Friday, June 07, 2013

St. Florian, Pray for Us!

St. Florian is the patron saint of Firefighters, and although we've only had one encounter this year  that required calling firefighters, we've had three fires since the first of the year.

First, came the New Year's Day fire, when I noticed smoke curling out from around the edges of the hearth. After ripping out all the cement board, insulation, et al. it was cooled down. It is still more or less as we left it that night, though now we are just waiting for our tile to come in, so we can finish it. 

Then came the electrical fire. My husband and oldest son were on a camping trip. I was rushing around on a Sunday morning getting everyone ready, when I heard someone calling me. It didn't sound urgent, so I kept doing other things. Until my six year old came up and said, "Mom, the tea kettle is smoking." The ten year old had had the presence of mind to unplug it, but it hadn't occurred to her to open the door and let out the smoke, so the kitchen was pretty unpleasant.  But there were no casualties other than the electric tea kettle.  We suspect, it got bumped on with no water in it one too many times.

However, the doozy fire of the year was when my husband was pumping gas, and the guy at the next pump said, "Hey, your car is smoking." And then there were flames licking up around the hood. And then the hood was engulfed.  Though, the firemen did say cars hardly ever actually explode like you see in the movies, that thought is not all that comforting while your car burns at the gas pump. We have no idea of the cause, though we suspect either the wiring harness or the battery.  Either way, as one can guess, the car was a loss and my husband has a new vehicle now.

No more fires of interest have occurred since then. I'd like to hope no more will. Since all of these ended safely and nothing terrible happened, I am considering taking up more prayers to St. Florian. Apparently, he's been looking out for us.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

School's Out!

The last few months have been consumed by finishing this year's schooling and planning for next year, when I will be educating five! kids and have both a Kindergartner and a freshman in high school.

But finally we "finished" our school year on the last day of May. I put quotation marks around that word finished for several reasons. First, the oldest isn't quite done with math or history. Second, I want all the kids to do a little math during the summer to keep their hand in, and third, I haven't finished grading or recording yet. However, I do feel like a bit of a weight is off my shoulders and the pressure has slacked a little.

It really is not enough slacking from my point of view though. This week and next, the oldest three are taking golf lessons through First Tee. The oldest started in the spring and enjoyed it, so we signed up the girls as well for the summer. You can't beat the price for lessons, and the kids are provided with equipment and can golf for free at the course closest to my house.

In the midst of that, my almost three year old also started speech therapy, which is no where near my house. We've long suspected that his frequent failure to say consonants, leading to speech that somewhat resembled Hawaiian, was not typical. When we had his evaluated and found he was two standard deviations off the norm, I knew my suspicions were correct. So now we start speech therapy.  In the fall, we may have our first encounters ever with the public school and try to do therapy through their special services. My tax dollars at work.

However, now that our school year is mostly over, I am going to work on planning for next year. I have a teetering stack of books and lots of ideas of how to put things together. If I can only just make it all work.

Gratuitous standing, but not quite walking, cute baby picture

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Meatless Meals

Detailed menu planning as you can see. Yes we eat on the weekend,
I just don't always get around to planning it in advance.

Another week of meatless meals around here (go here for last week's menu):

Chana Masala
Aloo Ghobi
Mango Lassi
Naan (from my favorite bread book)

Burritos (with refried beans, Mexican rice, lettuce, cilantro, green onions, guacamole, and cheese)

Broccoli Potato Soup (from Marcella Cucina, a cookbook we got as a wedding present)

Salmon with a maple-soy glaze (follow the cooking directions for salmon here--the rest of this recipe is awesome too by the way--and then brush with a mixture of 2 parts maple syrup or brown sugar to one part soy sauce reduced by about half)
Brown Rice
Green Beans

Pesto Ravioli (Just frozen cheese ravioli with pesto sauce that I made and froze last summer when basil was growing in my garden.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lenten Reading (or at least what I'm reading right now when it happens to be Lent)

I've heard it said that one should read good Catholic authors during Lent. Taking this to heart, I headed over to Amazon and ordered Will Mrs. Major Go to Hell?

Many years ago, when I was but a young lass, I used to hide behind the chair in the living room and read National Review.* Though I mostly read the cartoons, The Week, and Notes & Asides, my favorite thing and the only one I can still practically quote from, unlike anything I ever read by her brother Bill, was the annual publication of a Christmas article by Aloise Buckley Heath, a woman with to my young mind an absolutely astounding number of children (10). Who knew then that these formative ventures into reading were not only molding me politically, but also would one day see me a Catholic convert with seven children screaming through the house and climbing the walls?

One might suggest that something that makes you guffaw while still just reading the dust jacket isn't typical Lenten fare, which is probably true, but for now it's what is on the bedside table. I'll just keep snickering along while reading things like this, "Tommy's mother went to Hell/ On the Donkey ticket. / And Now she knows a Johnson vote/ Is very, very wicked." Remember, St. Francis de Sales said that "A sad saint would be a sorry saint."

* This is not to suggest that in my childhood home, one found it necessary to hide whilst reading such magazines as NR. My parents, of course, were the ones with the subscription. I just liked sitting behind the arm chair and flipping through magazines.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten Disciplines -- Meatless Meals

During Lent one tries to discipline oneself in various ways. I've been getting up a bit earlier in the mornings and praying Lauds. I love having the iBreviary app to make that easier, because I am consistently baffled by all the ribbons, especially before seven in the morning.

I'm also taking a daytime Facebook break and concentrating on all the other people and things around here that need attention. Like the one with his head on  my lap saying, "I want water." Excuse me.

And now I'm back without your even missing me. Ahem.

We also try to do a few things as a family for Lent. As much as possible, barring sick children and the like, we go every Friday evening to pray Stations of the Cross. We've been praying the rosary as a family every night, and we've been abstaining from candy and meat. Yes, meat. All week long, though we will eat it on Sundays.

I thought I'd share our meal plans since Ash Wednesday last week through this Friday, just in case you are interested. If you aren't interested, move along.

Ash Wednesday:
Since this was a fast day, I made a hearty loaf of bread with whole wheat flour, rye flour, wheat berries, and oatmeal, mostly following the Vollkorn Brot recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The kids weren't fasting, but that was a pretty sustaining bread for my breakfast and lunch. For dinner, we had split pea soup (using water rather than broth).

Pita bread
I was going to make tabbouleh as well, but ran out of time. So we just had some greens from the garden (and I can't even really believe I'm still able to pick fresh greens from the garden).

Black bean enchiladas (I have no recipe for this online, because I used a chicken enchilada with a white cream sauce recipe, but substituted black beans and zucchini for the chicken.)
Mexican rice (made with water rather than broth)


Our day to eat meat. I made a Thai chicken recipe from an old well-loved cookbook, and Pad See Ew.

Mattar Paneer (my recipe actually comes from 660 Curries)
Curried Vegetables (from Royal Indian Cookery)
mango lassi

Although I have a favorite barley soup recipe from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, I decided to try this Barley soup recipe and it was delicious.
Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Black bean chili (from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)

Baked potatoes that will probably get topped with leftover black bean chili.

Tuna noodle casserole (gussied up a bit, because the sauce for this recipe has goat cheese in it)
Green beans, sauteed with herbs and garlic

What's up for next week? I haven't figured that out yet. But I am perusing the meals posted at Tales from Astoria for good ideas. What about you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time to Eat the Doughnuts!

It has become the family tradition to make doughnuts on Fat Tuesday ever since, thanks to Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day, I discovered that making doughnuts isn't all that hard. Especially when I realized I even already had a doughnut cutter.

It takes a bit of planning though. First you have to mix up the dough, which I did yesterday afternoon. You need a brioche or challah dough. These are sweetened with some honey, but yield a lightly sweetened doughnut, not the Krispy Kreme style.

After letting the dough rise and chill in the refrigerator, you roll it out:

Cut it:

Heat up oil to instant death levels (360-370 degrees) and fry them for a minute or so per side:

Then roll in sugar:

And enjoy. Today, at least, my six year old ranked Fat Tuesday slightly above Christmas, though I suspect that isn't a long term ranking.

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