Monday, October 7, 2013

When My Husband Makes His Own Breakfast

My husband makes our breakfast every morning. It's a generous and loving habit he started when we were first married, and he's kept it up ever since.

Normally our fare is something along the lines of bacon, eggs, grits, and coffee. Plain oatmeal on penitential days. Pancakes or waffles on weekends. Donuts on Sundays if the Boy Scouts are selling them after Mass. Hash browns, sausage, and/or biscuits on special occasions, when I make them.

All fairly normal stuff, right?

For the last few days I haven't been able to join my husband for breakfast and wondered what he would eat if I weren't around.

This morning my curiosity was sated when I saw his Breakfast Deluxe Combo: Poptarts, Oreos, and liverwurst.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vignettes of A Beautiful August Day

May I share a few glimpses of beauty with you on this lovely August afternoon?

Remember back in February when my sweet husband gave me these? Well, it's a whole six months later (to the day), and not only are they still alive, but last night I spied THIS:

*siren noise* We have a bloom, people! We have a bloom! *end siren noise*

And speaking of lovely gifted blooms, please share my joy in this gorgeous specimen...

... given to us by a very very dear couple.

And while we're still on the subjects of flowers, this showpiece is from a rose bush that I thought, last year, was dead!

It just needed some really hard pruning and it rewarded us with exquisite roses.

This one speaks for itself. I don't know what it is, but every year they grow up and every year I'm astounded by the brilliance of color.

And then there's these monsters...

... twelve to fourteen feet tall, and ablaze with golden glory.

The zucchini plants are thriving and, happily, are supplying us with just enough courgettes to meet demand. Four plants were the perfect amount for our little family.

And the tomatoes...

... are juicy and flavorful. They're not my favorite tasty heirloom varieties, but they didn't succumb to any of the viruses that have plagued my previous attempts, either. How does the old saying go? A hybrid tomato in the hand is worth two heirlooms in the Verticillium Wilt bush. Or something like that.

And finally, on the subject of bushes...

Will you take a look at that basil? There's enough there for pesto every night of the week for the next three winters.

We are so blessed with beauty.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Involuntary Plantslaughter

This February I attempted to grow sweet potato slips from some sweet potatoes we gleaned last Summer. Five potatoes were cut in half and donated to the cause of regeneration.

I dutifully kept them in 1" of water until roots sprouted and watched with excitement when, after three months in said water, one of them grew leaves!!

I beamed with pride at my little sweet potato -- no one believed it would ever sprout, and it was beautiful. Sure, the other 9 never made it, but the one that did was thriving.

My husband planted it last week.

Trying to be helpful, I weeded this week.

"Why is there that one huge weed in this otherwise clean bed?"


Monday, June 10, 2013

Putting Life on Hold

I've been browsing the farm classifieds for sheep, pigs, ducks and dairy cows for the last few months. After all, we were going to break ground on our dream house this Fall and would finally be living on a nice little chunk of property.

Our last chance for financing fell through, though, and it's pretty official that until our ground has no crops on it and our taxes show no indication of agricultural income from the property, we're sunk. The absolute earliest, then, is 2015.

That stings.

Bye bye awesome mortgage interest rates, most likely. No living on the property means no livestock. No house means no adoption.

Jezu ufam Tobie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Five Favorites, May 14th Edition

1. My new irrigation boots. Because if I must tromp around in the mud moving sprinkler lines, I may as well be wearing cute boots.

2. This new "Hepburn" dress at Lady V London. Just lovely!

Image from Cooks Country

3. Key Lime* Icebox Pie. Graham cracker crust, 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, 3/4 cup key lime juice. Mix the three filling ingredients until smooth, pour into prepared crust. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, cool 1 hour on the counter and 3 hours-overnight in fridge. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

*You can substitute lemon juice.

4. Strawberries. Our local grocery store had 2 POUNDS FOR $1.48!! And they're SWEET! I bought... um... a lot.

Image from L'Osservatore Romano

5. The pope preaching about Christians with "pickled pepper" faces, not being a "part time Christian," and the fact that the devil "always rips us off." This guy is good.

Read more Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Calf Named Sunday

Meet "Sunday."

She's named Sunday because she had the audacity to start dying on a Sunday.

Her mom is a 1st calf heifer and doesn't really know what to do with her, so she mostly abandoned this little calf in the weeds.

Which meant we spent most of our Sunday doing....

... this. Pumping electrolytes and milk replacer into this little one on our ONLY day of rest.

But, after all, who among us would let our ox die if he fell in a ditch on the sabbath?

Definitely necessary labor, and kind of fun labor at that, but these every-few-hour-feedings when she lives a 15 minute drive away make for a very unrestful day of rest.

Who can resist that sweet face?

This morning her mother rediscovered her. She's still far from out of the woods (she might have scours and we still haven't seen her nurse), but we'll be watching her closely.

Good luck, little Sunday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Miracle of the Pepper Plants

This is my 12 week old pepper.

12 weeks.

As in, 3 months. 

It's supposed to be HUGE.

But due to over babying, over watering, an aphid plague of Biblical proportions, not repotting them from the seed starter soon enough, and my general black thumbhood, they're stunted, sad, and I want to cry every time I look at them.

I refuse to abandon this little project, however, and I faithfully set them out in the sun every day to harden off. Yesterday I deemed them worthy to remain out all night for their first sleepover.

Parting with them was bittersweet. They weren't tucked in under their grow light in the kitchen. I couldn't check on them to pick off the aphids. I slept a little uneasily, wondering how they were faring on the cold dark front step.

This morning when I looked out the window to see if they'd survived their first night in the elements...

"MY BABIES ARE ALL GROWN UP!!! How on EARTH did they spring up like that OVER NIGHT?? Did they just need fresh air?! Did my little boost of fish emulsion cause this Edenic transformation?! It's a miracle!!"

"Actually, darling, Aunt Elena gave us her extra pepper starts yesterday and I set them out next to yours."

And there was much laughing. Maybe we'll get some peppers out the garden this year after all!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

4 Pretty, Holy, Catholic Pinterest Boards

It's hardly a secret that I love Pinterest. There are so many beautiful ideas, fun crafts, delicious recipes, and inspirational images.

When I scan the feed, though, I always pause an extra-long time over the religious images. They always catch me off guard because there are so few holy pins, but it's like seeing portraits of old friends and it never fails to make me smile.

And, not gonna lie, if I'm starting to slip into covetousness of beautiful houses or dream gardens, the images of the Blessed Mother gently call me back! It's a wonderful little pictorial evangelization.

If you need some Catholic boards to follow, I'm rather fond of:

Betty Coe's "Catholic" Board

Sherry Gardiner's "Catholic" Board

Kathleen Doherty's "Catholic" Board

Amy Caroline's "Believe It" Board

and I suppose I could do a little shameless self-promotion and direct you to my own

City Wife, Country Life's "Sanctus" Board

Please please please let me know which Catholic boards you follow so I can have some more sanctified Pinterest viewing!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday Musings on Tuesday

Right now... I'm content.

This weekend... I went to meetings and parties galore! It seems to be the season for baptisms, wedding showers, baby showers, burger bashes; it was all very fun.

Some plans for this week... I read a book about making wine. I'm intrigued and want to price out the supplies I'd need to make some blueberry wine with the supply in our freezer. Sounds like a worthy project.

I'm also hunting, furiously, for someone to finance our housing project. We made a misstep by planting crops on our land. Apparently nobody finances land that makes money. Now they tell us! I have one option left, and I'm waiting for him to call us back. Otherwise, well, let's just not think about the "otherwise."

Time to plant a lot of stuff in the garden, too. My entire pea crop was decimated by quail, and they're threatening my beets, too. My tomato starts succumbed to some virus, and the aphids wiped out my peppers. It's not a good gardening year, thus far, except for my artichokes. Those are hardy little suckers and just might live to tell the tale!

If I find some time for myself, I would like to... learn some music on the piano. I didn't know our library had sheet music! This is a wonderful find, and I've got lots of Irving Berlin to hammer out.

I am grateful for... our parish that offers so many daily Masses. Sometimes we have 4 on any given day, so there's no excuse for not going.

Some prayer intentions for this week: a green light on house financing. Success for my husband who's installing irrigation systems and planting crops and working obscene hours to provide for us. For all those I know who are getting married in the next few months (lots!!).

Something that makes me smile: 

This little cutie that I really really really really really want to buy! I'm going to have to campaign hard for this one, but isn't she adorable??

Read Nadja's Monday Musings.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Second Painting: This is Fun!

I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and picked up a $3.49 canvas, determined to make another paint by number.

"Mary Consoles Eve" Crayon & pencil drawing by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO.
Copyright 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

I saw this image on Facebook yesterday and it really moved me. Eve, the mother of all the living, clinging to the fruit of death with the snake coiled around her leg, is consoled by the New Eve, the mother of Life, holding the fruit of her womb while crushing the head of the serpent. Reconciliation, forgiveness, grace, beauty, everlasting life -- a pretty powerful image.

Unfortunately, the Blessed Mother's lips are pursed and Eve's luscious locks look like a gunnysack, but overall I'm rather pleased with the outcome.

Can't wait to find another image to paint! This is really really really fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Louis and Zelie Martin Painting

Pinterest is amazing. Really.

I saw this idea yesterday from Librarian Tells All, and was blown away.

"I think I could do that," I mused to myself.

Why yes, yes I can.

