Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretty Happy Funny Real #3: Anthony edition

round button chicken

These photos are mostly from the fall, so this is a catch-up and a cuteness post all in one! Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

PrettyLooking out of the window on the Strasburg Railroad, on a day trip with Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. We saw lots of prettiness on that trip, such as:

Lovely! Makes me even more ready to move out to a farm.

Doesn't look like it in this photo, but he really liked the leaves!

Having fun helping Mama and Daddy pick them up!

And just able to reach the top of the bin!

On the train with Mom-Mom and Aunt Teresa.

Anthony's Halloween costume. Trick-or-Treat was so much fun this year! Anthony quickly figured out he'd get a big reaction from people if he said, "Oo-oo-oo." He's kind of a ham.


Tired little traveler, asleep on the plane home from visiting Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop.

Already lounging on the couch with a book! Hmmm, I wonder where he learned that one?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


So this is what Advent looks like at our house this year:

Advent wreath hung from the dining room chandelier, aka How to have an Advent wreath and a toddler peacefully co-exist. We light the candles at dinner time, and dim the electric lights. Anthony gets very excited when we do this. I think he's sensing that Something Special is happening, even if he has no idea what it's all about yet.

Purple and pink table linens, courtesy of my mother. She had these on our dining room table during Advent when I was younger, and she gave them to me when I got married.

Empty manger, with a pitiful number of hay strands haha. I took these photos on I think Monday of the first week of Advent. The idea is that we add a piece of hay for each small sacrifice we make in order to make room in our hearts for the Baby Jesus, to prepare our hearts to receive him at Christmas. The idea is similar to St. Therese's sacrifice beads. We tried it last year, but mostly forgot because the manger was in sort of an out-of-the-way place. It's a bit more respectable-looking for the Baby Jesus this year, but there are still two and a half weeks left!

Happy Advent everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: #2


Progress on the highchair! I really like the bright red! I sanded the most worn parts of it, but Anthony would be in high school by the time I managed to strip the entire thing. So spray paint it is! I was inspired by Rosie on Like Mother Like Daughter. She did the same thing to make a really sweet highchair for her little boy. I'm still in the process of sanding down the tray. I want that to be stained and poly-ed rather than painted so I can scrub it well all the time. Even that little piece is taking me a really long time to sand.


"Mama! I'm going pee-pee in the potty!" That's exactly what is happening in this picture. You'll just have to take my word for it, as that little drape of t-shirt is what makes it legal to post this photo. We've been encouraging Anthony's interest in the potty. He does do very well and he's so proud of himself! I haven't figured out out-and-about pottying yet, as public toilets are just too big and, well, gross. He really does need a potty seat with that tiny behind, but carrying one with us seems rather impractical especially since we walk a lot of places, and, well, gross.


Ryan was reading the paper Sunday morning and not really paying attention to Anthony and me. (You know, "Hun, should I make pancakes or waffles today?... ... Ryan?" "Sure.") So I drew our family on his toes. He didn't really react to this until the coffee you see in his hand was at least half drunk.


This is how the housework really gets done around here! I do give Anthony the dustbuster and let him crawl around with that for a few minutes in the afternoon sometimes while I am doing my quick spruce-up before dinner. Yes, I have found yet another way for parents to use technology as a babysitter! But he likes to think he's helping, and soon enough he will be!

round button chicken

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yard Sale Finds

These photos are from a few weeks ago. I uploaded them and began a post, which I never finished in favor of the one for Katie's wedding and Sr. Victoria Marie's profession. So here they are now. $5 wooden highchair! I'm going to refinish it for Anthony to use. His current highchair is a nightmare to keep clean. Food gets in the little cracks and crevices of the padding, and UNDER and INSIDE the pad, which of course takes about ten minutes to take apart and another ten to put back together. Using it without the pad is not possible. It's probably technically an antique, as it came with a guide to carseat safety with this photo in it:

But that does not mean that I will be afraid of spray painting it.

I also got a huge bag of random fabric for a dollar. Here are some of my favorite prints:

And my very very favorite, is a crib skirt of this adorable bunny toile! It was crammed in the very bottom of the bag! I can make either four placemats or six napkins for Easter, as sadly part of it is badly stained. But look how cute!!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Two Vocations Begun

“The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world.”

~Vita Consecrata 20~

My two sister-friends Katie and Mary Beth (a.k.a. Sister Victoria Marie) both entered into their holy vocations this summer: Katie as a married woman and Mary Beth as a professed sister. They both are amazing!

Katie’s wedding was lovely. If you have been following her blog you know all of the hard work she put into the preparations! And of course she was the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen, and Chuckie was a very happy groom! But what struck me more than anything on the day of the wedding is how both Katie and Chuckie knew it wasn’t about them. Everything about the wedding Mass from the way they knelt in the sanctuary to how they followed the time-honored tradition of laying flowers before the Blessed Mother’s altar, paid full attention to the Mass, how the groomsmen prayed the Rosary together beforehand, even choosing a Mass that doesn’t allow for “personalization” beyond inserting the names of the bride and groom spoke to their profound awareness that that this day was completely a gift from God. The mood of the day was certainly one of joy and thanksgiving, but also a deep appreciation of the solemnity of the vows they took, humble acknowledgment that they would need graces to take them every step of the way together, and childlike confidence and trust that those graces would be freely given. In all, a perfect wedding!

The above quote was from the program from the Mass for the Rite of First Religious Profession. Humility was certainly a theme for the sisters’ first profession as well. This was their wedding day, too! Just the fact that Sister Victoria Marie had to share “her day” with fourteen (!) other sisters and had limited invitations as a result must have been a humbling experience. It was also a beautiful ceremony. When the novices traded their white veils for the black of penance and mortification was especially moving. Despite this somber description, Sister Victoria Marie is absolutely radiant. It’s immediately obvious that she is exactly where she is meant to be.

Thank you two for being such amazing women of God. Your faithfulness has constantly inspired me in my own vocation, to give myself more completely and to trust more fully in God. It has been a privilege to witness His work in your own lives, and to call you my friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Hi Daddy!"

Ryan’s gone to Switzerland for ten whole days for work. I got to talk to him on the phone for a long time this evening, even though it was 2:30 AM there! It brought me back to our engagement days, when he was in Cincinnati for the summer and he’d call me every night. He’s having a wonderful time it seems, checking out medieval villages and churches, taking in breathtaking views of the Alps and whatnot. You know, European stuff. ;-) I’ll see if I can persuade him to do a guest post of his travels after he comes back next Saturday.

Anthony and I are missing him a lot for sure. This is his third trip already this summer, and the longest. Ryan called tonight right before Anthony’s bedtime. I always turn on the speaker phone so he can talk to Anthony. Anthony will “talk” back and be all excited; it’s really cute. But today, he said, “Hi Daddy!” !!!!! Ryan and I both heard it distinctly, so I know it wasn’t my imagination. Very often he will sound like he’s saying certain words, but really it’s just the inflection of his voice is very good, if you know what I’m trying to say. For example, he’ll say, “I did it!” when he succeeds in stacking up his blocks or something like that, but it’s really more like, “Ah didi!” He’s very consistent with it and I’m positive he really means, “I did it.” This was the first time he spoke two words together clearly.

Our little boy’s getting so big! This picture is from today when we were playing with the camera:

I think he understands the concept of the camera taking his picture, but doesn’t understand the idea of smiling for the camera yet.

This is from a year ago:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maria Goretti

Four years ago today my husband asked me to marry him. Today is also the feast of St. Maria Goretti. I'd always prayed to her for purity in our dating days; I remember my high school youth minister giving us a "Prayer Before a Date" card that asked for her intercession. But today what struck me about her martyrdom was not that she died to protect her purity, but that she would not submit to being raped out of love for her attacker! She said, "No, Alessandro, you will go to hell." Even as he was stabbing her, she was thinking of the good of his soul. That is a saint. (A more complete bio can be found here. Also check out Alessandro's page!)

St. Maria Goretti showed extraordinary Christian love for the man who she knew would kill her, and sacrificed everything in trying to keep him from committing a mortal sin. As a wife and mother, I have a great responsibility for the souls of my husband and son, but so often I am lazy and not willing to sacrifice even twenty minutes for prayer for them. St. Maria, help me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Easy No-Measuring Watermelon Sorbet

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you all enjoyed your holiday. Ryan is going away, again, in two days, so I've been trying to make a special effort in the kitchen this week. I don't know if any of you other wives do that, but when he goes away I like to leave him with a good taste in his mouth, so to speak! It must be confessed, however, that some of the cooking got totally forgotten when Bubs got sick this weekend. Baby fevers are never fun, but he's had a seizure from fever before so we really have to be aggressive in keeping the fever down. He still is sick today, but seemed happier and more active than yesterday. Antibiotic seems to be working, but doctor visit tomorrow for sure. As an aside, we have the best doctor ever for answering pages promptly on Sunday afternoons and helping us avoid trips to the ER.

But before all that excitement, I did manage to make this dinner on Friday for the feast of the Sacred Heart:
Grilled steak and various sauteed summer veggies with basil. Yum. And for dessert, the very fancy-tasting watermelon sorbet I'm going to teach you to make! No recipe, just needed to use up this huge watermelon that I was inspired to buy at market this week. Why I bought an entire watermelon for a household of three I will never know, but it had to be used and necessity is indeed the mother of invention! I served it in our crystal wineglasses from our wedding, with vanilla pizzelles (I'm sure I've spelled that incorrectly.) leftover from the massive amount of cookies we brought home from Katie's wedding, and garnished with mint, but I did not take a picture of it in all it's fancy glory, alas.

So on to the tutorial! First chop up half of a watermelon, or however much you want to use. Half a watermelon will yield about 3 quarts of sorbet! I still have the other half in the fridge. I haven't got a big enough mixing bowl for this much watermelon, but a stockpot works.

Then add a big handful of mint, and about 1/2 cup of honey, and the juice from 1 lemon.

We have a ridiculous amount of mint. See? Ridiculous.

Blend it all together.

Then pour it into a 13x9 pan. It just makes it!

Cover and freeze overnight. I really ought to do something about the organization of this freezer.

Before serving, run some hot water over the back of the pan to release the sorbet in one big block.

Chop it with a knife into manageable pieces, and run it through the food processor until it's smooth. The longer you run it, the creamier the texture.

It's really good; you should try it! It would probably work with just about any fruit, but you might need to add some water to get the right consistency. I'd love to hear about it if you do try this!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

It's been awhile, so let's jump back in to blogging with a meme from my new favorite blog, Like Mother Like Daughter.

round button chicken


My friend Erika and I took the boys to the Wyoming farmer's market. One stand has enormous buckets of summer flowers and you can make your own bouquet!


Peppers are growing!!!


Anthony still is not walking, but he'll push a laundry basket around for twenty minutes! He's really fast and agile, able to pull it backwards and maneuver in tight corners.


Last night I came across the proper way to hang laundry on the line in my library book. Sure enough, no need to iron, even that linen skirt on the far left!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Of Worms and the Rapture

Yesterday was the day we began planting our summer veggies. After weeks and weeks of rain and muck, it's finally time. I got a good workout turning over about 350 square feet of pure clay again. But there was a very important difference in the soil this time, versus when we first dug up the grass in March: Worms! Each spadeful of dirt had at least three or four of them. Amazing what a difference a truckload of compost makes to the earthworm population. As I kept digging them up I felt like an intruder to their peaceful existences, or like some horrible Godzilla monster causing 9.8 level earthquakes with every stroke of the spade that sent them screaming (if worms could scream) back down into a safer level of subsoil. But just before they realized the Worm Apocalypse had come upon them, I could see these actually quite fascinating creatures going about their usual business. That business being digesting and reproducing. It made me think of "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" before the Flood. This Bible passage has often been quoted in reference to the May 21 Rapture prophecy Matthew 24:36f):

But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone. And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then two shall be in the field: one shall be taken, and one shall be left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill: one shall be taken, and one shall be left.

Usually that would be the end of it, since it sufficiently answers Rev. Camping. But the rest of the chapter is just as worth reading:

Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. But know this ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.

Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season. Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming: And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards: The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not: And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Even though this false prophecy has been widely regarded as a bad move, one positive that can be taken from it is that the people who believed it prepared for the Judgment by repenting of their sins and commending themselves and their families to God's mercy. They might not have otherwise done that. Even if their hope for that particular day was misplaced, fact is there will be a Judgment and we all have to be prepared for it. The temptation for those who don't believe it is to laugh at those who do. We all need to pray for those people though, especially those who spent their life savings spreading this message or quitting a job or some other drastic measures that they will now have to live with. The temptation to despair will probably be great for these souls. There's nothing funny about that. As for the rest of us, are we ready to meet God? Are we doing the work God has given us diligently? Is there something we have been over-indulging in ourselves? are we at the very least in a state of grace? Be you also ready.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Menu planning addendum

Okay, so I left out part of my menu planning process in the previous post. You remember all those post-it notes in my binder? Well I neglected to mention that each day's menu is either lifted directly from the binder or else written on a new post-it. These are then placed in my calendar on their day. If the menu's a keeper, it goes in the binder at the end of the week. Thus expands my cooking repertoire.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How I Menu Plan

A little while ago, Christine suggested I do a post on how I menu plan. I actually have a pretty elaborate system, but it evolved gradually over the two years of our marriage and it still is evolving. I will walk you through this week's menu plan and you will see the method behind my menu madness!

