Reading, Eating, Etc.

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It’s May–my favorite month. Month of mothers. Month of Mary. Month of my favorite (albeit sentimental) Marian hymn. Month my husband and I met and fell in love and later got married in. Even though the unbearable Texas heat is starting to settle in, I can’t help but be happy this month and want to pass the days sipping elderflower cordial.

Reading

Books:

The Little Oratory: finally started and finished (this was my third attempt). I found it an interesting reflection on the relationship between the physical styling of a home and the interior spiritual life of the family. Also, it’s just a generally good resource about how to cultivate prayer in the home when you’re feeling overwhelmed about all the devotions and traditions you could potentially incorporate. And it really made me want to learn and make chant a part of family prayer life.

These Beautiful Bones: such a good read. Such an accessible and needed book especially since I feel the main message teenagers take away from Theology of the Body is that it’s all about sex. Of course, that’s to be expected when it’s promulgated to an audience drowning in an over-sexualized culture. But Theology of the Body is so much more and this book is an excellent resource for anyone, Catholic or not, who wants a deeper understanding of the Christian vision of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of an incarnate God. Now, I can’t wait to read The Catholic Table.

Middlemarch: I am liking it and am expecting to love it by the end because there are glowing reviews everywhere I turn. It’s already a good cautionary tale for making big life choices (e.g. who you marry). However, it’s just so massive that every time I look at it, I want to opt for Netflix. But a few bits that I’ve especially liked so far:

“Curiously enough, his pain in the affair beforehand had consisted almost entirely in the sense that he must seem dishonourable, and sink in the opinion of the Garths…Indeed we are most of us brought up in the notion that the highest motive for not doing a wrong is something irrespective of the beings who would suffer the wrong.” 

“Mrs. Bulstrode’s naive way of conciliating piety and worldliness, the nothingness of this life and the desirability of cut glass, the consciousness at once of filthy rags and best damask…”

“It is an uneasy lot at best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy: to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be liberated from a small hungry shivering self–never to be fully possessed by the glory we behold, never to have our consciousness rapturously transformed into the vividness of a thought, the ardour of a passion, the energy of an action, but always to be scholarly and uninspired, ambitious and timid, scrupulous and dim-sighted.” Made me think of this article again.

Articles:

Concrete ways to help in tough times

A Voice from Heaven: an eloquent reflection on experiencing loss through the lens of C.S. Lewis and the Book of Revelation.

We are Travelers: I’m always thinking about Christian pilgrimage vs. secular wanderlust not only in terms of physical travel but as radically different mindsets in this journey of life.

Being Radical: Choosing to Live within the Context of Creation: I mean, basically what I was rattling on about in half of this post.

The Look of Divine Love: “’It is godlike to love the being of someone’ (Gilead, Marilynne Robinson)…We have to love with the love we have received from God. In so doing, we are transformed into another Christ, and with divine charity reigning in our hearts, we begin to see reality as God created it.” Makes my thoughts leap from G.M. Hopkins and inscape to co-inherent love to this JPII quote. Tangential mind, ya’ll.

18 Things I’ve Learned in 18 Years of Parenting: seems like solid advice. (Number 14 is super encouraging for me at this stage of life). After reading several of her posts, I really like this blogger’s no-nonsense yet still understanding attitude towards work, motherhood, and homeschooling. It probably appeals to me because I tend towards idealistic stagnation, though I really do want to be more of a doer than just a dreamer.

-I finally read Anne of Green Gables for the first time a few summers ago. I have no desire to see the new Netflix show, but I think it’s high time I finally watched the 1980s miniseries.

Eating

Asian food

All the time. It’s been my number one craving this pregnancy. Since I can’t justify takeout on a regular basis, here are a couple things I’ve been whipping up:

-Cold rice noodles with peanut lime chicken.

-Grilled peanut lime flank steak (with leftover marinade from the previous recipe) with soba noodles, broccolini, and carrots. Topped with peanuts, basil, and mint.

-Shredded chicken with bok choy, carrots, onion, and ramen noodles in miso broth.

