Monday, September 30, 2013

Michaelmas ~ Feast of the Archangels

We enjoyed spending the day at our Parish Fun Family Fall Fest which was so wonderful and fun, I did not mind at all that our focus for the Archangels kind of got bumped to today, which is also the Feast of St. Jerome (and not to be forgotten).  We plan to color some of Charlotte's Coloring Pages and go over stories about our Archangels, including St. Michael and St. Jerome (his information is currently in the Catholic Culture Widget below).

I did manage to bake up this Texas Sheet Cake for dessert.  I do love a good Sunday dinner, which is made all the better when cousins, family, and friends join us!
For more ideas for Michaelmas please visit Catholic Cuisine!

*When visiting Charlotte's coloring pages, just scroll down to the Month of September and there you will find a link to the coloring pages for the Archangels.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk (no substitutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Chocolate Icing for frosting (recipe to follow)
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Mix sugar, flour, soda, and cinnamon into mixing bowl of kitchen-aide.  Whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth and add to dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared baking dish (you can use a 9 x 13, but I prefer the baking stone from Pampered Chef that is the large bar pan, if you get one please consider purchasing from my good friend Leanne. and I don't get any kick backs for saying that, I just love her and want to support her in her business!)
Bake for 20 minutes.  Spread chocolate icing over cake while hot!  Then sprinkle with thin sliced almonds.

Chocolate Icing:

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups powder sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix milk and cocoa until moth in a large saucepan.  Add butter and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter melts.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Pour over hot cake and sprinkle with almonds or toasted pecans.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


~Capturing the weekend in pictures Friday through Monday
Saturday morning brought us Orange Scones for #6's birthday - he is 13!  I cannot believe he is 13!!!  It feels like a moment ago, he was my shadow and such a happy one too.  He has always been a happy guy, and we are so blessed by him in every way.  He has not even batted an eyelash that his birthday has kind of been eclipsed in all the Homecoming Festivities of #2, which is very telling of what a generous soul he has.  His Dad and I have some plans for him though - we are waiting until Pete is home again to celebrate more fully our September boys!
*I used Ina Garten's Strawberry Scone recipe found, here:  Strawberry Scones  I did not add the strawberries but instead added some fresh orange peel (about 1 TBS) and a squeeze of fresh orange juice to the dough (about 3 TBS).  I mixed 2 cups powder sugar with 3 TBS melted butter and enough orange juice to make a glaze (I freshly squeezed the oranges) and then I spread this over the hot scones - absolutely delicious!

He was all for the breakfast birthday party!
(#9 has a fondness for weeds which he makes arrangements out of and insists we keep watered, pictured here was this weekends contribution)

*instagram photo, I'm 9peasmom*
Later that morning were soccer pictures and then soccer games (both played in the rain).  Both our teams won, it was quite a day for our family!  #5 & #6 had to work at Braums, and #3 worked on the set of Frankenstein.  

*instagram photo*
A Texas style thunderstorm started heading our way during #7's game.  I caught this before the rain started falling hard and the wind really kicked up.  The thunder and lightening never made an appearance, it just got very dark and rained pretty hard, briefly.  Pretty much cleared up a little while after the games were over.

After the soccer games it was time to COOK!  The Birthday Boy and the Marine both wanted a German feast.  (pictured above are Bierocks and German Potato Salad, recipes at bottom of post)  
We also managed to get over to the church for Confession and take our turn leading the family Rosary.

We are abundantly blessed with the cutest babies in our family - sorry, totally biased!

I will miss him very much while he is away for his next school!

I love this shot!

*instagram photo*
Later Saturday night we played Extreme Charades taught to us by one of their awesome Uncles

*instagram photo*
You really should play it, it is a blast!

*instagram photo*
Sunday brought us CCD (I'm teaching a First Communion Class now), Mass and our Parishes Fun Family Fall Fest (which is amazingly wonderful and we never miss it).  My youngest are in the Angel Voices Children's Choir directed by none other than their wonderful Aunt Heidi.  The Choir performed at Mass and at the Festival so it was a full day!