I'm imagining a whole line of classical artwork and saints, now. And an Etsy shop? I'll build an empire of DIY paint by number!!

Or, maybe I'll just mat and frame this one for our broom closet for starters.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Five Favorites, 3rd Edition

~ Number One

On Tuesday, both the Solemnity of St. Joseph and the Installation of Pope Francis, we celebrated with great fanfare. As a nod to our Argentinian pontiff, we feasted on dulce de leche cheesecake bars.

Do you see that drippy shiny sweet stuff on the bottom? Pure heaven.

I think these will have to make a repeat appearance on Easter. And Pentecost. And my birthday. And National Tap Dance Day.

~ Number Two

Remember my Easter dress last week? Not able to bear bare arms, I've been searching for a shrug.

Yay for this little number, on sale, at Target!

I'll sew some little pearl buttons on it and deem it "perfect."

~ Number Three ~

Total Language Plus. I really10,000 like this series. It is a comprehensive literature-based spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and writing program all in neat little copy-able books.

I've been using the program all year with my nieces and I am super impressed.  The "grammar" section is weak, at best, but that's easily replaced.

It's humiliating, but I'm learning vocabulary words from middle school books. Portmanteau, lanneret, lavabo, demesne... mind blown.

~ Number Four ~

Oh, how much I want our new house to have character, charm and beauty! Old five paneled doors will aid that goal. Now if only I could score 'em dirt cheap on Craigslist or the Habitat ReStore.

~ Number Five ~

There's some heroic virtue going on right now, as my husband and I are both saving the last piece of homemade beef jerky for each other.

Read others' favorites at Moxie Wife.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Five More Favorites

 ~Number One
Lady Vintage London

Finding modest, lovely Easter dresses gets harder every year. Actually, I haven't gotten a new Easter dress since middle school... but I really really wanted one this year. Lady V to the rescue!

With a white shrug and some pearls, I can't wait to debut this dress. Be aware that their sizes run a little large (even after you've converted the European sizing to American sizes).

~Number Two
Lego Rosaries

I was going to buy one as a gift, but I kind of want one myself...

~Number Three
Handwritten Letters

What a boost to the spirit these thoughtful deliveries bring! It doesn't really take that long to write a handwritten letter, but what a gift they are, especially on beautiful stationery.

~Number Four
St. Patrick's Day Recipes

I can't wait to try my hand at corned beef this Sunday! I've never actually made one before, though I've eaten plenty of the boiled kind. Boiled is good for the meat (I'll make a boiled one just for the leftover Reubens and hash), but I've always thought the boiled cabbage and potatoes left something to be desired.

Since I have hardly any Irish blood in me, I don't mind straying from tradition and experimenting with either Whiskey Glazed Corned Beef or Guinness Glazed Slow Cooker Corned Beef.

I'm fairly decided upon Parslied Potatoes and Roasted Cabbage Wedges for the sides, and Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert.

~Number Five
The New Calf

Read more Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Five Favorites

I haven't participated in a link-up in a long time, but this one caught my attention because this morning I was thinking, "I want to blog but there's too much in my head right now; I can't narrow it down!" Well, what a lovely little linky to ask bloggers to list five of their current favorite things.

In no particular order, here we go:

~Number One~
Crispy Roasted Duck

Image from The Hungry Mouse

For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave us a duck! Having never cooked one before, I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to find the perfect recipe, and this one looked just right.

I was very surprised by how much the thing shrunk in the oven. It started out about the size of a regular roasting chicken, and each time I opened the oven to flip it, it'd shrunk another size. By the time it was finished, it was slightly larger than a cornish hen! However, it was so tasty! I thought it could feed 4 people, comfortably, but it fed 4 people just barely (even after giving half of my small portion to my husband).

This morning I rendered out the duck fat from skin I'd trimmed off the fowl, and use it in a paté out of the liver. What a treat.

Overall, what a happy new experience! Because of its excellent flavor, I want to raise a few quackers now.

~Number Two~

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs

Even if we're years off from building a house on our five acres, I can still plan what we're going to do with it. I found the pig breed I want to raise!

The Gloucestershire Old Spot is a heritage breed pig, originally from England (if you didn't already surmise that from the name) that was nearly extinct but is slowly gaining popularity. It's got plenty of lard (not a lean pig) for rendering, makes excellent bacon, has a docile temperament, and does great on pasture and foraging. It's purported to have an exceptionally flavored meat.

As you'll readily find out if you do any research on it, they used to be raised in orchards where they'd fatten up on windfall apples (without damaging the trees) and also on leftover whey from cheesemaking.

Fortunately there are some breeders not terribly far away with a great selection of these rare porkers at very reasonable prices.

~Number Three~
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

How come everybody else in the world knows about this company except me?? Well, I guess I do now, too.

