July is (random observations) . . .

July4

. . . hot!!!

As in “put my hair into a bun every day” hot.

I snapped the above picture after a (hot) day of cleaning, laundry, and canning pears on Monday (although I was one of the much lesser contributors to the whole canning enterprise. I was cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes after the canning, etc…) Lena is in the background, her hair also in a bun. We Donellan women are putting our hair up, people. In the words of The Dash, “Look out.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

July3

A delightfully clean bathroom. Unfortunately, I am too proud to show the “before” picture. I did send the “before” photo to The Dash, so you can rest assured that however proud I am, I’m not that proud.

July5

At one point during the canning process, they called me downstairs to factor an accurate(ish) ratio of pectin to pears, based off an online ratio table, which was oriented around 7 cups of pears per batch. We eventually discovered we were dealing with 12 cups per batch. So how much pectin would that be?? (13.5 tablespoons, more or less.)

July1

We have been canning fruit practically ever since we moved to our current home (seven years ago, this September). The builders/previous owners of this home planted blueberry bushes, horse apple trees, pear trees, and a fig tree. We were thrown into “Canning 101” when we wound up with more fruit than we could consume in cobblers. (Although we can consume a lot of cobblers, I assure you.)

Monday, Mom, Lena and youngest sister made jar after jar of Holiday Spice Pear Preserves (or pancake syrup, depending on how much pectin was used per batch; either way, a success!) . . . which are, frankly, sumptuous. Cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg heaven.

July6

Here is banana pudding, replete with milk and preservatives and rich deliciousness: once-a-year dessert finery. We always make it for one of the summer American holidays (4th of July, or Memorial Day, or Mother’s Day . . .). I’ve had the honor of making it the past couple of years. So far, it has survived me mixing the wrong ingredients together and mildly scorching the pudding. That’s what strainers are for.

However, right now *sigh* I’m done with sugar . . . I know it’s been affecting, at least somewhat, my hormonal health (or, really, lack thereof) and how I’ve been able to deal with stress. Taking it away won’t fix everything, but it will certainly improve the landscape a little!

July2

Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night โค For the curious-eyed, The Dash is wearing an apron I received for my eighteenth birthday, bearing a picture of Johnny Gage and the phrase, “Genius at Work” (a reference to theย Emergency!ย episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth ๐Ÿ™‚

July9
Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re only a few days away from our 10-month courting anniversary! Each new month is a blessing. Tuesday night, my family and I showed The Dash a treasured secret of our secluded mountain road: a fantastic yearly fireworks show on top of a nearby hill. We pull off onto the side of the road, arrange ourselves on the grass with the help of some lawn chairs, and soak in the display like villagers watching castle parties from afar. At first, we thought They (The Party People) would be setting off the fireworks last Saturday night, but after pulling off the side of the road and listening to the frogs croak for an hour with nary an explosion, The Dash was (understandably) rather skeptical of their existence (the fireworks, that is–not the frogs). Fortunately we were able to regain his faith ๐Ÿ˜‰

july7-e1530809377946.jpg

 

There is a beautiful (if intense) 54-day novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii that fell into my lap only a few days ago, thanks to a friend emailing me this homily.ย It is challenging, consoling and uplifting–and, as with all things under God’s Providence, perfectly timely. The whole text is here.

Yesterday I took some time to read a little of the story of the origins of devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii, along with the story of Blessed Bartolo Longo,ย as well as prepare a long list of intentions for this novena. Something that’s dawned on me is that, the greater your intentions, the greater your suffering or anxiety or desires . . . the greater your prayers should often be. Prayer is our most powerful recourse, and it should grow in proportion to our needs.

July11

And finally, a walk this morning! Much-needed and very brisk. I somehow managed to walk to the cadence of two poems the entire time, mumbling them under my breath . . . hopefully I didn’t look too insane . . .

July8

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now, far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.

July10

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .

A blessed feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to you all, and happy Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig

Advertisements

7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 13 :: Resuming life

JMJ1

MondayTakes

Enjoy previous rambling installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

1.

cuttingcake
My parents cutting their lovely anniversary cake, made & decorated by Lena. Picture taken by my brother ๐Ÿ™‚

Two weeks ago, we prepared for and celebrated my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, and it was both a lovely and exhausting stretch of days in which I gained a big dose of party planning/coordinating experience . . . last week, thusly, was mental recovery week. Today proved to be recovery day from recovery week, especially in the region of my half of the bedroom, which had become a positive landing zone and, while not exactly messy, was cluttered. I did begin by wiping out the family microwave, since a miniature explosion had occurred there recently. But eventually I retreated into mine and my sister’s bedroom and went to war ๐Ÿ˜‰

At long last, I situated all my tutoring supplies into their bin; I stashed away bags of handmade party decorations; I sorted books and shelves, finally updated all my monthly calendars, plowed through the Mines of Moria (also known as my desk drawer), went walking by the lake for an hour with mom and siblings, came home, cleaned off my desk, dusted and vacuumed nearly every surface, and have now collapsed with immense satisfaction. There is nothing so domestically marvelous as sitting in a dusted, vacuumed, de-cluttered space ๐Ÿ˜€

2.

May is already winding down . . . and getting hotter . . . we’ve seemingly already entered our summer weather pattern down here of hot, muggy days with scattered thunderstorms at any time. But there has also been plenty of sunshine and breeziness to keep things nice.

Around the house, schoolwork has largely wrapped up for the school year and tomorrow, most likely, will be the first day of celebratory swimming with The Dash’s family ๐Ÿ™‚

3.

I have been compiling a list of summer goals . . . some smaller, some bigger, some random, some obvious. One goal, however, is to brainstorm and figure out how to blog more consistently about courtship (and eventually, God-willing, betrothal and wedding planning) topics . . . so we’ll see what happens here starting early summer!

4.

The Dash and I were messaging earlier about automotive troubles, and in the course of our conversation he gallantly asked me if I were looking as beautiful as ever . . . I replied that I was in workout clothes, holding a can of furniture polish, and that I had mildly frizzy hair, so I would leave him with that mental image in order to make a decision.

I presume it is natural for any person to default towards putting a nice photo of themselves on their blog. Being sanguine, I am particularly geared towards appearances and impressions (which holds its own mixed bag of potential virtues and inherent vices, but that’s for another post . . .)

Not that I am a frequent selfie-taker, but it seems to me that a self-taken photo revealing your current post-cleaning state prods one a little more towards virtue than a selfie when you are all fixed up. I did have to pull in the cherry blossom cup (a lovely gift from one of my students!) to add a little femininity, though ๐Ÿ˜› Here’s to cleaning and to enjoying it!

WIN_20180521_14_40_46_Pro

5.

Currently, we are in the few-weeks-long break between the end of The Dash’s semester and the beginning of his summer internship . . . it’s like one huge holiday and has been so wonderful so far to spend extra time with him! ๐Ÿ™‚ Time truly is a gift from God, and when you are able to live it well and full with those you love, it becomes a joy!

6.

For most of this blog post, I have been clicking back and forth between my internet browser and my graphic design software as I attempt to finish up one of three jobs lined up for me to complete by the end of next month, and get the final products off to be printed. It might not make for the most coherent of posts, but, hey, I’m multitasking ๐Ÿ˜‰

7.

The FSSP ordinations are this Saturday, May 26th, streaming live from LiveMass.net! God-willing, Lena and I will be able to watch them! What beautiful memories from last year, and what spiritual joy.

http://fssp.com/wp-content/uploads/2018-Ordination-Flyer.pdf

Have a lovely rest of your Monday!

Sig

Labora (A Woman at Home Post)

The_Lady_Clare

Happy feast day of Pope St. Julius! ๐Ÿ™‚

It just occurred to me how easy it is for me to cheerfully describe the joys and interests of life as a young woman at home. The Faith, family life, courtship life, friendship, tutoring, femininity . . . all of these things absolutely delight me. Writing about happinesses and about blessings is so necessary, and is the default for the sanguine, I’m thinking.

But . . . womanhood at home is hard, too. It is work. Labora. It is labor–the labor of pursuing virtue, the labor of struggle, and of making choices between little things, in which reside either heaven or hell. I am slowly learning that, if choosing young womanhood at home means choosing joy (which it does), it also means choosing labor, struggle, and sometimes suffering. If remaining at home (by which I mean in the family atmosphere) augments that which is beautiful about being feminine, it also emphasizes that which is most difficult. If it enriches a girl’s natural good inclinations, it also sharply highlights her habitual failings. It isn’t my nature to bring difficult things to the forefront . . . and yet they are there, nonetheless! Choosing to remain a young woman at home is simultaneously very beautiful and quite hard.

