July 29, 2013

Practice makes Perfect

This is a guest post written by one of the lovely mothers who writes for the Soul Gardening Journal, a ministry for mothers. If you like what you read, please sign up to receive a journal and make a donation if you can, it's a wonderful cause!

 Want to know a secret?  Sometimes I feel sorry for Judas. It’s like someone wrote a beautiful play, a tragedy, really (but with a happy ending), and needed an antagonist.  Scanning the candidates lined up, mostly bearded men competing for 12 lead roles, he makes the cut and gets a part, not the one he wanted, but hey, its got a lot of lines, and he even gets to throw some pieces of silver at people.

In all seriousness, I am grateful that the Church does not declare him or anyone in particular to be certainly in hell.  I am head over heels in love with the image of Divine Mercy, and juxtaposed  to Our Lady of Fatima’s message regarding the number of souls falling into hell; it makes my heart ache and my head spin… so much that I have almost become humble enough to stop trying to figure it out.  Almost.

A priest recently mentioned to me C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, where Lewis makes the point that many people actually choose hell because they are so absorbed in themselves that they are not ready to spend eternity thinking about someone else (a.k.a. God).  Because in reality, heaven is probably less about the one million flavors of ice-cream and swimming with dolphins, and more about joining the choir of voices that will be singing the praises of the Lamb.  So as much as we want the peace, the joy, the painlessness of heaven, the glaring reality is that heaven is not all about you.

Are we ready to spend eternity NOT thinking about ourselves?  Honestly I am not so sure I am.  I am still too self-absorbed.  But God is a genius.-Really, He is. And He has come up with a genius way to get us there, and it starts with two pink lines on a test strip.  It ends with learning to put someone else’s needs before our own, and to do it so often that we don’t even realize we are doing it.  This plan comes fully equipped with a number of humiliating experiences, like tantrums in the grocery store, so as to protect the whole beautiful thing from crumbling down because of our pride.

All women are called to mother either in a physical or spiritual way and it is God’s plan to bring us to heaven by turning us into the kind of people we need to be to want heaven.  Each putting down of the book, blog, sewing project, whatever, to attend to someone else helps us to live a life where we become secondary, and another becomes primary.  A busy mother rarely has the time to think of herself, and before she knows it, a habit of selflessness is formed.  And you know what a good habit is called don’t you?  It’s called virtue.

When I was in Paris I remember seeing the incorrupt St. Catherine of Laboure, enclosed in a glass coffin.  She was a short little lady with a real french nose like my own, but what struck me about her the most were her shoes.  They were leather, with heavy creases across the front under the toe line, where the shoe had been flexed over and over again from her spending so much time on her knees.  Now those creases are encased forever and she is spending eternity with someone familiar.   

Christian life is Sacrifice.  And just as the bad we have done in this life cannot be undone, the good we have done cannot be undone either.  May our bodies lie in the grave wrinkled and tired and worn, like our dear St. Catherine’s shoes, and may our own creases, be they stretch marks, cesarean scars, varicose veins, or wrinkled smile lines, be our signs of virtue, that our good Lord loves us enough to save us from ourselves.

-Hope writes on a clear, starry night, with her windows open.

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July 25, 2013

Crockpot Black Bean and Sausage Soup

I don't know about you, but I love black bean soup. I wouldn't mind eating it twice a week - now only to get my husband and children to agree! This is a very simple recipe, yet taste delicious and cooks up nice in the crockpot. I love having dinner made by mid-morning - freeing up my afternoons for enjoying the sun or getting out of the house, and then coming home to a delicious bowl of soup!

It's also an excellent meal to bring to a family in need. This recipe fits in my 6-quart crockpot - so it makes a LOT of soup. You can split it with a family in need or put it in the freezer for later.

Crockpot Black Bean and Sausage Soup


3 1/2 cups dried black beans
9 cups of chicken or beef broth
1 package of sausage (we love Trader Joe's pork sausage)
1 lb. of carrots, chopped
6-8 celery stocks, chopped
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, depending on taste!
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

This makes a BIG pot of soup, so if you don't want a ton, simply halve the recipe. I use my 6-quart crockpot for this soup and it is filled to the top.

First, soak your beans overnight in water. (why soak your beans?)  In the morning drain and rinse your beans. Add the beans, chopped veggies, garlic, broth and spices to the crockpot. Let it cook for 5-6 hours on HIGH. Saute your sausage separately, chop and add shortly before serving. Make sure to add enough salt and pepper to taste.

There you have it, enjoy!

Linking up with Pennywise Platter and Real Food Wednesday

“I am not saying to you solve all my problems for me, give me everything you have, even though I am poor for love of you. I only ask for some bread and clothes, some relief from my hunger. I am in prison. I do not ask you to free me. I only with, that for your own good, you pay me a visit. That will be enough for me, and in return I will make you a gift of heaven. I have freed you from a prison a thousand times more harsh. But I am happy if you come and visit me from time to time.” – St John Chrysostem

July 20, 2013

Grow your own Kombucha SCOBY

This post was originally written for Melissa over at Dyno-Mom. Make sure to check her out, she has a lot of useful information on real food.

I have been making Kombucha for awhile now but it was very intimidating from the start. My goal for this post is to remove the intimidation factor and make Kombucha making easy for you! It's very simple once you get the hang of it - so why not give it a try. :)This post is for those who do not have access to a SCOBY or do not want to pay $10 for one, join me in growing your own SCOBY . . .

Do live in a place that you can't just ask your neighber, "Hey, you got that SCOBY for me?" 

Most likely not, in fact they probably already think you are crazy for knowing what Kombucha is! - so let's talk about how you can grow your own.

How to grow your own SCOBY: (The Easy Way)


Four Simple Ingredients:

  1. Filtered Water
  2.  2 Organic Black Tea bags
  3. 1/3 cup white sugar
  4. A glass of Kombucha. (1/4 cup is plenty)

Boil water and fill your quart jar 3/4 full. Add 1/3 cup of white sugar, mix around and let dissolve. Add two tea bags and let it sit till cool.

Add your glass of Kombucha. NOTE: this works best with homemade kombucha or a brand that is NOT GT's. I just tried it with GT's original and it did not grow. I have grown a SCOBY with homemade kombucha and it worked great.

Cover your jar with a cloth and rubber band to keep bugs away and place it in your pantry or somehwere. Unless you love talking about this stuff, then show it off and put it on your bookshelf!

NEXT: Let it sit. and sit. and sit. There you have it, a SCOBY! Mine sat for a month I think. Depending on how warm your house is, it may take more or less time. I would mark when you make it and check on it every week to see how your little science experiment is doing.

You can see how it grows. I took these pictures a few weeks apart. We had so much fun watching it grow!

When you are finished you are then ready to brew a big batch of Kombucha. Make sure to check out this recipe for your first batch of Kombucha.

Enjoy your little SCOBY!

For further reading:

Kombucha Health Benefits - Food Renegade

How to Flavor Kombucha - Cultures for Health

“Each accepted pain, no matter how obscure, every silent suffering of evil, each act of inwardly overcoming oneself, every outreach of love, each renunciation, and every turning in silence toward God – all of that now becomes effective as a whole: Nothing that is good goes for nothing.”

        - Cardinal Ratzinger, God is Near us

July 17, 2013

Five Favorite Children's Books

I am linking up with Hallie today who happens to be one of my favorite bloggers. Make sure to check her out, you won't be disappointed. :)

A few years ago a dear friend of mine introduced me to the world of beautifully illustrated children's books. I have fallen in love since. There are so many wonderful books out there and I am going to share with you some of our favorites. Let me know which books you and your children love!


This book is a true gem. It's a story about a family with seven picky eaters and how they solve their dilemma. It's very sweet and the pictures are beautiful. If you have never read a book illustrated by Marla Frazee, make sure to borrow one at your library! Take a peak here...


Another great book by our favorite, Marla Frazee. I just ordered this for our sweet baby #3 due to arrive any week now. The children love it already.


This is more of a Christmas/winter book but we read it all year long. My 4 year old will look at this book forever and ask me to read it again and again. All of the books illustrated by Jan Brett are treasures, this just happens to be one of them.


This is a must book if you have a son named Peter.  It's an adorable story about a boy who goes to pick blueberries and cranberries for his mother's birthday. He then meets the blueberry king who takes him on an adventure. It's one of those books I don't mind reading over and over again, we love it so much. Elsa Beskow has many other beautiful books we would love to own someday.


And last we have treasured this book I found at Goodwill awhile back. The rhymes are hilarious and the pictures are so fun to look at. Maybe we like berry books because we live in the land of overflowing berries? Not sure but we'll take it.

Thanks for hanging out and letting us share our favorite books with you! Make sure to pop on over to Hallie's blog and check out the other five favorites.

“And I understood that the greatest attribute of God is love and mercy. It unites the creature with the Creator. This immense love and abyss of mercy are made known in the Incarnation of the Word and in the Redemption [of humanity], and it is here that I saw this as the greatest of all God’s attributes.”

July 14, 2013

Easy Fermented Kimchi

If there is one fermented food we love it's Kimchi. Well, at least this version of Kimchi. It's not too spicy with just the right amount of ginger and garlic. We put it on every type of soup or salad and eat it as a side dish with meat. The recipe is fairly easy and you can get the ingredients at your every day grocery store. Organic produce is always better for fermenting, but not completely necessary. Enjoy fermenting in your kitchen!

Fermented Kimchi  
(makes two quarts)

1 head of cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tablespoons of sea salt

Place all ingredients into a bowl or container and wait ten minutes for the salt to draw out the water from the veggies. Then pound the mixture until juicy (this may take 10 minutes and some elbow grease!) Next put the mixture into two quart sized jars and press firmly down until all of the juice comes to the top covering the vegetables. At this point I put a plastic yogurt lid (any lid will do if it fits inside your jar) on top of the veggies to keep them down, this helps to keep the kimchi from molding while it ferments. I then add a weight of a smaller jar filled with water to keep the veggies submerged in the brine.

Then let the kimchi sit for up to two weeks. Depending on how warm your kitchen is the kimchi may be ready anywhere from three days to two weeks. Taste it every other day until you get the desired taste (tangy and sour) and then put it in your fridge. It will last a few months or more!


If you want a more detailed (and certainly more professional) version of another recipe go here. She did a WAY better job explaining everything. :)

Linking up at Real Food Wednesday and  Pennywise Platter

"Indeed I am the gardener, for all that exists come from me. With power and strength beyond imagining I govern the whole world: Not a thing is made or kept in order without me. I am the gardener, then who planted the vine of my only-begotten Son in the earth of your humanity so that you, the branches, could be joined to the vine and bear fruit." 
- God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna (The Dialogue)  

photo credit
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