Seven Quick Takes, Friday, October 3

1. This week has been a fun week for Feast days. We had the Feast of the Archangels on Monday, St. Thérèse of Liseiux Wednesday in the new calendar and today in the old, the Guardian Angels yesterday, and St. Francis of Assisi tomorrow. We have not really done much to celebrate the specifically besides talking about the saints to the kids. I am making some French Onion soup tomorrow in honor of St. Thérèse. Maybe on Saturday we should go begging for food? Or maybe we should just give some food to the poor, hmmmm…

2. St. Francis will always be extra special for us, because devotion to him was pretty much ingrained after four years at Franciscan University and a school sponsored trip to Assisi when we were studying abroad. I also grew up watching the 70s version of his life, Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  Though there are two other movies of his life that are reportedly the best and worst movies about St. Francis which we will be watching in a couple of months. Besides movies though, St. Francis is pretty cool.

Blanched apples +Victorio Strainer = Apple Sauce + Peels

3. I am sure everyone is just dying to know how our apples canning went. Well, we made 19 quarts of sauce, canning 18.5 of them, and 5 half pints of jelly. The sauce canning went well. However, the jelly ended up needing pectin to be added. I suppose blanched and food milled apple peals and cores do not retain much natural pectin? The jelly is pretty delicious, but I am not sure I want to use it for PB&J. We will have to find some sort of delicacy to use it on. 

If we get snowed in this winter, we will at least have fruit.

4. We were pretty much homebodies this week. After a whole day of the applesauce canning last Saturday, we were pretty tuckered out on Sunday (we thankfully did not witness any cars hitting bicycles on the way to church this time…) and it just kind of rolled into Monday. M had a bad case of laryngitis and had to whisper all day on Tuesday. Then it rained all day Wednesday and Thursday, but we managed a library run today. Restocking on the library books is always nice to do, especially because the kids have a new stack of books to peruse. In fact, because of these books naptime has been especially quiet!

5. G (5) called me into her quiet time to tell me how delighted she was with the collection of fairy tales I had picked out. “It has lots of princesses in it! It even has Rapunzel, but I don’t like this version because the evil witch cuts off all of her hair!” Now, I am pretty sure she did not read the story, but gathered this from pictures. Part of our early home schooling has been a complete immersion into fairy tales and nursery rhymes, so I usually find a different illustrators set of fairy tales to bring home from the library. One of the books I rejected today, however, had the story of Noah’s Ark as a folk tale…while I may not think we need to interpret the incident literally, I am not going to teach it to my kids outside of Scripture as a folk tale…

6. A friend brought up to me that she found my old post about roasting my first blue hubbard, so I thought I would go ahead and link it again for newer readers or people who just want to make their own pumpkin purée. And by the way, the kitchen featured in the photo is that of T and his wife F. We rented from them our first year in St. Paul.

Someone had been trying to wear all pink everyday…

7. And finally I leave you with pictures of our giant carrot. It was peaking out of the ground, just asking to be harvested. We have some other carrots growing still, but they all did not do this well, mostly because our cucumber plant took over that part of the garden. This next week I am going to make an attempt at sauerkraut with our cabbages and pickles with our cucumbers.


Once again, I am linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary!

My Own Recipe: Meatless Spinach and Swiss Quiche

We like quiche. We like quiche a lot. We like quiche so much that I have been slowly developing an amazing recipe. I am not sure that I should stop now and say, “Hey guys, it’s done,” because you never know when more brilliant quiche making inspiration will hit. But I am going to give what I have done so far.

I first want to make a note about crust. This is the crust recipe that I have been using, and it has been super flaky every time I have made it:

Double Crust (for one quiche, I do a half recipe)
2 2/3 c. flour
1 tspn salt
1 c. shortening
7-8 TB cold water

I have been doing it the old fashioned way, with a pastry blender. It is a pretty neat tool. Once it is all crumbly, I add the water until it holds together. Then I usually chill it awhile.

After putting the question out to my Facebook friends, I discovered that you can also do crust in a food processor with butter. I am going to do this next time, because butter is far superior to vegetable shortening. Now, over at Smitten Kitchen, they are saying to not us a pastry blender and to use all butter, but you can check out that recipe yourself.

