Friday, March 22, 2013

Organizing my "liturgical" baking supplies

As part of my Lenten cleaning and purging, I decided to go through my cookie cutters, cookie stamps, jello molds, candy molds, cake decorating items and other tools I inherited from my mom. I was blessed to receive so many wonderful items, including candy molds shaped like little Bibles, cookie cutters shaped like churches and Nativity figures, and many other items that could give normal food a liturgical touch.
I live in a small house with limited cupboard space in the kitchen, so I've been storing these treasures in two large Rubbermaid bins in the basement. It really wasn't the best solution because the items were disorganized and jumbled together. The mess discouraged me from using them.  I didn't want the hassle of digging around in the box until I found the chalice cookie cutter, the lamb shaped candy mold or whatever other item I needed.

So I spent a Saturday going through the boxes.  I sorted them first into two broad categories: "secular" and "liturgical" items. I divided the secular pile into seasons and holidays, depending on how many items I had.  I kept the "liturgical items" together.

For example, my "fall" pile has items that I probably wouldn't use for most liturgical holidays, like an acorn shaped cookie cutter or a leaf shaped muffin molds. My "liturgical" pile has cross shaped cookie cutters, my lamb butter mold and other items I might use for holidays like Easter, a Jesse advent tea, etc.

I purchased some smaller stackable boxes which would fit on top of my refrigerator, and created labels for each box.  I listed the items in each box so I can quickly access what I need without digging through different boxes.

So far, the system has worked well. I find that I'm using the various tools more often because I can quickly locate them.

Have you figured out a way to organize your cookie cutters and similar tools? I'd love to hear about it; please share in the combox.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dinner to celebrate our new pope

After watching Pope Francis' Inauguration Mass on EWTN, I thought it would be fun to celebrate this special day with a  themed dinner.

I decided to go with a gold, red, yellow and white theme to represent the colors of the papal flag. So my daughter set the table with our gold tablecloth accented with white and red napkin "runners". She also used red napkins and a picture of Pope Francis.

For dinner, I served Argentinian gaucho steak sandwiches with chimichurri sauce. I used thin flank steak, so the meat grilled quickly on my panini press. They were delicious; even my picky eater teen son liked them! You can find the recipe here.

I also served two "red, yellow and gold" salads: a fruit one made with strawberries, peaches and crushed pineapple; and a veggie salad made with red and yellow grape tomatoes.

For dessert, I served vanilla ice cream with strawberry and butterscotch toppings.

It was a fun little meal to commemorate this special day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

MJ and I couldn't believe it when we looked at the computer screen (live feed) and saw this:

Habemus Papam!  We have a pope!

Waiting and Praying...

We are watching this:

And we are praying this:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Saints Day frame

Wanted to share an easy way to add a liturgical touch to your home decorating. 

I quickly put this framed artwork together for St. David's Day, but  we will be using it in the future to highlight other saint days and liturgical holidays.

Basically, I purchased a plain white hinged frame. Mine holds 3.5" x 5.5" photos, but you could purchase any size that meets your needs.  Mine was just a few dollars purchased from Michael's with a coupon.

I may eventually decorate the frame with paint pens or saint symbols, but for right now I'm keeping it simply white.

When a saint's feast day rolls around, I insert a printed image of the saint in frame on the right side. If I don't have a print, I'll search the internet for appropriate images.  

On the left side of the frame, I'll write a short message like "Today's saint is..."  I use a dry erase marker to write directly on the clear glass; it can be easily wiped off with a damp paper towel whenever I want to change the message.

Here are some of the Lent printables I'll be using in the frame in the next month.  Most of these are images from a Catholic Artworks CD that I purchased, but you could use holy card or other images, too.

I'll be using this for St. Patrick's Day in a couple of weeks; I think I will print part of the "breastplate" prayer on the left side, or perhaps something about how St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach about the Trinity.

I will also add special images throughout Holy Week, especially for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and of course, Easter! 

Do you have any simple items you use to give your home a "liturgical" touch?  If so, what are they?  Please share in the combox!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What are you reading this Lent?

Just curious--what books is everyone reading right now to  help them on their Lenten spiritual journey?

I'm absorbing this book:

Father Longenecker writes on of my favorite faith blogs, Standing on My Head.  So I decided to purchase his book The Gargoyle Code and download it into my Kindle to read while I'm waiting at sports practices and dance classes.  It is subtitled "Lenten Letters between a Master Tempter and his diabolical Trainee."

Needless to say, it isn't your typical Lenten meditation book.  It reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.  Both books are based on a series of letters between a young tempter and his senior mentor.

Although the book is a satire, it makes one ponder about the many subtle influences of evil in our world today.  It also proves that it is possible to laugh and cry at the same time.  (Yes, I've shed a couple of tears over the sad state of our world and how easily the devil can tempt us away from our loving Father.)

So, if you have finished your heavier Lenten reading and want something that will make you think while you laugh, check out The Gargoyle Code.

What are you reading this Lent?  Please share in the combox!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Celebrating St. David's Day

It's been a while since the kids and I learned about a new saint.  So when I discovered that we were free of all outside commitments last Sunday (February 24), I decided it would be fun to learn more about St. David, whose feast day is celebrated on March 1.

We started by reading a book about St. David. There aren't too many of them in the marketplace but we found this one:

It's a nice little book, just 22 pages long, which includes legends about David and a prayer inspired by him.  St. David is the patron saint of Wales, so the book also includes a two page spread on how the feast day is celebrated in Wales. (Incidentally, I picked up a copy inexpensively on eBay; the prices listed on Amazon are rather crazy!)

We also checked out a few websites about St. David, including this short biography of him on American, this page on New Advent, this page on, this page from the National Museum of Wales website and this page from the Visit Wales tourism website.

I thought it would be fun to watch a movie about the country of Wales. Unfortunately, our library didn't have anything.  My Amazon Prime membership came in handy, however!  Amazon Prime has quite a few free travel videos for streaming, including at least five on Wales.   We picked the 26 minute Passport to Adventure: The Magical Country of Wales.

Through our research, we learned that the national emblem of  Wales is the leek, and that many Welsh people pin a leek stalk to their lapels on this day.  I  was very unfamiliar with leeks but decided to make this delicious Leek Potato Soup. It will become a favorite no-meat meal for Lent! 

Wales' national flower is a daffodil. Since it was Sunday, I made and served this daffodil angel food cake:

The inside is yellow and white. I added a couple drops of yellow food coloring to half the cake mix, then alternately dropped spoonfuls of yellow and white cake mix into the cake pan.

It was a fun surprise when we cut the cake!

I frosted the cake with pre-made vanilla frosting, to which I added a drop of lemon flavoring.
I'm no cake decorator (as you will see) but I decided to try making daffodils with the fondant that's been sitting in the cupboard for a while.

I colored the fondant and rolled it out. I used a mini cutter to make flower petals:

To make the flower's cup I finger rolled tube shapes, cut them into smaller pieces and used a chopstick to make an opening in the cup:

But I didn't really like the look so I took small rectangular shapes and rolled them "jelly roll style". I liked this effect better.

It was a tiny bit time consuming to make those little daffodils, but it added a special touch to the cake.  I might make a similar cake for Easter since out of town guests will be celebrating with us.

I also considered doing one or two simple daffodil or St. David inspired crafts, like the ones I saw at the DLTK-Kids website and the Activity Village website, but we ran out of time. Perhaps next year!

It was a fun, relatively easy way to learn more about another Catholic saint.

Do you celebrate lesser known saints' days?  If so, which days?  How do you celebrate them?