And lots of asian-fusion meals thrown together from our meal leftovers. Plus, thank goodness for the freezer aisle at Trader Joe’s (read: scallion pancakes and pork buns). It’s getting me through my cravings in a pinch.

Desserts:

My second biggest craving, most often satiated in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or my pantry stash of chocolate chips.

this yogurt chocolate cake found in a late-night sugar-craving-crazed google search to see what I could make with what basic baking ingredients I had on hand. With an on the fly cherry sauce (frozen cherries, sugar, boiling water) and homemade whipped cream, it basically turned out to be a light and lovely version of black forest cherry gateau.

Nigella’s lemon polenta cake with a berry compote. I might have to restrain myself from making this on repeat this summer.

Summer eats:

rosemary potato pizza: basically like potato chip flatbread. Highly recommended.

fish tacos for cinco de mayo. I only used the recipe for the beer battered fish and oh yum it was good. We topped ours with mango salsa (lit. just chopped mango stirred into store-bought salsa) and a sour cream avocado spread.

-Joe made burgers on Saturday and all I’ve been saying since is, “I wish there were more burgers.” Sometimes, you just need a non-fancy burger. Just a patty all smoky and cheddar cheese all melty stuffed in a fluffy bun. I’m already coming up with our weekend grill meal plan for the rest of the summer. Fajitas up next!

-Last night, after Joe mentioned having a hankering for spaghetti and meatballs, I put a springy-summer spin on the traditional thing and made garlicky, lemony, herby pork meatballs with fusili pasta and a creamy tomato rosé sauce. It was so good, it may get its very own post.

Of course, these are the highlights. Mostly, we eat clear the fridge stuff: whatever grains, proteins (usually eggs, beans, or tofu), veggies, leftover sauces are on hand all thrown together. Since we eat this way several times a week and as it’s usually vegetarian, it makes the meals I spend a little extra time and money on even more appreciated (by me and Joe. Leo’s palate is definitively unrefined and ungrateful).

Etc.

-We are indeed expecting baby number two in fourish months. This pregnancy has been far harder than the first time. I had a sweet part time work schedule when I was pregnant with Leo which meant lots of sleeping in and napping whenever I wanted. From weeks 6-18ish this time around, my toddler was not very sympathetic to my very real need to sleep in past seven am or to the fact that his dirty diapers made me vomit without fail every time. Most mornings, I’d hand him a piece of bread for breakfast and then I’d lie on the couch and drift in and out for an hour or two while he’d play/destroy things or come over and poke my eyes. Joe got to be on the receiving end of my broken record complaints: “Next kid has to be potty trained before we even think of a third” “I’m so nauseous” “I’m so exhausted” “We need a first trimester nanny”. Thankfully, we’re past the very worst of it and we are actually very excited.

-Recent netflix binges? Father Brown forever. I know, I know. Not at all like the stories but I’m okay with that (I suppose I risk losing Catholic cred by admitting that Chesterton’s prose is not my favorite). I think for the most part the show does a good job of showing the specific and important work of a priest while also giving me my cozy mystery fix. Otherwise, Life in Pieces has me in stitches every episode. And I just finished Master of None season 2. Still pretty dismal but Aziz Ansari explores interesting ideas and I think admits, perhaps without realizing it, that so many millenials are ‘lost in the cosmos’ to steal a phrase.

-Say a prayer for my alma mater, please.

Happy feast of St. Crispin of Viterbo, St. William of Rochester, and St. Julia (among others but I liked their stories best.

 

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Reading, Eating, Etc.

Reading, eating, etc.

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Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent! I’m lighting all the candles and linking up!

Reading

1. Books

The Thin Man: If you haven’t seen the William Powell and Myrna Loy film (and the subsequent sequels), you’re truly missing out. It’s the perfect thing to watch during the holidays with cookies and cocktails. The book was a little racier and a little more hardboiled than the film but still a hoot!

Whose Body: I’ve barely started this one but it’s proving as delightful as I imagined.

