Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Traditions - Movies Edition

Traditions are so wonderful to begin and carry out, but sometimes they can be hard to figure out, especially as newlyweds.  Getting to know one another in married life is a lot of work to begin with,  let alone equalizing out what you both bring to the marriage.  It can be quite the delicate undertaking!  It took David and I a few years to figure out our own traditions, and still continue to add to the list.

We were married 4 years before we were blessed with a little one. (Those were some hard years for this mama.)  Christmas time, in particular,  could be really hard on me.  One of the things that we both enjoyed was watching Christmas movies.  Each year, we purchased a couple of VHS tapes, (are you old enough to know what those are?), and started a little collection.

Then DVD players came out.  Talk about great technology!  We spent a few years replacing the old VHS tapes with the DVD versions.

(I'm still needing to replace The Bells of St. Mary's and The Bishop's Wife.)



As the children came along, we added ones that they enjoyed, too, naturally.










(Christmas Vacation is for the grown ups ;)

We start watching these at Thanksgiving time and they last us throughout Advent season.  It's always exciting to pull the Christmas movie bin out of the closet.

BTW - I HIGHLY suggest The Christmas Angel and Christmas Lodge, both on instant Netflix right now.  Wholesome, family, breath-of-fresh air, good old-fashioned Christmas movies :)

Does your family have any favorite Christmas movies?

~  Patty  ~

Praline Sweet Potatoes

Oh, my goodness gracious!  When I read the recipe calling for heavy cream, I knew we had a winner, and another blog-worthy recipe.



Praline Sweet Potatoes


This turned my sweet potato haters into lovers…on the the first bite!

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes**
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

I scaled this recipe's ingredients to yield a smaller amount (6) than the original found here.

1.  Butter 8x8 baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C).
2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and cream.  Blend well, and spread evenly in casserole dish.
3.  Prepare the topping by combining the butter, (I melted it), brown sugar, flour, and pecans.  Mix together and sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.
4.  Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

**I use fresh sweet potatoes only.  Cube sweet potatoes and boil until you can poke with fork easily.  Drain water and cool the potatoes before peeling the skins off.  Two large sweet potatoes yielded 2 cups of mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~

Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent Peace


It does not seem possible that we are at the beginning of Advent season already!

I am keeping it simple this year.  (I love simplicity.)  My main goal is for peace.  Peace.  Don't you love the sound of it?  Peace in our heart and minds, the words we speak, and how we live as good examples for one another.  This is what I want for my family as we prepare for Christ's birth.

Wanting it and obtaining it are two different things.

I had set a goal to finish up all Christmas shopping prior to the start of Advent.  And I did it!  (I am still shocked with that feat.)

A plug for Amazon Prime…being a member made ALL the difference for me this year.  The minimal annual fee for Amazon Prime membership more than paid off by saving on gas and personal time if I were to have driven all over in search of the gifts I needed.

I have been determined to stay organized through our Living Liturgy plans!  (Repeating what we have done in the past helps.)

*Feast day celebrations:
December 6 - Feast of St. Nicholas
December 8 - Feast of The Immaculate Conception
December 9 - Feast of St. Juan Diego
December 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13 - Feast of St. Lucy


*Daily Reading/Prayers/Reflections.  No new books this year since we have plenty of books that we can reflect on during Advent and Christmas.

 (If you want, you can see the list upon list of books that I've shared under the label called BOOKS.  Note:  There are also Lenten and Easter book titles in that mix.)

*Monthly confession.

*Reading about the saint of the day.  (My kids LOVE this :)

*Weekly Adoration Hour.

*Jesse Tree.  Our homeschool group did a Jesse Tree ornament swap a couple of years ago.  Here is a link to that.

Peace.  My family waits for it to enter under our roof and fill our hearts as we celebrate the customs of our faith.  And to think that this  peace and happiness is only the prelude to Christmas day itself!

Wishing you all a peace-filled Advent season!

~  Patty  ~







Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


May you all enjoy this day of thanksgiving, be it at home or over the river and through the woods!

~  Patty  ~

Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Daybook Post

Outside My Window

Ice.  Not the thick, close-everything-down, knock-the-power-out kind, but ice none the less.  (Seriously early for North Texas.)  Just last week we were wearing shorts and flip flops.


I Am Thankful For

My washer and dryer.   I appreciate  their hard work more and complain less about the laundry.


