Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Doctor

Okay, I admit it. I am a Doctor Who fan. Not, mind you, as much as most of my kids, but still, the good Doctor does hold a place in my heart. Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the show with an anniversary special sure to be amazing- not even counting the fact that the 10th, 11th and the new Doctor will be in it along with Rose and other characters we've come to know (and either love or 
despise depending on if they are good guys or bad).

One of my favorite characters is K-9, a lovable robot dog, originally airing with the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith. The original episodes which "starred" K-9 were super fun to watch, but my favorite was "The School Reunion". This was with Sarah Jane, Rose, Mickey and Doctor #10 (David Tennant). It was the first Doctor Who episode where I cried~ there have been a few more, I admit. 

It's a whole lot easier to choose K-9 as a favorite character than choosing which Doctor I like the best. I have a fondness for #11 (Matt Smith) because a) he's the first Doctor I watched and b) he's just so adorably fun and alien-like. Then, of course, there's #10 (David Tennant). He's just gorgeous to watch in anything he appears (not just as the Doctor, but try watching him in the film, The Decoy Bride or Shakepeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and you'll see what I mean). If we talk about the earlier Doctors, then I have to add Tom Baker to the list. As you can see, it's not an easy choice!

Well, I am looking forward to seeing what the creators of this long-running British television show have come up with for this next season. As always, it should be quite a trip! Happy Anniversary and thanks for letting us be your companions, Doctor, for all of the places you take us to and all the adventures awaiting us there.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mangia Mamma's Five Favorites, vol. 6 The Upstairs Edition

The upstairs of our 1912 farmhouse has been, for me in the last 10 or so years, a "no-mom's land". This is because it has been the domain of our four children and their stuff. Don't get me wrong, I've always been welcomed to the vast wilderness of kid-dom, but unless someone was ill or I needed to talk to one of my four youngsters, I pretty much steered clear of the upper floor. 
With the departure of #1 son to his last year at Thomas More and #2 son to Christendom Collegethis has all changed. As Mary is the last one at home, attending Chemeketa while figuring out what she wants to do with the gifts God has given her, we have been able to start making a long wished for craft/sewing room a reality. We've moved the boys both into David's room, making it dorm-style (except without the mini fridge). I think they'll like the changes when they come home for the Christmas Holidays!
I hope you enjoy looking at my five favorites this week are as they are all from the "Land of Upstairs". 

1. Ombré Dresser


I've seen a lot of ombré stuff on Pinterest, from nails to wall hangings to furniture. I decided to put my own twist on it and redo a dresser that had previously lived in David's room. It was super easy. I started by painting the base of the dresser white. I then found a fairly dark green that we had and painted one set of drawers. I added a bit of white and painted the next set then added a bit more and did the third and so on. The result is what you see here. It's going to hold fabric and patterns and craft goodies. I can't wait to get stuff out of the Rubbermaid storage totes and into the pretty ombré dresser!

2. Cheerful Butter-Yellow Paint


When Cari lived at home, she had picked out some yellow paint for her room. She then moved out before we had the chance to paint. I've thought about painting the hallway for a long time but never did it since I wasn't sure what color to paint it (plus, remember this was "no-moms land" for quite a while). Since I am now going to be traversing the stairs to the craft/sewing room, I decided to use up the paint we had. I must admit, I love it! Not only is it bright and cheerful, it makes the whole area seem more put together. That may sound silly, but it's true- now I am enjoying going upstairs!

3. Inexpensive and Beautiful Art


Over the summer, the kids and I hit a few yard sales. One of them was at Willamette University. They had a bunch of different booths with a few interesting things, but the best booth was from their art department (or art archives, I don't remember exactly). Anyway, they were selling old prints and photos for hardly anything. Joshua ended up finding this and buying it for just a couple of dollars. I've been looking for a frame for it, and then it will end up hanging in the boys' room. Then when Joshua finishes seminary and gets placed in a parish, he'll have a beautiful piece of artwork ready to hang in his office.

