Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes: A follow Up.

1. Remember hubby's promotion (mentioned last week) that I asked you all to pray for? IT WORKED! God is so good. It took 4 tries over the course of more than a year, but it finally 'prayed off'. ::proud wife:: So thank you to anyone who included us in your prayers! :)

2. Margaux Alexandria is 1. She had a decked out princess party. It was pretty awesome. We served strawberry cupcakes (recipe from my neighbor) and THESE chocolate ones. The name is a little scandalous. And ladies, so is the flavor. Oh yes.

3. Can anyone recommend a good camcorder? Nothing fancy. Actually, I prefer it not be fancy (nor expensive) because

...I have young kids that like to get into things. Need I say more?

4. Monday starts a new challenge. The Beachbody Challenge. I'll be doing Brazil Butt Lift (I know the same sounds kind of silly...but try it. Oh. My. Word.) This will be the first time I've taken on a regimented routine and meal plan since before I got pregnant with Margaux. So more than anything I could use some accountability.

5. Speaking of which, I'd like you all to jump over and read the article I wrote earlier today. It's called "Health and Fitness...from a Christian Perspective." Please, please do not look at healthy eating and exercise as a luxury. It is so much more than that.

6. I read this book with the kids earlier this week. SO. CUTE! It's called "Little One Step" and is about a little duckling who just gets so overwhelmed with the task at hand. He wants to throw in the towel, but then his big brother reminds him to take "one step" at a time. I think every child (and adult) should have this book on their shelf.

7. It's laundry soap day. I like to make a huge batch of laundry soap about twice per year. Saves a lot of time and money!

Health and Fitness...from a Christian Perspective.

For moms, whether working or staying at home, taking care of our bodies tends to take a backseat to, well, everything else that we are responsible for. I'll admit to struggling with guilt. Budgets are who am I to spend extra money on healthier foods? I should be doing everything I can to stay frugal in every facet of life, right? Because that's the godly, responsible thing to do... right?

Not necessarily.

Do you think it's a coincidence that God created nature's bounty to be so incredibly fruitful and nutritious? Do you think it's also a coincidence that when we choose to eat right and stay active, our bodies AND our minds work at maximum efficiency?

Me neither.

It is no coincidence that exercising releases "happy"hormones into our brains and our mood is improved. God created our bodies, and not one cell in our body, nor the way it functions, was created that way merely by happenstance or coincidence.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around this. I've always had a passion for healthy eating and exercise/physical activity. However I looked around and saw many of the moms around me saying that they just couldn't find the time or money for these if they were a frivolous luxury, like a pedicure. I started to question myself. Was I being vain? Selfish?

No. There is nothing holy or pious about being unhealthy.

1 Corinthians 10-31 says..
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God."

If we are to make manifest the glory of God in whatever we do, including what we eat and what we drink, should we not be treating our bodies, our TEMPLES, with respect and dignity?

What better way to do this than to live a lifestyle that allows our bodies to function in the way that God created them to? Healthy, natural, and pure. God gave it all to us.

Every time you make the decision to live well, you are bringing glory to God's creation.

So, the next time your 'mommy-guilt' starts to kick in when you're trying to find a way to fit those healthy ingredients into your family's meals or maybe even find a few minutes to yourself to exercise, stop yourself. Stop yourself and instead of feel guilt, feel GRATITUDE. Gratitude to God for providing us with the fruits of the Earth so that we may live healthy, full lives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1. Margaux is turning 1!! It's bittersweet.

2. Halloween. Do you buy your costumes or make them? Tight budget this year means that not only am I making the kid's costumes, I'm making them entirely out of things that I have around the house. In other words, I'm not going to buy any craft supplies or anything else at the store for the purpose of making costumes. I'm actually really surprised at what we were able to come up with with the help of some super crafty mom bloggers out there. You'll have to wait and see! :)

3. Zac (husband) is up for a promotion--Yay! He works for a company that makes it fairly difficult to get a promotion and he's already been turned down three times. We're praying that the fourth time is a charm. St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Workers, Pray for us!

4. Putting the hobbies up on a shelf for a while. Anyone who knows me, follows me on Facebook, or reads anything that I've ever written on this blog know that I have hobby ADD. From knitting to quilting to baking to...basically anything that involves making something, I want to do it. However I've come to a point in my life where I need some space, some clarity. So, I'm giving myself permission to say "I don't have time for that" and I'm putting most of my projects on the shelf. I have a couple of things that I'm knitting up as Christmas gifts, but that's about it. I've always been about being busy all the time and right now I feel like I just need a little space.

