Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ave Maria!!! Cancer Free!!!

Yesterday, on the Feast of the Annunciation, as we celebrated the announcement of the most wonderful news from Archangel Gabriel to Mary that she would give birth Jesus, the son of God, I received the best news of my life.  I am cancer free!!! The past couple of weeks have been rough as doctors have used words like "very concerned" and "bizarre" when viewing my mammogram images. With four children, and three of them still very young, my mind traveled to the unimaginable.  With so many women being diagnosed with breast cancer, and so many of them not making it, the suspicion of my doctors was unsettling, at the very least.

If I said I am unchanged or life goes on as usual now, I would be lying.  My life is forever changed.  I cherish every moment with my family.  Petty things have become just that - petty.  I see things with different eyes - literally and figuratively.  For example, I notice with much more intensity every leaf on every tree, the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the smells, every movement my children make.  I laugh harder and love more intensely.  For some reason, within the past two years, I have stared down my own mortality.  The first was a horrific miscarriage in September 2013 when I almost bled to death on the floor of my bedroom.  Last week, as I lay on the biopsy table, I couldn't believe I was back in that space.  How was it that I, a reasonably young and healthy mother of four, was staring my own mortality in the face.  It is said that hardships in life are God's way of showing us humility and redirection towards Him.  I have found this to be true!  There is nothing more humbling than almost dying or facing the notion that your life might be ended earlier than you'd like, only to be given that second shot at life. You have a heart filled with gratitude and you can only thank God.

Aside from lessons learned, I did have an amazing, or you could say "awesome", experience during the biopsy.  As I lay on the table, I was experiencing pain and I was scared and began to cry.  It is very uncomfortable and a very unsettling test.  I don't normally have pain in a mammogram, but I did with this. At the moment I thought I might scream or pry myself from the machines, I prayed to Jesus for help.  I immediately saw Jesus in the Eucharist! It was so bright and brilliant.  My body went completely numb.  I felt absolutely nothing.  I was at complete peace.  Seriously, I felt nothing.  The doctor and nurse assured me they were getting a great sample because I was so calm.

As my husband was driving me home, I received a text from a priest friend of mine who gave me a message that carried me through the weekend waiting on the results.  He told me that during Mass, he presented me to "Jesus the Healer".  He said he heard Jesus tell him, "All will be well."  It is no accident that as Father presented me during the sacrifice, I was seeing the Eucharist.  God sees no time or space.  I was sharing in that same sacrifice as part of the Body of Christ, which is THE reason for Mass.  Those words carried me through the weekend and I knew all would be well.  Late yesterday afternoon, I received the wonderful news that indeed all WAS well.  I think I'm still in shock, but I will tell you that nothing will ever be the same.

I want to share an extraordinary short video with you all on the Mass.  There is a particular quote in there that made me cry when I saw it over the weekend.

"Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us." ~ St. Jerome

It too was not a coincidence that I would see this over the weekend.  God is always in conversation with us, we just need to listen.  Life is so precious and as always, I place my life in God's hands.  Praise God!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!  Ave Maria!!!  Hail Mary!!!

Go make today the best day of your life!!!  ~Katherine

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Brilliance of Spring and the Life Jesus Brings

Are we living each moment of our lives - really living them - and savoring all that God has given us?  Do we see the beauty around us? Well, down here in South Florida a usually obscured and often overlooked tree comes center stage.  Every year, I drive around my town like a crazy woman on a mission to find as many of these blooming trees as possible ... because the magic only happens once a year!

It is a "yellow tab" or Tabebuia Chrysotricha.  I search and search to see if I can spot all of them because I don't want to miss this annual colorful show - and it is always around Easter time - which is perfect. They are so beautiful up against the blue sky!  The yellow is so brilliant that they stand out from areas of the street that you've never even noticed before.  The rest of the year, their leaves are a silvery green, the trunk is pretty scrubby, and they really just blend into all the greenery.  You'd never notice them the other eleven months of the year.  But it's difficult not to notice this!

