Friday, July 31, 2015

Amazon Smile

I recently discovered that Amazon has a donation site up and running, called Amazon Smile, and as it's a Catholic's duty to help support the Church through any means available, I'd thought today I'd draw attention to this program.
It works just like ordering from Amazon. The only difference is, when you order something from Amazon Smile, a percentage of the purchase price goes to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. So instead of buying a baby gate for $10, I'm spending probably $9.50 on the gate and $0.50 on charity (probably not even that much, but it's a good example).
I did a search for possible Traditional Catholic Charities by typing in SSPX, and found a lot. Many parishes are linked up through searching for that. I did a separate search for St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, and they are my current charity. The new seminary, and the day to day running of the existing seminary, costs so much that it's important to do anything possible for them.

I'm also going to use this opportunity to tell you that I've signed up for the Amazon Affiliate program. If you click through these links to products, books, or media that I recommend, I get a percentage of the proceedings. I'll post at the top of each blog post that has these links, but they all are things that I honestly use, would use, and recommend.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Feast of St. Martha

Yesterday was the feast of St. Martha, the patron saint of housewives. We celebrated by grilling out (it was one of the first mild days we've had this week), and I made a special dessert that was easy to throw together.
Menu: Steak, asparagus, potatoes, and 10 minute fruit tart by Rachael Ray.
She's growing bigger every day
All I did was let the steak marinate in some olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning. I used to make the mistake of adding salt and garlic powder when I used the lemon pepper seasoning, but then read the label (I'm trying to get better at that!). That's when I discovered that onion powder, garlic powder, and salt are also present.
My husband taught me the correct way to trim asparagus ends. You have to hold the bottom and break them off individually, instead of cutting them with a knife. This might seem a little wasteful, but just put those ends into some compost and enjoy the tender asparagus! We make a foil pack with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper sprinkled over the fresh asparagus, and steam it on the grill for about 20 minutes.
I took some ideas and made up a recipe for the potatoes that turned out ok. I'll have to tweak it a little more. I made a foil packet of sliced potatoes, chunks of cream cheese and butter, and some fresh parmesan. The parmesan melted to the bottom (or was it the top? We had to flip the potatoes so that they would cook faster), the butter melted through, but the chunks of cream cheese didn't melt all the way. Maybe the chunks need to be smaller and more spread out?
The fruit tart got a little slid around
10 Minute Fruit Tart
I admit, I took some liberties with this recipe. The base is a store-bought graham cracker crust, topped with some seedless strawberry and blackberry jelly. On top of that I put instant vanilla pudding mixed with orange and lime zest, and then around the top I put a can of mixed tropical fruit cocktail and strawberries in the middle. Next time, I'm going to make the pie version of the pudding (less milk), and slice up some fresh fruits, instead of putting down a layer of jam. But it turned out great! Here's the link to the original recipe.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Title for August: The Art of Catholic Mothering

August Book Discussion
I chose this book as the first for several reasons. Firstly, this blog is written by a woman, and while I propose to write about matters that concern both mothers, fathers, and young adults of marrying age and vocation, I freely admit that the content is skewed towards mothers, both present and future. However, I do believe that it would be good for men to read this collection of stories, so that they may more fully understand the other half of the coin. Secondly, it is pretty short, consisting of 12 easily read stories written by mothers, grandmothers, and at least one great-grandmother. Lastly, it deals with the dilemma of parents who were raised in a pre-conciliar Church, and who were charged with the task of raising their children in a world where Catholicism is no longer unadulterated, having to fight for the Church of All Time on a very basic level, that of education.

As I wrote above, there are 12 stories. I will discuss a new story 3 times a week. This won't necessarily be the same format for discussion every month, as that depends on the books. Most likely, I will try to publish my thoughts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This book was compiled by Maura Koulik. Although Angelus Press has run out of stock, the chances of purchasing it from a parish bookstore are still great. Even if you can't read it with me, maybe my reviews and thoughts will still help, like reading the spark notes version of Shakespeare: you don't get the beauty or the nuances, but the essence is still (hopefully) there.

A New Feature: Monthly Book Club

I love to read, and I know that I want my children to learn this love of reading for many reasons. Firstly, it is one of the most wholesome and extensive activities for children. In a day where computer games and tv shows dominate the entertainment world, there is nothing like a good book to sit down and read. It requires no internet access, it can be carefully curated for morals, ethics, and faith, and above all, it is silent and independent. Secondly, you can learn anything you want to just from reading about it. This comes in handy when homeschooling, because there is no way that a parent can know everything needed to prepare their children for a career, but there is every way that the parent can help that child learn about what interests them.
However, how do you choose good books for yourselves and your children (for if you want to encourage the reading habit, you have to read yourself)? How do you decide whether this secular or non-Catholic author is someone good for your children. How can you even decide between Catholic authors, which ones teach the false lessons of Modernism and which ones don't? Hopefully, my recommendations will allow you to learn the standards of literature for Catholics, as that is how I was taught in grade school and especially high school.