5. Time to close up the garden. This week marks the end of my growing season. If you really want to call it that. I had a wonderfully planned and laid out garden with about 20 different veggies in it. Most of them didn't grow. I got 1 tomato, a handful of green beans, 2 mini-cucumbers, and 3 teeny peppers. It was horrible. It was really dismal. So, I'm closing up shop and using the lasagna gardening method to prepare the soil for next year. I will not give up.

6. Prayer Life. Do you have one? Neither do I. This is one of the reasons I'm setting aside my hobbies. I need more quiet time to spend with God in prayer. I won't make any grand resolutions to pray a daily 15-decade rosary, but I will resolve to fix this void in my life because honestly, I'm a much nicer person when I've spent a little time with God. My husband agrees.

7. Pumpkin recipes. I don't have enough. What are yours?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supermom? Part 1

"How do you manage it all with kids?"

A friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail asking this question. She was specifically asking about time management, I think. How to fit in working, taking care of the children, and maybe even a workout. Or God willing, an uninterrupted shower.

I really had to stop and think for a minute. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Heck if I know. But hey, if you figure it out, let me know!" But I really wanted to be a little more helpful than that.

I think that as mothers, or just human beings in general, we're always comparing ourselves. Maybe comparing ourselves to the mom of 6 who somehow has retained her figure, or the mom blogger who appears to have it all together, or maybe we're just comparing ourselves to the ideal mother that we aspire to be; who we expect ourselves to be.

The truth is, I don't manage it all. I have piles of junk mail on my counters. I haven't dusted my living room in months. I'm always afraid I'm going to find something alive when I'm doing laundry because some of it has been sitting there for so long. I haven't exercised in weeks. The list goes on.

The other truth, which I sometimes have a hard time accepting, is that I CAN'T do it all. We are women of a completely different generation. We want it all. We want family fulfillment, we want a career, we want hobbies, we want unending stamina, we want to be able to do everything and we want to do it NOW. We redefine the word "overachiever." We are redefining motherhood. Which sounds really great and wonderful and inspiring. And it is. But at the same time, it isn't. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes it's belittling. Especially when you can't exactly fill those ever-growing shoes.

I think discernment is something that we really need to take a better look at. We were all given the graces, the patience, the skills, the talents to be the mothers and wives that God created us to be. So prayer is definitely needed. Not just prayer as in asking God to puh-LEASE give me the patience to deal with this temper tantrum without flipping a lid. I mean prayer as in, God, this is what I WANT to be doing right now, but is this really what I SHOULD be doing? Is this what you want me to be doing and is this how you want me to be doing it?

In my response to the friend who e-mailed me, I used the example of exercising. I love P90X. I mean, I really, really LOVE it. I love how I feel afterward even more than I love the results I see in the mirror. The problem is that the workouts are 90 minutes long. Ninety minutes is a long time to be exercising when you have unpredictable little people in the house. Many times I would get 20 minutes into a workout and the baby would start fussing.

This is the nature of having young children. I needed to accept that 20 minutes was all I was going to get that day. At first I found myself getting annoyed, angry, and frustrated. Not with the baby, just at the fact that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Eventually I learned that I needed to be okay with that 20 minutes (hey, it's better than nothing) and just try again tomorrow or the next day.

It was pretty clear where I needed to be at that point. My baby needed me, plain and simple. I'm not going to look back on my life and wish that I had exercised more, or baked better bread, or made all of our clothes from scratch, or any of that. I'm going to look back on my life and remember the gushy feelings of a sleepy baby in my arms, being relieved that my 4 year old still wants me when he gets a boo-boo and yet totally terrified that someday very soon that will all change. I'm going to remember the moment that I understood that there is something completely blissful and holy about kissing baby feet. I'm going to remember watching in awe as these personalities, so different, so pure, so fascinating, develop right before my eyes.

John Lennon was quoted saying, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

True that.

Better yet, life is what God throws in your face when you think you know better than he does.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homemade Gifts

I know, I know. It's only October. However, I feel that this is ultimately necessary. So, bear with me for a moment as we talk Christmas Gifts.

My husband’s immediate family includes 12 grandchildren ages 4 weeks to 5 years, along with his three siblings, their spouses, his parents, 2 living grandparents, and DH’s godparents. That’s 24-ish people just on my husband’s side. Fortunately my side of the family is a bit smaller. But trust me when I say we are all on very, very tight budgets. We've tossed around ideas over the past few years ranging from one Dollar Store gift per child, to Secret Santas or pulling numbers. None of those really sat well with any of us for various reasons. This year we’re focusing on homemade, from the heart gifts. Nothing fancy as most of us aren't as crafty as we dream of being and, unfortunately, craft supplies can become very expensive.