They are like God telling us that Easter is around the corner and Jesus lives!  These trees are so vibrant, you can't help but think of life and the living and everything you're living for.  They speak to my soul.  They just put a smile on my face.  Wherever you are, even if there is snow on the ground right now, seek out the beginnings of Spring when it comes.  It is revival, new beginnings, and life.  This too is what Jesus brings us: revival, new beginnings, and life!  May God continue to bless you all during this Lenten season, and may you see God in all you encounter each day.  Easter is around the corner!!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Early Spring Gardening in South Florida

By the time you read this, it will be March 1st, and as I sit here and look out the window at the rain, I am reminded that our intense summer rains and scorching heat are just around the corner.  March is the time to fertilize!!!  March is the time to get out there and do heavy gardening, preparing your yard and gardens for the summer.  This will include raking, fertilizing, and sanding the grass, trimming hedges back by about a third, and fixing all your garden beds.  You should probably also look into saving money for a company to come out in May or June to trim your trees for hurricane season.

For the lawn ...

We have three large live oaks on the property and they drop all their leaves twice a year.  I've been raking for the past couple of months!  All those leaves will completely destroy your lawn.  They are too heavy and dense for the sun and rain to reach the grass, so you will need to get out there and rake those off your lawn.  As soon as you rake, hit your grass with a Southern weed & feed.  This will kill the weeds that have crept in during the holidays.

After raking and weed & feed, look for bare patches in your grass and fill them in with play sand.  Yes, you read that right.  Go get a few bags of play sand from Home Depot and pour it on the bare spots.  Rake it smooth and within a few weeks, your grass will shoot runners all over the top of the sand filling it in nicely.  It's so easy for our lawn to have its soil depleted down here with all the rain and the electric blowers.  Those blowers are great for getting debris off your lawn, but they're also great at blowing away your soil.  Our Florida grass grows best in sand, so don't be shy with it!  This year, we are going to have to order a dump truck of sand to be delivered to our property - yes, the oaks have done that much damage!

Now that you've taken care of your lawn, walk your property and take a good look at your garden beds.  Is the soil depleted?  Is there any mulch left?  What do your plants look like?  My garden beds are in dire shape.  The oak leaves have really wreaked havoc this past year, so my garden beds look dingy and tired and my lawn is in bad need of sanding.  Just last week, I completely overhauled a corner garden bed of ours and would like to share with you the process I used & always use when fixing my beds.

Here is a step-by-step for a garden bed ...

Rake out all the leaves and pull any weeds or old/dead plants.  Assess the size plot you have and map out how many plants you would like to put back in (you might want to make a drawing & bring it with you to the garden center).  In my case, I bought three different colors/types of flowers - blue, red, and lavender.  You also want to consider the color of greenery - there are dark greens, sage greens, and yellow-greens.  Consider the colors with the color of your house and driveway/walkway.

Dig holes where you want the new plants to go - wider than the plant and as deep as the plant is.  You may want to water the soil before digging to loosen it up a bit.  Digging in South Florida can be difficult as you will encounter rock, shells, and roots of neighboring plants or trees.  If you're having a lot of trouble, you may have to step back a minute, take a look at your garden, and rethink you map of plants.  Keep in mind that if you are planting plants in a row, you can dig a trench and place the plants in.  Either way, back fill after you plant them and push the soil down around the plant so that there are no air pockets.  Once all the plants are in the ground and planted, shake some fertilizer pellets around the base of all the plants.  I used Miracle-Gro for flowering plants.  Water the plants to moisten the ground and the fertilizer.

Next, grab those heavy bags of mulch and begin adding the mulch an inch or two thick around all the plants.  I like to use cypress mulch as it is natural to our area and has a pretty color and nice smell.  I don't like the "colored" mulches as they lose their color and that color ends up in our soil, canals, and water.  Try to find something natural.  Another nice one is eucalyptus.  Don't completely smother the base of the plant - you want it to breathe a bit.  Once the mulching is done.  Step back and admire your new garden!  Finally, you can add in the fun touches like statues, garden flags, a potted plant, stepping stones, small garden gates, bird baths, etc.

If you're a Catholic family like me, you will have small children at home who will want to be in on the project.  I suggest doing the bulk of the work on your own, but plan something they can do to help.  My four year old daughter dug holes and put the flowers in.  She had an absolute ball!!!  Remember to add in small garden features that will be fun for children such as a walking path, a fairy house, a frog home, etc.  This will promote a love of gardening with your children that will last a lifetime.

Here are my befores and afters:

BEFORE #1:  Looking from my house's walkway down onto the corner garden.
It's looking tired, lacks color, and does absolutely nothing to enhance my home.

BEFORE #2: Looking towards the house onto the garden.
I had a lot of leaves to remove - as well as the old red flowers (their time had sadly come).
The red flowers were vinca - or periwinkle.  They thrive anywhere - great for So.FL!

The new side entrance to the garden.  Mostly used by the kids :)
The new red flowers are begonias and the blue ones are lobelia.

Looking down on the garden from the house's walkway.
I made this small area of stone set in sand because of water run-off
from the house during our heavy rains.  If I mulch here, the mulch just
runs all down into the bottom of the garden as it's a slight decline down the yard.

Another view from above - a new garden flag adds color to any garden!
The green grassy plant is liriope, which is VERY hardy.  If you fertilize it, it will
bloom in July with little purple flowers.

Up close shot of the stones in sand.  The plants in pots are old - had them for years!
They are society garlic and I still need to give them a bit of attention!  They will also bloom  light purple.

A child's view of the garden entrance … a charming stepping stone to greet them,
as well as flowers of varying colors and a bunny await their arrival!

Along the front of the garden, you can see solar lights, the new walking path
for the children, the new garden gate, and some touches of purple.
What do you think?  I would love to hear your comments either here or on the Facebook page!!!

Don't let gardening intimidate you no matter where you live.  Do your research on native plants to your area, assess your yard and garden, and make a game plan!  Some things will fail, that's okay … but you will have fun in the process and you will learn.  Go spend some time in the dirt and you will spend time with God.  He is there in all His marvelous creation!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roast Chicken with Potatoes 'n Onions

Hey there!  How are you all doing with your Lenten journey?  On a previous blog, I wrote about keeping yourself healthy - mind, body, and soul.  It all goes together.  You can't leave one of those components out.  Here is a delicious, filling, and nutritious recipe for your family.  It is earthy and real and you will have so much satisfaction knowing you made it all yourself.  It has the winning combination - meat and potatoes but without the fat from red meat.

I have been making this roast chicken recipe now for years and it is definitely a favorite of my family's, as well as being a favorite of guests.  You just can't beat that earthy flavor of roasted meat and potatoes.  Soooooooo comforting and oh so yummy!!!  Since I am learning how to add recipes to my blog, please bear with me as I do not yet have a "print"button with the recipes. I guess y'all will just have to copy it down by hand!  *gasp*  No, I promise I will learn how to get that pesky feature on the blog for easy printing.  Without further ado…

Roast Chicken with Potatoes 'n Onions

4 lb (approx) roasting chicken
Spice mix (salt, pepper, sage, thyme)
Olive oil
Yukon gold potatoes (about 5 good size potatoes)
1 large white onion ( I like sweet onions )
1 lemon
1 cup white wine (can use cooking wine)

Buy a roasting chicken that is somewhere around 4 lbs.  I have bought larger, but it's difficult to find them too much larger when you're buying free range ones organic ones.

These spices are all you need for this bird!!!

Prepare your spice mix in a small bowl and set aside:
2 T kosher salt
1/2 - 1 t pepper (however much pepper you like)
1 t dry sage (I usually just eyeball it - you could use more here too)
1 t dry thyme (same as sage)

Here is the spice mixture all mixed together.

On a cutting board, cut a lemon and a large onion into wedges.

I did not have a large enough onion on hand - you can add another small onion.
I just went with this as I was in a hurry!

You will use about half the lemon and about half the onion.  The other half of the lemon you can use for a tall glass of cold iced tea, and the other half of the onion will be thrown together with the potatoes to roast.

You will need to pull the onion segments apart for roasting.

Wash your potatoes and set them on paper towels to dry them off.  I usually use half a bag of yukon gold potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into about 1-1 1/2 inch wedges/chunks.  They shouldn't be perfect - this is a rustic meal!

Aren't these gorgeous???!!!
I usually use yukon gold potatoes - which roast so beautifully,
but these little beauties were at the store and I couldn't resist!

Throw the potatoes into a large bowl.  Take the remaining onion and pull the segments apart and throw them into the bowl.
Liberally coat them all with olive oil and some of the spice mixture.  Now get your hands in there and mix them all around.

Here are these gorgeous taters all oiled up and spiced up!!!

Rinse the chicken under cold water, remove any innards, and set breast down on a bed of paper towels. Dry it all over.

Spray your pan with some non-stick cooking spray.  I use a 10 x 13 pan.
Rub the side of the chicken that's facing up with olive oil - be generous.  Liberally sprinkle with your spice mix.
This is the bottom side of the bird before flipping over and spicing up the top!

Liberally sprinkle spice mix to the inside cavity of the chicken and place breast side up in your pan.
Stuff the chicken with your lemon and onion chunks - about three or four pieces each.

All stuffed and ready to infuse the meat with lemon and onion goodness!
Oil the top (breast side) of the chicken and liberally sprinkle the chicken.  Give her a pat just for good measure!  :)
Pour the potatoes and onions all around the sides of the chicken.
Pour about a cup of white wine (yes, you can use white cooking wine) into the bottom of the pan without washing off the spices from the potatoes.  Oh yes!  White wine and chicken and potatoes and onions and sage and thyme will fill your home with the aroma of the best home cooked meal - EVER!!!

Oh my goodness, can you stand it???!!!
Roast this bird at 350 degrees Fahrneheit for 20 minutes/pound.  So, if you bought a 4 lb chicken, you will roast it for 1hr and 20 minutes.  When it's done, take out of the oven and let it rest for about ten minutes.  Remove the potatoes from the sides of the pan and place in a separate serving dish.  Keep them warm by gently tenting them with foil.
Remove the lemons and onions from the inside of the chicken and discard.

Roasted and caramelized potatoes and onions - mmmmmmm!!!
Place the chicken on a large cutting board.  Carve the breasts out first and set aside.  Carve out the thighs and legs and set aside.  Flip the bird over and remove any meat from the underside.  Throw away the carcass (I'm not "foodie" enough to save the carcass to make homemade chicken stock - lol!)
Cut the breasts into slices and remove all meat from the legs and thighs.  Place all the meat on a serving plate and drizzle pan drippings over all.  (You could strain the drippings into a separator first if you're really watching the fat.)

All that hard work really payed off!!!  Look how beautiful that chicken is?
Can't you just taste it now???

All you have to do is serve this with something green - a salad is usually the easiest as the chicken is taking up the entire oven.  Here is the simple salad I whipped up … (butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta, and homemade salad dressing)

Although, you could roast asparagus in the oven while the chicken is resting.  Whatever green you like - serve it up and you have a complete meal!!!  I will blog about my super easy homemade salad dressing in a future blog - so look for that!

I hope this recipe finds you and your family well.  Please drop me a note here or on my Facebook page and let me know if you made it and how it turned out.  If you roast chickens regularly too, how do you make yours?  We would all love to hear!!!

May God continue to bless you and guide you during this Lenten season.  Stay healthy - mind, body, and soul!  ~+  Katherine

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mind, Body, and Soul Lenten Program!

Are you tired?  Do you feel like your body is "out of whack"?  Or maybe it's just your mind … or your prayer life.  We are just so darn busy these days that it is really easy to forget to lead a balanced life.  I was reading an excellent article recently about how our body and soul are one.  Christians often forget this.  Our soul is not this type of ghost running around inside our shell of a body.  The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  They are one.  Our spirituality and what we do with/to our bodies are woven together from the same thread.  You can read the article here.  It is much more in-depth and a very beautiful article.

Pharmakeia, Contraception, and the Interior Life

Having read that, my mind wandered to the upcoming Lenten season.  It begins next week on Ash Wednesday.  I realize that I have a very difficult time keeping my mind, body, and soul balanced as a busy mom of four.  I know I'm not the only one out there!  It's easy to forget to exercise, eat right, and pray daily.  Each day that passes - each night I lay my head down on my pillow - I remember something I had wanted to do during the day and had forgotten or my day was just too full.

This Lent, I would like to change that.  I'm proposing that this Lent, we pay close attention to our minds, bodies, and souls with activities that we can easily accomplish.  When we close our eyes at night during the forty days of Lent, we should feel content as our minds have been stretched, our bodies were well-fed and exercised, and our soul was fed with the Lord.

