Wednesday, December 19, 2012


On looking at the dingy, grungy, threadbare kitchen towels we own, my husband remarked, "Darling, it's really time we get a bunch of new ones."

I vigorously nodded my head in delighted agreement. "Because it would make the kitchen look fresh, cheery, clean, and bright again?"

Somewhat guiltily, "Um, yeah... that too... and they would dry dishes better."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Maybe I Could be a Martyr After All

I had to get some routine blood work done today. I call it "routine" because there's nothing wrong with me, not because I'm in the routine of doing it all the time.

As I turned the key in my car to head to the lab, I mentally reviewed the last time I had blood drawn. They couldn't find a vein, poked me a half-dozen times, used three different "fail proof" needles, and tied that blue stretchy thing tighter and tighter around my arm before they started menacingly eyeing my jugular.

Wanting to avoid an encore presentation of that dramatic saga, I'd looked up some free advice on Google. "Drink lots of water, keep your hands warm, move your arms..."

Quart of water chugged: check.

Hands warm? I blasted the heater in my car, but only frigid air swirled round my blue fingers. I started to panic as I got nearer my destination and my hands were frozen in an icy grip around the steering wheel.

"Move your arms!" I was driving! So I started flapping my elbows, hoping it would have the same effect.

I arrived at my destination at last. Once inside, I commenced blowing hot air into my hands, flapping my elbows, and doing the, "I just guzzled a quart of water" dance. It was quite a sight, and quite a workout, let me tell you.

The nurse looked up, utterly unfazed. I'm sure she sees this sort of thing all the time.

Within two minutes I was sitting in the sterile room. A nurse was sterilizing my hand. I'd already warned her that my veins were impossible to find. She gave me a sterile smile and said, "Don't think about it. Think of puppies and Christmas."

I almost fainted at the thought of the cold steel about to be plunged into my frozen flesh. I closed my eyes and prayed for courage. I'd offer my acute suffering, meritoriously, for those suffering worse than I. I would be...

"All done."

"Wait, what? You already did it?"


What do you know? My heater was toasty warm on the drive home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like... House Building

It's been 18 months since we bought a 5 acre parcel of land, and until very recently I didn't have the boldness to hope we would actually build a house within my lifetime the next five years.

But we just got the go-ahead from a local bank to build our own house, which these days is almost impossible to come by! I don't mean being our own general contractors, which is difficult enough though possible... I mean hammer-in-hand, drywall-mud-on-clothes, aching-back do-it-ourselves builders.

The timeline is still sketchy, no papers have been signed, we haven't even picked out a floorplan. But a go-ahead from the bank was (until we start drywalling) the biggest hurdle to building.

I spend my spare time these days watching things like this, and this, and this.

Oh happy day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween, Last Year

I got a big bag of Milky Ways last year to pass out to the neighborhood kiddies on Halloween.

It was the first bag of candy I've ever bought in my whole life.


It simply never occurs to me to buy candy, even though I like the stuff as much as anyone.

I've bought some candy bars in my lifetime, but never a whole bag of it. It seemed so indulgent! "It's for the kids," I reminded myself.

When my husband got home his eyes widened to saucers. "Where did this come from?" 

"I bought it."


"Yes, but it's not for us, it's for the Trick-or-Treaters."

His eyes pouted slightly, but he seemed resigned.

I relented. "Well, I guess we could have a piece or two."

"Just to see if it's any good, right?" he reasoned, thoughtfully.




Wrappers flew. Our candy gorging knew no restraint.



We turned off the front porch light before a single Trick-or-Treater came by.

Yes, dear readers, the stash was gone.

To stave off a repeat performance, this year I'm vacillating between buying either two bags or none at all.

What do you hand out for Halloween?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Year of Faith Resources

I am so excited for the Year of Faith!! It starts today and goes until November 24th, 2013, Feast of Christ the King.

October 11th is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council, and is also the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict has asked Catholics, this year, to read, meditate upon, and prayerfully study the documents of the Council and the CCC. He's made tons of plenary indulgences available for the whole year. This is going to be such a year of grace!

