Thursday, December 20, 2007

Goodbye For Now

We are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and I still have LOTS to do. So, I am saying goodbye a little early. I'm not sure if I'll get the chance to check in while we are gone, so have a blessed Christmas! We are planning on being back on the evening of the 1st (weather permitting of course).

Before I forget, here are the recipes I promised you. The gingersnaps were also Danielle's recipe, and again they turned out great. The biscotti is still cooling, but I did sneak a taste of one, and it was pretty yummy. I will say this though, they are very crumbly and the dough spreads while it's baking. Also, I cooked it on wax paper like it tells you to, and my oven and of course my house filled with smoke. Now my house smells like burning wax. Not sure what happened there, I've cooked on this particular paper before. Hmmm... By the way this is NOT Danielle's recipe, I found it on All Recipes. I took out the nuts, doubled the cinnamon, added 1 cup of white chocolate chips, and am going to dip half in melted semi-sweet chocolate. If you make this, I suggest you read the comments about it, there are very useful tips.

Have a great Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday I made the Russian tea cakes. Yum!! Another of Danielle's recipes has proven to be! So here is the recipe. No hints for you on this one. It's self-explanatory, and SO easy. (An extra bonus, right?)

As the title of this post states, this is a hodgepodge of things I've been wanting to write about. First, about a week ago, I was doing some clothes shopping, and after going to Savers, decided that I still needed some things that are better bought new, if you know what I mean. So I went to Target, and thought I would be able to also get some other things that have been cluttering up my to-do list. Christmas cards were at the top of this list. I was in a rush when I finally got to that end of the store (Fritter had had ENOUGH of shopping), so I asked a lady where I could find their Christmas cards. She pointed me in the direction.

There were no Christmas cards at Target. Oh sure, they had Santa cards, they had Reindeer doing things they shouldn't be, and they had one set of cards that had a cartoony angel blowing a trumpet, but NO CHRISTMAS CARDS!!! Grrr! I know most stores really don't have an agenda, they just really don't want to offend people, and they want to make money. Is it offensive to have a package (even if it's just one) of Christmas cards? I mean real ones. Again, Grrrr!!!

The other thing I wanted to post about was this. While watching news this morning, there was a commercial for Oreck vacuums. They are having a sale, I guess, and to advertise, they had Santa stand next to the Oreck guy. All fine. But at the end of the commercial Santa says, "Ho, ho, ho, Happy Holidays!" What?! Since when does Old Saint Nick wish people Happy Holidays? This is Santa we're talking about right? You know, the guy that delivers presents to all the good boys and girls on CHRISTMAS EVE?! Grrr again.

That's all for now, I have lots to do. We are leaving for Wyoming Friday afternoon, and there is still some baking left and much cleaning to do. I also still have to pick up DH's gift and another for Fritter and my two nephews that will be joining us for Christmas Day. Other than that, all shopping is done. Thank you EBATES!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You Have To Try These!

Starting yesterday, I am baking a batch of cookies everyday to take with us to Wyoming. I was a little bit nervous about it though, because my father-in-law is the real cookie baker in the family. Unfortunately, since he was diagnosed with bladder cancer this summer (and of course after two surgeries and two rounds of chemo so far) he is not up to it this year. Because my mother-in-law has quite a bit to do, between taking care of Dad, and preparing for their guests, I volunteered to make some snacks so they don't have to.

My plan is to make chocolate chip cookies, Russian tea cakes, chocolate biscotti, and gingersnaps. Yesterday I made the chocolate chip cookies. I used Danielle's recipe, Best Ever (Really!) Chocolate Chip Cookies. She is not joking. These really are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. They don't go flat on you. They are chewy and yummy.

Before I made them, I looked over the ingredient list. The recipe calls for shortening, which (I know, I know) I have never used before, and didn't own. I considered substituting butter and reducing the salt like I've read you can do. But another cookie recipe also calls for shortening, so I decided to suck it up and buy some. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE THE SHORTENING! I'm pretty sure that that is what made these cookies not go flat on me. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't take the chance unless you really know what you're doing, and even then...

S0, if you are in the mood to bake during this preparation time for Christmas, put on some fun music (or in my case a fun podcast) and make these cookies. Your family will thank you!

PS- If the other cookies turn out good, I will post a link to those recipes as well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Club 17

Kelsey kindly reminds us to do our monthly breast examination. Because this is such a busy time of year, this kind of thing can easily get overlooked. But it is important. As a bonus, if you visit Kelsey and leave a comment in this post that you have done your exam, you get a chance to win a prize! I won last month, so maybe you will win this month. Go on! Get checking!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What an Arizona baby wears...

when it's 70 degrees outside.

Another 40 Reasons

Sarah found another one! This one is great, so go over and visit Untangling Tales and read her 40 Reasons. I've also updated my side bar to add this one!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Busy Day

Today is the feast day of St. Lucy! In RCIA, we all picked a patron saint, and I picked her. I was initially drawn to her because her feast day is celebrated birthday! Yep, that's right, it's my birthday. Last night, DH gave me his present. An iPod Nano!!! I have wanted one of these for so long, and after work last evening, he braved the crazy mall and picked one up for me. While he was at work, and Fritter was taking a nap, I did not do housework. Nope. I sat in front of my computer and played with my iPod. Another confession, I didn't know what a podcast was until today, but I plan on checking some out. Any recommendations?

Tonight, we went to Olive Garden for dinner (YUM!). We don't get out often, so this was a special treat. Then, our complex was having a Christmas party tonight, so after dinner, we showed up long enough to set Fritter on Santa's lap. He didn't cry like I thought he would, but given a little more time, he would have.

After all that, we came home, and I finished frosting my cake. I made a carrot cake. I planned on following this recipe, but the one I had in a cookbook only took 3 cups of grated carrots instead of 4. I didn't think it was going to be a big deal until I began shredding the carrots. 3 cups is a lot! But I think it turned out good, at least it smells like it. We haven't had any yet, we will soon.

PS-- I am falling behind on my feast day reports, but if I have a chance tomorrow, I will update them. Until then, learn more about St. Lucy here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Conversion

Growing up an only child was difficult in some ways. My mother and I traveled along with my sudo step-father (they were never married) with a seismograph company until I was about 12. God was never really mentioned in our house. However, for the short bursts of times we would live in my step-fathers hometown, his sister would take me to her baptist church along with her husband and two daughters. I loved it. Her husband, Bill, was a guitar player for the church, and on various Sunday's, he would play the song "Lily of the Valley". It was my favorite song, and I would request it when I had a chance.

During the bulk of the Sunday service, I was sent in back along with all the other children to Sunday school, where we would learn bible stories and songs. Afterwards, we would rejoin the group in the main church, for what I called "the boring part", the sermon. Then we would stand and sing, and that was that. During one of these bursts of time, my "aunt" Marlene decided that I needed to be baptised. I didn't know this until later, but my mother was completely against the idea, and wanted me to be old enough to decide for myself (I was 7). So Marlene took matters into her own hands. She arranged for me to be baptised, and afterwards I went home and gushed to my mother all about it. I'm not sure if words were ever exchanged about it, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Eventually, we moved back to my home town in Wyoming when I was about 10. By then, we had lived away from Marlene and Bill for so long, that I hadn't gone to church in quite awhile. A summer or two after our move home, I was sent to live with my father for a summer. My real father was never really in my life much. I'm assuming a lot of that had to do with us moving so much. So I didn't really know him or his new wife and step-children. His new wife was a Pentecostal. Having never been exposed to the liveliness of this branch of Christianity, I was pretty scared off. I viewed them as strange (as I had never experienced anything like this in my secular world), and eventually, this idea of all Christians, and anyone with faith, being strange stuck. My mother's own opinions didn't help, as I'm sure the reader can imagine.

