Thursday, January 21, 2016

Easy Weeknight Dinner: Creamy Chicken Spinach Bake

This dinner is easy and delicious, although it does take a while to bake, because of the extra ingredients on top of the chicken. We were able to eat well inexpensively, and will use the leftover chicken to supplement another meal this week! For starch, some rice would round out this meal perfectly (I didn’t, because we are still moving households).
Layers of chicken, cream cheese, spinach on the left
Ingredients for 2 people
2 chicken breasts
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup spinach (I used frozen)
1 cup. shredded cheese (anything will do)
Side dish suggestion: 1 cup broccoli (I also used frozen)
Pretty basic preparation
  1. Spray an 8x8 in pan with cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 400∘F. 
  2. Layer chicken breasts, cream cheese, and spinach in pan. I had enough room to add the broccoli next to the chicken. 
    Hot out of the oven
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top of everything, and bake until cooked (because the spinach was frozen and the amount of ingredients, it took me an hour to be sure). 
  4. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165∘F, it’s ready. It was delicious, creamy, and didn’t take any effort to make, even though it took an hour to cook.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Feast of the Week: St. Agnes, January 21

This week’s feast is the feast of St. Agnes, Virgin Martyr, on Thursday. St. Agnes was born in the 3rd century to a wealthy Catholic family, and when young, made a vow of chastity. However, because of her beauty and wealth, she attracted the attention of many young men, to whom she would always respond, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.” 

Angered at her refusal, her suitors informed the government that she was a Catholic. At the time, the Roman Empire was under the rule of Diocletian and Catholicism was illegal, and she was tortured by various means to renounce her faith, and finally put to death when she was 12 or 13. Her symbol is the lamb, representing her innocence, youth, and virginity. For more details, this is a great source.

St. Agnes' story is one that should be shared with every young girl, as an example of her great courage in the face of danger, an example of the importance of purity, and finally as an example of the gloriousness of being a bride of Christ. We have such a great need for not only good nuns, but good mothers to raise their children to honor the religious life, whether they are called to that vocation or not.

You can celebrate with a little jello dessert, posted later on this week. With the crown mold, almost any saint’s feast can be commemorated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Television and Catholics: Some Prudent Guidelines

Television, among other modern inventions, is a hot button issue for some Traditional Catholics. I’ve heard arguments both for it, and against it. Against it are the problems confronting many parents: the way violence and impurity are glorified, the way it slows the brain, and the way it dulls the senses towards good by making it relative; these problems are grievous. For it are the arguments that while there is much bad television, there are also good shows, that one can be discerning about which shows to watch, and that moderation is key. This is the particular view that I espouse. But in these days of relative moderation, is having a television in the home worth the dangers?
As the wife of a non-Catholic, I don’t have much of a say in the matter of whether the TV can stay in our home. My husband likes to watch it to relax, or to indulge in his inexplicable love for the Chicago Bears. I do make the choice to use the television, though,instead of keeping it off and not watching it unless my husband is. There are a two guidelines that I use to determine whether or not I’m going to turn it on.
My first guideline is not to just watch it mindlessly. The habit of having something always going is too easy for me to fall into, and it ruins my productivity. I only turn the TV on when there is a specific show that I want to watch.
My second guideline is to make sure of the audience. Right now, this is simple. For watching TV shows and movies with Eleanor, I keep it short, educational, and wholesome. For myself, I watch shows that don’t tend to glamorize impurity, and aren’t overly violent.

We love PBS, because there aren’t any commercials. Eleanor loves watching Peg + Cat, and the fact that Peg and her mother are always in dresses and Peg introduces us to different historical figures (Beethoven and Marie Curie are two), music, and stories (like Romeo and Juliet). Otherwise, there are some children’s movies that I grew up with. Eleanor is naturally active, and doesn’t sit still for long. In the mornings, we play music if we want to listen to something, and only use the television periodically, less than once a week.
The shows I watch give me an imaginative break, much like reading or watching a movie or play. For example, I like most of the period pieces on Masterpiece Theater by PBS, like Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Death comes to Pemberley, but also some more modern ones, like Sherlock.