Some guidelines: I'm going to discuss a book every month or two, depending on how long it is. As a Catholic mother myself, I realize the dearth of time we have to read, when there are so many other things to be doing; however, I think that 2 months is probably the longest one can discuss any particular book for. I'd like to do a mixture of both Catholic parenting books, Catholic novels, Catholic children's books, and books written for both adults and children by authors who aren't necessarily Catholic, but who convey good morals and lessons. I've been looking for sources for free or cheap books, because that way most people will be able to afford this great pleasure. I know that my parish has a pretty good library of Catholic books, but don't hesitate to borrow from fellow parishioners, or even tell them about this proposed group. When possible, support your parish bookstore by purchasing these books, because I do believe that when possible, a good Catholic library should form part of a household. My mom gave me some of the mothering books I'm going to discuss, and I look forward to passing them down to my daughter.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Raising Catholic Children in a Modern World

I have insomnia. Lately it's been getting better, I've been going to bed before 1 am, sometimes before midnight. Maybe tonight, maybe not. Maybe once I get this particular anxiety off my chest, I will become calmed.

Insomnia for me happens when I am worried. Some nights, it's because I don't have a meal plan 3 days before I need to go shopping. Some nights, it's because of upcoming events or major and minor decisions. Tonight, it's because I defended my faith, and in doing so my day was interrupted with meditations on the problems of the world.

People divorce and remarry because they do not know the true definition of love. They decide to take the easy way out, and suicide is commended, praised, and funded. They decide to kill their children and pervert God's nature, because they were too irresponsible to listen to their will, and instead allowed themselves to be guided by their passions. They use God's own natural world against Him, to justify so called "sex change" and other abominations. And then, they expect Christians to believe in something wrong, and not only believe it, but cater to it. The world tells everybody that the sky is green and that water is poison, and when some decide to stand up and call them liars, those few are called cowards. Isn't the truly cowardly thing to just agree in public, and then go on drinking water? Why wouldn't we want to educate the world that water is in fact, good for you? But we are labeled cowards.

In a country where my rights are more important than yours, my rights to a cake are more important than your right to practice your faith, the Catholics are fighting this battle in the wrong way. Didn't Christ warn us that we would be persecuted for our beliefs? The early centuries of the Church were centuries of martyrdom, that recommenced during the Protestant Revolution, although those martyrdoms are largely forgotten and ignored. Those centuries taught the world something: once you start killing people, you make martyrs out of them. Instead, you have to persecute people in ways that not only are deniable, but seem ridiculous. It seems ridiculous that people wouldn't just bake a cake for someone, it's just a cake. It seems ridiculous to talk of religious persecution, when there are so many "Christians" in the world. A person says: "I believe that love and tolerance are above all other things. Therefore, because you don't believe this way, you are evil". A Catholic says "This is what the Church teaches. We do not interpret the Bible for ourselves, we leave that to the professionals. We do not believe that everything is in the Bible, because even St. John said that there was much more taught that couldn't be written down. And we adhere to the ultimate truths that have been passed down directly from God Himself. We will pray for the non-believers, we will pray that those who are misguided find the truth, we will pray for those who misguide others, for they will be held to judgment. And we will not pass judgements on others, but live our faith even in the face of ridicule and hatred."

Instead of making the battle for morality about us, we need to make it about God. God has a right to be worshipped the way He demanded, and if you can believe this basic truth, you will have all the strength you need to fight the battles demanded of you. If this means that you are fined, hated, ridiculed, remember that the early Catholics wouldn't even offer a token of incense to a false god, instead choosing death. I need to instill in my children the love of God, the will to cling to Him above all else, even forsaking family and friends when necessary to defend our truly beautiful Faith.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Housekeeping Trick One: One Chicken, 3 Meals

I don't have many tricks up my sleeve for homemaking or housekeeping. I'm always on Pinterest looking for more, in fact. But I do have one that may or may not help with those that don't like cooking a lot. There is still cooking involved, but... well, you'll see if you keep reading.

So, I get a frozen whole chicken. They aren't very big, and they are oddly enough frozen into bricks. Makes for easy storage in my freezer, though. Anyhow, when I have a big week coming up, I pull one out and create a menu plan for it. It defrosts inside my refrigerator in about 2 days, but lasts for a week. For the two of us and Eleanor, it makes a hearty 3 meals.

Meal One: Just throw it in a large crockpot with vegetables, any kinds. I cook it on high for 6 hours, because then the meat falls off the bones and I don't have to do any carving or too much bone picking (more on that later). I usually throw in some potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and apples, and only peel the onions and carrots (though if you scrubbed them pretty well, you probably don't have to peel the carrots). I cut everything into quarters. The apples end up somewhat mushy, the potatoes stay pretty firm. Don't add water unless you want some extra chicken stock. Just season however you would like, I use lemon pepper seasoning, which includes salt, onion, and garlic powders (so don't also add salt if you're going to use a lemon pepper seasoning). I've experimented with adding oranges or lemons to this mix, but the rinds leave a slightly bitter taste (more the longer it cooks), so peel them first. I'm used to cooking whole oranges and lemons in turkey, but mixing it with a slow cooker doesn't work well. After 4-6 hours of it stewing, it's ready! You can keep it on warm without any bad side effects, or cook it on low for 8 hours if you're going to be out of the house all day (won't fall off the bones though).
At the end of the day, pick apart the chicken after it's cooled down. I throw everything into the same bowl, but feel free to set the veggies aside.