If you want to participate fully, there are several great resources available:


1) FlockNote will e-mail or text you a little section of the CCC each morning throughout the Year of Faith to help you read the whole document in one year.

2) Coming Home Network has a breakdown of both the Bible and the CCC so you can read both in one year. This would be especially wonderful if you could gather a small group of friends to meet once a week to discuss the Scriptures and articles of the Catechism you've read -- for accountability, to strengthen your faith, and build community.

3) The Vatican Website has all of the documents of Vatican 2 available online for free.

4) The USCCB has the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church online for free.

5) CatholicWeb has another breakdown of the CCC to complete it in one year, but this one divides it so that you read a little bit from each section of the Catechism each week. That way, you're not reading solely from Part I for months on end.

Not Free:

1) Fr. Mitch Pacwa has written an excellent book just for the occasion: The Year of Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics. If you don't want to "go it alone" when reading the Scripture, this is a wonderful guide tailored specifically for this year, drawing from the Pope's Motu Proprio, Porta Fidei, the Apostolic Letter which called for this Year of Faith. It doesn't go through the entire Bible, but it's a wonderful start. $9.95

2)  The Magnificat has a little Companion book of daily meditations, prayers, essays, and devotionals for the Year of Faith. $6.95

So I hope you will delve deeply into the richness of the Faith this year. Do you have any plans for this year, or additional resources?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Bunch of Things to Do With Sweet Potatoes

Last Saturday my sister-in-law and I went to a county extension agent's experimental plot. They were trying to see how well certain crops grow in our area so they could make recommendations for local farmers. As such, they weren't selling the crops they grew, they just grew them.

We were given the go-ahead to glean as much as we wanted for free.

Typically, gleaning is hard work because you get a little produce here and a little there... the leftovers from a large-scale harvest. But because the crop was entirely unharvested, it could hardly be called gleaning!

In a rich haul, I scored 40+ pounds of sweet potatoes, 20+ pounds of onions and a few hot peppers. I could've gotten a lot more, but was limited by time, energy, containers, and lack of a root cellar.

So because I've got enough sweet potatoes to feed a small village, I looked up what to do with them. I enjoy making sweet potato pies and soufles, but I wanted a few savory ideas.

Here are some of the delicious recipes I found:

Baked Sweet Potato Fries (I made these for dinner last night with salt, pepper, and garlic, and dipped in some ketchup they were delicious!)
Gingered Sweet Potato Carrot Soup
Spiced Sweet Potato Chips (I made these on Saturday, and would recommend making them on parchment paper or a silpat -- a little hard to turn on a lightly greased cookie sheet, but crispy and delicious!)
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
The Mother Lode: 100 Recipes to Make with Sweet Potatoes (about 1/3 of these recipes look amazing, another 1/3 look interesting to try, and the final 1/3 look a little gross to me)

What is your favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Squash Blossom Pizzas

This time of year, there's not much left of my summer crops in the garden. The fall crops are starting to come along nicely, but eggplant has stopped flowering, my peppers are finishing coloring up, and my zucchini plants are full of blossoms that will never mature into zucchini.

Squash blossoms are very tasty. Stuffed with cream cheese, dipped in egg, rolled in Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or panko) and lightly pan fried, they are a delicate appetizer worthy of the most discriminating gourmand.

But on top of a sauce-less pizza, they are just as lovely.

(The yellow part is the zucchini blossom).

These little pizzas were topped almost entirely from the remaining produce from our garden... tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini, purple onions, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley), and heavily dotted with glorious cream cheese. Marinara sauce would have overpowered the baby vegetables on this pizza.

The blossoms were a really great surprise; very fresh.

Earthy crunchy cheesy chewy goodness right there.

So pluck a bunch of blossoms, throw them on your favorite pizza crust and enjoy one last glorious taste of summer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Mouse Who Lived

Mice love us. Or, rather, they love my pantry.

Every year around this time, we get several mousey visitors, and through their fatal attraction to peanut butter, they're usually all dispatched to that great mouse nest in the sky within a few days of their arrival.

