Friday, December 30, 2011

Happiness Is: Day 5 of 5

Loving and being loved.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happiness Is: Day 4 of 5

Being served a bowl of my dad's hot gumbo with crusty garlic french bread... salad and dirty rice on the side.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happiness Is: Day 3 of 5

Being with your brother, sisters, parents and husband around the dinner table.

What a joyful week!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happiness Is: Day 2 of 5

Celebrating the anniversary of our wedded bliss.

Happy Anniversary, my love, my darling!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happiness Is: Day 1 of 5

Finding a $20 bill in the pocket of an old pair of jeans.

What little things this week have made you happy?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Difference Between Men and Women

"When we go on vacation, do you want to go see 'City of Lights Parade'?"

"Uum... do you want to see the alligator farm?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This Week on Pinterest: 3 Christmas Bite-Sized Party Pleasers

In case you need a few last-minute Christmas party ideas, these were rounded up from Pinterest!

From my very own archives. Penguin olive appetizers: ridiculously adorable, relatively easy, really cheap.

Peppermint rice krispie treats: pretty cute little ornament rice krispies!

Santa hat brownie bites. Adorable!

Merry Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cooking Traditions

Fudge, candies, cookies, sweets.... all excellent baking traditions for Christmas, but none of them part of my family's tradition.

Image credit
The tradition in my family is to start a new tradition every year (none of which stick around for the next year). This year, I intend to start tamale making as our new Christmas tradition!

I stinkin' love tamales, but they're stinkin' expensive and I rarely find ones that are the perfect ratio of masa to meat. I've made them, successfully, a few times and think I'm about ready to give 'em another go.

They are a lot of work, but that's become a relative term, now. When you attempt to make all of your own bread, pasta, bagels, ravioli, sausage, and grow a lot of your own produce, suddenly the few hours spent making several dozen tamales doesn't seem like such a big deal, and the reward is oh so worth it.

So this week, instead of the typical powdered sugar and butter, I'll be elbow-deep in masa harina, lard, chiles and pork roasts.

What about you? What are your Christmas cooking traditions?

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Christmas Card Habit

I'm an eager beaver when it comes to Christmas cards. I buy them in early January when they're on clearance, I store them all year long, they jam up my kitchen drawer and deep into August I dream about that clear drawer come Christmas.

The first Sunday of Advent I write lists of people I'm going to send them to.

2nd week of Advent: "Should we include a picture and write a Christmas letter?"

Gaudete Sunday: "I still haven't written that Christmas letter, maybe we'd better just sign 'em and include a picture."

Christmas Eve: "Yeorg! It's still the Christmas season until Epiphany, right?"

Week after Christmas: clearance aisle, resolving to do better and actually send some next year. "But oohh... aren't these beautiful??"

Do you send Christmas cards? A letter? A picture?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Beautiful Housewife Quote from Beautiful Literature

"For the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them, and Meg found so many proofs of this that everything in her small nest, from the kitchen roller to the silver vase on her parlor table, was eloquent of home love and tender forethought."

-from Little Women and Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

The chickens are killed, scalded, plucked, eviscerated, wrapped, and frozen.

Yes, I expect to have nightmares tonight of little guillotines.

Regardless, goodnight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Very Good English Custom

I think I'm becoming an old lady.

Customs, events, foods, and music that I couldn't stand as a kid are suddenly quite appealing to me, and the reverse is true as well.

A prime example of this is my sudden fascination for hot tea.

Hot tea used to taste like a weak rusty brew of leaves steeped in hot water.


Well, a weak rusty brew of leaves steeped in hot water used to be gross to me, but now I really enjoy the warm beverage, sometimes even, *gasp,* without sugar.

I came across this delightful song, recently, and I wholeheartedly think we should adopt, as a nation, the 4:00 p.m. tea time!

Will anyone second the motion?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mirth, Middlemarch, and Monday Musings

Right now... it's 5:00pm, I've got a pot of red beans simmering on the stove, I've finished all of my chores and outings for the day, and I'm eying a candy cane. Life is grand.