Now, you did not come here to read about crust making, you came here to get my recipe for amazing meatless (good for Fridays!) spinach quiche.

I don’t think I have ever made a quiche that I did not like. Even my epic failure of a quiche back when I took the time to pre-bake the crusts that I did not let cool long enough and the cheese melted to one side of the quiche and the filling did not rise, was still delicious. I do not think you can really go wrong combining pie crust, egg, cheese, and onion with any other add ins. This is one of my “go to” Friday dinners that I can guarantee that the kids will eat. Plus, when I make it with spinach, no one even realizes that they are eating vegetables!

I have learned a few things from my mother about making quiche, which for some reason I refused to eat her quiche as a child. I was very suspicious of Swiss then, and now I will only eat it if it has enough salt in the dish. I learned from my mom, that the crust is only as beautiful as the effort you put into it.
I watched her this summer carefully roll out a perfectly round crust, place it in the dish and trim it just so to make the edges so beautiful. She also taught me to use egg whites left in the egg shells to line the crust, to protect it. We rub it in with our fingers and save the pastry brush. Finally, she showed me that spinach, which is so hard to spread, clumped and cooked, can be easily spread if you mix it into the egg.

My own little touch to my quiche making was to precook my onions (and mushrooms when I use them) and then cook off a splash of dry vermouth or white wine. I think that this is probably the key to my amazing quiche. Seriously.

Also, this time, I did not have enough Swiss, so I threw in some Mozzerella as well, and we liked it better than ever. So, without further ado, my recipe:

Spinach and Swiss Quiche

-1 onion, finely chopped
-(optional: 4 oz. chopped mushrooms- I have done it both ways and both are super good–sometimes I skip the spinach and do more mushrooms)
-1 TB butter
-splash of dry vermouth or white wine
-8 oz. cooked chopped spinach (I started with frozen)
-1 c. shredded swiss cheese
-1/2 c. shredded mozzerella
-4 eggs
-1 c. cream (or milk)
-1/2 tspn salt
-1/4 tspn pepper
-nutmeg for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Have ready in a 9-10 inch pie pan, your crust of choice. Use the whites from the shell of your eggs to coat the inside of the crust. Cook, drain, and cool the spinach (squeezing it out with your hands works well here). Melt butter in frying pan, and add the onions. After 3 minutes or so, (if using) add the mushrooms. Cook them both until a soft and a light brown. Add in splash of vermouth or wine, and then cook off the liquid. In a bowl or quart liquid measure, whip together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Add the spinach to the mixture and stir.

Spread half of the mushrooms and onions into the prepared crust. Sprinkle evenly in half of both cheeses. Pour over the layers half of the egg and spinach mixture. Layer the rest of the onions, cheese, and egg mixture. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top.

Cook the quiche at 425°F for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 300°F and cook 30-45 minutes more (until it is done). A knife should come out clean near the center for what I consider perfect doneness. Let the quiche cool for 10 minutes before serving.


I would love to hear if anyone tries it, and how it turns out for you! And any other thoughts on crusts or other amazing fillings!

Recipe: Really Thick Greek Yogurt in a Crockpot

I have been making this yogurt since we lived in Buffalo, NY. I think I started when G was one, so maybe four years now. It saves money and is so much fresher tasting then store bought yogurt! After many different ways of straining and flavoring I have finally perfected my yogurt recipe/process. It is really about timing and waiting.
I start off around 4 pm with 8 cups of whole milk in my 6 quart crockpot slow cooker. I turn it on low and set a timer for two and a half hours. When the timer goes off, I simply turn off (and unplug for good measure) the crockpot, take my starter of a 6 oz plain Fage Greek yogurt out of the refrigerator, and set the timer for three more hours.

At 9:30 pm, I put the starter yogurt in a two cup measure and ladle a few scoops of warm milk in with the yogurt. After I “introduce” those live and active cultures to the milk and pour them all into the crockpot and wrap the whole thing up in two super warm blankets and put it in a cozy warm corner of the kitchen counter.