For the mind:
Set aside thirty minutes each day to read, write, journal, or complete a crossword/sudoku puzzle.  Believe it or not, when you look at your day, you will find some time to stretch your mind.  It might mean you will be turning off the television.  Horrors!!!  Television may be good for zoning out, but reading and daydreaming are better.  Start now seeking out what book you will be reading during Lent.  I recommend anything by Saint John Paul the Great, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, any of the saints' works, or something more contemporary from Dr. Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Matthew Leonard, Johnnette Benkovic, Jennifer Fulwiler, or Teresa Tomeo.  Start now doing your research and pick that book!

I'll be ordering this book - I hear it's great!

For the body:
Since you've turned off the television and carved out thirty minutes for reading, why not carve out another thirty minutes for exercise?!  I understand this might be a difficult one, especially for those of you who work full-time away from the home, but it's one you should really try to accomplish.  When I exercise, my day goes so much better.  I would recommend exercising in the morning when your energy level is at its highest.  Take a good look at your days and see when you can squeeze in some exercise.  You may have to get up earlier before the kids wake - but you won't believe how good you'll feel if you do that.  Exercise doesn't have to mean a rigorous run or exercise class or weight training at the gym.  Although all those are awesome, you may not have the time or ability to do those.  Try walking around the neighborhood.  Drive the neighborhood first and find a good route and exactly how  far your route is.  Try to walk at least a mile a day.  If you are unable to walk, gentle stretching, sit-ups, and push-ups right in your own family room are just fine.  The point is to not be sedentary all day every day.  Get up and breathe some life into those bones and muscles of yours!!!

Get to steppin'!

Along with exercising, goes eating healthy.  I would have to say, my number one rule for my family is to try to stay as far away from boxed/packaged food as possible.  If it comes from the earth, it's likely that it does not have additives and preservatives.  The boxed foods are killers - filled with all kinds of things that are not naturally from this earth.  If you are interested in losing weight, I would suggest the "Lose It" app.  It is wonderful for keeping track of the calories you're actually ingesting.

Lose It tracks your daily caloric intake - you can even scan the barcode on food items!

Overall, stick with:
whole grains, lower carbs (than you're probably used to), fruit as snacks, organic granola bars and cereal bars (my family likes the Cascadian Farms chocolate chip, as well as the blackberry graham), real cheeses (and not a lot of them), lean meats (without steroids and nitrites), fish, salads with homemade dressing (the bottled dressings have all kinds of unnatural ingredients), roasted vegetables, soups (preferably homemade), etc.

If you're a snacker, look for:
Veggies and hummus, fruits (strawberries are low in calorie), pretzels, natural popcorn, rice cakes, peanut butter (again, look at the ingredients), mixed nuts (although high in calorie), dry cereals (go for all natural ones), raisins and dried fruits, yogurt (frozen too), applesauce, and hardboiled eggs.

Look how all that healthy food looks so delicious!  All natural, all from the Earth,  all from God!!!

For the soul:
I think each of us is guilty of not praying enough and definitely not doing enough acts of charity.  This Lent, I propose you pray before getting out of bed in the morning, as well as in bed at night before you fall asleep.  One wonderful way to start your day is by reading Fr. Robert Barron's Lenten reflections sent right to your phone.  Fr. Barron, in case you are not familiar with him, is singularly converting the world to Catholicism by evangelizing through the truth and the beauty of the Catholic Church.  I have signed up for the daily lenten reflections and can't wait for my first one!
Sign up here!!! FREE Daily Lenten Reflections from Fr. Barron

Along with praying morning and night (which could be a short prayer or as long as praying the rosary), I propose visiting the Lord in adoration at least one time a week.  I have written many times regarding the benefits from attending adoration.  Find out when your parish has adoration hours, and make it a point to go!  If you've never gone, or not in the habit of going, I will tell you that going there for the first time is intimidating and definitely feels outside your comfort zone.  I have even gone and said, "Lord, I don't know why I'm here, but I'm here.  I feel you calling me."  I think that's what Jesus wants.  He wants us to be there with him - communicating with him.  Sometimes I have nothing to say at all and just sit in silence … and listen.  Sometimes, I hear him and sometimes I hear nothing.  However, I hear Him later.  He will make Himself known to you.  It may not be on your timetable, but He will.  One last thought on adoration - if your parish's hours are not convenient for you, find a parish's that are.  Some parishes have 24 hour adoration!!!  That's convenient for everybody.

Our Lord is waiting for you...

Along with adoration, I propose daily mass.  If this is not possible for you, how about a weekday mass one time a week?  You won't believe how much better your day will go!  Again, find a parish with hours that are compatible with your schedule.  There is a great website for United States mass times as well!  I think it is also an app.  Their website is here:  Mass Times

You'll be surprised you won't be the only one at daily mass!

Along with praying, adoration, and daily mass, comes confession at least once during Lent. That's right.  I said it!  Get yourself over to a confessional and confess those sins!  Come on, those sins are weighing you down like weights around your ankles.  Slough it off and start out right.  Think of how much better your Lent will go if you visit a priest and confess right at the beginning of Lent.  Don't wait until Good Friday!  Here is a wonderful printable brochure entitled, How to Make a Good Confession.

For those who don't understand the sacrament of confession, this picture says it all!

Acts of charity might be the toughest to squeeze into our busy schedules.  If you have time, visit a hospital and see about their volunteering policies.  You can also visit you local Respect Life center, a nursing home, soup kitchen, St. Vincent de Paul Society, etc.  If you can't find something, ask your priest.  Prison ministry may also be available and a calling for you.

Defend life from conception to natural death!

Lastly, don't forget that you are obliged to fast and abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  You are also obliged to abstain every Friday during Lent.  How about fasting every Friday as well?  You will align yourself with the sufferings of Christ … and who knows, it might help with the waistline as well?  Fasting is very biblical.  It can be found mentioned in the Bible several times and for several different reasons: in secret, for humility, for God's intervention, and to overcome addictions, for example.

For humility

I have written a lot here, but we Catholics have a responsibility to take care of ourselves as a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Lent is a wonderful time to begin good habits for your mind, body, and soul.  Take advantage of the remaining days before Ash Wednesday and write down a "do-able" attack plan.  What will your strategy be?  How can you incorporate these good habits into your daily lives within the Lenten 40 days?  Plan now so that Ash Wednesday will be the start of great lifelong habits!  Please leave me a comment and let me know your plan, as we can all learn from each other.  What book will you be reading?  How much exercise and what type will you be doing?  How will you alter your eating habits?  How will you be spiritually growing closer to our Lord???  I am challenging you to the Mind, Body, Soul Lenten Program.  Our Lord is challenging you to treat yourself as the temple of the Holy Spirit that you are!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Real Presence

Do you believe in transubstantiation? Do you believe that upon consecration, the host and wine are turned into the body and blood of Jesus himself?  Right there on the altar?  Every day of the week in every Catholic Church around the world?  Many Catholics sadly do not believe this - the most important aspect of daily mass.

In today's world, where we tend to be so removed from our spiritual nature, and God himself, it may be difficult to believe in this daily miracle.  Let me ask you another question.  Do you believe God can work miracles?  If so, could he not do the aforementioned without batting an eye (not that God has eyes, per se)?

Let me quote Jesus himself on this matter:
(John 6:48-58)
"I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread whih comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." 

The jews then disputed among themselves, saying. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"  So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.  This is the bread which came from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."

I would say that Jesus was very clear here.  He is not speaking figuratively.  He emphatically states we must actually eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life and for Him to live within us.  He was speaking so literally, in fact, that his audience could not believe him and were shocked.  If he were speaking figuratively, they would not have reacted the way they did.  As Jesus compared the bread which he was giving them to the manna which fed the Jews daily for forty years, he tells them He (as the bread) must be eaten daily.  We even say this in The Lord's Prayer!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread …

Jesus is very explicit in what he wants his followers to do.  He does not ask his people to drink something else or eat something else, and only do it occasionally.  Eating His flesh and drinking His blood through the consecration of the bread and wine by the priest on the altar has ALWAYS been the teaching of the Catholic Church ~ I'm talking since the beginning.  The actually beginning.  You know ... since Christ himself.

The Council of Trent, which was held from 1545-1563, in response to the Reformation that was occurring throughout Europe, stated:
"Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.  This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

I will leave you with a quote from St. John Chrysostom:
"Let us in everything believe God, and gainsay him in nothing, though what is said be contrary to our thoughts and senses…Let us act likewise in respect to the Eucharistic mysteries, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind his words.  For his word cannot deceive."

