Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Recipes for LIfe: A Catholic Family Cookbook

Recipes for Life: A Catholic Family Cookbook is one of those cookbooks that you'll refer to ... for old standbys as well as adventurous cooking.  Published by Friends and Family Cookbooks, this cookbook is not only packed with obvious family or parish favorites; the book links nourishing the soul through saints' biographies and Catholic catechesis with nourishing the body. 

The book was written by a growing lay apostolate based in a parish in Maryland.  TASTE -- which stands for Taste and See, Take ... Eat -- is a family apostolate that grew out of the parish of St. Mary of the Mills, in Laurel, Maryland.  A weekly mom's catechesis session with children warmly welcomed, helps teach the beauty of our faith.  The cookbook is an off-shoot of this apostolate.

I like the cookbook -- and have marked many recipes to try.  I like the linkage of saints' feast days and special dishes and the tips on how to incorporate celebrating our faith with something as mundane as fixing dinner.  The catechetical portions of the book (and the prayers in the back) are a wonderful inclusion.

My only issue with the book is that it would be hard to use on a regular basis -- the saint recipes are interspersed throughout the book and altho there is a chart at the beginning linking the saint to his/her "recipe", there is no chronological listing of saints.  You need to know the saint's feast is coming up to find the appropriate recipe.  Not a big deal ... just an irritant.  I also think there is too much text and not enough white-space (for notes, etc) ... but again, not a big deal.

Overall, I think this is one of those cookbooks I will use -- the recipes are not fancy, are wholesome and the philosophy behind the book are all very good things.  Check out the website and see what you think.

Disclaimer:  I received this cookbook as part of the CWG's SOA evaluation process.  The words of the above review are my honest "take" on this book.   


Feast Day: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the feast of the founder of the Society of Jesus (aka, The Jesuits).  St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

We like this guy ...  alot.  What's not to like?  He was a soldier ... a hard-talking and tough spiritual leader for the first Jesuits and he's Bam-Bam's patron saint this year.  Oh, and to top it off, he's from the Basque region of Spain (and altho we're French-Basque, we'll just go right ahead and claim him, ok?)

In my family, we have a long history with the Jesuits -- Dad went to a Jesuit college, my brothers (well, 4 out of 5) went to a Jesuit high school, and 2 brothers and I went to a Jesuit university.  We've seen the good Jesuits and the bad Jesuits (and the bad Jebs don't take a thing away from their founder).  St. Ignatius attacked heresy and lack of faith with military precision and tactics and was quite successful.  He mentored future saint and fellow Basque, Francis Xavier and many saints have come from the Jesuit ranks:  St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Edmund Campion, St. Isaac Jogues and St. Stanislaus Kostka ... to name just a few.

My favorite prayer (and one my father particularly liked) attributed to St. Ignatius is:

Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

A Happy Ending and an Amazing Beginning ....

... for our dear friend, Karen over at That I May be of Use.  A little less than a year ago, I came to ask your prayers for Karen as she discerned God's will for her to join the Domincans of Nashville.  A major stumbling block was the heavy financial burden she had with her undergraduate student loans. 

She has reached that goal through the prayers and sacrifice and financial support of many people and organizations and on August 11, 2010, Karen will enter the Domincan Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN.  Thank you for all your prayers for Karen ... and please continue to keep her in your prayers as she begins the walk to follow God's will for her.  She will join a former student of Rick's who has been in the novitate a year and has taken her first vows.

St. Dominic and St. Cecilia ... please pray for Karen and all those discerning a vocation to the religious life!


Friday, July 30, 2010

The puppies are here ... the puppies are here ...

... and we get one in September!  Poor Dixie started at midnight (!) and finished birthing her 5th puppy at 5 this morning.  One of these little darlin's will be added to our family in September ... we'll keep y'all posted ...

Have to sign off while the kids and I do the happy dance .... and dh continues in his state of denial ....


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Salute to the Emerald Isle: Memories of Eire vest ....

If it's Thursday, it must be time for another Knit Picks upload of new patterns to their Independent Designers Program ... this week's crop includes my salute to the Emerald Isles: Memories of Eire vest.

The waistband is knit in one long strip, turned on its side, and then the body of the vest is picked up .... there are lots of cables, knit-purl texture stitches, and even a knit-purl celtic knot, to test your knitting skills. This vest is sized for Misses' XS, S, M, L, and XL. The sample is knit using KP's City Tweed HW ... which is lovely to work with and is a blend of merino, alpaca and Donegal tweed.

Check that one and my other designs available through Knit Pick's website ....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Angel Song

Have you ever heard a snippet of song ... a haunting melody in a time of stress or joy ... a tune that you just can't shake?  That's the problem (which becomes a gift) for interior designer Anne Fletcher, the heroine of the latest summer fiction book I've read:  Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman. 

This book is a great read ... one of the plethora of angel-based stories prevalent in today's Christian fiction market.  This one, though, is a step up from many with good plotting, excellent characterization, and a believable and emotionally-affecting story about God and faith and love.  Written by two Christian writers, this story kept me reading and turning the page and crying and smiling and just reveling in the fact that I was reading a good book.  I loved the way Anne's character slowly finds her faith ... slowly fixes her life ... slowly realizes that her stubborn pride are holding her back.  The other characters, particularly that of the young Down Syndrome boy who also hears angels, are not cloyingly sweet but rather just really good Southern characters who take the New York edge off Anne, like peeling an onion, slowly but surely until the book's end.

The authors have a slightly different take on faith than my Catholic one, but the story is a worthwhile read and the differences are minor and don't take anything away from the fact that this is one of those I'll pass on to my daughters ... a book to be read by others to show that trying to do it all on our own is not God's way ... and ends up leading to catastrophes rather than the faith-filled journey God desires for us all.

Highly recommend this one for ages high school and up ...

This book was sent me as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.  The review is my honest opinion based on my reading of this charming novel.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

History: Hitler, the War and the Pope

Professor Ronald J. Rychlak's revised Hitler, the War, and the Pope is an amazing refutation of those who claim that the Catholic Church, especially in the person of Pope Pius XII, did little if anything to assist the victims of the terrorism wreaked during World War II. 

The first 385 pages of the book are a chronological overview of the pre-war years (and Pius' work as Secretary of State under Pius XI) through each year of the war up through 1945.  The final couple of chapters of the text include a refutation of some of the most popular "urban myth-telling" authors and speakers against the Catholic Church's contribution to saving the victims of the War.  The final 200 pages of the book are facsimile copies of the full memos and previously classified documents quoted in the text.

This is a scholarly book and heavy with detail, making this a great book for high schoolers studying the war as well as all Catholics to feel confident that the Holy Father was not EVER a Nazi sympathizer, anti-semitic or ignorant/lazy during the atrocities leveled against the innocents of Europe.  Week after week, month after month, for more than 10 years Eugenio Pacelli (later, Pius XII) worked to fight socialism, communism and the terrors of Hitler and Mussolini's dictatorships.  Quoted memos, interviews and diary entries bolster up the story that Rychlak unrolls -- a story about a man who was willing to incur the wrath of a madman rather than stay quiet any longer.  The book is full of  accounts of the atrocities leveled at the Jews (especially the Polish Jews), the Catholic religious, and anyone else deemed "unnecessary"; but more importantly, are the proofs of what Pacelli and the Catholic Church did to combat these evil forces.

 For those who finish the first half of the book still thinking Pacelli was a Nazi-sympathizer, Rychlak dismantles every theory proposed ... every book or article written by the celebrated authors like John Cornwell (whose book, Hitler's Pope, so incensed me that it became an occasion of sin to read the trash.) ... every smear on the Pacelli "escutcheon".  Detailed refutation of each misquoted, half-quoted, poorly researched and flat out lies are the basis of the last half of this classic apologetics text. 

This is a great read (a bit heavy going in parts, but well worth it to slog on through) ... a great history source for 20th Century European history ... a great opus dedicated to a man of God.  This is a must-read for any student of modern European History.

[hr /]
This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Hitler, the War, and Pope, Revised and Expanded .

Friday, July 9, 2010

Writing: CWG and their Conference

The Catholic Writers Conference Live is scheduled for August 4-6, 2010 at King of Prussia, PA.

If you're interested in attending, you can find more information and a registration form here:

This is a great chance to pitch your writing ideas as well as to listen to some great talks and meet/greet the powers that be in the Catholic publishing world. 

If you do go, make sure you stop in and say "hi" to Margot at Hillside Publications ... a fellow homeschooler (and my publisher!), she was instrumental in getting me involved at the Catholic Writers Guild and in getting my book, In His Image, the CWG Seal of Approval.

Crafts: beeswax crayons ...

... homemade ones!  Who knew you could make crayons at home?  Obviously the folks over at WeeFolk Art and now I know (and you will too if you follow this link).  How cool is this ... and you'd get the colors you truly want in the size you want.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Knit Picks: one for the ladies

Ribs are design-elements in this knit-in-the-round yoke hoodie that I called Rib Tickler Hoodie ... shown here in Comfy Bulky (which is a dream with which to knit!) ... this may just become your favorite sweatshirt!

What are you waiting for?


Knit Picks: a little (or big) boy's jacket

Introducing "Patrick: An Irish Lad's Jacket" ... this design is sized for 2T-10 and is alot of fun to knit ...

Why don't you knit one today?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

High School level German course .... online!

Well, Maureen and Walter have been busy lining up some amazing online classes and seminars for highschoolers!  Here's one that sounds really cool ....
Online Course on German 1: Part 1 (September thru Decemeber, 13 one-hour classes) with Part 2 scheduled for Spring 2011.  There's more info that Walter posted on the HC blog ...

For this and other great courses at Homeschool Connections, click the link below:

Homeschool Connections Subscription Service

School in your pj's -- Homeschool Connection Adult Course!

Aquinas Connections, run by friend and fellow-homeschooler, Maureen Witmann and Walter Crawford, announces a brand-new course for adults:

This class, seven one-hour sessions, will be taught by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ.  Fr. Pacwa is a frequent guest on EWTN and a well-respected theologian and well-loved priest who runs an apostolate called Ignatius Productions.  Here's a full description:
In Luke 9:51 Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem, and mention of his destination is repeated in 13:22, 17:11, and 18:34, with allusions to the journey in 9:57, 10:38, 11:53, 14:25. This journey links the beginning of Christ’s public ministry with its purpose in his death and resurrection. During this Year of Cycle C Readings, the Church presents readings from this unit of the Gospel, from the Thirteenth through the Thirtieth Sundays in Ordinary Time. It is easy to hear each episode during the Sunday readings, but that would miss seeing the unity of these episodes and their function within the message of the whole Gospel. This course will limit itself to examining the Journey to Jerusalem. While the individual units of the Gospel will be examined in as much detail as is possible, the focus will be on making the links between each unit and the theme of the Journey, as well as the connections with other parts of the Gospel of St. Luke.
Aquinas Connections is a new program from Homeschool Connections -- AC is specifically for adults who want to continuing their education in Catholicism .... apologetics, theology, Christology, etc. For more info about Aquinas Connections or any of the other amazing courses offered by Homeschool Connections, click on the link below:
Homeschool Connections Subscription Service
A great chance to learn in your pj's!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July 2010 -- part 2

Our Fourth of July partying extended all weekend.  Saturday we had a day full of fun ... and Sunday was just as celebratory!

After scrubbing boys' face-paint off, we headed to 7:30 a.m. Mass and visiting with fellow parishioners and introducing beloved Godson all round ... (to many folks that knew him when he was "a little guy"!)

A lazy summer afternoon led to an afternoon-evening celebration at dear friends' ...

summer swimming ...
summer cuties ...
summer food ...
and lots of wonderful fireworks and fellowship!

Happy birthday, America ... may God bless us daily!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July 2010 -- weekend of celebrating, part 1

Living near the Nation's capitol means that we have lots of opportunities to celebrating the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our country.  We're even luckier than most as our neighborhood has an old-style celebration that is an all-day event ...

Our weekend started with the arrival of my favorite Godson named Steve ... just recently graduated from college and interning in Maryland.  He came down on Friday evening ... and launched right in to entertaining us all with his own particular wit and intelligence.
Saturday morning found us up and ready to watch the Parade ... a mix of classic cars, club floats and politicians kissing babies ...

(that would be BamBam drooling over the Austin Healy ... but I REALLY liked the candy-apple red pickup!) ...
after a flag-raising ceremony, it was off to the point for swimming, eating and the traditional
face-painting .... which I actually helped with this year (4 hours of painting faces) ...
[oh, in case you're wondering, vaseline or lotion gets off the rather thick, dried-on face-paint in time to be presentable to serve 7:30 a.m. Mass!]
Here's LegoManiac with two dear friends -- Miss Marion helped win the "best appearance for a marching unit" for the Players!

After dinner by the Lake (dh and said nephew made sandwiches, hamburgers and brought the essentials, including a St. Pauli Girl Dark for his favorite aunt), the water ski club put on a show that kept us all enthralled ...
well, mostly anyway (Steve thoroughly enjoyed a book I lent him).

Then once it got dark, we were treated to front-row seats for an amazing fireworks show that last about 30 minutes and was one of the best I've ever seen.  Lovely.

Today, it's off to a friend's house for their annual get-together ... more food, fun and fireworks! [See the post, Part 2, tomorrow]

Life in America is GOOD!
God bless America!