Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn Along Plus an Update on Jane

Here are a couple of pics of what I've been working on....

Maria's socks....I finally finished the pair!

We'll begin Destination Bethlehem tomorrow, and I just cast on stitches to knit a pair of socks for Monica.
These will be so cute!

And I'm so happy!!!  I put this post together before Jane's appt. with Dr. A (endocrinologist) over in St. Paul.  I am ecstatic that she agrees Jane's growth over the last year has been great.  Jane's X-ray taken with Dr. D (orthopedic surgeon) last month showed that there was significant straightening of Jane's legs and that her leg and arm bones were growing at a steady rate.  Dr. A said she will hold off on growth hormone injections for Jane until she sees a plateau or a decline in her growth curve.  However, she said that if Jane continues to grow at a steady increase on the growth curve, she may not need the injections at all!  Thanks be to God!  I've been on a high all day in spite of all the running around we've had to's appt., art museum field trip, b-ball practice, acting plus we have religion tonight at the parish!  Sheesh.

Anyway, thanks for any prayers you all have said for Jane.  She's the cutest little girl with such a beautiful, sweet face.  Whenever I would think of the growth injections it would send a shiver down my spine to think she would have to get them every. single. day for at least 10 years.  Now, thanks to God, she may not need them at all.  She'll just be a little on the short me.:)

See more Yarn Alongs over at Ginny's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


pronunciation: /ahn toh hoh/ - translation: a whim, a hankering, a craving

Molly mentioned this morning that she has been craving pan Mexicano also known as Mexican pastries.  I  grew up with these pastries so ever since I've been in Minnesota, I've sought out all the good Mexican bakeries in the Twin Cities.  And even though, I haven't had a pastry in 4 1/2 years, I still remember what they tasted like even as a child.  So naturally, our kids like them and know which ones are the best.  These are some of our family's favorite bakeries:

Panaderia y Pasteleria El Rey

You really can't make this stuff at home.  Part of the fun of having a pastry like this is that you actually go to the shop and speak Spanish to the workers.  You get the whole cultural experience that way.  I've been able to evangelize through the sheer number of kids we have when we all bail out of the van and crowd into one of these tiny places.  I've been asked if I contracept, if I'm Catholic, if my husband helps out, or if I work.  Hah!  Do I work?  And oh the fun Daddy and I have when we stop at one of these places and buy Menudo (beef tripe stew!) on a Sunday morning.  Daddy throws out his best Spanish to impress the workers and always manages to give me a smooch or a special little look to brandish his own version of machismo.

So here you have a pic of yummy pan Mexicano para darte un antojito (to give you a little craving)!  And in case you are fortunate enough to live near one of these little Mexican bakeries don't just drive by next time.  Stop and order some of our yummy favorites with confidence...conchas, maranitos y empanadas.  ¡Buen provecho!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us!

I'm having a whirlwind Cyber Monday because some compulsive shopper of things she really doesn't need stayed up very late trying to get a deal!  When I finally crawled into bed, I found a very cute card waiting for me.  It said something to this effect...

Expect no less from the man who has given me the following:

I think he's the best, cutest, smartest, funniest, coolest guy in the world.  Of course, anyone connected to me has got to be all. of. those. things!!:)  Just ask my sisters.

Anyhoo, today's our 13th Anniversary.  Here we are so young & dumb....

We never expected that this would happen to us...

Pregnant with Nick - Christmas 2009

So here we are....can you tell I just love taking pics with this guy?

Happy 13th Anniversary!  I love you, Paul.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Preparing Our Home & Hearts

I am SO excited for the new Mass translations in effect tomorrow.  However, I have Advent preparations on the brain for today.  Here are a few activities we've done in the past...

Advent Tree

We decorate our FAKE Christmas tree with pink and purple bows and ornaments to prepare our hearts during Advent.  I used to do this with a real tree, but it really is hard to deal with all. those. needles for that long.  Again, we'll be doing the furniture shuffle to make room for all the decorations the Lord.

Advent Lapbooks

The kids made these lapbooks two years ago.  I like to pull them out and display them so they can go back through them reminding us all of the reason for the season.

Advent Feast Days

We like to celebrate the feasts of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), and St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13).  And don't forget the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) which is a Holy Day of Obligation!

Movie Nights

It's a Wonderful Life

Celebrating the Days of the O Antiphons

Here are the posts of what we did last year....

