Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I was planning to take a break from blogging, until these anxiety issues resolve themselves. I thought you must be tired of listening to me go on about it in every post. But, on Monday, I ran into another mom at the dance studio and we started talking about how we were both going through anxiety issues, both having a sudden onset. We had so much in common as we go through this, I thought surely there must be other people out there who are going through, if not anxiety, other medical or psychiatric issues related to peri-menopause or menopause. If even one person can know she is not alone in her struggles, it's worth writing about. I apologize if this subject bores most of you. Maybe some day you will remember this time in my life and know you are not alone.

It's really such a strange time of life. It's only recently that I have realized it has always been called "the change." I never gave much mind to what was going to change, but it is a change, and it's not just fertility that is changing. This mishmash of hormones causes the craziest symptoms. I can't even stand the smell of coffee any more -- it's like being pregnant, but with no sweet baby at the end.

Anyway, I thought I'd mention a few things that have helped me as I go through this -- just the anxiety aspect.

First, prayer. How would I get through this if I didn't know my suffering was worth something? I wouldn't. How would I get through it if I didn't know that God was at my side, and my Blessed Mother was praying for me? I breathe "In Mary, out Jesus." Deep, slow breathing for 15 minutes. It does help.

My doctor also put me on a low dose of progesterone. I know a lot of people go on medications for anxiety and depression, but I wanted to fix what was wrong, if it is hormones, not mask it in my brain. I can't say I won't ever go on anxiety medication, but I want to try to remedy what's causing it. Next week I see my gyn to talk about the different kinds of progesterone. My family doctor is not a hormone specialist, so she just gave me a low dose pill, and I'm currently taking half of it. I want to talk to the gyn about using bioidentical cream -- apparently the pill works better for some women and the cream for other women.

I have increased my fluid intake -- mostly just cool water, but I have noticed that the more I drink the better I feel. I also gave up all caffeine. I've tried some teas -- chamomile seems to work to relax me, but it also stuffs me up -- I think chamomile is related to ragweed, which I'm allergic to. Because of my coumadin, I have to be cautious about the other herbs I use.

I knit -- nice even, orderly stitches. And I try to distract my brain with something soothing. I'm watching Downton again. It's the only thing that holds my attention and doesn't rev me up.

Anxiety is not something most people think about, not unless you're dealing with it. And it's hard for others to understand what it feels like. Last week I really debated about calling my doctor's office to say, "Who do I call when I just can't do it anymore? What number do I dial to get the men in the white jackets?" Mental health is just not something people talk about like they do other health issues.

Right now I feel close to normal again, but every once in a while throughout the day, I get back right on the edge of feeling like I could lose it. I don't want to scare my kids, but I have a really short fuse right now and they have definitely noticed.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to go in and have that spinal injection -- if my blood is thick enough. I am praying now, and not shy to ask for your prayers, that I get through the procedure without dropping my basket.

And if you have anything to offer, in terms of dealing with peri-menopause or menopause, or how your mother dealt with the symptoms, please, please write a comment. I guarantee there is someone who would benefit. Anyone had any good results using stones? I used to think "stone magic," if you will, was a bunch of hogwash, but I recently came to the conclusion that God created stones, and why not for our benefit? I know there are stones that are supposed to provide calming energy and I wondered if anyone reading had used them.


On a different note, I can't believe it's been six years since we lost our Jill. She is still missed desperately. If you've been a reader that long, you prayed with us as our Jill struggled with an awful rare cancer.

On Monday, we followed one of Faith's dance teacher's, also a Jill, into the dance studio parking lot and I noticed she drove the same kind of Jeep as our Jill did. I mentioned it to Faith and she said, "I really miss my Godmother." A girl really needs her Godmother, and we often talk to Jill in heaven.

This weekend is a walk in Cincinnati for a scholarship at Jill's high school. I am hoping the spinal injection will not create complications, and I can go.


Last week, clicking around to see the projects posted at Ginny's Yarn along, I came upon the blog of a woman who was asking for volunteers to test a young girls' sweater pattern. On a whim (so unlike me) I decided to do it, even though I was anxious that starting an unknown would create more anxiety. Fortunately, it has not, and I am pleased with the sweater, thus far. It is knit from the bottom up, something I have never before done, so I am learning something knew. I just this morning got to the point where the sleeves are knit and then later attached. I guess I am unsure why anyone would knit a sweater this way when it is so easy to knit from the top down, but I'll finish before I make any firm conclusions. The yarn is pretty and soft -- it's Knitpicks Chroma in weathervane.


On the food front has been apples. Faith and I picked one day several weeks ago, and we went back yesterday and bought Honeycrisps from the orchard's market. They are so dear in price, but a favorite around here. They didn't have many pecks left, but I'll be back in a few weekends to pick Jonagolds -- my favorite.