German Potato Salad

1 cup diced cooked crisp bacon (I like using the thick, Applewood smoked if I can find it)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion (Vidalia is best)
3 TBS flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup cider (Braggs is the BEST)
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tsp. celery seed
2 quarts potatoes, chopped thick and boiled.  (red potatoes are best)

Use leftover bacon grease and pour into a skillet, it should be around 1/4 cup or more.  Fry up the celery and onions in the bacon grease (not a weight watchers kind of dish).  Whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper.  Then add the sugar, vinegar and water all at once.  Stirring this and bring to a boil.  Add parsely, celery seed, and bacon chopped up.  
Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and put boiled potatoes into the dish.  Pour the dressing over this and gently stir until all potatoes are well coated.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.


First prepare your dough *recipe below*

3 lbs ground sausage
1 large onion diced
1 jar Sauerkraut (drain off extra juice)

Cook sausage until done with chopped onions.  Drain off grease and then add Sauerkraut, stir to mix it up really well.  Take a few spoonfuls worth of meat mixture and add it to a rolled out 1/2 cups worth of dough.  Seal up the bottom really well and place on prepared pan (greased).    Allow to rise about 20 minutes and then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Amish White Bread for Bierocks

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 TBS active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

*In a large bowl dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast.  Allow to proof.

*Mix salt and oil into the yeast.  Mix in flour.  Knead until a nice dough forms.

*Place in oiled bowl to rise until double and cover with a cloth.

*Punch dough down.  Knead for a few minutes, then start pinching off 1/2 cup size portions of dough.  Roll out until they are small circles for filling with meat mixture.  Seal bottoms and  cook as stated above.


Friday, September 27, 2013

More Remote Blogging

We are enjoying #2 being home and spending lots of time working on Frankenstein.  #7 is worried about the ball bouncing off stage while her character plays Jacks so the Director is allowing her to practice the game when the Theater is empty to help her. 
Have I mentioned how great our Director & Theater community is?

Monday, September 16, 2013

1/3 of my Children Are Now Adults

He woke up to chocolate chip waffles on his 18th birthday, my amazing #3.  He is hard to surprise sometimes because he is so easy going, knowing what he likes the most can be tricky.
*recipe at bottom of post*

He is my quiet child, not shy - quiet.  When I found out I was pregnant with him, Pete had just left for what was our longest time apart.  January of '95 to June of '96 he was physically home less than 80 days.  Pete didn't believe me when I told him I was pregnant, we are pranksters around here.  The truth became clear though when he saw me at Easter and there was no denying that beach ball shape I was sporting was a baby.  Three babies in three years - it became a theme for us.

When he was born I spent the day with a wonderful friend, singing songs and having a blast shopping at the Commissary for #1 and #2.  Each time a contraction came on she helped me through it.  During his whole pregnancy I was surrounded by so much love in my friends from the Navy and Church, Our Lady Star Of The Sea.  When I look at his ease of manner, and his general happiness with life I wonder how much all those wonderful women had to do with it.  The Young Ladies Institute (which I think were actually young ladies when it was founded but the youngest member was around 45) took me under their wing as well and hosted a baby shower in which they showered him with lots of homemade baby gifts and clothes - to this day I am in awe of how much love we received from that parish.  Since the parish knew Pete would be deployed when he was born, they just took care of us.

Here he is now, 18 years old and being around him everyday is like a little slice of Heaven here on earth.

*I triple or quadruple this*

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (more if needed, it will depend on how thick the buttermilk is)
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in Kitchen Aide and then pour into prepared waffle iron, following your waffle iron's directions.

I always let them cool on a cooling rack so that they don't become soggy.  I stack them once they are cooled off.

Serve with warmed maple syrup that you poured into the small pan you melted the butter in - delicious!

They freeze VERY well!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

round button chicken

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter

*Updated to add recipes at bottom of post*

It is sad that I keep thinking food is the best choice for my {pretty} selection.  The top is a chocolate pie with fresh whipped cream (one of our favorites that I bake up quite often) and below is something I am VERY proud of.  I have finally perfected smoked chicken without it getting dried out.  It is delicious, and the leftovers make a mean chicken salad!

All of the kids (currently living at home) got to go see a WONDERFUL production of Tarzan.  Thanks to Season Memberships making the cost of tickets more affordable than going to the movie theater, we were able to see a live musical together.  It was #9's first play/musical to go to and he LOVED it.  He lost his little heart to the Gorilla, Turk, because of all his antics #9 could relate to him - it was great and made us all so happy to see him enjoy the show as much as we all do every time!

This has made me very, very happy.  I got a phone call from #2 at boot camp.  I promise you the phone call felt like 60 seconds but the proof is right there, we talked for 3 mins.  I cannot wait to see him again.  I will probably have the GAUDIEST "Mom of a Marine" bumper sticker on my van very soon.  I plan to put one up when #1 graduates with his Bachelors Degree "Mom of a *** Graduate" too.  This could get scary and I'm certain good sense will win out at some point...but, maybe not.  I can truly see 9 stickers of some kind being sported on whatever vehicle I'm cruising the streets with one day!
  !Go Big or Go Home!

Doing the Happy Dance 
(photo from the Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist August 29th)
We had grasshopper and dirt parfaits, I got the idea over at Catholic Cuisine and the recipe I based these off of can be found following this link:  Grasshopper Parfaits

We had a wonderful day this week gathering with other homeschool families.  The kids had so much fun! 
I am so very happy to be homeschooling again - and I truly cannot believe I feel that way.  I must have had a serious case of burnout.  These days with the three youngest are treasures and I really do enjoy every second.  I realize now, in a way I couldn't grasp before how fleeting this time is.  

Please visit this weeks {P,H,F,R} over at LMLD!

Chocolate Pie
I use this pie crust from my archives:  Pie Crust bake pie crust at 425 for 10- 15 minutes for this recipe
I use fresh whipped cream for the topping, but wait until pie is completely cooled off before spreading it on.
Whipped Cream:
1 cup or more if you need it of whipping cream
1 tbs sugar
whip at high speed until thick and delicious - do not over whip or it will become butter (unless you want butter but that won't be very tasty on top of your chocolate pie)

Chocolate Filling for Pie:
1 cup sugar
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs (separated)
1/4 cup cornstarch or 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 tbs. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  In a saucepan pour in 3 cups milk, sugar, cornstarch or flour, and chocolate.  Melt and stir over medium-medium high heat until thick and bubbly.  (It will seem like forever before you actually start to see the pudding form).  Once thick and bubbly, cook (stirring constantly) 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir about 1 cup of the hot filling into the egg yokes and stir to blend quickly, now immediately pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot filling in saucepan, turn on heat (again) and cook for about 2-3 more minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla extract and pour into prepared pie crust.  Refrigerate and once cooled top with whipped cream.

This sounds complicated, but it really isn't and it is so worth the effort!

Smoked Chicken
First make sure your whole chicken is completely defrosted.  A frozen core just dries out the bird while it smokes - don't ask me how I know that.
Marinate chicken in Allegro over night.
Soak a mixture of Hickory and Apple Wood Chips
I place the bird in the Smoker and let it smoke for a good 2 - 3 hours, then I set it in foil and before sealing up the foil I cover it in Woody's BBQ Sauce.  Seal foil and let it sit for about 2 more hours in the Smoker. 

