picking movies for date nights, my darling husband has agreed to so many regency period BBC miniseries and Jane Austen adaptations that it's a wonder we don't have a constant hankering for tea and crumpets.

Last week, taking a break from the love stories I enjoy so much, we started the BBC nature series, "The Life of Birds."

I was fascinated by the episodes on flying, on skeletal structure, and on sap and bug eaters, but my darling kept dozing off.

Then came the episode, "Meat-Eaters."

He watched with rapt attention as little bunnies were dive-bombed by vultures and fuzzy rodents were picked apart or swallowed whole by carnivorous condors. After a 15 minute barrage of slaughter I couldn't watch it anymore.

"Can we please watch a different episode? I can't handle this one; there's too much action and violence."

"Oh man, this was the most interesting one! Which episode would you rather watch?"

"Oh, I dunno... how about the episode on birdy courtships?"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Important Mumbo Jumbo

Surveys, perk tests, water rights, irrigation districts, community wells, water masters, easements, legal access versus physical access, ingress and egress, covenants, codes, restrictions, tax liabilities, prorated utilities, liens, title searches, earnest money, title insurance, private mortgage insurance, mutual agreement, annual percentage rates, capital gains taxes, open spaces, residential versus agricultural zoning, boundary lines, city codes, county codes, red tape, closing costs, brokerage fees, agent fees, attorney reviews, estates in guardianship, supreme court reviews, closing dates.

If I seem a little absent lately, it might be because I'm buried under a steaming pile of real estate jargon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Land of Magic and Wonder

My father-in-law's farm, I am convinced, is the land of magic and wonder.

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law and I planted a whole bunch of seeds in the garden patch out there. Being a lazy greenhorn gardener, I planted them too deeply, planted too many seeds, and then promptly neglected them for the next fortnight.

Right now there are seven rows of the most beautiful little plant sprouts I've ever seen!

In my backyard, however, I scrupulously planted the same seeds at the exact specified depth, with precision spacing, and meticulously kept all weeds at bay. I made sure they were in a good sunny spot and in rich loamy soil.

Not a single sprout has surfaced.

How is your garden doing?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Scrolling White Gold and a Little Diamond

Forgive me a simple post, today, but it makes me so happy I can't help but share it with the world.

I just looked down and caught a shining glint.

My wedding ring.

It's so beautiful that I've not yet become accustomed to its charms; the little diamond surrounded by a simple white gold scroll still distracts me when it catches the sun just right.

The best lighting, I've found, is in our church. There, my diamond sparkles and glistens like a still pond on a clear Summer day. Indulge me a bit further while I wax utterly sentimental, but it looks just like my husband's eyes when he's got a good joke that he's bursting to tell.

Because that's just it, this humble token, for all its intrinsic beauty, brings the most joy from the recollection of the one it represents. It's a constant reminder of my husband, my hero, who placed it so tenderly on my finger. I love pondering his virtues throughout the day; thinking about him, remembering a funny story he's told me, or recalling the laugh he only uses when he's particularly pleased. He's so dear to me!

I can't help but blush with delight and wonder at the marvel, the treasure, the love that is God's vocation for us.

What does your engagement/wedding ring look like? Any good stories to go with it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheesy Post

I really enjoyed y'alls responses yesterday about coffee. French press, eh? Maybe this Christmas I'll spring for one for my husband, who truly enjoys coffee (without sugar).

Today I'd like to discuss another false advertisement food:

It often smells like fermenting gym socks, smoldering laundry, or putrefying unidentified refrigerator growth.

And yet it tastes transcendentally exquisitely amazing.


I just love cheese.

In fact, when I was in college, I wrote an Ode to Cheese. It was pretty... wait for it, wait for it... cheesy, but the ode was heartfelt.

Did you know St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, had a downright abhorrence of cheese? She could only eat it under strict obedience to her superiors. After praying for Divine help to swallow and resolving "conquer or die," she finally took a bite. After tasting the deliciousness she remained unconvinced and continued eating it only as a penance, remarking, "I have never felt such repugnance to anything." 

Moral of the story? Eating cheese could be a path to sanctity!

What are your favorite cheeses? What's your favorite way to eat it? Or are you like St. Margaret Mary?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The World's Most Deceptive Food

Coffee. It's one of the few edible products in existence that, to me, is thoroughly completely and grossly deceptive, misleading, and false advertisement.

It smells amazing.

It tastes disgusting.

What other food boasts that quality?

Smells like smooth creamy heaven...

... tastes like burnt rotting tree bark?

For all that, I do actually imbibe coffee on occasion, and enjoy it. But, as my husband so often teases, I don't drink coffee, I drink coffee flavored cream and sugar (with a little Kahlua or Bailey's if it's Sunday). And this dessert ranks amongst my favorites.

Today's Zits comic accurately describes my relationship with the burnt brown brew:

So what is your relationship with coffee? Take or leave it? Can't live without it? If you drink it at all, how do you take it (black, a little cream, or dessert-like?)?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tattin' & Latin

Right now... it's 11:45am. I'm in bed, sipping a hot beverage, propped up on pillows, wearin' my pajamas, readin' blogs, and I'm not sick. No, this is SPRING BREAK! Boo ya baby!

This weekend... was the start of Spring Break. Hence, I did absolutely nothing. Nothing, you hear me? Nothing. And there will be more where that came from.

Actually, on Sunday we went to the Latin Mass again (it's always a Low Mass because there's no choir). Honestly, I've only been going to that one because I like the time (4:00pm), and because I don't really know anybody there, so no one will notice that I wear the same outfit every week for months on end. There's a peek into my less than wonderful character right there, eh? (That's not the reason I go to Mass, obviously, just the reason I go to the Latin Mass).

Anyway, for the first time ever they put out little Latin/English and Latin/Spanish missals in the back (a Mass in which the two communities are seamlessly united -- there's a huge benefit to Latin right there) so we could follow along. I had no idea the Latin Mass was so gorgeous! The prayers are beautiful, and I was actually able to follow along! Who knew what a hidden gem was buried under all of that silence?

For the first time, I also felt deeply and truly connected to the Communion of Saints. I mean, this was the same Mass that St. Therese went to, and St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Philip Neri, and my great grandparents! The unity of tradition, and the oneness of the Church really struck me.

I can hardly wait for the next one, and I'm already plotting starting a choir (schola) so we can have some High Masses.

Some plans for this week:  Hm...with so many possibilities, I don't know where to start.

I think I will do some heavy duty work on a website for a friend that I promised I'd do.

And pick up a new hobby.

There's a tatting class (making lace), and by golly I intend to sign up. On the other end of the spectrum there's a Beginner Electrical Wiring class that sounds fascinating. Then there's Beginner Russian, but I've got to draw the line somewhere, right?

If I find some time for myself, I would like to... are you kidding? I've got nothin' but time this week!

Special prayer intentions for this week: For Annie, who's due any day and whose foster son is ill.

Something that makes me smile: Sunsets out at the farm.

Monday Musings are hosted by Nadja at Patch O' Dirt Farm.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Check Out the Total Makeover!

I'm kind of really excited about my new blog makeover.

Please take a look and let me know what you think. I think it really captures the farmy aspect of the blog pretty well, as well as including design elements of my favorite things.

Hopefully the design will be ready to roll in a few weeks.