But this year, after claiming two victims, our trap has been silent as a... well, you know. We've got a peanut butter laden trap next to every place this mouse has left his signature, and each day we're amazed to see it still empty, surrounded by fresh... er... sign.

Last night I actually saw the mouse walk over to a trap, sniff the peanut butter from afar, and back away.

The little bugger doesn't like peanut butter!

Clearly we've had a tactical failure in underestimating our enemy; he's a true foodie. This, of course, means war, as I don't want to sacrifice my good cheese for the refined palate of the vermin's last meal. But if that's what it takes to reclaim the territory of my pantry in the name of humanity, then let the siege begin.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tricksy, Precious

In preparation for its December 14th movie release, my husband and I have been reading The Hobbit aloud to each other in the evenings.

And, just as we got to the part where Gollum loses The Ring, I looked down at my husband's hand and noticed: he wasn't wearing his wedding ring. 

As long as we've been married, he's never been without it for more than a few hours.

I could drag it out for dramatic tension, but seriously, this is pretty much how it went down:

Monday, September 10, 2012


"You've got to see this," my husband said, as he handed me an egg carton that wouldn't close.

"Is it a turkey egg?" I asked, bewildered at the monster-sized-egg.

"Nope, it's an overachiever."

For perspective, the egg on the bottom is an X-Large egg.

Wowzers. I wonder if that poor chicken needed an epidural.

Okay, that makes more sense.

Does anybody happen to know, if this egg had been fertilized, would the twin chicks have hatched, or would they have died? I know about double yolks, but not about twin chicks in one shell.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Favorite Acrid Aroma

There's just something about the smell of a freshly sharpened brand new pencil at the end of Summer that makes me excited to be alive.

I love teaching.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seriously Easy Scapular Fix

On this week's Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I went through my house collecting all of our broken scapulars. I have enough to make a habit! Never learning my lesson, I put them on right after I get out of the shower when I have a towel turban on my head. *Snap* Another one bites the dust.

What do you do with broken scapulars? Since they're sacramentals, you can't throw them away. You're supposed to fix, burn, or bury them, but around here they usually they just get shoved to the back of a drawer (the drawer with tacky holy cards, broken rosaries, headless statues and rusted medals). "I'll whip out my sewing machine later and fix them."

But that requires a seam ripper, carefully lining up the cords and trying to get my sewing needle through two thick layers of fabric... not impossible but certainly not easy. Therefore, it usually places slightly higher than "dust behind the storage boxes in the garage" on my to-do list.

It never ceases to amaze me that I can burn through a scapular a month while my husband has had his forever. "How do you do it? What's your secret??"

"Oh, when they break, I just tie them back together."

*blink blink*

I married a genius.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why I Wore My Pajamas to Work

Since the second week of June, I've breathed, eaten, and dreamed dust, cherries, and Spanish (respectively).

I've had neither the time nor the energy to do anything other than work. The schedule this week was a lot more relaxed: 5:00am-5:00pm... who would've thunk an 84 hour work week could be considered semi-vacation?

When I drag my dusty body to bed at night and mumble my prayers, I'm distracted by the panicky feeling: "What am I going to wear tomorrow?" Laundry, you see, has been on the back burner for almost a month. I've exhausted all jeans, slacks, skirts, tees, blouses, and blazers I own.

Yesterday I finally broke down.

Did laundry? No.

I broke into the garbage bag in the back of my closet... you know the one... the one I hoard in hopes that some day I'll fit into them again. My old "skinnier clothes."

I stretched that too-small t-shirt over my knees every time I thought no one was looking, but all day long I had to hold my stomach in and breathe shallow breaths. I was so cranky and asphyxiated by mid-afternoon that I resolved on the spot, "I will do laundry tonight!"

Yesterday was July 4th! After the outrage of having to work all day when everyone else I knew was grilling bratwursts, doing laundry was the last thing on my mind... until this morning at 4am when the alarm went off. "What am I going to wear?!?"