4. The Kids' Artwork


My kids are all pretty artistic. They definitely do not get it from me. I admit I am creative, but artistic is not something I have ever seen myself as being. I have lots of family members as does Brian, who have been or are artists. The girls have enjoyed using their artistic abilities in decorating Mary's room. The top photo has two pieces Mary put together while the bottom is a painting by Cari with the G. K. Chesterton quote done by Mary. I'm really excited because the other day when Mary and I were shopping at Target, she got some ideas of artwork to do for the hallway! I'll be sure to share when it's all done.

5. The Boys' Room


One would think moving two boys into one room- especially as one has been in college for 3 1/2 years- would not be that hard of a thing. Plus, the shared room is the bigger one. Well, this might work unless one of the boys has a massive library of books and the other is pretty much a pack rat. Hence, the creativity combining all of their stuff in a room that doesn't feel like a storage space with beds. One thing I did was to take a little bookshelf we had, paint it white and set it on top of the desk they will be sharing. I tried to place the books they will use the most along with a few special things on the desk and shelves to take away the "dorm room" feel and help them to enjoy their shared room!

Be sure to head over to Moxie Wife and check out everybody's five favs for this week!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A "French" Toast to Honey Boo-Boo

Honey Boo Boo as a little girl
A preview of
Honey Boo Boo at 18!

So Halloween was a few weeks ago, but since I am getting caught up as it were, I thought I'd share a couple of photos and a delicious family recipe standby. Ever since one of our fencers started telling me about Honey Boo Boo and her family, I have been fascinated with the whole thing. Not having cable- or television for that matter- helped me not to start a Honey Boo Boo addiction which was probably a good thing. This all changed when Mary and I were in our hotel in Baltimore during our taking David to school trip. We not only had cable television, but I ended up not feeling good one day and staying in our room for most of it. This gave me the opportunity to watch not one, but three episodes of "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo". I believe Mary watched a few minutes with me then turned to her book and spent the next few hours reading instead. What does this have to do with Halloween you may ask? Knowing we were attending a Halloween Open House, I wanted to have a costume that no one else would have (or, as the girls said, even think about having). This led me to the Honey Boo Boo costume. Of course, I looked like Honey Boo Booed-or-Honey Boo Boo the Later Years. Cari did snap a photo, but instead of sharing subjecting it upon you, I thought I'd share what Honey Boo Boo might look like as a teenager(courtesy of Mary, who decided to try on Mom's costume when we got back home). I've gotten over my Honey Boo Boo phase (pretty much), but I now have quite a likin' for pink!!

If you were havin' a hard time stomaching that, the second thing to share is easier to swallow! It's a recipe for our family favorite, French Toast Casserole. I used to make it when the kids were little then hadn't in a long time mostly due to not having many of them at home anymore. I ended up making it a few weeks ago after David shared with me about how much he is appreciating one of the cooks at school for her homemade-tasting desserts. He said one of them tasted like my French Toast Casserole which ended up being a basic bread pudding. I decided to try it and see how well the leftovers would reheat, if I made a whole pan. It was delicious both the morning I made it as well as the next couple of days. I am pretty sure it would freeze well too, if it lasts that long.

Here's the recipe, adapted from Taste of Home



    • 1 loaf bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I've used French, Wheat, even leftover hamburger buns- whatever you have on hand should work well)
    • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • TOPPING:
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • Maple syrup, optional
    • Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a large
    • bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour over
    • bread.
    • Dot with butter.
    • Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
    • Cover and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a knife
    • inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes.
    • Serve with maple syrup if desired. Yield: 12 servings.
  • You can also cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gone in 60 Seconds or Something Like That

Wow. It's been way too long since I've posted anything. Now I am pretty sure no one cares very much since I probably have about 3 1/2 readers left (if I'm lucky). I'd like to say I've been really busy-which is true, but it's a lousy excuse since I'm not really any busier than I was 6 months ago when I took time to write. The horrible thing is that I'm still cooking, crafting and doing some pretty cool things with some pretty amazing people, and I have no good reason for not keeping up with this.
So, in order to remedy that, I've decided to try to write short blog posts every day for the next month. Even if nobody reads it, at least I know I've done more than just sit around pinning things on my gazillion- not really, more like {insert covering mouth}...72  Pinterest boards.
So here's whatcha get today: homemade Goo Gone plus a cheesy bacon fries recipe. Thankfully, they don't have anything to do with each other except that I made them. Here ya go-

Got home from work and threw together this yummy dinner-

Not only is it delicious, it was super easy. There's not an actual recipe, but here's how I made it.
Bake one bag frozen french fries according to the package directions. While they are baking, cut up six strips of bacon and fry in skillet over medium heat. When cooked to your liking, remove from pan and drain grease. Add a tablespoon of grapeseed oil to pan. Add one bag frozen peppers and onions; cook over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes more. Mix bacon and peppers. Spoon over cooked fries. Sprinkle with 2 cups grated cheese (we used smoked Gouda), and put pan back in oven for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Mangia!

Mary and I had our fries with a little ketchup on the side, and Brian said they were great just the way they were made. Of course, he's always said I was "saucy" which explains the way we like our food!

Now that I'm back on my blog, hopefully I'll pay more attention to keeping up with it. For now, it's time for one more fry and the rest of my Gewürztraminer.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

Seven Quick Takes- Autumn's Here

1. Leftovers for Lunch

While going through the process of joining The Catholic Church 2 1/2 years ago, the family decided that we would abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year. This has been a challenge sometimes, but usually it's pretty simple. For example, for my lunch today, I enjoyed leftover tomato soup to which I added a couple spoonfuls of my homemade chunky tomato sauce from the fridge.

I topped it with homemade croutons found in the freezer along with freshly shredded Romano cheese and some chopped cilantro. Sometimes, being creative with not much in the kitchen has its advantages- I was able to drizzle the whole thing with a bit of white truffle oil. I'm wondering if it might have been too much for a Faithful Friday lunch! 

2. Autumn Sweaters

A month or so ago, I found a couple of lovely cardigans at our local Value Village. I haven't been able to wear them due to the warm weather we've been having. I was really happy to hear the weather report calling for rain and colder weather for the next week or so. Not only will my plants get the water they've been needing, but I'll have an actual reason for pulling out my autumn sweaters and wearing them.

3. "Son-sickness"
David and Joshua at a regency ball in Portland

I know this is the time of life that I should be enjoying the relative quiet in my house. With only Mary and Brian at home, it's really quiet most of the time. That being said, I have been "son-sick" this week (see #4 below for another explanation) and really missing the boys. The first week of school or so, I talked with David a few times, but I haven't actually talked with him for over a week now. I've only talked with Josh for a little while last Saturday. Granted, it is supposed to be this way, and I am super proud of them, but I have found myself missing even dorky comments. This is, I guess, a reminder to hug your kids while they're home, and pray for them even when they're not!

4. P.M.S. Strikes Again

Thinking about the Old Testament and how women who were "unclean" were sent out of camp reminds me of how I should sometimes be "sent out of camp" during a certain week of the month. I've seriously thought of asking Brian to make me a shack in the backyard for those times when I just shouldn't be around anyone else. The good thing is, I am finally realizing when it starts to happen, so I can generally keep my mouth shut. Maybe, by the time I get through menopause, I'll either have that shack built or be able to control myself!

5. Craft Rooms and Other Conundrums 
Another idea...
The only time I've ever had a craft/sewing room that didn't double as a dining room, schoolroom, home office, laundry room, etc. was when Brian and I were first married. We had a two bedroom apt. for about a year where we used the second bedroom for a storage/guest/sewing/craft room. As I didn't do very many crafts or sewing back then, and we didn't have many guests, it was more storage than anything else. Well, now that the boys are gone (don't worry, I'm not crying on my iPad) Mary is helping me turn Joshua's room into a craft/sewing room. The conundrum comes as we try to figure out just what it should look like. As wonderful as Pinterest is, we haven't found just what I want. This is where having virtually no budget but, thankfully, a lot of imagination, comes in to play. I started painting a dresser we will be using as well as the closet doorway trim, and hopefully we will get to do some more this week. Can't wait to use our little craft room under the eaves!

