Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Today at mass we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family. The church was decorated so beautiful. Pointsettas and wreaths everywhere. The nativity scene was beautiful also. And on Christmas Eve Father blessed the manger. I remember in his prayer he said, "may whoever looks upon this nativity scene be blessed."  What an awesome thought. To look upon the place where Jesus was born. To look upon Jesus, Mary and Joseph and remember in our hearts how much God loves us that He sent His son to us to be born in a lowly manger. Now I have worked on farms before. I have slept in a barn before, not too far away from a horse. It is not always a pleasant sight or smell.  But God loved us so much. He sent the message of the birth of His son to the poor shepherds and the rich magi. He is not partial to  anyone's status in this world. He came for all. That is why I chose the song I did to be played on my blog. O Come All Ye Faithful.
As I listened to that song in church this morning and I heard the words, "Come Ye to Bethlehem," I thought when we look upon the manger scene, when we go to Jesus in that place, we are going to Bethlehem.
Here is a beautiful account of the first nativity scene set up by St. Francis:

St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his Life of St. Francis of Assisi tells the story:

''It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an @#!*% to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles." Catholic Education Resource Center

The Christmas season has just begun. I know it is hard because of how everyone does Christmas today. Everything comes down after Christmas Day. I find that sad because it makes me think that it is just about the presents. "Okay, got my presents. Christmas is over."  But that's not right. It has just begun. I try every year to add more ancient traditions to my Christmas season, post presents. This year I am adding the white Christ candle to burn a little everyday until Epiphany and keeping my nativity scene up and decorated until Epiphany. I do try to leave the tree up also but take down some of my Santa Clause decorations a little every day.
Another benefit of celebrating Christmas until Epiphany is the stress of shopping, baking and cleaning are gone. Now is a great time to focus on Jesus.

O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards have been a tradition since the late 1800's.  From what I have read the tradition started in England. The first card apparently wasn't too well liked because of the portrait of a family sipping on wine and it included a young boy sipping also. Sir Henry had commisioned a man named John Horsely to design the card. Even though this Christmas card wasn't so well liked people began sending out Christmas cards after that anyway.
Americans, up until 1875, imported their Christmas cards from England. At that time a man named Louis Prang opened a printing shop and started the first line of Christmas cards in America.

I was in a store the other day and over heard a woman very loudy talking about sending Christmas cards.  She was telling someone she doesn't send Christmas cards to people she is going to see at Christmas. Now, I can understand what she is saying. If you're going to see someone on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at the family celebration, do you need to send them a card. Maybe, maybe not.

I remember watching my mom when I was growing up writing out her Christmas cards. I remember getting those Christmas cards. Getting Christmas cards is something I look forward to every year.
I feel the Christmas card is a reminder of what is important this holiday season.  The beautiful scenes drawn on the cards give me a peaceful feeling. A reminder that this time of year is not just about presents and turkeys and cookies and decorations but about, well first Jesus and also about spreading love, joy and hope to people.

We live in such an impersonal world today, a card adds a little bit of closeness.
There are some people, especially the elderly that are lonely and watch for those Christmas cards. You might see them on Christmas but that card sends a little extra message. It tells them that you care. It tells them that you took the time to think about them, write down their name and address and mailed a little something to them wishing them joy for the whole Christmas season not just Christmas Day.
It appears to me that e-cards are becoming the thing, but you can't put them on a fireplace. They are easier. Sure some are cute but it just doesn't carry the same sentiment.

Yes, cards can be a chore. I find it a chore and it takes me some time to get them out but I also find it is a small gift that I can send to friends and family and let them know they are in my thoughts and as a Catholic Christian it is also a little way of reminding people of the real meaning of Christmas as it can get so lost in the hustle and bustle of shopping and cooking.

So, don't forget your Christmas cards:

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luke 2:12

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Here is a great reflection for today's Mass readings.  I have the daily Mass readings at the bottom of my page here and if you click on reflection you will find a small reflection from  I am not sure if everyday the reflection comes from Presentation Ministries but today's does.

One Bread, One Body - Reflection for December 12, 2010


"Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy." –Isaiah 35:10

The chosen people's return to the promised land took not one miracle but many miracles perfectly ordered and timed. They needed the desert to be turned into an oasis, their hands and knees strengthened, their hearts freed from fear, their eyes opened, and their ears cleared (Is 35:1-5). They needed to be able to jump like stags and to sing like birds (see Is 35:6).
You also may need an almost incomprehensible array of miracles to return to your first love (Rv 2:4), to the Church, to your spouse and family, to your ministry and work, or to a life of faith, hope, and love. The Lord wants to give you these miracles as your Christmas presents. He will give you the gifts of repentance, forgiveness, conversion, life in the Spirit, healing, deliverance, evangelization, ministry, etc. He wills to do more than you can ever ask for or imagine (Eph 3:20). Jesus promises: "The blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, dead men are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them. Blest is the man who finds no stumbling block in Me" (Mt 11:5-6). "Those who stumble and fall are the disbelievers in God's word" (1 Pt 2:8).
Don't believe what you see, how you feel, or what others may say. Believe God's word. Receive the miracles of Christmas.
PRAYER: Father, on this Gaudete Sunday, may I obey Your command to rejoice in Your Son always (Phil 4:4).
PROMISE: "Be patient, therefore, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord." –Jas 5:7
PRAISE: Praise Jesus, "the Resurrection and the Life" (Jn 11:25), Whose life gives life to all who would receive it.