For a few moments I thought, "maybe they're not so dirty," and almost sniffed the smoldering laundry pile. "No," I caught myself in time, "this is no mere laundry, this is the garb of harvest -- sweaty, dusty, grimy, smelly."

So it was either wear another two-sizes-too-small-tee and if-that-button-pops-off-it's-gonna-be-a-dangerous-weapon-jeans, or go in my pajamas.

"They kind of look like slacks," I reasoned, "except they're loose, pink, and have a drawstring."

I got away with it in the wee hours of the workday (when it was too early and too dark to care), but as the day progressed, people started looking at me like a bum.

Load #5 is currently on the final spin cycle. Wake me when it's time to switch loads.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I was driving to the farm at 4:45 this morning (Cherry Harvest 2012 continues), and while stopped at a red light, I yawned.

The guy in the oncoming lane yawned back.

Then I called a friend over 2,000 miles away. I yawned.

She yawned back.

Just now I searched for yawning artwork for this post, and I yawned 8 times looking at the results.

When I'm this tired, I love yawning.

Did you yawn reading this?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Calm Before the Storm

Birds warbling. Crickets singing. Breeze sweeping. River rolling. Children laughing.

In 42 hours we'll start harvesting cherries, God willing.

Thank you so much for praying. We have miraculously avoided rain damage, and without having to hire a helicopter!

The current crisis is a lack of employees. Our picker crew, so far, is half of what it was last year, and 1/4 of what it was the year before that. Apparently it's a region-wide problem. The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few -- truly. Pray to the Lord to send more workers!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Three Things You Probably Didn't Know About Cherry Farming

1. If it rains for an extended period of time when cherries are ripe, they get so full and fat on water that they can burst, causing "splits." Split fruit rots quickly and is, therefore, unmarketable. In order to dry off their fruit, many cherry farmers hire helicopters. The helicopters fly very low over each and every row of the orchard, and the wind (purportedly) blows the water off the cherries. It's outrageously expensive (hiring a private helicopter, and all), but the alternative is to lose your entire crop.

2. To be able to export cherries to other countries (including Canada), a pesticide residue test must be performed. So about a week before harvest, we collect five pounds or so of cherries and take them to the lab. They mush all of the fruit up and test for residual pesticides before we can get the go-ahead to sell.

3. The best tasting fruit is slightly over-ripe, but you'll never get it in the grocery store because it doesn't transport well. We eat the best and sell the rest.

Cherry harvest is coming up soon. Keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Visit

Happy Feast of the Visitation!

This is my favorite image of the Visitation, painted by Carl Bloch. St. Elizabeth is so joyful and welcoming I just want to hug her myself! And the Blessed Mother's veil is so transparent and light-filled... just like her soul which magnifies the Lord.

Today would be a great day to visit a friend, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Make a Strawberry Pavlova

It has been said that Pavlova, an Australian a New Zealand meringue dessert, is one of the hardest desserts to make well. Of course that meant I wanted to try it.

All said and done, if you're comfortable working with meringue, it's super easy. If you're not, it's a little intimidating but utterly doable!

I happen to be terrified of meringue. I can't tell by looking at it if I'm at the soft peak or stiff shiny peak stage, so I did a few searches and found this picture guide to be extremely helpful. If your meringue cracks (like mine did) or deflates, it's still delicious and beautiful. Add a little more whipped cream and call it good.

This is a light, relatively cheap dessert to make. Go ahead and try it for Pentecost this Sunday! If it flops, you're only out 4 egg whites, some sugar, and a few minutes of work. If it succeeds, you've got a beautiful heavenly puff of confection that is sure to impress even the most discerning epicure.

Strawberry Pavlova
Inspired by: What's for Lunch, Honey?

For the meringue
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kirsch (optional)
For the filling
  • 1 pint strawberries (or any fruit/nut/chocolate!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream 
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch (optional, replace with 1 tsp. vanilla)
  • 1 Tablespoon apricot or orange preserves or jam, thinned with water (optional)
For the meringue

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Draw a circle approx. 8" in diameter on a sheet of baking paper. Place, pencil-side down, on a baking tray.