This wonderful, wonderful dish was created with golden supreme apples, a slightly tart, yellow, crisp apple. They are not my favorite to eat, but they make a great dessert. This is an apple fritter cake, and it really, truly tasted like a fresh apple fritter. Yum, yum, yum. Everyone enjoyed it. I modified the recipe a little to cut back on sugar, but here is where I found it. Below is the recipe as I made it, with a little less sugar. I would make it again in a heartbeat, but then I would be so tempted to eat most of it, I won't. Once a year is good and I'll be looking forward to it next year. It was best the first day, but stayed fresh several days.

Apple Fritter Cake

1 heaping cup of sliced apples
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
small pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water (I needed more to keep apples from stocking, but it probably depends on the variety used)

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a 1/4 cup each of dark and light)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup greek yogurt (you could use plain yogurt as well or sour cream)

For Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons milk

For filling: 
Make your filling by combining apples, sugar, water, cinnamon and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Cook on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened and the apples are a bit soft (I didn't really have sauce -- it was pretty much sticky apples).  Set aside to cool.  In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together until well combined and set aside.

For Cake: 
Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add applesauce and vanilla and mix till combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift the dry ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three parts alternating with the yogurt in two parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat until just combined.

Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spoon the cooled apple mixture over the batter carefully and spread as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle 2/3 of brown sugar cinnamon mixture over apples and cover with the rest of the batter.  Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar cinnamon mixture over the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

For Glaze: 
While the cake is baking, make the glaze.  In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until the glaze is desired consistency.  When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately but carefully pour onto hot cake.  Try to pour as evenly as possible.  You might have to pick up the cake and tilt it to spread the glaze evenly.  Let the cake sit for awhile for the glaze to set.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A couple of knits, a couple of books, and several films

You'd think anxiety would keep me from starting multiple projects and reading several books at a time, but it seems my craziness has just spread to other areas of my life.

I was working on that big knitting project (you know -- the one I can't show here), but my sometimes-off-but-definitely-on-right-now-OCD prevents me from starting a row unless I can finish it, and the rows are so long now that it takes quite a while to go in one direction and then back without stopping. Thus, I needed a smaller project for during the day or when I'm out somewhere sitting (in the car waiting on dance class). My oldest son needed some new potholders, as I guess his got tossed when we moved him out of the college apartment. His new dishes have red on them, his towels and washcloths are red and white, and last weekend he added a shiny red toaster (don't tell him it's starting to look like a Buckeye kitchen), so I am knitting bright red potholders with some peaches 'n' cream yarn. I just cast on 31 stitches, knit in seed stitch until they are the size I want, and cast off. Then do the same thing again and stitch them together at the edges with a straight stitch using the yarn. Voila -- a nice thick potholder. And they are easy and uncomplicated to knit -- which is exactly what I need right now.

I have two books going in print (well, one on paper and one on the Kindle). Pictured is Now I See You, A Memoir, by Nicole Kear, which has been very entertaining, though at times rather raw (adult language and situations). The other, on my Kindle, is Cracks in the Sidewalk, by Betty Lee Crosby, also very interesting, but sad -- about a young mother's illness and broken heart. I read the former during the day and the latter at night, as my kindle light doesn't bother my husband like a lamp would. I have almost finished Cracks in the Sidewalk, and don't think I will try to read two books at the same time again for a while. (Athough I probably will.) I am listening to The Martian Child, by David Gerrold, though I just started it yesterday and don't yet have an opinion. I did see the film a few years ago, however, and found it pretty interesting.

I popped over to our library yesterday as my educator's library card had expired with the new school year. I took our "homeschool letter" over and renewed it, but when I got there I couldn't find my card. Since it had been in several pieces taped together for several years I broke down and just got a new one, even though I knew my old number by heart and didn't really want to memorize a new one. When I got home I logged onto the Ohio e-Book Project website, which is where I get my free audio books, and almost cried when I found that with the new number all of my holds had been wiped clean. The librarian essentially wiped my old account when she issued the new card and so all of the books I have been waiting for are gone, and I have no idea what titles they were. Sigh...

So I spent quite a bit of time this morning going through Ginny's friends' (Yarn Along knitters) posts to find new books. After going through over two dozen posts I haven't found one book to reserve, at least not one available on audio. Urg. A lot of people who post their projects on Ginny's blog don't post books, and I just today realized that. Hey folks, it's a knit and read thing. Get it?

Anyway, I also have a few good films to tell you about. They aren't current, and they are all three sad, but good movies (you know where you cry but it all ends up ok). Really good, in my book. I saw them all on Netflix -- they are available instantly. The first was The Letter Writer, then Stolen Summer, and then 5th Quarter. The last is based on a true story and was very, very moving (especially so in my extremely emotional current state). I'm not sure I could watch it again as I cried through at least half of it, but it was really good and worth it especially if you are not in a teary state. I think Aidan Quinn must have been going through menopause when they filmed that movie because we were both crying at the same time (and I mean really crying).

Ok. That's all I have right now. So go check out Ginny's friends' projects, and maybe a few books.

* Note: Affiliate links alert.