By the time I was a teenager, I was so against the idea of being a Christian, that I actually went the other way. I went through a phase where I was doing many things that I shouldn't have been doing. I had lost all trust in anyone, mostly because I was let down so much, and I figured that if I took matters into my own hands, I wouldn't need to rely on anyone. I still struggle with this need to control everything around me. I still have a hard time trusting anyone, even God at times, but through His grace and the sacraments, I hope to work through this.

Now, throughout this whole time, I look back and can see the hand of God at work. During my stint as a baptist, the pastor had mentioned that you should always pray at bedtime, and that made up prayers were better than ready-made. He then told us how to pray in our own words, using the format of the Lord's Prayer. So every night, without fail, I would pray. I started with the classic "Now I Lay Me", and then would go into my own prayer. I always started,

"Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this day you have given us,
Thank you for all the food you have given us,
Thank you for everything you have given us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Please forgive me for all the sins I have done."

Hear I would just begin talking to God like I would talk to the very best of friends. I would tell Him all my problems, and all the solutions I would like to see (even if they were selfish ones). But mostly, I would just talk to Him. Then I would end my prayer (if I hadn't fallen asleep yet).

"In the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour, Amen."

Now, during this time, my cousin and best friend, Ashleigh, was busy doing her own thing. She was going through her church's classes, to become a confirmed Lutheran. I teased her a lot about it, but she kept going. Unfortunately for her, she didn't feel she could openly talk to me about her faith, but she still kept going and was later confirmed.

This example, through God's grace, became a turning point for me. I considered joining the adult class and going through the motions of becoming a Lutheran myself. I started going to church with her on Sunday, but I think I was more interested in belonging to something than learning about her faith. I never did join the class.

Fast forward to my very early 20s. I was going to the local community college, with the hopes to transfer to a university somewhere very far away. I was working part-time at a credit union, and paying my own way through school. I had moved (or been kicked) out of my mothers home, and lived in my own place. During my last semester, I begun hanging out with the head teller, Cindy, who was Catholic. I had always been interested in the Catholic church, but didn't think they were Christian (I'm not sure how I got this notion). It was so mysterious, and at one point, I even asked Cindy if it was true if you had to splash yourself with holy water before you walked into the church.

Also at this time, I begun dating my future husband who was also Catholic. He went back home for Christmastime, and I was invited to attend my very first Catholic mass with Cindy, Midnight Mass. What a beautiful time to experience this! I was awed. The mass was so alive, so real! I was hooked, and had to learn more about this very interesting thing I had witnessed. I began pestering Cindy and my future husband, and they very patiently tried to answer my questions.

By the time I graduated the community college, I had decided to go to our local university. It wasn't as far away as I originally hoped, but it was far enough to start me truly on my own in the world. I was also resolved to become Catholic, and entered the RCIA program. I entered into the fullness of the faith on Easter 2005, was married in the Catholic Church in August 2005, and had my first beautiful baby in November 2006.

Throughout my life, I can see God's hand guiding me. He put very special people in my life for a reason, and instead of throwing me face first into what He wanted me to do, He held my hand, and patiently guided me, even when I wanted nothing to do with Him. I am eternally grateful to God for this, and I know He will continue to guide me through and overcome all my struggles (or at least help me carry my cross).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Light Blogging

Sorry for the light blogging. I am still recovering from my teeth, including taking care of everything that didn't get done while I was down. Also, Fritter is sick again :( so I've been taking care of him. We are also starting to get ready for our trip home for Christmas. Don't worry, I have a very large post mulling around in my head.

