Monday, September 29, 2014

Raphaelmas: I Want You to Be a Thing, Too.

Today we've got lots of plans.  It's the feast of the three archangels mentioned in Scripture:  Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.  Our  little Michael has been looking forward to his feast day for months.  He gets a pass from lessons and at the current moment is painstakingly setting the dining room table up to be all sorts of fancy for our dinner tonight.

I love St. Michael.  Obviously.  We wouldn't have named our kid after him if he weren't kind of important to us.  He's had our back so many times over the years and we ask for his protection for our family every day.  

But instead of talking about Michael today, I kind of want to talk a little bit about poor neglected Raphael.  Raphael, the patron of this blog, a patron of our family, and whose name in Hebrew means It is God Who Heals, is one of my all-time favorite intercessors.  He is the best.  Patron of healing, marriage, travelers, happy meetings, and more, he found me about seven years ago when I needed him desperately.  Des-per-ate-ly.  His story is found in the book of Tobit and even if you aren't Catholic and don't recognize the book as canon, I encourage you to read it.  The story is absolutely beautiful.  It's dramatic and weird and engaging and mind-blowing when you ponder the meaning behind it.  A very long story waaaay abridged:  the archangel disguised as the man Azarias guides Tobiah on his journey protecting him from a demon, healing his father from blindness (using fish guts!), and convincing Tobiah to wed Sara and freeing her from the demon who had been killing each of her seven previous grooms on their wedding night.  The story is an amazing account of the work of this messenger of God and how God longs to heal us in all the ways and is so very concerned with the details of our lives.  The book contains one of the most beautiful and simple prayers of holy married love.

This great archangel found me at a time when I was quite near broken.  I felt lost, alone, and we were in desperate need of healing in our marriage from all sorts of demons of our own.  I was so close to giving it all up, my heart a shattered mess.  I began attending a daily Mass several times a week at a brand new parish about twenty minutes from our home.  The parish was named St. Raphael.  While standing next to a stunning statue of the patron, the resident priest gave me a small book about his story, his intercession, and his work.  I didn't know anything about him.  I read it and was hooked.

I claimed him as a patron for our family and our marriage and feel sure that his intercession was critical to the healing we have experience in our marriage and within each of us individually.  Only a straight up angel of God could've pulled us out of the mess we were in.  Who knows, maybe I can someday convince the husband to let me use the name on a potential kiddo as a small thank you.  

Today I'm remembering again how much Raphael has done for us.  I'm grateful for the protection and guidance he has given to our family and I'm asking for his intercession even more.  I encourage you, especially those who are desperate, those who feel on the brink of losing everything and who need healing, be it physical, mental, emotional, or in relationships, to reach out to this one of seven who stands before the throne of God and discover the power of Raphael, Healer of God.

Due to the story in Tobit, Raphael is claimed patron of (ready for this list?):
Christian Marriage
Single People
Young People
Happy Meetings
Mental Illness
Medical Workers

St. Raphael, Healer of God, pray for us.

"I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One."
Tobit 12:15

Our dinner tonight includes angel hair pasta, pan fried tilapia (fish for Raphael!), and, of course, our Devil's Food Cake in honor of Saint Michael.  I suppose it's Gabriel's turn to be neglected because I couldn't come up with anything for him :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What a Hay Fight Won't Show You

An early evening hay fight


It won't show you the fit of the toddler, the sharp words spoken in anger just a short time before, or the month long overgrown grass beyond.

You can't see the temper lost, the laundry waiting to be washed, or hear the shrieks of the child who seems he will never ever learn the concept of normal volume.  

It won't show you the disappointing day, the mess under the table, or the heart grieving old wounds and the current salt sprinkling in.


A fight in the hay won't show you the diaper in desperate need of a change, the cobwebs of the coop, or the tears behind the camera.

It can't show you the whispers of doubt, the growing confession list, or the many many weeds growing all around. 


An early evening fight in the hay won't show you the bickering of before or the whining when it's time to go inside.

What a fight in the hay will show you are glimpses of happy eked out of a day of rough.

It will show you a set of blue gray eyes that melt a mother's heart when she takes the time to actually look into them.

It can be the reminder a mother needs that her failures are no match for His grace.

A fight in the hay will show you silliness and smiles and moments that must be captured so that she doesn't forget the truth.

It can bring a perspective of gratitude to a heart that struggles to see.

It will show you an exhausted effort to see the work of grace amidst the struggle of daily life and how adorable those muddy boots are from behind a lens.

It will show you moments - however brief - of joy pulled from a draining and difficult day.

A fight in the hay can show you that once in a while they actually do enjoy, revel really, and give you a tiny glance of the incomparable gift of a sibling.

It will show you the smile you thought was lost and bring a small seed of hope to a doubting mother's soul.

It will remind you of the joy of chickens and boys and breathing fresh air.

A fight in the hay can show you the gifts that are right in front of your eyes and remind you once again that it may all be worth it after all.

And what could be more {real} than that?

Linking up for {phfr} at Like Mother, Like Daugher.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Room for the Mud and the What Became of the Spilled Paint

Want to see what came of it?
That little episode started us on finally painting the mudroom.
It's not one of those gorgeous mudrooms that you're going to see on Pinterest.  Not even a little bit.  It's a regular old mudroom that actually sees a whole lot of real nitty gritty full of dirtiness mud.  But I want to show it anyway because...well, I blog, and that's what I do.

Here's the before pic taken before we had even put in an offer on this casa which was a whole five years ago:
It's a weird u-shape so it's nearly impossible to take pictures.  But that doesn't stop me from showing them anyway, now does it?  Paneling, chipped paint, holes in the walls, stanky carpet of grossness, and various debris.  And there's the door to the moldy cellar of doom.  That spot where that metal shelf is was where we kept the washer and dryer for a few years after we moved in and before we redid the laundry.  The room isn't heated or insulated so that made for some cold laundry-doing and also some frozen pipes.  So that's what it looked like.

And then Luke spilled the paint a few months ago and we finally decided to make this room a bit more of a pleasant place to be. 

In process and by the grace of God no tears.  This was right after he had spilled the paint.  John Paul had sprayed off a wedgewood blue Luke in the tub and I was scraping paint from the puddle on the steps and putting it right on the wall.  In hindsight, it actually was a convenient place to spill a near half gallon of paint.  Note the handprints on the door frame...  John Paul apparently felt that the moment called for some capturing.

Anyway.  This is what we have now:

I'm always amazed at what a coat of paint can do!  This blue was a five dollar gallon of clearanced "oops!" paint at Lowe's.  Five dollars.  I do like the blue.  Darker than what I would probably have picked but I did mention five dollars, right?  We replaced the rotting carpet with some cheapy stuff (the same stuff we used for the laundry so now it's all matchy matchy).  It will get wet, yes, and gross, yes, but that's why we went with the cheapy stuff.  We tried our hand at tiling once in a former home and hated it.  And a hard floor in a mudroom means mopping.  So much mopping and so much hating of the mopping.  I'd much rather vacuum any day.

Remember this shelf I got for FREEEEEEE when God spoke to me in the garbage?
I love that I could rearrange the shelves to go around the window and that I could make a bunch of tiny shelves for the so so many shoes.  Not gonna lie, it may look pretty but all those boy shoes can make the place a bit offensive on the olfactory front.  Yay windows!

We live in the type of climate where all the types of shoes are needed almost all year long.  I suppose I'll be able to put away the sandals soon, at least, but then they're replaced by the snow boots.

It was near impossible to take a good picture in here because of the dark lighting so apologies for that.  In this corner you can see my beloved vacuum and my doula stuff.

Around the other side of the U is the freezer.  Which makes far more sense here than the washer and dryer.  And it's a freezer so it can probably be super cold and be okay, right?  (Don't tell me if that's wrong.)  I love my freezer.  Also, perfect birth ball storage.  Obviously.