This weekend was... mirthful. It started on Friday night with a raucously fun pizza and board game night at a homeschooling friend's house. On Saturday we had a blast of a Pinochle party. Sunday, we went to the early morning Mass, had my dear sister-in-law over for breakfast on her birthday, and watched some of Middlemarch on Netflix.

My husband, amazing man that he is, cleaned up the kitchen while I took care of the rest of the messy house. Our home was sparkling clean on Sunday night and I utterly felt ready for Monday.

Some plans for this week: This is our last week of school before Christmas break, so I need to prepare the nieces for their tests. We're also going on vacation soon, so I need to pack and prepare for that. Sometime before we leave, we're going to move two-year-old our laying hens to the freezer... so we need to rent a plucker and mentally prepare for the grim job.
I am grateful for... a dear friend from college who, after reading this post, sent me toothpaste from Trader Joe's. I can't wait to brush my teeth tonight!

Some prayer intentions for this week: for Christ's peace in this Advent season. And for all of those who are grieving and mourning, especially because of miscarriage.
Something that makes me smile: what's not to smile about? I've got an all-loving God, a clean warm house, a pot of hot food, friends and family who love me, and the greatest husband on earth.

Thanks to Nadja for hosting Monday Musings!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Solemnity!

Is Happy Solemnity an oxymoron? Just wondering.
From the Ghent Altarpiece. Image credit.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Anybody else ever done P90X?

I thought I was tough. I thought I had a high pain threshold. I thought I had great will power and could force myself to do things I didn't think I could do.

Let me tell you, I am a PANSY!!!

Day 1 down, 89 to go.

The soreness hasn't even set in, but I think I'm going to die.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Jolly Image

... and oh so true.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cooking Inspirations

I've loved to cook my whole life.

At age 5 I made my first dinner (mostly) unassisted... jello and meatballs. At age 11, I catered a dinner party for my dad's boss.

I had a little paring knife that my mom would let me use and I soon learned to do anything with it... peeling cucumbers, chopping onions, boning chicken, butterflying pork chops. When I graduated to an 8" French chef's knife, I thought I'd officially made it in the culinary world. That beauty made light work of mincing garlic!

Cooking is in my blood. My parents are both excellent cooks who hail from lines of excellent cooks. My dad can turn a piece of meat into a work of art "that could talk to you," and my mother, besides whipping out savory delicacies every night of my childhood, can entertain with the grace and charm of a beautifully set table, arranged flowers, and uplifting conversation. My siblings are amazing in the kitchen, and several of my aunts, uncles and cousins are professional chefs and caterers. We just love to cook (and eat).

Every Saturday growing up, my family watched cooking shows together on PBS. PBS aired cooking shows before cooking shows were cool... before a whole network was devoted to Food.

Paul Prudhomme, Justin Wilson, and John Folse for Cajun/Creole fare, Rick Bayless and Steven Pyles taught Tex/Mex, Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) for Asian cuisine, America's Test Kitchen for the science of cooking, Cucina Amore (with the Carrabbas) and Lydia Bastianich for Italian, Julia Child for all things French, BBQ University and The Frugal Gourmet for American.... all of them were inspirational to me in one way or another.

My all-time favorite, however, was Jacques Pépin. He not only makes delicious food, but it's beautiful, an art, a gift. How can you watch this man and not be inspired?

How to debone a chicken.

Cream puff swans in a caramel cage.

Who are the chefs that inspire you?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Brief Housewife's Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that my husband works so hard and gets his clothes so dirty. It is a privilege to wash and fold them.

Thank you, Lord, that my husband has such a hearty appetite and enjoys my food so much. It is a joy to cook for him.

Thank you, Lord, that my husband always cleans his plate. It is an honor to wash his dishes.

Thank you, Lord, that I can participate in my husband's work in the dusty fields by sweeping and vacuuming these dusty floors.

Thank you, Lord, that we have indoor, clean, heated plumbing. It is a luxury to clean bathrooms.

Thank you, Lord, that the very tasks which often seem burdens are actually great blessings. Amen.