Friday, October 30, 2009

A nice surprise

She looks well to the ways of her household...
[Pv 31, 27]

One of my favorite authors, Tracey McBride, has a website! Actually, three of them: Frugal Luxuries, Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons, and Frugal Luxuries Foods.

Many of you may remember Amy Dacyczn, author of the Tightwad Gazette, as the face of frugality in the early nineties. While she had many good ideas on saving money to reach financial goals through gradual changes, some of her more radical ideas were mocked by the public. I strongly support Amy's work, and think she was just too far ahead of the times. Fifteen years later, I have seen some of her ideas, like Freezer Soup, in mainstream publications like Better Homes & Gardens.

Tracey McBride has a slightly different approach to frugality. She believes in transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, to "live content with small seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion."

Here is my favorite of Tracey's ideas for saving money & enhancing your life:
Enhance the Ordinary. Serve even the humblest meals attractively. Bean soup with cornbread looks charming when garnished with parsley and the cornbread served on its own saucer, with a pat or swirl of honey butter. The same holds true for beverages. Our dinner table often features a pretty glass or silver pitcher filled with ice water, and garnished with a few citrus slices.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Domestic Monastery

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half-century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara desert. Alone, with only the Blessed Sacrament for company milking a goat for his food, and translating the bible into the local Bedouin language, he prayed for long hours by himself. Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization: His mother, who for more than thirty years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.

A monastery is a place set apart. It's a place to learn the value of powerlessness. It's a place withdrawn from the world. A place in tune with the “monastic bell” calling you to drop whatever you’re doing and immediately respond to it’s summons, thereby helping develop the discipline to look beyond your own schedule to God’s agenda.

The principles in this article can apply to anyone in any vocation, but if you happen to be a young mother who longs for a consistent moment of prayer each day and wonders if you are making any spiritual progress in your hectic stage of life, I especially recommend that you print a copy and leave in your bathroom. Fortunately it's short, and you just may get two private minutes there to read it. :-)

Convent of San Marco Photo Credit: Web Gallery of Art

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

"You never really know what scarlet and crimson really are until you see them in their perfection on an October hillside under the unfathomable blue of an autumn sky. All the glow and radiance and joy at earth's heart seem to have broken loose in a splendid determination to express itself for once before the frost of winter chills her beating pulses. It is the year's carnival before the dull Lenten days of leafless valleys and penitential mists come."

-Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Golden Road

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn -- overlooked my Knitting --
Dyes -- said He -- have I --
Could disparage a Flamingo --
Show Me them -- said I --

Cochineal -- I chose -- for deeming
It resemble Thee --
And the little Border -- Dusker --
For resembling Me --

-Emily Dickinson

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fighting Irish- Fighting for the Weak

Calling all Church Ladies

Details in Design is looking for a Church Hand- Embroiderer for Altar Linens.

If you are interested in a stay at home vocation in Church Needlework, please contact us to receive an information packet on our upcoming Vocational Training Workshops on Church Linen Needlework. We will employ individuals who can successfully complete our training course. Our information packet will give you all the details regarding this unique training program. If you love needlework and would like to work at home, we are offering a new career path & opportunity.

Contact us Today!

Information Packets Available Upon Request
See our website:
800.905.9556 or 757.259.9400

Send resumes or inquiries to: workrooms(AT)communionlinens(DOT)com

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is the day the Lord has made

It seems that obligation has become a dirty word for many. For us Catholics, Sunday is a holy day of obligation, we are obliged to join our fellow Catholics at the Church for the sacrifice of the Mass.

But I have heard many say: “you shouldn’t be going to Church out of obligation…you should go because you like it…because you are inspired.” Well, I’m all for inspiration, for doing things that inspire you and for doing things out of inspiration. But what happens when you’re not inspired, when there are no good feelings? Do we cease giving glory to God in these times?

St. Paul says “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do…So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

If Paul recognized the weakness of his human nature; how much more should we? Let us pray for the Spirit to strengthen us on this journey of faith that we might choose to honor and give praise to him…yes, even out of obligation. Keep holy the Sabbath!

[Curtis Kneblik]

All good gifts

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
render him tribute,

may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
[Ps 72, 10]

This week, I took on slow cooker marmalade. Trust me- you'll get both great marmalade and wonderful smelling home out of this enterprise. To quote my husband, "It smells like Christmas in here!" To me, the exotic fragrance was pure Epiphany.

Lucy's Epiphany Marmalade (Fills 7-8 12 oz jars)
6 seedless oranges
4 cups water
1/4 c lemon juice
3 1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t powdered ginger

Wash the oranges. Roughly chop whole oranges in a blender or food processor.

Place orange mixture, water, and lemon juice in slow cooker. Cook on HIGH, covered, for 2 hours.

Stir in sugar. Cook on LOW, covered, 6 hours, or until peel is translucent.

Add cinnamon and ginger. Cook on HIGH, uncovered, until thick and syrupy- 2 to 6 hours.

Store as desired (Can in jars or freeze).

Old Sweaters for New Yarn

That was then

This is now
There is a whole new world of beautiful, inexpensive fiber at your local charity shop (or the back of your closet). I (sneeze, itch, repeat) was forced to pass up $5 cashmere and merino sweaters, but they are still waiting for you lucky Church Ladies out there who are not allergic to wool.

I didn't leave empty handed- I found this lovely linen-cotton blend sweater (at the cost of one skein), and recycled it per the great instructions of Dawn Prickett, who "[has] have probably wound enough yarn to wrap the world and have handled almost every type of fiber and weight of yarn."

Recycling sweaters is great, because you can see how a sweater has held up after wear, before you invest the knitting time.

I would add my own tips:
-For your first reclaiming experience, pick a pullover in at least sport or DK weight.
-Check the men's section too- there are a lot of nice burgundy, slate blue, and olives there
-The buttons might be worth the cost of the garment
-If the yarn bleeds dye, add a cup of salt to the water

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

H.R. 441

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

September 22, 2009.

Whereas the social, cultural, and political contributions of Catholic sisters have played a vital role in shaping life in the United States;

Whereas such women have joined in unique forms of intentional communitarian life dedicated to prayer and service since the very beginnings of our Nation’s history, fearlessly and often sacrificially committing their personal lives to teaching, healing, and social action;

Whereas the first Catholic sisters to live and work in the United States were nine Ursuline Sisters, who journeyed from France to New Orleans in 1727;

Whereas at least nine sisters from the United States have been martyred since 1980 while working for social justice and human rights overseas;

Whereas Maura Clark, MM, Ita Ford, MM, and Dorothy Kazel, OSU were martyred in El Salvador in 1980;

Whereas Joel Kolmer, ASC, Shirley Kolmer, ASC, Kathleen McGuire, ASC, Agnes Mueller, ASC, and Barbara Ann Muttra, ASC were martyred in Liberiain 1992;

Whereas Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN was martyred in Brazil in 2005;

Whereas Catholic sisters established the Nation’s largest private school system and founded more than 110 United States colleges and universities, educating millions of young people in the United States;

Whereas there were approximately 32,000 Catholic sisters in the United States who taught 400,000 children in 2,000 parochial schools by 1880, and there were 180,000 Catholic sisters who taught nearly 4,500,000 children by 1965;

Whereas today, there are approximately 59,000 Catholic sisters in the United States;

Whereas Catholic sisters participated in the opening of the West, traveling vast distances to minister in remote locations, setting up schools and hospitals, and working among native populations on distant reservations;

Whereas more than 600 sisters from 21 different religious communities nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers alike during the Civil War;

Whereas Catholic sisters cared for afflicted populations during the epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, and influenza during the 19th and early 20th centuries;

Whereas Catholic sisters built and established hospitals, orphanages, and charitable institutions that have served millions of people, managing organizations long before similar positions were open to women;

Whereas approximately one in six hospital patients in the United States were treated in a Catholic facility;

Whereas Catholic sisters have been among the first to stand with the underprivileged, to work and educate among the poor and underserved, and to facilitate leadership through opportunity and example;

Whereas Catholic sisters continue to provide shelter, food, and basic human needs to the economically or socially disadvantaged and advocate relentlessly for the fair and equal treatment of all persons;

Whereas Catholic sisters work for the eradication of poverty and racism and for the promotion of nonviolence, equality, and democracy in principle and in action;

Whereas the humanitarian work of Catholic sisters with communities in crisis and refuge throughout the world positions them as activists and diplomats of peace and justice for the some of the most at risk populations; and

Whereas the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit is sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and will open on May 16, 2009, in Cincinnati, Ohio: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors and commends Catholic sisters for their humble service and courageous sacrifice throughout the history of this Nation; and

(2) supports the goals of the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit, a project sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and established to recognize the historical contributions of Catholic sisters in the United States.

[House Resolution 441]

Dinner and a Movie

This Church Lady is a big fan of stay at home dates. Whether you are coming off a busy week at work, need to be at home for young children, or are scraping to get by on a graduate school stipend, or all of the above, a stay-at-home date is a great way to build your marriage.

But to make the night really special, consider serving a new ethnic cuisine or have your own Oktoberfest. Our friends at Epicurious have put together themed international and holiday/occasion menus- check them out!

If, like me, you rely on the public library's media collection for entertainment, Wednesday afternoon is a good time to pick up a movie. Any recommendations?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It only took 20 years

I finally finished a bit of embroidery that has languished at the bottom of my sewing basket since first grade!

It's a style of embroidery I have not seen elsewhere. The fabric is printed with the small xs for crossstitch- almost like a fabric mimeograph. And, at last, it's done!

Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Church Lady

Up and down behind the chairs Mrs. Tinkham and Mrs. Bradley were hurrying, reaching between the shoulders to refill cups with tea or coffee. Other ladies were clearing away used plates and replacing them with clean ones. As soon as anyone finished eating and left his place, it was taken, though the supper cost fifty cents. The church was almost full of people, and more were coming in.

This was all new to Laura. She felt lost and did not know what to do, until she saw Ida busily washing dishes at a table in a corner. Ma had begun to help wait on table, so Laura went to help Ida.

"Didn't you bring an apron?" Ida asked. "Then put this towel on so I can't splash your dress." Being a minister's daughter, Ida was used to church work. Her sleeves were rolled up, her dress covered by a big apron, and she laughed and chattered while she washed dishes at a great rate and Laura as swiftly wiped them.

"Oh, this supper's a great success!" Ida rejoiced. "Did you ever think we'd get such a crowd!"

-Little Town on the Prarie

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fruits of your labor

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Pv 31, 31)

What's a Church Lady to do? There's nothing like homemade jam (although Trappist is an excellent second)... but stirring a bubbling pot on a hot stove during the summer is building a little too much character for my taste. Plus homemade spreads are a great way to preserve-pardon the pun- the slightly bruised and damaged bounty of the earth.

Our friends at "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker" have come up with a brilliant idea- jams, jellies, fruit butters, and marmalades made in that faithful kitchen standby. The lower heat of a slow cooker means your fruit can simmer away all day or all night without your attention (although unless you have a programmable slow cooker, we advise not leaving it unattended more than 6 hours). Tart fruits don't even need pectin. Check out their book for full details, but in the meantime, here is my adapted Apple Butter recipe:

Butter slow cooker generously.

Slice and core (but do not peel) enough apples to fill your slow cooker insert. My round 6 quart took 10 apples. Stir in 1/3 cup sugar for every pound of apples. Combine well, let sit at room temperature overnight or at least 8 hours to macerate fruit.

Stir in about 2 teaspoons apple pie spice, 1/4 cup brandy (preferably apple), and a pinch of salt.

If you have a newer slow cooker, set the apple pot to cook covered on low as the last thing before bed (allowing for a 7-8 hour cooking time). Otherwise, set it up for 10-12 hours.

After the low cooking time has elapsed, remove the lid, stir well, and let it cook on high 30 minutes to 1/2 an hour, or until desired consistency is reached.

(ETA: Puree with an immersion blender in the crock, or in batches in a standard blender;) then package as desired. My mother-in-law freezes jam in jars, rather than true canning, with great success.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Only on Ravelry

Would there be plans to knit/crochet a baby blanket of the Vatican flag.

Who wants to shine this diamond ring?

Jewelry can easily get dull due to dirt from lotion and the natural oils of the skin.
Supersonic cleaning can loosen settings if not examined by a professional.

Easy solution (from the jeweler who made my engagement/wedding ring):
Place your (gold mounted) stone jewelry in a mesh colander in a pot of stove. Add enough water to cover the jewelry and a few squirts of dish soap; let it boil for 20 minutes. The gentle agitation of the water and grease cutting soap removes the dirt's dullness. Drain, cool, and wear.

NB: The colander is important. Otherwise, all the dirt that boils off will adhere to the jewelry. Also, don't try this trick on soft gems such as emeralds, opals, or pearls.

She is far more precious than jewels.
[Pv 31, 10]