New Plans for this Year

Jesse Tree...I picked up a kit after Christmas last year at St. Patrick's Guild for making a Jesse Tree.  We'll see if we get to make it this year.  I think the older girls are excited to do it so that should keep me accountable!  BTW...if you haven't visited St. Pat's Guild after Christmas in the past you should plan to this year.  They have an INCREDIBLE after Christmas sale.  They discount everything....everything!!!  Even the Fontanini pieces get discounted 50% off!!!

Read Aloud...This year I plan to read this to the kids.  I've heard it's a great book....I can't wait!

The Bottom Line on all of this is that if we aren't able to do all we have in the past, at least the kids have memories of Advent.  At the very least I like to display our Advent wreath, light it at Sunday meals, and sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel with the kids and Paul.  The rest of it helps, but isn't really necessary.  Just the absence of rushing, stressing, or forgetting is a victory greater than most during these last few weeks of the year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am thankful for handy guys that will do a last minute chandelier install for our Thanksgiving festivities,

a beautiful park and cooperative weather for a last minute walk before the big feed,

for the cutest guy in the whole wide world who's been married to me for almost 13 years,

and for a peaceful day surrounded by people (real & virtual) I love who love me unconditionally for who I am....Wife, Mommy, Sister, Friend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Case You Get Tired of Turkey...

here's the long awaited recipe for my taco meat.  After posting about the enchilada sauce, I was hard pressed for some ground beef to take the pics to do a post showing you how I make our taco meat.  I finally picked some up.  Daddy actually did.  He does all of the shopping now since I'm a recluse with my babies and small children.  I've always hated shopping for groceries and since we do most of our shopping at Costco...bulk is better!...who can resist all the gadgets, big box items, and clothing?  It's a one stop shop of which my espoused loves to partake.

Start with 3 lbs. of ground beef.  I have no suggestions for meat...I've done it all...grass-fed, 93/7, 80/20 (ick!), organic, ground turkey.  It's all pretty much the same to us except for the 80/20!  I like to break up the meat using 2 cups of water.  I brown the meat in the water and drain it after.

After the meat is browned, I drain off all the excess liquid.

I keep spaghetti sauce jars handy and use them as "grease" jars.  I collect the grease, freeze it in the jar, and chuck it
into the trash on Trash Day.

I then add 2 T. of flour to make the meat saucy with the spices.  For those of you who are gluten-free or are trying to be, you can just skip this step.

Just mix up the flour and meat mixture and let it cook for a little bit so the flour gets a bit toasty on the meat.

Next you can add the spices.  Here's what you've been waiting for!!  I add...

2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1/2 T. salt
1 T. minced garlic

If you are making the sauce using the rajas, you can just add about 1 cup of sauce to the meat and that should spice it up enough.  If you are grinding your own spices like our mom used to, you would use...

1 T. whole cumin
3 cloves of garlic

Pulverize these using a mortar and pestle or a molcajete if you can get your hands on one.  Add 1 T. water to the spices to make a nice little sauce before adding it to the meat.  This is a molcajete...

 It is a small bowl and stone made from volcanic rock.
A common item in every Mexican kitchen...except mine!
I have yet to add one of these to my collection of kitchen "gadgets."  I'd like to get my mom's, but I have two sisters to fight in order to make that happen.  Hee, hee!

Mix the spices right into the meat mixture and let it heat up for about 3 minutes.

Lastly, add a 1/2 cup of water to the meat and spices to make a nice, saucy taco meat mixture.

Now that you have the taco meat made, you can use it all week to make all of your non-turkey cravings...taco salads, tacos, nachos, enchiladas.  I freeze what we don't use right away.  But lately, I've just kept a container of taco meat in the fridge so the kids can make their own lunches or dinners.  Especially on a week like this one, it's nice to have some easy things in the fridge that you can throw together for yourself quickly.  I love to make taco salads using our home-canned salsa.  I wish I had a pic of that, but oops...I ate it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Of course, I'm unprepared for today's snowfall.  I always revert back to my default excuse that I didn't grow up here.  Winter was never a big deal growing up in the panhandle of Texas.  And when the snow did finally fall giving us a glimpse into winter weather, we made a big deal out of it.  My mother would scrounge around the house trying to cobble together winter outfits for us.  We never really bought winter coats.  We had warmer ski jackets, but I never owned a pair of snow pants or serious mittens.  As far as going to Mass on Sunday morning, our dad would shovel the foot and a half of sidewalk from the front door to the car and would warm up the station wagon for at least 20 minutes for the 4 block drive from our house to the church.  Ah, the good old days!  Daddy wouldn't even think of warming up the van for me and the kiddies because after all "winter builds character!"

So here I am sewing on the buttons to my winter coat because I went to a play tonight with only one button to close it.  How sad is that?  I also noticed that I still have my dry cleaning tag from last year that I never took off.  Hey, at least I had it laundered before I put it away!

I still have to locate all the snow boots and prepare myself for all the whining and complaining tomorrow morning when the kids say they don't fit.  I have located all the hats and mittens and they have dress coats for Mass.  It's interesting how you have so many of everything here in the frigid North Woods.  There are coats for rain, coats for crisp fall weather, winter dress coats for Mass and going to the symphony or a show, ski jackets for sledding and skiing of course, dress mittens, choppers for shoveling, gloves for driving, dress boots, snow boots, Sorels in case you attend an ice race, traction clogs for shoveling, dress hats, stocking caps, berets, and hats with earflaps.  I think that's why we have a larger home...not for the people but for the stuff.  I've always argued it should be the other way around!

Here's to Winter!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Fall Fun

round button chicken

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~

I was pleased to have a little time away last Saturday to attend a workshop in downtown St. Paul with a fellow homeschooler from my area.  It was the second in a series of math workshops focusing on the method behind Singapore Math.  I was reluctant to attend since Monica has completed all of the coursework for Singapore Math and is now in New Elem. Math (NEM) I.  What could I possibly have to learn from this workshop?  Pride goeth before the fall...right?  I'm so full of myself sometimes, or is that confidence?  I'm happy to say I was glad I went.  I spent the drive time with an insightful woman who is a faithful Catholic and together we spent our time in a funky downtown loft with other likeminded people.  I learned more about the method, became even more excited to continue using Singapore, and came away with some great tips for teaching the kids.  It's always good to refocus or confirm that what you're doing is a good thing.  The third workshop will be held in January again in the Coco building in downtown St. Paul.  If you're interested to know the details of that workshop you can leave a comment in the comments section of this post and I'll get back to you.  A date was set but it will come later in a post on one of my yahoo groups.  What I do know is that it will focus on fractions.

While I was away, Daddy was severely cracking the whip to get the leaves raked in the backyard.  He's always on a mission when he has a weekend off.  Look at these tired kids!


A golden pile of leaves in front of the spot where our GARDEN will go next year!!


Jane finds a happy moment on the swing.  Incredibly she learned to swing last summer when she was 2!


Silly kids in a pile of leaves.  I think Daddy was ticked about all the leaf bits in their hair and fleece!

Monica really did take all of the pictures except for this one and one other.  I think she has a good eye!

And to prove that I'm not biased about Monica's ability to take pictures, here are a few shots she snapped for a photography class she took last summer...

See more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Moments over at Like Mother, Like Daughter by clicking on the button above.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yarning Along: Maria's Socks

Here's a quick peek at a pair of socks I've been working on for Maria.  This has been a real challenge in terms of figuring out the pattern.  Well, it's finally come together after about 5 YouTube videos!

Heel flaps, turning heels, and shaping toes....what an education!  I think I'm learning more in this homeschool than the kids.  The yarn is a finger-weight sock yarn from Trekking XXL.  The color is green.  If you're interested, you can check out the specs over at my Ravelry page in my projects section.  I like the way the striping came out.

As for our read-aloud, I've been reading Whatever Happened to Justice.  This has been a lot of fun for all of us.  We've been learning about common law, encroachment, agreements, tacit agreements, and ambient encroachment.  I know it sounds boring, but the kids like the examples I give.  They're always howling with my examples.  We've also talked a bit about the rise and decline of a civilization based on free trade or the lack thereof.  I just purchased Whatever Happened to Penny Candy.  I probably should have read this one aloud first...oh well.

You can see more Yarny Creations over at Ginny's.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Vintage Sewing Patterns

round button chicken

~ Capturing the context of everyday life ~

This adorable pattern was given to me by my Mom a while back on one of our visits down to Texas.  She's my goto gal for all things vintage when it comes to sewing.  Remember she gave me this...

She also loaded me up with a lot of crochet thread for making doilies and spools of thread for my Janome Serger!  Here's another pattern that I hope to use for Jane.

I made two little tops for Jane that she loves to wear.  They were so simple to make and are cute as a button!  This is her aqua and brown top that she calls a jumper.

I love the little beige buttons.

This view shows the criss-cross in the back.

The cool thing is that my mom also made these cute little clothes for me when I was a little girl.  How sweet is that?

See more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Moments over at Like Mother, Like Daughter by clicking on the button above!

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