In the morning (around 7:30-8:30 am), I unwrap the crockpot, lay about 5 paper towels on top of the nice brand new yogurt, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator for the next 24 hours.

The next morning, I remove all the excess liquid that has been soaked into the paper towels and voila: 2 quarts of think, creamy, Greek yogurt.

Thick Greek Yogurt:
8 cups whole milk
6 oz. plain store bought Greek yogurt

-Put milk in Crockpot on low for 2.5 hours. SET A TIMER!
-When 2.5 hours are over turn Crockpot off, take starter out of refrigerator, and set another timer for 3 hours.

-When three hours are over, mix starter and 1 cup of hot milk from Crockpot together and stir it all into Crockpot of milk. Wrap in lots of blankets and keep it away from drafts. Let it sit overnight.
-In morning place about 5 paper towels on top of yogurt covering the whole surface and put in refrigerator.
-In 24 hours, remove paper towels and put yogurt in storage containers.

I like to serve the yogurt with a teaspoon of homemade jam. We also serve it with falafel or fajitas as a substitute for sour cream. 🙂

Notes: Some Facebook commenters have suggested to ways of thickening the yogurt without “straining”.
1) Add two tablespoons of gelatin in with the starter.
2) Adding 1/3 c. dry milk powder at the beginning.

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, May 23

1. When most people write their Seven Quick Takes, they include in the title a few details of what they discuss. I think that I like it a little better this way. It is like opening a present. You know you are getting to read something interesting and fun, but you don’t know what it is until you click the link, right? I was really bummed that I did not get to writing these last week, especially after so many of my dear friends and readers expressed how much they like to read them, but I literally had no time to sit down and even write very quick takes. So, I hope by starting to write them on Thursday, I can get them up for everyone by Friday. 🙂

2. Last Friday we had M’s 400 level (how do you write that out?) philosophy students over for a dinner of my mom’s spinach lasagna made with the sauce that I had cooked to perfection. The students consisted of one woman who hopes to be a cloistered Carmelite nun after college, two lay philosophy students, and eight seminarians finishing out college seminary. It was a very pleasant dinner, and G and L managed to find two willing seminarians to play with them out in the backyard for most of the evening. They told us at the end of the night how much they had enjoyed playing with the girls, which is great. They left us with enough lasagna for another dinner for us, but managed to eat all of the salad, which cracks me up, because I know a few teenage male cousins who will not touch salad.

3. On last Thursday I spent the evening baking 235 cookies:

Here we only have 229, since a few had to be sampled. Don’t ask who ate 2… 😉

I bake these for M’s last day of classes every year, mostly to have a reputation of generosity towards his students and to be known for my cookies. His medieval philosophy class knew of these particular cookies as the “Anselmian” cookies, that is those-cookies-of-which-no-greater-can-be-thought. They were a hit in the classes, and I managed to get the rest of them eaten by the seniors who came over on Friday. Please pray for M’s sanity this next week as he grades 114 papers…

4. Remember the four baby bunnies I told about in our garden a few weeks ago? Well, there is now a sole baby bunny and her (G and L insist on calling the baby a she) mother living under our shed. The mother has always lived there. I do wonder what happened to the other three, especially since two took off the moment we discovered the garden. I bet the survival rate of baby bunnies in the wild is not that high. We re-rabbit proofed our garden and since then have only seen the bunnies in our yard. The girls and I have daily viewings of little Cottontail from the breakfast nook windows:

“Now my dear,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “You may go into the fields or
down the lane, but don’t go into Dr. Spencer’s garden:
Your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. Spencer.” 

 (Actually, the only rabbit I ever cooked was flambéd.)

5. The girls have been pretty crazy about dandelions, and I have mixed feelings about our whole backyard turning into a dandelion field with absolutely no grass. I can’t imagine that that is very pleasant for little feet to play on. I am digging up the few out of our front yard, but we are leaving the back for now. On a recent walk, they found a jackpot of dandelions in a neighbor’s yard and now we have this on our table:

Only a mom would allow this many on her kitchen table…

6. This morning, while the children were waiting for me to get my act together (I was doing things like vacuuming…) to read to them about flowers (our “unit study” preschool science), they, of their own initiative, built there very first blanket and kitchen chair fort.

