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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brussel Sprouts - - revisited!

Over the New Year weekend, we went up to Pittsburgh to spend time with our families.  At one meal, my sister-in-law made some really awesome brussel sprouts, roasted on the grill with olive oil drizzled on top.  Now, I have to confess, that as a kid I did not like brussel sprouts.  Who could like those watery things that came frozen in a bag?  But, if you can find them fresh in your supermarket, they are most definitely worth a second try.  (Some super markets sell them on the stalk even!)

 Lately, I've been roasting veggies along with our main meat dish.  You can choose any combinations of vegetables you like.  With the brussel sprouts, I threw in some green beans and carrots.  Typically, I like potatoes, green beans, onions, and carrots, but for dinner, I decided on mashed potatoes with our roast chicken, so I left them out this time.  (The kids love mashed potatoes!) 

After you wash and cut the veggies, place them in a baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with any combinations of spices you like:  garlic powder, pepper, rosemary, oregano, etc.  I save the salt until they come out of the oven. Trust me, if you didn't like brussel sprouts before, you may just change your mind!  They come out kind of sweet and definitely  not water-logged!

 For our meat, I made roasted chicken breast.  It was on sale this week.  Yes, you see only three chicken breasts for our whole family.  These days, when I buy chicken breast at the super market, it seems as if they are extra large.  A serving of meat is about 4 ounces, a little smaller than your fist.  As part of our cutting back, I've been trying to cut back on portions.  I serve lots of veggies, salad, or sides, instead.  Or I will think of creative ways to stretch smaller amounts - - cutting it up usually helps.  To roast the chicken breast, I softened about 1/4 cup of butter.  I added a Swanson flavor booster and some rosemary to the butter and mixed it up.  Then I gently placed it under the skin of each breast.  I know this is probably a lot of butter, but I was guessing.  You could probably get away with about 2 tablespoons.  The chicken pretty much self-bastes and comes out moist and delicious. 

Both were roasted in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until done.  It was definitely delicious and quite easy to prepare.

This morning, Alex and I made this quick treat for breakfast.  It can also be a yummy dessert.

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

1 can 8 or 2 cans of 5 biscuits
1 cup cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk (possibly more)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pan with baking spray.  Cut biscuits into quarters and dip in butter and dredge in cinnamon sugar.  Place pieces into the loaf pan.  Be sure to layer the bottom and then top.  Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes.  Turn out loaf onto platter.  Prepare glaze and drizzle on top.  Serve and enjoy. 

I was thinking this would be totally yummy with pecans added.  Too bad my people don't like pecans!  You can also do this with thawed frozen bread dough (or a homemade white or sweet bread dough).  The biscuits were something I had on hand since they were on sale earlier this week.  Makes it quite convenient.

Lastly, I wanted to share a secret with you that we have been doing for a couple of years now.  It is part of tonight's dinner plan.  My husband loves grilled ruebens.  He will often order these out when they present themselves on the menu.  Typically to make them, one would purchase corned beef from the deli counter.  This gets terribly expensive - - as most lunch meats are costly and laden with salt.  What I have done is to purchase extra Corned Beef Briskets while on sale around Saint Patrick's Day and then freeze them.  Last year, they got as low as $1.49/lb!  There are two cuts - - point and flat and both make rather good corned beef for sandwiches.  To cook the corned beef, I take it out of the freezer and place it right into the crock pot in the morning.  (Yes, it is still frozen!)  I add a some water and the spice packet that comes with the corned beef and by dinner time, we have a yummy corned beef to use for grilled ruebens.  Most of my kids like at least some semblance of the rueben - - some with sauerkraut, some without, some without the swiss cheese, some with, or any combination thereof.  So, there you have it.  Another way to satisfy a craving without breaking the bank.

Enjoy & God Bless,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I should be done with this blanket for Daniel by now.  I wanted to have it done for his birthday back in September (I started it in early August), but that didn't happen.  Then I thought I would be able to get it done for Christmas, but I thought I would be able to get a lot more done for Christmas than I did!  I had some grand plans!  To be honest, I haven't been working on the blanket too much.  First of all, I am exhausted.  During the past three pregnancies (this one, Daniel, and John Marie), my energy level in the first trimester have been pretty low.  So, when I found out after Thanksgiving that we were expecting, I kind of knew that much of what I had wanted to do wouldn't get done.  Being pregnant at 40 (or 42) is a lot different than being pregnant at 25! 

I am picking up the blanket today to do some work on it.  I think having the eyes almost done is really motivating, and I hope that once the face is done, I will be motivated to persevere.  Here is the "almost" completed blanket -

Hopefully, I can persevere and get it finished.   This pattern was purchased from the website Cuddle Up Creations.  They have a whole boat-load of patterns if pattern crocheting is your thing.  I am of the mind at this moment to say this will be the only one I attempt.  It has been quite a ride so far!