Monday, September 08, 2014


There's a lot going on here, but I won't say much about it. Most of it's medical, as usual, but the worst today is too little sleep and a splitting headache. I won't go into the rest, just to say it's a repeat from a million and one times before, and my spinal injection scheduled last week had to be rescheduled again because I can't be on antibiotics when he gives it. ugh, ugh, ugh.

I'm sleepy because this dog chose 10 o'clock last night to stick her nose up the back side of a skunk. I knew one day it would happen, but lately I was more worried about a young raccoon she enjoyed treeing every night. I was afraid it would eventually turn on her. But, last night it was a distinctly more aromatic creature. Oh, I have never heard my kids complain so loudly about anything! We were almost ready to go to bed and it was the dog's last potty trip of the day. She came in the back door and the kids scattered like roaches at first light. The smell! Doug got her back out quickly and I googled a remedy (what did we do before google?). I mixed up and Doug bathed her in 1 qt. hydrogen peroxide (which I luckily had) mixed with 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 t. dish soap. I found the recipe at the Humane Society website. Since the mixture is not supposed to get in the dog's eyes (and you can imagine her head got sprayed before any other part) her face got washed in V-8 juice, the closest thing to tomato juice I had. Then Doug washed her in shampoo. Luckily it's summer and he could do  that all on the deck and not in the house. She slept in the garage and though she came in this morning and went down to her crate, I didn't get close enough to smell her. I suspect I'll have to go out and get something commercial by the end of the day and bathe her again. Oh. the joy of dogs! And wildlife.

As soon as that scene was put to bed, I made some chamomile tea and tried to relax. Doug came to get me (I was in the living room because he was watching football) at 11 pm for bed. I then realized I hadn't gotten money out for Noah's lunch, and when I retrieved my purse I couldn't find my little wallet with my cash, driver's license and debit card. I panicked and then remembered I had pulled it out after church when we stopped for a bite to eat. It must be in the car. I went to the car, but it wasn't there. I almost started crying -- just too much for one night. But then I slid my hand between the back seats where I had been sitting and it was there. Thank you, God.

I wished I could have just stayed in bed all day today, but there is school to be done, a haircut appointment, dance classes, and a rosary guild meeting tonight. If I make it that long. Today is a Red Beans and Rice dinner, with some semolina bread. I'll try to remember to take photos this time. Sadly, I don't think we'll be celebrating Our Blessed Mother's birthday all together.

I'll just share one recipe with you -- a dish I tried last week that the men-folk loved. It was fried, but just in a thin layer of olive oil, and they were chicken breasts, so it's all good. I highly recommend.

Mediterranean Chicken Breasts

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves 
oil for sautéing

Mix together the first seven ingredients (from the cheese through to the black pepper) on a piece of waxed paper, or shallow dish; put the oil in a shallow dish.

Dip the chicken breast halves in the oil (or brush on with a pastry brush), then coat them evenly with the cheese/breadcrumb mixture.

Place a large skillet over a medium to medium high heat; pour in a thin layer of olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and the juices run clear. Do not crowd skillet. Cook in two batches if necessary to leave room between pieces.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

{9/2}...September streaming

Can you believe it's September already? It feels like it was just April yesterday.

I have purchased two Christmas gifts already and I know that is the earliest I have ever done that. I am so pleased with myself. I did not start planning so far in advance because I am such a great planner, however. Since Doug left his former employer we learned he will not be getting that little performance-based bonus he used to receive in November. It was not much, but it helped with Christmas gifts. I had a little (big) panic when we found out and I started planning. What really stinks about it is he worked the entire year and met his goals, but since he is not there when they dole the money out, he's out. Grrr.


We had a very busy Labor Day weekend, and I'll give you one guess who labored. You guessed the kids, didn't you? Ha!

We had family in from Cincinnati on Saturday and I fixed one of my favorite dishes I had never prepared for them -- Spanish Pan Roast (not a beef roast, all the food roasts together). I used fresh andouille sausage instead of chorizo and everyone enjoyed it. I also made the Spanish bread I usually serve with it, and a loaf of Semolina 5-Minute Artisan bread. I'll make that again soon and post the recipe. It's really good. We had Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert.

On Sunday, we had Doug's brothers, mother and families over for dinner and it was mostly potluck. I made my Baked Beans, and we supplied the burgers and toppings, and dessert. One of the desserts was Pig Pickin' Cake. Have you ever heard of Pig Pickin' Cake? It is one of my favorites and there is one piece left in the fridge (luckily no one else in my family really likes it).

You can find variations on the name and recipe all over the internet, but here is my recipe, as passed down by my mother-in-law (she uses Cool Whip instead of whipping cream and you can substitute if you want, just don't whip the Cool Whip):

Pig Pickin' Cake

1 package butter cake mix
11 oz. can mandarin oranges (don't drain)
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups heavy whipping cream 
small box instant vanilla pudding
15 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained

Mix together cake mix, canned oranges with juice, eggs, and oil. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool layers on wire racks.

