Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


March 2009

Pearls of wisdom…

Four months ago I lost something very precious to me…my pearls.

Now, I’m not really one for jewelry…

I own very little, in fact.  I have one necklace, one pair of earrings, a wedding ring, a ring my mother gave me and a watch.  I’m not counting my scapular and miraculous medal, as they’re sacramentals…

Each of the aforementioned pieces are of extreme sentimental value, I’m sure I don’t need to explain the wedding ring (though it’s not my original…that’s another story, in itself!).  The watch is a $6.00 waterproof beauty that never, ever leaves my wrist (I live and die by the clock!)

But the pearls…ah, the pearls.  They meant something far beyond their obvious beauty and value.

From the time I was a very young girl, I’d always wanted a strand.  Their creamy-white perfection appealed to me in ways that the cold, hard glint of diamonds never could.  For many years I wore a fake strand, content to see them nestled against a bright red wool sweater, or lying upon crisp linen…

Why pearls?  As I explained to my husband years ago, they mean something…pearls stand for purity, perfection, wisdom, innocence and fidelity.  Pearl earrings were often given as a gift from husband to wife, to symbolize his trust in her fidelity.  The pearl is formed under such adverse conditions…encased within a living creature, formed layer by layer, beneath the muck and mire, hidden from sight.  The oyster, gnarled and imperfect, gives birth to that which is perfection…the pearl.  And like a snowflake, no two pearls are alike…

On my 40th birthday, my husband and children presented me with a strand of pearls.  Need I say how much that gift meant?  Precious, beyond words…two years later, a set of dangling pearl earrings completed the set.  My husband searched long and hard to find just the perfect pair, the pair that would truly symbolize his trust, his love and my fidelity as a wife of more than a quarter century.

I wore the necklace occasionally throughout the week, reserving the earrings for the Sabbath, as I feared I might lose them.  The earrings, remained…but the necklace.  The necklace…vanished.

For four long months, we’d searched for them.  I’d feared they’d fallen from my neck, perhaps slipped down the drain…we searched every room.

This Sunday, I donned my favorite yellow linen dress and keenly felt their absence.  I put the earrings on, wearing them alone for the first time since the necklace disappeared.  While sitting in Mass, one of the earrings slipped off my ear.  I quickly caught it.  The back was missing.  In panic, I removed both of them, placed them in the zipper compartment of my purse and sighed.

My husband must have noticed my distress.  On the ride home from Church, he begged the children to help find mom’s pearls.  They tried…no pearls.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day deep-cleaning my bedroom.  Purging files, putting away the velvet and wool, exchanging it for linen and cotton.  Boxing, bagging, vacuuming.  And searching.

No pearls.

Arthur was present throughout much of the cleaning process.  He searched the master bath…emptying the cabinets and drawers but found nothing.

“I’m sorry, mom.  I’ve looked everywhere.  What about your old purse?”

“Yes…I’ve looked there.  In suitcases, backpacks.  See the computer cabinet?  I just checked there…”

“What about this file box?  How about there?”  He moved forward to look…

“Arthur…the file box doesn’t have room for anything other than magazines and papers…how could it be in there…”

He stepped back.  I bowed my head for just a few seconds, once again beseeching St. Anthony.  This time I asked him to let Arthur find that necklace.

In a split second, Arthur pushed past me, pulled the file box forward (I’m weeping as I type this!) and reaching into the small space in front of the magazines, extracted my necklace!

My pearls!

Hugs, kisses and tears of joy.  I’m not really sure who was happier…Arthur was giddy for the rest of the evening.  Remember that story about the lady who swept her house looking for the lost coin?  And the jubilation that ensued?

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

– Luke 15:8-10

Did I happen to mention that I went to Confession, this past Sunday? I hadn’t been in quite sometime.  Somehow, in the midst of all the mania of the past few weeks, weeks filled with anger and stress, I never once considered seeking the Divine Physician for this healing Sacrament.  I know…astounding, isn’t it?  I teach it, I preach, I’ve marched my children in and somehow…somehow I haven’t been going.  I can’t account for it!  Until I stepped into the confessional and said these words “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been over two months since my last confession…” It’s quite possible, it had been longer…perhaps more like four months…

In the midst of rejoicing, I can’t help but think our Lord had a much larger message for me in this little “miracle of the necklace…”

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

My joy, while great, is nothing compared to His merciful love, and the joy of the angels as they exult over this repentant sinner…

How beautifully, how perfectly our Good God instructs His children…I thank Him that this lesson has not missed its mark…like a well-aimed arrow, it is fixed firmly in my heart!


The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – March 30, 2009

Outside my Window…Gathering light in the cloudless sky.  Frost and frigid temperatures should soon make way for a lovely, spring day.  Today’s temperature is expected to reach a balmy 52 degrees!