The important thing for us is to have the kids involved. We really want to instill in them a giving heart…and giving means more than grumbling through the department store just trying to find something that fits your budget and wouldn’t seem like a completely ridiculous gift. I know that when I say “homemade gifts” a lot of people have horror flashes of Martha Stewart-esque ensembles that most people either don’t have the time for, don’t have the money for, or don’t have the talent for. A homemade gift can really be as simple or as ornate as you want it to be. Some people really enjoy getting super crafty. I personally love making homemade things, but I have 3 children ages 4 and under and as much as I try to kid myself, sometimes I just have to admit that I can’t do it all.

Here’s what we’ve decided on this year:

I’m giving the kids each 2 large squares of fleece, with their names either sewn on or drawn on with fabric markers, and some polyfil to go inside. I’ll be cutting the edges to make “tie your own pillow” kits, sort of like a tie your own blanket kit. Then just stuff with the polyfil and you’re done! They can practice tying knots and at the end have the sense of accomplishment of having made their own pillow. This is something all of my children will be able to take part in, from choosing the color of fleece for each cousin to preparing the kits.

For adults we’ll be making lavender wheat bags. Essentially it’s 2 pieces of fabric sewn together like a pillowcase and filled with wheat (dried beans, rice, barley etc all work fine as well) and lavender, then sew completely closed to make an aromatic heating pad. They can be tossed in the microwave to heat and they smell nice as well. My oldest 2 children (ages 3 and 4) will be able to help me fill the bags with the wheat and lavender.

For other ideas try doing a search on Pinterest for homemade gifts. also has some really awesome ideas.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creamy Creole Chicken Pasta

All I can say about this recipe is WOW.

"Yum" would also cover it.

Creamy Creole Chicken Pasta (Serves: 6. Cook time: Roughly 20 minutes)

2 Chicken Breasts cut into strips
Creole Seasoning, to taste
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 container onions, sliced
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of italian seasoning

-Saute chicken with veggies and creole seasoning in large skillet (this is where you'll determine how spicy your dish is. Use more creole seasoning for some kick, use less for just a little flavor)
-Cook pasta according to directions, drain, return to pot
-Transfer chicken and veggies to the pot of pasta. Pour in the evaporated milk, parmesan cheese, and remaining seasonings to taste.
-Heat through and enjoy!

Meal ideas: I served this with a fruit salad. The coolness of the fruit was an awesome compliment to the spiciness of the pasta.

Oh, and also: I made the dish a little *less* spicy so that the kids would be able to enjoy it. After serving up their portions, I added in more creole seasoning because hubby and I are suckers for, well, anything with some kick to it ;)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Time to start planning the garden!

Spring is just around the corner. Have you started planning your garden yet? I've got some sprouts started in the basement.

Truth? I most definitely do NOT have a green thumb.

It's pretty bad. "Eh, I'll water it later." That just about says it.

But this year I'm going to try REAL hard. Last year I successfully grew 2 cayenne pepper plants and 2 tomato plants. I had green beans too...but the twin baby bunny rabbits got to them. I'm pretty sure their mama got killed and I just didn't have the heart to tell the little orphans "no."

I also had some cucumber plants. We won't talk about those.

This year, I'm resolving to have a thriving garden. One thing I've learned is gardening takes a lot of trial and error. You'll be able to prevent a lot of that error by doing a little planning. So it's never too early!

I read The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on a Quarter Acre! and got a lot of information in a really "plain English" presentation. It's great for people like us with itty bitty yards.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Beginning of Lent...already?!

Doesn't Lent just always have a way of sneaking up on you? It does for me. I never feel like I've really taken the time to pray for discernment in the area of what I should "give up" for Lent.

But, Ash Wednesday isn't over yet, right? So, it's not too late.

We've all got a little "to-do" list of things we'd like to do more of or do less of. I'd like to challenge you to dig a little deeper, though. Deeper than you would for your typical New-Years-Resolution type offering.

For my Lenten reading, I'm using The Little Black Book. It's a small vade mecum book with 2 pages for each day of Lent, plus the three days preceeding. It's designed to help the reader take 5-6 minutes of quiet with the Lord each day. This is doable for me. I can find 5-6 minutes in my day!

The reading for the Sunday before Ash Wednesday was really great and I want to share it with you....

"We need to use today's six minutes and God's help in making our plans for this Lent.

We all have a file of resolutions in the back of our mind. These are the ones we usually pull out at a time like this.

Maybe we'd do better to put those aside for a moment and find out what God has in mind for us. It may be something we've never thought of, or something that surprises us. Put yourself in that scene from the Gospel at the top of the page for a moment, ('Jesus said to his apostles, "Come to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little..." Mark 6:31) only make it just the Lord and yourself, alone in a quiet place.

Talk straight with him.

"Lord, you sometimes surprise me. What do you want me to write on the left-hand page?"

(The left hand page being referred to is where we are to write out our plans for Lent.)