  2. To make the meringue, whip the egg whites (in a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, or with a whisk) to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl. Once all the sugar has been added whisk for another 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Make sure the sugar has dissolved completely and the meringue is not grainy. Add the cornstarch folding gently with a spatula, then pour in the vinegar and the kirsch and fold through.

  3. Spoon the meringue onto the baking paper and using a palette knife shape into a circle using the penciled mark as a guide. Pull the meringue upwards around the edge to create furrows, which will support the sides of the pavlova. Make a well in the middle, which will hold the filling. Make sure the base of the meringue is not too thin.

  4. Turn the heat down to 210° F and bake the for 1 ½ hours until the pavlova is dry and crisp. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven, with the door ajar until cooled completely – 4 to 5 hours. Do not remove the meringue from the oven when it is still warm as it will cool too quickly and may crack and collapse.

  5. Slide the pavlova onto a plate and spoon the filling into the center.
For the filling
  1. Wash and hull the strawberries.

  2. Whisk the whipped cream, vanilla, and sugar until stiff and fluffy. 

  3. When ready to serve, fill the meringue with the whipped cream, arrange the strawberries over the top and brush with apricot preserves to make them shiny. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Countertop Choices

I'm kind of jumping the gun on making this decision (considering we're not even remotely ready to build our dream house), but kitchen dreaming is in full swing and I'd like your input.

I've only ever been around Formica countertops, and I actually like 'em. They're cheap, sturdy, virtually indestructible, and I think they've come a long way since the bright yellow of the 60's. They're starting a new line called "Ideal Edge" that hides the dead-giveaway brown mark around the seams, and they've got a pretty convincing stone look, too.

That said... who doesn't dream of real marble, butcher block, granite, soapstone, quartz, and all the other gorgeous counters?

Considering how much time and effort is spent in the kitchen, higher end countertops might make it into our low-budget house, if they're worth it.

So what kind of countertops do you have, and do you like them? How heat/stain/scratch resistant are they? Any tips, advice, or comments?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Organic Pest Control: Joke's On Me

Determined not to have my entire garden decimated by the mysterious pest, I mixed up a lethally spicy concoction of jalapeños, habañero peppers, raw garlic and water. Supposedly if you spray the spicy slurry on the leaves, the bugs, birds, and beasts will leave your precious produce in peace.

Besides clogging the nozzle of my spray bottle, it seems to be working quite well. I positively doused everything but the lettuce, because, after all, I wouldn't want the trick to backfire (so to speak).

A few days later, Enter, Stage Left: this tantalizing recipe.

"I have pea shoots!" I yelled to my laptop. "I have walnuts, and Parmesan. I even have mint!"

Excitement got the better of me.

You can see where this is headed, of course.

"Delicate," they said. "A burst of intense pea flavor," they said.

I think the salad was good. I'll let you know when my tongue is extinguished.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pay Extra to Avoid Confrontation?

Recently I bought some Belgian Endive at the grocery store. The clerk, clearly unaware of what the vegetable was, charged me for Baby Bok Choy instead. The Bok Choy was more expensive by a bit, but I figured the difference was not worth mentioning... 10 cents or so. I remained mum.

On Saturday, we were overcharged $2.37 for something else. I thought of the avocados I've been avoiding because they're too expensive. $2.37 could buy me enough avocados for a decent sized bowl of guacamole. So we spoke up. The clerk insisted he was in the right. We calmly, kindly, but persistently maintained we were overcharged. A manager was called, the error was discovered, the clerk blamed it on the computer, the refund was given (there was no one behind us in line, by the way).

Was it worth the little scene for $2.37?

There have been dozens of small examples like this which, cumulatively, add up to quite a bit. I dislike confrontation, but I don't like squandering our hard-earned money on incompetence, either.