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux: I’m about to start this for our next book club and it’s a good thing, because I don’t think I’m going to get to any of my suggested Advent spiritual reading. St. Therese is my confirmation saint and I read Story of a Soul back in junior high but I haven’t touched her writing since. I need to though because she a doctor of the Church and her writing is so accessible and enriching. Also, I keep saying I need to go on a retreat so I’m excited about getting to go on one in book form.

2. Links

-I really enjoy Maria Popova’s labor of love, Brain Pickings, though I frequently save the articles for later and then never get around to them–they demand one’s full attention and I have a mind trained to skim distractedly. But when I do put the mental effort in (and it really doesn’t require thaaat much effort), I’m always glad that I did. The books on her 16 Overall Favorite Books of 2016 all look very good and I’m marking some of them down for my 2017 reads. Also an oldie, but one of my favorite posts she did: 10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings.

Sorting Jane Austen into Hogwarts Houses: The Definitive Guide. This was such a fun post. Now I want to reread all Harry Potter and all Jane Austen. Also, just yes to Mr. Collins being a squib.

Favorite Quotes and Prayers: Christmas. I love quotes. I’ve got notebooks and word docs full of them. So Christina’s beautiful list made my heart sing.

“When we give each other our Christmas presents in his name, let us remember that he has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans and all that lives and moves upon them…And to save us from our own foolishness and from all our sins, he came down to earth and gave himself.” -Sigrid Undset

Eating

3. Feast Day Food:

Honey Cake with Fleur de Sel: made for the St. Ambrose’s feast day (patron of beekeepers) to share with a friend and it was ambrosial on more than one level. Joe ate some for breakfast the next day, left for work, came back up a few minutes later, cut himself a second slice, and declared, “This is my favorite cake.”

Cuccia: For St. Lucy’s Day, I had big plans to wake up early and make cinnamon buns and string up lights around the apartment in honor this saint of light, but that did not happen. It was all good though because this Sicilian wheatberry porridge was splendid. According to the tradition, during a famine in Syracuse in 1646, a ship arrived on St. Lucy’s Day bearing wheat. People were so eager to eat, they didn’t wait to ground the grains, but simply boiled them and dressed them with olive oil–the first cuccia. We ate ours hot with ricotta, chocolate, candied orange slices, and honey. Yum!

4. Advent eating:

Garlic and vinegar fried rice: when you need something easy and meatless (though I threw in some stir fried meat this time), this is one of my favorite go tos.

-Minestrone: I used this as loose guide. Simple and warm and wintry.

Olive oil braised chickpeas: making this tonight with soft-boiled eggs and crusty bread.

5. Christmas baking/cooking plan:

-What are your favorite cookies to make? My signature cookie over the past couple years has been a shortbread cookie sandwich with speculoos filling and dusted with powdered sugar. It’s the tops. I also like to make gingersnaps from this recipe my sister shared with me. And they really do go deliciously with an Old Fashioned (perfect for your Thin Man movie watching). Other than that, I tend to change it up. Do you have favorite Christmas cookie recipes you return to year after year?

-I have a crazy dream this year to do a seven course Christmas Eve dinner after the Provencal and Italian traditions. I’m planning to keep the courses mostly simple: a make ahead chestnut soup, a cheese and fruit course. I just don’t know though. I’m a dreamer and not a very practical planner so we’ll see if it comes off without a hitch…or happens at all.

Et cetera

6. I’m shutting down my etsy shop till sometime in early January as I figure out a new printing situation, work on new products, and make a plan to really get this business going. I’m one to get immobilized over small difficulties, so things have been going slow lately.

7. We’re having a cozy Sunday watching Harry Potter (as a result of reading the Carrots for Michaelmas article) and making paper snowflakes. But the unfairness of our coziness and safety while others are living in the most desperate, war torn circumstances is heartbreaking. We can all donate and we can all pray. When I feel like despairing I think of these words from Tennyson: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Also, this site helps specify where donations go.

Drop down ye heavens from above

Reading, eating, etc.

Weekly Edit: 7.16.2016

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Showing up late to the link-up party this weekend.

Gifts from the Internet

All about womanhood, bodies, and feminism this week.

1. I discovered this post somewhere between getting a spark of an idea for this one and actually publishing it, but I identified so, so much with it. (Katherine’s blog is the shizz in general and should be on all of our to read lists.)

2. This is just basic decency.

“Providing menstrual hygiene products privately, immediately and for free is also about sending a body-positive message by not perpetuating shame and humiliation, and acknowledging that women’s bodies, even those of women serving time in prison, deserve some dignity during their periods.”

3. Josh Radnor aka Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother gave a deeply thoughtful and intelligent interview with Fight the New Drug about the devastating effects of pornography. It’s worth a read.

“Porn peddles selfishness, domination, and oppression – all terrible qualities to bring to a relationship. It strips women of personality, agency, and dimensionality reducing them to objects who exist simply for men’s sexual pleasure. And can be discarded when they’re through – after all, there are always more women a click away.”

Yums!

4. We’ve been trying to be better about eating less meat. We’ve gotten especially bad about eating meat on Fridays and, yes, I know you can substitute a different penance in place of going meatless but who are we kidding? That never happens. But even outside of religious reasons, eating red meat is apparently going to kill us, the environment, and our grocery bill too. The only problem is that my husband and I both really like meat. Fish is alright but we’re meat people. Toxic red meat people to be exact. These are some things I’ve been whipping up in an effort to be ever so slightly more vegetarian and still excited about dinnertime. And if we’re not, I guess that’s okay too #offeritup

Chickpea-zucchini fritters. These were quite good served in warm pita pockets with tons of fresh vegetables, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce.

Spiced black bean and beet burgers. I loosely used this recipe and topped them with avocado, bbq sauce, quick-pickled red onions (red onion+red wine vinegar+the fridge for 10min), and wait for it…bacon. Cheater cheater pumpkin eater. I took it one step further when I warmed up a patty the next day for lunch and cooked it in bacon grease…whoops. We ate the burgers with store bought sweet potato fries.

Salmon marinated in leftover tzatziki sauce. I served it with oven roasted corn on the cob bathed in chimichurri, and a warm quinoa clear the fridge salad (cherry tomatoes, the last of a cucumber, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/3 of a red onion, feta cheese, lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, s&p).

5. And for a very meaty dish this week, I made skirt steak marinated in oyster sauce (no soy sauce on hand), dark brown sugar, and sesame seed oil. Served with leftover angel hair and stir fried peppers and broccolini. It was quick to make and absolutely delish.

Et cetera

6. Still talking food–does anybody else do baby led weaning? I have a slightly love mostly hate relationship with it. Probably because I haven’t seen any of the benefits. Only the gagging which I know is normal but geeeez it makes me so nervous. And the mess. Blw people like to tout the whole “spoon feeding babies mush is a modern invention” thing a lot. But somehow I don’t think people throughout history were letting good food go to waste all over their kitchen floor. Case in point. I’m thinking spoon fed porridge might have been a thing. But I’m not a historian. Anyway, I’d love to hear anybody else’s experience with baby led weaning or different methods of introducing solids besides purchasing jars of baby food.

7. Last night, I got together with some college friends and by 11 and after having a glass and a half of rose, I couldn’t tell if I was tipsy or just exhausted. But it was fun to relive the days when my only obligations were studying and orchestrating fake engagements.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Listening to this beautiful hymn today.

Weekly Edit: 7.16.2016

Weekly Edit

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Gifts from the Internet

It’s graduation time. My sister and husband (graduated the same year, same place) had George Foreman as their commencement speaker. He delivered the expected all-my-money-is-proof-that-I’m-blessed spiel. Sad day for liberal arts schools everywhere. Though my husband likes to retell the part where he said, “You went into college as boys and girls and now you’re coming out as men.” My other sister and mom (graduated two years later, same place) had an amazing army surgeon sister whose speech I wish was recorded somewhere. My year (same place, two more years later, just me this time), we had Fr. Rosica from Salt and Light Ministry. I don’t actually remember his speech, but I was also was coming off a roller coaster semester of wedding planning, thesis-writing, and all-nighter after all-nighter.

