Thursday, March 20, 2014

Classic St. Patrick's Corned Beef

Is it really an American St. Patrick's Day without corned beef? Many would argue that it is not. My mom taught me how to make the best corned beef, and she took the recipe from our local Catholic church's St. Patrick's Day dinner and dance event, so you know it has to be good. My in laws partook of the meal this year. My father in law is not a meat and potatoes guy, he is a meat guy, and lets just say that there were no leftovers.

Of course in addition to the corned beef and dying our lemonade green, we can't forget that St. Patrick was a holy man who loved God and brought Christianity to Ireland. I posted some great videos for kids about St. Patrick last year. My son and I also did a shamrock craft that showed how St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach people about the trinity. It worked for St. Patrick back then, and its a great teaching tool today as well! The shamrock is one plant with three leaves, just like God is one God with three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 Corned Beef

-1 uncooked corned beef with seasoning packet (easily found in your grocery stores in March)
- Spicy Mustard


Par boil the corned beef with its seasonings for 3-4 hours.

Remove the beef from the pot and place in a baking dish. Smother the beef with spicy mustard.

Bake at 315 to 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with cabbage and potatoes.

 This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent 2014

Its here! Ash Wednesday is tomorrow which marks the beginning of Lent 2014!

In the past I have had a tendency to pick way too many things that I'd like to do, and then not do very well with any of them. Just like cleaning schedules, and diet and exercise plans, I start off with enthusiasm and then peter out after a few weeks. Doing a lot of things is a big temptation with all the wonderful ideas that can be found out there in internet land! This year I'm hoping to get out of that habit by picking just a few meaningful things that will still challenge me, but are reasonable to accomplish.

That being said, this year I have to get creative because of the wonderful news that my husband and I are expecting our second child! So no fasting for me, and dang it, I'm going to eat what I want (or can keep down!)

Just today I came up with something that I think will be a great creative solution. As regular readers may know, I work from home as a teacher for a virtual school. While sometimes staying cozy in your PJs is one of the benefits of working from home, I have fallen into the bad habit of staying in my pajamas all day, every day. Seriously,  I pretty much only get dressed if I have to go somewhere in the evening. I'm not saying I'm proud. So for Lent this year I'm going to get dressed every morning before I start work. This may sound a little silly, but I really think its going to be beneficial. That time when I'm getting dressed will probably be a good time for a little morning offering prayer as well.

Another idea I've seen that I like is writing letters. I always have people that I want to write to in the back of my mind, but I almost never do it. While I don't think I could do 40 letters, one for each day of Lent, I would like to try to write a letter to someone I've been meaning to write to once a week during Lent.

I'm also going to attempt to finish my Lenten cross-stitch project from the past two Lents! I posted about this last year, when I was determined to finish it then!
The finished pattern will look like this. The link to this free pattern can be found here:

 Of course our  family will be working adding more prayer and charity as well. I also hope to add in little things like reading more faith based stories, and listening to religious music while I work.

Figuring out how to make Lent meaningful for my four year this year is proving to be challenging. He has definitely fallen into a phase where church is very difficult for him. No matter how well our conversation about why church is important and why we go and how we should behave goes before hand, it never seems to matter once we actually get there.  When I gave simple examples of  things people might give up during Lent the poor boy was almost in tears. He couldn't understand why God would want him to do something so incredibly sad as not eating candy or watching cartoons. I tried to explain that when we give things up we show God that He is more important than those things, and when we get closer to God and love Him more we get happier, not sadder, but I couldn't stop the tears. So I figure he's not quite ready for giving up something like that. We talked a little longer and came up with something that I think, I hope, will work well. Sam has decided that he is going to give up whining for Lent. I think he can understand how trying to stop doing something  naughty can make God happy, and help get him ready for Easter.

I'm also going print off a Lenten Calendar and Prayer chart to help guide him, and us, through Lent.

Here is the prayer chart from Enter Under My Roof:

The calendar printable we will use is from Catholic Icing, but I am currently having trouble connecting to the site, so I will add that link in later.

What do you think, is my list already too long? 

I hope everyone has a fruitful Lent!

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz! Check it out!

Monday, March 3, 2014

St. David's Potato-Leek Soup

March 1st was the feast of St. David, the patron of Wales. In Wales and Welsh communities throughout the world, St. David's Day is celebrated in a similar fashion to St. Patrick's Day here in the United States, with parades, parties, and good food. Sometimes school children in Wales even get the day off! You can learn more about St. David here.

It is traditional on St. David's Day for the Welsh people to adorn themselves with either a daffodil or a leek. When I found this out I immediately thought of potato-leek soup, known to fancy people as vichyssoise. This soup used to be a Christmas Eve tradition for my parents until I came along. After that Christmas Eve lunch/dinner was whatever I chose for my birthday!

I hadn't had potato-leek soup for a long time and was really looking forward to making it. As soon as the raw vegetables hit the warm chicken broth the smell was amazing, and I had barely started cooking! This soup is smooth and velvety and perfect for these still chilly Michigan days. The first spoonful was heavenly, the kind where you just have to close your eyes and say, "mmmmm." I don't think I've eaten something that satisfying in long time. I must make potato-leek soup more often.

Potato-Leek Soup

-6 cups sliced potatoes (I happened to use Yukon Golds this time.)
-3 cups sliced leeks
-8 cups chicken stock
-2 Tablespoons butter
-1 cup half & half
- salt and pepper

Simmer vegetables in stock until tender. Cool slightly. Puree in blender.

When ready to eat, add half & half, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. I actually left pepper out of my batch because I didn't want little black dots all over my smooth white soup. If you don't care, go for it. You could also use white pepper. Garnish with minced chives or parsley. Enjoy!

 This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!

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