I've already bought all of the seed I need for this year from Territorial Seed, (which I wouldn't recommend; overpriced and mediocre germination) and St. Clare's Seeds (which I would highly recommend; decent pricing, pretty good selection, great service, and 100% germination). I sent away for one of Baker Seed's catalogs anyway, and have highlighted everything I want for next year! What a fun read! SO MANY VARIETIES!

If you haven't seen this exotic tomatoes or this outlandish melon, please click over.

~Number Four~
Waking Up Early

This has never, as long as I've been alive, been on of my "favorites." But this Lent my husband and I are trying to go to the early Mass every day, and I've got to say... it's amazing. There's a freshness, a stillness, and a beauty in those early hours that just doesn't exist at any other time of day.

And if you go to bed early, it's not actually that hard to get up early. Who knew??

~Number Five~
What Should Catholicism Call Me?

I couldn't breathe. I was crying. My sides were aching. I haven't laughed that hard in a long long time.

The first page was pretty good, but each successive page of the archives made me laugh harder and harder and harder until I had to walk away or risk brain damage from lack of oxygen.

Maybe I've hyped it up too much, but if you are Catholic (or understand Catholic culture) and want a... chuckle.... I recommend this great little Tumblr page.

Check out more Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seedling Success! But... Help!! Now What?

I've never been this successful in my life! For the first time ever, I have seedlings that are developing their first true set of leaves!

Look at that baby artichoke plant!


These little tomato plants just popped up a few days ago. And they haven't flopped over yet!

But I desperately need help. I'm encountering something I've never dealt with before...

There are ROOTS sticking out of the bottoms.

I've seriously never seen this before. In over a decade of attempts, I've never made it to the point where roots would be hanging out.

I don't even know what to do! Are these still immature enough that I can leave them? Or do I have to transplant these babies?

And I haven't thinned them yet, either. There are two seedlings in each little compartment. Do I have to kill one?

Help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflections on Parish Cookbooks

Forgive me some stream of consciousness indulgence for a bit.

I don't know how I feel about church cookbooks. You know, the spiral bound collections that parishes sell for fundraisers, comprised of recipes from the ladies' altar society and all of their friends and distant relatives?

On the one hand, they're rather charming. Ostensibly, they're the collection of the greatest recipes from real cooks, many of whom you know personally. There can be some real recipe gems in there. "Meemaw's Creamy Eggnog," "Uncle Oswald's Secret Marinade," and "Aunt Lobelia's Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake" are all tried and true winners.

On the other hand, nobody screens the entries; if Aunt Maybelle submits a dud, it's still getting published.

I submit two "recipes" for your perusal that were recently espied in an old parish cookbook:

Festive Green Beans
Submitted by: Name withheld [truly, and not by me]

1 can green beans
1/4 cup chopped red pepper

Mix ingredients. Serves 4.
Sesame Chicken
Submitted by: Name withheld [I have my suspicions...]

1 chicken, cut to pieces
1/2 cup sesame seeds.

Cook chicken. At the end, top with sesame seeds. Serves 4-6.

You've got to give her points for brevity.

Another staple of parish cookbooks is the ubiquitous "Recipe for A Happy Life"... something saccharine about a dash of love, a sprinkle of giggles, a dollop of forgiveness, a pinch of humor, and a smidge of faith. That recipe, or slightly adapted, is in every volume I own.

When I want a new recipe, I rarely scan these cookbooks. Why?

1) There are no pictures. If I can't see it, it's hard to envision serving it.

2) My style of cooking is very different. I don't often go for "quick and easy" recipes, because I enjoy cooking and, at this stage in my life, I have plenty of time to do it. I don't buy refrigerated biscuits, Ranch dressing packets, cream of mushroom soup, or Lipton onion soup. Yes, I know how to replace all of those, but I'm usually turned off of a recipe if I have to do a lot of substituting.

3) There are often five or six versions of "Perfect Pineapple Fluff," each with slight but significant variations. The indecision of which "perfect" recipe to pick kills me. My attempts to amalgamate the best of each version often result in far less than perfect dishes.

And yet, these books still hog a whopping 2 feet of shelf space in my miniscule pantry.

And I can't part with them.

What are your own thoughts on the matter?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 2nd Annual Day After Valentine's Day

Don't forget, ladies! Today is the 2nd Annual Day After Valentine's Day.

I was babied beyond belief yesterday.

A delivery of these started the day off perfectly:

Oh, how I love Azaleas!

The day ended with us doing the dishes together, praying the Rosary, and reading Les Misérables aloud.

Everything in between was ambrosial.

But today it's our turn. No one is expecting the extravagant love to continue today. Do one profound act of babying your husband today. Iron his pillowcase, fluff his baked potato, meet him outside with a huge smile when he gets home, warm his blanket in the dryer... something simple, loving, and utterly gratuitous.