Saturday, December 7, 2019

First Week of Advent 2019

Earlier this week, our Little Flowers group had a little fiesta while studying about and celebrating St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

They made paper flowers and tilmas, feasted on sombrero cookies, and drank Mexican hot cocoa.

It was a fun night! 

The following morning our bishop, Bishop Edward Burns (Dallas Diocese),  invited all the area homeschool families to a special Advent Mass.

It was such a beautiful Mass!  There were bishops, two priests, two deacons, and three seminarians in the sanctuary.   Afterward, we were invited to a light luncheon.  We are so grateful to have a bishop who values the importance of homeschooling.

The next afternoon, we headed out to cut down our first, fresh, family Christmas tree!

I grew up with real trees, but David and I have never had a one as long as we've been married.  He prefers the ease of artificial.  I told him since I turned 50 this year, I was going to have a real tree ;)

He calls me Sparky ;)

In between all of these activities, I started putting up Christmas decorations around the house.  I bet everyone else is done.  I'm having a hard time getting motivated this year.

On the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas, Clementine put a shoe out for each of the kids in the family before going to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. :)

I love how they tolerate her excitement (and mine)!

(Miss Clementine's on the top right; Stan's on the bottom right)

(Mabel's on the left; Emma's on to the top right; Sarah's on the bottom right)

The older two girls received gas gift cards.  College kids really appreciate the practical things. :)

Our St. Nicholas feast day celebration was put on hold when Mabel ended up in the ER.  Our poor girl! 

For the past week, we were hoping it was just a pulled back muscle until Thursday night when things went from bad to excruciatingly painful. 

The pain and vomiting was out of control so they admitted her to keep her hydrated and comfortable with medication.

We discovered she was the unfortunate owner of two kidney stones (something hereditary they say).  The culprit causing the pain is the one that is stuck near her bladder.  So...

She is home now, with medication and drinking a TON of water to try and flush the one out naturally before going to the urology appointment in two weeks.  (Please keep her in your prayers.)

When we arrived home today, I did some regrouping before we finished celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas by baking gingerbread cookies.

I know that sounds crazy of me, but! I had made the dough on the Thursday afternoon with plans for baking the cookies on Friday.  I sure didn't want the cookie dough to go to waste.

Miss Clementine was excited to use the new St. Nicholas mold that she found in her shoe.  I made an easy icing and Mabel and Clementine helped decorate the cookies once they cooled.  It actually went quite well! 

What a week!

I'm looking at the clock as I type this and realize I really need to be in bed.  Tomorrow will be here fast and it will usher in the second week of Advent.  So, I'm signing off for today.

I pray that your Advent is a fruitful one!


Monday, December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Week 2019

It was quite a week filled with painting, crafting, movie-going, feasting, shopping, and visiting.  All good!  The painting I could have done without, but I had been promising poor Stan the Man a more grown up looking bedroom since early last summer.  We originally were shooting for his birthday, almost two months ago, but hey! We got it down just in time for the start of the holiday season.  That's a win-win in my book.  :)

His bedroom is actually the office in the house, but what boy wants to share the upstairs with four sisters?  Oh my word. Not many.  I didn't take any before pics to compare, but this is the final look, and I am happy to report that he is one pleased teenager!

He really likes the peg board to hang his air soft equipment up on.  Next up would be the new room-darkening curtains that make his room as dark as a cave in the morning.  Yup.  Today, in fact, was the first time he had to get up for school since we finished his room and he almost slept in. ;)

No bueno, Stan.

For the feast of St. Cecilia, I surprised our little Clementine (her feast day) and took her to the 9:10am showing of Frozen II on opening day.  She was so surprised and just a wee bit excited. ;)

Later that day, we made our traditional pianos out of Kit Kats.  I had bought the wrong size chocolate Kit Kats this time, but you know what?  They still tasted good! Ha ha! 

I got this idea from Catholic Cuisine quite a few years ago.  It is such a fun treat!

Our home school group had a an Advent wreath making party the week of Thanksgiving.  The wreaths were super easy to make and the kids really enjoyed themselves.

The funniest part was killing all of the baby spiders that came crawling out of the box of junipers onto the table.  Talk about a bunch of screaming girls!  These juniper branches were picked fresh from ranch land that belongs to one of the families.

We made our traditional cranberry bread::

My husband and I went to see Midway, the movie.  AWESOME movie!!

I LOVED the movie and the cold Modelo!

Thanksgiving day was so wonderful having everyone home under one roof!!!

Sarah's Seton classmate Kathryn (2017) was our guest this year.  Kathryn is studying to be an architect and attends Texas A&M.  She is doing her internship this semester at a firm in Forth Worth.  Her family lives up in Illinois outside of Chicago.  Kathryn only had Thanksgiving Day off so we were so happy to have her join our loud group!

I insisted on a family photo for Christmas cards ;)

This year was the first time in quite a few years that I went out on Black Friday.  I drove some of the girls around who were really taking advantage of some of the sale prices on things that they personally needed.

It was a successful Black Friday!

We were busy, to say the least, but gosh! We sure had a great week.  I'm so grateful for the laughs and I'm particularly grateful sitting back watching my young adult children.  I'm feeling blessed. 

Advent is now upon us and it is going to be a short one this year.  Really short.  

Coming in just a few days, the feast of St. Nicholas.  (It feels like we just celebrated his feast day a few months ago.)

Wishing you all a fruitful Advent season!  


Friday, November 22, 2019

Camper "Remodel"

When you own a camper, you utilize every square inch of space for storage.  We had storage under our bench seats at the table but it was hard to access.

I asked David if he would install custom roll-outs for the benches.  (We own a little business that sells and installs custom roll-outs.)

Some Before and During photos :

After photos : (Miss Clementine could fit into these drawers!)

David built the drawer fronts out of solid oak and he already had the stain color to match.  Woot!

We are so pleased with how these turned out and look forward to putting them to good use next month when we head back out, and I am so thankful that David has been blessed with great handyman skills!


Thursday, November 21, 2019

November Daybook Post 2019

Outside my window ~

She's so excited to finally have some leaves!  Ha ha!

A friend once stated how our lawns look like wheat in the winter.  It does, doesn't it?!  We have  Bermuda grass which goes dormant once the temperatures fall consistently under 80 degrees.

I am thankful for ~

* the opportunity to celebrate him another year!

* Another camp out

This one was fairly closer to home and it was for a girls' weekend only.

And Belle (the dog) ended up camping with us.  Sigh....

It was her first time (and hopefully her last - LOL).

Emma invited a friend for the weekend.  They had so much fun hiking and hiking and hiking some more!

From the school room ~

Sarah comes home from college next Tuesday.

Stan the man will have off the entire week of Thanksgiving (government school in Texas has a week-long vacation for that week).

We recently celebrated the feast days of St. Martin de Tours (Nov. 11) and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Nov. 13).

Miss Clementine made lanterns for the feast of St. Martin de Tours, and we ate mini cream puffs in honor of the Italian saint, Mother Cabrini.  There were so yummy!

From the kitchen ~

David has been trying the Keto diet for the past six weeks hoping that it helps alleviate some of his joint issues.  So far, so good.  I have been trying a few new recipes for him or learning to tweak our recipes a bit so he can enjoy them as well.  I have a few recipes I'd like to put up on the blog but never seem to find the time to blog anymore.

What I am reading ~

I just downloaded this to my kindle app and am looking forward to reading it.  I love Richard Paul Evans' Christmas novels!

Around the house ~

We celebrated Sarah's Baptism birthday earlier this month.  I LOVE looking back at the older photos, especially from such important moments in our lives.  That stunning gown was made by her great-grandmother and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren have worn it.  It's so beautiful and has the most heavenly scent of Chrism Oil.

We gifted Sarah with this ceramic plaque of Sarah and Isaac (from the Old Testament).  It is made by the monks at St. Andrew's Abbey in California.

We also celebrated Miss Mabel's Baptism birthday while camping last weekend.  The pictures are blurry since we were outdoors at night.

We gifted Miss Mabel a beautiful, ceramic plaque of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It really is so pretty (sorry for the bad photo quality).  Being named after Our Blessed Mother makes it hard to choose a plaque that represents her because there are so many titles to select from.  We love Mabel and we love our Mama Mary!

* Twinning! LOL

David and I had back-to-back colonoscopy screenings.  Joy.

Actually, this is so VERY important for everyone.  David is first degree, his father had colon cancer.  David is on the five year plan.  His went well with the "all clear" (no pun intended).  This was my very first screening.  The recommended age to have your first screening is 45 (if there is no immediate family member with colon cancer).  I waited until I was 50.  I had two polyps but they appeared non-cancerous.  However, I'm still waiting on the biopsy report.  I'm going to have to go back in three years.

 So... don't put it off, folks!  I'm terribly afraid of going under and the thought of a camera going in my hinny puts me over the edge.  If I can do this, so can you.  Your family loves you and needs you around for a long time! :)

 I am praying for ~

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

* our priests

* the souls in Purgatory

Coming down the pike ~

I'm looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my family at home.  Sarah is bringing a college friend home for the day.  I love to see them all together, under one roof.  My mama heart is so excited!

A last photo to share ~

I started journaling my 50th year back in March (with the journal on the left).  I ran out of space and ordered this second one (the blue on the right).  They are both hand painted (originals) and make beautiful gifts!!  Check out this Etsy shop here.   Marissa is such a delight to work with!

Whew! So there you have it, folks.

Praying that you have safe travels, treasured time with family and friends, and a blessed Thanksgiving Day!


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Apple Cider Punch with Bourbon


This was delicious!  And those that don't like bourbon couldn't taste the bourbon in this punch. 

Planning a large gathering for Thanksgiving at your house?  You have to serve this. 


