Saturday, December 24, 2011

Poem - He Was Poor

”He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven….

That the ancient of Days should be born.
that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle….
that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;
that a virgin should conceive;
that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,
that the branch should bear the vine,
that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,
and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;
that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God

Christ taking flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand till we come to heaven

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us .

Behold love that passeth knowledge!”

~Thomas Watson


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Extreme creativity in the kitchen or how to make something out of nothing, literally.

Rule number one of baking/cooking (unless experimental), MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS ON HAND. Something I should definetly know, and to be honest, Im usually pretty spot on as to what I have on hand and how much of I have. Except I apparently had a major brain fart tonight.

So I started baking for my Christmas gifts and I wanted to make cranberry orange muffins, something I know how to do by heart because Ive made them so often and easily have all the ingredients in my pantry any time any day. Except I think that someone came into my kitchen and stole my ingredients because it was one mess after another.

First off, you obviously need cranberries and orange juice (and zest) to make these muffins. Look into the pantry, WHERE ARE ALL MY CRANBERRIES? I had maybe half a cup left? Lovely. So I decided to substitute what was missing with chopped dried apricots, not a big deal, seemed a good combination. Then looked in the fridge for oj or oranges... WHERE ARE ALL MY ORANGES? All gone. I couldn`t believe it. Not even a juice box, frozen orange juice, nothing, nada, zip. WTF. So I took the next best thing, tangerines. Yup, I literally squeezed a cup of juice from tiny little tangerines, as well as 1 tbsp of zest (which by the way is nothing like orange zest). Now if thats not dedication to the spirit of baking, I dont know what is.

So I finally pull the recipe together, and am missing just one ingredients, dark chocolate. Now I know for a fact that we have some because I... just.. bought... some. WHERE IS MY CHOCOLAAATEEE? Nope. Life was just kicking me while I was down. I turned my whole pantry upside down to find something similar to chocolate. I would have taken cookies and crumbled them up, or used dates as I sometimes find they taste as sweet as chocolate, but no. Dry like the desert. The only thing I had that was available, was our chocolate calendars. So in the pot they went. 10 tiny little pieces of chocolate (I stole Jeff`s too) that I crushed and then added.

What? Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Anyways, my cranberry orange muffins turned into tangerine cranberry apricot chocolate calendar muffins. And you know what? They were pretty darn tasty, so FU WORLD.


Monday, December 19, 2011

On Roasted Bananas

I was made aware that in my last recipe I posted, I didn`t explain what the heck a roasted banana was. Silly me. No, a roasted banana is not a banana on a stick that I roasted on an open fire (i.e. chestnuts and marshmallows).

It is merely a ripe banana (usually more than 1) that I have cut the top off of, then placed on a cookie sheet type of baking apparatus. I then roast it in the oven at a pre-heated 350 degrees temperature, and let blacken for about 15 mns or so, until they look like this:

http://www.simplemathbakery.com/blog/2011/01/01/roasted-banana-cheesecake-with-maple-rum-sauce

This, my friends, make the sweetness and taste of the bananas basically explode and triple. The bananas inside will have yellowed, and the opening will have oozed the water, leaving behind the intense flavor. So simple, yet so effective. I dont think I make any sort of banana recipe that doesnt involve eating raw banana in its simple form without roasting them first.

In case you were interested, here is a video that shows a banana bread made with roasted bananas. Along with hick banjo music and a heavily bearded chef. I have not tried the recipe, but it amuses me to post the video anyways. Happy baking!

Recipe: Roasted Banana Rum Loaf

I gave up alcohol for Advent. This inlcudes drinking it and eating anything made with alcohol. And its been really really tough. So many parties around this time of year for the Holidays some reason. But just because I am refraining (certainly) doesn`t mean everyone around me is also, and same goes for the food. I baked this loaf for my hubby`s DND Christmas party, and its one of the simplest and quickest recipes I know, its my go-to when I need to whip something up fast! Also, you can easily switch out plain flour for whole wheat (although I dont because of Mr `s preference) and cut the sugar (or even switch it for splenda/honey) to make it healthier! Win-win no matter what!

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dark spiced rum (I used Capt Morgan)
  • 4 bananas, roasted and mashed

Directions

  1. Grease and flour one loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In one bowl, combine the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add the rum and stir together.
  3. In a seperate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients bowl. Mix well.
  4. Add bananas to the resulting batter, mix well. I personally really like having chunks of banana bake through my bread.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45mns, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



As a final touch I usually add a vanilla glaze and some roasted pecans to the top, although this bread really doesnt need. Mmm mm moist!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    How to make an (extremely) cost effective decoration with a 2 year old


    Step One: Collect pinecones. For one tree, I had enough pinecones to last me through 20 Christmas.

