Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family Traditions and Church Celebrations

{"Church Year" painting by Lucia Wiley}

Lately I’ve been pondering the place of traditions and memories in the life of a family. I noticed that my fondest childhood memories involve some sort of habit or custom: Every June we went to the town’s fair...Every Thanksgiving morning we gathered for a football game in the snow...Every spring we washed the fence. Those predictable rhythms of the year gave my siblings and me reasons to anticipate things to come, and they built a spirit of camaraderie among us.

All humans love traditions, but especially children love traditions. The goal of the liturgical home is to capitalize on this in order to bring the life of the family into the rhythm of the life of the church. Over time, the rise and fall of everyday family life subtly syncs itself with the rise and fall of the major and minor feasts of the church year.

For example, I’ve heard of the idea of woodworking on St. Joseph's day. I imagine that many children would anticipate participating in a family’s annual woodworking project. There wouldn’t necessarily need to be a long lesson about St. Joseph during the project. Instead, year after year, the rhythm of the church year would pound itself into the heart of a child. One day, a guest comes to the house and notices the bookshelf. A child pipes up, “Oh, we made that last year for St. Joseph's Day. This year we might build a bench for the hallway.”

Season after season, the life of the family is immersed in the life of Christ, and the members of the family become true imitators of Christ. Because of this, one of the ways that our children mature in Christ occurs beyond their consciousness. Jesus quietly slips into their hearts over the course of the relentless repetition of the liturgical year. As Joan Chittiser writes, “The liturgical year is the process of slow, sure immersion in the life of Christ that, in the end, claims us, too, as heralds of that life ourselves.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no.9}

As I've said before, I don't particularly care for lentils--I cook with them because they are an affordable and healthy source of protein, but I am always looking for ways to improve on their flavor. This portobello and basil lentil soup is very good. The flavor of the mushrooms, fresh basil, and sherry wine are excellent compliments to the lentils. I originally found the recipe here, but I have modified it a few ways.

Portobello and Basil Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced portabella mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 cups stock
6 ounces tomato paste
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 cup bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup sherry cooking wine

Heat olive oil in large soup pot and saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper for about five minutes until mushrooms and onions are tender. Add stock and tomato paste and stir until well mixed. Stir in lentils and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add basil and simmer with pot covered for 15 more minutes. Stir in sherry cooking wine and add additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with remaining basil leaves.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

{Image from here}

Today I am joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
  1. I’m planning to make these no-bake energy bites this weekend using peanut butter, honey, rolled oats, wheat germ, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and mini chocolate chips. Is your mouth watering too?

  2. St. James Cathedral in Chicago will be celebrating diversity this Sunday with a “Pride Eucharist,” a prayerful celebration featuring the music of Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper. To put it gently, I don't think those words should all be in the same sentence. For another perspective on the so-called diversity of same-sex "marriage," I recommend this brief article.

  3. I have never purchased anything from J.Crew, but somehow I stumbled upon this season’s swimsuit collection. My eyes are on this, this, and this one. They have it all--ruching and ruffles, great style, and even modesty, and they would be kind to my post-baby tummy! But then my eyes see the price, and I remember why I’ve never bought anything from J.Crew.

  4. Next up on my outside-to-do-list: build window boxes. Actually, I put it on my husband’s to-do list. :) Our house is white, and I am picturing glossy black window boxes sitting on pretty decorative corbels.

  5. After hearing about the movie Andrei Rublev on Ancient Faith Radio’s The Orthodox Moviegoer, my husband added it to our Netflix queue. From all he told me about the movie, the only thing I can remember is that it's over three hours long. That is really long. And that’s why I am bummed that I didn’t add more movie to our queue. Now we have a three hour movie waiting to be watched.

  6. Last night I got a haircut, and I got long bangs. I think it’s the first “hip” thing I’ve done to my hair since my Jennifer-Anniston-inspired haircut in the 6th grade. Well, actually the haircut was inspired by my best friend’s haircut. She’d actually seen Friends. I never had. And I think that long bangs are hip. Or maybe they just used to be hip. Or maybe they never were. Oh well.