In my life right now, labora means something like these things . . .

It means battling for the heroic minute. It means rolling over in bed, turning off the alarm, and confronting Self lying in the bed beside me, fuzzily whispering at me not to get up, because I need rest, because last night was a late night, because today will be a long day–or, at least, because I can simply lie here and rest briefly without going back to sleep. I’ve chosen to be home, I don’t have “a job,” so why get up until I want to? It means mumbling through the Regina Caeli, it means wrestling with myself. It means getting up . . . or failing to.

It means going downstairs and finding dimness, chilliness (if the morning is cool), and observing the silhouettes of scattered throw pillows and unfolded blankets and other little piles from family time the night before. It means turning on the lamps (and the heat) and straightening things up (one of my chores here at home). It means making coffee if I forgot to assemble it the night before. It means either fully waking up to my good mood (fortunately, I usually wake up happy in the morning, or at least peaceful!), or dealing with an unexpected groggy/cranky/stressed mood and contemplating how I’ll present myself to my siblings and mother when they get up (my dad already being gone to work). Sometimes it means practicing my expression and my words for when they’ll walk into the kitchen.

And then it means kneeling down and offering my full morning prayers, which normally seem at least slightly longer than I have initial willpower for. It means either persevering, or cutting them short with some excuse that seems quite reasonable. It means sometimes getting consolations: sometimes not. It means fighting the imperfections in my prayer, those mainly of distraction. And then it means either choosing spiritual reading, or reading up on my phone. And then it means having breakfast and either being generous with my time towards my newly awakened siblings, or not so generous and rather distracted. It means choosing to watch Mass if I have legitimate time for it, or postponing it “just a little while.” It means starting my laundry or waiting an hour. It means embarking on my work and various obligations, or peeking at blogs. It means adhering to a hierarchy of daily priorities, or randomly following whatever is my newest interest or desire. It means choosing work first or choosing leisure first.

It means choosing to deny myself something small throughout the day, or simply eating whenever I want to. It means giving my attention and care to a sibling who is hungry for a little time, or finding an excuse to get back to the computer. It means embracing the present work with contentment and purpose, or it means constantly living in futuristic expectation of what may never come.

It means going out for my tutoring work, but coming home again and–despite my lack of energy–making up for all the time I’ve spent away from a family who misses me. It means choosing cheer and not tired reclusiveness; it means choosing the funny stories instead of the vague details.

It means scrubbing algae out of a shower, getting soggy food scraps out of the sink, folding underwear, rubbing shoulders.

It means crying from hormones; it means hugging someone else who is crying for the same reason; it means offering to cook or clean or assist with school when I really don’t want to, and before I’m asked; it means being patient when someone else is having a bad day; it means making someone’s bed when they deserve to make it themselves. It means trying to use my feminine intuition to sense if someone needs to talk, needs a shoulder to cry on, needs a break, needs a defender, needs a helper, needs a joke-maker, needs a prayer . . . although sometimes it might feel like I’m the one who needs these things. It means choosing to accept sicknesses and potential medical issues with trust, and prudently combating them when to not combat them is far easier.

It means using my funds unselfishly when I want to save it all from the motivation of having security: putting gas in the car, buying someone a snack. It means serving when I am tired; it means choosing against irritation. It means remembering to pray whenever, wherever I or someone else is in need, especially spiritually. It means imitating Our Lady when all I want is a fuzzy sweater, a bar of chocolate, and a bed to curl up in. Sometimes, if there must be a choice, it means dressing modestly instead of comfortably, or instead of what appears to be slightly cuter or newer or just simply different when all your clothes begin to appear the same to you. It means eventually leaving my hair alone and choosing to leave the mirror. It means defending the purity of my thoughts and resolving, again and again, that reason would rule emotion.

In family, in friendship, in courtship, it means having conversations I don’t want to have. It means being honest when I would rather not be honest. It means forgiving and guiding and listening and submitting. It means developing my femininity concretely through tasks, through creativity, through reading . . . without being lazy and without being guided solely by my own whims. Again, it means remembering and choosing to pray forย  grace.

Most of all, sometimes, it means choosing (through an act of will!) to not be wistful or even envious towards someone who is ahead of me; of young women who are married to their beloveds and building homes and raising children of their own. It means absorbing and enjoying the pictures and words of others that capture the beauty of traditional life and of virtue so well . . . and yet being mindful that life is far more than pictures and words. It means striving to be compassionate and encouraging, choosing just the right words for those who are not even where I am. It means not settling for where I am in my own courtship, but striving to become a better woman for God’s sake, and the sake of the wonderful man who asked me to court him!

So yes . . . labora can mean all these things for a young woman at home . . . and far beyond. It really is simply the Christian calling; it is the laying down of one’s life, it is the carrying of the Cross. It is always a battle for virtue and holiness–for me, specifically, it always seems to boil down to a battle against laziness, against a day that is steered by what I want to do, instead of what I should do. May God give me renewed grace to combat my faults, and let us all pray for one another!

But even with all these difficulties and trials, my life as a young woman at home has had, and continues to have, beauties and graces that far exceed the struggle! Again and again, Chesterton’s words breeze into my mind, filled with truth and with challenge:

“Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one massive narrowness โ€“ a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of mono-maniacs.”

Indeed, being a woman at homeย demandsย that she becomes broad, broad in virtue and in heart! And what a beautiful thing that is ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig

Recipes for Fasting Bread and Hot Cross Buns

_MG_2930 (2)

_MG_2995 (2)_MG_3008 (2)

Good Friday, a required day of fasting and abstinence, and Holy Saturday (traditionally a day of penance) are wonderful opportunities to eat foods that are symbolic both of the culmination of Lent, and of Christ’s Passion.

While this week’s plans aren’t set in stone yet (are they ever? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), in years past we have made both fasting bread and hot cross buns for Holy Week, specifically for Good Friday and Holy Saturday (we had a lot of fasting bread during the first few weeks of Lent this year, and then stored the rest in the freezer for this purpose). Hot Cross buns are especially traditional for Good Friday, by the way ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lena is our baker par excellence!

Below are links to both recipes:

Fasting Bread

Hot Cross Buns

(And if there are leftovers, you can freeze them to have for the next Ember Days, which would be the Embertide after Pentecost!)

God bless you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig

A Holy Thursday Meal for the Traditional Catholic Family

For a very long time now, thanks to the efforts of my wonderful mother, our family has had a symbolic, prayerful meal on Holy Thursday (almost always before Mass), one that evokes some of the old basic elements of a Jewish Seder, but most certainly Christianized (for lack of a better term). I would say we’ve been having one for nearly ten years; it is very much a part of my mind when I think of Holy Thursday, and something I hope to continue whenever I’m blessed with a home of my own.

Originally sourced from a Catholic Culture article, our Holy Thursday meal has morphed and been modified several times over the years, but this year–our second Holy Week after beginning to attend Latin Mass–, Mom felt it called for another more considered overhaul in light of the traditions of our Faith that we are continually learning of. Today was the day for that “tweaking” and I thought I would post it here for anyone interested in catching a glimpse of what we do. I really do hope to take pictures of it, as well, although I can’t promise . . .

The elements of our meal includeย pita bread (heated and wrapped in a clean cloth), horseradish, parsley sprigs, salt water, applesauce, roasted meat (lamb this year, for the first time ever!),ย wine and juice, another starch (usually mashed potatoes), a vegetable (usually green beans), and a white cake (or cupcakes, as it will be this year).

The table is set with a white tablecloth, candles, and our best dishware. There is an aura of solemnity, reverence, and yet excitement, since it’s our most singular family meal of the entire year.

The questions and answers are arranged for the number of people at our meal this year, but this can easily be changed depending on the size of the family. Also, if the children are younger (my baby sister is almost 13!), the reflections could, and should, certainly be simplified to make it more accessible to the family!

And while it’s a reverent meal, talking between the reflections isn’t disallowed by any means ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Holy Thursday Meal

All stand quietly around the table. The mother of the family, who supervised the making of the meal and the beautifying of the kitchen, now lights the candles, which symbolize the Light of Christ.

All make the Sign of the Cross as the father of the family, standing at the head of the table, begins the Introit for the evening’s Mass:

Father: โ€œBut it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by Whom we are saved and delivered. May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us; and may He have mercy on us. But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by Whom we are saved and delivered.โ€

Then he leads his family in the Blessing Before Meals:

All: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

All sit. The father unwraps the pita bread from the cloth and passes a piece to each family member.