    Step Two: Get those kids painting. God knows how much they love to get paint everywhere but where they are supposed to, however, if you use water color paint, its so easy to wash you wont even mind.

    Step Three: Drop that wet pinecone in a brown paper bag that has some sparkles of whatever color (s) their little heart desires. That usually ends up being all the colors that are available. Wouldn`t want to miss out on any color or it might ruing the whole thing.

    Step Four: Get those kiddies to shake rattle and roll that (closed) paper bag. Man do they ever love this part.


    Step Five: Tie a ribbon around it and TADA! Instant beautiful, kid-friendly, kid-made tree (or anything) decoration. Your guests will greatly admire and possibly even lust after these unique twinkle-cones.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Advent part 2 - Getting to know the story of his birth.

    So I would feel confident to say pretty much everyone knows the bare bones of how Jesus Christ was born. Bare minimum facts: he was born of a virgin, he was born in a manger surrounded by animals, three dudes came to visit, and there was this giant star and sheep and stuff.

    Very inspirational.

    Obviously, I felt it was pretty darn important to actually get to know in intimate details the story of His birth, and add something physical to further push that knowledge into reality, into my life so that I could see and ponder His mysteries, and be reminded with just a glance of the immensity of the birth of my Savior.

    I had talked last year of making my own nativity set of clay, and although I had started making it, I felt my sculpting talents were severely lacking, and I dropped that project (although I fully intend to make it happen someday).Since that wasn`t happening, I wasn`t really sure what I was going to do until Jeff answered it for me. He found a beautiful small nativity set made of white porcelain... prefect for hand painting! Its got the cutest little details, and best of all, it only cost 1$! MAD! Unless its a bad thing not to spend alot of money on religious statues? In that case, I will never get anything up in my house but handmade everything!

    My plan is to paint each of these, taking my time and truly making them as beautiful as I can. I'm going to post about each person and thing that I paint, and really explore who they are, what role they have within the story of the Birth, to be able to understand and absorb as much as I can.

    I see myself creating a tradition that I will share with my children, where baby Jesus only appears in the manger after we come home from Christmas mass, and where the three wise men move slowly towards the manger, moving a space each day until they finally reach their goal, just about the same time Jesus makes his anticipated arrival.  I see myself connecting this little manger to a hundred bedtime stories, a hundred little activities, a hundred readings, a hundred things that will bring my family closer to Him.

    Joseph, Mary, and Jesus

    Melchior, Balthazar, Gaspar

    the manger and a sheep (baaah)

    Now what I want to know, is after I am finished, can I get my set blessed? Or is that just silly?

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Conflict

    Last week, something happened that made me mad. And I mean furious. My daycare director announced to us that there was a new law that had passed that completely prohibited the celebration of Christmas under any form whatsoever within the daycare. Of course, the law had been present concerning religious aspects of Christmas for a long time, but this new law meant no decorations, no tree, no Santa Claus, no presents, nothing. I was devastated. My first year with my own class and I couldn`t do anything or even talk about Christmas. Every question and comments they would have about it, I would only be able to say that we couldn`t talk about this here and to change the subject. My kids had already been talking about this for the last two weeks and were so anticipating making decorations for our classroom.


    I thought maybe the reason for this was because parents of children that weren`t celebrating Christmas had complained, but that was not the case since the only two children in the entire daycare that wouldn`t have were in my classroom (one child is Muslim, and one child is Hindu), and I had taken care to ask if they were both OK with a tree and talk of Christmas, and had left an open invitation to let me know of particular traditions they had in their culture that I would gladly share or incorporate within my activities.

    So that is when, I am ashamed to admit, that I had very unkind thoughts about a whole lot of people. Immigrants in particular. The type of immigrants that started the movement to accomodate (Merry Christmas  Happy Holidays, playing soccer with Hijab, wearing a Kirpan to school, etc) and roused up so much hatred, anger, and frustration from everyone around them. I couldnt understand why people would purposely try to shake things up like this, and why a whole lot had to suffer (yes, I do believe that not celebrating Christmas at your daycare when your 4 and spend 11 hours a day there is suffering) for a very few not to be 'offended'. I thought all this in a very unpleasant manner and I was completely filled with anger that felt self-rightous to me. Why should I have to give up something so dear to me and practically everyone around me to stupidity, arrogance, and just plain out rudeness?

    Well believe it or not, I stayed angry for the remainder of the day until I went home and listened to a song on youtube. The song is called Mary Did You Know and I had never heard it before, so even though its sound didnt appeal to me, I listened through anyways. The singer is asking Mary if she knew everything that was going to happen to her baby boy, Jesus.