Here’s my roundup of favorite commencement addresses:

David Foster Wallace

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

Wendell Berry

And so you must refuse to accept the common delusion that a career is an adequate context for a life. The logic of success insinuates that self­-enlargement is your only responsibility, and that any job, any career will be satisfying if you succeed in it. But I can tell you, on the authority of much evidence, that a lot of people highly successful by that logic are painfully dissatisfied. I can tell you further that you cannot live in a career, and that satisfaction can come only from your life. To give satisfaction, your life will have to be lived in a family, a neighborhood, a community, an ecosystem, a watershed, a place, meeting your responsibilities to all those things to which you belong.

Cardinal Arinze

The Christian must not be an absentee citizen in this world under pretext of preparing for the next world, for the kingdom of heaven is being prepared for from this world. As the Second Vatican Council puts it: “The expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one….Earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ’s Kingdom. Nevertheless, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the kingdom of God” (Gaudium et Spes, 43).

Christina Valenzuela (one of my new favorite bloggers!)

My wish, however, is that no one comes up and asks you: “What are your plans after graduation?” My wish for you is that someone asks, “How has Harvard shaped your life?”

Pope Benedict XVI (not a commencement speech but might as well be one)

You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend. God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.

People (some living, some dead) that I think would be excellent commencement speakers: Alice McDermott, Jean Vanier, Melissa Musick, Paul Kalinithi, Stratford CaldecottFranz Wright, Sigrid Undset, Louise Cowan, Brendan Gleeson, Elizabeth Corey, Jaroslav PelikanJulian of Norwich and my grandma.

Yums!

I had this intense craving for chicken and beer on Saturday night so my husband made chicken tenders which were wonderful and accompanied by not homemade sweet potato fries (I’ve tried making them and can never get them crispy no matter how much cornstarch I use), and kale, cherry tomato, and goat cheese salad. Also, if you don’t like beer but want to, Shiner’s prickly pear is a good starter beer. (It should be known that I’ve been on “starter beers” for at least the past two years. The closest thing I got to beer before that was sickly sweet American made cider.)

We had a TON of leftover chicken tenders, so the next morning it was deemed necessary to have chicken and waffles. We shamelessly bought the eggo kind since we don’t have a waffle maker. (I really want one, though, because I have this dream of celebrating Talk Like a Poirot Day with Belgian waffles, tisane, fake mustaches, and binge watching David Suchet. And how is that supposed to happen without a waffle maker?)

I may be breakfast’s number one fan and now that I’m not rushing out the door at 7am to submit myself to the daily death of commuting, I pretty much always eat a breakfast too luxurious to justify for a weekday. Do I care? Not really. Some hits this week: Chocolate chip brioche is yummers on its own, but drizzling it with cajeta has been ridic. Also eggs cooked in pesto and marinara with fresh mozzarella.

More cravings for chicken and beer later in the week resulted in oven-fried Korean chicken tacos with more sweet potato fries and beer. I added basil to the toppings on the tacos and it added a beautiful depth of flavor.

Et cetera

A question on my mind that maybe you have an answer for:

Why is bilocation a miraculous occurrence and not a gift given to every mother? Cause I could definitely use ten extra hours in my week to get things done.

……………

Happy Trinity Sunday! And feast of St. Rita–one of my faves!

Weekly Edit

Weekly Edit

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Gifts from the Internet

On childhood and how we’re overcomplicating it:

  • Completely agree with this. I have very real memories of being stressed out about homework in elementary school.

“I believe that play should be the only work that kids do as homework,” said Karen Fitch, a Silicon Valley mother of a third-grade boy, and a former teacher. “Children are in school for hours on end; they don’t need to work on school subjects at home.”