Whip cream and pudding mix with electric mixer. Fold in pineapple. Fill and frost the cooled cake (only frost the tops). Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Last night we had spaghetti, meatballs and sauce, garlic bread and salad, with all the kids and Taylor home. I'm tired of cooking. I did freeze 28 meatballs, however, so at least I got ahead.

But, there is no rest for the weary, so tonight is Mediterranean Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes and Cabbage Apple Slaw (Faith and I made our first trip to pick apples on Friday).


You know I have been having problems with anxiety, I certainly have talked about them enough here. I started thinking about how cyclical the worst anxiety is and started thinking maybe they are hormonal. Makes sense, at least to me. A lot of other weird things have been going on, the most weird is that I have stopped drinking coffee entirely and it doesn't even smell good to me any more. That is weird! I feel like I could be pregnant. Ha! Hahahahahahaha!

I wondered if any of my "older" friends here have experienced anxiety with menopause and, if so, what did you do? I am not a candidate for hormone replacement therapy because I clot, but I could replace just the progesterone. Anybody done that with success? I guess I need an appointment with my regular gynecologist because my uro/gyn told me to see my family doctor, who, as much as I like her, is not a hormone replacement specialist.

Just for kicks I am including this photo of myself, since I rarely put my own image up here. Faith took this photo for a magazine article I'll tell you about another time.

And, in the mean time, do you have other methods you use to help relive anxiety? I am taking chelated magnesium, and Vitamin D, drinking chamomile tea, and breathing deeply when I feel anxious. But, I am sure there is someone out there with some other great suggestions.

"Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits." ~~ St. Philip Neri

I also think I need to laugh some more. Any one have suggestions for funny movies (funny but not crude)?

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." 1 Cor 3:7

I am also trying to appreciate all the beautiful things around me, including this sweet little viola which grew from the seed of a plant I had on the porch in the spring. The wind must have blown the seeds and here she grows.

And creating beautiful things also helps. This is the other Seven Sorrows chaplet I made for my Etsy shop. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is coming up on September 15.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 1...streaming

Not much is new here. Well, there's new and then there's new. First day of school is new, but not new. Noah started last Wednesday and Faith started yesterday. Joshua started his senior year of college yesterday, too. There were schultütes all around.

Faith and I had a typically rough first day. It ended with a charcoal sketching-induced temper tantrum. I decided to remove myself from the scene ( a smart move) and do something else, and she finished her own way on her own subject. Yeah, we're nearing the teen years.

Schultütes have become pretty obligatory.

Reading class, viewed through the glass door. It's a princess book --- a good way to start the year.

The weather has become hot again. And dry. I'm doing a rain dance, but really only in my head. Maybe it's better for the farmers and harvest, but mentally, I need rain.

Friday night and Saturday is the beginning of high school and college football around here, well, I am guessing everywhere. It still feels so much like summer I find that hard to believe, but I guess that's the way it always is. I long for cool days and chilly nights, gray clouds and rain, rain, rain.

Yesterday, I shipped off the eleven Seven Sorrows chaplets I was commissioned for and I was glad to box them up and off. You know I love Our Lady, but eleven of anything is too close to assembly line work to be enjoyable. I don't know if they were the cause of my back pain, but I have burning pain in my shoulder blades -- both of them. It's the oddest thing -- whenever I am sitting up straight or standing. Just what I need is another pain.

The school table, looking normal as ever.

I have a couple of these beautiful Our Lady of Sorrows medals for some new chaplets for my Etsy shop. This is one of them, almost finished.

Speaking of pain, I may have mentioned at some point a spinal injection that is supposed to help my leg pain. Because of the UTI that wouldn't go away it was rescheduled for September 4. I know people get these injections every day, but I've never had one and I admit the thought makes me pretty nervous. Ever had one? Anybody?

I guess I fibbed, this is new. My dear mother-in-law shopped for a basket for me at the farmer's market after I took a photo the last time I was there. Isn't it beautiful? It's not full of yarn yet, but it does have a knitting project in it. I can keep the balls of yarn in the basket wile I knit, and since this project uses three balls at one time, it's very handy.

I can't show the entire project because it is a Christmas gift, but here's a peek. The yarns are so richly-colored, and soft as a baby's bottom.

Lastly, I tried a few good recipes in the last week, since I last posted. A recipe for pretzel buns that was all thumbs up -- total yum. I had never made pretzel buns before, but they were only slightly more complicated than the easiest buns, and well worth the effort of boiling a pot of water. We ate them with the BBQ chicken I posted last -- my husband wanted it again. I don't know that I would use them for burgers because they were rather dense, and I like a soft fluffy burger bun. But they sure were good with dinner, and for snacking before dinner, apparently, as two of them disappeared before dinner was ready (and it wasn't me!).

I saw the recipe came in Tide and Thyme and it apparently came from King Arthur Four, so credit to KAF. I followed the recipe as it was written at Tide and Thyme, and didn't check to see if it was different from the KAF source. I would make these once a week if they weren't so dangerous to have around!

The second recipe is from the cookbook I mentioned last week, Not Your Mother's Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. I made the Southwestern Grilled Chicken and it was another all-thumbs-up. I'm sorry I don't have a photo, but you'll just have to try it yourself to see what it looks like. It was so easy to throw together, and the chicken just sat in the fridge all afternoon soaking up yummy flavors. I also stashed two large breast away in the freezer with the marinade on them -- that's the best way to marinade chicken. It soaks up the flavors while it thaws overnight in the fridge.

The recipe (and I used a half of a small can of diced jalapenos, drained, instead a fresh one) is:

Southwestern Grilled Chicken

one tomato, quartered
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
1/4 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro lea

4-6 chicken breasts

Combine marinade ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over chicken pieces in a dish (or freezer bag if you are freezing before cooking) and marinade for several hours. Grill until chicken is done. Yum.

If you don't like spicy foods, you might use the amount of jalapeno in the recipe and not a half of a can of diced jalapenos -- ours was spicy, but my men like spicy.

Now, I'm off to buy new shoes. It seems, over the summer, Faith's feet grew several sizes. She is up to a women's size 7. Whatever food it is that causes feet to grow, I need to stop feeding it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipes, by George!

Way, way back (I didn't look at the archives, but by now it's been many years) when I started blogging, I posted recipes in between posts about life and faith and anything else I was blogging about. It was a mishmash, and one day I thought, "I'll start a food blog" and the food blog was born.

By and by, however, food blogs became very popular and I eventually realized I was not a food blogger. I cook, and I often enjoy it, and my family often (but not always) enjoys my meals, but I don't get paid by anyone to cook (unless you consider just eating to be payment, in which case my husband pays me), and I don't get paid to write about my cooking. And so, I just eventually stopped posting, about seven months ago.

Recently I decided that my recipes belonged here on my life blog because cooking is part of my life, but not a big part, certainly not worth exclusively writing about. I'm just like you -- I make dinner, and sometimes it's worthy of comment, and sometimes it's just a meal to tide us over to the next meal. I like to bake and I often bake to celebrate the liturgical feast days. So, I hope to share with you some of the best I put on the table, and sometimes I will just share links because I might not have photographed a worthy dish before I served it.

This dish, this meal, was a refreshing summer supper, even if only the chicken was "summer food." My husband loved this chicken, and though I'm not generally an "eat it off the bone" chicken person, I ate two pieces. The boys loved it, too, and I made a boneless breast for one of the boys who also is not an "eat it off the bone" chicken person. The recipe came from Kraft, I think, but I switched a few ingredients as I was out of some of them. I wouldn't bother looking it up again as we loved it as it was. It looks burned in the photo, but it was just good and grilled. The sugar caramelized quickly on it.

Catalina BBQ Chicken

chicken pieces, mixed or all the same (I used six drumsticks, four thighs and one boneless breast - not in a pear tree); the marinade makes enough to coat quite a bit of chicken
1/3 c. Catalina dressing
BBQ 1/4 c. sauce
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. honey
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. powdered ginger
1 t. sesame oil

Mix marinade ingredients together (all but chicken pieces) and pour over chicken in a large casserole dish. Flip chicken pieces to coat thoroughly. Marinate for several hours in the refrigerator. At grilling time, preheat the grill to high. Turn down grill to medium low and place chicken pieces on the grill. Flip to prevent burning and cook about 25 minutes until juices are clear and chicken is done next to the bone.

The other dishes in the photo are bacon corn and bacon cabbage -- both simple dishes (I had some bacon I wanted to use up). Fry two strips of bacon (cut crosswise in 1/2-inch pieces). When almost crisp add desired vegetable -- in this case frozen corn and thinly sliced cabbage. Cook until vegetables are done. taste and season with salt and pepper.

The rolls are this recipe from my food blog without the poppy seeds. They are heavenly and my family loves them.

For dessert, I made some delicious brownies from one of my favorite cookbooks, Not Your Mother's Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (not the greatest title for a cookbook). I had the book out looking for recipes for later in the week and skipped to the dessert section when I wanted something quickly for dessert (and with fewer choices than the internet offers -- a problem I often deal with). They are so chocolately that the frosting isn't necessary, but my husband likes frosted brownies so I added a thin layer of ganache and some festive blue sprinkles (because brown and blue go well together, according to Faith).

Cocoa Brownies

1 c. sugar
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. cocoa
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

Place all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (or quart-sized freezer bag if making ahead to freeze. If freezing, shake bag to mix ingredients and freeze or place in pantry.).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8-inch square pan.

(If using stored ingredients, remove from storage.). In a large bowl place wet ingredients and whisk to blend. Add dry ingredients and stir to blend. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tester comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool and cut into squares (even if you are going to frost). Here's a top by Jamie: cut with a plastic knife, or even the handle of a plastic spoon or fork and you won't make a mess of the brownies. Now, even if you frost them, they'll already be cut and easy to remove without cutting again.