There's nothing wrong with giving up sweets or coffee for Lent. Those are perfectly honorable sacrifices, especially if you're like me and depend very much on your caffeine and chocolate fixes to get you through the day with any amount of friendliness. But I'd like to challenge you to just take a few moments to sit quietly with the Lord and ask HIM what he desires for your Lenten season. Allow him to come into your heart and shape your soul this season, you might be surprised!

If you need a few ideas for your family, Danielle Bean over at wrote a great list of ways to pray, fast, and give.

~You are loved by an Awesome God~

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Running late for Mass--again.

We were running late for Mass. Again. Thankfully our parish is one of many young families, many large families, and many more family friendly parishioners. Thankfully it's not TOO painful when we have to trudge up to the only pew with enough room for us. Of course it's right up front. Front and center.

I'd love to have the family ready, dressed nicely for 8am Mass and pray the rosary on the way. Wouldn't that be nice? That'd be lovely, I think. Instead, we're lucky if we can get to the 10:30 Mass on time.

So, anyway, we get settled down and Margaux poops. Really, really loud. Everyone heard it. They laughed politely. Thankfully. I was about to get up and take Margaux to the bathroom to change her when the sweet woman sitting behind us taps me on the shoulder and points to Margaux's back saying, "I think it leaked through."

I look down and, yep, there's major poopage. Everywhere.

Did I pack an extra outfit in the diaper bag on my way out the door? Of course I didn't. Sigh.

I take her to the nursery and get her cleaned up the best I can. I was able to manage getting her clothes cleaned up enough and we finally make it back up to the pew as the homily is ending.

I took a deep breath and thought to myself, well, at least I'll be here for the Consecration and Eucharist, right?

Just as I'm settling into something of a prayerful frame of mind, I feel another tap on my shoulder. This time it's my dear husband Zac and he's pointing at my chest. I look down shirt is soaking wet. It's a combination of spit up and milk. Breast milk. Did I put a nursing pad in my shirt on the way out the door? Of course I didn't. Sigh. So I go to the bathroom, get myself cleaned up and get back to the pew, resolving to just wear my jacket for whatever is left of Mass.

I wanted to get grumpy. I wanted to get frustrated. I wanted to get angry. I wanted to think, Lord, I need Mass. I need the Word. I need the Eucharist. Why is everything going wrong today? I can't catch two minutes of uninterrupted time to celebrate the mass with my family!?

I felt myself getting that point of the grumpy overwhelmed resentful mother. I was THIS close. And then I felt a quiet peacefulness coming over me. The Lord knows me and he knows what I need. During that Mass, I was exactly where I should have been. Serving my children, being a mother, fulfilling the Lord's plan and will for my life and even for those specific MINUTES in my day. There are so many opportunities in a mother's life for what SHE wants to be doing to be interrupted by the needs of our families. Our imperfect souls might jump to a state of resentfulness. After all, it's not like I was trying to go for a spa treatment...I just wanted to celebrate the Mass with my family.

It is in those times when I absolutely must trust the Lord or else I'll so easily turn to resentment and frustration. Trust that serving my family and my children is exactly what I should be doing, and in those actions and feelings of selfless love and giving, the Lord will fill me and bless my actions.

You are loved by an Awesome God~

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pudding Pops-- Yum on the cheap.

The boys were starting to get picky about their snacks. They complained that they were sick of the regulars...animal crackers, carrot sticks, pretzels. Hum drum. Pretty horrible life, huh?

So I came up with pudding pops. I'm sure I'm not the first to think of them...but my kids and husband thought I was a genius. That's good enough for me.

We did the following combinations:
Chocolate pudding with crushed oreos
Vanilla pudding with chocolate chips (pictured above)
Banana pudding with butterscotch chips

I just mixed the instant pudding according to the directions, let it set up a little, added in the "extras", and then poured it into my .88 cent mold from Wal Mart, and popped them in the freezer. Yum!

Instant pudding at our local Wal Mart is about .89 cents per box and I already had the chocolate chips and all that in this was a super cheap way to jazz up plain ol' puddin'.

TIP: If you don't already have Popsicle molds, you can pour the mixture into a cleaned out single serving apple sauce cup and stick in a tongue depressor from the craft cabinet. We did this since our mold only has enough room for 4 popsicles and our pudding mixture made enough for more than 4!

This Post is also Featured at:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review! The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

Mercy is a sweet, southern character from rural Bittersweet, Alabama. She moves to the city, lives in a boarding house, falls in love with her work at the local news paper "The Banner." Into her lap falls "the book" and a poor soul from her past. This book allows her to see into the lives of people. Their past, present, future. What's the connection? Life will never be the same...but isn't that the point?

