Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes, Volume 2

I missed Recipe Swap Thursday (again); but now that it's Friday I thought I'd post a few little tidbits today. Here goes:
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1. There is still one more name left for Fallible Blogma's Support a Catholic Speaker Month: Dave Durand. Hurry on over and grab it while you still can! Post a few paragraphs about him and link back to Fallible Blogma. Soon all the names will have links to their respective posts; for now you can check the url's assigned to them and read what bloggers have written. I've already read a few; I wish I had time to read them all!

2. Back in May I posted this recipe for allergy-free cake that I use for Moe. Recently we celebrated his ninth birthday, and he wanted a football-themed party. I tripled the recipe (just like I did with the cross cake), and I got a larger football shape,

and a smaller helmet.

For the football I used a Pampered Chef oval baker, and a round cake pan for the helmet. Easy-peasy!

3. When I was preparing to make Moe's birthday cake, I finally broke down and bought a cake decorating kit, with disposable bags and tips. I should have done that a long time ago! It makes writing and drawing on cakes MUCH easier than when you buy the individual tubes of decorating icing. I need more practice, but slowly I'm getting better. (Although, when I was viewing the pictures we took during the party, I noticed a couple of spots I missed:

Oh well, nobody's perfect.)

4. So far, the Swine Flu has stayed away from our house, thank the Good Lord! Yesterday Curly woke up with stomach issues and in the afternoon he had a fever. When I called the doctor for an appointment, they told me they would give him a mask to wear. Oh, boy, I thought, here we go. Well, I took him to the doctor today, and they didn't give him a mask; the verdict was it was probably a stomach virus. He's feeling much better now. WHEW!! And we thought he was going to miss Halloween.

5. Speaking of Halloween, I'm curious to know whether or not you celebrate it, and if so, how? If not, do you have an alternative? We have always celebrated Halloween by dressing up the kids, carving pumpkins, and going trick-or-treating. The last few years our kids have chosen the creepiest, freakiest costumes they can find and this year is no exception. Our neighborhood is somewhat quiet, and we've never had many trick-or-treaters come to our house. When we're out and about we don't see too many other people. (All the neighbors are quite generous with the treats, though!) Last year, we went with friends to another part of town where people decorate their houses to the hilt, and sit out on their porches (in coustume) and hand out candy. There were lots and lots of ghosts and goblins milling about, and we had a blast. Our feeling about Halloween is that it's good harmless fun. I know there are many who disagree, but as long as we keep our children grounded in the faith, and make sure we teach them that ghosts and goblins are imaginary, and it's NOT ok to carry around REAL bloody axes and knives, we'll keep on trick-or-treating.

6. With Halloween comes the carving of the pumpkins, and we always wait until the last minute because frankly, I'm not a big fan of getting my hands in all that goop. Plus my jack-o-lanterns don't look all that great. I will say that last year we had fun carving these:

Unfortunately, our dog ate one of the stars off of the elephant. Figures. I wonder if we had made an Obama O, would she have eaten that?

7. Don't forget All Saints Day on Sunday and All Souls Day on Monday! The kids' school is having an All Saints Day parade Monday. Curly is dressing up as St. Isidore of Seville (green robe left over from when they dressed up as shepherds for a Christmas pageant), and Moe will be St. Francis (brown robe from the other shepherd costume.) Again, easy-peasy.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pro-life Rosary: Luminous Mysteries

This past week, I had the privilege of participating in two one-hour vigils for 40 Days for Life outside a Planned Parenthood clinic about an hour's drive from where I live. (Praise God that the closest abortion facility is 45 minutes away!) My friends and I discovered that to pray all four sets of mysteries of the Rosary--Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous--it takes just about exactly one hour. We use Father Frank Pavone's pro-life meditations. Last week I posted the reflections on the Joyful Mysteries; today I'll share the Luminous ones:


1. Christ is Baptized in the Jordan

When Jesus is baptized, the Father's voice is heard: "This is my beloved Son." All are called to become adopted sons and daughters of God through baptism. We pray that children in the womb may be protected, so that they may be born and welcomed into the Christian community by baptism.