For Ganache: place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup whipping cream or heavy cream in a bowl. Microwave until cream is hot -- about a minute. Immediately add about 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate. Don't touch them them for about 3 minutes. Then stir to blend until all the chips are melted. If necessary, micro again in 15 second increments and stir again. Spread over brownies and sprinkle as desired with colored sprinkles. Sorry to be so vague on the ganache. I don't use a recipe usually. It's pretty forgiving as long as you don't add anything else to it.

And a few links:

Last night's dinner, which was almost completely gobbled up and received many compliments, was Yankee Pot Roast. I have another recipe for Yankee Pot Roast but this one used a Top Round Roast, which is what I had. I made mashed potatoes on the side.

Also on the side was these Yogurt Biscuits, which I will be making again very soon because they were so delicious. Definitely serve with butter and honey.

PS Today is the feast of the crown ship of Mary, so it would be a great day to make a cake like this or like this to celebrate!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Almost School Time Daybook

In the garden...
...children. Two of Faith's cousins are spending the day here and they are outside running with the dog and swinging and looking for great finds in the creek. I had to boot them off the computer to get them there, but they are so much happier getting fresh air.

I am thinking about...
... myself too much lately, too much navel gazing I think. Is this a mid-life thing? I don't know. I think it's a reaction to anxiety -- always wondering what is causing it. I imagine it's also a bit of a pity party, feeling neglected and rather misused by my family, just everyone acting on the assumption that I will do everything they need to have done, with no gratitude shown. I am having a hard time being Mother Mary, putting myself in her shoes and doing my job out of love rather than necessity and feeling put out.

I heard just a bit of Mother Angelica on the radio this morning and she was talking about Martha, of the Martha and Mary story. She said if Martha had known that millions of people in the years after her life would know the story of how she complained about her sister and the Lord scolded her she might have kept her mouth shut. I laughed out loud. Yes, I bet she would have. I am going to try to keep my mouth shut more, but I really am having a hard time changing my thoughts.

I am wearing...
...a bright orange, red and pink floral skirt and a pink v-neck with sandals.

I am reading...

I am creating...
...a new baby quilt, for a little dolly who is going to be adopted in the months ahead. I am waiting for the fabric I ordered for the backing to arrive to finish it.

I have scapular orders and an order for 11 Seven Sorrows chaplets to make asap so they can be in 11 hands for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15. All creativity in the rosary department is on hold, as these are all identical.

I still haven't made the one bridesmaid dress we need for me to make in order to decide if I will make them all. It's starting to really stress me out and I might just see if Doug can do something with the kids one night so I can just dive in when I'm all alone.

I am also working on that knitting project for Christmas, and it's going rather quickly. Doug and I have been watching an episode of Downton every night because he never watched any of it. I save my knitting time for then.

At the school table...
...Noah starts school on Wednesday, which means I better get on the ball with schultütes. Faith will start in a week and I have all her books, with the exception of her math and lessons plans for math -- that's the only subject we enroll in. I have her compliance letter from the school district and an absolutely blank lesson plan book that needs to not be blank in a week -- another source of anxiety. So I'm blogging instead. Makes sense to me.

On the table...
...we had a delicious cookout last night, and I had a revelation of sorts about my food blog. I haven't posted in six months and I have really given up on it. I am not a food blogger. I don't cook anything extravagant and I rarely create my own recipes. But, I do still like to share good recipes. When I first started this blog I shared my recipes here, and I am going to go back to doing just that. Cooking is part of my everyday life, not something I get paid to do, or paid to write about.

Plans for the rest of the week...
...a coumadin clinic appointment this afternoon, a date with my son to go school supplies shopping, and then creating lesson plans and chaplets for the rest of the week.

A few of my favorite things...
...new pencils
...new books
...kids outdoors playing

Prayers sent heavenward for...
...my husband, in his new job, and my children
...our oldest son as he begins his adult life -- we moved him out on Saturday and into his own place, and while I am happy for him, it was a big step and a new stage in life for me
...our priests and religious, especially our parish priests, and Fr. Howe
...our dear friend, a former classmate to my husband, a priest, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is going through chemotherapy
...all the babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion this week, for a change of heart

Thursday, August 14, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} at the Farmer's Market

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Faith and I made a quick trip to the Farmer's Market today. 

We started out to go there yesterday -- it's about twenty minutes from home, but it's a peaceful country drive, so I don't mind it a bit -- when Noah called my cell phone to tell me he had locked himself out of the house and he had to get the forms that were inside the house to go down to school and pick up his books. Sigh. 

I was almost to the farm market and had to get off the road and turn around and come home. 

I was almost home when he called to tell me he had found the rock with the hidden key inside. Sigh. 

I wasn't going back yesterday. But, today's schedule emptied itself and off we went.

There are also a few photos from the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross last week. 

The {pretty, happy, funny, real} is in no particular order, and they are likely mixed up according to your perspective  -- you'll have to decide for yourself which category each photo belongs in. 