Truth? I was a little disappointed with this book. Okay, a lot. It's sweet and light hearted. It's an easy enough read. Sometimes that's what us readers really need, right? Nothing too heavy, just something light and sweet. The problem was that this was a little too light. As in, after 100 pages I still wasn't "in" to the story. I wanted to be "in" to the story. I had really looked forward to getting this book. I've heard really great things about River Jordan as a Christian Author. just wasn't working out. I think I'll try one of her other books because I just don't want to give up that easily.

As per the FTC Regulations:I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Catholic Pick-up line song

Honestly, this is just too cute NOT to share!

"The Catholic Pick-up Line" song by David Casper

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

Those words, those four tiny words, have the potential to change your life.

Thy Will Be Done

Think about it for a minute. How much more at peace would the world be? How much more peace would you find in your own soul by just meditating on those four words? Thy will be done.

At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. Are you searching out God's will for your life? It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, stylish or plain, working mom or stay at home mom. The rest is just keeping up with the Jones's if you aren't truly led to it by God's will. The foundation to our lives is, or at least it should be, God's divine will. You'll never find more happiness and peace than you'll find in God's will.

So, have enough trust in our Heavenly Father to look past what society tells us to wear, how many children society tells us to have, how much money society tells you that you must make in order to be happy. Look past it all, look through it all, set it all aside and just pray, "Thy Will Be Done." Be strong enough to recognize that not only can you NOT do this life by yourself, you aren't MEANT to do this life by yourself. I dare you.

When you're scared, stressed, frustrated, will find your solace and refuge in those four words.

You are loved by an Almighty God.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Cook All Day Long

WAIT! Come back. It's not one of those posts. I promise. And, try as I might to be Supermom, I'm not one of those moms either.

Can I be real with you for a moment?

I love my vocation as a mom, a wife, a Christian Catholic. I really, really do. But it's hard. I mean really, really hard. Sometimes I get depressed, frustrated, lonely. Lonely? Yeah. You'd be surprised at how easy it can be to get lonely when you're days are surrounded by sticky, busy, noisey, precious, beautiful little people. Motherhood is a vocation of giving. Constant, selfless giving. You find pockets in your soul that you never even knew existed beforeyou became a mother. Motherhood shapes your whole being, ready or not. You must nourish your soul, lean on your faith, and pray like your life depended on it ('cause it does).

So, back to my heroic stamina and how I cook "all day long" (cough, cough).

I don't know if you've ever noticed, but right around 4:30 or 5:00pm, children tend to get a little crazy. A little? Okay, a lot. Funny thing is...that's, inconveniently, the same time that we all head to the kitchen to get dinner going. Ready or not

I found myself totally resenting dinnertime and may or may not have fed the boys cheese, cracker, and pepperoni "sandwiches" for dinner because the thought of trying to cook another meal with the baby screaming on my hip and the boys going crazy in the living room made me want to plum throw myself a temper tantrum.

My solution: I cook whenever I can.

I can often be found fixing dinner in the kitchen around 10:30 am. It's the calmest part of my day. The boys have had breakfast and their morning snack and Margaux goes down for her morning nap. I get dinner ready and I stick it in the fridge. That way, all I have to do is the last minute stuff during the "witching hour" later on. Then maybe I'll get a salad ready while the boys eat lunch. You get the idea. It eliminates a lot of stress. And best of all....we actually get a meal for dinner. Not cheese and crackers.

What are your tricks and tips for getting dinner on the table during the chaos of a busy family's afternoon? Please share!

Here's a picture of us on Sunday at Margaux's baptism. It was a very special and very beautiful day!

This post is also featured at:

Grab a Button

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The fight against Cabin Fever: Support the Cause!

Most of the northeast is snowy. Really snowy. This isn't new to us, we're used to it. Let me just say...that doesn't make it easy. I'm from New York. I can drive through a snow blizzard without wincing and I can't help but laugh when folks in the south close down schools for 2 inches of snow (hear me roar?). Wanna know what makes me tremble with fear? Being locked up in a house with children suffering a bad case of cabin fever. THAT makes me want to run and hide.

The kids get crazy, crazy, crazy.

Mommy gets crazy, crazy, crazy.

One boy is tossing around my freshly folded laundry while the other boy is making some horrid noise that's supposed to sound like a dinosaur. over. and. over. again. Let's be honest, it sounds like a dying goat and, great, now the baby's awake. Clearly while I'm quickly picking up the laundry that the 2 yr. old threw around and the baby's screaming, said 2 yr. old thinks this is a great opportunity to dump out a crate of toys and the 3 yr. old is now whining for juice and a snack. And, oh yeah, the baby is still screaming.

Don't pretend this hasn't happened to you.

....this has happened to you...right?