Have a blessed Tuesday!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wisdom Taken Away

Sorry that I did not post anything about the Immaculate Conception feast that we celebrated yesterday. It is a very important feast, and it's not that I was ignoring it. I wasn't. Friday afternoon, I had all four wisdom teeth yanked out. Yeeouch!! They put me to sleep for the process, so I did not have to hear them crack my teeth, or whatever it is they do. Unfortunately, I was on one particular pain-killer that made me extremely out-of-it, if you know what I mean, so we did not make it to a mass to celebrate this feast. By the time I was actually awake enough (about 10 am) we could not find anymore masses still celebrating. So we went to an evening mass last night as some sort of effort, but no, we did not receive communion, because, technically, we missed a holy day of obligation. *sigh*

Anyway, I'm feeling better today, and have not taken any pain killers, yet, so maybe the worst is over. I still can't eat much though, and the chocolate ice cream (isn't my husband a doll?) is already gone. I'm making stew for dinner tonight, and I may be able to eat a soft carrot or potato, but I doubt I will eat any meat. Oh well, easy way to lose those five pounds of baby weight that is still hanging on, right? ;-)

I hope that you were able to find posts out there on what some other women were doing for the feast day yesterday, but if not, check out my sidebar. There are quite a few holy women over there that did some good stuff for this day. Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

100th Post

This is my 100th post. Celebrate with me, won't you?!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Don't Laugh...

I don't really want to do anything today. I want to sit on my duff in front of the TV and alternate between reading and cross-stitching (yes, I can read and watch TV at the same time, I'm talented like that). So I told myself get up, make your bed (I know, I know, it's 2:30 already!) and pick up the living room, it won't take that long. And then I walk into this...

On yonder recliner we have a pile of shirts that I promised DH I would iron for him. Also on said recliner is a pile which includes a very cute shirt I received in the mail today from Kelsey (thank you!). The couch contains my open purse, along with my X-rays that must be taken to my oral surgeon tomorrow (ug). There is also a pile of books, and (gasp!) my home management journal! The floor is scattered with random toys and books from a munchkin that will remain anonymous ;). And to show you what a little helper he is...

Here is the anonymous little helper with...what's that? Oh...right...a pair of mom's socks (they're clean) and an empty box of nerds that his poppa bear must have left laying around ;). Really, it won't take that long. Ready, set, go!

Great Book for Advent

My MIL has recently begun sending all of her children books to fit the season. Last Lent we received The Day Christ Died, and this Advent we received The Day Christ was Born. These books are accounts of these different times in Christ's life. They go through each hour, and you also receive a little bit of background. I haven't started The Day Christ Was Born yet, but I have read The Day Christ Died, and it is fantastic. The author, Jim Bishop, does a great job of bringing the events to you and explaining some of the Jewish customs, so we can better understand them. From the back cover:

Experience with a new vividness the awe and wonder of the events leading up to the birth of Christ: the journey to Bethlehem; the first Christmas night; the visits of the shepherds and Magi; the flight into Egypt and the quiet, joyous return. With a master journalist's skill Jim Bishop offers a gripping, biblically accurate, ever-unfolding narrative that is brimming with rich, dramatic detail. As was Bishop's previous book on Good Friday, The Day Christ Died, this book is a reverential reconstruction of the people, places, institutions, and events associated with a day in Jesus's life on earth.

Jim Bishop also writes an introduction to the book called For the Record.

Nothing is known of the birth of Christ beyond the New Testament. It is a great and joyful story, the happiest event since the dawn of history. It needs no gilding. Still, there is a natural curiosity in the heart of the journalist to know more. He would like to fill in the blank spaces of any great event.

This one happened two thousand years ago. The town and the terrain of Bethlehem have not changed. The road down the Jordan Valley from Nazareth is a little smoother now, but it twists beside the same bank of the same river. The walls of Jerusalem have been moved in a little, especially on the south side, but the view of the Mount of Olives is the same, and Gethsemani still reposes at the base of the mountain.

The marriage customs of the Jews of two thousand years ago are recorded. The manner of courtship, to which Joseph and Mary surely subscribed, is also known. The cave where animals were sheltered beneath the inn at Bethlehem is still there. The facts about the Magi, as a class of philosophic astrologers, are available to those who seek them. In addition, there are ageless works written by scholars about the birth of Jesus.

I have availed myself of these things. The result is within these pages. Although the facts are as I present them, the book must be called a recreation because it contains dialogue and minor scenes which are not to be found within the historical framework of the New Testament. These are my imaginings.

If you are not already reading something to prepare yourself for Christ's birth, I highly recommend this book. If you read it, let me know what you think!

Updated Blog Roll

I have finally updated the Blogs I Read links on my sidebar. I find new blogs often and forget to update my links. But I've done it, so go check out some new blogs today!

St. Nicholas

( c. 350)

One of the more well-known saints, although not much is really known about his life, except the legends that surround him. It is known that he was born in Asia Minor of wealthy parents, and was named bishop of Myra. He was imprisoned for his faith, and was present at the Council of Nicaea, and he died at Myra.

Some of the legends that surround him include one story of three young girls whose family was poverty stricken. Their father could not afford dowries for them, and had decided to sell them as prostitutes. Nicholas threw bags of gold into their home through the window on three different occasions, and the girls were thus saved and were married. Another version of this story is that the three bags of gold and the three girls became the heads of three murdered children who were restored to life by Saint Nicholas. Yet another story tells of him saving doomed mariners off the coast of Lycia. The name St. Nicholas was morphed into Sint Klaes and then Santa Claus by the Dutch, however the figure of Santa Claus is based on the Germanic god Thor, who was associated with winter and the Yule log, and rode on a chariot drawn by goats named Cracker and Gnasher.

Photo Credit: Catholic Culture
All information from the Pocket Dictionary of Saints

For ideas on how to celebrate this feast day, visit Catholic Culture.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Youth Stands Alone

I'm feeling a little discouraged today. I have been reading Life Giving Love by Kimberly Hahn (a great book, and a must read for every Catholic woman). It was recommended to my by a lady in my church group. I had mentioned that I had recently had a miscarriage, and she lent it to me. There is a whole chapter dedicated to miscarriage, and through reading this, my heart healed a little.

That's not what I'm feeling discouraged about though. In one chapter, Kimberly talks about Ministry to Moms. How it is important that we support each other in our roles as wife and mothers. How younger women who are not yet in the family way should offer help to the women who are, and how older women should help train the younger women.

This is not entirely what I'm feeling discouraged about, although it is what got me thinking about it. What I'm discouraged about is how lonely things look when there are not a lot of people my own age that are in the same state of life I'm at. For example, in my church group, I am the youngest woman out of a group of about 25 others. The next youngest is 4 years my senior (which really isn't that bad) but she does not even have kids yet (and she meets at a different group across town). In my group, the next youngest besides me is 10 years my senior and already has three kids (her oldest is 6 and youngest is 2 1/2).

This may seem like I'm being picky, but I assure you, I am not. The woman who has three children is a sweet lady, and we have plans to take our kiddos to a children's museum sometime soon.

Here's the scenario. DH, Fritter, and I were at a dinner party one evening, hosted by a wonderful couple with four children. Their oldest is 17 and youngest is 6, and I think they are maybe 25 years older than us. There were a few other families there as well, but it was pretty obvious that we are young, and Fritter was the only baby, the next oldest being the 6 year old. One lady said to me, "I hope you don't take offense to this, but you look really young". I never know how to respond to this, but I get it a lot. I just said, "Umm...Thanks?" Just like that, in the form of a question and everything. Then she said, "But you're a mother!" That I am.

Now, I know that she meant no harm, and there wasn't any done. But after reading what I read last night, I realized that no matter where I go, it seems I stand alone. Is there really no one my age having babies? Not so long ago, someone my own age may have already had three babies. I know I'm young, but I am still (almost) 26, so it's not like I'm a teenager. It shouldn't be shocking to see a young couple starting out their family, but in today's world, even amongst other Catholics, it is.

I'm not really trying to make any point, just that it can be lonely when you stand alone a lot of the time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

St. Francis Xavier


One of my favorite saints. Xavier was one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows. He met St. Ignatius Loyola at the University of Paris, and was won over after some initial opposition to his ideas. He was sent to the East Indies as one of the first Jesuit missionaries. He spent five months in Goa preaching, administering to the sick and imprisoned. One of the things he did there was to denounce the practice of concubinage, which was popular among western travelers. After many travels, and ministering to many people, he was finally on voyage to China where he longed to go. Before he reached his destination, he died alone except for a Chinese youth named Antony, on the island of Shangchwan. This island is within sight of the coast of China. He is considered the greatest, besides St. Paul, of all Christian missionaries. He worked extremely hard and converted hundreds of thousands of people. He was called "the Apostle of the Indies" and "the Apostle of Japan" before he was canonized.

A great book about this saint is Set All Afire by De Wohl. I own this book and have read it many times. The above information does not do justice to this great saint. His feast day is December 3.

Monday, December 3, 2007

First Sunday of Advent

This is a day late, but that's OK, because now I can tell you how our First Sunday of Advent went. We went to mass at the parish I think we are FINALLY going to register at (it's been a long road finding a parish, more on that later). It was a nice mass, and a packed house. Unfortunately, we ended up sitting in front of a group that complained the whole time about anything and everything. Like at the end of mass, Father was telling us all that December 8th is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, which is a holy day of obligation. He felt the need (it's unfortunate that he had to, but I guess people try to get out of mass as much as possible, sad) to mention that just going to mass on the 9th (which is a Sunday) does not fulfill their obligation, and that they had to go both Saturday and Sunday. Someone from the group behind us complained, "The only reason we have to go both days is so that Pope Benedict can get two collections". Ummm...what? I'm not even going to grace that with a comment, but I'm sure you feel the same way I do.

Anyway, besides that it was a good mass. Afterwards, we let Fritter practice walking around on uneven ground outside. There is a small grassy hill by a tree outside of the parish, and that is where we went. It was very cute seeing him try to walk up the hill. He would make it a couple of steps forward, and then gravity would take his steps backwards, and then he would plop on his bottom, only to try again. He even got a couple of people who were outside talking to cheer for him when he went forward. Very fun.

After mass, we drove to a neighborhood that I had spied on my way to my class last Wednesday. It is a very cute neighborhood, with grass all over and three (yes three!) parks in the area. And there are kids everywhere! It has become my dream neighborhood, and when we begin looking for a house, I think we will start there.

Once at home, we put together our Advent wreath. Last years wreath was very disposable, mostly because we were in a very small apartment, and could not keep anything besides necessities around. This year, we took a little more time with it, and I think it turned out well.

Speaking of Advent wreaths, Karen Edmisten's recent post has some great links to advent prayers. Check it out, won't you?

On another note, Fritter seems to have another ear infection, so we're going to the doctor's office today for that. He seems to have allergies (although I didn't really know it was allergy season, but maybe it is in Arizona) and I think the stuffiness in his nose is what has caused it. He had a low grade fever last night, but so far today doesn't seem to have one. We'll see what the doctor says. For a little guy who has rarely been sick, and who didn't have even one ear infection in his first year, this seems to be happening a lot. I suppose part of it is that he's not receiving any more immunities from me, so his little system is now having to fight on it's own. *Sigh*. But, I get my wisdom teeth out on Friday, so that's good. I guess ;-).

Well, I'm rambling, and if you've made it this far in my post, thanks for sticking around. Have a blessed Monday.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Emmanuel Award

I definitely did not expect it, although I do appreciate it. Lisa at Unexpected Journey passed the Emmanuel Award on to me. Thank you Lisa!

This award was created by Marie and Ginny from View From the Pews. In a consumer society it is a blessing to read blogs where the writer's main focus is God. Where they express their love for their faith so visibly and joyfully.In a cynical world it is refreshing to see so many blogs which are generous, giving, who care about others and demonstrate what being a Christian is about, loving God and loving our neighbor.Through their faith, lives and spirituality, they bring God to us, they in essence make God visible, 'God with us.'

There are so many women that deserve this award. I pass this on to:

Denise Hunnell at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church
Michelle at Rosetta Stone
Donna-Marie at Daily Donna-Marie