Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Magical


(Miss Clementine receiving a ballerina snow globe that she had wished for from Santa.)


I have been taking pleasure in each day that this beautiful, Christmas season has provided so far.  Tomorrow, my sister and her family from KC arrive in TX, and we are planning on creating wonderful memories!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year (early)!!



~  Patty  ~

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Joy to the World!


 You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of your eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries. ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Merry Christmas to all of you!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Menu 2015

I'm deliberately changing the Christmas menu this year since I am in need of a new and fresh routine.  It's going to be simple affair, but very delicious, as always :)

Christmas Eve ~

Breakfast : Cinnamon Rolls, fruit, juice, and coffee or tea.


Lunch : Sandwiches with chips & dip


Dinner : Vegetable Beef Soup with pull-apart cheese bread (a new recipe I'm dying to try!), Santa Claus cake & peppermint ice cream

This is the Santa cake from last year...I reordered it for this year.



Christmas Day ~

Breakfast :  Cream Cheese Stuffed Blueberry French Toast (recipe here), fruit, juice, and coffee



Dinner :   Honey-orange glazed ham, (another new recipe that I think will turn out fabulous),  green bean casserole, and Gnocchi Macaroni and Cheese (recipe here), and topped off with Christmas cookies, & peppermint ice cream.


Christmas Beverage :  For the kids, I am going to make this easy, fresh (not-so-sugary) holiday punch (recipe here.)


Adult beverages?  I have my eye on a couple of serious drink recipes that would definitely put the Fa-la-la-la-la in anyones day.  I live in a dry county (no hard alcohol), so let's just say I'll will be making a merry dash to the nearest spirits store  20 miles up the road tomorrow.  :)

What's on your menu?  I just love to hear what people are taking to gatherings or preparing at home.  I'm always looking for a new recipe to try.

~  Patty ~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies

This was another new recipe Miss Sally tried this season, and they are soooo delicious, especially if you are a fan of chocolate and peppermint combined!

Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies



Ingredients ::

1 box white cake mix (15.25 oz)
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup Oreo cookie chunks
1 cup Andes peppermint Crunch pieces
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions ::

1.  Combine the cake mix, melted butter, egg, and extracts.  Beat until a soft dough forms.  Add the cream cheese and beat in gently until combined.

2.  Stir in the peppermint crunch pieces and chocolate chips.  Then gently stir in the cookie pieces by hand being careful not to break up the cookie more.

3.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Roll the dough into 36 balls.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.  Do not over bake.  The cookies will be very soft and look undone.  Let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then gently remove them with a spatula to a piece of wax paper on the counter.

5.  Very gently tap the tops of the cookies with the bottom of the spatula to even out the tops.  Let them sit until completely cool.  Store in a sealed container.

Yields :: 36 cookies

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~

White Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies

Miss Sally has been experimenting with a couple of new, Christmas cookie recipes.  They both have been delicious!

White Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies



Ingredients ::

* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 2 eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 2 1/4 cups flour
* 1 small package (3.9oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup white chocolate chips
* 1 cup crushed peppermints or candy canes (you can also use Andes Peppermint baking chips)

Instructions ::

1.  Cream together butter and sugar
2.  Beat in dry instant pudding mix
3.  Add legs and vanilla and mix well
4.  Add baking soda and flour and mix well
5.  Stir in peppermints and white chocolate chips
6.  Roll into 1" balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a greased baking sheet)
7.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees

Yield:: 2 dozen

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese



This is so EASY to prepare, (I posted the directions in an easy-to-follow manner).  The one thing you must remember is to prep the ingredients while you wait for the water to come to a boil and gnocchi to cook because the pasta cooks in 2-3 minutes!

By the way, don't let the word gnocchi scare you away.  This pasta (which has potato in it) is found right there with the rest of the pasta in the grocery store.

The special cheese in this recipe, fontina cheese?  So creamy and delicious.  Very smooth.  You can find it in the deli section of your grocery store.  It's kind of pricey, but the rest of the ingredients cost very little.

Ingredients::

* 2 (1 pound) packages of potato gnocchi
* 3 tbsp cornstarch
*1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (make sure this is room temperature!)
*2 tbsp butter
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1 cup milk, warmed
*1 1/4 cups freshly-grated creamy, white cheddar cheese
*1 cup freshly-grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used the bagged stuff)
*1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
*1/4 tsp finely-ground black pepper, or more to taste
*(optional toppings: finely-chopped fresh parsley or basil, extra Parmesan cheese)

Directions::

1.) Bring a large stockpot of water to boil and cook the gnocchi according to package instructions.  Strain and set aside.

2.) While you wait for the water to boil, make your cheese sauce.  Begin by whisking the cornstarch and the vegetable stock together in a small bowl until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Set aside.

*Be sure that the stock is at room temp for the cornstarch to fully dissolve.

3.)  Prep your cheeses at this time if you have not already done so.  Set aside.

4.)  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and salute for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.)  Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk until combined.