  7. After my haircut, I swung by Target. My local Target had lots of great jeans marked down to $4.69. I used a $3 off any pair of jeans coupon, so I got a pair for $1.69! As of last night, the coupon was available here. Hopefully you can score a great deal too!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quinoa for Breakfast

{Photo from}

I’ve previously posted about the benefits of quinoa and shared some yummy quinoa dinner recipes (see here and here for examples), but have you considered eating quinoa for breakfast? I was inspired by this recipe for Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa. The recipe calls for fresh blackberries, which taste really yummy. But I have also adjusted it, using an assortment of frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. You can eat the leftovers the following morning. I recommend mixing the leftover quinoa with yogurt and topping it with slivered almonds and granola.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Children’s Bible Storybook Recommendation

After writing this post, I’ve been thinking about a wonderful children’s Bible storybook by Sally Lloyd-Jones: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.

It is refreshing to read a children’s Bible storybook that has both good theology and beautiful language. Lloyd-Jones traces the story of salvation, highlighting how the different parts of the Bible fit together under the theme of Jesus as the Rescuer. The introduction begins,

"There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name."

From the beginning to the end of the book, Lloyd-Jones demonstrates a unmatchable ability to find words that both convey the weight of the Scriptures and catch the attention of children. I love her paraphrase of the creation narrative:

"God said, 'Hello light!' and light shone into the darkness . . . 'Hello trees!' God said. 'Hello grass and flowers!' And everything everywhere burst into life. He made buds bud, shoots shoot, and flowers flower. 'You’re good,' God said. And they were." 

And perhaps my favorite line in the book is her paraphrase of a verse in Revelation: "Everything sad has come untrue." This book is a must-have! Your heart will be just as blessed as your child's heart!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday

{Image of Martha Stewart's craft line sold by Home Decorators Collection}

Today I am joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
  1. If you are interested in understanding the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on contraceptives, or if you just want to hear a smart discussion of some of the negative effects of contraceptives on our culture, Dr. Janet Smith provides an excellent overview. I strongly recommend listening to part 1 and part 2 of her lecture. 

  2. Did you know you could make a rug from a tablecloth? 

  3. I am incredibly inspired by Brandy’s philosophy of gardening and her garden layout. According to Brandy, one doesn’t need to sacrifice beauty in order to have a garden that provides the practicality of food. She says, “The trick is designing a space that will fulfill both needs.” I love formal gardens, but formal gardens and rows of vegetables just don’t seem to go together. Or so I thought. 

  4. This is a wedding hairdo, but it doesn’t have to be! 

  5. I love the organization of Martha Stewart's craft line sold by Home Decorators Collection. If you had the space for it (a corner of a basement?), don’t you think it would be easy to replicate some of these pieces by using dowel rods and ikea cubbies? 

  6. I have been making “unda-style” quesadillas for lunch lately. Yum! You should try it!

  7. Here’s a good article from the archives of Touchstone Magazine: “Bad Books for Kids: A Guide to the World of Youth Literature and What You Can Do About It.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mothering Is Spiritual Work

{"Laundry Day," Painting by Sascalia, available on Etsy}

When life gets busy, blogging takes the back seat. Of course, life hasn't been busy because our family is experiencing anything extraordinary or noteworthy. I have been busy with the ordinary demands of mothering three young children. Changing diapers. Folding laundry. Making it through the day. And then cleaning up from the day. Although I really enjoy it, the cycle can sometimes feel mundane. Years ago I was introduced to the writings of Amy Carmichael, and recently some of her words have been running through my head:

"If by doing some work
Which the undiscerning consider 'not spiritual work,'
I can best help others,
And inwardly I rebel,
Thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave,
When in truth it is the interesting and exciting,
Then I know nothing of Calvary love."

The seemingly mundane moments of motherhood are not any less spiritual than any other work which is so easily idealized. For the Christian, all work is so-called "spiritual work." Mothering is spiritual work.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no.8}

Oh dear. I haven’t posted since last Monday! Well, for now I’m simply checking in to share one of this week’s meatless meals. One of my favorite meals is thai peanut chicken with rice and steamed vegetables. I’ve decided I should try this meal without the chicken.

Thai Peanut Stir Fry
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup snow peas, cut in half diagonally
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
1 cup thin carrot sticks, cut into 1-inch segments
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

  1. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, flour, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. In small saucepan, whisk together peanut butter with 1/2 cup hot water. Stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir for about two minutes. Stir in the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam--just long enough for the veggies to brighten and start to soften.
  3. Pour the peanut sauce over the vegetables. Serve with rice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 7}

{Photo from}

For one of this week’s meatless meals, I am compelled to share another recipe by Heidi Swanson of (see two previous recommendations here and here). This tasty asparagus and brown rice is really good. It uses tahini and lemon, so the flavor has a tangy kick. Also, I love the crunch added by the almonds.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The American Flag and Liturgical Worship

{Painting by Artist Chris Peters}

In honor of Flag Day on June 14, the National Review Online featured an article by Leon and Amy Cass. The article summarizes the history of the American Flag and why respect for the flag is “so necessary and desirable.” It concludes:

The universal philosophical principles can command the assent of the mind. But they cannot by themselves attach the loyalties of the heart. For that we need symbols and songs, stories and speeches. We need holidays and rituals, shared times for remembering and appreciating. We need ordered respite from commerce and amusement — and politicking — for expressions of communal gratitude.

In my opinion, the Casses build an excellent case for liturgical worship. In fact, they seem to propose that humans have an innate need which can only be fulfilled by something bigger than ourselves and even bigger than our intellect. We need the church year. We need liturgy.

Symbols, songs, and stories help our hearts ascend to that place where our minds might already reside. Doctrines and dogma by themselves aren’t enough to move our hearts. Our hearts are swayed by the holidays and rituals that we experience in community. For that reason, every week Christians come together to receive ordered respite from commerce and amusement for the ultimate expression of communal gratitude--The Great Thanksgiving, that is, the Eucharist.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 6}

There is a family-owned grocery store only a mile from our house (it’s not a chain!), and they carry homemade breads from a nearby bakery. A package of whole wheat pita bread was on sale for $0.99!

So, one of this week’s meatless meals will be pitas, filled with a black beans and corn. This combination of ingredients is so easy (no cooking!), and it is really good. Also, it allows for lots of variations--you could try serving it in tortillas, over spanish rice, or with tostito chips.

Black Bean and Corn Pitas
2 cups black beans, soaked and rinsed (or a 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup  thawed frozen corn kernels
2 tomatoes on the vine, diced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 avocado, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar
Whole wheat pita bread

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, scallions, cumin, chili powder, avocado, salt, and black pepper. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is slightly warm. Stir in cheese. Serve this dish family style with pita bread. Everyone can fill their own pita pocket.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Prayer for the Day of Pentecost

O God the Holy Ghost

Who art light unto thine elect, evermore enlighten us.

Thou who art fire of love, evermore enkindle us.

Thou who art Lord and Giver of Life, evermore live in us.
Thou who bestowest sevenfold grace, evermore replenish us.

As the wind is thy symbol, so forward our goings.

As the dove, so launch us heavenwards.

As water, so purify our spirits.

As a cloud, so abate our temptations.

As dew, so revive our languor.

As fire, so purge our dross

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Celebrating Pentecost Sunday

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church! The color red celebrates when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles in tongues of fire. Will you and your family be wearing red to church?

Another traditional symbol for the Holy Spirit is the dove. I was browsing through some vintage dove brooches on Etsy (for example, see here, here, and here), but I didn’t get one ordered in time for tomorrow. Maybe I will still buy one to wear next year.

For a while now, I’ve had an idea in my mind of a “Pentecost cake.” Of course, it didn’t turn out as perfectly as I had imagined, but I hope to improve on it every year. To imitate flames, I wanted to drizzle the colors on the cake. However, I wanted frosting, not glaze. So I purchased a container of frosting and briefly heated it in the microwave. I was able to drizzle the frosting while it was warm, and then it returned to its normal consistency after it cooled. The cake is topped with a little dove, sitting nestled among some strawberries.