Brian put in these simple 1x4's with peg hooks (i.e. dowels) and I love them.  They'd probably look cuter if I like staged them with an umbrella and some slightly worn but pretty gardening gloves and a straw hat.  But this is what it actually looks like and it's a lovely lovely thing to me that it helps organize all the things.

So that's our mudroom.  It ain't winning any Pinterest awards but I am so grateful that it's no longer an ugly scary place to be and that it is the perfect place for all the mud and debris that's picked up nearly every day all day by four little boys and a hard working husband living on a flood zoned tree-filled property.  Because let me tell you that makes for a whole lot of mud.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

His ways are always love.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts."

It was almost like I was the only one in the church and God was speaking directly and only to me this morning.  

Mary.  You don't know what I am doing.  You don't know where this is going.  You don't know how it will all work out.  
You don't need to.  Just stop already.  Stop.  Stop doing My job and rest in the fact that it's all part of My big beautiful glorious plan.  A plan that is far beyond anything you can reason, understand, analyze, or wrap that little head around.  It's all love.

I like to know things.  I have a craving to understand a situation and what God may be doing through all of it.  I am the analyzer of analyzers and I find peace and faith in reason and sorting a topic out and mulling it around over and over in my head.  Sometimes, though, when there are no clear answers, when the topic involves the messiness of human relationships or the muck of sin or answers that are higher than the heavens, I get stuck.  There is a temptation to feel like God is holding out on me.  

Lord, if You would just EXPLAIN Yourself, that'd be great and I could go along with it much more easily, You know.

It comes from a good place.  I love Him.  I love His creation.  I am in continuous awe of the way He has designed us and all of creation.  I am fascinated that He knows every atom of every molecule of every cell and that this crazy wonderful universe is so perfectly ordered for life.  I want to know more of the how of His work and even more so the why.  I want to know how this whole humanity thing is going to play out and why that has to be in such a messy messy way.  I love trying to see how He may be working in the intricacies of my life.  He designed us to wonder and reflect and study and know.

It's good to ponder His work. But at a certain point we will get to a point where we just can't understand it.  It's far beyond anything we can grasp at this point.  It takes humility, a humility He is constantly pulling me toward, that recognizes not that there are no answers but there are plenty of answers that are too big for me right now.

Lord, WHY are you doing this?
Lord, this makes no sense.
Lord, how can anything good come from this pain?
Lord, I'm pretty sure it would work much better if You did it THIS way.

One of the things I look forward to in heaven is having all the questions answered and even more so looking back on this crazy journey of earth and seeing the beautiful tapestry that was created with all the threads we understood woven in with all the ones we didn't.  I've been laughed at before for that. Oh, you won't care about all that when you're in heaven.  I disagree.  I think we will better be able to glorify Him when we see how He worked and how at every single intricate moment and in every single intricate detail it was Love at work all the time.  I think we will care about looking back on our story and seeing just how amazing His plan was through all of it, though at the time His ways were so far beyond our understanding.  We are a people with roots, with a story beginning in time but extending into eternity.  I don't think this is all some big charade until the "real" stuff begins. I think this is the real stuff, all part of the story, as high and unfathomable as it might be in the moment.  In the fullness of time I think we will rejoice and be in awe of just how real it all was and how involved our God was in every messy and confusing circumstance so that we could finally reach Him, our Beloved, waiting at the altar.

But until that day when all days are fulfilled, I find peace in surrendering what I do not know.  I will keep on seeking and knowing and reveling in the ways that I see Him work.  But when my mind is too small or my hurt too great, I will choose to have faith in a God whose plans are always for my good and never for my ill, despite how muddled or stinging they may be.  I will choose to trust in the One who has proven His trustworthiness countless times over and I will surrender the unknowing to Him.

He is here.  He is working in that situation that seems irredeemable.  He is bigger than the pain that is bleeding your heart right now.  He knows the confusion and the knots and the drama and the wounds. When all things are made clear we will know again that His ways our not our ways but His ways are always always Love.

{Sunday Scripture Snapshots}

Friday, September 19, 2014

Seven Quick Takes With Sundae in Hand

While I'm sitting here at home indulging in a bit of caramel sundae, my husband is out running a 5K with some friends.  So there's that.  Gotta balance it all out somehow.  I should probably do some diastasis recti exercises or something just so I don't feel too losery.  Instead it's a perfect time for the randomness of Quick Takes, am I right?

A couple of the boys are down with colds.  One is, shall we say, less than valiant in the face of a common cold and has been on the couch all day.  Another two just had a quick less than 24 hour stuffy/runny nose but have been playing the whole time.   And one has remained unaffected.  Here's hoping the raw honey, pulsatilla, vitamin C, and colloidal silver are doing their thing.  It was a good reminder to order my stash of elderberries for the cold and flu season so I did just that this morning.  We had such a great run health-wise last year and I think much of that was due to our little regimen.

I am going to risk losing the pop culture respect of dozens of people but I'm just going to come out and admit I have a few, how shall we say, issues with the whole All About the Bass and America's love affair with the song.  I know, I song, can't get it out of my head, good beat, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But let's not pretend that the song lyrics are not completely self-contradictory, right?

This article talks more about it and she goes a little farther than I would but makes some great points about the message as well as the video itself.
 "Again, the message isn’t really, “I have value, even though I don’t fit the mold I’ve been told I should fit,” but, “I have value, in fact I have more value than some other women who don’t share my body type, because I’m the one a heterosexual man should be attracted to.”"
I know.  Don't hate me.  Just a treble trying to find the love.
(P.S. Language warning if you do click over and read.  And kudos to Mary for sharing it!)

Do you have a Trader Joe's near you?  If you do, next time you're there, get these:

So good.  I mean, yeah, they're not as healthy as like fresh snap peas or anything but a great snack that feels like you're indulging but aren't all that horrible for you and are good for packing in the lunch bag?  I'm good with that.  And they have a bunch of fiber and protein and iron and magnesium and all sorts of other vitamins but you don't even realize it because like I said, so good.

So.  Did you hear the one about the thirty-somethingish girl who was trying to be all "fun" and "play volleyball" with some friends and was like "yeah, I can dive for that ball" and in doing so twisted her already ACL-less knee to the sound of a chilling pop and has been hobbling around for two weeks?  No?

It's a good one.
The good news is that I can almost bend it all the way again and don't anymore resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame whilst going up and down the stairs.  Oh, and because of our STELLAR insurance that now rots due to all the new regulations of our lovely president and all his "let's make health care more less accessible" I chose not to get it checked out and pay whatever crazy bills we'd end up getting.  Here's hoping it all heals just fine without those silly doctor people.  Who needs them anyway?

Tortilla Face Break:

Is it really lame to tell you that we're getting a new garage door?  Probably but I don't even care because things like that get me all excited.
New garage door!  Squeeee!   (Which is more the sound the old garage door makes than the sound I'm really making right now.)

Oh, wait.  I thought of something better to talk about!  Edel!  So, not gonna lie, wasn't thrilled with the Charleston choice because that's still all far and such but THEN I saw that Southwest flies to Charleston from Buffalo and maybe, just maybe, if the flights are cheap enough, I could get there with some of the miles we've stored up through them?  Maybe?  It doesn't look like it's one of their direct cheapie flights but there is hope.  Maybe they'll have one of their sales or something.  We shall see...if God wants it, I'm sure He'll remind the decision makers at Southwest that they've got to make it happen.

  Alrighty.  Back to my regularly scheduled sundae.

Linking it on up with the Quick Taker herself, Madame Jen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Knitting, Reading, and a Prayer Request

Last year I happened upon a copy of Four Stories by Sigrid Undset at a used book sale at the library.  I grabbed it right away having recently finished and having loved Kristin Lavransdatter and I tucked it away to be read later.  I just now finished the third story and man.  I was really hoping for them to click with me more.  They remind me of Flannery or Dorothy Parker.  A bit too depressing and not enough resolution for this non-intellectual who usually needs a bit of help seeing the full glass.  They're the kind of stories where they end and you're like, "Wait.  That's it?  Everyone is just sad??"  And then you feel sad, too, and like there was probably some deeper meaning and plot line that you totally missed and need your eleventh grade English teacher to flesh out for you.  So that was disappointing.  But I, ever the one who must finish a project, will read the last one and maybe, just maybe, I'll like that one more.  I do plan on getting Undset's biography of St. Catherine of Siena soon and working my way through that.  At least I know how that one ends.

I just finished two newborn hats using all organic cotton scrap yarn from my stash and tried my hand a bit more at striping.  These are for some doula babies I hope to be meeting in a few weeks!  Now I have to get working on something extra special for a brand new nephew who was born a few days ago!!  Welcome sweet baby Keaton!  We are thrilled that you're here and can't wait until we get to meet you! 

And hey, if y'all could pray for a young man named Paul whose cancer has returned and who is a brand new dad to the sweetest little baby girl, I'd really be grateful.  Lord Jesus, please please heal Paul.  Thank you, friends!

Linking with Ginny for Yarn Along!

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Month in Boys :: September 2014

(Preemptory bad photo warning.  I do not know what is going on with my camera but apparently it and focusing are on bad terms right now.)

John Paul

-in response to my question of what he would like to do this fall immediately replied,
"Go to Cuba."
(He meant the Caribbean.  Not that that clarifies anything but I'm relieved to know there aren't any commie-sympathizers in this house.)
-felt pretty cool riding his first jet ski.  He has plans to own one in the future.
-is taking biology and painting at a local learning center once a week.
-asked the other day at what age he would be allowed to own a machete.
-has been really interested in looking up all sorts of local nature (especially birds) in his field guide and teaching us all what they are.
-has already decided that he would like to be St. Anthony for All Saints' Day.
-says his favorite thing about fall is jumping in the leaves and collecting chestnuts.  (They can be made into conkers, you know.)


- requested, "Can I have some more food, Mama?  I need to get fatter so I can wear a watch."  (It's true.)
-has been extra snuggly and physically affectionate lately.  Soaking it in.
-has decided he would like to be a priest when he grows up.
-is taking biology, history, and singing classes at a local learning center.
-loves helping me cook dinner and breakfast.
-has been slowly learning a little bit of piano from John Paul...but would still rather take guitar.
-has opted for St. Francis for All Saints'...gonna love making two matching habits!
-thinks playing in the leaves and making leaf forts is the best part of fall.


-went to work with Papa a few weeks ago and was thrilled.
-learned to ride a two-wheeler!
-never ever remembers to take off his bike helmet and I'll see him in the house several hours after riding still wearing it.
-has been wearing a yellow bow tie to Mass.  It's the cutest.
-is part of a once a week pre-k and science class at a local learning center.
-has decided that purple has now triumphed over green as the favorite color.
-begs to do his lessons every day.  He's working (slowly) on first grade math, learning to read, and handwriting.
-is very excited this fall "to catch the leaves when they come falling down.  And what Michael said."


-says "I can't know" when he means "I don't know."  So adorable.
-is my first toddler who will look you in the face, disobey with a grin, and run away.
-is intentionally asked questions that he will say yes to because he has the cutest inflection when he says "mmmhmmm!"
-wakes up at 6 a.m. every day and hangs with Papa upstairs while I get to have some quiet time downstairs.
-two words:  Nap. Strike.
-besides being the impiest imp there ever was he is also fantastically cute and makes us laugh even when he's being naughty.
-needs his mother to catch him on video singing Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips.  It's hysterical.
-likes to "catch ropes" in the fall.
Mama:  "Do you mean catch leaves?"
L:  "No, catch ropes."
Alrighty then.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Orange Honey Chicken for the Honey-Tongued Saint

St. John Chrysostom's preaching was so grace-filled and effective that they called him the "honey-tongued" saint.   So, perfect day to bring in a little honey to the menu, right?  There are so so many easy  ways to add a touch of honey to your day as a super simple way to honor this saint and doctor of the Church.  Honey on toast, honey over apples, peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch (that's what the boys have every. single. day. and no one is allowed to ever tell them that other people have different things for lunch each day.  Ever.).  We love our honey over here so much so that there is discussion in the house of venturing into beekeeping next year!  I'm pretty psyched about it.  Anyway, today in honor of his feast, we had one of my husband's fave meals, orange honey chicken.  SO simple and quick but super tasty, plus if you use a good organic ketchup, it's all real food ingredients so win all around.

Orange Honey Chicken


1-2 lbs. boneless chicken breast (or any boneless part) cut in chunks
2 tbsp. flour
olive oil for browning
4 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate (half the container)
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. salt


Mix together orange juice concentrate, honey, vinegar, ketchup, and salt.  Set aside.  Coat your chicken pieces in the flour.  Saute in heated skillet in several tbsp. olive oil.  
Once chicken is cooked through, pour the orange honey mixture over the chicken and cook in the sauce on medium low heat until thick.  
Serve over your favorite rice.
It goes perfectly with steamed broccoli or snow peas.

St. John Chrysostom, pray for us!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

But Have I Fasted Yet?

I've been thinking a lot lately about fasting.
What it is, what it is not, how important it is, and how often I forget (or just plain don't want) to do it.

I think most of us know, at least in theory, how important it is to fast.  Scripture, Christ's own words, the Church Fathers, the saints, the documents of the Church speak about it often.  But how often do we actually do it?  How often do I take my prayer to the next level, integrating both my soul AND body?  Sometimes I wonder if Christ's stern words to the pharisees scare us from ever even attempting it or talking about it.  But his warning was about pure intentions and pride, calling attention to ourselves when we are doing it.  They were not meant to tell us never to do it or never to encourage others in the practice but simply to do it with a humbled and contrite heart.  I know the times I do fast with my prayers that it feels different.  It feels clarified, stronger.  It unites me to the sufferings of others in a way that just thinking pious thoughts or even the most heartfelt spoken prayers do not.  It adds something to my pleadings that seems to increase their effect and transform my heart just a bit more than when my prayers are solely words.  It was, after all, our Lord Himself who showed us that certain things actually required fasting to be effective:

"And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?"  And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting."
Mark 9:29
(and Matthew 17:21)

Do I sometimes pray for things merely in words and half-hearted wishes and when nothing changes, give it up prematurely as "not God's will?"  Or is it important enough to me to give up a little luxury along with my words?  Is my petition, my request, what I say I want so much, worth that sacrifice or am I merely blowing smoke?  When my heart prays something so very hard, am I willing to back that up with a fast?  Does it mean enough to me?

Sure, God doesn't need our fasting or sacrifices.  He doesn't need anything at all from us, really.  But He asks for it and tells us repeatedly in His Word and through the Tradition of the ages that that is how He longs to work in our lives.

So that thing you've been longing for, that person breaking your heart, that horror you've been praying about, that plea for your family or friend or stranger, your own it worth it?
I hope I can say yes.
I'm challenging myself, at least, to say yes.

If you're interested, I found a great little synopsis of fasting in the Scriptures found here.

"The scripture is full of places that prove fasting to be not the invention of man but the institution of God, and to have many more profits than one. And that the fasting of one man may do good unto another, our Saviour showeth himself where he saith that some kind of devils cannot be cast out of one man by another “without prayer and fasting.” And therefore I marvel that they take this way against fasting and other bodily penance."
St. Thomas More

"Fasting makes sense if it really affects our security, and also if a benefit to others comes from it, if it helps us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him. Fasting involves choosing a sober life, which does not waste, which does not “discard”. Fasting helps us to train the heart to essentiality and sharing. It is a sign of awareness and responsibility in the face of injustices, abuses, especially towards the poor and the little ones, and is a sign of our trust in God and His providence."
Pope Francis

"If you are able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast. The early Christians selected Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as days of abstinence. Do you follow therein according as your own devotion and your director’s discretion may appoint."  St. Francis de Sales - Intro to Devout Life

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday to Your Mom with Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

I'm going to treat the ladies at my women's group tonight to a homemade blueberry lemon cheesecake.  Because when it's your mom's birthday and her daughters are together, you have cake, I think.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake for Our Lady's Birthday 
(or for whenever you happen to want blueberry lemon cheesecake)


9-10 Graham Crackers
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
3 tbsp. Brown Sugar
5 tbsp. Melted Butter

3 (or 2*) 8oz. Packages Softened Cream Cheese
1/2 cup White Sugar
1 tbsp. Lemon Extract (or 2 tbsp. Lemon Juice)
2 cups Frozen or Fresh Blueberries Chopped (I used a mini blender)
1 cup Chilled Whipping Cream

Sour Cream Topping:
1 cup Sour Cream
2 tbsp. White Sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Blueberry Topping:
1-2 cups Blueberries
1/4 cup Water
1 tsp. Cornstarch Dissolved in 1tbsp. Water

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Crush graham crackers and oats either with a blender or manually.  Stir in sugar and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan or pie pan.  Bake for 12-minutes and allow to cool.

While crust is baking, combine cream cheese, sugar, and lemon extract in mixer.  Stir in chopped blueberries.  In separate bowl whip the cream until it's...whipped cream.  (Let me know if you've never done this and want some more detail!)  Fold into your filling.  Pour and spread over the crust and chill cake in the refrigerator.  

Combine the sugar, vanilla, and sour cream for your sour cream topping.  You can double this or completely eliminate it.  I just wanted a small layer.  Spread over the cake and replace in the refrigerator.

Chill entire cake 12-24 hours.  
(If you're in a rush, place in the freezer.)
Keep in mind since this is a no-bake cheesecake, it is softer.  The more chilled you can have it upon serving, the better.

To make the blueberry topping, combine the blueberries and water in a saucepan.  Heat on the stove low until boiling.  Stir in the dissolved cornstarch for thickening.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Pour over the chilled cake.

*In full disclosure, I made mine with only two packages.  Still great but I think I'd prefer it to be a bit firmer and richer next time.  Either works.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - vol. 56

Shootin' out a quick {phfr} for the records before the 7 p.m. exhaustion hits...

Behold the flower crown made by David (with a little Papa help) as a belated birthday gift.  I was to wear it all day until the flowers started shriveling up and dying on my head making me look like the fairy princess of death.

This boy was over the moon excited to go to work all day with Papa last week.  
I know, I know, I shared this on the Facebook page but HOW CUTE IS HE???

I don't even know what they're doing.  They were playing all morning out there hammering and dragging crates around the yard and ropes were everywhere while I worked on lesson and chore schedules.  But this was the only shot I got.


Not gonna lie, my birthday was kinda lame but I did get what I asked for from Brian:
Because that's what people do for their birthdays, right?  Tear down decrepit old outbuildings?
The old coop is gone and it was bittersweet.  When we moved in we were hoping to restore it but the previous owners had let it go too long and it was collapsing from all the rotted wood.  Only the front wall still stood like something out of an old western town.  There's still more to go and I hate nothing more than an unfinished project so we still need to cut down those man-size weeds in the back there and somehow clean up all the old concrete.  

I think we'll leave the floor, though.  Not sure what, if anything, we can use it for or if it will just be a random concrete pad in our lawn.  It hides behind the garage not visible from the house so I can't make it a play area or anything.  Other ideas?

And this is the gigantic bonfire a few yards away waiting to happen.  
And the reason I was sore for two days straight.

Linking up with Leila and the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr}
Happy Thursday!

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