Friday, September 25, 2009

Quick Takes

-1-

It's after 10 a.m. and we haven't started school yet for the day. The kids are supposed to be putting away their laundry and making their beds. I'm beginning to think they may never be coming down. Is it wrong that I'm not too upset by that?

-2-

A few links for you.

This saint story just blew me away.

The new blogging venture of a dear friend.

It makes me very happy that the Patum Peperium's are back to posting occasionally after settling into their new chateau in a new city.

-3-

My two year old drew this the other day. I think it is pretty awesome for a two year old.

-4-

My second born is going to be seven next week. Yikes! She wants a pocket knife, a doll, books and various other things. She's an interesting kid, that one.

-5-

One of our cars has had the check engine light glowing for quite a while. For various reasons, we were pretty sure it wasn't indicating anything terribly serious, so we ignored it. Unfortunately, it won't pass an emissions inspection to renew the license plate if the check engine light is on, so we need to fix it by the end of the month. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh? Naturally, although not a serious issue, it also isn't cheap. Bah.

-6-

It has rained so much lately that my vegetable garden which thrived this summer has finally been drowned. The okra has fallen over, the tomatoes are all rotting and moldy and the squash has simply ceased. All good things come to an end, but the suddenness of the last of the garden always comes upon with too quickly. I should know by now to expect it, but I never seem to remember that as with other parts of life, I have no foreknowledge of what will be the end.

-7-

On the non-philosophical gardening front, I started yanking out the dead sunflowers, cone flowers, zinnias and such from the front beds during a break in the rain clouds the other day. It's itchy and some what depressing work. My beds are overrun with weeds. The gout weed and something else have all but killed my vinca and a bunch of other stuff. I don't think I have the heart to rip everything out and start all over again, but that's about what it needs. Sigh.

Many thanks to Jennifer for the hosting of Quick Takes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brown Sugar Chess Pie and an Easy Pie Crust

There just aren't enough pies in the world. And what better to make than one that uses stuff I always have around anyway? Okay, perhaps not better if I ever got serious about losing all that baby weight that is still hanging around. But then what would I whine about?

These are recipes gleaned from a couple of my favorite Amish cookbooks by Marcia Adams.

Pat-in-the-pan pie crust

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cold milk

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a pie pan and mix with your fingers until blended. In a measuring cup, combine the oil and milk and beat with a fork until creamy. Pour all at once over the flour mixture. Mix with a fork or your fingers, until flour is completely moistened. Pat the dough with your fingers up the sides and across the bottom of the pan.

The shell is ready to be filled. If you need a pre-baked crust, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prick the surface several times with a fork and bake for 10-15 minutes, checking often and pricking more as needed.

Brown Sugar Chess Pie

1 unbaked single pie crust
2 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pie crust, put in pan (if not using the pat-in-pan method) and set aside.

With a mixer on a low speed, combine the brown sugar and flour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then slowly add the butter, half-and-half, vanilla and salt. Mix well, but don't over beat.

Pour into the pie crust and sift cinnamon over the top.

Bake for about 1 hour. The top will be quivery, but the center should be bubbly. The pie will set as it cools. Cool on a rack completely before serving.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Little Weekend Fun

A Star Trek Barbershop Quartet -- who knew?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two Years

Two years ago, yesterday, my family entered the Catholic church. In the past two years, we finally moved into our purple house, went to England, had another baby, started homeschooling our third child and spent a lot of time on the ordinary things of life. Some days being Catholic seems so normal and routine. Other days, I look at my children and think how strange it seems that they are little Catholics. The problems of family and conversion are still there, still awkward and perhaps even more pronounced. Some things don't just go away as time passes by.

For all the difficulties and sorrows, I wouldn't undo it. Some times I wonder what it would be like to turn back to the way things were before, but I find it harder and harder to even ponder what that would be like. Finding the Holy Mother Church is an amazing blessing for me and for my family. It's not easy. In fact, I have often pondered how much more I believe is expected of me now than I ever felt compelled to do before our conversion. But those things that I now must do are a joy (most of the time) and I have far more hope than I once did for those things of the future.

We celebrated our anniversary of coming into the church by going to Mass yesterday evening and out to dinner afterward. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fairest of Them All

Our next door neighbor is a school teacher and on Monday, she brought over three extra tickets to the school night at the State Fair. Being stick-in-the-muds and curmudgeons, we haven't been to a state fair since we had one child and were living in Fairbanks, Alaska (for those of you keeping track at home, that would have been about 8 years ago). Naturally, my kids really wanted to go to the fair and just as naturally, their parents were hoping for rain.

And yesterday dawned grey and rainy. Woohoo! No Fair -- or the kids thought, "It's not fair!". Except it cleared up and turned nice towards afternoon. I suppose we could have just said a categorical "No" but instead we loaded up the van, stopped at a ATM because we were not so naive as to think free tickets wouldn't prove to be awfully expensive, and went to the fair. Of course, the one thing I forgot was a camera.

We ate terrible fair food for dinner (though boy was that funnel cake yummy!), saw the animals (the kids were especially impressed by the size of the "boy parts" on the pigs) and wandered along enjoying the flashing lights and bustle. Each kid got to choose a ride, the older two chose bumper cars, and the younger (who were too short for most things) went around and around in a little train.

It wasn't cheap. The food wasn't healthy. The kids sure did have fun though. They are still talking about it today

Friday, September 04, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

(1) You know you've fully embraced all the crazy Catholic stuff when you ask your priest to celebrate a First Thursday Mass for your homeschooling group because there is a plenary indulgence attached to it during the Year for Priests. We had our first First Thursday Mass yesterday, as well as lunch and an early birthday cake for the Blessed Virgin.

(2)Look what we found in our garden (as drawn and painted by my Kindergartner).

I don't think I've ever found a Monarch caterpillar in the garden before, but this year we've seen two. Must be because I've let the milkweed get a bit out of control. A pleasant result from the mess that is my front beds.

(3) My oldest is such an academic already. He started his Latin tutorial this week and was counting down the days and minutes until it started. Afterward, he told me it was everything he had hoped it would be and that he loves his new book. I have to keep reminding myself that I have little to do with how easy he is to instill with knowledge, lest I get frustrated with my more normal, less academically motivated children.

(4)One of my new favorite quick and easy meals is homemade pizza. How can that be quick and easy? Take this basic bread recipe and a pureed version of my simple pasta sauce, roll out the dough on a pizza pan with olive oil and cornmeal, spread on the sauce, add fresh oregano if you have any, plenty of cheese, any toppings you like, and bake at 500 degrees for about 12 minutes. Awesome.

(5)I checked out one of the Genevieve Foster history books from the library and I think I have finally found the history books I am looking for. I just wish there were more of them!

(6)There is a photo of my husband when he is about two, wearing a powder blue suit, standing at a tiny pulpit and playing preacher. Today my almost three year old, solemnly carried his wooden sword around the house as a crucifix, playing altar boy. I sure wouldn't have seen that coming a few years ago.

(7)And speaking of walking around, look who else is toddling along these days.

Read more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What We Did Yesterday

Our neighborhood homeschooling group visited a neighbor's garage, where he is building his own airplane. He gave a great talk to the kids about building the plane as well as some of the important principles of aerodynamics. It was most cool.

And his airplane does have a retro, Bearcat kind of look to it (and he hasn't put a propeller on yet, if you are wondering at the lack on the kids' paintings).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New Environmentalism

You know the world is a bizarre place when you see two overweight smokers, pulling out of Wal-Mart, loaded down with junk food, in a Smart Car.
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