1. Go to and look at the weekly ad. Write down anything that is a good deal that we like to eat. Meat and produce deals are the starting point of the menu plan. This week chicken breasts were 99 cents a pound, ground turkey and turkey tenderloins were BOGO. There were other deals but they weren't that great. I find it hard to buy as much beef anymore, because it really has gotten expensive. For produce, strawberries, green beans, watermelon, spinach, and sweet corn are on sale for a good price. We tend not to buy a lot of packaged foods, and my pantry is pretty well stocked, so the only other things I wrote are cottage cheese and Nutri-Grain bars, both for Anthony.

2. Look in the fridge and see if there's anything leftover that needs to be eaten. We'd cleaned out pretty well before our trip to Pittsburgh, so the only stragglers are a half of a ham steak, bacon, carrots, a few stalks of soon-to-be-limp celery, and some lunch meat that's still fine. Write these items down next to the deals.

3. Quickly check the pantry for things running low, and the shopping list notepad on the fridge.

4. Now for the actual menu planning part. I have a binder that I keep in the kitchen that's kind of my housekeeping Bible. The Binder could be an entire post of it's own, but one section is labeled Cooking. In here I have several pages each with a different heading: Freezer Inventory, Quick & Easy, Slow Cooker, Friday, Sunday, Ryan's Favorites, Potlucks, and Desserts. Each page has several Post-It notes, each with a past successful menu and in which of my cookbooks each recipe can be found written on it. Using my binder menus and cookbook collection, I create a menu plan using up all the leftovers and guided by the weekly specials and our schedule for the week. There's a pretty familiar pattern by now. Generally I incorporate one or two new recipes, one from the Ryan's Favorites page, one from the freezer inventory. This sounds complicated, but I'm so familiar with the contents of my binder by now that sometimes I don't even need to look in it to know what I want to make, and not everything happens every week. This week I'm adding to the freezer stash, but not subtracting from it. It's like figuring out a puzzle, but there aren't really any wrong answers.

This is this week's menu:

Monday: Tuscan Soup (throwing in ham and celery), Cheese Batter Bread, Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Tuesday: Basil Turkey Burgers, corn on the cob, watermelon salad
Wednesday: Chicken and black bean burritos, chips and salsa
Thursday: Chicken/bacon/strawberry/spinach salad, rolls
Friday: Black bean soup (double for freezer), bread
Saturday: on the road
Sunday: Buca de Beppo for Elizabeth's graduation

Can you find the leftovers and weekly specials?

I don't plan breakfasts or lunches. Breakfast for Ryan is cereal and coffee most mornings and for me something more. Lunch is leftovers or a sandwich.

5. Go through the recipes and write down any ingredients I need to buy. Write down any other perishable staples we need (milk, fruit for lunches, eggs, etc.).

6. Organize the list by categories (produce, meat, etc.). So helpful when shopping with a curious baby!

7. Go shopping!

Coupons are conspicuously absent from this process. I used to clip them all the time and had them all organized and everything, but the amount I saved was so little for the time invested that I've pretty much given up on coupons for groceries. Anything you could use a coupon for I would almost never buy, or if I did the generic version was just as good and still cheaper even with double coupons. Or else I'd be tempted to buy something just because I had the coupon! Ryan tells me coupons are just a way they convince you to try a product in the hopes you'll become a loyal customer. I still go through the paper for them, but only clip ones for toiletries or the foodstuffs we actually buy. This week the only coupon I used was for the Nutri Grain bars. (Plus on sale! Bonus!)

There you have it, but I imagine everyone has their unique method. Having a plan saves me time by not having to scramble for an idea for dinner, and money from not wasting food and taking better advantage of sales. My way seems really long, especially all written out like this, but it really only takes me about half an hour without interruptions! Now, how do you menu plan?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Catching up: Anthony's birthday

On his actual birthday, at the playground.

His Hungry Caterpillar cake! If you click on the picture to zoom in, you can see the individually placed sprinkles to make the rainbow fuzz along his back (It actually didn't take that long, since my sister helped.), the chocolate chip feet, and semi-Eric Carle-esque icing tinting technique.) This was really the only Caterpillar thing at the party, besides the invitations. They were a mock-up of the book entitled The Very Happy Birthday with a picture of the Caterpillar wearing an MS Paint-made birthday hat.

All the artistry involved in the above was lost on the birthday boy, but he sure thought it tasted good!

Friends and family came to celebrate. It was really great having Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop (my parents) and Aunt Teresa here.

He had a great day!