On the other hand, I remember back in high school when I worked a cash register myself. A woman was buying over $400 worth of tiny ceramic trinkets, each costing less than a dollar, each needing to be wrapped and carefully packed. It was discovered that a single item had been marked down by 21 cents, and I'd missed it. The arcane accounting system the store used required re-ringing up the entire purchase. "You want me to re-do the entire purchase for 21 cents?" "Well it's my 21 cents." In a very unprofessional gesture, of which I am not proud, I fished a quarter out of my pocket and plunked it on the counter. She left satisfied, and I was irked for the rest of the afternoon.

Who am I to decide that 21 cents is insignificant, but $2.37 is worth mentioning?

Do you speak up when you're overcharged? If the clerk insists he's right, do you "let it go" or do you pursue the issue? At what point is it "not worth mentioning"?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Garden War 2012: Pests Are Winning

Garden pests: 2. Me: 0.

Will you look at that??

It's supposed to look like this:

That's a bed in another part of the yard.

Aren't they pretty?

They need to be thinned, but I have a really hard time plucking out perfectly healthy plants, since I have a really hard time getting anything to survive seedlinghood anyway!

'Cause seriously:

It's tragic. The garden pests wiped out my biggest radish and spinach bed!

I've yet to catch them in the act, so I don't know if it's slugs or ants. If it's slugs (which are famous for attacking this particular bed), I would hand-pick them out if they'd ever show their slimy faces! I've heard about beer traps, but who wants to let the slugs party at our expense? All you can eat and drink?

What if I'm giving 'em a bad rap and it's really ants? I know better than to try to beat those guys; they're united and indefatigable. 

I'm not quite ready to whip out the heavy pesticides, but organic (i.e. do nothing) just ain't workin'.

The Bleeding Hearts next to my radishes are kind pretty apropos

How do you keep the pests at bay?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blessed Easter Art

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

-From the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weigh In On Your Garden Plans

Last Saturday we finally planted our vegetable garden!

Six weeks late, but the peas are in. So are the radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes and beets.

By the way, in the future I'll be buying beet seed in bulk, 'cause that stuff is a total ripoff. Each seed only produces a single beet, and the $1.89 package I got contained only 16 seeds!

Anyway, in a few weeks we'll be able to plant the herbs, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant (for more baba ghanoush!). I don't think we have enough room for corn, melons, squash, nor cucumbers, sadly.

Last year we had an awesome discussion about this, and inspired by your comments I planted a bunch of new things! What's going in your garden this year? Or what should I include in mine?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fool Proof Guide to Killing Seedlings

64 little tomato seedlings are now buried in their peat moss graves. The popsicle stick label markers, made in a burst of creativity, are now grim headstones... cruel reminders of happier times.

I asked a master gardener yesterday what I was doing wrong, since this happens every time.

"How often should I water them?"

"About twice a week. How often did you water them?"

Guiltily: "Twice a day."

"Go to confession, woman. That's first class herbicide."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Week on Pinterest

From my "I Want to Make - Savory" Board: {Pin} Herbed Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

From my "I Want to Make - Sweet Treats" Board: {Pin} Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

From my "Hardy Har Har" Board: {Pin}

From my "I Want to Make - Sweet Treats" Board: {Pin} Chocolate / Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs

"I Want to Make DIY/Crafty" Board: {Pin} How to Make Countertops from Wooden Doors

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Favorite Lenten Reading

We're squarely in the middle of Lent now. Three and 1/2 weeks in, three weeks and three days until Easter.

I encourage you to keep on keepin' on!

While meditating on the Stations of the Cross (especially St. Peter Julian Eymard's Eucharistic Stations) is a favorite, as is this meditation on the Passion of Christ by St. Thomas More, I'm really really soaking up the goodness of In Conversation with God. There are three little meditations each day, which are great for morning, noon and evening prayers, and they are so fruitful.

Which are your favorite readings and meditations during Lent?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good Christian Ladies

Reading the news, with its anti-Catholic anti-Christian anti-God bilge, sometimes it's so easy for me to lose hope and abandon the culture to the secular humanists. Not the least in a literally ad nauseum list of recent offenses are: the HHS mandate railroading our consciences, the legalization of same-sex so-called "marriage," the protection of hate speech against the Church as a 1st Amendment right but the pastoral letter of a bishop preaching the truth is censored by our government, and the debut of yet another God-mocking TV show, "GCB". 