As much as I pray for patience and that "cheerful countenance" that Psalm 31 is always talking about, I'm only human. Sometimes, I'm not so cheerful, and sometimes I get a little crazy. My life is crazy. It's beautiful and extremely blessed, but it's definitely on the left side of sane. In the most amazing way, of course.

During moments like that one detailed above, I need something to redirect the boy's excess energy and I need it QUICK. Below are a few things that I use to {quickly} redirect the kids when I can tell that they're getting to the point where the symptoms of cabin fever are about to take over my rosey cheeked cherubs and turn them into...well, something else. Something else entirely.

1. Puppets. I got these for the little hands in my house. They're inexpensive (about $10 for the set) and they work. I keep them up in the cabinet and they only come out during "emergencies", so it's exciting for them since they don't play with them on a daily basis. It's like Christmas!

2. Paint. Okay, I know paint is messy. But in my experience, the messier an activity is, the more excited they'll be and the longer it'll keep their attention. Crayola washable paint is very, very washable. I promise. I have big sheets of paper that I tape down to the kitchen floor and let the kids create their own little masterpiece. Then I just mop up the floor whenever I get to it. No harm done. This masterpiece was created during one of "those" moments. It kept their attention for about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Tissue paper stained glass window. I haven't tried this one yet....but it looks pretty awesome.

4. Snow play. Obvious, right? Get the kids outside, fill up some water bottles with water + food coloring and let them "paint" in the snow. Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet, or maybe, if you have the energy (and I won't blame you if you don't) start tackling Mt. Laundry.

...don't act like you don't have a Mt. Laundry.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review!: Travelers Along the Way by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R

Fr. Benedict Groeschel has a way of connecting with "ordinary" people in a way that makes you feel like you already know him. He's easy to listen to and watch on EWTN and his writings are always enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed his book, "Travelers Along the Way," because it was easily accessible and easily read. As a busy mom and wife of a growing family, I enjoyed being able to read on of his glimpses, as he calls them. Each is only about four or five pages and includes an inspiring tale of someone who did something, said soemthing, or acted in a certain way that had an impact on Fr. Groeschel's life. These aren't all miraculous "things." Many are quite ordinary. It's up to us to find God within the ordinary relationships and situations of our daily lives.

Fr. Groeschel tells us about the men and women who have shaped his life. Some of them were saintly men and women found in seminaries and convents. Yet, surprisingly, many were not. Many of them were "normal" people. Not saintly in the least. Just normal. How refreshing that a "normal" person just like you or I could impact this wonderful man's life as the "...tiny little Sister of Charity from the Convent Station, New Jersey, who taught in our Lady of Victory School in Jersey City, Sister Teresa Maria," who first told Fr. Groeschel as a young boy, "...your going to be a priest."

The Catholic Company is also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

I received this book for free from The Catholic Company for this review. See my side toolbar for more information on purchasing this great book!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Simple Woman's Day Book

Outside my window... Bright, Sunny, Snowy, 10 degrees.

I am thinking...of not much. Just enjoying the peace and quiet that God has granted on this lovely day. You see, all children are napping. at. the. same. time.

I am thankful for... my faith. Without it, we'd be lost.

From the learning rooms... We have to get on track. We have to get on track....I think I can, I think I can....

From the kitchen... vanilla pudding pops with chocolate chips and banana pudding pops with butterscotch chips for the wee ones. Homemade chicken fingers for dinner and I need to get a loaf of bread going.

I am wearing... Khakis, long sleeve black shirt, and (you're not going to believe this) leopard print UGG style slippers. Zac picked them out. Not me.

I am creating..
I've got a quilt for Quilt For Kids going right now.

I am going... No where. It's a wonderful thing.

I am reading ... The Choice by Nicolas Sparks, Travelers Along the Way by Father Benedict Groeschel, and the BFG by Roald Dahl.

I am hoping... that we don't catch that icky stomach bug that's been going around. So far, we're the only family that hasn't gotten it yet. YET.

I am hearing... the exhaust fan downstairs. It's the only thing that keeps Margaux asleep for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

Around the house... laundry. laundry. laundry. Major organization needs to take place, too. Also, we're working with these charts on Biblical character training. I'm not really one for charts and systems, but I'm finding these to be easily integrated into daily life. I find myself screaming, "NO!", "STOP THAT", "WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!" a whole lot less. For that reason, I'm in love.

A Picture I Thought of Sharing...

Oh yeah, I'm turning into "THAT" mom. First little pony tail!!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade Burger Buns

WARNING: If you're on any kind of diet, do not, I repeat- DO NOT continue reading this. All attempts to cut back on carbs will be completely destroyed. I promise.

Having three children, 1 vehicle, a modest budget, and just an overall sense of independence has really encouraged me to learn to do things for myself. That is, to make more things homemade so that I don't have to depend on running to the store multiple times a week, 'cus who has time for that anyway? I know I don't. So, my latest venture has been bread. Remember this post? It was my first ever post here at The Humble Homemaker and it chronicled my miserable attempts at making bread. Go check it out if you're in need of a good laugh.

I gave up for a while. Like a year. But I'm back and I've had some really great successes! My pride and joy thus far has been these babies:

Puffy little clouds of Yum, and as you can see, they're not at all brickish like my first attempts at wheat bread back in January '10.

Here's the recipe. They'll make you rich and famous, I swear.

...well maybe not rich, but definitely famous. At least within your family.

1 C. milk
1 C. water
2 T butter
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 C. Flour
1 packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 T water


1. Combine milk, 1 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand until lukewarm. If the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until the dough starts to come together. Knead dough on floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions (a little larger than a golf ball). Make tight balls by pulling the dough tightly around and pinching at the bottom. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. After the rolls sit for a minute to relax, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to about 3-4 inches. Set rolls aside until they double in size, about 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 10 minutes, OR if not continuing on with optional step #5, bake about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.


5. Whisk together egg yolk and water. Brush egg wash on rolls and bake for another 5 minutes for a shiny finish.

Let cool completely (or slather with butter and eat) and hide. Seriously. If you don't hide them, they'll disappear within minutes. They're that good. QUICK!

-Sprinkle with some seasoning along with the egg wash. I did italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Yum.
-Try 4 C. Flour and 1 1/2 C. Whole Wheat flour. Still very fluffy and just a tad healthier.
-The egg wash it totally optional and is only for cosmetic purposes. I forgot to do this step once and they were still amazing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review!: God Gave Us the World, by Lisa Tawn Bergren

The first two pages of this book were my favorite. Not that the rest of the book isn't great, but these two pages really hit home for me:

"What a beautiful world we live in!" Mama Bear said. "Just look at all this snow!"

Little Cub looked around. "We always have snow, Mama."

"Yes, but it's *always* different! Sometimes it's slushy, and sometimes dry, shimmering sparkles drifting from the sky."

Living here in the north east, I can relate to this sentiment. "We always have snow..." Or at least that's how it feels. "Sometimes it's slushy, and sometimes dry..." though it does seem to be slushy more often than dry. It's easy to forget how beautiful God's creation is because we're always around it. It's easy to take advantage of the beauty of snow because, well, as Little Cub says, "We always have snow."

Little Cub is fascinated to learn that God created many different kinds of bears and just as many different places for them all to live! Some bears eat fish, while others love to eat bamboo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. God, in His infinite creativity, has created such a vast and glorious world for every one of us because He loves us. This book does a wonderful job of showing children (and adults too, because Lord knows how easily we forget) that there is a world outside of our own neighborhood that is wonderful and very different from what we're used to. Each of us is as different as the communities in which we live, and God loves each of us in our uniqueness with which he created us.

The book can really be summed up with this excerpt:

"God created our world and everything in it, because it's in his nature to create. Understanding that is part of why he put us serve and worship him, our amazing God, who gave us this amazing world."

I highly recommend this book to anyone with children, especially young children. My two sons, ages two and three really enjoyed it. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they actually sat still while I read the whole story to them. Now that's a miracle!

As per the FTC Regulations:
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The (Super) Easy Baby Doll Sling and Scrappy Flowers!

We have a pretty large family that is growing, and growing, and growing. Not only our little unit here, but my husband's side of the family as well. I love, love, love being a part of a large family. It's new to me. I grew up in a pretty small family (just myself and 1 younger sister) and most of my relatives are spread out over the country. One of the things that has taken some getting used to is having a birthday/christening/something party to attend at least once a month, sometimes more! It's great, don't get me wrong. But can get expensive if you don't plan ahead and be resourceful. With this in mind, I have a niece and nephew with birthdays coming up (January 29th and February 14th, respectively. There's also another little guy turning 1 on February 1st, but that's a different post!). I was trying to come up with ideas for birthday gifts that they would actually use and enjoy, but wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.

I started thinking of how much I love baby slings/wraps/carriers and decided to make one for my niece. I had some fabric left over from a quilt that I had made for Margaux while I was still pregnant that would be perfect (and free!). I also wanted a really simple pattern...because I'm not so great with following directions and I'm still pretty new to sewing things.

I found this pattern over at Domestic Dork that was seriously easy and simple. I won't bore you with pictures of the sling making process because it's very well laid out of at Domestic Dork, but here's the finished product. Poor, poor Christopher had to model it for me. Zac told me I was being abusive :( I just needed to make sure the size was okay and he's the same age as my niece.

As you can see, he's not so thrilled. At least I put elmo in it and not a baby doll....right?