6. It's Off to Work I Go

Baked Goods at
Fordyce Farms
Fencing at SCF
Lately, I've been feeling a bit like the dwarves when heading off to work. As the weather changes, the baking at Fordyce Farms is slowing down a bit. Thankfully, I am still there a couple days a week getting to make some delicious tea breads, scones and tea cakes along with cinnamon rolls and helping with the amazing pies. There's also a hay fort, pumpkin patch and corn maze, so October should be a lot of fun!
Of course, this doesn't mean I am sitting around the rest of the week as my time teaching and coaching at SCF is increasing. With the school year starting, so does the Salem Middle School Fencing League which I get to not only coordinate, but also get to work with these great middle schoolers in practice and meets. I've also got a new bunch of epeeists on Wednesday nights (all tween & teen boys). As my boss said, "Your boys may be gone, but now you've got these." It made me stop and think how blessed I am to have the opportunity to work with all of my students.

7. Getting to Know You

During the cleaning and moving of the boys' rooms, I took the time to clean Josh and David's books before transferring them to the bookshelves in the "new" shared bedroom. One of the joys during this process was getting to look at what books they both own. I had taken time earlier this summer to go through David's with him as he gleaned his things before going to school, so I pretty much knew what he had. I was pleased to see he kept some of the books he loved reading as a youngster, especially the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Going through Joshua's books took a while longer as he has a mini-library~and that's with getting rid of a large number of books over the last few years. I was excited to find some I hadn't before seen. One that caught my eye is called At The Cross With Mary by John Joseph D. Schweska. It is the story of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin. It is not only his biography, but also has a series of daily devotions. It is a wonderful book, and I would highly recommend it- especially for anyone who is going through a time of life when decisions are having to be made.

Be sure to head over to Conversion Diary to check out a bunch of other terrific quick takes!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Getting Canned

When the kids were little, I used to do quite a bit of canning and freezing. Not only did I enjoy the finished products, the process itself was always so much fun. To be able to take fresh ingredients normally only eaten during the summer months and create something that would be able to be enjoyed by the family when the cold and dark winter would come upon us made me happy.
As the kids got older and life got busier, I didn't can or freeze as much. This was pretty much due to not having time, and to be honest, just no desire. We've made due with things in jars and plastic bags from the store even though it was usually a bit more expensive.
This year, however, I've had the joy of working out at Fordyce Farms where fresh produce has abounded- berries of numerous types, apples, pears, peaches, plums, plus all kinds of veggies! I made it a goal to be able to preserve a bunch of stuff, and I am pleased to say I've done just that. I was going to scour my cookbooks for recipes, but then I remembered Pinterest (as if I had forgotten) and found a bunch of new ones to try. Here's the list of what's in the cupboard/freezer so far along with where I found the recipes.

-Canned Peaches (made with dear friend Annette on a really fun afternoon!)
-Bread and Butter pickles (from 52 Ways to Cook)
-Sweet Relish (from Common Sense Homesteading)
-Tomato Jam recipe #1(Grandmom Gatskill's recipe from With a Grateful Prayer and Thankful Heart)
-Tomato Jam recipe #2 (from Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain)
-Spiced Cashews (from Comfy Belly)
-Salsa Verde
-Fig Vinegar (from Joanna's Food)
Tomato Jam #1 and #2

My newest favorite granola!

-Roasted Italian-style Tomatoes (at Eating from the Ground Up)
-Strawberry Jam (Mrs. Wages Pectin recipe in the box)
-Triple Berry Jam ( also Mrs. Wages Pectin recipe in the box)
-Plum Jam (to be honest, I don't remember where I found the recipe, but try this one from Gezellig-Girl)
-Frozen Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
-Granola (from Like Mother, Like Daughter with a few Mangia Mamma additions)
-Sweet Corn (from West Street Story)
-Dried Apples (I usually just put them in the cupboard, but on Pinterest someone pinned that they stay "fresher" longer in the freezer, so I am trying it)