I am thinking…there are only a few short days left in our Lenten journey.  I fear I “packed” very poorly for this trip, thus the journey has been a rather difficult one.  Nonetheless, God provides for our insufficiencies…once again, my weakness is revealed and I remember this is a journey we were never meant to make alone…

I am thankful for…a day of rest.  The Sabbath is a true day of rest and respite from the cares of the world.  The Martin Family certainly knew the value of keeping the Sabbath holy, as evidenced by these quotes:

*From Sr. Celine Martin:

In this connection, I should like to draw attention particularly to the celebration of the feast which occurs each week: Sunday. My mother used to praise father for his strict observance of this holy day, attributing to it the prosperity of the family.

*A letter from Zelie Martin:

I have firm hope that this time of trial will not last. What gives me a confidence which nothing can diminish is especially the edifying manner with which you sanctify Sunday. All faithful observers of the Lord’s Day, perfect or imperfect, are blessed in their enterprises; in the end, in one way or another they become rich.”

Here is a delightful post on this subject.  Leila expresses herself with such eloquence…

From the kitchen…Piping hot espresso, scrambled eggs, sausage and toast.  Dinner:  hmmm…I need to resurrect my menu.  Just one more area where order has taken a backseat.  I’m leaning towards cheese-stuffed rigatoni with sweet italian sausage…yeah…that’ll work…

In our school room…The boys passed their Confirmation tests!!!  Arthur was a nervous wreck and could hardly sleep the night before.  He made a 109!  Gawain scored extremely well, though slightly lower than Arthur.  Now we wait and pray.  This Confirmation ceremony will be the first Traditional Confirmation in our Diocese in more than 40 years.  We’re not quite sure whom will confer the Sacrament.  Unfortunately, our dear Bishop is very ill and is undergoing emergency surgery to amputate the lower portion of his leg.  Please keep him in prayer!

I am creating…I’ve crocheted five summer hats for the girls:  two ecru, two “strawberries and cream,” and one in white.  Each hat still needs ribbons for embellishment and I need to crochet one more white hat.  The girls will wear the white ones for Easter.  Photos later!

I am going…to continue to work to restore order.  I think my family has gotten the message…we’re all in this together and mom has been bearing a far too large portion of the burden.  I love my family…

I am wearing…Blue jeans and a black and white sweater.  Hair in a pony tail.  Ready for work…

I am reading…just finished The Mother of the Little Flower by Sr. Celine Martin.  Exquisite…what a role model for Christian motherhood!  I fear I fall so short, at times…

I am hoping…to put together several more bags to take to the thrift store.  Tally thus far:  10…30 more to go!

I am hearing…the voice of my children…time to fix breakfast!

Around the house…a laundry machine that still isn’t fixed.  We’ve been waiting for the part for more than 2 weeks.  The mudroom is very, very scary!

One of my favorite things…clean laundry.  It will be long, long time before I complain about having to wash clothes, trust me!  As soon as that washer is fixed, I will spend many hours gleefully washing and drying clothes!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…prepare for Holy Week.  Our Easter Cleaning will take place on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  There’s much to be done…

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Do you remember this post? Well…hubby cut a few slices of “the smile.”  I plan to hang one on my courtyard fence and give the other to my mom and dad.  We have a couple more…not sure what I’ll do with them…

Have a blessed week!

Small Successes – Every Bit Counts!

Is there anyone, anyone at all, who wouldn’t benefit from the following admonitions from our beloved St. Francis de Sales?

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.”

“Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.”

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.”

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

“While I am busy with little things, I am not required to do greater things.”

Yes…I’m feeling pressured, stressed and need to be called back to simplicity.  I’d begun to imagine that this Lent was going rather poorly, due to my struggles.  I’ve come to realize that were it easy, were I experiencing consolation, then I’d be missing the whole point of “sacrifice.”  This Lent is hard…and so it should be.  I’m supposed to stretch, but the muscles and tendons are a bit creaky, and pain is inevitable.  I’m thankful for every grace, and am anxious for the coming Resurrection and Easter joy…

Here are this week’s small successes:

1.  Hand washed all my husband’s socks and other really grubby white laundry.  The part for the washer is still on backorder, though I hope we’ll receive it by tomorrow.  My hubby is such a wonderful man, and socks weren’t to be had for love or money, so I joyfully (yes…joyfully!) hand washed them.  He’s worth it!

2.  Took four loads of laundry to the laundromat.  While I happily hand washed hubby’s things, the sheer volume of stinky boy laundry was far too daunting to consider!  There is definitely something to be said for simultaneously washing four loads.  I’m thankful to have the use of my dryer and will spend the rest of the morning drying clothes.

3.  Took the children to the creek and turned them loose.  My boys really needed the freedom to explore God’s creation.  They filled themselves with it, and came home more than a little muddy…

Here are a couple pics:

Share your Small Success at Faith and Family Live!


The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – March 23, 2009

Outside my Window…the start of a beautiful day!  Though frosty-cold, the morning sun holds the promise of more pleasing temperatures as the day advances.  My daffodils are blooming, tossing their pretty little heads in the morning breeze…spring is here!

I am thinking…about this quote:

Your Cross

by St Francis De Sales

The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.

Please pray for a young mother of 5 children age 7 and under, who has just learned her cancer has returned and the prognosis is poor…her friends and family are suffering greatly.

