Thursday, March 26, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} My Instagram Girls

I had several photos ready for my post today taken with my nice Canon Rebel, but then I came across several photos on my iPhone that I could not pass up.  My girls are always snapping shots using my phone and I enjoy seeing the world through their eyes.


Katerina has the biggest blue eyes and they are set off by her peaches and cream complexion and rosy cheeks.  I am so glad she is such a tomboy right now.  I think she may make a few heads turn as she gets older and the longer I can keep her a little girl, the better!


Katerina and Angela found these flip-flops in a local beauty shop.  The quote is one of their favorites from The Lord of the Rings.  


Looks like our local convenience store is hiring gallons of milk.  LOL!


Angela is now a permitted driver in the state of Utah.  Yikes!

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} check out Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Freaked Out

Living out in the country, in a friendly, predominantly LDS neighborhood, I never thought I'd be worried about crime.  Unfortunately, we've had more contact with the police in the last 3 years here in Utah than we did the entire 11 years we lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC.  In fact, we had police at our home Sunday night.

It was nearly 9:30 pm and Angela was reading in her room with her door open, which is directly across from our basement entry door.  She heard someone trying to open the door.  Several seconds later, she heard someone trying to open one of the windows in one of the spare bedrooms.  I have a lot of knick-knacks on the window sill of that window, and when the potential intruder knocked some of them about, he was frightened off.  Angela found Chris and I and told us she thought someone was trying to get in.  Chris stormed into the spare room and we found the window with the latch in the locked position, but not secured; meaning someone had wiggled the window off the latch and was able to push the window open.  He had knocked a few of the knick-knacks over in the process.

I called our neighbors to warn them of a prowler in the neighborhood and they set about using the Ward call chain to warn the rest of the neighborhood.  I then called the police and they were at our door within just a few minutes.  We explained the incident and showed them the "scene".  They were very open with us about what they believe is going on.  Our neighborhood has had problems with an apparent "peeping Tom" for the last several years.  The police believe he was the culprit of our break-in and he was possibly targeting Angela.  He has a preference for tall, blond, teenaged girls.  Yipes!  The police were here gathering evidence for over an hour.  They were pretty stoked to actually find evidence (which I will not describe just now so as not to jeopardize our case).

Obviously, we are all a little freaked out!  Chris has gone about the house installing extra security measures and we are researching a security system.  Outside lights will be left on.  Our kids will not be allowed to roam the neighborhood or even play outside without supervision.  Angela has moved to a more secure room in the house.  Our peace of mind has been violated and will not be restored until this guy has finally been arrested.

What terrifies me most is if our perpetrator was indeed the neighborhood "peeping Tom", his behavior has escalated from creepy peeping to breaking and entering and who knows what his intention in doing so was!  For goodness sake, we were all home.  We were all still up and about.  What was he planning to do?

Prayers for a quick and effective resolution would be greatly appreciated!  If anything new occurs, I will be sure to update y'all here. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, March 23, 2015

Teaching Moments

While on our quickie winter vacation, we had breakfast in one of the resort's many restaurants.  The waitress had left kid menus with both the boys and four color crayons at Leo's place setting.  Ben wanted to color his menu and work the puzzles while we waited for our food, but Leo was very reluctant to share any of the crayons with his older brother.

"Leo, you need to share," I told him.

He begrudgingly handed over the yellow crayon and covered his face with his hands to pout.

"Leo, don't you remember what we've been learning? God wants you to share.  Don't you want to make God happy?" I admonished him.

He sighed, "Yes."

"I think you should give Ben one of your favorite colors.  That would make God really happy."

"Yellow is one of my favorite colors!" He huffed.

Yeah, sure it is (insert eye-roll).  We have a lot more work to do with this one.  Honestly, it's moments like these that cause me to ask myself, "Do I really give my best to God and to my family? Am I willing to sacrifice my favorite things in service to God and others?"  As parents, this is something we should not only be teaching our children, but modeling for them as well.   Let's endeavor to give our best to God as Lent comes to a close and Holy Week draws us into the Passion of our Lord.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} March 19


While I do have a few things starting to pop up in my flower beds, it will still be a few more weeks until spring officially arrives here.  In the meantime, I've been purchasing flowers to enjoy.  Tulips are my favorite springtime bloom and I thought the color of these was quite pretty.


While in Sun Valley this last weekend, Leo and I took the gondola to the Roundhouse Lodge for lunch with the skiers.  Leo loves riding the gondola.

One happy boy


I caught the kids taking selfies of themselves climbing the rocks in Snake River Canyon.  They crack me up.


I've been cleaning out and reorganizing cupboards and drawers in the kitchen.  Are the canning jar rings multiplying or what?  I don't have even close to this many actual canning jars.

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} check out Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sun Valley Getaway

Chris really loves his job here in Utah.  The company he works for is really wonderful and treats its employees extremely well.  He has a fantastic benefit package and one of our favorite benefits to take advantage of is the R&R benefit.  The company owns several hotels and resorts in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho, and California at which we might use Chris' R&R days.

This last weekend we took advantage and drove 4 hours to Sun Valley, Idaho to enjoy everything the resort has to offer its winter guests.  Chris' R&R covers lodging in the resort hotel, meals in the resort restaurants, and nearly all the recreation activities the resort offers for him, his spouse, and qualified dependents.  We were put up in a family condo for the weekend.  It had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a lovely living room, and a full kitchen.  We took the kids swimming in the super heated outdoor pool.  The package included ski lift ticket, and equipment rentals.  We went ice skating on the outdoor rink. We ate every meal in their fantastic restaurants.  It was a glorious weekend and all we had to pay for out of pocket were gratuities, the wine I had at dinner one evening, and the chocolate we bought in their candy shop.  Chris and I did some quick figures and were amazed to realize what this little trip would have cost us.  Honestly, without this particular benefit, this is not a trip we could have ever splurged on ourselves.  It was truly awesome and a much needed getaway for all of us.

A View of one of the ski mountains in Sun Valley; the snow was not very good so the skiers skied only one day, but they enjoyed trying out a new mountain.

A view of the resort village--Sun Valley is so much more than just a resort.  There are 13 restaurants, 12 shops, a movie theater, two pools, tennis courts, a shooting range, an outdoor amphitheater, biking and running trails, fishing, horseback riding, two ice skating rinks, and a bowling alley.

Our condo was absolutely gorgeous.  This is the living area and kitchen.

The master bedroom

The girls room

and the boys room.

We enjoyed ice skating in the 60 degree temps.


and swimming in the super heated pool.

This is the river view from one of the restaurants.

My view of the skiing

A view from the gondola heading to the Roundhouse Lodge

Trout Benedict from the Konditorei Restaurant for breakfast

"Game" tatar from The Ram Restaurant

Meyer beef filet

Trio of house made ice creams.  The one on the left was a to die for chocolate ice cream with salted caramel sauce.

Frisee salad with dates, hazelnuts, and goat cheese from Trail Creek Cabin

Risotto croquets in a wild mushroom cream sauce

Apple and huckleberry clafoutis
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lenten Penance in Practice

I was reading my lenten meditation for the day in the Magnificat.  I love these daily reflections and try to incorporate the suggested penance when able.  On this particular day the penance was to clean up someone else's mess without letting on.  At first I found it humorous.  As a mom and a wife, I am always cleaning up disasters made by others.  I showed it to Chris and we both snickered at the irony.

Suddenly my conscience was pricked.  There was a mess I could clean which was not my own.  It is one I do very begrudgingly on most occasions, and I make sure I let Chris know by complaining.  He is in the habit of tapping his shavings from his electric razor into his sink and just leaving them without rinsing them down.  It drives me bonkers.  Lately, I'd just been leaving them myself.

"He can wash them down the drain himself." I'd say to myself.

I had not thought I might serve him instead; cleaning up after him in this particular regard.  I hopped up, stole into the bathroom and rinsed his sink.  It only took a few seconds.  Boy, I can be hard headed, passive aggressive, and ungenerous at times.  Such a simple little thing ended up taking on so much more meaning.  Where are you hard headed and ungenerous? Are there times you might say, "I will not serve?"

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Quiche with Italian Sausage, Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I love quiche.  The best quiche I ever had was from a little French cafe in Miami Beach.  Since the girls got braces last week, I thought I should really try and make a menu filled with soft, nutritious foods for their tender mouths.

They both seemed pretty thrilled with the quiche idea.  Which reminded me I'd never made quiche before.  Which further reminded me we often feel like we've raised two families at this point in our lives.  Our older three where very close in age and are all adults and out on their own, living their own lives.  They would have never been down for quiche.  None of them like eggs of any kind, growing up.  Our "second" family consists of these last four kiddos, who are much more spread out age wise.  They are all much more adventurous, food wise, and our menu has really expanded over the years to accommodate their diverse tastes.

Anyhoo, the quiche was a huge hit and will go into our menu rotation, for certain.  This recipe makes two quiche, because what is better than one quiche?  Two quiche, of course!

