Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crayon "Stained Glass" Cross Craft

Here is a simple craft to do with your children that would also results in some precious Easter decorations to hang from your windows.
Crayon "Stained Glass" Cross Craft
Have you or your child cut two identical cross shapes from waxed paper. Using old or broken crayons and a dull kitchen knife, scrape the crayons to create shavings of various colors. Spread the crayons on one of the pieces of waxed paper in a desired pattern. Then place the second waxed paper cross over the top of the first cross and the shavings. An adult should complete the following step: Using a warm iron, press the two pieces of waxed paper together. Find a sunny spot to hang your creation and remember to offer a prayer of love and thanksgiving each time you lay eyes on the cross.
While we're talking about crayons, here's a fun trick for making toddler friendly crayon chunks out of your old broken crayon bits.
1. Get out your old crayons. Take off the paper and you or your children break them up into smaller pieces. 2. Spray your muffin tin (size depending on how big of a crayon chunk you want) with vegetable spray and pour some crayons into each spot. The amount and colors of crayons is up to you.
3. Place the muffin tin full of crayons into a preheated oven of 275 degrees F. Watch them carefully, they will melt fast. Bake them for about 7-8 minutes. When they looked melted enough, carefully and slowly remove them from the oven. You can stir them with a toothpick for a swirly look, or leave them as is. Let them cool completely (can be placed in the freezer to speed up process once the tin is not so hot.)
4. Once cooled, the crayons can be popped out of the muffin tin, tap the back to help this process. Then get the paper out and your ready to color.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photo Organization Project

I recently completed a project I had been thinking about for years, organizing all my photos into the same albums and storing extra photos and portraits into photo boxes. Here is a picture of the bookshelf where I store all my photo albums and boxes.
Basically what I did was to go through every photo album and photo box I had all the way back through childhood, taking out each picture and sorting it into one of three piles, photo album or photo storage 4x6 box or portrait box. This was a good exercise for me because I discovered that most of the older pictures I didn't even really care to display in an album anymore, and so many pictures simply went into a photo storage box. I even threw many pictures away. I organized my photo storage boxes chronologically filling one up and writing the years on the front and then moving on to the next box. For childhood photos and pictures up through our graduate school graduations, I sorted my husband and my pictures in separate boxes. From then on, I combined them and just labeled them by the year. Within each box, I used the provided tabs to separate pictures into bunches based on year, trip, event, etc. I also filed corresponding negatives with the pictures (for those years before the digital age).
Any picture that was larger than 4x6 or was a special portrait (I also placed copies of each of our photo Christmas cards, photo birth announcements, photo birthday invitations in this category), I placed into a larger photo storage box. I created one box for each child's pictures and one box for pictures of my husband, myself, or any combined children or family picture.
That took care of storage so the next step was to organize chronologically all the photos I wanted to place in a photo album. I really wanted all my albums to be the same so it would look nice and be easier to display on the shelf. Of course I didn't want to spend a fortune, so these albums from Target for $14.99 were perfect. They look like black leather and they hold up really well. So I began the laborious process of placing each picture into the albums. Again all our childhood and college and graduate school pictures I placed into separate albums for each me and my husband. Then I just went from one album to the next chronologically. All the old albums, I either gave away or sold on craigslist. I actually ended up making enough money from selling the albums to pay for almost all the photo storage boxes.
Also pictured on this shelf is a CD/DVD album where I store back-up of all our pictures on DVD and all our camcorder DVDs. Additionally there are two black albums of all our wedding proofs and a black box containing our professional wedding album.
In summary, this was a very time consuming project. it probably took me a month or two of doing this for a couple hours two or three evenings a week. It was completely worth it now because I have a sytem now that will make it so much more easy to store and find photos I want. It was also a small financial investment, mostly in the photo alnums, but I did this around Christmas time so they were on my Christmas list. Sometimes, I walkinto this room and just smile because I'm so happy with the results of this project.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Use Google Reader to Make Blog Reading Easier

If you want to make keeping up with reading the blogs you visit much easier, I recommend using Google Reader. With it, you can go to just your Google Reader page to read all the new entries at your favorite blogs in one, quick place. Here is how to use it: Go to www.google.com Click on "more" on the top left of the screen and then click "Reader" or go directly to www.google.com/reader Near the top left click on "Add a Subscription" and then type in the blog address that you read and click add. On the bottom left corner you can click on "manage subscriptions" to sort different blogs into categories. For more detailed information about Google Reader, read here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Passion of Christ in Lego

I saw this today at Faith & Family Live. Two young boys built and shot this to teach the Gospel to their younger siblings. Very creative.

A Day for Waffles Too

When I was reading about fun activities for the Feast of the Annunciation, I learned that waffles are traditionally eaten today. Read more about this tradition at Catholic Cuisine here. So now I think we'll have waffles with blueberries on top instead of blueberry pancakes for dinner. Hopefully our finicky waffle maker will cooperate today.

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Lk 1:38

Monday, March 23, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation

Wednesday, March 25th is the feast of the Annunciation, celebrating the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of Mary, and falls exactly nine months before Christmas Day. The Annunciation is described in the first chapter of Luke, and it is in those verses that we are given the words to the "Hail Mary." Now that I am a mother this day resonates more deeply than it did before having children. Although my oldest is still too little to understand this feast, we will try to do some of the celebratory ideas listed below. Maybe some of you with older children will have more fun doing some of these. - Pray the Hail Mary once or as often as you like during the day. Even my two year old can do this. He knows the Hail Mary by heart and how much I love to hear it on our rosary cd we listen to in the car. He'll randomly during the day ask if we can say the Hail Mary. I think he just likes how happy it makes me to say it together with him. - Pray the Angelus. I have tried to incorporate this into my daily prayer routine and I usually say it after I put the kids to nap. I have a watch alarm that goes off at 1:30pm (not the traditional 12pm, but that is not a time for me to be meditative for this prayer). Here is a video of the prayers chanted by the Daughters of Mary.
- Listen to the Magnificat by J.S. Bach. The Magnificat, also called the Canticle of Mary, is Mary's response (1:46-55) to her cousin Elizabeth's greeting (Luke 1: 41-45). The Magnificat is part of the Church's Liturgy of the Hours, and has been repeated in churches for centuries at Vespers. This is what I could find on youtube of Bach's Magnificat.
- Make a "Mary's Candle" using a fat pillar white or blue candle. Carve a niche in the wax large enough to fit a small baby doll or a small image of the Infant Jesus. Fasten a "curtain" of white cloth, over the opening with pins pushed into the wax. The candle represents the purity of the Virgin. The Baby is "hidden" within the body of the candle. Light the candle when you say the Hail Mary, Angelus, or Rosary on this Feast. The same candle can be saved to be used on other feast days and solemnities of the Blessed Virgin (Assumption, Immaculate Conception). On Christmas open the little curtain to reveal the infant Jesus. - Make angel food cake with blueberries on top or iced in pale blue, the traditional color of Mary's mantle.
- Other food ideas are blueberry muffins or pancakes, Mary blue Jell-o cake, or other foods that can symbolize Mary. Our plan will probably be to have blueberry pancakes for dinner with angel food cake with blueberry sauce on top for dessert. - Decorate the dining table with baby's breath - Read Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman - Have your children color this picture of the Annunciation

Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm Speechless

I don't even know what to say about this, so I won't say anything. There has to be some reason or explanation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Holy Day & A Holiday

My husband shared with me this morning that today is an extra special day because it's a holy day (not a holy day of obligation, just a day that's holy - the Feast of Saint Joseph) and a national holiday (the start of the NCAA basketball tournament) all in one. We hurriedly filled out our brackets this morning and I'm sure my husband's extra computer will be open to ESPN.com all day. I think Saint Joseph would have enjoyed watching basketball with Jesus, maybe they are today. Go Tar Heels.

Oh, President Obama and I agree on one thing now at least. Check out the winner in his bracket.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Hope you had a wonderful Saint Patrick's Day. Our day was an adventure. Both my kids were sick so we didn't get a chance to do our crafts and some of our activities. Pumpkin had such a bad cough that he got sick after he ate his lunch. I should have known that his stomach would be sensitive, but stupidly I fed him our yummy dinner (mostly he just ate dessert)...
Chocolate Dipped Oreos with Shamrock Sprinkles
green dyed milk
All that food in a sick belly. It wasn't pretty. Now I'm faced with a night of laundry.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day Crafts & Yummy Treats

Here are some fun Saint Patrick's Day crafts I found online.Text Color Little Green Leprechaun Footprints - make cards or clue notes for a hunt for gold

Sponge-Paint Shamrocks

Cut out a heart shape from a sponge and dip into green paint. Imprint onto white paper or paper plates and then paint a stem. Allow to dry. Cut around the shamrock.

Irish Flag Hand Prints Shamrock Crispy Rice Treats Gather your materials. You will need 5 1/2 cups of marshmallows, 5 1/2 cups of rice crispy type cereal, 1/4 cup of butter, green sprinkles, green candies , some non stick spray , a large sauce pan , 2 baking sheets and a shamrock cookie cutter. * I had food coloring out but didn't end up using it, the sparkles bled enough. Stir the green sparkles and candies into the cereal. Melt the butter over low heat . Add the marshmallows to the melted butter and stir until smooth. Add the cereal mix. Mix well Put the mix onto one baking sheet that has been sprayed with baking spray Press down with the 2nd, this compacts it down perfectly Let cool in your fridge for an hour. Cut out with cookie cutter and enjoy. Jello Shamrocks Ingredients: 2 boxes of 3oz Lime Jello (or any flavor you like) 2 cups of water 3/4 cup of cream Directions 1. Boil 2 cups of water. 2. Add the 2 packets of Jello, mix till it has dissolved 3. Pour into a 13" by 9" glass pan, let stand for 10 minutes. 4. Pour in one cup of cream, mix. 5. Refridgerate till jello sets up. 6. Cut out with cookie cutters.* The cream will separate on it's own creating the two layers.* This also looks nice cut into simple small squares. Tomorrow, we will probably make a variation of this Jello dessert by making green Jello in a casserole dish with green dyed Cool Whip piped on in the shape of shamrocks. I happen to have Cool Whip but forgot to get cream at the grocery store, and I don't feel like going back tomorrow. We'll see how it turns out. And here is a link to a list of many other fun crafts and treats.

Feast of Saint Joseph

The Feast of Saint Joseph is celebrated on March 19th. Saint Joseph, foster-father of Jesus and the spouse of the Virgin Mother, is a patron saint of families and children. Italians have celebrated this feast day with special fervor since the Middle Ages when it was believed that prayers to St. Joseph saved Sicily from a major drought. Italians have traditionally worn red on this feast day and created a big altar called a "St. Joseph's Table" (visit the virtual St. Joseph Altar here filled with many resources about this feats day) adorned with St. Joseph statues, flowers, candles, breads, traditional foods for the day (minestrone, pasta with breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered St. Joseph's floor), seafood, Sfinge di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Cream Puffs), and fava beans (which was one of few food plants to survive the drought), and "decorative" breads (in the shape of a cross, staff, the shape of carpenter's tools among other shapes) and many other items depending on the region. We will be having meatless spaghetti with breadcrumbs sprinkled on for dinner and hopefully we'll have time to make the cream puffs (see recipe below). Here are are some other ideas for celebrating this feast with your family. Hopefully we will get to do most of these. - Honor Fathers on this day – Make dad breakfast, cards, or a cake for when he gets home from work. Take father and child photos. - Say the prayer to St. Joseph O glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble and charitable mind, and perfect resignation in the Divine Will. Be my guide, father and model through life that I may merit to die as thou didst, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Amen. - Continue or start the Novena to St. Joseph - Read your children this book which creatively expands on the legend of the swallows - "las golondrinas" - returning to the Mission of Capistrano on St. Joseph's Day. The Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi - Read your children Good Saint Joseph by Lawrence Lovasik - Make homemade pretzels and teach your children the history of pretzels and their association with Lent and St. Joseph's feast day (one of many recipes below). They can say the below pretzel prayer to reinforce the significance of prayer and fasting during. The pretzel represents the shape of the penitent's crossed arms, and was a traditional Lenten food in central European towns. Pretzels are traditionally eaten throughout Lent, and in some places are especially associated with Saint Joseph's Day which usually falls within Lent. "According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just like the big soft pretzels one can find today. Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they were called bracellae, the Latin word for "little arms." From this word, the Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar word pretzel." (from CERC). Pretzel Prayer Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless these little breads. Each time we eat them, may we be reminded of the special season of prayer and fasting that we are keeping. May they remind us of our need to come closer to you in prayer. May they remind us of those in need. Keep your loving arms around us, O Father, to protect us always, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Soft, Hot Pretzel Recipe (from Women for Faith & Family) Combine in a mixing bowl: 1 cup warm water 1 package (1 1/2 T) active dry yeast 1 tsp sugar Add and beat at least 3 minutes: 1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour 2 Tbsp soft butter 1/2 tsp Tbsp sugar Stir in 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour and knead until the dough loses its stickiness. Let the dough rise in a covered greased bowl until it is doubled in bulk (this is called "proofing" the dough). Punch down and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope and form it into a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on a greased baking sheet and let them rise until almost doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 475°F. In a large non aluminum kettle, prepare a boiling solution of 4 cups water 5 tsp baking soda With a slotted spoon, carefully lower the pretzels into the water and boil about 1 minute or until they float to the top. Return them to the greased sheet. Sprinkle them with coarse salt. (Sea salt or Kosher salt.) Bake the pretzels until they are nicely browned, about 10-12 minutes. Pretzels are best when eaten while still warm, but they may be stored in an air tight container for up to a week, or frozen. (Makes twelve 6 inch pretzels) - Make St. Joseph cream puffs (Sfinge di San Giuseppe). Use this recipe below or the recipe at Catholic Cuisine. 1 cup water · 1/3 cup sweet butter · 1 tablespoon sugar · Grated rind of 1 lemon · Pinch of salt · 1 cup sifted flour · 4 large eggs, at room temperature · 1 tablespoon Cognac or vanilla Optional: 1 tablespoon candied orange peel, or other candied fruit peel · Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling on top Filling: · 2 cups ricotta cheese · 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar · 1/2 teaspoon vanilla · 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon · 1/3 cup grated milk chocolate, or mini chocolate chips · 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios Place the water, butter, granulated sugar, lemon rind, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and as soon as the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring constantly and vigorously. Return the pan to the heat, and stir constantly until the mixture forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the pan. Continue to cook a little longer, until you hear a slight crackling or frying sound. Remove the pan from the heat, and cool slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time. Be sure that each egg is thoroughly blended into the mixture before you add the next. Keep stirring until the dough is smooth and thoroughly blended into the mixture before you add the next. Keep stirring until the dough is smooth and thoroughly blended. Add the Cognac or vanilla. Cover the dough and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls on a buttered cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between the Sfinge. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool. So that the cream puffs will be crisp, fill them just before serving if possible. For the filling: Mix the ricotta, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, pistachios, and peel, if using it. Cut each cream puff horizontally part way through the middle and fill with the mixture. Optional: Just before serving sprinkle Sfinge with confectioners' sugar. Keep them refrigerated, if not serving immediately. Variation: The cream puffs can be deep-fried instead of baked. For deep-frying, heat the oil to 375º F. Drop the puff mixture 1 tablespoon at a time into the oil. Cook a few at a time, keeping the puffs separate. Fry until golden brown. Drain the puffs on paper towels. Serve them hot, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Other kinds of fillings can be used, such as vanilla custard or sweetened whipped cream (to which a little vanilla or a liqueur may be added).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Somebody needs a Biology 101 Referesher Course

According to former President Bill Clinton, embryos are not fertilized. Say what? My husband, who is feeling especially benevolent today because it's his 30th birthday, wants to give him the benefit of the doubt and thinks he is confusing fertilizing with implantation. Does it really matter? Regardless it is still a life. It seems to me this is a man (President Clinton, not my husband) who has trouble with basic semantics and common definitions (recall..."I did not have...___...relations with this woman). Anyhow, see and hear for yourself here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Irish Beef & Guiness Stew

I don't really like corned beef and cabbage, so I was so happy to see this recipe for Irish Beef and Guiness Stew at Catholic Cuisine. I'm hoping to make this for dinner on Tuesday for Saint Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

St. Joseph Novena Begins Today

The nine day novena to saint Joseph begins today. Say this prayer below starting today and ending on March 19th in honor of the feast of Saint Joseph.

O glorious descendant of the kings of Judah, Inheritor of the virtues of all the patriarchs. Just and happy St. Joseph, listen to my prayer. Thou art my glorious protector, and shall ever be, after Jesus and Mary the object of my most profound veneration and confidence. Thou art the most hidden, though the greatest Saint, and art particularly the patron of those who serve God with the greatest purity and fervor. In union with all those who have ever been most devoted to thee I now dedicate myself to thy service; beseeching thee, for the sake of Jesus Christ, who vouchsafed to love and obey thee as a son, to become a father to me; and to obtain for me the filial respect, confidence and love of a child towards thee. O powerful advocate of all Christians, whose intercession, as St. Theresa assures us, has never been found to fail, deign to intercede for me now, and to implore for me the particular intention of this Novena.
(Mention your intentions here)
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.
Present me O great Saint to the adorable Trinity, with Whom thou hadst so glorious and so intimate a correspondence. Obtain that I may never efface by sin the Sacred Image according to the likeness of which, I was created. Beg for me that my divine Redeemer would enkindle in my heart and in all hearts, the fire of His Love, and infuse therein the virtues of His adorable infancy, His purity, simplicity, obedience, and humility.
Obtain for me likewise a lively devotion to thy virgin spouse, and protect me so powerfully in life and death, that I may have the happiness of dying as thou didst, in the friendship of my Creator, and under the immediate protection of the Mother of God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Feast of Saint Patrick

The Feast of Saint Patrick is on March 17th. I listed a few ideas below for celebrating this feast day. First read up on Saint Patrick here and even more thoroughly here. Interesting tidbits about Saint Patrick's Day - Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and the shamrock has been associated with him and the Irish since that time. - "One of the reasons that one wears green on St. Patrick's Day is because the Catholic side of Ireland is identified with green, and St. Patrick is a Catholic Saint credited with converting the island to Christianity. Whereas the Protestants are identified with orange, and are often called "Orangemen", as in King William the Orange. The clashes in Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants are often clashes of the green and the orange. The irony is that the Irish flag, is supposed to represent the unity of the two with the white between the two colors represnting unity. The traditional pinching of a person who wears orange on St. Patrick's Day is a mild form of the violence that has so often occured in the past as both factions have had St. Patrick's Day marches/parades." from Wikianswers Green Candied Popcorn 4 quarts popped corn1 1/2 Cups sugar1/2 Cup light corn syrup2 Tablespoons butter1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, does make mixture slightly more creamy)1/4 teaspoon vanilla1 teaspoon baking sodagreen food coloring (I used about 1/8 teaspoon Wilton paste color in Kelly Green) In heavy saucepan on medium heat melt butter then add sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt. Increase temperature to medium high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture boils, add in food coloring and stop stirring. Boil for 5 minutes (Do not stir). Mixture should be about 250-260 degrees. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla and baking soda. Working quickly and while mixture is foamy, pour mixture over popped corn and gently stir to coat popcorn. Place popcorn into a large roaster or rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 200° F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Other Green and Irish food fun: - dye milk green with food coloring drops - green mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert - corned beef and cabbage for dinner - Make Irish Soda Bread 4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups buttermilk Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.Children can measure and stir together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in buttermilk. Dough should form a ball.On a floured board or cloth, children can knead and shape dough into a round loaf, about 8 inches across. Place dough in the center of the cookie sheet. Score bread dough with a sharp knife; make an X about 1/2-inch deep. (The X is supposed to ward off the devil). Bake for about 40 minutes, until brown. Serve hot.

Read this book about Saint Patrick to your children, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola

Color a Saint Patrick picture, click here to view and print.

Recite a prayer together that is associated with Saint Patrick

Breastplate of Saint Patrick

Christ shield me this day

Christ be with me, Christ within me

Christ behind me, Christ before me Christ beside me, Christ to win me Christ to comfort me and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me Christ in quiet, Christ in danger Christ in hearts of all that love me Christ in mouth of friend or stranger. Prayer of Saint Patrick for the Faithful May the Strength of God guide us. May the Power of God preserve us. May the Wisdom of God instruct us. May the Hand of God protect us. May the Way of God direct us. May the Shield of God defend us. May the Angels of God guard us, Against the snares of the evil one. May Christ be with us! May Christ be before us! May Christ be in us, Christ be over all! May Thy Grace, Lord, Always be ours, This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen. For Moms & Dads after the kids are asleep, relax, make an Irish Coffee and share an Irish toast. May your blessings outnumber The shamrocks that grow, And may trouble avoid you Wherever you go. Slainte!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Silent Images

The other day I recieved an email to raise awareness and financial support for an organization called Silent Images. When I went to check it out, I was so delighted to see that David Johnson, who lived in my childhood neighborhood and also attended Charlotte Catholic High School, was the founder. I was really moved by what he does and especially his poignant photographs. Below is a description of the organization. Hopefully more people will feel inspired to donate, and no amount is too small, so David can continue his good work.
Silent Images is an organization that is based upon Proverbs 31:8..."Speak up for those who can not speak for themselves, for the rights ofall the destitute." We go throughout the world and use photography, videography, and writing to tell the stories of people who are facing persecution, oppression, or poverty. Instead of just telling of the tragicness of the situation, we highlight the hope and the strength of the people. 100% of the profits from our work goes back to bring aid to thepeople we have photographed. We are currently working on two projects: documenting the invisible issue of homeless children and mothers in Charlotte, and the quiet abuse of women in Africa. You can read more about Silent Images at www.silentimages.org. Please contact us at info@silentimages.org if you would like to get involved in any way.

David also spends his time lecturing at high schools, churches and universities about the power of photography and the opportunities to servethe world. He has lectured at Duke, NYU, UC Berkeley, Stanford, UNC, and dozens of churches and high schools around the nation. Please contact us if you would like David to speak at your school or church. Thank you!

David Johnson
President of Silent Images
CCHS Alumni of 1994

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"I am the bread of life..."

I love making this bread recipe from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It's very easy and after a couple of times the long directions don't seem nearly as daunting. Here is the recipe with my tweaks in italics. I know this recipe is long and seems so confusing but just doing it a couple times makes it very simple. Please email me if you have any questions. I actually don't own this book yet, and am hoping to get it for a birthday gift from my husband. I have heard there are some great variations of this recipe, including a whole wheat loaf which I would love to make. I love that I know the bread my family is eating when I make this is free of preservatives and it tastes so fresh. I also think this a very special thing to make during Lent to symbolize the Last Supper and Jesus' sacrifice for us of His body which He offers to us as the bread of life.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body."
- Matthew 26:26
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
- John 6:35
Artisan Bread
Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for four loaves, to be baked over four days. Each daily loaf will average 5 minutes of active preparation time. Makes four 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel (I don't use this)
1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.
2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours. 3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration. 4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (I don't have a pizza peel so I prep my loaf on a plastic cutting board and then let it rest as below on a small square of parchment paper which is covered with flour and that parchment paper and dough sits on a small plastic cutting board. I also don't use cornmeal because my loaf sticks to the parchment paper which when I stick it into the oven slides right off the small cutting board as one unit onto a cookie sheet already in the oven.) to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

Note my small green cutting board (Target $1 section purchase which I use all the time) under the parchment paper with the dough on it. I use the cutting board as a sliding vehicle that the parchment paper slides off of onto the cookie sheet in the oven.

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6.Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet (this is what I do, just an old cookie sheet). Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F. 8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top (during Lent or always you could make this the shape of a cross instead of an "x" to signify Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross) 9. Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door. 10. Bake for about 30 minutes (I usually only cook 25-27 minutes), or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find..."

I have been struggling the last few days with wondering if all the faithful people in my life and that I see in church struggle with the waxing and waning of the intensity of their faith that I do. I am not saying that the base or sincerity of my faith ever wavers, but I have days or series of days where I feel like I can not get my mind and heart to focus on prayer to save my life. Something always distracts me or I am so tired I fall asleep before I get very far in my evening prayer. I was stressing about this yesterday (as if I need more stresses and worries circulating in my brain) and how to fix it. I went to daily mass this morning and this was the gospel below. It was one of those moments where I really felt like Jesus was saying this directly to me, to help me. I don't know exactly what the answer is but I feel surely that He will help me focus and assist me with my spiritual ADD.

"Jesus said to his disciples:"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."
- Matthew 7:7-12

Monday, March 2, 2009

Give Alms Food Basket

Here is our almsgiving food basket. Every evening after dinner during Lent, we talk about how lucky we are to have so much food when other people go hungry. We then go to our pantry cupboard where I have set aside some canned goods for Pumpkin to take one each evening and put it in our Give Alms food basket. Once our basket is full, we'll donate the food to our church or to a food bank. I think this is important for my children to see - that we are giving something of ours that is tangible like food instead of just an envelope with money in it in the church collection basket (what is a check or dollar bills to a two year old anyhow, it might as well be Monopoly play money).

So I thought I would share this. It's not too late to start this in your own home for Lent.

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