  • Kids need less. Less toys. Less extracurricular activities. Less technology. This article is feeding my minimalistic aspirations for all stages of life:

“We enroll [sic] them in endless activities. And fill every space in their rooms with educational books, devices and toys with the average western child having in excess of 150 toys. With so much stuff children become blinded and overwhelmed with choice. They play superficially rather than becoming immersed deeply and lost in their wild imaginations.”

  • I don’t know how much I feel comfortable sharing about my child on here, which is why I tend to err on the side of caution. But I do follow plenty of bloggers who share all about their children. Many of these blogs made me less afraid and more excited about becoming a parent, so I’m very grateful to them and I wonder if I’m being too cautious. On the other hand, my child is his own person and I wonder how he will feel ten, fifteen, twenty years from now if I’ve put no limit on what I put out there about him. Of course, his entire generation will probably be dealing with these issues. Here’s some more food for thought on this issue:

“With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.”

  • Lastly, something that I do struggle with. I want to be the sort of mother who can just be with her six month old all day absorbed in the wonder of all his tiny developments buuuut then I’d be a saint. Which I’m not. Technology dependency is such a vicious cycle in which the more I spend on social media, the more I feel the need to be on it when I’m not. I really don’t want my son’s first memories to be his mother hovering overhead eyes glued to the phone in her hand or said phone all up in his business snapping away photos. But this is pretty much the case currently.

Yums!

One of the challenges of domestic life that I tackle with great fervor is the leftover game. I relish the opportunity to upcycle them in as creative and delicious a way as possible. Sometimes, I’m like “Daaaamn girl! You can cook!” and sometimes it’s more like “Well at least we saved on groceries…” This week was all about leftovers.

  • I cooked chicken breasts, the last of an artichoke heart jar, and onions in last week’s aioli with a clear-the-fridge chopped salad (celery, sweet peppers, carrots, grapes, goat cheese-balsamic dressing). It probably would have earned a respectable 3.5 star rating except that I tried to quick defrost the chicken and the texture made me want to swear off chicken for good.

 

  • We made fajitas last weekend. I was in charge of the refried beans and Spanish rice (neither were great for the record.) I only had saffron chicken stock on hand (another leftover) so the rice so was more paella style. And then we just couldn’t seem to eat our way through it over the next few days so I thought: what if Spanish food and Sicilian food had a baby? What would that look like? Arancini de paella that’s what. I just added an egg to the rice, refrigerated it for a few hours, and used this as a guide for the rest of the process. 5 stars (at first it was 3.5 and then I couldn’t stop craving them and they improved upon reheating).

 

  • Then we couldn’t eat our way through the rest of the fajitas (By the way, here’s the secret for impressing people with tex-mex: homemade tortillas. Not actually daunting. You just need this and water and then you’ll be given lots of honor, praise, and glory.) So I made tortilla soup: threw the chicken and vegetables in more of the saffron chicken broth, boiled, simmered, shredded the chicken, loaded with cilantro, lime, avocado, queso fresco, and toasted tortilla strips. I will not lie. I had a daaaamn girl moment. 5 stars.

Other honorable mentions from this week:

  • In honor of Elizabeth’s 90th, we had Queen Mother’s Cake from our fave Queen Mother of desserts.
  • I married into the last name, Ramos, which has, as a perk, being able to call the Ramos Gin Fizz my signature drink. So, this email from a friend for a cocktail based on a Ramos Gin Fizz and named in honor of my son made me laugh (and enlist my resident mixologist to make me one):

“I give you…the Gin Léon

a shot and a half of gin
two and a half shots of almond-coconut milk
a half shot grand marnier
the juice of a large slice of lemon
about a teaspoon of honey

Mix thoroughly and enjoy.

