Thursday, December 31, 2009

A surprise from Church Ladies Down Under!

Your blog hostesses received a surprise in the mail yesterday from our Australian counterparts: a package containing bottles of Golden Syrup (you're right, ladies, we hadn't seen that before),

and a cookbook from the Country Women's Association of Australia,

containing such delightful-sounding recipes as "Puffaloonies", and several ingredients with strange names that we had to google (they turned out to be pretty common things like golden raisins and peppers).

The card enclosed with the package said (in part), "N.B. pages 170 & 172 for ANZAC biscuits, originally invented to sustain the soldiers of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps." Naturally, that was the first recipe we tried, with delightful results.

Many thanks to you, Rosalind and Lucy, for your wonderful gift! It is much appreciated, and we'll be drinking a cup of tea to your health and saying a rosary for your intentions!

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for January

General Intention: Young people and Social Communications Media
That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society.

Missionary Intention: Christian Unity
That every believer in Christ may be conscious that unity among all Christians is a condition for more effective proclamation of the Gospel.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for all my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.

We'll post reminders here at the beginning of each month, but in case you have reason to look ahead EWTN has them all available here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A POD Christmas

My favorite gift this Christmas was this beautiful cookie mold depicting the Three Kings. The molds can be used for cookies, marzipan, or filled with fondant for a cake top.

House on the Hill sells a wide range of these molds, including many lovely images in the "Faith" category, which includes everything from the days of creation to Adam and Eve to scenes from the life of Christ to the saints and the sacraments. Check them out to add some beauty to your next domestic church celebration.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christmassy Hint of the Day

Your Hostesses have been rather busy attending to our Domestic Churches, so first off, a Very Merry Christmas to all of our readers! I don't say belated, of course, as we're only on the fourth of the Twelve Days!

This hint of the day will make your home both more festive and more comfortable, in these rather dry winter days. Set an uncovered pot of water to simmer on the stove (or in a small slow-cooker, if you're worried about forgetting it), and toss in a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves or allspice, and/or some citrus peel, to both humidify your house and make it smell just heavenly! Fair warning, though: make sure you have some holiday treats around, as the scent may make the occupants of your house just a tad hungry!

That's all I have for now, but do Stay Tuned, as we have some wonderful new features in the works for the New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Annunciations (Christmas Eve)

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.
O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Image source
: Duccio, The Prophet Isaiah, 1308-1311

Advent Annunciations (Wednesday of the fourth week of Advent)

Annunciation, Donatello
c. 1435, gilded pietra serena

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Desire of Nations

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Image Source: English Miniaturist, Christ in Glory, 1200

How to get the holiday knitting done

Sheep are anxious for work!

Too cute

One of the nuns at work gave me this sleigh. It's made of 2 candy canes with 4 minature candy bars- one larger and three smaller. The whole thing is hot glued together.

Advent Annunciations (Tuesday of the fourth week of Advent)

The Annunciation, Florentine
c. 1200, marble relief

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Day Spring

O come, Thou Day-spring,
come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Image source
: Vision of the Eagle and the Christ Child, 1482

Advent Annunciations (Monday of the fourth week of Advent)

The Annunciation (wings of an altarpiece)
c. 1480, oil on woood

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Key of David

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Image source: Beham, Scenes from the Life of David, 1534

Advent Annunciations (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Annnunciation, Giorgio Vasari II
1564-67, oil on poplar

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Rod of Jesse

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Image Source: English Minaturist, Tree of Jesse, 1140

Thrifty Gifts: _____ of the Month Club

This gift can be customized to fit the recipient. It works best if the giver and recipient are geographically proximate, but can still be used if you see each other monthly and can transport perishables. Basically, you're taking the expensive concept sold in magazines, and cutting out the middle man by doing the cooking/purchasing/delivering yourself.

Some ideas:
Flower of the Month (drop off a bouquet each month)
Herb of the Month (for the budding gardener)
Tea of the Month
Soup of the month
Cheese of the Month

Wine of the Month
Pie of the Month

Bar (Cookie) of the Month

Hot Dish of the Month (the latter two reflect my Midwestern heritage)
Chore of the Month coupons

You can even package the idea up nicely. Wrap up a vase, pretty tea cup, ladle, cheese serving set, a corkscrew, pie server, casserole dish, or other symbol of your gift to come.

Now, where's Margie with the hot dish?

O-Antiphons Considered

My favorite blogger, Jamie of Light and Momentary, has some beautiful reflections up about the O-Antiphons. Hopefully there will be more- I love her writing style and spirituality.

From "O Wisdom"
I watched a sheet of cloud scud from north to south, sweeping across the sky. I thought of my own smallness, as I listened to the voice in the back of the van say "How much farther now, Mom?" Twenty-five miles, sweetheart. I imagined the skies behind the clouds, boundless space and tremendous stars, and I thought about the might of God that wrought those realms and somehow chose to be contained within a human frame, a baby's frame. I sang, "The universe declares your majesty," but I didn't sing very long because I had to stop and say, Twenty-one, Pete. Only twenty-one more miles.

From "O Adonai"
Moses was amazed when he saw that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. How much more amazing that God has chosen us for a dwelling place, that the flame of the Holy Spirit can shine forth from us to bring warmth and light into the world. Though it burns away our impurities, we will not be consumed. He says, "I am Lord over the heartbreak, and I am the Refiner whose fire transforms ore -- rock with potential -- into a beautiful and enduring precious metal." Cleanse me.

Advent Annunciations (Saturday of the third week of Advent)

Annunciation, Peter Paul Reubens
1609, oil on canvas

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Adonai

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Image source: Tintoretto, Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law, 1560-62

Merry Christmas, Holy Father!

Send a Christmas greeting to Pope Benedict XVI via this site from the Pontifical Council for Social Applications.

Advent Annunciations (Friday of the third week of Advent)

The Annunciation Triptych, Robert Campin and assistant
c. 1425, oil on wood

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thrifty Gifts - Nativity Set

I saw this idea today and thought it would be perfect for our dear readers. You'll still have time to finish if you begin this weekend.

Cloche Tip to the Pioneer Woman (whose blogs I am liking more each day!)

Having your cookie and knitting it too

A recent Christmas hamper contained a cylindrical metal tin of Pirouline (rolled wafer cookies). After the cookies (all too quickly) finished, I re-purposed the container for storing my knitting supplies.

This particular container was 6" tall, making it ideal for shorter dpns. I've seen taller containers for other baked goods, which would be handy for longer needles, dpn or straight.

Depending on what implements you own, you might
-Store all your dpns, tied together in size batches with ribbons and tags
-Organize your tools by size, e.g, all your 4 mm circs, dpns, and crochet hooks. Place a sticker with the size on the lid.

I used left-over adhesive shelf paper. Wallpaper or other sturdy paper would work if you don't mind the mess of glue. Voila! You now have a storage container that coordinates with your decor.

O Wisdom

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Image source: Tiziano, Wisdom, 1560

Thrifty Gift: Chocolate Spoons

These spoons will add a little pop to your morning cup of joe or turn a cup of hot milk into cocoa.

2 cups semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
20 plastic spoons or 4 new large wooden spoons (for a family treat)

Line a baking tray with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until smooth. Dip the business end of the spoon in chocolate, then set on tray to cool. Wrap with plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon.

Advent Annunciations (Thursday of the third weeek of Advent)

Annunciation, Francisco de Goya
1785, oil on canvas

Eating your way through the O-Antiphons

Whether historical or not, I have always been interested in the following concept:

An old custom comes down from the monasteries of medieval times, where the monks used to get extra treats during this octave before Christmas. For example, on December 19th, when the Church calls on Christ, “O Radix Jesse” (“O Root of Jesse”), Brother Gardener brought his choicest vegetables and fruits, with specially beautiful roots among them; or on December 20th, when the Antiphon says, “O Key of David. . . .” Brother Cellarer used his key for the wine cellar and brought out the best wine. Finally, on December 23rd, it was the turn of the Abbot, who came with special gifts to the brothers. This beautiful custom could be restored in families, the members of the house taking turns in providing a surprise at the evening meal... [Maria Trapp, Around the Year with the Trapp Family]

Here are some menu ideas... do you have any to share?

The O-Antiphons
O Wisdom (Dec 17)

O Lord (who shows Himself to Moses in the burning bush) (Dec 18)

O Root of Jesse (Dec 19)
Root Vegetable Salad (Red cabbage, carrots, and cheese, in a lemon-olive oil dressing)
Himmel und Erd

O Key of David (Dec 20)
White Beans cooked in red wine

O Radiant Dawn (Dec 21)
Eggs baked with Spinach
Pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

O King of Nations (Dec 22)
Chicken ala King
Crown Roast
King crab cakes

O Emmanuel (Dec 23)
In the place of Father Abbot, Dad makes dinner

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I LOVE this idea!

I've seen this idea twice recently and it's so fun I want to share it with you. First, our home school co-op has an annual craft and bake sale, and this year Grace and her kids were selling beautiful sugar cookies decorated with holy card images of Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucy, and Our Lady of Guadalupe. You can get an idea of what she did by looking at the last two photos on this page. Today, you can see the same basic idea on the Pioneer Woman's cooking site, along with a link to getting your own edible printing supplies.

I think this would be a fun idea for business logos, First Holy Communion parties, wedding favors, or themed Church Lady tea parties. What do you think?

Thrifty Gift: Tea Cosy

At about 150 yards of yarn and a few buttons, a tea cosy is a quick knit. Check out Ravelry for pattern ideas. If you aren't sure whether the recipient's tea pot's handle is on the top or side, make a cosy that fastens with buttons for maximum flexibility. A box of tea and a packet of shortbread round out this gift nicely!

Church Ladies International

This just in from the mail bag:

Some of our Sodality sisters on the other side of the pond have been Quite Busy. The Church Ladies of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, host a quite a weekly undertaking: a three-course lunch for about 40 people, complete with live music! Props to you!
[full post at the Hermeneutic of Continuity]

CLOCHE tip: Teresa

Advent Annunciations (Wednesday of the third week of Advent)

Annunciation, El Greco
1596-1600, oil on canvas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Annunciations (Monday of the third week of Advent)

Figures from the Annunciation, Sadiqi
c. 1590, black ink and watercolor

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Rose colored Mary Janes on a (very) Junior Church Lady!

Advent Annunciation (Gaudete Sunday)

The Annunciation, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
1730-1733, ink wash and black chalk

Gaudete Sunday

I have no trouble summoning joy on Gaudete Sunday. Many moons ago, on the Saturday before the Third Sunday of Advent, I got engaged. I remember perfectly the joy of the day- the proposal at the Grotto at Our Lady's University, the blessing of the engagement in the Law School chapel, sharing the news with friends, the drive home through the blizzard, and an engagement party that the priest and MC braved the elements to attend. The years of waiting, akin to the season of Advent were over.

Zenit has a beautiful reflection on the Third Sunday of Advent. Here's a snippet:
In today's second reading, St. Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always [Philippians 4:4-7; see also Philippians 2:18; 3:1;4.4). The rejoicing to which St. Paul invites us, and which forms the heart of the Advent season. But we must ask ourselves, what did persecuted Christians have to rejoice about? The answer is their relationship with the Lord, which can even become stronger and more intimate in times of persecution. Their joy is not in their circumstance; indeed it is often in spite of their circumstance. Rather it is in the Lord. Sheer joy arises out of a deep and abiding relationship with God that carries the believer through all sorts of trials and tribulations. Rejoicing in the Lord is a sort of adoration, and adoration often takes the form of prayer. Rejoicing constantly leads to praying and praising repeatedly. Since Paul refers to giving thanks after he mentions prayer, it is probable that the term "praying" refers to petitioning God in some form, perhaps interceding for self and others in some manner.

Image source

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Annunciations (Saturday of the second week of Advent

Flower of God (The Annunciation in a Cornfield), Edward Burne-Jones
1882-1898, watercolor

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Annunciations (Friday of the Second Week of Advent)

Ye bearer of th'Eternal Word
Most gracious, magnify the Lord!

The Holy Spirit overshadowing the Mother of God,
William McNichols S.J., Collection of Boston College

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas is not about cozy

Jamie of Light and Momentary offers this beautiful reflection on the Nativity:

Christmas is not about cozy.

We are getting ready to celebrate a birth. That means work, not idleness. Before the baby comes, you prepare. You think hard about what the baby will need from you and you find it. Even if it's costly, you figure out a way to obtain it -- it's for the baby, after all, and nothing is more important than the baby right now. You get everything ready. You clean the house. You wait -- not idly, wondering if the chestnuts are toasted yet -- but expectantly, eagerly. Your whole world is about to change.

We tend to romanticize the Nativity, but I think often of how hard it must have been....I think he chose that time and place to say, Where there is privation, I am Lord. Where it stinks and you have to watch out for the piles of dung, I am still Lord. When it is not what you expected, not what you would have chosen, I am Lord even then. In the humblest circumstances, my glory is undimmed. The angels saw it and sang out: gloria in excelsis. Often we imagine the same tableau, strange and humbling, and we sing out too: our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we.

[full post]

Image source: Giorgione, The Adoration of the Shepherds

Advent Annunciations (Thursday of the Second Week of Advent)

Annunciation, Leonardo
c. 1472, Oil and tempera on panel
Uffizi, Florence

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hint of the Day: Cook Twice, Wash Once Revisited

Earlier this week I was making Pot-au-Feu from Second Thanksgiving's turkey carcass. Since I writing "Cook Twice, Wash Once," I had come across a tip from Amy Dacyczyn (The Frugal Zealot). Amy claims that adding 1 oz of vinegar for every 1 quart of water (up to 4 oz of vinegar) would draw more calcium from the bones, and that you can't taste the vinegar in the end result. So I threw in about 1/3 cup of white vinegar.

Now, I currently lack means of testing the calcium content of my soup, but the vinegar did something. A 12 lb bird's carcass, already carved pretty clean by my husband, produced 2.5 quarts of shredded meat- enough meat for three more meals, Turkey ala King, Turkey Tacos, and Turkey Chili. The vinegar may have also loosened the gelatin from the bones, because I ended up with only 2 cups of thick stock and was forced to bail on the pot-au-feu. But Church Ladies are masters of operating on the fly.

Image source

Advent Annunciations (Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent)

Annunciation, Fra Angelico
1430-32, Tempera on wood
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Annunciations (Immaculate Conception)

The Annunciation (1393-99) by Melchior Broederlam
Tempera on Wood
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon
Source:, which also has some lovely details of this piece on their site, but which doesn't let you link nicely.

Immaculate Conception

Everything was frozen over. Yet it all seemed so beautiful. The lake, especially, with its broad carpet of dazzling white snow, quite naturally reminded us of the spotless purity of our August Lady whose name it bears, and also of the purity of soul that should mark the new inhabitants of this chosen spot . . . .

We were in a hurry to enjoy all the scenery along the lakeshore of which we had heard so much. Though it was quite cold, we went to the very end of the lake, and like children, came back fascinated with the marvelous beauties of our new home. . . .

Once more, we felt that
Providence had been good to us and we blessed God from the depths of our soul.

[Fr Edward Sorin CSC, December 5, 1842]

[image source]

Monday, December 7, 2009

A stitch in time...

"Run the heels of stockings faithfully; and mend thin places as well as holes. 'A stitch in time saves nine.'" [The American Frugal Housewife, 1829]

When I got married, I was shocked to learn my husband threw away socks once they got holes in them. There's no need! Check out this handy tutorial on sock darning instead, and stocking darning, for your own leg-wear.

Image Source: Boursse, Dutch Interior with Woman Sewing

Advent Annunciations (Monday of the second week of Advent)

Annunciation, Alexandre-Francois Caminade

Thrifty Gifts - Marshmallow Gun

Disclaimer: This gift has no spiritual value, no sentimental value, and little educational value (unless you want to figure out the science of how it works). In spite of that, we've made dozens of them over the past few years because they are so FUN!

  • 30 inches of 1/2" diameter PVC pipe available at any home improvement store that sells plumbing supplies
  • PVC joints (2 caps, 2 elbows, and 2 T joints)
  • a saw that will cut PVC (a hacksaw will work - a power mitre saw will work really well)
  • mini marshmallows (I typically include about 2 dozen in a zip-loc sandwich bag.)
  • Cut the PVC into the lengths pictured on the diagram.
  • Use a jack knife or some other sharp edge to smooth the cut edges of the PVC. The sharpening steel from your knife set might work.
  • Push them together according to this diagram.
  • Viola! That's it!
  • If you're making them for multiple children in the same family, you may want to decorate the guns with electrical tape stripes or permanent marker so each child can identify their own gun.
  • It's not necessary to glue the pieces together. In fact, keeping them separate allows them to be easily rinsed or even put in the dishwasher periodically. (Only use when they are completely dry though!)
  • To use - place a mini marshmallow in the mouth end of the gun, take a big breath, put your mouth on the end of the PVC, and blow hard. You'll be surprised to see how fast and how far your marshmallow will fly out the other end!
  • It's the rule in our house that all ammunition shot indoors MUST be retrieved - no exceptions! (I do not want to find marshmallows in the sofa cushions!)
  • I know of a boy scout troop that made these and used small pom-poms for ammunition.
IMPORTANT - This toy is not for anyone who may forget to take their deep breath BEFORE putting their mouth onto the gun (You don't want to inhale a marshmallow!) If your children are more interested in eating the marshmallows than using the toy, they may be too young. Or it's lunch time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe, and more

A long time ago, there live an Indian named Juan Diego. He was an Aztec Indian who lived in a country called Mexico. Juan Diego was a Catholic. All week long he worked hard in his corn field. Every Saturday he went to Mass at the Church of Santiago, in honor of the Mother of God. After Mass on Saturday, he would stay for the great celebration of prayers and Mass on Sunday.
So begins the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe as told through this fun, interactive product by Illuminated Ink. They have an ever-growing line of creative craft projects to help your family grow in the knowledge of the Faith.

Really - poke around on their site and you'll find page after page of original kits ranging from Heavenly Host paper airplanes to First Communion keepsake banners that even Church Ladies would approve of. You'll find some other things relevant to the current season, so order now and you'll have them on hand for Christmas gifts or next year's Advent. Their prices are great enough that I could've listed this post in our Thrifty Gifts category and pretty much anything they sell would make a nice stocking stuffer for your children or godchildren.

Does it sound like I'm a fan? I was first introduced to the Butek family through my annual trip to the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference and we're always glad for the years they are able to make a return appearance there. High quality, original art, great prices, solid Catholic content - what's not to like?
Oh, and back to Our Lady of Guadalupe - I cut down the sides of an ordinary paper box and store my book there. It's lasted for several years without even getting a little crumpled this way. (It's just the type of box that reams of paper come in. My husband gets them from a recycling area near his department's copier at work.)

Disclaimer: Church Ladies have no particular connection to Illuminated Ink and do not receive any compensation from the promotion or sale of products mentioned here. They just have fabulous stuff and you should know about them.