St. John Chrysostom was telling us that it is difficult for our earthbound minds to understand Jesus' words, but to not question it for they are Christ's words.  He "cannot deceive".
God bless you all and may you love Christ even more through the eucharist He freely gives us every single day of every year in every Catholic church all around the world!  ~+ Katherine

John Chrysostom (349-407 AD) Preaching in Constantinople

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Preschooler's Spring Birthday Party!

My three year old turned four this week, and every time one of my children's birthdays draws closer I begin to get a bit of anxiety over what "kind" of birthday we're going to give.  I don't know about you, but I honestly think the whole kids' birthday industry has gotten WAY out of control.  When my oldest was little, a very expensive party - at a place with helpers, cake, goodie bags, etc. - cost about $200.  Now a party like that costs $400-500!!!  Seriously, we parents need to examine our heads.

If you have a preschooler and the time of year is right, you can always have a park playdate birthday party with some preschool friends.  The great thing about this, is you won't have to pay to reserve a park pavilion if you do it on a weekday.  Since most preschoolers are only in school a few days of the week, choose to have the party on the day they are all out of school.  Moms might really thank you as it gives the kids something to do to burn up all that extra energy on their day off!  Remember that archaic and always now overlooked rule of only inviting the same number of kids that your child is turning?  (For example, a three year old should invite three or four children.)  This helps them not get over-stimulated, over-tired, and then start to cry or fight.

And what about those darn "goodie bags"?  I swear those have stressed me out a few times over the years!  What to give?  Will it be meaningful?  Will the kids actually like it?  Will it just be candy from a piƱata?  Will it, please God, not cost another small fortune on top of what I'm already spending for the party?  I swear, some years, it has felt like adding insult to injury!  Well, this year, I headed to my local dollar store determined to not spend a fortune on them, but make them really cute.

I walked past all the Valentine's decorations and St. Patrick's Day decorations and made my way to a new shipment of some early summer toys.  I spotted some purple sparkly beach buckets with pink shovels attached.  Hmmmm…..


I immediately imagined the girls' names painted on the front and remembered I had some paint pens I had saved from my son's party two years ago.  Yeehawwww!!!

Then I spotted a purple and pink pinwheel… and … purple butterfly wand glow sticks!  Aha! I was on to something.



Digging around some more, I found bubbles that came in purple butterfly shaped containers, preschool-friendly candy, and party whistles (with a butterfly decoration on them).


I got lucky, but honestly, just look around for things you think kids will actually play with.  Here are all the items all laid out:


Additional ideas for a summer or spring beach bucket?  You could add sidewalk chalk, cheap jewelry, Hot Wheels cars, green ARMY men, a small puzzle, crayons, inflatable beach ball, seeds for planting in the spring, gardening gloves, etc.  So what did each completed bucket cost me?  Only about $5 for all of that!  It looks like I spent more, the girls were out of their minds excited when they received them, and they are practical for future playtime adventures at home!  I do wish your children many many happy birthdays to come, and may they be easy on the budget but high on the fun factor!!!  Drop me a line in the comment section and let me know how you've thought outside the box for a birthday party.  I'd love to hear your ideas too!   ~+ Katherine


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Super-Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Okay! Are you ready to eat the most delicious and soft sugar cookies … ever???  If you like those soft frosted cookies from the grocery store but feel a little guilty wondering what the heck is in them (preservatives, lard, food coloring), then you never have to worry again!  This recipe is not only SUPER EASY, but the cookies are YUMMY!!!


2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached - I think it's supposed to be healthier for you)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened (I buy gigantoid packs at Costco)
3/4 cup sugar (I use organic cane sugar - Costco has a great deal on this)
1 egg (I used organic free-range)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Again, Costco's deal on vanilla cannot be beat!)


1 1/2 -2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk (maybe a dash more)

Mix together well.  You want the frosting to be tight enough not to slip off the cookie but not so tight that it doesn't spread.  You can fool with sugar/milk ratio a bit.