This drink is the child of a Craving for a Ramos Gin Fizz and the Limitations of What I Keep in My Apartment. There’s definitely no fizz, and it’s not a fully grown Gin Ramos. So it’s just a Gin Léon.”

et cetera

 Let’s talk music. Because I love music recs. Which is why it’s helpful to have a friend who writes for an Indie music magazine and a husband who sends you songs while he’s at work with captions that he thinks you’ll appreciate. (e.g.: “If I were a funky astronaut, this would be my jam.”“To brighten your day.”, “Hipster advice to live by.”) Here was our week in music:

  • Monday was rough. I was taking care of my nephew and my son and had plans to load them up in the car, drive to my parents, and enjoy grandparent time. I timed leaving the house perfectly for when they both needed naps…and then I couldn’t find my keys. Which was fine until my perfect putting off of naptime meant errbody was getting cranky. So I turned the house upside down frantically asking…no…demanding that St. Anthony reveal where my keys were. The keys were not found and we all cried it out. Then I turned on some music and we all bounced about and felt better. So if some morning you find yourself a prisoner of your own home treating St. Anthony like a culprit with your charges nonstop howl-whimper-wailing, you might try turning up the music and letting your inner aerobics instructor go wild. This is my go-to Spotify playlist on such occasions.

 

  • On the other hand, maybe you’re looking for something to satiate your inner romanticist. This playlist has been our sweet naptime jam.

 

  • Not music but a further ode to the role Spotify plays in keeping stay-at-home mom life sane–did you know there are audio books on there? Like really, really good audio books. I’ve been trying to decide whether to get rid of my premium subscription because the subscriptions are piling up (but I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate ads). With Ogden Nash poetry read by the man himself and Shakespeare recited by Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes, I think I’m now listening enough to justify the subscription. No more trying to submit my ears to a whiny-voiced (though oh so generously volunteered!) librivox recording for me. The best discovery so far has been the collection of Oscar Wilde fairy tales. These are some of my favorite stories in the world and the recording by Basil Rathbone is sublime. Particularly, The Selfish Giant. Listen and try not to be moved by it.

……………

Happy Feast of St. Pius V, a man whose list of accomplishments is both inspiring and exhausting. And also of St. Joseph Cottolengo, whom I had never heard of before but whose love for the marginalized pulls at my heartstrings.

Weekly Edit

Weekly Edit

 

I’m changing this posting series yet again because I obviously have issues finding my groove with it. Get ready for an exercise in (nearly) infinite scrolling.

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Gifts from the Internet

…on motherhood. On being scared to have a family and to pursue your dreams.

  • I had written this post before I read this, but it reaffirmed all I felt. Your words matter. People who speak of parenthood as an inconvenience and complain about their children are incredibly destructive to single men and women who would consider a vocation to marriage and parenthood, just as people who speak of their families with joy and whose homes are full of gloriously chaotic life bear the most beautiful witness to that vocation. I’m so thankful for the mothers and fathers who have unabashedly shown their love of being a parent:

These parents see their children as creative, exciting, unique human beings, and enjoy watching them grow in their own way, in their own time. When their children are young, they don’t worry about what others think, about whether their child is “advanced” or not, about whether they’ll be a straight-A student. They don’t try to cover up the imperfect moments, or wish their kids would finally be old enough for daycare, old enough to go to school, old enough to finally move out. On the flip side, they don’t “vent” about their children constantly in public forums, complaining about their problems and issues. They recognize the fact that—just as it isn’t appropriate to do that in regards to their husbands, or sisters, or parents-in-law—it’s not appropriate to do with their children, who are also people with feelings and dignity.

Many of the women in my classes are particularly captivated by the idea that a major component of human happiness is the pursuit (if not the achievement) of moral and intellectual perfection…Like Aristotle, they are pursuing moral and intellectual virtues. And of course they are pushing themselves to reach concrete, worldly goals: to ace the MCATs, to write a really fine short story, to master ancient Greek, to play a Bach fugue with confidence and proficiency.

Yet…They sense that other activities and other modes of life offer a very different kind of good: Worship, poetic contemplation, and love are quintessential examples.

My students know that motherhood is more like these activities than it is like the pursuit of excellence. They sense that caring for others requires us to put aside (at least temporarily) the quest for achievement, not just to make time but to create space for a different mode of being. Worship and love: These require no particular talent or cultivation of the sort I have been describing. They are gifts of the self, not achievements of the self.