I am thankful forLaetare Sunday.  Such a bright spot, during our Lenten journey…

From the kitchen…leftovers from yesterday’s mega-Laetare Sunday brunch!  Eggs, cheese and italian sausage casserole, hashbrowns, sausage links, toast and a fresh pot of espresso.  Dinner: oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, salad and sliced apples.

In our school room…Jesus, Mary and Joseph help me.  That’s all I’m saying…

I am creating…my schedule.  I’m doing nothing else “crafty” until I’ve finished it…

I am going…to participate in 40 bags for Lent.  I think I can knock out that challenge this week alone!  Purging…I’m really, really good at it.  Ask my family.  They’re missing all kinds of stuff!

I am wearing…blue jeans, cream turtleneck and green cotton tunic.  Gold ballet flats, hair hanging down, begging to be styled, but I don’t have time…I’m not pleased with the new “do.” Much too time intensive!

I am reading…I’m still waiting for He Leadeth Me.  Lent will be over before I get this book!

I am hoping…to start my room-by-room spring cleaning…my lenten chore list isn’t working out so well…

I am hearing…silence… all are sleeping…

Around the house…not too bad, but way too much laundry.  My washer is dead, with no parts available for shipment until the 26th.  The mudroom is filled with dirty laundry…sigh…

One of my favorite things…daffodils.  I wandered lonely as a cloud…

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…spring cleaning!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

The view from my kitchen window, just before sunrise a couple days ago…you can see the craters on the moon!

Have a blessed week!

Laetare, Jerusalem!

A very small portion of this morning’s homily, paraphrasing as well as I’m able:

“Many priests have entered a sacristy, having read, heard or seen these words:

Just for today, offer this Mass as though it were your very first Mass, your very last Mass…your only Mass.

And so should we receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament!  Just for today, receive Him as though this were your First Holy Communion, your only communion…your viaticum…we can never give Him enough reverence!

And how wonderful would the world be, if we would only apply that same admonition to every aspect of our lives!

Husbands…every morning before you leave for work, kiss your wife as though it were your first kiss, your last kiss, the only kiss you would ever share…

Parents…hug your children everyday as though it were the first hug you ever gave them, the only hug you would ever give…and the last…”

Laetare Sunday in Lent…such beautiful food for the soul, these words…


To My Dear and Loving Husband…

To My Dear And Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

by Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)

Happy Birthday, darling!

Today is my husband’s birthday.  Born on the first day of spring, the youngest child and only son in his family.  Can I tell you what an amazing man he is?

He’s an amazing cook.  From candy to barbeque, his culinary prowess is legendary!

He’s a computer whiz.  He can build and repair nearly any system, and currently is delving into the wonders of software programming and xhtml and sql and lot of other initials which astound me!

In nearly 28 years of marriage, we’ve only ever had a repairman twice.  He fixes every car, every appliance…there’s practically nothing beyond his ability.

He is a man of faith.  Everything is so simple for him.  Things I’ve struggled with, he accepts with such trust, such simplicity…oh, how I envy him!

He loves children.  Loves them, all of them, most especially babies.

He loves animals…all of them.  We would be operating a small zoo, were it at all practical. Thank heaven it’s not!

He is amazingly strong.  He carried a loaded deep freezer (not one of the small ones!) from the curb to the kitchen…alone!

He’s an incredible landscaper, gardener and yardman.  This was his specialty for many years.

He has operated nearly every kind of farm equipment imaginable.  Worked with horses and cattle and had the privilege of having a shirt ripped right off his back by the great Triple Crown winner, Secretariat.  Yep…he used to work for Claiborne Farms!

He is the hardest worker I’ve ever known.  There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his family.  His own personal comfort means nothing to him…he pours himself out in the service of the needs of his family…

He is an incredible friend.  Need furniture moved?  A computer repaired?  Need an ear, a strong shoulder?  He’s there…

He is generous.  Even when he has little, he’ll give all he has…

He is the father of nine children (plus one in heaven!).  Grandfather to five.  He adores them all…

He loves me. He loves his wife, as few men love theirs.  He’d rather be in my company, than anywhere else.  His love is sacrificial…he lives to serve the needs of his beloved, before his own.  He is the most loving person I’ve ever known.

He is my husband. Given to me by a very generous, very good God.  Far better than I deserve…he helped his young bride grow up…patiently bearing with my tantrums, always the voice of reason.

I’m sure I’ve probably embarrassed him a bit.  But it’s all true…

Yesterday, the children and I spent the day planning ways to honor our very own “St. Joseph.”  Little acts of loving kindness to remind him that he is King of his castle.  As his birthday falls on a Friday during Lent, we will be celebrating with a few friends on Saturday, but will still spend this evening reminding him of our love, respect and thankfulness that he’s at the helm of this ship!


yes, Yes, YES!

The first daffodil of 2009 is trying to lift her pretty head:

What a lovely and oh, so welcome sight!


Small Successes – little things mean a lot!

