Thursday, September 14, 2017

What's So Wrong With This Provincial Life?

Okay 90s girls, I know that you loved Beauty and the Beast and would pretend to be Belle belting out, "There must be more than this provincial life!" I know I did. It's a theme we see often in the modern Disney movie - a female protagonist wishing for more than what her current life is offering. Belle wants adventure and excitement, Mulan wants to be more than a housewife, Moana wants to explore the sea, and Ariel wants to be a different species all together. While I really enjoy these movies and I understand that great stories almost always have a call to adventure for the hero, (check out this video about the hero's journey, also known as the monomyth), lately I've been wondering, "Hey, what's so wrong with this provincial life?" 

First let's look at the definition of provincial. says that provincial is an adjective meaning having or showing the manners, viewpoints, etc., considered characteristic of unsophisticated inhabitants of a province. Something provincial could be a rustic living space, or a narrow minded person. Ouch. For a movie that seems to be teaching a message about not judging others without getting to know them, Belle is being pretty judgy in her opening song. For the most part the inhabitants of this little town seem to be perfectly nice people living perfectly nice lives, providing for their families and offering goods and services to the other townspeople. Sure Belle, you may not be able to discuss literature with them, but does that make you better than them, somehow above living a simple life with your family in a quiet town? I know Gaston thinks you're better than everyone else, but he's the villain so...

Disney princesses of the past like Snow White and Cinderella are often viewed as not being as good of role models for girls as the modern princesses because of their passivity. The story happens to them rather than them taking the initiative to kick butt and take names. I find this comparison troubling. Saying that Snow White is a worse role model than Mulan is just replacing one stereotype of what a girl should be like and what they should want with another. If a girl wants to wear blue t-shirts, play with trucks, and take karate that's great! More power to her. By all means, go for it. But if a girl wants to wear pink dresses, play with dolls, and take ballet, that's great too. Heck, a girl can even do both! We need to stop thinking of  traditional expressions of femininity as inferior - but that could be another post altogether.

I think Snow White and Cinderella actually have some pretty admirable traits. In both stories they are treated horribly, forced to wear rags and basically used as slave labor. While they may hope that things get better they accept that this is the situation they are in right now and deal with it as best they can, facing the world with a positive attitude and treating others, including those who treat them poorly, with patience, kindness, and selflessness. To some this may seem provincial, but I think that this attitude is much more sophisticated than being aggressively rude to your parents and engaging in dubious dealings with witches just to get what you want - I'm looking at you Merida and Ariel!

Let's take a look at the most recent Disney princess movie, Moana, (I know her princess status is not official yet!). In the song "Where You Are" Moana keeps being drawn to the sea and her father explains how the island provides them with everything they need and that she can find happiness where she is. Hey Moana, I get it. I'm drawn to the water too. Looking out on the horizon of Lake Michigan is one my favorite things in the world, but your dad's song is actually incredibly wise! There is value in realizing that you have everything you need and being thankful for it. If you are always trying to find happiness outside of yourself and where you are, it is going to be very difficult to be happy. I like how even though it is difficult at times, Moana obeys her parents and does her best to find happiness on the island, only setting out to sea when it become necessary to save her people. She doesn't go just because it's what she wants. She goes when she realizes there is a purpose outside of herself for her desire.

 The truth is, we are all called to something more. But it's not a magical castle, becoming a war hero, or you know, legs. We are all called to union with God in heaven - we are all called to be saints. The way we get there will vary. Some of us may be called to set off on a grand, exotic adventure, and some of us may be called to love our husbands and raise our kids in a quiet town, and that's okay. Through the saints the Church gives us examples of warriors, scholars, spouses, parents, religious, royalty and peasants in grand variety who were all living out holy lives striving to be the best version of themselves. Remember that. Not the best version of someone else, but themselves. While St. Therese of Lisieux desired to be a missionary traveling the world, it was not what God had planned for her, and the impact she's had on the world by doing small things with great love inside the convent walls is awe inspiring.

Sometimes it's easy to break into song about how you wish your life was different when we feel more like that lady who needed eggs than the effortlessly beautiful Belle. But trust me, whatever else you do in your life, marriage and family is one of the greatest adventures there is. While my husband staying home to watch the kids while I work at an online school is certainly unconventional, our focus on faith and family and a desire to stay close to home may seem provincial to outside eyes.  Sometimes on a bad day I may wish for something different or more, but this is where our family is at right now and we are doing our best. Sure, camping in the next county may be our current idea of a big vacation and no one may ever make a movie of my life, but I find happiness in a loving husband and children, being close to my family, and the beauty of my faith. And if that makes me provincial, so be it.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Yesterday was the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in other words, Happy Birthday Mary!

