Friday, January 29, 2010

Yummy new meatloaf recipe for Sunday supper...

I just found this blog today and, as I am very visual, I love her step-by-step pictures. One of my husband's resolutions, for the new year 2010, was for us to EAT OUT LESS (I really don't mean to "scream" this -- if you could see my face, you'd know that I am smiling, as I love to eat homemade food, shop for food and cook, ummmm, in that order!).

So, check out this beautiful meatloaf with mushroom sauce.

I'd really make Jerry happy if I were to whip up some braised (fresh) brussel sprouts and some creamed potatoes to accompany the meatloaf. Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fleeting thoughts...

I had a fleeting thought about "regrets" and want to try to catch it. The world's wisdom sometimes says, with a half joke, "I resolve to have no regrets!" Reality is that the resolve we need --for what are often our greatest achievements-- comes from our regrets. I can only sketch this out in very general terms. It is worth pondering. What motivates us, especially as we find ourselves slowing down in our 4os and 50s, to push ourselves out of our comfort zones? If God's Wisdom be our guide, then our regrets can be like money in the bank. Our regrets may be, and can be, the building blocks of our resolve. To what do we direct this resolution. We resolve to love and to love fruitfully. Got fruits?

Related to this -- a few years back, our pastor gave a fantastic homily on guilt. He debunked the "Catholic guilt" myth and said that there should be no such thing. Why? Because we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If I am not mistaken, this relatively new name was given to this powerhouse Sacrament because it is not just a confession of sin. After our confession, we receive Absolution. The grace that comes from sacramental absolution help us to see ourselves as God sees us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We must depend on His grace utterly.

When I was in R.C.I.A., back in 1999-2000, I trembled a bit at the thought of my First Reconciliation. I was given the actual grace of not thinking about it too much, and, when it was over, and the days rolled in to weeks, I realized that, while I was full of regret for the years I had lost not being a Catholic, I was also full, to the point of overflowing, with relief and joy at the merciful gift of faith that I had received. I do not think a day goes by that I do not marvel at what the Blessed Trinity can do in a person.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Friends and storytelling...

January says new beginnings to me. It is not just on January 1st that we can make resolutions for the new year. One resolution I have brewing is to rekindle some relationships that have become somewhat cool, not for lack of affection, but, most probably, because of physical distance and the day-to-day bus-y-ness that keeps us often more oriented toward things than people. Just before Christmas, I re-heard the motto, "Fail to plan, plan to fail." This is true for making a business run above board and true for families too. Families need plans. Mom is often the planner, as it is her duty and her joy to extend her family outside of the "four walls" of hearth and home.

One of my college mates, Monica, was such a good storyteller. She was the 13th of 13 children and she had a wealth of "material" from which to draw. I think she loved my being from the South and we spent so many hours swapping stories. I suspect that I am not the only one of my friends from college, and high school too, that regrets a bit the fact that friendships become distant over time when people move away and "move on" to various responsibilities and engagements.

I have been blessed to meet so many new friends since we have moved to Cumming. Thinking of my new friends makes me think of my old ones too. In gratitude and thanksgiving to God for his beautiful Creation, I wonder what we'd do without the joy and compassion of friendship. Our little family is blessed too with the joy that comes with friendship among family ties -- sharing good times and bad with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who give of themselves.

I include this comment on storytelling in hopes of rekindling the simple art of connecting with our friends and family through the tales of our lives. I am reminded of my dear, sweet Monica and the famous "Duncan hyperbole," something we'd throw out amidst huge grins, as we relished pumping up those tales of family adventure with a little poetic license.

Several years ago, my dear friend Maeve called me a "born-again Catholic" and we laughed and smiled for a while. So, I have to stop a minute to think about the most important friendship that we have been given. The person of Christ, the Son of Man, is our Divine Friend and He, in my experience, wants our "time, talent and treasure" (This we hear often enough in our parishes, but it is no mere phrase.). When I feel myself leaning toward being a bit sour and frustrated at all the committments and duties that seem to swarm around me like loud bees, I, by God's grace, stop and realize that I am not spending time with the one Friend who will give me compassion in a constant and loving way.

As I age, I feel my weakness most acutely at times. I am speaking here of spiritual weakness, my "anti-virtue" (This is a little joke among my Regnum Christi, mother's prayer group!). I have always loved to go out -- out to dinner, out to parties, out to tour distant places or make a short field trip to an interesting site with lots of friends along. These days, I feel the Holy Spirit drawing me in to a life that is not my own. It is a life better than what I might come up with on my own. As the demands of my life become more serious, I hope I do not become glum. The only hope for my little soul is Mother Church. I have said this many times in this diary.

I ran away from God for a long time, and, as a sinner, I continue to do so; but, with the Church, I simply cannot run that far. She is so holy and good. She draws me into her loving arms, puts me on her lap and cradles my world-weary soul until I fall asleep, feeling the warm Blood in her chest. She gives me what I cannot make up on my own. This reality is both humbling and intensely beautiful.

A couple of days ago, during some quiet moments, I had a little daydream/recollection about my roller skating days in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I was thinking of how cautious, yet determined, I was as a young girl. The first time I went roller skating, I slowly crept over the rink and grabbed the walls and went many turns around sticking to those walls, while others flew past me. I loved to roller skate and went nearly every Tuesday for years with our local,4H Club. I fell many times and could never master skating backwards -- really did not like not being able to see what was in front of me. In my imagination, I also saw myself falling, sometimes just a small fall with one knee down, then up again, quickly. Other times, someone flew past me and grazed my shoulder, steady now, and up and going again. There were also a couple of wipe outs and much pain. It all ended with my seeing myself in that strong glide of the accomplished skater, faster, faster, around and around the big rink, weaving in and out of the other skaters, sometimes near the wall, other times so very close to the center.

Well, so ends a small glimpse into a story that is still unfolding for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Warm nutritious cookies to fight winter bugs....

I was over at this blog and found this yummy-looking cookie recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (ground finely)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream together
1 cup packed light brown sugar (can take less actually)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened

To butter mixture, add
1 mashed very ripe banana
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix in flour mixture until well combined, then add
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts

Using a large ice cream scoop, drop mounds onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes or until just golden. Let cool a bit on baking sheet, about 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool a bit more.

We like our cookies warm so we eat them right away, but you can store these in airtight containers (to preserve chewiness, though they are also DELICIOUS when the outsides have crisped up.

Variation: Sub 1/2 cup butterscotch chips for half of the chocolate chips. All kinds of awesome.

Happy 12th Birthday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When the going gets tough, the tough (husbands) do laundry..., I took a nosedive this weekend, probably with a touch of flu. My husband's response was to wash everything in the house - I thought he was going to throw me in the washing machine. Come to think of it, that might iron out my kinks!

This book looks so good. Books do to me what gourmet food does to some. Over the years, dealing with lupus-like rheumatism, I really dislike intensely the demand of a clunky body to lay low. I was telling a dear friend that I think I get a little comfort from Heaven when I "hear" in my prayers and thoughts that "giving in is not giving up." I know it must be harder than hard to live with me. The flakiness of it all is enough to drive you mad.

My husband and I both have a good percentage choleric in our God-given temperaments, and the lack of control that chronic illness hoists upon us is difficult to manage.

Well, enough... and, may I be more grateful for the husband God has given me. He would not like for me to call him a saint, so I'll just tell him that I am his path to Heaven.

Friday, January 15, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila on "the prayer of quiet"

Sometimes it seems that we make "two steps forward and three steps back" in our prayer life. At least, I have felt this so many times, especially when life becomes very hectic and full of lots of surprises (illnesses, interruptions, etc...) on top of what is already a big load of daily duties. So, enough said. Let's read this chapter from St. Teresa of Avila's masterpiece, The Way of Perfection, in order to refresh us and bring us Peace.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A recipe for January from Catholic Cuisine

I copied this recipe from Catholic Cuisine. Doesn't it sound delicious and nutritious?

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Saint Francis de Sales Honey Goodness Breakfast Bars
Today is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales. St. Francis de Sales is well known for his books: Treatise on the Love of God and Introduction to the Devout Life. In addition he wrote many pamphlets and letters. The Church has named him patron of the Catholic Press.

Amy Heyd, author of Saints at the Dinner Table, shares the following recipe for Saint Francis de Sales Honey Goodness Breakfast Bars on her website. She says, "These bars remind me of the goodness that radiated from Saint Francis de Sales, as well as the way he remained "sweet" to get people to listen to him."

Saint Francis de Sales Honey Goodness Breakfast Bars
Source: Amy Heyd's Website

1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
4 ounces applesauce (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried apples (get the soft kind you find by raisins, don't get the crispy apples)
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and honey using a mixer on low for about 2 minutes. Add the egg, applesauce and vanilla and mix for another minute. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the butter mixture. Mix on low for 1 - 2 minutes until the flour is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the oatmeal and mix on medium until the oatmeal is fully incorporated. Chop the dried apples into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cubes and add to the batter. Stir the raisins in with the apples and batter.

Spread the batter evenly into a greased two quart baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the bars. To prevent the bars from burning, lightly cover the bars with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

“It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman.... It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world. ” ~ St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

12 Wise Men...possibly...

I was just reading this excellent commentary on the Magi. It snowed here -- beautiful!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

More 12 days...

(This card was a favorite of mine for years and years and years -- I still love it!) Back to a few impressions: on the 5th day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me...another morning sleeping in, more dogs jumping on me and hot EggMcMuffin before loading the van and driving back to Georgia.
On the 6th day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me, a day at home resting very peacefully.
On the 7th day of Christmas, I made Spanish tortilla and feasted with family and friends thinking what a lot of goodness surrounds us all the time.
On the 8th day of Christmas, I started stressing out about school starting back, so I sat down and drank more coffee....which brings us to the 9th day of Christmas, a cold and bright morning, when I think I'd better stop feasting so much and focus back on the coming Epiphany!
(Oh, in the last couple of days, I did have time to read this marvelous true account of Mother Catherine Spalding, an American we must learn about to see what we can really do when we put our heart and soul to plow for Christ and with Him.)