Friday, February 12, 2016

Lenten Spiritual Reading






I saw this graphic on Facebook and loved it.  It really makes Lenten sacrifices more meaningful.


One thing we've adopted the last couple years is to engage in meditative or spiritual reading for 30 minutes everyday.  I've found age appropriate materials for each of the children, even for Leo.  While the rest of the family is reading, I read to Leo and then I squeeze in my half hour wherever I'm able later in the day.  Last year, we all realized how much we all benefited from this focused time of reading, meditation, and prayer.




These are the books I'm reading to Leo.  We read from the Catechism for the first 10 minutes and then we read an entire Treasure Box book.  We read the Treasure books last year, and he really loved it.  He even remembered we had done so when I brought them to my bedroom on Ash Wednesday.





Ben is joining us for the Catechism book.  The illustrations are fantastic and we are able to really focus on some of the tenets of the faith, one on one.  He's also reading chapter books about various saints, I only have a few of the titles pictured here.



I purchased these books for Katerina, but so far she's been reading the Book of Esther from the bible. She will be confirmed this coming June and she chose Queen Esther as her confirmation saint.





These are Angela's selections.  I read 7 Women just a few weeks ago and loved it.  I've assigned Letters to a Young Catholic to some of my other children over the years and the final title was a suggestion from a good friend.  I may read that one, myself, once Angela is finished with it.





These are some of the books I have for myself.  I'd already began Called to be Holy and My Brother Pier Giorgio before Lent.  I read Father Neuhaus' Catholic Matters last Lent and Chris suggested Death on a Friday Afternoon for this year.  Mere Christianity is a title I've always wanted to read and after reading The Screwtape Letters this summer, I decided I definitely needed to tackle Mere Christianity.  The Examen Prayer is one I've read in the past, but have drifted from the practice of a daily examen, which is something I hope to remedy this 40 days.


These are our lofty goals.  With God's Grace, we hope to draw closer to him each day.


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Thursday, February 11, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} February 11






{Pretty}


I made this very pretty (and delicious) challah to go with a curried lentil soup for our main Ash Wednesday meal.  Fasting isn't quite as bad, if you have something so pretty waiting for you at the end.




{Happy}









It was February birthday week.  Our youngest and oldest had birthdays.  Leo blew out 5 candles on his chocolate sheet cake.



And Nadja blew out a single candle on her sophisticated cupcakes.  We decided 23 candles would be way too many to light.  No one likes candle wax on their cake.




Her cupcakes were amazing.  They were pineapple cupcakes, frosted with coconut buttercream and topped with toasted coconut, a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.  I'll definitely be making those again.



{Funny}


The deer here have gotten down right audacious.  This doe just hung out nibbling our neighbor's bushes as we pulled up.  She didn't spook at all.



{Real}


We've got a bug traveling through the kids.  Our little guy came down with a low grade fever on Saturday and even took a rare nap.  By Monday he was coughing and sputtering and this morning I have three more with stuffy noses and coughs.  I have the diffuser going with a myriad of essential oils.  Hopefully we'll have this licked in just a couple days.



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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday 2016



"I like to think of Lent as a 40-day retreat that we enter into with the entire universal Church. It gives us an opportunity to re-examine our personal relationship with the Lord and to personally judge the spiritual state of our own life. The ashes of Ash Wednesday are a stark reminder of the shortness of life, the reality of death, the mortal nature of the human body, and the need for redemption. Salvation has come to the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died on the cross for the remission of our sins and to show us that death is the doorway through which we enter into eternity-eternal life or eternal damnation. Lent provides an opportunity for each one of us to contemplate the mystery of our redemption that we might more deeply appreciate the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily life, the forgiveness of sins that He has purchased for us by His suffering and death, and the eternal life that He has promised to those who are committed to Him."
--Msgr Charles Parry, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie, MD


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Friday, February 5, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Little Lamb is 5!



{Pretty}


5 years ago, February 4th, this beautiful baby boy was given to us. His sweet little face won us over immediately.





{Happy}


He has brought so much joy into our lives.












{Funny}


He's also added so much more laughter with is funny faces, dispositon . . .





















. . . and a mouth that does not quit moving.



{Real}


Reality has hit me hard.  Our baby is 5.  Where did the time go and can we please make it stop?



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Friday, January 29, 2016

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

I was recently asked for my recipe for homemade mayonnaise. I'm here to oblige.

Homemade Mayonnaise

2 fresh eggs at room temperature*
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup light oil of your choosing**


Having been making mayo for several months now, I'll tell you it is more about the technique than the actual ingredient list. The following is the technique I find the most effective in producing a nice thick and creamy mayonnaise.

Crack eggs into a large plastic cup or quart mason jar.  Add the mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Using a hand held immersion blender, give the ingredients a pulse or two to combine.  Very carefully and slowly drizzle the oil down the side of the blender stick into the jar as you blend the mayo.  Drizzling the oil should take at least 30 seconds.  Continue to blend until the mayonnaise begins to thicken.  This can take between another 30 seconds to 90 seconds more.  You can use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

If you do not have an immersion blender, a regular blender will work, but I have yet to get the same lovely thick consistency with a standard blender, although the mayonnaise has always continued to thicken while cooling in the fridge.


Notes:
* Our two youngest boys do not eat mayonnaise of any kind so I am not all that concerned about salmonella poisoning with them. The rest of us are aware of the risks associated with eating raw eggs.  That being said, I use eggs laid by our own hens.  I know what they eat and also how clean their coop is so I feel confident our eggs are very pure.  I have also used store bought, pasteurized eggs with equal success.  Just be aware, this mayonnaise does require raw egg.  Consume at your own risk.

** Any light oil will do.  By light, I mean light flavored.  I used a combination of light olive oil and grapeseed oil.





Cast of characters





Egg, dijon, lemon juice, salt and pepper





Drizzling the oil extremely slowly and continuous blending is the key to avoid separation and to get the perfect emulsion





Blend for an additional 30-90 seconds once oil has been added





This is the consistency you are looking for--not quite as thick as Hellmanns, but thicker than a salad dressing.  This will continue to thicken when refrigerated and will be nearly the consistency of a store bought mayo.  The recipe yields about 1 cup of mayonnaise.





I made tuna salad with about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, some diced apple and celery, and a touch more black pepper




Tuna salad with apples and toasted pecans for lunch.




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Thursday, January 28, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Jan. 28





{Pretty}


The views just never get old here.  This was taken just a mile from our house.




This was taken on a hike 25 miles from our house.  Yeah, Utah is pretty gorgeous all year round.





{Happy}


I've been making homemade mayonnaise.  Have you ever tried?  It is amazing, delicious, and so much better for you than Hellman's.  I love knowing exactly what we are putting into our bodies.




Have you ever made homemade ghee (clarified butter)?  It is amazing!  We had this over popcorn for movie night and now I cannot have popcorn any other way.  It was so rich and delicious and was actually better than movie theater popcorn (which I adore).  Once again, it is soooooo much better for you too.






 {Funny}


Oh, little man of the perpetually dirty face.





{Real}


Everything is so barren here right now.  Still it isn't difficult to find beauty among the dried out husks.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Budding Artist


Katerina has become quite the artist.  Up until last May, she hadn't really expressed any interest in drawing of any kind and then all of a sudden it is what she spends endless hours at every day. As she practiced, her ability became quite apparent.  She has a preference for Manga type drawing right now, but I'm hoping her horizons continue to broaden as her proficiency does.  Her walls are covered with her creations and she has folders and countless stacks covering most every surface of her room, not to mention the pens, pencils, sharpies, and markers in piles on her floor.  I've scanned in two of her pieces: one from May of 2015 around the time she first became interested and the second from just this month.  The improvement is marked, for certain.  I can't wait to see how she continues to progress.





(K's first anime picture she ever drew)






(This was drawn just yesterday)


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Thursday, January 21, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Sun Valley 2016






{Pretty}



We took our annual winter vacation in Sun Valley this week.  I was surprised to return home with so few photos.  I guess we were all having too much fun.  It was absolutely lovely in Sun Valley.


{Happy}


Mr. Leo thoroughly enjoyed himself.  He skied a ton.  On the first day he rode the magic carpet to the top of a wee hill and skied down with me running behind him to make sure he didn't run into anything.  He has not quite mastered stopping while on skis.




Being such a little guy, his ski day was done much sooner than the rest our our skiers.  He and I would then head back to the lodge for a lunch date.  



{Funny}


It was a 5.5 hour drive to Sun Valley due to the bad weather we had along the way.  Mr. Leo found ways of entertaining himself.  Here he is tearing paper into itty-bitty pieces.


{Real}


Skiing with Mr. Leo is tough work for Chris, but they both really enjoy themselves.





Mr. Leo is getting better at turns.



Mr. Leo took 6 trips down the big mountain on our last day.  It's a great workout for Chris.


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Friday, January 15, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} 1/14




{Pretty}


Another pretty Utah sunset




{Happy}


I have a small collection of thimbles that were once my grandmother's.  This one is so sweet and it makes me happy to have it in my collection.






{Funny}


One of Leo's favorite games is hide and seek.  If we don't find him quickly enough he will peek out from his hiding place to give us a "hint".




{Real}


It's been a very cold winter here in Utah.  This week we had below zero temps in the mornings leading to quite a collection of frost inside our windows.  Believe it or not, I've really enjoyed the cold weather and I'm not quite yet chomping at the bit for spring to arrive.



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Thursday, January 7, 2016

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} New Beginnings 2016

I've recommitted to taking more photos in 2016.  I'm attempting once again to take at least one photo a day, whether on my phone or with my Canon.  It's a hobby I really do enjoy and I want to continue to improve and grow as a photographer.






{Pretty}



We went to daily mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.  Sister Ollie wanted to walk through the Jubilee Doors of Mercy there.  




We were greeted with a lovely surprise as the Cathedral's children's choir sang at this particular mass.  This was the same choir we heard on our trip to Rome last year.  They are truly spectacular and elevate the mass so wonderfully.




The Cathedral really is quite unique and beautiful.  The art work within is mostly of the art deco style and I love it.






{Happy}


Ollie finally stitched a scapular for me.  I absolutely adore it.







{Funny}


Mr. Leo loves his card games.  Saint Nicholas left this nifty card holder in his stocking and it gets used daily for Go Fish, Uno, etc.  I don't recall any of his siblings being into games as much as Leo is.  He's actually quite good and gets a huge kick out of beating me.




 {Real}


After mass, I took the kids to Gourmandise for a lovely dinner as part of our farewell to Ollie.  She headed back to the convent the next morning.  We miss her already.



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