What are your rules, if any, for watching television?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Feast of the Week: Baptism of Our Lord, January 13th

The feast of the Baptism of Our Lord is traditionally celebrated on January 13th, which formally marks the end of Christmastide. There are few changes to notice, however, because we are still in the season of Christmas, which lasts until Septuagesima Sunday, when the longer season of Easter begins. The changes in my day to day life are simply that I return to the feasts of the saints in the back of my missal, and that my Christmas tree and decorations come down, except for the Nativity scene.
This feast day honors the day where Christ went with some of his disciples to the River Jordan, where His cousin, St. John the Baptist, was baptizing people in the Baptism of Penance. It is the last of the three manifestations of Our Lord’s Divinity, Victimhood,and Kingship, as St. John the Baptist’s words reveal: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold He Who takes away the sins of the world” (Gospel, Octave day of the Epiphany). It is also when St. John foretold the true Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the sacrament that Christ would formally establish a little while later.
This year, I’m going to use the time after Epiphany to re-organize my home, donate anything we haven’t used in the past year, and move. My husband wants to move back upstairs to save on our electric bill, to get a bigger kitchen back (not in space per se, but in more storage), and to take advantage of more natural daylight because of an extra window (this is mostly for me, because daylight helps to fight depression naturally). Not a big move, but there will be quite a few changes ahead! I’m looking forward to having a blank slate to work in for organization, decoration, and cleaning.

What things are you hoping to accomplish in this year's short time after Epiphany?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany

“We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord” (Matt. II:2).

The best-laid plans of mice and men, and all that… Well, I unexpectedly had to go into work last night, so my plan for writing a blog post about the feast day I want to focus on this week was replaced by emergency dinner preparation, some phone calls, and getting the house ready for Matt to take care of Eleanor without being in too much pain. Work was busy last night, and I didn’t get a chance to write until this morning.
The Spotlight Feast Day this week is the Feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday. Epiphany is Greek, meaning manifestation. During Christmastide, we celebrate the three manifestations of Our Lord’s mission here on earth. The first was to the shepherds on Christmas morning. “Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the City of David” (Luke I). The second is the feast of the Epiphany, when the three Magi came to pay their homage. The third manifestation will be celebrated on January 13, the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
The Epiphany commemorates the occasion of the 3 Magi coming to present themselves to the King from the House of David. Traditionally, we are told their names are Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar, that they were an old man, a middle-aged man, and a young man, and that they were of 3 varying nationalities representing the 3 races known in the world at the time: African, Asian, and Caucasian. These traditions were simply to show that Christ came to save all mankind, as opposed to the Jews who were previously the Chosen People of God, and who alone possessed the knowledge of the True God. Now, God will share the message of how He wants to be worshipped, and in return share His Truth, to all mankind, Gentile and Jew alike.
The Magi brought 3 gifts, mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (ch. 2), are gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each representing Christ. Gold represents Christ’s Kingship over the world and the duty of mankind to obey Him, frankincense represents His Divinity and the duty to worship Him, and myrrh represents His death to save us all, and the duty that we owe thanks to Him.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, there is a custom to bless chalk and have it available for the faithful to take home. As soon as possible, write above your doors 20+C+M+B+16, to ask Christ to bless your home and all who enter. On another traditional note, it is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas. One can celebrate by reading Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night", named so after the day for which he wrote it.

“Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His hand, and power, and dominion” (Introit).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Thanks to all my readers
With a new year comes new resolutions. One of mine is to take better care of my blog and its readers.

While today doesn't start the new Liturgical Year (that started November 30, 2015), it does start the new secular year, and is the typical place for people to start resolutions. Out of habit, I've taken today as my starting point, artificial as it may be. I have 6, addressing 5 different parts of my life and one overruling resolution.

  1. Motherhood & Marriage: Institute a weekly meeting with my husband to get on the same page; Sort through Eleanor's toys and books, separating them into things for her bedroom, things for the living room, toys to rotate and toys to give away.
  2. Homemaking: Related to resolution #3, I'm going to establish routines for our daily life and housekeeping.
  3. Personal Health & Wellness: To take care of my mental health, including both medicine, exercise, healthy eating, and possibly therapy.
  4. Spiritual: To be more diligent in my morning & evening prayers and daily Rosary; as a side, I'm also going to try to do my spiritual reading for 15 minutes a day, however, it's not a primary goal.
  5. Blogging: Blogging on a more regular schedule, aiming for 2-3 times a week.
And finally, my overruling resolution:
To revisit resolutions several times a year, specifically during Septuagesima, after Ascension Thursday, at the end of August (throwback to the beginning of the school year), and during the last week of the Time after Pentecost, and to implement changes and possible new resolutions at the beginning of Lent, Pentecost Sunday, September, and Advent.
May every one have a blessed New Year, may God bless your resolutions and make them fruitful, and rest assured that you remain in my prayers.