Standing outside yesterday afternoon, barefoot, hanging sweetly-scented laundry in the cool breeze, I felt rejuvenated as I haven’t in such a long time.  The winter gloom that had slowly crept into my soul is being dispelled by the promise of spring.  And while my heart yearns for joy, I try to keep in my mind this:  there can be no Easter Alleluia without Good Friday’s Suffering…

My “small successes” seem very, very small this week, and yet, as I struggle towards restoring order to home and hearth, these “little things” mean more than ever!

1.  My schedule is coming together.  I pray God will grant me the spirit of perseverance to stick to it and restore the order that I’d worked so hard to cultivate over a quarter century of housewifery and homemaking.  It’s amazing how much last years trials and traumas took me down.  It’s long past time to dust off and reclaim the title “heart of the home…”
2. Spent the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day enjoying the glories of nature with my husband and children.  Fresh air and sunshine are good for the body and the soul!
3. Created our very first St. Joseph’s Table…it’s still under construction, as we will be baking a few goodies to place at the foot of the “steps to heaven…”

Here it is:

Share your Small Success at Faith and Family Live!


Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

Pekne-li na Svatého Josefa, bývá dobrý rok…

If it is nice on St. Joseph’s Day, it will usually be a good year…

Czech proverb

Oh, that our beloved Saint’s feast day had come yesterday!  The weather was beautiful…breezy, warm and sunny.  By evening, the temperature had dropped significantly and light rain had begun to fall.  It seems the feast of St. Joseph will be a drizzly, cold and not-so-spring-like day.

**UPDATE**Bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and nearly 50 degrees!! Looks to be an amazing day…

Not to fear!  There are still many ways to celebrate St. Joseph and all fathers, as is customary, despite the dreary weather.

Are you familiar with the tradition of the St. Joseph Table or Altar?

The effect of the table design is dignified, solemn, yet festive, grand and inspiring. Much symbolism is contained in its shape and decoration. The “steps” represent the ascent from earth to heaven. On the topmost step is a statue of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family. White linen tablecloths cover the table. Vigil lights of green, brown and deep yellow, representing St. Joseph’s attire, are profusely placed. Palms placed nearby and around the room, as well as lily plants and white carnations give the table softness and the scents together with incense used in the opening of the ceremony are suggestive of the fragrance of heaven and the sweetness of salvation.

You can read the rest here.

There are no end of recipes to help you get started…should you lack the time or resources to prepare a table or altar, a loaf of homemade bread, braided and shaped into a “crook” or “staff” served with the evening meal, would be a nice way to honor Good Saint Joseph.

Here are a few links to help you get started:

St. Joseph’s Day Bread

St. Joseph’s Day Cream Puffs

Pane Di San Giuseppe

Traditional Recipes For the St. Joseph Table

Viva San Giuseppe!

We’ll probably keep things simple.  The braided bread served with Minestrone will be a big hit with the children and Verdure alla Pastella would be a delicious and delightful side dish…and a crafty way to sneak in a few green veggies!  For dessert:  Farfallette Dolci.  All of these dishes are simple enough for the children to assist in preparing, with many of the ingredients readily available in the average kitchen.

Don’t forget to check out Catholic Cuisine for additional recipes!

Looking for a few hands-on activities?  Check out the following:

Start your day with the Litany of St. Joseph

Attend Mass at a Church named for St. Joseph…follow the usual requirements and receive a plenary indulgence!

Pay a visit to the Virtual St. Joseph’s Altar

Construct a 3D paper cut-out St. Joseph’s Altar…there are a few really great coloring pages, as well!

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!


A perfect day…

Imagine my surprise when my dear husband took off early to join us in our St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

It was a perfect day…and these pictures are worth more than a thousand words…

***UPDATE***This just in! Cutest pictures EVER of my grandson, Benjamin:

Now…how cute is he? I know…

St. Patrick’s Day Blessings,

All things Irish…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, or as the Irish would have it, Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

While most of us will enjoy the day, remembering the good Bishop and his work in spreading Christianity, particularly amongst the people of the Emerald Isle, Roman Catholics in Ireland will observe it as a Holy Day of Obligation.  St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and his feast day is observed with great devotion.

For Catholics in America who are privileged enough to live in a community with a Catholic Church named for our dear saint, it’s possible to gain a plenary indulgence by attending Mass at that Church.  All the usual requirements stand, and what better way to honor St. Patrick’s memory than by attending the Mass.  We missed a lovely opportunity last night, due to sickness and poor timing.  Today promises to be a better day, and we have a few ideas for celebrating with our family:

This morning we’ll pray, using The Lorica of St. Patrick:

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

On to breakfast:  we’ll have “egg’s in a nest” in memory of St. Kevin, another great Irish saint, and patron of our dear priest.  Sir Galahad has pulled a terrific recipe for Soda Bread, out of an Irish cookbook…he’s becoming quite the chef!

This afternoon promises to be exquisite and mom’s feeling a wee bit better, so we’re heading to the creek for ta search out a bit o’ green!  A picnic lunch, with Oreos dipped in white chocolate (dyed green, of course, with a dash of peppermint oil!).  Dinner tonight?  Jessica’s Irish Beef and Guinness Stew looks delicious…I’m getting ready to fire up the crockpot, right now!