Roasted Chicken with yummy decorations!
Whew! For me that's quite a list. I can't wait to do a few more things before the local growing season ends. I'd still like to do a bit more, like the delish-sounding Peach Vanilla Bean Jam at Annie's Eats and the Cinnamon Pear Jam at   On the Outskirts of Town. I've also been having a good time this month cooking for only three instead of eight-yes, I know, there were only five of us this summer, not counting Cari, but the boys eat for at least two people each! I found a bunch of new recipes while perusing Pinterest, and we've been eating meals such as the gorgeous chicken with tomatoes, garlic and Kalamata olives. It was based off a recipe from My Little Expat Kitchen, and it was amazingly good! I made the latest recipe find last night for a Greek Salad Dressing to go with our Greek salad and pita dinner. Brian and I liked it a lot while Mary said it tasted like ranch dressing with feta. Since she's not a big fan of creamy dressings, I took her opinion with a grain of salt- fleur de sel, kosher, sel gris, Hawaiian, take your pick. 
The point of this being, get out there and try canning or freezing. There are a bunch of blogs, not to mention Pinterest, that have a lot of small batch jam, jellies, relishes, pickles, etc. recipes, many that don't even require a water canner. Heck, a few of them are made in the microwave, so you don't even have to own a stove! Take a little time this week and preserve some fruity or veggie goodness for the cold & rainy days to come. Then when you're spreading a shiny luscious glob of jam on your morning toast, you can be grateful for the abundance we have been given, no matter what time of year.

Where have all the little birdies gone?

Have you ever thought what a mama bird must feel seeing her babies fly for the first time? A bird that is common to our yard is the American Robin. I've enjoyed watching these orange breasted birds with a cheerful song as they look for bits and pieces with which to make their nests. I've been feeling quite like one of my feathered friends lately as my nest has gotten a bit emptier the last few weeks. With Cari enjoying the single girl life in her adorable apartment, and both of the boys away at school, our nest only has one little birdie left. 
Mary is still at home, but she is working part time as well as getting ready to start community college in a few weeks. She's been wanting to get car insurance, so she could drive, and that actually happened. Having your kids start to leave home is definitely as hard as anyone has ever said. I've always told my kids that my job as they were growing up was to help them become responsible adults. This is still what I believe, however, no matter how great of choices your kids are making, it's still a bit lonelier in the nest when they start to fly away.
I happened to come across this beautiful prayer a few weeks ago on a blog called The Littlest Way that I wanted to share. It's a mother's prayer to her children's guardian angels. I really believe it's something we moms should all be praying for our kids- no matter where the little birdies are on their life journeys. Take a moment out of your busy schedules today, and pray this for your kids!

I humbly salute ye, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me and my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed society.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Where has the Summer Gone?

So, I know there are still quite a few weeks left of summer (officially), but the time of our family's summer has gone by way too fast. I say this as Joshua leaves for school tomorrow- he is going early to study for a week then flies to England for the Thomas More College Oxford Program for three weeks
Joshua's official
application photo
 on an internship he was awarded along with 5 fellow students. While he and I were talking the other day, he made the comment that time had felt really quick this summer, but he thought there were just enough breaks to make it okay. He spent the last few months working at Fordyce Farms (with me and Mary) as well as filling out his application for seminary in the Archdiocese of Portland. As this will be his senior year at school, we are praying a lot about just what the future will hold for our oldest son.

David and some of his SCF students at his going away party
David is also getting ready to head off to the east coast for school. He, along with Mary and I, will be leaving in just a few weeks for his first year at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. After struggling with the thought of starting something new (which is really nothing new for our second son who has always wanted to know what each day's schedule would be- from the time he was tiny), he is finally almost ready to leave for this adventure.
Mary and I are looking forward to getting to take him to school, not to mention the vacation we'll be having as we visit Washington D.C., the Shenandoah Valley and Baltimore!
I remember when the kids were younger, older moms would say to me, "enjoy them now because the time will fly by, and sooner than you think they'll be gone." I would usually smile and thank them, not often taking their words to heart.
Now that our summer is just about gone, I hope my kids think we did take the time to do some fun stuff over the last few months. We did get a camping trip in as well as fireworks on 4th of July. We made it to the beach and had one fire pit time in the yard. There were many nights of laughter and music and good food and beverages. The annual Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist was held as were birthday and going away parties. Yes, the time flew by quickly, but memories were made. Hopefully, they will be something to last through the next 4 1/2 months while the boys are at school before we are all together again at Christmas. Be sure to hug your spouse and your kids today and enjoy each moment with them as it happens, no matter how much more summer you may have.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mangia Mamma's Five Favorites

