Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tuscan Pasta Salad

My older daughters and I decided to switch up the menu when we saw Gnocchi Mac & Cheese down for Friday's dinner (we try to keep our Fridays meatless - a traditional day of penance in the Catholic Church).   The Gnocchi Mac & Cheese is delicious, but we all had healthier eating on the brain.  Instead, we opted for a Tuscan Pasta Salad with Italian garlic bread.  It made for a delicious and light dinner!

Tuscan Pasta Salad 

Ingredients - Salad ::
16 ounce bow tie pasta, cooked and then drained in cold water
(1) 7 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
(1) red bell pepper, diced
(1) 6.5 ounce can sliced olives, drained
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ingredients - Dressing ::
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry basil
1 clove garlic
black pepper to taste

Directions ::
1.  In a large bowl, combine pasta, sun dried tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, spinach, basil, and Parmesan cheese.  Toss until combined.

2.  To make the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, garlic, and salt & pepper.

3.  Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad and serve.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8



Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Favorite Book Tote

I have a lot of reading projects going on.  At the beginning of the year, my sister encouraged me to a reading challenge (Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church in one year).  I also set a goal to read two novels a month (I keep tabs of what I have read on Goodreads).   Throw in a couple of group reading projects as well, and gosh!  I really needed to organize myself.

Last fall, a friend told me about this cute tote from Thirty-One bags.  She uses a couple in her house and is quite pleased.  So I gave it a try.  (The available patterns for this tote change depending on the season.)

This is not a reimbursed endorsement of any kind.  It is a product that I really like and just wanted to share with y'all.

With two roomy compartments inside, I am able to put many items into this tote.

Let's see...

Inside one of the compartments, I store my colored pencils and markers/highlighters.  I use them for my daily planner.  (I fill the inside of the planner in with color and doodling but not so much the cover of the planner.)

This is my favorite daily planner.  Hands down.  It can be found over at Catholic Sistas and is worth ever. single. penny.

My Kindle is kept in my tote as well.  It's an old one, but still works.

There's room for my Bible.

It is very important to be using a Catholic Bible, especially if you are Catholic.  The Catholic Bible includes the New Testament and Old Testament and several books excluded by the Protestants.

Bibles make great gifts for children, teens, and adults.  Catholic Bibles editions include the following: The New American Bible (NAB), Revived Standard Version - Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), Douay Rhimes (the earliest translation from the Original Latin), and the Navarre Bible.

My Catechism of the Catholic Church is too large to put in my tote.  It's an original edition, a gift from my in-laws (when David and I just started dating - pretty intuitive I thought).

When praying a novena, I keep this little nugget tucked inside as well ::

You will currently find, Stories of Grace, inside.  I am participating in a 31 day Bible/book study using using it (based on the parables of Jesus).

You can find beautiful book studies over at, Take Up & Read.  They have an amazing online community and offer a an email subscription as well.

Each side of the tote has a set of pockets in which I store pencils, pens, sharpener, ear buds, and chords & chargers.

The tote is sturdy and easy to carry.  The only negative thing I found is that the balance can be thrown off causing the tote to tip, but by shifting books (weight) around, that issue can be easily remedied.

I love having everything in one place, right at my fingertips.  It's a perfect tote if you have kids in sports and you are sitting around waiting for practice to get over.  On road trips, just grab and go.  It is so convenient.

Lastly, how I use my tote isn't necessarily how you have to use it.  And with all the different patterns available, the possibilities are endless.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Prom 2018

All dressed up and somewhere to go!

This past weekend, the Texas Christian Home School Prom took place with 1850 students dancing the night away!  Ester's best friend asked her to attend as his date, and they eventually joined up with their group of friends (many who will graduate this year).

The weather was M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E.  80's the day before and then like windy and in the upper 30's the day of. 

What the what??

One mom called around and found a hotel that would accommodate the group of friends for indoor, pre-prom pictures.  Thank you, Hilton Gardens!

The ladies ::

These VERY good friends (3 of them are seniors) ::

More of the guys ::

(David had a large installation job so he wasn't able to be there.  He did manage a FaceTime call to E & N before they left.)

The whole group ::

This home school prom is nothing like you have ever seen as far as a prom goes. 

Last year, I about fainted when I heard the price tag per student - $125!  In addition to that, for every student you have attending, you must work a 4-hour service hour or pay a donation fee of $75.

But when I saw what an awe-inspiring, monumental prom it was, the price was totally worth it.  It probably doesn't even cover the cost.

Last year's theme was, The TrekHere is a YouTube link to the professional video produced.  That Death Star centerpiece hanging over the ballroom dance floor?  A bunch of dads built and hung it.  All the characters walking around in costume?  Volunteers. Hundreds of volunteers.

This year's theme was, The Gala Masquerade Ball.  I can hardly wait to see the video of it! (Squeal)

In the meantime, Miss Ester is recovering from prom hang-over as are all of her buddies.  Aah.  To be young like that again.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

To The Lake!

A couple of weeks ago, the Troops of St. George had their family camp out for the year.  It took place  at our favorite Texas state park.  Miss Clementine and I drove out early on a Saturday since she and I had a Little Flowers Girls' Club the night before.  It is such a gorgeous drive through the park (the lake itself is 30,000 acres).  The deer were abundant.

(This lake view is from inside one of the camp grounds.)

David had his teardrop camper set up.

He built this cute, little thing seven years ago using a set of prints and guidance from You Tube University ;)

The bunk is a perfect spot for Miss Clementine.

The temperature was so warm that day that we ended up going to the beach to cool off.  I wasn't sure if anyone would swim, but there were about two dozen folks cooling off in the water, including my little girl.

I was so worried about putting sunblock on a bunch of other kids that I forgot myself.  Yikes!  (In my youth, I would refer to this as my base - ha ha!)

The sunset that evening was just beautiful.  God's creation never ceases to amaze me.

 (The photo on the left is from a fishing pier by the beach.  The photo on the right is our campsite - breathtakingly beautiful!)

After a shower and clean up, it was time for bed.

She loves her bunk!  We added some pink fairy lights to glamp things up a bit. :)

Stan the man and his fellow troopers like to sleep in hammocks.  They take the minimalist approach, but not this mama.  I have to have at least this camper (it is a queen sleeper with memory foam to boot).

Winding down in nature is good for the soul!  The next camping trip is in less then two weeks when some of us head down to the coast.  Falling asleep to the soothing sounds of waves is what I am looking forward to!

~  Patty  ~

Monday, April 2, 2018

Yummy Fruit Salad

I love effortless recipes, and on those busy holidays, I appreciate the ease of delicious recipes.  This was a new one for us.  There were no left-overs, so I know it was that good.

Yummy Fruit Salad

Mix the following together in a bowl::

1 lb of strawberries, quartered
1/2 pint of blueberries
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pineapple cubed (I used canned)
1 bunch of grapes (I just eye balled it)
2 tbsp of vanilla instant pudding mix (I used coconut cream thinking I had vanilla.  It still tasted delicious and no one seemed to mind the dried coconut pieces.)

I found this recipe on Pinterest as well.



Ham and Egg Cups

Oh my word!  I think I found my new go-to for holiday breakfasts.  These Ham and Egg Cups are a brilliant idea (found on Pinterest)!

Ham and Egg Cups

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease your muffin pan and then lay two pieces of thinly sliced ham into each muffin cup.  (I used Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh Honey Ham).

Next, crack an egg into each and season to your liking.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove (we used a spoon).

That's it.

So easy and delicious!

These had the texture of a hard boiled egg, so without experimenting, I assume that you can get a soft boiled egg by adjusting the baking time.



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Blessings 2018

And just like that, we celebrate Easter Sunday.  It feels as though we just finished the Christmas season.  Rapidly, the time passes us.  I am sitting here working on this post while the memories of today are still fresh.  My husband is on the road taking Sarah back to school.  Miss Ester is with them (to keep him company on the way back).  In a short 30 days, Sarah takes her first final for the semester.  Have I mentioned how rapidly the time passes us??

Easter blessings to all!  He is risen, alleluia!

Our Holy Week was simple this year.  I love simple.

We did manage to color eggs (and as I type this I realize that we forgot to put them out on the dining room table this morning. Yikes.)

Stan the man had a beach vibe  going on...

(I think he looks so grown up here.)

Clementine and Mabel stuck with the traditional, bright colors...

I also put in some effort to have at least one Easter craft ready to go for Miss Clementine...

I love Pinterest so much!  Anymore, my old brain has a slow leak when it comes to creativity as well as other things. Ha!

We tried to sleep in and have a big breakfast before attending late Mass.  This would give us more time as a family eating together before Sarah heading back to school.  However, there is that Miss Clementine who never sleeps in when you want her to!

Her excitement had her up (a little too early), and she was the first one up to see if the Easter Bunny arrived ;)

Sweet Clementine received a puzzle, bubbles, some swimsuits for her dollies, chocolates, and this Easter book ::

Stan the man received some more Nerf bullets, a peg saint doll (St. Martin de Porres, his choice for  Confirmation saint), chocolates, and this book ::

Miss Mabel's basket contained: chocolates, items from Bath & Body Works, and this book (because she LOVES to cook and bake) ::

Miss Ester received a bag full of new make-up brushes, chocolates, and this book ::

Miss Sarah received some items from Bath & Body Works and chocolates.  The Easter Bunny had a special delivery for her when a pair of new sandals arrived at her dorm last week.

There was no book for her this year because that girl has SO MANY, faith-based books that she really doesn't need any more at this point.

Moving on to breakfast, it was so delicious and easy!!  I really loved how it went this year.  Some times change can be hard, but this change was enjoyed by all.

We feasted on ::

~ baked ham & egg cups
~ cheesy potatoes
~ fruit salad
~ pancakes & fruit
~ coffee, juice, & water

Then it was off to late morning Mass.

Pictures!  You can't forget the photos.  I mean, my family just LOOOVVVEEESSS to sit and smile for the camera.  Not.  Only little Clementine will still poise for me willingly.

If Mama isn't happy, no one is happy!  So pictures it was ;)

And even though I feel old these days, I also feel blessed to have a little one who loves to blow bubbles in her Easter dress.

I'm soaking up the memories and writing them down while they are fresh in my mind because have I mentioned how rapidly the time passes us?

Easter blessings from our family to yours!

~ Patty ~

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Daybook Post - 2018

I have had so little time to sit down and blog, but I really do want to keep our memories in a place that allows the kids to go back and reminisce about all the events that have taken place in their lives.  So hold on!  This post is chuck full!

Outside my window ~

Dark clouds and the long, low rumbling of thunder in the distance...  I love spring mornings that promise rainfall.

I am thankful for ~


We remembered Miss Clementine's Baptism birthday.  Since she is always admiring my Rosary purse at Mass, we gave her one of her very own.  She loved it!

I celebrated my 49th birthday on March 4.  I really felt the love from my family and friends this year.  I wrote out so many thank you notes out that I ended up cracking open the Christmas-themed thank you cards.

Miss Ester celebrated #17!

She had asked for a turntable and the Eagle's Greatest Hits.  (I think we are raising her right ;)   A friend (who happens to also teach her piano lessons) bought her a ticket to the Dallas Symphony to listen to a French pianist.  She LOVED the experience!

From the school room ~

* After a really difficult adjustment period of seven weeks, Stan the man has finally leveled out.  David helps him with all of his school work in the evenings.  I had to completely step away since I had no intention of juggling home school AND government school.  They have found their rhythm, and we look forward to Stan continuing to bloom where he is now planted.

* Sarah arrived home for spring break earlier in March.  She announced that she won amazing scholarship to study abroad in May of 2019.  With the English/History department, she will be studying abroad in the following Baltic states:  Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, as well as Poland and Germany.

* Miss Mabel enjoyed having her nursing-student sister help her with some Biology labs!  Sarah helped Mable test for her blood type.

* What a surreal experience to visit tulip fields in Texas!  This Dutch, family-owned business is on its fourth year in North Texas.  I arranged for our home school group to take a field trip.  Talk about breathtaking views of flowers!!  (And boy oh boy!  The phone camera doesn't do it justice.)

From the kitchen ~

Miss Mabel baked delicious cupcakes for St. Patrick's day!

What I've been reading ~

We added this cute book to our bin of Irish books.

I recently read these and highly recommend them to you!

I have a goal to read 2 books a month and am on track!

Around the house ~

* Just a little bit of Irish arts & craft this year::

* While on spring break, Sarah and I went to hear a Holocaust survivor talk.  She had written a research paper on the subject, so we thought this was a good way to wrap it up.

* David and Stan the man went on a surf fishing trip over spring break.  They put SO much time and effort into preparing and studying up.  As you can see, all the hard work paid off!

I am praying for ~

a fruitful Holy Week!

Coming down the pike this week ~

Thursday - I drive down to pick Sarah up at school.

Friday - Good Friday

Saturday - Holy Saturday and Ester and I have concert tickets for a performance in Fort Worth.

Sunday - Easter Sunday!  

A last photo to share ~

After months of consideration, Miss Ester re-homed her sweet mare, Penny.  

Penny is in good hands.  She was taken to a petty zoo and is making friends with all the other animals.  Ester is doing pretty good.  She had plenty of time to come to this decision and now she waves money for her first car ;)

So much in this post!  I just want to make sure I document all the life experiences since the kids enjoy looking back every now and then.  

My final thoughts and prayers are that you and your families have a fruitful Holy Week!  

~  Patty  ~


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