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:

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!

  • 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


  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


    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.