Welcome to another edition of Five Favorites. This also happens to be [insert drum roll, please]... my 100th post. Of course, I still am pretty much unknown in the blogging world, but I am okay with that (usually). I have resigned myself that I probably won't ever be a famous blogger, but since I'm pretty busy being wife, mom, homemaker, fencing instructor and baker, I am learning to be content with that.

Anyway, here's this week's Five Favorites which, if you are reading this, is probably what you are waiting for:

                                                              1. AirBnB
 I discovered this great travel site a little over a year ago while looking for somewhere to stay on a fencing tournament weekend with Mary. We ended up spending a loss less money than a hotel and staying at a terrific little house in Washington. Since then, we've used AirBnB in San Francisco plus Josh and Cari used it when she visited him in Rome. Josh used it also for a Spring Break trip to Quebec with some of his TMC classmates. The latest booking is at a great place that Mary and I get to stay at when we take David to Christendom then explore Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia next month. We have only had great experiences, and I urge everyone to check it out!

2. Grilling Skills
Oh yeah, she's got skills (and pretty henna from the WorldBeat Festival)

As I wrote in my previous post, Mary and Brian have started helping with dinner. Last week, after we all worked a long day at the WorldBeat Festival, she made some amazing hot dogs along with grilled vegetables. She's started becoming quite good grilling stuff, and this Saturday's dinner of grilled pizza should be fun! So don't just let that old BBQ grill sit on your patio collecting rust, break out the propane or charcoal and get some grilling skills of your own!

3. Hammocks
                                                                       Joshua just swingin' and readin'
A couple of years ago, we bought a hammock for Brian. It was probably a Father's Day/Birthday gift as one comes on the heels of one another. Even though he doesn't use very often, it's gotten lots of wear from the kids, especially with the warm weather we've been having in the Willamette valley this summer. I've only used it once this summer, and I thoroughly enjoyed my restful time reading while gently rocking and looking up at our oaks. Everyone should have a hammock or something "swingy" in their yard!

4. AAA
We've had AAA membership for a very long time, probably since we've been married. It's been helpful when I've run out of gas (a couple of times) as well as when I've locked my keys in the car (too many times to count- not to mention the time I locked them in with the kids when they were all little, in our garage, no less). With the advent of the Internet, I generally don't remember to go to their office in town before taking a trip. Since Mary and I have our big adventure coming up, we decided to go to their office in town to see what they have. Not only were they friendly, they had a map plus tour-books filled with info on our destination-all for FREE since we're members. The best part was the walking tours of Washington D.C. that was included in the tour-book. It was really helpful, and we're planning on using it while we are there.

5. Creative Kids
                                                                         Knotted Rosary made by Joshua 

I love having creative kids. Cari and Mary enjoy quilting, cooking and sewing while David's handy at putting things together-anything from Legos to automotive stuff while Josh uses his creative gifts to do woodworking and writing. It was no surprise yesterday when Josh asked if we could run by the craft store for him to pick up some supplies to make a knotted Rosary. While we were at said craft store, Mary decided to get some supplies to re-bind a book for Josh along with some supplies for more projects. When we got home, they both got to work on their projects. As you can see, Joshua finished his fairly quickly. I think he wanted to make it for his upcoming trip to England, so he did a really nice job on it. My advice for parents or anyone who works with kids of any age-- let them develop their creativity when they are young, and they will foster the joy of making things even when they are adults!

Be sure to check out Hallie at Moxie Wife for hers along with links to a bunch of other terrific bloggers' Five Favorites!

