Playing the Memories . . .

The priest stopped Mass when the cell phone went off, waiting for the person to turn it off. It kept beeping, buzzing, and ringing. The priest asked again. The noise continued. Finally, the priest narrowed it down to one woman in the congregation and said, “Would you please turn off your cell phone now?”! The woman calmly said, “My cell phone isn’t ringing . . . It’s my son’s Nintendo game.”!
We had a rat in our garage. We named him Willard and then went shopping for whatever it would take to close down Willard. A few days later, I was coming in the garage and there was Willard, passed on to his final reward. I called the children to view the body. My older daughter wanted to know why I wanted them to see a dead rat. Before I could say anything, she answered herself and said, “I guess it was to give us closure.”!
My  ten-year old daughter was working on a novel for English class. I asked if she would be done by the deadline I had set. She said, “Don’t worry. Tell me the day before and I will just kill all the characters off and end the story.”
Morning Mass must be a bit early for many. At the end of one Mass, the priest said, “Our Lady, Queen of Vocations . . .” and the congregation replied, “Pray for us.” Father then said, “Immaculate Mary, page 109.” And the obviously sleepy congregation replied, “Pray for us.”!
And once when attending Mass, the celebrant looked at the congregation across and said, “The Lord be with you.” One dear old lady looked at the other and explained helpfully, “That means ‘Dominus vobiscum’.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

As I was busy with my weekly chores before starting on the regular chores of the day, I realized I had pictorial proof of how my day goes. I now have pictorial proof when my husband comes home from work and asks, “So, what did you do today?”

Ethnic Food Appropriation Night?

Not sure with the craziness of the world, but I think that we are still allowed to cook any kind of food we want in the privacy of our kitchen. Being of German heritage from my mother’s side of the family, naturally, I’m making fajitas and homemade tortillas for dinner!

Anyway, I learned a long time ago in my family meal preparation, homemade is better and less expensive. I’ve been making flour tortillas forever and no longer even follow any set recipe. When my husband had to be declared a gluten-free zone, I just switched the flour ingredient in my recipe to a gluten-free blend. Authentic Foods Gluten-Free Bread Flour Blend is currently my favorite although I still enjoy using BetterBatter Gluten-Free flour.

We decided we had a yearning for fajitas for dinner this evening. My husband only has one or two Saturdays a month off so we decided to celebrate this. I spent the afternoon with food prep and he cleaned the house for me. Since I’d rather cook than clean house and he’d rather clean house than eat the mediocre dinner he might venture to prepare, it was a good deal for both sides!

My recipe for flour tortilla? Basically, I put around three or four cups of wheat or gluten-free flour in the bowl, add a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of salt, combine, and then add hot tap water slowing to the dry ingredients until a workable dough evolves. I use an ice cream scoop to parcel out the amount of dough to roll out for each tortilla. I have a cast iron pan but most any frying pan would work for cooking them on both sides or until some bubbles and browned blisters show up. You want them baked but not crispy!

Hard as I try to roll them out to a beautiful, uniform circle, I usually end up with what looks like various countries removed from the map. I do have a tortilla press (More of that German heritage!) but it only makes small one and, sometimes, you need a larger size.

This is also a fun kitchen activity for mom and the children so they can see what goes into fixing a meal and be proud of the results of their efforts.

Putting the Pieces Together . . .

Putting the Pieces Together – by Barbara M. Barthelette

One of my favorite hobbies is quilting. I like nothing better than taking unwanted scraps of fabric and making them into a whole. Needless to say, many of my projects incorporate pieces of the same fabric. I never thought much about this until someone mentioned that you can tell a Barbara quilt as at least one patch of it matches a dress or shirt worn by one of my family! Whenever I give someone the gift of a quilt, there is a little bit of ‘me’ included. And there have been times when friends have gifted me with pretty fabrics left over from their projects. I guess the ‘wholeness’ of some of my quilts comes from sharing.
Upon further consideration, I realized that we all contain bits and pieces incorporated from the world around us. We also share bits and pieces of our own experiences from the world around us.
You don’t have to look any further back then your own childhood. Besides the physical traits, what else did your parents give you? You can remember words, reactions, or criticisms that have stayed with you until this day. You not only remember these words, they shaped the way you think, act, or react today. In other words, you have a few patches from the fabric of your parent’s lives!
Well, this goes beyond our family. We are forever giving away scraps of ourselves each day through the way we treat others.
What a responsibility God has blessed us with and how few people actually take it to heart! We wouldn’t give people ragged clothing, used cosmetics, or stale food. Why don’t we realize that thoughtless remarks and deliberate hurts are given away forever once they leave your lips? A personal remark is a piece of yourself freely given to another and will become a part of that person’s life. An unkind, personal remark is a mean offering..
If we believe our catechism, we know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Why don’t we think about this when we give our fellow human beings a piece of our mind and not of our heart?
I think about this when I quilt and gather up my scraps of fabric to see if they will turn into a quilt. I think about this when I review my day and look over the bits and pieces of life that were handed me along the way. It is just like piecing a quilt as I muse over these feelings and determine where they will fit in the fabric of my life.
Anger, irritability, and even meanness can be a part of our spiritual quilt – just like clashing colors worked into a real quilt. Do they belong there? Do you want them there? When you share your spiritual patchwork, are you passing the ugly, mismatched colors on to others?
A quilt should be put together with happiness and enjoyed. And the overflow of colors you share should be gently tendered in kind words and soft phrases because others want to incorporate the best into their life’s quilt, too.
Wholeness doesn’t just happen. When I make a quilt, I gather my scraps. If I need more, there are people who share. Do we always share in order to insure that others attain wholeness? How are we shaping the pattern of our neighbor’s life?

Another of My Favorite Things

It has come to my attention that even when you do not purchase sugar-free gum or mints, they still include aspartame and such in order to enhance the flavor. I know several people who cannot ingest the questionable artificial sweeteners. I also have found that many of the health store brands of gum usually lose their mint flavor within two chews.

I recently, however, came across XyloBurst which is sugar free AND Aspartame Free. The sweetener is Xylitol which doesn’t have the problems other artificial sweeteners. And, for some wonderful reason, the company has managed to produce a softer gum which retains the flavor for a lot longer. A few other pluses are that it is non-GMO and gluten-free. Some studies have indicated that Xylitol may even reduce the risk of tooth decay and improve oral help.

I found this product on https://www.swansonvitamins.com/. At the time of purchase, the price was under $8 for 100 pieces. Swansons does have sales so it may be more or less when you check it out. It comes in a nice plastic container which makes it convenient for stowing in the glove compartment or a handy nook in your kitchen.

Eating Healthy And Paying Too Much?

Face it, sometimes, eating healthy can up the grocery bill a bit. I notice that these days there are more vegetables than carbs and meat when we check out at the grocery store and we have grown to enjoy the meals that transpire from healthy shopping.

One item I’ve been wanting to try but couldn’t bring myself to put out the cost for has been Kale chips. I’ve seen small bags going for three to five dollars for a handful of the stuff. I’m one of those people who like to solve problems, however, so did some research and discovered that crispy, toasty Kale is easy enough done in the oven. Simple recipe! Clean and pat dry a bunch of Kale and pull the leaves from the woody stems. Toss the stems and tear the Kale leaves into smaller pieces. Put in a large bowl and put in a bit of olive oil – just enough to put a light shine on both sides of the leaves. You soak it in oil, you add calories IF you can eat the soggy results!

One you have your Kale LIGHTLY shining with good olive oil, add a tiny bit of salt, pepper to taste, whatever herbs and spices you have and like in the cupboard and toss to coat evenly. I also like to add a few good shakes of nutritional yeast to the mix.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the Kale. In a 350-degree preheated oven, bake the Kale for approximately eight minutes or until they are crisp to the touch.

Let the Kale cool a minute and enjoy. We often make a batch for a dinner vegetable. It isn’t much trouble to make for a snack for the children either once you get the process down and second nature to you. And, when you see how much Kale you can make vs. the few shreds you get in a bag at the health store, you would gladly pat yourself on the back . . . if you weren’t already busy eating free Kale chips.

These Are a Few of MY Favorite Things!

I like to browse after I finish my necessary shopping whether at the grocery store or any other store. I don’t buy everything I see, but when I find something that works for my hobbies, my health, or my comfort, I’m willing to indulge. So, thought I’d share a few of my current favorite things.

We are gluten-free at our house because of my husband’s intolerance to wheat products. It took us years to discover the problem so never going to change that aspect of our life. If any of you are gluten-free, I’m willing to bet one of the things you miss the most is any kind of bread product. Yes, you can bake a sort of, not really, reasonable facsimile but it is never quite as satisfying as the real deal. I was an avid bread baker until we had to change the family diet around. You CAN produce a reasonable bread-like outcome on a gluten-free diet but the texture of the dough and the process is different.

I was cruising the Internet a few weeks ago and discovered Authentic Foods – Steve’s Gluten-Free Bread Flour. It promised great things and I purchased some with not too much hope. Bingo! First loaf of bread was amazing with the right texture and a wonderful yeast rise. I currently have a 25-pound bag of the stuff in my former wheat flour storage container! Definitely, number one on my discoveries of late.

Here is an odd, new favorite – Hemp hearts! I saw this at Costco and was intrigued. It has a lot of vitamins including three grams of fiber per serving. Supposedly, it claimed to taste good, too. And, it does! It now gets sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, and even enjoyed by the spoonful. I gave one of my sons a bag for his apartment living and his three roommates enjoy it, too. Great for those between-meal hunger pains.

Dry weather and being a constant knitter, crocheter, seamstress is very hard on my hands. I am seldom without chapped hands and split fingers. Buy stock in Liquid Bandage as I keep two bottles in the house constantly. Discovered O’Keeffe’s Skin Repair 48-hour lotion. It stated it was guaranteed to relieve extremely dry and itchy skin. I was desperate. I used it at bedtime and the next morning there was noticeable improvement. Found it at Walmart.

In the realm of gluten-free again, two other flour blends are good additions to my baking/cooking efforts in the kitchen: BetterBatter and Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Artisan Flour (Dairy-free, too!) are now staples in my cupboard. BetterBatter has a multitude of recipes on their Internet site for inspiration. Pamela’s is cup for cup for using in formerly favorite regular recipes and especially nice for baking cookies. Again, you can find recipes on-line and try some of your own favorites from the gluten day. I usually buy my flour blends on-line as it is less expensive than health store prices.

My addiction to yarn and crocheting/knitting was satisfied recently. I love making projects with varicolored yarn but couldn’t find exactly the mix of colors that pleased me in the usual offerings. Several months ago, I was looking at the yarn aisle and there was something new! It was a yarn that was soft, came in a larger amount than others for a good price and . . . it was variegated in the most interesting color combinations. I liked the whimsical names of the various choices, too. I recently completed a blanket for one daughter in the color blend ‘Gnome’. It was a wild assortment of vivid almost neon colors with enough somber ones to create a nice result. I’m now working on a blanket for my older son’s birthday and it is called ‘Sphinx’ which is a manly (can we still use the word manly in this day and age?) combination of brown and blue tones. The really nice thing about this yarn is that each skein has a lot more yardage than other brands which makes the under $5.00 a skein actually a bit of a bargain. Right now, Walmart is the only store selling this yarn. It is called Mandala and produced by Lion Brand Yarns.

End of sharing time. Laundry calls and I still haven’t invented dinner for this evening! Would rather be crocheting but them’s the breaks!