For some reason it makes me really happy to see them doing things kids do. F is not really happy about it since she cannot seem to squeeze her toddler belly past the chairs. I am leaving it up for them during quiet time.

7. Another thing I finally did this morning was get out the summer clothes for F. The poor kid has been stuck in long sleeves during this nice warm week (which also means she did not get sunburned like her sisters did…woops). As I went through them I became extremely nostalgic for toddler G; I think I will always associate the 18 month girl clothes with G’s toddler hood.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, whatever you choose to grill… 🙂

Linking up with Jen and her Conversion Diary.

How To Almost Burn a House Down and Make Amazing Sauce: One Hot Mess

Last week I did something that my husband has always been afraid of doing. We are usually pretty good about checking every appliance in the house before we leave. I guess I just really need him to help me keep it all together these days.

I was so proud of myself for: getting the big kids snacked, pottied, socked, and shoed after nap (by myself), cutting, bowling, and covering the pineapple and putting it in the car, making a huge pot of tomato sauce to be used for a dinner later in the week and frozen for later dates, and waking F from nap to whisk her to the car and get to the party on time. We were all happy, the kids and I, jamming to our favorite celtic jams, during rush hour traffic, and we were almost to our friends house when I remembered:

I had left the burner on.

I had every intention of turning it off as I was leaving the house. I really did. That was one of the last things on my mental to do list: get F up, change her diaper, turn off the burner, lock up the house, get in the car… woops. I had forgotten it. We were 20 minutes from home in traffic. Sorry kids, we are going to be soooo late for this party. I was looking at at least 40 more minutes before we got to the dinnertime party, and I was stressed. Because I had just left 12 cups of sauce simmering at home. By the time I got home it would have been simmering for well over an hour. We had to go back, there was no choice. Plus, the gas tank was so close to empty.

We drove back to the house in tense silence, well I was tense and silent and anxious and annoyed at myself. The kids switched between laughing and joking with each other and peppering me with questions about whether or not the house was on fire. And then they suggested we pray for the house and the sauce, which was really sweet, and the right thing to do. So, we said some prayers. Traffic was slow. I was still worried.

We finally made it home, and I ran into the house. A rich smell of delicious sauce hit my nose as I walked in back door. I saw that the burner was indeed still on, but only felt a thin layer of burnt at the bottom as I stirred the sauce. It was too hot to taste, so I turned off the sauce and headed back to the party, taking the time to fill the tank on the way. The party was fun. The kids were dirty from the sandbox.

And after we got them bathed and into bed, we were left with this one hot mess:

Ugh… wish I had bought that Norwex scrubber…

As it turns out, the sauce ended up really tasty and I still have some in my freezer. I think I will simmer my sauce for longer amounts of time, but with me at home…

This is not the sauce in the freezer, but in the refrigerator waiting to be put in the freezer…
 And I will be linking up super late to last week’s link up of One Hot Mess hosted by Blythe of The Fike Life:

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, May 2

1. I spent most of Monday in a little panic about silverfish bugs in our basement. I found a couple in our basement school cupboard, and then discovered that they nest in and eat paper and cardboard. I imagined a whole colony of them just destroying everything in the cupboard and moving onto the rest of the basement. I really do not like bugs in my house. I really don’t. Especially creepy looking ones that destroy things. So, I called M and asked him to spray the whole basement for bugs, because who knows what else might have come out since it stopped being freezing cold in the world. Do they have brown recluse spiders in Minnesota? They have them in Missouri and I always was afraid of being bit by one of those. I also discovered that bugs don’t like the smell of cedar. We have a large cedar closet that came with the house in the basement, which I am super thankful for since I am storing things in there like my wedding dress.

2. The kids have their new swing set. M and our friend, T, built it all last Saturday, just in time for it to rain from Saturday night through Wednesday afternoon. I managed to get a picture of it finally this morning. The big girls have been going out and playing in the cold between rain showers. F has been begging to go outside all week, but I really did not feel up for going outside and standing in the cold while helping F slide down the slide. Maybe it will be sunny this weekend. We could all go for that around here.