Father: Why do we eat unleavened bread tonight?

Mother: We eat unleavened bread to recall the Passover, in which the Israelite slaves ate unleavened bread before their flight from Egypt. We eat it to recall Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Passover through His Passion and Death, and through His institution of the most Holy Eucharist: the Bread of Heaven which gives life to our souls.

We see the absence of leaven, and we contemplate Christ’s meekness and humility. We look at the stripes on the unleavened bread, and we contemplate Christ’s bloody scourging. โ€œHe was wounded for our transgressions: He was bruised for our sins, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.โ€

All taste a small bite of the pita.

Father: Why do we eat horseradish tonight?

Child/Person # 1: We eat horseradish to recall the bitterness of the Israelites’ slavery to Pharaoh, and of mankind’s slavery to sin, out of which Christ redeemed us by His Precious Blood. He took the bitterness of our sins upon Himself during His Agony, Passion and Death.

We taste the bitterness of the horseradish and renew our desire for a pure life. We resolve to go frequently to Confession, that we may always be free from sin.

All taste the horseradish.

Father: Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight, and why do we dip them twice?

Child/Person #2: We eat bitter herbs to recall how the Israelites, on Passover, used hyssop branches to mark the lintels of their doorposts with the blood of the lamb. We recall how Christ, on the Cross, took His bitter last drink on a hyssop branch. We are reminded of how hyssop represents, to us, new life. โ€œThou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.โ€

We dip the herbs once in salt water to recall the tears shed by the Israelites in slavery, by mankind in sin, and by Our Lord and His Blessed Mother during His sorrowful Passion.

All dip the herbs in salt water and taste.

Child/Person #3: We dip the herbs in sweet applesauce to recall the sweetness of Christ’s ransom for us. Mankind fell by the fruit of a tree; and yet mankind was redeemed by Christ, the Fruit of Mary’s womb, Who hung upon the Tree.

As we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, we hope in Christ’s infinite goodness and promises.

All dip the herbs in applesauce and taste.

Father: Why do we eat lamb tonight?

Child/Person #4: We eat lamb to recall that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Through His Passion and Death, He perfectly fulfilled the prefigurement of the unblemished Passover Lamb.

โ€œHe was offered because it was His own will, and He opened not His mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter and shall be dumb as a lamb before His shearer, and He shall not open His mouth.โ€

โ€œBlessing and honor, glory, and power unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, Who hath redeemed us to God by His blood, for ever and ever. Amen.โ€

All taste a small bite of the lamb. Then the other foods are served.

Mother: We eat these remaining foods to also remember Christ’s Passion. The potatoes are bruised and mashed, just as Christ was crushed and bruised for our sins; and yet they are hearty and give us strength, just as Christ’s Passion gives us strength for our spiritual warfare. We drink wine and juice to recall the shedding of Christ’s Precious Blood, and to remind us that He is the Vine, and we must bear fruit in Him. These vegetables give us nourishment and strength, just as Christ’s Passion teaches us to strive for virtues with perseverance and courage.

Everyone eats and enjoys the full meal. Finally, the father asks:

Father: Why do we eat round, white cakes tonight?

Child/Person #5: We eat round, white cakes to recall the marvelous gift of Christ’s institution of the Holy Priesthood at the Last Supper. The cakes are small, because Christ humbled Himself in washing His disciple’s feet, giving us an example of meekness and servitude.

Our holy priests impart to us the sweetness of Eternal Life through the Holy Mass, through the Sacraments, and through a life of heroic virtue, sacrifice and purity.

โ€œHe shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old and in the ancient years: saith the Lord almighty.โ€

Father: Let us pray for our holy priests.

A moment of silence. Then, the father prays aloud the Collect from the morning’s Chrism Mass:

Father: Lord God, Who dost use the ministry of priests in regenerating Thy people: grant us persevering subjection to Thy will, so that Thy people who have been consecrated to Thee may by the gift of Thy grace increase in our day in merits and in number. Through Our Lord.

All: Amen. O Lord, grant us priests. O Lord, grant us holy priests. O Lord, grant us many holy priests.

All enjoy the cakes. Afterwards, the father leads his family in the final prayer:

All: We give thee thanks, Almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Father: Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

All: May they rest in peace. Amen.

Father: A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, saith the Lord. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.

All: May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us. Amen.

God bless you all! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig