Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

Mardi Gras and Lent
February 26, 2012, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Fasting, Feasting, Lent, Mardi Gras

We had some of our new friends over on Fat Tuesday for a New Orleans Feast made by this guy:

On the menu was Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Shrimp Dip and Homemade Bread, King Cake, and old timey New Orleans cocktails.

I’ll post the recipes on Feast! when Daniel has a minute to write them down.

Then Ash Wednesday came and we transitioned into Lent. Last year I was battling some serious morning sickness during Lent so I don’t feel like I fully engaged and I didn’t have the energy to figure out how to help Benjamin participate. So, trying to do better this year!

I bought a grapevine wreath to have on the dining room table to remind us of the Crown of Thorns and put our purple tablecloth on the table. Yes, my tablecloth is super wrinkly. Ironing is just one of those tasks that I try to avoid at all costs. I tell myself that it’s so humid in Florida that whatever item is wrinkly will unwrinkle soon enough on it’s own. This is not true, but it makes me feel better.

I borrowed (stole?) some deep purple fabric from my mom to use to cover the crosses and icons in the house. I let Benjamin walk through the house to find all the crosses over the doorways and help me wrap them in purple.

I’ve seen so many ideas for helping little ones observe Lent that I feel pretty overwhelmed. What do you do at your house? What’s your very favorite Lenten activity for littles?

p.s. Mandy are you out there? Send me an email about winning the Pride and Prejudice Giveaway before next Wednesday or I’ll have to choose another winner! (my email is haley.s.stewart(at)gmail(dot)com)

Baby Jonah and a Delicious Friday Night
February 12, 2011, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Children, Community, Fasting, Penance | Tags:

This is Baby Jonah and his Mama, Tryna. They accompanied Benjamin and I to  the Museum of Florida History downtown. Between the fully reconstructed Mastadon bones, animatronic giant armadillo, and steamboat exhibit, Benjamin had plenty to delight and amaze him. Benjamin is still talking about the “Museum of Flo-rida HIStory!” We will need to go again.

Last night, my brother and our friends, Thomas and Kellie were coming over for dinner. I wanted to try to recreate the sauce from the Stuffed Tilapia at El Siete Mares in Waco but I’ve never created my own recipe before. So I was nervous and hesitant.

But I forged ahead and created my own recipe for Baked Tilapia with Spicy Cilantro Cream Sauce. It was seriously delicious. Not a bite remained.

As you can see, our plates are emptied of the scrumptiousness.

I posted the recipe on Feast! and started a series of “Fish Friday” recipes.

Various Things Related to Advent
December 2, 2010, 4:09 pm
Filed under: Advent, Books, Children, Fasting

Benjamin and I concocted this Advent wreath from the Christmas Tree trimmings left over at Home Depot. We successfully deposited pine needles all over the house as well. We’ve been trying to eat mostly soups and fish during this Advent season to remind ourselves that this is a penitential spirit of fasting in the season before Christmas.

I’ve been collecting some Advent resources over the past few months and I’ll post them as they come to mind. Here‘s one devotional that I try to read every morning:

Also, when I worked at the Center for Christian Ethics I did a great deal of the planning for their latest issue of Christian Reflection, their quarterly publication, entitled Advent Ethics that just came out in early November. I haven’t had a chance to enjoy the whole issue yet, but so far, I particularly love “The Three Advents” by Father James Conner, OCSO. The entire issue (minus the art due to permissions) is available on their web site.

I picked out this image for the cover and I’m so glad they used it:

It’s Georges de La Tour’s The Dream of St. Joseph depicting the angel coming in a dream to tell St. Joseph of the coming of the Christ Child. I love this image for Advent because of the general darkness of the painting in contrast with the strength of the candle’s light illuminating the face of the angel giving the blessed message. Yet, the flame of the candle is still almost entirely covered by the angel’s arm. Our Lord, the Light of the World has not yet arrived, but his coming begins to shed light on our dark night of the soul as we prepare our hearts. May the news of Christ’s coming reach us as we are faithfully following his way, as St. Joseph pictured here–vigilantly reading the Holy Scriptures until the blessed dream overcame him.

Here’s our sweet boy standing proudly behind our beautiful Nativity Scene that my sweet mother-in-law gave us last year for Christmas. He has been loving it so much and will grab my hand excitedly, pointing to the figures and exclaim, “I want to tell you who those people are!” Then he will hand me each one in turn, “cow!” “manger!” “Mary!”

This is Little Bear “hugging” the nativity scene.

The Feast of the Archangels: Michaelmas 2010
September 30, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Community, Fasting, Feasting, Michaelmas, Saints, Seasons | Tags:

We feasted on what turned out to be a mini-Thanksgiving late last night with four friends and my brother. It was lovely to feast and celebrate St. Michael and the Archangels and share lots of orange, autumnal, beta-carotene-packed edibles at the change of season. And speaking of the change of season, Michaelmas is a feast that comes after the fall Ember Days (last Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) during which Christians traditionally thanked God for his creation and the bounty of the earth and fasted penitentially. These days are no longer mandatory fast days but I love the idea of connecting the liturgical calendar to the natural seasons. I’d like to be more intentional about observing the Ember Days this coming year. The next ones are observed just after St. Lucy’s feast in December.

Benjamin and I couldn’t find any real Michaelmas Daisies so we consoled ourselves with this pretty fall Mums which we’ll plant tomorrow. Our friends Thomas and Kellie brought an awesome bouquet of carrots which is oh so apropos for the day (read about the carrot custom in last year’s post).

Daniel roasted the bird last year, but was working a twelve-hour shift yesterday, so this was my first attempt at roasting a chicken. Luckily, Thomas and Kellie are chicken roasting pros so I nagged them into showing up a little early to help me figure out if the chicken was done (a goose was not to be found! maybe next year!). Here’s a picture:

They’re newlyweds. Aren’t they cute? This is probably the right time to say that I’ve known Thomas for almost 20 years. Our families eat Thanksgiving together and we share childhood memories of creating bizarre nerdy board games together that no one would ever want to play. I was wearing my Laura-Ingalls-Wilderesque-Pioneer-Style-Black-Lace-up-Boots when we met. I can say this with confidence because I wore them with every outfit I had for years. And Kellie is his new bride and we like her an awful lot.

Our friends Elizabeth and Daniel brought bread and stuffing which was just delicious but I failed to get any pictures of them or of my brother. Sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I was distracted trying to capture a picture of Little Bear, but all i got was this one of him picking his nose.

yeah, i know, it's blurry, but the kid is always MOVING.

Speaking of Little Bear, I think he’s going to be Dobby the House Elf for Halloween. Costume suggestions are welcome.

We topped the evening off by sitting on the back porch in the delicious fall weather and consuming the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cobbler recipe with Vanilla Ice Cream. Check out last year’s post if you’re curious about blackberries and Michaelmas.

More appetizing than the picture make it look, promise. It's all gone.

My brother Garrett decided to go the extra mile  with a Georgia Peach Cobbler Ice Cream addition. No one understood him when he asked if anybody else had “Double Cobblered it.” I think we’ve cleared it up, though.

A happy Michaelmas, it was!

Lenten Sacrifices and a New Swing
February 20, 2010, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Fasting, Lent

This year during Lent, Daniel and I are reading Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Scott Hahn.


It’s divided into 40 small chapters, (Baptism, the Mass, Marriage, Confession, Pilgrimage, etc) and so fits perfectly in the 40 days of Lent if we read one chapter a day. Hahn explains that in our Lenten sacrifice, be it food or otherwise, “We return it all to God for forty days, not because any of it is ‘bad,’ but because it is indeed very good. Only good things should be offered in sacrifice to God; only the best of the harvest could be offered as a tithe. We give them to God so that we learn not to put anything in God’s place in our lives.”

In other news, Daniel set up a swing for Little Bear.


He loves it almost as much as the basketball he found in the yard the other day.

Or the flowers he has discovered can be picked.

Not to mention eaten…

Ok, fine. He tries to eat the basketball, too.