6.)  Add the  milk, and whisk until combined.  Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a low boil.

7.)  Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese until they are melted and smooth.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

8.)  Combine the cooked gnocchi and cheese sauce in the large stockpot, and toss together until the gnocchi are evenly coated.  Serve immediately, topped with optional toppings if desired.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 (small portions)

I just experimented with this new recipe hoping it would be a nice side dish for a new Christmas menu I put together.  The family liked it and thought it was a keeper.

My husband is not a fan of mac & cheese but did mention that this was the best he's tried so far.

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~

Monday, December 14, 2015

Willful Quietness - Daybook Post

Outside my window ~

Sunny skies and warm breezes with a little bit cooler weather coming in on Wednesday.


I quickly snapped this photo of my two teenagers as they headed out for a white elephant Christmas party recently.

I am thankful for ~


*  having my Christmas shopping completed  (I purposely did not start till the day after Thanksgiving.  I wasn't sure how that would go, but two weeks later, it's complete.)

* having the means to Christmas shop

* completing the Consecration to Mary (with my husband)

* the Sacrament of Reconciliation (How much peace this sacrament brings, especially during Advent!)

What I am reading ~


Our world is so incredibly noisy, isn't it?  I think it is safe to say that for most of us, quietness almost has to be willed, and I had to will it in time for this Advent season.

The blessings have been abundant since I made that choice.  No, our house is anything but perfect; there is fighting, yelling, complaining, and time outs (for myself as much as my 3 year old), but there is also joy and (I know this sounds like a contradiction but I'm going to say it) peace.  Joy and Peace.


From the school room ~

* We are in finals week for the semester.



This is always THE hardest week of each quarter.

* Both Miss Sally and Miss Ester have some dissection labs to do over Christmas break (when they're bored).  Miss Sally has dissection labs due for Apologia's Marine Biology course, and Miss Ester is working on her Biology labs.

Religion:: Living Liturgy

We celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas, The Immaculate Conception (with Mass and blueberry muffins), and the feast of St. Lucy.

The feast of St. Lucy, December 13 ::


Lucia Morning in Sweden is a new book this year (bottom right image).  It compliments the other two Swedish books we have.

 The Christmas tree went up and the lights were added (I put the ornaments on today.) *I think this is the latest I ever put it up.  I did not want to stress out about the entire process, so I did it when I was ready.

We took the younger three to look at Christmas lights, our annual feast of St. Lucy tradition.


I am praying for ~

* my personal intentions for the St. Andrew/ Christmas novena I'm in the middle of

* peace

* priests and religious

* an end to abortion

* for all those who have asked me to pray for them


Around the house ~

* We hosted the monthly Little Flower/ Little Women's group last Friday.

* We recently had both of our parish priests over for dinner and games.

* I am finished with Confirmation class until January 6!!!

* Archery is done until spring.



From the kitchen ~


(This was NOT staged.  Pinky swear!)

I am listening to ~

* silence!  It's late, and I should be in bed like everyone else :)

Coming down the pike this week ~

Sunday - Feast of St. Lucy
Monday-Friday:: School finals, Christmas baking, Christmas cards written out

A last photo to share ~

This is the only new ornament addition for 2015.  It is the image of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio.  I purchased it when I took my mom there last winter.



Wishing you all a great week!

Advent blessings,
Patty



Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Peg Doll Exchange

A handful of moms in the home school group I belong to signed up for a peg doll exchange at our back-to-school meeting this past August.

There were 18 of us, and we each picked one saint.  We each painted 18 of the saint we picked, and then last Saturday, we had a Christmas brunch where we exchanged our precious saint dolls

These are the finished painted, saint peg dolls::

(St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese - the Little Flower, St. Lucia - a.k.a. St. Lucy)

(St. Padre Pio, The Blessed Virgin Mother, Our Lady of LaVang)

(St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Cecelia, St. Maximillan Kolbe)

(St. Anthony of Padua, Blessed Mother Theresa, St. Sebastian)

(St. Bernadette, St. Joseph, Our Lady of Guadalupe)

(St. Juan Diego, St. Philomena, St. Nicholas)

It was so much fun to participate in this exchange!!

My youngest two, especially Miss Clementine, have had quite a bit of fun playing with them.

I think we are planning on beginning a Nativity set exchange, working on it over the winter.

(P.S.  My daughter Ester and I painted St. Andrew Kim Taegon and will post the building and painting stages on another post.)

Advent blessings!
~  Patty ~

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wild Hairs

Group photos haven't worked for us for some time.  It is just so stressful to get a nice picture of us all without anyone ticking off the person next to them with a comment or a push, let alone, trying to get the 3 year old child to smile "nicely" for the camera.  (Insert long, exasperated exhale.)

In fact, it's been 3 years since we had our last "professional looking" photo taken.  So, I got a wild hair.  (Wild hairs do not always turn out good for me.) 