*Add-ons:  sprinkles, colored sugar, flavored extract (lemon, orange, strawberry), or you could add a dash of coloring to the frosting for a special event like a drop or two of red will yield pink just in time for Valentine's Day!


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit (180C).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder - set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter & sugar for about 1 minute.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture slowly and beat together, scraping down sides of bowl.
Using a small ice-cream scoop, scoop out balls of cookie dough and place on cookie sheet.
Slightly press them down.
Bake 8-10 minutes ( I think I only needed 8 or 9).
Remove from oven and let rest a couple minutes or so.
Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack carefully - they will be soft.
Allow the cookies to completely cool before frosting them.

If you are transferring them to a party or as a gift, why not place them in festive cupcake wrappers?  The cookies won't stick to one another, they're easy to hold with out sticky fingers, and they're just so darn cute like that!

READY FOR TRANSPORT!!!  And to be gobbled up!!!!

Let me know how yours come out!
~+  Katherine

"The Catholic Life"

Well, my goodness, I'm a bit late at saying "Happy New Year!"  I am certainly hoping you all are having a good start to the new year.  Never forget that every day is a chance to start over - whether it's in your prayer life, your relationships, your diet, or your exercise regime (or lack thereof).  You can begin again at any time.  God wants us to grow - never stagnate.

Speaking of new beginnings… I'm so excited to let you know that I've started a new Facebook page called "The Catholic Life".  It is a beautiful page for you to briefly connect throughout the day with our faith. Whether you are a cradle Catholic, re-vert, convert, or fallen-away Catholic this is a page where you can feel at home. As I've said so many times before, I am a twenty year convert, but I still have SO MUCH to learn. My hope is that this page serves as a break in the day when you can read a quick prayer, view a beautiful photograph, or share in daily Catholic life.

Aaaaaand… In case you're new to my blog, welcome!!!  I'm a wife of twenty-five years and mother of four, ages 18 down to 4.  This new Facebook page will also include recipes, household tips, gardening tips, and parenting info as well. I've started this page to share the beauty of the Catholic Church and living a life of faith. PLEASE feel free to comment on the page and share a bit of your personal journeys as we go along this together.

God bless you all! ~ Katherine


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Being Compassionate

This is hopefully going to be a short posting.  I really have only one thought, and that is "Be kind." I think it's an appropriate message given the time of year, but that message just continues to resonate with me lately.  It's really more than being kind; it's "be compassionate".  I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, or our society is getting sicker, or it's just weird timing or luck, or whatever, but it is probably a combination of all those factors.  I personally know many people who are suffering.  Within this past year, I have known people who have lost their spouses, their great life-long friend, their co-worker, their cousin, their father, their mother, their grandmother, their brother…as well as others who have been diagnosed with various cancers or MS …and yet another whose child was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  Yes, each of us is suffering through our own daily mundane trials and sacrifices, and then there are those who are suffering more than others can even imagine.

When you go about your day, try to make eye contact with everyone you meet and share a smile or a kind greeting.  It might be the only bright spot in that person's day.  You just do not know what is behind anyone's smile.  We all are hiding something.  We go about our days trying to hide what ails us, but it is always bubbling within our psyche.  For some, the pain is immense.  It can be a physical pain, an emotional scar, or financial troubles.  In being kind to one another, we Christians have the opportunity to minister to others about Christ's life…simply through our actions.

We, Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.  I do hope each of us takes more than a moment to truly thank God for ALL the blessings in our lives.  I do hope that each of carries that gratefulness within our hearts into the Advent season. We must be like Christ and tend to the poor, the widowed, the weak, the sick, the elderly, the abandoned, and the lonely.  When we think of Christ tending to those people, do we see ourselves in those stories?  It is us he is tending to. Don't you see?  WE are the poor, the widowed, the weak, the sick, the elderly, the abandoned, and the lonely.  It is each of us.  Each of us has a broken heart for one reason or another.  Christ is telling us we must tend to EACH OTHER.  This Advent season, be compassionate.  Be like Christ.  He is the light of the world, so go light up your corner of the world with compassion and love for others.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

Etching by Rembrandt: "Christ Healing the Sick"
"The print depicts multiple events from Matthew 19, including Christ healing the sick, debating with scholars and calling on children to come to him. The rich young man mentioned in the chapter is leaving through the gateway on the right"