Follow our family's journey as we seek to nourish our souls with music and literature, good company, great cooking, time spent in nature, and always, the love of Christ especially through the sacraments of His Church.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Feast of Grace

Every last detail was finished. Flowers arranged, clothes ironed, little ones prepared, batteries in the camera. Everyone arrived for the 2:00 pm Mass. The kids walked beautifully in procession. Mom looked as radiant as any bride! Loved ones sang the hymns in beautiful harmony, read the Bible readings, and served on the altar. And the grace flowed...

Midway through Mass, Mom and Dad renewed their vows. Forty-four years faithful, not without battle scars, they stood victorious, asking for grace anew. When we sang Faith of Our Fathers, my heart was filled with gratitude for a family that was together, sharing this precious Faith and passing it down.

Finally, Brendan carefully approached the altar to receive his Lord for the first time  He was followed by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, a line of unbroken faithfulness. Grace flowed.  As a proud and grateful mother and daughter, I was moved to tears by the beauty of these blessed moments.

The reception afterwards was a joyous celebration with family and friends. While the food was delicious and the music nostalgic, the best moments were spent visiting, reminiscing and relaxing. We were all too tired to dance! 

Now if only I had better pictures to share! It seems I was... distracted. I've been promised better ones from other photographers that day, so there will be more to come. For now, here's just a peek from our day.

The vows ceremony:

My parents, me on the right behind the kids, Jeff holding Molly, plus all my siblings and my sister-in-law in blue:


Dessert table at the reception (notice cookies in back row!):
Close-up of cookies Brendan with his cake:

Molly, sacked out at the reception: 

My tom-girl: scraped legs, frilly dress and party shoes!

That's all for now!

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's "Decorating Day"...

The big she-bang is tomorrow, and I am off on a winding trail of errands before ending up at the church hall to help with setting up for the party. The cookies are made, van is packed with supplies for today and activities to keep kids busy tomorrow, clothes are ironed (except the ones we still have to buy - yikes...) What am I forgetting?!

It has been a long count-down to this big day. Our family has so much to celebrate. Parents who have been married 44 challenging years and still want to say those vows again. Family and friends supporting and celebrating them, arriving from the four corners of... the country, anyway! Siblings who pitched in and worked hard together to make a wonderful celebration. A little family with a big boy who is ready to meet his Lord in the Eucharist for the first time... so much grace being poured out on one family this weekend!

Pray with us that we are ready, that we are grateful, that we fully celebrate the moment we have been given.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Blew It!

I really did. I was trying to make things easier for myself by going out after dark to put gas in one of the cars, so I wouldn't have to drag 3 kids to the gas station in the summer heat tomorrow... and I ran over a curb and blew a tire. Tore up a tire. Apparently, not a cheap tire, either. I just made my upcoming week very difficult on so many levels, I can't even explain. If there was ever a bad time to do something like this, it was today.

I had to call my husband, who had to load up the kids and rescue me. By the time he got the spare on, he was wringing wet, even at 1:00 AM in the dark, it was so hot. I wanted to laugh so I wouldn't cry. But it was too important and my poor husband was... distressed... so laughing wouldn't have been a good idea. He had even offered to go fill up the car for me, but I wanted those few minutes to myself. I'd like to give them back now, please. I feel like such a girl.

I am sure it will work out in the long run. But in the short run, I am going to miss something that was very important to me in the morning, and that can't be fixed. God apparently has some plans to help me work on my humility, resignation and trust. I'm trying not to pout. But right now I am really seeing the "ruined" side of the tapestry of life. It's so easy to lose peace when things don't fall into place. I want my explanation (other than the fact that I was unusually careless, or blind, or both...). I want to know why these things happen when they do. It seems my patience is in need of some tweaking, too. I could write a whole post on just that one.


On the bright side, the kids had a ball watching Daddy change the tire in the middle of the night!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cookie Factory!

With my parents' big anniversary celebration just about a week away, my to-do list is growing exponentially. One of the biggies on there has been "bake cookies." I'm continuing the age-old custom of making these traditional Slovak cookies known as Rosky (RROSH-kee), which appear at every celebration on my mother's side of the family.

I have the fondest memories of eating these at my grandma's house as a very young child. She always had an endless supply for us. Now my mom makes them all the time, and I do so occasionally. I had to kick up production for this event, though. In the Eastern-European tradition, or maybe just the over-the-top, sweet-addicted family tradition, we are having, not just a cake table, but a dessert table with 3 kinds of cake and a (hopefully) endless supply of these cookies, for about 60 people. I imagine some other goodies will show up there too. Knowing my mom...

Unfortunately, this is not a kid-friendly operation. It's impossible for me to do it with "the Chipmunks" climbing all over the place trying to "help" me. So my sister, bless her, took the kids so I could get started, and the rest I had to do after they were in bed. It's a little tedious, but such an important tradition for us! Once the kids are a little older, it will be so nice to have them join in.

