Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
One of the main reasons I got is was so that I could have a recipe for whole wheat puff pastry and turnover dough. I haven't tried the puff pastry yet, but I did try the turnover dough recipe. I used it to make one of my family's favorite meals - Samosas (a traditional east Indian food). I serve them with a sauce made of garam masala and mango chutney - YUM!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
This is from the movie The Painted Veil. (Note: This movie is absolutely not recommended for young viewers due to certain scenes and behaviors of the main characters.) It is a quote from one of the characters, a Catholic nun in China, describing how mundane work can become holy. As soon as I heard it, I jotted it down on a Post-it and stuck it on my refrigerator door, because it is the sort of inspiration I need when I am cleaning dishes and yuck out of the kitchen sink for the third time in one day, or when folding the umpteenth load of laundry. If I can just intersperse love of the people I am working for into the task (duty), I can elevate a simple task well above how it appears simply on the surface.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I had never been a football fan in my life. Paul had played in high school, but never watched it once he got older. But for some reason, our son, Robert, developed a sudden interest in it two years ago. So when he started Catholic high school this year, one of the first things he did was to join the football team. I finally began to learn about the game for the first time in my life. Once I understood a little bit, I actually found it exciting. It was also much more interesting when there was a player I knew personally to watch. Robert had a good season and enjoyed every minute. One of the other player's parents took this photo. We were glad to have this momento!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I also wanted to "tweak" my binder to make it more useful to me personally. So I bought some extra forms that fit this size binder. (I bought Day Runner fillers, but any brand of the correct size would do.) I like to have a full-length, daily check list for appointments and to-do's, so I got daily pages for that. All I do is fill in the date and whatever needs to be done. I also got extra name and address forms. I also wanted a plastic pencil holder for pens, dry erase markers, and index tabs. Finally I also wanted plastic protector sheets so I could put the daily chore lists in them and cross off the tasks with the dry erase markers each day, then erase to be ready for the next. I ended up needing to temporarily remove some of the Orderly Days forms for the future (I took out about 6 months worth, which will be put back in once I've used up the other ones) in order to make room for these additions.
I'm not done getting it right yet! I still have to write up and print my daily chore lists to be put in the plastic protectors. And I haven't filled out the name and address section yet. But all in time (which I hope to have more of now that I am getting oganized!). So far, I have been much better about getting my tasks (both work and play) done. This system also helps me keep on track with regular prayer time.
Here are a few pictures, showing some of the features and my "tweaks":
The binder, closed up and ready for tomorrow!
Here is my most recent table setting before we all dug in:
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Well, here it is, and it was and has been a joy to work with ever since I straightened it out:
Friday, November 9, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Today, we lost power for 4 hours, due to the utility company doing some maintenance. It was very interesting to see myself without my usual conveniences. What to do? I couldn't watch TV, so I read my Liturgy of the Hours instruction book and prayed. I couldn't listen to music, so I made my own by practicing my harp (and I am pleased to report that I have broken through a tempo "plateau" of sorts on a piece that was troubling me for weeks). I was able to light the burners on my stove manually with a match (rather than the click-click-click of the electric starter), and made some butternut squash soup and hot tea for my lunch. I also was able to clean. Even without the vacuum, I got a lot done, including the upstairs bathroom - my least favorite cleaning area.
Part of this inspired cleaning has to do with a new system I am looking into. It is a home management binder. I read about it online and just ordered one called "Orderly Days" from Motherhood Press. It is a Catholic planner/binder that incorporates the liturgical year into the calendar. It even has a finger Rosary attached to one of the rings of the binder! Using a binder for home tasks is an organized way of going about one's life. I need this badly, since I am the sort who is easily distracted. (More on this once I receive the binder in the mail!)
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I began thinking about it when I saw that my current kitchen towels were becoming worn and stained. These were inexpensive towels I found at my mother's house after she passed. I sewed little plastic rings to the middle of one edge of each towel, to hang on other side of the sink - one towel for hands, one for dishes:
I decided to go ahead and stitch the lace trim and plastic rings on two of the craft towels and see how they worked in the kitchen. Although they are very pretty, I do believe they are a little to fancy for kitchen work:
Finally, I removed the rings from the fancy towels and gave them a new home in my downstairs bathroom. I do believe they look lovely!
Monday, September 24, 2007
On Saturday we had pancakes in the morning (recipe is in my last blog entry). I took care of Tyler while the kids were at their various activities and Paul was doing wood-working in the back yard. It was a very quiet day for me. I was taking it easy because I was in the midst of my monthly migraine headache. The difference this time (and last month) is that I finally have a medication that gets rid of the pain. It's called Imitrex. It makes me somewhat sluggish and tired, but I am so grateful to be rid of that ghastly pain, that used to last for just about 60 hours, that I will gladly take tired and sluggish! In the evening we watched a comedy and ate Italian food (pizza for the family, whole wheat pasta and sauce for me!).
On Sunday we had my cheddar-chive muffin recipe in the skillet. I made it with whole wheat bread and honey this time. It was different, but still good. I had to add extra ww flour, because the honey adds liquid, whereas the sugar I previously would use does not. Then we went to church. After church we finally had Paul's birthday cake (okay, I did cheat and have a piece!). After that, Paul continued on his wood-working project while Tyler napped and the girls and I went for some new clothes for them. We stopped at the brand-new Whole Foods on our way home. It's huge! The girls went about, trying all the free samples they had available. We had dinner, and then Paul and I took Tyler for a stroll and a brief visit to the park, which he just loves. It was such a beautiful evening, and I just felt so glad for the nice time we had.
Because I did not lose the whole weekend suffering in tremendous pain, and accomplishing nothing, I was able to keep up with housework and cooking, so that I was ready to start the week right. And my improved eating habits have given me so much more energy. I went to Bible study this morning. Later, Julie and I were able to take care of her voter registration, details at the office for Tyler's medical insurance, buy him his first pair of shoes, and clean his room this morning. I have started cleaning my room; just took a break to write here for a bit. I feel very blessed that God has given me relief from my pain, and the motivation to eat properly so that I can function as I wish to function as a mom and grandma!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
An online friend had once mentioned making pecan pancakes using freshly-ground, whole wheat flour. This sounded delightful, since Paul loves pecan pancakes. And now that I have a grain mill, I love the idea of grinding fresh flour for my recipes. I find that with whole wheat pancakes, my blood sugar does not plummet the way it normally does an hour or so after I eat pancakes or waffles made with refined white flour. I found a nice recipe online. This recipe works with any filling: chocolate chips, blueberries, etc. Or just plain. I have adapted it a bit from the original, but I will post the link to the original recipe below.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted if desired, or other filling (optional)
cooking spray for the pan
pecan halves or fruit for garnish, optional
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda, and chopped pecans (optional).
In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and milk, egg yolks, and melted butter. Blend wet and dry ingredients just until all ingredients are moistened.
Fold beaten egg whites into the batter until well incorporated.
The good news is that Tyler just LOVES pancakes. He eats them like they were going out of style. The rest of us like them too! What a lovely way to feed the family.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
A fellow blogger, Anna, had made a darling cozy and offered it for sale. So I bought it! I opened the package today and tried it out. It fits perfectly over my grandmother's tea pot. So I had a nice little afternoon tea (Irish Breakfast tea with buttered toast), and my new cozy kept my tea hot. (P.S. I put it on straight out of the mailing envelope, which is why there is a little crease. I just couldn't wait to try it!)
Here it is:
Our watermelon, just about ready to eat. (This one set fruit in the row in between the garden boxes - as I said, it just sprawled everywhere, and except for some occasional pruning, we left it alone.)
Acorn squash, with Nasturtiums.
Our prize eggplant, harvested, and ready to be turned into Eggplant Parmesan!
So, Paul and I consulted the SQFT garden book and learned how to make some critter-control structures. These are simply 1/2" PVC piping (found in the plumbing section of your local home improvement store) cut to size, curved into an arc, and stuck into the edges of the SQFT box. A cross piece is then added to the top with cable ties, and netting is then draped over the entire thing. We have to find a better way to hold down the netting for next year. The blocks we have here are too large and we trip over them.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
But while I was crawling through traffic, Robbie told me all about his first day, the scary time in the basement of school when there was a tornado warning in that area, and the people he met. He also did a bit of homework (a new concept for a formerly homeschooled boy!). I had called home and asked Kristin to put the bread that was rising on the counter into the oven, so we had fresh bread upon arrival. I also decided to try my aunt's mac'n'cheese recipe tonight - comfort food - I needed it!
The storm rages on outside, but we are safe and dry!
Monday, July 30, 2007
But he will be home this coming Saturday. I will be so glad to see him. I know that he will most likely ask to go out for pizza at his favorite place - Giordano's. After two weeks of trail food and freeze-dried dinners, he will be ravenous!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
After working on it:
Friday, July 27, 2007
I have developed a love of antique books. I like books on cooking, sewing, and etiquette. I have been steadily collecting interesting old books for the past year or so. My most recent aquisition is the one pictured above, The New Butterick Dressmaker, published in 1927. Here is a photo from inside that I find very appealing because the drawing of the lady is so very stylish and charming as she prepares her fabric on the mannequin. (If only I looked this stylish when I sew!):
I have made two batches of bread since we got it. I was having some difficulty with over-rising. In winter-time, using a second rise after the dough had been mixed and kneaded in the Bosch mixer worked fine, due to our rather drafty house keeping the indoor temperature cool. But in the warm summer, with our A/C not really keeping up, the dough became over-risen and collapsed. So for summer baking, I will now just let the Bosch knead the bread and let it rise once in the bread pans. For winter, I will first let the dough rise in a bowl, then again for a second time in the pans.
Here is one of the loaves I made using the single rise for summer:
Saturday, July 7, 2007
"Careful Baby, don't squash him!"
During our strolls together (which Tyler and I continued in spite of the many cicadas we had to maneuver around), I often thought about how odd the world must be to the cicada. To emerge after such a long time. It was a sort of insect Brigadoon!
Monday, May 28, 2007
Here is the garden:
In the corners: Flowers
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
This morning I made a recipe for breakfast that we all enjoy often. It's actually a muffin recipe, given to me by my sister, but we always make it in a cast iron skillet and cut it in wedges. It is delicious, and even more so now that we can include fresh chives from our garden that survived the cold winter.
Here's the recipe:
1 and 1/4 cup milk (or milk substitute)
3/4 cup mashed potato flakes
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 TBSP sugar (or other sweetener)
2 TBSP chives
1 TBSP parsley flakes (optional)
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
Heat milk in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in potato flakes. Let stand for about 2 minutes, then whip with a fork until smooth. Let cool slightly. Turn into a medium mixing bowl. Beat in egg, oil, and cheese. Combine remaining ingredients and stir into potato mixture just until moistened (batter will be thick). Put into a greased muffin pan (or use paper muffin cups to line the muffin pan) or into a large, greased, cast-iron skillet. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This week Paul was off work. We wanted to try and combine fun with working on home projects. We had planned to go to the Botanical Gardens last Tuesday. Julie and I were out shopping for our picnic foods and running other errands. As we went from place to place, the unpredictable Chicago weather got colder and colder - by 15 degrees! Our warm, sunny picnic and outing suddenly seemed like a chilly undertaking.
We decided to make a back-up plan: We would have our picnic indoors, and then go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which has many indoor exhibits. So we would be outside in small increments. Before we left, we set out our picnic on the dining room table and had our lunch. It was a lot of fun.
The zoo outing was enjoyable for all, including Tyler, who was most interested in the fish! We went to the gardens on Friday, where the weather had warmed up so much, no jackets were required!
P.S. Yes, that is a Christmas tablecloth! The others were in the wash, and I needed something to throw on the table quickly!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Here's what I mean:
For years, I wandered through my life with doubts about God. I became a true believer in 2002 and started going to a non-denominational church, and then in 2005 joyfully returned to the Catholic Church in which I was raised. In 2006, for the first time, I went to the entire Triduum (the Masses held from Holy Thursday through Easter). This to me was just the most wonderful way to anticipate and celebrate Christ's Resurrection.
This year, during the days before the Triduum Masses, I was getting the house ready for company on Easter Sunday. With the help of the whole family, we did a thorough house cleaning. We were all so pleased with the results. As I worked, I tried not only to think about welcoming company, but also to be welcoming Christ upon His Resurrection. It was very satisfying to think of preparing not only for company, but to prepare in all ways for Christ: the cleaning, the shopping, the prayers, practicing choir music, and the Masses.
Among other things, we:
1. Shampooed the hall carpet runner, and Robert's carpet.
2. Cleaned Robert's room (a major undertaking).
3. Washed the curtains and swags in the parlor and sitting room.
4. Dusted thoroughly, including running the Swiffer around the ceiling for any cobwebs.
5. Managed to find a place for everything, and put everything in its place (although there were a couple of bags of papers that were not really put away properly, rather shoved in the storage compartment under our Captain's bed!)
6. Vacuumed, mopped.
7. Put out decorations, such as bunny candle holders with pastel tapers, an Easter Lily plant, and some baskets.
This combination of faith preparation as well as home preparation made for an entirely beautiful Easter Day. The entire house was clean, rather than cordoning off one room with massive piles of junk thrown into it, hidden from the eyes of guests. I felt so peaceful that even in the evening, after the company had left and we had our own quiet family dinner, I was not stressed as I cooked and served. It all just felt right!
Alleluia, He is Risen!