A little family magazine we picked up at church had a few suggestions to celebrate including lighting a prayer candle, bringing flowers to an altar, and saying the rosary. We have recently started up praying a decade of the rosary a day using the Holy Heroes rosary CDs. It just so happened the mystery we were on yesterday was the Assumption of Mary, so the decade was filled with scripture passages about Mary - it worked out perfectly! I highly recommend the Holy Heroes CDs if you are struggling to say the rosary as a family, or you feel you need help getting started. It's led by children and each Hail Mary is preceded by a short scripture verse that helps you meditate on the mystery for the decade. My oldest, (7 years old), immediately took to it, asking to do entire rosaries instead of just a decade, reminding the rest of the family about prayer time each night, and taking the CD player up to his bedroom to pray on his own before he goes to sleep. He is definitely much more focused than when we would try it on our own before! I enjoy them as an adult as well. They do a great job creating a relaxed, meditative mood. We also really enjoy listening to the Glory Stories CDs about the lives of saints on long car trips.

Of course the last suggestion for Mary's birthday in the magazine was the kid's favorite; bake a cake and sing happy birthday! Using ingredients we had on hand I decided to make one of my absolute favorite cake recipes; a chocolate zucchini cake I found on It's the same recipe I used for my daughter's farm themed birthday last year. It is a very easy cake to put together, especially since we have a ton of shredded zucchini on hand in the freezer due to an abundance from the garden. It's probably the only thing I've been able to grow in abundance so far! The original recipe also calls for chopped walnuts, but I leave that part out.

I had my own idea on how to decorate the cake for the feast day, and the kids had another. I started with my design, and then let the kids take over. It was the last day of the first week of school so I didn't use any piping bags or anything, we all just had some fun with sprinkles. As I told the kids, Mary is a mom, so she would love whatever way they wanted to decorate the cake for her! My son also made the keen observation that if Mary is everyone's mother, and she's the queen of heaven, than all of us are princesses and princes! That certainly pleased the almost three year old who is currently very into princesses.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.' And from that hour he took her into his home." John 19:26-27

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix in the eggs and oil. Fold in the zucchini and pour into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting and enjoy!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kidney Bean Salad

Summer 2017 is coming to a close, and what a summer it has been!  One day after the last day of school we welcomed baby Clara to our family. We had a lot of snuggles, a baptism, a trip to the family farm, and of course the older kid's summer camps and lessons. School and work start up again in a few days, and while it is always sad to bid another summer goodbye, I'm excited for what this new year will bring. As a teacher the new year starts in September, not January!

As one of our last big summer activities, we did a little group camping with a bunch of other Catholic families. Camping with a brand new little one can be challenging, but we knew with all these great friends around us we could handle it. It was an amazing experience. Not only did the kids play outside all day long without ever once seeming to miss t.v. or video games, but we had mass every day in the camp lodge, praise and worship music around the campfire, and overall a great chance for fellowship with other Catholic families doing the best they can to get each other to heaven.

There was quite the large group of us there, so getting everybody fed was a group effort. With everyone pitching in we has plenty to go around! For one of our meals I brought one of my favorite salads my dad used to make a lot when I was little. The official recipe in the family cookbook uses several different kinds of canned beans, but my dad usually stuck to kidney beans, green bell pepper, and onion. For my version I added some fresh green beans, which I think made a great addition. The ingredients are marinated in a simple sweet dressing, which pairs wonderfully with the cool, crisp vegetables. I love the contrast between the soft kidney beans and the crunchy peppers and green beans.

Everyone else loved it too! I had a lot of people tell me how good it was and even ask for the recipe. There weren't any leftovers to take home! It may sound silly, but I think that was one of my favorite parts of trip. As regular readers know, I married a picky eater that comes from a picky eating family and we brought forth picky children who constantly challenge my notions on how to get kids to eat healthy and varied foods. We're working on it and things are slowly getting better, but the only person who would eat this salad in my house would be myself. Coming from a very food-centric family that likes almost everything, this has been one of the great frustrations of my adult life. It felt so good to see so many people truly enjoy a dish that I made;  I knew I had to share it!

Kidney Bean Salad
(amounts for veggies are approximate - I don't really measure for that part. Add as much or as little of your favorite ingredients as you want!)

2 cans red kidney beans
2 green bell peppers, diced large
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 large handful fresh green beans, cut into short pieces

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

Mix together vegetables and add dressing. Serve chilled. I prefer to serve with a slotted spoon to  help drain any excess dressing. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

It's my favorite season here in Michigan, and no, I don't mean summer. (It's too hot!) I'm talking about blueberry season. While I can and do freeze large quantities of locally picked blueberries for
smoothies and baking during the rest of the year, it is only during these few weeks of summer that I get to enjoy the delicious and nutritious treat of fresh blueberries in cereal, on yogurt, and by the handful. Blueberries are one of my favorite foods not only for their flavor, but because of the
nostalgia factor due to all the wonderful memories of my grandpa's blueberry farm.

 In honor of blueberry season I thought I'd share this amazing blueberry muffin recipe. I have shared a blueberry muffin recipe on the blog before, and it is very good, but this one goes the extra mile by including a crumb topping - yum! Both this recipe and the one I have previously shared are in the family cookbook, so I figure they can both be on the blog too. Those who taste these muffins always say they have been named very appropriately.  Of course fresh blueberries you've picked yourself are the ideal mix in to this muffin batter, but feel free to mix it up. I've been known to substitute cranberries or chocolate chips for the blueberries at times, and have even added shredded zucchini to recipe.

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Grease and flour a muffin tin or use muffin liners

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder

Mix the oil, milk, and egg together and add to the flour mixture. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full, (I like to use an ice cream scoop to get just the right amount), and sprinkle with the crumb topping mixture (see below).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Sprinkle over each muffin before baking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sarah Roses's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing (plus another side dish)

What a summer it has been! Relaxing and crazy all at the same time thanks to the newest addition to our family, baby Clara. Her older siblings have adjusted incredibly well, showering their little sister with love and being great helpers. We love you Clara!

Last week we celebrated Clara's baptism. It was a wonderful day that brought a lot of our family together. With a one month old baby, it's was important to keep the gathering after the baptism simple with minimal prep. Since it's summer a hot dog cookout was just right! Since it was a special occasion I did opt to get the best hot dogs out there, Koegel viennas, (fellow Michiganders, you know what I'm talking about!). Some family members helped out by bringing fruit and chips and a cake, but I did manage to throw together a couple of my favorite cold summer salads from my handy dandy family cookbook.  Since they are both cold dishes I could make them ahead of time and just pull them out for the party.

The first salad is lovingly named "Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing." Yes, it's a mouthful, but it's hard to forget! You can always tell which recipes in the family cookbook come from our branch because they always seem to have names like "That Fettuccine with the Stuff," "Stuff in a Pot," and well, "Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing." Some may say we need to work on our dish naming skills, but I love it! Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing is a spaghetti pasta salad mixed with tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives, among other flavorful add ins. My dad also added some humorous commentary to the recipe concerning different ways you can prepare it, which I will include below.

The second dish doesn't have a humorous story to go with it, but I do remember my dad making it
frequently when I was a kid - Cucumbers in Sour Cream. Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. I'll often eat a whole one just sliced up and sprinkled with salt for a snack. This simple salad preparation mixes things up a little bit and is nice and refreshing on a hot summer day. The cucumbers are marinated in vinegar, salt, and sugar mixture, almost making  kind of a sweet pickle, before being tossed into sour cream.

Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing

1/2 pound thin spaghetti -broken into fourths or fifths
2 pints grape tomatoes - cut lengthwise into halves
1/2 to 1/3 diced red onion
1 can (6 oz) small black olives - cut lengthwise in halves
1 package (12 oz) fresh mushrooms - sliced
2 -3 cloves garlic - minced
2 -3 Tablespoons dried sweet basil
olive oil
some kinda greens (Romaine, kale, chard, etc - Do not use iceberg, it turns soggy too fast)

1. Boil spaghetti and drain. While still hot add some salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil. Mix it up and set it aside in the fridge to cool.
2. In a bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, and mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
3. When the spaghetti is cool, combine the spaghetti with the vegetables. Just before you serve it  tear the greens into small pieces and mix them in. Not too much! It's not a lettuce salad - the lettuce pieces are just part of the mix.