God Bless,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back to Crafting!

Now that my workroom is nice and organized, I thought I would take some time today to work on some crafts. 

First, I wanted to get some of our wooden saint dolls painted.  It has been a while since I have added to our collection.  St. Francis de Sales feast day is today, so he was the first I completed.  This week also has St. Angela Merici (1/27), so I added her to our line up.  Next week is St. John Bosco's (1/31) and then St. Blaise (2/3), so they became part of our collection, too. 
St. Francis de Sales, St. Angela Merici, St. John Bosco and St. Blaise

After painting them and then spraying them with an acryllic sealer, I thought I would take some time to sew.  I had seen the project for these tissue holders on Skip to My Lou, and while not in the spirit of St. Valentine, I thought I could use up some of my scrap fabric. 

I found this really sweet storybook print at JoAnn's about 5 - 6 years ago.   I used some of it to make Jenna a Rosary Quilt and had some left over.  I also had purchased the "Faith, Hope, Love and Charity" fabric.  (A bad habit of mine is to purchase a yard of fabric that I like, regardless of whether I have plans to use it!)  I used these to sew up the tissue holders.

I have this McCall's print hanging out at my house, too.  I was thinking these would make pretty tissue holders for the girls.  They remind me of the Betsy McCall paper dolls that I had printed off for them several years ago.  You can find those here.  They are a free download and very sweet. 

If you click over on Rosary Quilt, you can find a free template to download for the Rosary Quilt.  I am anticipating Daniel using the one I made several years ago for Jenna. 

One last link to share with you - - I came across this freebie when I was trolling the web for something else.  Called Homeschool Freebie of the Day, I will not vouch for everything on the site, but there is some cool stuff, like audio dramatizations of Little Women and David Copperfield.  There is also some free e-book downloads.  Check them out here.

Enjoy & God Bless!

The Bookmobile

The book wagon
We are so blessed to have our local library's Bookmobile come to our driveway once a month.  Having it means that we do not have to worry about overdue library books (unless we go to the physical library).  We also don't have to worry about fines.  A bonus in my book.  Before we had the Bookmobile, we would forget about the library books all the time.  We were spending quite a bit in fines, to say the least. 
The best thing about the Bookmobile coming is that we can also request books on line to be sent to the Bookmobile.  Makes it great for obtaining books for holiday reading lists.  And the ladies who work on the Bookmobile try to bring books the kids, and me, are interested in.  It's great customer service.

If you have a Bookmobile in your area, check to see if it will stop at your "homeschool".  You will not be sorry if you can arrange it.

God Bless!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Craft Organization

You know your husband loves you when, not only does he give up the designated "home office" to you for a craft room, but then he takes the time to build you this closet organizer, even after a week-long business trip!  Gotta love that man!

My mom had given us some sheets of nice thick plywood that Dave used to build the center tower and cut the shelves for both sides. He purchased a thick dowel and a closet bar hanger to give me some room to hang items and two long pieces of melame for the side shelves with pre-drilled holes.  We had the wire baskets and storage bins, so those didn't need to be purchased.  All-in-all, I think the project came in under $50. 

 My mom had also given us some pieces of peg board that we put on both sides of the closet. This allowed us to add some hanging room for wreaths, spools of ribbon, wood roving and other stuff.

I took some time to organize all of the loose stuff that was hanging around the workroom into the bins and baskets.  It is going to make it so much easier for me to know what I have - - which will hopefully save me some money on supplies!

To the actual office area, we added a piece of pegboard beside the whiteboard so that I could hang up scissors, rotary cutters, etc.  I added these metal buckets in red, white and blue - - don't they look cute!  They are holding paint brushes, crochet hooks, and dry erase markers.  I also found these baskets in a three pack at Home Depot that hang on pegboard.  They are great for holding books and magazines, along with things that cannot get hung up.

I love the fact that I have a place for my scissors.  Anyone who sews knows that having a good pair of sewing scissors, dedicated to cutting fabric is imperative.  My kids are always looking for scissors and know not to touch my sewing scissors!  It's nice, though, to have a place to hang them and not have to worry about where they are at and who has used them for what. 

Last year, I had sewed together this "shoe" organizer to organize my yarns that I have on hand.  I keep a stash basket for the leftover balls, but wanted something to organize the larger skeins.  Since we've redone the closet, which is where I had this, I thought I would put it on the outside of the closet door.  I have to look for some over the door hooks to hang it on, but here you can see the idea.  Each of the pocket can hold a rather large skein of yarn.  I loved the cute ladybug fabric - - it is bright and cheerful!

I am so excited to share my workroom with you and inspired to get working on those crafts that I had been meaning to do for some time.  I also have some things to catch up on - - like clothing repair and that blanket that I had started crocheting for Daniel.  For now, though, I have to close the door and go start school with the kids. 