Soooo very delicious!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Works For Us - Theater

Theater has been a part of our family ever since my oldest (now 21) was in a Theater Workshop for young children (he was age 5).  He participated in a play titled "The 3 Little Wolves" which was turning the whole "Three Little Pigs" story on it's head.  #1 loved it and was hooked.  
Many things can be a challenge when you have a lot of children, there are demands on money as well as certain activities do not allow the entire family to be a part of it.  Theater is the opposite, there is something for each one of the kids (if they want to participate) and the cost is the amount of time you are able to give.  The theater community itself has always amazed me because in every production we've been a part of all aspects have embodied 'The Beatitudes"  truly!
In theater, my children have been exposed to amazing kindness, skills, and mind blowing talent coupled with great humility.  They've also witnessed the occasional 'diva' and had first hand experience of not ever wanting to take that path.  The theater community has also introduced my children to great literature, and they've had the pleasure of seeing Artists at work as sets have been built and backdrops designed.  Theater as a community is something that is very dear to my heart, after all these years of participating it means the world to me that we have come full circle back to the theater that held the first workshop and the Children's Theater Director is the same wonderful one from the 1990's.  
#7 auditioned for and got the role of Maria in the Main Stage (not children's theater) production of Frankenstein!  She worked with the Director for this theater before and they worked really well together, he is so attentive to her needs as well as helping her give her best performance.  She is crazy about him, so that helps when he is being critical and as a director that sometimes happens, she rolls with it though which I am so relieved about.  Since Frankenstein is not a children's theater type play (although over all it is really a great story for when she is older) he also only brings her down for rehearsals when blocking her scenes.  When she was ZuZu in "It's A Wonderful Life" I don't think she ever got to watch the whole show.  
This brings me back to my point of how great theater can be about looking to the needs of it's actors.  I love that!
I took these photos while on location.  They are being used as production photos on Facebook to help make people in our community aware of the upcoming performances.

We had so much fun traveling to these old sites in our town.  This is what is left of the old Sanatorium.  

This location is an abandoned orphanage - oh the scary stories that have come out of that place.  Good stories too, I wish a collection could be put together in book form.

Thanks to being a part of this play #7 got to learn some interesting tidbits of our town's history as well as some scary stories to spook her brother's with.  The older cast members are so good with her and make sure to keep everything on her level.  We are so blessed by our local theaters.  
I can't express enough that this was our experience when we lived in Virginia as well, so if you have a community theater, look into it.  We've done back stage work, helped build and paint sets,  acted, sewn costumes, ushered at performances and worked spotlights and more.  It has always been a joy and a family endeavor! 

*These photos are my property and unless you have my express permission you may not use them.  They are not watermarked (yet) so that the theater can use them.  You are welcome to link to this post anytime!

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'm Getting Here, I Promise!

I had planned to begin posting again yesterday, but once you fall out of the habit of blogging it is hard to fall back into it.  My 2013-2014 school year will be our fullest yet and so I am unsure how much I'll be able to keep up with this journal, and yet it is the most important time to because I want to hold on to these memories.
A run down of what this year holds - these are just the big things, not even counting all that little stuff.

*Marine Corp Boot Camp Graduation for #2 (in California)
*Reception for the new Marine
*Confirmation for #5
*Reception for newly Confirmed son
*#7 got the role of Maria in Frankenstein
*(and I am on the Guild as well as Advisory Council for both the Children's Theater as well as Main Stage)
*6 joined a Robotics Team
*5 is playing Basketball
*4 & 5 are both employed and I'm their transportation to and from work
*#7 & #8 are playing Soccer
*Regular Fall Holiday fun
*Catholic Co-Op
*First Confession & First Communion for #8
*Reception for #8
*8th Grade Graduation from our Catholic School for #5
*Reception for #5
*High School Graduation for #3
*Reception for #3
*College Graduation for #1
*Reception for #1
*Oh, and I'm homeschooling #'s 7, 8, & 9

I've left a lot out, and am luckily able to pace myself through all of this, but what a year!  I don't want time to slip away without recording it.  I am working out a good 'blogging' time slot for myself.  Hopefully, all the kinks will be worked out soon!

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