Last Friday, I asked the kids to wear something blue, green, or brown to first Friday Mass.  My plan was to snap some shots after Mass, near a grove of trees I know of.  I kept telling myself, "Relax.  No pressure.  Stress-free Advent, remember? We can do this."  

After taking 20+ group shots, I had 1 that turned out fairly good.  One.


The threat of a phone call to Santa's hot line proved somewhat of a success for Miss Clementine.

The individuals went a bit easier (except for Miss Clementine's).






This!

This last photo took a lot of sweat to achieve on my part.  (Patience...I sorely lack.)   I think one of the teens had to talk about some sort of nasty body function to produce her little smile.


And there you have it.

Wild hairs can work out on the rare occasion.

Advent blessings,
Patty



Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Feast of St. Nick 2015

St. Nicholas stopped in last night and left some mouthwatering Lindt chocolate as well as some excellent books, once again...







Since Little Man had to serve 8am Mass, the kids weren't able to check out their shoes until after we arrived home.


Even though they know who plays St. Nick, the 3 oldest still enjoy receiving the gifts ;)



There was also family gift this year; a new statue of St. Nicholas to put on the mantle.  (He makes a fine addition!)


St. Nicholas, patron saint of children, pray for us!

~  Patty  ~


Friday, December 4, 2015

What's for Sunday Dinner?

Gosh!  I haven't done one of these posts in so long.

With Sunday being the feast of St. Nicholas, it's always a fun day in our house.


I was planning on making Shredded Turkey Breast Sandwiches, (see recipe here).



A side of double sweet potato fries (with honey and cinnamon) will compliment the sandwiches, (see recipe here.)



For dessert, I'll make our traditional candy cane coffee cakes, (see recipe here).

(Oh my gosh!  He was so little and cute in that picture, wasn't he?!)


Feast of St. Nick 2014 ~



Like many children around the world, we place our boots out the night before (December 5) and tradition has it, St. Nick delivers a new Christmas book (sometimes Christmas movie), chocolate coins or chocolate santa, and sometimes a little St. Nick toy.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a blessed Sunday!

~  Patty ~

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Living Liturgy December Feast Days

Since our calendar year was kind of out of control this year, I had anticipated cutting back on the normal feast days we typically celebrate during the season of Advent.  Looking forward to a more simple Advent, we are going to celebrate the following:

December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas



December 8, the Immaculate Conception (obviously)

December 13, the Feast of St. Lucy (a.k.a. St. Lucia or the saint of light)


I was totally excited to find these adorable pj's from Hanna Anderson  that have a precious, little St. Lucia image on them.



I admit, these were TOTALLY a want, not a need.

I bought them ;)

They'll keep her warm and cozy as we drive around that night to look at Christmas lights (an easy way to celebrate her feast day).

~  Patty  ~

Monday, November 30, 2015

I've Been Thinking (Again)

One of our deacons gave the homily at Mass this past Sunday.  He was talking about Advent and at one point used the phrase, "...missed opportunities."

Missed opportunities.



Regrettably, I have had one too many of those with my rapidly sprouting 3 year old.  I have been "too busy" taking care of everyone else to spend quality time with my baby girl.  This past October, I started making a bigger effort to spend more hands-on time with her, to become more engaged with her in her little world.

There's also those missed opportunities in my spiritual life.  (Don't we all have those?)



Layering more faith-based activities on top of my felt like dry foundation since the beginning of fall has helped me grow and branch out in other areas.

One of the layers I added was attendance at a weekday mass.  No, this isn't a blow my horn, look at me statement,  but rather a simple sharing of the fact.  David and I have made this change together.   Wednesdays (his day off) will find us at early morning Mass, just him and I.  (Sometimes one of the kids go...if they are up in time.)   I love Wednesday mornings now!  It isn't just a hump day in the middle of the week anymore, but rather a time for rebooting the graces that have shrunk from the Sunday prior.  And gosh! how I've needed that...kind of like needing to take extra vitamin D as you age, ladies.

Lastly, there's those missed opportunities for "me time".




Me time.  Mom time.  Alone time.

I use to dislike the "me time" phrase that women would throw out, and then I realized it was the way that phrase was being used and abused selfishly.  The bottom line is, moms really do need some "me time" every once in awhile.  Recharging the batteries in this area of our life is a necessity.  Period.

I have been more acutely aware of our calendar lately and am saying "no" to many things, especially during the Advent season we now find ourselves in.  With that, I find myself already reaping the rewards from the slower pace.  I can classify these benefits under mom time (i.e. have a phone conversation with someone without being rushed to drive someone somewhere), me time (i.e. drink a cup of coffee while it's hot), and alone time (i.e.  do something I want and uninterrupted).

Just tonight I was able to spontaneously meet up with three friends for a cup of cheer (Saxby coffee house) before the frenzy pace of Christmas kicks in for them.  The evening was such a delight, a great recharge.




As we now enter the season of Advent, I pray that you, too,  recognize past "missed opportunities" and experience in their place, a very fruitful season of expecting, waiting, hoping, and praying.

Advent blessings!

~  Patty  ~







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