Meal Two: I mix up half of what's leftover into a chicken based meal. In the winter,  I made it into chicken noodle soup, which is always so delicious. Maybe if you're more adventurous, you can see if you can can this up for the days when you want soup, but I just put it on the menu. You can do so much with this chicken. This week, I'm making it into buffalo chicken mac and cheese. I'll post the recipe on Saturday, along with pictures to see if it turns out.
When I make chicken noodle soup, I like to use wide egg noodles, make extra chicken broth for meal one, and throw in some fresh vegetables instead of the already mashed veggies (by the end of meal 2, they would be pretty soggy). I'll generally just add in a bag of frozen mixed veggies, maybe some cream or milk if I want it creamy, maybe some white wine if I want a little kick to it.
I don't currently have a lot of chicken based meals in my repertoire, but if you do, just add it to the comments! If you have a meal that you enjoy that calls for shredded chicken, this chicken will do! I'm replicating a restaurant meal that my husband and I had during our honeymoon at a restaurant called Macs, where they make a million different kinds of amazing macaroni and cheeses.

Meal Three: ok, this isn't a dinner, but a lunch. You can use chicken in so many ways for lunches, or light dinners. I put it (cold) into salads, chicken salad sandwiches, tortillas, or use it as snacks. I'm into a non-traditional chicken salad:
Slice 1-2 handfuls of grapes into quarters. Mix up chicken bits, grapes, and a dab of mayo (just enough to cover everything). Place in sandwich with whatever cheese you have on hand. Quick and easy. You don't have to make it a sandwich, you can put it on crackers for hors d'oeuvres, you can add veggies to it, you can add hot sauce or ranch instead of the mayo, in fact I've added light sour cream and greek yogurt to get the same "tang".
I also add it to ramen chicken and make a quick chicken noodle soup that way. Boil ramen noodles and seasoning for 2 minutes. Add diced carrots, celery, chicken, and anything else that sounds good, keep boiling for another minute or two. Then I like to add cream before I serve it.

Hopefully these tips help another person who also gets carried away with weeks when it looks like getting dinner ready will be a challenge. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Catching Up

The Visitation of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth
I apologize for the lack of posts. Let me catch you up on what's been happening since I last posted.

This cake was seriously delicious. Must eat with frown.
My daughter had her first birthday on June 30, and her birthday party was on the Saturday before that. Although I was under a lot of self-made stress in getting things "just right", everything turned out well, the sun decided to shine (rain was forecasted up until a few days before), and above all, my daughter was happy, no meltdowns or temper tantrums!
Ice cream: can't go wrong with cookie dough!
There were storms about every other day before her party, so a lot of things (online) didn't get done. Because we can't afford internet (but pay our taxes every year), we get internet from our public library/police station, conveniently located across the street. When a storm hits, the internet goes down, and it takes a few clear days to get up and running again. So today was the first day I could get to anything, Pinterest, Facebook, or my blog. I'm not complaining, because it's nice sometimes to take a break and just enjoy living life. I was able to get to so many more things since I wasn't procrastinating, even just reading books that I needed to catch up on, and detoxing from the level of news that those with internet get every moment of the day. I tend to get riled up about politics, the state of the Church, and other problems in the world, but when you are only watching the night time news, there isn't all the distraction at your fingertips. I realized that I was focusing on finding out as much information as possible, instead of just knowing what I needed to know in my state of life, praying for those who are misguided and those who are deliberately doing the misguiding, and then getting on with my day to day life. There isn't much I can do or say as a housewife that hasn't already been done or said, and instead of adding fuel to the fire, I can just pray that decisions that were made this past week will eventually be reversed, and that the whole world will come to acknowledge the True Faith. And then return to being excited about the 5 steps my daughter is now taking!
We got to chill right next to the polar bears!
Feast days that have passed: on the 29th of June, we celebrated the feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul. I spent the day with my daughter, enjoying the sunshine and breeze, getting ready for our big outing on Tuesday, and trying very hard to figure out a napping schedule for the almost-toddler. Tuesday was her birthday, and the commemoration of the original feast of St. Paul (they didn't used to have to share a day). We spent the morning at home, and left for the zoo, where we spent our whole afternoon. By the end of the day, both parents were pretty sore (I was still recovering from it today!), and Eleanor was exhausted. Thankfully we had done cake and candles on Saturday, or I'm not sure we would have done them this year! Wednesday was the feast of the Precious Blood. July is also dedicated to the Precious Blood, so more on that doctrine and history later. And finally, today is the feast of the Visitation, which reminds us of the blessing of expectant mothers. Today, let us especially pray that the abominations of contraception and abortions be eradicated. God, through His message from the Angel Gabriel, and Mary have shown us how blessed it is to be able to bear children, and a privilege that no men and not all women can share in.