3. F (18 months) is thinking about potty training already. The other day, G (5) announced that she had to use the bathroom. Whenever she does this, L (3) screams, “No, I have to go potty!” They then race to the bathroom. F, observing them, pulled up her shirt saying, “I po-yee. Pee.” And then waddles after them. Maybe we will go for it this summer. No pants in the backyard. Why not?

4. We decided to night wean F last week. It was a breeze. This kid is so chill most of the time. I kind of wish all babies could be just like her. I still nurse her before bed, but if she wakes up M goes to her with water and tells her to go back to sleep. The first night, he did this three times. The second night once, and now, for now, she is sleeping all night without waking. That is much better that her sisters who wake up multiple times to go to the bathroom, get a drink, fuss about whatever, monsters… How do you parent night wean 5 and 3 year olds?

5. I ended up making the thickest Greek yogurt the other day. You see, I did it overnight in the crockpot on Monday night. (8 cups whole milk for 2.5 hours on low, cool for 3 hours, add 6 oz plain yogurt starter and wrap in blankets overnight). I usually “strain” the yogurt by putting a bunch of paper towels on top to soak the excess liquid off for about an hour. Well, Tuesday, when we were hurrying to get me to the ER for my miscarriage “complications” I stuck it in the fridge with paper towels on top. Wednesday morning I remembered it and, voila, yogurt as thick as you could want!

6. I am guessing that wondering minds want to know about Tuesday. I would like to write a longer post devoted to my experience of miscarriage, but a few initial thoughts are that passing a 6 week old baby at 8 weeks is like a less strenuous labor. But I feel a lot now like I did after having each of the other babies. I lost a lot of blood, and wears one out. What makes it a little easier, but also sad, is that I can sleep all night, without infant care. It is not what I expected. And the baby had a sense of liturgical time, since he/she stopped growing on the Feast of St. Gemma (my confirmation saint), we found out about the death on Good Friday, I started bleeding on Divine Mercy Sunday, and the baby passed on the (new) Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna (who we have started a devotion to since F was born…her biography by Sigrid Undset is amazing).

7. And, I was not going to buy Jen’s new book, since I do not normally randomly buy books (a certain husband of mine would buy a new book everyday if he could).
I was thinking library. But as a treat, to help with recovery, I ordered it on Wednesday, plus a new Von Balthasar for M. It is scheduled to arrive next Tuesday. I previewed the first chapters on Amazon, which let me since I purchased the hardcover. I am eager to read the rest. Jen has a beautiful and interesting way of explaining her childhood in the first couple of chapters. Who knows, maybe I will have time to enter a contest.

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes, April 11

1. We have a walking one year old! F at 17 months has been our latest walker so far. She is a bit of a perfectionist, I think, and did not want to commit to walking until she was sure she could do it completely. She is now walking about 95% of the time, a huge difference from about 2% of the time. It is pretty cute to see her stand up, get set to waddle, and walk with her elbows at her side and her hands sticking out to each side with her fingers spread wide. It does make life a little more complicated since she wants to spend every second she is awake “‘side” in the backyard waddling around after her sisters. When she is not out with them, she stands on the kitchen nook bench and watches longingly. Occassionally, while watching she will get down and go to the door demanding, “Socks! Shoes! ‘Side!” And becomes angry when she is refused.

2. Last night F woke up around 1:30am with an awful cough, wheezy breath, and a hot little body.  I nursed her and put her back to bed only for her to wake up again 30 minutes later. The poor girl was so sad and could not even say words without talking. We decided to give her some pain relief and I finally got her comfortable after nursing again. She slept until 8am, but was still coughing ans wheezing, so we skipped gym co-op and went up to the doctor instead. I am maybe a little over cautious when it comes to breathing issues, but we do have a family history of asthma on both sides, and L has already had episodes. By the time we saw the doctor she was acting a lot better and did not cough for him once. He said it would be okay to nebulize her until the wheezing goes away even though her lungs sounded clear. I do wonder if maybe she is developing seasonal allergies, and they were triggered by the crunchy leaf bath she received from L in the backyard yesterday.