Simple Woman's Day Planner It's Cold and Snowy

First let me say, "Happy 3rd week of Advent!"

Just for today:

Outside my window it is cold and snowy and gray.

Today I am thinking about several things. One I wish we could have made it to Mass but it is very bad out right now. We attempted it but the snow is blowing so much and visibility is not good. So, I am thinking about the Lord in my heart and missing being with Him in worship. I am, also, thinking about how I plan to organize my recipes from a binder to recipe box.

I am very thankful for a warm home, roof over our head and a new furnace we had to put in this year at the beginning of winter because our old one gave out.  I am, also, very very thankful I can be home with my family because last night I worked and thought I would be trapped because of the snow and not make it home to be with my family today. I am very grateful it did not hit until early this morning.

I am wearing blue jeans and a festive shirt.

I am remembering people I need to send Christmas cards to.

Tonight I am going to stay home.

A good book I am reading is actually not a book but a magazine, "Faith and Family."

I am hoping for a joyous Advent and Christmas season that brings us closer to the Lord day by day and a safe winter.

On my mind is what is going on outside, watching the snow blow everywhere.

I am noticing Christmas lights and a crazy cat running around the house and wet clothes at the doorway from a young boy playing outside.

Pondering these words from today's reading of the Bible:  Isaiah 35: 1-6,10

 The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,

crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

From the kitchen we have Christmas cookies and cheese dip and crackers.

Around the house are Christmas decorations.

One of my favorite things is being home.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Second Week of Advent!

It's hard to believe this is the second week of Advent already. Our parish church is having a cookie exchange this coming weekend so I need to get busy baking some cookies. Hoping to find some new recipes.
I really enjoy the music sung at Mass this time of year. It is so beautiful.

Frying pans

I have recently decided to try to use a cast iron skillet.  I've heard different stories about health hazards of cooking with other metals.  I'm a little worried about sticking, though because I've also heard horror stories about sticking with cast iron skillets. I really want to try to use cast iron successfully. With cast iron there isn't any worry about a dangerous metal getting into your food. I don't want to have to drown the food I am cooking in alot of unhealthy oils either, so I guess I'll need to keep a good amount of olive oil on hand to season the pans. Since, I believe olive oil is healthier for you than any other oil.

There is a brand of cast iron out right now that says it is pre-seasoned and I recently purchased one of those. Logic Cast Iron can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Target and I am sure other places. I believe I have seen them at Amazon.
I have used this skillet today for two meals. The first meal I cooked was hash browns. I cooked these in I Can't Believe It' Not Butter. No sticking. Cleaned up great. I had to try it again. I thought I would try it with something that occasionally sticks and is frustrating when it sticks. Pancakes. I wasn't ready to try French toast, yet.

I cooked the pancakes in olive oil. The first one stuck and I was feeling a little frustrated. I cleaned up the pan and had to try again.  Oh good, cooked up great. No sticking. I did this two more times.

I have heard that once you learn how to season your cast iron, you will come to just love it.  I read to season you cast iron, after you are finished cooking, wipe the pan clean with a wet cloth. Dry thoroughly.  Add oil, heat again on the stove, then turn off the stove and let the pan cool and wipe out excess oil.  Prior to first use do the same thing. Heat on stove with oil. Let cool and then wipe out excess oil. So far it has been working well.

If things change and I come to dislike this pan, I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cooking from the Past

I have been helping my mom lately clean out her house because she has been downsizing to a smaller place. I have found some great old cookbooks. Some were my mother's and some belonged to my dad's mom, my grandmother. One I found was dated back to 1915. It was my Grandmother's. It is called The Housekeepers Handy Book. It is full of homemaking ideas and recipes. It has alot of really cute words in it we don't hear anymore. Like reminding you to set a dainty table for a sick person. I  wonder was this cookbook a wedding gift or something she purchased when she was young and put in a hope chest. Alot of the recipes would need to be adapted for sure. I might try to adapt some and then include them here on my blog. Here is a picture of the  
book and a picture of my grandmother is above, along others of my ancestors. She is the one in the middle sitting down and holding her hat. She's pretty isn't she?

Another book I found was published in the 1940's. I plan to try and use some of those recipes, also.  There were many more cookbooks. All from my grandmother. What I found interesting was almost all of these books when I opened them up had recipe's cutout from other sources, mostly magazines, stuck in the book.  I never do that. I should, though.  I need to be better about looking for recipes. I am going to be trying some of these and I will post some of them here.