I don’t want to believe it — that parenting itself makes art hard, that you must always sacrifice one for the other, that there is something inherently selfish and greedy and darkly obsessive in the desire to care as much about the thing you are writing or making as you do about the other humans in your life. What parent would want to believe this?…

“but … Here’s the thing. Despite everything, I have to say that having the kids grew me up in a way nothing else could have. And basically, I needed ten years of mothering before I was like, Whoa, hey, this is what I’m meant to write. And now I’m working on a novel that I love and it feels like the kids gave me that by remaking me.”

Yums!

This was a delicious week.

First off, we started with a bang with our annual spring dinner party (which in keeping with tradition was ridden by both allergies and April showers). I pretty much love seasonal parties as they give me an opportunity to tick off recipes from my pinterest boards. My contributions this year were:

Other seriously delicious contributions were:

Then the torrential downpours called for more comforting fare so we got on a soup kick:

  • My sister made this parmesan soup. It’s the kind of thing that demands to be made again and again even though it’s definitely not the stuff of whole 30.
  • I upcycled the leftover aforementioned chicken into soup. Shredded the chicken, added stock, and cooked and added rice.
  • We had a bunch of vegetables just languishing away so I made clear-the-fridge soup on a mostly monochromatic green theme. Sautéed, boiled, and simmered celery, asparagus, and potatoes and then added scallions and a ridiculous amount of parsley before throwing it all in vitamix and then finishing it all off with heavy cream. Like doing straight shots of vitamin k.
  • On the same culinary color coordinating theme, I made a smoothie with these key players: almonds, flax seed, almond milk, yogurt, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a dash of almond and vanilla extracts.

Et cetera

Ever since one little boy succeeded splendidly at sleep training (in one night! You the real mvp, kid), the whole having free hours in the evening has me doing a happy dance come 7:30 every night. I’ve been celebrating with too much screen time:

  • Poldark. I can’t resist it with its vibes of both Downton Abbey and North and South. I’m getting way too emotionally involved.
  • Less than two episodes of Kimmy Schmidt. I’m just not as charmed this time around.
  • Grantchester which takes the cake for me. It’s filling the gaping void in my life that’s been around ever since I finished Foyle’s War and Rosemary and Thyme.
  • Stars Wars. I finally watched The Force Awakens so we decided to backtrack and start marathoning from the beginning. We just finished slugging through the first three episodes in all their cheesy glory.

……………

Happy Feast of St. George! Some recommended reading for the occasion.

Weekly Edit

Reading and Relishing

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Reading
…about relishing

•It’s been driving me crazy how much we’ve been eating out or ordering in lately as cooking is one of those fundamental activities that make me feel human. My list would be eggs, any type of starch or grain, onions, butter, and goat cheese. Which apparently is not unique since I think every ingredient showed up in the comments multiple times.

•Like my cloth diapering hesitations, shopping at the farmer’s market is something that imma shoulda, woulda, coulda about till I just jump right into it. This advice makes me a little less intimidated.

•Compound or flavored butter is something I’ve seen a zillion times on pinterest but merely passed over thinking that making it would be as unnecessary as making homemade puff pastry. But I actually took the time to read this and it wooed me with my love for upcycling kitchen scraps and for culinary conveniences:

“compound butters are a great way to use up smaller quantities of herbs, spices, the odd clove of garlic, the bottom of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, or capers. They also freeze really well.”

You mean I can reduce waste, store this both easily and indefinitely, and majorly amp up my cooking game? Count me in.

Archiving food history–a woman after my own heart.

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Relishing
•Steak with addicting chimichurri sauce, warm miso-jalapeno corn salad, and bread and tomato salad. All but the steak out of my tried and true fave. Plus homemade shandy (lager+ginger beer+fresh lemon juice).

•Gnocchi with peas, ham, chives, and a goat cheese/ricotta sauce. Originally inspired by this.

Happy feast of St. Drogo, patron saint of ugly people! (And coffee, cattle, broken bones, and insanity!) Things like this really are the icing on the cake of being Catholic.

Reading and Relishing