3. To encourage the big girls in our outing to the doctor this morning, I promised them fried cheese curds from Culvers, if they were good. There is a Culvers just past the highway we take home from the doctor, and since we realized that they have this delectable wonder of a food, it has always been in the back of my mind. We might have to make it a tradition. First of all, they are meatless, so they are okay on Friday. Second, they are cheese not potato, so healthier because of protein. I can’t believe I never stopped there while pregnant with F. I just always went to Burger King across the way for fries and a milkshake. Now it is Culvers all the way. Thirdly, a large is just the right size for the girls and I to split, and once they cool a little bit they squeak! I am going to try using my HSA card next time, because I am pretty sure the necessary stop at Culvers is a medical expense that counts towards our deductible. Just saying…

4. The best fried cheese curds we have ever had are not from Culvers or the State Fair, but from a family restaurant in Albert Lea, MN called The Trumbles. They have typical family restaurant fair and quality, but when we saw the cheese curds on the menu, we knew that they would be done to perfection. And they were. We have stopped there twice on our way home from St. Louis, but usually we just stop at a Culvers 30 minutes from Minnesota, because it makes a perfect second and only stop in the 8 1/2 hour drive. If we waited for Albert Lea, we would have to make three stops.

5. Today at lunch, L (3) told me her understanding of Hell and Purgatory:

L: “If you are just a little bit bad and a little bit good, when you die, you go to Purgatory for a time out, and then you go to Heaven. If you are really bad, when you die, you go to Hell and stay there forever!”
Me: “That’s right. Where did you learn that?”
L: “G told me!”
G (5 and in a matter of fact tone): “Daddy told me all about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory last summer.”

 6. For those of you not in Minnesota, I just want to let you know that, while we have snow on the ground in some places still, Wednesday was sunny with a high of 75! It was glorious. Next week does not promise to be as warm, but anything about 30 is okay with me! Above 40 is even better, and I dare not hope too much for 50s, since this is April in Minnesota after all. M is going to build a garden box this weekend, and we might get some things in the ground next week. And since F is finally walking and loves to run around the yard, I can spend a good amount of time gardening.

St. Gemma in her final resting place in the Sanctuary of St. Gemma in Lucca, Italy. M took this photo when we stopped in Lucca for a couple of hours.

7. Finally, I want to wish you all a happy Feast of St. Gemma Galgani. She is my Confirmation saint, and had a really intense life in sickness and in prayer. Here is an account of her last months of life during which she experienced the Passion on Good Friday with Jesus and passed away on Holy Saturday. To celebrate I made some hot cross buns, using this delicious recipe:

Leftover after breakfast.

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen’s Conversion Diary!

Thoughts for a Wednesday

I do not really have anything in particular to say, but I just need to do some writing. I have had a few deep thoughts in the past 36 hours, and even started a few posts in my head, but they are now all missing. It is funny how the daily care of a home, children, and husband can do that to you. I am also thinking about the mail box, because I heard the mailman come while I was getting the kids down for quiet time. I would check it, but yesterday a very excited three year old decided to check the mail and found it empty. I am going to save it for her.

I need to work on dinner a little bit this afternoon, because I have worked out a system of having the older two do a workout video with me on Wednesday afternoons while F is still napping. It has been working well, but that means dinner will need some prepping soon. We are having a mushroom, feta, and spinach quiche. I am pretty excited about it. I will let you know if it turns out as amazing as it sounds. The same three year old go very excited about the prospect of pie for dinner, when I answered inquiries into dinner’s contents. And speaking of food, I have some really yummy leak and potato soup sitting in jars in the refrigerator. I am going to resist it. Maybe we will eat it with lunch tomorrow. It was last night’s dinner with grilled cheese. Alright, enough about food.

We really need to get more planning into our gardening this year, but there is still snow covering our garden, plus where we plan on building a garden box. I really have no idea when planting is supposed to happen in Minnesota. Someone once told me that county’s have a publication that recommends when to plan what. Does anyone in Minnesota know where I can get my hands on some guidelines? That would be really nice. I actually just want a lesson in gardening or a great book to get me through the first summer.

It is supposed to snow tomorrow and Friday, so I think I am going to push back my outdoor Spring plans longer, and just do inside things. I have gotten pretty comfortable with our inside routine. Throwing outside into it all, just throws me off, especially for the non-walking 17 month old who wants to play. I am not going to let her scoot around the yard and ruin all of her pants. She will just have to learn to walk or stay inside and watch her big sisters play outside.

And now I have some pie crust to make.

Now We are Five

The big girls helped me make this sign with their awesome gluing skills.
I have been unable to blog for the past week or so besides my bimonthly post for Truth and Charity. We have been so busy here with leaky basements and birthdays, that I have not had an afternoon to sit down and write! We have discovered where the Spring thaw hits our basement, and where to move snow from next Winter so that it does not happen again. It was a very stressful 24 hours of moving snow and ice and trying to keep the carpet dry!
That was the beginning of the week, and then we had our double March birthdays at the end of the week. M had his on Friday, and he requested a very easy cake. I just had to make a white cake, whipped cream, and cut up some strawberries. It was very yummy, though I have not mastered the homemade whipped cream as well as I would like. I once whipped it too long and it became very buttery, and this time I am thinking maybe I did not do it long enough. I might need to have someone else show me their technique, since words in a cookbook are not doing it for me this time.

Then my biggest girl, G, turned 5 on Saturday. I am not sure five is an age to worry about, but maybe when she turns 16 we will all have to beware of the Ides of March. We have a fairly entertaining story of the beginning of my labor with her. I had false labor of four hours three separate times before actual labor started during the two weeks before her birth. When my first real labor contractions started it was about 5pm and we had some friends over helping prepare M’s birthday dinner. They were about 10 minutes apart and I was able to cook and socialize through them, so I did. No one had a clue that I was having more painful and closer contractions for three hours, during which we cooked dinner, ate it, did dishes, and then had the wonderful Wegmans cheesecake. Around 8pm, I realized that I could not cover it up any more and that I needed the apartment to ourselves. When a friends suggested we play a game, I announced that I was in labor, and they happily went on their way. G had the niceness to wait until the next day to be born, so that she and her father did not have to share a birthday. M already shares his birthday with his sister who was born (five weeks early) the day he turned three.

Now we have a very emotional five year old living under our roof. She was so wound up all weekend, her emotions swinging from extremely excited to very upset, depending on what she was thinking. I think she enjoyed herself, but it is a good thing birthdays only come once a year. Oh, my little G. I think five years must be a little awkward, in that it is not quite the age of a big girl, but also no longer a toddler. She is a preschooler, learning kindergarten things, and when she gets to kindergarten, she will be ready for a lot of first grade things. She is a caring big sister, but also very sensitive about her things. She is full of questions and ideas, and eager for affirmation. She does best when she has guidelines for her activities, but is also given room to imagine. I feel like I did not fully appreciate her babyhood, because it was my first time, and am trying hard to appreciate her at every new age now, even though it is my first time. I just wish I had more patience with her, but I that means I need to be working on letting go of more of my time to give to her. I hope her year of five is full of learning and growing in virtue.

Happy Birthday to M and G!

Lenten Lentil Soup

Our traditional Ash Wednesday and Good Friday dinner is Lentil Soup. The recipe is based off my mother’s lentil soup recipe, but based is a very loose term here. You see, my dad always declare, “It tastes different this time!”

Here is my adaption:

I had every intention of taking a nice photograph of a untouched bowl instead of these dregs…  

Lentil Soup
(serves 6ish)

In a soup pot melt:

-1 TB of butter

Saute until tender:

-2 sliced carrots
-1 small onion

Add and cook for 1 minute:

-1 clove minced garlic


-6 cups of water
-2 tspn of Vegetable boullion 
(or just use Vegetable stock)
-1/2 lb of rinsed lentils
-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (or fresh equivalent)
-1 1/2 tspns of salt
-dash of pepper
-1/2 tspn dried oregano
-2 TB dry parsley

Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender.
Check seasonings and add:

-2 TB sherry 

Serve over  shredded swiss cheese.