There were a couple of other cookbooks I found. These are not so old. They were published in the 1960's. They were published by Better Homes and Gardens. One was a desert cookbook. The other was a cookbook for chicken, turkey and other game birds.

I tried the chicken parmesan recipe last night. I had to adapt a couple of things but this was the best way to make parmesan chicken I had ever tasted.  I am not a real big fan of parmesan chicken so I wasn't sure I wanted to try it but I did. I am so glad I did.

Here are the list of ingredients I used:

1 cup crushed packaged chicken flavored Stove-Top stuffing mix.
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of snipped parsley
2-3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, melted.

I combined the stuffing mix, cheese and parsley, dipped the chicken in the melted butter and then rolled the chicken in the mixture. Then placed in large shallow baking pan. Sprinkled with the remaining butter and crumbs. I baked it at 375 degrees for about and hour.

This was so delicious.

Little by little I will try to post what the other cookbooks are and some of the good recipes found in them and these above.

One more thing I have to mention that speaks so of the past is instead of paper clips marking certain pages, there were bobby pins. I love learning about women of the past.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas is who I am talking about. A patron saint.  Maybe called Santa Claus in some countries but I am not talking about Mr. HO HO HO.

We have all heard of the name Saint Nicholas. I love the old song "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas."  His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, during the beautiful season of Advent.  In many places around the world he comes visiting children to see if they have been good. Usually he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with lists children have made for him to let him know what gifts they would like. He will leave small treats  in shoes or stockings that are left out, which is where hanging stockings by the fireplace came from.  Usually he may leave gifts, fruits or nuts.

All over the world he has a different appearance.
In places that St. Nicholas is a well-known saint, Christmas is not the primary day of gift giving but St. Nicholas Day instead.
He was born in the third century in the village of Patara. This is  on the southern coast of Turkey but at that time it was Greek.
His parents raised him to be a devout Christian. Sadly, they died  while Nicholas was a young boy. Nicholas wanted very much to obey Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," He would give all he had to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to being a servant of God.  He was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Saint Nicholas became known all around for being very  generous to the those in need.  He had  a very great love for children and a great  concern for sailors and ships.

Saint Nicholas suffered very much for his faith. He  was exiled and actually spent time in prison. After Nicholas was freed, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, a very important council in history. Nicholas died December 6,  343AD  in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church.  In his grave a very unique relic formed which is called manna. . This liquid substance, was said to have healing powers. Because of this there was devotion to Nicholas.  His feast day is December 6, the day of his death.

There are many legends built around Saint Nicholas. One such story is about a man who had three daughters. He was very poor and in those times a father needed a good dowry (something of value) to ensure his daughters got good husbands. This man didn't have a very good dowry, though, very mysteriously three seperate times there would be a bag of gold appear at their home. It it said the bags were thrown throught the window and ended up in the girls shoes, thus Saint Nicholas provided the needed dowry.

There are many other stories about Saint Nicholas, some are legends and some are real.  More than 2,000 churches have been named after him. There were many St. Nicholas chapels built in many seaports.

At our home, on the night before December 6. I like to surprise my family with little chocolate treats found in their shoes, that are set by the fireplace. It is just a little way we remember who the real Saint Nicholas is.

I like some of the old stories of Santa Claus. They can be fun but I really enjoy remembering every year what a christian Saint Nicholas was. It makes this time of year special. When we remember the important events around this season it just gives it such a magical, beautiful feel.

There is so much about Saint Nicholas, I can't tell it all. There are some very good websites that tell so much about him. I recommend checking out a couple of them if you haven't already.

Clipart courtesy of:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What does it mean when the say, "a new liturgical year."

Wel,l first we need to know what the word, "liturgy" means.  Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans hear this word alot but for other Christians it is not so familiar. For me, even though I was raised Catholic I never knew what that word meant until recently. According to Catholic Reference.Net it means: 

A public service, duty, or work. In Scripture it refers to the religious duties to be performed by priests and levites in the Temple, especially those related to the Sacrifice; in Christian use among the Eastern Churches it means the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
In present day usage liturgy is the official public worship of the Church and is thus distinguished from private devotion. It is the special title of the Eucharist, and the administration of the sacraments with the annexed use of the sacramentals.

In other words, liturgy is public worship or community worship.

There are six seasons during the liturgical year, all commemorating and celebrating the life of Jesus. These seasons are: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Tridium, Easter and Ordinary time.

Every year when Advent begins we start a new liturgical year. Throughout the whole year we will celebrate the life of Jesus starting with the nativity. It is such a beautiful time of the year.

The colors change throughout the year and during Advent violet is used to remind us of humility and the need to prepare for our Lord through prayer and penance. The other colors used throughout the year are: green symbolizing life and hope, red symbolizing the Passion of Jesus or in reference to the Holy Spirit, white the color of joy and victory, and on certain days we see rose, which represents the joy of anticipation.

So, on our Advent wreaths this week we light the first violet candle as we prepare for the coming of our Lord.

Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain