Friday, September 20, 2013

Baking for Real People: Oatmeal Ginger-Cream Pies

Preach it, sister.

{Baking by Picture}

So, I saw this recipe in my latest issue of Country Living magazine, in an article entitled "Heirloom Desserts" from contributors Josh Kilmer-Purcell  Brent Ridge, of  the 'Beekman 1802' brand.  It sounded so simple, and they even gave criteria for a recipe to become "heriloom": 
1. It must be delicous
2. It must be (relatively) simple to make.
3. It must have ingredients that are readily available to everyone. (source)
Delicious? The picture looked pretty good. Ingredients? Looks like I have everything...Simple? Turns out that was relative...

The picture. Hopeful end-result. Yeah. Right.
I should have realized I was in over my head when the first step of the recipe was to *toast* the oats. Riiiiight. Instead, I laughed and called my sister.  You've gotta share the fun when a recipe asks for more effort than you'd put forth to eat it...

Oats to toast. 
Then, *meanwhile*, I'm supposed to be stirring everything else together, BUT, I'm supposed to go back to the oven and shake the pan with the oats, or turn it around a few times, or something like that. You're lucky these oats aren't getting burned, buckos, there's no way I'm shaking them around, meanwhile stirring everything else. Nope. 

Meanwhile stirring
This next part of the recipe was the best, and illustrates why you should read the *whole* recipe before starting out. Or not. Do what you want. I usually do ;).  You'd think you could just "drop by rounded teaspoon-ful" in the old *every other cookie type recipe in the world* manner...but no:
...roll dough, two tablespoons at a time, into balls, or use a #30 (1-counce) ice cream scoop; for each sheet, drop 12 balls, 2 inches apart. With dampened hands, flatten each ball to a 1/2-inch thickness..
Umm...not gonna happen.  Didn't I mention that I was throwing these together in the 12 minutes I had left before having to wake the sleeping baby up and throw everything in the car to go to work?  With all due respect to those of you with 1-ounce ice cream scoops (I'm thinking of you, Mrs. M!)...
(source - w/ changes by yours truly)
So, I ended up winging it, as usual, and just made some blobs on the pans.

But look...she used parchment papers! Pro. For sure.
Now, on to the cream filling! Luckily, I had some candied ginger ("readily available ingredients" - ha!) in the cupboard from the last time I thought about trying a ridiculous recipe, but stopped at the smartest point: never starting.

Chop chop w/ the Cutco
And...stir it up!

This looks kind of gross. It's cream cheese, confectioner's sugar and the candied ginger bits.
I actually made the frosting later, after I came home from work.  I pulled the cookie parts out of the oven, and off I went.  I didn't really look at them, except to think "those don't really look the same, now do they?"  I came home to these:

Pretty dang flat.

But, life gives you flat cookies, and you're bringing dessert to the party...what do ya do? Add more sugar and get going!

Finished product. Nailed it. 
SO...they looked nothing like the picture....BUT, everyone said they tasted great. I suppose I forgot the cardinal rule of baking (of all cooking, really): add more butter, more sugar, or both, and you win! 
Happy Baking!

Monday, September 16, 2013

{WIWS} First Time Around!

linking up with the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for a Sunday sartorial romp

I am very excited finally to be posting with {WIWS}!  ...and I'm not the only one hopping on the bandwagon at last--check out Sarah O., over @ TwoO'sPlusMore for another inaugural edition ;)

{WIWS} is a weekly link-up of your Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and a hurrah for going to church.  I've been wanting to post for a while, but haven't had the pics for it. I still don't really...but I do what I want ;).  Here's what I wore:

Amazing selfie of outfit. In the car. No tripod, and my photographers were occupied. 
Outfit details:
Dress: J. Crew via Clothes Mentor
Belt: stolen from my sister, I think...via...?
Modesty tank: Fashion Bug a million years ago
Necklace: unkown via Plato's Closet

You can't see the whole outfit, because I was trying to take a picture on my tiny phone, using the rear-view mirror as an aide...right. But the dress is A-line, and dippy in back and lined in the skirt and lovely. Also, I got it for about $12 instead of, I don't know...a lot more than that, so hurrah! ;)

Mass Behavior: Both boys get a D-. Leo sat in the pew, but pretended to be Jell-O the whole time and fussed about all-the-things. Daniel had to be corralled in the back of the church, the foyer, and the parking lot...the whole time. He's in the wriggly-wriggly stage, and will get a D- forever until he's a little older, or unless he sleeps through Mass (which happens...sometimes!)

And, since Sunday is a workin' day for this Momma, you get a second shot...what I wore to work!