2. Christ is made known at the Wedding of Cana

Jesus revealed His glory by the miracle at Cana. The new couple was blessed not only with wine, but with faith in Christ. Let us pray for strong marriages, rooted in the Lord, and open to the gift on new life.

3. Christ proclaims the Kingdom and Calls All to Conversion

"Repent and believe the Good News." Let us pray that these first wods of Jesus' public ministry may be heard by all who have committed abortion. May they know that the Lord calls them to conversion, and may they experience life-giving repentance.

4. the Transfiguration

Christ is transformed on the mountain, and the kisciples see His glory. May the eyes of all people be transformed, that they may see each and every human life as a reflection of the glory of God Himself.

5. Jesus gives us the Eucharist

"This is My Body, given up for you." The Eucharist teaches us how to live and how to love. Let us pray that parents who sacrifice the babies for the sake of themselves may learn instead to put themselves aside for the sake of their babies.

Please continue to pray for the unborn!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pro-Life Rosary: Joyful Mysteries--and Another Marian Feast Day! Yay!

It's Columbus Day, and no one in our house is going to school or work today. I have a long list of tasks on my mental to-do list (including figuring out how to celebrate Moe's ninth birthday, which is sneaking up on us too quickly), but I'm feeling inspired to blog at the moment.

This morning as I was praying the Rosary, I decided to dig up my copies of the Pro-Life mysteries that are posted on Priests for Life's web site. I began to think to myself, October is considered the Month of the Holy Rosary (we just celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7), and since we're in the middle of the Fall 2009 40 Days for Life campaign, why not post those beautiful mysteries here? (And it was fun searching for pictures to go with each mystery!) Today I'm posting the Joyful Mysteries, and hopefully between now and the end of this month I'll post the Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous ones as well. These are great meditations for when we pray for an end to abortion:


The Annunciation

Mary is troubled by the angel's greeting, yet rejoices to do God's will. Let us pray that those who are troubled by their pregnancy may have the grace to trust in God's will.

The Visitation

John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother's womb. We pray that people may realize that abortion is not about children who "might" come into the world, but is about children who are already in the world, living and growing in the womb, and are scheduled to be killed.

The Nativity

God Himself was born as a child. The greatness of a person does not depend on size, for the newborn King is very small. Let us pray for an end to prejudice against the tiny babies threatened by abortion.

The Presentation

The Child is presented in the Temple because the Child belongs to God. Children are not the property of their parents, nor of the government. they--and we--belong to God himself.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

The boy Jesus was filled with wisdom, because He is God. Let us pray that all people may see the wisdom of His teachings about the dignity of life, and may understand that this teaching is not an opinion, but the truth.

I also learned this morning that today is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, considered one of the earliest devotions to the Blessed Mother. According to tradition, Our Lady, even before her assumption into Heaven, appeared to St. James while he was in Spain. She appeared by bi-location atop a jasper pillar, and handed him a statue of herself and asked him to build a chapel in her honor. You can read more about this devotion here and here. There's a recipe for a beautiful cake honoring Our Lady of the Pillar on Catholic Cuisine. (Today is also the Feast of St. Seraphin of Montegranaro, and you can find out more about him here.)

I think I put more links in this post than I ever have. I hope it isn't too many. Have a great Monday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

On my to-do list for today, I wrote "Blog." I was planning on submitting a post for Recipe Swap Thursday, partly because Therese from The Musings of a Mom is having a contest. Maybe I'll get that done before tonight's midnight deadline, but now I have a more pressing issue that I feel I must vent about.

Last April, I wrote this post about one of my personal heroes, Greg Mortenson. If you are familiar at all with his work, building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, you will agree that the Nobel Peace Prize would be a fitting honor for him. I will be honest in saying I really didn't pay much attention to who else was nominated for the 2009 prize; there were 205 nominees, and they say his odds of winning were 20 to 1 (Obama's were 14-1, supposedly. I don't know how people come up with those numbers; I understand there are actually people who place bets, like it's a horse race or something.) I have no doubt, too, that many of the other nominees, including a Chinese dissident and two organizations whose sole purpose is to clear land mines, are equally deserving. Imagine how stunned I was, and still am, at the news that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama. The reason? Apparently they gave it to him because he's supposedly trying to help world leaders communicate with each other better, and for the things he hopes to accomplish.

OK, quick side note. Blogger is giving me fits and it won't let me publish this post because supposedly I have some html code it doesn't like. Does anyone else ever have this problem? Sorry, on with the post.

So here's what the committee who awarded Mr. Obama the prize said: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation betwen peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

His "vision?" Since when do we hand out prizes for things people hope to accomplish? Do they give the Heisman Trophy to young men who hope to one day be good football players? Is the Pulitzer Prize given to school children who hope to grow up to be great writers someday? Heck, even the celebrities who win the Dancing With the Stars Mirror Ball trophy have to work pretty hard to get it. Sure, our President has some lofty ideas about the future of America and the world (I don't want to get into the politics right now about whether or not his ideas are actually "good," but let's pretend they are for the sake of argument); but what has he actually accomplished? Oh, I remember! First he decided to repeal the Mexico City Policy, which kept our tax dollars from paying for abortions overseas. Now we are funding child murder worldwide. Oh yes, he also made sure that we would be forced to pay for embryonic stem cell research. Now our you and I are funding the destruction of human beings at the earliest stages of development, supposedly so the living can have a better quality of life. (I guess nobody told Mr. Nobel Prize that embryonic stem cell treatment has already been proven to be useless.) Not to mention his "vision" of an America where any woman can get an abortion anywhere and any time she wants, and if she can't afford it, the rest of us would have to foot the bill. If the unborn children who have died since January 20 were on the committee, they certainly wouldn't give Obama an award for peace.

Barack Nobel Obama has a "vision of a world without nuclear weapons. OK, that's something we can all get behind, but how is he going to accomplish this? Umm, how about getting tough with rogue leaders who are threatening their neighbors (and us) and bragging about how tough they are while they're developing weapons of mass destruction? But I digress. This blog isn't about politics, and I know there might be people reading this who have different ideas about how our President should handle things, and not being an expert on foreign policy, I'll save that for the folks who are.

I'm not upset because Greg Mortenson didn't win. As I said before, there were many others who have done great things for the good of mankind. I'm disappointed because I expected the Nobel Prize Committee to choose someone who has actually done something good. (I heard his little speech today that he gave in the Rose Garden: he said he was surprised and humbled, he didn't feel he deserved it, that he would consider this a call to action--words you would expect from any Nobel Prize winner, especially one who hadn't actually done anything that would merit such a high honor. Forget about an honorary Doctorate from Notre Dame...)

So, Therese, if I don't get a chance to post a recipe, my apologies. I'd really love to win one of those prizes, and I hope I still have a small chance of winning if that doesn't get done. (If not I'll post it next week, it's a good one!)


Or Barack?

Who would you choose?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bleach in the Holy Water? Hmmm, That's an Idea

Before I get to the main topic of this post, I want to wish everyone a blessed Feast of St. Francis of Assisi! With all of the little critters Moe has collected and studied these last several months (two baby snakes, two crayfish, at least two toads, one frog, at least one lizard, and countless spiders and bugs), plus the neighborhood cats that like to frequent our yard, the squirrels who are so common in our neighborhood that my husband calls them bushy-tailed rats, and one crazy yellow Lab who eats anything and everything (the other day she threw up a small pile of pebbles) and has lately enjoyed chasing the cats and squirrels around so much she almost doesn't need us to take her for walks anymore, we might as well adopt St. Francis as our family patron! Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the ducks and geese, and even the great blue heron we can often see on the little lake we are blessed to have right by our back door.

Today is also Respect Life Sunday. Please take a few minutes today to pray for an end to abortion! Many cities around the United States and Canada are conducting a Life Chain for the unborn today--a peaceful, prayerful vigil to publicly stand up for life. To find a Life Chain near you, click here. I'm going to mine; my kids were invited to a friend's birthday party today, and given the choice between standing on the street for two hours and the party, you can guess which they picked! Next year... I'm also hoping that we'll all be on the National Mall together come January 22 for the March for Life. Curly came with me this past year (here's the blog post I wrote shortly afterward).

Now to the meat of this post: Every Sunday, our pastor publishes a letter to the parish in the Sunday bulletin. About a month ago, he wrote this letter addressing everyone's concerns regarding the swine flu. It gave me a chuckle, and I thought I'd share it with you, or at least most of it:

Dear Good People of Our Parish,

So many questions, so little time! There has been an awful lot of press lately about the coming flu season, and it seems to have a lot of people in a panic. Everyone, please take a deep breath, and let's think this through.

First, for all who have requested that I suspend the practice of receiving Communion on the tongue, I can only imagine the reaction. Such an instruction would require a directive from the Bishop that we would then hope to follow. We use hand sanitizer before Mass and before distributing Communion (and after!), but that doesn't fix the problem of people who lick our hands. If you are very concerned for medical reasons maybe abstinence is the answer.

Some have requested that we stop serving Communion under both forms. Considering that we only practice this form of Communion at two Masses for Sunday--and that it is totally optional--if you do not wish to receive the Precious Blood, simply don't.

Others have asked that I put chlorox in the holy water fonts. Please give me your names and bank account information so I can just forward it to all the people whose clothing gets little white spots on the cest and shoulders (just kidding!). Again, if you're worried, just don't use the holy water when entering/leaving church. It is not required.

Finally, for those who havfe asked that we omit the sign of peace. Again, completely optional. Some say that it makes tham look bad when they refuse to give a sign of peace so we should do away with it entirely. Well, I've been in the pews plenty in my life, and have often encountered people who do not want to shake hands with others. It isn't uncommon. But then there are those who do not even want to acknowledge the existence ot others. There is a difference. A smile and a warm greeting can go a lot further than a recoiling scowl, and a smile can be a great sign of peace between people. Who knows, maybe as a sign of peace you could offer your neighbor a little Purell or a sanitary cloth, or a flu sot coupon?

I think moderation in all things and good, common sense is what we need the most to get through flu season.

God Bless You,

Father R.

Have a great week! Don't forget the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary coming up this Wednesday, October 7. I have learned not to make promises about what I plan to post next, but I will tell you that tomorrow's Religious Education class will focus on the Rosary (with a little about St. Francis, too), very timely, don't you think? Maybe I'll come away from tomorrow's class with something to write about; if not, I've got a few things up my sleeve.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recipe Swap Thursday: Zucchini-Honey-Carrot Bread

Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, and I can hardly believe it's October already! Now that summer is over and zucchini is pretty much out of season by now, I'd better hurry up and post this recipe that I promised way back in May.

This is another recipe I've adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Reading my blog you would think that was the only source I get recipes from, but it really isn't, I promise! In the book the recipe makes two loaves; I usually halve it to make one. That's usually enough for us, because it's very sweet, almost like a dessert. Here's the halved version, and then I'll explain how I adapt it to make it safe for Moe the Allergy Boy.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sometimes I use half white and half whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans*
1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small or 1/2 large zucchini)
1 large egg, beaten**
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup + 2 T honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well. Combine zucchini and remaining 5 ingredients, stirring well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a greased and floured loaf pan Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. (It's very important to wait until the loaf is somewhat cool before taking it out of the pan; that's the reason I was unable to take a photo of a whole loaf. I found a few intact slices after the loaf fell apart!!)

*instead of nuts, I use 1/2 cup grated carrot (hence the "carrot" part of the title). I combine the first FIVE ingredients together first, and add the carrot later with the zucchini and the other wet stuff.

**1 1/2 heaping teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer beaten with 2 T. water equal one egg. The bread will have a more flattened top (as opposed to a nice rounded one) but it is still delicious.

Go out to your local farmers' market and grab some zucchini while you still can (of course you can always get it at the grocery store year-round, although I can't guarantee that it will taste nearly as good!) and have fun with this delicious snack cake, bread.
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