I also think that lighting sparklers would be a fun Pentecost tradition for when our kids are a little older. Do you have any special ideas for celebrating Pentecost with your family?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 5}

Inspired by some delicious quinoa dishes, I created my own. It's healthy and delicious, and it's meatless.

Moroccan Quinoa with Peas and Zucchini
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water
2 small zucchini
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, curry powder, and chili powder.
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the quinoa, water, and the can of diced tomatoes until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when tender and when you can see the curlique in each grain. When the quinoa is done, set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, cut zucchini into 1/2 inch thick coins. Then cut each zucchini coin into quarters.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and zucchini. Cook until onions are translucent and zuchinni is tender, five minutes. Add chickpeas and peas. Cook two minutes. Turn heat to low, and stir in peanut butter. Add ginger, cumin, curry, and chili powder. Toss the quinoa with the vegetable mixture. Add salt, pepper, and cilantro.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day. Taking our cue from Jessica, we’ll be heading to a nearby park and picnicking on top of the hill for dinner tonight.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages...Amen.

The Four Best Children's Books for Toddlers

Since I have three little ones, I thought this would be an appropriate post that could be helpful for an expecting mother. This short list contains a couple of the predictable classics and a couple unusual ones.

In order for a book to make it to the top of my list, both the words and the illustrations must be beautiful. I find it interesting that there is a correlation between the books I like the most and the books my toddler likes the most. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of preference, but neither my toddler nor I are really fans of the mindless words and pictures in some toddler books. When I read my son one of those books, he stares blankly at the pages. But when I read from these books, he comes alive--smiling, talking, and pointing.

Pat the Bunny
Nothing came take the place of this classic book in a family’s library. It is perfect for little ones who are just starting to respond to books.

Goodnight Moon
Another must-have classic. I love how the story is a soothing poem, written in simple rhyme. The illustrations enhance the story--the bedroom gets darker with every page that is turned.

Scholastic First Picture Dictionary
I think I would have naturally gravitated away from dictionaries if someone hadn’t given them to us (we also have this one and this one). However, they turned out to be some of my toddler’s favorite books! The Scholastic First Picture Dictionary is the best. It contains more than 700 words and pictures. It it perfect for little ones who are naturally working on expanding their vocabulary.

I Am a Bunny
This is a little-known book was written in the 1960s. It is my go-to book for gifts because I can be pretty certain that the family doesn’t already own it. Both the story and the illustrations are lovely, which makes it a favorite.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 4}

I haven’t done any menu planning for the week ahead. We traveled for Memorial Day weekend, and we’re getting home late tonight. I am sure we’ll be eating some meatless meals, I just don’t know what they will be! If you’d like some meatless inspiration, check out these posts...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fork Card Holder

I enjoy giving plants as gifts. Sometimes when I'm at Goodwill, I pick up a few pretty forks. They can add a sweet touch to the plant. I can’t remember where I saw this idea (a magazine? a blog?), but I have been doing it for a while.

Also, do you like the card as much as I do? I love vintage-inspired images.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Atheism and Chess

I saw a newspaper article that made reference to a high school’s “atheist club.” I wonder if these clubs are common and if anyone else senses an irony. I understand an atheist to be someone who denies or disbelieves the existence of God. Do not clubs usually consist of people who share a common interest? An atheist club is a non-interest in God. It is like forming a non-chess club for people who are against the game of chess. And wouldn’t the existence of a non-chess club help to validate the existence of the game of chess?

While on the topic of atheism, my college philosophy professor, Dr. Jim Spiegel, has a great little book on the subject--The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. He approaches the issue with a unique perspective, and the book is insightful and very readable.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Easy Homemade Birthday Present for Kids

Our friends hosted a birthday party for their son on Saturday, and this is what I made for him. Homemade play dough is the perfect, frugal children’s birthday gift. It didn’t cost me a cent!
  • I used some of McCormick’s neon food coloring, which is a fun change from the usual colors. I dyed the play dough neon green, neon blue, and green. 
  • I have 8 oz. tin containers from when I sold candles in my Etsy shop (now I just focus on my spool stands). 
  • I stacked them and tied them in a mesh bag that I got from who-knows-where (you know, one of those things that I would see sitting in my closet and think, "Why on earth am I saving this?").

Homemade Play Dough Ingredients

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

Food coloring (I used five drops)

Homemade Play Dough Directions
  1. Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a pot. Set aside.

  2. In a glass measuring cup, mix the water, oil, and food coloring.

  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the pot of dry ingredients. Carefully mix well until combined.

  4. Cook over medium heat while stirring for about one or two minutes. This step can go quickly, so carefully watch the mixture lest you overcook it. The dough will get clumpy, and then it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. When this happens, it is done. 

  5. Quickly scrape the dough into a ball and remove it from the pan. Let is sit on parchment paper. It will continue to harden as it cools off. Once cool, store in an airtight container. 

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 3}

    {Photo from Hedi.}

    I am really excited to share this week's meatless meal--Double Broccoli Quinoa. It is so yummy! It's another recipe by Heidi Swanson of Half of the broccoli gets pureed into a pesto, and the other half is cut into little florets. Then it's tossed with some quinoa, sliced avocado, and slivered almonds.

    If you aren't familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), it's an incredibly nutrient-dense grain. It is the only grain that contains all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein. It has a deliciously light, nutty flavor. You can usually find quinoa in any grocery store.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Seven Quick Takes Friday

    Today I am joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
    1. I am happy to report that the lentil soup was just as good as I had hoped it would be. The coconut milk added a delicious layer to the flavors!

    2. This is an interesting article about the abortion debate. Timothy Dalrymple explains why he believes the tide is turning: (1) young adults have seen too many sonograms of children in the womb, and (2) militant feminism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, something associated with aging baby boomers. 

    3. I came across this blog post and was struck by the photos of the brussel sprouts. I can’t believe it, but I never knew how brussel spouts grew! They look so incredible! Just like Wendell Berry says, this is a perfect example of how the food industry has turned the eater into a passive consumer.

    4. I am working on a fun little project for a child’s birthday party tomorrow. I’m excited to share the results next week!

    5. About Eastertide, my new-favorite-writer Joan Chittiser writes: "It is a time of unbounded assurance and a sense of limitless liberation. It is hope and faith and trust all bound into one in us. It is the fifty great days of illumination meant to carry us across the darkness of life’s divides (page 176, emphasis added). 

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Easter Centerpiece

    This is the Easter centerpiece that I made this year. A great thing about celebrating Easter as an Anglican is that you can keep your Easter decorations up for fifty days! (Easter season is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.)

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life

    Wow. Joan Chittiser is such a good writer. I’ve really enjoyed her book The Liturgical Year. And if the title sounds a little bland, allow me to add the subtitle: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life. The phrase has been bouncing around in my head for a while now. I love Chittiser's use of language. Usually the word “spiral” is paired with the word “downward.” But the subtitle of this book evokes the image of an upward spiral--a gradual ascent to holiness. Here are some quotes that I've enjoyed...

    “The liturgical year is an adventure in bringing the Christian life to fullness, the heart to alert, the soul to focus. It does not concern itself with the questions of how to make a living. It concerns itself with the questions of how to make a life” (page 4, emphasis added).

    “The liturgical year is the year that sets out to attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus, the Christ. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us over and over again into the sense and substance of the Christian life, until, eventually, we become what we say we are--followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God. The liturgical year is an adventure in human growth, an exercise in human ripening.” (page 6, emphasis added)

    “The liturgical year is the process of slow, sure immersion in the life of Christ that, in the end, claims us, too, as heralds of that life ourselves” (page 13).

    “Liturgical time is the arc that affixes the layers of life. It binds heaven and earth into one and the same rhythm. Rather than give ourselves totally to life as we know it here and now, liturgical time raises our sights above the dailiness of life to the essence of life” (page 39, emphasis added).

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 2}

    {Photo from here.}

    Right now I am really into Heidi Swanson of This week one of our meatless meals will be Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter. It's from her cookbook, and it looks amazing. The recipe is featured here.

    I try to cook with lentils regularly, but I don't particularly care for their texture or flavor. I think this recipe has lots of potential because the ingredients are pureed. Also, it calls for ingredients such as curry powder and coconut milk, which should hide that distinctly lentil flavor.

    I plan to serve this soup with fresh corn on the cob. For last week's meatless meal, check out this post.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Pretty Stamps

    My husband came home from the post office with a page of pretty bird stamps. He said he bought them because he knew I would like them. He was right. Apparently the Nature of America series was made up of twelve different panes of stamps featuring scenes of different ecosystems in the United States. The Rainforest of Hawaii is the final pane in the series.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    The Basics to Starting a Square Foot Garden

    As I mentioned at the end of this post, I am attempting to grow a square foot garden this spring. I’ve had vegetable gardens before, but I always felt intimidated by square foot gardening. I would see other bloggers post pictures of their gardens, and I assumed it was super difficult and that I would have to buy lots of book to learn how to grow a square foot garden.

    I am sure some books wouldn’t hurt, but I was surprised to find everything I needed to know on This website is maintained by Mel Bartholomew, the inventor of square foot gardening. Here are some of the important benefits and features of SFG...

    • Square foot gardening requires less work than conventional gardening. You don’t need any heavy tools to loosen the soil because the soil is never compacted. Also, square foot gardening requires very little weeding because of the loose soil and raised beds.
    • The size is an important feature of the square foot garden bed. Since you won’t walk on your garden, the garden must not be wider than 4 feet. Any wider makes it too difficult to reach across and tend to the plants. Mel recommends making 4’x4’ garden beds, although you could do something like 4’x6’ or 4’x8’.
    • Fill the garden box with a mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite. No dirt is needed! It's best to make your own compost from many ingredients so that the plants receive all the nutrients they need. The peat moss and vermiculite help hold moisture and keep the soil loose.
    • A 4’x4’ square foot garden will produce more than a normal 8x10 foot garden! The grid is the unique feature that makes the whole system work so well. It is very difficult to organize and manage a 4’x4’ space unless it’s divided up into squares. Without the grid, you will be tempted to plant in rows, which is a poor use of space.
    • The grid divides a 4’x4’ garden bed into 16 easy-to-manage spaces. You can up to 16 plants in one of the 1’x1’ spaces! You can grow 1, 4, 9, or 16 equally spaced plants per square foot. If the seed packet recommends to plant the seeds 12 inches apart, then plant one seed per square foot. If 6 inch spacing; 4 per square foot. If 4 inch spacing; 9 per square foot. If 3 inch spacing; 16 per square foot.

    If you’re interested, go here to check out Mel’s "three basics" and his "ten steps."  I decided that I should start small this summer. So I am using one 4’x4’ box. This is my planting grid...
    While on the subject of gardening, check out this post from the archives. I love writer Wendell Berry's seven tips on how to eat responsibly.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 1}

    I usually cook a few meatless meals during the week (see some good ones here and here), and when I do include meat, it's never the main focus of the meal.  I want to begin a series featuring one meatless meal every week. For dinner tonight, we will be eating...

    Brown Rice and Spinach Casserole
    This surprisingly good recipe is from a A Continual Feast: A cookbook to celebrate the joys of family and faith throughout the Christian year. I love its title. It draws from 1 Corinthians 5:8, but liturgical Christians will also recognize that it draws from the Eucharistic prayer (“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast.”).

    Carrot Ginger Soup
    Once I had a delicious carrot and ginger soup at a local restaurant, and I was inspired to create my own. To make this soup, puree several cooked carrots with a few cups vegetable broth. Then add salt, pepper, onion powder, and ginger to taste. Serve the soup hot and enjoy the lovely orange color!

    Homemade Wheat and Flaxseed Bread
    The good thing about this recipe is that it makes two loaves!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Homemade Bread for Mother’s Day

    I haven’t baked very much since giving birth to our twins in January, and I am starting to miss it! This bread recipe was passed on to me by a friend, and it is delicious. It will make the perfect little something to give my mom on Mother’s Day.

    Wheat and Flaxseed Bread
    4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 packets)

    2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees)

    2 tsp salt

    2/3 cup sugar
    2/3 cup canola oil

    2 1/2 cups wheat flour
    1 cup freshly ground flax seeds
    2 1/2 to 3 cups white flour

    Dissolve yeast in warm water and add the rest of the ingredients. Start kneading as you add the ingredients. Stop adding the last cup of white flour when the dough pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl. Total kneading time should be 5-7 minutes. Let rise in bowl until about double or for about 45 minutes. Punch down and place in two greased medium bread pans. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Seven Quick Takes Friday

    {Image from here.}

    Tonight I'm joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
    1. Is it true that Easter Sunday was nearly two weeks ago? I don’t know where the time has gone! I think our household has finally recovered from Holy Week. Perhaps now I will find the time and energy to resume blogging. My break was unplanned!

    2. Before this topic is totally outdated, I have a Lenten thought: It occurred to me that Lent is the appropriate season for one to go through his or her belongings in order to give things away. Yes, I believe that even spring cleaning can become part of living the church year! We have so much excess and so much that we don’t need . Lent calls us to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As we prayerfully ask the Lord to meet our needs, we can learn to abstain from hoarding and greed, and we can give our belongings to the poor.

    3. Doesn’t this sound so fresh and delicious? I think I will try walnuts, oranges, and cranberry juice.

    4. "I wonder what percent of the population of adoptive parents are Christians?" my husband mused last week. Coincidentally, on Sunday our priest referenced this very idea. He told a story of an adoption class where every single couple in attendance happened to be Christians. I find this to be a very strong argument for the Christian ethic and for how Christians improve society.

    5. Our new house doesn’t have a front door, which makes it challenging to landscape the front yard. Based on all my Google searches, it seems that no one else has ever struggled with this dilemma! Last weekend my husband used our minivan to pull out the unattractive shrubs that dwarfed our house. Now we just need to figure out what should take their place!

    6. I stumbled upon this cookbook the other day (and the blogger behind it).  It has been added to my Amazon wishlist, to say the least! 

    7. I love the letterpress designs of Dutch Door Press. I have purchased some of their cards over the years, and now I have been eyeing their state bird prints. Wouldn’t a set of three look so pretty framed on a wall? 

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Easter Bells for the Great Noise

    Our twins are going to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, so we will have family attending the service with us this evening. I want to make sure everyone is well-equipped with bells for the Great Noise. I stopped by Goodwill, and here’s what I found...

    I didn’t want the colored bells to look too Christmasy, so I gave them a quick coat of spray paint. I sprayed the larger bells while I was it...those oldfashioned bells are sweet, but they aren’t really my thing. My apologies to anyone who collects them. Then I attached the small bells to some sticks, and here is my finished project...

    Much better. And much more fun than cleaning the kitchen while everyone is napping!

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Some Brief Anglican Reflections on Holy Week

    A few days ago my husband said, “I saw someone with a ‘He Is Risen’ sign on their door already.” I realize this person is not in the minority. I also grew up celebrating Easter in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, rather than the weeks following Easter Sunday. But resurrection can’t come unless it is preceded by death. And the Church must enter into the sorrow of death in order to appreciate the joy of resurrection.

    For this reason, the Church observes Lent. On Sundays during Lent, we refrain from saying “Alleluia” at the usual spots during the service. This is because we are waiting for the Great Alleluia, after which the congregation is encouraged to ring the bells they have brought for the Great Noise.

    How often do we want to skip the sorrow and head straight to the joy? We want to get to the good stuff as fast as we can. But we must wait. We must join Thomas in saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Because with Jesus, death is always followed by resurrection.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Quick, Easy Easter Craft

    This little Easter project is perfect for kids or adults! These eggs will look lovely displayed on Easter morning on a bed of moss or in a pretty dish.


    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...