Roshky is a cream cheese dough rolled around fruit or nut filling. The dough is lots of butter, cream cheese and eggs, held together with just a little flour! I chose to use 3 fillings: poppy seed, which is very traditional, walnut, and date. The last two fillings I make up myself, but the poppy seed is conveniently sold in little cans in the baking goods aisle.

I had made the dough  a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. It needs to stay cold, so I only take out a portion at a time and roll it out in powdered sugar.

I normally cut squares randomly and end up with cookies of all sizes. But since this is such a special event, I decided to measure this time. The "squares" are 2 inches wide and about 2 1/2 inches long.

Filling is the tricky part - not too much, or it leaks out and makes a mess. A small dab of poppy seed filling at one end...


then roll...

 pinch the seam,

and set it seam side down on the cookie sheet.

Repeat, 250 times!!

I wondered how many times my grandma felt the back of her neck ache like mine did. I always feel such a kinship with my ancestors when baking Rosky and other traditional dishes. It amazes me how complex and meticulous the recipes are. You have to wonder how they had time for so many small details, because the life in the "old country" was not an easy one! But the food was filled with love and attention. Here is an old photo of my Grandma, whom we called "Babi" - pronounced "Bobbie". She just left us this past April.

When I use poppy seed filling, I snip vents in the top of each cookie. I used to think my Grandma did it for looks, but now I realize it keeps all the filling from leaking out the ends.

After snipping, I slightly bend each cookie into a crescent.

Then into the oven at 350. My magic number this time was 17 minutes. They should have a hint of golden brown on the tops and some browning on the bottoms. You can see it on the nut cookies I started with.

On the big day, all the cookies will be dressed up with fresh powdered sugar and piled on to big platters. I plan to take pictures then, too! Hope you enjoyed your tour of my cookie factory. I'll post the recipe below.

Rosky (Cream Cheese Dough)

2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 egg yolks or 1 whole egg (I use a whole egg)

Blend the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Work in the butter, followed by the cream cheese. Make a well in the center of the dough; drop the egg into the well. Work egg into dough. It will be very soft and sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator in sections (2 or 3 per recipe). Roll out on board sprinkled with powdered sugar.* Cut into rectangles. Place filling on one end and fold dough around filling, pinching seam on bottom. Place seam side down on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 5-10 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Store covered. Roll in powdered sugar before serving.

* Roll dough thick enough to handle. After that, it's a matter of taste how thick to make it.

Nut filling: About 2 cups finely chopped walnuts, 3 Tablespoons brown sugar and a Tablespoon or two of water to moisten. Mix all together.

Date filling: One 10 oz. package of dates, chopped, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, about 3/4 cup of water... cook gently over medium heat about 5-10 minutes and mash with a fork.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catholic Company reviews

The Catholic Company

I signed on to review products for Catholic Company after seeing a link on a friend's blog. I am looking forward to reviewing a book soon, and sharing it here! I am trying to get a link in my sidebar, but for some reason, Blogger won't let me customize today. What's up with that?! I will add it as soon as I can. For now, go check out this link if you would like to do product reviews for Catholic Company too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Things I love...

What warms your heart and puts a smile on your face? I have been keeping a list of my own favorite things as I think of them. Maybe I'm going all Sound of Music, but they really do make me remember what I love about life! 

Kitchen shears
Rain-wet pine trees
Flannel sheets
Scented candles
Herb gardens
Porch swings
Garden tubs
Family prayers
Chubby baby arms
A new book
Willow trees 
Farm stands
Handwritten letters
Wood-burning fireplaces
More coffee
Craft stores
Front doors
Wind chimes
Hot tea
Sunny windows
Rainy days
Fruit salad
Kids reading books

Did I say coffee??!

I'm feeling great already!

I will add to the list if I think of more. Make your own list, or share some of your favorites here!

photo credit

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm a Lucky Girl

Here is what my dear sweet hubby made for dinner last night, after working a 12 hour day.

Don't hate me. There is only one enchilada-maker in this house, and it's not me. That's the way he wants it. Once I made enchiladas "casserole style" because I don't see the point of rolling them up. Really. He likes to do it himself now.

I am so glad his mama taught him to cook! And that he enjoys it. I plan to make sure my boys know their way around the kitchen too. I figure maybe that way, their wives will love their mother-in-law too! It's all in the plan.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tree Huggers

These are some of my favorite pictures ever, and I just wanted them all in one place. Even if they are a couple of months old...




This is our little Bradford pear tree and it really doesn't have enough room for a big kid, but they beg to sit up there all the same. Benjamin in particular can sit in the tree for an hour - although it sure doesn't look very comfortable! .Doesn't he look like a little marsupial?

For the record, they don't climb up there by themselves... yet.... Also for the record, I loved climbing trees when I was a kid, too. I guess all kids do!

I do love this tree, from my safe place on the ground!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Aka: Lightning bugs!

Have you had a jar full somewhere in your house recently?

Here is a wonderful link for firefly study ideas and projects. What a great summer science adventure! I am so excited to do some of these with the kids.

This morning, Brendan said to me: "Fireflies eat flowers, pollen and other bugs." (He then showed me the petunia he had pilfered from my one of my tiny struggling seedlings, to feed to his bugs...)

At first it didn't register, but after a minute, I asked him how he learned this.

"I searched it online," he said.

Now that makes me feel happy! And sort of dispensable...

Photo Credit: Firefly
on Flickr, Creative Commons

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fruits of Summer

What we're enjoying here:


The combination changes, depending on whether we have a watermelon, or if Grandma brought us a flat of strawberries one day. (Thank you!!)

We're making the most of the season! Berries have been plentiful, inexpensive and really good. Peaches are on the agenda soon.

A fabulous, summery salad we've been making is baby field greens, raspberries, blueberries and sliced strawberries, with a handful of chopped pecans and some excellent raspberry vinaigrette. Swoon! I like this kind because the tartness of the red wine is a nice foil for the sweetness of the berries:

Sorry I can't show you the salad - we ate it all!

What special summer dishes are on the menu at your house?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Riverfront on a June evening

We had a rare free weekend evening and mild weather on Friday, so we headed down to the riverfront to enjoy the views. A large flock of ducks and Canada geese were feeding near the bank, much to the kids' entertainment.

Seeing the city from "the other side" (where we once lived) is always spectacular. A riverboat passed just as it started to get dark. Just a beautiful evening! And I'm so excited to be sharing current pictures!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cozy at Home Daybook

I am hearing... the hum of the air conditioner... probably something we'll hear a lot for the next few months!
Outside my window... the sun has come up after an early morning rain storm. Everything is green and exploding with growth.
Around the house...I finally cleaned up the school room which had become a catch-all room for the last few months. We needed some table space to work on projects. This is one of the cooler rooms in the house during summer, so we like to retreat in there during the afternoons.

In the yard... We've planted lots of annuals around the yard. They are thriving with the occasional rain we are getting. Molly loves to help me water them on dry days.

From the kitchen... We're still eating the amazing German potato salad that Jeff made for our Memorial Day picnic. It's one of our favorites and makes a huge recipe! BLTs are on the menu often as we received a big box of bacon recently - nice timing!

Cultivating beauty... This is a hard subject for me because I don't spend much time consciously cultivating beauty inside the house. I think about it a lot, but battling back the clutter keeps me in survival mode more than on the offensive. One thing I want to do more of is light candles for no particular reason. As much as I love candles, it still feels like a company thing to me. I have a huge stash, so no excuses.

Living the liturgy... We are still saying our nightly Rosary decade. The feasts of the Sacred Heart (June 11) and the Immaculate Heart (June 12) are almost upon us! We are in intense First Communion prep, so we will work the feasts in with that. Corpus Christi on Sunday will be a beautiful day to prepare as well.

Learning notes... We are working on the First Communion book and otherwise spending time outside. Insects are everywhere and we enjoy identifying them and observing their habits. Stinging bugs are not enjoyed, however. I am getting tired of the high-pitched screaming whenever certain kids see one... and no one has even been stung! Yet...

The kids this week...have been digging in the dirt. They are "planting" all the maple seedlings that have sprouted from the abundance of "whirlybird" seeds we had in the spring. They also want to water the flowers all the time, which I am more than happy to allow, especially as it gets hotter and humid-er. I am about to retreat indoors for the remainder of the summer (I am made of sugar, you know, and I do melt!) The wading pool is out, so great fun for those who want to cool off that way!

Last weekend... Sunday we had a fabulous cookout at McNeely Lake Park with two dear families whose friendship we are blessed to share. Eleven kids, 6 parents, burgers, dogs, pork chops and all kinds of good food, swings, a hike with the dads... what could be better? I asked St. Anthony to help us get a picnic shelter, and he cleared the park - there was almost no one there! I got my pick of shelters! Good thing since a brief shower came through. It sure was hot. Then Monday we were able to relax with family at my in-laws'. It was a blessing for Jeff to be off for the holiday, since he has been working 7 days for a few months now.

Some plans for the week... I still have many errands to run. I am working on planning for my parents' big anniversary celebration at the end of the month, which is also the First Communion day. Thankfully, we got the catering tied up last night. This weekend I'll be attending the homeschool conference in Radcliff, near Louisville, and I'm honored to be on the question and answer panel. Hope I have something useful to say! After that, back to the planning and prepping. So many clothes to procure. Confessions to plan. Etc., etc.

On my heart... my sister-in-law as she returns to work after losing the baby. We are waiting to hear when they might have a small service for this little one, most likely in the next few weeks.

I am thankful for... Online shopping! I have found almost all of our party clothes, not to mention many items for the anniversary, this way. Oh, the convenience! Until something doesn't fit...

A picture to share...  a peek at our patio. When I get the camera fired up, I'll update with the flowers and other improvements we've made. It's a nice, flat patio and yard, which I love, considering the wobbly steps of little kids! Hope you are all having a good week.