My prayers for you, dear friends, on this fine spring-like morning…

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

St. Patrick’s Day Blessing Upon You!

Cascarones, pysanky and egg coloring fun!

A few years ago, a very dear friend introduced our family to cascarones, or confetti eggs…a super-fun, and very messy way to conclude an Easter egg hunt.

Assembling the cascarones is not at all difficult.  A few weeks prior to Easter, I begin saving eggshells.  I make a lot of scrambled eggs and simply use a butter knife to “tap” a small opening in the top of the egg.  After dumping the contents,  I carefully rinse each eggshell and place it, hole side down, in a carton to dry, to be decorated and filled later.  There are more than a few ways to decorate and fill the cascarones, but this is how we do ours, and it couldn’t be easier!  We simply fill each egg with confetti, carefully gluing a small disk of tissue paper over the opening and then decorate with magic markers.  That’s it…no dye, no drying…the cascarones are ready to be hid with the other Easter eggs!

And what fun!  Once found, the children take great delight in cracking them over one another’s heads or pelting mom and dad with them…I’ve saved two dozen eggs, so far, and the children are delighted that we will be hiding cascarones this Easter!

Another nifty use for your emptied eggshells:  roll up a small scroll of paper with directions leading the “finder” to a “treasure,” and place inside the egg.  These surprise eggs are a lot of fun and can be marked with a “?” to differentiate them from the cascarones or traditional decorated Easter eggs.

More empty eggshell excitement:  try your hand at pysanky.  These eggs are magnificent…I purchased a kit last year for my father from Ukrainian Gift Shop…I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!  Decorating Easter eggs is a favorite family tradition, in case you haven’t guessed!

How about coloring your traditional Easter eggs using things you may have around the house?  By using the following items, you can achieve nearly every color in the spectrum:

Lavender Small Quantity of Purple Grape Juice
Violet Blossoms plus 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Violet Blue Violet Blossoms
Small Quantity of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Blue Canned Blueberries
Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
Purple Grape Juice
Green Spinach Leaves (boiled)
Liquid Chlorophyll
Greenish Yellow Yellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)
Yellow Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Carrot Tops (boiled)
Celery Seed (boiled)
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled)
Brown Strong Coffee
Instant Coffee
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
Orange Yellow Onion Skins (boiled)
Pink Beets
Cranberries or Juice
Red Grape Juice
Juice from Pickled Beets
Red Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)

Eggs.  So much fun, in such a small package…


The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – March 16, 2009

Outside my Window….dark and overcast, temperature a balmy 43!  Feels like spring this morning.  Yesterday’s weather was particularly beautiful, with mostly blue skies and a mild breeze.  Perfect weather to have a bonfire…and so we did!

I am thinking…that I’m so terribly behind in everything.  I think I’ve been sick for quite awhile.  I’ve ignored a lot of symptoms for a very long time and praise God that I finally went in for antibiotics.  Still not up to par…but feeling better than I have for the last several days…

I am thankful for…health insurance.  And Urgent Medical centers.  And antibiotics.  And a very, very, very, very, very insistent hubby!  Thanks, sweetie!  You were right…

From the kitchen…food?  Yuck!  Every time I eat, I feel sick.  Bleh.  Espresso, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to bother me.  So that’s what I’m having.  Kiddies aren’t up yet…I imagine eggs, toast and sweet italian sausage will be on the menu for them.  Dinner this evening?  I’m not sure…if Galahad’s cough is better, we’ll be attending a vigil Mass in honor of St. Patrick at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Columbus.  Torchlit procession and Irish Tea and Music to follow…

In our school room…I need help!  I’m truly foundering right now…I’m sure this infection and all the weeks of illness have much to do with it, but I just can’t get it together.  Hubby is doing what he can to help pick up the slack.  He’s taking over all of Arthur’s algebra lessons.  The father-son time will do both of them a lot of good, and will help alleviate a bit of my stress.  God bless all the moms out there who are educating more than six at home!  I’ve never had this many all at once and it is a challenge, to the extreme.  Kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th…holy cow!  Am I really responsible for that many grade levels?!!  I need a maid and a tutor!!

I am creatingmade this on Friday.  I see quite a few more in the future.  The afghan will have to wait awhile…I’m going to work on Emily’s hat today.

I am going…to take a deep breath and try to sort through my day.  Looks like I may have to start living by my old schedule…the one I used when I started homeschooling more than 13 yrs. ago…

I am wearing…denim skirt, black and white sweater, ballet flats with pink bows (they’re so cute!)