God Bless,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ordinary Time

I am so happy to be back in Ordinary Time! I know that may seem like an odd statement since, Ordinary Time, to many, is well, ordinary.  However, I love the quiet of this time of year.  Spring activities haven't started yet, so it's a time that we can concentrate on our studies a little harder and maybe get ahead a little.  It is also a time when we tend to hibernate a bit more, since, let's face it, the weather is a bit chilly outside!  And yet, Ordinary Time, is not so ordinary.  There are some great saint feast days that come up in Ordinary Time.  Tomorrow, for example is the feast of Saint Sebastian.  I think, any boy who has dressed up for All Saints Day at one time or another wanted to be Saint Sebastian.  It's the first memorial that will allow me to put the red vestment on our Father Oak! 

This period of Ordinary Time is much shorter than the one that follows the Easter season.  Soon enough, we will find ourselves at Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, so I am determined this year, not only to take this "quiet time" to buckle down on our schoolwork, but also to bring in a few feast days and enjoy this time of year and to rest in the quiet, as well. 

God Bless,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vestments for Father Oak

Before Christmas, I had hinted to my dear s-i-l, that a Father Oak would make a great present for Daniel.  I am really wanting to try to introduce the faith in a Montessori-influenced way.  So to say I was surprised to find one under the tree for him would not be truthful, but it is beautiful! 

Today, I finally got around to "dressing" our Father Oak; that is, to make him some vestments in the liturgical colors.  I managed to get four done - - green, red, white and purple.  I have the pink one ready to sew, but other duties called before I could get that one completed, so it will wait until tomorrow.  I love the way they have come out.  I used braiding around the neckline on all of them and the hemline on the green and red ones.  I quickly realized after doing the green and the red, that I was quickly going to run out of braiding (I had purchased 3 yards - - who knew it would go so fast!), so I found a spool of gold ribbon that I had here to do the hem of the white and purple one.  I used gold lame' for the cross, chalice and dove on the red, white and purple, using Heat 'n Bond to iron them on to the vestments (Boy - - - I love Heat 'n Bond, but be careful with it and lame'.  Using a cloth can help, but you don't want to get the adhesive on your iron if you can help it!)  I am looking forward to completing the pink one - - not sure what symbol I will use yet. 

You can find directions for making a Father Oak (or Fr Pine, Fr. Birch, etc) here on Wildflowers and Marbles. Jennifer also made stoles to go with the alb, but I am not sure I need them.  It will be enough for us to remember to change the vestment. 

I also sewed mine up probably a bit differently.  I had purchased some taffeta and satin for the vestments.  They can be pretty slippery to work with and tend to fray.  To help with that, I decided to use some interfacing and to line the vestment with some bleached muslin.  I traced my pattern onto the interfacing and cut around it leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance.   I ironed it to the satin/taffeta and then cut the satin/taffeta using pinking shears.  I sewed the satin to the muslin, right sides together, cut out the neckline hole, again using pinking shears, and then flipped it right side out, which gave me a nice seam along the outer edge.  I pressed the edges so that they would lay flat and then stitched the braiding around the neckline to cover the raw edge.  Then trim could be added as I wished.  I guess you could line it with fabric of the same color, too, if you wished.

So there you go - - our dear Father Oak is no longer devoid of vestments.

God Bless!

Happy New Year . . . finally!

Yes, I know . . . February is around the corner!  It has been a busy few months!  When we started back to school, I didn't know how much I would be "teaching" this year.  I was hoping that some of my "students" would be a bit more independent, which would allow me more time for crafting, blogging and playing with Daniel. 

It turned out that everyone still needed me around - - yeah, for me!  Jeremy is enrolled in Seton this year for 11th grade.  It is a learning experience for both of us as we become aquainted with their way of doing things.  He is also enrolled in Advanced Math.  So far, I have been able to understand almost everything, and if not, Seton has a wonderful counselor who is willing to help.  He's doing well, but it is not without some difficulty. 

Andrea and Alex are in 8th grade and for the most part, we are following CHC's 8th grade lesson plans.  What a Godsend these have been!  I am not sure I would be as prepared as I am if not for them.  They are both doing well. 

Jenna is also using CHC's 6th grade lesson plans which came out over the summer, as well.  I am grateful to the hard work they have put into the lesson plans.  It has helped us tremendously.  That said, I still do a majority of the teaching for most of them, going over the lessons, reading the history and helping them when they need it. 

Needless to say, this has cut into the crafting, blogging and playing with Daniel time, but it is worth it since school is a priority for us.  I was heartily looking forward to our winter break, but that, too, passed much too quickly, and now it is January, so Happy New Year to you all!

Some good news we have to look forward to this year is the confirmation of Andrea and Alex and the birth of a new little one, sometime late July or early August.  We have suffered through two miscarriages (with Daniel's birth in between) so are hopeful that all will go well.  Prayers would be greatly appreciated. 

God Bless,