(Dad's Commentary): This is very flexible and simple. If you want you can replace half the olive oil with a quarter cup or so of Italian dressing. Or add a couple glugs of balsamic vinegar to the thing, along with the olive oil. If you don't have all the ingredients, that's ok. It's been made with just the spaghetti, tomatoes, plain white onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and still got rave reviews. If you want to put something else in, go ahead, ain't no big deal. As long as no one starts poking it with a fork and mumbling "had a science experiment look like this once, only it smelled better," you're doin' just fine.  

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
dash of pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 pint sour cream

1.Combine water, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Stir cucumber slices and marinade in the vinegar mixture for 2 -3 hours, and drain.

2. Mix cucumbers with the sour cream. Serve chilled.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Teacher Gift That's For the Birds

Happy Last Week of School! My last day with students is Tuesday, and my son has his last 1/2 day on Thursday.  I can't believe he's going to be in 2nd grade! We are ready for a summer of lots of family fun and a new baby!

Of course as we end another school year we have to say thanks to the amazing teachers that worked so hard to help us learn. Sam picked out a little bird feeder for his teacher. Not only does she like birds, but it goes perfectly with the fact that his school does a special nature based program. Strangely enough, with all the cute teacher gift ideas out there on the internet with all their adorable packaging and witty sayings on the gift tags, I couldn't find anything bird themed. So we had to get creative and come up with something ourselves.

Sam said if it was birthday present he would say "Happy Bird-day!" I'm happy to see he's developing an appreciations for corny jokes! However, it was not a birthday present so we had to come up with something else. We eventually decided to use a common bird that shows up at feeders in our area, the black-capped chickadee, and tell his teacher that her class was "Chickadee-lightful!" I just grabbed a free clip art picture of a chickadee from the internet, added the message, and printed it out on card stock. Sam wrote his own personal message on the back. A hole punch and piece of yellow yarn attached the card to the bird feeder. Bonus -  the chickadee matched his school colors!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Easter Feasting

Happy 6th Week of Easter! In true Rose's Supposes fashion, I am just now getting around to posting about the food we enjoyed back on Easter Sunday. Isn't it great how the Easter season lasts for 50 days? That means that even six weeks later, I can still claim that my post is timely!

Previously I have shared some Easter desserts with you, like blueberry lemonies, and the dirt pudding trifle that has become Easter tradition thanks to the requests of my son. This year we move on to the main course with a stunning loaf of bread, some scrumptious veggies, and an impressive lamb roast centerpiece.

Egg Braid 

At heart, I'm really more of a baker than a cook, and this loaf is my pride and joy. It may be simple white bread, but there is something about the braid, the golden shine from the egg wash, and the sprinkle of poppy seeds on top that makes me feel very accomplished when I pull it out of the oven. Even though the lamb is the main course, this is the dish I insist on waiting to cut until all the guests have arrived!

4 to 4/2 cups all purpose flour
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 egg for egg wash
poppy seeds

In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups of flower with the yeast. Add the milk, water, shortening, sugar, and salt, and mix together.  Add the eggs and mix until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes. Punch down and knead for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts, and let rest for 3 minutes. Roll each piece into a log approximately 15 inches long.  Place the logs side by side and braid from top to bottom, pinching the ends together.

Place on a prepared baking sheet and let rise until doubled in size.

Beat one egg and brush over the loaf. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.

Zesty Brussels Sprouts

I know that brussels sprouts are not everyone's favorite vegetable, but I just love 'em. While bacon is a traditional brussels sprouts pairing that almost  everyone loves, my husband happens to be in that weird minority of people who doesn't like bacon. I can't remember where I saw it, but one day I saw a suggestion of cooking brussels sprouts with orange zest. I gave it a try and we loved it! The orange zest really brightens up the bitter brussels, and gives the vegetable a fresh feeling that goes great with a spring meal. This Easter I threw in some bell peppers for an added splash of color and sweetness.

Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
Zest of 1 - 2 large oranges
salt and pepper

Saute brussels sprouts in olive oil. While cooking, add salt, pepper, and orange zest. Cook until tender and caramelized.

Roast Leg of Lamb

The impressive centerpiece of the Easter table! I only cook one big holiday meal on my own during the year, so I don't mind splurging a little on some lamb. Not only is lamb a significant Easter symbol, but my husband doesn't like turkey, and neither of us are big ham people, so lamb is perfect! As impressive as it looks when it comes out of the oven, it is actually quite simple to make. Amaze everyone without having to slave away at the oven all day!

1 boneless or semi-boneless leg of lamb
olive oil
minced garlic

Take lamb out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Place in roasting pan with rack

Rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Broil on each side for 5 minutes (or brown each side in a pan)

Rub with fresh rosemary, thyme, and garlic

Roast at 325 degrees, at 25 minutes per pound. Cover loosely with tinfoil for 1 hour, and then remove for the rest of the cooking time.

Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's a Birthday Party Charlie Brown!

This year my son is obsessed with the Peanuts comics by Charles Schulz. Back in middle school when I played the role of Schroeder in a production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," I got really into it too. And yes, Schroeder is a boy, but the director wanted Schroeder to really play the piano on stage and I happened to posses that skill. Of course Schroeder is my favorite character from the comic too! Anyway, my son found one of my old Peanuts books and hasn't been able to put it down since. He spends a lot of time pretending to be the World War I Flying Ace and Joe Cool. He has even suggested that if the new baby on the way is another little sister we should name her Rerunette, the way Lucy called her second little brother Rerun. Inevitably this all led to request for a Peanuts themed birthday party. The other kids at the party may not have been as familiar with Peanuts as Sam, but given my own affinity for the classic comic, it was a lot of fun to put together.

Happy Birthday Sam! You are growing into one amazing young man! 


We went back to the dance studio for this year's party, and I think the owner repainted just for Sam's party! The new yellow walls, (actually "mango tango" I believe), made it easy to add a simple decoration that had a lot of impact. Yellow wall + strips of black construction paper + double stick tape = Charlie Brown zigzag shirt wall!  Add some Peanuts stuffed animals and black and yellow table settings and that's all you need!

That may be all you need, but we did have a little more. The aforementioned director of my middle school play was my mom, who has been involved in other productions of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown since then as well. She was able to bring in some cool props from the shows, including Schroeder's piano!


The food was very simple and kid friendly with the birthday boy's request for his favorite food - pizza. Some clever labeling makes things a little more fun and on theme!

For example, Sam read one strip where Snoopy says something like, "Joe Cool never eats at the dorm cafeteria, he always orders pizza." We knew then that it wouldn't just be any pizza, but Joe Cool's Pizza.

Of course we all know that the World War I Flying Ace's drink of choice is root beer! I found the perfect picture to go on our pop labels. To add a little variety to the beverages we also included Linus and Lucy Lemon Lime.

Instead of a traditional birthday cake, the birthday boy opted to have "Charlie Brownies." Of course you can make any brownie recipe you want, and then just top them with yellow frosting and a chocolate frosting zigzag. I used a recipe from the family cookbook titled "Julie's Awesome Brownies," (the recipe can be found at the end of the post!). They truly are awesome, some of the richest, gooiest brownies I've ever had. Thanks Julie!

 I divided the recipe in half to make both plain brownies and ones with peppermint patties mixed in, (get it?). I put the peppermint patties in the bottom of the pan and poured the batter over them. This method made the brownies stick to the pan. I had to wrestle them out of the pan a little, but they were delicious! I would recommend pouring some batter in first, then adding the peppermint patties, and then topping off with the rest of the batter to try to prevent sticking.


I don't have any pictures of the games but we did have fun with them!

Peanuts Musical Chairs
We played a modified version of musical chairs that we had played at church for All Saints Day. I put pictures of different Peanuts characters on chairs and played music while the kids walked around the circle. For the music I played the soundtrack from "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" as well as the classic "Linus and Lucy."

When the music stops everyone sits on a chair and the name of a character gets pulled out of a hat. Whoever is sitting on the chair with that character gets a prize! In this case the prize was a bag of peanuts. We kept going until everyone  got a prize.

Pull the Football Away from Charlie Brown (Pinata)
This was just your classic birthday pinata, but we got one that was in the shape of a football.  My husband played the role of Lucy and pulled the football away from all our Charlie Browns trying to hit the pinata. Of course we had to fill the pinata with peppermint patties and peanut butter cups! A black Sharpie turned some plain red and blue bags into Linus and Lucy treat bags.  On the back I wrote, "Happiness is Celebrating with Friends!"

Julie's Awesome Brownies

This is a huge recipe! It makes two 9 x 13 pans of gooey, chocolatey goodness.
This is the original recipe - I used cocoa powder instead of baker's chocolate and omitted the  extra chocolate chips, coffee, and walnuts when I made them for the party, (and of course added some peppermint patties in!)

1 pound unsalted butter (you heard right! That's 4 sticks.)
1 pound plus 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips - divided
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 eggs
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour - divided
1 Tablespoon baking power
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups walnut pieces

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate and cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and remaining chocolate chips in 1/4 cup of flour, then stir into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 18 pan, or two 13 x 9 pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a skewer come out clean. About halfway through the baking process rap the pans against the oven shelf.

Cool thoroughly and refrigerate before cutting into squares. They are so gooey and rich if you try to cut them while they are warm they will crumble! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

All Saints Day Costumes 2016

Way back at the start of this month we celebrated All Saints Day! Our local parish hosted a fun All Saints Day party for the kids, giving us the opportunity to put together some fun saint costumes. I'd been thinking about doing this for several years and was so excited for the opportunity!

Sam dressed as his all time favorite saint, St. Juan Diego. We simply got a large shirt at the thrift store and cut off the sleeves. Then we hot glued a picture of Our Lady Of Guadalupe, (he colored it himself!), and some artificial roses to the front. Drawing on a little mustache and goatee was the perfect finishing touch.What a dashing young man!

We dressed Rosemary in the traditional Swedish St. Lucia costume, also known as St. Lucy . In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries girls dress in this outfit on St. Lucia Day, (often with real candles!), and bring coffee and sweet breads to their family early in the morning. If you loved American Girl books back in the 90s you'll know what I'm talking about! My best friend had the Kirsten doll; I had Addy myself.  The candles on her crown reference the legend that St. Lucia would wear candles on her head so she could carry more when taking food to Christians hiding in the catacombs. The evergreen wreath represents eternal life, the white dress represents her purity, and the red sash represents her martyrdom. We found the perfect little white dress at the thrift store. It even already had loops for a sash. We just replaced the pink one it came with with a red ribbon. The holly headband has been in the family for a long time. Thanks Dad for letting us raid your Christmas boxes early! My husband fashioned some candles from card stock and taped them on. We layered with a long sleeved white t-shirt to accommodate the weather. While she's barefoot here, when we went to the party she wore white tights black dress shoes. I just couldn't get over how beautiful she looked!

Remember, God call each and every one of us to be saints!

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Birthday Takes the Cake - A Farm Birthday Party

Happy Birthday Rosemary! You are now a curious two year old who loves to talk, sing, and dance!

Two of my daughters favorite songs to sing are "Old McDonald" and  "The Farmer in the Dell." In fact sometimes she'll get upset with me if I play anything on the piano besides plunking out "The Farmer in the Dell." I guess she's not a fan of Beethoven or Grieg!

Due to her affinity for all things farm, I went with a farm theme for birthday celebration. I stole some cute ideas from the internet, but I came up with a few of my own too. It was fun to see Rosemary realize that the party was all for her!

All food was pretty easy to put together, and with some clever labeling and a little decoration we had a great time down on the farm!

 A simple red table cloth and some bandanas make for a great table scape! Throw in some paisley napkins and tractor plates and you are good to go! A drink dispenser that looks like a mason jar adds a nice touch. I got mine at Aldi for $20! 

The cake turned out so cute, and it was so easy to make! Anyone can do it. I made a 9x13 chocolate zucchini cake and cut off two corners. I frosted the cake in white and drew some lines down the cake with a toothpick. Then, to get the bright red color, I used a food coloring spray I found in the cake decorating section of the craft store. Add some pretzels, graham crackers, and yellow coconut for doors, a roof and hay along with a little green frosting grass at the bottom, and voila! My husband and the kids decorated the farm animal cupcakes which were a zucchini spice cake. I had a lot of zucchini from my garden this year. 

 For some easy decorations we bought plain balloons from Dollar Tree and used Sharpies to decorate them like farm animals! 

 We did snacks instead of a full lunch or dinner. With some clever labeling, simple snacks become farm themed! For example, this Chex mix became "Chicken Feed!" I got the chalk boards at Michael's for 99 cents each.

 Cucumber sandwiches cut with a duck shaped cookie cutter became Ducks in a Row! I layered thinly sliced cucumbers and whipped cream cheese mixed with fresh dill onto white bread. 

 A simple fruit tray become the fruit orchard. 

 And of course a veggie tray becomes the vegetable garden!

 We made our own "Pigs in a Blanket" with crescent roll dough and cocktail franks. You could save time by buying frozen too. 

I'm pretty proud of this one because I came up with it all by myself. We all know that last verse of "The Farmer in the Dell" is "the cheese stands alone." So I put together a cheese and cracker tray and put it on a separate table from everything else!

Happy Birthday Rosemary! Here's to the Terrific Twos!
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