I Am Thinking About

My father-in-law.   He is not doing well.  We hate to see him in pain.  My husband and his entire family.  Having lost a parent, I feel so bad for them all as they wait for his time to come.  It's a state of limbo here on earth.

Thanksgiving.  And all good things that come along with it.

Advent preparations.  Advent begins this Sunday, December 1!


From The Schoolroom

We are taking a one week vacation from school for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Most schools in Texas do this so there will be plenty of laughter coming from  children's voices outside playing.


From The Kitchen

All things Thanksgiving:  David will be smoking a small turkey, I will roast a small turkey breast, all the trimmings and sides, and dessert of course :)


I Am Reading

Nothing for me personally.  I have found that my desire to prepare for my Confirmation class is ferocious.  A good thing I suppose.  These children only receive religious education once a week for 1.5 hours.  That's SO LITTLE amount spent on religious formation.  I take two days to plan for the class, so my free time is taken up with that.  I supplement their program with an ENORMOUS amount of meat and potatoes from the St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism. It explains the faith without all the warm and fuzzy, feel good vibes that many other programs present. (After teaching in a Catholic school for 8 years and homeschooling my children for 10, next to the Bible, I have found no better manual than the St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism.)

I Am Praying

Fervently for my father-in-law.  For my husband and in-laws.  For a dear friend's father.


I Am Listening To

Well, getting ready to open up my bin of Christmas music. The joyful sounds bring me closer to Christ in this soon-to-be season of Advent.


Around The House

Window blinds. We will be cleaning them today.  I try to clean them every few months.  I've also eliminated them in the rooms where I can, and placed room darkening curtains in their place.  I do NOT like to clean the blinds.


A Picture To Share  (Okay, three pictures :)


(Hot cocoa and peppermint mallows - a special treat for the kids on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.)



(The oldest with the youngest, snuggling on the couch while watching movies.)




(Fresh from the winter garden.)


~  Patty  ~

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Parents' 51st Wedding Anniversary


Today would be the 51st wedding anniversary of my parents!  I love them both so much, and although my father has passed away, he is with us every single day in spirit :)

My parents and my in-laws….both couples are beautiful examples of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  David and I are so blessed to have been witnesses to their blessed unions.

~  Patty  ~

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Special Treat for Miss Clementine

Check this out ….


A piano keyboard made out of Kit Kats in honor of the Feast of St. Cecilia, November 22.  (Thank you, Catholic Cuisine.!!)

Isn't that one of  THE cutest things you have ever laid eyes on?!

St. Cecelia is the patroness of musicians and students.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Cecilia since she is Miss Clementine's namesake.


We gave this adorable wooden, painted peg of St. Cecilia to Clementine last February on her Baptismal birthday.  (Where does the time go?)

I found the peg doll over on ETSY at St. Luke's Brush (stlukesbrush)  When I went to post this, St. Luke's Brush shop was on vacation until Thanksgiving, but he plans to reopen after Thanksgiving to take Christmas orders.

*These peg dolls make adorable Christmas gifts!!

**This feast is on our family's November Living Liturgical monthly planner.

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Sunday!

~  Patty  ~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cornucopia

The cornucopia - a symbol of abundance and nourishment.  I love the definition, and it really makes me ponder …how can I do with less?  Is that item a want or a need?  How can I simplify more since simplicity always brings me the most joy?

Lately around our house ~


Polenta - If you are Slovenian, you know what this is!


I grew up on this having my Slovenian mother make it as a side dish to go with many meals.

November 13 is the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini), my daughter's confirmation saint, and since it's been about six months since she was confirmed, I thought it was a good time to reflect on Mother Cabrini.

I looked up something to serve at mealtime for this saint on Catholic Cuisine and saw the polenta, (a.k.a. cornmeal mush).  I just followed the directions on the back of the corn meal container and served it with a creamy tomato sauce.

I must add…it was good, but not as good as my mother makes it :)

*We have since added this feast day to our Liturgical Living calendar.


So my boys had another monthly Troops of St. George camp out.   My little, dirty secret ...  I  look forward to those weekends.  :)


Pretty, no?


It tasted HORRIBLE!!

The girls and I picked it up for a "Girls' Weekend" special treat at Whole Foods.  I'll need to read the ingredients better next time.  The frosting was apparently unsweetened, all natural, healthy stuff…I swear I tasted fish oil in it!  The girls couldn't finish their pieces either.

I hate to admit it, but it went into the trash can.  (It was that bad.)



Those nativity baby blocks I made?

HUGE  HUGE  hit with Miss Clementine!





Last Sunday's dinner.


Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken Barbecue


Serve on buns, bread, or even rice with a side of veggies…delicious!


Recipe found here.

And home made pumpkin pie for dessert - (recipe is from the back of Libby's can of pumpkin filling.)



Have I told you we love our Sundays?  :)


Radio City Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes.

We would LOVE to see this live!!

We found one on Netflix instant …  someone was mesmerized :)







Lawdy be!!

For anyone looking for the most amazing Nativity story ever presented on stage…(in my humble opinion)...you have to see this Christmas Spectacular. The Nativity story begins around the 60 minute mark (the musical is about 90 minutes) and it is beautiful, gorgeous, stunning all in one breath.

Remember, it is available on Netflix instant right now :)

School break.

We will be taking the entire Thanksgiving week off from school.  Another reason why I start our homeschool in July.




Grand finale ~

I took these two photos at the beginning of the November…


Since Miss Clementine literally twiddles her hair into knots, her sister, Ester, tied her hair into two big knots hoping to deter the habit :)


 ********************

Father-in-law update ::  Late Tuesday, he was moved back to the assisted living facility with the help of hospice.   Alzheimer's has taken a terrible toll, and my father-in-law is resting comfortably.  It is all wait and see.  We are relieved he is in a familiar surrounding and his pain is being managed.

The love you have shown through your prayers, words cannot express the gratitude.  They are powerful and uplifting to the spirit.  God bless you.

~  Patty  ~

Crock Pot Zesty Chicken BBQ

It's been awhile since I posted one, but I have found another blog-worthy recipe!

Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ

(Cooked and shredded in the crock pot.)


(Served over real rice, bun, or bread with a side of veggies.)

Ingredients::

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
1 (12oz) bottle of BBQ sauce
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions::

1.  Place chicken in a slow cooker.  In a bowl, mix the BBQ sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour over the chicken.

2.  Cover and cook 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.

3.  Shred with forks and serve on rice or buns or bread.

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Special Day for Mabel

*I had started writing this last weekend just before receiving the call that my father-in-law fell.  I put an update here last evening. Thank you for the kindness you have shown by keeping him and the family in your prayers!  I am posting this because it feels good to post something cheerful. 


One of the ways we bring the liturgy into our house is by celebrating everyone's baptismal birthday, (the day you were baptized.)

About seven years ago (or more), a priest encouraged the parishioners to remember their baptism and to remember it in a special way.

We recently celebrated Mabel's on November 16.

We relight the baptismal candle they received in order to remember the importance of that day.


We always give each child a faith-based gift, a tangible way to connect with God.





Sometimes we look back over photos from that special day or reread the cards that they received as newly baptized infants.  (We keep the candle, cards, certificates, etc, tucked neatly into their sacrament keepsake boxes.)

Sacrament keepsake box found here.  (By the way, this makes a GREAT gift if you are still looking for someone on your Christmas list.)

Personalized, birthstone chaplet found here as well as on ETSY.


There are so many ways to bring the liturgy into our homes.  I always wish I could do more, make more, be more, but the truth is, I cannot.  And for those Catholic mommies that do so and then share with the rest of us, I encourage them to keep on keeping on!  For myself, I have learned to recognize my limitations based on the chapter of life we are in.


Recently, I read about Living Liturgy, at Pam's.  It was just what I needed to regroup, organize (that's the big key for me), and prepare.  She explains her idea so eloquently, and even provides links to the Monthly Planner and Area of Focus Planner she created for all of us to use.

So many moms have this down already.  I am not one of them nor do I intend to "keep up" with them. No. No. No.

This is set up to encourage your own personal family plans and goals.

Have a faith-based book you have been meaning to read and keep forgetting to pick it up or borrow it, let along sit down and actually open it?  This is the gentle nudge that will remind you to do so.  Do you have a prayer life that needs to be refreshed or even brought back to life (if you are like me, you are saying yes)?  This is the gentle planner to help you do so.  Is there a special feast day you want to celebrate?  This is there to help you remember.

You can find her Living Liturgical monthly planner here.

You can find her Living Liturgical area of focus planner here.

(You download both forms :)

I went over this concept with my family and they really liked the idea.  After a night's rest, they came to me with areas that they want to work on personally.  Already a win-win plan!


Hope you are able to get something out of it as well!

~  Patty  ~








Monday, November 18, 2013

Father-in-law update

Thank you all so much for the prayers and kind words.

Once upon a time a neighbor of ours back up in Illinois told me, "Getting old is not for sissies!"  Whew.  If that isn't the truth...

My dear father-in-law is still in the hospital.  He ended up fracturing both the tip of his tail bone and his sacrum.  They think he went to sit on a chair, but the chair was never there.  He lost his balance and went straight down.

At any rate, depending on a couple of questions the family is waiting on, he MAY be able to go back to the assisted living facility since this facility accommodates "till end of life".  Pretty sad words to type.  They will be in to assess him tomorrow.  If not, he will go to the nursing home.

Alzheimer's has definitely taken a toll on him.

Thank you for the continued prayers!

~  Patty  ~



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prayer Request

The day my father passed away, I had only doubts about my faith, God, and life after death.  Until that moment, I had never wavered in my belief , but there was something so dark and scary about that moment that I hedged.  I hesitated.  I doubted.  Fear completely knocked me down hard!

I was stunned into shock, and had so many questions swirling around my head.  My father was dead.  Where was he?  Was he in hell, purgatory, or heaven?  Did those places really even exist?  I was petrified that everything I had ever believed in was only a lie.

Even though it was a matter of time and we all were trying to prepare ourselves for his death, it was still a shock.  As in all major life changes, there is no certain amount of preparedness that  make us truly ready to receive its' blunt force upon impact.  Everything changed with his death in an instant and as the reality of it set in, so did those doubts.  I can see that now.

(Photo credit: Google Search)


I had started the two hour drive back to my husband and children that late afternoon.  It was a very cold and bitter October night and the sky was just spectacular.  I distinctly remember how vivid the clouds had grown into a brilliant pink color, as they do with cold, winter nights when the sun is on the brink of setting.  I can still see the last bits of the sun peeking over the clouds as it hovered over the horizon.  Only after I was deposited safely onto my driveway, did that sun set.  In a blink of an eye, the day was dark and night had come, and it was only at that moment that I realized for the past two hours of driving, God had been with me the entire time in the beauty of the sky.  He made sure that time stood still for me in order for me to know that He was so very real.





I shared this experience with some of my siblings and my Mom.  We all had experienced some form of God-moment that day.

We discussed how sad it is to know that some people have no faith, no belief in God.  What do they do in a similar situation, when the pain from grief is like a current trying to suck you under?  I feel so sad for people who do not believe in the existence of God.

What do people do when they have no prayer warriors to call upon?

These thoughts have been stirred up inside me the past seven weeks or so.  My 84 year old father-in-law has Alzheimer's and needed to placed in assisted living the end of September.  It had become too dangerous for him to live at home.  The situation has been quite taxing on my 83 year old mother-in-law.  They have been married for almost 60 years, and she is not in the best of health either.

My father-in-law fell and broke his hip this morning.  There will be no surgery. Instead, because of his condition, he has to be placed in restraints.  When he is stable enough to be moved, he will go to a nursing home.   It sounds so horrible, I know.  It is very frightening for him.

Dear prayer warriors, it would mean so much if you kept him, my mother-in-law and the family in your prayers.  I know it is the circle of life that we are part of, but watching your parents age and get sick and die is a very painful thing to go through.  When you are young, it seems so very far away, but life moves so quickly and before you know it, you are at that chapter in the Book of Life.  It is only through the grace of God that we make it through.



~  Patty  ~


Friday, November 15, 2013

Easy to Make - Baby Block Nativity Set



I got my crafting on today.

While shopping around for a baby-friendly, wooden block, nativity set on ETSY, I realized we could make one ourselves.

David picked up some pine (3/4" thick).


I marked off the size I wanted for the stickers, and he used his circular saw to cut them.


(I found the stickers on Amazon, here.)

I also used a pencil to mark which block went to which character since I had different size blocks cut.


Next, I sanded down all the rough edges so Little Miss won't get a splinter.


After wiping off the finished blocks, I placed the correct sticker on each one.  Then David used a damp cloth to gently wipe off any pencil marks.



Once all the stickers were placed, I used two coats of Mod Podge on the top.  This will hopefully prevent little fingers from pulling the stickers off.


I only coated the top sides since they all blended quite naturally.

The entire process took about 1.5 hours.  I paused in between for drying.

Taa-Daa!









With pine wood, stickers, and sand paper, we probably put $12 into the project and had enough material to make 3 sets.  ($4 per set).

I can hardly wait to give this set to Little Miss to play with!!



~  Patty  ~

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