Quiche with Italian Sausage, Cheese, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

2  pie crust *

1 TBSP oil
1/2 onion; diced
1 lb italian sausage
pinch salt

16 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sun dried tomato bruschetta*
2 cups cheese*
2 TBSP basil leaves; minced
2 cups loose packed baby greens; like spinach, kale, and swiss chard; roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Roll out each pie crust and ease into a pie plates.  Crimp edges and place in freezer for 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and salt and sauté until soft and translucent.  Add sausage and cook until browned and beginning to caramelize.  Set skillet aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk until frothy.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Add cooled sausage and onion mixture and stir to combine.  Poor into prepared pie crusts and bake for 35-40 minutes until custard is set and the crust has browned.

You can use any savory pie crust recipe you like--meaning any pastry crust without sugar.  My favorite is this one from King Arthur Flour.  It has been a really consistently good pie crust recipe for me and it make two crusts.  

If you cannot find the tomato bruschetta pictured here.  Chopping up an equal volume of sun dried tomatoes should work fine.

I used smoked mozzarella for one quiche and goat cheese and Manchego for the second pie for my dairy allergic boys.  I tried their quiche and it was really quite as good as the one with smoked mozzarella.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} March 12


Oxalis Shamrock I purchased from the grocery store.  I loved the dim light shining on the tiny white blooms.

Here they are lit from my kitchen window. You can make our the shamrock leaves better in this photo.


It's been in the upper 50s and low 60s this week.  The snow is melted and the boys have been stir crazy.  A trip to the park made them very happy.

Katerina expressed a desire to make cupcakes with maple frosting, inspired by her newest favorite book series--The Ranger's Apprentice.  With the tiniest bit of instruction from me, she made chai spice cupcakes and maple buttercream frosting.  They were delicious and made our tummies and tastebuds quite happy.


Leo did not want his portrait taken.  Mean mom.


I love finding selfies on my phone.  By now, my kids should know, if you leave a selfie on my phone it is fair game for me to upload however I see fit.  Fortunately, this clown could not care less.  The real here is round two of braces for her.  Katerina also got braces this week.  The two of them will be wired up for the next 18 months--as will our bank account.  So far, 5 of our 7 have had braces and one had to go two rounds because she wasn't losing baby teeth fast enough.  I've been warned the two boys will likely need ortho care as well.  At least that will be several more years down the road.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mid-Lent Reality Check

We are just about at the half way point of Lent. Time for a Lenten reality check.

As a family we've committed to 30 minutes of personal, silent prayer or spiritual reading a day.  My kids have amazed me.  I thought I'd hear at least the tiniest bit of grumbling and complaining, but no. They have not only embraced the challenge, a few of them even complete it on their own without being reminded.  Leo truly looks forward to it, running into my room gleefully awaiting the next book in the Catholic Treasure Box Series.  He's even saying the included prayers in a very sweet and sincere way.  I'm strongly considering continuing this habit after Lent. I could not be more pleased with my kiddos.

I, on the other hand, continue to struggle.  Most everyday I can think of another way I could be spending that 30 minutes that somehow seems more important than praying.  Wow, I really need to rethink my priorities, no?  While I have diligently stuck to the commitment, I wish I did not think of it as such a chore.  I wish I had the same exuberance my children are showing. God, please give me the grace!

I've been reading late Father Neuhaus' book Catholic Matters.  What a great book.  He had such a great style in his writing which is so engaging and interesting.  I wonder what he would have written about Francis' papacy.

Since giving up my one huge time sucker, I have really gotten so much done around here.  I am really seeing how I've been keeping my head buried and allowing chaos to reign around here.  We've reorganized pantries, cupboards, and drawers.  We've deep cleaned several bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and living areas and we've stayed on top of keeping them clean and have not allowed chaos to take over once again.  I really do need to rethink my time sucker.  As much as I enjoy it, I need to exhibit a whole lot more temperance, for certain.

How's your Lent going?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Curried Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

I have been having a love affair with butternut squash this year due to the dozen or more butternut squash we grew in our garden.  It is definitely my favorite squash and is quickly overtaking my love of asparagus.  Butternut squash makes an amazing pureed soup base and my favorite is a curried butternut squash soup.  It has such a wonderful depth and layer of flavor; sweetness from the squash and ginger, creaminess from the coconut milk, savoriness from the salt and garlic, and spiciness from the garam masala and cayenne.  Top it off with a grilled cheese and I am in comfort food heaven.

 Curried Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

2 small butternut squash
2 cups water
1 can lite coconut milk
1 TBSP olive oil
1 inch piece of ginger; peeled and grated
1 clove garlic; minced
2 tsp garam masala (I make my own and use it in all sorts of Indian dishes.  Here is a link to a good recipe)
salt to taste
cayenne to taste

Cut the top and bottom off the squash.  Slice in half and scrape out the seeds.  Salt the inside of the squash sparingly. Place in crockpot insert and add 2 cups of water.  Cook on high for two hours, or until squash is easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from the crockpot and allow to cool.  Reserve leftover water from crockpot in a measuring cup.  Once cool enough to handle, scrape flesh into a blender and discard peel.  Add enough of the reserved water so the squash blends easily into a smooth puree.  Set aside.

In a medium stock pot heat olive oil, ginger, and garlic on medium high until it just begins to sizzle and become fragrant.  Add the garam masala, and saute another 30 seconds.  Carefully add squash puree,  and coconut milk.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.  Add salt and cayenne to taste.  Cook on low until heated through.  Serve immediately.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

To See Others Made Happy

I have some of the most amazing friends.  They astound me with their deep faith and generosity.  God has been so good to me by placing them in my life and I have learned so much from their examples.

Case in point, I was discussing siblings with one of my dear friends.  She grew up with four older brothers and one older sister.  She related she used to clean her brothers' rooms when she was growing up.  I'm sure my mouth dropped as I listened.

"Why in the world would you do such a thing?" I laughed, incredulously.

"I liked to see them happy." She continued, "When I cleaned for them I could see how happy it made them and it made me happy."

Uh. Wow.  That's a rather radical way of looking at it, I thought.  But in all honesty, she really has something there.  Serving others is such a wonderful way of serving God.  When we make others happy it naturally follows we would be made happy as well.

So, I put her idea to work. The weather here was absolutely gorgeous here yesterday and Ben and Leo were playing outside.  Leo kept coming to me to tattle on Ben.

"He's not being nice to me." He would complain.

He wanted to sit in his Little Tyke's Car and Ben would not let him.  The seat was wet and Ben thought I would not Leo's bottom to get wet.  While I could appreciate his thinking of what my reaction to a wet bum may have been, he certainly was not problem solving all that effectively.

"Get a towel and wipe down the seat." I told him.

He gave me that look of reluctance we so often see in our children when they really don't want to have to put forth a little bit of effort. Ha! I'm sure I make that look myself.   Having to do even just a tiny bit of extra work for someone else is hard for many of us, no?

"Think about how happy that would make him, Ben." I said, "Don't you like to see him happy?"

I could see the wheels turning as Ben mulled over this idea.  Yes, of course he'd like to see his little brother happy.  He slowly moved to grab the towel.  He dragged his feet and behaved as if it were a difficulty to help his baby brother, but I could see the seed was planted.  He could really see the logic in the idea--if Leo is happy, most everyone else is happy, too.

Isn't there an idiom which claims, "Happy siblings, happy life"?

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Friday, March 6, 2015


Today I have three adult children. Yikes! When did that happen?  I couldn't possibly be that old!

Olivia celebrates her 18th birthday today away from home for the 4th year in a row.  I had really hoped she would be here this year, but she and God had other plans.  So from afar, happy birthday to my sunshine!  We love and miss you and hope you have a most wonderful and blessed day celebrating with the sisters.

No baby pictures this year.  I couldn't find any on this computer and my scanner is not cooperating.  This is Ollie at 4 years old.  She was a real girly girl.

Ollie with baby Katerina.  She absolutely loved all of her baby siblings.

My girly-girl's 6th birthday.  Every girl needs to be a mermaid at least once.

She was a lovely little ballerina for many years; up until she left for the aspirancy.

For her 7th birthday she began having a preference for pie rather than cake.

On the day of her First Holy Communion with our pastor, Father Charles Parry.

Ollie's 10th birthday, she still enjoyed dressing up as a princess.

A glamor photo shoot I convinced her to do for me when she was about 13.  I love this photo. Once she became a teen, she was much more camera shy.  This is a typical shy photo of our lovely girl.

Olivia on her Confirmation with her godfather Rob and her sponsor, Sister (now Mother) Aeiparthenos.

This was taken the day she left for the aspirancy school in Pennsylvania.  There were many tears shed by Angela and Ben and mom.

This was taken on our first visit to Olivia in PA.

Olivia was inspired to enter the aspirancy by our dear friend Rinju, who was in the minor seminary for the IVE.  He is now in the major seminary for the IVE in DC, studying for the priesthood.

We had so much fun visiting the sisters and the aspirants in PA.

I love this photo of Ollie, taken when she was about 15.

This is a fav too. I took this while we were visiting GG in Spokane.  Olivia has an infectious laugh and a wonderful sense of humor.

She loves her siblings.

Ollie was Angela's sponsor when Angela was Confirmed this last spring.   I was so proud of both of them.

Now Sister Olivia on the day of her entrance as a postulant, just a few weeks ago.  Pictured with Mother Ephesus (her superior at the aspirancy) and Sister Clemente (her former classmate at the aspirancy)

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