Friday, 25 February 2011

Baking Solo

Mama let me learn to cook with Jiffy blueberry muffin mix.   I learned to measure, stir, set the oven, and check for doneness.   When I was ready, she let me bake homemade muffins from her 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook (now a favorite keepsake).   It was the book she bought for her college freshman home economics class.   I spent hours sitting and looking at the illustrations in that book, dreaming of the delicious dishes.   I also loved the hints and tips for the 1950s homemaker.   From muffins, I was ready to move on to cakes, tapioca pudding, and cookies.   Later, we would build on those skills.

Today, E. had her first solo baking session with applesauce spice muffins from scratch.  She was proud, I was proud, and I think Mama would be proud.   E. says she wants to be a pastry chef...or a nun.

I didn't think to take pictures until she began scooping the batter into the pans.  I think she was most proud of cracking the egg.

Ready to bake!

After the cooking comes the cleaning.

Baby brother was jumping up and down while waiting for a muffin.

Future pastry chef

Thursday, 17 February 2011

On Love

 On Valentine's Day, I found myself thinking about real love, or charity, as described in scripture:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.  1Corinthians 13:4-7
People hurried around me and the familiar sounds of a rail station were muffled in the distance.   Above the noise of the hand dryer before me, I found myself suddenly overcome with thoughts of someone who had hurt my family a great deal.   The first time I sat and told a priest our story in regards to this person, he was shocked.   I remember him telling me that what had been done to us was such that I should not count on forgetting after forgiving.   He gave me hope, though, that the pain would lessen and the memories would grow more dim. 
I have had a few experiences that you might call "moments of clarity."   They were times when I was able to see or hear God speaking to me in difficult moments with crystal-clear clarity.   This particular moment occurred in a most unexpected place.    It was nearly nine years ago on our second visit to England and the trip was a pilgrimage of sorts for us which bore great fruit in our lives.  
Standing there, in that ordinary moment before a restroom hand dryer in Victoria Station, I could clearly picture this person being embraced tenderly by Jesus, comforted, as if she were a small child.   I could see her face, normally contorted with a perpetual frown, now relaxed, with tears falling from her lowered head.   I could feel the love Jesus had for her.   Regardless of what she had done, He loved her and was calling me to move beyond the choice of forgiveness which I had already made, to the choice to love.   Thoughts took over my heart and mind.   She must be so miserable inside to be able to treat others as if they were just pawns in a game, to be moved about according to her will.   Each time she did something hurtful, another part of her heart died.    For the first time, my heart ached for her and her darkened soul.   I felt pain for the way she must feel each day.   And I wanted to love her as God wished me to love her--as a sister since she had also been baptized in Christ.
I began to realize how few friends she had; I realized she had no confidant to whom she might turn for comfort, guidance, or to simply listen.   Pictures of my dear mother, friends, and husband passed through my mind and I wondered at how different my life would be without them.    I thought of how she went through the motions of mass attendance, almost out of superstition rather than real communion with Christ.  There, in a rail station, I had tears in my eyes, and I began to love that person.   My heart softened and the relationship was forever changed.   
The hurts and memories were there, but they were now in a new context.   They were now in the background and I realized I could determine how they would impact me.   I could turn inward and wallow in my hurts or I could turn outward to God and bring all the hurt to him.    Forgiveness and love are not feelings.   They are choices that we have to continually renew, with God's grace.   That moment of clarity was clearly something for which only God could be responsible.   On my own, I was not capable of seeing past my injuries.
On St. Valentine's Day, a day associated with a secular version of love, and every day: 
My heart breaks for those who have never experienced real love before or who are too wounded to accept it.   I pray for them that they may find Love itself, in Christ.   
My prayers are also for those who have used others, mistreated them or caused pain.   May they have eyes to see every person as a child of God, with an everlasting soul.   May they find true healing for that which causes them to use and abuse those around them.   May they feel God's love and forgiveness.
Finally, I pray for those who have been victims of such mistreatment.   May they also find comfort, healing, and the grace to forgive in the arms of Love Incarnate.   Amen. 
Love Itself is waiting for us.   There we will find Him and ourselves --as we were truly meant to be.


Monday, 14 February 2011

On the Lighter Side

Tonight, I tried two new dishes that I found on the back of a box of Quaker barley.   They were both delicious and we will have frozen soup in the freezer for future meals.   I used ground turkey in the vegetable soup.    The barley is filling and can help lower cholesterol.  

I copied these straight from the Quaker web site.   Check it out for more recipes:


Frozen vegetables make this soup extra easy.


  • 1/2  pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2  cup chopped onion
  • 1  cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water
  • One  14-ounce can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained, chopped
  • 1/2  cup Medium QUAKER Barley*
  • 1/2  cup sliced celery
  • 1/2  cup sliced carrots
  • 2  beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2  teaspoon basil
  • 1   bay leaf
  • 1  9 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables


In 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, brown ground beef. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender; drain. Add remaining ingredients except frozen vegetables. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables; cook about 10 or until vegetables are tender. Add additional water if soup becomes too thick upon standing.

Variations*To use Quick QUAKER Barley, substitute 2/3 cup quick barley for medium barley and decrease water to 6 cups. Cook ground beef, onion and garlic as directed above. Add remaining ingredients including frozen vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables and barley are tender.


Twelve 1-cup servings

Nutrition Information

1 cup
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 110 
  • Calories from Fat: 27 
  • Total Fat: 3 
  • Saturated Fat: 1 
  • Cholesterol: 15 
  • Sodium: 190 
  • Total Carbohydrate: 15 
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 
  • Protein: 7 
  • Vitamin A:   0% 
  • Vitamin C:   0% 
  • Calcium:   0% 
  • Iron:   0% 
  • Vitamin E:   0% 
  • Folate:   0% 

Dietary Exchange

  • starchbread:1/2
  • meat:1/2
  • vegetables:1-1/2

Quick Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili

The great taste of chili with an unexpected healthy twist!

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added,undrained
  • 1/2 cup  salsa
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 cup Quaker® Quick Barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can (15 oz ) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces(about 1-1/2 lbs boneless before cooking)


In 6-qt saucepan, combine first 7 ingredients. Over high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, corn, pepper and chicken; increase heat to high until chili comes to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until barley is tender. If upon standing the chili becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or water until chili is desired consistency.
  • Prep Time: 05 min
  • Cook Time Time: 45 min


10 Cups

Nutrition Information

1/10 recipe (1 cup)
  • Serving Size: 1/10 recipe (1 cup)
  • Calories: 210  10% 
  • Calories from Fat: 20 
  • Total Fat: 2  3% 
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5  3% 
  • Trans Fat: 0 
  • Cholesterol: 35  12% 
  • Sodium: 250  10% 
  • Total Carbohydrate: 29  10% 
  • Dietary Fiber: 6  25% 
  • Sugars: 3 
  • Protein: 19  39% 
  • Vitamin A: 396  8% 
  • Vitamin C: 7  10% 
  • Calcium: 42  4% 
  • Iron: 2  10% 

Dietary Exchange

  • starchbread:1-1/2
  • meat:1-1/2
  • vegetables:1

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tuesday Folder: February 8, 2011

It has been a while since my last Tuesday Folder post.   Like everyone, we have been busy the past several months. 

T.-One-Shoe is Two
Say that five times fast!   T. turned two on New Year's Eve.   Like his sisters, he had a quiet family celebration for his second birthday.   We were going out of town, so I had to pick up Toy Story cupcakes.   He was so excited and he really enjoyed the icing.   That's my boy!    He's like his daddy in that his birthdays have been clouded by death and illness of family members, but it was still a celebration of the gift he is to us.

Special Aunts and Uncles
In December, we went to Uncle Bob's memorial service.   Uncle Bob is the husband of my mom's older sister, Betty.   He was such a kind, generous man.   He and Aunt Betty were a great support to us after my mother passed away and my dad's dementia worsened.   I will be forever grateful to them.   As we approached the funeral home, we saw the Model A cars lined up in the parking a lot, with Uncle Bob's car in the middle.   He had painstakingly restored the car and was a member of a Model A car club.  The members quietly drove in and took their places as a last tribute to one of their members.   After the service, it was so nice to spend time with my cousins.   My mom always thought so much of them.

Photos are from my cousin Steve

In January, we went to the Dallas area to visit my Aunt Pat and Uncle Buddy.   Aunt Pat is Mama's older sister who was closest in age to her.   Another of Mama's sisters, Aunt Betty, was also there.   It was wonderful to be with both of them and it made me feel very close to Mama.   At both visits, relatives told me how much I looked like Mama in her younger years.  

The children really enjoyed themselves.    They got a taste of grandparent treatment.   They've never really been made over or fussed over much by grandparents and it breaks my heart for them.   It's something that bothers me a great deal and it is one of the things that can really get me down from time to time.   I study their faces as they watch any program that mentions grandparents.   They are fascinated and a little puzzled.   My children have asked to go many places, but they have never once asked to go to the local Chuck E. Cheese pizza place.   I figured out the reason.   They first heard about the place from friends who brought back cups after going with their grandparents.   They told my girls about how they go there with their grandparents and my children think that you have to have grandparents to go there.   When they speak of Heaven, they talk about being excited to see Jesus and Grandma.   Clare always adds, "...because she never saw me."    So, I am thankful for the grandma-like attention they can receive.

A few weeks later, Aunt Betty visited us and the kids got some more grandparent treatment.  They were fussed over, told how wonderful, beautiful, and smart they were, and lovingly "fussed at."   It was wonderful and although it made me miss Mama, it made me happy her sister is in our lives.

The girls with Aunt Betty.   Thomas calls her "Bett."
A week later, Aunt Pat lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.   I am so grateful we were able to visit her before she passed away.   Mama told me such wonderful stories about Aunt Pat from her childhood and I loved it when she visited us.   We had to make a difficult decision when it came to her memorial service and visitation.   We decided not to take the children.   They've just been to so many doctor's appointments, nursing home visits, funeral homes and funerals over the past few years.   We were just afraid it would be too much after just seeing Aunt Pat.   It was the first time Clare and Thomas ever met her.   Our children are very sensitive and after several of their questions and comments, we knew we made the right decision.   So, we will continue to pray for the family she leaves behind, the family of which she was the center and strength.   Rest in peace, Aunt Pat.

Aunt Pat is the last on the right of the couch.   Aunt Betty is behind her.   Mama is on the left of Grandad and Grandma.   Aunt Nadine & Uncle Billy are also in the back, but for some reason this picture did not scan well.
A Beautiful Film
I was finally able to see The King's Speech with friends a few weeks ago and it was worth the wait.   It is now one of my favorite movies and I am so glad I was able to see it on the big screen.   It was beautiful to see the self-sacrifice of King George VI and the love between he and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mum).   The last time I watched the entire Oscar telecast was when Schindler's List was nominated for Best Picture.   This year I will once again watch so I can see The King's Speech and Colin Firth take home the statuette.  

SNOW DAY--Again?!!!
Last Friday, we had a snow day.   The girls were so excited about the snow and having Daddy home from work.   My favorite part was listening to the soft fall of the snow the night before as it first began to fall.   I love the beauty and quiet of the snow.   I've given up telling my girls that it really doesn't snow here every year.   They won't believe me!   As I told friends, may I always be blessed to live in a place where people say ma'am and sir, you can get hand-scooped Blue Bell ice cream, and a half-inch of snow shuts the whole town down.

Another exciting even: First lost front tooth!!!   I've waited seven years for that!   There was one day where she had that lost tooth grin, C. had her blond ringlets framing her face, and T. had on overalls.   Perfection for this Mama!

Another of Emmeline's pictures
Perfect "Me Time"
I've enjoyed my return to the gym and my training sessions.   I've learned so much that I can do without hurting my back.    It's been more successful this time around since we opted to include the nursery package.   It is the only way we could fit work-outs into our schedule.   It's great "me" time because it is a way for me to enjoy time to myself to think and pray, while at the same time it refreshes me so that I return to my family with more energy.   It's time that benefits the entire family.   Plus, we figure it's cheaper than meds and surgery in the future!   One of our favorite priests used to say that he felt he had to tell people he worked out because otherwise they might not know.   Yep, that's my present stage!

Baptism Birthday
We also celebrated E.'s 7th Baptism Birthday.   It was at the mass before her baptism that I had my first feeling of being a real mom.   It hit me as I held her and received the blessed Eucharist.   It was the first time we had been to mass together as a family since she was born and I realized that my true purpose was to bring her to Christ.   Her baptism was that first step and as she grows older, I find her also leading me.

Around the House
Why do we wait so long to complete small projects?   We finally painted the kitchen door that leads to the garage.   We've been able to complete several little projects around the house.

The triangle in the window is an old ice sign.   In the days of ice delivery, you would place this in your window, with the appropriate amount of ice turned upward to let the ice man know how much to unload.

In coming days I hope to publish some posts on my dad as the first anniversary of his death was December 31.    Also, I'm trying to unload and organize my thoughts on the beautiful British miniseries Downton Abbey which aired on Masterpiece Theater during January.  

Looking back on this post, I can see how the happy and the sad make up our lives.   God can always bring good out of the bad.   It's up to us to be open to his grace so that we may have "eyes to see and ears to hear."
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