And yet, when I get together with like-minded people I am so encouraged. There is so much good in our midst!

I think it's really vitally important, especially in this time of persecution of true Christians, to foster deep friendships and encourage one another in our faith. There was a great article in the National Catholic Register lately about church friends being super-friends.

A sad fact is, in most parishes, just going to Mass on Sunday is unlikely to score many friends. The stampede to the parking lot after Mass possesses the frenzy and urgency of front row tickets to a Justin Bieber concert in an all-girls middle school. It's intense, I tell you, intense. So unless you join some committees, groups, or societies, it's very easy to feel horribly alone in church full of people.

But you know what? Joining committees, groups and societies isn't so hard. I've joined a parish Bible study, the religious education program, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the funeral bakers committee, and am an aspirant to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. I've got so many Good Christian Ladies (and gentlemen) around me that it's hard to be discouraged!

Ultimately, of course, our hope is in Christ our Lord. He has already won the victory over sin and death, amen?? "Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, as indeed you do." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do you belong to any church clubs, groups or societies? How do you make godly like-minded friends? How do you keep your eyes fixed on Christ and retain hope in this culture?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Appetizers: 3 Delicious Dip Recipes

Bell peppers. Crackers. French bread. Carrots. Pita chips. Celery. Your Finger.

All of these are appropriate dipping apparatus for these beauts:


1 cup dried chickpeas
several cups cold water
2 Tbsp. whey (the watery stuff on the top of yogurt and sour cream) or vinegar

Soak chickpeas in cold water and whey (or vinegar) overnight. The next morning, rinse well in a colander.

large pinch baking soda
2 cloves garlic
pinch of thyme

Put soaked, drained and rinsed chickpeas in a pot and cover with water. Add baking soda, garlic and thyme. Cook on a low/medium simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, skimming all of the foam off during the first 10-15 minutes of cooking.

When extremely tender, drain, reserving a few tablespoons of liquid.

2-3 Tablespoons of tahini sauce (ground sesame seeds, usually found next to the peanut butter in the grocery store)
1 tsp. cumin powder
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
salt to taste
garlic powder to taste

Place all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor. Process while drizzling in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary -- if it's too thick you can add the reserved chickpea cooking liquid to thin.

Garnish with paprika (or cayenne pepper) and drizzled olive oil.

YES, you can skip the first two steps and use canned chickpeas, but if you're going to go to the trouble of making your own hummus, why not make it from scratch? I've made it with both canned and dried chickpeas, and I much prefer dried -- there's a distinctly fresher flavor and a decadently smoother consistence.


Now this one was a major surprise to me, because I don't like eggplant. But something magical happens on the grill and transforms the plebeian eggplant into gourmet aubergine bliss.

Baba Ghanoush

I followed the recipe exactly from Pioneer Woman Cooks, except I downsized the recipe to use 1 eggplant and I processed it in the food processor to be smooth instead of mashing it with a fork to be chunky.

I'm addicted to the stuff.

I like it so much I'm going to plant eggplant in my limited-space garden this year just so I can make more. That's love.

"Did somebody just come in from nearly dying in the desert and tell his wife 'Make me something cool and refreshing?' I mean, how else could they come up with something this light and refreshingly good?"

Apparently my sister-in-law likes this as much as I do. And I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments. Tzatziki is a cucumber yogurt dip that belongs on every party menu. It tastes like Summer in a dish.


1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (or 2 1/2 - 3 cups regular plain yogurt, strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth for a few hours)
juice from 1 lemon
handful chopped fresh dill (dried will do)
handful chopped fresh parsley (dried doesn't really cut it, but you could try)
handful chopped green onion (or minced regular onion)
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Chill for several hours (the flavor improves with time).

Any or all of these would be wonderful appetizers for a party, but... um... well... they're great afternoon snacks, too!