I am readingGreat Yarns for the Close-knit Family.  Sweet patterns taken directly from children’s literature.  There’s a lovely navy cape I have my eye on…

I am hoping…that I can shake this malaise…

I am hearing…mostly silence.  Creaks and groanings of the floorboards…sounds like the children are waking…

Around the house…too, too, too, much to do…

One of my favorite things…standing barefoot in the grass hanging wash out to dry.  I actually did that this weekend…I have an enormous pile of line-dried laundry to prove it!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…establish a hardcore schedule and stick to it for 28 days…apparently that’s the magic number.  Continue with outdoor cleanup activities and tackle the laundry monster.  Read with my children.  Celebrate St. Patrick’s day using a few of these ideas and this.  Pray more, worry less…

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

The first bonfire of 2009!  Our dear friend Hilaire and Mr. Dan came for dinner.  Roasting marshmallows is a family favorite!

Have a blessed week!

Chickens beware!

Yesterday, all the guys in the family spent the day on yard chores.  Clearing the large garden patch and the herb and tomato patch, destroying the old chicken coop to make way for the new one, hauling trash and burning brush and rubbish, made for a busy day.

Unfortunately, Galahad and mom are under the weather.  Galahad’s cough is terrible…a smoky bonfire would have only worsened it.  Mom spent the afternoon at Urgent Medical for treatment of a three day migraine and kidney infection…no fun at all.

So the two of us stayed in.  Ah, well…you do what you have to and thank God things aren’t worse!

It’s amazing how much needs to be done to accommodate four chickens!  Everyone is quite excited, though it seems we’re going to have to be hyper-vigilant when the ladies arrive…

Someone else has been watching the flurry of activity:

Yes…a hawk.  We have lots of them…this guy is kind of small (I think it’s a kestrel…anyone, anyone?).  A bit of research reveals that kestrels won’t bother full grown chickens, but I’m sure he’s more than able to pick up a few chicks!  I spied him from the kitchen window and quickly took a few pictures, just in case we need to identify him in a police line up…

He’d better leave my chickens alone and stick to the field mice…there are plenty to be had!


Frugal Friday…

**too cute not to pass on!**

Take a little girl’s favorite pair of jeans, with two ripped-out knees…

Cut off these:

Take a 36″ x 12″ rectangle of this:

Gather, hem and stitch…you end up with this:

Which looks like this:

I love recycling clothes!


Small Successes…or getting it right, one small step at a time!

Wow…we’re nearly halfway through March! This weekend was amazing…temperatures in the 70’s, now followed by an arctic chill…still, spring is in the air and the promise of the coming joy of Easter is a constant source of comfort as we journey through Lent. Time to focus on those “small successes…”

1.  Finally cut my hair.  It was rather traumatic, but it does look much better!

2.  I’m struggling with my Lenten cleaning list, but have managed to clear out the coat closet, box up all the outgrown winter things for the thrift store and have managed to keep it clean and organized for the past few days.  I’ve also cleared several surfaces, vacuumed the stairs and am going to focus on keeping up with the laundry…not just getting it done!

3.  Taught Emily and Charlotte the Act of Contrition. You have to hear it:

Aren’t they sweet?

Seven year old Charlotte is preparing for her First Confession, so we began reciting the Act of Contrition following the evening Rosary.  It’s amazing how quickly both she and Emily picked it up!

Share your Small Success at Faith and Family Live!


Out of Egypt…

Not so many years ago, my family and I attended a very liberal parish.  In charity, I will not name the parish and will only refer to it as St. Anywhere.  Additionally, since our departure, through the efforts of a holy Bishop,  some semblance of Catholic identity is slowly returning to the parish…

There were many lovely people there…good-hearted Catholics, concerned with social-justice issues and the like, many of whom had grown up in the community.  Catholics were the extreme minority; there were only 600 of us in a county of nearly 50,000.

St. Anywhere didn’t start out a liberal parish.  Like most Catholic communities, there had once been a vibrant parish life.  Situated on the sprawling grounds was a school, a convent, the rectory and the Church itself.  In a shady grove on the other side of the field where the children played was a grotto where parishioners could pray and meditate…it was lovely.

In the sixties, things began to change.  With the institution of the new Mass, many priests throughout the country began to feel that the interior of the Church needed to reflect this new, modern approach to worship.

St. Anywhere was hit hard…

At the order of the “forward-thinking” priest, the statues of Jesus and Mary were removed from their niches on opposing sides of the altar.  In their place, the baptismal font and tabernacle were installed.  These were not the original fixtures.  The lovely eight-sided baptismal font was taken out of the entrance of the Church and turned into a birdbath in the rear of the convent.  It was replaced with a wrought-iron plant stand, which held a terra cotta bowl.  The original tabernacle, ornate and lovely, was replaced with an oak box, with gold doors emblazoned with sheaves of wheat.  The crucifix was removed from its position of prominence over the altar, and placed at the back of the Church.  In its place, a series of garish 1970’s styled banners were hung…each reflecting a particular season or idea.  The one of the large butterfly stands out most, due to the riotous colors of which it was comprised.  The high altar was destroyed; an oak, table-styled altar was deemed more suitable.  The kneelers were discarded, as were the pews.  The faithful sat in chairs, from which hung little canvas bags that held the Gather hymnals…no missals, as the priest forbade the faithful to use them, saying they inhibited “active participation.”  The lovely wood floors were covered with peach carpet, and the entire effect was more Methodist than Catholic.  When the “wreckovation” was complete, there was nothing left to give anyone, visitor or Faithful, any hint that this was a Catholic Church.

If only the interior of the Church had been sacked, it wouldn’t have been quite so bad.  We know, from the stories of the early Christians and missionaries, that great fervor can exist in the simplest of surroundings.  Unfortunately, many of the Faithful were subject to an interior “wreckovation” that was far more destructive.

As tendrils of liberalism were woven into the everyday life of St. Anywhere, it wasn’t long before the school closed, as many parents no longer saw the need for Catholic education.  CCD was renamed “GIFT” and the solid catechesis of the Baltimore Catechism was replaced with “touchy-feely-warm-and-fuzzy” non-Catholic texts.  Genuflecting was discouraged…a quick bow before the altar or tabernacle was sufficient to show reverence to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Kneeling was discouraged.  Those of us who dared to kneel during the Consecration (there were only a handful of us) were criticized and told we weren’t in “unity with the parish.”  Silence was no longer observed in the Sanctuary and the “Sign of Peace” soon became a festival of high-fives and group hugs, extending across the aisles.

There were some who tried desperately to effect a change.  A couple of us worked hard to get a new priest to allow a statue of the Blessed Mother to be installed in the Sanctuary niche, where the original statue had been.  I had raised nearly $8000.00 for the purchase of a statue; obviously there were enough of us in the parish who wanted it!  Nonetheless, a vocal minority made a great fuss over it, and the priest caved in.  We had hoped that the purchase of the statue, would help with the return of the tabernacle to a place of prominence in the Church…unfortunately it had the opposite effect!  This same priest suggested that we should take the tabernacle out of the Church and put it in the rear chapel, so that we could adore our Lord “in peace.”  I’ll never forget the tearful pleas of a beautiful woman named Fran:  “please, please, please…don’t take Jesus out of the Church!  Don’t take Jesus out of the Church!” He didn’t, but the situation seemed desperate.

On Fridays, several of us would gather in Adoration in the sanctuary of the Church, to pray before the tabernacle in reparation for these offenses.  One day stands out in memory…

Seven of us were kneeling in prayer, when a loud noise was heard in the back of the Church.  It was the DRE, who was a Franciscan nun, carrying in a few boxes with the assistance of a couple parishioners.  They laughed, joked, ripped open boxes and made every kind of commotion imaginable.   Anger, quickly turning to rage boiled over in my heart…how could they?  Don’t they know where they are?  Don’t they see what we’re doing?  Jesus…Lord…make it stop!  This is maddening!

The noise only seemed to get louder, the longer we all prayed.  And then it dawned on me…we were praying in reparation for the offenses, outrages and sacrileges against our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  What an amazing opportunity to be counted among those who were offering reparation…and reparation was most certainly needed!  I wept, but had real comfort in the knowledge that were I to get up and walk out…which was my first inclination, that I would be fleeing my Lord, when He needed me most.  I was about to count my outrage and pain, as greater than His!  I prayed louder, with more fervor and just a few moments later, they left.

There were many, many more instances to come, all moments of grace, moments where we were not consoled, but could offer consolation.  I never knew what it meant to offer consolation to our Lord, until then…

It was like living in the desert, or Egypt as a dear friend has often referred to it.  It pleased our Lord to keep us there for many, many years.  It was hard, heartbreaking at times…

There was a glimmer of hope when a new priest was assigned.   Before our exodus “out of Egypt”, we watched with jubilation, as Father took one look at the ridiculous banner, had it removed and replaced with a large crucifix!  Slowly, ever so slowly, this priest began to effect change…not as quickly as we would have liked, but we had renewed hope for the future…

And then the miracle.  Led out of Egypt to the Promised Land…perhaps a melodramatic analogy, but that’s what it felt like!  We have a community of Faith, what we’d longed for…a life that dances and skips to the rhythms of the liturgical calendar, surrounded by friends who have their own stories to tell, many which are quite similar to ours.

Are you in the desert?  Have courage!  How you glorify the Lord by your desire to see Him loved, worshiped and adored as He deserves!  Have faith!  He will sustain you during this time of suffering, and will reward your faithfulness in ways you can’t imagine!  Can there be any longing more worthy than that of the soul that desires to see the Beloved, loved?  Offer reparation to our Lord…there are many who are not.

And should you be in the parish of your dreams…praise God for His mercy! And pray for those who are not…


Six pens…

We knew he would do it.  He promised he would.  But like most Americans, we don’t often put much stock in the promises of a politican.

And this was one promise we had prayed he wouldn’t keep.

Sitting at the computer, I watched the live video.  I watched him laugh, joke and quip:

“C’mon, people…let’s go sign this thing…”

Just like that.  His left hand curled around the paper, clutching alternately, each one of the six pens used to sign the repeal of the ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Six pens…each used to sign the death warrant for pre-born children who will be created and destroyed to satisfy a vocal minority who claim to care about the suffering of humanity.

Six pens…each to be given as a gift to a supporter of this repeal.  A gift…I can’t imagine how one’s conscience can be so distorted, that one’s thinking can be so skewed, that carrying one of the six pens, could be seen as a privilege…

They’ve forgotten what the phrase “sanctity of life” means.  They want us to forget, too.

They want us to forget these little lives, many created for the sole purpose of destruction.  They want us to forget…

Forget that these are human embryos…

Forget that these children have no voice…

Forget that there is not a single cure or therapy that has been associated with embryonic stem cell usage…

Forget that studies have show that stem cells derived from embryos have the tendency to create tumors…

Forget that umbilical cord blood has been shown to be the best source for stem cells, with known cures and treatments deriving from their use…

We won’t forget, will we?

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…

Deuteronomy 30:19


The Simple Woman’s Daybook

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FOR TODAY – March 9, 2009

Outside my Window…Darkness.  Gusty winds shake the leafless trees.  This morning’s temperature is nearly twenty degrees lower than yesterday’s.  Still, relatively mild for this part of the country.  Oh yes…the daffodils are coming up!  Shoots of green, springing from the barren earth offer the promise of new life, warmer weather and cheerful bouquets…

I am thinking…about this past weekend.  Stressful in ways too painful to discuss.  Still, God is merciful.  Last night, while praying the Rosary, struggling to make sense of so many things, I received the message I needed.

For an increase in the virtues of faith, hope and charity; let us pray:  Hail Mary, full of grace…

Faith. Lord, increase my faith.  Hope. Lord, help to place my hope in You alone.  Charity. Lord, fill my heart with true charity…

I am thankful for…the gift of Faith.  For friends who care.  Family.  For living life in pursuit of the good, the true, the beautiful…

These three things will never die…

From the kitchen…Espresso and bagels.  Oatmeal for the children.  Dinner this evening:  homemade vegetable beef soup…lots of leftovers from Sunday dinner!

In our school room…School.  Work.  I’m in the desert…anyone see an oasis?

I am creating…The ginormous afghan is taking over everything!  Still need to make Emily’s Easter hat…

I am going…to continue to work on my Lenten cleaning.  By tackling one small chore everyday throughout the Holy Season of Lent, I’m making headway towards a cleaner, more organized home.  There is still much to do…

I am wearing…Blue jeans and a black and white sweater, ballet flats and hair back in a headband.  I don’t have time to style the new “do…”

I am readingSermons From the Latins. A gift to hubby…what a treasure!

I am hoping…that I continue to grow in faith, hope and charity.  I have the rest of my life to work on it…

I am hearingPeter Kreeft.

Around the house…Working on clearing surfaces today.  Bedroom dresser, desk, wardrobe and sewing table.  We’ve been cleaning up outside…gardening is just around the corner and chickens will be here soon!

One of my favorite things…fresh flowers.  My hubby bought me an inexpensive bouquet to place on the dinner table last night.  A glimpse of spring…

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…continue with Lenten cleaning, plug away at school, make plans for celebrating Easter…

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

A visit to the zoo, last Thursday:

Have a blessed week!

Out of hiding…

I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding…

Hiding behind hats, turtlenecks pulled up as high as they’ll go.  Hiding behind glasses, long bangs, long hair and books.  My hair has been the best possible “cover,” though recently I’ve been making a few changes…

After much encouragement from friends and family, I finally decided to grow out my bangs.  It was a painful process.  Silly barrets and headbands forced me to reveal far more than I really wanted to.  But, I persevered, and was pleased that I’d made the transition.  I can now wear hats whenever I want and don’t have to worry about “hat hair.”

In the process of growing out my bangs, my hair grew longer and longer until it finally reached that place…the place where people say “wow…your hair is…really…long!” They would occasionally add “beautiful” for good measure, but would soon find themselves rethinking the compliment after extracting a long strand from their dinner!

So I made plans to get it cut.  It was about as long as it had ever been…I hadn’t had a haircut in nearly 18 months.

So I snapped a picture and joined Clem at the salon where I had a whopping 13 inches lopped off.



I’m a bit shell-shocked.  I feel naked, revealed, forced out of hiding and a bit self-conscious.  It’s not all bad, or I obviously wouldn’t be posting a picture!  The haircut is cute…trendy and light…but I feel odd.  I keep thinking about this experience, wondering if I should have left well enough, alone…I opted to skip the highlights…one shock at a time!

It’s just hair, and mine grows so fast.  A year from now it will be ridiculously long, once again…because I can only stay out of hiding for so long.  My husband likes it, though he wouldn’t have complained if I’d left it as it was, either.  The children are funny:  Arthur shook his head sadly, Gawain asked why I did it, Galahad said I looked “very nice,” Gareth said nothing, Charlotte screamed and said “your friends aren’t going to remember you!” and little Emily said “pretty hair, Mommy…you look like Clem!”

BTW…Clementine loves it.  She’s been begging me for months to do it.

So it’s done.  Shorter than I wanted it.  Too short to put on top of my head.  That said, not all change is bad and Clem and I had fun together…besides, she’s been giving me lots of styling tips!


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