    And isn`t it funny, I have been so focused on Jesus as a man, as the Son of God, that I completely forgot the fact that he was Mary`s baby boy. She delivered him and held him as he took his first breath, just a little tiny baby in her arms. I don`t have any children, but I can just barely conceive that instinct within a mother to protect her offspring from every harm and evil the world holds. So to think that this woman knew that her son`s destiny was to literally suffer and die to save the world, I cannot even imagine what she was feeling. How could she endure watching her precious son on the cross? How did she have enough faith and strenght to not give in to temptation to run as far away as possible in order to save her baby? How did she manage to give up the one thing that was most precious to her in the world for the good of others?




    How could I raise such a fuss, such an angry, hate and violence filled fuss just for decorations, when this woman made the ultimate sacrifice, standing by as the will of God manifested in the death of her son, of His Son? How torn, hurt, desolate she must have felt to see him there on the Cross. How little she must have cared for the fate of humanity faced with the utmost pain that her son had to endure, that little baby boy she held in her womb and then delivered, and then cared for and loved unconditionally his whole life during... And here I was, filling my mind with hate and hardening my heart against difference and change. Truly I was and am ashamed. This woman who is the Queen of Heaven is an inspiration to my daily life, and I turned my prayers to her that night, imploring her to show me how to be more like her, and asking her to pray for me to the Lord.

    The next week, my director announced to us that it had been a misunderstanding on her part, and that there was no problem with celebrating Christmas through decorations, Santa Claus, and presents. Ave Maria indeed.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Advent part 1

    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)


    And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:12-13).


    I want and yearn for Him more and more as the time goes by. I understand Him and yet don`t, for who could? He is beauty, He is love, and most of all, He is hope. Hope for someone as black with sin as me to be loved unconditionally, accepted without limits, and cared for beyong any mortal understanding. And if I can be saved, then who can`t? There is hope for me despite my mortal failings, there will always be hope for every soul on this earth, we are His children, and it takes my breath away, to know I will always be wanted no matter what I did. No matter who I am, He will always be waiting for me to open my heart to His magnificence and benevolence, His unfailing love. 

    He will be born, to save us, to save me, from ourselves. Rejoice! Rejoice!



    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Poem - If

    IF I had my child to raise all over again,
    I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
    I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
    I would do less correcting and more connecting.
    I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
    I would care to know less and know to care more.
    I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
    I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
    I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars,
    I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
    I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often,
    I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
    I'd model less about the love of power,
    And more about the power of love.

    --Diane Loomans

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    New at NomNom Goodies

    Introducing our new baby: Organic Sugar-Free Blackberry Green Apple Jam


    Two words to describe this jam: flavour punch! Perfect for diabetics or just sugar conscious jam lovers, this tart spread combines the freshness of Granny Smith apples with ripe blackberries. And for just the right amount of zing, the unmistakable flavor of a freshly squeezed lime packs the final wallop!

    Available through our shop, and through our Facebook page.

    Seasoning

    If I had to pick one thing that I loved to cook with the most out of all my appliances, pans, pots, and skillets, it would undoubtedly be, without a second thought, my iron skillet. What a beauty. Oh skillet, how do I love thee? You can cook everything in there, from breads to meats to vegetables. This thing is indispensable for every kitchen, BUT you have to know how to take care of it, which is something that I had to learn.

    The iron skillet has so many good things about it. It has an excellent heat retention and distribution, and if taken care of, this thing can last forever. But it is subject to rust and that isnt so tasty. That`s why new owners of iron anything have to understand that if they want to keep their skillet in great shape and rust-less (and also develop a perpetual non-stick surface, which is a double whammy), they need to season their skillets.

    When I first used my skillet, I didnt season it, and just washed it like I would any other cooking thing, dump it in the hot sink full of water and soap if damage was minimum, or soaked it if it seemed like there would be stuck food. ERROR. After maybe two weeks of this treatment, I noticed that the skillet had this dry look and food kept sticking more and more. Thats when I started doing my research, and found out I was basically killing my skillet.

    So what does that mean to season your skillet? Well whenever one cooks with an iron skillet, it is naturally seasoned by whatever you cook inside the skillet. Theoretically speaking, the oils and fats from the meats and other ingredients used within the skillet should seep into the skillet and remain there to season the top. There are so many different ways to season a pan effectively, but it also has to do with cleaning the pan so lets start there.

    There are two or three main thoughts on how to clean this skillet. Some people say you shouldnt clean your skillet ever, just wipe it down after use in order to maximize the seasoning. Others use boiling water, a stiff brush, and others still use coarse salt and rub it down. Here is what I use: I change my methods depending on what I cooked in. For example, bread usually just leaves some crumbs and not much else. So then I use some salt and napkins and gently quickly scour the bottom and finished. When I cook meats, I boil some water, put about an inch in and then gently rub the excess gunk out without scouring the bottom.

    And here is where the seasoning comes in. I called my grandmother up and asked her what she did to season her pan. And surprisingly, because I never thought my grandmother would use this ingredient, she told me that the secret lies in peanut oil. After every washing, I rub a tiny amount of peanut oil at the bottom of the pan, around the sides, and on the top edge. Not enough to make it glisten, just enough to give it that nice healthy well kept look. And ho and behold, the pan is now non-stick, looks great, and cooks great!

    All in all, all this work is 100% worth the skillet and what it does. I love my skillet!

    dinner buns, garlic for the hubbt and rosemary chive for me!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Anger

    People go to work to be able to afford things. Their entire lives revolve around these things, they are consumed by the need to consume. Big cars, big tvs, big kitchens and big houses. People work so that they don`t have to make things for themselves, fend for themselves, and definetly not cook for themselves. When was the last time an average modern family had bread made by themselves, rather than store-bought with unpronouncable ingredients in a list that should be as simple as FLOUR, OIL, SUGAR, SALT, WATER, YEAST. People don`t make food anymore, they prefer to buy 5 minute MCD meals and eat them in their cars to save time for.. nothing because their children are zoned out in front of tvs by 6:00pm and parents are wiped out by the stress of keeping this lifestyle that drains them of their lives, their relationship with their spouses, and their relationship with their offspring. But are 'happy' because of their big cars, big tvs, and big houses.

    Women are returning to work earlier and earlier after having babies, leaving 2 month olds in the care of complete strangers, drinking man-made powder rather than nutritious breastmilk because they have to go work for a million different reasons. Families are leaving the care of the greatest treasures they will ever have to afore-mentioned strangers for the majority of their day to ensure, amongst other things, that those children will have the newest and shiniest gadget available. The biggest travesty, the worst thing, is to see those kids coming into daycare at 7:00am, and leaving at 6:00pm. They are so hungry for parental love and affection, making sure they have a drawing for mommy, or a statue for daddy. Then their parents come to pick them up, tired and stressed from their day and traffic, and they have nothing left to give. All they can think of is getting home, putting some sort of food on the table, cleaning up, cleaning the kids, putting them to bed, and passing out. And the cycle is repeated for 5 days out of 7, sometimes more. Those kids are so starved for something their parents cant give them, and its heartbreaking to watch.

    And this is how Im supposed to raise my kids? This is what society tells me is the normal and average thing to do, and that I am the one who is weird and abnormal for considering staying at home, raising and home-schooling my children rather then entrusting something that should naturally be my job to other people?  Well, society, in simple terms, you can shove that where the sun don`t shine.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Success!

    NomNom Goodies at the Verdun Artisan Fair was a great success!! We met many interesting people, learned alot, and had so much fun!

    
    
    on the phone with our biggest fan - my mom LOL!


    
    Ready to give away nomnom presents!


    Congratulations to Mme Guylaine L., the winner od our raffle Christmas basket!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Remembering


    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.



    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Dying of laughter

    Im reading Sister Mary Martha's blog (this woman has to be the most hilarious person ever), and she had recently posted about time change and what to do with the extra hour that is given us by the time change. Here is an excerpt from the comments found below the blog post:

             Anonymous said...

    I have a question for Sister Mary Martha. I was raised catholic until I was 6, then my parents were basically nothing until I was 12. I became a born again christian at 15, a lutheran by marriage at 18, and am kind of a nothing now.

    With so many different religions in this world, how do you figure out which one is the right one? Every religion thinks that they are the one true religion.

    What do you think?

    Jan
    ____________________________________________________________________________
    Sister Mary Martha said...
    Gee, Jan, I guess I wear this outfit because I am filled with doubt about which path is the right one. I'm so wishy washy on the subject that I wrap my whole head in cotton starched to within an inch of it's life.

    Here's how it works historically. God invents:
    Jews, who are waiting for the Messiah,
    Jesus, who invents the Catholic Church
    ("you are Peter..the first Pope..and upon this rock I will build by Church")
    the end.

    Everyone else is making it up





    I havent stopped laughing.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Mysterious ways

    Remember that debate I was having awhile back about rosaries? I had finally decided on one and had been about to purchase it, when it got sold right under my nose! I took it as a sign that it wasnt time yet to purchase one and let the search for the right rosary go.

    Well, wouldn't you know it, God works in mysterious ways! A woman contacted me through my shop on Etsy and asked if I would be interested in doing an exchange. She wanted to exchange 5 of my jams for 1 of her items. Perplexed, I went to go check out her store. Turns out she makes the most beautiful rosaries! It was like getting smacked in the back of the head by the Almighty lol! I got to pick whichever one I wanted, and settled on this one (which practically jumped out at my face when I saw it).


    "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Introducing NomNom Goodies

    If you know me, you know that I love to make food. All types of food. I sarted to experiment with making jams of all kinds maybe three years ago. I get so inspired by the bounty of God's green earth, the endless combination of this fruit with that herb, or these berries with that spice. Color, texture, and of course taste can be affected by so many tiny changes in measuring, there really are no limits to what one can make. So I ended up making many, many types of jams, some complete disasters, and others coming out delicious. But it was only at the beginning of this year when a friend of mine said 'Why don't you open your own store of jams?' that really put the wheels in motion.

    I knew right away that I liked this idea. I had always given away my jams freely, making them my favorite hostess gift, Christmas gift, or simply 'Im thinking of you gift'. But to spread a little bit of my homemade love around to people that I didnt know? Very interesting. Of course, I knew that I couldnt open an actual store, after some reflection I really felt this was not the time or place for me to have a business. So the next best thing is, of course, having an online store! That's when I found out what Etsy was.

    Etsy is, simply speaking, a website where artisans of all trades come to sell their handmade wares. From carved wood, to knitted booties, to art, there is something for everyone. And this is where I started to build my own little 'company'.

    Introducing NomNom Goodies!! And we even have our own Facebook page! I sell jams, marmelades, and preserves (all homemade in small batches, of course). And best of all? Every single ingredient I use in my jams, be it the berries/fruits/wines/sugar or spices are guaranteed organic. I do not believe in eating or serving chemical filled foods in my household, so it is only natural that I also take this step with the things that I sell. We currently have nine different items available: two fruit butters (spiced apple butter, spiced pumpkin butter), one marmelade (cara cara/strawberry/rosemary), and 6 jams (sparkling berry, blushing peach, apple plum, blueberry mint, pear honey sage, and pineapple coconut vanilla).

    The next step that I want to take with the store is using exclusively local ingredients, which will mean changes in the products that I carry, but I believe that this would be something worth the adjustment!

    Wish me luck!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    I've been a wizard lately








     Blueberry/cranberry/chocolate bread
    Blueberry muffins with sugar/cinnamon topping
    Pumpkin and apple butters

    Oh yeaaaaaaah

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    GRR!

    Things that seriously piss me off include (but are not limited to)

    1. Speeding cars in streets full of children and their parents. ESPECIALLY if that street is a 30 zone. Someone needs to get beaten over the head with a cast iron pan.
    2. Stupid females (and possibly males too) who leave the water on while going to the bathroom to ensure other females dont hear them pee and/or poop. SERIOUSLY?
    3. Parents who buy (or allow) their 12 year old kids to wear costumes that would probably seen on women on the corners of St-Catherine street. That goes for parents of children anywhere below 18, and even then.
    4. Being called gross, stupid, and crazy by really ignorant people who think its important to tell me how wacko it is that I want to use reusable diapers (and menstrual pads).
    5. Constantly being under fire for reading the Bible, going to Church, and (randomly) preferring to make my own staples, such as bread. DEAL WITH IT SILENTLY.

    There.. I feel better now.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Here are a few of my favorite things

    You know what's the most wonderful thing in the world? Hearing 'Good morning my wife' when you wake up in the morning. Putting on that oh-so-new wedding band. Introducing your better half as 'my husband'. Knowing that you are united with the man you love more than anything else with God, family, and friends as witnesses, until death do you part. Ok, I guess I should have pluralized thing. :)
    My wedding was truly and honestly perfect. There is nothing I would have changed, added, or left out. I am so happy I found that balance between economical/ecological and traditional. We paid what we wanted and had what we wanted, and our families had so much fun, and no one missed those silly things people were trying to pressurize us into buying. Having Sweet Child O' Mine from the Guns N' Roses (the violin version) play while my bridal party walked up the aisle was priceless. Including a greeting in the four languages (english/french/mohawk/greek) was a nice touch. And all those things that kept me sleepless three nights in a row? All for nothing.

    I also received a gift from Heaven. When I was about to embark in the limo, it was raining hard, then sunny, the sunshowers. Driving towards the chapel, rainbows suddenly appeared in the sky. No jokes, it was like this movie magic moment, except in real life. It was like my father was smiling at me and giving his support and approval. Of course I was in tears as soon as one of my girls said this, but it truly felt like he was smiling right at me and saying that he was present, with me, ready to give me away. What more could a girl ask for?

    I really am the most blessed woman in the world, and I am so grateful for everything. What did I ever do to deserve this bounty of love and happiness? God is great, and to Him I give thanks!

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    The Art of a Good Marriage

    excerpt from “The Art of a Good Marriage”, by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

    "A good marriage must be created. In marriage the "little" things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say, ”I love you" at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is having a mutual sense of values, and common objectives. It is standing together and facing the world. It is forming a circle that gathers in the whole family. It is speaking words of appreciation, and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is not only marrying the right person -- it is being the right partner."

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    There is still good out there!

    Prayer is an incredible thing. I don't know what it is lately but I find that my prayers have been answered ridiculously fast in a very determinate way. For example, I was coming up short for a few things for the wedding that I didnt absolutely need but would have been a nice addition. I didnt freak out about it because, like I said, it wasnt one of those must have things, but I still prayed about it. I asked Him if that it was supposed to be, that I needed His help to find a way to make it happen. The very next morning (no joke) we got the absolutely unexpected news that we were getting a monetary gift that came from a very unlikely source.

    This latest miracle (and it was nothing short of that) happened just last morning. We got our car robbed twice in two months, which was very disheartening. In the latest robbing, Jeff had actually forgotten his wallet in the inside compartment and of course, it was gone. So he called all the places for his cards and we worried about the fact all his personal information was out there somewhere with somebody with possible and probable evil intentions. So, I once more tuned to prayer and asked Him for His help in whatever way that may be. And what happened, you ask? Well yesterday morning, a random knock came at our door. When Jeff answered, he found out it was our backyard neighbor... with Jeff's wallet... completely intact. Every card and every dollar were still inside where he had left them. The neighbor found it in our street and after seeing who it belonged to, he immediately came and dropped it off. So now I have him in my prayers LOL!

    But I also decided to give him a little something to thank him. Im baking him a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf that taste like cake. It is so delicious and moist, and makes enough for three loaves. Mmm mmm homemade goodness.


    Ingredients
    2 cups brown sugar
    15 ounces pumpkin puree
    1 cup apple sauce
    2/3 cup water
    4 eggs
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half all purpose)
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
    1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I do a crnaberry/chocolate chip mixture to cut the sweetness)
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts



    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans.
    2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill pans 1/2 to 3/4 full.
    3. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    On my life

    I thought that with the end of school, would come the opening of my schedule. The availability to do what I wanted, relatively, and when I wanted. Ha. I think I got addicted to this ultra-busy schedule of mine and thought I would be bored having nothing precise to do, so hey, why not plan a wedding on my own? It is absolutely ridiculous the amount of preparation, organization, and ultimately stress this has brought. And for what? For me to be able to prove that yes, I can do this! Yes, I can have a wonderful wedding ceremony and reception on a low low budget by planning to do many little things by hand and burying myself in research on how to get that thing without paying that price. Once again, ha.

    How many times did I listen to married women saying how if they could go back and change things, they would do things simpler, easier, and draw support from family and friends, they absolutely would. Because those tiny little details you spent 5 hours on? Noone notices or remembers. And why would they? Most of them are there to witness the union of two people for a lifetime commitment, celebrate and feast afterwards. Our society has added on useless things like programs, useless and expensive guest favors, table centerpieces that serves only to bring unhappiness and envy through comparison, and enormous wedding cakes that for some reason have to match the wedding bouquet (??????). I had always said to myself that I would never crumble under the pressure of giving in to consumerism and waste. Did I already say HA?

    I vented to Amy through a letter a couple of weeks ago about all this craziness in my head that resulted from stupid wedding things. And her reply really made me pause to reflect (especially the fuck 'em part LOL). I was self-inflicting this stress, and really, I have all the power in the world to make it stop. And I will. There are two aspects of the reception that I always dreamed about, that have completely been put aside through devoting myself to dumb stuff.

    One, is the guest book. That silly book that costs a forune because it must be in a pretty case and then gets stowed away in the attic type thing. I dont want that. Or rather, I do but I want to do something with my hands. I was thinking of making a painting with a tree and having each leaf be a signature, or something of the kind. The second thing, is I have always dreamed of having a dessert buffet where everyone (that wants to) would make their special dessert and have a potluck of homemade sweets if you may. I had tentatively broached the subject to my mother and mother-in-law and met such backlash that I immediately dropped the subject. But I realized how much I wanted that, and that if I couldn't have that, then I could myself make some desserts. So I have made a list of easy desserts that I can freeze and thaw the day prior, and this is one thing I am really looking forward to making.

    Throughout all of this, I have to remember that I can lay all my problems at the feet of God, and He will take care of me. And if I can remember to praise Him in everything I do, and to lean on Him in times of stress and difficulty, then everything will fall into place and things will happen as they are meant to happen.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    I dont do that anymore

    I have a friend of mine who has thrown herself at cooking/baking in the hopes of getting a man to notice (her words, not mine) and has other outwardly shocking tactics, which she frequently posts on Facebook. I look at her posts and think, was I ever like that? Did I ever post long, boastful, and precises details on what I made just to get comments or attention?

    The answer is, shamefully, yes. From a to z, anything that might have cause food envy to others, I posted. I feel so ashamed to have taken such pleasure from being validated, why did I need that? Because I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I was good at something?

    And more importantly what changed for me to barely post anything food related? I don't need to prove to anyone that I can cook, or boast that I haven't bought store made bread in almost a year, or say this and that just to get attention to what Im doing. I get all the attention I need when Jeff asks me if I can make that sort of pie again, or if I can bake that special cinnamon bread I made last month. And instead of fighting to be the best and most knowledgeable baker out there, Im happy to share my recipes and tips with anyone who bothers to ask.

    I feel so much better than I did, so much lighter, and so much more content. Life is good, and I dont need to broadcast it across a social network.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Silly Love


    Here we are
    On earth together
    It's you and I
    God has made us fall in love
    It's true
    I've really found
    Someone like you

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Holy Mother


    Ave Maria, gratia plena,
    Dominus tecum,
    benedicta tu in mulieribus,
    et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.
    Sancta Maria mater Dei,
    ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.
    Amen

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Of Stepford Wives

    I found this book in the used book store up my street, here is an excerpt:


                        ''In the 1970s, the pro-feminist bestseller Stepford Wives turned the traditional housewife into a mindless, husband-pleasing, yes-woman who was literally heartless—because, come to find out, she was actually a robot. The message was clear: a woman who faithfully serves her family, loves pleasing her husband, and joyfully takes care of her home (from home) is not a “real person,” but a contrived fantasy of her overbearing and selfish husband. Instead of treasuring women and properly utilizing their gifts, our culture has attempted to discard the beauty and uniqueness of biblical womanhood and create an emotionally androgynous power-woman whose worth is measured only by the degree of her ambition, the shape of her body, and her money-making potential. Rather than women renouncing this affront to their dignity, amazingly, the slaves are demanding their slavery!
                        In place of the glorious picture painted for us in Scripture of the passionate keeper at home, a hollow counterfeit has emerged—a desperate image concocted and promoted by Hollywood stereotypes, magazine models, and women’s selfhelp books. The rise of the Internet has only added to the confusion. As women have gravitated to the web en masse, they have met a flood of men and women of all backgrounds and persuasions propounding conflicting notions of what it means to be a woman.
                      The cacophony of ideas and teachings that today’s Christian women must wade through as they contemplate their rightful place in God’s created order can be simply overwhelming. (...) While today’s women may be bombarded with more media streams than their counterparts of previous generations, biblical femininity has always been an unusual quality. This is what led King Lemuel’s
    mother to observe, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). Virtuous women have always been rare, and oh, how precious they are!''

    Oh yes she did! I think I'm going to enjoy this book (which is by the way called Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Stacy MacDonald).

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Good or Bad?

    Is this a good or a bad thing?? I love and hate it at the same time and I can't find any references anywhere as to the protocol for rosaries. Help!!!

    I can's help but like the whole funky Catholic thing, however I don't think I would ever bring this into Church.

    vs

    Much more traditionally feminine, beautiful and simple in its own right. And, I think, much more appropriate for Church.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    To be carried

    One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.

    “Lord, You said that once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

    The Lord replied, “My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

    - Author Unknown


    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Welcoming the Fall

    September 23rd can't come soon enough for me. Autumn is my favorite season by far. The weather is perfect, the air is crisp and clean and its just cold enough for a sweater, and can't you tell I LOVE sweater weather! But more than that, this is when I truly see the beauty in God's earthly creation. The colors of the maple leaves are truly spectacular, and the whole world seems wrapped in a blanket of beauty and plenty. And part of the plenty is the bounty of apples. This is the simplest and quickest recipe in the world and brings in the true-tested combination of apples, cinnamon, and sugar.

    Ingredients
    • 2 tart green apples
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3 tsp crushed nuts (I used pecans)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
    2. Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 1 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon butter. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with the nuts.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.

    Note: This is such a basic recipe that you can add whatever you want to the centre of the apples like: raisins, orange zest, and in my case, dried cranberries

                   

    Baked Ziti

    Can I say yum? Baked ziti is so delicious, and freezes quite well (it also ends up usually making tons of leftovers in most cases). Its also one of the most affordable meals one could make, super comforting and quite fast if you have the sauce pre-made and frozen (as in, make a huge batch of sauce and your set). What more could you ask of a meal?

    Ingredients
    • 1 pound ziti (I didnt have any so I used mezze penne lisce, which is what I had on hand)
    • 2 large onions, sliced into very thin half rings or about
    • Garlic (I used 5 cloves)
    • 6 slices provolone cheese
    • 8 oz container of  sour cream
    • Shredded mozzarella cheese
    • About 3 cups of sauce (I used 2 parts of my arrabiata vegetable sauce and one part meat sauce) 
    Directions


    • The first thing you have to do is caramelize the onions, in a bit of butter and oil, at medium-low heat. In my experience, this process takes a good long while, at least 30 mns if you want a good flavor, but it can be done in less. Here is a good video on how to do this. The chef uses balsamic vinegar, which is what I use, but you dont absolutely need that. When the onions are halfway thrrough, throw in your garlic.
    • When the onions are done, throw in the sauce in the same pan to keep that glaze at the bottom of the onion pan running through your sauce. That way you lose none of your flavors, and only have to clean one pot (double score!). Keep the heat at medium to prevent scorching.
    • Next, heat some salted water in a pot to cook your pasta, but only al dente, because it finishes cooking in the oven, so overcooking it in the water would mean a mushy mess in your plate. That should take about 5-6 minutes, no more.
    • By now the sauce temperature should have evened out and slightly bubbling away. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.
    • At the bottom of a pyrex glass pan (the ones you use if you want a lasagna), put some of the sauce, then layer half the pasta, half the sauce, and the provolone cheese. Repeat and top with the mozza. Top the cheese with some fresh cracked pepper.
    • Bake for about 20 mns. EAT!


    I didnt include a picture because although ziti makes a delicious dish, its ugly in photograph LOL

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Taking their skin off

    Taking the skin off of plums by hand can be a long task if you've got alot of them to do. 10 lbs to be precise, courtesy of my plum/apple jam from last night. So having learned from my peaches the day prior, I decided to look up how I can do this task more efficiently sans having to buy a machine to do it for me. And I found this technique of boiling and ice water which makes it so fast and so easy I am never going to peel large amounts of fruit by hand again! This technique can be used with tomatoes, peaches, plums and basically any type of fruit/vegetable with a thin skin and fleshy soft interior. I'm going to try it on pears tonight and see if it works on those, since they have more of a fibrous flesh.

    Wash and take off the stems, then cut an incision in an X shape on your fruit. It doesn't
    have to go very deep, just enough for the skin to be marked.

    Then you drop the fruit in a pot of boiling water from 30 seconds to 1 minute, enough for the skin to split open and peel off on its own. This particular plum almost instantaniously split and peeled, while my larger ones took a bit longer than 1 minute. You just have to be careful not to stew your fruit and leave them in there too long.

    You then deposit the fruit in a bowl of ice water (note: my ice had almost all melted by the time I took this picture) and leave them there to completely cool down for maybe 5 minutes.

    And there you have it, an extremely easy to peel plum ready to be used. This is 100% worth the small effort it took to set it up and then wash afterwards, if only for the fact I dont lose any fruit whatsoever, unlike peeling.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    I love how... (part 2)

    this (mixture of wild and homegrown blueberries, lemon, mint sprigs)

    turns into this

    to finish into this (blueberry mint jam)


    True Love... again :)

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    I love how...

    this (organic peaches, raspberries, honey wine)



    turns into this



    which then ends up like this (grown-up blushing peach jam)



    True Love.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Plastic does not make perfect

    I have been trying to remove as many plastic based items in and around my kitchen to replace with organic materials as much as possible, and it has been no easy thing! Its only when we really look with our eyes open, that we seriously see just how much plastic is filling our everyday lives (well, mine at least). From plastic utensils to plastic containers, plastic is everywhere. And that makes me shudder.

    You see, in almost all cases, plastic does not biodegrade. It photodegrades, and that is a very scary end result. In simple terms, plastic will eventually (and by eventually I mean that the process can take hundreds of years) break down into small plastic pieces, and never move on from there. These small pieces might then end up pretty much anywhere on our planet, resulting in the death of many animals and sea creatures. It’s actually estimated that over  1 million marine animals and birds die each year from ingesting plastic. Eek!

    5gyres says it quite perfectly:

    ‘ Take a look around you- most of what we eat, drink, or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic- a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away. This throwaway mentality is a relatively recent phenomenon. Just a generation ago, we packaged our products in reusable or recyclable materials – glass, metals, and paper, and designed products that would last. Today, our landfills and beaches are awash in plastic packaging, and expendable products that have no value at the end of their short lifecycle. The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys, and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.‘

    We ARE living in a throwaway culture, which absolutely blows my mind. I mean, apart from the fact that we are literally surrounded by people in need of everything everywhere, we North-Americans are killing our planet much quicker than any other culture or place in the world. How ridiculous is that? Plastic, which is basically designed to be with us forever is being thrown out, and even if recycled, only a tiny bit of it is recoverable!  This makes me want to scream every time I see someone buy a bottle of water and throw it out in the garbage two minutes later.

    So following this research, I decided I wanted to quit being a part of this vicious cycle as much as possible. I want to literally rid my kitchen as much as possible of anything and everything plastic. For example, I am getting rid of plastic cutting boards and using only my glass board instead, and trying to replace my plastic cooking tools with ones made of metal or wood. This still leaves me with a dilemma or two. One, what do I do with the things I replace? Do I recycle them or donate them? And two, what about containers, and pots and pans with plastic handles? I would much rather use a container than a Ziploc bag, and apart from iron skillets, I haven’t seen any pots/pans with handles made of other material than plastic (apart from the long metal handles). Hmm.. anyone has any ideas?

    Be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Ghandi