1/2 gallon apple cider
1 cup (8oz) Bourbon 
1 bottle (12 oz) Ginger Beer, non-alcoholic (it's by the ginger ale in the soda isle)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 apple, thinly sliced

For serving:

cinnamon sticks (optional)
cinnamon sugar apple chips (optional)


1. Combine apple cider, bourbon, and ginger beer in a large pitcher.  Top with cranberries and apple slices. 

2.  Fill glasses with ice and pour punch over top.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks and apple chips.

PS: You can make it non-alcoholic by leaving out the bourbon.  For those that want bourbon, after pouring the punch, add a shot of Bourbon directly into the glasses for those who want it.

Prep Time:
10 minutes




Monday, November 4, 2019

Halloween, All Saints, All Souls, and Celebrating Stan 2019

I told a few friends that these three days in fall, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day should be called by the Church, the Fall Triduum (like the Easter Triduum).  I love my Catholic faith!  I love being able to have such a tangible faith based on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition!

We started out by celebrating All Hallows' Eve with a couple of friends :)

It was a very chilly night for us down here in North Texas.  This was the first real chilly trick-or-treating that we had since moving here (this is our 13th year).  Having to wear coats did not stop them from having fun!

On November 1, we celebrated the Feast of All Saints.  Our homeschool group had another party which was a lot of fun.

I LOVE our Catholic community.  It is so faithful, reverent, and vibrantly alive!

Miss Clementine recycled her Halloween costume and went as St. Jadwiga (a.k.a. St. Hedwig) the first queen of Poland.

St. Jadwiga was the daughter of Luis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland.  She was highly devout spending much of her time in prayer as well as helping the poor and the sick.  She found new churches and sponsored hospitals.  The Polish language was used during Mass thanks to St. Jadwiga.  A faculty of theology at Krakow University was established because of this saint.  St. Jadwiga could be found praying every day at the foot of the black cross  in Wawel Cathedral, and it is there that she was buried.  During a homily at her funeral, she was given the title, "Most Christian Queen".  St. Jadwiga and all saints in heaven, pray for us!

November 2, All Souls Day, is the day that the Church remembers the souls of the faithful departed. 

Our homeschool group headed to the historic cemetery in town and prayed for the souls of the faithful departed. 

On this day, special prayers are offered for the souls of the faithful who which at death have not been cleansed from venial sin or have not atoned for past transgressions and cannot attain the beatific vision.  It is a time to pray for their souls, to assist the souls from purgatory to heaven. 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; And let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen

That evening, a couple of friends and I hosted a Moms Night Out at my house.  It was a night filled with laughter, prayer, festive libations and food, and homemade sugar scrubs.  The ladies made a couple of sugar scrubs each to take home. 

At the end of the night, when the last guest left, there was enough Apple Cider Punch with Bourbon (recipe post coming soon!) for one glass.  It was so delicious!

Rounding up this busy weekend, we celebrated Stan the Man's adoption day anniversary by going out for pizza at our favorite pizza joint in town.

Stan's adoption anniversary falls on the feast of St. Martin de Porres.  Stan and St. Martin have some similarities and St. Martin de Porres is whom Stan has chosen to be his Confirmation saint.

St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!

I'm soooo grateful for the time change this fall because of all the wonderful activities we had going on.  I'm also grateful that today is going to be a slow day.  Praise the Lord for coffee!  Ha!

And just like that, it's November 4.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Caddo Lake State Park Camping Trip 2019

I put this park on my 2019 bucket list and had been looking forward to the three nights we spent here.  After such a crazy10 weeks, this was balm for the soul.  Relaxing on this natural stage over in East Texas completely exceeded my expectations.

We left for Caddo Lake on Sunday, October 20.  After setting up the camper, we headed for the lake where I had booked a reservation for a swamp tour. 

That experience was beyond belief simply because of the beauty we took in.  Our tour guide had vast knowledge of the area's flora and fauna, creatures in and out of the water, the history, and was just plain entertaining!

There have been plenty of movies made on this lake.  That shack above right?  That is Dick and Charlie's Tea House, an old, abandoned speak easy during Prohibition.  It lies on the edge of the bayou in Uncertain, TX and was constructed in the 1800's.  It's been showcased in movies.

Top left photo: Johnson's Ranch Marina, has been around since 1908 and was the state's first marina.  Walker Texas Ranger filmed at the marina before. 

The next morning after schooling and some bike riding (PE), we took in the beauty from land.

How gorgeous is that bayou?!

10 years ago, almost to the day, we took the older, four kids to Caddo Lake State Park.

Miss Clementine had her photo taken in the same spot!  (Weren't they CUTE?!)

The park office had a really great educational center. 

On the third day, we headed into a nearby town, Jefferson.  It was full of history and interesting things to check out.

The weather cooled off that last day where we could enjoy a fire. 

This was heaven.  Getting away from everything, relaxing in nature, sleeping sound...  It was a great get-away.  If you are ever near East Texas right by the Louisiana border, between I-20 and I-30, you need to take a detour and stop by the park.  You won't regret it.  I promise.

Until the next time...



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