Monday, January 20, 2014

Kitchen Tragedies and an Easy Feel-Good Craft

NOTE: This post was written a while ago and left to ferment, much like the bread starter. :)

Tragedy. I thought it might be too strong a word, but you'll find it fits.

First, the Amish Friendship Bread.

A few days ago (10), a fellow dog-walker said, "You bake, right?" When I realized she wasn't joking, my pride jumped in and said, "Sure." Aforementioned smile oozed right off my face when she told me to "wait right here" and returned with a bag of brown goo. It was starter for Amish Friendship Bread. The friend part (or foe--it depends on your perspective) is that you work this starter for 10 days, and on the final day you divide the starter into four bags, keep one to make the bread, and terrorize three neighbors by handing out the additional starter.

2010 Friendship Bread Starter Photo by
Carroll Pellegrinelli, licensed to
For five days, you smush the starter, hoping to rid the world of tiny bubbles that form in the bag. On day six, you add ingredients. Smush, smush, smush until day 10, when you bake the bread.

Sticking to this kind of project is almost my worst nightmare. The worst nightmare came true when I knocked the bag off the counter and it splattered on the floor. No bread for you! (Said in the voice of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi.)

The up side is I got the mess cleaned up before Buster licked it up. Bubbles and Buster equals horrendous gas, which doesn't bother him half as much as it bothers the hubby and me.

Second, the Mexican Spaghetti. I was attempting to be creative, okay? Trying to keep the Man from coming home to another dinner of bacon, hash browns, and eggs. I love a bacon, hash browns and egg dinner. It's really easy. Still, I have to admit that it's missing something important. Like veggies. (I don't think hash browns count, except when I say they do.)

I had ground turkey, pasta, a small bag of frozen onions and red peppers and (I think) pineapple that I didn't use in something or other. I cooked it all together along with a package of taco mix and some water, added cooked noodles, and then topped it with cheddar cheese. It looked beautiful, like something out of a Taste of Home cookbook.

Riddle me this. Why aren't taco's too spicy, but Mexican Spaghetti is? I think the tomatoes and lettuce on the tacos cut the heat. I got heartburn just looking at dinner. I should have gone in for the Girl Scout Chili. (Chili served on Fritos.) But the hubby loved it, and that's what counts. He gets leftovers tonight. I'll have...bacon and hash browns and eggs.

I did manage to find a little joy today.
I made my very own sachet! (And a rhyme!)

In the farmers co-op delivery, I received some lavender. I know you can eat it--somehow--but I decided to dry it instead. Okay. You caught me in a lie. I set it on the counter and forgot about it. When I went to move the pile of twigs, they fell apart. Completely dried out. So who says the glass is half empty? Not me! I transferred the lavender to a pretty bag I bought for 99 cents at the bead store. You just tighten the ties at the top and Taa-daa! Your very own sachet!

Here are the mesh bags I used from Oriental Trading Company.
Bags from Oriental Trading

So the moral is, if you can't make something good to eat, at least you can surround yourself with lovely smells.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

ORDER: My Resolution Word of the Year

By Brocken Inaglory (Own work)
Last year, I felt that Jesus might be telling me that I needed order in my life. Okay. It wasn't a mild hint. He told me over, and over, and over again in prayer, and I never really did anything about it other than make a few halfhearted attempts to get organized. Big mistake.

Order is so much more than neat paperwork piles. God's creation is built on natural order, and when we are disordered, we are out of sync with God. What's my life look like when I'm disordered?

  • I miss morning Mass because I oversleep or I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Missing the Mass is losing out on the opportunity to hear the Word and consume the Eucharist--two very important elements of an ordered day. 
  • My conversations with Jesus consists of a few quick prayers during the day, usually when I want something, leaving me (and Him) unsatisfied.
  • I'm cranky or depressed or lethargic or overwhelmed because I'm out of relationship with Jesus and, therefore, have difficulty prioritizing my day. Instead, it's like standing in the middle of a field trying to shoot clay pigeons as they fly at me from every direction. (The enemy loves confusion. It keeps you focused on everything but God.) 
  • By Danny Choo from Tokyo, Japan 
  • I'm fearful because I've forgotten to hand everything over to Him and stop worrying about the future or trying to control the present. Fear is the opposite of love, and God is Love. If I'm fearful, I'm definitely pushing Him away.

                                                My disordered life? Not a pretty site.

Yes, I believe He was also telling me to get my act together in an organizational way. My mission is my Domestic Church (more on that later), and the only way to carry out that mission properly is to do it with order. When I'm muddled, it effects my husband, my family, my dog, my finances, my writing . . . everything.

Order comes down to putting God first.  We shouldn't fit God into our day. We should fit our day around God. He doesn't want to be the most important thing in our life. He wants to be everything.

2014 is all about ORDER.

Next post, I'll touch on some of the ways I find order. I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Start Your New Year RESOLVED

By Photos public [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I think Johnette Benkovic of Women of Grace is tops. She fights to show women how the secularized culture does NOT have their best interests in mind, and then she gives them the tools to reclaim their feminine power and dignity through guest authors and interviews.

She recently shared her acronym, RESOLVED, on her radio program. Here is her acronym and my interpretation of how to best carry out the mission.


Recommit your life to Christ, daily.  This can as simple as saying, "This day is for you, Lord," first thing in the morning. (Jeff Cavins said he does this.)  You can also use consecration wording.

"Today, I offer all my acts, intentions, and operations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

It's easy to take our eyes off the prize - Heaven - and recommitting every day helps us maintain focus.

Examine your life every day. Where did you go wrong? Be aware. Where did you go right? Where did you see God's grace at work in your life?  Thank Him.

Surrender everything  to God. He knows what's best. This means your money, your sex life, your relationships, your work. Everything. What gets between you and God. What do you give the highest importance to? If it's not God, that's your false idol, and you need to hand it over to Him.

Obedience is hard, but you can ask God for the grace to be obedient. He gave us clear guidelines to live by. Follow them. Hint: In prayer, He will tell you what He wants you to do, and it won't be something easy. Forgive that person who hurt you. Spend more time in prayer. If it's easy, you probably need to keep digging. Read about the lives of the Saints. They struggled. Do you really think your life, if you are aiming for Heaven, will be easier?

Listen to Him in prayer every day. That means you'll have to be quiet and let Him talk, which isn't easy. Try to spend at least ten minutes a day in conversation with Jesus. Father Larry Richards suggests imagining that you're resting your head on Jesus' chest. Listen to His heartbeat. Let Him hold you. He'll tell you what He wants from you.

Virtues, according to Jeff Cavins, are values once you've added shoe leather.  Values don't require any action. Virtues require you to live them. Warning: If you pray for a Virtue, you will be tested. They are muscles that need exercise. I once prayed for patience, and over the next few hours, three of the most annoying people sat right next to me at a lecture and approached me outside of church. God was letting me get in some patience practice. An athlete doesn't become great without practice. Don't expect to master the Virtues without practice, either.

The Cardinal Virtues, which you can strengthen and are meant to help us exercise control over our passions, are Justice, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude.

The Theological Virtues, which only come through the grace of God, are Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Pray for them all.

Eucharist is the soul and summit of the Catholic faith. Jesus gave us Himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist. You can receive Him daily, and He will strengthen you in your journey.

Dedication is necessary in order to succeed. You can't offer Jesus a half-baked effort and then expect miracles. Like anything that is important, you must be dedicated to achieving the goal--becoming the face of Jesus to those around you.

It's a handful, but with God's help, it's definitely doable. Make this year your best year by staying RESOLVED. Your example will provide inspiration for others. Imagine what the world would look like then!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Social Resolutions to Rid You of Fear

Fear is the root of all of our problems. Addiction? Fear of reality. Sexual promiscuity? Fear of real love and commitment, or fear of loneliness. Anger? Fear of being wrong, looking stupid, losing control. The situations vary, but the fear is real.  

Father Wade Menezes, in his EWTN Mass homily  on January 9, 2014, gave us 10 excellent social resolutions to rid of us fear and bring us to love, and they are all based on scripture. Remember, the opposite of love is fear, so these are all about increasing the love in your life.  

1. Listen without interruption  

Proverbs 18:13  Whoever answers before listening, theirs is folly and shame.

You know that person you can't stand? God may have chosen him or her as the vehicle to speak to you. God speaks to us all the time through others, but if we're not listening, we're not going to get the message. 

2. Speak without accusing 

John 1:19 Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,

You don't know what someone's thinking, and half the time we don't understand what they mean. We're too interested in what we have to say in response. Listen. Absorb. Then respond with love. Think how many arguments and misunderstandings we could avoid. 

3. Give without withholding. 

Proverbs 21:26  Some are consumed with avarice all the day, but the just give unsparingly.

It all belongs to God. You owe him the first fruits, or the first ten percent, as a sign of gratitude and respect, and when you give to the poor, you are giving to Him. There are many, many examples in the Bible that demonstrate how God wants us to give. In fact, He told us that when we give to the poor, who can't pay us back, He will be in our debt. It's really important!

4. Pray without ceasing 

Colassians 1:9 Therefore, from the day we heard this, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding

Father Mendenzes talks about making every action and thought of our day a prayer, that we should be faithful to our daily duty. Work can be a prayer. Mundane tasks can be a prayer. So can suffering. Do your best and offer it all to God. 

5. Answer without argument  

Proverbs 17:1  Better a dry crust with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

Look at the internet comments. Feel your anxiety grow. Everyone from celebrities to the anonymous try to make their mark with snide comments, criticisms and argument. That's not debate or discussion. It's ugly. Don't be a part of it. Don't feed the monster, and then watch it shrivel away.

6. Share without lying  

Ephesians 4:15  Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,

Exaggeration and "white lies"(which are still lies). Why do we do them? To make ourselves look better. To make people like us. To support an agenda that would be too abhorrent to consider if truth were told. (Think abortion.)  When you stick to the truth, you show respect for everyone involved, including yourself.

7. Enjoy without complaint 

Philippians 2:14  Do everything without grumbling or questioning.

This doesn't mean accept everything as fact. It means when put on your grownup pants and be pleasant, even if you don't like what you have to do or consider the task "beneath you."  Even if you don't like the person who asked you to do it.

8. Trust without wavering 

1st Corinthians 13:7  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

We can only hand everything to God if we trust in Him completely. He has a plan. Don't get in His way.

9. Forgive without punishment 

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

Jesus died for us. He accepted our punishment, because we couldn't have borne it. He forgives our sins, even the most grievous ones, if we sincerely repent and promise to sin no more. If He can forgive us, we owe it to others to do the same. And this doesn't mean there aren't consequences to our actions. You might get grounded for breaking curfew. It means don't forgive your spouse and then remind him of his sin every chance you get. 

10. Promise without forgetting  

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a wish fulfilled is a tree of life.

It feels good to make a promise. We look good for the moment. If we don't keep those promises, our word means nothing. It takes a long time to build that trust back up, so don't lose it in the first place. 

This list seems like common sense, but it's hard to execute. Really hard. No one said being Christian was easy. Father Menezes is a Father of Mercy. Check out their site. Better still, order one of their CDs.  The proceeds support the seminarians.