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    Bringing Home the Bacon...

    So many times I am still amazed at the way God answers prayer. This shouldn't necessarily be the case, but in all honesty, it is. Take the past few weeks for example. Brian and I'd been talking for a while about the cash flow in our family (or how it seems to just flow away), so I'd been considering a second job. Now Craigslist is fine, and there are a lot of jobs on it, but I was more concerned about a couple of things. 1) my résumé. I have been teaching and coaching fencing for eight years now, but that's pretty specialized as was my previous job as booking agent/ administrative assistant for Master's Image Production. Of course, I also have the wife/mom/home educator thing under my belt, but it doesn't sound very impressive to the business world. 2) scheduling. Would I be able to get a job that would allow me to keep teaching and coaching, take care of family stuff, and not have to work on Sundays? This was all taken care of a few weeks back when my dear friend, Annette (she of Fordyce Farms fame), texted me asking if I'd be interested in working part time in the F. Farms kitchen helping her husband, Ray, with the marvelous baking he does. After polling the kids and talking with Brian, I texted back saying yes to the job. With the new job comes new busyness. Between the two jobs, I have been working full time (plus still doing the homemaker stuff), which is a really new thing for me. I finally realized after doing it all for a bit more than a week, I needed to ask for help in domestic-land. Whoever coined the whole bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, etc. etc. etc. thing was either a man or someone who could afford to have live-in help (I don't mean children, either)! Anyway, I decided to put my homemaking pride on the line and ask husband and youngest daughter for help in the kitchen. I then pretty much stepped back and let them plan the menu for July. So far, so good. I've only had to help a few times plus I've only had to cook a full meal twice- Sunday brunches with the kids help. The food has been tasty, and no one is starving. Of course, there have been some glitches like forgetting to put pasta on the grocery list and things like that. Thankfully, Mary is a whiz in the kitchen, so she's helping her dad quite a bit. I am still trying to use my one full day off to bake bread and make other necessities like mayonnaise and salad dressing, but it is really nice to have dinner ready when I come home after one of my really long days. Would I have done this earlier when the kids were younger- no way. Am I glad to be able to get to do it now as they are all transitioning to full grown up land- absolutely! The other fun thing is still getting to try new recipes, like the Mexican Tater Waffles I made a few weeks ago. It's a great recipe and so easy, not to mention it tastes excellent! Who would have thought you could use your waffle iron for something so creative? Try it, you'll like it!

    Mexican Tater Waffles
    1- 1 lb. bag frozen tater tots, thawed
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    1-4 oz. can chopped green chiles
    1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1 tsp. taco seasoning
    Cilantro, sour cream, salsa and extra cheese, for serving, if desired

    Preheat waffle iron. Mix all Ingredients in large bowl, being sure to break up tots. When waffle iron is hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon about 1/2 cup of potato mixture into waffle iron. Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with cilantro, sour cream, salsa and extra cheese, if desired.

    Strawberry Bread

     Mangia Mamma’s Strawberry Bread 
    with Strawberry Icing
    2 cups sliced fresh or frozen Strawberries- if frozen, let thaw for 10 minutes to soften 
    2 cups unbleached flour  
    1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour  
    2 cups sugar  
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg  
    1/2 tsp. ginger  
    1 tsp. baking soda  
    1 1/4 cups butter, softened  
    4 eggs, slightly beaten
    1 cup confectioners sugar  
    2 tbsp. strawberry syrup (I make my own, but you can use any strawberry syrup)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. 
    Combine dry ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Add butter and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, being sure to blend before adding next one. Once batter is mixed, fold in strawberries, mixing just until combined. Divide batter into pans.
    Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes; turn out onto rack.
    While bread is baking, make icing. In small bowl, mix together confectioners sugar and strawberry syrup. If icing is too thin, add a bit more syrup. Once desired consistency is reached, drizzle over warm bread.
    Cool iced bread completely before cutting. 
    This is very good for anytime of the day, and it’s delicious served with cream cheese and strawberry jam. It would also make a great base for bread pudding.