So, I also wanted to decorate it with some "Scrappy Flowers" because the sling material is white and kind of plain. I had strips of fabric left over from the jelly roll that I used to make Margaux's Quilt so I sewed them together like this:

As you can see, I didn't pay much attention to making sure the strips of fabric were all the same width. I wanted this to look "unpolished" and imperfect. I just tried to make the colors contrast a bit. Then I ironed it out to make it easier to work with.

The next step was to draw some flowers on some freezer paper and pin them to the fabric:

Again, the flowers are far from perfect...that's okay! I pinned them on with the shiny side of the freezer paper on and then ironed them on. The shiny stuff adheres to the fabric with the use of the hot iron. Then I cut the flowers out leaving about a 1/4 around the outside of the cut out flower:

Then sew them on!:

The wax paper will pull right off around the stitches. Once you wash it, the outsides of the flowers will fray a little bit to give it a more rustic look, or you can tuck them in as you sew for a less rustic look.


I let Christopher have a little fun since he was such a good sport about modeling the "baby doll thingy that is for girls not boys, mommy!"

This Post is listed over at LifeAsMom

Grab a Button

Check them out to find more frugal tips and ideas!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Who needs a store-bought sled when you have cardboard and duct tape?

My in-laws live right around the corner from us and we're currently in a "one car family" situation. My mother in law suggested piling the kids onto a sled and pulling them over for a visit. This sounded great, in theory. Only one problem...we didn't have a sled and due to Zac's work schedule, it wasn't likely that I'd be able to get to the store to buy one any time soon.

But since when has that ever stopped me?

I had a bunch of collapsed cardboard boxes and duct tape up in the attic from when we moved this past summer. I took two flattened boxes, completely covered them in duct tape, used some rope to tie them together and add a rope for me to pull. Pile on kids (and diaper bag) and bundle up Margaux and put her in the Moby Wrap and we were off!

I'm sure I looked completely ridiculous with a baby strapped to my chest and two toddlers on a sleigh, hauling them down the sidewalk...but the kids had a blast, Margaux fell fast asleep, and I got my first official post partum workout.

(P.S. You might be wondering what the heck is up with that red hat that Julian is wearing. It's the ears from Christopher's Clifford the Big Red dog costume from 2 years ago. He insisted.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

View from the kitchen:

IN the kitchen: Roast in the crockpot. Zac's parents came over for dinner. The boys warming up with some hot cocoa after helping dad shovel the driveway.

There's something about winter and being snowed in that makes people slow down and enjoy the "small" things.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1 Chicken, 4 Hungry Mouths, 3 Delicious Dinners

Has anyone else noticed that chicken doesn't have bones anymore? Or skin for that matter. At least that's how it is in the grocery store. Everything is bonelessskinless. I can appreciate that sometimes bonelessskinless chicken is quicker to thaw and cook, it's healthier without the skin etc. But really, is it worth the extra price? Meat is one of the most expensive things on my grocery list. Anyone researching ways to cut down their grocery bill has probably read umpteen articles about how using more beans and lentils in place of meat is a good way to cut down the bill. I use this method myself and have come across many delicious no-meat recipes that I regularly integrate into our menu. But sometimes I just want some mean, ya know? So the cheapest way for me to go about buying chicken is, surprisingly, to buy a whole chicken. A regular, 4-5lb chicken costs me about $4.50 ($12-13 if I'm going free range organic, but that's not always in the budget). I don't know if you've ever noticed, but that's a whole lotta chicken. More than we'll eat at one dinner unless we have company over. So I roast the chicken (that beauty up above was dinner for us this past Thursday). Then I make 3 dinners out of it. Yeah, 4-ish dollars worth of chicken spread over three meals for 4 mouths (Margaux's not counted here because she's still nursing :)). Pretty sweet, eh? Check it out:

Thursday: Roast chicken with mashed potatoes, corn, and salad. After dinner, I took the rest of the chicken that we didn't eat off of the carcass and put it in a ziploc bag.

Friday: Angel hair pasta with pesto and about 1/2 of the leftover chicken, crusty bread, and salad. (I even had enough left overs for my lunch for the next 2 days!)

Saturday: BBQ Chicken Pizza. Made pizza dough, poured BBQ sauce over remaining chicken, dumped chicken on dough, spread with mozz and cheddar, added some onions and pickles and VOILA! We had my brother and sister in law over with their 3 kids and had plenty to go around.

I'd say I spent roughly $20 on these 3 meals including the chicken. I didn't have to buy certain things like the flour and yeast for the pizza dough because I keep those stocked in my pantry, but even if I did need to buy them, it wouldn't cost much more!

Another awesome thing about this is that it saves a bunch of time. The chicken was roasted on Thursday, so on Friday all I had to do was boil some pasta and blend up some pesto. So, it saves time and money... now that's speaking my language :).

Try it out for yourself!