Another selfie with the mirror. I'm such a pro.
I kept the necklace on, because why not?  A little Sunday best for the rest of the day.

Outfit details:
Scrub top: Clothes Mentor
Necklace: same as above
Fancy name tag: employee special
Not pictured: scrub bottoms & Danskos

Patient's behavior:
B+: One CABGx5 (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, 5-vessels, AKA quintuple bypass surgery) guy and one diabetic 90 y.o. Plenty of expert nurse advice to be had, and no emergencies = win/win. 

Make sure to head back over to FLAP for the rest of the real outfits + bloggers!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fear & Loving

I am afraid.

I am afraid of a lot of things. I fear that my sons won't grow up to be happy, healthy, handsome and holy. I fear that they won't grow up at all. I fear accidental deaths. I fear drivers who text. I fear being attacked on a nursing visit. I fear being attacked in my home. I fear falling down the stairs while carrying a child. I fear being in some accident that leaves me maimed for life. I fear mental illness or delayed development in my boys. I fear rape. I fear for my loved ones. I fear miscarriages, chronic illnesses and major surgeries. I am afraid of taking a wrong step, of giving a patient the wrong or insufficient information, and leading to their increased illness or untimely death.

I am afraid.

Now, some of my fears are completely rational. Some of them are silly or unfounded. Many of them are useful for compelling my actions, leading me to take extra precaution or to double-check important things.

Secretly, though, I am afraid of the unknown, and I don't know where my trust has gone.

I used to trust so well.  I remember when Steven and I were dating, and I realized that being so close to someone could lead to major heartache. I realized that I had to trust God that I was supposed to continue, that He would hold me if I stepped out further on the branch.  I had to trust that the branch would hold, but even if it would not, I had to trust that God's hands were big enough to catch me.

I know that I need to let go of my fears; I need to find that place of trust again.  I have been thinking about fears today, after hearing a piece on the radio.  The woman being interviewed, Dawn Eden, is the author of a book for victims of sexual abuse. Now, thank the good Lord in Heaven, I was never in such a situation myself.  One particular statement she made, however, has been sounding a bell in my heart today.

She pointed out that Christ on the cross did not say to those crucifying Him, "I forgive you." Rather, He said, "Father, forgive them." (Luke 23:34)  Father forgive them.  Her point was, that Christ's example wasn't to go directly to those who were crucifying Him and open Himself up to further abuses.  He gave it to God to forgive. Indeed, St. Paul tells us, 
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengence is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19 {cross-reference: Leviticus 19:18 & Deuteronomy 32:35})

My fears are preemptive acts of un-forgiveness, walls built up, instead of trust laid down. My creature-ly heart doesn't believe that I can forgive sins against me or my loved ones, doesn't imagine that I could cope with the worst situations I can conjure.

And I am right. I  can do none of that.

My heart remembered today a truth that I had forgotten.  I cannot change what the future holds: there is likely a lot of heartache and trial and rocky-road ahead in my life, but His love is big enough to cover it.  His mercy is great enough to forgive it.  His peace is surpassing enough to smooth it all out.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matthew 6:34)

No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

{FF} Top Five Audio Books

Joining Grace for Hallie's Five Favorites this week....


Top Five Audio Books for Moms Doing Dishes

Listening to audio-books is something that Steven got me into. I'd love *actually* to read more books, but that requires at least one free hand, and considering that I need three extra hands to keep my boyos in line...not. gunna. happen. At least for now... Anyways. Steve listens to books at work. We have an Audible account, or Steve gets them through the library for free online. [Get to the list already, lady!].  

I really like the results. A lot of the time, I'd rather not wash fifty thousand dishes or fold-all-the-clothes...again, but listening to a good story while I am, makes the time go by faster. A sort of  "whistle-while-you-work", I suppose.  SO, here's my list of a few good "listens". Oh, and I'm picky about the narrator; you can be reading a book I absolutely adore, but if your  voice is all wrong, you're out. First paragraph, your done. What can I say? I was spoiled by years of Wind in the Willows and Chaucer as narrated by my Dad, the best reader I know. 

1. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, narrated by Humphry  Bower. 

photo source

I absolutely loved this book. Humphrey Bower does a superb job with the voices and narration, and the story is epic and inspiring. I've heard that the movie version doesn't do the story justice (as is often the case with long books), so if you've seen that, still give the book a try. My brother had to read this in high school, and loved it, so it's gotta be good (forced reading + good is somewhat rare ;)). 

2. The 'Odd Thomas' series by Dean Koontz, narrated by David Aaron Baker

photo source

This is a series about a guy with super-natural abilities, including the gift to see dead people. I know, I know, sounds kind of...whatever, but Koontz is a fun story teller, and Catholic to boot (why is it that Catholic authors of fiction trend towards mystery?). I love how he weaves in some Classical references and how he doesn't ignore the spiritual/religious side of people. His hero is a clean-living-Heaven-hopeful young guy, who gets himself into a world of trouble with every turn. These stories are a lot quicker than some audio books, and definitely entertaining. 

3. The Millenium Triology by Steig Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance 

photo source

Along with The Girl Who Played with Fire & The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a masterful piece of fiction. I listened to all three, and they were whatever the listening equivalent of "page-turner" is. I'll have to admit that the violent content was way abrasive on my pretty little naive ears at times, and I'd watch out for kiddos listening along with you (read: don't), but Larsson set out to write these books in large part to highlight and condemn violence and mistreatment of women. Overall, well-written stuff, worth checking out. 

4. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Nigel Planer

photo source
Terry Pratchett cracks. me. up. He is snarky and hilarious. His books are perfect to listen to, because they are the kind that you'd want to read aloud to someone anyhow. After listening to 'Good Omens' (wildly fun), Guards! Guards! just continued the romp.  Pratchett's writings are prolific, so you'll have plenty of fodder for stack upon stack of crusty pots. If you're easily offended by humor that pokes fun at your religion, steer clear, but if you can laugh with the best of them (think Monty Python), you'll enjoy this stuff. 

5. The 'Harry Potter' series by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

photo source

Y'all don't need me to tell you to read these, I hope...but, just in case, here's Haley @ Carrots for Michelmas on the subject of reading Harry, and on Mrs. Weasley.  Listening to Jim Dale narrate an older favorite is lots of fun. It doesn't look like you can get this one on Audible, so hit up your library or buy it online. 

SO, there ya have it, folks! Get in that kitchen, and listen! ;)  

[Does anyone else channel LeVar Burton when recommending books?]

photo source

**I CAN go AN-Y-where....** (...and now you have a song stuck in your head for the day too; you're welcome, come anytime...)

Friday, September 6, 2013

{7QT} Pope Francis, Cookie Monster & the 20th Maine

but this week I'll just grace you w/ the usual mixy-mixer of stuff...and join Jen for Quick Takes

1. Papal art contest. 
As in, art that people have submitted of Pope Francis. You can vote here for my personal favorite, #28, by Jared Klodt:

Thanks to Simcha Fisher for sending us there :)

And remember that Pope Francis has called us to a day of prayer and fasting for Syria.

2. 'Does God Know How to Tie Shoes?' book & favorite Leo quote
This book is one of my favorites. It combines lovely oil-painting artwork with references to the Psalms as answers to a child's questions about God. You can buy it here. While reading this tonight, Leo said to me, "...and God looked at me and said, 'There's my Leo!'"

3. This quote

Found this again on my FB least it's good for something!
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends; He may throw me among strangers. He may make my spirits sink, hide the future from me - still He knows what He is about.
--Blessed John Henry Newman
4. Free at Last!

"one, two, free!"
Can't hardly believe it, time flies, and all that jazzy-jazz. We had lots of fun yesterday. We went to the park to go on the slides and swings, and I actually enjoyed the 28 minutes I lasted until it was time for DQ mini-blizzards. We also had a nice little family dinner/party.  There was a cake too...but Max the dog ate the leftovers...oh well...

5. My new life philosophy. 
Well...those of you who know me, you know that this has always been my life's philosophy ;)

6. I love getting mail!We got a care-pack from Aunt Margaret today.  She sent a bday prezzie for Leo (a "snow jacket"):

Leo dislikes the papparazzi

And a T-shirt for me! It's a 133rd Engineering Battalion shirt, so that I can show support for my favorite brother-in-law, the best Lieutenant there is.

The 133rd is a direct descendant (I'm getting my military lineage wording wrong, I know, please don't cringe too much, you history buffs!) of the famous 20th Maine. And if you didn't know that the 20th Maine was famous, you need to go watch Gettysburg again:

Wow, all of that from a box in the mail. See--it is great stuff! :)

7. Davy & Georgie
Leo has taken to calling Daniel "Georgie Russell". Georgie, of course, is Davy Crockett's best pal. (And if you didn't know that, you need to go watch 'Davy Crockett' again...)The red hat is the "Georgie Russell hat", although the knitted tractor cap that Heather and Laura made for Leo is sometimes a substitute. Anyways, here they are, in all their glory.

I'm hoping and praying that these two grow up to be best pals forever and ever amen. 

That's all from me, now head back over to Jen's for more of the real stuff from the actual bloggers! :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Passed away 8/29/2013"

For the two of you who read this and don't know me personally, I work right now part-time as a home health nurse. I visit people in their homes as a nurse. I actually like it, and it is *mostly* way less stressful than my nursing home days.

Most of my nurse visits are flurries of medication lists, wound care, blood pressure checks and listening to the radio between stops. I don't have *a lot* of critical patients, so I don't often get emergency scenarios like this one from before.

But then I get an email like this (with subject line of a patient's name):
"Passed away 08/29/2013"

...and I am reminded again how life is so fleeting. It is brought close and real again that in the end, we don't last forever. In the end, life gets harder, health fails and we turn the corner.


My small prayer today is for this patient and his family, and for all of us in the crazy-mixed-up healthcare world. May we keep ever mindful of the fragility of body, and the permanency of soul.  Amen. 

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

In its Time

The nitty-gritty tedium of our every-day lives can be, well, tedious. Each morning we are greeted with what is often the same exact 'To Do' list as the day before. The laundry and dishes are never done. The children have to be feed and cleaned and prevented from causing each other bodily harm several times a day (that last one nearly constantly).

Our work in and outside of the home is repetitive. Day to day, over and over, we keep on doing what we have kept on doing. It is easy to get bogged down in this, to feel discouraged, bored or fed up with life as we know it. But we also know that this is not how we are supposed to live: 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
I have read several things recently that deal with this problem in our lives. I was first encouraged by a short essay sent along by a dear friend. In, 'The Duty of the Moment', Catherine Doherty says:
Or your duty of the moment may be to scrub your floors. Do you scrub your floors well? With great love for God? If not, do so. If you see to it that your house is well-swept, your food is on the table, and there is peace during meals, then there is a slow order that is established, and the immense tranquility of God's order falls upon you and your family, all of you together.
Your doing the duty of the moment, your living the nitty-gritty, daily routine of ordinary life, can uncover the face of Christ in the marketplace. Christ can come into the place where you work or play or eat. He will come into your home or into a restaurant. He will come into a school or a company cafeteria or a subway or wherever.
So this is what I mean. You, as a Christian, as a follower of Christ, do your duty of the moment. Whatever your duty is, you do it with great love. And as you do, the image of Christ, the icon of Christ, will be shown to people wherever you are — in your home, in your place of work outside the home, in your school, in the neighborhood where you live, in your church, in the grocery store, wherever you happen to be.
I have found that focusing my mind on that line, the duty of the moment, has brought more peace to my days and more clarity to my priorities. Sometimes the duty of the moment is finishing the dishes during nap-time. Sometimes the duty is resting so that you don't go crazy on your family later in the day ;).

 Next was an excerpt from a blog I read sometimes called 3 Things for Mom. Each day is a different guest posting a Truth, Tip & Find for moms. This particular entry was by Catherine Newman, who writes for Real Simple magazine. Here's what she says:
If you wait to get past the hard parts, the busy parts, the stressful parts, your whole life will pass and you’ll have just been waiting the whole time...Remind yourself that this is your actual life, your time with this person, a moment to experience and then move on from...
I am *way* guilty of the hurrying life along problem. I just want to get through this little time, and then it'll be nap time for boyos, or dinner time, bedtime...give me teenage years now and I'll give you the squirmy-mind-numbing-hair-pulling-toddler-hood! [Disclaimer: I get it. I don't want those years yet, really, the moments I do...]. But what Catherine points out is exactly right. The problems of yesterday aren't any easier than the problems of tomorrow will be. I have today, this is my actual life. Each moment, each nerve-wracking moment, each sweet and joyful moment, is mine for today. 

We "grown-ups" get lost in the monotony. We get fed up with the same-old trudgery and lose sight of what is actually happening. There are probably 5,000 million quotes about living for today and living in the moment and time flying by, so I will spare you all that. Consider instead what Chesterton has to say:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg.  
(G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy - source)
" spirit fierce and free"

Look around. "The Heavens are telling the Glory of God!" ...and they do it in beautiful repetition. The trees are ever fading in and out of each season, reminding us anew of Christ's Life, Death & Resurrection. Spiders aren't finding new ways to spin their webs; bees are making honey bit by little bit just as they have done for year upon year upon year. And yet all of blessed Creation is reflecting the glory and magnitude of the Lord whose "mercies are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Let us not grow weary. Let us delight in our days, take up the duties of our moments and recognize that this is our actual life. 
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not  to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, bIn ut the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)