My oldest celebrated St. Teresa's feast day with a Hebrew beer. If you don't know St. Teresa's life story, you really should read about. Fascinating. I think he was pretty happy about his choice of refreshment.

The rest of us enjoyed a Jewish Apple Upside Down cake with Caramel (or Carmel -- hee hee) topping. I need to post this recipe at Catholic Cuisine. Yum.

Our pretty farm market, set right in the middle of all of the peach and apple orchards which will be busy with pickers in the next few weeks -- I can't wait!

I love, love, love these baskets, made by craftsmen in Ghana.

If you see my husband, tell him it's this one I like. Can't you just see it brimming with balls of colored yarn? It's huge! It would make me so happy!

These green beans are sooo good. They are so tender.

Peaches -- what we really went for. Get them while they are ripe...and they are ripe!

Oh, but the Fry Pies! Can we pass them by?

Really...with all those gorgeous peaches in the back seat, guess what I chose to snack on during the ride home? And, no, I wasn't driving and eating and photographing!

I had blueberry, but my passenger had chocolate. Funny girl.

Be sure to stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment in everyday life.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Think you don't have time for the rosary?

I did. For the last month or so, I really thought I was just too busy. You are too, right? All those things that need to be done are more important than prayer, or at least a long prayer, like the rosary.

I became a Martha, rather than a Mary. Or rather, I became mostly Martha and little Mary. A Hail Mary here, a desperate attempt at a decade or two there. A nighttime prayer here, an Act of Contrition there. God will take and appreciate any prayer we offer, but I forgot about the graces I receive when I make a dedicated effort at prayer, especially the rosary. Yeah, me, the rosary maker forgot about how important it is to pray the rosary. I was making them, and other people were praying them. But, I was only make a half-hearted attempt at it.

The other day, however, I thought, "I really need to pray the rosary." It was one of those serious promptings by the Holy Spirit -- one that can not be denied. But because I was still in my Martha mind, I turned to an app I had downloaded months ago and I prayed, not as a leader, but follower, while I made a rosary. The best of both worlds? Well, not best, but a good compromise.

"Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love." ~~ St. Therese

I am a Martha, there is no denying. I am not a contemplative cloistered nun who spends her days, or most of her days, in quiet prayer. I cook, clean, launder, school, and in between I sew and create rosaries. My days are full to the brim.

But, there is always room for prayer. Maybe you have little ones who don't give you a rosary's worth of quiet time. Maybe you go, go, go all day and you really think there is just not time. Buts there is. You just have to work it in and use the aids that are out there.

The app that I am using now is available in CD form. You can pray in the car, while you're waiting on a dance lesson or soccer practice. You can pray while you're folding laundry, or while the little kids play with their legos on the floor. You can pray while you're hanging laundry (yes, Janette!), or while you're ironing. While the rosary is most perfect in its quiet, contemplative form, it is also good while you are following along with someone else leading. The children can follow along, too. And if your family is not accustomed to praying the rosary, sometimes it's a less awkward start with someone else leading.

The reason I encourage you to pray the rosary, the complete rosary, in any way you can, is because of the beautiful graces given to you when you contemplate the wonderful mysteries of the rosary. By praying the rosary in a week, or really, in just the days of Monday through Thursday, you contemplate the entire life of Our Lord, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, plus the additional mysteries of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption, and the Coronation of Mary. I actually never realized that the rosary is a complete timeline of Our Lord's life until one day several years ago when I was examining this beautiful holy card I purchased at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. With the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, thanks to our beloved and oh-so-wise St. John Paul II, the mysteries cover the entire life of Jesus.

click on photo to enlarge -- starting in the upper righthand corner and moving clockwise, the mysteries are illustrated, covering the entire life of Christ

I want to encourage you to try praying the rosary if you currently don't. And I encourage you to use the aids that are available to you. A book, or a CD, or an app for your iPod or iPad. The one I am using right now, is available in CD or app form (also here). The rosary is led by a priest -- a different priest for each day (I think one day might be a sister) -- and though some people may find it goes quickly (or too quickly) I find it to be just right for a mother's busy lifestyle. There is beautiful music playing, but it's not overbearing or annoying, at least not to me. And you don't even need beads to follow along with the rosary, so it truly leaves your hands free if you have to fold laundry, clean up after dinner, or hold a baby.

If you have more time for a rosary and you like a scriptural rosary, I highly recommend The Complete Rosary, which gives an alternate phrase that can, if desired, be used following the words: "Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus." Each phrase is particular to the mystery. I also love Holy Rosary: Josemaria Esriva and often take that book with me to Adoration.

Whatever your situation is, whether you have time for an entire scriptural rosary, or can barely fit it in when you're following, I promise you will find it worthwhile to fit it in. Many people start the rosary at night and ask their Guardian Angels to finish if they fall asleep. And there is nothing wrong with that. But by actually contemplating the mysteries of the rosary, consciously, the graces of the rosary will be so much more available. I truly don't think Our Blessed Mother minds that we pray the rosary with busy hands, but we must make our hearts open to receive all the graces.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

End-of-July Daybook

Just hangin' out version

In the garden...
...the sky is clear blue and no showers are in the forecast for today. A high is predicted for 81, the highest temps we've had in a week or so. I am loving this cool, and rather rainy, summer, but lamenting the purchase of a pool pass -- it's not getting a lot of use, and even then only by one member of this family. By summer's end I think the cost will equal about 10 bucks a swim. Oh, well. We can't predict the weather, can we?

It's good laundry hanging weather though -- if you check the weather forecast and avoid the storms.

I am thinking about...
...resting, much like the cat but with no napping, just moving from one spot in the house to another. I feel a lot better than I did last week, but not strong. It's an odd feeling, but I'm trying to ignore it for the most part. I rested for most of the weekend, after my revelation last Friday, but then I had to get going early Monday to go with Joshua to an eye appointment. Halfway through the eye appointment, because the office was overbooked and running late, I had to leave to get home (we were at the eye institute down on campus, almost downtown) because my dryer repairman was coming. Unfortunately he arrived with no ignitor for the dryer on his truck, and had to come back. The afternoon ended with a much-needed haircut. Since Monday my days have been full, but with periods of restful sewing.

I am hopeful that taking it easy will fill the stores for days ahead. That's what summer is for, right?

I am wearing...
...a cotton blue floral skirt, blue v-neck and peachy leather sandals.

I am reading...
...I have not been reading much. Feeling so yucky made it hard to concentrate. One wouldn't think you'd need to concentrate to rest, but I guess your mind must be clear at least. On my kindle I am still reading Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and it's turning out to be a very interesting read. 

I am creating...
...a new baby quilt, for a little dolly who is going to be brought from China in the months ahead. I picked out some really cute prints that I think will be perfect for her.

I have scapular orders which are keeping me busy during periods of rest, and I have supplies bagged up for several rosaries and tenners for the shop. It's nice to just grab a baggie of supplies and have everything I need.

I also have fabric for a practice bridesmaid dress, but I am dealing with the anxiety that always comes before starting a project like that. The fabric is beautiful -- I bought the same fabric Taylor chose, but in navy because the mystic purple lace is on backorder until September. If I don't get this dress started it will be September and I might as well have just waited. I need to get the dress finished to see if we like it and should order a large quantity of the fabric. I don't know why I always get this anxiety. I call it "first cut nerves" because I just get nervous until I make the first cut and then it's done. It's very irrational, I know. I need someone to come and hold my hand.

At the school table...
...Noah passed chemistry -- finally, and yay! -- so our summer has started. We have about a month to enjoy it. The public school children will start back in, um, 20 days, so I plan to have a quiet week before we start back as well.

Faith has two parts of the CAT test to finish and then when the results come I can send in our letter of intent. There are books to buy choose, as well. I'm really rather behind, but not stressing it. I know it can all be done in a week if need be. I think I pinned most of my choices earlier in the summer, so I can go to my homeschooling board and refresh my memory on my choices. The hardest part is picking reading books for the year. Faith and I just do not have the same taste, and that makes it hard. Not that she should only read what she likes, but it makes reading a lot more enjoyable, and less like pulling teeth (for both of us). Suggestions for a busy, active, outdoorsy kinda girl? Seventh grade level?

On the table...
...Doug and Noah will be at a car show this evening, so it will be the other kids and me. We already had breakfast for dinner once this week, and Tostada pizza last night. I'll have to check the freezer to see what's lurking and needs to be cooked.

Plans for the rest of the week...
...a doctor's appt. on Friday and a work dinner Friday night. Then there's a birthday party on Sunday for a friend's 50th.

A few of my favorite things...
...fresh peaches from the orchard -- oh my
...the smell of line-dried clothes. In the past year or two, with the nerve pain in my leg, I stopped carrying the clothes outside and just hung them in the basement. I forgot how worth it the smell of line-dried clothes really is.
....having all the kids home

Prayers sent heavenward for...
...my husband, in his new job, and my children
...our oldest son as he begins his adult life
...our priests and religious, especially our parish priests, and Fr. Howe
...our dear friend, a former classmate to my husband, a priest, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is recovering from surgery and beginning chemotherapy
...my husband's Aunt Mary, who became very ill on their trip from Ohio back to their Florida home and is hospitalized in between; prayers for a diagnosis and recovery. They were in Ohio celebrating their 50th anniversary with family.
...all the babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion this week, for a change of heart

Photo of the days...
...or photos as the case may be. I wanted to get a photo of Faith in her new Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan for my Ravelry page. This girl will never be a model, let's put it that way. 

Me: The sun is casting shadows on your face, let's go in the garden.

Me: Can you just relax your mouth? You don't have to smile if you don't want to, but soften your mouth.

Me: S-o-f-t-e-n, like not a hard mouth. Just relax.

Faith (flapping arms): I c-a-a-a-a-n'-t!